Out For The Count

Beating Agoraphobia

I went out today ALONE for the first time in three years! It was amazing, like getting out of prison. I was out alone, walking alone. Went into a shoe shop alone, bought a pair of cheap shoes, alone. I was walking on air when I came out , bouncing down the pavement, smiling inanely, idiotically, joyfully, alone. No panic attack or anything. People thought I was crazy, I guess, but I was so happy…because I was alone.

 

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10 comments

  1. Wow. I’m pretty agoraphobic too – unless I’m confident I won’t see anyone (or more the the point, they won’t see me) – but even during the worst of my depression I don’t think I ever got that bad. Three weeks maybe, but definitely not three years.

    But what did you mean when you said “ALONE”?
    I don’t think my agoraphobia has ever been alleviated in the least by company. That’s just more sets of eyes to make me uncomfortable. My agoraphobia seems to be rooted in the feeling that I’m always alone, no matter how many people are with me. The more people, the more alone I am.

    What about if you go out at night when there’s no-one else around? That’s always been my escape. Darkness is always home. Mind you, I can see how it would be less comfortable for anyone who isn’t a 187cm tall man.

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    • Well, first of all, thank you for your reply Cabrogal, always very welcome.
      When I say ‘alone’ I mean unaccompanied by another person or persons. So that’s a huge accomplishment, being unaccompanied.I actually went out for the first time three weeks ago, but it’s taken me three weeks to have the balls to publish this post ! (And I’ve been out twice more since then. Yay)! There’s a shame to it for me, as it’s not an accomplishment for most people…and it’s the first time I’ve talked about it in public.
      I agree, the more people there are around and about, the more alone and alienated you can feel.
      I’m taking baby steps. Night time stuff seems a bit hardcore right now. I’ll have to graduate to that!
      I can see how night time might not be too much of a problem when you’re a) tall and b) a guy. I have a male friend who is 200cm tall, so very much in your ball park! I’m not sure if he’s a creature of the night also…

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      • Bravo, Sue. Whenever we share our struggles in life, we are helping millions of others who are suffering the same and think they are alone. If one is a believer, we know that “WE CAN DO ALL THINGS IN HIM WHO STRENGTHENS US…I’ve prayed that so many times in life, I’ve lost count. And you know what? Every time strength came out of nowhere. Continue on, dear Sue. Take another step each day, and before you know it, life has a way of smiling at you!

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      • It’s very difficult to share our personal stories. It’s the idea that we may be able to help others by sharing, that makes us share. It overcomes all fear. Thank you Ruby Diana for all your support, kindness, insight and love.

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      • When I say ‘alone’ I mean unaccompanied by another person or persons.

        Yeah, that’s what I mean too.

        For as long as I can remember I’ve been heaps more comfortable in my home than out where others can see me. And by ‘others’ I also mean friends and family. And by ‘home’ I mean somewhere I have a space that’s unambiguously mine, where I can close a door and be confident I’ll be left alone if need be. Oddly, it’s less overpowering when I’m temporarily somewhere no-one knows me, so I figure it’s some sort of manifestation of social anxiety with more than a hint of aspie alienation. If it doesn’t matter what people might think of me the problem is reduced, but not absent.

        Most of the time I can overcome the feeling and get out and have a good time – even to the point of not being conscious of my agoraphobia at all. But when I’m tired, ill or down it can be paralysing. During some of my serious bouts of depression it would leave me unable to leave the house for weeks at a time (which is something to be grateful for when I compare it to your experience I guess).

        In October 2012 I had a kind of epiphany that ended almost a decade of unrelenting despair and cleared up some of my other more disabling ‘mental disorders’. But it doesn’t seem to have touched my agoraphobia. Only a couple of days ago I couldn’t even spend time in my kitchen because my neighbours – who I get on well with and talk to regularly – were sitting in the backyard with a clear line of sight through the kitchen windows. I went without breakfast and didn’t have lunch until about 3:30, after they’d gone indoors.

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      • I feel for you, Cabrogal, regarding the neighbour experience. I may have experienced something similar. I have crawled about on the floor, dodging and weaving, when builders, or others, have been hanging outside the window, or even when there hasn’t been a net curtain on the window!
        You actually like/trust the people who were accidentally in your line of sight, but at the same time, you don’t want them to see you making breakfast, or just seeing you in your home. It’s a privacy issue. Nothing wrong with that. I think we would be surprised to realise that quite a few people feel that way. I think there’s more of us out there than we think. It shows that we are not so alone. It’s just that we don’t share that often, or we have difficulty sharing, or don’t particularly want to share, so that feeling of isolation, is heightened and emphasised.
        It’s very refreshing and a huge relief to know that there are others out there who have had to ‘go out of their way’ – maybe gone without breakfast and lunch and a lot more besides because of that privacy issue. In those instances, I would invent imaginative and innovative ways to make breakfast, or whatever it is I needed to do without my lovely neighbours seeing me. I know it’s really difficult to make toast that way, but it’s a challenge! (I imagine you will have them in your arsenal. Might prove to be a fun game in the face of adversity)

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    • It’d be tricky as the main window is above the gas stove so there’d be a fire hazard. I already can’t use the biggest burner as it’s been placed too close to the wall and when you put a pan on it the flames lick the paint.

      It’s rarely a problem anyway as the neighbours generally don’t spend much time in the back yard.

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