Tag Archives: agoraphobia

Fear Is Not From God

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)

 

As many of you know, I have agoraphobia.  Leaving home, sometimes even to go into my yard, is very difficult or impossible.  Anxiety takes over & logic that nothing is going to go wrong or hurt me goes out the window.  Quite frankly, it sucks.

 

Recently I’ve been wanting to go for a drive.  That’s all- just enjoy a short drive in my awesome car.  However, the agoraphobia left me at home & my car sitting…

 

A few days ago, I opened up my email first thing in the morning.  I get a Scripture delivered daily.  That particular day the Scripture I shared above was in the email.  When I read it, something clicked in my mind.  No, God didn’t give me a spirit of fear.  My agoraphobia is NOT from Him.

 

The agoraphobia started in 1996, just after my paternal grandmom passed away.  My husband told his mother, who didn’t even acknowledge my loss- she changed the subject.  A short time later, this exact same experience happened with his sister.  Somehow, these experiences cemented in my mind that I don’t matter.  I shouldn’t bother anyone with my problems or even my presence, which is a belief that stems from my upbringing with my narcissistic parents.  Their behavior made this belief evolve into feeling like I don’t even have the right to leave home, possibly bothering people in public places.

 

Thinking about this angered me a great deal.  As is common with many adult children of narcissistic parents, I’m suffering because of other people’s cruelty.  This agoraphobia isn’t from God at all, & that Scripture was a reminder of that.

 

2 Timothy 1:7 enabled me not only to go for a ride, but a longer one than I originally wanted to do.  And, I got on smaller interstates too!  (After getting sick in 2015 & being unable to drive for a long time, I lost a lot of confidence in driving.  I’ve avoided bigger roads & interstates since.)

 

I’m not saying I’m cured.  Even thinking of leaving home now makes me tense up.  However, I do know that keeping these things in mind is going to be helpful for me leaving home in the future.

 

I’m sharing this with you today, Dear Reader, because I know so many of you also live with anxiety &/or agoraphobia.  Please consider what I wrote about here.  Know that such awful things are NOT from God.  It helped me to remember that & get mad at those who put the anxiety & agoraphobia on me.  Maybe it can help you as well to think about it.  What is the root of your anxiety?  If you don’t know, then ask God- He will show you.  He showed me why I have agoraphobia.  I never would’ve guessed that on my own!  He can do the same for you.  Once you get to the root of the problem, you can work on healing it properly.

Advertisements

16 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Do You Have High Functioning Anxiety?

Most people who live with anxiety are all too aware of the fact.  It’s hard to deny when panic or anxiety attacks strike.  Not everyone with anxiety has the obvious signs, however.  Some people experience a high functioning anxiety, which causes different things to happen.

 

People with high functioning anxiety can appear perfectly calm, but their minds are constantly racing with anxious thoughts.

 

They are often extremely busy, constantly doing something, even unimportant tasks.  “Busy work”.  Yet, they may ignore important tasks, allowing them to get backed up rather than admitting they need help.

 

These people hate to be left alone with their own thoughts.  They keep busy or surround themselves with people.  They also may get lost in TV shows often.

 

So how do you deal with this type of anxiety?

 

You learn to ask for help.  Yes, it’s hard, but you need to do it anyway.  No one can do it all by themselves.  Everyone needs help sometimes!  There’s no shame in asking for help.

 

Get proper rest.  Functioning on not enough sleep is bad for your health as well as anxiety levels.  Being tired makes you even more susceptible to bad anxiety.

 

Take breaks often so you don’t get exhausted.

 

Remind yourself that having anxiety doesn’t mean you’re a failure.  It means you’re human.  It isn’t something of which you need to be ashamed.

 

You also aren’t a failure if you need medication to manage your anxiety.  You wouldn’t feel bad if you needed to take insulin to manage diabetes would you?  Then why feel bad for needing anti anxiety medication?  Illness often requires medication, whether the illness is physical or mental.

6 Comments

Filed under Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Ways To Cope With Agoraphobia

As mentioned in my previous blog post, agoraphobia is a part of anxiety.  It is the fear of public places.  It commonly accompanies PTSD & C-PTSD.

 

And to put it bluntly, it sucks!

 

I have a hard time going out with someone, but alone is an extremely nerve-wracking prospect.  It’s been very challenging trying to come up with ways to cope.  I have found a couple of things that help some, so I thought I would share them with you today in the hopes they help you as well.

 

Valerian root is an herb with anxiety combating properties.  Taking a pill before going out can be quite helpful.  It may not make you super calm, but it does help to take a great deal of the edge off.  If you haven’t tried it before, you’d be best trying it on a day when you don’t have to drive.  Normally one pill won’t make you sleepy, but there is a chance it may.  Not something you want to deal with behind the wheel!  I have found one pill about every 12 hours can help with anxiety, but more than that puts me to sleep unless my anxiety levels are exceptionally bad.  Many people are the same way, so just be forewarned you may be as well.  Valerian root capsules are readily available in some stores that sell vitamins & herbal supplements as well as online.  It’s usually quite inexpensive too.  Also be sure to follow the dosing on the bottle, as manufacturers sometimes make different strengths.  If you’re taking other medicines, it would be a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure it won’t interact with valerian.

 

I also make sure to go out during quieter times.  The middle of the afternoon during a Tuesday is often a time stores are less crowded.  Early Tuesday or Wednesday morning for DMV.  Also, off times also mean less traffic- an added bonus!

 

I like to reward myself with a little something when I’ve had to go out.  A milkshake, a new bottle of nail polish, or something similar can help motivate me to do what needs done.

 
If I’m able, I try to either go out with someone or meet someone.  Even if I go to lunch with someone then do the errands I need to do, it helps because I had some fun.

 

Motivational thoughts can help some too.  Things like,

  • The sooner I get this trip done, the sooner I can come home & relax.
  • Once this trip is done, I can do something I enjoy- watch that movie I’ve been wanting to see, do a manicure, snuggle the furkids, etc.
  • I also try to focus on something positive, like I am grateful I have this wonderful car to drive, & I am able to go out without having to rely on someone to take me out.

 

I hope these tips help you to better manage living with agoraphobia!

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health

About Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia can be a crippling phobia.  It is a part of anxiety, & is common among those with PTSD & C-PTSD.  Agoraphobia is a fear of public places.  In fact, some people are even afraid to step outside the door of their own home.

 

I developed it in 1996 when my paternal grandmom died.  When my husband told his mother then later his sister of my loss, both completely ignored the news, changing the subject back to themselves.  Something in their reactions made me think that I do not matter.  Nothing about me is worth acknowledging, & I shouldn’t bother anyone with my problems or even my presence.  Granted, this wasn’t new- growing up with a narcissistic mother certainly made me feel that way.  However, God showed me that their lack of acknowledging my loss cemented such awful, dysfunctional beliefs in me, & made me believe I shouldn’t even bother people with my presence.  Then, developing C-PTSD in 2012 made the agoraphobia even worse.

 

Not everyone develops it in a way like I did.  Some people develop this nasty phobia along with C-PTSD or PTSD.  No matter how it starts, anyone with agoraphobia knows it is extremely challenging to live with.  It strips you of your independence.  It devastates your self-esteem since you feel crazy or useless by not being able to go out as you once did.  You feel like a burden because you need people to go with you or do your grocery shopping for you.

 

If this describes you, please know that you are not alone, Dear Reader.  Many people, especially those who have been subjected to narcissistic abuse, suffer with agoraphobia.  It doesn’t mean you’re crazy or useless or even a burden.  It means you have been through some bad things that made you sick.  I’m sure you don’t feel that is the case, but truly it is!  You are fine- you simply have a problem resulting from trauma.

 

Tomorrow’s post will offer some suggestions I have found for coping with agoraphobia when you simply must leave home.

4 Comments

Filed under Narcissism

December 18, 2013

Good morning, Dear Readers!

Last night I was thinking & praying.  God has given me a few purposes in my life..

  1. To help open people’s minds (such as with what I have learned about His immense love for animals & how people should treat them, as is the subject of my book “Pawprints On Our Hearts”)
  2. To show people the damage that can be done by child abuse.  Not only abusers in the hopes that they will change their ways, but to victims as well.  So many victims think they are crazy or have done something to deserve the abuse when nothing could be further from the truth.  Many also think the damage done to them doesn’t matter, because they believe they don’t matter.  Well, it *does* matter!  Everyone deserves a chance to be healthy & happy.  When you acknowledge the damage done to you, you can start to heal.
  3. To let people know they aren’t alone.  There are others who understand.
  4. To share what I learn about healing with other abuse survivors.

As I was pondering these things, I felt that today I should write to let everyone reading this blog post know that you are truly NOT alone!  Many people who read my work have contacted me, & have survived terrible abuse, usually at the hands of their parents.  I understand that completely!  Even if the abuse we survived was different, the basics are still the same- your parent cared more about his/her own needs than yours, made you feel unloved & unimportant, & only there to fulfill the parent’s needs instead of the parent caring for yours. 

And, if you have survived abuse, many survivors have Complex PTSD.  Just because you haven’t yet been diagnosed, doesn’t mean you don’t have it.  I had quite a few symptoms of C-PTSD my entire life- anxiety, depression, exaggerated startle response, hypervigilence, peridoic insomnia & agoraphobia- but not until the spring of 2012 did almost all of the symptoms fully develop.  Symptoms of C-PTSD may include:

  • Difficulty regulating emotions.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Forgetting traumatic events.
  • Flashbacks &/or intrusive memories.
  • Nightmares (about the traumatic events or not).
  • Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep.
  • Hypervigilence (intense awareness of the emotions of others & surroundings, looking for danger).
  • Exaggerated startle response.
  • Withdraw from others.
  • Agoraphobia (fear of leaving home).
  • Dissociation (the feeling of being outside one’s body, not being all “there.”).
  • Anger (turned outwards towards others or inward in the form of self destructive behaviors such as promiscuity or addictions).
  • Low self-esteem. 

If after reading this, you realize you have symptoms of C-PTSD, if possible, seek out counseling with a counselor who specializes in trauma/abuse.  Don’t take it lightly!  C-PTSD is a serious disorder, potentially even life threatening.  If the depression gets really bad, it can lead to suicidal thoughts.  If you get to that point, God forbid! please call 911, a loving & supportive friend, or even the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at:  1- 800-273-TALK (8255). 

If you don’t have insurance or the money for counseling, check into your local Department Of Mental Health, or churches.  Many offer counseling for free or charge low fees.  If that is still not an option for you, there are some ways to cope on your own.  That is what I have done, & while I can’t say life is perfect, I do think under the circumstances, I’m doing pretty well.  I take valerian root for anxiety, St. John’s wort sometimes for depression, & an all natural sleep aid.  I am learning to listen to what my mind & body need- if I need to go out, but don’t feel up to it, I get quiet & see how I feel.  If I’m feeling like I can handle it, I go out.  If I feel overwhelemed, I don’t go.  I will push myself to go out sometimes, but not every time I need to, because that can lead to more problems.  It can lead to greater anxiety about leaving home, which in turn makes the agoraphobia worse in the long run.  Some days, I find I need a lot of down time- I relax with a movie, knitting, or whatever helps me relax.  I have learned the value of getting quiet, & letting God speak what I need to do for that situation.  It always comes to me in the form of a knowing feeling.  Any time I have listened to that, it has helped me tremendously to deal with my symptoms.   

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Welcome To My Blog!

December 10, 2013

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

I’m sorry for not posting lately.  I had a nasty flashback last Friday night, then had to go out twice on Saturday which set the agoraphobia off like mad.   That left me extremely frustrated since I used to be very independent, in addition to the anxiety & depression that this was happening.  I’ve been recovering since.  I am exhausted, physically & mentally, as usual.  Makes it hard to focus on writing anything.  

Apparently it also makes reading more challenging than normal.  I’ve had a tough time reading for a while now- after a while, the words pretty much blur together on the page.  But after flashbacks or bad days, it’s even harder.  From what I’ve read, that is a normal part of C-PTSD & PTSD.  This is so frustrating since I love books.  And, I just got Stephen King’s sequel to “The Shining”, “Dr. Sleep.”  You have no idea how much I want to finish this book & find out what happens!  

I’m trying different things to deal with these common problems with C-PTSD.  As for recovery after flashbacks, I think rest is the best thing.  Being lazy- watching movies, gardening, knitting.  Activities that I enjoy but don’t require a lot of effort on my part help me.  Avoiding stressful activities, such as going to a crowded store are also important.  

As for the reading problem, I’m having to learn to take it in small steps.  I used to read an entire book in an afternoon.  Now?  A while, then take a break, read some more, take a break.  It makes it less frustrating if I stop as soon as the “blurring” starts.  

I’ve learned something else.  This is the most important thing- I saved the best for last.  When symptoms flare up, whatever the symptoms are, it is best to get quiet.  During those quiet times, God gives me creative ways to deal with the symptoms.  He taught me about ways to ground myself during a flashback before I read anything about grounding techniques.  

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health

September 8, 2013

Good morning, Dear Readers!  I hope this post finds you well.

I had a rough day yesterday.  I needed to run down the street to the craft store to get a couple of things for a project I’m making, but I couldn’t do it.  The agoraphobia was really bad.  The thought of going out terrified me, which ultimately depressed me, & made me feel so trapped.  I talked to hubby about everything when he got home in the afternoon, & he suggested I write more details about my daily battles with these mental health problems.  So, here you are..

As any followers of my writing know, I have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It stems from years of emotional incest, plus emotional & verbal abuse starting in childhood, as far back as I can remember.  Symptoms of C-PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, difficultly regulating mood, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, a heightened startle response, hyper vigilance & agoraphobia (fear of public places).   The last few nights I barely have slept at all, even with the help of sleeping pills.  This lack of sleep makes the symptoms flare up worse than usual, which is probably why the agoraphobia was so bad yesterday.  I literally could NOT make myself go to the craft store!  It was depressing & frustrating, leaving me crying most of the day.  When my husband came home, he wanted to know what was wrong & I told him.  I also told him more details about my battle with agoraphobia, which I thought I would share with you.

Before all of the C-PTSD symptoms manifested, I had some- nightmares, anxiety, depression, & an exaggerated startle response.  I lived with these symptoms off & on my entire life & to varying degrees.  Depression was always the worst, leaving me suicidal most of the first twenty five years or so of my life.  Then in September, 1996, my maternal grandmother died.  I hadn’t seen her in a few years at that point, due to first my mother & my ex-husband telling me that my grandparents were ashamed of me & didn’t care about me.  Grandmom’s death was very hard for me- I loved my paternal grandparents dearly, & had missed them so much.  I felt horrible I hadn’t been able to bring myself to say good bye to her (even though I also figured she probably wouldn’t have cared to see me), & my father reinforced my guilt. I had my first full blown panic attack the night before Grandmom’s viewing.  I refused to go to it the following day, or her funeral the day after, much to my father’s dismay.  (To this day, I don’t think he understands why I didn’t go in spite of my explaining things, but we don’t discuss it.)  

Shortly after, I suddenly was having problems with going into public places.  They suddenly terrified me.  I was a little better with someone beside me, but going to these places alone was out of the question.  Eventually, I prayed, asking God what this was all about.  He told me that all my life, I’d been made to feel like I need to be invisible- have no feelings, needs or wants, bother no one in any way, shape or form.  Stay “on a shelf” until I’m needed.  (All of this is a result of the emotional incest I’ve experienced at my parents’ hands.)  Then a few days after Grandmom died, hubby told his mother about my loss when we were visiting his parents one day.  She completely ignored him, & changed the subject.  (She’s never liked me, so this response wasn’t surprising)  Somehow, in my mind, this cemented the fact I am to have no needs, feelings, etc.  When that happened, I somehow also started to believe that I should not even be in a public place.  No one needs to be bothered with my presence.  

Intense, isn’t it?  This knowledge helped me tremendously, though.  I started telling myself I was fine- I could go out, I was doing nothing wrong, bothering no one, & have every right to come & go as I please.  For several years, I would become somewhat anxious, but not terrified any longer, of public places.  

Then in May, 2012, I developed all of the symptoms for C-PTSD, & the agoraphobia came back with a vengeance.  Even armed with the knowledge of why I have it, I still battle it.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s because my brain is actually damaged (people with PTSD & C-PTSD actually have physical damage to their brains resulting from the trauma they have experienced).  Maybe it’s because I’ve tried to be strong for too long, & lack the strength to continue fighting agoraphobia.  I don’t know.  But, I’m learning to live with it at least.  It’s a step in the right direction.

I’m learning the importance of relaxing & sleep.  The more relaxed & well-rested I am, the better the chances I can go out alone without having a panic attack in a store.  I am constantly trying to remind myself that I am important- I have needs, feelings & wants just like everyone.  I also remind myself I have limitations, & that is ok.  I have beat myself up for years because I have problems stemming from all of the abuse I’ve experienced in my life.  All it did was make me feel guilty.  That makes no sense!  Those who abused me should feel guilty, not me!  I have reacted in a very normal way to an abnormal amount of crap!  I have started talking some about what I have experienced.  In fact, I wrote about it in my book, “Emerging from the Chrysalis” (ebook: “Emerging from the Chrysalis”).  Writing that book was a huge step for me, as I was always told not to “air our dirty laundry” or made to feel guilty if I did discuss being abused with anyone.  Making my story available to the whole world was (& still is!) terrifying!  But, it is my story & mine alone- I have the right to choose what I do with my story.  And maybe, sharing it will help others.  I pray it will, like I pray sharing my battles with C-PTSD & all of its symptoms will…

Thank you for reading my blog, & may God bless you!  Feel free to share this post or my blog if you like..

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health

July 14, 2013

Hello, Dear Readers!  I pray this post finds you well today.

This is going to be a hard post to write for me.  It’s just not very positive.  Just warning you ahead of time.

First, please pray for my friend & her family.  My friend’s sister passed away last night.  She & her sister had a very difficult relationship, so I’m sure the grieving process will be a challenging one for her.  Although she is not a Christian, she’s a practicing Pagan, she does appreciate prayers, so I know she will be grateful for any & all prayers said for her in this trying time.  Also please pray for those affected by this lady’s death.  Thank you!!

Secondly, I need to write this out, I think because God wants me to be less ashamed of having C-PTSD & be more open about it to help others, as I have mentioned before.  Also as I have mentioned before, I am a very private person, so this is very hard for me to do.  I sure hope this helps you!

Yesterday my husband & I went out shopping & out to breakfast.  This should have been a lovely time, but instead, it wasn’t.  I constantly fight agoraphobia (fear of public places), & it was bad yesterday.  Usually when I am with someone, it isn’t as bad, but yesterday it was bad even with my husband.  I ended up in tears at breakfast out of the sheer frustration of it all, & am still exhausted today.  That is so rare, showing my emotions like that in a public place- I am usually good at hiding them.  Things like that are why I get so angry when people tell abuse survivors to “get over it” or “shake it off.”  If only it was so easy!!!!  I would love just to shake it off- I hate living with C-PTSD!

Agoraphobia started for me in 1996 when my Grandmom died.  I couldn’t figure out for a long time why it started, & I finally asked God what was going on with this.  He told me I’ve always felt I needed to be invisible, & that started early in childhood.  Then right after Grandmom died, my husband & I were at his parents’ home.  He told his mother about my loss, & she changed the subject.  She’s never liked me, so me losing someone I loved meant nothing to her.  Her lack of caring somehow cemented in my mind that I need to be invisible, & part of that is feeling like I shouldn’t even be in public- I should be out of sight.  Once God showed me this, I was able to get a handle on the agoraphobia for several years.  Not perfect, but pretty good.  

Last year is when I started showing so many signs of C-PTSD.  And shortly after, the agoraphobia returned with a vengeance.  I haven’t been able to get it under control at all.  I had a panic attack in Macy’s yesterday because my husband was out of my sight for a moment.  

Today I did some research online, looking for answers.  I was wondering if it’s a part of C-PTSD (I learned it often is, probably because the anxiety regulating part of the brain is damaged) & how to cope. Practicing mindfulness & taking anti-anxiety meds before leaving home was all I found for coping tips.  I hadn’t thought to take a valerian pill before leaving (I chose the herbal route rather than drugs), but I haven’t found mindfulness to be overly helpful.  I also try to minimize outings, only go out alone on the rare occasions I can handle it otherwise I go out with another person, & get what I need all in one store rather than several whenever possible.

Does anyone have any other suggestions??

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health