I had such a great experience today speaking at an EPI group. I met with the coordinator earlier this week for the first time. She offered to give me a ride home after today's presentation. At first I was Okay with it, but as the days went by, Albert started putting fears and doubts in my head. "What if there's germs on the seat?" "who else is she driving? will they be clean?" "she is driving people you don't know, what will they be like?" were some of the things that were churning around in my head. so, last night I called my dad, who was already taking me TO the talk, if he could drive me home as well. He really encouraged me to deny Albert the ability to make me scared of riding in the other car. He encouraged me to use the things that I have been writing about and my coping mechanisms to defeat the anxious thoughts. I woke up this morning and thought "no. If I want to be a peer support worker, I have to get used to riding on buses and getting rides from different people in different cars. I can't rely on my dad to hold my hand and drive me everywhere I need to go. I am going to take the ride and make dad proud. I am going to push my anxiety limits and take a step forward in my recovery." so, when my dad picked me up, I told him that I was going to take the ride home in the Other car. I told him I want to make steps and beat Albert. so, I did my talk and rode home with the coordinator. I experienced very little to no anxiety on the ride home. I walked into my apartment and said "I did it. I beat Albert. I feel great." I feel so accomplished. I made a big step in putting Albert in his place.
So, what I want to write about today is diving head first into battling your anxieties. Put yourself in uncomfortable places and push yourself to remain calm and adapt to your surroundings. I had to learn how to do this with Speak Up.
I call Speak Up my "exposure therapy" because I had been in very uncomfortable places, had to ride in other cars, touch door handles, greet people, touch water bottles and papers and eat lunch. I also had to learn not to rely on the hand sanitizer so much. When I first started with Speak Up and Linda, I wouldn't get into her car without using hand sanitizer. Then at lunch time, out came the sanitizer. Same thing on the ride home. I was also very fearful of touching papers when other people had touched them, greeting teachers and receiving hugs from students. However, I kept going. I put myself in those uncomfortable places and forced myself to learn and adapt and change my ways of thinking so that I could function with everyone else. This last month with Speak Up was a true testament to how far I have come. I can ride in Linda's car with no anxiety. I can drink from and touch water bottles that other people have touched. I can open doors. I can eat lunch with no anxiety. I can do all these things because I exposed myself to the fear and I said NO. I told Albert that he was not going to defeat me and ruin my life. He was no longer going to drag me down. He was no longer going to slow my progress in my recovery.
So, try it. Face your fears head on. Dive right in. At first, it's going to be scary. However, as you continue to push yourself, you will learn that those fears aren't really a big deal. You will learn so much about yourself and your ability to cope in stressful and fearful situations