Agoraphobia is a real thing. I remember the three years of Hell when I was a prisoner in my own house. Not because anyone made me be but because of my own mind. Before I get into that, I am going to apologize for the content. I know it’s a serious subject but in my “about” section I did warn that this blog will not only be about my crafting adventures but will also be about my battle with schizophrenia and mental illness. I am writing about this today because, although it has been a couple of years since I have been able to go back outside and start interacting with people, the fear of returning to being a prisoner in my own home is very real. I don’t think there is a magic cure for agoraphobia and even though I can walk out of my house now, I can’t do it every day. There are days when the anxiety is so bad I am parylized and can’t move or speak or think. I just freeze. It’s so embarrassing! The joys of social anxiety. In an instant I become….
True story. Anyway, during my self-imprisonment I lost a lot of connections with people. They either thought I was faking it, what I was going through didn’t really exist or I was just being dramatic. My favorite was that it was all in my head. Of course it’s all in my head! I knew that but at the same time I couldn’t help it or control the anxiety or the panicky thoughts or millions of things that ran through my mind. I would try o rationalize my fears and tell myself it’s not real but in the moment it is all too real and terrifying! How do you get out of your own head? That’s the million dollar question. How do you explain to people that think that you are faking it what it’s like to be a prisoner of your own mind? Or how the though of going outside and seeing people is so terrifying that you would rather eat your own leg off than have to go to the grocery store because you are out of food. (Fortunately I have an understanding hubby who went to the store for us.) However, not everyone has one of those and even my hubby’s patience wore thin after three years. Finally he started forcing me out of the house little by little.
Did I freak out?? Hell yes I did! I remember the first time I went to the store by myself after 3 years I was gone for over 2 hours for something that should have taken 10 minutes because I freaked out in the middle of the store and had a massive panic attack. Needless to say, when I got home I yelled and cursed at him, yelled some more then didn’t talk to him for a couple of days I was so mad and embarrassed. I rarely go out alone to this day and if I do it’s briefly, less than 30 minutes usually, and every time I do it begins with anger and frustration for fear of another panic attack. I don’t drive far because I even have them while driving. They just come out of the blue and hit like a mac truck.
Do I miss how life was before these attacks? Yes! I miss driving just to drive and long road trips and shopping alone. Now I have to be accompanied by someone I feel comfortable with, like my kids or my hubby or a good friend. Friends….that’s another hint that went away. Most people didn’t know what to do or say so they just stopped trying altogether. Now I am weary when I make connections with people, not like meeting people is easy anyway, but I’m grateful for the people in my life now who accept me for me and accept my madness and quirks and understand if I break plans at the last minute because I’m having a freak out. I am so blessed to have people like that in my life now. I love my pen pals and they are a welcome distraction from my own mind. It’s a good way to interact with people without having to interact with them directly and it gets me back into talking to people.
so why am I writing this? To let people know agoraphobia is real and all those who may know someone who is dealing with it or panic attacks, just to tell them to please be patient and don’t give up on their friend/loved one. And to those that think it is fake or try to downplay it, well I hope it never happens to you.yep! People really think this way.
Anyway, my attacks are becoming more frequent again and I’m terrified I will be locked in my house again but I am also determined to keep my freedom. I’d love to use my dog as a service dog but she’s as skittish as I am. Oh well, I can do this and if anyone reading this is dealing with similar issues, you can do it. You can overcome it or at least live with it. It’s hard but you can do it!