There are quite a few therapists, who are arguing what Agoraphobia is. As one who suffers from it, let me clarify it for them. It doesn’t mean, we stay in our house all day. I can go outside but it has been in the past, severe enough to keep me in the house for weeks, months and even a year at a time. This stems from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. What does this mean?
I’m okay with going to the doctor. Her office is small and comfortable for me. I’m okay with going to my therapist. His office is really small and not crowded. I can go to small bookstores over the “big” box bookstores. I don’t like to shop at the big boxed ones. I avoid crowds. I will shop but at night and with my husband. I can’t handle a large crowd at a store. So around 3 am. I’ll shop when I know there’s not that many people shopping for groceries, if at all.
These are some of the places you won’t ever catch me in:
- No shopping malls. They are loud and I have issues with loud noises. The paranoia kicks in and I freak out.
- Concerts: I haven’t been to a concert since 2000. Too many people getting drunk and they go enter my bubble. It makes me really uncomfortable.
- Sporting events: I love sports! I just watch it at home. I can’t handle the noise or laughing. It makes me extremely nervous and paranoid. The last sporting event I went to was in 2008. I haven’t been to one since then.
- Comic-Cons: I can’t handle those either. Too many loud noises, lights, and people shoving each other.
- Black Friday: You won’t catch me at one at all. I had a severe meltdown the last time I went. My husband pushed me too hard and well… it led to an ugly backlash. It brought out the “shield” which is BPD.
- Gyms: I do go to one but they don’t allow phones inside the gym. It is my safety place. If they allowed phones, I wouldn’t attend one. I prefer going in the early morning hours, when there’s nobody there. If it’s one of the bigger gyms, I’m out. Now that the supermodel took a picture of a 70-year old woman, I have retracted a bit. Paranoia has struck again.
- Plays: I love going to them but I can’t anymore. You have a crowd and the noise is too much for me to handle. The last play I saw was “Phantom of the Opera.” I think it was in 1994. But I love them! I have to send my husband to see a play and tape it for me.
- School events: This is where I struggle. I go to them but I have to sit off to the side.
- Grocery stores: If it’s a big store, I struggle with stepping foot in the store. I have to go at night, where there aren’t people there. When you live in a small town, you can do that. Now I live in an area that I can order my groceries online. Great for people with Anxiety! Not good when you’re trying to overcome Anxiety.
- Fireworks: I haven’t seen a fireworks display in years. My husband and kids could go, but they chose to sit at home and watch them with me.
- Parades: Sorry, I still can’t do them either. I would love to watch a Macy’s Day Parade but I can’t get on a plane and I can’t deal with a large crowd. Even if you offered me tickets, I still won’t go. The last one I’ve seen was 2002.
- The Walking Dead Day: I didn’t stay long. I had medication going strong for that day. I won’t ever go to another event of that magnitude. It was because of my son is why I went. He begged me to go, so he could meet Kirkman. That will be the last event, I ever go to. I was partially medicated that day. I mentally prepared myself for that day for weeks.
- Author events: I can’t go to one. At all. Not until they start me on my new medication.
I’m probably forgetting a ton. Anywhere a crowd gathers, I avoid. So what does happen to me, when I’m forced to deal with a crowd of people?
- The cold sweats start.
- I’m looking for the nearest exit sign or the car.
- I will turn pale. Like I’m about to pass out. I will turn white and become clammy. This is when my husband will try to rub my hands or sit me down somewhere quiet.
- If he’s not around, I’m fucked. I will turn bitchy because it brings out the Borderline. This is when I accuse people of conspiring against me. Paranoia, anyone?
- I will cry in front of crowd. I have done it multiple times before. It is embarrassing to me and my circle of people around me.
- I will throw up.
- I will pull out my hair, right there.
- The fight or flight mode is triggered and I’ll walk really fast back to the car or a place of safety. I have ran away in the past. Runaway Bride, anyone? My wedding was small, really small. If it would have been with a ton of people, I would have ran for the door.
Yes, I turn into a nasty beast. It isn’t pretty. Even if my husband mentally prepares me, he’s had to deal with my meltdowns. He’s fine with them. He never complains or tells me to shut up. He should but he doesn’t. Most of the time, he can rub my hands and it calms me down. I gave this trait to my fictional character. When I don’t respond to people, it isn’t because I’m stuck-up. It’s because I have severe social anxiety. I won’t even answer the phone. I have a cell phone and I can’t answer it. Last time I did, someone yelled at me on the phone. I haven’t answered a phone since. My husband, bless him… he called the person back. Needless to say, that guy apologized to my husband and me. And my husband didn’t raise his voice. He handled it for me. The call wasn’t even for me, it was for my mom. She also struggles with Social Anxiety. How do I make appointments? I have enablers, who are willing to do it for me. Talking to teachers, my husband has to do it for me. I can’t talk to teachers at all. It takes me forever to warm up to people.
I don’t know how in the hell, I was able to open up to my therapist. He didn’t seem intimidating as others have in the past. I prefer a male therapist. I don’t know why. That’s just the way I am. It’s easier for me to talk to a man versus a woman. It’s so fucking weird! My mom yelled a ton. Like a ton. You could hear her yell from a mile down the road. She used to be that loud. I found myself to trust men more. I don’t know why that is? I think it’s because of my mom and having those friends that back-stabbed me. I can’t trust other women. It sounds incredibly sexist and I’m a woman! You mention the Cubs and I’m talking your ear off. I should see them as a threat, but I don’t! My mind is really twisted. I see other women as a threat. It’s either because of my mom or my stepmom (the other woman, my dad left my mom for). I can’t stand my older sister at all. But if my eldest brother is stable, I get along with him better. Even in high school, I had more male friends than female friends. I have two friends that are women and the rest are men. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel as threatened? I’m still working on my trust issues. And my therapy has been mainly about my mom and sister. My dad is mentioned maybe 10% of the therapy session. If I had a choice with between a masculine doctor or a feminine doctor, I would go with the male. Even though my doctor is sweet. I don’t like her. I don’t know why that is? She’s never been mean or anything out of the way. Maybe she’s a tad pushy but she’s okay.
How is my relationship with my own daughter? We are polar opposites. She does set me back a little because I’ve had my three boys. When your little girl comes along, you have to be more sympathetic to their needs. But for the most part, I get along with my daughter just fine. She’s my mini-twin in looks but she acts just like her father. She does have her meltdowns, when she doesn’t get her way. But overall, we’re nothing alike. I have no problems with her or my niece, Christina. I get along with them great.