My Drive in the Rain: Exposure Therapy to Help Anxiety
Thursday, July 5 2018 Elizabeth Caudy
Yesterday, I forced myself to drive in the rain. My schizoaffective anxiety makes me afraid to drive in the rain. I know a lot of people don't like driving in bad weather. But, for me, the dislike is a lot more intense. I didn't have a problem with it until my schizoaffective anxiety got really bad. And then, yesterday, I made myself drive in the rain. Here's what came of that.
Why I Took a Drive in the Rain
My therapist and I have been working on my schizoaffective anxiety with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). I do exposure exercises as part of the CBT, all under the guidance of my therapist. An exposure exercise is when you make yourself try the thing you're afraid of doing. So, since I'm afraid of driving in the rain, I made myself do just that.
I drove to my pharmacy to pick up a prescription. I didn't have to pick it up yesterday. I could have waited until tomorrow when it's supposed to be sunny. But I wanted to turn this drive in the rain into a successful exposure exercise.
I was really scared the whole time I was driving. That's why exposure exercises are so hard--you're purposely pursuing something that scares you. You're guaranteed to get anxious. And, I don't know about you, but my schizoaffective anxiety makes me very afraid.
Taking Back My Life from Schizoaffective Anxiety
However, there is an upside to this. Now I have more confidence to drive in the rain. That's what exposure exercises are designed to do--expose yourself to the thing that makes you anxious until you become less afraid of it. This takes a lot of practice and lots of people aren't up for it. After how terrified I was yesterday, I don't know if I'm up for it again, to be honest. But, now I can tell myself, "I could do it once so I can do it again."
Of course, I also remind myself of all the other times I took a drive in the rain before it made me so anxious. It wasn't pleasant, but I didn't have an almost debilitating fear of it.
Right now, my schizoaffective anxiety is like a pot that is boiling over. It's taking control of my life. That's why I have to keep pushing on with the exposure exercises, even if they make me scared.
I have to do whatever it takes to make sure anxiety's grip on me loosens, even just a little bit, so that I can take back my life and drive in the rain.