The first post in our Mental Health series is written by myself and is about my experience with agoraphobia. I’ve written it to re-visit how I felt at my lowest but I have been doing quite well over the last few years and a lot of my problems I have overcome. Its something that will always be there, it never truly goes away, its just part of who I am but now I don’t really notice it on an everyday basis and it definitely doesn’t control my life.

Dear Everyone Who Knows Me,
I’m sorry if we got off on the wrong foot at some stage, if I came across as rude or unsociable. I’m not actually like that, its just I often feel quite anxious and panicky in social situations out of my comfort zone.
When I feel like this, its quite overwhelming and I have to fight hard to stop it taking control of me.  Its not that I don’t want to talk to you or I don’t have anything interesting to say, its just that I’m putting all my energy into staying in the room and its the most I can really manage.
And you know, its not that I don’t want to eat your food or have a cup of tea, I can see that you went to a lot of trouble and I appreciate it. Its just that I feel so sick, my heart is racing, my mouth is dry and the idea of eating is completely impossible for me.
I know you aren’t aware of this, you haven’t a clue about the internal battle going on inside my head. You just think I’m a bit weird and impolite, I can tell by your strained attempts to talk to me and how you raise your eyebrows. I  know what you think about me, because I think similar things as well.


‘Why is she so weird?’ ‘Why is it such hard work to talk to her?’ Why doesn’t she ever eat anything?’

I’m sorry if I didn’t come to your party or out to dinner with you like I said I would. I really wanted to, its just I couldn’t come because I felt so unwell. I was worried about how many people would be there, what I was supposed to wear. I was worried that people wouldn’t talk to me – I was worried that people would talk to me. I was panicking that I didn’t know where the fire exit was because I’d never been there before. I had convinced myself that I couldn’t get out, that I might feel sick or faint, and that I couldn’t get home quick enough if I needed to.
I know, you don’t know any of this, you just know that I don’t show up when I say I will. All you know is that I’m unreliable and unsociable, you probably think I’m selfish too. Well that’s ok, I’m often pissed off with myself as well.There were a hundred times when I really thought I could do it and I failed and let it beat me.

I’m sorry that I left all my shopping on the check out conveyor belt and walked ran out of the shop. Its just that you took too long with the other customers and I couldn’t force myself to stand there any longer. I’d already had to fight myself and grit my teeth to get the actual shopping done. It was especially difficult to go to the back of the store to the frozen bit because it was so far away from the exit. I had told myself only 5 more minutes, only 5 more minutes but you took longer and I couldn’t manage it. I’m sorry about that.

I’m sorry that we had to walk because I can’t use public transport. Its not that I’m a snob or anything , its just that I can’t be in a vehicle that I’m not in control of. Its not that I don’t feel safe in there its just the panic that I can’t get out. What if I need to get off and there isn’t a stop yet? If I don’t feel well, if I feel sick and I can’t breathe how will I get out of there?

I’m sorry that you never really got this about me. It’s largely my fault because I never talked about it with you. You see half the time, I didn’t actually know what was wrong with me or why I was feeling like that. And when I did eventually figure it out, well its not something you want to broadcast is it?
Now that you’ve read this and you’re thinking back to all the times I behaved strangely and you dismissed me as ‘weird’. I hope you can find a bit of compassion and understand that I was actually going through a pretty shitty time. You see, I was fighting a battle all day, every day for quite a while. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost and sometimes I just gave up and didn’t even try because I was so exhausted by it all.
So if you ever meet or hear about someone like me again. Someone who seems a bit unsociable and a bit uptight. Someone who’s struggling with crowds and public places, try and find some empathy. Rather than dismissing them for being dramatic or thinking they should ‘pull themselves together’, offer up a bit of reassurance. Be considerate and suggest a seat at the back or a table near the front because this can really change their feelings about a situation and help them fight through what’s going on inside their head.

You can find more information about agoraphobia and anxiety here and here.

Thank you for your patience,
Sarah x

 

“Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being.”– Albert Schweitzer

CLICK HERE JUMP TO THE NEXT POST IN THE SERIES

 

Agoraphobia : An Open Letter To Everyone Who Knows Me

11 thoughts on “Agoraphobia : An Open Letter To Everyone Who Knows Me

  • October 2, 2015 at 8:22 am
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    I have an anxiety disorder, which I'm currently in treatment for. It's hard, I know, and when people don't get it, and make judgments, it makes it even harder. It's not a choice, what we have, it's an illness, but because we don't get spots or a rash, people don't see that. Hugs! Brave post. Popped over from #effitfriday

    Reply
  • October 2, 2015 at 11:39 am
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    I'm glad I read this – I have a mostly self diagnosed anxiety disorder; self diagnosed because I have developed such a strong outward coping system that no one every really sees it, especially medical people. My coping method is basically where I become, outwardly, a very confident happy person, who makes jokes and says witty things (that I always regret later when I completely overanalyse), but inside I am a wreck. I have drs concerned because of my high heart rate and increased blood pressure at appointments “But you don't seem nervous!”

    Brave posts like this are fantastic, we should talk about mental health more, because it affects more people than I think anyone will ever realise. Thank you for writing this.

    Came over from #fabfridaypost

    Reply
  • October 2, 2015 at 11:54 am
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    Yeah I think for people that don't have any direct or even indirect experience its hard for them to 'get it'. I suppose from the outside it all seems a bit dramatic/not real but its something that people are talking about more and that can only be a good thing. There are two posts coming next week about anxiety, two of the guest bloggers have written them and they are truly brilliant and helpful. Please check back next week and read them and share your thoughts/ experiences. Thanks x

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  • October 2, 2015 at 11:57 am
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    Hi Becki, so many people suffer with anxiety and/or related issues – I only started to realise recently that there are loads of people walking around just like me, dealing and coping but never actually talking about it. I can totally relate – paint the brave face on and no one will find out, its so much better to find help though! Best place for me was GP, then cognitive counselling – just talking about it openly really helped. We have more posts coming in the series next week, please come back and read and share your thoughts x

    Reply
  • October 3, 2015 at 5:02 pm
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    I can so relate on this post! I am elusive to people not because I dont like them but because theres a war inside me. Some mothers in my school run probably thought that I am snob or distant.. theres really just something inside me that I am fighting =( #PicknMix

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  • October 4, 2015 at 8:35 pm
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    Hi Sarah. This letter beautifully describes the conflict going on inside you but that no one else can see. I am so glad to read that things have improved for you. I am a counsellor and I know how hard it can be to seek help but I also know how much it improves things. Kirsten

    Reply
  • October 5, 2015 at 9:58 pm
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    Thank you for writing this. I found it by searching “#agoraphobia” on Twitter. I also have agoraphobia, but I work so hard to get out anyway. I was basically housebound for three years. I still have good days and some bad days but reading things like this just motivates me more.

    Reply
  • October 6, 2015 at 9:04 am
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    A very honest and brave post. I admired you for opening up. It is such a difficult subject to talk about. I think you are an inspiration to yourself and many others who are going through the same thing. And it is great to see that you are working through this. Thank your for writing this post. And also Thank you so much for linking with me. #FabFridayPost xx

    Reply
  • October 7, 2015 at 7:07 am
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    An amazingly brave post – thank you for linking it with #effitfriday. I have a friend who suffers similarly and I'm not sure if you've seen the infograph that helps explain it with the battery levels? That start at green getting ready, yellow on the way, red walking in, depleted when you leave? xx

    Reply
  • October 8, 2015 at 6:30 pm
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    What an honest post. This is how I felt a lot of the time when I had PND (anxiety) it was a really horrible time. I think a lot of people find it hard to understand. Thanks for linking to #PickNMix

    Reply
  • March 16, 2016 at 12:04 am
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    Love the honesty in your post.
    Keep sharing, it is by doing so you will change the world.

    Reply

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