1 in every 3 women and 1 in every 6 men will suffer a traumatic experience at some point in their lives, this leaving them with a significant and detrimental impact on their ability to live each day in a “normal” and healthy way.
Trauma effects everything, every part of your life, every part of your being. It becomes more of a struggle to look after yourself and others around you, and trying to keep to a daily routine is near on impossible. More than 80 percent of people who have been diagnosed with PTSD also have a generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder all unseen and still stigmatized. Getting up to go to work can be painful on a normal day never mind on “one of those days”. Right?
The idea of returning to work for me after a traumatic event was overwhelming and frightening and for many people just like me it could be enough to send you over the edge and 10 steps backwards. That’s why I created Thriving Survivors.
To sit on my sofa in my pyjama’s watching as my life past me by with my boys growing up and having no idea of why, or how I was unable to contribute to everyday life, never mind family life was the hardest part of my recovery and indeed the hardest time in my entire 30 years
A vital bonding process between parent and child is one of the most beautiful and simple things in life that most parents take for granted the things that become second nature to most. Can be one of the most difficult things in the world for a parent who suffers Agoraphobia and complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
• Interacting with my children, listening to a stories of Minecraft and football.
• Teaching them to swim
• Feeding the ducks
• Going to the park
• Attending Mothers and toddlers
• Going for a walk to see tractors
• Attending Sports Days and Parents nights
• Most of all the ability to CUDDLE you child.
The list goes on and on and this is just the agonising effects for the parent. Children are as equally effected and at the time susceptible to the behaviours demonstrated by the parent and will before long adjust to that way of life.
The above statement is my personal insight into how my complex PTSD and my agoraphobic affected my relationships with my both my children in different ways. Later I will detail the steps I have taken to correct this.
First though I am going to discuss briefly the process I went through to try and give as best an understanding of how acrophobia can be silent, sneaky and at times totally unexplainable, to the sufferer and everyone else affected. So here goes,
Having seen many ups and downs in my 31 years, I can say there is not much I have not experienced when it comes to trauma. Beginning in my early teens then, stumbling from one disaster to another as I went along however at the age of 21 and with a newly born baby boy, I experienced a traumatic event that has changed my life forever.
Over the next 5 years I became dissociated, withdrawn, and in complete denial unable to be a part of my own family. This is when my agoraphobia started unbeknown to myself or my husband. I would not go out, making excuses the night before not to attend plans, cut people off, wouldn’t speak on the phone and these symptoms just kept getting worse to the point that 8 years after the event I didn’t step over the door at all anymore and now lived very reclusive. My 2 year old son would come back full of stories and wonder and I was missing it all!
My husband who supported me through thick and thin, also raised our children whilst I got better. He had to do the things that I couldn’t and that breaks my heart but they got to feed the ducks, they went to see tractors and all I could do was watch, wish and desperately long to go with them but I just could not do it, worse I could not explain it.
WHY? The hell could I not just go with them get my coat on and go over the bloody door? I felt sick, sick to my stomach and had a choice in that moment sitting on my couch. Do I really want to spend the next 40 years like this? Stuck here? Hell No!
It was not laziness and it wasn’t because I just couldn’t be bothered. It was a feeling of pure despair and dread in the pit of my tummy an immense feeling of sickness right to the very pit of my being, a well of saliva in my mouth, palms hot and sweaty, an overwhelming sense of danger that resulted with me never leaving the couch unless it was an absolute must. It was FEAR my agoraphobia, it was not a life sentence! Finally I admitted to myself I am agoraphobic, I was ill and in that moment I realized that my life was going to change and for the better. The personal acknowledgement that I don’t need to live this way made me realize that I could change things.
I began to study a Psychology degree with Open University from the comfort of my very own couch and in my pyjamas. Bonus right??? Yes of course a personal achievement that I selfishly set out to achieve. I realized that I was in fact very clever despite being told otherwise for so long, I had a passion for learning and most of all a better understanding of how I could repair the bonds between my son and I. I am delighted to say that love and cuddles are distributed in this house every day of the week. (Even if sometimes it is strained we are all learning that it is ok to love each other regardless and it gets better every day)
Agoraphobia (social anxiety disorder) is a difficult illness to explain for a GP but for the person who suffers from it can be hard to comprehend never mind explain. Trust me I know. A little understanding and a little more acknowledgement for illnesses that are unseen or hard to explain is needed. Show a little compassion if someone seems to struggle a little more than you, be kind.
Most of all if you are now where I was then never lose hope, challenge your mindset and even in the darkest of days find a positive for every negative and your outlook, your attitude and in time your life will change for the better there is always a path to your recovery you just need to find it.