Confessions Of An Anthro-Phobe

Anxious/avoidant personality disorder…social phobia… severe anxiety… panic disorder… agoraphobia… etc etc

My (personal) case study…

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This is how I feel… like a terrified little rabbit, that just wants to hide away from everyone…

So here’s the deal… 

Messed up genes…

  • Paternal grandfather – served a prison sentence in a psychiatric ward… had thrown acid into a colleague’s face at work and said he was being ‘persecuted’…relatives in the know refused to tell me what his diagnosis was… (some research suggests that avoidant personality disorder might be common in close relatives of schizophrenics)
  • Maternal grandfather – was medically discharged from the army, during World War 2 (‘neurotic’)… later was voluntarily admitted to a psychiatric hospital (problem with nerves)… 2 of his siblings commit suicide… definitely had social phobia – if anyone knocked at the door, he would run upstairs to hide… (recent research believes that social anxiety may be inherited genetically
  • Maternal aunt attempted suicide more than once… her daughter (my cousin) sadly did actually commit suicide, after being hospitalised for depression… (lots of research claims that depression can be genetic and can run in families)

Unfortunate parenting…

  • Mother suffered postnatal depression, after giving birth to me… although she wasn’t a ‘bad’ mother at all, this may have still caused difficulties in bonding at the time (some research links postpartum depression in mothers with causing anxiety and depression in their offspring) 

Physical contribution…

  • At age 2, I had an accident, involving a head injury… I’d climbed up onto a bedroom windowsill, the window was open and I fell backwards, out of the window, onto concrete… I was concussed and x-rays showed a fractured skull (left parietal region), with scalp haematoma… (back then, the medical profession believed that head injuries in children did not cause any lasting effects… but more up to date research has connected it to possible psychosocial problems, anxiety/depression and mental illness)

Emotional/psychological abuse…

  • Father was hospitalised due to a nervous breakdown (after my Mum couldn’t cope with him anymore and left him).  I was told later (by his second wife) that the psychiatrists said he was (I can’t remember exactly) either ‘egocentric’ or ‘egotistical.’  On reflection, he fitted the profile for ‘narcissistic personality disorder,’ which is often caused by a traumatic event during adolescence (he was 16 when his father was sentenced and he attended the same school as the son of the victim involved).  Additionally, he once told me that when he was a little boy, he was so scared of his father (who would regularly come home drunk) that he slept with a hammer under his pillow (just in case he needed it, to defend himself or his mother).  Unfortunately, rather than rejecting his father’s example of behaviour, for some reason he copied it (I presume it made him feel ‘powerful,’ to have a psychological hold over people, when he made them feel afraid of him).  Maybe he’d developed a warped idea of what a man was supposed to be like, based on a boy’s instinctive mimicking of their father. Basically, he was too clever to actually physically hurt anyone, but would psychologically torment and emotionally bully (without leaving any physical scars or evidence).  When he used to pick me up from my Mum’s place, I was so terrified at the thought of seeing him, that I would feel like I needed to vomit, and would start retching over the toilet, but nothing would come up.  When his second wife left (escaped) him, she said he’d threatened her, saying that if he killed her, he’d only get 7 years.  His third wife attempted suicide.  He had an argument with his niece (my cousin) and got someone else to threaten to burn her house down.  The last time I saw him (about 15 years ago), I had gone to visit him at his place – he cornered me, in the room I was staying in, and didn’t actually say or do anything (so I didn’t have a shred of evidence), but I was so terrified at the way he looked at me, that I told my Mum when I got home what had happened, and never ever went back… (it is well known that 61% of sufferers of avoidant/anxious personality disorder report having experienced emotional abuse or emotional neglect in childhood).  

School phobia…

  • Due to unstable family circumstances in childhood, I ended up attending 7 different schools (we moved house a lot).  Always being the new, quiet, shy girl made it pretty much impossible for me to try to break into the already established friendship networks and cliques, at school.  To escape being bullied, I would spend lunch breaks alone, in the school library.  I played truant a lot, because I was so scared of going in to school – so scared of the other children.  Have you also noticed how teachers tend to always like the school bullies too??!!  I later on, as an adult, tried to return to study – managed to complete 1 year at university, but during the summer holidays, couldn’t stop worrying obsessively about a verbal presentation we were expected to give, on return – I was so scared, that I did a last minute transfer to another course, at another university – but then dropped out before the end of the year, because we were going to have to give a speech in front of even more people (about 300)… It’s just so unfair that the whole of Western society, including the education system, is designed for extroverted people, and seems to actively discriminate against introverts… 

Workplace…

  • My dream job would just be cleaning or mucking out horse’s stables… because you just go in, get on with the work, go home, get paid – and don’t have to talk to any customers… however, I also have a physical back condition, which causes severe back pain, so makes it hard to keep a physically demanding job..
  • The only other type of work I could ever get always involved dealing with customers… I would become so stressed out in one job, that I developed a habit of looking for a new job and just leaving… however, the stress would still overcome me in the next job, and so on… for years, I tried to cover up how I was feeling and try to pretend to act ‘normal’ and fit in… in 2012, I was so overwhelmed by workplace stress, that I started taking a bottle of cola into work, mixed with brandy (in the hope that it might help to calm my nerves down)… I then began buying non-prescription, over the counter, painkillers containing codeine, and taking it on a daily basis (which started to make me feel sick)… it got to the point, where I kept bursting into tears at work (after having been shouted at, verbally abused, sworn at, threatened etc, by customers on the phone, for the umpteenth time) and my hands started shaking… I went to my GP, and for the first time in my entire life admitted to someone, that I had a problem and needed help… he arranged some cognitive behavioural therapy, but I didn’t find that it helped… he also prescribed beta-blockers (to try to help with the physical symptoms of stress, such as tremor in the hands, racing heart beat, excessive sweating etc), but I don’t find that they have any effect
  • Additionally, in each workplace, if there was a bully, they would always go straight for me… (a colleague who suffers from anxiety, low self-esteem, is shy, quiet, non-confrontational etc – this is a workplace bully’s dream victim… hence, someone suffering from avoidant/anxious personality traits could be at higher risk)… 

How it all (finally) came to a head…

  • In 2014, I was reported to the police as a missing person… I was found (in London) with no belongings on me (and no identification), screaming, rolling around on the floor, my arms shaking… I was taken directly to a psychiatric hospital (restrained by police and an ambulance crew)… sedated… sectioned under the (UK) mental health act… refused to eat for about 3 days (because I thought the hospital food was poisoned)… I’ve recently obtained a copy of my patient notes, which described my behaviour on the ward as disturbed, confused, highly hysterical, psychotic… for the first time in my life, I got to see a psychiatrist… it didn’t take them long to give me a diagnosis of an acute reaction to stress (involving dissociation and depersonalization), caused by mental strain from workplace stress, because of Avoidant Personality Disorder… when I was discharged from hospital, the local NHS community mental health team left me without any ongoing support (I’ve since found out, from my GP patient records, that after I had a single appointment with a social worker there, they sent a letter to my GP, saying that I had agreed with them that I didn’t need any help – this was a blatant and total lie!!!!!)
  • Hence, without any support in the community (and not being able to afford private medical fees), in June 2016 I was sectioned under the mental health act again, for the second time (in just over 2 years)… again, I was reported to the police as a missing person… I had been walking in the middle of the road, with no shoes on and my foot was bleeding… police took me to hospital, to see the mental health crisis team… my Mum came to the hospital, and told me afterwards, that I said I was seeing messages on the wall, started shouting at the staff, began singing loudly and dancing in the corridor (something I would NEVER normally do!), made threatening gestures to the staff (making a gun sign, with my hand, as if I was going to shoot them), managed to run out of the building and had to be restrained by the hospital security, kept shouting ‘I just want to die’ – and ended up having ‘non-epileptic seizures’ (induced by stress)… when I was transferred to a mental health ward, I thought the staff wanted to kill me, and started screaming… was restrained and sedated… refused to eat… then, after about a week, began to ‘wake up,’ and remember what had happened (it was as if my eyes had been open, and I had been walking around, but I felt like it was all just a ‘dream’… additionally, I was aware of an unusual ‘sleepy‘ feeling, over my forehead and eyes, which made me feel like I was in a ‘daze)… I could remember kicking the staff (which I felt thoroughly ashamed of)…. the psychiatrist was shocked that I had not been receiving any ongoing mental health help, since 2014… I was additionally diagnosed with ‘severe anxiety and panic disorder’… after being discharged, the NHS community mental health team did exactly the same thing they’d done before, and (again, after only 1 appointment) lied in a letter to my GP (which I managed to obtain a copy of), saying that I said I only get ‘slightly anxious’ when I meet new people (this was completely untrue – I actually told them that I felt so nervous in the waiting room, I thought I was going to faint – and I became breathless when talking to them)… so again, I’ve been kicked off, as quickly as possible, from the NHS caseload…

Anyway, if anyone reads this and has ever experienced similar feelings, fears, difficulties and problems, I understand how you feel and what you’re going through!

fiver

 

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