Unsteady/off balance feeling.

Posted , 6 users are following.

I am really struggling with my anxiety and agoraphobia at the moment but trying hard to keep up with going out in the hope that exposure to the fear will eventually reduce it again.

Anyway when I am out I frequently feel unsteady on my feet to the point where I have to lean on something or hold onto my husband's arm, usually this tends to happen in the supermarket, my anxiety hates them.

However this morning I had an attack of it that was very sudden and very intense, I had gotten out of the car and was standing on the pavement waiting for my husband to get his wallet.

Suddenly I felt an incredible surge of unsteadiness, I actually screamed out to my husband, I felt as if I was weak all over, going to fall down and had absolutely no balance at all, I couldn't move until my husband was by my side and I could hold onto his arm.

On the way there I had been feeling nervous and had butterflies in my tummy and chest, I knew to expect some symptoms but that was just horrifying and a panic level that was impossible to get a hold on.

I am used to feeling moderately unsteady but not that intense, we went into the supermarket and I felt horrid but managed it then I went to the kiosk to get some ciggarettes and it happened again although this time more briefly because it kicked in just as I was getting my change so I was able to move away and hold hubbys arm until we got back to the car.

Now because I am trying to use CBT techniques that I have been taught along the way I took a break, went for a cold drink then returned to the supermarket, it didn't happen that time, I had slight unsteadiness but nothing like the first time.

My question really is why does anxiety cause such awful and sudden unsteadiness and is there any way to cope with it and reduce it?

I have been seen by a doctor and assured that it's not physical, I know that anyway because last time I went through a very hard time I had unsteadiness but not the sudden, intense panic attack inducing horror that I had this morning, it's bad enough being anxious allof the time but when you can't stand still and have tohang onto your husband's arm for security it makes you feel like a child, I just do not know how to cope with this anymore.

2 likes, 54 replies

Report / Delete

54 Replies

  • Posted

    You are doing a superb job bella! Fantastic, superb job. Keep it up. You are very preprogrammed to the immediate fight or flight response. You are doing exactly what needs to be done to undo the bad habits and connections your mind and body has sottered together. As you walk thru and beging healing you will meet challeneges. Your mind will try to trick you back into its old comfy ways and so will your body. Picture anxiety as a bully. A little ugly bully dude. So here you are doing everything right and feeling a tad better and this little bully is like..hold up we used to panic when went out,what are you doing i want to panic it feels right now you want me to do this! No i wont and hey "remember" me i made you "feel" these pains and the body says hey yes  remember that what is she doing having these good thoughts then it becomes ..why isnt she listening to me anymore ill give her a real zinger because she told us this was dangerous for so long..i will  get her attention so she goes back to the usual way to feel and then  BOOM the anxiety bully is tantruming and trying every trick in the book to get your attention. Your response was perfect. You go back and challenge it. Too bad on the anxiety bully. Too bad in what the body rememebers or the thoughts try and conjure up..challenege it. And it feels wicked at times. Too bad. Eventually as you well have learned now ..it does stop. Retrain your brain, reprogram your lifestyle and basically aspects  your personality.you are slowly breaking the habits of you. Its a long process you have been like this a long time. Im am so proud of you! You are an inspiration to every person battleing agoraphobia and have come a LONG way since a few months ago! Be very weary of the anxiety bully and his tantrums that will cime with it, its tricks and lies you so know that! It is exhausting, draining and messed up dealing and challenging it but the rewards one day will be Your  freedom and living a normal life. 

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      You know, Cia, sometimes we cannot see our own problems clearly. Yes, from the outside looking in we can help others. But from the inside looking out we cannot at times help ourselves.

      I was so grateful for Lisa's post. Anxiety Bully? Oh yes! Re-train our brain? Oh yes!

      Never occured to me. But you know what? It's another lifeline to cling to!

      Another positive step to take....yipeeeeeeeeee

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Thank you so much Lisa, you are such a wonderful voice of reason and you are spot on about everything.

      Anxiety loves to play it's nasty tricks and it is always intent on throwing in a nasty shock just when you think you are managing it, like this morning I was thinking 'Okay I have the butterflies but that is fine, I can manage that' and then it decided that because I could manage that it would throw something at me to really rock me and get me to a state I couldn't cope with.

      I know it takes some time to work through it again, it's been a nasty relapse this time and I have been challenging it on a daily basis whilst functioning on very little sleep, it has been so upsetting for me because as soon as I felt that relapse begin I did everything I could to challenge it, I went out more than ever but it got worse.

      I then had a stressful event that made it even harder to deal with so I feel like I have been going backwards despite doing the right things but persistence is key and I know that, it does take time, energy and it is a struggle, you feel like you are going to have to give up but at the same time you know that giving up is not an option.

      One day the nasty bully that is anxiety will get the message, one day the hard work, tears and frustration will pay off and once again I will feel better and be able to enjoy life again.

      I do lose my self belief at times and it's hard at the moment because I am distressed every day and the children are off school so I hate them seeing me in that mess, it picked a terrible time to get so bad again but I just have to do the best I can with it.

      A CPN suggested I avoid supermarkets, she said that since I am struggling to get out of the door and supermarkets are especially difficult I should stop going, I said no way, you do not ever avoid places that trigger the worst of your anxiety, you go back and do it very day because it's the only way through it in the end.

      It's hard though, I sound a lot stronger than I feel and am already dreading tomorrow, I know it will have me up at 6am panicking,crying and saying I can't go out of the door but the reality is that I do have to stand up to this bully or I will never get my life back.


      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      You were told to avoid supermarkets? I'm horrified! Avoidance is the worst you can do to yourself. What's a CPN? Some kind of nurse? IF so they should be struck off! Appalling advice!

      I'm amazed how good a handle you have on this and your strength of character in facing the difficulties, especially the supermarket.

      Good for you!

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      I was horrified too,honestly I sometimes think that we are more qualified than the so called proffessionals! A CPN is a community psychiatric nurse yes, they give advice and support.

      That however is the worst piece of advice I have ever heard, we all know not to avoid,surely they should know that too.

      Thank you, I try so hard and can only hope I have the strength to carry on trying until things improve.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Lisa that is the movie we took the kids to see the other day and I keep singing that little song to myself, all through the journey today and then when I returned to that supermarket I was singing (in my mind, not out loud) 'Just keep swimming, just keep swimming'.

      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    I too suffer horribly from balance disorder with my agoraphobia. I don't have the answer, many years later, as to why this occurs. I came to believe that the heightened tension we feel when going out, which is always difficult for an agoraphobic, triggers the unsteadiness which in turn ignites panic because there is nowhere to sit down and nothing to cling to whilst we calm our nerves.

    Whenever I go to the supermarket, even if I only need a few things, I always use a trolly. It's a crutch of sorts. It calms me having something to hold on to. It grounds me so to speak and takes away the fear of falling over

    Queues are another horror for agoraphobics. The tension required to stand still is enornmous.

    I have known people use walking sticks and why not? Anything that reassures us is helpful.

    Don't lose heart. I have been a long term agoraphobic and have learned to be kind to myself, not to push myself but neither to avoid things and places. Avoidance entrenches us into full blown agoraphobia where we dare not leave the house.

    It's not all grim. Research all you can on the subject. It's a huge help having all the information  and how to help yourself! I now accept that it's part of my psyche. I accept it's there and get on with it. This does much to alleviate the symptoms, I promise you will feel better if you do not add panic to fear. If the symptoms come over you then let them. Don't fear them or shrink from them and they will soon subside

    You'll get there smile

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hi Helen and thank you, it's a nightmare of an illness isn't it? It makes sense though about the tension and how it ignites the panic and especially when there is nowhere to sit and you have to keep walking on.

      I got to the cinema the other day, walking in I had the balance issue, moderate that time, I sat down and felt very anxious at first but my husband said 'Give it time' and besides the kids really wanted to see that film so I tried to loosen my body as best I could and the anxiety reduced as I remained in my seat, we went for lunch and sat there it wasn't too bad but walking to the restaurant was dreadful.

      I agree about queues, absolutely hate them, I hate the checkout area of the supermarket where you have to stand still, the kiosk where I buy my ciggies is awful even if there is no queue because of course you are trapped, tense and having to stand still to the point where by the time you have finished being served it has built up and whooshes you with panic, I will be so unsteady by that point that I will run to my husband to grab hm for support.

      I know I must not avoid and that if I do it will only worsen the situation but my own courage or lack of it scares me, I get worked up just leaving the house these days and feel like I can't do it, I have done it every day so far but each morning is the same feeling of fear and feeling I can't get past that door again, I just have to keep pushing it.

      I am a great believer in accepting symptoms because I know they depend on our fear of them to thrive and keep going but sometimes it throws a real nasty at me like today and that was so sudden that I just couldn't grab it, there was no time to prepare for it, at least I know for next time though, I know it might happen again and can remember that as awful as it is it did not harm me and even though it left me shaken we even still managed to get the shopping done, go for a drink and then I went back so that should teach it a lesson.

      If I have to hold onto my husband's arm I will do so, I did that for a long time last time things got bad and then gradually found I was able to let go for a few seconds, then longer and longer until I realised I wasn't holding on anymore, you sound like you are doing a wonderful job with your agoraphobia, you are in charge of it which is great, I think that is the ultimate goal for me, right now it has all of the power, all of the control and I just need to keep working to get it back.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      No, no, no, it doesn't hold all the power, not in you! I see a woman taking the symptoms by the scruff of the neck and dealing with them as opposed to crumbling before them and giving in

      Going out, that first step is the hardest as is the desire to "Get it over with as fast as possible"

      But what you did yesterday you can do today and therefore tomorrow. You especially because you have accepted exactly what it is and what you must to to deal with it.

      I'm filled with admiration, more so because I know how hard  it is..especially  where unsteadiness and balance are concerned because most people suffers symptoms others are unaware of. Balance and unsteadiness are visible and this adds extra anxiety in trying to look "normal " when out and about

      I think you are an inspiration. people like you fly the flag for all other agoraphobics and don't you ever forget it!


      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Thank you Helen, I am trying so hard to tackle those symptoms but gosh they really are a stinger at times, I panic and cry every morning, anxiety wakes me at 6am and from that very second the fear is there.

      I have no idea how I have managed to get out of that door every day so far and no idea how I will again but I have to believe that I can because as you say I did it yesterday, I did it today and so I have to believe that I can do it again tomorrow.

      I agree about the whole trying to look normal thing, some symptoms can be hidden but when you are gripping onto things and so unsteady people do notice and it makes you very self aware which is horrible.

      Thank you so much, the support and encouragement I get from here is invaluable.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Mornings are difficult. Another day, another hurdle. It is important you get up of of bed and divert mind and body. Get washed, dressed,make a drink, walk round the garden weather permitting, sipping your drink. If you don't have a garden sit by the window, watch the world go by.

      Don't cry. Don't see every day as a battle. See it as another chance to heal. Sometimes we stumble along the path to recovery but what is important is to keep on going. And if we fall on that path we have to get right back up again and move forward

      You can do it!

      Keep the faith, honey, just keep the faith

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Thank you Helen, I woke this morning feeling awful again, my first reaction was to hide in the bathroom and cry, I did for about 10 minutes, considering the possibility of giving up entirely but something inside made me open that door and try to live through another day.

      I had my tea, got dressed, kept as occupied as possible then we went out, the panic was there as always, I tried my best to move along beside it, i shopped again, it was hard but i did it.

      The children still have 5 weeks off school and I am hating the fact that they see me like this so much and that I can't do things to amuse them the way I could last year, we went for lunch, the anxiety was there but I got through it, I was so wobbly on my feet that the salad bar was a trauma in itself but I made myself do that too, refused to allow my husband to do it for me.

      I find I get very obsessed with it all, I will have a thought like 'Oh god I can't walk outside in a park' and feel a huge urge to prove that thought wrong, like I need the reassurance so off we went to the park, I still felt anxious but it did come down after a little while.

      Back home now and I only have to think about going outside and that's it, I feel like I can never,ever do it again, it's crazy because I have only just done it but I never feel like I will be able to do it another time.

      It gets me really edgy especially because of the school holidays, kids need to get out and have fresh air and obviously like most people we don't have endless money so things like parks are the best choices for us but it's all so scary.

      They are such good kids too, hardly ever ask to go anywhere to do things, not one bit demanding but I feel such guilt.

      I hate sitting here feeling scared but I can't be out all day every day, we have to come home at some point, we have so much laundry and garden stuff to catch up on, the house is a mess and the CPN is coming on Wednesday so tomorrow and Wednesday will be just going out in the morning if I can and then having to come back here and sit with the worry of it all again.

      I think that as well as facing the fear of going out and being out I also need to face the fear of being back at home just trying to be occupied and trying to find peace in my own head if that makes sense.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Oh sweetie! You don't have to force yourself out of the door to prove to yourself that you can do it! That's adding anxiety upon anxiety.

      When you do or have to go out then you will face it and cope with it. That which you have done before you can do again.

      But you mustn't make it a battle of wills, you verses the agoraphobia. Anticipatory stress is hell. Thinking ahead builds up tension. When you are out in the park take the time in half hours. Tell yourself I'll cope with this half hour. When that half hour has passed try to get through another, calmly, breathing correctly, looking about you, watch the kids enjoy themselves, people watch. Don't struggle to do something struggle to get through it, instead try to gently focus.

      My boys were small when I first had agoraphobia. I felt the same guilt, the same burden of inadequacy. It is something I have discussed with my now grown sons.

      They never saw it as a problem. I was their Mum and they knew I loved them and they loved me. I told them I felt they had missed out on things because of my condition and that I was heartfelt sorry. Know what? They were baffled. All those fears were in my own head. It didn't impinge on their lives to the extent I imagined it did.

      I have a very close, very loving relationship with both my sons. They have no problems of embarrassment in showing me physical affection wherever we might be and whatever company we might be in. I am their

      Mom, warts and all. I'm not perfect. Neither are they. So you see they have grown into healthy, well adjusted adults despite my problem. And your children will too. Kids ask little from us other than the safe comfort of a home and to be loved. You provide that and more. Don't beat yourself up.

      Trying. trying to occupy yourself is a mistake because that suggests fighting. Been there. Done that. Occupying yourself should be a diversion not a means of escape. I hope you can see the difference?

      You have great determination. It will serve you well. There'll be ups and downs naturally. But never feel defeated. Do the laundry so you're not worrying about it.  get the kids involved in tidying up the mess, kids love being involved. Make it a game for them, with rewards when they've done their bit. You don't need money to entertain kids. You just need imagination. Taking charge makes one feel better!


      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Thank you so much helen, I admit I have become an expert at torturing myself and it has to stop because it does no good at all, I will 'test' myself, I walk into the garden to see how I feel, I go and sit in the car and do the same thing, it never helps of course, just works me up even more.

      It's good to hear from someone who experienced this as a mother and whose children are now grown up and do not see it in the way that you worried they would, that gives me hope that my own children will not feel burdened by my illness or that they have missed out.

      I have been able to accept that small things entertain children enormously, that was hard at first because last summer we were going to the beach, the zoo, all kinds of things and at the moment that is just too much for me but they get a lot of pleasure from the simple things in life, they asked to do some baking tomorrow for example, they love that.

      The hardest thing is not being able to plan anything, when you don't know if you can even get out of the door you don't know if you can get to even a park or any other local place, I miss that, we have year round tickets to a couple of places not far away and at the moment I just can't face the whole pack up a picnic and plan the day thing but I am hoping that with time my confidence will return enough to do that.

      I think I do go wrong with occupying myself, I do it as a means of escape and not diversion and of course as you say that is fighting and fighting is the exact opposite of what you are supposed to do.

      We have worked our way through most of the laundry and the kitchen is nice and tidy too now, it does feel better to have things done, I always feel that if I am surrounded by choas it makes me feel worse, I like things to be organised, we are going to watch finding Nemo again tonight, we dug the DVD out after seeing Finding dory so hopefully a nice, relaxing evening, my anxiety is there bubbling away, my worries are there but I am going totry to put them aside just hour by hour and not allow them to take over.


      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Dear, do not worry about the inability to make any plans. I never could because it piled on the pressure for me. Forcing, either forcing ourselves or forced by others, is truly awful for an agoraphobic. Anyway, spontaneity is far more fun for the kids. Spur of the moment things are unexpected pleasures. When you have a "strong" moment, a moment of confidence, then you can drop everything and take the kids to the park for half an hour....even a picnic in the garden is fun for them...I can remember making the boys a tent out of old sheets and they spent hours in there!

      Are you tired? I was always bone weary. If you are this tells you that you have to be kind to yourself. No pushing yourself to see how far you can go. Make a concentrated effort  to eat even if your appetite has diminished. Sit down and chew!!!! LOL Make it a habit of taking care of yourself as opposed to questioning whether your kids are suffering as a result of your illness because they're not. They're kids. They live in the moment..and there's a lesson to us all

      I'm glad you managed to tidy up! Tidy house, tidy mind. It's odd how surrounding chaos makes us dispirited yet we don't have the energy or the desire to do anything about it..But when we do make that effort it's such a relief. It lifts one more worry from our mind and shoulders.

      I know all this is hard. I know you want it all to go away. I've been in your shoes, so to speak, I've lived your life, so to speak.I too felt lonely in my illness. I too felt no one understood...But, I came to realize that the only one who needed to understand was myself.I was the one who needed to come to terms with it and the symptoms. No use looking to the doctor, apart from medication, naturally. He cannot do it for you. No good looking to any loved one either.

      They cannot heal you. Only you can do that. And you will.


      Report / Delete Reply

Join this discussion or start a new one?

New discussion Reply

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the forums to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the forums are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the forums is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.

newnav-down newnav-up