I would guess it’s going too far too fast.. I actually have 'too much' of a reaction with exposure, but just as equally I cognitively know in retrospect it shouldn't be such a big physical reaction (eg to run, etc). Do you know what I'm doing wrong so that I could fix it?
(I know. Don’t smack me. Pretending to, or throwing a water bottle at me is totally within bounds!)
For example? When I was first dealing with my crowds trigger, I didn’t start off by spending ANY time in a crowd. I started by spending time on rooftops. Not even looking at the crowd. Just knowing they were down there was enough to send a sheen of sweat across my skin and amp up my heart rate, and forget about thinking of going down there myself. So I didn’t think about it. And I didn’t stay long on the roof itself, until my instincts “knew” I was just going to the roof. Nothing more. I brought cigarettes & music/books up to the roof and just sat. Smoked. Watched the stars. Ate food. Read books. Once I calmed down, and stayed that way, I’d go back to my rooms. Always in control. Always.
Eventually I started watching the crowds, now and again, before returning to my little rooftop oasis, far far away from them (not just physically, but mentally/emotionally). Then I watched the crowd a lot. Saw the patterns. The ebb and flow. And I started changing position. Different angles on the roof. Different roofs. Until the entire thing became boring, no aspect of being on the roof -or the crowd below- provoked ANY kind of reaction. So I started moving down. Terraces. Balconies. Fire escapes. Always with my “stuff to do”, and umpteen escape routes. If any aspect of it ever started to provoke a REAL reaction, and not just a shiver, and settle? Even a vague sense of unease was enough to send me back a level or three, until I was tranquila… the same way when I first started going to the roof I wouldn’t even think of the crowd below, and would eat/read/smoke/listen to music/watch the stars/etc…. or would return to my rooms.
I was on the roof hundreds -possibly thousands- of times before the roof itself became boring &/or my happy-little-oasis of music/stars/away from everything. The cigarettes helped, because that’s where I smoked (and also they timed my breathing, but I’ve sorted plenty of triggers and stressors without them… just being honest about vices, here). So when I say hundreds/thousands? I’m talking about both the little 2 minute half a smoke before my hackles rose, as well as the 4 hours sunbathing & reading… and I’m talking about a timeframe of a few weeks/months. Not years.
But still? NOT in the crowd. Nowhere near. Not even looking down. 8 or 5 stories up.
It took a few months before I started moving down, and across, and started getting closer & closer to provoke the same reaction that first just being on the roof itself provoked.
But that also meant I was chipping away at the trigger.
Until eventually? I was AT street level. Still not in the crowd. Just at the edges of it.
And there were still something like 20 some odd “steps” to go, before the trigger was over & done for, and no longer a trigger. They weren’t planned out, like first this, then that. Instead it was feeling around the edges of the thing. Finding the places where I needed to pause. Until I wasn’t just in the crowd, but agile (and invisible) in ANY crowd.
From panic attacks to rooftops to ghosting in and out of anywhere… perfectly at ease/in my element.