People Are Strange When You’re a Stranger
So, it’s been a very, very long time since I’ve posted here. I could offer a plethora of excuses but won’t bother…
It’s been almost a year since my younger brother died and the crevasse that’s opened up in my soul has let loose a Pandora’s box of memories, feelings, emotions and assorted psychological tidbits. A storm of nostalgia rages in me, memories good and bad from a time gone by and gravely missed. Friends of yore, abandoned pursuits, a first love -- ghosts of the past, all made worse by the agoraphobia I’ve suffered with for the past few years.
Agoraphobia is a sneaky bastard, that voice from the shadows whispering dire warnings. Panic when the phone rings, or worse, the doorbell. Looking out on a world you cannot venture into. Trashcan at the curb for days because you can’t go back out to retrieve it, then finally getting the nerve in the small hours so as not to be seen by anyone. Living like a ghost; only venturing “into public” online where anonymity is the norm and firewalls keep people out.
Then there are all the excuses for skipping getting together with people. Ironically, and cruelly, what happens ultimately is that once you finally have worked up the courage to go, invitations stop coming because you’ve blown off so many things and people don’t understand the reasons, thinking you are just blowing them off, and just adding to feelings of abandonment and isolation. So then there are fewer reasons to try to go out, making it easier to just stay inside where it feels safe.
But things slowly improve; there are a few “safe spaces” I feel able to go to and be almost comfortable, and on some days I can actually conquer the whispers and venture out for short periods. The phone ringing has become more bothersome than scary, although I did disconnect the doorbell so it couldn’t ring. Maybe I’ll hook it back up. And I’ve been trying to reconnect with old friends, which has had mixed success… people move on with their lives, I guess, so I shouldn’t take it personally if attempts fail. But small steps. It’s the best I can do.
Why share such intimate pain? Why not? I’m not ashamed, and maybe it will help others to understand. A lot is said about depression but when it comes to social anxiety and agoraphobia you don’t hear much.
So… that all being said, there is writing getting done; one of the pluses of being a virtual shut-in is spending the bulk of the day at my desk! Everything is still too new to go into details, but I’m working on a big, major project for Call of Cthulhu, and with luck, I’ll have not one but two new fiction anthologies to announce soon, plus the long-lingering Gaslight Ghouls is with a publisher and just waiting to be produced. Of the two forthcoming projects, one will be a Mythos-related anthology and the other based on a favorite classic horror story. It’s always good to be able to put my editor’s cap on, and the writing, well, that goes without saying… I’ve also discovered the art of cartography over the past few years and have been working on that.
That’s it in a nutshell, I suppose, the good, the bad and the ugly. Until next time (hopefully before 5 years’ time!),
Enjoy the silence…