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I Have Agoraphobia

by Amy

I'm 35 yrs old and I have agoraphobia. I have not left my house in almost 2 years. Last Monday I got into my car and went for a ride and I even went to a little corner store by my house and went in and bought a pack of gum. When I came out I was shaking but I felt okay. I'm lost at what to do now. I don't want to push it but I also want to recover. Can you give me some ideas at what to do and how often to do them. Thank You, Amy

Reply from Sound-Mind.org

Hello Amy,
Thank you so much for your email. After being housebound for 2 years and then going to the store to buy a pack of gum...WOW! Great job!! It is through these steps that you will find recovery. Truth is, it takes a lot of hard work, persistence and dedication to overcome agoraphobia. You must actually be MORE persistent than the agoraphobia itself. This means, if you want to overcome it, you must push yourself EACH and EVERY day or as often as possible. The longer you wait to tackle something else, the futher away recovery stands. It's okay to take breaks inbetween your practice times but be sure these breaks don't last longer than they should. For example, if you are not feeling well, then by all means, take a day off and be good to yourself, but then get back up and get moving. Overcoming agoraphobia is about desensitizing yourself little by little. The shaking you feel is only your sensitized body & mind. It is to be expected, especially when challenging yourself after so long. Do you have any particular places that are especially difficult for you? I imagine being housebound for 2 years, that everything may be a bit difficult. In this case, I would be sure to approach something everyday, and push myself to do more and go further than before. I'd like to say "do what's comfortable for you" but then again, overcoming agoraphobia is not about being comfortable, it's about doing what's uncomfortable, what's anxiety provoking...and doing it enough until it becomes manageable and then perhaps comfortable. This is definately something that you will need to persist with and it may seem like it's taking a long time but you must not let this get you down or depressed. You do this one day at a time, you give yourself credit for everything you do, and "try" to do. This means even when you have bad days, you still need to encourage yourself and build yourself up.
And if you are having a particularly hard day, don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Agoraphobia is very challenging but YOU CAN overcome it. There is a great book called Hope and Help for Your Nerves by Dr. Claire Weekes and this book explains agoraphobia like no other. It's an older book, but a priceless book. If you can get this book from your local library, it would be sure to make a difference in your recovery. How about making a trip to the library a practice opportunity?? :)
Hang in there Amy! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
Hang in there and DONT give up!
~Susan

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