Thursday, February 4, 2016

Agoraphobia and Mental Challenges

The Greek root of the word agoraphobia is agora.  Agora is marketplace, or open place.  Phobia indicates a fear.  So literally the word means fear of the marketplace or open place.  To put a more modern day spin on it, fear of leaving a controlled your own home.

I was born with severe allergy asthma, chronic bronchitis, and an impaired immune system.  I was pretty close to being a bubble baby as a child, teenager, and even into my adult years.  The worst time of year for me is January and February.  Last year I was ill throughout both months until the second week of March.

In spite of these challenges I have always been a very social soul, adoring to spend time with others.  I'm grateful that for almost ten months of the year I enjoy meeting with others, especially at church, or visiting in others homes.

Then comes January and February.  January and February with short days (and LOOOOONNNNGGG nights), fill me with agoraphobia.  I do not wish to proceed very far beyond my front door.  I do not sit contentedly at home.  I'm terrified to leave my home, but I'm also bored with my own continued company.  One might say that it puts me at odds with myself.

Throughout my personal life journey I have experienced illnesses that are still falsely referred to as "Mental illnesses."  Through research I have come to believe that the diseases should be reclassified as physical illnesses with mental manifestations.

Nobody would accuse a diabetic of having an illness that was imaginary.  It would also be extremely foolish to tell someone with a brain tumor that the experience was psychosomatic.  This is a long word that refers to things that are supposedly only in our own personal realities, and can't be proven by human senses.

With this old-fashioned idea in mind, why would you believe that if your body is not creating the proper chemicals to keep a mental balance it would cause you to experience feelings of DIS EASE?  The word actually means what I just spelled out, a feeling of being unwell.

Our brains are extremely complicated organisms.  They virtually are the control center for the rest of our body.  It takes an extremely well balanced chemical balance to provide the simple sense of being at rest within our bodies.

Clinical depression, or other mental manifestations of physical illness are far different than discouragement.  Discouragement is an emotion riding on the circumstances in your life.   Clinical depression, agoraphobia, and other challenges of this nature, are rarely connected to circumstance.  Oh negative circumstances can definitely worsen them, but often they are present even in times we typically consider positive and successful. Consider the actors that have had every type of success that we generally feel should create and maintain happiness.  Marilyn Monroe, for example, suffered clinical depression.  Her death was suspicious, a possible suicide.  The extremely rich have many, many stories of clinical depression, in spite of their wealth and social stature.

Unfortunately, mental manifestations are often tied to genetics.  Yet I find comfort in being forewarned of that possibility.  It does not mean that I am DOOMED to face the disease.  It means that I can do research and be prepared in ways to cope with my own, and look to the future in case my children or grandchildren inherit this.

Mental illness is NOT the end of the world.  Especially in this current world, there are so many wonderful ways and means of coping with and improving any illness that impacts our moods and brain function.

PLEASE! The most important thing that we can do about mental health challenge is to remove the stigma.  For centuries, people with mental health issues have been locked away so that they did not embarrass their families.  When there was no treatment, often people have been institutionalized for "their own protection, or the protection of others."  We live in a progressive time when we know so much more about these magnificent bodies that our spirits inhabit.  It's important to remember that mental illness is not an imagined experience.  When you are living through your bodies inability to regulate your brains functions, IT IS ALL TOO REAL!  

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