Updated: Mar 27, 2021
I couldn’t recommend therapy more – talking to someone who listens and doesn’t judge, and learning some invaluable skills. I want to talk about how Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has helped me. Through CBT, I learnt about associative learning which has been really helpful for managing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
I have known several traumas, but the one which causes PTSD for me the most is rape. I was raped in 2007, during my trip to Africa. I was in my tent and I was wearing a green GAP jumper. Funny how certain details are never forgotten.
Not surprisingly, reminders of Africa and tents are often triggers for my PTSD. And I never thought I would wear a GAP jumper again. It isn’t fear as such; certainly anxiety, but more sadness and anger.
In March 2020, I decided I needed to overcome my anxiety. So, I purchased a nice pink GAP jumper. Using associative learning, I would choose occasions to wear it and teach myself to associate it with good memories. I wore it while grooming ponies. I wore it out walking with friends. It was very hard at first, but I gradually learnt to avoid the intrusive thoughts by reminding myself I was safe and happy, having fun times with friends and gorgeous animals. Eventually, I learnt to wear my jumper on ‘average’ days, and I can now walk down the street without feeling anxious when I see a GAP top. They will always stand out slightly, but I have taken control and won a long-time battle.
Therapy is a long and challenging but worthwhile journey. It can be hard to find the right person and build your trust, but it’s worth the patience. I recently found the most perfect person for help with bulimia and I’d been looking for at least a year. Remember it’s ok to ask for help whenever you need it. It’s not been easy, but I know I am taking huge steps to reclaiming my life and freedom.