When I was 17, I was introduced to exposure therapy. Due to a few factors, like having a really nice psychologist, not being depressed and going onto a successful medication - my exposure therapy worked significantly well.
By Ida Anderson
First of all, my psychologist learnt not to put any demands on me. He knew about PDA and realised demands would stress me more than anything. Instead of demands, it would be more like a suggestion and asking what I might like to try. He didn’t mind if I didn’t do the suggestion as this way, I didn’t feel pressured.
The therapy was very gradual, and we only started off by doing small things at first. Even if it was just to make it to therapy that week. Eventually I was doing things like going to the shop with my mum and having my mum buy something. I would go to the shop on the way to therapy, so I only had to get ready once a week.
We then moved onto bigger things like walking the dog with my mum and going into a shop more locally. (I prefer going to shops further away so no one will recognise me.)
My psychologist was very understanding and would always be so pleased with the smallest things I did. And It was nice having someone who recognised what a big accomplishment things were for me. Whenever I did something and left the house, I would always think “my psychologist would be so proud of me for doing this”.
Plus, my psychologist was trying to make me realise going out is a normal thing. That the more I did it, the less stressful it would become. I started feeling much more comfortable going to certain places, especially the hospital where my therapy took place.
The exposure therapy was mainly for leaving the house and even though it wasn’t focused on my OCD or BDD - they both got better. I believe this was because not only was I on a successful medication, but my therapy made me feel calmer with leaving the house. Therefore, I was less stressed and could manage my OCD and BDD more.
My exposure therapy went on for 9 months until I turned 18. It made me very sad that it had to stop, just because I turned into an “adult”. During the whole 9 months, I might have missed only 2 sessions, which has been a great achievement for me and my longest lasting therapy. To this day I really miss my psychologist and whenever something bad or good happens, I wish I still had him to talk to.