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  #1  
Old 05-04-11, 19:27
hamster lady hamster lady is offline
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anxiety and panic attacks are ruining my life

Hello everyone

I have been suffering from anxiety and panic attacks since last August which began with an attack of palpitations in the middle of the night. I had the all clear from the doctors in October when an ECG showed nothing abnormal and blood tests were also normal and the doctor told me that it was just anxiety causing my symptoms. I began to feel better but then my 9 yr old son was taken ill with flu and got more and more poorly and was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in January. His illness has caused my so much stress that my anxiety and panic attacks are worse than ever now and they strike at night as well as during the day so there is no peace for me. I keep getting a racing heart, an upset stomach and sweating palms and terrible feelings of unreality which is very frightening. I have also become paranoid about my heart and I'm convinced I have damaged it through my anxiety and that I will give myself a heart attack.

I have now become agarophobic as a result and I can now just about cope with going to the corner shop and doing a short walk round the block with my dog but I feel panicky even going a short distance from the house. I once had a horrendous panic attack walking the dog and I had to walk home feeling absolutely terrible, I am now terrified it is going to happen again. My husband has been walking the dog a lot! If I have to go shopping I have to go with someone else and I now can't cope with things like going to a restaurant or coffee shop because my heart starts racing and I get terrible panic attacks. I went shopping today for some clothes today with my parents in a big shopping centre and I coped for the first hour but when it was time for lunch I had a terrible panic attack and I had to hide it from everyone, it was horrendous. I now think I am going to have to give up going out anywhere for a while, I can't cope with hardly anything at the moment not even get togethers with friends or family. I'm usually OK until it is time to sit down for a meal with other people then I totally freak out and have to hide the fact that I'm having a panic attack.

I am very lucky in that I'm not working at the moment because I'm at home caring for my poorly son but that is stressful too and he has now got to have a wheelchair. I have been reading my Claire Weakes book, 'Self Help for your Nerves' and I was horrified to find that she is talking about nervous breakdowns and that my symptoms are exactly the same as those in this book. I am beginning to wonder if I am suffering from a nervous breakdown now and not just anxiety as I am now fearing fear itself and I can have a panic attack just by thinking about having one!

The doctor did tell me to go back but because my son has been so poorly I haven't been able to get there and I hate going because I get panic attacks in the waiting room! I just do not know how to get myself out of this mess, it is totally ruining my life and I need to keep things together for the sake of my son, I can't have a nervous breakdown when he needs me to be strong for him. My husband is being extremely understanding about my anxiety and that helps a lot, he is very supportive. It has now got to the point that I hate him going out of the house to work, I feel terrible and panicky as soon as he has gone.

Have any of you guys had panic attacks and agarophobia and found a way of dealing with it all? I would be so very grateful for any help and advice, I just don't know how to cope with this, it is almost unbearable.

Last edited by hamster lady; 05-04-11 at 20:40.
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  #2  
Old 05-04-11, 19:52
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shoegal shoegal is offline
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Re: anxiety and panic attacks are ruining my life

Hi. I just want to say that our situations sound very similar and I will write a proper reply to you later. Right now I'm waiting for my Dad to come and see me and we're taking my dog for a LONG walk (), so as I'm sure you can imagine I'm getting myself worked up into a right state.

You are not alone in your struggle, and I'll be in touch later. Hang in there.
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  #3  
Old 05-04-11, 20:03
hamster lady hamster lady is offline
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Re: anxiety and panic attacks are ruining my life

Hi Shoegal, thanks so much for your reply, I have just read your thread and I agree our problems sound very similar! I hope you get on OK with your long dog walk tonight, I know exactly how you must be feeling right now! I look forward to your longer reply later on, it is so great to find somewhere where people are going through the same thing as you!
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  #4  
Old 05-04-11, 20:23
ditzygirl ditzygirl is offline
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Re: anxiety and panic attacks are ruining my life

Have a look at this:

Pocket Guide to Panic from Blurb.com.

Simple and highly recommendedx
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  #5  
Old 05-04-11, 20:24
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paula lynne paula lynne is offline
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Re: anxiety and panic attacks are ruining my life

Hi Hamster lady, I have been where you are now. I lost my nursing career, had a baby to look after, and dreaded my hubby leaving for work. i was messed up on valium, lost my friends, and became trapped in my house living with a never ending cycle of fear and panic. I too have claire weekes...a little old fashioned in parts (esp having electric shock), but its still a reliable read. Try to focus on the parts that upbuild you, that help you step out of the comfort zone. Underline those parts, and refer to them often.

I will leave you in the capable hands of Shoegal, because although we are all on the agoraphobia rollercoaster, she and you are closer together on that path. Im in recovery, and go out most days now, even the dreaded supermarket, camping hols, and day trips out. Maybe we could catch up with each other once you feel better prepared and ready to take the steps outside. There is no magic cure, and somedays I just cant face it, but it is possible for you to recover to a place where you have quality of life and feel as good as you can. I wish you well on your journey, and I will be ready to help you when you are ready. Much love, Paula x
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  #6  
Old 05-04-11, 20:47
hamster lady hamster lady is offline
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Re: anxiety and panic attacks are ruining my life

Thank you so much ditzy girl and paula for your help and advice, I appreciate it so much. I will definitely check out the Pocket Guide to Panic, thanks ditzy girl for recommending it. Thanks so much for your reply paula, I am so glad to hear that you are now in recovery from your agarophobia, it gives me hope that I can start to overcome it too. Thanks so much for your kind words and support.
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  #7  
Old 05-04-11, 21:45
Ambers Ambers is offline
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Re: anxiety and panic attacks are ruining my life

Hi HL, Although I think my problems started much earlier in life (bad experience 15 years ago) it all came to ahead in August last year like you. I got so bad that I could not even leave my bedroom and go downstairs - can agoraphobia confine you to one room - well it did for me But you can recover and get to a happier place, I am getting there and I am back to the old me, but it is hard work and you really need to put the effort in. It isn't always easy and I still have underlining anxiety and still need to push myself - but I am not going to let this thing beat me.

I had counselling to start, I did lots of research, I also read Dr Weekes and I did/still doing a really good online CBT programme which is recommended here somewhere.

I wish you a recovery (I wont say speedy as it can take time) x
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Old 06-04-11, 07:41
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shoegal shoegal is offline
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Re: anxiety and panic attacks are ruining my life

Hello Hamster Lady. I’ve been up all night for reasons I’d rather not go into, so I decided to write to you as promised.

I am 37 and currently living alone. I think that being alone makes my agoraphobia worse because I feel under constant pressure to beat this - because there is literally nobody there who can help me. I see my parents maybe once or twice a week when they are passing by or dropping off some shopping, but I don’t really see them often socially. My family don’t really understand what I'm going through. They think this is something I can just 'snap out of' and that I’m being ‘negative’.

Like yours, my anxiety was triggered by a family member being very unwell. I won’t go into details here as I talked about it in my Diary thread, but I do think periods of extreme stress can act as a ‘trigger’.

You are doing really well going to the shop and walking your dog if those things make you feel panicky. Can you go alone at all or can you only do it if accompanied?

I also cannot cope with restaurants etc as I feel trapped – but that’s not to say that I can’t go to them, but doing so is an ordeal I would rather avoid as the panic attacks they bring on are so severe!

As for worrying that you are having a nervous breakdown, my Doctor told me there is no such thing in medical terms. It’s just a phrase people use to label mental illnesses with. It is just a phrase, so what does it matter whether you are or aren’t having one? Your symptoms are the same whatever label you give the disorder. Giving your symptoms another name won’t change them.

I also have panic attacks in the waiting room when visiting my Doctor and have difficulty going to appointments. Can your Doctor offer any support over the telephone as mine sometimes does? I also tell my Doctor that I find the waiting room difficult due to my agoraphobia and she sees me during her lunch break or when she is on call so there isn’t much of a queue. I find it also helps if someone goes with me so I don't have to sit in the waiting room on my own.

I’m sorry you are finding it difficult to be on your own at home sometimes. Luckily I don’t mind being on my own but I have had a few severe panic attacks at home which have caused me to phone someone because I was scared to be alone during the attack. I often wake up during the night gasping for air and panicking, but luckily I'm quite good at taking a deep breath, turning over and going back to sleep.

I’m pleased to hear that you have a supportive husband and someone to share your worries with. The thing that upsets me most about my agoraphobia is not being able to walk my dog properly any more. I don’t want him to suffer because of me and I wish someone else could walk him while I am recovering. My Mum rather unhelpfully commented that I shouldn’t have got a dog, but obviously I never saw this coming (I’ve had no problem walking dogs for the past 15 years), plus my dog is my companion and without him I would be completely alone!

Anyway, feel free to PM me anytime as we do seem to have a lot in common. It would be nice to have someone to talk to who really understands. If you like we can chat on MSN sometime with a cup of tea and a slice of cake (it would be like going out for a coffee without all the stress)!

Paula Lynne – It’s great to hear that you are on the road to recovery. Do you have any tips that might help us? What steps have you taken to overcome this?

Ambers – I believe many agoraphobics at some point end up confined to one room in the house. Luckily that hasn’t happened to me!

By the way, am I the only one who ISN’T a fan of Claire Weekes?
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  #9  
Old 06-04-11, 08:52
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paula lynne paula lynne is offline
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Re: anxiety and panic attacks are ruining my life

Hi ladies x
As there is this thread for you Hamsterlady, and also Shoegals daily diary, I think I will open a thread for you both, and anyone else, with all my tips etc. Also, it will give others whove overcome agoraphobia the chance to contribute their top tips too. Im easily confused and if I go between these threads Im sure to repeat myself or miss something out. Can you give me a few days, Im plagued by migraine at the moment.

Take Care, Paula.
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  #10  
Old 06-04-11, 12:58
hamster lady hamster lady is offline
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Re: anxiety and panic attacks are ruining my life

Hi Shoegal

Thanks so very much writing back last night, I can't believe how similar our situations are, especially with the dog walking problems. It sounds like you are going through a really tough time at the moment like me, agarophobia is such a horrible thing and it affects your whole life. I can just about take my dog out on my own if I only go on a short walk, but if it is a longer walk I have to go with somebody. I feel so bad because I can't take her for a lovely, long walk on my own, I had no idea that when we adopted her last February that I would end up like this and not be able to meet her doggy needs! What makes it worse is that Millie is a rescue dog and she is still a bit unpredictable with other dogs, and I get really panicky if she has a go at another dog! I usually find that as I get further and further away from my house a horrible panicky feeling starts to set in and I just want to turn back! I dread that feeling of unreality that strikes when a panic attack is looming and I have to fight it off the whole time I am out. I have been forcing myself to go out with my dog because I don't want it to beat me but I would rather stay at home! Luckily my husband is off work now for the Easter holidays so we will be able to go out for walks together and my poorly son can come out too in his wheelchair and get some fresh air.

I'm sorry to hear that your family don't really understand what you are going through. Although my husband is understanding the rest of my family aren't very sympathetic and like you, they just think that I can get over it quickly. They don't really have al lot of patience for my problem which makes me feel even worse. Are you on any medication for your anxiety? My doctor recommended that I take some beta blockers if I'm having a really bad day but I haven't taken any so far, I'm too scared of any potential side effects and I don't want to end up relying on them.

All the things I used to enjoy like going out to eat or even just going to a coffee shop I don't enjoy now, I can get a panic attack anywhere. I couldn't possibly go to the cinema or a concert, I would just feel trapped, the racing heart would start and a panic attack would follow! I know exactly what you mean about restaurants, I feel trapped too and don't enjoy my meal because I feel so panicky. I couldn't possibly go into town on my own, I haven't been shopping on my own for months now. The local shop that I can just about cope with is just round the corner but I have felt a bit panicky if there is a queue in there! I just look at other people going about their daily lives and wish I was like them and not this complete wreck that can't do anything anymore.

I've woken up gasping for air like you too although I'm not so good at getting back to sleep because it often turns into a full-blown night time panic attack. I have also been suffering from nightmares almost everynight since August!

Thank you for the offer to pm you, please feel free to pm me too if you feel like a chat. That is a great idea about chatting on MSN sometime, I will definitely grab myself a cuppa and some cake, a panic free chat in a virtual coffee shop! I hope you are feeling OK today. I am feeling better today, I felt absolutely exhausted yesterday after my shopping trip, I knew it would be a bad idea and it was!

Paula - that is a great idea about merging the threads. I hope you feel better from your migraine soon. I suffer with those too - they really are just awful!
I
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