After being a housebound agoraphobic for about 7 years, I decided that it's time to expose myself to the world!
For my 2nd challenge for An Agoraphobic YUNO's Adventure, I drive a car, clime a mountain with my dog, enjoy the autumn and get to the peak to say hi to SOMEONE who's now living up above.
YES. It's not just an agoraphobic getting out of her safety zone. That's just a part of this challenge "CLIMB TO CLAIM THE TOP" means to me.
Please take a little bit of your time and read my story. I'd deeply appreciate it.::: The Worstest Thing :::
I know that's not a real word. But 'worst' is not good, or bad enough to describe what happened.
Around 2007 - 2008, I got fired. Not because of bad economy but my bad performance as a meeting coordinator. Somehow, I started to skip meetings, or even forgetting replying emails and ignoring calls. Yes. I didn't know what was happening. Only thing I knew was:
- I felt very sick and wanted to lie down or curl up in a ball right away while I was on train, waiting train on the platform or walking down the street.
- To avoid becoming sick, I had urge to start to scream, bumping my head on the wall or just faint.
- If you actually lied down or curled up in a ball in PUBLIC. People won't leave you alone.
- When you're having a so-called EPISODE of PANIC ATTACK, most likely you're not to be able to explain what's going on.
- You know what YOU would do when you see a person lying down on the sidewalk? Call the AMBULANCE.
Ah-ha! My boss had all rights to fire me. She could at least tell me so, though. After a while since I stopped receiving calls and emails, I called the office (My boss' cell phone. It was a small company). My call was rejected. And that's how I found out that I got fired.
From the very next day, I couldn't get out of bed entire day. Stop eating at once. I still wonder, how my body had survived? My best guess is: I was hibernating to regain my strength back. That tells you how hard it had been going out ignoring all those sings my body was giving. This BED BOUNDED CONDITION lasted at least 2-3 YEARS.
I was (and still am) living alone and I know what you thinking. WHAT DID I DO ABOUT MONEY? Right? At the time when I finally started to regain consciousness, I was already BROKE. Even I've been working from bed through the internet, I wasn't making that much money. I could barely feed my dog and spend only 200 yen (that's about US$2) not per meal but per a day. Or I needed to skip eating entirely. That was convenient back then, though. Because I didn't have much apatite anyway. I'm 162 cm (5' 3") tall and weighed only 38 kg (83.7 lbs). Now you are wondering how was my body surviving, huh?
While I was isolating myself from out side world, money and wight weren't only thing I was losing. I lost contact with my friends, drifted away from my two baby sisters whom I cared about very much. Because somehow, I wanted to be ALONE. Not only sad stories and problems I couldn't deal with. But I couldn't listen to their happy stories, either. It was just too overwhelming for me. Being COOPING MYSELF UP in a shell was comfortable. Felt SAFE AND PEACEFUL. Now I see that I was avoiding to face all the serious issues piling up in my life.
- BEING DIAGNOSED WITH AGORAPHOBIA
- GETTING FIRED
- LOSING ACCESS TO MY FRIENDS AND SISTERS
- BEING BROKE
- NOT TO BE ABLE TO TAKE MY DOG TO WALK
You see how I thought I hit a rock bottom? I was at dead end. My life was going no where. Things couldn't get any worse. Now that's where you and me are all wrong. The worstest thing hadn't even started yet while I was holding my dog in my arms, looking out of window. Telling my dog 'Tomorrow I'll take you to a walk. I'll become strong for you. Tomorrow, I will.::: Everything Started with One Text Message :::
I was alone. I was isolated. But too tired to realize it.
BROKE and barely making money from bed to support my dog. Had no idea how to grow my business. Only thing I could think of was 'I couldn't let my cute little buddy (my dog) die of hunger. And so I couldn't die either to protect and keep feeding him.'
Everyday past like nothing was really real. I felt like I was a ghost floating in the air tied to skins and bones sinking very bottom of life. Until I received A TEXT MESSAGE which dragged me down to the REALITY.
It was from ONE OF MY SISTERS. I hadn't met them over 7 - 8 years. While I was curling up in my shell, I missed them giving births to their babies, becoming mothers, getting married or divorced. I missed my nieces and nephews, all four of them being born and growing up. But it was like being told all those things weren't bad enough. The message started from apology. And that was a beginning of THE REAL WORSTEST THING.
"Sorry to bother you out of blue." My YOUNGEST SISTER, YUKI wrote. It took quite a while till I received the next message. Which says "YUMA got cancer. She only has 1 YEAR LEFT."::: The Order Is Wrong! :::
WHAT?! IT CAN'T BE TRUE! IT CAN'T BE! I'M THE OLDEST AND I SHOULD BE THE FIRST TO GO!" I built up courage, and finally call Yuki. YUMA is the name of my middle sister, by the way. Sorry for confusion. Our namse are so similar. Even our parents who named us got confused a lot. Anyways, I picked up my cell phone and called my youngest sister.
Since we hadn't met for a long time and they (youngest sister and our mother) decided not to tell Yuma just yet. So we discussed how could I visit Yuma without telling something was very wrong with her. We choose a date week later.
Two days later, I got another message from Yuki (youngest). Says "We got call from the doctor. SHE ONLY HAS TWO WEEKS."
How aggressive the cancer should be to make that possible? What kind of cancer progresses that fast? The questions came up endlessly. But we didn't have time to waste. I was super reluctant to take train rides and get to my home town. But do you think I had a choice? NO. I PACKED EVERYTHING EXCEPT MY DOG AND LEFT HOME.
When I arrived at hospital where Yuma was in. When I opened her hospital room's door, she had her friends visiting her. Though once she looked at me, it became ONLY THING SHE COULD SEE WAS ME. She reached out her bony arms toward me. She was trying to stand up and run to me but she was too weak. I caught her almost falling off of bed in the air. That's when I knew how heavy a human head was. My beloved sister was way thinner than me. It felt like holding a long piece of cloth with a bowling ball on top of it.
Once I sat on her bed, she called my name over and over again. And all of a sudden, she BURST INTO TEARS. Repeated "NOT FAIR." "WHY?" I held her shoulders which felt like holding bones directly. Told her 'No, it's not. It's not fair at all.' But that was only conversation really made sense I could have with her.
Somehow, she had been treated in a gynecology wing. Even from my untrained eyes, it seemed like the doctors and nurses were having hard time dealing with this dying patient. When she said something about pain, they gave very strong IV to basically shut her up. Then when that medicine started to become paranoid as a side effect, they mixed another IV to sedate her. Well, at least that what they told us. It was more like something to knock her out.
But she couldn't sleep. Because she was afraid of NOT WAKING UP AGAIN. She was fighting with all pains she had, drugs that made her hazy. And most of all, SHE WAS FIGHTING WITH FEAR. My youngest sister and I gave her massages, helped her eat something. Anything to gain even a little bit of strength. Although, it was obvious that she was getting weaker by second.::: Yes, we're a three sisters ::
Now she was swimming the middle of conscious and unconscious. My youngest sister and I were there, talking random stuff. All of the sudden, Yuma pointed at me with her finger, like a marionette connected to all those tubes. And she said "YUNO." Then pointed at herself and said "YUMA". Finally, pointed at youngest sister and said "YUKI". And then, nodded "YES." with a satisfied smile on her face. 'That's right, baby. WE'RE A THREE SISTERS NO MATTER WHAT.' I said. Without saying it out loud. Because I knew I'd cry if I heard myself saying it. ::: Becoming a Mother :::
One afternoon, YUMA started to burn up. She couldn't respond any of our voices nor touches anymore. Her eyelids were half open all the time. I wished and somehow knew that she could see us, understand what we say. That's why I never cried. Even once.
She literally became all skin and bone. Her breath made sound in back of her throat. It sounded like she was screaming every single time she took a breath. I know you're not going to believe it. But when I touched her bony cheek, it felt like burning coal. That's how high her fever got. Now it feels kind of stupid, though I was worried about the damage this extremely high fever cause to her brain.
Over 10 hours, she'd stayed that way. Night came, her fever got even higher. It was like she was burning all the life energy she possess in her body. I wished her to slow down. Though at same time, I wished she'd be released from agony as soon as possible.
Passed midnight. My youngest sister went outside of the building to smoke. While she was out, something started to change. YUMA's heart rate started to drop. The doctor and nurses came into the room, acting like they were doing their best. IF I HADN'T BEEN ISOLATED FROM MY FAMILY AND HAD A SAY, THEN I'D SWEPT EVERYONE OFF THEIR FEET AND SHOUTED 'LEAVE HER ALONE!' Unfortunately, an agoraphobic older sister who were absent for 10 years didn't hold that place. At least, that what I decided.
Since there was no room for us family to get close to YUMA, I grabbed her left foot and never let go. With other hand, I kept calling our youngest sister who's not picking up nor in the room. I think YUMA's heard stopped beating just like that. The chart on the machine kept showing was just a ghost. When you knew one deep enough, you know when they left. I kept telling her 'I'M HERE BABY, I'M HERE. DON'T WORRY ABOUT YOUR DAUGHTER. I WON'T LET ANYTHING HAPPEN TO HER.'
That moment, I became a mother. I know it's not practical with my condition and I couldn't do much to her. Especially YUMA didn't want me to meet her daughter. That was the her way of protecting her only daughter. Keeping away from a person who belongs to psychiatric department. I never tried to reason with her. That was the conclusion she came from her knowledge and experience. After all, she was the mother.
To respect her wish, I decided to support her daughter from distance. Financially. But how was that possible. I was barely able to support myself and my dog. That was when I became deadly serious about my business.
It was January when YUMA, my baby sister became ashes. And I decided another thing. Which is founding a company on her birthday that year. So I'd have something to celebrate on that day. Also it is my oath to grow this company instead of my sister who could not live anymore.
So now, I have two things to raise.::: Why I'm Not in the Picture? :::
She went in an urn. The urn went into a grave. People who were still living went back to their regular lives. So did I. Far away from my family. Didn't contact them. Though now and then, I checked on how they were doing by visiting my youngest sisters Facebook page. Kinda stalker like, huh? But yeah, that's what I do.
One day, I saw this one photo of all of them smiling on top of a mountain. All of the sudden, I burst into tears. I KNEW IT FOR A LONG TIME AND IT WAS MY DECISION TO BE FAR AWAY FROM THEM. Though that moment, I finally realized, I finally saw that WE ARE LIVING COMPLETELY SEPARATED LIVES.
I cried and cried. Kept asking 'Why I'm not in this picture?' out loud. It was really loud, it scared my dog away. Tears felt so hot since my entire body was shivering and cold.
But again, it was my decision to keep distance from them. And I can't barge into their lives only when it's convenient for me. It should've been hard for them to drop me off of their lives. Do you really think I can be that selfish now, don't you?::: Not Anymore! :::
Well, what has been done is done. Weeping about what I lost or I don't have isn't my thing. I'll be there whenever and whatever they need me for. That's a kind of person I will be.
After six month since YUMA, my beloved baby sister went up to the sky and became a star (this is the story which her daughter told me, by the way). I established a company. On my sisters birthday as I planned.
Also I started to take a business course. It cost a fortune and put me in a dept. It made my life even more difficult for sure. But I only see the future. I don't care if I became short to buy a bread. A little hunger can't take my spirit away. I'm alive and I'm blessed with people who care about me and I can care them back. And for that, I'm a luckiest person on earth. ::: The Life Is An Adventure :::
It doesn't matter if you're an agoraphobic. If you are ill or not. Life always gives you challenges. You can act like worstest thing happened to you, looking up this huge obstacle or enormous hole in front of you. Or you can take it as a chance to grow, to learn a great lesson.
If you ask me, life isn't that bad. We're living after all now, aren't we? So what do you have to complain about? YOU CAN DO SOMETHING AS LONG AS YOU'RE ALIVE. I'm not saying don't despair, ever. But as far as I know, there's not a person who turned their life by doing so ALL THE TIME. Neither do I have such an experience.
What I think is: If it's one time thing, then I WANT TO ENJOY IT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. That's all. Nothing too big or too hard thing I'm talking about here. One might see a life as an agoraphobic as a mortification of the flesh. I take it as AN ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE ADVENTURE. And again, it doesn't matter if agoraphobia is there or not. YOUR LIFE IS UNIQUE ADVENTURE, TOO! ::: My Challenge List :::
I aim high and huge. Here's my CHALLENGE LIST.
CHALLENGE 1 "GET OUT
" * HAPPENING NOW on YouTube!
Going out at least 7 times for over 30 minutes at a time, till the end of October 2016.
CHALLENGE 2 "CLIMB TO CLAIM THE TOP!"
Rent a car, climb to a mountain top to see autumn leaves.
CHALLENGE 3 "DRAIN THAT FEAR!"
I and my dog are going to learn how to swim.
CHALLENGE 4 "CANOE LAST FRESH STREAM!"
Learn canoeing and go down Shimant river in Shikoku, Japan.
CHALLENGE 5 "CONQUER ALL 47 OF THEM!"
I'll challenge new things in all 47 prefectures in Japan.
witness of this epic challenges and take each single step beside me!::: What Do We Need and How Much? :::
For CHALLENGE 2 "CLIMB TO CLAIM THE TOP!", we need...
Wearable Camera $300
Rent a Car for 2 Days $300
All of your donation will be spend only for the challenge. If donation passed over the goal amount, it'll simply be carried over to the next challenge! ::: As Thank You :::
- For any amount of donation -
You'll receive a Thank You Email.
- For donation over $15 -
You'll receive above + a Thank You Voice Mail.
- For donation over $25 -
You'll receive all the above + a Hand Written Thank You Mail.
(Only if you could give me a street address where you can receive a mail.)
- For donation over $50 -
You'll receive all of the above + an Invitation to Live Stream from Challenge Trip and Secret Videos