I'm supposed to be doing a review and a little giveaway. I've even gotten as far with that post as to set up a rafflecopter thingy for it. It's coming, I promise, but today I want to talk about something that is weighing heavily on my mind. Agoraphobia.
I suffer with agoraphobia and it is mostly related to my low vision. I didn't have it when I was younger. It developed as I grew older and realised how much I can't see in comparison to other people, how often I get in people's way because I don't have much in the way of peripheral vision, and how impossible it is for other people to even realise I have low vision because I have not readily visible markers of vision impairment.
I hate going out on my own unless I have a specific purpose and know the place I'm going to well. If I know the place well but don't have a specific purpose for traveling to that place, I still hate going out. If I have a purpose for going out, especially if I've very motivated to going to a place (to be with people I really enjoy the company of, for example) I can overcome most of the anxiety to achieve my goal, but I still have a fair amount of anxiety.
I could make myself more visually recognisable as a person with low vision by using a cane (not one you tap the ground with, but one you hold in front of you to indicate to others that you have low vision), or a monocular (which looks like a little telescope held up to one eye). While this has it's benefits, the drawback is that of bringing lots of attention to myself - which, despite how I dress, I'm not excited at the prospect of. I might as well wear a big, flashing, sign emblazoned with 'I have a disability, I'm vulnerable, mug me!'
Sure, that's an irrational thought - who said agoraphobia is rational?
So, here are 10 things I know about agoraphobia...
~1. Agoraphobia can develop at any time, it is not something a person is born with, though people who are more anxious by nature might be more prone to it.
~2. Not everyone with anxiety suffers from agoraphobia.
~3. There is safety in numbers; as long as the numbers are people you know and trust.
~4. The best antidote for agoraphobia is to get out of the house regularly.
~5. Agoraphobia and cabin fever are not mutually exclusive - agoraphobes often really want to get out because the four walls can feel like a prison, but wanting to get out of the house does not cure one of agoraphobia.
~6. Agoraphobia can lead to depression and depression feeds agoraphobia, creating a vicious cycle. Agoraphobia can also prevent a person with depression from seeking appropriate help.
~7. An agoraphobe in a good phase may not seem agoraphobic at all - this is mostly the magic of smoke and mirrors created by lots of social outings in the company of some form of security blanket (for me, that is my husband, my kids sometimes and one great friend).
~8. Agoraphobes can lose friends because those friends just don't understand why the agoraphobe is so reluctant to go visit them (especially when that agoraphobe is reliant on public transport, which can cause panic attacks).
~9. When an agoraphobe wakes up ready to hurl at the thought of having to go out, even with their security blanket or invites people over then spends the hours before their arrival regretting that decision, it's time to get help (in fact, that time is well overdue).
~10. It can be harder to spot an agoraphobe than most people think. We don't all jump at the sight of our own shadows. We're not all retiring wall flowers. When we feel safe, we can be quite confident in public - we may even enjoy public speaking (I'm not kidding). We don't usually announce our agoraphobia to people - even people like a lot.
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