I have anxiety attacks frequently. I’m used to them on some level. However, anytime someone knocks on my door or rings the doorbell, my heart automatically jumps, as if it’s trying to jump out of my chest. I don’t know why, but I panic every time there’s a noise outside of my house. When it happens, my mind flashes back to when I was 17 and living with an abusive boyfriend.
It used to paralyze me, but now I slowly walk to the door with my dog and check to see who is there. I hate the fear I feel when there’s a knock on the door. They’re panic attacks and I feel like I have no control over them. I’ve been able to reduce how long they last, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get rid of them completely. Most of my anxiety and panic attacks are related to sound. I don’t know why that is.
Being on disability is not easy. I’m on it because of my bipolar disorder, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder. As most of you know, dealing with the effects of these mental health disorders is difficult and exhausting. I have so many doctor appointments to manage. Going anywhere new is extremely difficult for me. In fact, my husband has to come with me whenever I go somewhere for the first time because I’ll have a panic attack. I don’t do well dealing with new people, specifically physical contact, I think that is from the PTSD. My social life is small because it’s difficult for me to meet and connect with people. I also struggle to keep in contact with the friends I already have because of the depression.
I wish I could contribute more to our financial status, instead I contribute in other ways. I keep myself busy managing my life and my husband’s life. I don’t know if my bipolar disorder will ever be stable again. It hasn’t been stable since 2009. I don’t know what my future holds, but it doesn’t appear to be a mentally stable state.
I went to the Arizona State Fair early this afternoon for a couple of hours. It did cause a lot of anxiety because there were so many people there, but taking Valium and being with my husband helped me a lot. We walked through some of the shopping areas, we had some fry bread, we went on a couple of rides, and we even got our faces painted (for the game tonight). It was difficult because people were walking all over the place. No one was paying attention to where they were walking or what they were doing. But my husband held my hand through it all.
I did my best to have a good time at the State Fair despite my fears and anxiety. It probably helped that we only stayed there for about 2 hours. When it felt like I had enough, I listened to myself, and we called it a day at the fair. Now, I have a couple of hours to rest before we go to the Arizona Coyotes home opener.
I have a busy and nerve-wracking day planned for today. In the early afternoon, I’m going with my husband to the Arizona State Fair. I’ve lived here for over a decade and have never been to the state fair. I’m from a small town with only 3,500 people. I’ve never seen a fair as big as I’m about to see. I’m nervous, so of course I’m going to need some Valium to help me get through this. My husband knows not to leave my side and to either walk behind me or keep his arm around me so I don’t feel like someone can creep up behind me. My husband makes me feel safe. The fair will be difficult, but I can do it.
Later tonight, I’m extremely excited to go to the Arizona Coyotes home opener. We’re big hockey fans. My husband and I got good seats. Normally, we get cheap seats that are still pretty good, but for some reason, we decided to upgrade to great seats with an amazing view. I’m happy about the seats, but I’m also nervous because I’ve never been to that part of the arena. New things scare me. I hope it goes well. My husband will help me get through it and enjoy it.
Last night, I went to a new support group. My panic attack first hit at 4pm (the meeting was at 5:30pm). I took a Valium and that helped a bit. When it got to the time that I had to leave to go to the meeting, my nerves shot up again. I started texting with a friend who was supportive and encouraging. I entered the room where the meeting was to take place, and I started pacing back and forth. My friend helped keep me calm again.
I sat down at the table and I was happy to see that this was a small meeting of only 6 people. I prefer smaller meetings because each person has more time to share. Plus, large groups increase my anxiety. My leg was shaking the whole time under the table. There was nothing I could do to stop it; it’s something I do when I get anxious. I shared for a couple of minutes at one point during the meeting. I made it through the entire meeting despite my anxiety. I have no reason not to go back again next week. I can only assume that I will become more comfortable with the group over time.
Psychosis is the mental state where a person’s thoughts and/or emotions are so impaired that they lose track with reality. The first time I was told that I was in a state of psychosis, I was offended. This was over 15 years ago. I just didn’t understand at that time what a psychotic state really meant. I have been in a state of psychosis for a while now. It’s all because of my hallucinations. I have auditory hallucinations fairly frequently. I hear things that aren’t really there. Usually, the things I hear are doors opening and closing, a person’s footsteps, knocking, whispering, or gunshots.
I know that most of the things I hear really aren’t there. If the dog doesn’t react to what I think I hear, then I can be pretty sure it’s not real. If it was real, the dog would bark in response. Hallucinations are a lot to handle. The sad thing is that after dealing with them for a while, you get used to it in a way. I still freak out every time I think I hear something, but I calm down much quicker.
My hallucinations are generally related to experiences from my past. Most of them are from the time period when I got my first apartment a couple of towns away from where I grew up. I lived there with an abusive boyfriend for over a year. This is when I was using a lot of drugs. I got myself into a lot of problems, and now I continue to pay for it. With all of the memory loss that I’ve had, I don’t know why I can’t forget these memories.
I was having a conversation with someone I know and get along with yesterday. He was saying that he tends to get overwhelmed with all sorts of situations in life and often explodes. He says it takes him a couple of hours to cool down. I told him that I have those same feelings, but I hold them all in, which is difficult to manage. I don’t allow myself to properly express my emotions. This guy asked me why I hold everything in; he said it’s not healthy to do that (neither is the way he manages his emotions, but there’s a middle ground somewhere). I knew right away why I hold in my emotions and why my anxiety and fears are so extreme. It’s because of my ex-boyfriend, Jared, but I didn’t want to get into it then, so I just shrugged off the question.
However, the inquiry has been with me all night. Jared was physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive. I was hooked in our relationship. He had me believing that everything that went wrong was my fault and I needed to be punished for the problems I caused. Over time, I stopped expressing myself. I don’t like standing up for myself anymore. It’s just a natural reaction for me now. I automatically stuff my emotions down; however, one day they will all come out, and it won’t be pretty. I already liked to drink by the time I met this guy, but being a black out drunk became normal for me because I didn’t want to remember anything. There are some situations that I remember, even though I wish I could forget them. I’m sad to say that Jared is one of the reasons I act the way I do. He has nothing to do with my bipolar disorder, but everything to do with my PTSD, which was diagnosed in 2009.
I’m getting better with time. There was a couple of year period where I couldn’t be touched by anybody, not even a handshake or hug. That is no longer an issue. I have come a long way. It’s still difficult being in crowds, having people around me that I can’t see (such as standing in a line or shopping), talking to or being around strangers, and not knowing what is happening. I like to have control over situations; it makes me feel a little safer. This may sound weird, but I tend to blame myself for what happened with Jared. If I’m to blame, then I can do something about it. If it’s entirely his fault, then I have no control over the situation. One thing that helps is that he’s dead. He was killed several years ago during a drug deal. At first, that made it even harder for me to deal with because I had no closure, but now I’m okay with it for the most part.
I doubt I’ll ever get past all of this, but I have grown from it. As long as I continue to grow, then that’s okay.