Agoraphobia – Latin – “Agora” – ‘Fear of’ – ”Phobia” – ‘taking my tent down’….well, those were some of the symptoms…
Yeah, ok, it’s a fair cop…in 1989 I completed my dissertation on the relationship between Agoraphobia – The fear of the market place – and panic attacks. This will be a swift lesson because my recollections are somewhat sketchy –
Agoraphobia is not the opposite of claustrophobia – in my case it was a fear of…well of fear, I guess.
This here phobia, in common with many of the phobias, is accompanied by panic attacks – which, as my memory of my research goes, and the past few weeks to be honest, manifest in a catastrophic misinterpretation of the body’s normal (ish) fight or flight responses. The heart beats faster – breathing becomes more rapid – palms sweaty – mouth dry, the panicker thinks,”Good God, I’m going to have a heart attack…” or some other fear inducing thought…the heart beats faster – breathing becomes more rapid and so on.
Somehow I felt above panic attacks. They were for some other folk who hadn’t done a dissertation on the subject.
But there I was. I’d been rescued back to Ella’s. I’d put the tent up in her garden to air since it had an aroma not dissimilar to a dead smelly thing.
I managed to go out a couple of times – massaged gently with alcohol – and my belief was I would soon be back on the road.
Hmm. Maybe not. Gradually the tent became a kind of mocking monument to my new found fear of the market place and panic attacks.
My mantra “It will pass” began to feel more and more hollow as the weeks passed.
The support poured in by way of encouraging emails, texts and phone calls. How do you support someone in this situation? Well, you want to sound encouraging without putting to much pressure of expectation on top.
With time off the road I was able to reflect on some of my aches and pains – sore feet – a sore shoulder – and a something that I’ve done to my right arm.
One of my favourite writers is the mighty Bill Bryson. His book, “A walk in the woods” described his hike along the Appalachian trail – 2181 miles of outback experience from Georgia to Maine on the east coast of the United States.
At one point they leave the trail at a small town where he and his co-traveller experience civilization for the first time in hundreds of miles. I remember the pain they felt at the notion of getting back on the road, the thought of the physical pain, the isolation, the absolute enormity of the task that lay ahead…I thought I might have been experiencing something similar.
Maybe my subconscious mind was saying, ‘Bugger this, it’s time to retire’?
About four days ago I woke up and everything was normal. The world had come back. It was real. I could feel emotions. I believed the world existed again. No gradual transition – no shades of grey – it seemed I’d gone from mad as a hatter to not mad in the short period of a night.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise – it always does – but that seems to be the way it works.
I’ve taken the tent down. I’ve been out and about – completely symptom free. Bloody weird.
I’m cured – for the time being – it feels great to be returning to the point where I’d left – psychologically, if not geographically.
Lou will be walking along the West Highland Way with me. Derek will be doing something similar as I get back into the routine of walking, blagging and blogging. It’s still all there – but this time I have an emergency contingency fund – this time I’m returning to the walk with company – and – this time I’m returning to the walk with a walking trailer…
Take a look here
Ignore the cost – I’ve been given a deal that would be rude to ignore – to cut a long story short – this gadget is mine for the price of the postage.
I have taken the tent down and I can happily say I’ll be back on the road on Monday 3rd of October.
I can’t wait.
Thanks everyone for your patience, your support and your well wishing.
Walk a mile