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Agoraphobia recovery and finding myself in Stardew Valley

I have been through a lot of traumas in my life so far, from being bullied by all the girls in my year in high school to multiple situations with men who didn’t listen to me when I said no.

These experiences gave me severe anxiety which manifested as agoraphobia in the past few years, it understandably got a lot worse during Covid lockdown, so I made the choice to move back home with my mum.

At that point I was unable to take the bins out or stand in the garden without having a panic attack at the door, not being able to do simple things like that made me feel useless and quite seriously suicidal, at one point I even ended up having a psychotic meltdown.

Thankfully, my mum fought for me to get talking therapy as soon as possible which saved my life, I had never been a fan of talking therapy previously as I now know I just had the wrong therapist, my recent therapist helped me think of my goals in smaller steps and learn that the more I do something, the less scary it will be! I’ve started going to the gym at least once a week since the block sessions of therapy ended, whether I do my full workout or just part of it if there’s too many men there, I have learnt to see the small victories.

When it comes to gaming, Stardew Valley is a favourite of mine. It is such a complex world and allows you to romance both the women and men of the town no matter what character you begin with. I’m queer myself and the game helped me, in the simplest way, solidify that gender doesn’t really matter to me when dating. I’m too anxious of a person to date anyone right now.

Another thing that has helped me improve is to vlog myself when I leave the house, so that I can look back while editing it together as well as look back on them in a few months to see my improvements or to remind myself that I can do something if I am feeling too anxious to leave the house at any point. When I do have moments where the agoraphobia creeps back in for a few days or weeks, I now try to not see it as going back to square one, it’s just putting my recovery on pause so I can rest, and it’ll happen less and less as I keep improving.

When my agoraphobia stops me from leaving the house, games are what I turn to so that I don’t overthink my situation too much, they help keep me in some kind of routine when I’m unable to do anything else and they help give me some kind of feeling of accomplishment when I’m unable to work on my anxiety.

As my journey continues, I’m looking to go back into some talking therapy as well as looking into an autism diagnosis because while living back with my mum we often discuss how I was when I was younger and things I struggle with now and it seems more likely that I have been undiagnosed autistic/BPD.

While I’m finding out more about myself and recovering from my trauma, I’ve stopped dating as a whole which has led me to identify less as bisexual and more as queer, I’ll discover more about myself once I feel OK enough to date and figure it out. Until then, I am just not sure enough to be able to go by anything else, and I’m OK with that for now.

I do hope that being so open about my struggles online may help just a single person who feels as alone, as I did last year, and that it can help them know that they’re not alone and it can get better. 


Written by Emily