I am 50 years old and have been suffering from agoraphobia and general panic disorder for 26 years but believe my anxiety stems back to early child hood.

I am married, have 5 children and 7 grandchildren.

I have not left the house for about 20 years now, cannot cope with visitors coming, even my own children visiting affects me. The telephone and in fact any situation where I feel trapped send me into a panic, I hide if someone knocks at the door and over the years things have just added to the list of what I can't do, so my answer has been to avoid them.

Because of the extreme fears and worry I have, no one has been able to get close enough to offer me help, I rarely see my doctor but can talk on the phone with him if I can pluck up the courage. I am currently taking Mirtazapine but over the years have tried a whole cocktail of different antidepressants, none have worked but I seem unable to just give them up as that now makes me even worse!

Last year my Mum died suddenly, she was found in the garden by a neighbour, her heart had failed. This left me with my elderly Dad in a care home with dementia, I am an only child following the death of my 13 year old brother in 1985 when I was just 17, he was killed in a RTC while riding his bike.

I spiralled into depression but also something inside me was saying sort yourself out, life is too short and I have wasted years! So in July I agreed with my doctor to go through steps 2 change talking therapies, who after a 5 month wait have put me on a computer based CBT course called Fear Fighter. There was no way in this world I could agree to face to face so thought this was something I could do with no pressure.

I am struggling at step 5 core beliefs and need some help, some insight into what my core beliefs actually are and whether I am supposed to actually believe in what I am saying!

Sorry to waffle on but in order to help me understand I guess you need a little more info from me...

As a small child I remember having a toilet phobia when it came to my number 2's, I hated it coming out so used to hold myself, the nurse used to put a suppository in me and make it happen, I remember hiding under the sofa from her. As I got older I still held it in as much as I could and would say this went on until my teens, but perhaps not so severe, I didn't like going but knew it was inevitable.

I would say my mid teens were not ideal, I met an older man when I was 14 and to be honest there was no escaping him, he had complete control of my life, he had my parents eating off the palm of his hand, if I dared do anything he didn't like or wouldn't do as I was told he would have them punish me, I was grounded for a month once but at the end of it he was still there waiting! When I was 16 he moved me away and I became his full time play thing. After my brother died I decided to take back control, secretly got a job, a place to stay and I finally escaped and said no more when I was 18. Looking back I can see I was groomed but at the time I was very na´ve and the knowledge of such men really wasn't out there in the 80's like it is now.

A few months later I met another man, a really loving bloke who wanted a family and basically seemed to want everything I did in life. I didn't realise how possessive and jealous he would be until it was to late, we were married quite quickly and had a baby soon after. I guess the signs were there before but I chose to ignore them. He didn't allow me to have any friends, money or to go out unless it was absolutely necessary, if people came to the house I would be made to feel uncomfortable, receive glaring looks if I dared even speak to a man. He made it clear that if I left he would take the children. So to avoid the conflict and anguish of losing my children I stopped going out and when he took us anywhere I would be so anxious about what he was thinking if I dared glance at a man that I would start to panic, the panic attacks bought on the immediate upset stomach and so I was constantly worrying about where toilets were, this got to the point that he was angry I was constantly wanting to stop to find a toilet so I stopped going out, which of course is why I am agoraphobic.

So for 26 years I have not left the house which actually has suited my husband as he knows where I am, if we have visitors he still to this day makes me feel on edge and glares at me if I say the wrong thing or speak to another man. People like doctors and therapists just caused issues as they wanted me alone and that was just not going to happen seeing they were all men.

I have got a bit stronger as the kids got older in the fact that I have confronted him about this and he agrees he is a jealous person but I don't think he understands or see's it the same way as I do. So denies he is controlling or stopping me from getting better. The thing is I feel guilty about things I shouldn't, I don't do anything wrong but yet the guilt is still there, I am always aware of his presence even when he is not at home.

I know I need to take back control but to do that I need to get better first as at the moment I know there is no way I can stand up to anything.

If people come to the house while he is out my immediate reaction is a feeling I need the toilet but can't get away without saying I need the toilet so the panic rises in me. The same with the phone, if I am stuck on the phone I cannot go to the toilet, cooking dinner I cannot go to the toilet, my mind is constantly alert to the fact I cannot get to the toilet, I don't want people to know I am going to the toilet.

So can someone help me understand this core beliefs thing, I don't know where to start and also don't know whether I am supposed to believe what I am saying, it really is so hard but I can't move on to exposure in step 6 until I understand this. Also is my phobia a toilet phobia or simply agoraphobia with associated symptoms of needing the toilet because of the panic attacks, I am confused, in fact because it is just my way of life I didn't question it until I started this CBT, it was going on about negative thoughts and everything I was thinking had toilet in the sentence!

I do have a therapist call me every 2 weeks but I avoid talking to much as I cannot cope with being on the phone, so I don't ask her these questions.

Gosh sorry I could go on forever! Thanks for reading any advice would be appreciated.