Agoraphobia and Me

Agoraphobia and Me

A little about me, I was born in Newcastle moved to Sunderland at a young age and went to school where I was bullied. I developed an eating disorder in primary school where I didn’t eat any food for 2 + years and I lived off powder supplements and milkshakes from the doctors. I saw an Occupational Therapist in primary school, but this was only short term and I just resorted to staying in the house feeding the agoraphobia and anxiety, as all I knew was getting bullied and picked on at school. Secondary school was where it got bad to the point where I never went to school and just spent my days in the park, so I got taken out of school and never got anything offered in way of support.

From the age 11-12 I stayed in the house for 16+ years. It was the worst thing in the world living with agoraphobia when my mum was sick, as I couldn’t help her by going to the shops, going out for things she needed, or attending hospital appointments with her. During this time, I had suicidal thoughts, and even contemplated ways of doing it. This was until 2017, when my mum died. This event was a turning point for me, and I thought I’d give life a shot for her, as that’s all she ever wanted.

I was making positive progress with getting outside and looking after my mental health, and then the pandemic came. Living with covid was “fine” it just put me back in to the old habits of not going out at all and made me relapse very hard. Going outside was horrible, and I still get nervous, and start to sweat and panic, my heart rate goes through the roof, it can be very overwhelming. I tell myself to walk slower as Steve my Occupational Therapist told me that when I’m scared and nervous, I would power walk, and this makes things worse. When I’m out I walk on the other side of the road if someone is walking towards me, I take the back roads in every street to get around crowded places, I will plan my route on google maps and look at where I can hide for a break if I need one. I pretend to be on my phone when I’m hiding in alley ways to calm down. Face to face interaction never happens without someone supporting me, and I have never walked into a shop and gone shopping by myself in my whole life. Despite covid being a bump in the road for my recovery, I am making positive changes, and am feeling more and more confident every day.

Although this may not be the most fairy tale, cookie cutter story, it is important to me that people know the reality of mental health. Recovery is not a straight road. There are bumps along the way, and hurdles to overcome. Covid has been just that for me. My advice would be to take the step, it’s hard I know, very hard sometimes, but getting help from my Occupational Therapist’s Steve and Rebecca was the best thing I have ever done in my life and it was worth all the sweat and tears to get to where I am now. Now, I am happily employed, doing what I love and progressing in my recovery. So please don’t suffer in silence, ask for the help. You wont regret it.

Anonymous, 26