The day my agoraphobia died

Midnight thoughts & thunders

 〈serial soliloquies〉

Agoraphobia – the fear of going to open, crowded places – had been a painful fixture in my life since 2007. It was quite different from the usual forms of agoraphobia. I wasn’t afraid of going out per se, but it was more the feeling of being trapped outside, far away from my comfort zone. The gnawing thought that’d set off the anxiety was one borne out of the loss of control; what if I start feeling uncomfortable and I wouldn’t be able to turn around and go home? What if I get stuck in one of those draining and boring conversations with no way to get out of it? What if I get a migraine, just like that other day, ( shudder)- no, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. Safe here at home.

“I can’t come. I- I’m not feeling well. Yeah, I think I have a migraine coming on. “

“Hey how ya doing?  Yeah, I’m good. Hey listen, I haven’t slept all night (because I was anxious about not being able to sleep and then be too tired to go to my class, but I won’t say that) and you know how I was the other day when I felt so dizzy? Yeah, so can you,like, you know- let the teacher know? I’ll try to come in around noon if I feel a bit better. Thanks! “

I was ashamed. This invisible master had me shackled and I was left completely to its mercy. People wouldn’t understand, heck I didn’t understand. So I became a master of excuses. Not lying, I couldn’t bear lying, but because I was so sensitive and prone to fretting I’d often develop psychosomatic symptoms. Tense muscles would lead to migraine or my blood sugar would plummet as it often would.

But before long, everyone knew. The excuses wore thin and I could see the disbelief in the raised brow and unfazed look that told me that my excuses had grown old. I’d often be mocked and berated for being ‘lazy’ and fond of sleep. I’d silently take that humiliation and it felt like I was being whipped. I was already fed up with myself. My perfectionism was driving me mad and I was my own worst critic.

What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you just muster the willpower to go? It’s true, you’re so lazy. Look at so-and-so, they never fail to get up early and go. How do they do it? How do they get past this fear?

My mind kept churning laced with bitter self-hatred.

I thought everyone went through the same sensation, as if agoraphobia was a chemical component of the oxygen we breathe. I assumed others fought it off with their strong will powers and I was just a weakling, like my parents have been telling me all along.

This, of course, only worked to tighten the shackles by making me weak of heart. If I believed I was innately weak, I became weak. It was a horrible vicious cycle of bullying,mocking and failure. When I used to be in school, going 2 days out of the week was as gruelling as a Navy SEAL training.

But enough with the melancholy, for it has perished! Yes, the invisible master died, the shackles broke and I was emancipated from mental slavery.

I went to an appointment that I had with my gp who is the best and most compassionate doctor I’ve met, on the 10th of this month. Last time I met her was back in January, and that was after 5 MONTHS of making appointments and bailing out on them last minute. So from August 2013- January 2014 I made more than half a dozen appointments that became too dreadful for me to go to. The clinic lies a mere walking distance of 5 minutes away; but it wasn’t about the distance, it was about leaving my comfort zone.

January 2014 was followed by numerous failed attempts that’d lead me to September. This time though, I went without any event and I went all by myself!

I was poised which came as a huge surprise to both myself and my doctor. I had walked the distance that at times would be akin to slacklining above an active volcano, without incident. She asked me about it when it suddenly hit me;

You know, I think the reason why I’m ok is because I reclaimed my life from the grips of others; people,perfectionism,ideals. These made up the body of the invisible master that had me suffocated and pinned against a wall. I allowed myself to feel shitty when I felt shitty, to feel depressed when I felt so and not to cause a head-on collision with my genuine emotions. I started to tune into the resisting feelings and sure enough they were telling me something. I was schooled by myself and in the end the fear of not being able to go through with something perished and with it the agoraphobia. My eyes weren’t set on a distant goal post anymore, but only on what I wanted, deep down.

I truly believe with a conviction stronger than concrete that if it weren’t for Allaah – my Creator and Guider- I would not have been guided. For even though I made the effort, if Allaah hadn’t granted me success I would end up like the majority of the people who try to make sense of it all but fall flat on their faces. So I say الحمد لله  All praise is due to Allaah.

Respond to The day my agoraphobia died

Fire away!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s