My personal truth – Agoraphobia 

I always thought agoraphobia was basically defined as never leaving the house, I didn’t really know what it was. Finally I hit a point where I realized it wasn’t just depression keeping me from going out more frequently, and I needed to find out what was going on.

The Mayo Clinic defines agoraphobia as “Fear of places and situations that might cause panic, helplessness, or embarrassment”. Everyone has a fear of embarrassment to some degree I’m sure, but this is like an extreme. I’m completely panicked that I’ll panic and make a fool of myself. That I’ll have no where to run and hide. That someone will see me and destroy my life, my hopes, my dreams, because suddenly they caught a glimpse of my crazy.

My first big panic attack was at youth group as a teenager and I remember “hiding” behind a chair. I don’t recommend that, it doesn’t work. Later as an adult when my BPD really started to show more I began to fear this type of panic attack and where I may have another. What if I can’t escape? What if there is no where to hide? What if my boss finds out and I loose my job? What if they call the police and my children are taken away? (You can see how quickly that escalates in my brain)

I’m fully capable of going places I need to go, but I have techniques to make it possible. I have a hiding place at work where I can panic if I need to, and meditate to bring me back. I have a specific row I park in at the stores I frequent, and have memorized the quickest routes to the exits and to the restroom for quick hiding or escape. If I’ve been stable for a while I can go nearly anywhere as long as I’m with my family, or someone I trust. 

So I’m still a fully functional person out in the world, usually. But it takes a lot more effort, a lot more practice and ritual. And it also requires my feeling strong enough, which sometimes I don’t. There are rare occasions I call in sick because I’m too panicked to leave the house. There are times I’m too panicked to reach out even on Twitter or text for human interaction, days that I sit on my bed near panic for a full day. This week has been difficult as I find myself hiding at work more, keeping quiet, avoiding social media, and not going anywhere extra. Fortunately(?) I get migraines, so when I get like this my employees assume my head hurts and don’t question it. 

My hope is to build more rituals that can open up more places for me, but for now I will be happy with the interaction I can force. I haven’t yet given up on being part of the world, so hopefully the world hasn’t yet given up on me.

My personal truth – blogging

As part of my therapy, as well as my chakra balancing, I am trying to externalize more. If you’ve read some of my previous posts you know I’m working specifically on my throat chakra. The throat chakra is the center of communication as well as connected to creativity. I have worked hard to listen to others non-judgmentaly as part of my communication work, but still need to face my personal truths so I can learn to speak them effectively. So over the next week I will be blogging about my personal truths, opening up more than I feel comfortable because the fact is I need to face it, to face me. So I’m starting with something simple, why I started blogging.

There are a number of reasons; to externalize, to find a community online, to journal without carrying a journal. But the number one reason was because I’m so frustrated with the stigma of Borderline Personality Disorder.

Do me a favor, go on google and search “dealing with depression” what do you see? A long list of sites on tips for dealing with your depression, support groups, medical advice. Now change the search to “dealing with anxiety”. Now you have advice on coping with stress and anxiety, and tips for handling panic attacks. Change the search again, this time to “dealing with bipolar disorder”, many tips and medical info like with depression. But scroll down far enough and you might see a link here and there on “helping” someone with bipolar disorder, something geared towards the family’s coping skills.

Okay, now do one more search “dealing with borderline personality disorder”. What do you see? Link after link after link of dealing with someone who has BPD. On my entire first page of results right now their are 2 links aimed towards the person who has it, all the rest are tips for family, friends, and coworkers.

I once tried to search for support groups for BPD and 80% of the groups within driving distance are for family members of someone with BPD. My husband can get more support for having to deal with me than I will ever receive for having to deal with my own medical condition. That’s kinda messed up if you ask me.

Don’t get me wrong. I know I can stress my husband out, and I’m glad he has support available. But I feel like the world sees me as a lost cause, someone to put up with, someone who will never get better. When I get hit with the depression aspects of this disorder is it any wonder I believe the world is better off without me? The world is literally telling me it’s better off without me!

When I was 17 I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder, at which point a family member told me “that can’t be right, you’re not THAT crazy”. So, my husband is the only family member who knows my true diagnosis, to everyone else I call it anxiety. I don’t need more loving help telling me how crazy I’m not.

I don’t like the attitude toward BPD, and maybe I’m biased but I feel that as bad as the stigma is around mental illness, it’s the worst toward BPD. So I made a blog. I want to show what it is to live with the disorder. Not just survive, but to really succeed. I’m not the most successful person, but I have certainly lived beyond the expectations of me. I’m proud of that, and plan to continue this path. I want to show that someone with BPD can live a healthy happy life as long as they’re stubborn enough. And if there is one thing I excel at, it’s being stubborn!