Monday, 16 October 2017



Google’s Definition: extreme or irrational fear of open or public places.

Dictionary Definition: Noun, Psychiatry - an abnormal fear of being in crowds, public places, or open areas, sometimes accompanied by anxiety attacks.

My agoraphobia started back when I was in high school. Back then I didn’t know it was agoraphobia or even anxiety that was causing it; I just knew that I couldn’t stand being in crowds or in big groups for very long and that this intense feeling made me want to run away and stay at home. As I said; I didn’t know that there was a name for this feeling and no one seemed to understand that when I felt this way I needed to leave whatever situation I was in and either come back when there was no one around (if it was a busy place) or be in an environment where I felt safe (at home with only my family) and that when I felt this way I couldn’t bear to be with anyone bar my parents. I would feel myself getting ill at even the thought of going out and would have what I would eventually discover to be panic attacks.

It made being with my group of friends quite difficult as in spite of being left out of many plans, I would find myself making excuses (too busy with homework, seeing my best friend who lived miles away etc) just in case they ever did invite me out. I thought that this was just because I had grown so accustomed to being left out and to being bullied whenever I left the house that I was putting a stop to getting hurt in the first place but it turns out that this panicky state I was getting into was due to anxiety. In a way, it did grow from my fears of being bullied and left out but sometimes I wonder if I was always just supposed to be this way because I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t anxious.

From the age of 17 this feeling only grew stronger. It got to the point where at school I would only hang out with my friends at the bottom of the back staircase during break as no one went there and if they wanted to move away from that area, I was stay behind by myself as the thought of going out into crowded hallways where I would be shoved and going out onto the grounds where I was be used as target practice for ball-based sports and as a human bin for other kids’ home economics (cookery class) creations terrified me. I was being allowed out of my classes 5 minutes early (thanks to my P.E teacher when I entered 3rd year at 14 who also let me study in the library during her classes to avoid the bullies) in order to beat the crowds and get to classes safely and at home time I was allowed out 10 minutes early to be able to get far enough away from the school that I would nearly be home by the time the rest of the kids got out. By college I was only going out to go to classes, my work placement or to a kids’ club I was a leader at. I was barely getting by due to my anxiety and depression and the only thing that made me happy was that one night a week where I could focus on entertaining the children with my best friend at my side. After I left college (you can find out the story behind that here) I was unemployed for two years and only left the house to sign on at the job centre or go to interviews for jobs that I didn’t even want. Nothing was going right, I was a complete mess and it led to me being even more depressed and anxious.

I would love to be able to tell you that now I go out as often as I can and enjoy it but that would be a lie and if there’s one thing I am not; it is a liar. I still hardly go out. I used to be in a routine over the last year or so where I would go to a group session one day a week and go into town every Friday but even that has stopped as I am longer seen by the department where I was receiving said treatment and have been waiting since last December for a referral to another. Going out it still extremely scary to me and I’m still recovering from all the times my now ex-best friend would guilt trip me into going out. I didn’t want to go out because I felt so ill and she would keep going on about how I “barely did anything”. Eventually she would say she desperately needed something and I would pull on my shoes and coat because I can’t stand people to go without.



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