“I found it most ironic; I was someone who enjoyed groups and events, and here I was hamstrung with a phobia that made me detest groups, particularly functions involving a meal.”
The summer before my senior year in college, my mother died of lung cancer at the age of 57. I dealt with my loss privately, as I had handled most of my problems throughout adolescence: I repressed my grief and kept moving. I avoided talking about my mother's death and I continued my college work and social schedule as if nothing had happened.
Some six months later, my repressed feelings showed physical manifestation. I developed ulcer-like symptoms and a fear of being in group settings, particularly for meals. I also came to fear feeling nauseated in public and having to leave in a panic. The more I forced myself to stay, the greater my anxiety and perceived pain. Frequently I delayed eating until I could be in a safe environment. Over time I became a waifish 155 pounds on a 6'2" frame.
After seeking additional help, first from a physician and then a psychologist, I was diagnosed with panic disorder with agoraphobia. This confirmed that my phobia and symptoms were real and that I was not alone. I found it the most ironic of disorders