Suffering from agoraphobia at Uni.
For many of us, mental illness can feel like the picture below - a long, dark passageway or tunnel, where the light is so very far away. I started Uni suffering from agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder characterized by an intense fear of being in places where there is no easy escape, or where help may not be offered. I would go to lectures and immediately feel overwhelmed by all of the people and the fact I wouldn’t be able to leave without drawing attention to myself. To begin with, it made my Uni experience absolute hell.
I would hide in my room and convince myself that going outside would be a bad thing because I found it almost impossible to do so alone. Agoraphobia sufferers often have a ‘safe place’ and a ‘safe person’, meaning a place where they feel comfortable, and a person with whom they can trust to do all the scary things for them. Unfortunately, refusing to go to lectures and wanting to communicate purely by email was not going to earn me my degree.
Below are five tips regarding agoraphobia that I wish someone had told me:
Being overtired can be a huge trigger for panic attacks.
Being overtired leaves you tense and vulnerable so try as hard as you can to get those 8 hours. I know it’s difficult while at Uni, but trying to keep to a routine will help to minimise stress.
Talking it through with friends will almost always leave you feeling like a weight has been lifted.
Having a safe person is okay, but perhaps ask them to push you towards doing things on your own too. Even if you go to a lecture and sit a couple of seats away from them, it’s all a start towards helping yourself.
Exercise is regarded as one of the best treatments for mental health issues. Ask a friend to go for walks with you, and having someone with you will make you less panicked - it’s good exposure to the outside world, and it’s fresh air for the both of you.
Your teachers get it.
Don’t avoid telling them about it, because they may assume you just can’t be bothered. Drop them an email explaining and, honestly, they will understand.
Take time for yourself.
Always. If you need a break, you need a break. Accept that some days are just not for fighting.
Here is a link to the mind.co.uk information page, which may have further information you need, and also has self-care tips and exercises: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/phobias/types-of-phobia/#.WdpgmhNSwdU
It’s tough. Undoubtedly, you will go through some challenging times -
after all, mental illness is not easy, but by looking after yourself and taking the time you need away from your hectic lifestyle, and keeping a good support network, you can make the situation easier.
You can do it. You’ve got this.
Does anyone else out there have agoraphobia? Do you have any advice? Please let me know in the comments.
#tyro #norm #mentalhealth #agoraphobia