The Four Seasons of Agoraphobia

I recall having a paradoxical relationship to the four seasons back in the bad old days with agoraphobia  when my anxiety level was particularly high. I started feeling better in the late Fall when leaves reign and days grow shorter. Some people experience a downturn in their emotions – a feeling of weight from lack of sunlight. “SAD” is its accurate acronym – seasonal affective disorder. Many others are somewhat depressed by shorter days. I, on the other hand, welcomed the comfort of a world closed in rather than wide open. I started to cheer up in mid-September

I don’t know if this is true for all agoraphobes – it was for some I talked to in peer support groups. I felt more anxiety on long, clear,  blue sky days than when clouds were low and dark and days were short. I  loved darkish, cloudy days when I was most anxious because I felt somewhat sheltered or protected or contained. Wide open spaces were terrifying for me. I never looked up at the night sky when I was anxious. Give me a smaller space please. A darkish, cloudy day feels like a smaller space.

So that covers two seasons: I dreaded Summer‘s constant wide open sky and embraced Autumn‘s clouds and shorter days. Winter’s tale was long and complicated. On one hand, I felt the comfort of often cloudy skies and less time in wide open space that I could see. I never ever looked up at stars after doing so once set me off on a terrible period of panic attacks as a teen.  Darkness was also my friend. The downside to Winter for me had to do with crowds and transportation. Stores and travel about town are difficult enough for anxiety ridden folks but when Christmas crowds and all that traffic begins, going to a store or trying to make a quick auto trip can be a horror story. Spring had dual effects on me as well. I joined many others in the relief from cold temperatures that March brings, but I also felt my anxiety level rise – always in late March. I think the increased light was too much stimulus for me and I hated coming to this part of the year. After the Equinox period, I would get a wonderful break from constant anxiety by the joy of Spring.  

After that period of relative elation, the greening and flowering and sex of the world, I would begin to get the long, clear-day yips again, longing for a return to the comfort of less light. If I hadn’t been agoraphobic I would have moved to a cloudy climate area, but if I hadn’t been agoraphobic I wouldn’t have needed or wanted to. See how that works? The four season of agoraphobia.

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