Sunday, July 9, 2017

Androphobia - what's that.

This is something I haven't spoken about very much. In 2009 which was shortly after the publication of my book, I moved to Cape Town to get away from absolutely everyone that was connected to my ex husband.
One of my daughters was married with a baby and I just wasn't coping at all with the trauma of my divorce, faking  that I was just wasn't working.
I found a cute little apartment on top of someone's house, with beautiful sea views. It wasn't going to be very permanent but I needed to heal and isolation was the only way I could do it. Long walks on the beach, hours and hours of painting and reading tons of self help books my CPTSD symptoms just weren't going away.  
There was a Trauma Centre near where I lived so I made an appointment to see the psychologist. She was weird, very agitated and made me feel even worse, but I was totally committed to healing and willing to overlook her strange manner. After telling her my brief story she suggested hypnotherapy and told me to lay across the couch and close my eyes, which I did. She started to do the count down and my anxiety went through the roof. I opened my eyes to find her laying on the floor in self hypnosis. I couldn't believe my eyes. That session ended immediately and I never went back.
A few weeks later I found another therapist who was sweet, but I just couldn't connect with her. I think I saw her 3 times and again chose not to go back. Several months passed nothing was changing. I loved the solitude but constant nightmares, panic attacks and absolute terror going into public places, it was torture.
In desperation I made an appointment to see a psychiatrist and it was imperative to me that the doctor was female. My first appointment with her was 2 hours and I managed to pretty much put her in the picture. She asked to see my the following day. During that appointment she concluded that I needed medication which I refused. I'd made up my mind that medication was simply going to make me feel numb and I wanted to heal and face what ever I had to face, head on.
My sessions with the psychiatrist were every day for a week and I had begged her to be honest and tell me if I had Borderline Personality Disorder,  Bipolar,  or any other mental illness and I wouldn't stop seeing her until she could come up with a diagnosis. She in the mean time had read my book so I was extremely hopeful together we would find a solution. In my last session with her, she said and I quote, 'Caryl if all my patients had as much insight as you, my wards would be empty'. Yes, and? She then said I was suffering extreme Androphobia, which I'd never heard of before. She recommended I see a male psychologist,  which didn't excite me, but I was willing to give it a try. She said absolutely nothing about either PTSD or CPTSD. 
After two appointments with this male psychologist who was a total chauvinist. Even with a referral letter from the psychiatrist he just wasn't getting it and I found him to be extremely confrontational, basically telling me to 'get over it'. Whaaaaaaaat?  That was him over with.  He tried to sue me for not continuing therapy. I was dumbfounded. Thank goodness I had a friend who was an attorney and he sent off a letter that shut him up very quickly, including a letter to the psychologist who lay on the floor self hypnosing, during my therapy session. One can imagine, I never wanted to see a therapist ever again.
The months and years passed with my symptoms becoming worse and worse. I missed my children desperately, but I didn't want to burden them. They needed a whole and happy mother which I couldn't be. Suicide was a constant thought, how much better off they would all be without this dysfunctional mother. Thank God I would force myself to think that if I chose that path, I would leave my beautiful daughters with the same pain I couldn't handle myself.
Androphobia- fear of men was unbearable.  I hadn't connected the dots up to that point. I hated going to public places anywhere that men could possibly be. This went on for years. God was even a problem, in my mind God represented 'male'. But God is so Faithful even when we aren't.  I was new to Facebook and slowly over time I connected with a lot of men on Facebook who were all artists. It took a long time but I started to read their posts and experience these men very differently to the men in my life. These men were all happily married, not afraid to share their softer side, it was so refreshing. My healing towards men has come a very long way, although I am still very sensitive to macho, jock type men, they are and probably will always be a trigger for me.
Thanks to my therapist Dr. Annemarie Norvello who has been a gift from God in my life. While I wasn't speaking to God, He orchestrated the best therapist I have ever come across and I will forever be thankful to her. More about that later, diagnosing CPTSD.

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