Nothing I can put into concrete sentences, so I expect there will be lots of ellipses and hanging clauses. Or not.
I’ve had two periods of debilitating agoraphobia before this one. The first lasted just over a year and I was lucky in that I’d had a job where I could save a good bit of money. I managed okay, although by the time the year was out, I was a couple of waist sizes down. I didn’t have a phone, there was no internet outside of University campuses. It was difficult, as this particular bout, although shorter, was a lot more intense. I lived in a one bedroom flat, but felt uncomfortable in the bedroom. Most of the time I slept on the sofa. I had to rely on friends to do most of my shopping. At one point, when my friends were away, I had to resort to getting one of those “christmas hampers” from the back of a Kays catalogue in order to get food delivered. Luckily, there was a post box at the bottom of the tower block I lived in, so I didn’t even have to go out to order it. I wonder how long I’d have gone without food before I’d made the journey across the road to the next nearest box, had there not been one.
The second bout was around 18 months but was less of a problem. I could go out, but, similar to now, I couldn’t deviate from set paths. To do so caused huge amounts of distress. More distressing was when I noticed that the ‘safe’ paths were slowly being eroded. One morning, I felt the world, or at least my world had effectively ended because the council had dug one of the pavements up. There were signs saying “pedestrians, please used other pavement”. Were they mad??
Nah, that was probably me. At the time, I remember laughing at how ridiculous it was that I couldn’t cross the road – out witted by a chicken! – but there seemed to be an actual physical presence stopping me from crossing. The more I thought about it, the more I laughed, the tougher the barrier became. What makes it even more ridiculous is that my walk home was not simply the walk into town reversed, I took a different route home. So, I was prevented from moving forward by roadworks and couldn’t move back because it was the wrong route.
If I believed in God(s) – actually, I probably did at the time – I would have sung their praises, as shortly after this dilemma presented, a friend came up behind me, understood my dilemma and after coaching and coaxing, got me round the roadworks and onto my safe path. Getting home was a breeze once I was on the right path.
But none of this really explains my current state of mind. This round had been a very long and extremely wearing one. So far, it’s been about two and a half years, since I’ve been able to exit the Portswood Triangle on my own without succumbing to panic attacks.
Mostly, I’m used to that and get by. As much as I like making jams and pickles and playing Skyrim, recently friends have been doing really exciting things; stuff I really want to be part of and have been invited to join them. Gigs, videos, picnics in the New Forest, Festivals of one sort or another, Conventions, etc.. But I just can’t. I broke the mould slightly by meeting new people last weekend, but even that was done under my terms. In the depths of agoraphobia, you get into the mindset that ‘stuff’ is for other people and I think the reason I’m being so vocal about this now, is that I want to be part of that ‘stuff’. I want to engage with the world as an individual, without the safety net of my partner being there. I love him to bits, but I don’t think he ever envisaged his role in our relationship as that of “training wheels”.
I never didn’t want to engage with the World.
Of course, I want to engage, it’s just convincing my brain that it’s a good idea.
Bloody brain. Anyone want to swap for a while? Barely used? One careful owner?