6 years ago today my son was struggling trying to get back to northern Ireland from university in Leeds.His agoraphobia was getting worse again after his first recovery from being totally housebound by it. He could no longer get on a plane and to get him home by boat mum and I went over to get him and booked a private room for him so he didn’t have to be in public.

Agoraphobia….Not simply the fear of open space I always thought it was but “an anxiety disorder characterized by symptoms of anxiety in situations where the person perceives the environment to be unsafe with no easy way to get away” At its worst ….as we found out….that “environment” can become the whole world.

It’s a terrifying illness. Can you imagine waking up every day in a world that seems so totally unsafe. When you are a highly intelligent person and your logic tells you this isn’t true but your heart is pounding so heart you think it might explode, your chest is do tight that it feels impossible to breathe and rivers of sweat are running down your body.

Even worse is the fact that when my son got to the stage that he only left his bedroom to use the bathroom (and even that caused him to nearly pass out in fear) we were told that “once he’s able to make it to the hospital we can begin treatment”!

Look out for the early warning signs. Avoiding going into places that don’t have an “easy escape route” cinemas,theatres,shoppkng malls. Fear of using public transport. Growing avoidance of social situations. Get help early. Fight for it if you have to. We didn’t recognise it early or get treatment in time. For us it has been and continues to be a very long, slow journey with setbacks along the way……but we’re still travelling together 👫