Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Own Ruby Slippers

Shouldn't we all have a pair of these?
The other day, I had a doctor's appointment. For me, this is a huge event, preceded by extreme planning - what to wear, how long to allot for the hour long drive if it is raining and there might (might???? hahahaha!!!!) be traffic, what meds to throw in my purse, kindle or book I might finish if they are ever running late (never with this doctor), should I bring my sewing...

I never cancel appointments with this doctor or even reschedule them. And with the distance, you would think I'd never get there. Because an agoraphobic, neurotic mental patient usually has trouble getting to commitments five minutes away. An hour? In a 12 year old Jeep? Usually, I'd be searching for a new doctor. But, I've belabored how much I love my doctor before and why he is so worthy of ditching my fear of the outdoors for the hour long ride and the eighteen wheelers on the two land road through the mountains of West Virginia.

After the appointment, which ended in a referral to a specialist that hasn't been set up or rescheduled three or four times yet, I spent the hour back noticing that I was getting very anxious to get home. And I wondered whether that is true of most people. When you get done with whatever you have planned outside, are you pushing yourself to get back inside?

I had two errands to run before coming home, both at the end of my trip. I convinced myself that I could do them, stopped off at the first store, made it to the second store, and then drove the last mile to the house. And stumbled up the steps with my bags, so incredibly glad to come home. And also incredibly glad that I had nowhere to go for the next two days.

I didn't realize this, but agoraphobia is not actually a fear of leaving your house. It's a fear of situations from which you might not be able to escape. Why this should include wide-open spaces, I have no idea, but it makes sense that after having panic attacks in crowds, at the mall, in traffic, all situations from which it is difficult to extricate myself, my fear of going out seems completely normal to me.

The difference between agoraphobia and claustrophobia is that claustrophobia is the fear of small, enclosed, confined spaces. It's way more specific. And it isn't related to the fear that you are going to have a panic attack. Agoraphobia comes about because you've had panic attacks in certain situations. In my case, I've had panic attacks in so many different situations that it has become more safe for me (in my mind) to just not go anywhere. And then when I do eventually manage to get myself out of the house, I find that I actually enjoy it, unless a situation presents itself where I am unable to escape. Like traffic. Or the mall. (The mall is the 10th circle of hell. I'm pretty sure that Dante would have added it if there had been malls when he was writing his Inferno.)

But back to the original question. Do all people start getting anxious when they are getting close to home after being out? I know people are usually glad to get home, but I can feel myself actually rushing when I know I'm headed away from whatever it was I was doing and heading back to my safe place. Which is different from my happy place, which only exists in my head. And Cabo.

I suspect that it's not really normal to have this kind of anxiety about the final destination of returning home and I suspect that most people do not rush the way that I do to get there. 

I think I would be pretty good if I was able to have everything I needed delivered, including healthcare (oh, those housecalls!), and never actually have to go anywhere. Justin often teases me a out how much I use online shopping and "taking things for a ride around the country." I have become an expert in seeing if I can get free shipping so I don't have to go out.

Of course, there are exceptions and things that I do like to do. I like to visit friends. I like to go to the embroidery group events. And I like the occasional lunch or movie with my husband or kids. But I still find myself rushing to get home.

As Dorothy said, "There's no place like home." I can see all kinds of uses for those ruby slippers.



  1. I agree to some extent. It takes a lot to get me out of the house, except for work because I HAVE to go there. Once I'm out, I tend to want to do everything that could possibly be done at that time. But when I've had enough, I can't get home fast enough. I don't drive much, so usually I'm just getting on hubby's case about driving the speed limit. He used to speed everywhere. Now it seems like when I'm in full-on gotta get home now mode, he's driving exactly the speed limit.

  2. I definitely get anxious to be home when I'm out and about. Especially since I started working from home, I find myself putting off plans I made to do some shopping or visit just sometimes seems like such an inconvenience (not to mention that summer in Florida is too hot for my liking!). I will say though, if I'm out doing things with my family, I have less of that anxious feeling...I think because I love spending time with them ...doing anything. But if they're home and I'm out...I can't wait to get home to see them!

  3. I would say that I do have a fear of leaving the home but that is only because it is so difficult each time. However, once I'm out, I really don't like coming home as I know that it's the place that I am trapped in day after day. I'd never really thought about it til you brought it up in this post but I guess I have a fear of leaving the known (going out) and also of returning to the known as I know I will be trapped there.

  4. I also like coming home, but do not breathe a sigh of relief until I actually reach the driveway. Yesterday I was on the way home after vacation and my boyfriend said, "We made it!" a few blocks from home, but I was thinking that we didn't make it yet. You never know if a car accident could happen at the last minute just as you're turning into your street.

  5. Being a mostly recovered agoraphobic, I totally understand your feelings. The reason that I make myself go out all the time is that I'm afraid of reverting back to the way I was. I always feel exhausted after going out and could easily flop on the bed when I get home - sometimes I do.


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