Agoraphobia is not the easiest word in the dictionary to spell, but the spelling of the word depicts the ailment with such accuracy. The silent, “or”, no one ever says, Ag-or-a-phobia. Most people just say Agraphobia. The silent “or” is the thing that makes this condition so evil. Knowing that you have to go out, you start to make the excuses. I could go to the Market “or” I could just stay here. I could go for a coffee “or” I could watch a film. “Or….”
The ailment makes one so inventive. You manage to twist the slightest thing to suit you.
A trip to the supermarket has now turned into an hour’s session online ordering exactly what I need in the way of shopping. What the supermarket doesn’t supply Amazon usually does.
Going to the farmers market has now become almost obsolete as I can get everything from the sellers I frequent, on line, Jam, Chocolate and Beer. They all sell on the internet now.
I can get out of going to Social Events without a twinge of guilt. “I’m not doing it”, is the only excuse I need now. I have Agoraphobia and it’s given me the right to make up excuses and to get creative. I have become a Martyr to the ailment because I believe that by sacrificing my life I am surviving a mental health problem, and for that I reward myself for the slightest thing.
The reward for instance of a Chelsea Bun for going to the GP’s, to fetch the prescription, that goes to the pharmacy, to get my meds, to keep me sane (I feel like there should be a little old lady in there somewhere swallowing something unwholesome) I was brave last week, however I had a helping hand, I took the dog. Going out with the Pip in tow solves two problems, the first being her barking, she is ruthless when I leave her alone, and the neighbours have complained about her once to often. The second problem it solves is my social agoraphobia, I don’t have to be alone, and I can stay in because I don’t have a dog sitter. When I’m out she keeps me from having a meltdown. I used to feel guilty for leaving her in the car, I can’t do it in the Summer because of the heat but at this time of the year she is perfectly happy. At first, I thought she was looking for me as she stood at the window looking out, then last week I noticed that she would be a brilliant magnet if I were single. She watches men as they get out of their cars and follows their every move. Not women just men. If she is looking for me, she must think I’m rather butch.
We go out and walk miles, through woods and over fields and pathways. I speak to everyone I meet. It’s a nervous reaction. Opening my mouth can get me into so much trouble. But first I actually have to be able to get out of the house, which can be a tad difficult. Going to a Social gathering is like dragging me through a doorway of flames to walk down a path scattered with broken glass. Arriving where there are people, no matter how nice they are, feels as though I am walking into the antechamber of a court house. The room filled with judges disguised a normal people. Each one with a finger of doom that they point and bring you to your knees without speaking. My defence is the uniform of the fool, my disguise my sense of humour, rough and crude and always getting me into trouble. I can’t help myself.
I go to a Choir and its brilliant. Be polite, sing, go home. I don’t have to talk to anyone. I just hope I can keep it up. Needless to say, I won’t be attending the Christmas Party.
I don’t know how nor when this all began, but this year has seen me become a hermit and a determined self-obsessed recluse. It was my birthday yesterday and I’ve decided I’m going to beat the hell out of this phobia. If I can make excuse not to go out, I can make excuses to myself to go out. Just have to be able to take the dog with me. I woke up and declared, “Let’s go to the Stables today.” Mark in shock instantly sprang into action and two and a half hours later we were on the road to the Stables, with dog in tow.
I used to ride, another thing I tried, I loved and I abandoned. Agoraphobia, illness, shame at being this heavy, give it all the inventive excuses you want to, I stopped going. I used to love my martial arts, swimming, running, skating, bike riding and even indoor skydiving, but it’s all been put on hold.
The Stables are the best in the area and run but some very special people. They have given up some land to build a garden and a put a Yurt in. They invite Veterans to use the Yurt as a refuge, but what is more special is they run a charity called Stable Lives. Veterans get the chance to meet and greet and learn about horses and have a safe haven to help with any mental health problems they may face.
Take a look.
Unfortunately, I have now become a Demigod and carry with me the spare tyres of the Buddha so riding is out of the question.
I have attempted to go to the Stable Lives Sunday morning get together on several occasions but something about this birthday has given me a kick up the jacksie and I am dealing with the flames that keep me within my house.
I know one person that is pivotal to the running of Stable Lives. He would tell you that it keeps him sane, I would say that he and his wife hold it together. Yesterday I got to meet her, and she is lovely.
He is ex-navy but no one holds that against him and Mark being ex-RAF just had to dig at him. They got on well together.
I don’t know if the dog was allowed, when we arrived there were lots of them in the stables, some sort of class was being held in the arena. Walking in I just took her lead off as I normally do and she introduced herself to everyone. Picking her favourites to sit with and be fussed by. You see Pip isn’t an ordinary dog, she is my support dog. She is the best medication a person can have for any mental health problem and she is always there for me. She never judges and never lets me down. Pip gets me out of bed in the morning and I have to walk her, I just can’t afford the carpet cleaner if I don’t. She happily walks through any open door and has introduced me to some of the nicest people that live in the area. She has taught me that being muddy isn’t a sin, I can walk through puddles and play in the rain, if we get cold we can come home, cuddle up with a blanket and watch a good film. She has taught me to sing again. Her silent repose means that my voice isn’t offensive and that’s good enough for me. Despite the fact that Mark insists that I howl.
The most precious lesson she has taught me is that being accepted isn’t about what other people think of me, it’s about being myself. I can wear purple wellies with a yellow coat and a woolly hat if I want. Those that look at me as though I look odd don’t count and as Pip walks away from the dogs that bark at her, I am learning to walk away from the people that talk down to me.
Yesterday was my birthday and I went out with my husband and my dog. Pip helped me break the ice and I was not on my best behaviour because I had to be, I was comfortable with myself in the company I kept. I didn’t feel the finger of doom nor the icy stares of judgement. We ate the Worlds best Hotpot. (Mike you are a guru and I need that recipe) I’m going back next week with a cake. Game on, I have competition in the kitchen it seems.
Agoraphobia is a hard word to spell. It’s a hard thing to deal with and for others to understand, my dog can’t spell it, and I doubt she understands it either, but she is one of the best medicines I have ever taken in my life.
So, I’ll wear the shoes, that walk through door, that get me to the car, to drive away, to go out to play, to save this little old lady from having to swallow that unwholesome “or” in Agoraphobia.