Monday, September 23, 2013

My son:

My son has agoraphobia. It started with a panic attack while he was at the movies watching "The Lion King", I believe it was in 1994. He struggled with the attacks on and off for many years. It runs in the family , I had them in the 1970's and they lasted 7 years. Daughter had them too. Bob was still working at the time and I remember that at times he just had to run to the back rooms of the shops to calm down.
There was a progression , they came more often and lasted longer. His fear of getting an attack multiplied , often we had to go and get him on the road as he was totally frozen behind the wheel of his car. One time he was in the back at Walmart and saw no way out. they would not allow him to use the back exit door. His dad and I rushed to help him out, by then he was calmer.
My experience had been that most doctors thought you could control these emotions and get on top of them....I survived with Valium and did not get addicted but it was in the 1970's.
Bob did not have help at all. Neither did his sister.

The attacks escalated so one day he and I on my way to work, he stopped abruptly and said he could go no further. It then took several short trips with his wife to get him home only 2 miles away.
I think then agoraphobia set in.

A move of his family had to be made to Texas, I am not sure how he did it as I was not there but without help his condition did get worse. When he returned to NC ,his sister picked him up, he was pretty much medicated and does not remember much of the trip at all. To make things worse they broke down with a U haul attached to the car. Sabrina had to hire the right transport to hook up the car and leave him alone till she got the help. Bob called me in tears, he had no idea where he was and what to do. It was a frantic moment as he obviously was not clear of mind.
It took until 1 year ago for him to find an agency which would allow home visits.
I felt like kissing the feet of the psychiatrist. It took many trials to find a drug which kept him calmed down but that does not mean one can just go out and stay in the outside world.

Last year he did drive around for a mile or two but then dropped that scenario and stayed more in house.
He did start to visit a couple of people next door. That helped a lot as one gal is also in the field of mental health. But then they had to move a month or so ago and Bob's world collapsed again. To make things worse he lost his best counselor as another company purchased his agency.

He was so down that I just did not know where he would get the power to continue to fight.
Last Saturday he texted his sister. "Can you drive with me? In case I get stuck, you can drive me home!"
She came and off they went. He did go into one store. Then he drove to a place where he had volunteered for a while at a Gem Museum. He  went inside albeit the way down (not easy to get out) is several steps. He always has to know he can get out quickly. He stayed one hour in the museum and admired the new specimens. No one there was from the old gang. Then he drove to visit his friend and tattoo artist which is several miles down the main highway. He went in and talked a bit then came home while stopping at BK to bring back a hamburger. It took them almost 3 hours for the trip. He recorded everything on his phone.
He sat at the table with Brie and I and said it was all just very "weird". He did not feel elated, terrified, nor could he find any emotions for the day. He said he was void of feelings, period.
Then he opened up a bit on facebook:
First his sister's entry:
I share my brothers journey as a reminder to those whom do not understand mental health. He has been agoraphobic ( no not a fear of spiders.. Look it up and educate yourself) for over ten years now. With mental health always being last on the list of help, it wasn't until last year that he was finally able to get someone to come to the house. I recently shared pictures of him in various locations. This is the first time in six years that he has managed to go that far and enter a building for an extended period of time. His strength surpasses that of anyone I know, having suffered with panic disorder for seven years myself, I still have only a small clue of what he has gone through. He has so much to offer society, my only hope is that society will give him a chance, welcome him with open mind and arms and not judge. I adore you brother, more than you will ever know!
and then his:
I was just thinking about some of the things we take for granted. Simple everyday things to most, but in a certain light, kind of frightening and abstract to others. I have been away from society for so long that I wonder if I have lost any social skills (and if much). Being out yesterday can best be summed up best as "stranger in a strange land." I didn't feel like I was supposed to be there nor did it feel like a place I remember. I handed my debit card to the cashier and almost said "Do you still do this?" I had been out of it so long that I had no idea. At the drive-through I stalled for a moment because I wasn't sure what was the next step in the order of things. I am hoping that I get that back, but in many ways it was inevitable to lose some of that. It's all been eBay, Amazon, Facebook and very little actual human interaction. You people scare me at times, but I scare me too, so I guess we're even. At any rate, I hope to get out more and finally shake this off. Then I can have my cabin 300 miles away from people by choice. It would take something pretty incredible to ingratiate myself back into the old model of life. A bit terrifying in itself if you step back and admire it outside the frame that holds it together. Camus said it took greater strength to live and he wasn't joking. I guess I'm hanging on because I'm still thinking there might be something incredible out there in the mist. As terrifying as it is to go looking, I have nothing else to do at this point in time.


Unknown said...

Even though I haven't seen you all in very long I love your family so much! I loved hearing the stories you have told me when you watched my kids. Although it is to a much lesser degree I do understand agoraphobia as I have it myself. It truly sucks.

Jeannot said...

Hi Joy, I had been in a funk not able to write much and just noticed this reply.
Sorry if you have the same problems. It does suck! Bob now tries to go out in the car every other day. Mostly around town , he has yet to see hway 64 the mall and all that.