Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Safe Places

A couple things about agoraphobia: First, although I wrote a post about it I technically am not an agoraphobic, rather I have agoraphobic tenancies.  Second, I’ve learned from my shrinks the proper pronunciation is more like ag-ra-foh-bee-uh.  There’s my annoying little lesson for the day.  The way my current shrink explained it to me was the true agoraphobic experiences anxiety because of the location rather than any social component.  Here is another really terrific explanation.  Clearly, my anxiety attached to my agoraphobic tendencies can be accounted for by social anxiety and generalized anxiety, which are my current diagnoses.  And here’s something truly spectacular about mental illness, after a shitload of hard work your diagnosis can change.  I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder by the psychiatrist who I feel saved my life.  My current shrink was surprised that was my diagnosis, she told me it just doesn’t fit anymore.  Which made me so happy I didn’t know what to do with myself.  The description is that of a person so broken that no one would want to know them.  I feel sorry for everyone who was in my life at that time, and I can’t believe it used to be me.  It also scares the piss out of me to remember that time.  I want to do everything I can to never ever go back to that place.  But here’s something truly shitty about mental illness: those who have experienced it have a much higher chance of recurring episodes down the line. 

A comment from the last post prompted this one.  The mystery person (it’s so weird to me when I can’t identify a commenter) was noting I’d been out and about a lot.  Which is absolutely true, and I’m very happy about it.  But it got me thinking about the different ways I view the world outside my home.  Places are either safe or they are not.  The safe places feel like extensions of my home.  When I see it in my head it is like looking at a map.  My home has sort of a glow to it and there are tentacles that also softly glow extending from it to the safe places which are like little glowing satellites.  As soon as a location is deemed safe by me it is added to the map.  Occasionally safe places are removed from the map if something really bad happens while I am visiting one. 

In Syracuse the safe places are Wegmans, Target, the Pediatrician’s office, the magic office building that houses my shrink, my Ob-Gyn, and the place I get blood drawn, my GP’s office, and that is about it.  Down south the places include my sister’s house which is like home base, my in law’s house, the Whole Foods in Winston Salem, and the mall I visited and wrote about in the last post.  When I visit the safe places it is definitely a good thing, but it feels like much less of a victory than say visiting Charlottesville overnight where there isn’t a safe place in sight and I won’t be able to get back to one until the next day. 

There is a third category of places, those that are becoming safe.  On this visit they include my Gram’s place and my sister in law’s place.  Within a visit or two I’m hoping both will be added to the completely safe list, I just need a little more time in them.  It is strange to me that the mall by my sister’s house was so easily added to the safe list.  I visited it for the first time last December.  It was a particularly successful shopping trip-I was able to score some great presents for my family.  Christmas is my favorite holiday because picking out presents for people I love is one of my favorite things ever.  When I pick out a gift that someone clearly adores it creates a high for me like nothing else.  Even though I usually take longer to warm up to a place the success of the single trip made the mall safe in one go. 

So there it is, a little peek into the inner workings of my crazy.  I think I’ll write about how going to the unsafe places makes me feel soon.  Yesterday we went to see my in laws.  Unfortunately my mother in law was really ill, so she didn’t even get to give T a hug.  I was really bummed for her.  But my father in law got some good playing time in.  And we will be at their home for a week in December, so they will get plenty of time with T then.  My wonderful sister in law was visiting with her two girls.  She made us a terrific lunch, how she juggled the newborn, the toddler, and cooking I still don’t totally understand.  She is a better woman than I am.

T playing with his Granddad. 

  My wonderful sister in law and her brand new baby.  As we were getting ready to leave I mentioned to her that when we first met I had no idea we would get so close.  Man, am I grateful that we have.  She is a terrific friend and I couldn't have picked out a better sister in law.  


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