Agoraphobia. It’s something I don’t really mention when I speak about my mental struggles. I think because I don’t want people to think that I’m so messed up that I’m begging for attention. Another one of my struggles but I’m learning to let that go.
What is Agoraphobia? There are a lot of aspects to this, I don’t really think you can define it by 1 thing. It’s basically the fear and avoidance of certain situations or places that will cause you to panic. This is my life. A constant avoidance, no matter how much I’m moving forward there’s this obstacle that I can’t get over and I don’t know how.
Back in 2014 after I was diagnosed I think I spent about 5 months inside the house. I didn’t leave, not for anything. My mom, man I love my momma, she took 2 or 3 months off work to look after me. I would literally cry if I was left alone in the house. I was hysterical, I hyperventilated a lot and would have to stick my head out the window to let air back in. There were times that I used to phone my little brother while he was at work and beg him to come home because I couldn’t take it. I’d be on the phone to him, even as he was travelling home so I wouldn’t feel alone. The times that I was alone in the house I’d spend in bed. All day, I literally wouldn’t move until my mom got back, when I knew that I could breathe easy for a while. The thought of leaving the house at that time, even to just walk down the road made me sick. In my head it was, I’m going to have a panic attack and look like an idiot or I’m not safe outside I’m going to drop dead somewhere and no one will be there for me. Even to this very day these thoughts are with me. Going somewhere by myself scares the absolute crap out of me. Now that I’ve started to take a little control back over my life I’m able to go to places and do things. In no way is it easy though, it’s so damn hard. Your mind is such a powerful place, how 1 thought can multiply and consume your mind is so bizarre to me.
It was at this time that I stopped eating too, I lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time. During those 5 months my body went through hell, the amount of stress that ran through me. I’m so proud of myself because there were times when I wanted it all to be over. There’s an ache in my heart remembering all of this, keeping it locked away and now bringing it back up is making me really emotional. Its good for me to look back at this moment though because look how far I’ve come.
One of the things I can’t get over is my fear of public transport or just travel in general. Basically just being anywhere that’s not home. My very first panic attack was on the bus, as I was going to the gym so you know where this is going. I thinks its the small space or the feeling that I can’t escape that does me over. The fact that I feel like I have to act normal so I don’t look like an idiot in front of people. Especially as I don’t drive yet so public transport is it for now. I have this.. tell when I start to feel anxious. I can’t keep still, constantly moving and twitching, checking my pulse, deep breathing, taking sips of water. The worst is when my head starts to feel heavy, my legs feeling like jelly and I can hear my own heartbeat. I absolutely hate it. I try to avoid it as much as possible but every so often it gets to me. I guess the only change from back then to now is that I don’t let it stop me. Sure my mood will completely change and my energy levels drop but with sleep and good food I usually bounce back. It’s just sometimes going through all of this hurts. So so bad. I can’t put it into words. All of this effects me socialising with people and I miss that so much. I go out from time to time but not nearly as much as I used to. It’s lonely dealing with suppressing negative thoughts and trying to live your life too. Which is why my end goal in life is to just find my happy and live in that.
In case anyone was wondering, I don’t take any medication for my mental health. Never have. It was a choice that I went back and forth with for a while. The determination to better myself without relying on meds isn’t easy in the slightest. I was perscribed Citalopram which is an antidepressant but I’ve never used it. I know some people are probably thinking man you’re strange for refusing to help yourself. I don’t see it that way though. Everyone is different no? To me all I was thinking at the time was that I don’t want to rely on it. What happens when I want to stop taking them? Not to mention the (ok it has less than others) side effects. That would just give me more anxiety. I don’t want to be taking meds for the rest of my life. I’d rather live knowing that I at least tried the natural route and I’m a big fan of natural products and remedies. What helps my depression, anxiety and agoraphobia a lot is a balanced diet and exercise. Something that takes effort and a lot of planning. Yes ok, I’ve put on weight since I lost a lot of it but I’m heading in the right direction again. If that means in a few years time I eventually start taking meds then so be it but for now that’s not where I’m at.
What I’m trying to say is, if you’re going through what I do, do what’s right for you. Its a matter of trial and error. You’ll eventually figure it out.Most importantly…. You’ve got this.
Until the next one