A Glimpse Into Agoraphobia

by

I wrote this piece, fictional in nature, but like  much fiction it reflects my experience with agoraphobia--a severe form of anxiety:

The closer I get the heavier my feet feel. As if my shoes have slowly become lead. I am concentrating: I am trying to look straight ahead. That’s what people do when they walk. When they step outside their homes.

          I have memorized my shoes. All this walking and usually arriving back home. They are black. Wet from the rain; dirty. One lace is longer than the other though I spent 30 minutes trying to make the loops match. It never works. Something is always wrong with them.

          Cars drive by. The ones that speed past frighten me. They have eyes. They can see me. Trying to keep my head up. To look normal. The cars that drive behind. They have eyes that rest on my back. I am terrified. I want to be back home. In my bed where I can hear them pass but not feel assaulted.

          I need to be somewhere. Just like everyone else. The people that walk by. They stare at me. I must look as afraid as I feel. I try to smile but my smile is ugly. It is the smile of a person who is not really a person. Someone with heavy shoes. A purse full of carefully types resumes.

          I stop. Half-way to the top of the hill. Breathe. The Doctor told me that if I breathe I will not feel this way. I will be able to move. Count. Count to three. Intake, out, walk.

          I have calculated the time it takes to arrive at the bus-stop. The amount of steps I should take to get there ten minutes early. If I am not early I will have to walk past other people waiting. People staring at me.

          I am first. I walk to the left. This is where I will stand. Not moving. Until the bus slows to a halt. I glance at my watch; people usually arrive five minutes before, or one minute late, hoping they made it on time. They talk to each other; bus-talk banter. And my legs shake as I clutch my purse.

          What would I do if one of them were to meet my eye? Nobody ever talks to me. I am the woman who stands by herself. Staring at her shoes or pretending to look for something in her purse.

          Christ, I can’t breathe. I can’t move my head to look in the direction the bus meets me at. I shake. I wear a coat though it’s warm. I can’t be seen. Not by these people. Not at all.

          Three minutes. I count down from 180 seconds. I picture the stairs on the bus; I wonder how I can walk up them. The shaking. My legs, heavy. I have to put change in the machine. I have counted it at home. I have counted it more than once. Last week, I was short a penny, I panicked. Got off the bus. Shame. I ignored the faces from behind the Plexiglas windows. The faces wondering why I had not just sat down. Like the rest of them. I walked home, taking side roads to avoid any traffic, anyone walking their dog or threatening to talk to me. Anyone at all.

          190 seconds. It’s late. I need things to happen when they should. I see the lights, they shine on my shoes, breathe. The bus slows down. I need to move. Why can’t I move? The others pass me. The driver asks me something but I can’t hear him. I didn’t make it this time. I didn’t make it last time.

Connect with me @ www.thethirdsunrise.com

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