These pictures were taken in the Summer of 2011. Four months earlier, I was on short term disability with Agoraphobia, which is basically a fear of places and situations that might cause panic. For me, it was every situation and every place! That meant I literally couldn’t leave my house! Luckily, with the help of a psychiatrist and medication, I was able to overcome all of my irrational fears and enjoy the places in these photos: the Florida Keys, Disney, Monster Trucks show and a Marlins baseball game.
Throughout all of my life, any of these events would have been a source of anxiety. I would have been able to go and have fun, but would spend a lot of time obsessing about everything from what to wear, what to pack, where to park, what time to start getting ready, what time to leave, how to deal with the crowds, the heat, where to go to the bathroom, where to eat and always the thought of possibly “not feeling well” (later known as panic attacks). Many times I would have a few adult beverages to lessen the anxiety and obsessive thoughts.
I never saw this as having a disorder and just thought I was a very organized, “type A”, planner, who enjoyed a few cocktails like most people! Later on in life, with a husband and children to think about, I would create spreadsheets for every outting that was not a usual place for us to go. I had to make sure I knew exactly where we were going, where everything was, like the entrance, exit, bathrooms, restauants, bars and anything else we might need to know. I also spent extra money on VIP sections or private areas, to avoid crowds, or having to wait in any kind of line. Looking back now, the warning signs were all there, but that was my normal. I didn’t know it could be any other way. I thought it was just my personality.
Shortly after the panic attack in November 2010, it was difficult to step out of my house and going to any of the events, or places in the photos, would have been incomprehensible. I tried everything after that panic attack, to feel my normal again, but the more I tried the worse I felt.
I tried meditation, yoga, mindful breathing and hypnosis. Nothing worked. I knew I had to figure it out fast and get well quickly, though. I had a career and a job to get back to, small kids depending on me and a husband who wanted his wife back. I turned to medicine for help.
I threw out all of my preconceived notions about what was wrong (i.e. not a mental disorder) and all of my opinions about medication. I gave in and went to a psychiatrist. After several visits I gave in again and took medication. Four months later I was a changed woman.
It wasn’t over night. Four months is an eternity when you are fighting against your mind, doubting every move you make and going against everything you feel is right. I had to put my trust in my doctors and pray for the best. Eventually, I got there. In the photos above, there were no spreadsheets, no over planning, or obsessive thoughts. I was only wanting to be able to leave the house, but instead not only could I leave the house, I did so without all of the extra noise that I thought was my normal.
I planned very little, looked forward to the outting or vacation and enjoyed myself and my family. No itineraries, no deadlines, no pressure of having to do everything in a short amount of time and most importantly no spreadsheets!
Well, I still create small spreadsheets but it’s more of a list and some suggestions. 😉
What are some things you do that seem a little excessive? Anything that has you asking yourself, “is this normal?”
Continue reading my story here: