I've been in serious hibernation mode this year. I don't think it's really been that intentional. I just don't often think about going out. I was aiming for the same goal as last year, to try to go out once every month, but after I failed the first few months of the year I lost motivation and abandoned the goal.
So far this year, the only time I've gone out was my trip to Warrnambool for my birthday, plus a visit to a friend's house and quickly popping into my brother's girlfriend's house to play with a kitten. For some reason, going to familiar houses isn't as scary as going out in public (much like my familiar clinic being safe, vs other clinics).
Agoraphobia isn't black and white. It wasn't a sudden change, but a gradual thing that gets worse over time.
It's been an issue for a while now. When a psych first attached the term to me, it wasn't 'that bad'. I was 16 when I was diagnosed, but I was no where near as restricted as I've been the last couple of years.
At first, long before diagnosis, I think it was being afraid to go to certain places, but at the time I just linked it with other anxiety issues. I could still function like a semi-normal person when I was diagnosed. But over time that list became bigger, and I only went to 'safe' places. I stopped catching buses and trains, and could only go places if driven to the door. The last place I could go on a regular basis, except for the clinic, was the supermarket. Even that faded away slowly, and I haven't even been there since January '13.
Mum seems to link it to when a lady approached me in the meat section, on one of my last trips there, and started squealing -
"Oh my gawd! You're like a model! You're so tall, you're so thin, I wish I looked like you. Honey, come look at this girl..."
I suppose in the big picture, it did escalate quickly at the start. By the time I was 17, nearly 18, the supermarket, appointments, and occasionally shopping at other safe places had pretty much become my limit, up until the time I stopped even going to the supermarket.
Since then, I've been limited to going to appointments, going for drives without getting out of the car, and sitting outside on the back porch, which is okay because it's so closed in.
I've written about most of the times I've gone out in the last couple of years, and kept track of locations and dates in a list. Last year, when I first set a goal of leaving the house once every month, I had a total of nine outings. In 2013, after I stopped going to the supermarket, I only went out three more times.
But things are still getting harder.
I have trouble even getting through the backyard these days, especially the second, more-open half toward the safety of the garage.
If the car's parked out on the street, there's not a hope in hell of me getting there.
I'm feeling more and more anxious in my own backyard and on the back porch, which is problematic as I usually spend the bulk of my day out there in my armchair. It's the worst of a night, when I wake up and go out to have a smoke. Every little noise plays on my mind, and if I hear a car pull up or people's voices or someone driving down the laneway, I can't stay outside.
I'm scared to sit in the car while mum goes into shops, ever since that guy peed next to my car door a few months ago (and no, there's no way he didn't know I was there). It really shook me, and it's just icky and no. I'm paranoid about the headlights being left on, because a few months ago, a guy came up and knocked on my window to tell me the lights were on, and obviously I went into a total panic.
I can't even go out for drives everyday like I used to.
It all sounds so irrational, but it terrifies me.
I had been planning to get out again before the end of June, though obviously it didn't eventuate. Then at the end of the month, the school holidays started, which means a flood of people everywhere. I will never ever go out in school holidays.
After the dietician gets back next week and the school holidays are over, I'm going to start trying again. I'm just conflicted.
I want to go out for a walk. I want to go to the zoo. I want to go op-shopping.
But I don't.
"It's like your Basic Freedoms are becoming less and less."
And she is so right.
On the upside, temazepam has been working amazingly (temazingly?). Even though the first night was disappointing, they've proven their worth since. I don't think I've woken up more than once or twice a night, although a solid 8 hours still eludes me.
Kinda worried about talking to my GP about it. I know you shouldn't take sleepers every night or on a long-term basis... but in my head, it's kind of normal to (my mum's taken sleepers every night for as long as I can remember).
"Don't take it every night - just when you've had a few sleepless nights, then maybe have one.", said my GP
Fuck that. I've had enough sleepless nights.