Yes, you can live with an anxiety disorder – you really can.

I have always know that my “brain” didn’t work the same as others.  Starting in my early teens, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and went on YEARS of drugs and treatments.  In my early 20’s I decided that I wanted off the medications, so I decided one day to go “cold turkey”.  (by the way, I really don’t recommend doing that!).

From that time to my early 40’s I was able to manage most of my issues with “bandaid” medications to deal with situations when they arose.  I realize that mental illness runs through my family, and I am not shocked when another family member mentions symptoms or situations that cause anxiety or is suffering from depression and how they are managing and coping with them.

Back in the early summer 2017, I had a trigger incident, and it caused a series of “unfortunate events”.  I am a dog person, I actually think that having an animal is one of the ways that I handle the anxiety and stress of life.  Our loved 5-year-old sheltie was diagnosed with Lymphoma, and we lost her in less than a week. – but the hardest part, was that due to situations, I was alone with her for most of the time she was ill, and that took a real toll on me, and the guilt that I couldn’t somehow “save” her pushes me right over the edge.  That spiraled into a number of other situations, that I felt no control, huge anxiety that was physical and mental, and not being able to handle coping with people for days on end.   And with that, I chose to go back into counseling.  And when I did, I received a label/diagnoses that FINALLY made sense for a lot of things that I have dealt with for my life.

AGROPHOBIA – most people don’t know what that is, and many that do, may have the wrong understanding, so my goal is to

  1.  Help myself and my family manage this diagnosis
  2.  Do a little education about the diagnosis

So, HERE is the clinical definition

Definition

The word agoraphobia is derived from Greek words literally meaning “fear of the marketplace.” The term is used to describe an irrational and often disabling fear of being out in public.

Description

Agoraphobia is just one type of phobia or irrational fear.  People with phobias feel dread or panic when they are faced with certain objects, situations, activities, or even people.  People with agoraphobia often experience panic attacks, but panic attacks are not a requirement for a diagnosis.  The defining feature of agoraphobia is anxiety about being in a place from which escape might be difficult or embarrassing, or in which help might not be available.  People suffering from agoraphobia usually avoid anxiety-provoking situations, or dealing with them become physically and emotionally draining, in extreme cases, some people become totally housebound.

Causes and symptoms

Agrophobia is the most common type of phobia, and it is estimated to affect between 5-12% of North Americans, within their life.  Agrophobia is twice as common in women as it is in men and usually strikes between the ages of 15-45.

Symptoms may include trembling, sweating, heart palpitations, jitters, fatigue, nausea, a rapid pulse and a sense of impending doom.

So, what does that really mean (at least in relation to me)
A lot of times, I will make plans with friends, but at the last minute, my anxiety takes hold and I either hope they cancel, or I cancel, and if I am able to go through with it, it takes a lot out of me emotionally and physically.
When going anywhere, I like being the one to drive, then I have my vehicle (I never understood that it was my way of having an escape).  There are days that I literally don’t want to leave the house, but I do, because I know it is too easy not to.  (There are days I don’t leave the house, but that is just simply that I don’t have to).
I have created a life where I can work mostly from home, through social media, and well, I LOVE it!  Most people would have no idea when they see me – but going out into public social situations are physically exhausting for me, and I usually have to prepare myself mentally and have a quiet place to retreat to recharge and escape.  I am fine going shopping, doing errands, but in situations that most people wouldn’t bat an eye – well, I have issues with.  One more than one occasion I have canceled something “big” at the last moment because I simply can not handle whatever it is.  Once, I had planned a girls weekend, and it started out small, like 2 or 3 of us, well it ended up being almost 8 people, and I didn’t know most of them, so at the last minute, I came up with some excuse and bailed.  That friend was so mad at me, she never spoke to me again. I live with the reactions of other people not understanding, I have learned to not regret what I miss, and to accept that some others don’t understand.

One thing that I can say, remember that you can not see mental health issues.  Take the time to listen to cues, and when you have a family member or friend who you are worried about – ask… many times, they don’t know how to open the conversation.

 

Hope