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To People Who Think I'm 'Just an Introvert'

I don’t talk about it because I’ve never heard anyone else talking about it. Unless they’re making fun of it. When you see a TV show or movie depicting a person who struggles, suffers and hides away because of it, it’s so taboo you won’t even hear it referenced by its name.

It’s embarrassing. It’s debilitating. It’s life-altering, and it’s very real.

For some who live with it, they do so in silence. We don’t want to come out to tell our friends and family — we don’t want to come out at all. It’s not that we don’t want to, we can’t!

You may hear words like “introvert,” “homebody,” “shy,” “antisocial,” even “snobby” or “rude.”

You decline more events than you attend. You own more pajamas than you do actual clothes. You have to take vitamin D supplements to make up for the lack of sunshine. You take medications for the anxiety that comes along with it. You fear that knock or ring at your door all. day. long.

It hurts, it’s lonely, it exists…it’s living with agoraphobia.

Agoraphobia means your days consist of controlling your environment. That environment consists of the walls around you, the physical walls as well as the emotional. Your main objective and number one priority is safety and peace. You rely on your safety person to do the things outside your walls that you cannot do, and you feel badly about this and live with the guilt.

But no matter how many times you fight with your thoughts — tell yourself that nothing is going to hurt you, nothing bad is going to happen — you can’t walk through that door.

So you go on living in your safety place, surrounded by your safety walls, physical and emotional. You let people refer to you as an “introvert” even though that word does not explain the real you at all. You decline those invitations and come up with excuses, because you’re the master of excuses. You’ve had years of practice and your friends and family are used to your absence.

It’s never talked about, unless someone cracks that joke. “She never leaves her house!”

I know what people think my life is like, but I’m gonna tell ya, it’s not what ya think. 

People leave their house to be among other people every day, they walk and talk among others in a world where there are no walls to hide or protect them. But for me and others like me, we need those walls just to breathe. Without our protective walls, we struggle for air like fish out of water. I’m more comfortable in my cozy fish tank, my own ocean, my own world.

Follow this journey on It’s Not All in My Head.

The Mighty is asking the following: For someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have your mental illness, describe what it’s like to be in your head for a day. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.