What is Agoraphobia?

nounpsychiatry
1. an
abnormal fear of being in crowds, public places, or open areas, sometimes accompanied by anxiety attacks.

The truth is agoraphobia is so much more than a simple fear. It is overwhelming and all consuming, a state of constant heightened awareness of every possible outcome. It’s crippling and disabling and not easily treatable. It can turn the outside world into a danger zone and your home into a prison, albeit a safe one.

I wrote this post about my experience as an agoraphobic parent because the condition raises some very unique challenges when it comes to raising children, how to meet other parents for example,  or get to medical appointments, or face the realisation that all the dangers and fears are multiplied by the thousand because there is someone far more precious than yourself to protect.

My agoraphobia comes in waves; sometimes it is insurmountable and every day is an exhausting endurance, and sometimes it’s a background tension that I only feel when I’m tucked up safely in bed with the pressures of the day behind me. Sometimes panic attacks are a daily struggle, sometimes just a threat on the edge of my tolerance. Agoraphobia changes and can be exacerbated by environmental and physical circumstances – just because someone appears to be doing well doesn’t mean they’re ‘fixed’ or ‘cured’.

What agoraphobic people need is patience, kindness, support and flexibility. It is hard for us to make and keep friends, but please know that we are beyond grateful for those that see through our illness and stay with us anyway.