Cognitive Behavioural Therapy-Exposures

   I didn’t try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy until more than a year into my Agoraphobia & Anxiety. When I first had Agoraphobia I only did talk therapy which honestly, didn’t help me at all. Starting CBT completely changed so much for me,
it gave me a better outlook on my anxiety, it was so much easier to manage my agoraphobia, and it gave me so much hope for the future.

 

    Before CBT I thought in an “all or nothing” way. I didn’t prepare myself for things, I just went head on into them and it rarely ever worked for me. Each time it didn’t work out I would lose hope in myself and became convinced the future
would always be the same and I wouldn’t be able to live a normal life. Exposures are the best thing I’ve ever done for my agoraphobia, they build so much confidence, and let you slowly go step by step into the big thing you want to accomplish.

 

    When all of this started for me I was in high school, for me personally it really affected me that it became so difficult to go get an education and even that I couldn’t socialize with my friends in school anymore. It wasn’t until I started
doing CBT and exposures that I could get back in the building and start going to a few classes again. I started by just driving to the school and parking in the parking lot, there was no pressure to go in, it was just to be in the area of the school.
Once I accomplished that a few times I became more confident in myself. The next step I took was to go in and just walk down the hallway and if I felt okay I could go up the stairs and go down the other hallway, but I didn’t let anyone know l was coming,
I didn’t have to meet anyone or see anybody, I only had to go as far as I felt I could. When I accomplished that I could move up again, I’d make a meeting with the teacher i’d always see, she was always understanding with me so if I got overwhelmed and
could only talk to her for a little bit that was fine. Eventually I made it into the classrooms again and passed a couple of classes. One of the more recent exposures that I’m still currently working on is going in my car, I know a lot of people with
Agoraphobia struggle with transportation.. cars, trains, subways, etc. This fear is a more recent fear of mine, after I became more housebound, the world turned scary to me and then CARS… I really wanted to just say maybe I can just walk everywhere
I go from now on? “Oh, you guys are going on a vacation?… that’s fine, I’ll just meet you there in a few years when my feet finally make it.” Like, REALLY, I hated the thought of even attempting. Then I finally came to terms with the fact that for
where I live and what I want to accomplish, I need to be able to drive in a car. So, I went out and sat in my car, which gave me the confidence and happiness boost I needed. That turned into short drives near my house, then short drives further from
my house. I accomplished a lot within the span of a week, but then I started focusing on other important things in my life and started going less which took me back to where I am now. There’s really so many ups and downs when you’re trying to better
yourself, i’ve been through it a couple of times but if you’ve concurred it once, you can concur it again. Always try your best to keep a positive mindset.

 

    One of the most important things I always have to remember is to not push myself too far. I’ve done that to myself before and have put myself back steps, so it’s really all about what you feel you can handle. Take slow steps each time you
try an exposure. If you find the first one too difficult, cut the task in half again. My therapist always tells me that there really isn’t any failures with doing this, EVEN if you don’t fully succeed in what you were trying to do, it only matters that
you tried. Every time you try and don’t get it, you just learn more information about yourself and that situation! There’s still a lot more that you practice but if you can’t get to a therapist who does CBT or don’t have access to one, I really recommend
the book Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in 7 Weeks by Seth J. Gillihan. I’ll leave a link below to the book!

 

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