A few months ago, I wrote a draft blog post about something I was struggling with, and had been for awhile: agoraphobia. It was just another on a list of mental health issues that have plagued me for years but I had never really dealt with until very recently.
As I was going through some of my drafts this morning, thinking about what I could write about next, I reread that post and thought about how far I have come and improved in the last month, month and a half. The biggest and best changes have definitely come through getting involved in things like volunteering as well as getting a new job. So much of my time was spent at home, wasting my days away by myself in pits of self loathing and unhappiness. They would come and go but were never too far away. It took a lot of effort to try and get to a better place and I had to work actively at developing a way to try and improve my situation. Perhaps one day I shall write about some of the struggles, most of which I internalized for a long time.
I am writing this little preface I suppose to give a bit of clarity to the following post, the original draft I never published. I recently read on what I think was Louise of Sprinkle of Glitter’s blog the phrase “Never blog angry”. I have done too much of that in the past, or blogged from dark places. (That is why one of my last posts, about going for a walk, while on the surface perhaps a bit benign, was so very important to me.) Everything is still up because although I might be ashamed of some of those feelings, I think that they serve as a reminder to where I was and where I want to be.
Agoraphobia. Let’s talk about that.
Wikipedia: Agoraphobia is a condition where the sufferer becomes anxious in environments that are unfamiliar or where he or she perceives that they have little control. Triggers for this anxiety may include wide open spaces, crowds (social anxiety), or traveling (even short distances). Agoraphobia is often, but not always, compounded by a fear of social embarrassment, as the agoraphobic fears the onset of a panic attack and appearing distraught in public. This is also sometimes called ‘social agoraphobia’ which may be a type of social anxiety disorder also sometimes called “social phobia”.
I’m on the social side. Open spaces suit me just fine.
It’s a side of effect of everything else I’ve got going on with me that I often desperately trying to hide. Sometimes I will be okay, if I don’t think about it too much. Then there are the days where I get up, I shower, make breakfast, eat, get dressed, even put on makeup, my jacket, my shoes, pack my purse and sit by the door or locked away in my room because leaving the safety zone is too scary and the big horrible world outside is just waiting to wreak havoc on my dull, insecure life. I become paralyzed with fear.
Saturday mornings I go grocery shopping with my dad. I always make sure I wake up in time for this because I know that this might be the only time I leave the house for the weekend. Even taking walks is something that frightens me, the lack of destination and unfamiliarity with the area. I will sit by the window and daydream about taking a walk and never put on my shoes and go.
This whole thing makes me sound like a recluse. I can be. But it’s not to say that I don’t leave, it’s that it is often very hard to. And trying to explain this to people is very difficult because they just don’t understand and most times I don’t even try. I have become the person who backs out at the last minute because all of a sudden I’m not good enough to be invited to this event or to have friends. It just happened recently with my classmate and her arts fair, I just didn’t show up. It’s been two days now and I haven’t even messaged her because how do you explain that an event earlier in the day put you in such a mood that you just refused to leave the house, even if your dad offered to drive you across the city to go. It is common knowledge in my household that new friends are a rare thing, so the fact that I let her down, if she even thinks that, (she might not), just makes me want to cry.
I feel like I know how to combat this but at the same time, there are so many other factors that I don’t really know what to do. I have had panic attacks when I think of talking to someone in the elevator and end up hyperventilating, sitting on the floor of my closet, where no one can get me. This had a major effect on my school life when I was in Spain and during fourth year of uni, were I basically stopped going to one of my classes for fear of confronting my prof.
I often feel that everything is scary and that everything is against me.