I have spent a number of months avoiding and not taking action on one of the main issues that has. been happening in my life.
As you know, I have spent many years living in the shadow of having bipolar disorder and panic disorder (social anxiety and panic attacks) and possibly also PTSD symptoms from my last hospitalisation.. that I didn’t realise that my panic disorder is essentially agoraphobia too. (Oh got to love my overly anxious nervous system and imagination that creates panic!),.
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed. You fear an actual or anticipated situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being in a crowd.
For me, this means that I can struggle to leave home alone at times, socialise, go out on public transport, go out to eat, go into a shop, travel anywhere alone including walking and that I panic and avoid and retreat from situations.. When I am going through a period of low mood, the agoraphobia/panic disorder can worsen.
I am managing my panic attacks through therapy and speaking to my therapist works. However, being indoors all the time through Covid and changing my working patterns to working from home meant that my agoraphobia got heightened. I didn’t want to be around crowds because I could get Covid. I didn’t want to go on public transport in a mask- because I might get Covid. I didn’;t go in a shop because people were there- but once vaccinated, this hasn’t changed. Really this was masking deeper anxiety and fear of the world in general- feeling uncertain after a job loss and starting a new career and feeling intensely self conscious too about weight gain on my medication.
Today on facebook, I had a memory from 12 years ago (when I was 21) which informed me that I had been on a night out at Ministry of Sound nightclub in London for a gig and I was also coordinating London Booze for Jews ( a Jewish student bar crawl) – despite the fact I didn’t drink. I have always been social but nights out in bars and clubs are just not my thing these days at the grand old age of 33 (grandma alert).
I know my panic is not the whole of me. In the past I have completed a degree and masters at drama school, travelled to India, Israel, places all over Europe and volunteered in Ghana for 7 weeks. Despite my anxiety, I run two small businesses, have managed to release a book, written for well known publications and achieved many of my dreams. I also met my wonderful husband and am not only proud to be a wife, but an auntie (and hopefully one day a mother too).
I am still Ellie and still the person I was inside before trauma hit.
Despite all of the amazing things above, I have been struggling with getting out of my 4 walls. So this is a diary entry to say: I will get better and get out the flat more. I will try and expose myself to feared situations. Above all, I will be kind to myself and take slow steady steps. I will lose the weight too!
All friends/fam are welcome to try and coax me out and help too!