I’m really dating myself here…but do any of you remember the original television series Batman? You know, the dudes who ran around in tights, a cape and a mask? By day they were just normal dudes, but at night in their rather nifty get up of tights, capes, and masks were major crime fighters. They kept the city of Gotham safe from the likes of evil characters such as The Penguin, The Joker and The Riddler just to name a few. They got to drive around in this super duper cool car called the Batmobile. This Batmobile had all kinds of very high tech gadgets why it even had a phone! Back in the day this was just way beyond cool! When they were done for the night they had to have a very secret and special place to keep the Batmobile. Figure it out yet? That’s right they kept it in the Batcave! Now the Batcave by all appearances from the outside was just a cave, when in actuality it was the state of the art headquarters for Batman and the Batmobile.
Well I have my own cave that keeps me safe, of course it’s not a real cave it’s my home. Let me tell you a little bit about my “cave”. We have a large sectional couch in our living room. I have my own special spot in the very end corner with a lamp and a table to put my books drink and just whatever else I might want or need. Everybody, and I mean everybody knows that this is MY corner and no one else ever sits there but me. Now on my good stable days I might just read a book for an hour or so then go about my business of the day.
Some mornings I wake up and within minutes feel the dread of knowing that the day will be filled with what I call intermittent agoraphobic isolation. It is virtually impossible to put into words how this cold, irrational fear grips and overcomes me.
A day like this will start and I’ll sit in my cave for an entire day feeling a false sense of safety knowing I don’t have to go any where. If this is going to be a fairly bad episode 1 day will turn into 4 or 5 days. The thought of having to leave my cave for ANY reason will bring on a severe panic attack. I pace, wring my hands and pace some more. I check the calendar for any up coming appointments and if there is an appointment within the next week or two I will reschedule it. If someone knocks on the door I will run into my bedroom and wait for the person to leave. This is how irrational my fear of leaving my home is. And I have nothing special to do on these days…I just CAN’T leave. Sometimes I’ll read a book if I can concentrate, surf the channels on the television; maybe browse the computer or just sleep. I am usually in a mild to severe episode of depression.
My first episode after about the 5th 6th day someone in my family asked me “ah…are you coming out of your cave anytime soon?” That’s how it got its name the “cave”.
These episodes are very recent, they started about 2 to 2 ½ years ago. My husband and I have wracked our brains attempting to find a triggering event and we kept coming up with absolutely nothing. At first before realizing how severe this was for me, my husband would try to get me out the house. He’d say “come on you’re going to the store with me” I would tell him no I just can’t. He would gently push the issue. After two episodes of me locked in the bathroom crying hysterically, he realized just how serious this condition was he became extremely patient with me. The longest episode to date is about 3 ½ weeks and to date I’ve had six episodes varying in length and intensity. These episodes have caused me to miss important family functions, visits with my children, and work.
My Pdoc and I have discussed this at length. I don’t meet DSMIV criteria for full Agoraphobia DO or Social Anxiety DO. We have discussed the fact that my Panic DO is so severe it could be manifesting itself in this type of behavior. Whatever the reason, these episodes are very debilitating and to say the least frustrating. My husband, family, and friends have been very helpful with shopping for groceries and taking care of important errands during these episodes.
My Pdoc and I have come up with a plan that involves using very baby steps. When I have an episode I try to take one step out of the front door and each time progress with my comfort level. The plan is very simple; try to make it to my car and just sit in it. After a few times of doing this and ONLY if I’m comfortable, have my husband drive me around the block…and so on. Well I went to the store, a couple of times already they were only 5 minute trips……….but PROGRSS!!
YAY FOR ME!!
Progress comes in all forms folks so anytime
You make progress give yourself a pat on the back!
HEY…HOW ABOUT TWO!!