You know those precious moments when you remember you should probably be happy to be alive? The moments that inspire you to live each day like it's your last? Whether it's grabbing the banister just before you fall down the stairs, or getting to the end of an episode of anything with Jack Whitehall in it, these sorts of experiences often give us a renewed sense of our mortality.
They’re the moments we think, “oh my God, I’m going to die someday”, and you don’t let anything annoy you for the next day and a half. And then Facebook takes a while to load and you go back to a sustainable level of gratitude.
I’m sure this happens to all of us on a regular basis. It’s a cycle of “Oh wow, I’m alive and it’s amazing” and “why is there ten minutes until my next bus and why is life so unfair?”
But there’s one constant source of perspective that stays with me, and does make me feel grateful every single day. It’s not often talked about, and it’s something I don’t tend to bring up in conversation. But after suffering with agoraphobia intermittently for two years, its presence is always in the back of my mind.
At its worst, I spent a very long six months watching the world from one window. I didn’t feel human. Everything I knew life to be just shifted.
Agoraphobia takes you to an extremely disorientated place where the world is a threat - the environment you grew up in, the green you watched watched turn to brown every year, the dirt that stuck under your fingernails until you were well into double digits.
The worst thing is knowing you won’t get better. Not thinking, knowing: there’s no doubt in your mind that you and the outside world will never touch again. But if I could tell anyone with agoraphobia one thing, it’s that even if you believe it will never get better, that doesn’t mean it won’t.
A year later, I’m halfway through a two-month freelance job - and, aside from a few hiccups, I'm doing it. Every evening when I get the bus home, I feel proud of myself for doing something so simple: sitting still in the outside world, and feeling safe.
There was no big realisation or groundbreaking moment for me, just a gradual improvement that I know could be completely reversed in an instant. But for now, and hopefully for ever, it’s only a memory. One that makes me so, so happy to be able to go for a walk, pop out to get milk, and get on a bus.
For a long time I thought I was weaker than everyone who walked past my window. I slowly realised I was just different, and when agoraphobia abates, it can open up a completely new world.