Confessions of an Agoraphobic


I will do almost anything to stay at home. Granted I have a few chronic illnesses that keep me in but it is mental illness that is the real challenge. Mental illnesses, plural, and phobias, to be more exact. Bipolar Disorder, Asperger’s, OCD, Emetophobia, Claustophobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Agoraphobia. And I do what mentally ill people do.  I isolate.

Life can be lived through the ethernet. Luckily for me and many others. One can stay in the apartment for days. Today, however, I had to go out. My husband asked me to check the car. And there was shopping to be done and a trip to the post office required. Shit! Forgot to take major meds last night and was not in good shape yesterday either.  Dreading going out!  A one mile errand for me is like a trip to China. First off, take the missed meds. And make the preparations to go out, hiding money in case of a mugging, packing a phone, emergency meds and emergency numbers for my husband, etc., etc., etc.

Then comes the moment of truth, going out the door. Meet a neighbor and surprised that could handle her in my fragile state, and was, in fact, good with her. Not always the case. Helped a new neighbor and walked out the door into the street. A man coughing. He may vomit. Terrified of vomit and vomiting. I search out the streets and buses for people who look sick or sound sick, coughing, etc. The origin of this phobia– an alcoholic father who was often sick, but knowing that does not help matters. Make it past the coughing man and note his location to look for vomit on the way back.

Then there are all the unknown. This is New York City after all. Dirty, smelly, overstimulating, overcrowded, noisy New York City. People approaching you for good causes, bogus causes, begging, anything is possible. It is not like I am a newcomer here, having lived in New York City for six-plus decades and worked all over the city for three of those decades. Until I couldn’t any more.

Someone once asked me what was there to be afraid of? What could possibly go wrong? Oh, wrong question. I could easily rattle off twenty-five scenarios of disaster and then some. But this morning surprisingly and unusually, am happy to be outside. Greet my Indian newsstand lady friend and my friendly Hispanic super next door. All goes smoothly. The clerk in the post office ends on a kind note after my botched addresses had to be fixed. It actually, and can’t believe I am saying this, but, it actually feels good to be out.  Give a beggar a dollar and talk to him. Feeling good outside is a rarity. Perhaps it is the missed medication. Secretly I still believe the medication takes away something good in me. Still suffer from the delusion that all ills come from the medication, though “know” I cannot function without it. Actually perhaps it is doubling up on the dose that helps. Perhaps I should be on a higher dose of the anti-psychotic. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

Trip over. Glad to be back home. Didn’t feel faint until back home. One of these days  will venture out to shop for a new pair of jeans. One of these days…

(For more writing on battling mental illness please see my e-book, “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things” on Amazon.  Also available on Smashwords, iBooks and Nook.)


39 responses

  1. Proud of you for your honesty and for your venture ‘out the door!’ I know it is not easy. A relative of mine lived with this condition for over twenty years. Rarely left her home. Today, after finding the correct combination of meds, she is working for a Fortune 500 company, making a six figure salary. Who would have thought? Don’t give up. One step at a time. Literally. Again, so proud of you. Blessings.


    August 21, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    • Awww, thanks, so very kind of you to empathize and write!! Much appreciated. Maybe there is hope if your family member made such a turn around. Medication can do wonders. Thanks again, Kim! xx Ellen

      On Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 11:20 AM, MOONSIDE wrote:



      August 21, 2014 at 12:01 PM

      • There is always hope. I’m rooting for you, Ellen!!!


        August 21, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      • Thank you so much, Kim. Your kindness means a lot to me!

        On Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 12:21 PM, MOONSIDE wrote:



        August 22, 2014 at 8:59 AM

      • 🙂


        August 22, 2014 at 9:29 AM

  2. Thank you for sharing these insights, Ellen.


    August 21, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    • Thank you, Sue, for appreciating what I was trying to say. xx Ellen

      On Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 11:22 AM, MOONSIDE wrote:



      August 21, 2014 at 11:59 AM

  3. Dearest Ellen, you know how to write about such intimate things without being ashamed, and that’s good like this. Only if you write about it, think about it, speak about it, you can get along with it. And getting to know that others know these things is very helpful, too. I know what you’re talking about, had a phase like this and don’t even know how it ended, never thought about it. Try it again to go outside. You should even do this many times every day, just in order to see that nothing bad will happen and you will overcome this demon and feel free and happy afterwards. That’s what I wish for you, warmest regards Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

    August 21, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    • Dearest Mitza, Thank you for your caring comment. I was touched. Interesting that you went through this once in your life. Thank you for your good suggestion and good wishes. Happy Friday and weekend to you. Warmest regards, Ellen

      On Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 12:19 PM, MOONSIDE wrote:



      August 22, 2014 at 8:53 AM

      • Dear Ellen, thanks a lot for your wishes and thanks for your mail. Will answer soon. Have quite a lot of interesting news. Have a nice day and fight the demons, I’ll borrow you an umbrella. Warmest regards Mitza


        August 22, 2014 at 11:36 AM

      • Dearest Mitza, Thank you! Can’t wait to hear all your news– hope it is good news. You sound excited. Best regards, Ellen

        On Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 11:36 AM, MOONSIDE wrote:



        August 22, 2014 at 3:38 PM

  4. Bravo! Difficult when medication dosage is messed up. Always easier once you get out the door. That first step is always the most difficult. Well done.


    August 21, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    • Well, of course, it shouldn’t be a big deal but as you know, it is. Thanks so much for your support. Have a great Friday and weekend, Ellen

      On Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 2:44 PM, MOONSIDE wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      August 22, 2014 at 9:00 AM

  5. I understand, Ellen!! Well written, too, as always!!



    August 21, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    • Oh, Kathy, how nice of you to write. I know you understand!! Thank you for the compliment and for writing!!! Love, Ellen xx

      On Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 6:20 PM, MOONSIDE wrote:



      August 22, 2014 at 8:54 AM

  6. I appreciate your honesty, Ellen. I have observed the whirlwind that can occur when there is continual questioning of balancing the right dosage, the right timing, the right answers… Being on the outside of questions alone can be debilitating. When things are confusing, we chase ghosts, react to phantoms, and then when things click, wonder what it was all about. I hope you enjoyed a dab of sunlight on your cheek. Perhaps a moment of recognition of the brilliance alive within you that your readers see in your honest shares…


    Liked by 1 person

    August 21, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    • Thank you so much, Michael, for that beautiful compliment!! (Blush, blush!) It means a lot to me to have my heart pourings appreciated. And humbling. Have a good Friday and weekend! With much gratitude and respect, Ellen

      On Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 8:35 PM, MOONSIDE wrote:



      August 22, 2014 at 8:56 AM

  7. Congratulations on a successful outing! Nurture that kernel of feeling good, Ellen. It’s the kindling of the fire in your hearth. Breathe on that spark until it flames and you can feel the warmth in your heart. My key word these days is “Trust” . Not easy for a former New Yorker, but a wonderful touchstone when my mind is casting about apprehensively.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 22, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    • Of course, I always forget “trust.” So very important. Thank you for your kind words, Cheyenne. Looking forward to a new painting from you. Or any post. Have a good weekend, Ellen

      On Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 9:01 AM, MOONSIDE wrote:



      August 22, 2014 at 9:26 AM

  8. my heart aches for your suffering from this insidious malady


    August 22, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    • Welcome back, Paul, and thank you so much for your sentiment, but you suffer worse ills and silently. I admire that so much. In any case, we play the hand we’re dealt, isn’t it? God bless you! Ellen

      On Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 9:20 AM, MOONSIDE wrote:



      August 22, 2014 at 9:24 AM

  9. That really sounds like hard work, Ellen. The photograph is very fitting.


    August 22, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    • Thank you for commenting, Richard. I wasn’t sure about the photo. Good to hear from you as always.


      August 25, 2014 at 9:33 AM

  10. I tend to isolate too, but less than I used to. I was surprised to find, when I had to go to England for my dad’s funeral, that I had no fear of getting on a plane, when getting on a train, and sometimes buses requires some dredging up of courage (or not). I thought on it and realised that the process of getting on and off the plane is structured – no one to bump into or get squashed by. And my seat was my seat.
    On another note, Ellen, could I use this text on sots, please? You describe things so well.


    August 22, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    • Forgive me, Ashley, but I should know but what is sots? Is that your other blog? I am kind of at odds tonight. And you are BRAVE!! All that travel would send me into a tailspin although I have done it but never sober. I get claustophobic on planes. Trains are ok and buses and subways are anxiously ridden. Congratulations, Ashley!!

      On Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 7:19 PM, MOONSIDE wrote:



      August 22, 2014 at 8:17 PM

      • Oh, I’m sorry, Ellen, yes, sots is my other blog, strata of the self. 🙂
        It wasn’t brave getting on the plane. It was brave when I got on a train a few months ago for the first time in about two years. 🙂
        Crowed anything is a likely source of anxiety for me.


        August 22, 2014 at 8:58 PM

      • Me, too. Hate crowds and that is NYC. But we escape up north often. Then my soul goes free. Please feel free to use the piece on sots. I’m honored. Thank you! I still think you were brave!


        August 22, 2014 at 9:55 PM

      • Thank you, Ellen! I’ll let you know when it’s posted. 🙂


        August 22, 2014 at 9:57 PM

      • Thank YOU, Ashley!


        August 22, 2014 at 11:34 PM

      • Tsk! crowded


        August 22, 2014 at 8:59 PM

  11. Willy Nilly

    You have the courage of a lion to speak. Even lions must be cautious and aware of their surroundings. You were cautious and aware, but most of all, you did it! That’s a win. 🙂


    August 22, 2014 at 7:30 PM

  12. Ellen, thank you for allowing us into this part of your world. I admire your courage to let medication serve you. You have a beautiful spirit.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀


    August 22, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    • You always say such beautiful things. Thank you, Wendy!! and blessings to you and your husband. xx ellen

      Liked by 1 person

      August 25, 2014 at 9:35 AM

  13. Your lifestyle may be unusual but it is not totally uncommon. Growth is on the way!
    Thank you very much for following and opening the door to your world! Eddie


    September 8, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    • Forgive the late reply. Actually I responded but my response got lost in the Ethernet. Thank you for your astute comment and hope. I appreciate your blog and point of view and am glad I met you. Namaste, Ellen

      Liked by 1 person

      September 10, 2014 at 8:13 PM

  14. elmediat

    A powerful human account that manages to convey a sense of sly humour. Creates a very different context & association for the beautifully composed image. I commend anyone surviving in New York City, to do so with such added challenges is heroic. Here in Ontario, visiting Sudbury, London, or Toronto ( especially Toronto) can be stress inducing, now that I am older and so acclimatized to a small norther community,

    My challenges have been dealing with sleep apnea and the physical & emotional fatigue that comes with it – still minor in comparison to your challenges. All the best and thanks for dropping by my Photography blog. 🙂

    Sleep Apnea Post on my other blog –


    September 18, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    • Everyone has their challenges. Thank you for writing and good luck with what you have to deal with. Will visit your blog right now. Best, Ellen


      September 23, 2014 at 2:58 PM

  15. Pingback: National Mental Health Awareness Week | Let me tell U a story

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