Really, exposure therapy? Really?

Enchanted Rock, Texas

This is an incredibly emotional post to write. I’ve been composing this for several days, and I hope that writing about it will make it less emotional to discuss.

My therapy has moved into so-called “exposure therapy,” in which I face symptoms of my panic attacks and other panic-inducing situations. It’s pretty scary, but it is pretty powerful stuff.

For example, I’ve hiked Enchanted Rock a dozen times over. When my boyfriend suggested that we check it out on our Hill Country vacation, I was pretty eager! We headed to Enchanted Rock State Park Tuesday with water, snacks, sunscreen, good athletic shoes, and bug repellant. One thing I didn’t even expect to bring was my newly developed fear of heights. This fear is, like I said, new to me, so it is frequently unexpected.

I got crazy vertigo going up E Rock, which triggered panic events. It was totally unexpected, disappointing, humbling, shaming, and kind of exhilarating. (That is to say, several times going up I got seriously freaked out by the heights and steepness of the incline when the wall of rock appeared.)

Going down the rock, we traversed great distances. I couldn’t really bear to look down much to opine as to best paths to travel — which was extremely frustrating because I’ve been trained to pick out hiking and bouldering paths! It’s an instinct that was over-run by sheer panic.

At one point, after following a series of boulders down a steep incline, we realized that we couldn’t climb over the boulders to join the trail. Seriously, we could not. It was a fine idea, but there was no way the two of us could’ve climbed those rocks without equipment that we didn’t have.

About this time, I had one of the two worst panic attacks of my life. One of my major triggers is my irrational fear that I can’t get home safely. And on that rock, I was convinced that I had no way home off the rock. Sheer will, tenacity, and a carote chop were all the skills availed to me. And, I suppose, a great deal of trust in my boyfriend.

For a panicked person such as me with a wacky, recently developed fear of heights, hiking 1850 feet is an accomplishment.

Unfortunately, I don’t have more pictures as I dropped my phone into water. This picture is one I took at a plateau in between panic attacks.


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