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staying in my office

digging through my email archives for an address (which i never found, dammit), i found an email i wrote to a friend back in 2002:

i can't work here forever, i'll have a nervous breakdown. i've become positively agoraphobic in the last 2-3 years.

literally, it's supposed to be a "fear of open spaces" -- i've heard it defined as "fear of the marketplace" -- it's characterized by an avoidance of public places, yes. i can barely go outside my office, i have to steel myself for it -- getting my mail is painful -- i can't be in the restroom if someone else is in there -- i am anxious all the time -- i can't go outside the building at lunch time. and i only feel like this during work hours. i'm so anxious about being stuck in uncomfortable/embarrassing/inescapable situations, i can hardly do the small talk thing. i walk with my head down if forced to leave my office.

you know, i can't remember the last time i walked through the office on the way to the restroom. i always have to go out the door and through the hallway. i can't remember the last time i went to the breakroom before 6:30 pm. i have to wait until the end of the day to put away paperwork that comes into the office at 7 am. i've developed all these freakish phobias and behaviors. i imagine people talking about me. i can never take my jacket off (or sweater) even when it's hot, it's like armor.

once i called that health plan thing, you know, the referral service? i talked to a psychologist on the phone for a while, but then she started talking about payment plans and she said something pretty snide about people who make enough money to pay for expensive therapy, something along the lines of "of course, if you're making over $30K, you don't need a free service" -- so i was instantly turned off and i never got the guts to call again.

it's funny what time does to you -- what i once characterized as a phobia has now become simply a quirk.

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