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You see me at the grocery store with a smile plastered on my face making up reasons why you haven’t seen me in a while, Appearing calm and in control on the outside is a great effort on my part. It has taken me several months to even attempt this trip to a store. I smile and nod while you chatter away but inside my head, I am screaming in your face.
“I don’t want to chit chat! I don’t want to stop and say hi! Can’t you see it is taking all my energy not to run!”
As you see me walking my dog and stop me to chat . Inside my head, I am screaming ”
“this is the first time out of my house in months! I am fighting with my demons not to run and scream back into my house slamming the door behind me!”
As you insist on telling me about the neighbor’s dog that was attacked and killed in her yard, triggering my fear of my own dog being attacked again. I stand outside your gate shifting from one foot to the other trying to show concern on my face and not fear. Inside my head I am screaming
“Don’t you see it takes all my strength to walk out the door. I have no energy left to interact and appropriately react to your mindless chatter!”
As I walk out the door I pray that no one is outside. That no one recognizes me. That no one acknowledges that I exist in their outside world. It is hard enough to cross the threshold of my safe inner world.
This is the reality for me and other’s who deal with Anxiety and Agoraphobia. So if you see me out and I don’t respond it’s not because I’m being unfriendly or stuck up. It’s because the voice in my head telling me to run is so loud I can’t hear anything else.