My Experience With Agoraphobia
Living with agoraphobia is like being contained in a box that is far too small. There’s very little breathing space. It’s suffocating, isolating, and overwhelming.
I first noticed the signs a few years ago, when I was in sixth form. I would go to school and come back home. And that was my life on repeat. I didn’t really have a social life and I rarely saw my friends outside of school. At this point in my life, I was extremely anxious and suffering from depression. I never spoke up about it but of course, I knew what was happening underneath the façade. The people around me saw me as a shy person, but what they didn’t realise was that I was fighting a very hard battle inside my head.
Fast forward in time
Fast forward a few years and there were highs and lows in my journey. I had a few therapy sessions and at least, I had a breakthrough. I came face to face with my trauma and confronted it head on. I even started volunteering, which helped me to manage my anxiety and become more comfortable with socialising with others. In some ways, I was quite happy, despite the fact that I was still battling some ongoing problems.
But since the start of the pandemic, my progress has come to a halt. I stopped volunteering and I started working from home as a full time writer. In that time, I’ve read a lot of news articles and I’ve watched a lot of TV.
I’ve become scared of the outside world. I haven’t managed to go outside by myself for more than 2 minutes. Whenever I do go out I have someone there beside me. I suppose it feels comforting knowing that I have the support of someone else. It gives me the courage to step outside the door, but it’s not a permanent solution. Becoming entirely dependent on someone else is the last thing that I need for my mental health recovery.
I feel like I’m a million miles away from the progress I made before the pandemic. And in many ways, I do feel quite disappointed in myself. While I know I’m not to blame for any of this, I know that deep down I need to break this cycle if I want to resume any kind of normality.
Shutting myself inside will not keep me safe. If anything, it will make me ill.
I’m not supposed to be confined to just one place. Believe me, I want to get out there and explore again. I want to take myself out for coffee and browse charity shops. I want to rely on myself for happiness, rather than always relying on other people.
The truth is if I want to start loving myself I first need to be patient with myself. Living with agoraphobia is challenging and it’s not going to disappear overnight. Expecting myself to make fast progress is unrealistic and it immediately sets me up for failure.
I’m going to try and be kinder to myself because when I change the way I see myself I’ll be able to change the way I see the world.