The founders of Find Your Voice are motivated by a truth that at first seems perplexing: SAD is debilitating, prevalent, and treatable -- yet often goes untreated. It is because our founders themselves suffered from severe social anxiety, and have been often frustrated by attempts to get others to understand, that the mystery begins to unravel.

Indeed, SAD is difficult to comprehend to one who has not experienced it, but the situation is worse than that. Because SAD is an amplification of thoughts and feelings that everyone has occasionally, people think they understand and fail to appreciate its impact. After all, they were able to "snap out of it, outgrow it, or suck it up" and get on with their lives. In our experience, this is a significant barrier to an open public discourse. From a sufferer's perspective, this apparent lack of empathy can be alienating; deepening the sense that one is alone. A hallmark of SAD is attributing one's own symptoms to character flaws, weakness, or overall sense of unworthiness. Our society portrays the confident, outgoing personality type as ideal; while extreme shyness and social awkwardness, as traits to be ridiculed.

Even with awareness of treatment options, sufferers often postpone or forgo treatment, as the process of finding the right clinician, describing the symptoms, and following through with activities such as exposure therapy are themselves anxiety-provoking. As we ourselves know, when generalized SAD goes untreated for too long, the sufferer establishes a life in which they manage to "get by" by avoiding anxiety-provoking situations, discarding their dreams and ambitions, and limiting social interaction to a small circle of people, who are usually enabling. This narrowing down of life can lead to clinical depression and feelings of meaninglessness. The hope of recovery turns to thoughts of "why bother?" After all, recovery is hard; there is little social support, nothing worth fighting for, and a personal track record of failed attempts. Under such a perceptual framework, it's difficult to abandon an established comfort zone, however unfulfilling.

This is where Find Your Voice finds its place, providing a welcoming entry for those beginning their journey of recovery. The first step must be one of revelation -- that one is not unique in their suffering, inherently flawed, or irreparably broken. Hearing about others with SAD is not enough. It is meeting them in person that helps one to change their perspective on the disorder. Observing first-hand that others with SAD are complete, worthwhile and lovable individuals "who just happen to suffer from a disorder" helps to extend those observations to oneself. Compassion for others is an important bridge to self-compassion. It is at this point that one becomes willing to roll up their sleeves and begin the work of recovery. Each participant's individual recovery becomes a team project, and sensing oneself to be part of the team is as healing as any therapy. We are kindred spirits.

Please Help Us to Help Others to Find Their Voice