(photo credit -
Toward the end of March, I mentioned my problem with anxiety and showering. I came up with a few strategies to deal with it, and I am happy to report, I am on the upswing with this. It's not over by any means, but I think I am over the panic portion. I still get anxious, but I am able to deal with that aspect. Here are the strategies that I (and my husband) came up with.
First off, I owe my husband and huge thanks and a lot more. He gave me an "assignment" not long after my initial post. He told me he didn't care if I took a shower or not, he wanted me to get in and out of the tub every single day by the end of the day. I haven't missed a day yet. When he first gave me this assignment, I had many days where my panic went out of control. Another little rule to his assignment, I had to do it alone, I couldn't have him come in with me. In the beginning, like I said, my panic ruled, and I needed to text him to come help me get out several times.
That was the start of everything. I needed to reassure myself of what was going on. What was I afraid of? The shower seat tipping over? OK, I sat outside the tub, and literally tilted the shower seat back as far as it would go until it fell over. It went pretty far over, and I serious doubt I could tip it over on purpose when I was sitting on it. Well, I could, but it would take a lot of effort. The second thing my evil mind came up with was the shower seat legs. Would they collapse under me? So I turned the shower seat upside down and I gave the legs a good yank. They wiggled a bit, but they're supposed to have some movement so they can fit in the tub. I yanked harder, and they were sturdy. Not going to collapse. One last shower seat test I did was to take the seat out of the tub and sit on it. I tried to put as much weight as I could on the seat by holding on to the counter and picking both feet off the floor. No problem at all. These seat tests helped me with my fear of getting my right leg in and out of the tub once I was already seated. No more problems with the actual getting in and out. Phew.
Now that I've determined the shower seat is good, we go on to my other "issue". I found myself having more panic when I was soapy (sorry if it's TMI, but I'm keeping it real here). My soapy butt would slip and slide all over the seat and that would have me "seeing" myself flying off the seat (I have a very very vivid imagination, always have). My solution to this problem was to place a towel on the seat and sit on the towel. Much better! No more sliding around. I used this towel strategy for 4 or 5 showers, and then I decided enough was enough. I wasn't going to fly off the seat. I had enough confidence that I managed to shower without the towel. One thing I didn't mention...since this all started, I began shaving my legs outside the tub. I had that feeling of being pulled forward so I didn't like to bend over.
Not only is the seat fine, I now know I'm not going to fly off or slide off the seat when soapy. I am still working on shaving my legs in the tub. The last 3 or 4 showers I've taken, I have shaved in the tub, but I am still using modifications. I hold on the the tub tap or I hold on to the shower safety bar when I do it. I need to work on doing it without holding on to anything. To my rational thinking, it's OK to still use these adaptations, but in the back of my mind I still here my college advisor (another story for another time) say to me, "We can't keep putting up Band-Aids for you." Like I said, that statement deserves a whole post on it's own (and I will rant a lot). I keep thinking about that statement, and it makes me want to get back to where I was. I'll get there, it will just take time.
I think that wraps things up. I still have anxiety with showering, but it's nowhere near as bad as it once was. I'm sure panic will rear it's ugly head in the future, but I now have a handful of strategies to get me back on track. This will be an ongoing thing from now on, but that's OK. As long as I don't go back into avoidance mode, and as long as I keep up with my husband's assignment every day, I'll be ahead of the curve.
This was one of my longer bouts of anxiety and panic. It was a long haul, but I survived. It's scary, but if you deal with panic and anxiety, face it head on and deal with it. Find creative solutions to help you get through it. Practice makes perfect (well, with everything except public speaking). So keep it up.