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Agoraphobia and housebound
This is something I have been interested in discussing on this forum.  I'm just wondering how many of us are agoraphobic and to what extent.  I know that I am and fight it all the time but make sure that I do leave my home most days.   I have a very dear friend who hasn't left her home in almost 7 years.  She has had all kinds of therapy and has tried SSRIs and other meds but is now VERY meds phobic and even with the CBT she finally gave up and just stays home.  I'm wondering if there are others on this forum who are like her or are the majority like me.  I wish there was something I can do to help her but she is just plain scared to leave her house.  She has tried on occasion and has had some success but very minimal and therefore doesn't leave home.  We don't even discuss it that much anymore.  Our discussions are about everything but...  I have to say that she is a perfect example of someone who would benefit from more CBT and medication because she definitely doesn't have any depression, she just has GAD with panic.  I would love to know who on this board has agoraphobia and if they have been housebound or are still housebound and how they are dealing with it.  
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Just read you more serious post and you have made a very important point.  Places that you frequent can be like ports in the storm.  As much as I hate restaurants, there was a place that I would go willingly after badminton (another port in the storm) every Tuesday.  It was a coffee house that my badminton buddies and I would go to and sit, they would drink coffee, I would drink herbal tea and chat.  It was unbelievably therapeutic and was one of the first places I was able to go after I was briefly housebound.  The funny thing about that though, I hardly ever went there other than on Tuesdays.  When I did go at other times, I never felt as comfortable even if I was with a friend.  It didn't stop me from going during other times in the week but it wasn't the same as Tuesdays.  That coffee shop is gone now and it has completely changed the whole dynamics of the group.  So, a place can be like another home to a certain extent for some of use and for part of the time.  

PS:  They would have my tea ready for me as they saw me walk up the street and make sure there were fresh date squares for us on the days we were in.  It was like having a "dry" Cheers!
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460185 tn?1326081372
Barfer -
I actually found out about a group for agoraphobics and even spoke to the person who ran the group.  Meetings were constantly being re-scheduled because he couldn't leave the house.  It would be funny if is wasn't so sad.

JSG
I agree with most of what you said but have a question.

How would an agoraphobic get to the hotel?   He/she would have to leave "safe" surroundings.  Same with getting to work.

I thought agoraphobia was the fear of going out - of leaving home. Is it more than that?

I enjoyed your jokes.

Suzi-q -
Paris Hilton as the keynote speaker at an agoraphobic's convention - GAK!!!!
What an incentive NOT to leave home. I'd rather watch paint dry than listen to her amazing intellect   LOL

Barfer -
That was an interesting story about Conrad Black  = )

This topic is so interesting and helpful, not to mention humorous.

wolf




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Agoraphobia is not just restricted to those who are housebound but, generally, there are definite boundaries.  It can be as small as a bedroom and as large as a Province/State.  My boundaries are in some ways portable.  I'm ok in a hotel room but it is the going out for dinner part that I have a problem with...room service is the best, even though I'd rather not travel at all.  I guess it does have something to do with having familiar things or people around you.  I can go up to my cottage (although I hate the drive)  and I love it up there because of the solitude (an agoraphobic's dream).  I don't have to associate with anyone if I don't want to and don't have to worry about who's going to drop in.  So, the cottage becomes another "safe zone" even though it is miles away from my primary home.  I go up with my husband and we do whatever we want to do without having to consider anyone but each-other.  For me, I have a few safe zones.  
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I knew you'd get the Conrad Black story.  I'm with you on the Paris Hilton thing, that would be a sure-fire way to keep people away from a conference.

As far as the agoraphobic group...I know it shouldn't be a funny story and at-least the guy tried to get people together, but come on...it is a little comical isn't it?  I hope he was able to laugh at himself about it because what would we have without laughter!?
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460185 tn?1326081372
That was a true story.  Sometimes reality is more bizarre than reality.  It was funny though - kind of humanizes agoraphobics.  And yes, laughing at ourselves is good medicine.

The "safe zone" comments were interesting and clarified some questions I had about agoraphobia. I always thought it was the fear of going out and/or leaving the house.

I still can't understand how it's possible to be agoraphobic and claustrophobic at the same time but I've been in the closet so maybe coming out I'll learn a few things.

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I'm definitely both...claustrophobic and agoraphobic.  I can't stand to be in a closed in space for any length of time.  Example:  I hate elevators and will not get in one if it has more than a couple of people in it.  When we first moved into a condominium after we sold our house, I took the stairs all the time (we only live on the 4th floor and that is one of the many reasons why we only live four floors up).  After a while, with lots of panic attacks, I started using the elevator once in a while, now I never take the stairs.  

I hate it if anyone stands too close to me and my personal space is invaded.  Any area that makes me feel trapped in and I can't get out, makes me feel claustrophobic.  My home, on the other-hand, has an open feeling as soon as you walk into the livingroom.  I feel like I live in a tree-house because I am at that level and I have wall to wall windows.  I overlook a green space with lots of trees even though I live in a big city and I have a very large balcony, so I definitely have a feeling of space and because I'm not too far off the ground and know that I can get out easily if I want, I don't feel any claustrophobia.  I hope that helps to explain how someone can be both claustrophobic and agoraphobic.    
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460185 tn?1326081372
Yes, it does explain it.  Thank you.

We live in a townhouse and had to wait quite awhile to get it but I could not live in an apartment - I like to be able to out the door and walk on the ground, not an elevator. It took  a letter from my shrink, city councilor and the mayor's office to get this place.

I appreciate you clarifying the confusion about being agoraphobic and claustrophobic at the same time.

PS:  Don't hold it against me that I contacted the mayor's office  = )

wolf


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349780 tn?1309637558
Over here, In Ireland, when I applied for disability benefit on the grounds of that I was agrophobic, one of the first things I got was a free travel pass. Amused me big time. I hadn't been out in a year or two at this stage. They said, with a letter, that it could be used to travel anywhere in Ireland. Yes.
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366811 tn?1217426272
You're kidding me, right? You file for disability on agoraphobia -and get a travel pass. And they ask us why we drink.

Oh, yeah, and their is something that makes a lot of sense to me about a claustrophobic who "comes out of the closet."

More on the agoraphobia boundaries. A friend of mine has the big "A." She can drive  WEST from her city but not EAST from her city on a particular highway. She has no clue as to why this should be so.

And there is nothing like a "stuck" elevator to show you who is whom. While in the midts of some panic years, when I was working in down town DC, the elevator to my office DID get stuck. Four people on board. One was a co-worker: a fiesty, in-your-face bond underwriter in my company, two workers from other offices, and I. A classic situation. The power dies, the elevator stops, the power comes back on, the elevator just sits. Its a hot July morning, the elevator is small. What happens. Well, of course, my adrenalin starts pumping but I'm really not too bad -I've never had the elevator problem (I actually like them). The feisty gal starts stabbing all the buttons, then wisely picks up the phone which is connected, it turns out, to the police, or fire and rescue or something like that. She reports the problem as though the person to whom she is talking to actually owns and has copntrol of the lift. One of the strangers says, "This should be fun" in a slightly nervous, joking way. And the big guy? He does the white-eye roll back, leans against the back wall and begins to faint. Finally, I and my co-worker manage to get our fingers betwixt the doors and we pull them apart. And there we are, half way between floors, so that the floor of the lift is half way between floor and ceiling of the office level where we're stuck: we've got to hunch down and jump into the reception area there, which we do. We are followed by the other lady. The big guy? I'll never know what happened to him -he was out like a mackeral. Well, at least I found out what I was like on a stuck elevator. From that time forward I have always carried a deck of cards.

I really appreciate the responses to my questions about the "portability" of the safe zones. Now, another question. Let's say Heather and I invite you all to my place. No, let me re-phrase that supposition: We hereby DO invite you all to my house. You can google the address: 3418 Meadowwood Lane Crozet, VA 22932. There you will see an accurate map to my house. And you can see a few pix on my photos of what the place is like. For the sake of argument, pretend that overnight accomodations have been satisfactorily resolved, as have been means of transportation; that is, there are no impediments to getting here and spending a day or two. And pretend that cost is not an issue.

OK, so tell me: because it is I -your forum friend JSGeare (John Scott Geare)- would this qualify my place as a safe zone even though you have never been here and have never met me? Does the fact that my picture appears here make any difference?

These little stories are not just interesting -they may really tells us something about how "psychological" our boundaries truly are,and, who knows, may yield some clues as to how we learn to push them back some more. So, if you are willing...please respond.
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349780 tn?1309637558
Mas as well toss in the tv sitcom gag. Father Ted. Amusing sitcom about priests who livwe on an island off the coast of Ireland. Not sure if the word ' argo ' is used for a fight in America? It is over here. In one episode the following lines appeared -

Father Ted: Maybe he's agoraphobic.
Father Dougal: Jack scared of fighting? I don't think so, Ted.
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366811 tn?1217426272
That kind of stuff slays me.

Don't know where I saw/heard it, but some "news" items went something like this:

"Funeral Home Operators Face Stiff Penalties," and,

"Asked to explain the unusually large number of lambs in the flock this year, the farmer said that adding male stock in the past fall evidently had very serious ramifications."

Then this one:

Moe: It's getting DARK outside.
Joe: Ideal conditions for night!

Somebody delete me, I'm beggin' you.
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480448 tn?1426952138
Hey guys!

First, bug higs to dear {{{wolfie}}}...I applaud you for facing this and exploring it.  NOT an easy task I know.

Everyone (esp barfer) did such a great job explaining the "safe place/safe zone"...and I wanted to concur that YES, it IS portable sometimes.

Example...last year, I started struggling with some pretty significant panic/agor right before a vacation that involved a 12 hour drive (Helllllloooooo POOPY PANTS!).

Needless to say...I had a LOT of anxiety about it considering that leading up to the vacation, travelling more than a few miles from my home, my "safe place" caused some pretty nasty anxiety for me.  Well, in a nutshell, I survived the drive, and it was actually a bit better than I thought.

Got to our beach house and generally enjoyed myself.  I settled in to our "temporary" home and became quite comfy there.  But, LOL...I VERY seldom left that beach house to go out to eat, etc.  I limited myself quite a bit, and became quite anxious when we DID go out and do "vacation" things.  The worst invloved a 45 min drive to vist my Aunt and Uncle in their new home, where they had JUST moved from our hometown.  I was anxious when we left, and anxious again when we left to return to the beach house.  BUT, my anxiety started to improve the closer we got to our "temporary" home.  CRAZY!!

I also felt a good deal of anxiety the day we left to go HOME home.  Basically...this beach house had become my new "safe place".  Neat, huh?

THAT is how the safe zone can be portable.  The boundaries aren't always clearly defined, as we tend to have good days and bad...but I think most people would agree, that as a RULE, most agoraphobics have a VERY clear boundary in their minds.  Like, "I won't go beyond Road A, and no way on Highway B to the East, but Highway B to the West is fine."  It's when we have to go outside those boundaries is when the anxiety spikes.

Even myself...the highway is a source of angst for me...so literally, if I am sitting at the traffic light that turns on to the on-ramp to said highway...my anxiety is pretty darn high.  Then, initially, after I turn onto that on ramp...it goes even a bit higher...as I feel like there is "no turning back" on that damn ramp.

THEN, the situational saviors (my own term) come into play...where I start planning ahead in my mind...where each exit is, should I need a quick escape...even as far as "Gee, how wide in that berm...could I actually drive on it if there was a bad accident and horrid traffic and I needed to get out after pooping my pants??? (what if's)".  While those things would be silly to a non-anxious/agoraphobic person...they are anxiety quenchers for a lot of us.  They make us feel safer.  Always planning the way "out".

Hope that helps you, wolfie...and as you learn more about yourself with agoraphobia...you'll realize that while we all have very different quirks, the basic premise is the same in all of us.  The need for feeling "safe" and in control.

There are also "safe people"..but I'll get into that a bit later...my coffee has gotten cold...lol.

GREAT great great topic barfer!!!!!  I could talk about this subject for WEEKS on end.  I'm learning so much from you all, and really feel good about sharing my experiences and the things that have helped me.
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OK, JS, I could have gone all morning without hearing about that elevator scenario! LOL  I guess it's back to taking the stairs for me!  Months and months of CBT down the tubes!
(Just kidding, I think)

Interesting that you should mention the invitation to visit. My friend that I have been mentioning all through this discussion lives in the U.S. and we have been friends for about six years now ONLY through phone calls and email.  We met on another forum for panic and anxiety and have remained very close friends.  I've seen pictures of her family and because I don't take many pictures, she has only seen one of me with my family.  Now that my husband is retired, I want, at sometime to go and visit her.  I do have some concerns about a face to face meeting with her because we have such a great relationship and I don't want that to change in case it is awkward for either one of us because of our GAD, panic and agoraphobia, but I still would love to try it.  We already know where we would stay if we go there because we don't go anywhere without our dog and would need to stay in a hotel that is pet friendly. So that would be my safe place there.   I don't know when we will do this trip, it may be next year or the year after because it is very far away from here and we have other obligations this year.  I leave for Florida in a couple of weeks to visit my sister and then later in the fall, I hope to go to Ottawa, Quebec City, and Montreal (where I grew up).  Now that my husband is retired, he wants to do some more travelling and I am going to do it with him and looking at it as therapy and hopefully pleasure too.  I am a determined person who does not want this annoying disorder to govern my life.

Quote:  

OK, so tell me: because it is I -your forum friend JSGeare (John Scott Geare)- would this qualify my place as a safe zone even though you have never been here and have never met me? Does the fact that my picture appears here make any difference


As for going to your place, I'm not sure if I could do that so early in our relationship.  LOL   But, maybe once I get to know you and Heather better, I would consider it.  I'll take a look at your pictures and Google your address.  Having your picture on your profile does help somewhat...at the very least, I would know who would be greeting me and it certainly does help with that part of the anxiety.  I will not put my picture on my profile, even though I have now revealed so much information about myself.  It is my one form of at-least a little anonymity, which I am still holding on to.  To truly answer you question, I might actually take the chance and I don't know if it would be a safe zone until I got there BUT my sense is, that it probably would be because I have seen some of the pictures on your profile page and your place looks very inviting and you are one of US, the chosen few who knows what it is like to go through panic.  That in itself make it interesting enough to consider.

Now to Nursegirl (aka poopy pants because that seems to be a theme in your posts), Have you ever considered taking the calcium supplement Caltrate with vitamin D? They come in soft chews and if you take a couple of these chewy toffee type supplements a day, it may help with your poopy pants situation.  My preference is the vanilla but they come in chocolate flavour too...just a thought.  Women should take a calcium supplement anyway if they don't get enough in their normal diet.  The added benefit of the Caltrate is that it can be a little binding so, it may help with the poopy pants.  

MrGreen,  Although I initially found the fact that they gave free travel passes to agoraphobics, rather amusing, I rethought it and I think I would have considered it incentive to get out and use it to go one stop at a time to get back into travelling again.  This may not have happened immediately after receiving it, but I think it would have given me the push to at-least try it.  That's just the kind of girl I am...annoying eh!



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OK, JS, I could have gone all morning without hearing about that elevator scenario! LOL  I guess it's back to taking the stairs for me!  Months and months of CBT down the tubes!
(Just kidding, I think)

Interesting that you should mention the invitation to visit. My friend that I have been mentioning all through this discussion lives in the U.S. and we have been friends for about six years now ONLY through phone calls and email.  We met on another forum for panic and anxiety and have remained very close friends.  I've seen pictures of her family and because I don't take many pictures, she has only seen one of me with my family.  Now that my husband is retired, I want, at sometime to go and visit her.  I do have some concerns about a face to face meeting with her because we have such a great relationship and I don't want that to change in case it is awkward for either one of us because of our GAD, panic and agoraphobia, but I still would love to try it.  We already know where we would stay if we go there because we don't go anywhere without our dog and would need to stay in a hotel that is pet friendly. So that would be my safe place there.   I don't know when we will do this trip, it may be next year or the year after because it is very far away from here and we have other obligations this year.  I leave for Florida in a couple of weeks to visit my sister and then later in the fall, I hope to go to Ottawa, Quebec City, and Montreal (where I grew up).  Now that my husband is retired, he wants to do some more travelling and I am going to do it with him and looking at it as therapy and hopefully pleasure too.  I am a determined person who does not want this annoying disorder to govern my life.

Quote:  

OK, so tell me: because it is I -your forum friend JSGeare (John Scott Geare)- would this qualify my place as a safe zone even though you have never been here and have never met me? Does the fact that my picture appears here make any difference


As for going to your place, I'm not sure if I could do that so early in our relationship.  LOL   But, maybe once I get to know you and Heather better, I would consider it.  I'll take a look at your pictures and Google your address.  Having your picture on your profile does help somewhat...at the very least, I would know who would be greeting me and it certainly does help with that part of the anxiety.  I will not put my picture on my profile, even though I have now revealed so much information about myself.  It is my one form of at-least a little anonymity, which I am still holding on to.  To truly answer you question, I might actually take the chance and I don't know if it would be a safe zone until I got there BUT my sense is, that it probably would be because I have seen some of the pictures on your profile page and your place looks very inviting and you are one of US, the chosen few who knows what it is like to go through panic.  That in itself make it interesting enough to consider.

Now to Nursegirl (aka poopy pants because that seems to be a theme in your posts), Have you ever considered taking the calcium supplement Caltrate with vitamin D? They come in soft chews and if you take a couple of these chewy toffee type supplements a day, it may help with your poopy pants situation.  My preference is the vanilla but they come in chocolate flavour too...just a thought.  Women should take a calcium supplement anyway if they don't get enough in their normal diet.  The added benefit of the Caltrate is that it can be a little binding so, it may help with the poopy pants.  

MrGreen,  Although I initially found the fact that they gave free travel passes to agoraphobics, rather amusing, I rethought it and I think I would have considered it incentive to get out and use it to go one stop at a time to get back into travelling again.  This may not have happened immediately after receiving it, but I think it would have given me the push to at-least try it.  That's just the kind of girl I am...annoying eh!



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165308 tn?1323190145
Just a story to share.

When I first started with my anxiety and depression, I had already booked a trip to Italy.  I SO DID NOT WANT TO GO!!!  It was terrible!  My sister had to iron and pack my bags...I couldn't do anything for myself.  I felt "stuck" and "paralyzed".  My parents said to me, if you are that sick over it, then don't go.  I was so wanting to stay home, but I said, No, I HAVE to go.  I knew then, that if I didn't go, I would NEVER go anywhere again.  It was horrible...I mean it.  I had many anxiety attacks on the trip and felt nauseous most of the time.  I did have some fun too. (believe it or not)...but no matter what...I didn't die....I didn't have to be hospitalized...I didn't pass out......I MADE IT THROUGH.  And that is what I needed to experience...to do it even though it was hard.  I have gotten much better through the years, however, I still do suffer at times.  But I say to myself that if I didn't push through it, I would never have had my daughter who was adopted from China!  I had to take a 17 hour plane ride for her...AND I MADE IT THROUGH.  

My point to this story is, you have to face your fear, when you do everything for the agorophobic, you are being an "enabler".  I still have difficulty driving far distances now with my daughter (unless my husband is with me). But I plan visits to friends that are far distances and I do it anyway.  I can't let it overtake me....because it would be very easy to fall into that trap...way to easy.  You have to force yourself, no matter how uncomfortable it is.  Baby steps will take you far!
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I was not going to share this, because my Agrophobia was medication induced.  

I have never had Agrophobia in my entire life, I was always a very outgoing, outdoors, socilazing person, I have performed in front of large crowds as a musician, National pool tournaments etc.....

I was prescribed .5mg Klonopin one time a night for sleep, I took it for 8 months and weaned myself off using Valium, Ashton manual and the supporto of benzo forums.  

I have been benzo free since April 2007,.  Within a few weeks, I developed chronic agrophobia, not being able to leave my house at all, and at times hardly able to leave my bedroom, from terrifying fears, sometimes just walking towards my front door will kick off a massive panic attack, having me call an ambulance for assistance, I have been this way for a year now, and slowly starting to venture back out into the world  

I still feel as if I am being suffocating, each time I leave the house, and while out of the house.  I have visit counseling, psychiatry and nothing seems to help, my doctor tried to put me back on Klonopin and add Paxil, but I am in this condition from taking Klonopin, and terrified to even try another psych med, because of what I am going through now, it's been a living he!!

I truly understand each person dealing with agrophobia, and hope I and all those suffering, work themselves out of agraphobia.  
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480448 tn?1426952138
JS...what an interesting idea...invite a bunch of your anxious friends to come visit.  I'll bring the EKG machine and my BP cuff.  Now, someone needs to sign up to bring a thermometer and some adult diapers (koff koff).  It sounds like fun already!  :0)

You aren't that far from me...and I just took a weekend trip to VA in Feb for a baby showe (IN the snow.ack!).  It might be like a group therapy outing.  The only thing I ask (besides the depends) is that it would be planned well ahead...so we could all cancel and re-schedule about 230 times each!

Seriously, though...I think it would be a great idea....and while it may be a little "weird" at first..I have a feeling we'd all talk till our throats hurt...and prolly have a great time.

Oh, and I concur...I could've down without the elevator story as well.  *thud*

Barfer...thanks for the poopy pants tips...lol.  I don't have a chronic problem with that or anything...just when panic strikes.....so do my bowels.  Triple overtime.  Okay...TMI.  Some people are afraid of fainting, some afraid of vomiting...I'm afraid of involuntarily "letting loose" in me drawers.  ;0)
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165308 tn?1323190145
bump.....
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Quote:

I was not going to share this, because my Agoraphobia was medication induced.

Why wouldn't you share this information?  This is an open discussion for people who have experienced agoraphobia or know someone who has.  This is exactly the type of discussion that we want.  All experiences are worthy and wanted.

OK, now I just want to throw this idea out to you, I went to your profile page and noticed that you are in another forum here regarding thyroid.  Are you aware that a thyroid condition could give you symptoms of anxiety/panic that could enhance a feeling of agoraphobia?  There are a lot of people who take thyroid medication and immediately find that their anxiety diminishes.  I'm not saying that this is your situation but it might be something to look at.  You may be blaming the klonopin for something that really is a thyroid condition.  Were you taking any other drugs while you were on klonopin and during the weaning  besides the Valium (during weaning)?  I doesn't sound like you were taking that much of klonopin so it shouldn't have been that big a deal getting off of it, if done correctly.  It's too bad you didn't get advice from Ryan...I'm sure you wouldn't be in the state you are now if you did.  

If you find out that there is no thyroid problem, then you will need to address the agoraphobia and panic with CBT and because you are doing the therapy and seeing a psychiatrist presently without much success, I hate to tell you this but medication may be your only other option if you are looking to have a full life.  Psychiatrists are always very quick to suggest an SSRI when there is GAD and panic.  I'm not the least bit surprised that you doctor felt that Paxil would help.  The fact that he wants to introduce the klonopin again is because of the panic attacks that have lead you to agoraphobia.  I'm no doctor, but I can understand why he is suggesting this.  He wants to ensure that all bases are covered and you can have at least a chance at a full life.  You may find after a while that you may not need the paxil but, at least for now, what have you got to lose?  You admitted that you can't leave your house right now and certainly aren't living the life you want, why not give it a shot.  I had to try various drug before I hit on one that worked for me.  What I learned from that, way after the fact, that I confused some drugs as being bad and not working for me when really I was still experiencing side effects of coming off of another drug.  I know that now because I am on one of the drugs right now and it is working for me, but I had tried in in the past and thought it was the culprit for more anxiety feelings when it was really the drug I had just come off.  Meds are really funny and different for everyone.  One may work for you that absolutely wouldn't for me.  It is a bit of a stab in the dark as to which one would be right but that stab in the dark is worth it if it lets you have the life you deserve.  If you have read this discussion from the beginning, you know that it started with my concern for a friend who has been housebound for approximately 7 years.  Please don't let that be you!  Do whatever it takes to get out and don't let the fear of medication stop you.  I've got news for you, most of us (people with GAD and panic) have a fear of medication and don't want to take it.  Even my doctor said that it's always his GAD patients who once they start feeling better, they go off their meds because they think they don't need them anymore.  His heart patients wouldn't think of doing that nor his epileptic or thyroid patients...no, it's his GAD patients that take themselves off the meds and then wonder why thy have side effect or that their GAD comes back.  You know why it comes back, because it never really went away!  It was the medication and the therapy that made them feel better.  Now don't get me wrong, some people can go off meds and be great for the rest of their lives and able to control their GAD and then there are people like me who will probably need some sort of medication forever.  That used to bother me until I went off all meds and after 5 months decided I'd had enough of trying to prove to myself that I didn't need meds.  Many sleepless nights, headaches, panic attacks later, I went back to my doctor and said that I had given it my best shot and now I admit I need medication and here I am back to sleeping well, very few headaches and I haven't had a panic attack since being on my full dose of meds.  

I also, want to add that it is not unusual for performers to have anxiety issues.  There are alot who have to take a beta blocker or a benzo before they perform.  I can't tell you how common this is.  Most performers, not all, but most, are like thoroughbreds, they tend to be a little higher strung and have that extra surge of adrenaline.  That's what makes them so great.  

  

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Hi there,

Barfer has given you some excellent suggestions and it is important getting any thyroid conditions under control.

With the benzo, perhaps you got so used to a certain level of calmness while on the med and didn't learn how to deal with anxiety symptoms triggered by various situations in your life. So now, you are off Klonopin and your body is all anxious and you don't know how to cope with it except retreat to a comfort zone. This is why your doctor probably is suggesting Klonopin or Paxil.

You fear Klonopin, so don't go there . Get your thyroid issues sorted out like barfer suggested. Next step you could consider is perhaps Valium - as a as needed basis whilst  you see a therapist who can take you to the next level - some sort of exposure therapy.  You mention , nothing helps , possibly because you haven't found the right therapist and perhaps you are too anxious to practise any strategies and wanting a quick fix. This is a normal reaction and you are just normal. You are a normal, healthy person who is just going through a bit of crisis at the moment.

Beta blockers are good but not without the side effects, some cause depression as they can cross the brain barrier etc. , sleep disorders in some and some are unsuitable for asthmatics. Long term usage seems to even link it to development of diabetes now. This is from what I know as I was considering a beta blocker of a different kind this time around. A few years back, my blocker caused depression and wheezing. So consult your doctor and while I might be an exception, it is my understanding that there are many people who don't seem to have much issues with blockers apart from mild fatigue.

Finally, I suggest that if you are housebound and can do some form of movement exercise, do it - suggestion, dance, housework, some gentle stretches.This is to get your cardiovascular fitness level and it will burn some of the adrenaline and get the endorphins (feel good hormone) going . This in turn will help you have fewer symptoms when you venture out of the house.

Take care.

Sumi  
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460185 tn?1326081372
Mr. Green - good to see the govt in Ireland is almost as out of touch with reality as the Canadian govt.  Also, love Father Ted .... maybe I don't love him but I enjoy the show and the joke.

Nursegirl - thank you for the encouragement.  Just reading this thread has helped me to understand agoraphobia when then helps me deal with it.

Suzi_q - your story made a lot of sense, to me anyway

JSG - the jokes  LOL  it really helps to keep things in perspective .... stiff penalties  ROTFLMAO

wolf


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Hi Barfer,
All my troubles began once I stopped taking Klonopin, long story.  I quit smoking Feb 06 cold turkey, after smoking 30 years, and became an insomniac without my nightly smokes.  My doc prescribed me Xanax for sleep.  I didn't like the way the med made me feel, took it for around a week, returned to my doc, he then prescribed me Klonopin, and assured me the med was a sleeping pill, and would not harm me.  My medication bottle label reads take 1 time a night for sleep.    

I completely tapered off Klonopin with Valium, a few weeks afterwards my thyroid began to swell, I've had a biopsy return benign, several thyroid tests all return normal.  A year later, the surgeon, oncologist & Endo, does not have any idea why my thyroid swelled, I've had an upper gi & endoscopy, to rule out esophagul acid conditions, which returned normal, so I've been posting at the thyroid forum, hoping someone would have an answer, as to why my thyroid swelled.  

As of right now, the only thing that could have caused my thyroid to swell, is benzo withdrawals.  There is no other explaination.  

This is the reason I know my thyroid/agrophobia was medication induced.  Prior to Klonopin, I was in perfect health, comfortable lifestyle.  My primary doctor tried to put me back on Klonopin & add Paxil, cause she felt I was stressed out about my untreated thyroid condition, and felt the meds would help until they can figure out the cause, but my psychiatrist written in my medical record, there is nothing wrong with me psychologically 4/21/08,.    

What is done is done, now all I can do is try to recover.

I did not desire to share my story, for the reason not to offend or scare someone beginning or stopping benzo's.  

I have learned to venture out of the house but still not fully comfortable as I was prior to using Klonopin, I still get out for groceries & necessaties, just not out enjoying life.  

I would like to provide & recieve support from others experiencing the same, no matter what the cause.

Some have had great success on meds, and other's are not so fortunate.    

Thanks for your concerns & support.      
    

          

        

  

  
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PLEASE read and follow up on what RYAN has written.  He knows his stuff!  You won't regret it!

Barfer
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Hi Ryan,
Thanks for all the info.  Problem is, I have been medically tested from head to toe, according to the doctor, endo, oncologist, surgeon & pyschiatrist, I am physically & mentally healthy.  

The reason I claim that benzo use caused my thyroid to swell, agrophobia and other ailing symptoms over the past year is, I have read the manual by Professor Heather Ashton & read a book by Dr. Edmund Bourne that has written all the all the effects and damages benzo's can cause on the endocrine system, nervous system, immune system, etc.....  the changes a person system will go through once coming off of benzo's going through withdrawals, and how long withdrawal symptoms can last.  

I have sought out support from benzo forums, and many members experience the same as I am, including agrophobia without a thyroid condition.  I cannot convince my doctor to test my thyroid more in depth, to rule out benzo being the cause or contribute to my thyroid swelling/agrophobia, because my thyroid tests all return normal, my complete blood work up returns normal, biopsy on the thyroid returned normal, ultra sound, I've had extensive cardiology testing, stress test, heart ultrasound, heart cath, 24 hour monitor, etc.... all return normal.  I had an upper gi, endoscopy, 3 CT scans that showed a mass in my throat 5.5 X 3.3, I had a million dollar workup, and yet they cannot find the cause of my thyroid swelling.  The surgeon said, there is no reason to remove a perfectly working benign thyroid.  

If I suggest the information you provided me, all they are going to tell me is, there is no reason for the testing, because my thyroid is working normal.  My doctor said abnormalities has to be found, to do a further in depth study.  

Many benzo users have gone through ailments, that returned normal on testing, from IBS symptoms, to diabetes symptoms, to thyroid symptoms etc....  coming off of benzo's, nothing could ever be found.  

So this is the reason, I am 100% sure benzo use caused my health system to go out of wack.  Also did alot of reading at a website that did a survey for those on & off benzo's, all the withdrawal symptoms experienced etc......

After I came off benzo's, I had high blood pressure, now stable, I was diagnosed as a diabetic, but now my blood sugars are normal, I had bad heart palpitations, which is now normal, I had a wbc of 24, which is now normal, so all the facts written in the Ashton manual is true.  My blood work went from chaos to normal, during the course of the year, I was prescribed 30-40 different medications to treat all the symptoms I complained off.  I have a picture posted up on the net of all my meds.  

According to Ashton manual, benzo withdrawal can cause a shift in the endoctrine system, which can cause irratic symptoms, and I'm hoping this is the case with me, cause the docs cannot find anything.  But I will take all you shared to heart, and really appreciate you helping me, I recieve more help from forums then I do my health care providers.  
    

  


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Hi Sumi,
Thanks for info.  Although I was living a normal lifestyle, with insomnia after I quit smoking, I do feel Klonopin put my system into a level of calmness, and now readjusting without the medication.  Anxiety, panic attacks & agrophobia has been the worst symptoms of them all.  I also feel my thyroid is contributing to health crisis, but nothing can be found medically abnormal.  Reason I try to push so hard, to find something medically wrong, and it's very frustrating, because I try not to put the blame on benzo use but at this point, but there is no other explaination.  Medications can do harm to a person, but doctors do not want to believe an unharmful treatment, can be so harmful.  

As I stated before medications do help millions of people, but at the same time harm millions of people, the not so lucky ones.  As someone suggested, sometimes a person just has to find the right combination of meds to work with thier system.  But once a med causes harm to a person, it's very hard to convince them medications will help, and this is what has happened to me.  Because Klonopin was actually the first prescription medication I have taken in 20+ years, I have always treat my ailments with natural remedies or acupunture, etc....  I have always taken Melatonin, drank Chamomile tea, green tea etc..... with no ill effects.  I visit my doctor on routine check up, and told him I quit smoking, and couldn't sleep (another story),.  

So I am not here opposing anyone taking medications that helps them, reason I was cautious about sharing my story, but felt at the same time, my story may help others, experiencing the same.  

When I decided to come off Klonopin, my doctor was no help at all (long story), reason I sought out help from the internet, and now feel if I take any medication that could be harmful to me, my doctor wouldn't help me.  My doctor told me to just cut my dose in half and stop after a week, several day's later I ended up in the ER going into convulsions(long story),.

So I hope others can understand why I am anti med.  I have not shared my complete story, but bits and pieces here and there at the forums.  

My agrophobic condition has gotten alot better over time, I've been working on the condition myself, forcing myself out of the house, the problem is once I am able to start doing so, one/two hours a day, it takes one day of staying indoors to put me back into agrophobic condition.  So it has been a battle, but not impossible, it's just going to take time.  I no longer have panic attacks leaving the house, only thing now is my chest tightens up real bad, and I get short of breath, then feel exhausted afterwards.  My agrophobic condition has improved tremedously over time, just don't feel naturally comfortable leaving the house, and dislike the way I feel when I do.  

I really appreciate all the help from everyone, taking the time to help me.    

      



  

  

Hi there,

Barfer has given you some excellent suggestions and it is important getting any thyroid conditions under control.

With the benzo, perhaps you got so used to a certain level of calmness while on the med and didn't learn how to deal with anxiety symptoms triggered by various situations in your life. So now, you are off Klonopin and your body is all anxious and you don't know how to cope with it except retreat to a comfort zone. This is why your doctor probably is suggesting Klonopin or Paxil.

You fear Klonopin, so don't go there . Get your thyroid issues sorted out like barfer suggested. Next step you could consider is perhaps Valium - as a as needed basis whilst  you see a therapist who can take you to the next level - some sort of exposure therapy.  You mention , nothing helps , possibly because you haven't found the right therapist and perhaps you are too anxious to practise any strategies and wanting a quick fix. This is a normal reaction and you are just normal. You are a normal, healthy person who is just going through a bit of crisis at the moment.

Beta blockers are good but not without the side effects, some cause depression as they can cross the brain barrier etc. , sleep disorders in some and some are unsuitable for asthmatics. Long term usage seems to even link it to development of diabetes now. This is from what I know as I was considering a beta blocker of a different kind this time around. A few years back, my blocker caused depression and wheezing. So consult your doctor and while I might be an exception, it is my understanding that there are many people who don't seem to have much issues with blockers apart from mild fatigue.

Finally, I suggest that if you are housebound and can do some form of movement exercise, do it - suggestion, dance, housework, some gentle stretches.This is to get your cardiovascular fitness level and it will burn some of the adrenaline and get the endorphins (feel good hormone) going . This in turn will help you have fewer symptoms when you venture out of the house.

Take care.

Sumi  
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I hear what you are saying and I don't think anyone would blame you for fearing medication after what you have been through.  What you are doing now, your own form of CBT, will help you eventually to get your life back assuming you continue to work on it daily.  I've always said that, it is work for me everyday and that is why I make sure I get out for at-least a little while each day just to reinforce the fact that I can do it.  If I do have a couple of days where I haven't left the house, I feel it.  Agoraphobia is not for sissies.  It is a battle just to do the things that most people take for granted.  Repetition, helps to make an activity become common-place again.  Rewarding oneself for accomplishing a goal is important too.  Set goals and see if you can reach them and reward yourself for doing it.  Be determined and remember that when you are right in the middle of a panic attack, that it is just that, panic, nothing more nothing less and it will subside.  Do the deep breathing, in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Keep a diary/graph of your panic attacks and see if there is a co-relation to something else that is going on in your life or something you eat or drink.  Make it a graph, each page being one month.  Chart to see if there are differences as far as time of day or season.  I did this for about a year and a half and what an eye opener it was.  This may sound really involved but can easily be done by colour coding or giving a code to each item to be graphed.  It will help you understand yourself.  Once you are feeling better, absolutely stop graphing because you don't want to become obsessive about it and bring in another phobia to the equation.

These are just some thoughts that you may consider.  You don't have to do any of this, just ideas to try to get you through this.  By the way, psychiatrists love this stuff...it makes there job that much easier and basically you end up diagnosing yourself while they still get the big bucks for their consult. LOL
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Hello AJWS6,

Read your post and I nderstand where you are coming from .Everyone is different when it comes to their experiences with medication . I have heard many horror stories about long term benzo use and would say I was rather surprised and pleased that there were many members who didn't have much problems with long term use and when withdrawing. Anti depressants are not innocent as they are claimed to be either for some.

I am not anti - medication either , just cautious and at times I realise that even if I don't like it I find relief in medications. I am sensitive to medication and a friend of mine mentioned that according to her doctor there is about 1 % of the population in Aust who are sensitive to medications - so lots of trial and error . So perhaps you were sensitive to Klonopin. Only you would know your body better.  

A bit like me with my beta blocker experience, initially not many believed my side effects, they told me I was imagining them. Later on they found out I was asthmatic and indeed that particular blocker commonly causes respiratory problems,sleep loss and depression in some people. Usually one has to weigh the benefits and costs of using a med.

It is great that you shared your story, especially for people like myself who prefer to use  benzos for a as needed basis only. It presents another persons struggles. I know I am sensitive to meds and my doctors acknowledge that too and I do admit some of the side effects may be anxiety also. I know one thing though that despite my fears of medication and withdrawals etc, I will not hesitate to go on any even long term if necessary when I cannot function properly. I would weigh out the pros and cons.

So AJ, listen to your instincts and take small steps towards recovery and soon you will find yourself taking larger steps. Try your best not to relive your bad withdrawal experience. It is like a post traumatic stress. I should know, I still have flashbacks of bad memories. If you find a good therapist who understands that you are a bit anti-med right now, consult them. Someone who can help you change your way of thinking which I suspect is happening with you. After all your body had a bit of shock coming out of the calmness of the benzo.

Take care.

Sumi



  
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Hi Barfer,
Thanks for understanding.  You have been so very helpful, and I really appreciate all you've shared.  

A graph sounds like a great idea.  I have kept a journal, but hardly write in it much anymore.  

My agrophobia began from crowds & traffic, such as if I visit a small peaceful independant store, I am fine, but as soon as I go back out into traffic, my anxieties go into overload, I have no trouble in quiet, empty fast food places.  I go into panic, in places like Walmart, large resturants etc....  

I try to adjust and take care of life necessaties during the night, I'm thankful for 24 hour stores.  

But over stimulation creates chaos with my nervous system.  I have found relief wearing super dark sunglasses during the day, to reduce stimulation.  

Staying at home alone, is the only place I can feel comfort, no stimulation to my nervous system, reason I spend majority of my time in my home.  

When I try to leave my home and go out during the day.
Fear = anxiety, chest tightness and sob.  What I am afraid of, I still haven't figured out.  

Cause most times, after an hour or two, I adjust to a certain level of comfort, although I have chest tightness/sob, but not nearly as bad as when I came off Klonopin.  So alot has improved over the months, just have to continue working myself out of agrophobia.    

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Quote:  just have to continue working myself out of agoraphobia


And you will!  You are doing an excellent job of reaching that goal.

Do you work out or swim?  I have a pool and lately I've found it most helpful with anxiety.  I go down at a time when I can have the space all to myself and I swim lengths.  It makes me feel absolutely refreshed.  I also have a gym which I'm trying to use more frequently and every time I go, I'm glad I did because working out seems to help with that excess adrenaline.  You don't have to even leave your house to work out.  Even if you don't have weights at home, you can use filled bottles of detergent or use books instead of free-weights.  Push ups and sit ups don't require anything and they give you a good workout.  Also, a skipping rope will give you great cardio and it doesn't have to be an expensive rope from a sporting goods store, it can be any rope.  Just another thought!
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412969 tn?1224337848
i find it greatly amusing how many of us are arfraid of walmart!
My friends all know that if i go into walmart that i can say at any point in time i need to leave and we leave right there right then, leaving shopping carts wherever we may be at the time!
I have said many times that walmart is my idea of hell! lol!
im glad i found this post i dont know where there are any forum just for aggoraphobia and ive been having issues lateley and really needed this! good luck to us all!
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You shouldn't be afraid of Walmart!  It's just like MedHelp...one stop shopping!  At Walmart you can get fresh vegetables, shorts, shoes and beef all under one roof.  Here at MedHelp, you can find out if your dog has fleas in the pet section, if your aunt's rash needs ointment in the dermatology forum, and how about that arthritis issue or if you really are pregnant or was it just indigestion....You see, one stop shopping.  Mind you there are no line-ups here. LOL
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480448 tn?1426952138
LOL...Walmart is the devil!  :0)  Okay, not really....but I HAVE found it to be a common trigger place amongst the anxious.

AJW...I'm glad you were comfy enough to share your story.  I think that is one of the biggest benefits of these types of forums...being able to learn from others....and share in others' experiences.  

I am so sorry you went through what you did...I can't imagine how frustrating and scary it was for you.  Thing is...while I have no idea if the benzo really WAS the cause or not....I NEVER say "never" or "always" with medications.  You very well could be the 0.1% to end up with an almost unreported problem, ya know?  Obviously, you have been working with an endocrinologist, and have had a VERY thorough work up...which would rule out the common and more rare causes of an enlarged thyroid.  Basically, everyone...you, the docs...are left scratching your head...and I can certainly understand you relating the issue to the benzo withdrawl.  Common sense and process of elimination huh?  I just wish for YOUR sake that they would somehow be able to verify that for you...because it is hard being left to feel that you have "decided" this was the cause.  If that made any sense, you know?

I also totally can understand how you would feel the way you do about meds....I mean, how could you NOT right?  I'm sorry you went through all of this....it sounds like you are on the path to recovery...which is great.  If you get a chance...read my journals about panic, etc (some are from this thread, so it would be redundant)...but a lot of the techniques I have tried to overcome agoraphobia have been very successful.

Thanks again for sharing your ordeal with us.  Best of luck, and I hope you never experience anything like it again.
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460185 tn?1326081372
At the risk of sounding incredibly dumb - what is/are benzos?  I read the postings and can't figure out if they contribute to agoraphobia or not.

The comment about Wal-Mart - my daughter loves it; sometimes I just have to leave everything and get out; it's like being in a surreal movie.  So many times in this Forum I have read about someone's fear or phobia and thought I was the only one who felt that way.

Barfer - I'm really glad you began this thread and that all the other folks have told their stories and/or given information regarding meds.

lonewolf


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Hi there,

Benzos are benzodiazepines - ie anti anxiety medications such as Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin , Valium amongst others.

Bye for now.

Sumi
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Hi Sumi,
Thanks for understanding, you have been very helpful & comforting.  In the past year, i tested positive for allergies/sinus, I've tried a few different meds for allergies, and had a reaction to them all, Allegra D was the worst, had a bad rash from using it.  I used an Asthma inhaler, which caused upper airway restriction, I was ambulanced to the ER.  I cannot take any antibiotics, penicillin, my allergist is trying to figure why my system is so sensitive to medications.

I think it's because I have hardly taken a scription med in my entire life, my system has always naturally fought off illnesses.  The only med I never had any problems with were painkillers, aspirin, vicodin, etc....  

Sorry to read, you were not takin seriously about bb side effects.  Hope your doc has found the right treatments for you.

I try to be cautious what I share at forums, cause not everyone's experiences are all negative.  I'm happy that medications can help people, my mom included she has had 2 strokes and meds have helped her through the years.  Everyone's experiences are good or bad, made a decision to share my experiences to help others.  

I honestly don't think it's the harm medications can cause people, but how a doctor handles a patient having a hard time on medications.  I think that was the case with me, once medication had done harm to me, the doc was like whoopy doo.  So it's hard for me to take medications now, with no confidence in doctors.  

I told my doc Klonopin was not making me feel well, what does he do, increase my dose.  It's as if he didn't hear me at all.  But it's all in the past.

I'm sure if I find a doctor I can be confident in, I will accept treatments from the doc.  

What upsets me in the past is, my primary doc wants to throw all these psych meds at me, while my psychiatrist didn't prescribe me anything and tried to talk me through my issues.  I thought I was being prescribed medication to aid sleep, not psych meds.  Lunesta is a sleep aid medication.  It's a long story, and I'm getting worked up again.

Have a nice weekend.  
  

  
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Hi Barfer,
That's wonderful you have a pool to swim in, swimming can be very relaxing.  No I haven't gone swimming in a few years, I used to go swimming at the local gym, but they closed down.  

I do try to exercise when I can, mostly physical work outdoors, landscaping, etc.....  Before I became sick last year, I worked out on my treadmill 7 days a week, walking 3-5 miles.  

At times, I do have too much adrenaline, and start bouncing off walls.  Exercise is very healthy.    
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460185 tn?1326081372
Thank you for the explanation of what benzos are  = )

wolf


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Hi AJ,

Seems like you have a lot of issues to sort out at the moment, but one step at a time.

I feel you need to shop around for another family doctor - new perspective and one who is willing to help you through your hurdle.

Psychiatrists seems okay - ask him whether he can help you learn some simple relaxation strategies. You mention Lunesta which I believe is approved by the FDA for long term use but the feedbacks are not very positive and it is an expensive pill too. I can't get Lunesta here, we have Stillnox and Ambien and recently there has been lots of bad publicity about this drug with like 500 people complaining about dangerous side effects. Please I am not anti-med, just what I heard on the news lately.

So if you are having trouble sleeping, first of all, don't worry it won't kill you, just makes you very tired. When you remove the worry of not being able to sleep well, you will begin to sleep better.

Herbal medications can cause allergies too, so try to be like a scientist and be objective and see whether certains things make you sick. I know I start have shortness of breath after drinking chamomile tea - so much for making me feel relaxed.

A timetable tabling out your daily activities and time for worry as well - helps for some. Your therapist may come out with a plan.

But right now, I think your priority is to find a sympathetic, intelligent family doctor and learn to relax.

Take care.

Sumi
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460185 tn?1326081372
I've been watching and sometimes commenting on this thread but one thing you wrote really struck me.  You said:

"I honestly don't think it's the harm medications can cause people, but how a doctor handles a patient having a hard time on medications.  I think that was the case with me, once medication had done harm to me, the doc was like whoopy doo.  So it's hard for me to take medications now, with no confidence in doctors."

My dr is exactly like the one you describe.  She has arbitrarily cut back my meds and they aren't even tranquilizers or anti-depressants or mind-altering meds at all.  They were meds I took to control BP.   She doesn't listen to me or even see me as a person  so now I have to go back to her since my BP has increased.  I don't trust drs either.

Like you I have a lot of drug allergies which I think is the body's way of telling the brain that the drug(s) we are taking aren't beneficial.

It wouldn't offend me (can't speak for anyone else) if you said negative things about meds.   It might open my eyes to something I've been unaware of.

Too bad we can't be treated in a holistic way with mind, body, emotions and spirit being taken into consideration but that's my opinion and hopefully I would not judge anyone who had a different opinion.

Looks like you have lots of support in this thread  = )

lonewolf



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I have just done something I have been wanting to do for a very long time!  This is an example of an agoraphobic pushing herself  I have wanted a bike for many years and haven't had the guts to even walk into the bicycle store to look at them.  I'm 55 years young and haven't ridden a bike for at least 40 years.  I live in a large city but we are very lucky that we have a lot of park land around and right outside my door is a groomed path for people to walk their dogs, ride bikes, or just stroll.  Everyday I take my dog on this path and I see all these people on bikes and wish that I could do the same.  Well this morning I walked over to the bike store and rode home on my new bike!  Was I nervous?  At first I thought I might have a panic attack but what I realized was that I was more excited than anxious.  Mind you I was a little anxious when I had to ride it home, remember I live in the city...cars everywhere!  But I managed and instead of going directly home, I went on the path and through the cemetery which is always quiet (lol) and then home.  It was scary but exhilarating and somewhat freeing.  I just wanted to share that with everyone because it was such a big step for me after all these years of wanting it...I finally got it!  By the way, you know what they say that you never forget how to ride a bike, well I wasn't so sure they were right about that at first but it did come back and with  more practice I'm sure I will get even better at it.
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A victory indeed.
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It was horrible...I mean it.  I had many anxiety attacks on the trip and felt nauseous most of the time.  I did have some fun too. (believe it or not)...but no matter what...I didn't die....I didn't have to be hospitalized...I didn't pass out......I MADE IT THROUGH.  And that is what I needed to experience...to do it even though it was hard.  I have gotten much better through the years, however, I still do suffer at times.  But I say to myself that if I didn't push through it, I would never have had my daughter who was adopted from China!  I had to take a 17 hour plane ride for her...AND I MADE IT THROUGH.


Somewhere along the line, your post didn't get a response and I feel it really deserves one.  You showed how under extremely high anxiety and panic, you came through it and at the very least, learned that you could do it!  This is important!   If it hadn't been for your determination at that point in your life, you wouldn't have been able to take that 17 hour flight to adopt your daughter.  This is a perfect example of determination and strength.  We sometimes forget that because we have this disorder that we do have strength when we really need it.  

Quote:

My point to this story is, you have to face your fear, when you do everything for the agorophobic, you are being an "enabler".  I still have difficulty driving far distances now with my daughter (unless my husband is with me). But I plan visits to friends that are far distances and I do it anyway.  I can't let it overtake me....because it would be very easy to fall into that trap...way to easy.  You have to force yourself, no matter how uncomfortable it is.  Baby steps will take you far!

I completely agree!  It all starts with baby steps and determination to not let yourself become a victim.  We aren't victim's here, we are stronger than that.  We want freedom from this and we deserve it, but the only way we are going to be able to control it is if we really want it badly enough to do the work required to get there.  
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366811 tn?1217426272
Sometimes there is a thread that is so rich, so good, so full of stuff we really need to think about -that I wish it would be a forum all to itself. This is one of those. Almost 100 conversations and still in the "top 40" as it were. Very clearly, the contributors have experienced changes because of what they have read and written here -and that includes the humorous side-bars about the convention of agoraphobics.

The truth? The truth is that EVERYONE has boundaries, somewhere. And all the boundaries, I think, are really psychological when you get to the bottom of it. I have no problem hopping in my car (except for the cost of gas) and going anywhere; I can weave my way through the DC beltway traffic. But would I ever do sky-diving? I doubt it. And the sky diving is safer than the DC beltway. For that matter, the darkest alleys in SE DC are safer than the beltway. For that matter, Sadr City is safer than the beltway, come to think of it.

And so, if a I draw a red line that traces out my boundaries, it would form a sort of "lasso" that defines my safe space, and as I move about, it moves about with me. Put me in a place where the only way to get around is by parachute and guess what, I'm house-bound!  I'm not making a joke here. One of our topics had to do with what "home" really is -and as it turns out, it is not so much defined by a physical residence as it is a "sense" of space that surrounds us, because, as nearly all have said, they could, in fact, find some degree of solitude in a hotel room or perhaps the home of a friend or relative, or a summer cottage or vacation get-away. And so, if the space moves with us, then it follows that the space itself is defined by our brain, our psychology, to contour itself to the external reality as we perceive it. And it therefore follows, as well, that the expansion of the boundaries also lies within the capacity of our thinking, our sense of "safe space." And in virtually all cases, the actual safe space as revealed upon questioning is greater than that which is initially reported.

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You've posed and interesting comment...if a person is completely housebound and say has young children...one of the children cuts him/herself badly (a life-threatening sort of way), they live out in the middle of nowhere and there are no neighbours home or a partner around.  Does this make the agoraphobic parent act and drive the child to the nearest hospital or does he/she just sit there doing what he/she can for the child and watch the child bleed out?  My feeling is that something that horrendous would cause the agoraphobic to act, but does that mean that the comfort space will move with them.  I think in some cases it would, just because the children or child would be with the parent which in itself is a comfort factor and the sense of responsibility for a child's life becomes the central issue rather than whether you've been housebound for years or not.  The instinct to care for a child, I think would be stronger than that of the agoraphobia.  Not to say that the agoraphobic in question wouldn't have a few panic attacks on the way to the hospital and while there, but the fact that the attention would be focused on the hurt child.  Would this one incident then make it easier for the agoraphobic to venture out of his/her home again, I don't know.  But, it may make him/her more interested in pursuing it knowing that it was possible under the worst situation.  

This doesn't quite hit on the initial comment about transferring safe spaces but I can tell you what happened in my situation a few years back when I was on medication for GAD and panic, different meds that I am on now and I was dealing with matters fairly well, but my boundaries were not as broad as they are now.  

I have a very special older daughter who happens to have cerebral palsy, epilepsy and is developmentally delayed.  She needed dental work (root canals) and to do that she need it to be done in a hospital and under sedation.  Both my husband and I took her there (not my favourite place to go but, it's my daughter and her needs came over mine).  She had the procedures done and they very nicely allowed us in the recovery room because of her special situation.  While in there, and after the anesthetist has already gone home, my daughter starts to have a seizure.  I call the nurse over and while we were consulting about it, she has another seizure...the doctor's come in....she has another seizure.  Now everybody is there and she gets wheeled down to emergency and is taken immediately.  I am allowed to stay with her.  To make a very long story short, she ends up in intensive care after having had over thirty seizures, is hooked up with every tube you can imagine and is in and out of consciousness.  During this whole situation, not once did I think of my agoraphobic self...even when I felt some panic...I was able to squelch it down because there could only be one patient in that room and I knew what I had wouldn't kill me, but I wasn't so sure about my daughter.  She stayed in intensive care for 5 days, not speaking, hooked up to tubs and everyday, I got up in the morning drove to the hospital and stayed with her all day and night until I could hardly keep my eyes open.  Was I anxious, you bet, did I take ativan, absolutely, did I transfer my safe place to that intensive care unit, you bet your butt I did!  So, in my case transferring even in a sticky situation can happen and I think it could for someone housebound too if they were put into a position like I was.  

By the way, this all happened the week before Christmas and on the fourth night, we were sitting at her bedside worried that there had been no progress and just about to leave when all of a sudden, we heard her quietly sing, "We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year".  At that point, I knew she was out of the woods and life was good again.  Just to relay this story to you is heart wrenching for me to bring back those memories, but it is worth telling on this subject because it shows that in certain circumstances, we can be tough and even out of our comfort zone can find a way to make a safe space.  Mind you I lost 10 lbs. in the process but managed to put it all back on at Christmas with having my daughter and all my immediate family around me.  
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506273 tn?1260142381
I have read most of the posts on this thread and will continue to read it until I have read it all.  But wanted to share my story tonight.  It was the early-mid nineties and I had a panic attack at work, I was working for a bank.  That day I got taken care of, but realized that while driving down the road no matter how hot/cold it was my windows were up.  I was leaving them that way!  When I did make it home I closed all the shades and curtains.  That is how the next 2 years of my life went.  While grocery shopping, if I couldn't stay..I left the cart full of groceries sitting there.  That was pretty much the only place I went.  Home and the grocery store.  By 1998, our house was built and that meant all new surroundings.  So, we moved in and it took me a while but I did start going to the new stores that I hadn't gone to before, the only thing is my trips were short!!  Now, at the age of 35 I tend to stay home alot.  My husband will bring the kids with him and go visiting family..I stay home.  I'm safe here.  Then there are days where I want to go somewhere, but when I get there can't get out of the car.  Or I successfully make a small accomplishment of visiting someone or using retail therapy!  Its a bunch of hit and miss for me anyway.  I don't know if I will ever be like my husband and kids they want to go everywhere see everything.  I am just content and safe at home.

Alley
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I have made a suggestion to MedHelp that they start a forum specifically for agoraphobia.  I think this is something that is more prevalent than we realize and having our own forum would maybe bring some of the ones who are lurking, out in the open and feel that they can discuss their problems with others  who really understand and maybe, be able to help each-other.  I just wanted you to know that I have made this suggestion and we'll see what they have to say.
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480448 tn?1426952138
This is the thread I was talking about.  It has such invaluable information init...raw feelings....and a lot of moments where people finally came out and admitted that they also have a lot of agoraphobic tendencies.

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1204020 tn?1493702490
Great thread, myself been agora 10yrs now, i am going to get this book on ebay some guy wrote. see if it helps for me i cannot stand the dizziness associated with public outings.that pure frear like someone went of with a shotgun at Mcdonalds that type of fear!...... It makes me feel like i revert back to 5yrs of age, i need my mummy!!!!!! and for a 42yr old male that's quite embarressing. I also shake alot you would think i had parkisons, I'm not sure what the answer is except each day step out the door a little more....... and then a little more etc..... For me i have a f/time carer as well as i am so bad , they need to shop for me some days... I've lost all friends its very lonely except online ones.... parents live 1hr away my car sits out there getting dusty although sometimes i will sneak out at 10pm drive it down the road and back and run inside again , insane really! but i dont want the battery to die........ Well i want to get well but it will take take time i guess....... Last week i had such a doozy my carer took me to this pharmacy and i almost fainted..... i couldnt see the door way to get out and dropped everything........ its like i go into mania stage! ......... I hear all you guys its such a lonely life :(((
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349780 tn?1309637558
This thread is a relic by now. But it brought 3 of us together who remain close friends. Barfer and the friend she was writing about. Her friend began to post on the agoraphobia forum herself. And she even started to go out again. So it shows that posts can help people.
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Hi there lonewolf,you was wondering if ativan,valium,causes agorophobia..most definitely.I was prescribed ativan when my mum dyed because i was having PAs.They have made me agorophobic,i have weaned myself off a lot of mgs,and now i,m in reality i can,t cope with anything,i get angry with myself and very frustrated the fact that i will not go out on my own,which is realy depressing,and like most people on here i hide it very well.I am constantly looking for answers and yes i want a quick fix,even though i know that wont work..Miserable....
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