So it has come to my awareness that my anxiety and fears have reached epic proportions. I was actually unaware of some of my fears because of how isolated I keep myself, and how much I keep to the same routines, and dare I say rituals. I’m going to ask my counselor if this is a form of agoraphobia, but whatever we want to call it, this is what she has asked me to do for homework to start working on the fears. She wants me to break down the fears into categories as follows: What I can do with little fear or distress, what gives me some level of fear, and what is so much fear I avoid doing the item completely. I’ve started my list below. Interestly enough, compiling this list was quite distressing, as I imagined all of these situations, and also as I realized how many I do in fact fear. How did I let this happen? I didn’t let it. PTSD just did it to me, slowly, day by day, changing my life into what it is now. I’m ready to slowly change it back.
Situations with no or very little distress:
Situations where I feel in control, the duration is limited, I have a plan, a shopping list, know what to say or do.
- Shopping at known stores: It is a super short list: my grocery store (0) in town, my pharmacy in town(10), Dollar Store in town(10), 2 walmarts(25) and 1 kmart just outside of town(25). I’ll go to Sears(35) at the mall if Hubby goes too and we enter through Sears, not the mall entrance.
- Ordering takeout on phone or drive thru, picking up order if called ahead(10)
- Public speaking(10)
- Public performance(10)
- Texting sister in law(10)
- blogging or writing to online friends(10)
- Anything alone with my kids(10)
- Sitting/standing on my back porch while dogs are out(10)
- Going to most dr appts(40)
- Driving or sitting in my car(20)
Situations with some distress, might avoid or need pep talk, rehearsal, recover time:
Situations where the time limit is not predetermined, I may feel trapped, one or more elements are unpredictable, I do not know the ‘correct’ behavior or what to say, I’m unable to physically do the correct behavior due to my health or physical limitations, there are too many variables at once, people may surround me or need to touch me, I may disappoint people.
- Family or friends gatherings(70): I like to be invited but I nearly instantly think of ways to back out of it, or I do back out of it last minute sometimes making up schedule, health or issues or problems with kids. Except for major holidays with in-laws, I feel obligated and force myself to go.
- Ordering food at noisy counters(80) (chipotle), but quiet restaurants are fine
- Calling to make dr appts: I hate committing to the date(50)
- Telling concerns to Hubby(80): afraid of his reaction, either angry or aloof. Tough to tell him I’m not feeling well especially. Other tough topics include things that need fixed in the house, money issues, schedule updates,
- Dentist appts(60) I put off until I have many cavities that need filled
- School functions(60), sports practices, recitals, concerts. I go to most, but avoid if I can, sending Hubby whenever it is ok for me to miss meetings. Concerts I get anxious for days before.
- If given email or phone, I will always use the email to contact teachers or coaches(70), and only then if absolutely necessary.
- Texting real friends, even if they text me first(70)
- Calling sister in law or mother in law(80)
- Parking in unknown lots for first time, especially in the city, out of town(90)
Situations with high distress, avoid if possible
Situations where I feel I have basically no control and everything is unpredictable, I will be triggered and likely experience flashbacks, a high level of conflict, I might be wrong, sensory overload, I could bother people, I will be confused, I won’t agree or like what others do, people know I don’t belong, I could get hurt, my kids could get hurt.
- A formal complaint (90)(to pharmacy, boss, teacher, neighbor)
- Ob/gyn:(90) I have not been there in about 7 years now…
- Lines like post office(80): I have not been to post office in about 15 years
- Walking around my neighborhood(80), alone, with hubby, with my dogs or kids, it doesn’t matter: I stopped this about 2 years ago
- PTO/volunteer at school(90): I have never done this even though I’m a teacher and I have time
- Talking to other parents(90): I avoid this completely, asking Hubby to be our social planner if phone calls are needed. I have actually hidden in my own house when parents knocked on my door if home alone. Kids’ events (other than the final concert) I wait in my car to avoid other parents at dropoff and pickup. I pace around, use my phone, read a book, take a notebook to write in, or work on my laptop so I am busy and unapproachable when forced to be around others.
- The school bus stop(90): After some ugly incidents with some neighbor girls and their mom last spring, I decided not to have my boys wait at the bus stop in the mornings. I drove them to school this year. I have not seen that mom in 2 years even though she lives a few houses away. After I drop off my kids, I even drive a block over to avoid seeing the crowd gathered at the bus stop on my back home.
- Attend small town events(80) like the carnival, football games, tailgate parties, christmas celebration, artfest, etc….
- Spend the day at mother in law’s(80) house, spending the night(100) is even worse
- Taking kids to a busy playground(80)
- Calling a friend:I have not done this unless asked to do so at a certain time for a certain reason since my high school friends(90)
- Having kids’ friends over in my house(80), sleepovers(90) really bad (two friends have made it to the not so bad list, boys(100) have never been allowed to sleepover)
- Feeling exposed outside(90): too much sun, wind, bugs, heat, cold, bird sounds, dogs barking, cars vrooming, will cause panic and send me back inside quickly.
- Phone calls or visits with my brothers(90)
- Working outside of the home(80): I’ve been working from home for 12 years to avoid daily face to face
- Certain roads(90), buildings are off limits to avoid people or memories