Monday, July 16, 2012

Overcoming Fear

I was going to write this post about the wonderful day I had meeting Instagram and Blogger friend, Becky. And it was absolutely lovely. She and I never met in person before today, although we've exchanged many, many texts, emails, blog comments and tweets.


Then I read this article (from xojane.com, my new favorite webamag that I read everyday) about agoraphobia. The article really resonated with me because, I, too have suffered from this disorder. Several years ago, I had debilitating panic disorder and was unable to leave my house. I mean, I left occasionally (girl's gotta work) but it was very hard. I had to drop out of school that semester and, at work, more often than not, I'd break down in tears and shakes because I was so overwhelmed by being out of my safe place. The horrible rolling wave of sickening fear signaling the start of a panic attack began in my chest and I wouldn't be able to go on. My boss was an absolute saint for not firing me.

I sat in my small apartment (comprised of two rooms) and cried most of every day. I could barely feed myself because going to get food involved a) leaving the house and b) making an effort to take care of myself. I was incapable of doing either. At an especially low point, I baked a roll of Grand's Biscuits and that's all I ate for five days. One roll of biscuits.

I couldn't imagine things getting better and I was convinced they'd just get worse. I wanted to die. I couldn't go out to see my friends (or see anything). My boyfriend was uber frustrated and didn't know what to do with me.

For years, I cut myself off and on, but this period was especially difficult (not to mention dark). One night, I took a straight razor and sliced a huge, deep gash in my arm. This thing was at least 4 inches long (I have an incredibly ugly scar that seems to scream "I'm emotionally unstable!"). I tried to hide it, but the boyfriend found out. After what felt like hours of silence, he put me in the car and took me to my parents' house. He cried and pleaded with them to do something. He told them I was killing myself and they needed to step in. I'd never had anyone care about me like that.

While I worked on overcoming agoraphobia for years (not to mention boat loads of therapy), that was the point I decided I couldn't live like that anymore. I forced myself to go out of my apartment with the agreement that I could leave if I needed to (I was the queen of getting up in the middle of a meal/presentation/ladies night and walking out). It was one of the most difficult things I've had to go through. Having panic attacks and crying in front of people is about ten times worse than going through it alone. 

After reading the above article, I realized today wasn't just about meeting someone amazing from the internet and feeling like we've been in real life friends with her for years and years, it was a testament to how far I've come. Yes, I was nervous about meeting her. What if she didn't like me? What if I said the wrong thing? What if her fianc√© was weird? My excitement to meet her overrode all of this. Which wouldn't have happened a couple of years (maybe even a year) ago. I would've considered all of those things and given up. I'm so thankful that I can have a real life and take chances. I took a chance today, and it was awesome.

9 comments:

  1. You are such a strong lady! Thanks for sharing this!

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  2. I just found your blog through Becky - thank you for posting this! I get a sense of your strength just from this. I am a big supporter of people being open about their struggles in life because it will help others out.

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  3. I know intimately how that feels, I've never been diagnosed or anything but I've always thought I might be a bit agoraphobic because sometimes it is just TOO MUCH to leave the house. How awesome that you were able to spend the day with someone "new."

    ;)

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  4. oh my goodness Whitney - you have me in tears! but happy tears! I wanna hug you!
    I saw your scars and was surprised by them (not gonna lie) but I never judge a book by its cover :) you're wonderful - funny- smart- clever- super duper beautiful and so so loving towards that pup of yours! i just figured you had a rough past and are a better person for it :) and after we talked for a few mins I didn't see the scars anymore :)
    I am so happy we met and that I now have a (irl) bud in GA ;) ps Bri is kinda weird haha but in a cute way right ;) hahaha

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    1. You're both weird in a cute way. It's nice that you two are so unapologetically into the stuff you like. It's inspiration to the rest of us to become less buttoned up, you know? Now I just have to see the last Star Wars and then I'll be complete

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