My Anxiety and Agoraphobia Story –
I don’t have any desire to ever leave my home. It’s more than a comfort zone or a safe space for me, it just feels logical to me with how our society is right now. It takes me a long time to muster up the courage to go somewhere. I ruminate for days about it. But you would never know it if you met me as I mask with the best of them!
Typical grocery shopping thoughts; ‘how much longer can I survive with the groceries I already have, when will I have enough energy to make the trip, I will first have to put air in my tires (if it’s winter), do I need gas, can I also pick up my prescription if they are in at the same time so I don’t have to make another trip, what day has the least amount of people in the store, will I have an anxiety attack while I’m out, and will there be too many people in line (lines make me feel trapped and under pressure).
Once the time comes where I’ve pumped myself up enough to go to the grocery store, I then need to make sure all is in order in the house before I leave, I have a plan, and a list. Nothing is still turned on, things are tidy enough so that when I bring the groceries home there will be space for them, no washer/dryer/dishwasher is going, I’ve showered/eaten/taken my meds, I’ve finally picked out something to wear, I have a water bottle, gloves if it’s winter, my cooler with ice if it’s the trip that I have to drive over 30 miles to get to the store, and I’ve locked the house.
Then there’s the fact that I don’t like driving, being late for things, or the thought of what others might do in our crazy society. Will someone be in my blind spot as I’m driving and then they road rage at me? Will someone snap at the grocery store and in the middle of their rage kill or harm me or others? Will I be abducted or sexually assaulted in the parking lot?
All of this causes my stomach to be in knots, tense muscles, and headaches leading up to the shopping, during the shopping, and after the shopping. I don’t think that my anxiety and agoraphobia story is unique, there are many people that experience this. I think. Maybe not. I don’t know. I am in therapy and do have tools that I use. Sometimes they work and sometimes they do not work.
My hermit, introverted, trauma brain doesn’t see the point in conversing with others. I dislike the small talk and niceties, the judgment and assumption vibes I feel around others. Mostly people judging other people, I’m ok if they are silently judging me. I see assumptions and misunderstandings more often than not and it’s annoying. To see people answering a question based on their own experience and agenda, not the question asked.
I’ll give an example from a time when I used to eat at restaurants. When I walk into a restaurant late at night unsure of their closing time and realize I should have looked at their hours on the door upon entering but now I’m greeted by an employee. I’m asking what time they close and nothing else because I’ve been in the restaurant business. All I need to know is their closing time so that I can asses the situation for myself to see if I feel comfortable staying and eating within that time frame (and that time frame for me is leaving at least 1/2 hour before they close) or if I will go somewhere else.
Their response doesn’t require attitude, other times the establishment is open, other options like ordering to go, and/or the snarky response, “As the sign in the window says, we close at 10 p.m., in 10 minutes”. I CAN tell time. I didn’t notice the sign as I walked in and now that the employee is in front of me, I thought I would just ask rather than ignore them to walk to the front door to see it. If I wanted to order something to go, I would have planned that into my day.
You don’t know what my situation is right now. I understand that some employees feel like it’s good customer service to offer options. I don’t. It clouds my judgement and train of thought with more options and feeling overwhelmed with all the their chatter. I zone out from any words coming out of their mouth because I’m trying to concentrate on what my agenda is, not their agenda. Whether their agenda is getting me to still make a purchase or to get me out so they can close up and go home.
There are many more examples of this but I will not bore you any further. Obviously, I haven’t been to a restaurant in a long time. Then there’s the phone conversations. Ugh, the phone takes a lot of self-talk to get a simple phone call accomplished. But you would never know all of this if you met me.
I hope that my anxiety and agoraphobia story has helped shed some light on different ways that we can walk through life and learn from one another. Maybe my story could help you, someone you know, and/or maybe my experience is good to hear because it’s relatable. Sometimes hearing someone’s story can help us process our own.
We just have to keep trying different things to find what will work for us. Remember that what may work for one, may not work for another. Hang on and keep trying!
Seeking professional help is courageous!
Are you Slowing Down for Mental Health?