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Thread: Musings of an Agoraphobic

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Posts
    473

    Musings of an Agoraphobic

    Here's a few thoughts/tips whatever I thought i'd share that might help you.

    I'm by no means entirely "better". I'd like to hop on a plane and play golf in Dubai but hey.. focus on what we CAN do right?

    My psychologist likens it to "feeding a monster" each time you don't at least try and do whatever thing you want to do, even if it's just stepping outside your front door for a few minutes.

    Start small, walk to the end of your street (fiddling with your phone and pretend you got a call and have to turn around if you're worried about people thinking you look odd suddenly turning around).

    It really doesn't matter how far away you go as long as you trigger the anxiety symptoms a little and when they start. Stay where you are for a few minutes if you can at least. Try and stay until you're almost bored of them or realise you they can't harm you.

    Gradually (and i do mean slowly) increase how far away you go (or more "difficult" situations if thats more of the problem) and little by little it will improve.

    I went from laying down watching tv most of the day and getting nervous going up to take a shower 2 years ago to being about to drive into town and get some stuff from a department store. Ok i seem to be a little stuck at around 20-25 miles from home but at least i have a decent quality of life back.

    Also one other thing is don't expect it to be the same day by day. Progress is a bit of a roller coaster. Many factors depend on how anxious you get day by day, sleep, work, worries, how hungry you are but most of all your thoughts. "Just do it - Nike" when you decide to go out. The longer you spend deciding whether to or not the harder you're making it for yourself.

    There are an array of tools your can practice at home while you're calm too. Mindfulness mind seem a bit airy-fairy at first but give a a few weeks (a few minutes every day or two is all you need) but it truly it amazing when you start to get it. Distraction (smart phones are great). Breathing exercises (personally i never found these useful and also you can do a mini whole body workout (progressive muscle relaxation?) which you can subtley do and i DO find that one useful.

    Next goal for me is to get to the coast again. Beach and Casino. Yay.. made it to 4 miles away. Uncomfortable but doable. I wouldn't recommend pushing beyond high anxiety personally. If you make your journeys back into the world too terrifying you'll put yourself off doing it again. Slow and steady etc..

    One final thing. Try and make it something you REALLY want to do when that becomes practical. Driving/walking up and down the same bit of road just to stretch your boundries is great but it's nice if you can make a reward at the end of it. Recently I was bored with cold sandwiches for lunch so i thought "screw it" and drove to get a kfc (around 20mins round trip in lunch time traffic). I was fine. A little shakey... usual symptoms popped up to stop me but i wanted a KFC and i was having one!

    I hope somebody finds some of this useful.
    __________________

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    8,443

    Re: Musings of an Agoraphobic

    Wonderful advice and great insight into the torment of agoraphobia.

    I'm so glad that you have made such significant progress, skymaid. All down to your determination to get better and putting in the work with a decent therapist.

    Golf in Dubai one day? You never know?!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    4,633

    Re: Musings of an Agoraphobic

    I agree with Pulisa - it is so wonderful to see such a positive and inspiring post. You are taking control skymaid, and the strength you are showing will reap rewards. I've not had agorophobia myself, but I can see how the methods you are advocating will take courage BUT will hugely benefit the sufferer.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    123

    Re: Musings of an Agoraphobic

    thank you for the tips and advice, i have been agoraphobic for over 10 years and where i m its hard to find help so i have been suffering in silence, but i do want to go out but they anxiety and all of my emotions hitting me at one drains me, but i will try your tips.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Posts
    473

    Re: Musings of an Agoraphobic

    Quote Originally Posted by ladyhawke77 View Post
    thank you for the tips and advice, i have been agoraphobic for over 10 years and where i m its hard to find help so i have been suffering in silence, but i do want to go out but they anxiety and all of my emotions hitting me at one drains me, but i will try your tips.
    I know exactly what you mean. If go beyond my current comfort zone then I feels like i'm hit with such a wave of emotions/thoughts/sensations (fear basically) that I just HAVE to go back home. I've learned that means I've probably gone slightly further than i'm comfortable with for now but the important thing to do is try and NOT turn around, at least immediately anyway. Try and observe something around you, give it 30 seconds, a couple of minutes. Whatever you can before you head back to "safety". Each time you do that you'll slowly realise you get used to the same old thoughts, feelings and they don't hurt you. Do that enough times and suddenly wherever you were feeling fear before won't cause that reaction anymore. If that made sense.

    What the situation is or how far away it is is individual to you. So if it's walking downstairs to postbox or the front door or going downstairs or driving 5 miles away, its not important. What's important is to not give in to the fear (immediately at least) each time or you're (without being dramatic) reinforcing it and slowly causing your world to shrink.

    I'm just remember stuff from my therapy btw. I'm not remotely qualified in anything psychology related. I'm a fully qualified agoraphobic I guess. I had it at 16, had some exposure therapy/cbt which got me just about out in the real world again (where i got distracted by the world being so interesting as it is when you're 16, girls, booze, nightclubs etc - all much more interesting than agoraphobia). But unfortunately I didn't notice I was gradually using booze to get over my nerves about going places (abroad, work meetings in London). Then social events. Then a couple of drinks just to "steady my nerves". That combined with not eating properly temporarily (luckily for me) messed up my liver and kidneys. I felt like death for a few months and panic attacks started up again when i went out. Now with no booze to hide behind i was screwed.

    Exposure therapy and cbt are damn hard work though so if you try those kind of things remember to give yourself a day off it now and again. 5 days a week will do. It's really exhausting, especially at first or when you really try and push yourself to do something.

    Give it a try LadyHawke. 5 times a week try one small thing that raises your anxiety (walking a little way down your road or something, or drive 10 miles or wherever you're at with it) and when the fear/thoughts start (not when they get overwhelming - before that. Stop there and just observe your surroundings, fiddle with your phone. Let a few minutes pass. You should find the fear sensations less err scary. They won't necessarily go (in fact wanting them to will make sure they won't). It should work after a while and something your found scary will become easier and then effortless. Apply the same thing to everything you want to do bit by bit, small steps.

    Worth a try - Nothing to lose
    __________________

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    8,443

    Re: Musings of an Agoraphobic

    LadyHawke, life must be so difficult for you..Skymaid has given you some excellent advice and tips here and it would be so good if you could make some progress-however "small"-towards challenging your agoraphobia. Whatever you achieve will be huge and significant because 10 years is a long long time to be help captive by such a horrible condition.

    I only had a short 6 month period of it myself and managed to work myself out of it. Of course it will be a hell of a lot harder for you-is there really no professional help and support for you where you live? The prospect of challenging your agoraphobia must be terrifying but you deserve and need your life back xx

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Posts
    1,165

    Re: Musings of an Agoraphobic

    Quote Originally Posted by skymaid View Post
    Here's a few thoughts/tips whatever I thought i'd share that might help you.

    I'm by no means entirely "better". I'd like to hop on a plane and play golf in Dubai but hey.. focus on what we CAN do right?

    My psychologist likens it to "feeding a monster" each time you don't at least try and do whatever thing you want to do, even if it's just stepping outside your front door for a few minutes.

    Start small, walk to the end of your street (fiddling with your phone and pretend you got a call and have to turn around if you're worried about people thinking you look odd suddenly turning around).

    It really doesn't matter how far away you go as long as you trigger the anxiety symptoms a little and when they start. Stay where you are for a few minutes if you can at least. Try and stay until you're almost bored of them or realise you they can't harm you.

    Gradually (and i do mean slowly) increase how far away you go (or more "difficult" situations if thats more of the problem) and little by little it will improve.

    I went from laying down watching tv most of the day and getting nervous going up to take a shower 2 years ago to being about to drive into town and get some stuff from a department store. Ok i seem to be a little stuck at around 20-25 miles from home but at least i have a decent quality of life back.

    Also one other thing is don't expect it to be the same day by day. Progress is a bit of a roller coaster. Many factors depend on how anxious you get day by day, sleep, work, worries, how hungry you are but most of all your thoughts. "Just do it - Nike" when you decide to go out. The longer you spend deciding whether to or not the harder you're making it for yourself.

    There are an array of tools your can practice at home while you're calm too. Mindfulness mind seem a bit airy-fairy at first but give a a few weeks (a few minutes every day or two is all you need) but it truly it amazing when you start to get it. Distraction (smart phones are great). Breathing exercises (personally i never found these useful and also you can do a mini whole body workout (progressive muscle relaxation?) which you can subtley do and i DO find that one useful.

    Next goal for me is to get to the coast again. Beach and Casino. Yay.. made it to 4 miles away. Uncomfortable but doable. I wouldn't recommend pushing beyond high anxiety personally. If you make your journeys back into the world too terrifying you'll put yourself off doing it again. Slow and steady etc..

    One final thing. Try and make it something you REALLY want to do when that becomes practical. Driving/walking up and down the same bit of road just to stretch your boundries is great but it's nice if you can make a reward at the end of it. Recently I was bored with cold sandwiches for lunch so i thought "screw it" and drove to get a kfc (around 20mins round trip in lunch time traffic). I was fine. A little shakey... usual symptoms popped up to stop me but i wanted a KFC and i was having one!

    I hope somebody finds some of this useful.
    NICE tips! I love that bit about feeding the monster. About to have a bath and take the dogs for a walk. Was literally just sitting here feeling sorry for myself. If you can do it, I can do it. BRB

    Need a bath first. For some reason I won't leave the house without a bath.
    __________________
    Software Developer. HA. Ex window fitter. I record podcasts: https://anxietyjames.podbean.com/e/a...ty-affects-me/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Posts
    1,165

    Re: Musings of an Agoraphobic

    Thanks to this post I had the courage to get up yesterday and walk to the shops alone to do some grocery shopping.

    There's a large hill I have to walk up carrying a couple of heavy bags. Always gets me out of breath by the top. I know I'm fit and healthy as I exercise, but it still scares me when I get to the top and my heart is racing and I'm panting.

    Yesterday I thought to myself "I'm not going to die. Set yourself a challenge and walk as fast as possible up this hill carrying the bags".

    And I did it. Almost dead by the time I got home but I conquered the fear and some. This morning I got up and went to the gym and tonight I'll be walking the dogs.

    I've got to thank this book too (The Game of Life and How to Play It) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUcnJrqKcSI
    __________________
    Software Developer. HA. Ex window fitter. I record podcasts: https://anxietyjames.podbean.com/e/a...ty-affects-me/

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