Dear Agoraphobic sufferer of 2013:
As I sit, in 2013 here desperate for relief, desperate to live again, and fearing deep down I shall never recover, I thought of you. I hope so much that the state and society now understand Agoraphobia. I hope that science has moved on and found the cause of this crippling illness, and thus discovered a cure for it. I hope you feel the sun on your face and the sand beneath your feet. I hope you see your children run through tall grass, and spend your weekends punting on rivers. I hope that you are not blamed for your illness as we are. Doctors treat us with contempt, begrudgingly refer us to therapy, then because we cannot get to therapy they then wash their hands of us, throw us on the scrap heap, and leave us to rot. Due to this neglect, our conditions worsen; we become afraid of fear itself. Those fortunate enough to afford private health care stand a chance, but those reliant on the state do not. Nobody is going to help us; we are left to help ourselves. We fight everyday. We spend so long researching our conditions, the causes and the cure’s. We invest all our hope and energy into practicing ‘the tools’. Everyday we push ourselves harder and harder, facing our fear’s to no avail. It is like riding an exercise bike. We invest all our energy but get no where. Many of us become depressed, feeling alone; abandoned, helpless and hopeless suicide is often considered. I so hope this is not what you experience.
To make matters worse, our conditions are not understood. Everyone assumes it is about going outside or crowds. We have tried tried to explain that it is the fear of leaving a safe zone or person, and just because we can walk to the corner of our streets does not mean we can get to the next street. It’s like living in an invisible prison where people are blaming you for not being able to get out because they cannot see it. Many people think that when we are afraid, it is similar to their exam nerves, or first day at work nerves. Of course this is absurd. Who would stop living due to a trivial thing like that? If only people understood it is a feeling of terror, incomparable to anything other than a life or death situation. If only people understood it is not about the emotion of fear, but the physical reactions of fear, such as defecating, passing out, vomiting, trembling, disassociating, etc. The amount of times we have heard people saying ‘we all feel afraid sometimes, but you just have to carry on’ I would love to see them trying to carry on when they cannot see where they are going, cannot breathe, unable to walk due to the shaking and defecating themselves! I do hope you are still not enduring such symptoms or ignorance in 2013.
Recently, things have become much worse for us. We have been labelled skivers. People assume we are lazy and scroungers. We have become hated by the public, and judged as fakers by the welfare system. I have even heard such ignorance as people suggesting that if they take the money off agoraphobics, then agoraphobics will soon find a way to work. The insanity of such statements! I am crippled with arthritis and spinal deformities, yet I cannot get to the hospital for my own medical treatment due to my agoraphobia, if agoraphobics have to neglect their physical ailments due to their mental health how will a loss of money help? Sadly, it is clear people do not care. We have become the only prejudice socially acceptable. I am lucky, I am married and my husband works, I am not on any of these welfare benefits, so I know I will not starve and freeze to death, but those alone will.
It beggars belief that in 2013 people still think as they did in the dark ages. Mental health is not a choice. It is unbearable. Medically neglected, financially neglected and socially ostracised being a sufferer of agoraphobia today is cruel. I pray for the future generations of this illness, especially you, I pray you can do all those things we wanted to do, but were never able to. Please live your lives to the fullest, appreciate every moment you are living not just existing. Do it for us, ‘seize the day’.
CEO Time to Escape