A Re-Definition of Agoraphobia

abumurad By abumurad, 20th Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Phobias

Words are such tricky devils in the best of circumstances and trying to explain the inexplicable so that one can wake even a ghost of understanding in those not stricken with this problem is more than a little frustrating. But I need to try.


It's not easy being green and it's also not easy being agoraphobic. Agoraphobia, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a condition described as ?a fear of open public spaces and social situations.? Would that it were so logical and simple. Words are such tricky devils in the best of circumstances and trying to explain the inexplicable so that one can wake even a ghost of understanding in those not stricken with this problem is more than a little frustrating. But I need to try.

Hopefully over these article will help make the experience more comprehensible both to those who are experiencing it and to those who know or live with someone struggling with the inner demons that make leaving their homes either painfully difficult or impossible.

And also, hopefully, I can explore a bit of therapies and techniques which will allow us to unbar the gate and return to a more normal and happy way of living.
I want and hope this article to be a place where people can and will share their own experiences and lend support to one another, so please share your questions and your experiences with me and with each other. Maybe together we can shatter some of those glass walls, break a few witch's spells so that we can say with joy and laughter: "The door is open. Life is waiting to be lived." And then walk through it singing.

Psychological definition

First , psychological definition or not, in my opinion - which based on personal experience - the fear of being out in public is not the core of agoraphobia but the outward manifestation. It's like the spots in measles. It's the part of the illness that can be seen. It's even where a good deal of the pain and discomfort are situated. But it isn't the germ. The best definition I've ever seen is that agoraphobia is a "fear of fear." But then you have to look at the word fear. The dictionary defines fear as "a state of agitation or anxiety, a feeling of disquiet or apprehension." Everybody knows about fear. We are all afraid of something. Some of us are afraid of bugs. (I am.) Some of us are afraid of losing our jobs. Some of us are afraid of not being able to get one.

Family History- How it effects

I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father, a mother who was not capable of much warmth or support, and a brother who was rage-filled and sadistic. The only sane person in my family was my sister and she was stabbed to death 12 years ago by a 16-year old boy who &quot;wanted to kill someone. I grew up with fear as a silent companion and it took a lot more than a little fear to keep me down.</p>

Exploring Demonalia

For one thing, I am realizing that my personal agoraphobia was, in a way, a retreat from a lifetime (starting at about the age of 7) of being overly responsible and ten years (the ten before I became house-bound) of dealing with an overwhelming amount of tragedy and family illness. Because I didn't know how to draw boundaries or refuse responsibility as an "adult" me, I think I unconsciously internalized myself. I'm not entirely sure what all the mechanisms for doing that were, but certainly the inertia of not going out and the physical disability of the morbid obesity which evolved during my incarceration were factors in promoting and re-enforcing the feeling of being helpless and incapable - not just physically but intellectually as well. When I arrived in my hometown 15 months ago, I could barely walk across a room.
I have come a long way since then. I have lost 60-80 pounds (I refuse to weigh myself) and am stronger and more active physically. I have a long way to go, but what would once have been unimaginable - living in a third floor (walk up) apartment - is now only daunting. If it doesn't kill me, it should be good for building my stamina and strengthening my leg muscles. My anxiety about this and other aspects of my move is making me realize that I am still a bit of a toddler here and that suddenly three weeks from now I will be a grown-up again.
No way around it. I know that this is a good thing. I'm grateful for it - and even eager to be on my own again - but the truth is that I'm also very scared. My current income is not the stuff of fortune building. In January I will steal a bit more from what's left of my pension to get by on as I continue to heal and move back into real life. But oh, what demon food all of this is. You cannot imagine the joy that is rampant in Demonalia.
My inner disables are chanting, singing, shouting and just muttering a series of mantras:

"You're in big trouble. You're never going to make it."

"You think just because you got a license that you're fit to drive? You've never even put gas in a tank. And you're going to have to drive in SNOW!"

"Stairs. You're never going to be able to manage the stairs. You still can't even walk around the block"

"You'll get lost driving." "You'll kill people driving."

Then there is, of course, the issue of needing and receiving help. I'm so blessed by the kindness of a number of friends - in particular shirin (hi shirin!) whose generosity to me is incredible. She has chosen to create "an adventure" for herself by offering to rent a UHaul (Ryder Truck actually) and drive me in my village, gambling that she can survive 5 days on the road with me and some more days visiting in my new home. Wow. Generosity and courage too! Of course, in the view of the populace of my particular branch of Demonalia, I am stealing from her. Any purchases I make towards creating a new home for myself are extra proof that I am evil and selfish. "You're buying THAT?!!," they mutter in outraged disgust - whether it be a chair to sit on or a bag of flour - "but Lorraine is giving you a ride east!"

The thing is, that even though I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, it is so deep inside of me that it also DOES make a lot of sense. Oy. I used to have a poster of a very funny looking penguin hanging in my kitchen with the caption, "It's not easy being me." I loved that poster. It's good to laugh at your insanity if you can.

Well, that's the darker side of this transition, but there are also some positive and enjoyable changes happening in my relationship with the voices of Demonalia. The other side of the coin is that for the first time in my life, I'm giving myself permission to be angry and to "act out" a little bit. I've given up - or at least postponed - my bid for sainthood and am experimenting with being merely human. Nothing over the top. Simple stuff. And I have to admit that it's really fun.
Otherwise it's every one for him or her self. I know, but it feels SO good. What is really wonderful is that for some reason, my response to the views of Demonalia's committee of judges on this subject is that they can go hang themselves. Wow! And what is even more amazing is that lightning has not yet struck me dead. There has not, in fact, even been any thunder. Awesome.

On a more serious note, two other things have happened that have been food for pondering. One is that each of the friends who helped me find my new home and my car (I have a car!) in the Catskills has at one time or another hesitated to tell people that I am agoraphobic. They have felt a need to hedge on the subject.

Kind of like my brother and sister not wanting to call my father an alcoholic but to just say that he had a little drinking problem. He didn't have a little problem with drinking and I don't have a little problem with going out. It's not a crime and part of the cure lies in not being ashamed of it anymore. Being ashamed is part of the prison. Their hesitancy to speak the word was a good reminder to me and also an indication of how far I have come along the road of healing.

Panic attacks

Many agoraphobics have panic attacks when they go out in the world. Their hearts race, they hyperventilate. I had my panic attacks at home. My outside the house panic took the form of a kind of mental and physical paralysis. My muscles would go rigid so that my legs and back became agonizingly painful and my brain shut down into what I think of as deer in the headlights syndrome.
I'm sure I produced enough adrenaline to fuel a small army for several days. And on some level my brain, though frozen in it's tracks, was also racing. It was convinced that I was going to die and so was I, even though I knew that I was really in no danger. That was my agoraphobia. It had nothing to do with open spaces and to call it fear is like equating a mouse and a charging rhinoceros.

We may be strange but we are resourceful.

I can't believe that there is not divine purpose for so much suffering coming into the life of one human being. The trick - besides just surviving - always seems to be to figure out what that purpose is. You'd think such a life purpose would come with a label and instructions, but it never seems to happen that way. In any case, you are a model of incredible courage and indomitable spirit and I thank you for sharing your story. I don't think that anyone can read your message without having a clearer understanding of what it is like to live with this kind of phobia.

Agoraphobia treatment : Share here

There you have it - Redefining agoraphobia. If you have any other information-knowledge or experience and ideas about this diseases , leave a comment below and share your thoughts. This will surely great for the people who are suffering this disease- many thanks to read my articles here in wikinut.


Agora, Agoraphobia, Agoraphobic, Normal And Happy Way Of Living

Meet the author

author avatar abumurad
I am freelance writer specializing in financial topics and political commentary, gardening and ecology, psychology, and paranormal and New Age topics. My non-writing professional experience includes s

Share this page

moderator Mark Gordon Brown moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


Add a comment
Can't login?