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Old 02-16-2006, 05:37 AM   #1
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Libby Leech HB User
Agoraphobia, Social Phobia and Avoidant Pesonality Disorder

Is it possible to have all three together? I'm pretty sure I suffer from all three. I havn't been diagnosed, I havn't been to a Dr. I find it hard enough to go to the grocery store let alone talk to a Dr. about my problems. I'm really scared, I'm only 19, life shouldn't be so hard yet. I've decided to go back to finish High School, I droped out when I was 15, and now I've started back at the Correspondence School, I've been studying for a week, I really want to be a scientist someday, I've always dreamed of it.

I live by myself and I don't have any friends because I'm so shy, it's so lonely and horrible, although I do have my cat. I can't make friends because I'm always so self concious I think no-one will like me, I think they will talk about me behind my back and I will not even know they don't like me and I will just go along making an idiot of myself. I know I shouldn't be so shy, and I'm sure people aren't really so critical of me, and if I could just relax they might even want to be my friend.

I work three nights per week at a brothel (prostitution is legal where I live (New Zealand) ). But it's really hard. I'm young and attractive but I don't get many jobs because I'm not good at talking to people and I just kinda sit there, waiting and hoping someone will choose me. I don't like my job, but I'm just doing it so I can get my education and get a job I will like. I could be making good money if I wasn't so awkward, most of the girls are alot older than me and have done too many drugs and don't really look that nice (in my opinion) but they have good inter-personal skills, which I just can't seem to do, whenever I try I have a panic attack so I stoped trying, and I just sit and wait.

I really think I've gone insane and it's ruining my life, it's just too hard to do anything. I'm always hungry because I have to psych myself up to go to the supermarket, and whenever I go I can't get much because I don't have a car, I'm too afraid to learn to drive, so I have to carry things home and they're heavy.

I want to be normal, but I can't bring myself to make a Doctors appointment, even if I could I wouldn't be able to talk. They'd ask how I was, I'ld say "fine" nervously.. "anything I can help you with"... "No, I'm good". and then what a waste of time and effort and anxiety all for nothing. And I don't want to just be put on drugs or anything, I also don't want it on my record because I want to go to university and get a good job someday and I don't want employers to be able to look up that I have mental illnesses, they won't want me.

Can someone please give me some advice? Im so scared I'm not going to get the things in life that are important to me, I'm so afraid of everything it seems, it's too much for me to handle.

 
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Old 02-16-2006, 06:02 AM   #2
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Libby Leech HB User
Re: Agoraphobia, Social Phobia and Avoidant Pesonality Disorder

I should also mention, a very scary experience that seems to be happening more and more often. Some nights (or mornings if I've just got home from work) as I start to fall asleep. I notice I can't move. I find it hard to breathe, I want scream for help because I am paralysed, but no words make it out. It can take a really long time to work myself 'awake' enough to move (though I hadn't actually fallen asleep yet) it takes all my concentration to bust out of it and sit up, and am ok, but then I get over it, and lay down again to go to sleep, as I start to fall asleep again, it happens, I'm paralysed. It's so frieghtening. Sometimes I just feel uncomfortable, decide to roll over only to realise I can't move, and then I freak out. What is this? it can happen over and over again for a long time before I can actually sleep.

Last edited by Libby Leech; 02-16-2006 at 06:04 AM.

 
Old 02-16-2006, 07:36 AM   #3
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ritzylady77 HB User
Re: Agoraphobia, Social Phobia and Avoidant Pesonality Disorder

Hi Libby,

Wow, I live in Canada, and of course, brothels are not legal here, so i was kinda shocked that you were working in one...but, whatever pays the bills, i am not judging you on this one, don't get me wrong.

As for agoraphobia and social phobia, those are deemed to be the same thing. Avoidant personality disorder goes along with that too....i think that they should all be lumped together, just my opinion. Obviously, if you feel extrememly uncomfortable in public, you will want to avoid any and all public situations if possible.

The only thing that i can suggest, other than to try to go to the doctor's again and actually tell him the truth, is to learn relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises. Another thing, is to pretend like you are an actress for your occupation, these men don't know who you really are, they are just there for one thing, so, if you need to talk to them to get more business....act....pretend that you are taking on a role in a movie, and you never know, maybe that will work. In all honesty, there is not much else that you can do (my opinion only here...) about this without getting counseling. I am a huge advocate for counseling. It has helped me in the past.

As for the other issue of when you are going to sleep and feeling paralized...that is normal because what is happening, is that you are actually like 8/10 asleep....your body is asleep, but your mind isn't fully....make sense? Its like being caught in limbo. It has happened to me a couple of times. It scared the poop outta me too, until I asked my doc about it, and that is what he said.

Hope this has helped somewhat....good luck!

Ritzylady77
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Old 02-16-2006, 10:26 AM   #4
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KStorts HB User
Re: Agoraphobia, Social Phobia and Avoidant Pesonality Disorder

Libby,
I realize that you are looking for a way to pay your bills, but working in a brothel is not good for your health (mental or otherwise). How long have you been there? Did these problems start when you, or soon after you began working there? There are many other things that you could do, that would allow you to regain your self respect and dignity...perhaps this has something to do with why your agoraphobia and social disorders are where they are at.

I myself have been diagnosed as an agoraphobic. My doc didn't compare it with other social disorders, however, I can see how the two are very similar. I had to really work on my thinking patterns to get through the agoraphobia. I had it as a result of being raped when I was younger, and in my head I went from that event being scary to eventually turning all interactions outside my home into things to be feared. I was in constant fear, I couldn't even take the phone ringing, It would send me into a panic attack, and forget about it if someone knocked on the door, I would take off running in the other room and would hide. At times, I find myself still behaving in this way, I have to really focus on not reacting like this. I am now back in school full time, and am actually going places without my 'safe person'.

I can understand your fear of talking to a doc. I was the same way. You need to make sure you are really ready to work on these problems. This will give you the motivation you need to fix them. Only you can do something about these. You need to decide that you are worth it, and that you deserve to be happy. (Or at least that is what it took for me to actually get the help I needed) I started counseling before I realized these things about myself, and it made it hard for me to really open up and start to actually talk. And I started with the "I am fine" answer when asked, but my counselor saw through it, I think a good giveaway that you are not fine is that you are in counseling in the first place, right?

Anyway. The best advice I could give you is 1.) Get a new job. Love yourself enough to do a job that doesn't require you to let dirty men abuse your body 2.) Find a doctor and set up an appointment 3.) Maybe start journaling. It might help you figure out what you are really afraid of.

I really hope you are able to get yourself the help you need. I understand how devastating agoraphobia can be, but there is a life out of the cage we place ourselves into, it is just a matter of finding the key to get out.

Good luck, and keep us posted!

 
Old 02-16-2006, 05:19 PM   #5
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Libby Leech HB User
Re: Agoraphobia, Social Phobia and Avoidant Pesonality Disorder

Firtly, thanks to you both for replying.

ritzylady77 - It's good to know the sleep thing is 'normal'. Though how normal can it really be if I've only been having it for a couple years? I went 17 years sleeping everynight and in that whole time it never happened. Surely if it were normal, I'ld have had it all my life? Do you think anxiety could be giving me a strange type of insomnia where only my mind remains awake? It seems odd that my mind could separate from my body.

The thing with talking a Doctor, even if I managed to get myself together enough to do it, is that as I said, I don't want mental illness on my record. I fear the effect it will have on me geeting a good job after I've completed my education.

KStorts - I find your description of my work environment offensive,
"Get a new job. Love yourself enough to do a job that doesn't require you to let dirty men abuse your body"
I do not allow dirty men to abuse my body. We can say 'no' to anyone we don't wish to go through with, it is a safe working enviroment with good management. No one abuses my body, all the men are allowed to do, is have a shower then lay on the bed. If they dared try anything, they'd be kicked out in a second, and well, then I'ld get paid for not even doing any work I understand you have been raped, no offence but it seems you may have a squewed view towards sexual contact, this is consentual sexual contact, it is different. The only trouble I have with my job is my agoraphobia/social phobia/avoidant personality disorder because it stops me from being outgoing and sociable which leads to fewer jobs and therefore less cash.

And no, the problems havn't just come about since I've been working there, it is not as though my job has impacted my mental health negatively. I've always been a shy kid but I wouldn't say it really started making my life difficult until I was about 16, and it seems to be getting slowly worse and worse. Though working in a brother has helped me be a bit more sociable, talking to clients and the other girls, I still have a really hard time trying to be the instigator, introducing myself, making small talk, etc.

I realise prostitution is illegal in many other countries, and therefore the culture in which many of you have been raised is different, thus you're brought up with different views and opinions. I'm not saying you're wrong, but you do hold different views than I do, and I just ask you be a little more respectful than to push your view of prostitution as "imoral" onto me. I realise that this could be a controversial topic, but really there is no need to get into any sort of debate about it, it is not the point of my post. I was mearly giving some background details about my life to show how my agoraphobia/social phobia/avoidant personality disorder is impacting it in a negative way, and why I'ld like help with these issues. One of the reasons was so I could get more jobs when I'm at work.

So, back to the topic at hand. I realise councellig for my problems would likely help me, but as I said I don't want to be put on medication, and I don't want to have mental illness on my record. I thought there might be some ways of self-therapy. I'ld read that slowely introducing a person more and more to the stimuli that causes the phobic state will, over time, desensitize them to the stimuli. Avoident behaviour seems to increase the severity of the phobia, and over the years I have built it up by avoiding, avoiding and avoiding. I was thinking I could make up a timetable, schedule in where I need to go out to the supermarket, make a phone call, invite one of the girls from work out to lunch, etc. And gradually add more and more of these things into my schedual until I am cured. But of course, I am not a Doctor, so I'm a little apprehensive about any sort of self administrated therapy.

KStorts - you say you had to really work on your thinking patterns to get through the agoraphobia. What sort of things did you need to challenge about the way you thought, what did you need to do? What's something I can do to work on the destructive thought patterns?

Thanks.

 
Old 02-17-2006, 11:48 AM   #6
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KStorts HB User
Re: Agoraphobia, Social Phobia and Avoidant Pesonality Disorder

I am really sorry I offended you. You are correct, prostitution is illegal where I live, and It is really hard to get my mind around it being a healthy way for a woman to earn money. I am pretty conservative in that respect, I think any time a woman allows a man to touch her body for money, she is in some way harming herself. I would just think you would need to turn a part of yourself off to do that kind of work, and in my mind, that seems unhealthy. That is what I was trying to say, and by saying the men were abusing your body, I realize that they have permission and that both parties agree on what is to happen before hand, I put it this way because (and referred to them as dirty) because that is how I see someone that has to pay for sex, and that will. You and I are coming from totally different point of view, and I can respect that. I just know that regardless of that, we are both women, and in my opinion, as a woman it seems to me that anytime we allow men to use our bodies for their own gratification we are robbing ourselves of something.

That being said, the only reason I brought that up is I just really can't get it through my head that you enjoy having to do that, and that your job is not negatively affecting you.

So, I reread your original post again, and noticed that you said that you dropped out of high school at 15, now did you drop out because of the phobias? Or other reasons? I am just trying to figure out how long the phobias have been a problem for you.

For myself, I didn't even realize it had anything to do with being raped at 16. And here I am at 25 and just resolved the problem for myself for the most part last year. I wasn't agoraphobic at first. Nor did I have social anxiety. It built up in my head. The more time I spent alone, the worse it got. I got maried, had a baby, and was a stay at home mom. This was the worse thing for me at this point because I was suffering from post partum depression and from here my agoraphobia really turned into monster. I avoided social situations and came up with excuses any time someone wanted to see me, stopped answering my phone, etc. Then I finally got help when I became suicidal (some of this was the depression and some of it was the agoraphobia). Councelling was very hard for me. I had major anxiety on the way to the sessions and couldn't drive myself because of it, but I knew I had to be there. I finally just had to work myself up to it. The councelor really helped with this too. We talked through some of the fears. I also tried hypnotherapy and that seemed to help as well. I had to force myself to do things I was uncomfortable with. If we needed milk, instead of sending my husband to get it, I will make myself go. I can be tired and whatever, but I still make myself go, because I have to. I always made up excuses to not go places before, and even I believed them many times "oh, I need to go to the store to get this. But I am not going to go because my back tire needs a little air and it just doesn't seem very safe. Honey can you go to the store to get it? thanks" That's how it was. Always a different excuse and I could always come up with one.
Now I did grow up in an abusive home, so it could be possible that some of it stemmed from there and the rape just was like a finalizing event in my mind or something, I don't know. But either way, I know that I wasn't automatically agoraphopic after the event. It started out of fear of men's restrooms, or anywhere that left for the opportunity for me to be alone with a man. Then it gradually became a larger area to where it was anywhere near me. The only way I felt safe, is if I had a 'safe person' with me. Sorta like a teddy bear for a little kid.

I guess I had to dig through all of the crap to really fix the problem. It wasn't fun or easy to resolve. It was hard work, and I had to be willing to put some old painful memories away, which forced me to finally face them. I don't know how I would have done it without someone else's help, because it is really hard to look at yourself objectively, you know? It is possible I think though. So, In N.Z. employers have the right to see your medical records? Mental health stuff goes in a record that your potential employers can see?

I wasn't put on any drugs for agoraphobia. In fact, the only time I was ever on any type of drug was when my obgyn prescribed me prozac after having my son because of the post partum deperssion, but I only took the first prescription and never filled it because I was too afraid to go get it done.

I guess as far as resolving this yourself, I would still recommend the journalling, it might help. Other than that, I would, like you said, just set up scenarios that you would normally avoid and go through them. Practice it I guess. If you see a client that you think you would like to talk to but normally wouldn't, force yourself to say hi. Practice what you are going to say in your head first or something, and just go with it. If it doesn't work out and you say something wrong, then oh well, wait for someone else and try again. I guess? That is what I would do probably. Just practice it. Start going to the store the second you think you need to, just to reaffirm in your mind that you can do it. And start analyzing what you are afraid of. Once you pinpoint the fears, it is easier to come to terms with why they could be unrealistic.

Anyway, sorry again for offending you. That was not my intention. I really hope that you are able to get through this! Keep us posted!

Last edited by KStorts; 02-19-2006 at 10:28 AM.

 
Old 02-18-2006, 02:46 PM   #7
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Ruth6:11 HB UserRuth6:11 HB User
Re: Agoraphobia, Social Phobia and Avoidant Pesonality Disorder

Hi Libby, rather than go to the doctor and go through the "I'm ok" routine, why don't you cut and paste your post here into a word document and then print it out.
Take it to the doctor's office with you, and let him read it...
That way you don't have to talk/interact, and he can have a better chance at knowing what is wrong so you can get help fixing it...
My brother-in-law has social anxiety (which by the way can even run in families) and he takes a small amount of an anti-anxiety med that makes all the difference. He actually showed up at the summer picnic this last year!

Give it a try, and let us know it goes, ok?
Ruth

Last edited by Ruth6:11; 02-18-2006 at 02:46 PM.

 
Old 02-19-2006, 03:24 PM   #8
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Libby Leech HB User
Re: Agoraphobia, Social Phobia and Avoidant Pesonality Disorder

KStorts - Thank you for your apology, I appreciate it.
I droped out of school when I was 16 not 15, I must've pushed the wrong key. It was because I was just having a really hard time managing my life at that stage. My parents were violent towards us, and I was kicked out of home when I was 14. I lived here and there for awhile untill I was old enough to recieved the 'Independent youth benefi't which I was entitled to when I turned 16. It enabled me to find a room to rent while I was at school, and I had some money left for food but I never had anything else. I got a part-time job at Burger King after school to help get by. I used to have to work till 3am some nights, and then I'ld walk home because there were no buses going that late at night, I'ld get home exhauted from walking (it was pretty far to walk) crash out and go to sleep. Then I'ld show up at school late because I'ld slept in, or unable to concentrate because I hadn't had enough sleep, and I just fell so behind with all my work I got overwhelmed and decided to leave and work full-time for awhile, I always planned on going back to school when I could manage. I was shy at school, but not to the point where my phobias caused me to drop out, though they would have been starting to add a bit of extra stress to my life by this point.

I don't know exactly just what records your employers have access to here in NZ, I should really find out the law surrounding that area.

Ruth6:11 - Coping this thread and sending to a councellor would be a good idea, if working up the nerve to talk to a Docrtor was the only thing stopping me from seeing one.

 
Old 02-20-2006, 12:18 AM   #9
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KStorts HB User
Re: Agoraphobia, Social Phobia and Avoidant Pesonality Disorder

Hi Libby,
It sounds like you have a lot of reason to be where you are. I can understand why you might have a shyness towards people from what you said. My heart aches for your past. I know the pain of violent parents. I myeslf somehow learned that people are dangerous, and will hurt you in some way if they can. I know that for myself, it was/is hard to trust people, especially since I was rejected by my own parents. I think this helped a lot with my social anxieties. I was in constant fear of being rejected and judged. It is still something I have not been able to get rid of totally. I had to really work up to seeing someone in real life regarding my issues. I started with self help books. But it did take me some time to work up the courage. It is a scary thing to do. You are so young and I applaud you for recognizing the problems these phobias are causing in your life. Denial can be such an easier place to live, I know I was in denial about mine for quite a while. Be proud of yourself for how well you have done, and for how much you have taken care of yourself. You are a survivor, and you can overcome these phobias. If you can become self sufficient at such a young age, I have no doubt in my mind that you are an incredibly strong woman, and you can overcome these fears too!

I think it would be a good idea to check into your laws and see if you have some sort of confidentiality act. You might even be able to call a psychologist in your area and ask them over the phone. If that is too scary for you (I couldn't use the phone back then because it was too scary for me, so I can understand if it is) but the internet may be an easier option for you as far as finding the information you need. If you feel comfortable doing this, you could also try asking some of your coworkers, maybe they would know.

I wish you the best of luck finding the answers you need, and keep us posted!

 
Old 02-20-2006, 10:12 PM   #10
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Libby Leech HB User
Re: Agoraphobia, Social Phobia and Avoidant Pesonality Disorder

I was watching some thing on TV the other day, it was to do with the correlation between mental health and diet. Apparently fish, nuts and vegetables are good for mental health. So I decided I had to go to the supermarket today (argh I hate the supermarket) and I got some things. I had yoghurt and coffee for breakfast which probably isn't that healthy, but then I had a tuna(canned) salad(lettuce, tomato(is a fruit not a vegetable, but I got it anyway because I like it), carrot, cucumber) with some mixed nuts and sunflower seeds for lunch, and for dinner I had a piece of fresh fish and some mixed frozen stir fry vegetables. So I've had lots of fish and veggies and nuts so hopefully that's good. I never eat fish because if you buy it you have to eat it that day it doesn't last and I'm not a big eater, and I don't really like my house to smell like fish(my cat likes it though). And I don't like nuts or vegetables that much, so if that programme was correct that these foods contribute to good mental health, it's not surprising that I have a few issues. From now on I will try to eat better and see if that helps any, it probably doesn't help when I go for days without any food either, I should try to eat everyday.

I'm still trying to find out the law issues, and yes I have a thing with the telephone, I'm usually ok if I get a piece of paper and plan what I'm going to say, I read from the script. Gee, that's really strange isn't it?

I don't think having violent parents caused me to view people as dangerous. I don't think people are dangerous, I'm not afraid of being hurt, I'm just afraid of not being liked I guess, especially females, they tend to not tell you if they have a problem with you, just act sweetly around you and then say what they really think about you behind your back, it's probably why I've never had many female friends, I'm terrified of them, males are easier to get along with, you know if you're annoying them or something that they will tell you. I hope that didn't come accross as sexist, obviously you can't group all males and all females into those categories, it just seems to be common from my own personal experiences with people.

Last edited by Libby Leech; 02-20-2006 at 10:16 PM.

 
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