My Story With Agoraphobia And How I Overcame It
"One day I left my house without even thinking about it"
Everything changed so unexpectedly. I had been feeling dizzy and unwell for months but no one could figure out what was happening to me. One day, out of the blue, I was taken to hospital with a severe anxiety attack. My heart was on the verge of having a heart attack. I didn’t know what was going on, all I was told was that I had anxiety and needed urgent help. I had no idea what that was. My thoughts were…. “Am I going to die? Am I going to have this my whole life? How can I stop it? Why is this taking over me?”
This was only the beginning, within 3 days I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and agoraphobia at the age of 22. My whole life broke down. On the first day I could not move from the sofa due to my anxiety attack. On the second I was crying and feeling hopeless, depression had kicked in. On the third day I could not leave my room either my house…hello agoraphobia. Out of all three feelings, Agoraphobia was the most terrifying.
For me, Agoraphobia felt worse than any anxiety attack. The dizziness was unbearable. I couldn’t focus on anything, I couldn’t see! My face felt tense and numb. I couldn’t hear anything. I was trapped in my own world, surrounded with hundreds of people walking past in the street. Everything felt dark and I just had to run home to be safe again to escape this feeling.
I am the most outgoing, independent person ever so for me this was very out of character and scary. I used to thrive walking into the unknown and trying new things. All of that was taken from in the blink on an eye the day I first experienced my agoraphobia. I would think “If I can’t physically leave the house, how will I ever become myself again?”. I was locked in for weeks. I couldn’t have a conversation with more than two people. It was too overwhelming, my brain was exhausted. “Isn’t it crazy how you never think when you are about to leave the house?” That’s all I could think about for months. I did try to leave the house multiple times but would get the sweats and break down in tears. I would end up going back and locking myself back in again.
How did I get better?
Thankfully my mum, who is a psychologist, helped me take tiny steps to help me recover. It started small with just going downstairs. Later it progressed to walking around the block for 1 minute, then going for a coffee in the quietest place in town. Eventually I started to meet my friends one by one. Doing simple things like this were so difficult for me.
My mum told me avoid large areas such as supermarkets or any places I felt I was not yet able to overcome yet. She taught me how to have patience with my mental health. She believed in me and the steps I was taking. Sadly, I didn’t. I thought that it should be fixed in a week. I would cry everyday because all I had done was had a coffee in the corner shop for five minutes. My mum knew this was big achievement and a huge step in my recovery, but I couldn’t see it.
After two months I had improved a lot. I kept doing new small things and praising myself along the way and it worked. Then finally, one day I left my house without even thinking about it! When I realised what I had done I broke out in tears of happiness. I had finally overcome my biggest challenge, my disorder.
Best day ever. I felt free. I felt me again.