After more than 20 years of not going to a grocery store, restaurant, or public place alone, not driving out of my safe area and not attending school functions for my children, I began my difficult recovery from panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder.
Although it took a great deal of convincing and courage on my part, I sought help from a therapist. Many times I thought about reverting to my safe haven, but my therapist kept asking me if I wanted to spend the next 40 years guided and directed by my fears. Did I want to be free to go to the store or drive to any destination? Or was I going to spend the next 40 years making and creating clever excuses as to why I was unable to participate in living, laughing, and being whole?
It was time to be honest with myself. I was determined to recover. Then and only then did I experience my first stages of anger. It was a healthy anger — an anger that was followed with a determination to not quit and to learn to love and forgive myself for all that I was.
I do not remember a specific day when I first began to feel safe. I do remember learning not to be ashamed of having agoraphobia, not to be ashamed of my physical symptoms, and not to be ashamed of my recovery. I learned to become my own “safe person.” I began to take back the power that I had given away so many years ago — to other people and other things — to keep me safe.