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Anyone w agoraphobia/panic on here?

SB828

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Hi, everyone - I'm brand new to this forum and pretty new to panic. I'm 35 and had my first panic attack earlier this year. Since then, I've been struggling with the common agoraphobia that comes with the experience of having had a panic attack in a public place. I went through a "hierarchy of recovery" without the help of a CBT specialist (but with the help of my usual therapist for going on six years) and mostly recovered over a period of months (I actually think being ignorant about what was happening helped!)... but then I had my first attack in months at an airport (despite being a very frequent flyer) about six weeks ago and ended up in a worse place than I was the first time.

I've been able to leave the house, and I'm in a way better place now than I was a few weeks ago. But every time I have to do even everyday things, it's such a struggle, and I will often have pre-panic, which makes me not want to do said things ever again. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, I've been super brave -- but it's almost impossible to not be hard on myself, probably because this is all so new to me. There's this constant narrative in my head comparing the old me with the new panic disorder me. i.e. "The old me taught college and has been an actor for over 15 years without any stage fright, whereas the new me can't go grocery shopping without getting lightheaded and feeling the need to rush out of there."

The word frustrated does not even come close to covering how I feel. As a performer, being suddenly afraid to perform has been heartbreaking. I've continued to do small on-camera stuff, since if I'm feeling panicky, I can always ask to take a five - though for the most part, my career has been on hold. But it feels like an impossibly long road to me being on stage again.

I don't think I have any specific questions right now.. just seeking commiseration.

Sending support to everyone on here <3
 

triceps

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Welcome. Good 'ol panic / agoraphobia. Been there, still there, awaiting the development of a cure. Am so sorry that your success as the old you has been disrupted by this anxiety disorder. The one thing I'm sure of is that your panic doesn't need a trigger. You can be feeling at your best and it can hit. Although I'm agoraphobic, hate to go anyplace, it's not from fear of a panic attack. I've had enough of them that I have full confidence that I'll survive it and if I have one in public, I'll find a place to sit down and sweat it out. One thing that has helped me not beat myself up so much is coming to terms with my having a chronic mental ailment which is not my fault in any way, shape or form. I do beat myself up for not being more of a risk-taker and getting out more. SB828, I wish you the very best in your recovery.
 

SB828

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Thanks, triceps. <3 Panic is still new to me, so I think I'm still getting used to not being afraid of them. I just hate experiencing it. My anxiety is so physical, and I never know just how it will manifest on any given day.

I'm still definitely in the beating myself up stage...

Have you tried doing a recovery hierarchy? I'm moving through it right now, but it's slow going and so, so hard.
 

triceps

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No I haven't and tried looking it up. What's the programs' premise?
 

Rue

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*receiving much needed support*
*sending love*

welcome :)

i 100 percent understand you. even though i'm stuck with going to school(i'm 13) and such, i still experience anxiety when i'm out in public, or any situation. since i was in elementary school, going to places like my sister's orchestra performances would make me so anxious and scared because i was afraid of a shooting. even now, being out by myself, or with a few people, in the dark, scares me. it's even hard being at school sometimes because i'm so scared of the possibility of school shooting and stuff.

it sucks, doesn't it?

i don't really have advice, just sending condolences. i hope you get better <3
 

SB828

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No I haven't and tried looking it up. What's the programs' premise?
The way it works is you create a hierarchy of "outings" that are difficult for you, going from easiest to hardest, and you work your way up the hierarchy step by step. So you do the first step until it becomes easy, then you move on to the next step. It works very well, but it's really, really hard. The whole idea is to get you more comfortable with feeling the physical symptoms of panic so you're not afraid of having attacks anymore. But in order to do that, you have to willingly put yourself through some degree of panic, which I'm having a hard time with. Like, the whole point is to induce panic, but when that happens, I often feel like a failure and end up avoiding future outings.

RUE: I'm so sorry.. you're definitely growing up in a different world than I did, and I would imagine many people your age are experiencing the exact same thing you are. Do you have someone to talk to about it?
 

triceps

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The way it works is you create a hierarchy of "outings" that are difficult for you, going from easiest to hardest, and you work your way up the hierarchy step by step. So you do the first step until it becomes easy, then you move on to the next step. It works very well, but it's really, really hard. The whole idea is to get you more comfortable with feeling the physical symptoms of panic so you're not afraid of having attacks anymore. But in order to do that, you have to willingly put yourself through some degree of panic, which I'm having a hard time with. Like, the whole point is to induce panic, but when that happens, I often feel like a failure and end up avoiding future outings.

RUE: I'm so sorry.. you're definitely growing up in a different world than I did, and I would imagine many people your age are experiencing the exact same thing you are. Do you have someone to talk to about it?
That sounds like it's worth a try. The desensitizing approach hasn't worked for me in the past but this is a different angle that I'll put some effort into. Thanks.
 

SB828

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That sounds like it's worth a try. The desensitizing approach hasn't worked for me in the past but this is a different angle that I'll put some effort into. Thanks.
I hope it's helpful. It's very hard, especially at first - and I had a setback recently, so it's harder to get back on the horse, so to speak. Today I settled for walking around the block.
 

triceps

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I hope it's helpful. It's very hard, especially at first - and I had a setback recently, so it's harder to get back on the horse, so to speak. Today I settled for walking around the block.
I'm having a tough time driving and actually retired because of it. Thanks to your post, I took my truck out on a 5 mile roundtrip. Had a hard time concentrating but it's a start.
 

SB828

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I'm having a tough time driving and actually retired because of it. Thanks to your post, I took my truck out on a 5 mile roundtrip. Had a hard time concentrating but it's a start.
Oh my God, congratulations!! Way to go. I'm so glad you found it useful.

According to the hierarchy, you would repeat that same trip until it gets easy and you're no longer preoccupied with the big bad thoughts. Again, easier said than done - but you're totally right, it's a start.
 

Merlot27

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Hi, everyone - I'm brand new to this forum and pretty new to panic. I'm 35 and had my first panic attack earlier this year. Since then, I've been struggling with the common agoraphobia that comes with the experience of having had a panic attack in a public place. I went through a "hierarchy of recovery" without the help of a CBT specialist (but with the help of my usual therapist for going on six years) and mostly recovered over a period of months (I actually think being ignorant about what was happening helped!)... but then I had my first attack in months at an airport (despite being a very frequent flyer) about six weeks ago and ended up in a worse place than I was the first time.

I've been able to leave the house, and I'm in a way better place now than I was a few weeks ago. But every time I have to do even everyday things, it's such a struggle, and I will often have pre-panic, which makes me not want to do said things ever again. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, I've been super brave -- but it's almost impossible to not be hard on myself, probably because this is all so new to me. There's this constant narrative in my head comparing the old me with the new panic disorder me. i.e. "The old me taught college and has been an actor for over 15 years without any stage fright, whereas the new me can't go grocery shopping without getting lightheaded and feeling the need to rush out of there."

The word frustrated does not even come close to covering how I feel. As a performer, being suddenly afraid to perform has been heartbreaking. I've continued to do small on-camera stuff, since if I'm feeling panicky, I can always ask to take a five - though for the most part, my career has been on hold. But it feels like an impossibly long road to me being on stage again.

I don't think I have any specific questions right now.. just seeking commiseration.

Sending support to everyone on here <3
“The old me vs the new me” I like the way you word that... yep. Been dealing with what I think is panic disorder/ agoraphobia for years. I vacillate between being a super functioning human to a hot mess. Driving has been a chronic issue. I can get myself to and from work and to a few safe places, but beyond that I panic. Then there is the guilt and embarrassment of not having the ability to pick up loved ones from the airport when I am actually thrilled that they are coming for a visit, but I can’t handle the traffic and speed in the car.
 

triceps

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Hi and welcome Merlot. I had given some thought to starting a thread with the same title so thanks for posting on this one. I truly relate to your situation. Next month I have six family members visiting who I've asked to rent cars because I can't pick them up at the airport. Granted, the airport is over three hours away but I couldn't do it if the distance was half of that. I had to retire early because I couldn't make the drive to work anymore. Fortunately I was able to deal with my anxiety/panic pretty well during a 30 year career. It has allowed me financially to now be pretty much of a recluse.
I think it's important for you to be open about your disability with family and friends to avoid feeling embarrassed when things come up that you can't handle. I wish I had done that years earlier as the hiding of my condition was just exhausting. Again, welcome, there are many good and helpful people here.
 

Hurt&Hopeful

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Hey there, and welcome! I have been in this exact position in the past - Unlike some others, I don't have agoraphobia all the time. I have panic disorder, though, and started having panic attacks at a very young age (I'm 40 now). The thing about panic attacks is that they are extremely scary - when you have that first one, it's traumatic, especially if you have no idea what triggered it. So the fear of the next panic attacks sets in - you are constantly waiting for that next big one to hit, and afraid that when it does you'll embarrass yourself, or do something stupid, or be somewhere where you don't feel safe, etc. It's a vicious cycle. Getting past that fear of the attacks is a big first step - it's a hard one, but once I learned to accept that my panic attacks are just that (I'm not actually dying), and that they WILL pass, I started to lose my fear of them. I learned to sort of float through them instead of fighting them, and they are not nearly as scary when they come now. And they don't come nearly as often...

I was talking with @triceps about this the other day - there is also a therapy called EMDR that has been really effective in helping people get over trauma and panic attacks by re-programming your brain and your body responses. Have you ever tried it? If not, you might look into it and see if it's something that you think might help you. Your therapist might have some info as well. I have done brainspotting, which is similar to EMDR - the good thing about these therapies are that they tend to provide more fast-acting results when they're effective.

I know the feeling about the "old me" and "new me" - the fact is, though, it's ALL me. :) If you can accept it and love yourself through it - give yourself some grace, so to speak - your brain and body will help you more with healing. So glad you've joined the forum, and we'll look forward to hearing about your progress.
 

AbejaReina

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Hi, everyone - I'm brand new to this forum and pretty new to panic. I'm 35 and had my first panic attack earlier this year. Since then, I've been struggling with the common agoraphobia that comes with the experience of having had a panic attack in a public place. I went through a "hierarchy of recovery" without the help of a CBT specialist (but with the help of my usual therapist for going on six years) and mostly recovered over a period of months (I actually think being ignorant about what was happening helped!)... but then I had my first attack in months at an airport (despite being a very frequent flyer) about six weeks ago and ended up in a worse place than I was the first time.

I've been able to leave the house, and I'm in a way better place now than I was a few weeks ago. But every time I have to do even everyday things, it's such a struggle, and I will often have pre-panic, which makes me not want to do said things ever again. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, I've been super brave -- but it's almost impossible to not be hard on myself, probably because this is all so new to me. There's this constant narrative in my head comparing the old me with the new panic disorder me. i.e. "The old me taught college and has been an actor for over 15 years without any stage fright, whereas the new me can't go grocery shopping without getting lightheaded and feeling the need to rush out of there."

The word frustrated does not even come close to covering how I feel. As a performer, being suddenly afraid to perform has been heartbreaking. I've continued to do small on-camera stuff, since if I'm feeling panicky, I can always ask to take a five - though for the most part, my career has been on hold. But it feels like an impossibly long road to me being on stage again.

I don't think I have any specific questions right now.. just seeking commiseration.

Sending support to everyone on here <3
I can so relate to a lot of what everyone is saying here. I haven't been technically disagnosed with agoraphobia but I have been diagnosed with Panic Disorder. It is so hard for me to do much of anything without a "safe person" nearby. I always have at least one in my life that I mainly focus on but can have a handful that can suffice. My boyfriend is very understanding to the point he takes me more seriously than anyone ever has about this stuff. He makes sure I don't have to do things alone because he sees how unsafe it is for me. I can get so confused and lost... Quite literally because my panic gets so bad. I can be walking somewhere in the area that is just straight ahead and somehow get lost because of how my mind gets so jumbled and panicked. It's scary stuff. Panic attacks are no fun and I'm terrified of being around people and being alone. If I didn't go places with my boyfriend I'd barely ever leave the house. I struggle to even leave the bedroom to be completely honest with you. I struggle to be able to handle much of anything but I keep trying my best to make the most of each day. I'm very lucky to somehow always have someone around who can help because I am not at a time in my life where I could take care of myself. I may be trying out ADD medication soon on top of the anxiety, depression and bipolar meds I'm on.

I'm rooting for you. I know it's hard. It's so hard and I know what it's like to constantly compare the "old me" and "new me" but like someone else said here, they're all you :) just a part of our life we will work on and in time adapt better to.

Best of luck. Keep your chin up. You've got this
 

triceps

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I can so relate to a lot of what everyone is saying here. I haven't been technically disagnosed with agoraphobia but I have been diagnosed with Panic Disorder. It is so hard for me to do much of anything without a "safe person" nearby. I always have at least one in my life that I mainly focus on but can have a handful that can suffice. My boyfriend is very understanding to the point he takes me more seriously than anyone ever has about this stuff. He makes sure I don't have to do things alone because he sees how unsafe it is for me. I can get so confused and lost... Quite literally because my panic gets so bad. I can be walking somewhere in the area that is just straight ahead and somehow get lost because of how my mind gets so jumbled and panicked. It's scary stuff. Panic attacks are no fun and I'm terrified of being around people and being alone. If I didn't go places with my boyfriend I'd barely ever leave the house. I struggle to even leave the bedroom to be completely honest with you. I struggle to be able to handle much of anything but I keep trying my best to make the most of each day. I'm very lucky to somehow always have someone around who can help because I am not at a time in my life where I could take care of myself. I may be trying out ADD medication soon on top of the anxiety, depression and bipolar meds I'm on.

I'm rooting for you. I know it's hard. It's so hard and I know what it's like to constantly compare the "old me" and "new me" but like someone else said here, they're all you :) just a part of our life we will work on and in time adapt better to.

Best of luck. Keep your chin up. You've got this
I'm right there with you AbejaReina. There are a couple differences in our situation. 1) if I were to get lost it would have to be inside my own house ans 2) although I have frequent panic attacks, if I do happen to go somewhere I would say I was in a heightened, uncomfortable state of anxiety, but not in panic mode. I hope your present situation, having a "safe" person available can continue forever for you. Good luck with getting some medication that will really help you.
 

Beckys24

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Hi, everyone - I'm brand new to this forum and pretty new to panic. I'm 35 and had my first panic attack earlier this year. Since then, I've been struggling with the common agoraphobia that comes with the experience of having had a panic attack in a public place. I went through a "hierarchy of recovery" without the help of a CBT specialist (but with the help of my usual therapist for going on six years) and mostly recovered over a period of months (I actually think being ignorant about what was happening helped!)... but then I had my first attack in months at an airport (despite being a very frequent flyer) about six weeks ago and ended up in a worse place than I was the first time.

I've been able to leave the house, and I'm in a way better place now than I was a few weeks ago. But every time I have to do even everyday things, it's such a struggle, and I will often have pre-panic, which makes me not want to do said things ever again. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, I've been super brave -- but it's almost impossible to not be hard on myself, probably because this is all so new to me. There's this constant narrative in my head comparing the old me with the new panic disorder me. i.e. "The old me taught college and has been an actor for over 15 years without any stage fright, whereas the new me can't go grocery shopping without getting lightheaded and feeling the need to rush out of there."

The word frustrated does not even come close to covering how I feel. As a performer, being suddenly afraid to perform has been heartbreaking. I've continued to do small on-camera stuff, since if I'm feeling panicky, I can always ask to take a five - though for the most part, my career has been on hold. But it feels like an impossibly long road to me being on stage again.

I don't think I have any specific questions right now.. just seeking commiseration.

Sending support to everyone on here <3
I can relate 100 percent I am 53 and everything you mentioned I have..I basically live in a bubble I have missed out on most everything in life I have pretty much lost all my family because they gave up on inviteing me places and I can not go..I am newley married two yrs and my husband wants to go out and do things that I can't and he says he doesn't want to live in a bubble so I will probably end up losing him also...this disease has ruined me more than anyone could know.. there is no magic pill no therapy to make it go away..I begged the good Lord to please take one of my limbs in exchange for panic attacks at least I would know what to expect everyday....
 

triceps

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Hi Beckys. We're both in trouble with this disease. I've had so many panic attacks over the years that I'm able to not worry about them knowing I'll survive it. Much of my life I avoided many voluntary social situations but when I got to my mid-fifties the true agoraphobic signs slowly crept in. "Mandatory" situations like weddings (barely made it to my daughter's), funerals, spouses' important gatherings, stuff like that I don't even bother to try to go. My wife married me 35 years ago when she would only have to put up with my anxiety/panic limitations. Now we're both retired and I can't even go fishing. My point is, you're not alone and you can only do what you can.
 

Merlot27

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Read something interesting the other day in regards to panic attacks developing out of no where in mid life... sometimes symptom of pre-menopause. I can relate, I’m 38 now and things got particularly wonky at 35 for me. Hormonal changes sometimes play a role. I can relate as I had mild anxiety all my life, but had a my first panic attack with disassociation out of no where around that time an it scared the crap out of me.
 

triceps

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Read something interesting the other day in regards to panic attacks developing out of no where in mid life... sometimes symptom of pre-menopause. I can relate, I’m 38 now and things got particularly wonky at 35 for me. Hormonal changes sometimes play a role. I can relate as I had mild anxiety all my life, but had a my first panic attack with disassociation out of no where around that time an it scared the crap out of me.
Boy, Merlot. I'm unable to comment on any anxiety/menopause relationship but I'd like to say how unlucky you were having disassociation with your first panic attack. I've made it through hundreds of anxiety attacks without having to go to the ER. However, I don't think I'd have that streak if my first attack was like yours. You must've just thought you were going crazy. Wish you only the best.
 
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