How do you explain your panic and agoraphobia to people? I've been dealing with all of this for two years now and I only have three "safe" places: home, work, and one gas station near work. I haven't been in another store in over a year. As bad as that sounds, it's better than I was doing six months ago when I couldn't even leave my apartment without panicking. I live with my mom and aunt, so they know about my situation. I'm also very close to my sister (who dealt with panic and anxiety when she was in high school), so she's incredibly supportive of me.
I don't know how to explain this all to my friends. I work insane hours in the summer, so I don't see them much then anyway, but I'm usually laid off for a few months in the winter. Lately, I just automatically tell people I'm busy when I'm invited anywhere, because it's embarrassing when I let them down and cancel last minute (after agonizing for a week over something stupid like eating in a restaurant...) My sister is always helping me to push my limits a little bit at a time, but how do I explain to my friends what I'm going through? I'm sure they would be supportive of me too, but none of them have dealt with panic/anxiety on a scale like this and I'm not sure that they even know what agoraphobia is. With my sister, she's been there, so I do things that make me uncomfortable because I know she will know how to handle it if I can't. How do I say to the ones who have never experienced just how powerful that panic can be, "I still want to hang out with you, but on my really bad days, just knowing that I exist is absolutely terrifying to me," without making them completely question my sanity...?