Agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed. You fear an actual or anticipated situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being in a crowd.
I’ve had a problem getting out for a long time, and it has become worse over time. The pandemic hasn’t helped, but to be honest, for me, it has been quite a good thing; I had an excuse to stay in! I have symptoms like those described in the first paragraph, but I have some that you may not have been aware of, so I’ll try and explain.
I’ve never been what you would call social, all though, during my working life, I don’t think anyone ever knew; I was a great pretender! I could socialise, go for a drink, get shopping and meet people for meetings etc., but always something was eating away at me. That fight or flight feeling was there, and I walked a very tight line between the two while trying to appear sane. Even at school, I was a loner, so you can see this has been a part of me for a long time.
The army was the only place that seemed to pick up on this part of me, and I was given a particular job that made use of it!
If I had to go out for an unknown reason, I would panic!
If the doorbell rings and I’m not expecting anyone, I panic.
If I see or hear anything around me that I’m not expecting, I panic.
I can not have the curtains open so people can see in.
I can not have the curtains open and the lights on inside when it is dark.
Being close to people, such as a group or online, makes me panic, and this is also what I get when thinking about the latest thing, Zoom!
Appointments are ok when a long way away, but as they get closer, I start to stress, and this doesn’t matter what the meeting’s for.
This seems to have grown into a fear of heights, closed-in spaces and even just the thought of deep water. Strange, I know, but try telling me that!?
Now here is the strange thing, I do go out. I really enjoy going out on my Trike, a unique manual off-road wheelchair. I can go miles, passing shops, people without a seeming care. But, if you saw me, you would know that I avoid them all!
Being on my Trike is like being in my own bubble. I’m low down and wear a cap, and can focus on just the part of the world that I am in. This is a strategy that I’ve used all my life; I look at my space and shut out everything else, or try! I’ve got good at this over the years.
I’ve lived on my own for some time now. At the moment, I’m in a supported Bungalow, but I have lived on a boat and in a motorhome. You see, it’s not where I am; it’s what is happening around me that I can’t deal with. If I have no control of what is going on, then I might get into trouble. There is a downside to this, which is obvious, but another is my tendency to flip. I said it is like walking a tightrope; I’m ok while on it, but stepping off sends me into full-blown panic, and I hit out, become violent, physically and verbally. I lose control!
This is a trait that I have managed by keeping out of the situation that is likely to cause it! I supposed this is my agraphobia.
The worst time is not too long ago. I had to endure several meetings where I couldn’t leave and had no choice. I took morphine and others to numb my senses. I looked at the faces, and that is all I saw.
With those close, and that is less than five people, I’m ok. I trust them and love them for it!
There was one other that helped for the last 16years. He never asked for anything but love and to be cared for. In return, he gave me his undying love, devotion and protection! That was Finn, my support dog! He was so special, made such a difference in my life, and I miss him so much!
This leads me to a painful part. Finn depended on me as much as I depended on him, but I do not want this for those few that I mentioned before. I don’t want anyone to feel tied to me. We all have our own lives to live without the burden of someone with failing health. Without them, my life will be more challenging, but if I don’t hear, I assume that all is well, which makes me happy! If that makes sense? But, it is vitally important to me, that they know I will always be there for them, while I can be!
If you are like me in any way, having someone that is there for you, loves you, cares and has no hidden agenda is all! Those few make my life bearable; without them, I would disappear!
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