Having a form of agoraphobia is excruciating. My fears take control of my body and paralyze me from the inside out. “What if” scenarios play in fast forward and on repeat. I am incapable of attending large crowd functions like concerts or festivals. I do attempt it and choose to go to them early when the crowds are small, yet when the crowd becomes more than a 1000 people and loud…I’m done. My flight response is immediate.
I run in a hypervigilant state consistently, even in my own home. While sleeping, it’s as if I have an awakened sense running at all times, the minute I hear anything, I’m awake. The best way to describe my awareness settings is from a book written by Jeff Cooper – Principals of Personal Defense / Combat Mindset and the Cooper Color Code and The Carry Book: Minnesota Edition. He describes levels of awareness as follows
“In White you are unprepared and unready to take lethal action. If you are attacked in White you will probably die unless your adversary is totally inept.
In Yellow you bring yourself to the understanding that your life may be in danger and that you may have to do something about it.
In Orange you have determined upon a specific adversary and are prepared to take action which may result in his death, but you are not in a lethal mode.
In Red you are in a lethal mode and will shoot if circumstances warrant.”
I run yellow 24/7. When I go to the store, church or to someone’s home; I move up to orange. When a crowd suddenly increases or chaos appears, I switch to red. Going anywhere is mentally and physically exhausting.
I have my Conceal Carry Weapon permit, but I don’t usually carry. Not because I’m afraid of my weapon, but more afraid of hitting the Red zone and using it under a hypervigilant state of irrationality.
If I’m with my husband I don’t switch colors quickly, I have a sense of safety. Recently over the past couple of months I’ve started to feel more comfortable at the grocery store. I have full knowledge of the store and where everything is located, I know all exits and hiding places. I’ve been able to move from orange to yellow successfully.
When I get to go grocery shopping..it’s like a weight lifts off my shoulders. I end up enjoying it greatly. I get myself a latte, snack, grocery list and pen. I stroll through the aisles at a leisure pace and my grocery cart becomes my safe point.
I’ve learned when the safest time to go is, never on a holiday weekend, never on football Sunday or in the evening rush hour.
I pray over time I’ll be able to master more places I visit like I have the grocery store, and it may take me 30+ years to do it. I just can’t give up on my freedom. I have days sometimes where the mere thought of leaving the house causes anxiety and I listen to that anxiety, it’s safer for everyone. Those moments are becoming fewer and further apart. I’m good with this current status in my social life. My date may be hard and cold, veer off to the left, be riddled in germs and squeak…but it’s MY date and MY moment of stress free bliss.
I will not take a mind/mood altering medication to leave the home, because THAT’S like putting lipstick on a pig. I will wrestle this pig to the ground, hog-tie it and win…some day.