Unable to face world outside

Carolyn Morgan has suffered with agoraphobia for over 20 years  (w110620-8b)
Carolyn Morgan has suffered with agoraphobia for over 20 years (w110620-8b)
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MUM-of-four Carolyn Morgan has barely set foot outside her village for 25 years.

Apart from two hospital appointments when she panicked and had to return home almost immediately, the 48-year-old hasn’t left Carlton for more than two decades.

She suffers from agoraphobia, a fear of public and open spaces, and anxiety attacks.

The illness was triggered by the sudden death of her dad when Carolyn was just 23 and five months pregnant with her fourth child.

She said: “My first husband had just left me for another woman and I was struggling down town in Worksop with my three children when my brother found me and said he had some bad news.”

“Then he just said our dad had died of a heart attack and straightaway I started panicking because I couldn’t get to my mum in Costhorpe. That was my first attack.

“My dad was only 50 and it was my first experience of death and I just couldn’t cope. I managed to go to the funeral but it’s all a blur.”

“After that I started having trouble sleeping and when I was feeling anxious I couldn’t breathe properly. Then it got so bad I couldn’t go out.”

Carolyn, of Beverley Walk, couldn’t go to school to watch her children in any plays or special assemblies and is unable to go anywhere with her eight grandchildren.

“My children are brilliant and have always been supportive of me, they have never put me under pressure to go anywhere and they’ve always helped with getting shopping.”

“I would love to have been able to do things with them but I just couldn’t. Two of my sons had operations and I couldn’t be at the hospital with them which made me feel awful.”

“My son Ricky is getting married in August and I would love to be there but I don’t know if I can. I’ve bought an outfit but if I think about planning to go I get worked up and panicky.”

“If I do go it will be a last-minute decision so that I don’t have time to think about it.”

Carolyn, who has been married to her second husband Larry for ten years, is not on any medication for her condition but has recently been getting help from a health support worker.

She has recommended EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) tapping, a therapy developed for American soldiers returning from the Vietnam war who were afraid to go out.

Carolyn said: “If I start to feel anxious I have to tap my eyebrow, then the side of my eye, my nose, chin, collar bone and under my arm while humming the first two lines of Happy Birthday.”

“Then I have to say ‘Even though I’m afraid to go out, I deeply profoundly accept myself for this’.”

“I haven’t been doing it very long but it seems to have an effect.”

Carolyn feels she has been thrown a lifeline in the shape of her laptop computer and the access it gives her to the outside world, in particular Facebook.

She has over 300 friends on the site and keeps in regular contact with her five brothers and sisters, who all live in different parts of the country.

“I know everything that’s going on Carlton, even though I never go out, because I hear about it all on Facebook,” she laughed.

“I go on it all the time and I also do all my shopping on line and buy presents and birthday cards, I do everything that way. I couldn’t do without it now.”

Carolyn said her local doctors have been brilliant in their care and she would love to think that someday she could overcome the illness which has robbed her of a normal life.

“I get panic attacks even when I’m at home and they can last five minutes or an hour. I don’t like being on my own at home either so if Larry goes out I have to have one of my children come round and sit with me.”

“Now that I’m getting older I wish I could control it because there are loads of places I would like to go. I would love to go to Cleethorpes where we went as children and see it all again.”

“I feel like I haven’t had a life.”