Hey there, I’m Kata.

I love meeting new people, hearing new stories and sharing mine, exploring new places and visiting familiar ones. I love smiling with or without anyone around… Read more about me.

Agoraphobia and panic as part of my life

Agoraphobia and panic used to affect my day-to-day life quite heavily. All of my decisions and choices were centered around the doubt whether I can do this or that without ending up having a panic attack. Back then these disorders prevented me from having the life I wanted to have.
This situation changed in the past years in a way that while agoraphobia and panic still affect my life a bit, I don’t feel that I’m suffering from them anymore. Yes, they make some activities a bit more difficult than they would be for other people, but now I know that if I really want to do something, neither agoraphobia nor panic will prevent that from happening.

This is how agoraphobia and panic affect my life at this phase of my journey:

  • I am only able to travel (train, car, plane) after taking a pill and even with that I have very bad moments during those hours. BUT, now I am able to travel without panicking about it all day or week. Well, long-haul buses are still out of the question but hey, there always needs to be some place for improvement.
  • At the movie theatre or opera I always pick the ticket on the aisle. But I’m able to, and I even like going to these places.
  • I don’t go anywhere without having at least one pill with me. Luckily I hardly ever take them, but knowing that I have help by my side (you know, just in case…) is essential.
  • Preferably no boat-rides or strange places like underground mines or amusement parks, but I’m working on these at the moment. Actually this summer I went sailing and (after some difficult moments) it was awesome!!
  • Restaurants and supermarkets (places agoraphobic people like to avoid) are fine with me as long as conditions are normal, so no huge crowds in the shop or too hot in the restaurant or anything like that…
  • Sometimes I have random panic attacks here and there, but I’m not scared of them anymore. Actually those might not even be real panic attacks, I remember having experienced way worse in the past.
  • Periods with more intense anxiety still happen once a while, and this is the one I find the most difficult to deal with, mostly because other than myself, these affect people around me as well. However, this never happens with no reason, so it’s always an unfriendly but good indicator of need for change.

And here’s the point: with all these weird little aspects of my life, I still feel totally ok with myself. Sure, life might not be as comfortable as it could be, but comfort is for the weak anyway… 🙂

One aspect in which I think my case is different from most people dealing with similar issues is that I am not embarrassed or scared to talk about how I experience them. From the moment I could name the disorder that was challenging me, I felt the shame of craziness disappear and I started considering my case as totally ok, something to deal with rather than something to be ashamed of. Even though this experience can be really painful and scary at times, all in all I still see it as something that’s been challenging me more than anything else and has taught me so much that no book could ever have.

So I’m always happy to share my story or answer questions of people who are in similar situations and of those who are just curious to know how such things work. This is actually one of the motivators for me to write about my condition here. By writing this blog I’d like to encourage people suffering from agoraphobia not to be ashamed of it, and the rest of the people to feel comfortable around others living with such weirdnesses.

Most importantly though, I decided to share my story because by dealing with these issues for more than a decade now, having read countless books on the topic, having attended 3 different therapists (2 of them actually really helpful) and having shared my story countless times verbally, I’ve learnt so much that I hope some of this knowledge could be useful for others as well.

Believe me I wasn’t always so positive and easygoing about having a panic disorder.
Actually, I started from very deep. One night I was feeling so bad that I had to call my parents to drive for 2 hours to come and pick me up, take me to my hometown (200 km away) and then I couldn’t go back to my everyday life for 3 months. Even though I had all the support and friends and a job I liked and everything I needed, I couldn’t explain why, I just couldn’t move from my parents’ house. Back then I had no idea what this was and I felt so scared that I had gone crazy that I went to bed every evening with my whole body trembling. Does this sound scary? Or weird? Well, it definitely was… but I worked my way up, which is why my list above about my current state is way shorter than it used to be. My panic attacks are not that terrible anymore. Agoraphobia is still part of my life, I still feel the fear in certain situations, but now most of the times I choose to face them instead of avoiding them.

To be totally honest, even if psychologists say agoraphobia can be healed, I don’t believe it can ever fully disappear, neither can panic. But I do believe that we can learn how to actually decide to choose (no, not to force ourselves) to enter a situation despite the fear and the possibility of a panic attack. We can learn that even though panic attacks are terrible, they are not that scary. And that we can live our lives the way we want just by learning how to live peacefully with agoraphobia and/or with a panic disorder.

This is where I am now. I hope that all the things I’ve learnt during my journey might be useful for someone out there. And if due to some random advice here even one person has a one minute shorter panic attack one day than s/he would normally have, then it is already worth it.

This is me

I love meeting new people, hearing new stories and sharing mine, exploring new places and visiting familiar ones. I love smiling with or without anyone around. I love to make other people smile with a piece of cake I baked for them. Running makes me feel strong and free, exercising krav maga gives me confidence.

I hate it when people say I’m mean just because I don’t agree with them. I don’t like chocolate. I don’t like rules set for me but I seem to like setting rules for myself. Wherever I am and with whomever I’m with, I need to be in control.

I am lucky enough to live and work in Budapest, a place I truly admire. I’m 29, completed 2 masters degrees, speak Hungarian as mother tongue, English and Italian as second languages and I understand some German and Russian. I work as the operations manager of a very cool startup, with the best team ever. I’m still wondering what I want to become when I grow up, but maybe I just don’t want to grow up.
Dresses, makeup, fashion are topics I don’t get so excited about. I admire people who are good at either sports or history or politics or all of them, or who are able to write code or build hardware by themselves.
My bigger plan contains at least one big US and one European roadtrip, a longer stay in New York, and maybe founding a company during the coming years. For now though all I want is to build something meaningful, either for myself or for others.

Agoraphobia and panic are part of my life. I used to suffer from them but during the past years I learnt to live with them peacefully and I hope that I can spare some bad moments for others by sharing my experience.