Agoraphobia, COVID-19, and the Zombie Apocalypse

Like you, I have been watching what is happening to the world from the view window that is my computer screen. And I will admit, it’s making me a bit extra. One facebook thread from a man in the Chicago area made me very worried for all those infected with the virus. (It reminded me a lot of my allergic reaction to macrobid antibiotics.) And an instagram post from a pregnant woman made me feel so compassionate for those experiencing huge life changing experiences at the same time as a global pandemic. And the rationing of medical treatment in Italy… well, let’s just say, that broke my heart.

Last year, when my former therapist was diagnosing me with a plethora of new disorders (I sometimes question these diagnoses because they all seem to be just indicators of my autism, but nonetheless) he also diagnosed me with agoraphobia. I think it was my panic attacks while driving on bridges that was the deciding factor for him. That and perhaps my anxiety in stores? Or taking busses? Or the post office? Oh wow, I just checked out a layman’s definition of agoraphobia- it says, “you fear an actual or anticipated situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being in a crowd.” Well, then. My apologies to Jack. That’s right on target.

So, I have agoraphobia. Which means on any given day, the world outside of my house has always felt incredibly dangerous. Now that it potentially is dangerous, that agoraphobia has gone into overdrive just a bit.

So how do I deal with that?

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Where were you during the plague years?

At home, where we are all supposed to be.

Even though my doctors long ago decided that I did “not have Avoidant Personality Disorder” I still keep up with my AVPD peeps, because our sensibilities and fears are so similar. There is a great group on Tumblr, there are support groups, and most importantly for me, there is the ever effervescent Jenny Lawson, Author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy. She also wrote a fantastic adult coloring book called You Are Here: An owners manual for Dangerous Minds and, as always, her wonderful blog, The Bloggess.

With all the mandated social distancing going on with the, you know, coronavirus global pandemic, (you may have heard something about this) I thought I’d check on the people who were social distancing before it was cool, the AVPD. Specifically, my secret soul sister, Jenny Lawson.

Bad news: her sister is sick.

While my anxiety is not as high as it typically is, probably because social distancing is my natural state, I have been afraid of how this virus was going to touch me personally. And when I say that, I don’t mean if I’m going to get sick. Last time I checked, the estimate was that 40-70% of the population was going to catch this virus. That seems pretty likely on some level. I probably should be more worried for myself, I am somewhat immune compromised. I have some pulmonary damage from side effects to an antibiotic I took… There is also a pervading theory that people on the spectrum are more at risk for inflammation. Inflammation, by the way, is how a lot of people are dying of organ failure after becoming sick. (Don’t panic on my account or anything, that’s just a theory that I read. I am so far from a doctor that it’s not even funny. And my husband’s doctorate is in the law. So don’t update your will just yet.)

No, what I am more worried about is who am I going to lose?

Continue reading “Where were you during the plague years?”