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.