It's Hard

Every time someone commented on my agoraphobia, I'd think to myself: I'm not agoraphobic - I don't mind open spaces. A little bit of research finally convinced me that I am agoraphobic. It's not just about open spaces! Agoraphobia causes a wide range of inexplicable problems.

As an agoraphobic, I suffer from an obsessive need for familiarity. Anything out of the ordinary completely throws me. I cannot be spontaneous; I cannot handle changes to plans. Big events like weddings and Christmas are chewed over in my head. I go over all the 'what-ifs' weeks in advance and dope myself up on the day. I think I have slept through a couple of big family affairs. It is really difficult to explain agoraphobia and how/why I am so afraid of public things. Phobias are fears, which are irrational and exaggerated, which you feel you cannot control and which cannot be reasoned with.

For example, how to explain the terror that I face when doing 'new' journeys? I break down in tears but I can't explain why. I can do certain journeys on the bus but only if I adhere to a strict routine and don't sit down at the bus stop for more than 5 minutes before the bus is due. If I'm being given a lift, I start pacing half an hour before they're due. This ritualistic behavior is my 'magic thinking' - if I do this or that, it'll be OK. Agoraphobia: a pathological fear of being in public spaces. Consider 'public spaces' - the public spaces that haunt me are shops, hairdressers, the dentist, days out, meeting friends, going on holiday, hopping on a bus, the cinema...

When having an 'attack', the symptoms of agoraphobia include dizziness, shortness of breath, anxiety, shaking, nausea, wobbly legs and, in my case, a desperate need to get out of the situation.

Distraction helps when out and about, 'staying with it' should help too, but this is quite a challenge. Breathing exercises, relaxation and patience with yourself play a part in recovery. Goal setting can be quite rewarding - the pleasure in having been able to go out for a coffee with a friend sets you up for the next goal - perhaps going for a snack next time.

I must say, my life is pretty normal at the moment. I go to work everyday, I visit my family and friends frequently ect. But it's never easy to leave the house. Many times I have pondered over me being so pathetic and useless. I'd spend hours sitting, crying, despairing of myself and what use I was to my family. Being on the Internet has helped me a lot, I have met people along the years who are lovely, sincere people, I wouldn't ordinarily meet. I did a search when I first came onto the Internet and found there were others with Agoraphobia. That was tremendous! Not because they had the fear too, but because I wasn't the only one...

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1 Response Feb 15, 2010

Thank you so much for writing this. I have had agoraphobia all my life and for about a year it has gotten so much worse. I cannot go outside by myself but I sometimes can bear to be outside with other people like my mom or brother or my two close friends. <br />
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Again, thanks for writing this. And btw, how did you get yourself to go to work everyday etc? Thanks.