Some people get a sense of accomplishment out of getting good grades. Others are proud when they finish a project they’ve spent hours or days on. For me, just leaving the house is a real achievement.

When some duty like school is forcing me out, I can leave, with difficulty. But when I don’t absolutely have to be anywhere, I can spend hours struggling to get out the front door, touching the doorknob repeatedly then retracting my hand, pacing around the house for hours. The outside world just feels like too much to handle sometimes.

I don’t know what causes this anxiety. Maybe I’m afraid of interacting with other people. Maybe it just feels too dangerous out there. Or perhaps it’s the thought of having to go through another panic attack. Not being able to pinpoint the cause only makes it worse.

It would be nice if one day I could leave the house without mentally playing out every bad scenario. I would love to go shopping without feeling ill. I wish I could answer the door or telephone without my body tensing and my heart racing, or answer a question in class without panicking.

It would also be nice if people could see that I’m not being “antisocial,” and that forcing me into social situations or making jokes about my anxiety isn’t going to make me feel better. I wish people could understand that what might be natural for them is unnatural and difficult for me. ♦