Saturday, 25 April 2015

Walls Closing In

Over the last few months, I feel like my agoraphobia's been getting worse.

Agoraphobia isn't a black and white thing. It wasn't a sudden change, but gradual. When a psych first attached the term to me at age 16, it wasn't 'that bad', but it had been creeping on for a while.

At first, I think it started with being afraid to go to certain places, but at the time I just put it down to being part of other general anxiety or social anxiety issues. Over time that list became bigger, and eventually I only went to 'safe' places. That list, in contrast, shrank. The last place I could go on a regular basis, except for my appointments, was the supermarket. I haven't even been there since... January 2013.

For the last couple of years, my limit has pretty much been: going to appointments, going for drives without getting out of the car, and sitting on the back porch in my armchair. These days I have trouble even getting past the second, more open half of the backyard to the safety of the garage. If the car's parked out the front, there's not a hope in hell of me getting there.

But now even those few abilities are being jeopardized.

Firstly, I was subject to a... disturbing incident the other week, which has threatened my ability to feel safe in the car.

We were out on a bit of a scenic drive to distract me for a while, and on the way home, mum stopped in at the shops to quickly pick up a few things. So I sat in the car, which is usually fine except for a few situations.

I was sat there with my head in my hand, trying to hide, smoking with the windows up because even rolling them down is too hard these days. A man approaches, and stands facing the driver's door of the car next to me. I assume he's fiddling with his keys, or trying to steal it, but as more seconds pass and he remains standing there, my anxiety levels are sky-rocketing.

I've got my phone open, actually with the phone open, ready to tap and call mum at any second. The next thing I know, he's facing toward the front of the cars, and I hear water.
This man is peeing next to me.

I was totally panicking, but what the hell was I supposed to do? He turned and walked off, making some gross throat-clearing sound. Mum got back to the car seconds later, and we drove off, the obvious puddle left behind.

It's really shaken me, more than I thought it would. It took me nearly two weeks until I mentioned it to mum, at which point I broke down crying. It just made me feel dirty and ashamed and gross and icky. Now I can't even feel safe in the car by myself any more. Each time I've been alone in the car since then, I go into a complete panic. It's like the safety that the car provides doesn't even matter any more.

Secondly, I'm also starting to feel more an more anxious in my own backyard and on the porch, which is problematic as I spend the bulk of my waking hours out there in my armchair.

It's mostly of a night I've noticed the increased anxiety, when it's dark and I'm alone. I haven't been sleeping well lately, and wake up every 2-3 hours most nights. A lot of times, I get up and go outside for a quick smoke to help get me back to sleep before my head starts running.

But recently, I don't even feel comfortable in my armchair after dark. It gets me more stressed out than I'd have been had I stayed inside. Every little noise plays on my mind, and if I hear a car pull up or people's voices or someone driving down the laneway, my heart races and I can't stay outside. Even my early mornings have become difficult. 5AM, going back inside to sit on the couch until it starts to get a bit lighter outside. It all sounds so irrational, but it terrifies me.

The worst part is that no one really cares, has ever cared. For years now, like every aspect of my mental health, the agoraphobia just keeps getting worse and worse. From the initial psych through to the MHN, no one's had any suggestions on how to help or has even really talked to me about it. Maybe they just don't know how to. Maybe it's not that important. But it's killing me and I don't know what to do any more.

I just don't know what to do. Everything just seems to be getting worse. It is getting worse. And with agoraphobia, there's never been any offers of help beyond "just go out and realise there's actually nothing to be afraid of".

Is it not 'bad enough', because I still get out in the car, because I still make it to my appointments each week, because I can sit on the back porch and breathe fresh air? How long will that even last? I feel like I'm on the fast track to losing even that.

"It's like your Basic Freedoms are becoming less and less." - Mum

And she is so right.



  1. Sometimes I wonder if my doctors and the psych hospital think, "well, at least she's not outside getting into trouble." No one has (seemed to, anyway) been concerned that my agoraphobia is getting worse. I have three safe places where I can go on my own, but even they are crumbling due to incidents. Thankfully yoga is still fairly okay. But I fear for the day when it isn't.

    People being absolutely disgusting creatures do not help. I once came upon a man pissing on the inside of the door of the apartment building. I have to use the back door now.

    Hell truly is other people.

  2. I feel I need my safe havens to survive, I can't imagine how horrible it must be to feel that they are getting unsafe for you...
    Maybe bring it up at a next appointment? I don't know, but if you make it sound to them like it's a problem you want help with, maybe they will make more of an effort. I don't know though.
    Take care darling
    Mandy xx *hugs*

  3. i got a golden comment from you, so i'm shining. i'm going to reply to that comment in a separate comment. right now i'll comment on this post.

    also i love you. dear God, Bella, i am attached to you.

    oh, sweetie, I've read the first few sentences and paragraphs and my heart goes out to you. i genuinely cannot imagine having something so... challenging as that. i cannot. i'm stumped for words, dear because of that. i just hate the thought of you being so constricted and panicked. i'm also sorry about the inability to sleep thing. i only mention this because when i cannot sleep well, it's really ruined my functioning. days seem to be either longer or shorter than usual. i don't mind them being shorter but the longer days are just so...debilitating.

    oh, sweetie, perhaps you should bring it up? if you have a problem that's destroying your life like this, it is always worth a mention. you are important and just because people don't notice how badly it's effecting you doesn't mean that it's not a problem. i just have to say that. you are worth their time. you're worth our time. you're just worth everything.

    she's right. she really is.

    Bella, you deserve to feel safe and i'm sorry that you don't. i'm sorry that you're being confined to a tight space. i cannot imagine how suffocating it must be like. :/ and that is just how i imagine it to be. suffocating. of course, i have no real idea.

    i love you, sweetie.

    oh, sweetie, i did remember that the dietician told you to take a supplement. i cannot remember if she mentioned Calcium or if she mentioned Vit D, but if she didn't mention Vit D and i know that your levels are low, i suggest you take it exogenously anyway. i hope you can do it as i know you mentioned how hard supplements are to take anyway, but i genuinely believe that those two supplements she has a point with and i did actually meet someone whose depression was caused by very low Vit D levels. i just mention it because i also am desperate to insist on anything that might make you feel better. whether you take it or not is ultimately your decision but i realize its significance now because i'm studying Vitamin D functioning and i thought it would be worth a mention. it's been bothering me for a few days so i had to at least say it. i just couldn't find a way of writing it without sounding like a complete and total arse.

    i am so hesitant to agree with anything that woman said for some reason. i genuinely myself can't believe what she's done and i understand why your relationship has gotten stressed. >:

    i love you much. <3

    i'm going to reply to that comment you left me. also, you are special.

    -Sam Lupin

  4. comment reply:

    "That's kinda like just picking a pot of boiling water/ramen up from the stovetop with your bare hands... Silly Sammy."

    i...I've done that before. in fact, I've done it repeatedly.

    (*sings* Sam eats dinkel wheat, Sam eats dinkel wheat.)

    *in the most Percy like voice i can muster* i'm Headboy, you know. i'm going to have to report this.

    "You should seriously get into comedy. I could see some of the content from your blog posts making killer stand-up." i took this as a very high compliment.

    "I'm gonna get a little tub for my birthday (which is like 5 scoops) to keep in the freezer at home." you cannot imagine the giggle i did when i read this. it was like i was suddenly high with absolute euphoria. i smile whenever i read this. ahhhhhhhhhh, Bellaaaaaaa. i giggle remembering that time i accidentally dumped in 10 grams of cinnamon into my porridge and you knew just how much cinnamon that was and ahhhhhh, love you.

    "The one that's vanilla with chocolate bar chunks and gobs of caramel" holy shit.

    of course you have to take pictures when said ice-cream is at home. God knows that Sam will not expect this to actually be a thing until she sees it with her own eyes.

    wait. a week? at most? my brain exploded here. i remember making a sandwich from 50 grams of cheese. i think my intestines hated me afterwards but my brain asked for more. God help me. i can probably polish off a 500 gram block if my intestines can take it. speaking of cheese, i'm currently waiting on a pizza with extra cheese *claps*.

    "wtf, all the water will evaporate and it'll have the same calories without the taste" oh my God. i'm giggling. i find this is true for lots of things too (add calories without taste phenomena. i find this is the case when it comes to mac and cheese... Sam wants mac and cheese and pizza.)

    (I might start saying water instead of fat. "Ugh I'm so water") good Bella.

    i think that is understandable. i'm having those kind of feelings along with my sister's graduation. though i have a sneaking suspicion that people would just magically assume i'd lost lots of weight even when i didn't. for some reason. i don't even understand, but sweetie, i can assure you that he probably wasn't thinking about how you'd 'gained' weight or how you didn't look as fragile or something like that. remember how we are able to detect changes in our bodies better than most people could.

    "YES, that's the crazy thing about these dreams, you looked like you, the other bloggers looked like themselves." wicked. that's absolutely amazing. the people in my dreams never look like the actual person. if i was going to dream you up, dream you would somehow end up being blonde but i'd see you and be like 'oh yeah. Bella!'

    "Your comments and posts always make me so happy. I love you. Don't go anywhere, okay?" but Bella. what if i have to go to the bathroom? just kidding. this actually made me so happy.


    -Sam Lupin

  5. Hey Bella. Really sad to hear that's getting worse for you. In the mental health world you are supposed to address the most pressing problem first, and that seems to be your anorexia. Also, I hate to tell you this, but they're right. The standard and empirically supported treatment for agoraphobia is cognitive behavioral and exposure therapy. Basically yes, you have to go outside and see that there's nothing to fear and do some relaxation techniques. I can understand the feeling of wanting a magic answer but they can't do anything for you that you aren't willing to do yourself. In fact, I think that's one of the most frustrating things when doing therapy, to know what the solution is and watching the person not take the steps needed to have that better life. I get it, I mean, I hold on to unhealthy things out of fear too. It doesn't help that rude guy was peeing by your car. Weird. I wouldn't worry about it though. I fully agree it was wrong and gross but I don't think that didn't mean that you're safe. I really hope and pray things get better because you've imprisoned yourself beyond belief and I want you to have that freedom, to know that you aline are in control of your life. Lots of love dear.

    1. I second all of that.

      You had a good time at your friend's place the other day....I think you should keep on that roll. Keep going to people's places, don't get off the roll.

      Also the dude pissing. .. Ew. What a pig. However I see dudes doing sneaky wees everywhere like the world's a big urinal.

      He didn't see you there did he? If he had that might change things.

      Love always x

    2. I also wholeheartedly believe that once you've got a better handle on the ED the agrophobia might abate a bit.

  6. There just has to be more to your life than being afraid and anxious all the time. You just deserve so much more! I'm kind of a solutions-oriented person, though I full well understand that we mostly all blog to just put it out there and connect/sympathize, not fund solutions to our problems, but anyway... do you think it would help if your mom was able to mention the agoraphobia issues to whichever nurse/health professional you see next? I know you feel really unable to talk about it, but at least unlike other symptoms where your mother can't obviously feel how you are feeling inside, the agoraphobia has this distinct outward sign that she can observe. That might be worth explaining... if you as me, the situation sounds very serious, despite the fact that you go outside at all. Please don't feel like you are not "sick enough." There is no such thing. You are ill - which is a bad thing, but it is legitimate, and you deserve to feel better and be healthy. Unfortunately your team won't be able to try to help you if they don't fully know your symptoms, right?

    Also, I'm sorry that there was a stupid guy peeing next to you. Please know that it has NOTHING to do with the fact that you were there. I'm sorry that it was so scary. I myself would have been skeeved out, but I probably would have found it absurd and maybe a little funny... I don't know if that's helpful, since I believe that your feelings are also normal and legitimate. You shouldn't feel like they are wrong, or something like that. I'm so sorry that you felt unsafe.

    I hope you can find someway to relax and get out of your head and be able to enjoy a bit of life. I;m glad you recently spent time with a friend, and I hope it won't be the last time for a while!

    Sending you big, big hugs and love.

  7. I hate that your life is so hard right now Bella
    You are too lovely a person
    And it makes me mad
    Because dammit it's just not fair
    And I wish I could do something to help

    What an asshole that guy is for unsettling you like that
    Jeez some people are living on another planet I think

    Bella you know I agree with Shelby and Eve
    Unfortunately the therapy for agoraphobia is exposure based
    Remember the lovely time you had with your friend?
    You can have that again
    Also I find that it's the anticipation of an event that is the killer
    The event itself usually turns out to be ok

    Love you Bella
    I'm not going to say 'hang in there'
    Because you deserve more than to just hang in there
    You are special
    Loved by everyone here in our little corner of the Internet
    So instead I am going to say Fight!
    Dig your heels in
    Don't let your disorders define you
    I believe in you so much
    So so much x