Overcoming Fear

I was going to write this post about the wonderful day I had meeting Instagram and Blogger friend, Becky. And it was absolutely lovely. She and I never met in person before today, although we've exchanged many, many texts, emails, blog comments and tweets.

Then I read this article (from xojane.com, my new favorite webamag that I read everyday) about agoraphobia. The article really resonated with me because, I, too have suffered from this disorder. Several years ago, I had debilitating panic disorder and was unable to leave my house. I mean, I left occasionally (girl's gotta work) but it was very hard. I had to drop out of school that semester and, at work, more often than not, I'd break down in tears and shakes because I was so overwhelmed by being out of my safe place. The horrible rolling wave of sickening fear signaling the start of a panic attack began in my chest and I wouldn't be able to go on. My boss was an absolute saint for not firing me.

I sat in my small apartment (comprised of two rooms) and cried most of every day. I could barely feed myself because going to get food involved a) leaving the house and b) making an effort to take care of myself. I was incapable of doing either. At an especially low point, I baked a roll of Grand's Biscuits and that's all I ate for five days. One roll of biscuits.

I couldn't imagine things getting better and I was convinced they'd just get worse. I wanted to die. I couldn't go out to see my friends (or see anything). My boyfriend was uber frustrated and didn't know what to do with me.

For years, I cut myself off and on, but this period was especially difficult (not to mention dark). One night, I took a straight razor and sliced a huge, deep gash in my arm. This thing was at least 4 inches long (I have an incredibly ugly scar that seems to scream "I'm emotionally unstable!"). I tried to hide it, but the boyfriend found out. After what felt like hours of silence, he put me in the car and took me to my parents' house. He cried and pleaded with them to do something. He told them I was killing myself and they needed to step in. I'd never had anyone care about me like that.

While I worked on overcoming agoraphobia for years (not to mention boat loads of therapy), that was the point I decided I couldn't live like that anymore. I forced myself to go out of my apartment with the agreement that I could leave if I needed to (I was the queen of getting up in the middle of a meal/presentation/ladies night and walking out). It was one of the most difficult things I've had to go through. Having panic attacks and crying in front of people is about ten times worse than going through it alone. 

After reading the above article, I realized today wasn't just about meeting someone amazing from the internet and feeling like we've been in real life friends with her for years and years, it was a testament to how far I've come. Yes, I was nervous about meeting her. What if she didn't like me? What if I said the wrong thing? What if her fiancé was weird? My excitement to meet her overrode all of this. Which wouldn't have happened a couple of years (maybe even a year) ago. I would've considered all of those things and given up. I'm so thankful that I can have a real life and take chances. I took a chance today, and it was awesome.