The last few weeks had been difficult but amazing. The wonderful feeling of being able to leave the house without feeling overwhelming panic was so liberating for Brigitte, and she knew it was all down to Grace. She still had bad days where she could barely even stand to drag herself out of bed, let alone go out, but she didn’t let them get her down anymore. She knew that they would pass and there was no point in worrying about them.
She stared out of Grace’s car window as they made the trip to the local hospital for a group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy session – something she had never dreamed she would ever be able to do. Ultimately, she didn’t find the sessions had much of an effect but attended them because she got to meet other people who suffered in similar ways, and it put her at ease to see how common these problems were. The main way in which the sessions did aid her was that it made her feel less embarrassed of her condition. She knew what it was – agoraphobia – and knew that it was nothing to be ashamed of. With the help of a psychologist she had even been able to understand why it had happened to her, and combined with information she had gathered from the internet on coping strategies, she was finding the whole thing much easier to manage.
Lost in thought she hadn’t noticed that Grace had pulled into a parking space and turned off the engine.
“Hey, you in there?” Grace asked. Brigitte was grateful for her sister’s enthusiasm and perseverance. Without it she would still be sat indoors watching daytime TV. She shuddered slightly at the thought of more days filled with daytime television, like Jeremy Kyle
, and almost leapt out of the car.
As they walked through the hospital corridors Grace said, “I’ve got some studying that I need to which I should have done last night, however the prospect of going out was just too tempting. I figure I’ll go study in the canteen whilst you’re at your session, then when you’re finished come and find me and we can go. Ok?”
Brigitte nodded and grabbed a few books that were threatening to fall from Grace’s arms. At that moment she couldn’t help but feel slightly selfish: Grace had lots of work to do but instead of being able to go and concentrate on it she had to drive Brigitte to appointments. She mulled this over for a moment before speaking.
“I know that this is probably a while off, but I think I should start driving again. I mean, what’s the point of having a license if I’m not going to use it? Plus it’s not fair to expect you to chauffeur me around.”
“I don’t mind doing it Brig, in fact I’m happy to help in any way I can, but if it’s something you want to get back into then I think that’s great.”
“I’m just fed up of feeling like your child or something.” She said with a shrug.
“Nah... you’re more like an elderly parent.” Grace joked and flashed her sister a grin.
“Go ahead; put me in a home if I’m such a burden!” Brigitte feigned hurt and threw a hand to her forehead dramatically. Grace laughed and gently swatted her with a book.
“If it weren’t already true I would have thought you’d actually gone insane!”
At the end of the session Brigitte glanced around the room. Most of the people had already left, and were quick to do so, but a few had hung around to chat. Brigitte had always been a bit shy and didn’t make friends as easily as other people. She had been coming to these sessions for five weeks and although the group talked and shared experiences with each other, she hadn’t ever spoken to any of them outside of this room. She went to pick up her bag when she noticed that it was stuck under the leg of the chair next to her. She tapped the chair’s occupier on the shoulder and he turned around with a smile.
“Um... my bag is caught on your chair.” She said quietly.
“Oh, sorry!” He exclaimed and moved back, freeing her. “I seem to do that every week. Maybe my unconscious mind is trying to tell me something.”
“Like what?” She asked.
“I’m not sure.... maybe it’s trying to get me to talk to people. You know, face your fear and all that?”
“Oh yeah, I know that.” She pulled herself to a standing position and the man mirrored her.
“I’m Ben.” He said, extending his hand.
“Brigitte.” She shook it.
“You heading out?”
“To the canteen.” She replied, and they made their way out of the room.
“So, how long have you been coming to these sessions?” He asked.
“Only a few weeks. You?”
“Coming up to five months now. To tell you the truth the exercises and all that stuff I don’t really find very helpful, but I’m agoraphobic and it helps to force myself to be around people you know? Like, putting myself in situations I would normally avoid.”
“Wow it’s like you read my mind. I’m exactly the same. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a room with that many people.”
“It’s hard at first but it does start getting easier. Some days are worse than others... but you probably know that.”
“It’s nice to speak to someone who understands. I mean, don’t get me wrong, my sister has been completely fantastic and is so understanding but unless you’ve experienced it then you just don’t get it.”
He nodded in agreement and shoved his hands into his pockets. “So, are you busy now?”
“My sister’s waiting for me.” She replied.
“Ah too bad. Well if you ever want to talk about this stuff just say so and maybe we can go get a drink or something.”
“Yeah, that sounds good. Thanks.”
“It was nice to meet you Brigitte.” He said and walked towards the exit.
She watched after him with a smile before going off to meet Grace.
Wow thanks, SchiZohybrid I'm so glad you're enjoying it.
I am hoping to get a few more parts up today - only five left - but my game seems to hate me and keeps crashing (which is why I've not changed Brigitte's clothes since the last chapter she was in) so it all depends on how frustrated I get over the next few minutes!
And for those of you who have never seen Jeremy Kyle, it's one of those tacky talk shows, where people come on national TV and air their dirty laundry. Hilarious but painful.