Lauren Jones- I couldn't leave my house for months

Lauren Jones is just one of many Australian's suffering from anxiety. She has also suffered from Agoraphobia, a fear of wide open spaces. Here, she tells of her struggles with mental illness and how she fights in.


The beginning of something bad

"I’ve had anxiety my whole life. I was always a nervy child. It started to get really bad after high school when I went into the workforce. I was at a job that I loved for 18 months and I got promoted. Everyone there was like my second family.

One day, I got called in for a meeting, because I was dealing with head office and a lot of warehouse management, they wanted me to go to Melbourne to meet them. During this time, I was on medication which I’ve been on a lot during my life. I was in the process of switching medications, weaning myself off one. It’s very hard to do. I told them that at that point in time I couldn’t be the face of their company. The idea of flying to a different state wasn’t right. My anxiety and my mind were just not in the right headspace. I just could not do it at that point in time.

This lead to bullying in the workforce. My life was made absolute hell to the point where I ended up cracking. I went on stress leave. At the time, I had just got out of an engagement and I was trying to discover my sexuality which was a lot of pressure. I was trying to come out to people on top of my anxiety and was basically got ran out of work. Work tried to do things to get me fired, which absolutely destroyed me. I ended up quitting and become a carer for my Nonna while they were trying to get her into an old folks home. I was at home in my comfort zone.

Breaking Point

This was when the anxiety got bad. It got to the point where I couldn’t physically go outside without having a panic attack. I didn’t eat or sleep. My parents took it in turns to sleep with me on the couch because I just couldn’t be alone. I couldn’t leave the house.

I ended up breaking up with my girlfriend. She left me because it was too hard for her, because of my restrictions. With Agoraphobia, you aren’t well and you can’t leave the house or your comfort zone. I had to try and organise thing at home rather than dates outside the house. So when she and I broke up, it destroyed me. I did everything in my power to make everything as special as I could. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for anyone, like no one would want to take on anyone like that.

If I can’t deal with it and another person you love dearly can’t deal with it, who can? I felt like a burden to my parents. They would take days off work for me. It was like raising a baby, trying to get a baby to eat and sleep. It’s so degrading.


I ended up seeing a psychiatrist, who put me on Prozac, which is what I’m on now. The recovery process was the hardest thing. Trying to get in the car just to turn it on and to try and get out of my driveway and my street, let alone main roads took me months. It was horrible. With a lot of help and support my parents and my friends helped me get through it.

After that, I continued to get better. I got back into the workforce after eight months of not working because of my anxiety. Once I got back into work, in the makeup industry which is what I love, I was happy. I loved it. That job saved my life. I put my heart and soul into it because I loved it so much. Life was better.

I ended up getting promoted to a full time position. After the probation period, I became store manager. There were good and bad days and there would be times that I would hyperventilate on the way to work. Once I was there, I was fine. I was in my element, I was at my second home because I was there all the time.


I fell pregnant with my daughter Harlow. She was unexpected but a miracle baby due to endometriosis. The anxiety came back. The Prozac is harmful to unborn children so my first step after finding out the news was to get off the medication before it caused damage. They put me on medication that was suitable for pregnant women. They didn’t work because of my acute morning sickness.

The vomiting didn’t help because it triggers my anxiety in a way that nothing else does. It’s to the point where I’m crying, pacing, my heart is racing and I shake. I overthink it, panic and go into and go into meltdown mode. My anxiety was triggered every day because I was sick for so much of my pregnancy. It was hard to deal with.

When I was around 5 weeks at my dating scan, they thought Harlow was growing on my ovaries, an ectopic pregnancy. I was rushed to the hospital. I was earlier along that I thought so I had to wait 2 weeks to find out if she was an ectopic pregnancy or not. Of course, I was stressing about that. It was terrifying and triggered my anxiety and panic attacks even more.

The amount of hospital appointments made me very panicky. I’d be crying in the waiting room when I got there because I didn’t know whether I’d see my baby or not and whether she was growing. The growth was just a cyst.

Around the 20-week mark in my pregnancy, things got tough. I was missing a lot of work from being emotionally drained. I was also learning to be a step-mum to Amity, my partner Marc’s daughter all while working 12 hours a day. It kept spiking my anxiety and I just kept pushing through it.

I found my current psychiatrist when I was pregnant. I was starting to lash out at people and I’m not an angry person. It was like I had become a completely different person. I was hormonal yes, but the anxiety and the panic just had such a horrible effect on who I was. I felt like someone else was controlling my body because I would tell my mind that everything was okay but my body wasn’t listening.

When anxiety become frustrating

When you get anxious for nothing, it’s the hardest thing to deal with. You can’t control it. Everyone suffers from anxiety to a certain extent in their lives. Life is frustrating. It gets stressful. Certain situations make you anxious, they make you panic. But to actually suffer from a disorder, a chronic one that you can’t control sucks. People don’t realise that it’s not an excuse to get out of something or a cry for attention. It’s honestly the hardest thing someone could deal with. It does lead to depression.

I’ve only ever felt depression due to my anxiety and panic attacks due to how bad it gets. I’ve never actually been depressed. It’s all anxiety related. People don’t understand what it’s like to live on an everyday basis constantly having to live in fear when you don’t always know what you fear. It’s like you’re trapped. You can’t always snap out of it. You just have to ride it out. It could take minutes, hours or days.

When anxiety slowly creeps in again

After the birth of Harlow, I was alright for a little while. Gradually the anxiety and agoraphobia began to creep in again. My little girl was diagnosed with viral meningitis and in hospital for a week. The anxiety and panic attacks started again. After she came home from the hospital I was petrified to leave the house. It was struggle just leaving my room.

I was vomiting and having between 30 and 40 panic attacks a day. I was at my worst. My parents were reassuring Marc that I would be okay, that I had gotten through this before. It was a lot harder to deal with having two young children to care for. I felt like I could barely take care of myself let alone my two daughters. I felt humiliated and like a lunatic. My dad had to take the 45 minute trip with me to the psychiatrist because I couldn’t go alone. I would vomit and hyperventilate in the car.

I ended up going back on the Prozac, which I feel like is my only option at this point. It’s not an addiction but I certainly feel like it’s hard to cope without it after a few days. I am now at the point where I can go out by myself and attend events. Long trips alone still scare me but I am working towards it.

Life is gradually getting back to normal

When you have a mental illness, you don’t feel normal. You feel alienated and so alone. It doesn’t matter if you have support or not, or if you have people there that understand what you’re going through. You just constantly feel like nobody gets it and will never get it. I think to fully understand mental illness, you have to go through it,not just grasp the concept.

Life is so much easier now that I can cope with it. I can get up every morning, physically get out of bed and not be scared. I still struggle and probably always will but that’s apart of my life.

If this story can help anyone in anyway then I am truly grateful for that. I am open to talking with anyone who may be experiencing what I have been through. I want to make a difference


If this story has caused you and grief, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14