I’ve been agoraphobic – what I learned may help those with post-lockdown anxiety | Rhiannon Lucy Coslett

When home feels like a place of safety, ‘re-entry’ syndrome makes sense. But there are ways to gradually return to society

We have been trying to get the cat to go outside. You can tell a part of her wants to; she’s curious, certainly, but her fight-or-flight wins out. If you try to let her out of the building’s main entrance, she bolts back upstairs and sits in front of the door to the flat until she is let inside again. She feels safe in her home territory.

Perhaps being a lockdown kitten has affected her. Her behaviour reminds me of when I was agoraphobic. I desperately wanted a normal life, of going into the office on public transport, seeing friends, eating in restaurants, travelling. But any time I wanted to do these things my threat response was triggered; I became terrified, like a frightened animal. I believed that bad things happened when you left the house, and I had reason to believe that. I had been attacked, and then, several years after being successfully treated for PTSD, the Paris attacks set it off again: but this time it was full-blown agoraphobia. Home became safety to me.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett is a Guardian columnist

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Category: Mental Health