agoraphobia, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, cycling,, Prayer

What is child emotional abuse?

Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them (Ephesians 6:4; NLT).


What is
Child emotional abuse?

It’s using scorn and criticism
To undermine
Your child’s confidence.

It’s bullying,

It’s threats,
And domination,
And intrusiveness.

It’s shouting,
And screaming at them.

It’s using your
Superior size
And power

To keep them
And afraid.

It’s using violence
On inanimate

To make it clear
That you could do the same
To them.

It’s forcing them
To face what they’re
Afraid of,

Whilst mocking them
For being

It’s laying the foundations
For a lifetime of physical
And mental illness,

By traumatising
Your dependent child

When they confront
You as an adult,

It’s minimising
or denying
What you’ve done,

While ignoring or despising
The symptoms
Your behaviour has caused –

Anxiety, depression,
And much more.

So, is this the legacy
You want to give
Your child?

agoraphobia, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, cycling,, Prayer

Agoraphobia diary: 6am on day 8

Hello everyone. I finally completed yesterday’s marathon challenge with my scheduled evening hospital treatment. Now I’m awake, and preparing to get up before too long. At 9.15  a taxi will pick me up and take me to Liverpool Airport, ready to fly home. The week has seemed to last an age and has tested me pretty thoroughly, but I’ve survived, and learned a lot. Above all, I’ve realised that speaking straightforwardly and honestly about my fears makes them much easier to manage than struggling to conceal them, for fear of being judged.

I’m deeply tired, but plan to end the week’s agoraphobia challenge with a final diary entry  this evening. Then I’ll go back to blogging once each day, as usual. Meanwhile, here is today’s morning prayer:

In honesty

Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).



In honesty
With self,
And you,
And others,

Lies freedom,
And inner peace.

agoraphobia, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, cycling,, Prayer, prayer, healing, contemplation, oneness, love,

Agoraphobia diary: 3pm on day 7

Greetings to you all. Well, I’ve done it! Today’s challenge was to travel by train from Loughborough to Warrington, changing at Nottingham, so I’m here in my hotel room now, absolutely drained. At each stage of my journey, just when I was getting anxious about what to do next, there was always a kind person ready to help. Outside Loughborough station, a very nice taxi driver I chatted to for a moment offered me a bottle of water, and we shared a hug. On the platform, the guard was happy to chat, which passed the anxious time until my train arrived, and so on.

Changing at Nottingham was very stressful. My train was already at the platform, but I needed the loos before boarding. They were on another platform, and I felt very rushed. It all worked out in the end, though, and passengers help each other quite a lot.

I had been thinking a good deal about the very long tunnels I knew we would pass through in Derbyshire, but managed surprisingly well. The lit train, the people chatting around me, and the large size of the compartment meant it was considerably less claustrophobic than I expected. My last train journey with major tunnels, taken about 45 years ago, was a traumatic nightmare I prefer to forget. Ever since that day, I’ve had occasional nightmares about being on trains in narrow, dark, never-ending tunnels. It’s only now that I’m beginning to realise just how damaging that journey was, because of my terribly anxious state of mind.

By the time I got to Warrington, I was spent, rather like yesterday afternoon – no thoughts, no fears, no ambitions, just a blank mind, accompanied by a familiar sensation, as if the ground was heaving up and down beneath my feet, like being in a boat. I was so tired that I wandered away from the station in the wrong direction, dimly looking for a taxi rank. To my surprise and sadness, the first person I asked for directions didn’t even register my greeting. Then I met a woman who, though clearly startled to be asked, pointed me in the right direction.

It’s a huge relief to be in my own quiet, dark room now, resting in bed and having lots of hot drinks. So here is today’s prayer, which I wrote during this morning’s contemplation:

Your peace


When I reach the station,
May I go in with you.

While I wait for my train,
May your arms encircle me.

As I board it,
May I hold your hand.

When the doors close,
May I know your presence.

As my journey starts,
May we pray together.

When I change trains,
May I share your calm.

During long tunnels,
May I feel your comfort.

When I arrive,
May I thank you deeply.

And, as I go on my way,
May I know your perfect peace.

agoraphobia, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, cycling,, Prayer

Agoraphobia diary: 7.30am, day 7

Hi, all. Just a short blog this morning before I set off early for the most challenging part of my trip: taking a train from Loughborough to Nottingham, then another from Nottingham to Warrington, a journey of several hours. I haven’t used a train for many years, and have complex multiple fears of travelling alone, not coping, getting lost, changing trains, tunnels, panic, train toilets, no food, etc etc. However, it’s time to stop avoiding all these feared situations and to crack on with facing them head-on instead.

Along the way, I will use as many of my coping techniques as are necessary, including relaxation, contemplation, prayer, holding my wooden cross, music, distraction, reading, and writing down how I feel. In preparation for the whole experience, I’ll spend some time in silence before the day kicks off, because it really does make a difference to how I cope, as described in today’s short prayer:

May silent prayer
Return my fears to zero,
So I can face each day
With inner peace.

agoraphobia, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, cycling,, Prayer

Agoraphobia diary: 6pm on day 6

Hello, everyone. Well, today has been by far the hardest yet of my week-long agoraphobia challenge. It began very pleasantly with a slow walk in a local country park with my sister. There were deer chewing the cud calmly, close to our path, and a large herd to be seen on the way back. The autumn colours and blue sky were glorious.

After lunch my sister dropped me off at my mother’s care home. As I walked toward her room, I felt the familiar burst of anxiety. She was lightly asleep, moving in the bed, and opening her eyes a little from time to time. I found it impossible to stay in the room, and repeatedly retreated to the corridor. My big fear was that she would wake up and want to relate to me. Eventually the owner-manager stopped by, and after a few pleasantries, I asked if I could talk  to her in private. Without going into too much detail here, I told her about my childhood, and its effects on my mental and physical health. She was a great listener, warmly sympathetic, kind, and very understanding. I was extremely grateful for her help.

Afterwards, I settled sufficiently to sit with my mother again for a few minutes, then left. By accident, I set off the fire alarm as I let myself out, but coped without panicking.

Now, here’s a strange thing: I had to wait at a bus stop, catch a bus, then walk half a mile back to my sister’s house. I’ve only done this once before in my whole life, so you might expect it to be pretty demanding from an agoraphobic point of view. However, I made the whole journey feeling totally empty and blank, as if after a shock, with almost no thoughts in my mind, or feelings in my heart.

On paper, tomorrow is due to be the most demanding day of my trip, as it involves using trains for the first time for more years than I can count. However, just at the moment, I’m so physically and mentally drained that I have very little sense of anticipatory anxiety at all. Of course, it may well rise later, as the effects of such a stirring afternoon wear off a little.

Meanwhile, this evening brings two contrasting prayers. The first expresses the shadow side of how I feel about my mother. The second shows how I ask God to forgive her, and to spare her from suffering every day:

1. Sitting with mother

I don’t mind
Sitting at a distance, Lord,

But I don’t want my mother to stir,
Or wake, or speak.

I don’t want to hear her voice,
To touch, or kiss her.

She’s an unexploded bomb,
A sleeping tiger.

Surely she cannot live forever?

2. Please bless

Lord God,

Please bless, forgive,
And heal my mother.

Enfold her in your arms,
And draw her to your heart,

For evermore.



agoraphobia, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, cycling,

Agoraphobia diary: 7am day 6

Hello everyone. Today is the 6th of my agoraphobia challenge, my second location, and my second visit to my mother in her Care Home. The weather forecast is much better for this morning than for the afternoon, so my sister and I plan to go for a walk before lunch, saving the visit for the afternoon. I would have preferred this arrangement the other way round, to get the hardest bit out of the way first, but it isn’t going to work out that way.

I’ve suggested a large local country park for our walk. It’s a place we often went to when I was young, so I’m interested to see how I feel when I’m there. I’ve had some very bad panic attacks during walks over the years, but more recently have been better at recognising my anxiety as it starts to rise, and just staying with it, without escalating it. Time will tell.

When I’m out in the countryside, it helps me a lot that I can see God shining out of everything around me, and something of this is reflected in the morning’s prayer:

You speak

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1; NLT).

God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:3; NLT).

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known (Psalm 19:1-2; NLT).

I will wake the dawn with my song (Psalm 57:8; NLT).



Each day
You speak the earth
Into renewal.

Each day
You sing, to light
The heavens above.

Each day,
You dance all creatures
Into waking.

Each day
You smile, to fill us
With your love.

agoraphobia, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, cycling,, Prayer

Agoraphobia diary: 6pm on day 5

So, today is drawing to a close, and it’s been quite hard in some ways. Trigger alert: if you don’t like mild references to the effects of childhood emotional abuse, now is the time to do something else.

After an early start, I said goodbye to my family, then travelled up to Leicestershire, with my son driving. It was interesting to note that I felt fine until I saw the first sign for the town where I was brought up, when a sharp pang of anxiety automatically shot through me.

My sister and her husband made us very welcome for lunch, then my son left, and I fell asleep, very tired after the cumulative efforts of the previous few days.

Then came the hardest part of the day: visiting my mother in her nursing home. I was alone with her for about 40 minutes. She never leaves her bed, and slept the whole time, so I sat quietly, observing both her, and my own feelings. Even though she is very old, deaf, immobile and blind, I still dreaded her waking up, or speaking, still felt she might rise up and be as she used to be. I didn’t touch her, approach her, or speak to her, but tried to pray.

My sister returned exactly when she had promised, and I left the Home with relief. Tomorrow may be harder, as I’m imagining that a cheerful staff member with a loud voice might rouse my mother. She’s so deaf that people have to shout into her ear, and that means getting close. However, I have developed the technique of keeping my arms behind my back, so she can’t get hold of me in any way. That has given me a small sense of retaining some control over allowing her to intrude on my body.

I honestly don’t know how I’d manage if it weren’t for the progress I’ve made through faith and contemplation. So for those who like such things, here is today’s evening prayer:

Facing each day

The same Spirit gives great faith to another (1 Corinthians 12:9; NLT).

It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8; NIV).


Facing each day
With you

Is very different
From facing it
Without you;

So, thank you
For the gift
Of faith in you.