Fear of Open Spaces

by Marianne
(North Carolina)

Well, I've had a fairly mild form of this fear of open spaces phobia since childhood I guess. It became bothersome when I had to walk onto a stage with about 5 others for a musical production that we had to do repeatedly, night after night in different cities. I simply could NOT walk out on stage without someone physically touching me! Then, as I began driving, I would grip up with fear and hit the brakes when I approached a place that had quite a distance to look onto without cars inbetween.

The funny thing is, with both these situations, I actually seem to be able to deal with it when I'm alone, (like if I have to go on stage alone, it still is scary, but I get a grip, or if I drive alone I'm usually fine) but when someone is riding in the car with me, or there are others closeby that I have to walk with, I get numbness in my face, a horrible tingling in my spine and I just want to freeze up! It drives my kids crazy when I'm driving with them...

I also have a hard time crossing streets when I'm with someone without holding their hand (no..I only hold my husband's hand!:) ) and if I'm in a mall, I can hardly STAND walking with others coming toward me! I freeze up and just want to slither against the wall to avoid what I think is a situation where I'm going to run into people or do that "dance thing" where we both step to the same side...I hate that!

If I am in say like the balcony at church and looking out across the sanctuary to the otherside or to the ceiling in the main part, I sometimes freak myself out over the open space. I also have a great fear of wide open seas with no where to see to go to. Also, I think the fear of heights comes into play here because of the "open space" that is between me and the ground. Also, I am ALWAYS bumping into things because I walk so close to them...I have bruises on my thighs to prove it!

So, after surfing the web, the only thing I see that describes the phobia I have is something maybe called "pseudo-agoraphobia" which is the fear of the absense of something visual nearby to cling to, or something like that, although there seems to be quite a discrepency on what the term actually means.

Thankfully, it is not as debilitating as it could be. Aside from the driving part of it, oh, and the walking through the mall.. I usually welcome the opportunity to test myself and try to deal with it. Like, I WILL take the gondola when I ski (I don't ski much, though, for lack of conveniency), I WILL sign up for special music at church to sing, I WILL cross the street, etc.

So, that's my story...anyone else have these similar phobias?

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