Panic attacks

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Hiya my name is Emma I'm 36 and I first suffered with agorophobia when I was 21 I learnt how to deal with it and even went abroad and I had my daughter 10 yes ago and I was in abusive relationship I turned too alcohol as I was suffering panic attacks I came off that 5 years ago and I'm on citalopram and diazepam but still carry find it in me too push myself any tips or help guys I want take my daughter away next year I've never been seaside with her

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  • Posted

    Sorry for my ignorance is agoraphobia when u fear open spaces or crowds?

    How do you manage ordinary day to day going out?

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  • Posted

    Hi Emma.

    I have asked an agoraphobia expert to answer this for you!

    Love TessĀ  xxxxx

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  • Posted

    Hi Emma,

                    I have agoraphobia, it is very debilitating and extremely difficult to keep pushing forward when you are met with the same fear and symptoms every time, every day is hard for me but some are intolerable with the panic,  however there is only one way through it and that really is to keep going.

    I know the despair, I know how it feels when you have spent weeks, months, even years trying to no avail but you have done it before and you can do again.

    I think the thing is that we hope that what worked last time will work again, it might do but it might not and that is where a different approach is needed.

    It's important to start with a reasonable goal in mind, it should be something you can do but that still pushes the boundaries from your comfort zone a bit, but you don't need to crack hardy, you don't need to push too hard at first or feel that there is a rush to see progress, time is the key here, patient effort in all you do.

    And you will panic, of course you will because fear and panic have become your habit, we reach a point where without meaning to we are keeping ourselves in fear, fear is awful of course but it cannot harm us, it can only distress us and cause panic symptoms and with time and gentle practice we learn to take our finger off the panic switch by allowing those feelings to be less important.

    Never go out trying not to notice how you feel, some people swear by distraction, personally unless it is used as a last resort in the midst of a dire panic attack I despise distraction, the whole point of learning not to be afraid is not to push the feelings away, it is to face them, look them right in the eye and carry on anyway, then you learn that fear is actually nothing to be quite so afraid of after all.

    I will give you an example of my morning, I head out with my husband on the school run, the panic has been revving up since I woke at 5.30am, I leave the house and it shoots up, I felt dreadful, I wanted to come home but not only was it not an option because we had to be on time but what would it have solved? I may have stopped panicking a bit at home but I would have been upset at it too.

    I continued, after the children were dropped off I began to cry, panic was still there, I head over to the supermarket panicking all the way, it is hell but still I keep going and when I get there oh gosh the whole experience was intense panic, outside I felt upset because panic had defeated me once more, okay I had done it but who wants to feel like that? Not me, I was ready to come home.

    So did I come home? Well no I didn't, my husband wanted to go to a stationary shop and then an ice cream cafe, I was hyper anxious, no way could I do it especially after all I had just been through but I did do it you know, I loosened up my tense muscles and noted how I felt but decided to pay attention to enjoyable things too, this is not distraction, this is allowing a sense of pleasure even when your panicking mind is telling you it's impossible.

    It's challenging your thoughts because how you feel very much depends on how you think, if you had a crystal ball that could show you that your trip would be a success then your anxiety wouldn't exist, sadly we don't have that so we have to learn to trust ourselves.

    Ask yourself this, what is the worst thing that is going to happen? You will not die, you will panic but haven't you done that before? Of course you have and yet you survived every single attack, every single moment of fear too.

    You may fail at first but what do you have to lose? You are not living the life you want to at the moment anyway so surrender to the possibiity of failure, you wont fail forever, failing does not mean it is hopless, it just means you need to try again.

    Medication does have a role, perhaps an adjustment in yours could help, I am trying this at the moment but it is very much trial and error and it only plays a part, it can calm you and give you the confidence but it cannot cure agoraphobia.

    What therapy have you had if any? CBT is the first line of therapy for agoraphobia and can be useful but I also think psychotherapy is vital, it does more to help you understand yourself and your own personal fears, we all differ in what we are afraid of, many of us don't even know so having psychotherapy can help with getting to the bottom of that.

    Do you have contact with the community mental health team and if so are they actually doing anything? Mine are useless but I intend to keep making a fuss until they stop being such halfwits and actually do something and you really do need to make a fuss with these people to get any actual help.

    Finally there are some books I always suggest to people, I can't print the name of them here because my post will get moderated so I will message you, I think you might find them helpful.

    Good luck and don't give up, I know it's hard to believe you can get better again but you can and we learn far more in a relapse than we realise even though it is hell to go through at the time xx

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  • Posted

    Superb reply from Bella Luna!
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