"The only tan lines I'm getting this summer are from peering through these blinds."
So it's not about a fear of the outdoors; it's about shame. It's a fear of having a meltdown in front of other people. That's what makes the hobbit lifestyle attractive to the agoraphobic. Many restructure their lives so they can justify staying in, whether that's by getting a job where they can work from home, cutting themselves off from society completely, or in Christie's case, moving back in with mom and dad. "My parents helped me -- initially by going to the shop for me, but [later] by accompanying me to places so that I felt like I had a little bit more support if I needed it."
Now imagine the life of a sufferer who doesn't have someone as understanding as Christie's parents to help them along. Those are the people who lock themselves away. Forever.
That's not an expression, by the way. Agoraphobes can refuse to leave their homes for years at a time.
And it's not as if becoming a shut-in fixes the problem. As Dr. Levine explains, panic attacks are like Go-Gurt -- you can have one anywhere, and they always suck. "Staying home doesn't mean you're not going to have another panic attack. But that's what the mind does. The mind tries to make sense of a very surprising, out-of-the-blue [phenomenon]." Making a quick exit from the stressful situation provides relief. And so staying at home essentially means making camp in the second half of fight or flight mode. "What agoraphobics unfortunately do, which starts and maintains the phobia, is run. They flee the minute they feel panic beginning to mount. So they associate the flight and the feeling of relief with 'That's what I have to do to maintain my peace of mind.'"