She no longer throws temper tantrums when we hand her the keys to the car. Her voice is clear and thoughtful during sessions with the therapist, as if a light bulb clicked on inside her head. There’s now a comfort and understanding that comes from the therapy and with time and practice it lessens the anxiety.
The anxiety, I’m sure, will always be there. That’s not the goal of the sessions. The goal is to give her the opportunity to live her life as fully as possible. She’s understanding how to recognize the unrealistic fears and to accept her homework, exposing herself to what frightens her.
There are no easy fixes, no cure-all pill. There’s only a lot of little steps, tweaks to behavior that reduce the stress associated with the things that we take for granted. Will she be able to grocery shop and ask for help, explain to her doctor what hurts, ask her professor for clarification, find someone to have lunch with?
Taking in the whole picture is like eating an elephant in one bite. It’s too big. But by breaking down the problem into manageable pieces to work through, with consistent practice, is the only way to break down the walls.
One problem at a time, whether it be driving, we make her do it more often, or order her sandwich at Subway, I always make her go in by herself. Because practice breeds familiarity which lessens the anxiety.
I hear in my daughter’s voice it’s stronger, less tearful, honest, with me, her father, her therapist. She understands why we’re doing this, this intense training to overcome certain anxiety. She’s no longer a reluctant participant. Though it’s still not easy, it’s manageable and that makes it worthwhile.