I’ve discussed my life with agoraphobia many times before but recently while talking about it in therapy my therapist pointed out to me that although I try to play it down, I really haven’t ever coped well with it and it is worse than I want to realize.
I think I am realizing it now. And I know it is worse today than ever before.
As my therapist pointed out the above, I realized and pointed out to her that I have been living a cycle. A very bad cycle with this agoraphobia.
I missed a lot of school from the 8th grade through my senior year. I almost didn’t graduate high school because I had ditched so much my senior year.
I went to college but I didn’t stick with it because my anxiety and agoraphobia wouldn’t allow it… and I didn’t fight back.
I had many part-time, minimum wage jobs over the years -and here’s the cycle- and I always did great at first, then the call-ins would begin, and then something would happen to stress me out about work and I would crumble under the anxiety and it caused me to up and quit. I’d take some time to hole up at home, and then start all over with a new job.
So, how is it today? Why is it so much worse now than ever before?
As I was at home after my recent therapy session, I took time to mull it over. I realized that it was after my open-heart surgery 6 years ago that the agoraphobia started to get worse. I suppose the trauma of a sudden, unexpected major heart surgery was too much for me to cope with and the anxiety manifested in my worsening agoraphobia. Then the following year long battle to save my eyesight added to it even more.
I wasn’t working so it was easy to stay home. But then I found I wasn’t opening the window shades anymore. Opening the window shades caused me anxiety, I didn’t want to look outside, and I didn’t want people to look in. Then I realized I couldn’t go outside. The thought of going out into the world made me feel like I was going to panic. I could get myself to go…if I absolutely had to, but it was profoundly uncomfortable. Scary.
That’s when I first went to therapy. It helped, as did the medication I was put on. A couple years later I stopped therapy and the meds because I felt much better and didn’t think I needed them anymore.
All was fine until I got hired on at a full-time job. I thought I’d do fine at this job because my agoraphobia was mild. I had anxiety, but it wasn’t overwhelming. Plus, the job was good, and it would benefit my hubby and I in so many ways, I had incentive to try hard. And on top of that, my security blanket (my hubby) would be working with me!
All went well for the first three months. I didn’t miss any work in that time. Then I got sick and missed a day. Fine. That’s OK. But then my brother-in-law passed away. It was sudden and devastating, but I thought I handled it OK and moved on fairly well. Nope. My anxiety got worse, I was calling in a lot. Nausea and vomiting often.
I did the best I could to keep up with going to work. But it was getting more and more difficult.
I started therapy and meds again and it seemed to be helping, slowly.
That’s a lie, it was still getting worse, I was loosing control but I wouldn’t let myself admit it.
In August Hubby and I were in a car accident on the freeway on the way to work. The car was totaled but we walked away with just bumps and bruises…or so we thought.
Four days after the accident I suddenly became riddled with symptoms: sensitivity to light and sound, ringing in the ears, dizziness, headache, and then I had a terrible panic attack that I thought was a heart attack. I went to the ER and that’s where I was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome.
I spent the next six weeks at home working on getting the syndrome resolved. And then I went back to work.
At first I thought all was well. But then, a couple weeks later, I couldn’t go to work.
I just couldn’t.
I didn’t want to leave the house, the thought caused panic. I took Xanax but it only relaxed me physically, I still couldn’t deal, I couldn’t get past my own mind.
I managed to push myself out the door and into the car. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot at work I realized I couldn’t move. I was frozen, I couldn’t get out of the car.
It’s been two weeks and I still can’t go to work.
My therapist talked to me about how horrible I am with coping (she was very nice about it) and signed me up for a 6 month to 1 year coping class.
I’m working with my psychologist to get as much time off from work as I can. I am not going to be able to work until I can learn to cope and deal with this ever increasing agoraphobia.
I’m scared, though, they really drill it into us that the more we avoid doing what we need to, the more we give into the anxiety, the harder it is to get better.
I’m scared I’ll never get better. I’m scared because right now I am perfectly fine living like this. I am fine never leaving the house again.
“I can see inside you, the sickness is rising
Don’t try to deny what you feel (Will you give in to me?)
It seems that all that was good has died
And is decaying in me (Will you give in to me?)
It seems you’re having some trouble
In dealing with these changes, living with these changes
Oh no, the world is a scary place
Now that you’ve woken up the demon in me”