An English grandmother who had refused to go outside more than a couple of times in the past decade due to ‘Agoraphobia’, an anxiety disorder often triggered by fear of the outdoors, has had her fears spectacularly confirmed after she fell down a manhole shortly after going outside.
Janet Faal, 57, of West Sussex had been working to get over her anxiety about open spaces with the help of a friend, who had taken her for a walk outside – only her third in 10 years. When Faal in turn helped her friend to move her car by dragging aside a wooden pallet blocking the way, she fell down the open manhole it had been covering.
The Daily Mail reports Faal’s comments after the accident, when she said: “I moved the pallet out of the way with my foot and I was going to turn around to my friend say ‘is that far enough?’. I took a step over – never in my life did I think there was a hole underneath, I thought it had just fallen over. The next thing I remember is the pain. It was awful.
“I fell and smashed my face on the pallet, and I was in the hole with blood all over me and I couldn’t move”.
Faal says the event, which left her with a suspected broken leg and two black eyes was so traumatic, she may never leave her house again. She was left lying in the open air for an hour waiting for a paramedic to arrive after her fall.
Agoraphobia, which is commonly thought to be a fear of open spaces but is better understood as anxiety over uncontrollable or perceived dangerous situations has received heightened exposure as it featured heavily as a plot line in the popular Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul. In the popular American television series, beamed directly into British homes by the video streaming service Netflix, the elder, and considerably more successful lawyer brother of the protagonist has been reduced to the status of a dependent by his fear of the outdoors, and electromagnetic radiation.