Agora-poetry: day #1

Two days ago, I decided to go for a walk around my local neighbourhood. For most, this of course sounds normal, pleasant even. Unfortunately for me, I have symptoms of agoraphobia, which means getting my feet outside the door, let alone get them moving, is challenging enough.

When I finally made the push to go for a walk, it was a huge mental challenge. The world outside my house terrifies me, mostly because I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. I’m short and chubby with brown skin and blue hair. Inside my house I take pride in this – I’m confident, I’m different. Outside my house I feel I am reduced to a preposition – I’m too different, I’m too confident and also, irrationally, too loud. My breathing quickens because of anxiety, and even if someone is across the road from me, I am constantly worrying that they can hear my slightly laboured breaths as I attempt to walk up a hill.

The walk began normally, as an internal battle – it felt like I was dragging my feet to keep going, like alarm bells were going off inside my head. Even as I write this outside, sat in my own garden, the fear of my neighbours hearing or seeing me has encased my brain in this barrier of constant worry.

But, as I continued, I happened across a large open field with horses. Suddenly, my brain didn’t feel so enclosed. The wind blowing past me felt friendlier. The bees buzzing around me seemed happier. I was finally able to slow my brain down.

It was in that space of quiet, of stillness, that I was able to talk to myself and reassure myself. How was I feeling? Anxious. Why was I feeling this way? Because I’m highly aware of the people around me. Is that sense of awareness a bad thing? Not all the time because it’s how I’ve been able to protect myself – from people mugging me, from idiot men cat-calling me, and perhaps even from my own vulnerability.

In asking myself these questions, I then realised that I could push myself, and connect my Agoraphobia to poetry. I realised if I could push myself to go for a walk outside and come back feeling better, surely, I could push myself to go for a walk outside in order to write poetry, to also help my recent writer’s block. You can watch that moment here:

And that is how Agora-Poetry was born! I’ve decided to tackle my fear every day and write 1 poem every day, most likely for at least a month from today.

Unfortunately, though, the day after this decision I twisted my ankle. And if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may recall that when I went to Hong Kong last year for study abroad, I sprained my left ankle. So, this twist has taken a couple days to recover from.

I’m healing and am hoping that tomorrow at least I can do a small walk around my block or sit on a bench somewhere and write. For now, I’m sat in my garden, somewhat scared (and sweaty lol) as I listen to my neighbours talk.

But as I listen closer, there’s also the sound of a baby bird chirping happily at the top of the tree. And instead, that is the one I’m choosing to focus on.

If you’d like to keep up with these posts via email or on WordPress then you can follow my blog! I’m hoping this may inspire others, particularly in the Asian community, to not feel so alone when discussing mental health. Thank you! ❀️


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