“365 Days of Mindfulness” [Day 72] Agoraphobia, Fast Food Restaurants, AAA, Mindfulness & Walking My Talk……

This is not a good time to write a blog entry.

You have to write it.

Oh no I don’t. I don’t want to write it, it’s very embarrassing. I mean seriously over-the-top embarrassing.

You seem to make a habit of those.

Not this bad.

You might be right.

Am I talking to myself again?

No dear, it’s, Betty and Bonnie, your bi polary bits. You have them so shook up they likely won’t be themselves for days. They are going to come out and play hopscotch, ride on the teeter totter, run around the playground, and…

I get the drift, but, uh, I have a student tomorrow.

They always behave very well when you have a student, in fact, they seem to be on their best behavior then and you come from a very soft place, they help you more than you know.

Not now though.

Well no dear, you’ve got them all shook up.

I think we should tell about the car.

No, not we, there’s only one of  us, you tell about the car.

Okay. I love my car. I am very proud of her.

Well then maybe you should drive her once in awhile.

I do.

She is a 2008 that you got when the 2010’s were out and she was brand new and you have driven her a little over 8000 miles, do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds.

Well, Rachel drove a thousand or more of those when she needed a car to go to work for month.

That’s worse, you are admitting that you are a lunatic.

I am not a lunatic, I am agoraphobic. I only go to the doctor, the little grocery store, and to get my medication, and I take the pugs to the vet. That’s pretty much it.

You know if you drove her more this wouldn’t have happened.

I know.

Well tell them.

Okay, here goes… Do I have to, I mean, the fast food restaurant is really bad.

Well you got yourself into this.

I will if you will take care of Betty and Bonnie.

I’m going to give them a xanax and put them to bed.

But I don’t take them hardly at all any more.

Trust me, tonight we all need the xanax. Go ahead and tell them about the car. Start there and work your way into it.

Okay…

Ahem.

(Deep breath)

I just want to tell you, as I write this post tonight, that everything in me is screaming not to, and if I get really nervous and write really fast and kind of lumpy and lopsided with sentences that are a tad run-onny, and a little clipped you will understand why by the end.

First I would like to say that the Universe has a sense of humor and I don’t appreciate it. I am stating that at the outset.

Okay, here goes…

Yesterday I decided that it was really important for me to write a post about agoraphobia and mindfulness, because mindfulness does help even if it doesn’t get me out of the house that much. And then a number of people have come to me as students and otherwise that seem to be agoraphobic or agoraphobia-ish. And then the topic seems to be coming up a lot lately in a lot of places. Well there’s so much more but I realize there will have to be another post about the topic because tonight a very unexpected turn in this whole business happened.

I started the post yesterday. I had definite ideas about what I was going to write, in fact had started a very different sort of post but then got really scared and overwhelmed and couldn’t write it. Today I decided I just couldn’t write it and then tonight happened.

I really don’t want to write this.

Tell them about the car.

I’m getting there.

Okay. Well as you know we have been snowed in all week. Not just snowed in but it was so icy people have been off for a week, kids out of school, and even the trash people didn’t pick up this morning. That’s how serious it was. I couldn’t have gotten the trash can out there if I wanted to last night because it was so icy.

The day before the weather hit I was going to go to the grocery store but the man was here almost all day working on the cracked pipes that happened last Friday night when the weather got so bad and by the time he left I was worn out.

You never do well when people come over.

I know, it makes me very nervous even if they are very nice.

He was nice.

Yes, but he was here.

Right.

The thing is I couldn’t get out all week to get groceries and the cupboard is really bare. It wasn’t safe to get out until this afternoon and the first half of the day I was dealing with the heat having gone out. It’s been just a dreadful week.

Oh you’re fine and you know it.

Not tonight, not especially.

Just keep writing.

Anyway after I got all the animals fed and out I was really hungry and there just wasn’t much to eat here. I was restless and anxious and I couldn’t make myself go to the store so I did something I only do once in awhile. I decided to throw on a jacket and go to a drive through fast food place just to get something to eat until I could get to the store.

You should have gotten properly dressed.

But it was late and I was so tired and I never do anything but drive through, sit in the lot and eat, and drive home. I never get out of the car. I can’t get out of the car. It is my safe place.

Tell them about the car.

Okay.

You see, the thing is, while I can’t go out really every once in awhile I can get in the car and drive through a fast food place. Okay, so I went to Wendy’s. I don’t really need to get dressed because I don’t get out of the car. I mean I had on an old ratty caftan because I’d been in and out shoveling snow and I was a mess and tired and hungry. Just drive through, eat, and come home, I told myself.

It was all going well but I got kind of scared while I was eating so I turned on the radio. It would have been okay if I’d left the engine running but that makes me feel really conspicuous so I turn off the engine and try to make myself really small and I like to think that no one can really see me.

Honey you drive a bright orange Honda Element. People see you.

But I make myself really small.

Sweetie that is a physical impossibility and you fairly glow in the dark in that car.

Okay, I will tell you about the car. The car at the top is not my car. What I mean to say is that it is exactly my car but not my car in the picture. That is an ad I saved when I was dreaming about having one. And then my old van was giving out, and this one was new but on sale because it had never sold, and I loved it dearly, and I named it Patty for Peppermint Patty in Charlie Brown which doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you are me but I’m not going to go there right now. Suffice it to say I love this car with my whole heart and soul, even though I don’t drive a lot, but she’s big and boxy and fun and if I go some place I feel safe in her. I can go some place like the fast food restaurant and just sit in her and I never get out I just kind of have a little time out which is nice once in awhile but the doors are locked and I am safe and I just eat and drive home. Except for tonight.

It was the darned radio. I don’t usually go as late as I did and it was dark and I got scared so I put the radio on while I ate but the engine wasn’t running. I got ready to go and when I tried to start the car all of the lights on the dashboard lit up and went haywire and the car wouldn’t start. I simply could not believe it. I kept trying and trying and things kept flashing and giving odd messages about faulty airbags and whatnot but I’d just had the car inspected a few weeks ago. I was now in the middle of a full blown panic attack, I mean really bad. My car wouldn’t start, I wasn’t really dressed anyway, I was really really afraid and on the verge of full out hysteria when I remembered my AAA card. Thank God for cell phones. I called and literally cried as I explained the whole situation to the nice lady.

You always over explain and kind of tell your whole life story and make a terrible fuss going all to pieces.

I couldn’t help it.

Just go on with the story.

I told the lady that I couldn’t wait for an hour for them to get there, that I had pugs at home who NEEDED me, I actually said I had just eaten and what if I had to go to the bathroom and I wasn’t dressed to go in to the potty and I couldn’t make myself get out of the car anyway. I can’t believe I said all of that but that is what happens when something like this, or a variation thereof, hits. I have gone grocery shopping and panicked so bad in the checkout line at the grocery store that I ran out of the store crying and left my basket full of food in the line. There are other incidents but I won’t go into them now.

The AAA lady said she would call and tell them that it was a Priority Call and to get to me as fast as they could. They would call very quickly and let me know how long it would take to get here. When the man called and said it would be thirty minutes or less all I heard was thirty minutes and in a panic I told my whole story again. I mean the WHOLE story. He sounded unnerved and said they would get there as fast as they could.

I think it was ten minutes, and I have never met a nicer man in my life. I thought all kinds of things were wrong with the car, serious things, because of all the lights flashing. He said he was pretty sure it was my battery because newer cars do that as the car is heaving it’s last breath before the battery goes. He charged it up, told me it would be best if I drove it around awhile to make sure the battery would hold the charge or whatever you call it, and then he looked at me. He knew where I lived because my address was on the AAA thing and he knew it wasn’t but about 5 minutes away. I must have had a look of complete panic on my face because he said, “Okay hon, just go straight home and if it won’t start tomorrow just call us again and we will bring a new battery.” He was very nice.

On my drive home I was kind of in shock. I had been going to write a post about agoraphobia and decided I couldn’t, just couldn’t, and then The Universe thought it would be a funny joke to send me off on this ridiculous adventure so I would have the worst agoraphobic incident in recent memory. It was a definite sign that I was supposed to write about it.

The thing is after I called AAA and knew he was on the way I stopped. I started breathing. I said, “You’re okay. You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay.” And in that moment I was. And I kept breathing until the nice man got there and then I made it home and practically rushed in and fell on the pugs in relief kissing them until they were senseless and they climbed all over me on the couch and then perched on me like little monkeys holding me down until I settled. They did. They really do that.

Finally I came in here and I wrote this post and the writing is just pitiful but if I didn’t just get it all out here, just kind of spew it onto the page I would never have made it at all.

The whole point is that even in the worst agoraphobic attack we can hold on and make it through even though we don’t believe, in that moment, that we can. But it is in that moment that it is important to remind yourself that you will be okay. It is especially important to remind yourself that it is finite, not infinite, that you will make it through, and in the end you will be okay. It took me awhile to get there but I did, and here I am, running fast and furious to get to the finish line with this post so I can go curl up with the pugs. That is my reward.

I am going to write a more serious post on some things I think are really important to share about agoraphobia but I had to get this out tonight. I simply can’t believe the timing of the whole thing but there you are. And I let myself carry on like this because there are agoraphobic people who will read this and will know exactly what I mean and how I felt. They know it gets this bad and worse, but hopefully my embarrassing honesty will help in some way. At least I hope so. This is why I do this, and it is not easy, especially tonight, but I promised myself I would tell the truth feeling that if what I write helps even one other person it will have been worthwhile.

I hope it was.

Now I have to go.

 

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Comments

  1. Well now, dear one, and today you are dealing with a dripping ceiling, and if you had not written this you would have yesterday spilling over into today’s crisis. What I mean is, this is your writing at its best, Maitri, painful, funny, honest, and as observant as if you were standing outside your body, watching with love and wry humor. This is a gift not only to others who experience agoraphobia but to anyone who has reached that space of overwhelm and found no exit.

  2. I love this, though I’m sorry these things are happening to you. I’m also agoraphobic so I understand the panic all too well. Hopefully things are working better for you. We had a kind of rough week as well. One of our windows cracked and the water softener burned up.

  3. Oh Maitri….I so agree with what Cathryn wrote, and like Valerie, I too have experienced agoraphobia. In fact, it’s only recently that I am able to get back in my car and go on very short drives. After my car accident, I was afraid to go out and extremely afraid of driving. I know how unnerving it all can be. I love the way you write, especially when your bipolar bits are conversing with you…I am so glad you are OK and I do hope your leaks get fixed. Shall I tell you about the time I dropped my son off at school on a day I had off. My plan was to just drop him off at 6:30 am and drive back home to go back to bed. It was very warm out, and springtime can get rather muddy. I dropped Matt off at school and was racing home to get back to bed….you guessed it, I was pulled over by our local police and there I was in my orange VW beetle wearing only my nightie and bright green wellies! But there’s more…the nice young officer was a former student of mine! Imagine my humiliation! Well, at least he didn’t give me a ticket, but to this day I am mortified just thinking about this….thank you for having the courage to write this entry….I am so grateful for your honesty, wit and your courage! Love and many blessings to you, dear Maitri.

  4. I am glad you are ok and willing to let me learn so very much from you!

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