Lockdown restrictions are gradually being relaxed across the UK, and with that, you can feel a wave of relief sweeping across the country.
But while the past year has been a seemingly endless ordeal for most of us, it has been a whole different experience for people with agoraphobia.
Anxiety disorder is characterized by the fear of being in situations that would be difficult to escape from if something went wrong or if it was perceived to be dangerous.
Open spaces, rambling pubs and bustling shopping malls are typical examples of environments agoraphobes fear – all of which have been removed in successive closings.
As such, there have been elements of Lockdown life that have been a âhuge reliefâ for Shanice Evans. The 26-year-old mother-to-be chose to stay home before it was mandated by the government, suffering from agoraphobia for several years.
âThe lockdown hasn’t been much different for me,â she told LADbible.
âBecause I can’t go out on my own, I’ve already spent all day at home while my partner was at work.
“Having fewer people in the area has been a huge relief for me, and most people stick to the two-meter distance, which helps.”
Now the student at Open University, Cumbernauld, Scotland, is suspicious of society returning to “normal.”
She said: âI felt less anxiety when it was less crowded in places and I am not looking forward to being packed everywhere again.
“I want to start trying to go out on my own now while the places are even quieter, so that I can hopefully get out properly when my baby is around. Worried about that.”
For New Yorkers Colleen Lally, who has lived in London for the past 14 years, the lockdown was like an ‘ideal world’.
Reflecting on when the restrictions had been relaxed before, the 45-year-old said: “The first time that happened I was like, ‘Oh, do we really have to get out? ”
âI loved staying at home cooking, watching movies. It was like a real vacation, and you know, it was my perfect world.
“Everyone was complaining, moaning and everything, and I was like ‘No, that’s great.’
“But then, over time, even now, I realized it was time to get out.”
However, while the majority of us can’t wait to see the return of social distancing, Colleen would rather she stayed.
She explained, “I love it. Like, no one can come near you. You have to keep your distance from each other.
âWhen people got too close to you before, you would just be like, ‘Oh, okay’ and don’t do anything. But now you can take a step back and be that obnoxious person – but they can’t say anything, because they say, “No, I’m just trying to play by the rules.”
“Where before they used to look at you like, ‘Oh, weirdo. Like, why are you doing this?’.”
Now, like the rest of us, Colleen is keen on going out and meeting friends, but she’s hoping that long-term changes that make life easier for agoraphobes – like increased work from home – will become commonplace afterward. the pandemic.
For now, she has a restaurant reservation to catch up with her friends once hospitality reopens – but she will give the first few weeks after the restrictions are lifted.
She said: âPersonally, I need to do this. I need to start dating, I need to function in society again.
“But not the first two weeks, because everyone is going to be crammed into pubs and squished together. And it’s a nightmare.”
If you are suffering from anxiety, stress, anxiety-related depression or a phobia that affects your daily life, you can get help from Anxiety UK by calling 03 444 775 774, texting on 07537 416 905 or by visiting the association’s website.