Over the next 5 years I became dissociated, withdrawn, and in complete denial unable to be a part of my own family. This is when my agoraphobia started unbeknown to myself or my husband. I would not go out, making excuses the night before not to attend plans, cut people off, wouldn’t speak on the phone and these symptoms just kept getting worse to the point that 8 years after the event I didn’t step over the door at all anymore and now lived very reclusive. My 2 year old son would come back full of stories and wonder and I was missing it all!
My husband who supported me through thick and thin, also raised our children whilst I got better. He had to do the things that I couldn’t and that breaks my heart but they got to feed the ducks, they went to see tractors and all I could do was watch, wish and desperately long to go with them but I just could not do it, worse I could not explain it.
WHY? The hell could I not just go with them get my coat on and go over the bloody door? I felt sick, sick to my stomach and had a choice in that moment sitting on my couch. Do I really want to spend the next 40 years like this? Stuck here? Hell No!
It was not laziness and it wasn’t because I just couldn’t be bothered. It was a feeling of pure despair and dread in the pit of my tummy an immense feeling of sickness right to the very pit of my being, a well of saliva in my mouth, palms hot and sweaty, an overwhelming sense of danger that resulted with me never leaving the couch unless it was an absolute must. It was FEAR my agoraphobia, it was not a life sentence! Finally I admitted to myself I am agoraphobic, I was ill and in that moment I realized that my life was going to change and for the better. The personal acknowledgement that I don’t need to live this way made me realize that I could change things.
I began to study a Psychology degree with Open University from the comfort of my very own couch and in my pyjamas. Bonus right??? Yes of course a personal achievement that I selfishly set out to achieve. I realized that I was in fact very clever despite being told otherwise for so long, I had a passion for learning and most of all a better understanding of how I could repair the bonds between my son and I. I am delighted to say that love and cuddles are distributed in this house every day of the week. (Even if sometimes it is strained we are all learning that it is ok to love each other regardless and it gets better every day)
Agoraphobia (social anxiety disorder) is a difficult illness to explain for a GP but for the person who suffers from it can be hard to comprehend never mind explain. Trust me I know. A little understanding and a little more acknowledgement for illnesses that are unseen or hard to explain is needed. Show a little compassion if someone seems to struggle a little more than you, be kind.