Agoraphobia or PTSD?

Back in 1996, I was involved in an unhealthy relationship. Each day, I was beaten, berated, raped. When I contacted the police (on many occasions), I would be told that what he was doing to me was legal. From his behaviour, I am guessing that he knew it, too. Each time I would threaten to leave, his reaction would be the same – laughter, followed by him telling me that nobody else would have me. I had lived in this “prison” for six years. It was not until my abuser almost killed our 2 week old son that I found the strength to leave.

At the start of 1996, I survived an elevator accident which damaged my spine and caused miscarriage. The elevator had fallen 10 floors (from the 26th floor). I no longer use elevators, especially with the large spate of elevator deaths (and graphic pictures) which are making it into the news these days – 20 years after my own accident.

With both things going on at the same time – domestic violence and the elevator accident – I developed so many symptoms that were overwhelming. I would find myself walking down the hallway while still living with my abuser, and suddenly find myself absolutely overwhelmed with terror. My lungs would stop working. I could not breathe in or out and my feet would not move, regardless that my brain was demanding that I run for my life if I wanted to survive. Yes, my very first panic attack is still fresh in my mind, even today.

ptsd

When the panic attacks continued, they became more and more unexplainable and I could not predict when they would happen.  Sometimes, in a supermarket or a car park, I would be hit by another one, and then another.  Even after I had left my abuser, they became worse until they were crippling me.

I had to move to a new address each time my former abuser found out where I lived, just to try and gain some sense of being able to breathe.  While I lived in fear constantly, however, the panic attacks continued to overwhelm me to the stage where I was too scared to leave the house.  I was afraid of having panic attacks in front of other people.  But I still had to keep changing address, due to the fact that he would keep finding me.  I never knew how.

After his final attack in 2007 – the last time he found me – I am left profoundly Deaf and legally blind.  The damage he did to me that day cannot be reversed.  The nightmares continue, and for the second time in my life, I am housebound.  I ended up writing a book about how we met, how I became his prisoner, his boxing bag, and the joke of the Logan Police in Queensland.

FRONT_COVER

For a very long time, it plagued me.  How did my abuser keep finding me?  Even after I had changed my name so many times, how did he do it?  I already knew that he had friends in high places, but how could those friends know what name I was using on any given day?  I could count the amount of friends I had on one hand… TWICE!

I today discovered exactly how, and I am reeling from that knowledge.  When I confronted one of my two loyal and loving friends, she did not deny it.  I am numb.

When I first became housebound in 1999, having left my friends and family behind, changed my name, used over a dozen different aliases, I was finally diagnosed with Agoraphobia with Panic Disorder, yet the symptoms are identical to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Now I need to find out what is keeping me from opening my front door a second time, now that I live in a different country under yet another different name.  Is it PTSD or is it Agoraphobia?  As a Deaf/blind author who lives her entire life indoors, I will shortly be releasing my findings the only way I know how.  Here is a preview of the cover:

Agoraphobia_frontcover

With yet another doctor helping me next Monday with the task of being able to open the front door and feel safe again, I will hopefully be able to see a rainbow instead of dark skies ahead.

It will be interesting to find out what is wrong inside my head.  Every other year, I have frolicked and danced in the snow, loving my surroundings.  But this year, watching the snow through the window before I cower away… I am determined to find out.

Watch this space!

– Rosie xx

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9 thoughts on “Agoraphobia or PTSD?

  1. I sobbed reading this. Your story is so similar to my own. The damage done to me by my ex is irreversible. I have been diagnosed with both agoraphobia and PTSD (amongst other things) and know only too well how it feels. I wanted to reach through my screen and hug you, so I’ll just leave these here. (((hugs))) x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Agoraphobia or PTSD? | fightorflights

  3. i’m a psychotherapist myself, and it’s possible to have agoraphobia and PTSD concurrently. from experience, they tend to reinforce one another and create a bad kind of mental health synergy. best wishes in working with your doctor to battle your anxieties! stay strong ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      • Your story is horrific literally like a horror film. I can definitely see why you would have PTSD after the incredibly traumatic experiences you’ve gone through. If you are housebound because you are deaf and blind that is a tragic fallout of what has happened to you. But if you are housebound because of agrophobia there is hope this may lift. I have PTSD and the symptom or co-morbid disorder of the PTSD was rampant OCD doing crazy checking rituals 10 hours a day. But when I treated the PTSD with EMDR therapy the OCD almost totally went away. If you treat your PTSD successfully you may well find an improvement in the agoraphobia. http://bit.ly/1ER5cLY

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was diagnosed with OCD over 40 years ago and it does not bother others, but drives me “crazy” with the counting, the checking, although I do enjoy cleaning constantly.

        I was diagnosed with both PTSD and Agoraphobia, am now receiving medication and psychotherapy. The psychiatrist is reading my biography and I am to keep a daily diary of the effects of the medication, plus anything that causes triggers. I also had to send her a list of all of my medications and allergies.

        She was nice when she visited the house and was not horrible to me when she found out I was Deaf. She was fine with me signing to my husband. It is just unfortunate that the public health system was not interested in helping me at all (regardless that I pay taxes), and that I had to resort to a private psychiatrist in order to get help.

        Hopefully, by the end of the month, I will have my feet firmly planted in the snow xx

        Like

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