I am… agoraphobic
Laura Bartley on being agoraphobic
I began suffering with severe agoraphobia in 2015 after the breakup of a long-term relationship. I started having panic attacks every day, sometimes several in a day. They were so horrible that I became terrified of having another attack, so it quickly became a panic disorder. Agoraphobia then developed out of the panic disorder, as my brain decided it would be safer for me if I just stayed in the house.
All I knew about agoraphobia was that it meant people became trapped in their homes, stuck forever within four walls – or so I thought. The reality is far more complex and it affects each person differently. I sometimes wish that it was as black and white as people think it is, then I could explain more easily: ‘I’m afraid of this and that.’ But it’s not that simple.
One of the most universal aspects of agoraphobia is the idea of ‘comfort zones’ – places where you feel safe, the places your brain urges you to stay in to be ‘safe’. However, a comfort zone is not always confined to someone’s house or bedroom, like many people assume. I have quite a few places where I feel safe and comfortable, including family and friend’s houses. My car is also one of my comfort zones, and because my car moves, that means I can travel, if I can have my car nearby. …
This is an extract from an article that was published in the July/August 2018 edition of Reform