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Exposure Therapy

S0CCERGlRL

Getting The Hang Of It
Joined
Jul 22, 2020
Messages
35
#1
I haven’t been in public for the past 3 years due to a fear of unknown men that occurred from past abuse. I do everything online including my grocery shopping. This week I started exposure therapy. I’m starting out small by taking 1-2 walks a day, not hiding in the house when an unfamiliar person is at my door, getting the mail during daylight hours instead of the middle of the night when no one is out, and sitting on my bench on the porch not running inside when an unfamiliar male walks by but instead putting my head down and repeating “I’m okay, I’m okay” until they are gone. My therapist says this is a great way to start and doesn’t want me to rush into things so I don’t withdraw and stop trying. When I take my walks I’m either walking the old cemetery in town or around the park by my house making sure no one else is at the park prior to my walks. I’m feeling “safe” enough when checking the mail and when unknown people are at my door as long as I’m not the one getting the door, but the anxiety is still pretty bad when I take my walks, and sit on my porch. Does anyone have good advice on help with anxiety while in public? I know I can’t avoid people on my walks or them walking past my porch forever.
 

Sunfl0wer

Rebuilding
Got Keys
Joined
May 23, 2016
Messages
5,099
#2
:thinking
Since COVID, it actually helps me that people gotta stay a distance from others in grocery store and such. Helps me feel like the patterns of people moving is less unpredictable, somewhat more orderly than before. Also I prefer wearing a literal mask in public usually.

Yet idk... I am not afraid of “unknown men.” I just am generally more anxious outside the comfort of my car and home, more like a mild hint of my past agoraphobia I guess. So what works for me could be different.

It sounds like it is going well tho... and at a pace that feels ok for you. It is important for me to listen and respect my anxiety while negotiating with my self what is ok.

Something that helps me though I struggle with it... is to have a plan for likely issues that could happen. A lot of people keep a baseball bat or golf club or such by their bedroom door to grab. I often look for a weapon when approaching my front door, just so I know I have a way to defend myself, otherwise I am likely to space out and go into a freeze response for an attack. Helps me to feel better to train my brain to fight instead of freeze, but maybe that could put you on hyper alert vs relaxing/feeling safer, idk. .

idk... when it comes to slow desensitization for me... helps me to get comfy thinking of the anxiety provoking stuff... then finding ways to sit with it which neutralize the affect on me. For example... was about to feel anxious today washing laundry in the tub, annoyed... then I was able to recall some positive stuff about washing laundry in tub as a teen while sorta homeless... it was a good memory... so holding the feeling of safe and secure in the context of what I was doing, on my knees washing... helped smooth out my experience and neutralize it... if that makes sense. Like perhaps there was a time you went to the door and got chocolates delivered or a surprise friend and it wasn’t a scary thing to check a door. Holding the positive thing near the anxiety thoughts can help dampen the sympathetic reaction and bring it down if that makes sense. Sometimes when I am anxious, I imagine my friend with me who always makes me feel soothed and safe. We haven’t been good friends in a while cause our paths have drifted... but thinking of him near still calms me and helps me feel safe as it is easy for me to imagine words he would say that are kind and nurturing.

Sometimes I feel anxious at bedtime... I imagine some safe space I been practicing on or a friends kind look at me, or calming music.

Oh... I also gotta check general anxiety producing stuff and ensure it is at a minimum... like caffeine, sugars, foods that add to inflammation like acidic stuff, getting enough sleep, keeping an orderly environment, not skipping self care stuff that would make me generally anxious such as being late on a bill or such.
 

S0CCERGlRL

Getting The Hang Of It
Joined
Jul 22, 2020
Messages
35
#3
:thinking
Since COVID, it actually helps me that people gotta stay a distance from others in grocery store and such. Helps me feel like the patterns of people moving is less unpredictable, somewhat more orderly than before. Also I prefer wearing a literal mask in public usually.

Yet idk... I am not afraid of “unknown men.” I just am generally more anxious outside the comfort of my car and home, more like a mild hint of my past agoraphobia I guess. So what works for me could be different.

It sounds like it is going well tho... and at a pace that feels ok for you. It is important for me to listen and respect my anxiety while negotiating with my self what is ok.

Something that helps me though I struggle with it... is to have a plan for likely issues that could happen. A lot of people keep a baseball bat or golf club or such by their bedroom door to grab. I often look for a weapon when approaching my front door, just so I know I have a way to defend myself, otherwise I am likely to space out and go into a freeze response for an attack. Helps me to feel better to train my brain to fight instead of freeze, but maybe that could put you on hyper alert vs relaxing/feeling safer, idk. .

idk... when it comes to slow desensitization for me... helps me to get comfy thinking of the anxiety provoking stuff... then finding ways to sit with it which neutralize the affect on me. For example... was about to feel anxious today washing laundry in the tub, annoyed... then I was able to recall some positive stuff about washing laundry in tub as a teen while sorta homeless... it was a good memory... so holding the feeling of safe and secure in the context of what I was doing, on my knees washing... helped smooth out my experience and neutralize it... if that makes sense. Like perhaps there was a time you went to the door and got chocolates delivered or a surprise friend and it wasn’t a scary thing to check a door. Holding the positive thing near the anxiety thoughts can help dampen the sympathetic reaction and bring it down if that makes sense. Sometimes when I am anxious, I imagine my friend with me who always makes me feel soothed and safe. We haven’t been good friends in a while cause our paths have drifted... but thinking of him near still calms me and helps me feel safe as it is easy for me to imagine words he would say that are kind and nurturing.

Sometimes I feel anxious at bedtime... I imagine some safe space I been practicing on or a friends kind look at me, or calming music.

Oh... I also gotta check general anxiety producing stuff and ensure it is at a minimum... like caffeine, sugars, foods that add to inflammation like acidic stuff, getting enough sleep, keeping an orderly environment, not skipping self care stuff that would make me generally anxious such as being late on a bill or such.
when it comes to checking the front door I do have pepper spray on my key ring. I can always buy another and hang it by the door just in case. I think that would help some. Even feel a little better just thinking about it, thanks.
As for the walks I’m not sure exactly what to do. When I’m out on my walks I have my pepper spray, and pocket knife with me but the anxiety is still pretty high even on anxiety meds. If I see someone of the opposite gender I freeze or walk away from them in fear. My mother is here visiting and is helping by having me visit family members who are males. The males we are visiting yes I know them, but I don’t know know them if that makes sense. I just see them at the family reunion every other year.
 
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