I spent the night with David last night. It felt really nice to be around him and sleep next to him. I had a few close calls with panic attacks, however.
We decided to meet at the grocery store closest to us by the flowers department. When I got there I grabbed a cart, wiped off the handle with a sanitizing wipe and started to look around for something to make for dinner. Someone was walking behind me and it made me feel so uncomfortable. I wanted to let go of my cart and run out of the store. Instead, I gripped the handle tightly and with tears in my eyes, I walked to the flowers department to just wait for David. I started taking deep breaths and decided to smell the different scented candles to try to distract myself and calm myself down.
Soon David was there and I felt a lot better. I felt a sense of protection. That posed the question for me: Do we, as anxiety sufferers, rely too much on our loved ones for support? I thought about this for the rest of the grocery trip, up until we got home and started watching some movie rentals.
During my stay there some adult themed activities happened that caused me more anxiety. I won't talk about them on here because I know all different ages use this site.
I feel really great today, back at home. I wish it could last forever and I'm hoping it will last for quite some time. It's nice to break free from constant anxiety living.
I've known you for a really long time now and I have to tell you that I really hate the way you make me feel. I definitely respect the power that you hold but I'm here to tell you that I can't see you as much as I have in the past. It's really time for both of us to move on. Don't be sad, I'm sure that you'll still come and visit but it really has to be on a more limited basis from now on. You see, I've met someone named Happiness and I really like them and how they make me feel. I lose touch with Happiness here and there but I'm going to keep looking for them which means I have to spend less time with you. I've wanted to say this for a long time but finally had the courage to actually say something. Well, take care of yourself and I'm sure you'll be fine because there's more out there for you to see.
Best of luck and remember: Don't call me, I'll call you,
Ok so this is just a small example of what we can do but I honestly think it helps. If I have to write a thousand letters before I feel better, I will do that and I think you would too. It doesn't have to just be a letter to your issue. Write a letter to your family who may not understand the issues you are going through. You don't have to send it to them. Just the fact that you WROTE your feelings down can have a powerful impact. It's something that all of us can control so why not do it? I'll probably have to write this same letter tomorrow and I'll even have days when I don't want to write at all but just know that it is something that we can try to help make things better. Isn't that what we all want?
All joking aside, this post resonated with me. Worth a read: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/11/the-anxious-idiot/?src=me&ref=general
In Vivo Desensitization is defined as:
A variation of systematic desensitization in which the anxiety-arousing situations to which the person is exposed are real, rather than imagined.
This differs from Flooding, another technique for treating Anxiety, by using a more measured approach to treating Anxiety. Typically, with In Vivo Desensitization, the patient is gradually exposed to the actual feared stimulus over a period of sessions based on a hierarchical list of Anxiety evoking stimuli. The treatment is based on the theory that the fear response has been conditioned and that avoidance of the fear maintains the fear. The idea is that through exposure to the stimulus, this harmful conditioning can be “unlearned”.
Well back in 1958 John Wolpe developed a method of a creating a hierarchical list of anxiety evoking stimuli in order of intensity which allows patients to undergo adaption.
Wolpe further writes: “An Anxiety hierarchy is the thematically related list of anxiety evoking stimuli, ranked according to the amount of anxiety they evoke. There are a number of considerations in constructing desensitization hierarchies. First, suitable themes have to be identified around which anxiety-evoking stimuli can be clustered. Second, clients can be introduced to interviews in which therapists focus on other problems using other methods. A record is then kept of all scene presentations and their outcomes.
The sessions range in length of exposure and typically gets longer as the patient gets more into advanced stages.
As one of my largest fears is driving alone an example of a desensitization hierarchy might look like this.
The idea is that the patient exposes himself to the Anxiety, then uses relaxing techniques, and cognitive training to recover from the attempted step. Building upon each success it is possible to unlearn the Anxiety and replace it with positive conditioning.
In Vivo Desensitization is not for everyone and I strongly suggest you seek the guidance of a good therapist before attempting this on your own. It needs to be pointed out, that as you can learn good habits, you can also learn bad habits, so doing this therapy under the watchful eye of someone who is trained in this technique is vital. With that said using In Vivo Desensitization to treat Anxiety can really help you overcome your conditioned fears.