03/06/2015 13:27 BST | Updated 03/06/2016 06:59 BST

What Agoraphobia REALLY Looks Like

It's not easy to 'spot' someone with agoraphobia. Even when their behaviour clearly elicits a sense of the person not being comfortable where they are, unless you ask them outright, there could be any number of reasons behind their distress.


The agoraphobic could be the girl who's sitting in the car, not getting out for five minutes, ten minutes, or not at all.

It could be the girl who looks so perfectly happy and contented at home on the sofa that you wouldn't have any idea how fast that can change if you ask her to go into a situation that distresses her.

Or that girl taking 'selfies' or asking her fiance to take photos of her outside a shop, on the high street or in the middle of a field, just so she has a record, proof, that she CAN actually live with and eventually overcome the agoraphobia.


The agoraphobic could be that girl you just walked past who was hanging upside down off some gym equipment in the local park., or climbing all over the adventure playground, laughing and smiling and apparently free at ease.

She could be the girl who goes over to the nearest field every day to practice handstands and rolls. The one who climbed that tree you walked past, the one in the meadow you noticed but didn't really notice at all.

She's the girl who takes photos in supermarkets because being in there is such a huge deal to her.

On the outside, you wouldn't know what it takes for an agoraphobic to appear the way they do. If they look comfortable and at ease, maybe they are. It's a good day for them - it doesn't mean they're cured, just that their recovery is progressing well at that point in time. An agoraphobic doesn't have to be housebound all day every day. They don't have to clearly be distressed and panic-stricken every time they put a toe outside the door.

They are normal people with normal interests in life. Sometimes they can get out to do them, sometimes they can't.When you see them, it's usually because they're having a good day. They might be struggling internally but persevering...but because you see them out and about and pursuing their interests, like the girl in the photos, like me, you assume they are well and that they can't be agoraphobic. An innocent mistake to make, but a mistake nonetheless.

Agoraphobia isn't over until the fat lady in these people's minds sings so loud as to silence all the fears for good.