I posed this on my Bulletin Board…and thought to update my blog readers as well!
I am having my second phone counseling session this afternoon, and thought I’d update.
I am still struggling with the highways, especially when they are fast and crowded. Luckily for me, I live very close to the toll highway which can get me pretty far east and west and is usually comfortable for me…most places I can get to by regular roads after that. I have been working from home a lot (which makes more sense now that the nanny is gone anyways, and traffic to and form my office is so much worse after summer) so I can use that highway…since it is not close to my office.
I do continue to get onto the highways I don’t like, using coping techniques to get through it, and then get off when I feel too stressed. Yesterday I had to go to another town from my office and got off the busy highway (401 east for GTA people) twice! I got back on both times though.
I spoke to the therapist 2 weeks ago. She could not help much, and said the techniques I am using (continuing to expose myself, self talk, relaxation) are CBT and I just have to keep doing them and give myself time. She felt me going on, then getting off when I felt unsafe was a good technique to expose myself without getting too stressed.
However…I was reading a bit yesterday. I read (in several sources) that letting myself get off is not good. Even though I am getting on, when I get scared and get off I am reinforcing in my subconscious that the highway is a scary thing I need to save myself from, and increasing the anxiety, and reinforcing that the way to stop the anxiety is to avoid. This may well be true…because my efforts haven’t helped much. I haven’t had any full blown attacks recently, but only because I have been able to hold it together and get off when I feel them coming. Which is happening as often as ever.
I am supposed to stay on the highway when I get anxious, let myself get the attack and come out on the other-side…okay.
I get the theory behind that…but in practice…ugh. Terrifying. I keep telling myself (unfairly, I know) “Sure, that’s fine for social anxiety…being out isn’t really dangerous…but the roads really are. There are accidents and speeders all the time and people really are tailing me very fast and close to hitting me when I get off and if I stay on I really might get in an accident”. I don’t know how much of that is perception and how much is real though. Obviously the highways really can be dangerous (driving is likely the most dangerous thing we do on a regular basis!) but it is also still usually safe…and until a couple months ago I did it all the time with little (never none, I have always been a tad “highway shy”, especially when merging) worry or anxiety.
The thought of driving through the scary parts is terrifying to me. Telling myself “I can get off anytime” is one of the things that most helps me get on and stay on for a few interchanges in the first place. If I take away the option of getting off:
Anyways, I plan to talk this all over with the phone therapist later. This really sucks though. Yesterday after I got off I wanted to get on the next entrance…but there was a huge truck right behind me and I was too afraid to get on in front of the truck so I passed the entrance ramp and got on a few entrances later…I was so ashamed and angry at myself (again, getting on right in front of a big truck that I know while be barreling behind me to merge always would have made me a tad nervous…but never enough to not do it, just enough to breath a sigh or relief when I have merged safely).
Last week I had to stop at the end of the merge lane one day because I had not had a chance to merge. Of course it felt real…but I assume it wasn’t and I could have merged. In all my years of driving I have never been unable to merge before.
I just hate this so much. I am so angry at the asshole I got in the accident with. I feel like he has ruined my life!
In other updates…Charlotte is doing much better at pre-school. Sometimes she is a bit teary at drop-off, sometimes not…but she is not resisting going anymore and seems to be having good days. Zoe started grade 4 a couple days ago, and is happy with her class. Her teacher has an excellent reputation so that’s good!