Today hasn’t been the greatest of days. I’ve had severe anxiety for as long as I can remember dating back to middle school, and I also have horrible agoraphobia. Most people know what anxiety is, it’s pretty much common sense. But knowledge of agoraphobia is not as common.
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that often develops after one or more panic attacks. Symptoms include fear and avoidance of places and situations that might cause feelings of panic, entrapment, helplessness, or embarrassment.
Today, my boyfriend and I went to a get together at one of his family members homes. It wasn’t too far, just about an hour or so away. And I’ve met most of the family members that were there already, but there were a few who I hadn’t yet met being as though we’ve only been dating for a couple of months.
Although I love his family and they have been so welcoming of my daughter and I since first meeting me, I still can’t help but have issues controlling my anxiety when I’m around them. I’m not a fan of crowds, I prefer one on one time with my boyfriend, or even small groups of like five people I can usually manage. But large groups make me fear that I’ll lose control, and my level of anxiety forces me to need some form of control over my environment.
Well today, it was a graduation party for his cousin who just completed her undergraduate schooling. His family is very close knit and very affectionate, lots of hugs and pictures and hand holding goes on. I admire that about them, but it still triggers me. So I had a few moments today where I had to excuse myself to the bathroom because I was having panic attacks. One time in particular was when his cousins were playing with my daughter; my mind was racing 200 thoughts a minute! My boyfriend knows about my anxiety and has been very supportive of me, especially when I need it most. When he realized I took off, he came after me and hugged me until he could feel that my heartbeat had slowed down.
Normally, someone hugging me during a panic attack would only make it worse, but for some reason, he puts me at ease. Being with him is enough to make me feel like I don’t need my anxiety medication. He makes me feel safe, he makes me feel loved, and being around him gives me a sense of security. Don’t get me wrong, I still get extremely anxious in certain situations even with him around, but he definitely eases that.
Sometimes I feel like my illness holds me back from doing some of the things I think I’d enjoy. I don’t like to party or go clubbing, I literally have two friends, and my job requires a lot of networking. I have learned to cover my anxiety, so if you were to see me in person one day, it wouldn’t be super easy to tell how much I’m dying inside because I put on a brave face. But if you look closely you will see the lack of eye contact, my fidgety hands, my leg bouncing when I’m sitting down, and maybe even the way I stumble over my words and occasionally stutter a bit.
I admire the way that my boyfriend takes care of me, but I am sometimes afraid that I’ll become too dependent on him. I’m sure that fear is at least partially due to my anxiety, but from what I’ve been through in the past I believe it is a valid fear. Each day I find myself closer to being able to confidently say that I am in love with this man, and each day I also get more and more afraid of being in love with him. If only I possessed the same confidence that I love so much about him, things would be so much easier.
Maybe one day I’ll make a post about daily life with anxiety, specifically social anxiety, but I don’t want to combine that with this post because I know it’d be ridiculously long. If anyone has any questions about what it’s like suffering from anxiety and agoraphobia, please feel free to comment here and I’ll do my best to answer them all in my next post. Be blessed!😇👸🏽😌