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By Amalia Tihon


It has not always been like this. And it will not be. But it took time to accept my anxiety and only after I had a severe episode of agoraphobia.

I was used to panic attacks; to avoiding crowded spaces because my heart started racing; to cancel plans last minute because ‘what if the restaurant is too busy?’. All of it too familiar. But slowly, I started being scared of everything that was not my house.

The supermarket across the street. My favourite coffee shop around the corner. The quiet desk I used to always study at in the library. Something kept insisting that it was not safe, but I could not tell what exactly. I just knew that leaving my little safe heaven would put me in danger. I still tried. Every morning, I would get dressed, grab my laptop and dash out the door in hope that maybe, just maybe, if I rushed then my mind would not have time to catch up and I would not panic. I was so terribly wrong. The more I avoided my own fears, the worse they got.

It reached a point where I did not leave my house for more than a month (unless we count a literal run to the supermarket for a carton of milk that I would grab as fast as I can, pay with shaky hands, and run back upstairs in the safety of my bubble). Nothing felt the same. I was sad, exhausted, disappointed, and angry at myself. For not doing better – because I knew I could do all of these things… so why could I not now?

It took me almost three months to leave my house again. I started accepting that I couldn’t go back to what I considered ‘normal’ before, aka leaving whenever and doing whatever. This was my new normal – and there was nothing wrong with it. Recognising that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me being unable to do certain things at certain points in time helped me erase the pressure I put on myself. I allowed myself to cancel plans. To say no. To go out and come back if I did not feel okay. And the more I did it, the better I got.

Four months later, I was able to do my first quick shop at rush hour in a supermarket without panicking. I returned to my favourite café. I took a walk in the park. It is an ongoing process and I continue to live with anxiety and panic attacks, but I try to control them – not the other way around.

The only thing that changed for me was accepting that this is who I am. From now on, I will have moments when I simply am better off staying at home. And that does not reduce my value as a human being. I am exactly the same person I was before all of this.

‘Hi, my name is Amalia Tihon and I have been living with generalised anxiety for almost 9 years. I have been writing for just as long because this is how I express myself best. I found myself often relating to people whose writing I found online so through my own writing I hope I can make even one person feel less lonely.’

The views expressed by the contributor are not necessarily those of Anxiety UK, nor can we guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. If you would like to write a blog for AUK please email [email protected]  for more information.

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