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Agoraphobia and housebound
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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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Once upon a time I stayed close to home for the best part of ten years. If I went out it was a living hell. Had to hold onto railings and walls as I walked along. So scared was I out there. Most of those ten years was spent laying on a bed fighting my own mind. Just waiting for one day to end and another to begin. Truth was it was like one continous day with a little bit of darkness to break it up. Worse still, I didn't want to tell my own family exactly how bad I was. So they'd say ' would you go here for me, or go there for me '. I went at times. But would suffer for days after. That's when I told my mum I was suffering from panic attacks and that going outside the house was near impossible. She didn't really know what to do or say. Why? Because she didn't understand panic attacks. It was always a battle over the years. Got myself back on track for while. Once I had that something to aim for. That came in the form of a woman. She was from Scotland. I am in Ireland. But she came over here first. Then I made the biggest trip of my life. Was like I was a new person. I made it to Scotland via trains, ferry and more trains. Things that I had been avoiding for years. But I told myself I had to do it. I wanted to do it come what may. I look back on Scotland as my short break from the hell I had been living. I was fine for about a year or so. Came back to Ireland after about two months. So easy to slip back into your old lifestyle all over again. That's about what happened. But this time I kept pushing myself out no matter what. Bad as it was most times.

Today I am fine. Well, as I write these words I am fine. But that took a stay in hospital, an xanax addiction, lot of therapy and feck knows how many people praying for me. I don't do the prayer stuff myself. Seems everybody else does it for me. Saves me time. ( LOL ) I'm enjoying getting back out and about though. That's for sure. The last scare was a big one. Weight dropped to under 6 stone when I decided that eating wasn't a good thing to do. Intelligence of an Irishman. ( LOL ) My mum thought I was a gonner for sure. Hence the hospital. Like having your thoughts reprogrammed. But I was one eager SOB and wanted to fight things. So where they said 2 months, I was back out in 1 month and doing things I hadn't done in years. And that's where you find me now.
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Thanks for responding.  I too, hid my panic and agoraphobia for many years.  It turns out I wasn't the only one in the family doing the same thing.  That stiff upper lip thing is really annoying isn't it. LOL   (I'm from an Scottish, English, Irish background.)  When you are younger it seems easier to keep it hidden and find ways to hid it or find ways to make it through the day without anyone knowing how hard it was for you.  Back when I was a kid, this stuff was never discussed and then years later, I found out my mother had GAD and my sister has it and I suspect my brother does too, but won't admit it.  He has isolated himself from anyone outside of immediate family.  It's interesting that it was a girl who got you through it at one point.  There usually is a point where you just get fed up and become determined that you are going to deal with it and have a life.  I'm afraid that my friend has too many people around her that will enable her so that she doesn't have to leave her home.  That could very easily be me if I caved to it but there are too many things that I want to do to let that happen completely.  I still don't do everything I want to do but I am and will work toward it.  You were very young to be housebound for ten years.  Let's hope you can keep on a great path going forward and with the determination you seem to have presently, that shouldn't be a problem.
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They don't call us the fighting Irish for nothing. Your friend got any hobbies? You see I found hobbies to suit my situation. Wood burning was a great one. Pyrography to give it its real name. Burning images onto wood. I also radio scanning. Listening to airways and the likes. Things to keep the mind occupied. Because it is only when we have nothing to do that the worst days fall upon us. Gardening is another good one. At least you make it out to the garden. Grows a few flowers from seed. You got to look after them until they grow. It takes your time up. That's what is needed. To take up those hours in the day in can seem endless. Lord knows I had many of them. The only thing I can suggest for you to help you friend is be sneaky in introducing her to a hobby. It might work. It will be a start. Those first steps may lead to bigger steps and better places.
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All great ideas, but she does have hobbies that keep her busy but that doesn't get her outside away from the house.  I'm just curious how many on this forum are like her or if there are more agoraphobics that are like you now and me.  She is happy most of the time and has people come and visit her, especially family.  She is in her 60s and feels that at her age she is not about to try again to get past this disorder.  She has been in and out of it for many years and this is the longest she has been housebound.  
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Hospital and new medication is not an option for her? For years I was only on xanax and they were doing nothing at all. New meds and a lot of determination gave me the kick up the rear I needed. I met people her age an older in the hospital I was in. She still has a life. A life she just has to want to find again. I seriously wish her all the best. You can send her my love and good auld Irish hug too. Tell I said ' never say never '. She can fight back. The Irish hug makes her an honory Irish person. And we don't know what it means to roll over and give up. And she is one of us now.
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I hope this doesn't come across as attention seeking - it's not.

It's interesting that you mentioned agoraphobia because along with anxiety and depression  I have been "hiding" the fact that I have agoraphobia as well.  Do you think that there is a connection or correlation between agoraphobia, anxiety and depression?  It sort of snuck up on me about six or seven years ago and I have "hidden" it from almost everybody, except my therapist.  Often, I miss out on a lot due to this fear of going out.  Don't know how it began or why.  Ironically, am also claustrophobic too.

Have never heard of a Native American/Canadian with agoraphobia - claustrophobia, yes.  (I am a Native person)

I hope you continue your discussion and what helped and what didn't help, if you don't mind me reading and asking questions.  I've missed out on so much but don't have the nerve to tell my family why I can't go to different events; basically, I lie to them and I don't like that.

wolf



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I want people to add their comments and ask questions...that is what this is all about.  I'm agoraphobic and claustrophobic.  It is really common to have a phobia with anxiety and to have multiple phobias, too.  Anxiety disorder is a very broad term.  I'm most interested in agoraphobia because of the different ways that I deal with it compared to my dear friend.  We don't live in the same country and yet we have this disorder that we deal with in very different ways.  Because I don't have an "in person" relationship with her, it makes it more difficult to say "Hey, let's go do this together."  I met her on another forum and although she formed friendships through that forum, it didn't help her with her own agoraphobia.  She actually left that forum before I did.  She got nothing out of it, but a few friends.  I would like to hear from as many people as possible about this to see if it can give me ideas to help her with this without being too intrusive in her privacy.  She is very sensitive to suggestions on how to make her life more full but on the other-hand, wishes she had a full life.  I really don't want to disclose too much about her because I don't think it is right, but I do want to hear from people who are agoraphobic and for how long they have been housebound or how they have managed to come out of it.  My friend knows my story and admires me for it, but it hasn't helped her in anyway.  We are different people and what I'm willing to do, is not what she would even consider doing.  As I said in a previous post, we don't even talk about it anymore other than for her to comment on how well she thinks I am doing.  Any suggestions I've given her, she just blows off as not possible.  She knows what she needs to do, she just can't bring herself to do it.  She's tried CBT, SSRIs, and is afraid of benzos...she has just given up that she will ever be able to leave her home.

I guess what I want to know is how many on this forum are agoraphobic and how are they coping with it.
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GREAT and VERY important topic...as one therapist I had told me a VERY VERY VERY large percentage of anxiety disorder sufferers (panic disorder especially) suffer from one degree of agoraphobia or another...whether very brief...or lasting decades.  I think THAT is one of the most difficult aspects of panic disorder that I have dealt with...and it often leaves me SUPER depressed as a result.  And, VERY angry with myself.

I will share my own story briefly.  I must do some wrist exercises first, b/c this is bound to be a long post for sure.  :0)

(Ok...well I really have to do some things around the house...but it WILL be a lengthy one).

I'm very excited to share my experiences with everyone....and to read about you all.

{{{{{wolfie}}}}}...I'm sure it wasn't easy to admit that....especially typing it out...it becomes much for "real" doesn't it?  I'm proud of you...way to go.

Oh, and barfer...I sincerely feel for your friend.  That is so sad...I wish she would have had more success with some form of treatment...and can understand her reluctance to try anything at this point...she prolly feels it's futile...that nothing has helped her before.  Very defeated feeling.

I'm glad she has a friend like you who can understand what she is going through...and is just willing to be her friend on HER terms without pushing her into doing something she is uncomfy doing....which is a common reaction of "friends" of agoraphobics....out of care and compassion of course.....they want to "make them better"...but YOU understand and are just offering the support she needs.  Darn, I wish I would have had a bud like you a few times in my life.

Be back shortly.  Everyone grab a snack...we might be in for the long haul with this one.

:0)
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Hurry up nursegirl, I can't stand the suspense!!

Sumi
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I cannot even believe this...I typed out a HUGE post...then when I hit submit....it told me I exceeded the charcter limit and my post disappeared!!!!!!

ARRRRRRGGGGGHHHH!

Sorry folks....you'll have to wait till tomorrow...I just can't even think about re-typing all of that right now.

Grrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!
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It was very, very difficult to admit to being agoraphobic (along with being claustrophobic).  Like I said earlier, I wonder if it is part of being anxious and depressed.  The agoraphobia sort of crept up on me.  Now I feel like I've missed so much because of it and worse I have lied to keep people from knowing about it.  But I guess I'm out of the closet now.

wolfie
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Well done Lonewolf. You have now admitted it. Maybe that is your first steps. Who knows. By getting it out and sharing it with us here you may now feel you can share it with others too and get the right help you need to try and beat the condition. We are here to encourage you. Hope things can begin to swing for you now. Best pf luck.
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Hi lonewolf07,

Don't feel upset, it is all part of the anxiety disorder thing. Anxiety evolves and many people don't have just one disorder, sometimes there is an overlap of disorders, it is normal.

I am not sure how you define agoraphobia, is it when you are confined to the home, if so I don't have it. I think they have redefined agarophobia to mean afraid of certain places and situations, something like that.

Well I am scared of certain situations, like going for an interview. I have had it since my neck and jaw went into spasm since Oct last year, really bad and my blood pressure goes up and I feel I am going to stroke out. For others it might be the palpitations and they think , heart attack, and for others they think they just going to die, it is all part of a panic disorder.

Have you read books by Dr Claire Weekes , I think it is called Hope and Help for Your Nerves in the US. You could look through Amazon for the titles, the positive comments are truly amazing.

In the meantime, you should feel proud of coming out of the closet, It is the first step towards recovery. I wish I could feel less anxious during anxiety provoking situations. The anticipation fear paralyses me from moving forward towards full recovery. The symptoms of panic are just overwhelming
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Among my panic trials and tribulations, agoraphobia was not among them, thank God. However, one of the people in my "Power over Panic" support group -who later became a close friend, DID have it -the classic case, housebound. He could make it only as far as half way down the front walk -10 feet from the house. Today, this same guy is zipping back and forth across the country on his Harley. I can tell whenever he is within 30 seconds of my place... I'll call him "Ned."

Based on what I have read in this thread, and based on what I know about HIS experience, I want to toss something out to all of you for consideration. I really don't have a "theory" here -I'm just interested in how you guys react.

The sum and substance: "Ned" began to expand his boundaries when he had a good reason to do so. In his case, that reason was a pretty girl who lived up the street, and who came walking by one day and began to chat. One thing led to another, and Ned -married with 2 children- found himself in a full-blown sexual affair. "Janice" (who was single) really got his attention. Turns out, she, too, was on disability for a "mental" disorder. So, they had plenty of time together when Ned's wife went to work. Eventually, Ned was able to drive within a few miles of his place and, ultimately, was able to drive himself to the "Power over Panic" meetings. Finally, he bought his "bike," the fulfilment of a life-long dream. Oddly, perhaps, he was able to go places on the Harley that he could not go -as comfortably- in his car. In time, he was so happy to have regained his freedom that Janice became less important to him. And in time, Ned and his wife had a parting of the ways. Ultimately, in a full expression of his freedom, he moved far away from his home. Ned got well. Janice did not.

At first blush, it might seem as though Ned was a pretty selfish guy, but such was not the case. He was an excellent Dad and utterly trustworthy and reliable -whatever he said he would do -he WOULD do. As you might imagine, there were serious marital issues that framed a kind of backdrop for his disorder. But Ned could not see, while in the midst of his marriage- how these issues played into his anxiety and panic and took them to be just part of the "normal" marital scenario.

I am NOT saying that therefore, marital problems cause agoraphobia. Everyone's mileage will vary. What I AM considering is the possibility that breaking free of the boundaries may become possible if and when a deep need may be met by so doing -or we believe that such may be the case.

Now I'll refer to my own situation. While I was not house bound, I was one of the "landed gentry" who could not fly. Until, one day, my group of neighborhood friends all decided to fly to the Virgin Islands together on a holiday. The prospect of this shared experience was so exciting to me that the anticipation of that experience outweighed the fear of flying. All those folks knew about my problem and cheered me on when I said, "count me in." The plane trip -the entire experience- was great. I was also in therapy at the time, and the trip became a subject of discussion. It is possible that, had the trip been proposed a year earlier, I might not have joined -we'll never know. But what seemed assured was that the high expectation of shared good times became more important than the "safety" of not flying. I have flown ever since.

So, I put it to you: is there any possibility that some perceived reward or fulfilment of need may be powerful enough to move you across the line? If so, what? Is this just something that would work for some, but not for others? Your thoughts?
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Don't you love this topic!?  How interesting that two men, so far, on this issue have mentioned the influence of a woman as the catalyst to getting out of their agoraphobia. LOL  (I couldn't resist mentioning it!)

The fact remains, that in most cases there is a turning point in which you stop and say "enough" I'm going to do everything in my power to move forward.  Basically, people with agoraphobia have defined boundaries.  I knew someone who would not leave her bedroom at first and then after years of therapy, was able to fly to Europe for a vacation.  I still have driving boundaries.  I live in the downtown area of a major city and where some people are afraid of driving in the city, I don't like to drive outside of the city and on the highways.  I'm OK, sort of, as a passenger, but forget it as the driver.  I was housebound for a very short period of time and with medication and sheer determination (I'm a stubborn little nut which helped in this case) I walked out of my house and part way down the street and did that every day until I could go for walks all over the city.  It was the same thing with driving, I started slowly and eventually I was able to drive all over the city and I even drove and can drive if I really put my mind to it, to my daughter's place which is outside of the city and that takes almost twice as long because I still can't drive on the highway.  I will do almost anything for my children and that was my catalyst.  My husband had a very demanding job and so I couldn't depend on him to help with day to day things and one of my children is mentally and physically disabled, plus she is epileptic, so you either push yourself to get better or you fall down that pit and never get out.  I had enormous motivation to get out of that pit.  I've always had anxiety and panic issues all my life which I kept hidden until I couldn't anymore, but the agoraphobia was something that reared it's ugly head when I was premenopausal.  As I've said in the past they shouldn't call it menopause, it should be called mental pause.  Agoraphobia is something I am still fighting but it is not as big an issue as it was.  

JS, as you said and I quote:     is there any possibility that some perceived reward or fulfilment of need may be powerful enough to move you across the line? If so, what? Is this just something that would work for some, but not for others? Your thoughts?

There is the rub...I was motivated enough to cross the line and have had to many times, but what about people like my friend?  Why can't she be motivated to cross that line?  Is it because she has so many people who love her around her and are in actual fact, stifling her with kindness, basically enabling her to not get out of her home or is it just that one gets tired of always battling the inner demons and would rather stay home and paint or clean or do projects to avoid what is happening in the real world.

JS, when I was a kid, I loved to fly and thought I would, by this time in my life, have been all over the world.  Ever since my daughter was little, I have not liked to fly.  She seizured after flying for her first time and that has a lot to do with how I feel about flying now.  I didn't need a therapist to figure that one out.  My experiences with flying since my daughter's first flight have all been related to bad experiences.  I had to fly out to see my father when his wife died and moved him here after that.  All my experiences with flying have been unhappy family situations and so my feelings about flying have definitely been coloured over the years.  My psychiatrist was trying to get me to take a plane ride, just for pleasure...JUST FOR PLEASURE?!?!...That was one part of my therapy I did not do....LOL  Also, I am claustrophobic and the way they pack people in the planes now a days, sure doesn't help with that issue.

This a very important topic to me.  I hope I get more insight from all of you agoraphobics out there.  Thanks to all of you that have responded so far.

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Ok, let's try this again.

First, I will share with you what *I* know about agoraphobia.  Once I found out what I was suffering from (and that it was actually part of my disorder)...I wanted to learn all about it...so I dove into books and spent MANY a therapy sessions simply discussing that...I asked a million questions.

Before I start babbling..there is a book I would personally HIGHLY recommend for anyone with agoraphobia...it's called "Helping your Loved One Overcome Agoraphobia" by Karen William.  It is meant for the loved ones...but *I* got a LOT out of it...b/c I related so much to it....I felt as if *I* could have written it myself....and it made me feel not so alone.  After I read it (in mere hours)....I passed it around among my family members.  Great book.

I learned that agoraphobia technically means "fear of the marketplace/open places"...but what it boils down to is extreme avoidant behavior due to tha anticipatory anxiety of having a panic attack (or severe anxiety in GAD and other disorders).  My therapist told me that the percentage of anxiety disorder patients that have suffered from one level of agoraphobia or another is ASTOUNDING.  Agoraphobia is ESPECIALLY prevalent in panic disorder.  It usually starts vaguely...often even un-noticed by the sufferer.  I gave some examples before...but for instance, if a person has their first major devastating panic disorder in a grocery store....all of a sudden, that person finds it impossible to return there....because they have convinced themselves it will happen again if they go back there. In our minds, we relate the PA TO the location.  Agoraphobia isn't always related to locations either...it can be related to situations (ie...another poster mentioned an interview)...or even a time of the day....a person has a very bad PA at bedtime...and before you know it...the person relates the attack TO that time of day (and we see a lot of posts like that).  Obviously, though...with THAT kind of scenario...we can't actually AVOID a timeframe, so instead we just FILL ourselves with an unbelievable amt of anticipatory anxiety.

Sooo, the grocery store situation.  The person starts to avoid going there.  Next, that person has a PA at the library...so they stop going there as well.  This kind of thing balloons until basically the "safe zone" (which most people's "safe place" is their home) becomes smaller and smaller and smaller.  Like JS said...and I have experienced in talking with fellow PD'ers....some people cannot even go to their mailbox it is so severe.  The more we avoid, the worse it becomes.  I liken it almost to a PTSD scenario.  Certainly if I was present during a violent bank robbery...I would have a VERY hard time going back to that bank.  Same thing with panic attack induced agoraphobia, only the "danger" is perceived, not actual.

Another BIG component of agoraphobia is anticipatory anxiety.  This is where we literally make ourselves SICK with worry and anxiety before something we have to do.  Some things are unavoidable.  Example--One HAS to go to the doctor...but yet...as soon as the appt is made...the worry starts.  We "what if" ourselves into a frenzy..."What IF I get stuck in traffic and have a PA?"...."What IF my car breaks down and I have a panic attack?"..."What IF I get stuck in the elevator at the medical office building and have a PA?".  And so the cycle goes...the more we "what if"...the more anxious we become...and of course the anticipatory anxiety gets worse the closer the outing gets.  A LOT of people with agoraphobia cancel plans at the last minute...often making excuses because they are too embarassed to admit and to try to explain that they are afraid to basically leave their home.  They are embarassed by it because it is hard to explain to someone without an anxiety disorder...and because we can rationally tell ourselves that there IS no real reason to be afraid.  That's also when we often add depression to our laundry list of suffering.  We feel SO guilty for disappointing our family and friends who we let down by cancelling.  We feel inadequate that we can't even go to the gas station to fill our car.  Our loved ones most likely are unaware of the REAL reason behind our cancelling events...and therefore they assume we are being rude, irresponsible, etc etc.  So, that adds even more stress.  I personally am the most depressed when I am suffering with bad agoraphobia.  Like I said...it is an awful cycle...and it is hard to break.  Basically...like someone who fell off a horse...you have to get back on....and slowly start increasing that "safe zone"...as hard as it may be.

THAT is where CBT is very helpful.  A lot of therapists who do CBT actually do outings....starting small...and getting more intense.  I had a friend who was in CBT...her first outing involved her therapist picking her up in the car and driving WITH the patient as a passenger a mile down the road.  Her last session a year later....my friend was driving herself in her own vehicle on routes especially chosen with challenges...bridges, traffic, tunnels, etc.....to meet the therapist at least 60 miles away (and actually that last session included a ride on a subway as well...as that was a big fear for her).  But, she made progress....she came a LONG way.  

I will get into my own personal experiences with agoraphobia shortly....and to relate to what I just said...my most recent struggle involved a nasty PA in the middle of traffic on a busy highway.  That route is STILL incredibly hard for me to face..but I make myself do it at least once a month...even if I do not HAVE to go into town.

So...this is PART I of MY feelings about agoraphobia.  Like so many of you...I have suffered with it at various different degrees...but also, I have competely overcome it on 2 seperate occasions...working on my third.

I also wanted to address something barfer said about phobias.  That is another very common aspect of any anxiety disorder.  Most of us have one, if not several phobias...some very severe...others just sort of fleeting.  It's all part of the anxiety disorder...the cycle...the classic "what iffing"...basically a cruddy package deal of sorts.  My OWN personal phobias are....travel phobia (again a form of agoraphobia...nothing scarier for an agoraphobic to go REALLY far away from our "safe place".)...."poopy pants phobia" (self explanatory..I don't think I'll get too much into that right now...lol)...and driving phobia (again.....part of the agoraphobia).  But....as we've seen sooo often here....some of the more common phobias that anxiety sufferers deal with are health phobias, death phobias, exercise phobias, fear of vomiting, fear of going crazy, flying, driving, tunnels, bridges (anywhere we feel there is no easy "escape").

More to come...stay tuned!  Thanks for reading this monstrous post!  :0)
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I think we all know what agoraphobia is now and most of us who have responded have or know of someone who has experienced it.  Bottom line, we are not comfortable outside of our comfort zone.  What I'm curious about is are most of the people on this forum who have agoraphobia housebound or they able to get out and about?  Does this forum reach those who are completely housebound and are their needs being met through this forum?  It seems to me that the people who do most of the posting are, in some way, getting out or trying to get a handle on it.  Is there a huge percentage of agoraphobics hiding or lurking and not posting?  Is there a large population of agoraphobics who are so bad that they can't support themselves and are homeless and certainly wouldn't have a computer to get support?  I wonder how deeply this goes.  I certainly don't know what my friend would have done without the financial support that her family has provided.  What about those who don't have financial support?  How can they be reached.  Remember, I started this post with mentioning my friend who has had all the support, financial, therapy, medication, etc. and is still sitting in her home seven years later with no way (in her mind) to get out.  As JS said, why do some make it and others don't?  What is the difference between her and me?  I absolutely hate going to restaurants and travel is not my favourite thing either, but I'm going to Florida in a couple of weeks and on the way back I am spending 3 days in Savannah, which is some place I have wanted to see ever since I read the book Midnight In The Garden Of Eden (that was about 15 years ago).  I have found that if I organized going out to restaurants with my friends, then it is a way of forcing me to do it, after all, I organized it!  But back to my friend, how do you help someone who wants help but doesn't want help because of fear and she finds it intrusive?  Don't forget my other question about the members of this forum, are they lurking or are they simply not here and if they are here, are they getting support?
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i suffer fom panic attacks and agoraphobia developed and i have been suffering bad for about 3 months. i can no longer go to grocery stores, walmarts, malls, anywhere. my only way out is if im with someone and i cant stand it. i want my life back. i just dont understand it. i walk into any of these places without having anything on my mind and then bam a panic attack starts and i get out as soon as i can. i get so aggravated and emotional at myself. i want to overcome this. im not going to let this horrible thing ruin my quality of life.
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I know exactly how you feel and you will overcome this because you have the deep desire to do it.  Try sticking to going to one place for a time until you get to the point where it becomes common-place for you.  Do it everyday.  With me it was the grocery store, I had a panic attack there one day while in the line-up and managed to get out of the store, eventually, with all my groceries.  This was such a disturbing situation for me because I knew I had to shop for groceries for the family and needed to make sure that I could do it...So, everyday after that panic attack, I went back to the same store and the first day all I bought was one item and went through the cash line.  I went back to that store every day until it got to the point that it no longer became a problem for me.  You can do this with each situation and after you do it with the one store, it becomes easier for the others.  You probably won't have to go through the whole process with each store after doing it with the grocery store, maybe for the walmart because it is a really busy one but, honestly, after a while, you will be able to do it.  So what if you have a panic attack for the first few times, it won't kill you and you will feel a sense of accomplishment that you were able to do it no matter how hard it was.  As I always say, don't forget to reward yourself for your success, either.  Buy yourself some bubble bath or in my case a cinnamon bun for doing something that is very hard for you.

Thank you for responding to this posting...I really think it is important for all agoraphobics to know that there are others struggling just like them/us and that there can be ways out of being housebound.  Do you feel this forum is helping you with this problem and if not, what do you think would help you get through this rough spot in your life?
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This forum reaches out to many a person Barfer. You just have to view this and many other topics to see that. If you are housebound and use the net and you find somewhere like this, it is amazing. Just to be able to unleash and get so much off your chest. You don't know the people will read your posts. So you have no worries. Like you might have if you were to have to write a letter to someone you might meet the next day. Here it is like a great freedom to let go of whatever you atr holding onto within you. Then to see others have similar problems too. Yes you feel sorry for them. Because you know how bad it is. But you also see you are not the only one. So topics like this do help people in such a massive way.

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Working through agoraphobia.  The things that worked for me are similar to what barfer said in her post.  You start small and work bigger and bigger.

Example, the grocery store again...while in the midst of a very agoraphobic time, I can get there, but it's like an Olympic friggin marathon for me....and I even go as far as to plan ahead very methodically...trying to minimize my time in the store.  You all may laugh at this...b/c I kind of find it funny myself...but I'll make a 3-tiered grocery list...starting with the ABSOLUTE must-have items....like milk, diapers, etc...then the second tier will include pretty important stuff....and the third will be stuff that would be good to have, but also easily skipped if I'm having a rough go of things.

That multi-tiered list has worked well for me...b/c it keeps me focused, and if I DO end up with an issue...at least I have gotten the most important things.  Plus, it is almost a way for me to gauge my success, in a way.  There will be days where I got through not only the ENTIRE list, but also manage to pick up things that were NOT on the list whatsoever.  I felt a HUGE sense of accomplishment on those days.

That's another thing...and not to sound like a broken record b/c I say it a lot...but EVERY accomplishment is to be celebrated when trying to overcome agoraphobia.  Instead, a lot of times...we find ourselves putting onesself down.....like "OMG, how pathetic, I didn't get past the milk on the list." instead of realizing what a huge feat that was to get there, go in, get the milk and leave.  EVERY step is vital, no matter if it is one pint of milk at the store or a round-the-world trip in an air balloon.

Also, some tips for these outings.  First, the more exposure to outings, the better.  So instead of doing one bigger one once a month...try smaller ones more frequently.  When I'm in the throws of agoraphobia, I REALLY try to force myself to go out almost every day, even if it is literally to the bottom of my driveway and back.  One day I'd go to the post office, the next day, the gas station, then the grocery store, etc.  I tried to pick places that would be low maintenence, sort of "in and out" places.  Choose a less busy time of the day to go...and YOUR good time of the day...some people have great mornings, some evenings.  Try to start the outings at the "good" times and then switch it up later on.  

If there were days that my anticipatory anxiety was thru the roof, I gave myself a pass.  It's OK to do that...not every day will be a good day.  There is no sense ruminating about it....just accept that these are big challenges...and just like a physical illness...there will be days with limitations.  We are SO hard on ourselves.

Also....try to work on DEALING with a PA when it strikes....trying to sort of ride it out as long as possible...gradually increasing the time we can withstand it.  If we can fight the urge to flee, that is a huge step in beating it.  Even minimizing the reaction time from PA to fleeing is good.  If you are in the store yet again and panic hits...walk around, breathe....maybe even set your items aside and walk outside for some air.  Keep in mind that the PA will NOT hurt you...it is just emotions.  ALSO....one thing we all worry about is what other people are thinking...and you know what?  Unless you are screaming on top of your lungs or rolling around on the floor...NO ONE has a clue but US.  *Our* feelings are over sensitized...not everyone else's.  I know in theory it all sounds great...but in the middle of a PA...it IS hard not to just get the heck out NOW.  The first few times you "ride it out", you may only last 30 seconds...but each time gets easier and easier until you actually get to the point where you do NOT have to flee....when you get there...you are REALLY breaking that fleeing/agoraphobic/avoidance cycle.

Gradually build up the outings to include places slightly farther away...bascially continue to challenge yourself.  Sometimes you don't get to the challenge yourself point for quote a while.  That is OKAY.  There is no time line that needs to be followed.

My last tip for now...is TRY to be honest with as MANY people as you can....not only for support, but also so you do not have to make up excuses as to why you can't attend functions, etc.  Learn that it is okay to say "NO".  We always accept invites thinking just MAYBE we'll be okay to go that day...hoping we will...then the day gets closer and it's impossible for us.  Then you get into the guilt feelings....which only serves to make yourself feel worse.  Don't push yourself too quickly.....but don't always give in to the fear either.  If you have planned a short and simple outing and are finding the anticipatory anxiety....switch things up a bit...ask for someone to go with you....but YOU be the one to drive.  The more we make goals for ourselves and continually break them...the more WE feel defeated and keep that cycle going.  It's a vicious one for sure.

So...basically...through all of this...be kind to yourself.  It's a rough ride...it's hard to face...but it's not impossible.  Support from a group like this is priceless...where we can all share our own tips and strategies.  Pat yourself on the back EVERY time you reach a goal.  It's SO very important.
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im going to post this now but will reply with a more indepth one later, basiclly im a 27 year old 5 motnh pregnant woman with agoraphobia, panic attacks gad and severe depression, because of the pregnancy im off most my meds so ive been housebound more lately than not... more to come=)
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Great to hear from you.  I look forward to seeing what more you have to say in your next post.  

Now, where are all the other agoraphobics on this forum.  I want to hear from everyone housebound or not and let's share information and insight.  Remember I have a friend who has been housebound for a very long time and has tried all treatments...I would love to know of a way to help her find a way out of this.  My experiences haven't encouraged her at all.  In fact, I think it has saddened her a little to see that I can do it but she can't.  Remember, she is in her 60s and has been in and out of being housebound, this being the longest time.    
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It's SUCH a catch 22...because she desperately needs at least therapy (if she doesn't want to go the med route)...but an agoraphobia has obviously a hard time leaving to go TO therapy.  She needs to do SOMETHING, IMO...she isn't likely going to get better without SOME kind of intervention.

How about looking into resources...there are sometimes therapists who will start therapy either in the pt.'s home...or via telephone?  I'm sure they aren't super easy to find...but maybe you could consult with some area psychiatrists and ask about it?

I knew someone on another forum who started CBT that way...she just couldn't physically go TO to therapy.  It was a long hard struggle...but she at least got to the point where she was being driven to her appts after a while.

So very sad...I feel for your friend.  
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I have the phobia too but too bad (def avoidence ) . But i even have had it with the foods i eat like one time i  would not eat anything with seeds on it because i thought that was causing my panick attacks or yellow cheese or eggs it was unreal. Sometimes too if i had a real bad panick attack and i was wearing a certain outfit or clothing if u will i would not wear that outfit for a very long long time.. Its just something that goes in your head it not that the color of cheese or my outfit i had one caused my panick attacks but i still related the items to the attacks .Now i will not drive any where by my self some one has to come with me. At  first i couldnt drive  at all but now at least i drive but have to have someone with me.. If someone offers to drive i dont turn them down but that hardly happens anymore due to the fact its part of my therapy to drive and my daughter and sister make me drive unless i really am not feeling good..
Thanks rose
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Nursegirl, my friend even had a CBT therapist who went to her home and she has every book and tape that was ever made..she hasn't in the past 7 years had or done anything that has helped.  It is like she has completely given up on it ever becoming a possibility.

Hi Rose!  I know exactly what you are talking about.  I haven't been able to even go past the apartment that my father last lived in before his passing and I total relate to avoidance of a food or situation because of panic or a bad experience.

Thanks for responding.
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I can surely understand your friend's frustrations.....it IS an incredibly hard battle...and she has never experienced any level of success, I guess she just feels WHY would it be any different this time?  We are SOOOO influenced by our past experiences, and it's just such a shame that she doesn't have any GOOS experiences to pull from.  :0(

I hope she finds SOMETHING that she is able to try...or that maybe she decides to try to make a go of it again....maybe it WILL be different this time.  What you were saying, and others were saying about having that incentive (sig others, children , grandchildren, etc)...seems to be a common denominator in a lot of success stories.  Is there anything for HER that would give her more of a goal, per se...in getting better?

I'm glad she has a friend like you...and I wish her the best.  
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Getting this back on the first page.
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You mean like this ( LOL )
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Thanks for the bump...I really hope we can keep this discussion going for at-least a little longer.  I'm still hoping to hear from those who are housebound and lurking.  
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It used to be so simple for me to do anything and everything until I was 17, 18 yrs old now im 22, and I cant even get out of my car to go into the store, I have PA'S everywhere but home, I remember the day I was excited to get my license to drive and who knew 4 or 5 yrs later I would be so frightened walk down my driveway and get in the car. Sure I'll go out, ill bring my mom, and she goes in for me, she knows I dont like to go in so she just doesnt mind. When my mom doesnt come with me, I suffer through it OR dont go at all, which most times I wont go. I just wish I was a kid again and could start all over. Does this mean im agorphobic?... im not housebound, but am afraid of the marketplace/open places?
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Well I would say you are still determined to want to go out. Yes when you are out there it is hard on you with the panic attacks. But you certainly don't sound like a quitter to me. You want to be out and about and you have a lifestyle determined by the panic. In other words you keep doing what you can outside the house. What the panic effects is what you avoid. But you have drive and I can see getting over this. With the right help and some meds maybe. Just to kick start you off. Keeping pushing yourself out. Even if it is only around the block. You come across as a winner.
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my problems first started after i quit doing drugs at age 18.... i thought at first i was just having really bad withdrawels... boy was i wrong! it took me a year to find out what was wrong with me and i ended up housebound for a year and half straight.Ive been on so many different medications but i found that klonopin and prozac are a good fit for now.
It makes it real hard on me because i go through stages. One year i can get on a plane and visit my mother in florida, then the next i cant even be alone at my house nevermind leave it! Im at that point right now, i cannot even be alone for five minutes or i will have a panic attack.Im glad i have really good friends who understand my problems and will drop just about anything to come to my rescue, and my boyfriend has his own gad so he understands why i can be so very needy, but at times i just get so damn fed up with being "broken".
I have a 5 year old son and im pregnant 5 months with a little girl and it gets me down that i cant do everything a good parent should be able to do. but then again ill start going through a good phase at some point and will almost forget how bad it can get....... untill it gets bad!Im also a very friendly and outgoing person, and to be forced to be the complete opposite by my condition is very tough.
But no matter how down i get or how close i come to just admitting myself to an institution, i make myself keep trying. it may be a battle for the rets of my life but i cant give up. i only hope one day not to be like this anymore and have overcome it! good luck to everyone on this horrible disorder!@
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By reading all of the postings, I've noticed how many of the people are in their mid 20s to late thirties with a few exceptions.  I think it is commendable that you are comfortable coming forward with how you are dealing or not dealing with agoraphobia.  I have a feeling that there are still a lot of lurkers out there especially over 40 who are afraid to come forward with their experiences.  

I can't stress enough, that we need to continue to get out of the house and even do other things that make us feel uncomfortable so that we get used to doing them and not let the agoraphobia win the battle.  Another important thing to remember is that we can go through long periods where the panic, GAD and agoraphobia is either not too bad or disappears.  It's when it comes back that is so deflating.  Sometimes we have to introduce new techniques to help us through the rough patches because our old ones that we had used in the past, don't work any more.  That's all ok, as long as we make sure we control it instead of it controlling us.  Don't let the thought of a panic attack stop you from having the life you deserve and if you try to go out and you do have a pa, then so what!  It's not going to kill you.  I would rather risk a panic attack than sit at home with no life just to be panic free.  If you have a panic attack when you are out, then the next day, go right back to where it happened and keep doing that until you feel comfortable.  Repetition, it is just like when you were in school. How did you learn your times tables, you kept repeating them until you knew them without thinking or realizing you were thinking about them.  That is like what we have to do...you keep doing it until you don't even think about it anymore, you are just doing it.  Using family members and friends as support is wonderful as long as they don't become enablers.  Once that happens, your progress will be compromised.  It will take you that much longer to get your life back.  You've got to take responsibility and find something that will motivate you to get past the fear.

I hope I hear from more people who are willing to admit they are agoraphobic and hopefully we all can work together.  
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Because I am anxious, depressed and suicidal I find it difficult to respond - fear of being labelled an attention seeker even though I'm not.

At this point, I can get out of the house but don't like going out alone.  I have to have someone with me even if it's the dogs.  I do find it confusing to suffer from agoraphobia and claustrophobia at the same time.  Have had claustrophobia for years, agoraphobia is relatively new.  It seemed to hit me at a time when I was most vulnerable and staying in the house seemed safe.  At the same time, it limited me a lot (I realize I've said this before).

I wonder if there is a connection between anxiety, depression, etc. and agoraphobia?  Although I don't like flying, if someone offered me a trip to Hawaii or to see my family, I'd go despite not liking to fly.  The agoraphobia wouldn't be such an issue if I was doing something I wanted to do.  Does that make any sense?

Barfer, you asked:  "how do you help someone who wants help but doesn't want help because of fear and she finds it intrusive?".  Is it possible that a person in that position might not be ready to deal with agoraphobia?  Years ago I knew a woman who was an agoraphobic.  She suffered with it for years until she was ready to deal with it with the help of a therapist and group therapy (that's where I met her).  She had to take what non-agoraphobics would call small steps but for her were huge steps.  I don't know if she "got rid of it" or just learned to handle and control it.

BTW, is "lurking" a bad thing?

It's late while I write this so I might sound incoherent but I'm glad this topic is being discussed.  Maybe there should be an agoraphobia forum.  Just a thought.


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Forgot to mention this - Thank you for the support when I finally "came out of the closet" as an agoraphobic.  Maybe now I can deal with it instead of hiding it.


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This may sound irreverent, controversial and perhaps mean-spirited -but it is really not: as to the housebound friend who has had so much support from every quarter -and STILL can't leave the house, I must wonder if all that attention and focus on her is, in fact, serving to maintain her in that condition. I don't mean there is a conscious effort on her part to manipulate the people around her; what I do wonder is whether a "training effect" has taken place here. Suppose the house were sold, condemned for a new highway to come through or (God forbid) caught fire?

People do what they do because at some level, "it works" for them. The problem occurs when what "works" in one area of the psyche is in conflict with some other areas. The restaurant outing may be a case in which the need of affiliation with friends, coupled with the responsibility for organizing the affair outweighs the seeming instinct to play safe and stay home.

Many of you have described the iniatives you take to get out, go the store, take a walk or whatever as a "battle," a huge control issue in which we push ourselves to have "victories." I know this is true because I experienced it. And yet, I experience my "recovery" as no contest or battle whatsoever. I no longer have "control" of anything because I simply am not in the fight at all. There is no fight, no contest to even be "in." I didn't push through to some victorious state that I now maintain; rather, the battle has just disappeared. Almost like waking up from a bad dream into "reality."

The thought occurs to me that much of panic -and of agoraphobia- is symbolic or representative in nature. (I'm making this all up). That is to say, the conscious mental space and actual physical space we occupy are tokens -game pieces, if you will- for conflicts which run deeper, beyond our conscious mental "reach." My journal entry about the stain on the floor is an allegory or a conceit in an effort to explain this situation -I hope you guys will read it and comment. The housebound behavior "works" not so much in the sense that it resolves anything, but rather in the sense that it gives the deeper conflicts some definition, sort of like spray painting a ghost. We can't directly deal with the subterranean issues at hand, so we morph them into situations and conflicts which are tangible and visible and thus present us with the battleground on which we externally act out the conflict that is within us. It is possible, I think, that this "puppetteering" at a conscious, observable level could, in fact, feed back to the inner conflict in some way, simply to show ourselves that, "yes we can" do this or that. And simple exposure to the world beyond our boundaries may disclose something of profound psychological value that may serve to resolve the subconscious conflict within.

As I said, I made that all up for discussion, but at the most basic level it relies on some idea that if there is no real danger to us "out there," then there can be but ONE place from which the fear and the challenge emanates: from WITHIN. If that is logically true, then does knowing it is true help us work in our own interest?

Your thoughts.
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Hi there,

There is an element of truth in your first para, there could be the possiblity that all the support is making this person not want to test the boundaries. Having said that, I am not sure whether you have suffered from a panic disorder with full blown panic attacks, ie racing heart, vertigo, shortness of breath, tightness in the body, and the adrenaline just rushing through your veins. It is a horrible feeling and it can paralyse you if you don't understand what is going on and if you haven't really had a good therapist guiding you how to deal with this. It is understandable the friend mentioned is just too scared and the support she has and had received may not be necessarily the correct path to recovery.

JS you also mention that most of us push ourselves to have "victories". Certainly I had to push thorough my symptoms to get out and about and it is very tiring. Some people force themselves to go out and do thing and I am one of them.  That is why I wouldn't say I have recovered. In my humble opinion, forcing oneself is being brave, deemed a success but not a recovery. It may be a journey towards recovery and for many it may take years if they be really honest with themselves. This is only my opinion and to a certain degree I agree with what you have said JS.

I have not yet come to the stage where I just let that flash of panic just pass through me . Yep until that day comes, who knows when I won't be able to say I have fully recovered. I am still in recovery and might be so for the next 10 years, achieving some small and some bigger successes!!

My post too hopefully is not intended to hurt anyone's feeling, I am just being honest about how I feel and my understanding of panic disorder and agorophobia.

So JS that is my thought.

Take care all and I am off to sleep .

Sumi


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Rest assured that I had panic with all the trimmings from about age 6 to age 46 with occasional intervals of a few years of peace here and there, until my recovery in my late 40's. I was not, however, housebound at any time so I cannot relate to that particular expression from my own history although I did and I do count among my friends those who are or who were. A nasty situation.

The "theories" I spin off are offered simply as points of view, of ways to look at something in the hope they stimulate some new thoughts or new angles on old thoughts. Sometimes when the brain sees something slightly differently, good things happen. This thread is enormously intelligent and thoughtful -almost as though we were all sitting together sharing ideas. Pretty rich stuff which I highly value. And every last one of us, if we had the "magic wand," would use it to relieve ourselves and others of this affliction.

The search continues...
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To start with, I'd just like to reassure Wolfie that lurking is not bad, it just means that there are probably people on this forum who just read the posts and do not participate in them.  There are many reasons that people do that and as a former lurker, I know that part of it is not wanting to expose oneself and also, by just being a lurker, you can still learn a lot from other peoples experiences.  My hope is that some of the lurkers are putting what they read on this forum, into practice.  

Quote from JS:  

This may sound irreverent, controversial and perhaps mean-spirited -but it is really not: as to the housebound friend who has had so much support from every quarter -and STILL can't leave the house, I must wonder if all that attention and focus on her is, in fact, serving to maintain her in that condition. I don't mean there is a conscious effort on her part to manipulate the people around her; what I do wonder is whether a "training effect" has taken place here. Suppose the house were sold, condemned for a new highway to come through or (God forbid) caught fire? .

I don't think your comments here are irreverent at all.  I think you've hit the nail right on the head. There was a point that my friend's husband wanted to move into a larger home and it was terrifying to her, so they compromised, and remodelled some of her current home and did some painting.  That was hard enough for her even though she did this by hiring her son-in-law to do it.  Agoraphobics are very smart and manipulative people...we know how to get around all sorts of obstacles.

JS quote again:  

People do what they do because at some level, "it works" for them. The problem occurs when what "works" in one area of the psyche is in conflict with some other areas. The restaurant outing may be a case in which the need of affiliation with friends, coupled with the responsibility for organizing the affair outweighs the seeming instinct to play safe and stay home.

That scenario is all mine.  That is what I have done and continue to do to make sure I have some sort of social life.  As much as I hate going to restaurants, it is something that most people really enjoy.  So, to keep my contacts with my friends, especially those who work and are only free in the evenings, I arrange dinners out and in my home, but that is the easy way...It's the going out to restaurant ones that are the most difficult and most of the time, I am the first one to leave but at-least I've got the group together.  That's the funny thing about this, most who meet me think I am so confident, but the truth of it is, I am always challenging myself because I don't want to be housebound and feel unfulfilled. I always say that I struggle everyday to leave my home and that it is work!..but it is always rewarding for me to feel I have done it yet again.  As sumihari said I don't know if there will be a day that I can say that I have completely recovered from GAD, panic or agoraphobia.   I would love to think that it can happen for me, but at the very least, I am working as hard as I know how to reach that goal.

JS and sumihari, I absolutely loved reading your responses to this discussion.  I think you really understand what I was trying to do by posing this question in the first place.  We have to open up the lines of communication regarding this issue as it is so prevalent with people who have anxiety issues.  

On a more lighthearted note, I just thought I'd mention something I saw in a newspaper many years ago when I was probably at my worse regarding panic and was housebound for that short period of time;  The article in the paper read that there was going to be a discussion group with experts in the field of anxiety primarily talking about agoraphobia and they were asking agoraphobics to come, at a fee, to listen to the lecture and then participate in a discussion about this very disabling condition.  Well, I almost fell off my chair with laughter, if you are agoraphobic and housebound, how the H*ll were you going to go to that meeting.  I always wondered what the turn out was like. LOL


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I would love to read all the posts, but just can't right now for I am working!  (SHHHHHH).  I definitely am a closet agoraphobic.  I HATE leaving my house.  It is terrible!  Yes, I go to work everyday, do the chores, shopping etc...what have you.  However, besides going to work (which I guess is a second home to me) I feel a lot of stress when I have to go out.  That is why I am better off working than staying home (I am off in the summer, I am a teacher).  I will find every excuse not to leave the house.  I always put it off until tomorrow.  I am not as bad if my husband is with me, but alone, or with my daughter (which is worse!) I can't wait to get home.  It stinks living this way.  I though that these feelings started when the anxiety and depression started which was 14 years ago.  But looking back, I have had signs of this my whole life.  Always looking forward to going home.  I just deal with it.  I know that the best thing to do is desensitize yourself.  I force myself to go out, because I know I can easily fall into the pattern of never leaving home.

side note to barfer:  yes it is funny!  I once made a post here how funny it would be if we had a convention!  1/2 of us wouldn't be able to get on the plane..the rest of us would be getting sick all over the place with massive panic attacks.  What fun it would be!
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Quote:

side note to barfer:  yes it is funny!  I once made a post here how funny it would be if we had a convention!  1/2 of us wouldn't be able to get on the plane..the rest of us would be getting sick all over the place with massive panic attacks.  What fun it would be!


The same thought has crossed my mind in the past!  LOL   Can you imagine...The poor hotel!  Half of their bookings wouldn't show up and the other half wouldn't leave their rooms and would be constantly ordering room service and would be afraid to answer the door when it arrived.  What I mental picture I have going in my head right now!  LOL
Total chaos!
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"Agoraphobics are very smart and manipulative people...we know how to get around all sorts of obstacles"

im posting this as my myspace quote because how true and yet horribly funny it is!
i have found my way out of going and doing almost anything and my excuses... well they were just amazing! I think its ecause we are always forced to think on the fly,and plan ahead, WAYYYY ahead, of every possible eventuality that could possibly even begin to happen, or impossible as it is never happen yet we think it will!
If nothing else we all seem to be inteligent folks with sharp minds and quick wit.
we may be stuck at home , but im betting all our friends still put up with our ****!
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Very wise and informative posts...and I agree wholeheartedly that we are a manipulative bunch...and procrastinators to the extreme!!!  When we finally DO make plans to go and do something.....we (at least speaking for myself) come up with a bazillion things I had to do before leaving.

The agoraphobic convention...what a hoot.  The meeting itself would have to be pushed back like 100 times due to procrastination!  Then, the meeting itself could only be like 10 minutes long, tops.

The mental image IS funny...a bunch of people on one side of the room clutching their chests and gasping for breath, another group (me included) pooping our pants and throwing up on ourselves....yet another group calling 911.  Oh my...the Hilton would never be the same.  :0)  LOL
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hahaha well the good news is we wouoldnt have to order any catering or book it for very long=P
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If we had it at the Hilton, Could Paris be the keynote speaker?????????  I am sure we would all suffer just to here her words of wisdom!!!!  LOL
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When I was just becoming a CL, I was being given the brief orientation on what to do when things got a litttle wacky -people arguing, etc. and theny the MH guy said there was not too much of that on the Anxiety Forum. I responded that in my experience, panic people tend to be a well-behaved lot. He didn't get it.

Didja hear about the agoraphobic home improvement contractor?
He loves to make house calls!

No, wait...

Didja here about the agoraphobic insurance agent?
He BOUND coverage on his own house!

Wait, wait, I've got more....

What's the agoraphobic's favorite song?
Homeward bound.

Hello? Where'd everyone go?

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You made me laugh!!!  Thanks! ;-)
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Did someone say that if you went to a hotel, you'd stay in the room? Is that true? Would the room become home -as long as you were there? You'd feel safe, just like home? Or is it just an "any port in a storm kind of thing? And someone said that work was like a "second home." Really? You feel safe at work? If that's true, then it means the safety zone is kind of "portable," right?

Does everyone concur with this? If so, then it means it is not about your actual residence, but rather ANY place where you've pitched your tent, so to speak. What do these various places have in common that makes them "home-like?" Further to this, suppose there was a restaurant owned by a friend, and assume it is furnished and decorated in a manner that is pleasing to you -a quiet little tavern, for example, or whatever is relaxing. And assume that it is patronized by a decent class of people -no threatening behavior.  Would such a restaurant be a comfortable place to be -with your friend there tending bar, welcoming guests or whatever? Better than, say, Dead Lobster or Ron's House of Beef or the Texas Roadapple House?

Comments?
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OK, Now we've proven we have really lost it!  

Oh, Nursegirl, about those poopy pants and the throwing up , we'd make sure there was plenty of Imodium (immodium) on hand and barf bags for those who need them.  What a vision!

JS, you've definitely seen far too much of Rodney Dangerfield in your day...burumpbump.

Quite a few years ago, on of our prominent citizens admitted that he had a panic disorder and for years kept a paper bag in his pocket in case he needed it for breathing or barfing, I'm not quite sure, but never the less, he carried.  I was really impressed that someone of such power, admitted to having this disorder.  Then years after that, he decided to move to England and soon after decided that he wanted to be made a Lord.  The only way this could happen was by giving up his Canadian citizenship, even though we are part of the colonies and the queen's face is all over our money, he apparently couldn't become a Lord without giving up his citizenship.  Well, didn't our pd friend, fair-weather friend that he was, do just that and give up his Canadian citizenship to become a Lord and live full time in England.  That is until, he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar with one of his companies in the U.S. and went through the trial and was sent to jail in Florida.  This has given me something to giggle about because now we have a fellow who gave up his Canadian citizenship to become a Lord who has had panic issues and is now serving time in a jail in Florida.  I don't know if this is just desserts or maybe he kind of likes it because now he has no reason or ability to leave his home/jail.  I thought you might find that story interesting...only an agoraphobic would understand it or even think of it in that way.   By the way, now he wants to give up his Lord title (probably has to now that he is a convict) and wants his Canadian citizenship back!  The thing is, we probably will let it happen...we are such a complacent people!

If you haven't already guessed, the person I am referring to is Conrad Black.

I know this is a little off topic again, but I have been dying to mention this story to someone who would appreciate the irony in 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 (withdrawal).  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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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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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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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.  

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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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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.

Comments?
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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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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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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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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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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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