an anonymous agoraphobic and a question for YOU!

i have been on the road and this morning i am two hours away from f2fb friend #314 mr. anonymous.  well, i don’t actually know that he wants to be anonymous but we’ve been corresponding since the first of the year and everything he’s written suggests that he is worried about publicly confessing to having disabling panic attacks and agoraphobia.

i find this weird, maybe because the past year and a half i have been chronicling everything i have been doing — including those white wine “i feel rejected” benders, the fraught relations with my biological father, the crying jags, the strange and bewildering consequences of youthful tragedies.  but also, i find mr. anonymous f2fb friend #314’s concern about being “outed” as weird because i read,, and online every morning.

and i am treated to celebrities confessing to spousal abuse, eating disorders, gambling problems, pill popping, alcoholism, infidelity, sex with minors, sex with family members, sex with . . . whoever happens to be around, being gay, being a man in a woman’s body, being a woman in a man’s body, having a penchant for hookers, dressing up in the wife’s clothes, shoplifting for the joy of it, anger management issues (also known as acting like a damn three year old), and the ever popular exhaustion and dehydration.

vanessa williams just released the book "you have no idea" and it reveals that she was molested as a ten year old by an eighteen year old woman, that she was "highly sexualized" as a teen, that she had an abortion when she was nineteen, and that she trusted a photographer who wanted to do some "art" shots of her. by her own description, she went from the cab to naked with a dog collar in less than an hour. those pictures were printed in penthouse and caused her resignation as 1983 miss america. she's bounced back. but there's a lot of 'fessing up she's doing with this book.


i have nothing against the self-disclosures.  i think it’s healthy.  but why can’t someone come right out and say “look, i’m an agoraphobic.”  mr. #314 can manage a few miles radius around his house on a somewhat erratic basis.   but by and large, he’s housebound.  and doctors have done a lot of damage with the usual run of sedatives, antidepressants, etc.  that only seem to make things worse.  and it is worse than it was when we first started corresponding.  his wife is throwing in the towel.  the support systems are crumbling.  several times over the past months, we’ve attempted to set up a time to see each other just so i can learn from him and maybe share my experiences with him.  yesterday, he emailed me to say “i can’t.  i’m too nervous about the prospect of meeting you”  i said please don’t cancel because i have a present for you.

and i do.  it’s not a toy, a piece from tiffany’s (i always like those!) or a starbuck’s gift card.  it’s a phone app.

many people with anxiety and agoraphobia rely on facebook, email and cell phones to keep up with family and friends. one facebook friend who is housebound calls her mother at work. her mother leaves her cell phone on and lets her daughter "be" with her during her work day. my facebook friend calls it "having mom let me be in her pocket". . .


with a facebook friend from los angeles, i have been developing a phone app to help agoraphobics and those with social anxieties.  it’s not biofeedback.  it’s not guided meditation.  it’s not haranguing, although i do a great harangue.  just ask my sons.  instead, it’s a companion who will walk with you out the door, to the sidewalk and beyond.  and it’s based on my firm belief that therapy makes you dependent on therapy, drugs make you dependent on drugs.  YOU are the only one who is completely invested in getting yourself the terrific life you deserve.

the app is my present to mr. #314.

my question to you:  would you want that app?

and please, wish me luck.  i last wrote to him that i would be at his house.   i would knock on the door.  if he was too nervous to answer the door i’d wait for a while.  but at least i will try.

28 responses to “an anonymous agoraphobic and a question for YOU!

  • Missus Tribble

    I hope that he will have the strength to meet you. Speaking as a former agoraphobic myself I have a lot of sympathy with him and a lot of admiration for you.

    If I were still housebound I would probably want that app, yes.

    Whatever happens, good luck and bless you for trying xx

    • arlynnpresser

      missus tribble! mr. 314 is a delightful, witty, interesting family man who is now officially the tester for this app. i am always looking for more testers who can tell me and the dude from los angeles what is helpful! and wow, it’s wonderful that you’re a former agora. tell me how you beat it!!!!

      • Missus Tribble

        How I recovered was quite convoluted. I married an alcoholic and lost my home because he was spending the rent money on alcohol without my knowledge, so a friend in Manchester – one of Britain’s largest cities – persuaded her husband to take me in. So I found myself in the north of England (I’m a southerner) with only a few friends – but enough friends to get me out and about.

        It took a while, but a friend eventually convinced me to catch a bus in to the city so that we could have a look around and go for a coffee. I eventually fell in love with Manchester and enjoyed being in the city centre, and I also had to get used to catching a coach back to my hometown to spend time with my autistic son on a regular basis.

        So I’m no longer agoraphobic – just crippled (irony for you, right?) and unable to walk very far, even with the aid of a stick! I love reading about your bravery and progress in facing what is a truly horrible thing, and I really admire you for facing it head-on 🙂

  • Rich H

    I’d use an app like that.

    As an ongoing agoraphobic myself, I undestand his and everyone else’s fears.

  • catlover7731

    If my phone had Apps, I would love that App, but I am app-less( is that even a word?). I think some kind of support group for people like me who are homebound would be great. My husband ( who is disabled and my teenage daughter do everything outside the house for me), if I didn’t have them I don’t know what i would do and it worries me about the future of not having them in my life, what would I do?

    • arlynnpresser

      i know that there are some support groups and i have been visiting some of them! where do you live and how can i put you in touch? and oh, yeah, i understand how you feel about relying on family!

  • Tony Tyner

    For me. this my minds protective reactions. If I don’t admit to something then there is a chance I’m not it. Whether it’s overweight, chronic illness, etc. Where admitting it now puts me in the position of deciding whether or not we want to do something about it.

    For example, I was diagnosed Type II diabetes over 5 years ago but since my blood sugar numbers were OK I haven’t really admitted to myself and thereby not exercising and eating as well as I could.

    Sure hope he answers the door. Your a great friend.

  • Amaris (@ahmareiss)

    i LOVE this post!
    and adore what you are doing for others.
    keep the posts coming. they make my inbox smile. 🙂

  • howardlovelyjr

    GoodMorning Arlynn,….

    I will attempt to speak to an issue that might be just beneath the surface here with #314:

    “i have been on the road and this morning i am two hours away from f2fb friend #314 mr. anonymous. well, i don’t actually know that he wants to be anonymous but we’ve been corresponding since the first of the year and everything he’s written suggests that he is worried about publicly confessing to having disabling panic attacks and agoraphobia.”

    There is an issue that is very seldom discussed when it comes to Mental-Illness and Men,….that is to say,…issues of Masculinity. It was condusing for to say the least,…I wanted help,…but I was simultaneously fearful of be belittle as a Man if I exposed my challenges.
    As a man in a society that [traditionally] allows me to [narrowly define] my masculinity,…and,…usually only in terms of three behaviors / emotions (Anger, Frustration & Agression). Any other emotions or feelings that may be vocalized outside of these arbitrary masculine boundaries of behavior is typically considered un-masculine and thus a source of shame, guilt and often times feelings of [Emasculation] to say the least. Mental-illness is considered a weakness among other eroneous ideas / assumptions wrapped-up in stigma,…and most individuals,…particularly Men much like myself,….intuitively sense this often times unspoken societal judgement. Some or all of these ideas may be dogging F2FB friend #314. I may be wrong about him but I went through this myself for many years before I “outed” myself. I still feel a tinge of it all from time to time. Nothing is worse than being potentially looked down upon,…real or imagined,….by the object of most men’s affection,….a Woman.
    Because you are a gift of a [Womans’ voice] of support, a real live Woman who is not on the ready to belittle #314, rather support him with encouragement,…I sincerely desire for #314 to answer the door when you arrive Arlynn. I hope #314 reads this post before you arrive and knows that I’m at least one Man that is standing with him in spirit of support from a place of potential understanding that only another Man can know in this particular case.

    Howard Lovely, Jr.

    • arlynnpresser

      that is so interesting! i hadn’t thought about the male female difference! definitely see it now. i think it’s easier for me to say “i need help” than maybe a man would have it. howard, thank you!

  • Renee

    A.b.s.o.l.u.t.e.l.y. would LoVe that app!!! That is exactly what I do… pick up the phone to talk to a “safe” person. Omg… I guess there are alot of “us” that do that. What a WONDERFUL idea!!

  • Pink Ninjabi

    What a wonderful idea! It would be great if it were available for the PlayBook too! And really, with like 10 apps for Hangman, yours would definitely stand out from the rest, short of others feeling isolated from the world as an alternative.

    Kudos to you! 😀


  • Pink Ninjabi

    P.S. Here is complete copy of her book, “You Have No Idea” by Vanessa Williams as a gift to you and your friends. 😀 Hope you enjoy! Apparently these 258 pages zip by real quick! 😀


  • Julia Kovach

    Arlynn, you know I adore you….but I find this piece a bit disheartening. You seem to make quite a judgment on this man for not wanting or being ready or able to “out” himself and his illness. That’s a pretty personal choice that I would think you would understand. You surprised me again when you appear to make the same kind of judgement about medications (the right ones can change a person’s life), and about people with anger management issues, which usually stem from some sort of supressed or denied childhood trauma. I am just surprised by this……but only because it comes from you. As far as your phone app and your gift to this man….I think it’s a FABULOUS and practical idea! I wish you the best of luck with it and all of your future endeavors. Take care, my friend. xoxo

  • marcyrochette

    Go for it. Glad you are out there bringing a spotlight to mental health.I have PTSD & bi-polar.For awhile, it was very hard to go outside.I hope this friend will find the strength to meet you!

  • arlynnpresser

    feeling is mutual! and oh boy, i think this is a situation in which i may have not made myself quite clear.

    i think it’s a generational thing. you and i both remember when having cancer was something you didn’t discuss. the taboo on living together outside of marriage. or how television couldn’t even air a picture of a woman wearing just a bra and panties–in a bra and panties commercial. these days, we are able to disclose more about ourselves with a complete openness and vulnerability. but there are still some taboos. . . and i totally sympathize with mr. 314’s reasons for wanting to be anonymous. i wish our society was a bit better about this. i wish i could have said “i’m sorry i can’t come to your home for a dinner party because i get completely freaked out” or that i could have said “i can’t visit your college dear son because i can’t even imagine getting myself on an airplane”. . . maybe i’m the one who has had trouble coming to grips with “outing” myself. . .

  • arlynnpresser

    and p.s. great love and hoping you’re coming to chicago on the twenty eighth! there’s a bedroom in my house with the name “julia” on the door.

  • Nicole

    great idea for an app … I’d also like an app that would ring me when I was panicked or not coping and talk me through it

  • Stiod Opinion: Virtual Company to Agoraphobics « Stiod – Stupid Ideas of the day

    […] world have many interesting ideas to make world better. This agoraphobic blogger is creating an App to help people who find it difficult to go out home. The idea is “to help agoraphobics and those with social anxieties … a companion who […]

  • martinruffner

    It would Connected ( stereo MC) or similar mood changing songs

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