I have realised that my agoraphobia and anxiety is selective.
When I was having therapy last year, I was repeatedly told that what I was experiencing was a form of social anxiety – in other words, that the root of my panic and anxiety was due to a fear of people, or people’s judgements, or feelings of inadequacy or some such basic inferiority complex.
The therapy I was offered, CBT, (cognitive behavioural therapy) might have been useful had the therapist actually been willing to listen to what I told her. But she wasn’t. She was determined to squeeze me into a neat round box. Presumably she was following a flow chart which didn’t allow for any free thinking, or square pegs.
What I have noticed is that I have no problem in social situations (though I may find them exhausting), no problem with crowded rooms, shops, restaurants, no problem driving, unless I am particularly stressed. The only thing I struggle with, regardless of stress level, is walking out in the open, and that has nothing to do with social anxiety.
I have been out a few times – pubs, restaurants, shops, over the last few months with no problems. But on a day-to-day basis I am practically housebound. I hate it. I deeply dislike the house I’m currently living in, but can’t seem to escape it.
I have good intentions – next week, I will definitely go out, for coffee, to see the sea, something, anything. But it never seems to happen. I’m dependent on circumstances forcing me out – hospital appointments, husband taking me out.
We’re supposed to be moving again soon and I really hope that will signal an improvement. But house moves aren’t known for their calming effect.
I really just want to shrug this anxiety off and start living a normal life again. The best therapy might just be immersion – just jump in, or out as the case may be.
But don’t hold your breath. I might just dip my toe in and sit in the garden.