Since November 2019 I have been working especially hard on overcoming Social Anxiety and Agoraphobia, as well as the depression that comes with it.
All three of these illnesses have been super overwhelming and crippling ever since August 2019. I have been isolating, suffering a myriad of symptoms including both insomnia and hypersomnia, dissociation, and a strange inability to differentiate between dreams and reality (probably part of the dissociation). I had to quit my awesome job because of anxiety and not being able to leave my house. These are just the main symptoms I have to deal with daily, there are plenty of others that pop up here and there as well.
Needless to say, these illnesses have cost me a lot and have been an immense struggle to bring under control. I have yet to get enough control to live effectively.
I have been seeing a therapist once a month. I am on depression meds and anxiety meds. And I am attending a Dialectical Behavior Training (DBT) class once a week. I also have wonderful, essential, and indispensable support from my hubby, mother, and friends.
With all of these tools I have been able, slowly but surely, to make positive progress. In February I suddenly felt a large lift in depression. I felt good, I felt almost normal. My anxiety lifted noticeably as well, although not nearly as much as the depression. The only thing left unchanged was the agoraphobia. I still couldn’t leave my house more than twice in one week.
Normally in DBT class I do not actively participate in discussion. I listen, I study, but I do not talk. The past two weeks, with the improvements I felt in the depression and anxiety, I found myself participating in those class discussions. Everyone in class noticed and gave me positive reinforcement. You see, they are there for very similar reasons to me, they understand the struggle and they celebrate the accomplishments of others.
*Side note here. DBT class comes with homework. I always do the homework. And the point of DBT is to teach skills to help overcome anxiety and other issues and meet crisis with effective tools. The point is to use the tools that we learn in class in our lives. I have been using them, practicing, and trying to improve.
It is a lot of really hard work.*
Last week I came home from DBT class with the discussion on my mind. It kept rolling around in my thoughts because it was so close to me, my struggle, and my desire to help others. I have always wanted to be there for others in any way that I can. My social anxiety and agoraphobia have greatly affected my ability to do so. I decided to give myself an exercise to help me be more social and be able to be there for my friends as I’ve always wanted to be. So I posted the following on my Facebook.
“In DBT class today one thing we talked about is the importance of having someone you can talk to who wont judge you. Someone who will listen, validate, and empathize.
If you don’t have someone like that, just know I am here to listen.”
The post got many likes, loves, and positive comments.
Then one person posted something I didn’t quite understand, so I asked for clarification. The thread of hurtful posts and responses that followed from this person were a shock to both me and many of my friends who saw them as well. This person is close to me, we love each other.
Yes, my Facebook is private, only people on my friends list can see and post.
I couldn’t understand why this person was being so cruel. Why try to ruin my efforts to help both myself and others? I was trying to do something good and this person was tearing it all down. Why?!
We had a back and forth right there on my Facebook thread. We also had a back and forth through text, and that is where this person completely ripped my heart out and crushed it to smithereens.
It was very hurtful to do what they did on my post. But it was a million times worse to say what they said in text.
They told me I was more or less a cry baby, “Oh, poor me” about my physical and mental health struggles. They said all I wanted was sympathy and attention, etc.
I write this blog, and am such an open and honest book, in all places of my life, about my physical and mental health struggles for two reasons, and two reasons only.
1. Education – People who do not have to live day in and day out with any kind of chronic illness (and some who do have chronic illness) tend to not understand at all what it means to live this way. They tend to make assumptions that are totally wrong. They are ignorant to what these illnesses are, who the people that live with them are, and what it all means. I write my blog and live as an open book in order to reach out with information and education to these people. Ignorance tends to breed teasing, bullying, cruelty, heartlessness, etc.
2. Reaching out to others who struggle – I write this blog and live as an open book because I want to let others who struggle with chronic illnesses understand they are not alone. There are many, many of us out here and we understand what you are going through and we want to be there for you. You are not alone!
One of my biggest fears since I decided to open up and be an open book about all of my struggles is that people would misinterpret it as a cry for attention and sympathy, and a “Oh, woes me.” attitude of unhappiness.
I do not want attention like that, I never ask for sympathy, and I am not unhappy at all. I have major physical health issues, and I struggle with mental health, but I accept it all, this is my life and I make the best of it. I am happy despite it.
So, hopefully you can understand how the text from this person completely crushed me.
It hurt me so badly that all my hard work over the past several months was demolished, all my progress set back completely. I tried not to let it, but it did. Depression is raging out of control, anxiety so high I am having nightmares, and agoraphobia so bad even the simple thought of going onto the front porch to get the mail is frightening.
It is a huge setback, but I will get back to where I was, and I will continue to improve. I just keep trying.
Yes, I told them how they’d hurt me. I also told them I am cutting off correspondence with them until which time they can acknowledge what they’ve done and bring themselves to apologize. Is that too much to ask?
Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can kill.