Agoraphobia

There are certain things that make my heart beat fast- the sound of the doorbell, the beep of my phone, the sound of laughter from inside a closed room that I am about to enter, the sound of a car pulling-in my driveway, the approaching of a Tuesday evening, when the bazaar commences in my neighborhood, the…

I could go on. These, by themselves, are harmless…but they carry the potential possibility of leading of a situation that might develop to be highly unpleasant for everyone concerned, I assure you. A situation which can trigger the switch in me…the switch which when pulled, makes my heart beat so loud that I can’t hear you anymore, my knees go week, my gut clots into a knot tight tight tight, makes me turn into something I wish nobody has to witness…all I can do is hide. 

These days, I bide my time in my bedroom…enclosed in a tiny corner with things that are familiar to me and which will keep me from being seen. I hope you will excuse my not partaking in the celebrations tonight. 

Panic Disorder can put the person suffering from it at a greater risk of Agoraphobia, and agoraphobia in-turn can cause panic attacks. If you want to know/read more on this, this is a really interesting article on Agoraphobia, if you’re up for a somewhat long ride. If you want a short-read, you can of course just look at the symptoms listed on Mayo Clinic here.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

I want to enjoy this evening, I really do; I want to look deep into your eyes, watch the laugh lines around your face, and brush my legs against yours as we lose ourselves in this music.

But…but every time you look at me, I catch your eyes stop at my nose, making my heart sink into my knees every time they linger a little too long on the middle of my face.

I fix my hat to make sure its shadow covers most of my face, I excuse myself again and again, to apply another layer of foundation on my nose. I catch my face on glass doors and behind steel spoons, I catch the waiters turning ’round to look at it (my nose) again and again, I put my phone on front camera and check and recheck my disguise under the the table…I send a selfie to my best-friend and my mother asking them the fifth time this evening if my nose is well covered, I catch my reflection on your cigarette case…I…oh darling….I…please excuse me, I don’t feel too well, I must retire early, I think I’ll drive myself home now. 

{I cry on the drive back home. But I could not…could not bear to watch your eyes drop at my nose one more time this evening. }

You can read more about Body Dysmorphic Disorder here.

Hypochondriasis

They think I am pretending, they laugh at me behind my back (or even in front of me, those shameless devils), but I despise them just as passionately as they reject me. Do you think I enjoy taking rounds and rounds of hospitals and clinics, a different one each time, watching doctor after doctor frown at me, cut me off mid-sentence, charge enormous fees for 10 minutes of their impatient time? I have spent 20,000 INR just this month alone, on  my medical fees. That’s 20% of my salary! You think I enjoy this!? I am going to need this money for my treatment when they finally find out the cause of all this! Will they repay me for the time and money I have spent on them, each time hoping to find a doctor who will listen and sympathise, who will make use of their expensive education and help me. Instead, with each passing year, the doctors coming out of these medical colleges have shorter and shorter attention spans. They throw offhanded judgements and medicines without waiting to listen to the discomforts I have faced for the past 12 years.

I now self-monitor my weight and bloodpressure I myself; I measure them both twice everyday, making careful notes. I have instructed my daughter to video-record me every time I have my pains, to show the doctors how my skin loses its colour, my body goes limp, how I shriek with true pain. I have lost almost as much money on sick-leaves as I have on my treatments. Those doctors might find these videos more entertaining than hearing me speak. Maybe one day all these notes and videos will help a more patient, more understanding doctor get closer to finding the cause of my illness. I lose more weight everyday; my temperature fluctuates every week and my body goes weak with exhaustion without any physical strain. This is not a life anybody wishes on themselves. I will do anything to not be like this, to not inhabit this body…to work everyday without having to rush home every other week, to go out with friends without making excuses for my sickness, to be distracted for even a few hours from the tickings and runnings of my system; and I definitely don’t want to see the snarky face of another doctor who thinks they know more about my sickness that I do myself. 

If you want to read a quick description of Hypochondriasis, go here, and this is a slightly longer article explaining Hypochondriasis as an anxiety disorder . This is a more humorous personal account by Woody Allen in New York Times, who has proclaimed himself, on multiple occasions, to have acute debilitating symptoms of hypochondriasis.

Panic Disorder

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I sense it’s oncoming.

I know the signs: how my skin throbs, and the world shrinks inside me.

I want to flee,

but my feet fill with crawling lead

and gets stuck to this ground

that moves.

The coils coil inside me wringing my gut.

How the world shakes around me, it makes me dizzy;

and that wild beast leaping at my throat

is likely to kill me.

 

To know more about panic disorder and understand how a panic attack is different from an anxiety attack, you can go here . 

 

 

 

Postpartum Depression

I had painted the walls myself, of the room in which he was to live. Jurassic themed. 

I had even allowed a corner for the Manchester United logo that my husband wanted, already thinking of ways in which he will suck the child into the soccer frenzy.

I can’t enter that room now. I have been back from the hospital for over three months  and those reptiles I had drawn and painted with so much patience (and love?)…they are out to get me! Their long faces, and those big mouths…they will expose me. They look at me with that look! that look…of knowing…they know, they sense the darkness inside me. 

And that…that child. Oh! Is he really mine? Did he really grow inside me all these months. They say he looks just like me. I can’t see the similarity…I can’t…oh I can’t say it…but… Aren’t you supposed to feel something? “It will change your life” they said about motherhood. What did my mother feel when she first held me in her arms. Did she feel love…why can’t I feel the love I am supposed to feel. 

I can’t look at him, I can’t…I can’t watch those arms stretch at me. They keep bringing him to me, but I can’t feed it…him. My breasts, my body, my heart has nothing. There is no mother in this body!

Every morsel I eat feeds this wretchedness inside me. I am scared to sleep…I am scared of what I will become when I wake up. Can I undo these 9 months? Can I undo this? He cannot deserve a mother like this? 

And each day those reptiles grow…bigger and bigger. They are all around me. I bathe and bathe and bathe wishing praying that I can shed this…this hideousness inside me. I can’t stand my own self, all my insides, my intestines, my brains, all mix and convolute into knots and knots of pain. 

As usual Mayo Clinic has all the basic information about the disease that you can read here. There is also this interesting account by Stephanie Grant about her mother who had suffered from Postpartum Depression; find it here.

 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

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I see you judging me, judging my frowns,

me with my big car and nice clothes,

or maybe I have a small car, but I have a family that loves me and friends who adore me.

You think I am being ungrateful…unappreciative.

But what I wouldn’t give for your easy smile, and those shoulders that relax in every room.

I would give all my wealth in exchange for a heart that does not jump every time it hears my name.

And to not have my hands shake and my legs tremble before every beginning and every end. 

One time in 9th grade I shat my pants. 

You laugh. They did too. They thought it was an accident. It was not. 

I could not gather the courage to go up and interrupt the teacher. I sat there thinking of all the ways my simple act of asking permission to leave the classroom can go wrong.

They all do it so easily, breezing in and out of rooms. I could not.

I did not go back to that school. I demanded my school be changed. I lost one year. 

All because one afternoon I could not gather the strength to go up and say 6 small words. 

I see you judging again, telling me all those who do not get to go to school. Those who don’t  have the choice. And here I was….spoilt brat you say. 

I fainted on the day of my wedding; I could not get out of bed for my first job interview. 

I am exhausted constantly.

What I wouldn’t give for that easy smile, those relaxed shoulders, and those eyes…that judge me. 

If you want to know more about GAD, wiki is actually the best out there in terms of giving you everything you need to know in one place. If you want to get some first-hand perspective and read some personal heart-felt and inspiring accounts, go here and here.