agoraphobia · anxiety · social anxiety

Bouts of Agoraphobia?

The only constant in my life these past few weeks is going to yoga class. It’s no easy task to make myself go each time. I don’t know how accurate online tests are for preliminary diagnoses of mental disorders but I took the one for agoraphobia here and I scored as a moderate agoraphobic. It never entered my mind space to consider if I am agoraphobic until some passed after I gave up my pet parrot (see this post for more details) because by losing him, I gained a vast amount of freedom now that I wasn’t devoting literally almost all of my waking hours to caring for a high maintenance animal that had many behavioral issues. Also, I was not able to curb his problems because I had periods of emotional instability (depression, anxiety) where I would not be able to give him the best care that he needed.

I could go on for forever about this topic but the main thing is I now realize that because I felt responsible for his needs, this exacerbated my agoraphobia and reasons for staying home a lot. And if I did go out, I would spend the whole time worrying about how he was at home by himself because besides my attempts to socialize with him, everyone else in my household treated him like an ornament in a room and he would be pretty much ignored. This doesn’t sound that serious to those who have never owned a parrot before, but for those of you who have, parrots can and will act out if any of their needs aren’t being met and in my case, my parrot already had a feather plucking condition that was happening even before I got him and it got worse throughout the years he was with me. He was completely bald on his chest, back, legs, tail area and was starting to pluck feathers from his shoulder blades by the end of it. I was using myself to compensate him for everything he lacked at home but eventually, I had to face the truth that this kind of life wasn’t enough; either for him or me.

I still am agoraphobic now for different reasons though. I feel insecure when I go out. If I could avoid public transportation, I probably would but in NYC that is literally impossible since I depend heavily on the subway for travel unless the place I’m going to is within walking distance. I do, however, hate getting onto a subway car that is even only partially full or if there are no available seats. I have always gotten the sense that people tend to look at me more if I’m standing rather than if I’m sitting. Then there’s being sandwiched in the middle of the car and getting off at the arriving stop but having to ask people to move out of the way. That’s not even the scariest part, which is sometimes being too afraid to say anything out of the fear that people either won’t hear me or that people won’t move to let me out.  My agoraphobia is worst in social situations, especially if people directly invite me to things and I feel obligated to say I’ll be there, but chances are I’ll probably find a way in the days or hours before the event to cancel or apologize by saying that I had a change of plans. I would say the possibility that I will be able to push myself to show up to a social event is four out of ten.

Yesterday’s weather was a scorcher and I was already sweating like crazy even as I sat on my mat before the yoga class began. I picked the worst day to come out to the city for class but it was also a spur of the moment decision since I could feel myself getting depressed after being home all day the previous day with nowhere to go. I’ve never been very active with exercise because I suck at all sports. I can’t even jog for two minutes without becoming short of breath. The only thing I seem to be good at is walking long distances with no problem. After yoga last Friday, I had lunch at 96 Street and actually walked all the way down to 59 Street to take the subway home, although my initial plans were to walk onto the Brooklyn Bridge and over it. I started the walk too late in the afternoon so I ended up not going down to the bridge.

I guess what I like about yoga is it gives me something to focus on for an hour and I get a workout from it. That’s why it’s worthwhile to be there. I might not always feel grateful to myself when I get out of the house and push myself to go, but I always do by the end of the class. Even if going to yoga is all I end up doing in one day, that’s something at least.

Each yoga session I’ve been to ends with a selected quote from the instructor. Friday’s quote resonated with me. It is from the Persian poet Rumi: “I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.” The quote itself could be applied to the yoga class itself as there are times during it that the instructor allows everyone to do certain yoga poses on their own after we’ve practiced them all together as a group. The thing that is often stressed by the instructor is that we should each take the poses on our own time and to not focus or think about how fast or slow we are going compared to the people around us. In my own personal life, the quote is something I hope to be because all my life very I’ve been a very self-conscious individual. I go through some minuscule things, like not daring to blow my runny nose into a tissue on the subway in fear I am making too much noise or being at some place and not knowing where the bathroom is but being too shy to ask a stranger for help. There’s also the obsessive bits, like how even before I attend a social event, I’m convinced everyone there will hate me so I don’t bother going at all. I care too much about what people think of me.

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5 thoughts on “Bouts of Agoraphobia?

  1. don’t care what people think, i bet you are a great person just like you are a great writer, i’m going to be uploading a post on my anxiety soon, i would really appreciate it if you could check out my blog and check out the post when i upload x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would like to not care what people think but it’s a difficult thing to get past. Compared to last year, I feel I have made some progress although it is never without struggles.

      Thank you for reading my post and enjoying my writing. I hope the length and detail of it didn’t scare you away lol. I know my style of writing is not for everyone and some might find it tedious to read through.

      Sure, I wouldn’t mind checking out your post too. It’s always insightful to read about another person’s perspective on anxiety. ☺

      Like

  2. Online tests are very inaccurate. I wouldn’t adapt a diagnosis unless it was given to me by a diagnostician or psychiatrist. I used to do that and it was easy to fit myself into what I thought I had. There are overlaps though of agoraphobia and social anxiety. You have the latter. I don’t actually see anything in you that shouts agoraphobia. I already have too many diagnosis. I used to think that I had OCD tendencies so asked me therapist who said I was no where near that. She said I have some OCPD (obsessive compulsive personality disorder which is different then OCD) but I’m not even that. Many of my symptoms from bipolar, fibromyalgia and anorexia can easily be fit into nearly everything in the DSM. I’m only mentioning all this because I used to beat myself over the head with those labels. I hope you are not doing that. For me, it made me feel that much more a failure when it came to dealing with society.

    I love that quote!!!! I miss yoga but can’t do it any longer due to chronic pain. I do miss it, a lot. I’ve tried changing it to make it work but any kind of yoga style movement causes pain, even if it is slow. It does help with anxiety. I’d like to do more mindfulness and such but I have such a hard time with that. I’m trying to work my way through the steps in the book Courage to Feel but it’s hard. The steps aren’t hard, it’s hard for me to follow through with doing them. Ahh well. I can bash myself over the head with that or just pick up and start again. I so wish I didn’t care what other people thought of me but I do. Maybe one day…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I don’t know for sure if I’m agoraphobic. Is it possible I have symptoms of agoraphobia but they’re only there because my social anxiety is the main factor for how I behave? I agreed to partake in a therapy group that will be held at a school facility. Some weeks ago, I was asked to come in to answer a series of questions to help diagnosis what kind of anxiety and other mental disorders I have. I don’t know if the diagnoses are official since I was specifically told they were for research purposes for the therapy group. I did pass for social anxiety and generalized anxiety with indications that I have depressive symptoms due to my anxiety as the main contributing factor towards the depression.

      I actually do put too much value on labels. I only recently started to notice that not everyone I’ve met that has social anxiety reacts to it in the same way I do. Some are socially anxious but they have no problem holding a conversation. Like, I remember one woman from a meetup I went to that showed up late but she didn’t seem flustered at all and instead casually mentioned some street performance she saw on her way to the meetup location. She spent a good minute or two talking about it. I was so envious. If that had been me who came late, I probably would have barely said hello and immediately shut my mouth while feeling extremely self conscious and wondering who on earth would want to speak with me. 😐 So while I have become aware that people can have productive and meaningful lives even with social anxiety, I feel as if I will never be one of those people…

      That sucks you can’t do yoga anymore. Mindfulness is quite difficult for me to get into. I tried it by going to meditation class, where mindfulness is required to focus on the present but I almost always found myself getting distracted or my mind would wander. I think what is most problematic for me is having to keep still in the state of mindfulness. At least with yoga, I’m actively moving and exerting my body in a way that forces me to focus on the poses even if my mind wants to think about other things. Self help books are tough to follow through with too. I have tried to in the past but then the whole thing feels like so much effort and such a big fat chore that I drop it entirely. :/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A research study probably isn’t the best way to be diagnosed. A psychiatrist is best as they’ve had years of school and experience. Some of the symptoms may seem agoraphobic but that is simply us fitting ourselves into them. The risk in it is that a person can actually start developing it just by simulating the behavior so I caution you on that. I don’t have it and I haven’t been diagnosed with social anxiety. If I took a test I might score higher than some. I have a big tendency to isolate though. It takes a huge amount of inertia to go to my volunteer thing. I’ve been working myself up for days to go. It’s tomorrow. I know that once I get there I’ll be fine but it’s getting out the door that is hard for me. I could probably attribute that to tendencies to agoraphobia but the fact that I can go out the door shows I definitely don’t have it. You can go out the door, it’s just super hard and causes a lot of anxiety. As far as I know that isn’t agoraphobia, not even a tendency to it. My therapist has someone who has that and she has to do home visits for her.

        There are some good movies that show what it’s like but I can’t think of them right now. I’m in a cafe so looking them up isn’t convenient. Sorry. I think it would help.

        The meetup. Many people self diagnose having no actual knowledge of what it is that they think they have. I hear people say they are OCD all the time but I used to have a friend who actually had it and I saw the torture she lived with. Many people say they have social anxiety and yet go out dancing or to bars or to parties. Maybe they need a drink before they can actually let loose so they think they have it. They clearly don’t. I don’t go to parties or bars (I don’t drink) or dancing. I have an extraordinarily hard time just going to dinner with friends. In fact, I avoid doing that at all cost and only went once in the past 6 months or more. It’s more and eating disorder thing, lack of control and all that. I need structure, I need to know what’s going on so I feel calm. Change and the unknown cause anxiety. We, the ladies I play cards with, had gotten tickets for a tap dancing show. My love of dance over-rides quite a bit but then they wanted to go to dinner before, ugh. I was stuck and had to manage. I got invited to a holiday gathering recently and like oh my god! I was kind of forced to go through peer pressure. Now I avoid all topics like that and if I’m asked if I have plans, I reply yes so they don’t ask.

        I think you are being mindful through yoga. It’s kind of like a moving meditation. Not everyone can sit still and be like a yogi, lol. Maybe I’m being mindful when I color? Nah, I’m escaping. I’m just going to have to figure it out for my own situation I suppose. I detest meditation! 😛

        Like

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