Monday, March 1, 2010

down with the sickness

Once again, I cannot go outside.

I have a chiropractor's appointment, and I need to get some shopping done. I really have things I need to take care of today. But instead I am sitting here with the door locked tight because it's happening once again.

First I start to shake, a tiny tremble that starts from deep inside... down in the stomach... it slowly builds, spreads through my limbs until they are trembling as well. My throat tightens up and it gets hard to breathe. The tears come, burning my eyelids. Nausea boils in my stomach. I try to control my breathing so I don't hyperventilate. My whole body seems to crunch in on itself, my spine aching, I double over. I hug myself in mute protection from my terrors.

I don't want to go outside.

Outside holds every danger and every terror imaginable. My mind races with it. Will someone hurt me? Will I hurt myself? What if I get stranded, sick, injured out there? What will happen to me? The dread mounts and mounts into flat-out panic.

This is the point where most people tell me I am over-reacting. Sure, bad things might happen out there, but hey! Someone would surely help you out! Really, there is nothing to be afraid of! Your fears are unfounded!

Except that they're not. I think back to the awful day, years ago, in New Jersey... when I had no car, no friends, no help... and my beloved cat Tiger went into diabetic shock... I hustled him into a carrier and started running down the street, trying to get him to a vet before I lost him. In a strange city, a strange state, a strange neighborhood, I had blocks and blocks to run but I kept going. The carrier was heavy, my lungs were giving out, and I started to go into the panic. Things got blurry. The world tilted. Still, I kept running on. A big crack in the sidewalk blindsided me and I tripped, slamming onto the ground... my pants ripped, knees shred... my head spinning, can't breathe. The carrier lying sideways on the ground next to me. I'm try to get up but I can't, I am paralyzed, it is all that I can do to breathe because my chest and throat are locked up.

This is the part where the good Samaritan is supposed to come along, right? Only, they didn't. As I lay broken, bleeding, and struggling for breath on a cracked sidewalk, a thousand cars whizzed by me 6 feet away on the street. Some even slowed down to gawk at me. I was mouthing wordlessly, breathlessly, for help. Not one single car stopped. Not one single pedestrian came to help. They just flowed around me, looking down at me before moving along. I must have laid there for about 10 minutes before I could get up and continue on. I knew then that I could have died right there on that street, and none of those people would have helped me, or even cared.

And I have had this experience countless in my life. Like the time when my truck broke down at a busy local intersection... smoke billowing out from under the hood... and dozens of cars passing me by, honking at me, and even angrily screaming at me for blocking traffic, throwing me the finger. Or the time when a guy got violently drunk one night and started choking me and pushing me down onto the hood of a car, right on the street, and I called out for help while countless people just walked by and did nothing. I have never been 'saved' or even helped. I have been taught the lesson by life, over and over, that if anything bad happens to me out there, I am completely on my own.

Those are the big scary things. Then there are the small agonies.

The agonies of random strangers out in the grocery store, at the bars, on the street who make fun of my physical scars.... pointing and laughing right in my face. The agonies of intimacy and betrayal, like the many, many, many 'friends' I have had who cheated with my boyfriends, turned on me, lied to me, or just abandoned me completely. The agonies of the bully squad here in El Paso, that group of 'popular' people who hang out at certain bars and events and who- even though we are far from high school days- still spread completely made-up rumors about me, make fun of me, and still send me messages threatening to beat me up if they see me anywhere.

And what about the other things... the intense fear I have that anyone I see out there, outside, in the random crowds, could be anyone... serial killer, maniac, someone out to do serious harm...? This is where they tell me, 'Oh you can't think that way, you're just being paranoid... do you know how rare the chance that you will randomly run into a maniacal killer are??" *scoff* Except... I have run into killers. I had a friend murdered by a serial killer when I was 13. My own sister was murdered in her own home by a guy she randomly met. I was once targeted by an alleged killer who was found by the FBI to have photos of me that he downloaded from the internet hanging in his torture trailer. And I have also been assaulted by strangers on the street, and in my own home.

In none of these instances have I ever had another human being come to my aid. I have been in situations where I literally screamed for help and nobody cared. Life has taught me, over and over by experience, that everything outside of my highly-controlled safety zone is, at best, ripe for dealing out the pain, and at worst, potentially life-threatening. And this was a lesson learned at a very young age. I will never forget the years of physical and mental abuse we endured at the hands of a violent, drunk stepfather, and how not one person in the family ever stepped in to help us... even though we children were crying for help.

In my years of cognitive behavioral therapy, my therapists encouraged me to get out of the house and to do the things that I feared. The point being that when I see that my fears are unfounded, they will start to fade away. Instead, every time I pushed myself to do just that, yet another terrible thing would happen to me to reinforce the opposite theory- that I was right to be afraid. It got to the point where even my therapists saw that this was only making things worse and they were helpless to change it.

So now I live on medication. The pills give me my breath back when I can't breathe, but they don't erase the horrors of the memories in my mind. The pills lower my blood pressure, but they don't stop the nightmares. The pills calm my panic attacks, but they do not make me feel safe.

Is it surprising that I have been living all these years with debilitating extreme social anxiety, clinical depression, panic attacks, and PTSD? My life experience pretty much guaranteed it.

And now I get to dwell with it for the rest of my life.

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I appreciate you guys reading this, and please do not take it as a total negative... I just needed to vent. Despite my disabilities I am always striving for a happy life and I won't ever stop doing that. Sometimes though, you just need to get stuff off of your chest. So thanks for listening.

Anyone else out there who is going through these issues, I promise that you are not alone. Hang in there...

13 comments:

Debra said...

I wish I could run over and hide under the covers with you right now... but then, I have this nasty cold and I'd probably sneeze all over you and you'd be all, like, "eww! gross!" and make me leave cuz I can't breathe through my nose and the Darth Vader sound would be scarier than anything outside and you'd make me sleep in the car and... well... maybe I'll just stay here and send you cyber hugs instead.

Shady said...

LMAO Deb... I love you girl!! XOXOXO

Anonymous said...

Don't give up on all humanity, there really are some good people out there, you do run accross them now and then, but I guess at the wrong times..when you didn't need them.. But your feeling certainly aren't unfounded..I have seen the gross inhumanity man is capable of, and it always startled me..But I'm a guy, and it was my job, it has to be so much more terifying for you.. Lean on Redlight a little more, you know he won't let harm come to you, he's the best therapy you've had in a long time my friend... I wish you well, I know of no other that deserves it more..
peace
chick

MadMonarchist said...

I have many of the same problems. Fortunately I don't have to get out much if I don't want to. And I refuse to deal with people I don't want to deal with. I keep my happy ass on my ranch and the rest of the world can get along by itself.

Btw, I dedicated a vid to you, not necessarily the sort of thing you'd like, it just said "Shady" to me when I'd finished: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TX4ZAqnGDK0

Anyway, keep a 9-line bind on it girl, our Lone Star would be a little dimmer without you ;-)

redlight915 said...

well u dont have to worry because since we have been together i have not let those people do thing to you no more and i love ya and will always be here for ya
Your Man 'Redlight'

redlight915 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Giving shady a big cyber hug

{{{{{{{Shady}}}}}}}}}}}

You hang in there!!

LD fan Termite

CT 'CaT' Ward said...

Hi Shadoween Queen!
I've been puroozin your pages for awhile today.
I refound you via my flickr page. I was lost.
You're a fascinating Ladye.
I am happy you are better. I haven't seen my shrink in months. HE'S sick!
Manana I get "med Managed"
. Oh Boy!
Please stay in touch You Raven Beauty.
CT Ward

Chris Brown said...

Keep on keeping on, Heather!

Kato said...

You are strong. I have been a follower of yours for a long time and have read about you going through so much. And yet you still persevered.

You are strong and a lovely and were my beacon of light during rough times in my life.

Stay strong girl! xoxo

Anonymous said...

I have suffered from many things depression being one of them and I don't want this to sound weird but reading your blogs have helped me more than you can imagine. You have a strength about you and it gives me hope that I could be as strong. Just know your not alone. people can be nasty but remember that for every cruel person theres one with a kind heart.
~samantha

Anonymous said...

Never give up. The forces that power you clearly amount to far more than those which drive the minds of the people which have shunned you, kicked you out. It's you that has the key, you that has the strength over the evils that torment you, and soon you shall overcome them. Carry on life; but remember that we learn by pain, and for each bad experience you become stronger.
-A Fellow Human

Anonymous said...

yeah, heather - don't give up on people. i know your post was from march and all, but...good folks...they're out there, somewhere. this coming from a person living with the sad memory of my missing and murdered father. i've been living with someone going on three years and i've been unhappy and disenchanted the whole time. they didn't mistreat me but..i was so down that i wasn't even aware of how i felt. i'd pretty much given up on feeling.

that is, until i met a real angel of a girl last month who inadvertently opened my eyes to the world that i've allowed to drift by. i unquestionably love her.

so i was sitting tonight and thinking of places that meant something to me, places that i wanted to see. paulin's kill viaduct came to mind. i looked that up and saw lost destinations...i used to be quite a fan, back in '04. that led me to here and to this.

so thank you. be well, now.