I was writing in my journal this morning (I love my paper and pens. Stationary whore right here.) and one of the things I was reflecting upon was my progress with my CBT. Or how I felt (as I seem to before every appointment with my therapist) more like my lack of progress.
In our last session, we devised a plan where I would expose myself to more environments where there would be balloons e.g. shopping centre, restaurants, events etc and try to manage my distress levels. Bonus if it involved a toddler with a balloon! But this has not happened. I could possibly use the reason that I have returned to work so am still getting my head round my time management, but this would probably just be an excuse. Trying to avoid avoidance is hard, especially as I feel like I want my therapist to know I am trying and doing my best to make this work for me. I feel like such a people pleaser at times – like at work I feel like I want to work really hard so I’m doing at least my fair share so that I am seen as an asset and valued for being there.
Anyway, I digress.
Progress hadn’t been made in the way I’d hoped, so I had a little word with myself. I’m at the stage of CBT now where the exposure is getting more and more scary in terms of being unable to tolerate my distress. I remembered there was a balloon in the crisp box on the top shelf (don’t ask) so I got it down and gave it to toddler to play with. I still put my hands up to my ears a couple of times, despite trying to remind myself it was just a feeling and I was to observe it from afar. I managed to let him have it for a few minutes before I burst it myself with a pin.
Admittedly, I burst it so it wouldn’t be there and wouldn’t be a threat anymore. I then blew up and burst 3 more balloons in succession (making a game of it for toddler) and realised that this is the current limit of my comfort zone.
When I am doing it myself, I am in control and although the noise still starts me a little bit this is where I’m at and where I feel I need to keep working on it. Even if it means me standing alone in the kitchen blowing up and bursting balloons, and it’s a sideways diversion from what I was “supposed” to be doing, it’s still progress.
I think I’m still in awe that a lifelong phobia is slowly being chipped away at the grand old age of 31.
This willingness malarkey is really helping too; I willingly ran 6k last night and will willingly go and pick up husband from the station later.