Quote from Guest on January 11, 2021, 1:06 am
I can tell by your post that you have a confirmation bias where the only conclusion is that you will get infected regardless of the facts. There is no amount of evidence anyone can give you that will convince you otherwise thusly you must accept that the only way to overcome this fear is to assume the risk. Clearly you have two major triggers: gay men and Africans. Your ultimate goal should then be to be in the presence of these people without performing compulsions. You need to work up to that.
start by going outside after a package gets delivered and stand by the fence. Stand there until the anxiety subsides by half then refuse to ruminate. By that I mean stop thinking about the fact that you may have contracted hiv. The fear is there already stop directing attention to it and go about your day. If even this is too high you need to make a hierarchy and start with something that is a 5/10 on an anxiety scale. It should be difficult and feel unsafe but not impossible. Eventually you want to be able to stand out there and say “maybe I will contract HIV, I may never know” and then don’t try to find an answer or convince yourself otherwise! Just let that question sit there. Work up to touching the fence. Meeting the delivery person at the door and going to a gay bar or an African community gathering.
the point is not the exposures but the response prevention. You are avoiding and ruminating. If you touch something, don’t wash your hands. You can start by not washing for x mins but work to not washing at all.
the only way to face it is hard work and accepting the risk. No one and I mean no one will be able to convince you it’s improbable. No amount of evidence will make you safe. You have to take the risk and refuse reaction (compulsions). Write out things you’re avoiding, I’ve given you some ideas already, and rate them on a scale of 1-10. Write down what you do in those situations to keep yourself safe. Start at a 5 and expose yourself to it and - this is key - DON’T DO ANY OF THE THINGS YOU DO TO KEEP YOURSELF SAFE!! This includes mentally/vocally reassuring yourself or analyzing the situation. It can be as simple as opening your door right after a delivery person leaves and shutting it and then refusing to tell yourself that you don’t have hiv or looking up anything on the internet or trying to figure out if you do. Assume the risk. Your anxiety will rise, peak, and then slowly come down. If it lasts longer than 90min It might be too high of an exposure. It may only come down by half and then linger for hours. It may not come down by a lot at all if it is a higher level. This is all normal. The point is to learn that you can assume the risk. Not that it will never happen. Start at a 5 and stop avoiding everything 4 and below! Just make yourself do those without response to them.
do the exposure 3-10 times a day, every day. You can even do two or three at one time, especially if you’re doing 4 and below. Then do 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 with the goal of being around these groups of people without response or rumination. You should be able to greet the delivery person, touch your door, and hang out with groups of people that scare you. No one can give you the courage you just have to accept the risk. That’s why you start at a 5 and not a 10. Be committed and do it no matter how unsafe it feels or how bad of a day you are having. Stick to a schedule, do it on schedule and REFUSE RESPONSE!! Don’t reassure yourself, don’t analyze, don’t look stuff up, after the exposure you go on about your day without undoing all the work upu did during the exposure. Do the exposures even when they don’t scare you anymore. Avoidance is how ocd starts. Keep doing them. Stay committed. That’s the only way.