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Agoraphobia - There is Hope

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Suffolkbumpkin

New member
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
3
Location
Indiana prev. East Anglia
I have had Agoraphobia/Panic Disorder since I was 14 and living in England. I am now 59 and although panic visits me occasionally, I can assure you it needn't cripple you like it once did me. I have lived through every stage of panic and agoraphobia from mild panic to not being able to leave a particular room or open the curtains. In the early years I was hospitalized (psych ward) many times. I was given antipsychotic drugs, electric shock treatment and psychotherapy; none of which seemed particularly beneficial. I was convinced that the panic would either kill me or I would top myself rather than live in that misery.

When people would tell me how they overcame it and led a relatively normal life I would say, then you can't have had it as bad as me. I felt sure that no one living could feel that bad and lead a normal life. I promise you that with work (I didn't say it was easy), you can win. I have lived in the States since 1976, have traveled, and worked full time - all with agoraphobia. I've been blessed with a supportive husband, unlimited resources via the Internet and a strong desire not to let this disorder beat me.

The number one thing that turned my life around was learning how to do abdominal breathing. If you learn nothing else - master this technique. Once I learned that I was able to go through exposure treatment. It was a long road but it's worth taking.

This is a very short version of my life with Agoraphobia - if you have questions, please let me know.
 
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coraline1664

Guest
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In the depths of illness, recovery can seem so unobtainable and it is always great to see someone who has managed to work through and come out the other side.

I occasionally have days where my agoraphobia seems to have disappeared. At those moments I think how simple going outside actually is, but then with no warning it returns just like that and it feels incredibly difficult again as my mind is clouded over once more. I feel I have learnt something from that experience- how good the mind is at playing tricks. And if you can tell yourself and feel that these worries aren't needed, despite your stomach/mind/trembling hands/stiff body showing otherwise, then I believe you are on your way.

I still suffer from agoraphobia and panic disorder but now I can usually feel the belief that I don't need to and that it is not keeping me safe or happy. For me, knowing this is not enough to calm the feelings that I let keep me prisoner at home, but it is something I will work on until I get through it. I take petty things less seriously than I have in the past and generally have a stronger sense of self. Learning to calmly accept frightened feelings, working on my breathing, focusing on being in my own body and looking at situations in a calmer and more neutral way teach me things every day. Sometimes I feel too confused and have a feeling of impending doom which makes doing these things hard, but I just remember that it is my illness and that it will always pass. I do what I can when I can to look after myself.

Thank you for the post suffolkbumpkin, and I wish you all the best. I see you used to live in East Anglia, I live in Suffolk :)


Elizabeth
 
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Suffolkbumpkin

New member
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
3
Location
Indiana prev. East Anglia
Elizabeth - The first thing I'm going to say is that no one (I don't care who it is) can fully understand the sheer terror of a full blown panic attack where all reason flies out the window, unless they have had one.

For years I went two steps forward and three back convinced that I would never be able to control the panic. Without the unwavering support of my husband I would never have come so far. I began like most agoraphobics, associating my location with the panic. The more attacks I had, the less places I was able to go until finally I would go nowehere in an attempt to stay the attacks. For me there was no "safe" place, including home. Our lives were completely ruled by my panic. I was lucky to find a support group that led exposure therapy. Talk about terrifying and frustrating!

I believe to be able to make any progress, you must be willing to have a an attack in a public place ande not let what other people think deter you. I've had panic attacks in every conceivable place including airports, airplanes, underground caves, and every place in between. I've made a total ass of myself on many ocassions, all in the name of panic - it gets easier with time:) I doubt many will believe that we look back on many of these attacks and laugh. (For me, the worst place to get them is on a plane.)

I'm not cured and think I will have this problem for the rest of my life - I now know that I can have a set back and come back through. I still have one restriction - driving and as long as I refuse to work on it, I know I will never manage it.

BTW, I grew up in Mendlesham then lived in Felixstowe and Ipswich.

Sheila.
 
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coraline1664

Guest
When I said 'recovery' I think more of management of the illness, and being able to cope with setbacks.
I'm getting out more now, and on my own too. I find meditation really helpful, I'd never considered it before.
I can have panic attacks anywhere out of the house, and in the house if I have to make a phone call or the phone rings. I realise that avoidance is never a way out, and being willing to experience panic attacks in public places seems like a logical aim. It's not just humiliation I worry about, sometimes it's about my safety, my panic can come in flashes or pangs whilst or when waiting to cross the road because I suddenly feel so exposed... it's a really strange feeling and occasionally I have just walked because I felt I needed to cross or I was going to explode with all the cars going by and people looking out. It just sort of happens at the time I haven't felt in control of my movements. I don't have people to go outside with me whenever and things need to be done so sometimes I just have to take the risks...

I'm in Ipswich. :)

E
 
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20questions

New member
Joined
Aug 5, 2010
Messages
1
Just wanted to tell you both that I really appreciated your stories on coping and overcoming the disorder. I've had agoraphobia for about 10 years- it's been up and down but lately it's been creeping up on me again and I need to make a concerted effort to challenge it. I think my worst fear is, like you both mentioned, humiliating myself in public, especialy around people I'm likely to have to see again. Need to get over that and, like you said, Suffolk, not be deterred by the prospect of embarrassment coz it's not the end of the world! Thanks for your encouraging posts, both of you, and it's nice to be able to look at the panic with some humour and lightness instead of always seeing it as so dire. I've had some funny panic attacks in public places myself, like having to sit down in a supermarket queue in rush hour shopping! It was vaguelyamusing in the end and although the cashier looked alarmed I think she was more concerned about me holding up the line than thinking I must be crazy, lol.

Thanks again and best wishes,

Suzanne
 
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Suffolkbumpkin

New member
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
3
Location
Indiana prev. East Anglia
Elizabeth:

Sorry - it's been ages since I was here. I agree wholeheartedly with you about management as opposed to recovery and meditation does help. I too, sometimes worry about my safety when crossing a busy street as I experience the sensation of not being in control of my movements. I cannot quite describe the feeling, it's too bizarre; it usually begins with the feeling that the ground is no longer there or shifts under my feet. If it's a very wide, busy road, my panic escalates until I take one step past center and then begins to diminish. I experience similar feelings almost every morning when I walk the greenway before work. The greenway is a boardwalk about 3/4 mile long that runs through a marsh/wooded area. I deliberately make myself take this walk even on the days I'm convinced I'm going to drop dead, or at the very least pass out. As I've said before, I believe that panic will be with me for my entire life, but as long as I fight, or better yet, accept these feelings and go on, my life I will continue to be OK.

Suzanne: I can guarantee that a public panic attack is far more traumatic to ourselves than anyone else, because of our heightened sense of awareness. I would have what I considered to be a horrendous public panic attack, only to find out that witnesses had no idea that that anything was wrong other than I felt faint. We are our own worst enemy. Like everything else, it gets better with experience.(y)
 
sara

sara

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
1,451
:flowers:Thanks for sharing that and well done you all .
 
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