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My twin Sis Julie has agoraphobia - December 13th 2020, 11:40 PM

It's been brewing since the 2nd wave of coronavirus, for Julie has stayed home when I went shopping, or come out in the truck and locked herself in while I went and did the business. Julie knows she has agoraphobia, but is very close to let me help her through this difficult time. Helping her, helps me.

Agoraphobia is not just the fear of open spaces, but an inner dread of something going wrong during which she feels unable to handle herself. Having had covid very seriously during which she could have died from pneumonia which was a aggravated by the virus and having severe asthma as an underlying health problem, only intravenous antibiotics saved her. For me in the same ward room since we could not be separated, it was the darkest time of my life!

Once Julie was discharged from hospital, our doctor brought a small oxygen cannister and a mouth piece so she could breathe more easily when needing at home. Being her identical twin, I always knew what she needed. Often we chat to each other in our minds. Not something people know, or we'd tell thems. Some things are just never meant to be publically known. We have always had this telepathy, but the need to be private about was paramount.

Julie's main fear is being infected again by covid. That cannot be guaranteed neither medically proven as yet, except we always take precaution when going out: special masks, a face shield thingy and social distancing, lots of hand washing, hand spray sanitizer (75% ethanol alch) for whne we can't and my never letting go of her hand. If strangers see us, they assume we are girlfriends, but closer up will see we look exactly the same. Let me say here and now that I could not care a fig what they think. My sister is my life. What few realised let alone understood was whne Julie's life was in danger in hospital, in my mind I was on the edge! When she feels down, I know; when feeling anxious, I know; when panic is rising, I know and when she wants to talk heart things, I know. It's not so much telepathy but only toward my beloved, I am empathic and cannot remember a time when we weren't. So when Julie's mind state arises, I act like a sponge to reach out for her, though it is important everyone here knows that I self-care. I self-care in a big, big way. Because empaths can and do suffer whne taking onboard someone's angst, panic, anxiety, agoraphobia - that I am there for her, and watch over her.

While I remember, the 'partner' that I mentioned in previous posts is really Julie. We have only ourselves, we are devoted and there is nobody else who will ever breach that. Maman said "You cannot help but love the one you are with and committed to, whatever the laws of this land have in statute, you and Julie have each other." We are very grateful for hvaing an understanding, loving and comitted foster mother If anyone says to the contrary, then they can nob off.

There is this link between identical twins; a cord that cannot be broken except by the death of one. It is not something either of us wish to dwell on. My life's work is to get her through this agoraphobic state and helper her to come through this stronger, and our doctor has links with someone who can help her and help me to help her. Basically it is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that can help Julie since she and I know someone we trust, and make an appointment with. It would be good for both of us, hvae sessions every two weeks or so. In the meantime I'm watching over her, becuase agoraphobia is not a choice. The person suffering cannot turn it off, like a tap. I let her talk about what she is going through, and when I've work, encourage her to talk to Maman. I've worked up to a trip in short exposures of increasing length, aware of deconstructing the kind of harmful, phobia-driven thinking Sis may generate out of the blue. I put myself in her shoes so knowing what she is going through, and never once, ever, devalued her feelings as make-believe. I am Julie's Rock, I let her lean on me, weep on my lap while I stroke her hair and let her suck her thumb. I let my own tears fall freely for her. And when she becomes a child again, I am there like I hvae always been.

'Cognitive' by definition means what we think and how we think. This person would be able to guide Julie's thoughts, behaviour and inner doubt connected with her mood so it can be connected to any wrong thought pattern, and be corrected in a guiding way. Thankfully my sister doesn't binge, overeat to compensate her drifting mood, I'm glad to say. But the overriding problem is going outside the door, so if our mutual medical friend can find a way forward, then her healing can begin in ernest. But for now it's one day at a time. And a cup of tea in-between.


Our pasts with previous parents was nothing but a nightmare, and those who have tried to help, have been a total hindrence with unhelperful suggestions. But for now, for the time being I bought us a book to share and have already begun. The book?

Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger PhD. Reference:
Published by Guilford Press
ISBN 10: 0898621283ISBN 13: 9780898621280 (links removed)

I found it in an online bookshop - not amazon, they are far too expensiv. I got this book in 'fine' condition for just £7.00 - a positiv start in the best direction!

Together, she and I are learning strategies, methods and skills proven to be helpful, gyding her and teaching me through what her anxiety reveals, rising panic, anger, guilt - so many feelings so we sisters can solve whatever rises from Julie's troubled state of mind. Now when our mother goes away, then we can begin in ernest. And after we hvae tried some pencil work -beacuse we constantly work together no less - then in about a fortnight's time I can make an appointment to see this medical friend.

This is going to become Sis and I's firm start into making her well again, and helping myself into the bargain.

Goodnight.



In the ideal world this would be my Teen Help signature:


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Re: My twin Sis Julie has agoraphobia - December 14th 2020, 01:06 AM

I think it's great that you're helping your sister through her agoraphobia. Like many other phobias, it can be extremely debilitating. Some days more than others. My mother has claustrophobia and though we have a 4-bedroom house, the rooms themselves aren't very big and we're still trying to get rid of many boxes of old things my grandmother had left behind after her death. She also has arachnophobia, so a combination of that and claustrophobia, especially in the spring and autumn months makes for a very anxious parent. During these periods, I try to be more on the ball with spiders or anything that looks similar, to help ease her anxieties. Overall I just try to be there for her, much like you with your sister in the way of trying to just be there for her.

Agoraphobia doesn't mean the end of the world for your sister. Coronavirus will pass and things will slowly return to normal, and your sisters anxieties relating to her phobia will ease. Alongside what you're currently doing, just remind her that coronavirus isn't going to be amongst all nature, so going for walks in woodlands or unpopulated areas can help ease her troubles.

Also, if you're looking to add a signature, head to your User CP located at the top left next to your username and amongst the settings on the left hand side panel will be an option that says, 'Edit signature'.


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Re: My twin Sis Julie has agoraphobia - December 14th 2020, 09:16 AM

You're correct about Coronavirus, @Rivière. It will pass. I'm sorry about your mother and the state she is in, inevitably it rubs off on you and drags you down though we mostly are unaware of these underlying problems our nearest and dearests leave for us to deal with. We have a lot in common. Thank you for what you said.

If there are any old chestnuts lying around beneath their trees, collect as many as you can and when home, put one chestnut into the corner of each room, down by the skirting board and where there could be a hollow where these arachnids hang out. Spiders cannot tolerate chestnuts and eventually leave the room, ultimately the house. Strange that it seems, this seems to work.

Regarding my intended signature, there is nothing I can see that will enable it. I guess the site's software has anti-spam, so that's that.
   
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Re: My twin Sis Julie has agoraphobia - December 16th 2020, 03:46 PM

Just to add an extra to my sister's suffering, but Julie's long covid reared its ugly head again, causing her breathlessness to return exacerbating her asthma, awful aches in her joints and that awful fatigue. We thought she was over this post-covid fatigue, but no.

I decided to give up my job to look after her full time. Being at home enables me to give a lot more time to my Open University degree course and I love that, so it will work really well.

Just before closing, as it invariably happens, a well known couple came and bought up nearly all the shop! Among hideously expensive items were an 18th century Venetian credenza, a rare sideboard you could almost buy a house with on its cost, a huge 18th century Italian Neoclassical over-mantle mirror, two pairs of Eames for Hermann Miller recliners and a pair of 'La Chaise by the same but for Vitra. The last time I made a sale of that magnitude was last August.

They were regular customers, and as always, paid cash. We have an UV sterilizer so no viruses (if any) will survive on the banknotes, and I took all the cash home and stuffed it away in the safe.

Maman will be pleased. Naturally we'll be pleased seeing her. Just not her arty friends (all covid tested, by the way. I wouldn't allow them house room otherwise!)

And that's that. But for the couple who have bought a lovely house out in the sticks, I'm glad Maman will be home soon to organize delivery. There is no way I'm hurting my back again after that massive bath. She doesn't know it's here! Can't wait to see her face!
   
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Re: My twin Sis Julie has agoraphobia - December 16th 2020, 07:39 PM

Post-Covid fatigue is now known as Long Covid which is what Julie has.


https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54296223
   
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Re: My twin Sis Julie has agoraphobia - December 23rd 2020, 10:52 PM

Update.

With thanks to that book Mind Over Mood and Ged Jenkins-Omar's book Help With Anxiety, I've been working to get Julie to venture out into the garden to sit with me in the sun which I said is highly beneficial to the both of us, and been holding her hands to give her than sense of security. That I would never desert her.

Most anxiety stems from a subconscious fear to a given situation, such an open space and my sister's reaction to overthinking she would be out of control by going outside with me. To overcome this, I stayed with her until we agreed what the fear actually was, and her thought pattern imagining the worst of what that fear was doing to her. Recognizing the fear helped her overcome. Agoraphobia does not have to be a life sentence, although it may feel that way to someone who is suffering from it. It does take commitment and hard work to overcome, but it’s worth it.

So it's day by day that Julie and I are taking; like stepping stones. She is so much stronger than before. I am proud of my twin sis. She is courageous!
   
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