Monthly Archives: April 2019

AGORAPHOBIA~ TRYING TO EXPLAIN IT AND LIVING WITH IT

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After spending a week in my state’s local psychiatric facility I realized I did need help and I needed to make some big changes in my life.

Unfortunately I wasn’t really given the tools or resources to deal with my biggest problems that have been preventing me from living the life I want to for a very long time.

I did what probably a lot of us have done and looked for some self-help books.

I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, and Conversion Disorder (not sure if it’s still called that). The Anxiety Disorders started when I was around 8-10 years old and have been the most debilitating.

I always thought Agoraphobia was like what you see in the movies. The person is unable to leave their house without collapsing or having a full blown panic attack. I was wrong.

Agoraphobia¬†is actually related to Social Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks. With Social Anxiety Disorder the person becomes anxious around social situations like meeting new people, public scrutiny, starting conversations, speaking to authority figures, dating, etc. This can lead to panic attacks where you feel fear, impending doom, nausea, dizziness, trembling or shaking, have trouble breathing, hot and cold flashes, a lump in your throat, sweating, or chest pain. Some of these symptoms you’ll have with Social Anxiety anyway but with a panic attack you’ll have more of them and they will be bad enough to where you start avoiding social situations or anything that makes you feel this way.

Little by little you begin to limit your contact with society.

With Agoraphobia you only feel safe in certain environments or with specific people.

Being away from home or the people/person you feel safest with fills you with anxiety. Your anxiety increases each time your safe places or people are too far away or unavailable to you and what you feel becomes intolerable.

You stay home more often and begin to isolate yourself. Your safe places/people can start to shrink if your Agoraphobia goes untreated. Some people do become confined to their home or bedroom.

Agoraphobia has a higher risk of occurring in late adolescence and young adulthood. A second period of higher risk occurs later in life after the age of 40.

Agoraphobia is thought to be passed on in families and/or environmental. It’s also a chronic disorder and reoccurring if left untreated.

HOW THIS RELATES TO ME

Ok, I’m not very good with time periods so cut me some slack. In my early teens and lasting into my early 20’s I couldn’t go anywhere alone. Either my twin, best friend, or a parent had to be with me. I couldn’t put gas in my car by myself, go to the grocery store, the mall, or the movies, alone. I never did anything alone.

I’m not sure what changed except that I began drinking but I remember going to the mall alone and my entire family being shocked. It could be when the Bipolar Disorder started or that I wanted to look pretty for a guy I drank with, I don’t know. It would happen again.

At some point I tried to quit drinking and my anxiety in general was overwhelming. I believe I was in my late 20’s and it lasted a year. I spent most of the year in my bedroom watching movies and reading books. I lived with my parents who never made me go to the store or leave my room if I didn’t want to. I think they were just happy I wasn’t drinking. I was afraid of everything. I declined all offers to go anywhere with anyone.

Ten years ago when my Mom passed away it started again. The only reason I think it ended before was that my parents eventually forced me to go back to work and my Mom had been diagnosed with Lung Cancer. My love for her forced me to help take care of her and work. When she passed, everything crumbled.

I knew I couldn’t go back completely to the way I was because my Dad needed me. The first few years my Dad and I spent a lot of time together. Then I started to go up to my bedroom earlier and earlier where I would watch movies and chain smoke. I cut myself off from everyone again and it started to become difficult to go places by myself. My Dad started to fall back into the habit of going to the store for me. When I think back on it I can see how bad it was and how codependent we both were.

What forced me out of my room this time was my Dad getting sick and me having to take care of him until he passed away. I don’t regret that for a minute.

Recently I’ve had to face going to a Laundry Mat for the first time and thought I would throw up and die. I didn’t.

I’m trying to move from Rhode Island to Florida, for someone like me this is like trying to climb Mount Everest naked. I’m still trying and struggling but I want some happiness in my life for a change so I need to find a way to do it.

Thank you all who read my blog you help keep me going.


IS IT A HALLUCINATION?

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I mistakenly thought my twin sister and I were on the same page. It turns out I was very wrong. This has caused a set back for me. I will no longer share anything with her. I don’t have many people in my life and find it extremely difficult to make friends. When you’ve had Social Phobia/Anxiety that went undiagnosed for as long as you can remember this usually happens.

My twin says she takes no responsibility for my recent hospitalization. I agreed to being hospitalized because she gave me the ultimatum of going or she would no longer be in my life in any way. She also said I had ruined her life and was ruining her marriage with “my illness”. I felt scared, guilty, and ashamed. It didn’t help that I could hear our older brother coming on to my Dad’s property at night and my Dad had just passed away. It was a lot to deal with.

The hospital stay was horrible, while I was there my one best friend and her boyfriend were driving by the house to see if anything was going on. She works for the post office and asked the people who deliver in my area to keep an eye out too. She also knows a family in my neighborhood. It’s sad that someone not in my family went to all this trouble to find out the truth instead of automatically thinking “D is Bipolar and under stress so she must be hallucinating”.

On 2 occasions my car and my Dad’s car were not in the driveway. I was in the hospital and my Dad was in the Cemetery, so who was driving the cars? There were trucks parked outside the house on several days and we were not having any work done, no one was home. I told my best friend what color they were and she confirmed it. These were all people my brother knew.

I was tired of lying to my twin sister after I was released from the hospital. My brother and his girlfriend were still coming here around the same time each night and leaving around the same time every morning. My brother would leave first because he had to be to work earlier and she would wait until a friend picked her up 45 minutes later.

I’m still adjusting to all the errors made with my medications and the problem that I was being glutened at every lunch and dinner by accident. So I haven’t been feeling well physically. My sister didn’t react well when I told her our brother was still coming on the property. She yelled at me “I thought you were doing so well! I thought you were getting better!”. Still not listening to me or the fact that other people have actually seen him.

When she came to see me in the Hospital she treated it like a day at the zoo. I was hurt and angry at her behavior. This is how she sees me, if says otherwise she is lying. I’m not a person to her. I’m a burden or a problem to fix.

My brother has done things so disgusting that his own children have said to his face they wish he was dead. Their mother is dying from Pancreatic Cancer and he took her GOFUNDME account leaving them with nothing. How can my sister doubt what I’m saying?

I’ve researched Auditory Hallucinations until I can’t see anymore and I don’t fit any of the criteria. My file now has that I am paranoid and should be kept away from guns and any other weapons! I find all of this offensive. And yes, I also feel a deep shame. I now carry an extra label on me that I don’t deserve.

Are there people with severe mental illness who can be violent? Yes there are and there is a specific protocol with testing and interviews in place to TRY to make sure they don’t hurt themselves or others. It often fails. People often wait until they are years into their disease to seek treatment if they do at all. Let me be VERY CLEAR the percentage of violent mentally ill people is much, much, lower than any other population. The mentally ill are more likely to have violence done against them.

Most of us are intelligent, sensitive, human beings who just feel everything a little too much, or have that hole inside that aches all the time but we can’t explain why, or have trouble speaking around groups of people so we withdraw or drink so we can speak. There are millions of variations of “illness” that change constantly. Unfortunately what doesn’t change is how society still sees us.

I’m still scared and angry but eventually I’ll get past it. What’s in my file stays there forever.

 


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