Is It Reluctance or Agoraphobia?

Is It Reluctance or Agoraphobia?

While we were subject to the lockdowns, I used to joke I was in danger of becoming agoraphobic.

And given Melbourne may have endured the longest lockdown on the planet, or the most consecutive days in lockdown, or if you compare a very small number of cities…

Though while fact checking the then Minister Josh Frydenberg’s claim that Melbourne was the most locked down city, the RMIT fact check suggested Buenos Aires (Argentina), or Iquique (Chile) may have pipped us at the post.

But, as usual, I digress.

I used to joke about coming out of lockdown with agoraphobia.


Contrary to popular belief, agoraphobia is not the fear of wide open spaces. It

is a type of anxiety disorder [which] involves fearing and avoiding places or situations that might cause panic and feelings of being trapped, helpless or embarrassed.

Mayo Clinic

The clinic continues with a list of example fear situations including crowds, enclosed spaces, and public transport. And that this fear (or anxiety) can be out of proportion to the danger.

Additionally, it can induce panic attacks making you unwilling to be in crowds, enclosed spaces, and public transport.

And now…

The lockdowns are over, and covid is, to all intents and purposes, consigned to history.

Mask wearing and movement restrictions are over.

The mainstream media ignore it, despite ongoing death, infection, and virus mutation in the wider community.

Retail and service outlets (in general) no longer restrict numbers, provide hand sanitation, or ask their staff to wear masks.

I keep hearing stories about so-and-so who has covid, or lives with someone who has covid, and is freely walking about in the community not taking any precautions to prevent the spread of disease.

Remember me?

You might remember I’m among the numbers of people taking immune suppression for my transplant, and am thus more likely to catch whatever is going around.

Though given the choice of covid or transplant failure (through not taking immune suppression), I’d rather get covid.

But every time I leave the house, the threat of catching it is always there.

I’m not exactly fearful of crowds, enclosed spaces, or travelling on public transport. But I am anxious. My heart does beat a little faster, I feel I sweat a little too much, and sometimes get a little lightheaded.

But, is it reluctance or agoraphobia?


an unwillingness to do something

Cambridge Dictionary

A definition based on the quality of not wanting to do something, without questioning the motive.


I do put off non-urgent travel and errands that will subject me to crowds or enclosed spaces, which could indicate agoraphobia.

But, I’m fairly sure it’s not “just” the covid that generates that reluctance.

I’ve a history of not wanting to go out, of being comfortable where I am, especially given so many of my friends have moved away.

I have a nice comfortable routine, and I’m not over fond of switching it up.

Since the stroke, I’ve had to deal with my memory failing, and running into sensory overload where I find there’s too much to see and hear, and I can’t narrow my focus very well. (Which is why I now prefer to wear mostly black clothes when I need to focus).

Oh, and we don’t have a second car and the trains are usually half an hour apart.

Ans since the mastectomy, I haven’t had enough clothes…

So, while it feels like it could be agoraphobia, (and I don’t think it would take much to become agoraphobia), it’s more of a general reluctance to leave the house.

Not to mention that if the stakes are high enough, and the rewards sufficient, I can, and absolutely do, go out.

Photo of a lot of people not wearing masks on a train by Euan Cameron on Unsplash (at least it looks like a clean train…)

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