Coping suggestions for exposure method???? Help!

I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder when I was in seventh grade. My anxiety only manifests itself through worry that something will happen to my mom. She is a runner and I have panic attacks every time she goes for a run...worrying that she won't return or something will happen. I know it is stupid and unlikely but I can't shake it. My mom is a bit wreak less. She runs or 3 hours deep in the woods by herself without a phone. She takes risks so it's not like I am completely wrong to worry. I am almost 20 now though and am leaving for college on August (I took a gap year to try and get a hold of my sanity!). I'm going 10 hours away and I'm terrified. I'm scared I will have panic attacks and be trapped up there with no one to help me and with no one to look after my mom. I am on Zoloft and clonopin and haven't felt any results even though it's been almost 2 years since I started the meds. I have had cognitive behavioral therapy and have seen multiple therapists and psychiatrists. This anxiety is a constant battle. Every day I panic and worry and am controlled by this anxiety. I know exposure is the best cure so I am hoping that leaving and separating myself from my mom and doing WHT terrifies me will ultimately cure me but I need advice on how to get through the months that are looming ahead. Any suggestions?
Posted in Advice, asked by ErinCY5, 3 years ago. 471 hits.

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This is a big exposure you're planning! I hope you've been building up to it with smaller exposure tasks. My best suggestion is to do just that - build up, in whatever time you've got between now and then, with things that are less scary for you than the move. I also recommend looking around online and trying to line up some professional help in your new town by making contact before you actually get there, so you know you have someone there for backup if you need it. As for the coping skills for during exposure tasks...I'm sure you know breathing is key, aside from that, you can try developing some kind of mantra in your head to repeat over and over in a soothing sort of voice (it can help to stop your thoughts from racing or being negative, if you're focusing them on repeating something else), try to create a "safe place" for you there (ie. somewhere furnished/smelling just like home, or whatever you need to feel safe) that you can go to calm down, journal your feelings... But more importantly - journal your successes. Even the smallest successes over anxious feelings (and surviving through the height of an attack counts!), and exactly how you feel during the success, so you can re-read later. You can even try writing yourself a pep-talk letter now, before you're actually "in it". Reminding yourself that you'll get through, and that everything is okay, and whatever else you need/want to tell your future, anxious self. As I think of any more suggestions of things you could try, I'll post them here! Not necessarily going to work for you just because it's worked for me, or people I know, but everything's worth a shot, right? :)
3 years ago


Hi Erin, you sound a lot like me in some ways. Although you are right, your worries about your Mom are founded-I mean I would worry too. That said, I also don't do well thinking that I'm going to be somewhere far away and I'll be trapped. I give you credit for even considering going away. Sometimes I have to go some where that I really don't want to go. And I have a book called "When Panic Attacks" By David Burns. It's also available on CD. I think I've read every book on anxiety. Taking what helped me from each book. But this book? Was the most helpful book I have ever read. Just having it on hand makes me feel more confident, and I use it when needed. He's got a section in the book about what type of therapy might work best for you too, and several different ways to help you with your anxiety depending on what suits you. What works for someone else may not work as well or as fast for you. You can always order the book on line, or you can even run to the library and see if they have it. I found the book to be so invaluable that I keep it on my book shelf for referencing. I thought I might mention this to you because the book really helped me far more than any other I had ever read. Good luck!
3 years ago


Wow, that is certainly what i call taking action. I think there's some incredibly useful advice here, and would certainly take that on board. I think you're incredibly brave taking this head on, if it's possible to, mention your concerns to your mum, if that is appropriate to do so, and see if there is something you can work out there. I find that when i used to go through a severe pancic attack and constantly worry about something, the best thing i could do was just, relax, breathe, and just allow whatever thoughts that were playing in my head to just leave, without over-analysing it. I found that the more i fighted, resisted, got frustrated, worried etc, the more stressed i got, and usually to the point i felt my head was going to explode. I used to have a very strong belief that everyone around me was going to die, it sounds crazy, i know, and i had this anxiety for many years. I think what i learnt about it from hindsight, is that very often we worry and get stressed etc, because we think something is wrong. We then think about this over and over, and it's not long before we are in a complete state of distress. What worked well for me, was just imagining everything being okay, everyone being safe and secure, and i would get that feeling as if that was the case. Any thoughts that said bad things were going to happen, i would just let those thoughts go. As mentioned above, it sounds like you could really do with professional support and assistance. With therapists , make sure you find someone who really listens to you and treats you as an individual rather than just another client.
3 years ago
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