Wrexham OAP feels like a prisoner over her phobia illness

Reporter:

Claire Gallagher

A PENSIONER who is gripped by phobias says she feels like a prisoner in her own home.

Emily Lake, 63, suffers from major phobias including agoraphobia, a fear of going outside, which means she can only leave the house to go to hospital appointments – and even then she has to take sedatives.

Emily, of Hampsons Grove, Ruabon, also suffers from claustrophobia, a fear of being closed in and sociophobia, a fear of social gatherings.

Emily, who lives with her husband of 10 years and devoted carer Eric, last went out socially about five years ago but even then suffered panic attacks.

She said: “I do feel as if I’m in prison even though it’s a lovely prison.

“I look out of the window and I see people going out and I feel so sad.”

Now Emily wants to raise awareness of the phobias and she would like to see some kind of support group set up in the Ruabon area for people with mental illnesses.

This could involve visiting a person at home who has phobias, just so they can see a friendly face, she said.

Although she has received help to get over her phobias, including years visiting a psychiatric hospital and a nurse visiting the house, nothing has really helped combat her illness.

The great-grandmother also suffers from other health problems including profound deafness, ménière's disease – which is a disorder of the inner ear – and diverticular disease – a digestive disorder.

Doctors believe her physical conditions have caused her mental health problems.

She also had a difficult upbringing as she was brought up in a children’s home because her mother was struck with tuberculosis.

Her phobias came on in later years at the age of about 30, although she believes she may have suffered from sociophobia from when she was a little girl. “I feel safe at home but I feel frightened of confrontations so I wouldn’t go outside,” she said.

“I have been in social situations before and I panic and have to come home. When I go out I can’t wait to get home to my safe place.

“I feel very lonely and I do need help.”

Eric feels there is always a social stigma attached to people with mental illness and said: “If it’s not highlighted and people don’t come forward then the
Government believes there is no call to help people.

“It’s about trying to find the way to open the door, not just for Emily, but for other people in her shoes.

“It’s not all about me, me, me, it’s about helping other people too and then you can also help yourself.”

As Emily is always at home Eric has made it his mission to make the bungalow as nice as possible.

Back in 2009 he painted the outside walls of the house a mediterranean blue but the council objected saying the colour was too bright.

Now they have compromised with a lighter green shade on the walls with only the wall facing the back garden being a slightly lighter shade of the mediterranean blue. Eric added having the bungalow painted brightly makes Emily feel happier.

See full story in the Leader

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