Thursday, 9 July 2015

The Walls are Closing In

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

I've been in serious hibernation mode this year. I don't think it's really been that intentional. I just don't often think about going out. I was aiming for the same goal as last year, to try to go out once every month, but after I failed the first few months of the year I lost motivation and abandoned the goal.

So far this year, the only time I've gone out was my trip to Warrnambool for my birthday, plus a visit to a friend's house and quickly popping into my brother's girlfriend's house to play with a kitten. For some reason, going to familiar houses isn't as scary as going out in public (much like my familiar clinic being safe, vs other clinics).

Agoraphobia isn't black and white. It wasn't a sudden change, but a gradual thing that gets worse over time.

It's been an issue for a while now. When a psych first attached the term to me, it wasn't 'that bad'. I was 16 when I was diagnosed, but I was no where near as restricted as I've been the last couple of years.

At first, long before diagnosis, I think it was being afraid to go to certain places, but at the time I just linked it with other anxiety issues. I could still function like a semi-normal person when I was diagnosed. But over time that list became bigger, and I only went to 'safe' places. I stopped catching buses and trains, and could only go places if driven to the door. The last place I could go on a regular basis, except for the clinic, was the supermarket. Even that faded away slowly, and I haven't even been there since January '13.

Mum seems to link it to when a lady approached me in the meat section, on one of my last trips there, and started squealing -
    "Oh my gawd! You're like a model! You're so tall, you're so thin, I wish I looked like you. Honey, come look at this girl..."

I suppose in the big picture, it did escalate quickly at the start. By the time I was 17, nearly 18, the supermarket, appointments, and occasionally shopping at other safe places had pretty much become my limit, up until the time I stopped even going to the supermarket.

Since then, I've been limited to going to appointments, going for drives without getting out of the car, and sitting outside on the back porch, which is okay because it's so closed in.

I've written about most of the times I've gone out in the last couple of years, and kept track of locations and dates in a list. Last year, when I first set a goal of leaving the house once every month, I had a total of nine outings. In 2013, after I stopped going to the supermarket, I only went out three more times.

But things are still getting harder.

I have trouble even getting through the backyard these days, especially the second, more-open half toward the safety of the garage.
If the car's parked out on the street, there's not a hope in hell of me getting there.

I'm feeling more and more anxious in my own backyard and on the back porch, which is problematic as I usually spend the bulk of my day out there in my armchair. It's the worst of a night, when I wake up and go out to have a smoke. 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, I can't stay outside.

I'm scared to sit in the car while mum goes into shops, ever since that guy peed next to my car door a few months ago (and no, there's no way he didn't know I was there). It really shook me, and it's just icky and no. I'm paranoid about the headlights being left on, because a few months ago, a guy came up and knocked on my window to tell me the lights were on, and obviously I went into a total panic.

I can't even go out for drives everyday like I used to.

It all sounds so irrational, but it terrifies me.

I had been planning to get out again before the end of June, though obviously it didn't eventuate. Then at the end of the month, the school holidays started, which means a flood of people everywhere. I will never ever go out in school holidays.

After the dietician gets back next week and the school holidays are over, I'm going to start trying again. I'm just conflicted.
I want to go out for a walk. I want to go to the zoo. I want to go op-shopping.
But I don't.
I can't.

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

And she is so right.


On the upside, temazepam has been working amazingly (temazingly?). Even though the first night was disappointing, they've proven their worth since. I don't think I've woken up more than once or twice a night, although a solid 8 hours still eludes me.

Kinda worried about talking to my GP about it. I know you shouldn't take sleepers every night or on a long-term basis... but in my head, it's kind of normal to (my mum's taken sleepers every night for as long as I can remember).
    "Don't take it every night - just when you've had a few sleepless nights, then maybe have one.", said my GP
Fuck that. I've had enough sleepless nights.



  1. I'm so sorry that your agoraphobia is so bad. I just want you to know that you are not alone. I can completely relate to the feelings of sheer panic at even the mere thought of going out. I hope that after the holidays that you are able to muster the motivation to go back out on more trips again.

    Great news about the temazepam! I'm glad you've been getting more sleep!

    Thinking of you lovely! Xxx

  2. i have a deja vu with this post. mostly because i believe you've used the same title before.

    it's fine. i'm just proud of you for having it as a goal. i think that you've done your small bits of successes even though it doesn't feel like that to most people or they don't see how big of a deal it is. it is a big of a deal to go out, expect the worst anxiety and try to prepare for it. and you've been doing that and i'm proud of you. sure, it isn't 'every month' but who cares?

    "my trip to Warrnambool for my birthday, plus a visit to a friend's house and quickly popping into my brother's girlfriend's house to play with a kitten." and that's okay. i really do mean that. the Warrnambool trip was a hard one too. above all else, it's not like you're not trying. it might feel like that sometimes, but it's not true. you are trying.

    "Agoraphobia isn't black and white. It wasn't a sudden change, but a gradual thing that gets worse over time." ah! i remember this. you've said this before. and i think you've said it again but i have a genuine believe people use the same words because they think it explains the thing better/they emphasise on it.

    i think like the ED, we evolve to have strange safe foods over time, and at some point, we have a small list. probably the same with your agrophobia. again, similarly with an ED, you don't start off fearing certain foods. it's something you develop overtime. to battle that, takes a lot of energy (which understandably enough, i know you don't have because of the depression). honestly, i believe that ED and depression are very agonistic whereas OCD and both of them are antagonistic. the more i defy ED, the worse the depression is. the more i defy ED - for me, the more i develop more OCD-like rituals (somehow they get less important when i am sad). funny how that works out.

    i think...i have a very vague grasp of agoraphobia as a whole. i think because my family has a bit of claustrophobia in them. they don't like closed in spaces. my mum just reorganised my room and now it looks bigger than ever before and i've told her that i don't want anything else to make it look smaller than it is. when there were boxes in my rooms (tonnes of them), i couldn't sleep there even though i hated the alternative. so we are antagonistic in that, but i understand that it is a highly uncomfortable situation that is getting worse overtime AND the weird thing is nobody is doing anything about it.

    oh wait, no, the GP said you could always redecorate. *snidely said of course*

    you are in a terrible situation and a loop. if you go out, the anxiety is terrible and you will make yourself so sick with anxiety sometimes you won't enjoy going out. not enjoying the outing makes it hard for you to get out of the house. the more you're in the house, the more you're trapped, the more you're tempted to go out but you just can't "get out". that's my understanding of it so far. i think it's the same with claustrophobia too. to some, it isn't so bad (me) but to a lot of people, huge rooms can feel like tight spaces. air feels heavy. and you feel like you are suffocating even when you can clearly breathe. and the thing is there's that confliction where wherever you go you are trapped because there is no space to breathe and i think that that's the same with agrophobia. whatever you do, you are trapped. being in a small confined space is suffocating, but outside is terrible too.

    "It all sounds so irrational, but it terrifies me." but that's agrophobia for you. it is irrational but you cannot help it.

    (continued... seems as if i've written a bit of a novel)

  3. i remember that quote. i think that now i see it more and more, i know more. i know that you would like to go out and do things, but honestly, i think that there's such a high chance of you being so anxious that you don't enjoy it. and if you don't enjoy it, it becomes harder to do it, but there's that confliction of...if you stay indoors, you'll feel trapped and at the same time, you'd be less inclined to leave the house. it feels like a complete lose-lose situation either way, so i'm glad at you that you're going to keep trying. even once every few months is fine because you are trying.

    i think that the only way to really go through it is to go out a lot BUT i feel like it is too much to ask of you right now as you are in such a terrible mental state. you don't need anymore panic attacks and pain. what you need is to breathe a little more before you plunge in to this in the future. it's also very terrible because all these are making these worse but you can't make them better until you get better (i hope this makes sense - being so agoraphobic i can only imagine makes you feel worse with the depression. but you can't treat the agrophobia so easily. and then again, you have AN so that's a mess.)

    i'm glad to see that the temazepam has been helping you sleep. i hope you do go back to the foretold solid 8 at some point and it wouldn't be such a shock. i'm no stranger to irregular sleeping habits. i do not mind them as long as i sleep enough. thankfully, my body is currently complying with this demand. i know a girl that has to take pills unless she will legit not sleep at all (no decline in energy) and continue onto the next day with no sleep at all. strange that one is.

    "Fuck that. I've had enough sleepless nights." that's my gal.

    -Sam Lupin

    PS. i hope that i didn't say anything to offend you. i just hope you know that i am proud of every little accomplishment you make. <3 i know that it is hard as hell for you and i don't doubt it. i just want to make sure that i didn't say anything that might make you sad. i reread this comment (even though i hate knowing what i've written just to make sure). i love you so much. <3

    (also they really need to increase the word count for a comment)

  4. Perhaps, change your goal a bit? To suit what you're going through now.
    I'm sorry the agoraphobia is getting worse :( and I hope it will get better soon dear, even if it's just by a little.
    Would listening to soothing music help? I know it sounds a bit ridiculous, but maybe, it'll distract you from other noises and enable you to relax more.
    It's not irrational, honey.
    Trying again after the school holidays sounds nice. Choose one place you really want to go and set it as your goal, and go on a good day? Don't push yourself too hard though, dear.
    That's great that you're getting more sleep though, sweetie ^^ and I hope you really can sleep for 8 hours straight soon :D
    Take care of yourself, dear.


  5. I agree with Christie, maybe try headphones when out in the car if you can. I never leave my house without my iPod it does help a bit with the anxiety side of things when out and about especially on the train and bus. It helps to drown out the noise.
    Definitely get out on a good day and pick a place you'd really like to go, if you want to go to the zoo for instance it would be better to wait until after the school holidays and go on a weekday when there will be less kids and people in general around.
    Don't push yourself too hard and go at a pace that suites you. Going to people's houses even to play with a kitty counts as outings, baby steps all the way.
    I'm sorry your agoraphobia seems to be getting worse, I can't even imagine how it must be for you.
    It is good to know you are getting more sleep though, I find I'm more prone to anxiety on days when I get less sleep. But I never manage more than three hours a night.
    Take care Bella xx

  6. What about something different. Instead of a visit a month just, say, 6 visits/outings in a row and call it done. Maybe you won't have time to dwell and it could help break the cycle? Maybe too exhausting. Although that could be good. Supermarket might be a good goal, since (usually) no one even glances sideways. Well not at me anyway (!) That's because I am a supermarket ninja. And also pretty plain. Noone will mistake me for a model. Just a garden variety elf. But really on the weekdays during the days it's mostly older people and mums and they are pretty busy looking at cans and debating if the price has gone up and the weight has gone down. I can save them the time:the answer is yes.

    My mum had agoraphobia. She recovered when she got her ED under control. I think one feeds the other, partly because you aren't thinking as straight as you could be.

    Xoxo Shelby

    PS I'm telling you this with love <3 please don't be offended. I'm bound to put my foot in it some where. I just want to help.:(

    1. I thought I'd add that you're mum might be right about the shrieking woman. Although it seems positive/OTT it may have triggered something off.

      I was shouted at over a perfectly normal request and basically it took years before I could ask for anything again. Sad.

      It's partly the shock I think.

      EMT therapy kind of helped.

  7. It could very well be something to do with that woman. A lot of my issues started when I was 11/12-ish and a woman walked into me crossing a road then screaming at me to "watch where you're going, you fat cunt."

    You're still trying though. You've still been out, and that's amazing.

    I love you <3

  8. comment reply from the Facebook message you sent me:

    i think the problem with making more than one portion is that i presume i want to eat what i'm eating about a while from now. i'm such a terrible cook that i never want more of what i'm cooking about 90% of the time. that's how sad this i am.

    another funny thing came to mind - the rare time that i did do this... do you get this weird strange feeling about how the nutritional info is still off because no portion is ever going to be equal in composition of meat/veg/etc? because it's not uniform? a weird thought but hmmm... i always get this when i make more than one portion and split it and then think: but this one has more tuna/corn/etc... does that mean the nutritional info is still valid? when i used to do macros, this killed me. legit. makes me want to pull everything apart and weigh it separately again! such a mental nuisance xxx

    i know once i spent about 1 hour picking apart a tuna salad from tuna, bell peppers, olives and cucumbers when i could easily guess a good approximation. fascinating beings we are. the things i'd do for an exact number...

    and then you know how some packages are like - alright, this is 40g. and i weigh it and it's 36. i feel so cheated out of 4 grams. and then i'm not sure whether to count the calories as it is, or to actually accurately find out the calorific information on my own? bloody annoying. it's why i stopped weighing packaged products.

    (Bella is the only person in the world that understand the struggle)

    though to be able to make just one that's nothing i could do. but i suck at cooking and baking so there's that.

    thanks for the chicken info. though i used to actually eat the bone when i was highly overweight. at least the top part of a chicken leg. though people make bone broth and mention it's nutritious so...uh...nutrients?

    i literally laugh out loud when i read your responses even if you don't say anything funny. because you're cute i just want to grab you and take you home.

    okay. i found the perfect joke for the sirloin/rump/short loin debacle! are you ready?

    *clears throat*


    ^ yes, i'm that terrible.

    -Sam Lupin

    PS. i know you would because you love meeeeeeee and i? i love you :)