Deep and/or murky water, darkness – don’t like not being able to see what might be hanging around. Not afraid of walking at night, am afraid of there being no light to see by. Very different concept.
Crowds – yay agoraphobia! If you ever want to see me have a panic attack (you sick, sick bastard), make me stay in a crowded area where people are free to wander about rather than moving with a purpose. Example: the mall is fine. Inside the Apple store is not. Light rail is fine, light rail STATION is not. Can be mitigated if with someone with an acceptable rate of body contact is present, in which case holding onto shirt or hand can stop panic from rising.
Change – big changes, planned in advance, are fine. Little changes, sprung in a surprise attack, will cause a panic attack. Moving to different city? Fine. Changing which desk I sit at in the office? I need to go home, sorry about that, can I please keep my job. Also, don’t do that again, thanks.
Lack of situation control – Example: being the passenger in a car with a driver that is messing about with their cell phone. (see also ‘change’)
Clowns – They could be anyone under that paint. (see also ‘unseen things’, ‘crowds’)
Spiders – Because fuck you, that’s why.
Sudden death – I don’t have a porn buddy, and if my mom found my stash I’d die of embarrassment.
Meeting strangers – see ‘clowns’. But without the facepaint. And not as scary, of course.
Confrontation – Near-instant panic attack. Avoid at all costs.
Things That Are Just Icky For No Readily Apparent Reason
Body contact – Why? I love cuddling, in my head. In real life, in most cases, I get the heebyjeebies when people touch me.
Bad food textures - ::shudder:: Slimy things are at the top of the list: slippery chicken, fat blobs. Baby corn, pearl onions, pomegranate seeds (this started a few years ago when I broke my molar, and now the seeds feel like the chunk of tooth that was briefly in my mouth. Scarred for life much?).
Bodily fluids – Don’t like kissing because of the spit, and yet will clean up cat poop. ::throws hands in air:: No, I don’t get it either.
Food arranged on my plate improperly – foods should not touch, unless they are Chinese, Indian, or Thanksgiving.
No mixing bites of food - ::shudders:: So wrong. Each food should be eaten separately. Example: turkey, corn, potatoes, stuffing. Side note: if the corn touches the potatoes, they have to be mixed together. No eating some turkey, then some corn, then back to turkey. No. Not allowed.
Organizing books alphabetically rather than by size – yes, all of one author should be together. But after that they should be lined up according to size, with the tallest on the left, descending towards the right.
Books are organized first by feelings towards them, then by category – Terry Pratchett goes front and center, but is not in a ‘fantasy’ category. But, for example, memoirs all go together, unless other books by that person exist, in which case the memoirs live with the author collection.
Pressing buttons in a random fashion – yes, OCD a bit here, but 3 or 5 is the accepted number of times to push the crosswalk button.
Not sitting in the exact center of the movie screen – there are rules for where movie companions sit after that, but those rules change based on which movie companions are present. For example, me in the center, Mom to my right, sister other side of Mom; but if sister is not there, then Mom needs to be on the left, not the right.
Playdates – If I make the date, there’s a 90% chance I’ll go through with it. If it’s suggested by somebody else, then there’s an 80% chance I’ll make up a stupid excuse and back out of it. That’s why I find this Dog Text so funny.
Deeply Ingrained Beliefs That I Logically Know Are Wrong But Nevertheless Can’t Stop Believing Are True
Everyone lies and, usually, leaves – Yes, I recognize that I have some major insecurity issues and a bit of an abandonment complex. Yes, I know why my neediness and fear of commitment to any sort of relationship exists. Yes, I know that probably none of it is true and is just a result of conditioning during my childhood. No, none of that makes me feel better and no, I don’t know how to stop having those sorts of thoughts.
I must make people like me because the instant that they don’t, they will hate me – Thanks, dad.
I shouldn’t tell people what I think or how I feel because then they will hate me AND leave.
Things That Make Me Feel Better
Making lists/schedules, even if they’re not followed – The process is relaxing, even if the end result is nonexistent. See also ‘control, lack of’.
Chaperones – Strange situations often require a familiar reference. Example: going to movies on Monday with person met on Friday requires presence of pre-existing friend or family member.
Open areas – Cure for crowd-induced panic attacks (eventually).
Standing in a corner – With hands over ears to block out noise, creates a secure area. Can be used to try and calm down when stressed out. Does not stop panic attacks.
Pills – yay pharmaceuticals!
Signs That Something is Wrong
Shoulders hunched up – Yes, I know I do it. Doesn’t mean I can make myself relax on cue.
Flinching, fidgeting – Again, I know I do it. However, rate increases when stress is high.
Panic response – Rapid/heavy breathing, flushed face, tears. If turns into full panic attack, will also include shortness of breath, feeling of having a heart attack and/or feeling of strangulation. May fail to recognize familiar people. In extreme cases may end up on floor. Unfortunately, strangers often try and help, which worsens things greatly, as result of fight-or-flight response is unpredictable and in some situations may result in trying to hurt (strange) people. Hugs/being a wall from a familiar person can help. Panic attacks can continue for a good length of time – record currently stands at half an hour. See also ‘move to open space’, ‘block out sight/sound’.
Emotional outburst – Is usually a result of anger, embarrassment, or frustration. Crying and yelling to an extremely irrational level compared to instigating factor(s). Will probably try to hurt self by punching or slapping. May also try to throw and/or break objects. Hugs from friend good, but do not put in corner as will try to concuss self against wall. Unlike panic attacks, outbursts are usually over in a minute or two. However, they are far less predictable and occur much more often.
Why I do the Things I do
I don’t like to leave the house because… I’m afraid of what will happen when I do.
I often can’t leave the house because… If I can get over the fear that I will somehow humiliate myself, then depression and apathy team up and I’m just too exhausted to go through with the effort.
I babble because… If I stop talking, people might start listening, and watching, and judging.
I still try and share what I’m feeling because… I logically know that depression lies, and that the only way to feel better is to let people know what’s wrong, even if getting the words out is next to impossible because of the first three reasons in this category.