I have a form of agoraphobia. I’ve stopped saying “mild agoraphobia” because then it gets dismissed as not a problem and then people don’t understand why I have days like today.
Today, I woke up feeling anxious. My heart was beating fast, and when I thought about leaving the house, the beat picked up momentum. I did a few grounding exercises and managed to get up and into the shower. I knew I had to get to the office. The office isn’t *safe* like my home is, however it is a familiar place with plenty of open space and familiar faces so it is infinitely safer than *out there* is.
I have routines that help me on days like today. I have a couple of grounding exercises, I have a set pattern that is my “getting out the door” signal to my brain and body that we are leaving the house. I have my headphones and music that help keep me inside myself as I walk to the train.
This isn’t just social anxiety. This isn’t just me being introverted. I’m an introverted extrovert most of the time. I wish I had the words to paint you a picture of what is going on inside my head when I have to force myself to leave the house.
Every human interaction is work. Interaction that requires conversation is more work. Each additional person involved in that conversation increases that work exponentially and eventually I will need to tap out. Today that limit is two. Any more than two people attempting to interact with me at a time and I can’t. Some days it gets as low as one. Somedays, I can’t even handle one. Those are the days that plans get changed and I stay home, locked inside the safety of my domain.
Today was one of those mornings where everyone at the train station wanted to talk. By the time I got on the train, I was shaking. By the time I got to the office I was exhausted. By the time this day is over, I’ll be a wrung out mess.
The frustrating part of all of this is that I love people. I love meeting new people. I love observing people just going about their daily lives. On days like today, when the agoraphobic anxiety is high and the desire to hide in the private sanctuary that is my own home, I just can’t people. It is all I can do to get through the day if I have to be away from my sanctuary.
If I didn’t have to keep a roof over my head, I might have called today a mental health day and stayed in the quiet cocoon of home. But, my boss doesn’t understand the condition and he would be annoyed if I tried to explain to him that I couldn’t people today.
So, I’ll power through. I’ll put in my earphones and play some Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphys loudly to create a sonic bubble around me and hope that my coworkers take the hint.