Hello,@blue81. Thank you for sharing your story! The folks here at Mayo Clinic Connect are great to "talk" to. Anxiety and I are quite close friends. Depression is my middle name, and although I was never officially diagnosed with Agoraphobia, I'm sure it was because I was too afraid to tell my doctors. I already was collecting labels, and felt I didn't need any more!
Oh, but the signs were there. "Fear of the Marketplace. My mother would drive to the store and insist that I get out. I would absolutely refuse. Then I would sit in fear of someone walking up to the parked car. I was terrified of people. I could not look them in the eyes. At the time, I did not realize that I was on the Autism Spectrum. Everything was too loud, too fast, and too painful. I couldn't wait to get back home. I did not know at the time, that I had extraordinarily developed sense of hearing.
Shopping Malls, large auditoriums, big churches, swimming pools filled with loud, happy people playing and having fun….not for me. I grew up different and when I got to the University I took every course they had . I wanted to understand myself and why I was so different from other people. I devoured every book I could get my hands on, trying to understand all my little quirks.
Sometimes early childhood trauma causes a natural fear reaction when we step out of our comfort zones. Year after year I sought counselors who could help me make sense of things.i had learned a few coping skills but just wasn't quite there yet. Then, maybe five years ago, I found a wonderful counseling group that used Cognitive BehavioralTherapy. This helped tremendously. I began to realize I was afraid of criticism. I cared way too much what other people thought of me. Once I realized I alone was responsible for how I felt about myself, I learned new ways of thinking and acting.
I tell people to find safe people and safe places. And build upon that. If we reach out for the light, it's warmth will fill us with a glow that warms our soul. We begin to see that we are worthy. That we are important. And we don't have to look people in the eye all the time! We can have joy. We can change our brain circuitry. We can walk out that front door and not be afraid. I hope some of this clicks with you. The New Mood Teherapy has been around for a long time but it is good stuff. Take good care of you! You are so welcome gere. No judging.