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Thread: I think I'm Agoraphobic!

  1. #1

    I think I'm Agoraphobic!

    Hi Everyone!
    Iím new to these forums, but have been reading other posts and decided I should do my own post. Sorry itís a bit long but Iím just trying to make sense of whatís going on!
    Basically, Iím 21 years old, female, and I believe I have Agoraphobia. I didnít even know what Agoraphobia was until about three days ago! To begin with, about 6 Ė 7 years ago when I was 15, I was in school sat in an English lesson and we were doing silent reading. Out of the blue I suddenly felt really faint, like I was floating on a boat or something. I felt weak and I was boiling hot, my palms were sweating and I felt like I couldnít breathe. I genuinely thought that something was wrong with me. As soon as I left the classroom I was fine. I put it down to a one off and forgot about it. The next day the same thing happened. I just kept feeling faint and dizzy every time I was in that classroom, but as soon as I got out I was OK. This happened in a few other lessons as well, but not as bad. When it happened it was like all I could think about was that if I fainted, everyone would see Ė which made me feel even more faint. It began to happen so much that I stopped going to that lesson altogether. I told my parents that I kept feeling dizzy. I suppose very deep down I knew it was just an anxiety thing, but at the time I honestly thought there was something wrong with me. I went to the doctor and told her that I kept feeling dizzy, I didnít mention that this was just in English and some other lessons, because at the time it didnít occur to me that it was. I had tests done for diabetes, anemia, I even did a pregnancy test but nothing could account for the dizziness. Eventually I got so scared of having these dizzy spells in my lessons that I stopped going.
    Looking back now, Iíve realized that these dizzy spells only ever occurred when the class was silent. In English we were always asked to work in silence. In a lesson like PE or Drama we were always allowed to chat. I came to realize that these Ďdizzy attacksí only ever happened when the class was silent. When the class was silent it was like the pressure was on and that I was under scrutiny. I remember thinking hundreds of times Ďif I faint now, everyone will see, it will be so embarrassing.í These thoughts caused me to feel even worse. The room would spin, Iíd get hot and clammy and my heart would race. Exams were a nightmare. Whilst most people were worried about doing well, I was worried about fainting or feeling dizzy during it. I went to college and it got better. I rarely had dizzy attacks and when I did they only ever happened in exams. I then went to University and for the first two years it was fine. I became so confident. I met loads of people and I constantly had to give presentations which made me so confident. In my third year, the dizzy spells came back, although this time I knew that it was just me being stupid. Iíd feel really hot and clammy and the room would be spinning when I had to give a presentation, but I told myself it was stupid and somehow Iíd get through it.
    My dizzy attacks only ever seemed to happen when I was in an educational environment, like in the classroom. When I got out of it, it was like Iíd instantly forget and Iíd be OK. However over the last 8 weeks or so theyíve been getting worse and worse, especially in my social life, and itís really getting to me. About 8 weeks ago I went to town with my friend shopping. I love shopping and this time, we were having a good laugh. We ended up going for food in a cafť. Whilst in there the familiar feeling of a Ďdizzy attack' happened. I felt like I was going to faint. I couldnít sit properly in my chair because I was worried Iíd fall. I was really hot and shaky and my heart started racing. I had never ever had it happen to me out of uni or school before, so it shocked me, and at the time I thought something was majorly wrong. My friend was also shocked as sheíd never seen me like that before. I went out to get fresh air and it was like I wasnít Ďwith ití my legs were just carrying me and they felt like they were going to give way. I was driving so the whole way home I felt faint and couldnít wait to get in. As soon as I got home it passed and I was fine. The next day I went back to town as normal and was fine. I put it down to a one off and carried on as normal. That was around 8 weeks ago. Shortly after that (about 6 weeks ago) I had an exam in uni. I got in and I was in bits. The room was spinning, I was boiling hot, and I found myself planning an escape (sounds irrational I know.) Again, as soon as I got out I was fine. I then began working full time in my job. I work in a restaurant and we all have breaks and lunch together, there can be about 8 or 9 of us all around one table. Iíve been there for three years so Iím comfortable with everyone. On the Monday I went in as normal and sat around the table and all of a sudden had a dizzy attack. I felt like I couldn't hold my head up and that Iím going to faint. No one noticed because I hid it well. This happened on the Tuesday also. By the Wednesday it got so bad that I made an excuse to go into town on my lunch break so that I wouldnít have to sit with them and go through another dizzy attack. I had one in town also and had to race back to my car to stop it. When I got in the car it went.
    After this me and a friend booked a last minute holiday. We literally booked it on the Sunday and went the following Friday. That week I was really busy with packing etc and only got one dizzy attack in work that week. I thought for once maybe itís going. I had a fab holiday, up until 5 days in, I was sat eating a meal with my friend and I just kept feeling dizzy, I felt like I was falling. We got back to the room and it went. The next day we visited a few souvenir shops and I felt dizzy in them too, and then again that night in a restaurant. This Friday we came home from having a really good holiday despite the dizziness. On the plane I was thinking about it and after years of getting it, it only just occurred to me that it happens in public places where people are around. Itís like Iím so worried of fainting or passing out in front of people that it stupidly actually makes me feel faint. That night I googled Ďfeeling faint in publicí and ĎI only feel dizzy when in social situationsí and so forth and it kept coming up with Agoraphobia which I seemed to fit with. When I found it I felt relieved and told myself it was all in my mind and that I was finally able to control it.
    The next day, Saturday just gone, my mum asked if I wanted to go to town to look for a fatherís day present. I was a bit weary, but wanted to as Iíd just done a week abroad and gone out every day despite an attack so I wanted to go. I was fine to begin with then we went for food and had my worst attack yet. As soon as we got in the restaurant I felt faint and hot. I didnít want my mum to worry so I tried to carry on as normal. I tried to tell myself that it was just because I was hungry so I ate all of my food but the dizziness was still there. After we went to a few more shops. I was walking around as if I was floating. My legs were shaky, my heart racing and I felt faint. My mum was talking to me and I wasnít taking anything in. All I could think was ĎI need to get home.í We were walking and there was people everywhere, I felt like I couldnít breathe. Eventually I clung onto my mumís arm and told her I felt ill. By this point I could barely stand. She told me she needed to go to one more shop and we could go. When we got to the shop (a shoe shop) my mum told me to sit on the bench. I sat down and I couldnít let go of her arm, it was like I was worried that if she let go Iíd fall. I was sat there and I could feel passers by staring at me, everything was spinning and I felt weak. It got so bad that I made my brother wait with me while my mum went off to look. My brother asked if I needed a drink and I kept saying no, because if I had said yes he would have left me on the bench alone and I was so worried about fainting I didnít want to be alone. He insisted and got up to get one and I began crying and begging him to stay, I became almost irrational and I scared myself. It was like I couldnít be alone. As soon as I got back to the car I was fine again. My mum and brother kept saying it was because I was tired and dehydrated. I told them I think it was a panic attack and they told me not to be silly.
    The next day Sunday, I was really shaken up by it. I stayed in most of the day until my mum asked if I could pop to the food court with her so we could book a table for my graduation next month. I tried to put it off by telling her I felt a bit ill but she said that the fresh air would be good. The food court is by a harbor and so I thought maybe I should just go and not be so stupid, if I have a panic attack who the hell cares! So I went. I started off OK and we booked a nice table and then went for a walk. I was my usual fine self. We decided to take the long way back to the car, and all of a sudden I felt dizzy AGAIN. I couldnít believe it. I didnít tell my mum this time. I felt really hot again and couldnít wait to get to the car. As soon as I got to the car I was fine.
    This now brings me to today (Monday.) I decided last night that this whole dizziness thing was ridiculously stupid and that I know deep down that Iím not going to faint or pass out. My boyfriend phoned me this morning and asked if I would like to go to lunch with him today. This is something we always do. We end up going for lunch and have such a nice time that I never want to go home! We end up getting home at like midnight! I was getting ready to meet up with him and kept telling myself, if I get dizzy, donít panic, itíll pass. Or if it doesnít I should tell him how Iím feeling. He might think its stupid but at least he could help. We got to the restaurant and immediately I felt hot and dizzy. I even found myself choosing the quietest place in the restaurant. I was reading the menu and my vision began to tunnel in a mass panic. I went really quiet. All I could think of was going home and being OK again. Eventually I told my boyfriend that I felt ill and really wanted to go home. He was surprised because usually Iím so bubbly and chatty. He took me home right away and just told me that I was probably tired from my holiday and to have a nap Ė I felt guilty because little did he know I was in another dizzy panic! Of course I got home and was fine. When I did get in I sat by the window and just burst into tears as its getting out of hand. I felt as if I could never leave the house again without feeling dizzy and having an attack.
    Later on my brother asked if I could drop him to rugby training. Itís quite a way and usually Iíd be fine but I began to clam up at just the thought of going out in the car. I agreed to take him to try and conquer it. I thought that if I didnít do it Iíd never get over it. To get there you have to drive along a very long dual carriageway as well as a lot of main roads. As soon as I got in the car I began to clam up and feel dizzy. I found myself constantly looking for places to pull over if I needed to. I was terrified of passing out at the wheel, especially with my brother in the car. I hid the attack well as I didnít want to worry my brother whoís younger, but inside I was a wreck. Driving I was chewing my nails and shaking. Once again when I got in I was OK.
    This brings me to now. I am terrified of going out of the house again and having one of these dizzy attacks. They are getting worse and worse. Things I once found enjoyable and trivial like shopping and driving, seeing my boyfriend have become almost daunting in the last few weeks. Iím even beginning to think that there is actually something wrong with me and that its not a panic attack but there really is something wrong with me like Iím anemic or something. My life is just starting to begin. Iíve got my graduation soon, and I even have a results dinner on Friday which is very exciting and important. Iím petrified that I canít go or that if I do an attack will happen. Luckily I have 10 days off work, but Iím even terrified of going back there too. Its not a case of me being scared to go out the house, I can get out of the house, its more a case of me having an attack when I am out of the house. Ive had an attack for three days in a row now.
    I want to think about seeing my GP but feel ridiculous in doing so. I donít trust doctors much and they never seem to care. Even if I did see my GP there is usually a two week wait anyway, by that time I will have had to go back to work. Ive tried to tell my mum about the panic attacks but she say Iím being silly and its probably just tiredness, although Ive only actually told her about the one attack. I need to tell someone or do something because its beginning to affect my life :(
    Sorry this post is unbelievably long and thankyou so much for reading.

  2. #2

    Re: I think I'm Agoraphobic!

    Stephie don't feel silly there are many of us with the same feelings that you are experiencing, I am going through something similar right now, I lost both my parents within 12 months of one another Its only really just begun to hit me I had to remain strong while my mother was so ill, and now it seems to have come out as a growing anxiety I drive for a living but am off work right now just could not face it, just take yourself to the doctor and tell him/her everything and let them help you do not feel ashamed you are just human like the rest of us.

    Dale xx

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Re: I think I'm Agoraphobic!

    Hi Stephie

    You do need professional help for this. It does seem very much like agoraphobia. You shouldn't feel ashamed or embarrassed these things are very common. I do find doctors nowadays are generally much better than they used to be. I avoided doctors for years fo the same reasons as you, but was forced into going because of my illness. I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were. I have seen three different doctors at my practice now and can't fault any of them. If you do find your doctor unsympathetic, see another one next time or change your surgery if you can. Is there any procedure for getting an appointment a bit earlier if you ring up first thing and ask to see the duty doctor?

    Your family probably don't want to think that you have this illness, but it won't go away unless you get help. Once your doctor has seen you it will be easier to explain it all in full to your family as it is very hard going through all this on your own.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011

    Re: I think I'm Agoraphobic!

    I would really recommend telling your family what you're going through. When I started having panic attacks I kept them a secret and told no-one! I gradually started to feel overwhelmed by it all and tried to tell my mam - she didn't believe me. It was only when she saw me have a panic attack (my worst to date) that she listened to me properly.

    Yes your family may not listen but you've set the groundwork for when you really need it!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    , , United Kingdom.

    Re: I think I'm Agoraphobic!


    Please dont feel ridiculous to see your dr.

    After reading your post, i am very similar to you, this happens to me in supermarkets and shopping centres nearly everytime i go and also dr surgeries and any places similar.

    I am on the waiting list for cbt again, please ask you dr about this as it could really help you

    mandie x

  6. #6

    Re: I think I'm Agoraphobic!

    Thankyou for all of your kind replies, especially after reading such a long post!

    I had a better day today. Went shopping and the dizziness thing did happen, but I forced myself to keep going and it did ease. Am thinking about contacting my GP soon!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2005

    Re: I think I'm Agoraphobic!

    Hey hun, dont feel silly at all and please dont feel silly about talking to your dr...

    I am the same as you as in im scared of passing out in public and people lookin while I do. At my worst in 2005 I didnt leave the house for a year. I did and got better and lived a 100% none panic life till very recently when it has come back :(

    The key is to keep going out. its horrible I understand that but you must face your fear and realise nothing bad is going to happen. I have good days and bad days... I manage alot better with it these days but its always there for me...

    Please talk to your family and boyfriend. my boyfriend struggles to understand but tries and it helps to have someone to chat to. we are all here to listen and understand it better then anyone... xxx
    "when life throws you a lemmon get the tequila out!"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Re: I think I'm Agoraphobic!


    I am cyclothymic and I suffer with agrophobia which had got worse just recently. I also am at university and understand how difficult it can make it. I have just started to take citalopram 20mg again this year to help me with this. I went up to town a couple of days ago and did not feel anxious at all. These have worked well for me in the past. Maybe you should consider going to see your GP and getting either medication or CBT.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Re: I think I'm Agoraphobic!

    After reading your post this has just made me think....
    I hate the thought of going out (in case i panic) if i go into shop and that i can be fine then within minutes i start feeling all shakey / sickly and just wanna get out asap i never thought of it as agoraphobia but now with you saying this then maybe in a way it is?? i just try and stay in the shop or where ever i am as much as i can but some days i just can't and i need to get out but then i no i have let the anxiety win instead of just staying in the shop & riding it out this is something am working on from nowe on just to stay in the shop a little longer and one day i no i can do it x
    trying in little steps

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2005

    Re: I think I'm Agoraphobic!

    you def add fuel to the anxiety fire (so to speak) by leaving the situtaion that makes you panic...

    when I last had CBT I was told to ride it out.. your panic will peak and you will start to feel better... the problem is normally we see the starting to feel better cause we have left the situation that made of feel the anxiety in the first place not that it would of peaked and left us if we had stayed anyway. Does that make any sence? x

    Quote Originally Posted by honeyp1e View Post
    After reading your post this has just made me think....
    I hate the thought of going out (in case i panic) if i go into shop and that i can be fine then within minutes i start feeling all shakey / sickly and just wanna get out asap i never thought of it as agoraphobia but now with you saying this then maybe in a way it is?? i just try and stay in the shop or where ever i am as much as i can but some days i just can't and i need to get out but then i no i have let the anxiety win instead of just staying in the shop & riding it out this is something am working on from nowe on just to stay in the shop a little longer and one day i no i can do it x
    "when life throws you a lemmon get the tequila out!"

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