THE BLOG

What Is Agoraphobia?

16/09/2016 12:02
Alamy

Agoraphobia is the fear of being away from your "safe place", the place where you feel you can handle anything that comes your way. (Or at least, you can handle it in your own way without being judged, or you can handle it "better".)

Agoraphobia is the fear of the fear. Agoraphobia frequently develops because of panic attacks occurring in a certain place, therefore that place and other places like it, or in severe cases anywhere except home, are avoided "just in case" a panic attack hits again.

Agoraphobia is putting your life on hold because of this fear of the fear.

Agoraphobia is deliberately letting yourself be left behind by the people you love, encouraging them to go on without you, because you don't want them to stop living because you have a fear that they don't.

Agoraphobia is a fear that almost always incorporates some levels of social anxiety.

Agoraphobia is lonely because you put friends and family off visiting you in case you panic in front of them.

Agoraphobia is being afraid to pick up the telephone in case it's someone calling for a chat you can't face having.

Agoraphobia is always worrying about panic. Wherever you are.

Agoraphobia is a fear that follows you everywhere, even in your own home.

Agoraphobia is being the black sheep of the family.

Agoraphobia is being the weird one, the odd one, the one nobody can quite understand.

Agoraphobia is being the one missing from all the family photographs.

Agoraphobia is being the missing spouse, the missing child, the missing parent or the missing person altogether.

Agoraphobia is crying over being a disappointment, a burden and a shame upon your family because you let your fear win.

Agoraphobia is being afraid of losing people, terrified, petrified; the closer they are to you the greater your fear of losing them.

Agoraphobia is envy and resentment at others, even your nearest and dearest, because you know you are missing out on life experiences you had come to love and enjoy...

... but agoraphobia is a severe self-punishment: berating yourself, beating yourself up and putting your own name and character down, despising yourself for feeling the green-eyed monster in any way, because after all it was you who let yourself feel bad about missing out when it's your own fault in the first place that you didn't go, or try to go.

Agoraphobia is building up to go out, doing all the right things - deep breathing, meditation, distraction, medication, and whatever else works for you - and still not being able to go out.

Agoraphobia is getting to a certain stage in your journey to your destination and saying, with tears streaming down your face, "I don't think I can do this."

Agoraphobia is feeling guilty for wasting peoples' time and effort, and their petrol money and any gifts they bear for you.

Agoraphobia is looking out the window or sitting on the doorstep watching people walk by, and wondering, "How do they do it? How can they walk by with minds that don't stop them from seeing and feeling the way I see and feel? Why can they be OK but not me?"

Agoraphobia is fear of being judged by people for your unique quirks - like carrying around your teddy bear for moral support, for clutching one bottle, several bottles, of Balancing Blooms remedy because it helps you.

Agoraphobia is crying over lost opportunities, lost hobbies, lost enjoyments.

Agoraphobia is not only associated with social anxiety; it is also closely linked to depression.

Agoraphobia is not even trying because there is no point, no purpose to your life any more.

Agoraphobia is believing you will lose everything because you cannot rationalise or get past your fear.

Agoraphobia is sleeping all day because what's the point in being awake when you can't go out and enjoy the sunshine?

Agoraphobia is not only a great accompaniment for social anxiety and depression, it is also a superb breeding ground for misophonia (ultra-hypersensitivity to sound).

Agoraphobia is being physically and mentally unable to bear the sounds of the outside world. The tyres on the roads, the wind in the trees, the beeping of the tills, the chatter of the people. These sounds actually hurt.

Agoraphobia is cruel.

Agoraphobia is real.

Agoraphobia is painful.

Agoraphobia is destructive.

Agoraphobia is a mother****ing b**** to live with.

Agoraphobia is a mother****ing b**** for your loved ones who know you are living with it.

But....

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Agoraphobia is not your whole life.

Agoraphobia can be controlled.

Agoraphobia IS beatable.

Agoraphobia IS NOT permanent.

An agoraphobic can go to the shops.

An agoraphobic can drive.

An agoraphobic can get married.

An agoraphobic can get good, steady work.

An agoraphobic can go camping.

An agoraphobic can go abroad.

An agoraphobic can relapse, but they can recover again. And with each relapse, they know what works and what doesn't, so recovery occurs quicker each time, and the cause of any relapse becomes more readily identifiable as time goes on and such relapses occur.

You cannot know on sight who is or is not agoraphobic. Agoraphobia is unique to each agoraphobic. But I can guarantee you, every agoraphobic will find that most, if not all of the above, have been relevant at some point in their lives.

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