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Another common disorder, which is essentially just Anxiety expressing itself in another form, is Agoraphobia.
I have definitely suffered from this, and continue to. I am determined to reclaim my life and normality. In relation to this blog, I do believe that HSPs (Highly Sensitive Persons) are far more likely to struggle with different forms of anxiety.
Having done some research on Agoraphobia, I understand that the best treatment is exposure therapy combined with CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). With this disorder, people fear the Outside World and often panic in unfamiliar surroundings, or in situations where anticipation can build (like standing around in a queue at the Supermarket). While it may appear to be situation-based, these fears are linked to the perception of the sufferer.
Someone may consider that 10+ miles away from home is uncomfortable, or else will perceive that big cities are the cause of their problems.
Of course, in reality, there is nothing to fear. The situations are not the real cause.
While there may be some genuine – yet small – risks in leaving our homes, we cannot possible live the rest of our lives governed by this phobia. Of course, there is a slight chance you could die while driving to work. Maybe someone is going to decide to steal from you. Hell, if you watch the news for long enough, it can make you paranoid that the chances are even likely that someone will try to kill you – for no apparent reason.
The biggest issue with Agoraphobia is overthinking and procrastinating. Once someone has developed the fear, they will continue to dread leaving their home (or ‘safe-zone’). The chances of overcoming this problem while feeding the anxiety (i.e. by listening to it and avoiding situations) are close to zero.
Of course, there is always hope with these mental distortions. Once you become aware that your mind is creating these false fears, you can choose not to listen to the negative thoughts. The biggest fear is in not being able to escape a situation. But, once again, there is nothing to escape from. You are the problem.
I say this from a place of understanding and empathy – not judgement.
This is a big challenge for me, although I know some people struggle far more intensely than myself. What I can tell you, from experience, is that it will get worse if you don’t take action. If you continue to avoid situations that make you uncomfortable, your life will hardly be worth existing for. Life is outside, not in our houses (which are really just a few walls placed together). You really need to accept that this fear is an internal issue, created by thoughts and feelings.
Come with me, and dare to venture into the unknown. Know that the fear you experience is not grounded in reality. Other people, who are in the same environments, are able to carry on as usual. I strongly believe that we can recover, and our brains (more specifically, our amygdala’s) will adapt once we stop feeding ourselves lies about how terrifying everything is.
I made a video talking about my struggles with Agoraphobia, so be sure to check that out below. I make videos about mental health, healthy living and Veganism. I also throw in the occasional music video. If you’d like to see more, be sure to subscribe.
For now, I wish you well in your recovery from this very lonely and isolated experience.
We can do this.