Agoraphobia is a painful secret I have lived with for too many years, and I want to say/type the word out loud and take any and all power away from it. I am no longer in a place where I can’t get out or I feel like the walls are closing in every time I am in a public space. However, I still live with the repercussions of those years of being physically and mentally shut away from the world.
It may seem like I share a lot of personal information on the blog, but there are some aspects of my life that I actually keep quiet about. I swear! I think that’s pretty standard in the blogging world: bloggers are selective about what they share in order to present a certain picture of themselves and their lives. But, for me, this part of my “story” felt like an elephant in the room. It is something I have never written about but a condition that has affected and continues to affect my life. I have danced around it discussing my challenges with anxiety and panic disorders. I have shared a ton about infertility (including IVF) and the effects of physical health issues (endometriosis and chronic pain). I have talked about the stay-at-home-mom challenge of getting myself and K out of the house each day. But, at the heart of it, I never actually said the word “agoraphobia”.
There was a time when agoraphobia truly shattered my spirit. I felt helpless, confused, and like a total loser. I equated my mental problems with something that only happened to weak, ill-prepared, or spoiled people who couldn’t manage to get their shit together. I lost friends. Really good friends. My best friend and I parted ways during one of the most difficult times in my life. We had an argument and never spoke again. For years I put myself through hell feeling solely responsible for our fractured relationship. I have since forgiven myself for the part I played in the demise of our friendship. I feel that my poor mental health was a big factor in how I handled myself, but like any relationship in life, it is a two way street.
I continue to work on issues with social anxiety. It’s hard for me to branch out and feel comfortable around others since I started having panic attacks. My introverted personality makes it even trickier (see this post about being an introverted mom). So trying to make plans with me is sort of like trying to get a squirming child to take their medicine. Have you ever seen Along Came Polly? I am totally Jennifer Aniston’s character (who happens to be flakey in the film, but not socially anxious or agoraphobic). Other person: “Didn’t you say you were free?” Me: “Yeah, well, I’m actually not sure.” *runs away*
I consider myself in recovery. How long does recovery last? I have no idea. Forever? But each day is a new opportunity for me to either shrink my world a little more or grow it a little more. There are mothers out there who are schizophrenic, who are depressed, who have OCD, who are agoraphobes, who are bipolar, and the list goes on. The silence that surrounds these conditions only breeds shame and feeds ignorance and misinformation. I don’t plan on directly talking about agoraphobia much more on the blog. However, I do plan to continue to share the challenges I face on a daily basis. I plan to share how these challenges affect my roles as a mother and a wife.
My life is far from perfect, which I think I have outlined in great detail on this blog (hahaha!). However, I’m not looking for pity or for people to feel sorry for me. I think I share because I seek understanding and dialogue with others who aren’t afraid to admit their own imperfections. I want to connect with others who are kinder, more empathetic, and less judgmental because of challenges they’ve faced or situations where life didn’t go exactly as planned. Those are basically my people. And, if that’s you, welcome. You are loved.