It's me again, still involved in CBT with an ACT / "Buddhistic" emphasis. I'm over seven months in now. I've been seeing my therapist twice weekly (55 minute sessions) for most of this time. This is an update on how it is going.
It is going great! Before the therapy, anxiety had taken over my life to the point where driving to the gas station required days of "planning" and intense feelings of dread and anxiety which caused me to become catatonic, sleep a lot, and sweat. Now, I not only attend to all my appointments and requirements of life (such as going to work, class, driving, grocery shopping, oil changes, etc.), I often "enjoy" doing these things. The anxiety is slowly being defeated. No longer do I worry in advance about what could go wrong or how to carry out simple social tasks. I just do them with little to no worry ahead of time.
I attribute this success to ACT helping me get space from my old thoughts and habits. And equally consequential has been gaining a sense of self... a new sense of who I am, along with good feelings and thoughts involving pride, a sense of worth, strength, and a sense that I contribute to this world. I am also less dependent on the (perceived) signals from others around me to define myself. The sense of my self is increasingly coming from within, with its foundation being me as a practitioner of ACT and meditation.
If driving to going to class begins to worry me, I can easily overcome it by first pointing out that the worry is based on old stories about myself and class. These are just stories. Then, I tell myself that this class does not define who I am. If the class goes well, or somehow goes badly, I still have myself, which will not be destroyed. I can depend on myself. After class, I will go home and meditate. And that simple act gives me enough self-structure to endure things that were impossible before, like going to class.
Lastly, ACT was so successful with me because of my personality type. My ACT therapist told me that this transformation was up to me. ACT and he weren't here to institute new, top-down policies to control me. They were were as tools for me. I am a very independent person who hates authority and the feeling of being controlled. Also, I have a hard time "surrendering" to any person or therapy-type... how dare someone or some therapy claim it knows better than I do regarding my self! Maybe this is because I grew up atheist? My destiny is my own to control, I was taught. Anyway, but ACT allowed me my own way out. I felt like I was in the pilot's seat during ACT. So I embraced it fully and felt no resentment or resistance along the way, even when major changes were happening in my life, feelings, thoughts, and sense of self during the therapy.
I'll try to update again in a couple months. By the way, six months before I began ACT I was put on Celexa, the positive effects of which I was already enjoying long before ACT, and I believe still exist today.