Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Oh, so you have a fear of leaving your apartment..?"

No, but thanks so much for playing. In my last blog, I mentioned that I have Agoraphobia and the title of this blog is what everyone ultimately responds with. So in the interest of science, and for the sake of everyone that just thinks I'm an asshole...

Agoraphobia is often called "fear of open spaces" but this description is simplistic and misleading.

Agoraphobia is like an unreasonable fear or anxiety associated with unfamiliar surroundings or situations, but this description also oversimplifies a complex issue. In some cases, agoraphobia arises associated with
panic attacks from panic disorder, and the fear of places or situations occurs when these were the triggers of the panic attacks.

In other words, agoraphobia becomes like a "fear of having another panic attack" or a fear of anything or anywhere that might trigger a panic attack. A vicious cycle sets in where anxiety or fear of certain places or situations make a panic attack more likely to occur, which in turn raises the anxiety level. Whatever its description, agoraphobia can be not only emotionally stressing, it can actually become debilitating, leading to a life of self-imposed isolation.

Another misconception is that agoraphobia is a fear of "crowded spaces" (which would be the
social anxiety disorder). Once again, an agoraphobic does not fear people: he or she rather fears an embarrassing situation with no escape. Some people with agoraphobia are comfortable seeing visitors, but only in a defined space they feel in control of. Such people may live for years without leaving their homes, while happily seeing visitors and working, as long as they can stay within their safety zones.

An agoraphobic may experience severe
panic attacks in situations where they feel trapped, insecure, out of control, or too far from his personal comfort zone. During severe bouts of anxiety, the agoraphobic is confined not only to their home, but to one or two rooms and they may even become bed-bound until their over-stimulated nervous system can quiet down, and their adrenaline levels can return to a more normal level.

Agoraphobics are often extremely sensitized to their own bodily sensations, subconsciously over-reacting to perfectly normal events. To take one example, the exertion involved in climbing a flight of stairs may be the cause for a full-blown panic attack, because it increases the heartbeat and breathing rate, which the agoraphobic interprets as the start of a panic attack instead of a normal fluctuation.

People with severe agoraphobia develop the ability to avoid situations that may bring on an attack.

...and that brings us to me...this is where I'm at...this is what I do...

There are a ton of people that are no longer in my life, either because they don't understand or they just gave up on me a long time ago. Friends, family...my wife...gone... I do want say that I am really thankful for the people that haven't pushed me down, squated over my chest and shat all over me.

Maybe I'll be better some day, maybe I'll make Howard Hughes look like a kitten. Who knows. But...there you have it.



Blogger kengyong said...

Very well said. Your post pointed out some of the most common misperception of agoraphobia. Really do like your post.


6:52 AM  

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