My personal truth – Agoraphobia 

I always thought agoraphobia was basically defined as never leaving the house, I didn’t really know what it was. Finally I hit a point where I realized it wasn’t just depression keeping me from going out more frequently, and I needed to find out what was going on.

The Mayo Clinic defines agoraphobia as “Fear of places and situations that might cause panic, helplessness, or embarrassment”. Everyone has a fear of embarrassment to some degree I’m sure, but this is like an extreme. I’m completely panicked that I’ll panic and make a fool of myself. That I’ll have no where to run and hide. That someone will see me and destroy my life, my hopes, my dreams, because suddenly they caught a glimpse of my crazy.

My first big panic attack was at youth group as a teenager and I remember “hiding” behind a chair. I don’t recommend that, it doesn’t work. Later as an adult when my BPD really started to show more I began to fear this type of panic attack and where I may have another. What if I can’t escape? What if there is no where to hide? What if my boss finds out and I loose my job? What if they call the police and my children are taken away? (You can see how quickly that escalates in my brain)

I’m fully capable of going places I need to go, but I have techniques to make it possible. I have a hiding place at work where I can panic if I need to, and meditate to bring me back. I have a specific row I park in at the stores I frequent, and have memorized the quickest routes to the exits and to the restroom for quick hiding or escape. If I’ve been stable for a while I can go nearly anywhere as long as I’m with my family, or someone I trust. 

So I’m still a fully functional person out in the world, usually. But it takes a lot more effort, a lot more practice and ritual. And it also requires my feeling strong enough, which sometimes I don’t. There are rare occasions I call in sick because I’m too panicked to leave the house. There are times I’m too panicked to reach out even on Twitter or text for human interaction, days that I sit on my bed near panic for a full day. This week has been difficult as I find myself hiding at work more, keeping quiet, avoiding social media, and not going anywhere extra. Fortunately(?) I get migraines, so when I get like this my employees assume my head hurts and don’t question it. 

My hope is to build more rituals that can open up more places for me, but for now I will be happy with the interaction I can force. I haven’t yet given up on being part of the world, so hopefully the world hasn’t yet given up on me.

8 thoughts on “My personal truth – Agoraphobia 

  1. This is really interesting. I used to be agoraphobic. I actually didnt leave my house for a number of years. I can go out now and I do work but like you, I have my techniques to “deal” with it. I need to always know where the nearest bathroom is in case I need some time to gather myself. I also generally don’t go far from my comfort zones as this can be quite an anxiety-provoking situation​ for me.​
    The world will be there when we are ready 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In the last week I have found myself afraid to leave to places by myself without my husband. My work became so stressful over time that I was too panicky to go in anymore and left the job. I thought that would make me feel better being away from that place but now I am afraid to get another job, hence leave the house, even to go see a friend. This sucks. Any recommendations on how to overcome this?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry you’re going through that! My best advice is to find what comforts you and integrate it into the place you’re going. The most important thing for me is a place to hide in case of panic attack, and a quick exit route in case of emergency. So I look for the bathroom as soon as I enter a place, and have a specific direction from the door that I always park.

      I’ve heard of some people who are able to go places easier if they have certain objects. Objects that make them feel more in control of their specific triggers. My therapist also recommends a single fast acting anti anxiety to keep with you. She says that for a lot of people just knowing it’s there if you need it helps ease the anxiety a great deal. I haven’t spoken to my psychiatrist about it though cause I have separate anxiety issues attached to those meds. But it might be helpful for you if you want to talk to your Dr about it.

      Honestly, it’s a really tough thing to deal with. So be patient with yourself and rejoice in baby steps cause they are more huge than they may appear ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I never even considered agoraphobia for myself until, like you, I realized that it can’t just be depression or anxiety. I still don’t know for sure what the deal is, as I’m finding it pretty difficult to actually get to the doctor’s office.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it took me quite a while to get into treatment. I was having multiple panic attacks a day before I finally saw a therapist, and I refused her advice in a psychiatrist for another 5 months after that. But it really was worth it. Keep working towards health whether with a dr or not, you’re worth it!

      Like

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