whatagoraphobiataughtmeaboutfearversusfact

What Agoraphobia Taught Me About Fear Versus Facts-Wonderful Truth

What Agoraphobia Taught Me About Fear Versus Facts

Most of us get paralyzed by fear at some point, whether it’s in our professional or personal lives. We know that taking a certain action or making a specific change will give us the results we say we truly want. But when it comes time to act, we freeze. We procrastinate. We explain, justify and excuse ourselves from the tough call.

Why? Fear, of course. But if it were as simple as mustering our courage and powering through, we’d all be at the pinnacle of success. Instead, we struggle daily in big and small ways to get around the fear.

Rather than trying to exercise sheer willpower against fear, I want to help you see right through it so you can get to the other side with less struggle.

First, I need to tell you a little story about my history with fear.

When I was 21 years old, I started having panic attacks.

If you’re not familiar with panic and how it’s different from anxiety, you can think of it like this:

Anxiety might be the feeling you get when you’re late for work or about to give a presentation. You feel irritable, scatterbrained, maybe short of breath. Your chest might feel tight and you might even describe yourself as “panicky.”

But real panic, in a clinical sense, is different. Panic is the feeling you would get if you walked into your house at night, turned on the light, and a man in a ski mask was holding a gun to your face. It’s the certain knowledge that your life is on the line. Your mind and body are thrown into a fight-or-flight response. If you can imagine yourself faced with imminent death and the accompanying terror, you’re close to understanding what someone experiences when they have a panic attack.

Now, I’m not a psychiatrist, but I did live for about a year with panic attacks that became so frequent and debilitating that I wound up with agoraphobia. I was terrified to leave my house.

Why? Because every time I did, I had a panic attack. I was experiencing this horrific state of mind and body up to 10 times a day. The stressors of everyday life were no longer just anxiety-provoking for me. They brought on full-blown panic.

When I finally got some professional help, an amazing doctor explained to me that my resting state of anxiety and stress were so high that it didn’t take much to push me over the edge. So we set out to adopt behaviors that would lower that resting state of anxiety as a first step to lessen the frequency of attacks.

Over time, I learned how to control and then stop the attacks before they started. I learned how to calm myself, read my own body for negative signs of stress, and develop an inner voice that could quell the fear that constantly plagued me.

During the process of recovery, I also learned something about fear that I hadn’t known before. And now I realize a lot of other people don’t know this either. Here’s what I learned:

Fear masquerades as fact.

Now, you may be saying, “Yeah, Amy, I know that.” But do you really? I mean, do you really know it so well that you never fall for fear in disguise, much less fall for it every day?

Let’s take a look at three ways that we fool ourselves:

1. We confuse the potential consequences with potential catastrophes.

Here’s what I mean by this: We think about a negative outcome that has a reasonable possibility of occurring, but we fear a catastrophe that is highly unlikely. This incongruence between what we’re preparing for and what we fear causes so much stress and inner turmoil that we get paralyzed.

For example, let’s say I want to start a business. I’m miserable in my full-time job and my family is on board with the idea, mostly. I have a savings account that will last us six months without my paycheck. But I’m terrified to quit my job. Why?

I tell myself—and my spouse, friends and anyone else who will listen—that I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it “in this economy” or “without employer health insurance” or “because I have brown hair.” Whatever.

But deep inside, the fear I experience when I think of quitting my job is not about succumbing to any sort of real-life obstacle. My fear is about the catastrophe that lies in wait on the other side. It’s fear disguised as fact.

I envision myself failing as a business owner, being unable to pay my family’s bills, suffering medical issues that my cut-rate health insurance won’t cover, succumbing to illness, alienating my spouse who is bankrupt and now working two jobs, failing my children, losing the respect of my friends and peers, wasting away and finally dying, leaving my family destitute.

That’s the size of the fear in my chest when I tell my friends I’m afraid I’ll fail as a business owner. Not the whole “what if health insurance is really expensive” excuse. I fear actual death and destruction.

Of course, reading this, you can see how irrational this line of thinking is. Is it a possible outcome? Yes. Is it a probable outcome? No. The fact is that I could succumb to some kind of horrible illness working a 9-to-5 job I hate and still bankrupt my family.

So what am I actually afraid of? If what I fear isn’t a fact, then it’s an illusion. I’m basing my decision to stay miserable on the illusion that I will lose everything if I make a change. Now that’s scary.

Here’s the solution: Ask yourself, What’s the worst that can happen? Is that what you fear? If so, talk it out with someone who is objective and experienced in that issue. Ask for help in discerning what is realistic caution and what is doomsday paranoia.

2. We use our feelings as a guide in making decisions.

Now, I can already hear some of you arguing with me before you even read what I have to say here. So please just bear with me.

First, I am not saying that feelings shouldn’t ever play a part in decision-making. Often how we feel is a primary factor in whether or not we should do something.

What I do want you to pay attention to is how realistic your feelings are and whether they should be the guiding factor in your choices. Let me give you an example.

I email a client about an urgent matter, and I need him to respond within 48 hours. The first day, I hear nothing from him. I follow up with another email the next morning—this time using all caps in the subject line. Still nothing.

My feeling is this guy is ignoring me. His delay will push the entire project timeline back, which will jeopardize the financial outcome. In other words, I’m afraid he’s going to blow the whole deal for me. (Remember point No. 1? Do you hear the catastrophe in disguise as a consequence here?)

By this time, I’m seriously scared, but it feels a heck of a lot like anger. In my mind, I’m bad-mouthing him. I’m thinking of all the other times he was rude or unresponsive or even just slightly on the curt side. I’m thinking he has no respect for me and my work boundaries, and a billion other poor-me thoughts. My feelings are hurt.

These negative feelings can sabotage a scary situation if we allow them to be the guide in our decision-making. If I choose to react to my client out of anger or annoyance, I’ll probably jeopardize that deal all on my own (nobody likes a snarky email).

But what if I back up and remove my feelings from the situation? What if I tell myself that regardless of the outcome, my values dictate that I treat people with respect and compassion? Rather than shooting off a snarky email or a passive-aggressive text, I could pick up the phone and find out if he’s OK or if there’s anything I can do to expedite the turnaround on what I need from him.

The next time you’re about to act out of fear, ask yourself if the negative feelings you’re experiencing are calling the shots. That’s just another way fear pretends to be a fact.

3. We don’t weigh the facts correctly.

This one is tricky because there are actual facts involved. But the fear gives us license to weigh certain facts as if they were more important than they actually are.

For me, this happens a lot when I’m good at something, but my inner critic tells me I should be afraid of doing it anyway. I’ll line up all of the compliments or great outcomes, then excuse them away with lines in my head like, “Well, she’s my friend—what else would she say?” or “Yeah, but I spent 10 months preparing for that. I could never do that again,” or even “Yeah, but I think that was a fluke.”

I’m naming facts, such as preparation time or the love someone has for me and assigning them more weight than the actual results of my actions. If you’re good at what you do, the results speak for themselves. It’s imperative that you measure real results and real feedback as more important than the doubts, exceptions and fears in your mind.

Look, I still feel fear. I wake up some days and think, “Oh no, I’m scared to face that interview/project/discussion/large dog.”

But here’s my final piece of advice: Fear is a fact of life. We’re not going to get rid of it. But we can see through its disguise and choose lives based on facts. I’m writing this so that maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to live a life paralyzed by fear. Because believe me when I say that I know how hellish that existence is.

Just in case you’re confused about what the facts are, let me tell you that the facts, my friend, are these:

You’ve got what it takes. You are loved. Your dream is worth it. And if you need help, there’s someone willing to help. Don’t be afraid to ask.

source;success.com

whatagoraphobiataughtmeaboutfearversusfact

What Agoraphobia Taught Me About Fear Versus Facts

What Agoraphobia Taught Me About Fear Versus Facts

Most of us get paralyzed by fear at some point, whether it’s in our professional or personal lives. We know that taking a certain action or making a specific change will give us the results we say we truly want. But when it comes time to act, we freeze. We procrastinate. We explain, justify and excuse ourselves from the tough call.

Why? Fear, of course. But if it were as simple as mustering our courage and powering through, we’d all be at the pinnacle of success. Instead, we struggle daily in big and small ways to get around the fear.

Rather than trying to exercise sheer willpower against fear, I want to help you see right through it so you can get to the other side with less struggle.

First, I need to tell you a little story about my history with fear.

When I was 21 years old, I started having panic attacks.

If you’re not familiar with panic and how it’s different from anxiety, you can think of it like this:

Anxiety might be the feeling you get when you’re late for work or about to give a presentation. You feel irritable, scatterbrained, maybe short of breath. Your chest might feel tight and you might even describe yourself as “panicky.”

But real panic, in a clinical sense, is different. Panic is the feeling you would get if you walked into your house at night, turned on the light, and a man in a ski mask was holding a gun to your face. It’s the certain knowledge that your life is on the line. Your mind and body are thrown into a fight-or-flight response. If you can imagine yourself faced with imminent death and the accompanying terror, you’re close to understanding what someone experiences when they have a panic attack.

Now, I’m not a psychiatrist, but I did live for about a year with panic attacks that became so frequent and debilitating that I wound up with agoraphobia. I was terrified to leave my house.

Why? Because every time I did, I had a panic attack. I was experiencing this horrific state of mind and body up to 10 times a day. The stressors of everyday life were no longer just anxiety-provoking for me. They brought on full-blown panic.

When I finally got some professional help, an amazing doctor explained to me that my resting state of anxiety and stress were so high that it didn’t take much to push me over the edge. So we set out to adopt behaviors that would lower that resting state of anxiety as a first step to lessen the frequency of attacks.

Over time, I learned how to control and then stop the attacks before they started. I learned how to calm myself, read my own body for negative signs of stress, and develop an inner voice that could quell the fear that constantly plagued me.

During the process of recovery, I also learned something about fear that I hadn’t known before. And now I realize a lot of other people don’t know this either. Here’s what I learned:

Fear masquerades as fact.

Now, you may be saying, “Yeah, Amy, I know that.” But do you really? I mean, do you really know it so well that you never fall for fear in disguise, much less fall for it every day?

Let’s take a look at three ways that we fool ourselves:

1. We confuse the potential consequences with potential catastrophes.

Here’s what I mean by this: We think about a negative outcome that has a reasonable possibility of occurring, but we fear a catastrophe that is highly unlikely. This incongruence between what we’re preparing for and what we fear causes so much stress and inner turmoil that we get paralyzed.

For example, let’s say I want to start a business. I’m miserable in my full-time job and my family is on board with the idea, mostly. I have a savings account that will last us six months without my paycheck. But I’m terrified to quit my job. Why?

I tell myself—and my spouse, friends and anyone else who will listen—that I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it “in this economy” or “without employer health insurance” or “because I have brown hair.” Whatever.

But deep inside, the fear I experience when I think of quitting my job is not about succumbing to any sort of real-life obstacle. My fear is about the catastrophe that lies in wait on the other side. It’s fear disguised as fact.

I envision myself failing as a business owner, being unable to pay my family’s bills, suffering medical issues that my cut-rate health insurance won’t cover, succumbing to illness, alienating my spouse who is bankrupt and now working two jobs, failing my children, losing the respect of my friends and peers, wasting away and finally dying, leaving my family destitute.

That’s the size of the fear in my chest when I tell my friends I’m afraid I’ll fail as a business owner. Not the whole “what if health insurance is really expensive” excuse. I fear actual death and destruction.

Of course, reading this, you can see how irrational this line of thinking is. Is it a possible outcome? Yes. Is it a probable outcome? No. The fact is that I could succumb to some kind of horrible illness working a 9-to-5 job I hate and still bankrupt my family.

So what am I actually afraid of? If what I fear isn’t a fact, then it’s an illusion. I’m basing my decision to stay miserable on the illusion that I will lose everything if I make a change. Now that’s scary.

Here’s the solution: Ask yourself, What’s the worst that can happen? Is that what you fear? If so, talk it out with someone who is objective and experienced in that issue. Ask for help in discerning what is realistic caution and what is doomsday paranoia.

2. We use our feelings as a guide in making decisions.

Now, I can already hear some of you arguing with me before you even read what I have to say here. So please just bear with me.

First, I am not saying that feelings shouldn’t ever play a part in decision-making. Often how we feel is a primary factor in whether or not we should do something.

What I do want you to pay attention to is how realistic your feelings are and whether they should be the guiding factor in your choices. Let me give you an example.

I email a client about an urgent matter, and I need him to respond within 48 hours. The first day, I hear nothing from him. I follow up with another email the next morning—this time using all caps in the subject line. Still nothing.

My feeling is this guy is ignoring me. His delay will push the entire project timeline back, which will jeopardize the financial outcome. In other words, I’m afraid he’s going to blow the whole deal for me. (Remember point No. 1? Do you hear the catastrophe in disguise as a consequence here?)

By this time, I’m seriously scared, but it feels a heck of a lot like anger. In my mind, I’m bad-mouthing him. I’m thinking of all the other times he was rude or unresponsive or even just slightly on the curt side. I’m thinking he has no respect for me and my work boundaries, and a billion other poor-me thoughts. My feelings are hurt.

These negative feelings can sabotage a scary situation if we allow them to be the guide in our decision-making. If I choose to react to my client out of anger or annoyance, I’ll probably jeopardize that deal all on my own (nobody likes a snarky email).

But what if I back up and remove my feelings from the situation? What if I tell myself that regardless of the outcome, my values dictate that I treat people with respect and compassion? Rather than shooting off a snarky email or a passive-aggressive text, I could pick up the phone and find out if he’s OK or if there’s anything I can do to expedite the turnaround on what I need from him.

The next time you’re about to act out of fear, ask yourself if the negative feelings you’re experiencing are calling the shots. That’s just another way fear pretends to be a fact.

3. We don’t weigh the facts correctly.

This one is tricky because there are actual facts involved. But the fear gives us license to weigh certain facts as if they were more important than they actually are.

For me, this happens a lot when I’m good at something, but my inner critic tells me I should be afraid of doing it anyway. I’ll line up all of the compliments or great outcomes, then excuse them away with lines in my head like, “Well, she’s my friend—what else would she say?” or “Yeah, but I spent 10 months preparing for that. I could never do that again,” or even “Yeah, but I think that was a fluke.”

I’m naming facts, such as preparation time or the love someone has for me and assigning them more weight than the actual results of my actions. If you’re good at what you do, the results speak for themselves. It’s imperative that you measure real results and real feedback as more important than the doubts, exceptions and fears in your mind.

Look, I still feel fear. I wake up some days and think, “Oh no, I’m scared to face that interview/project/discussion/large dog.”

But here’s my final piece of advice: Fear is a fact of life. We’re not going to get rid of it. But we can see through its disguise and choose lives based on facts. I’m writing this so that maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to live a life paralyzed by fear. Because believe me when I say that I know how hellish that existence is.

Just in case you’re confused about what the facts are, let me tell you that the facts, my friend, are these:

You’ve got what it takes. You are loved. Your dream is worth it. And if you need help, there’s someone willing to help. Don’t be afraid to ask.

source;http://www.success.com

b88550143z1_20170125093455_000gnqfv02j2-0-qy1razdc7u1ahlrnmn2_ct620x465

Please don’t tell me to just chill and relax

YOUR heart starts racing. Sweaty palms. A feeling of desperately wanting to escape suddenly sweeps over you.

If you’re about to skydive or swim with sharks no one would question these feelings.

But for those who experience these heightened emotions at a simple birthday party, attending their child’s parent-teacher night or when speaking at a work function or to a sales assistant, it can be debilitating and isolating.

How do you tell a friend you’re only one step away from a panic attack at just the thought of going to their wedding where you will have to socialise with new people?

The reality is many people dealing with anxiety don’t say anything. Not to their partner, their mates or their doctor. They can become experts at avoiding situations which trigger their anxiety and adept at masking symptoms.

Just as triggers, levels and symptoms are different in each individual, so is the journey in recognising anxiety and seeking advice and support.

One local man, Xavier, is using his journey to try and reach out to others.

“I just felt there was a need for a local anxiety support group so I’ve gone about organising one,” Xavier said.

“Dealing with my own issues made me feel we should have a group in the community that was open to all ages, male and female, where people could share in a non-judgmental space what has worked for them and maybe get back on track.”

Being anxious about going to a job interview is normal. Frequent worry not related to a specific event or stressful situation is not. Excessive fear, obsessive thinking, irritability, physical symptoms such as hot or cold flushes, a tightening of the chest, a racing heart or breathlessness; these are some of the signs experienced by people with anxiety. And this should not be accepted as anyone’s “normal”.

“Anxiety comes in all forms; OCD, panic attacks, agoraphobia. People avoid doing things they really love, as well as the simpler things like shopping, when they have anxiety. It can be very isolating and lead to loneliness. I know, I’ve felt it.”

You wouldn’t tell a mate with depression “cheer up, don’t be sad” and expect a result. It’s the same with anxiety. Saying to someone or telling yourself, “relax, don’t worry” is not going to cut it.

A good place to seek help is with a visit to the doctor. Seeing a GP will ensure diagnosis and an individual plan of action. The medical profession has access to resources and can suggest services you may not be aware exist.

If you would like to be part of the Coffs Harbour Anxiety Support Group, meetings start February 7 from 11am to noon then every second Tuesday at the Neighbourhood Centre, Earl St, Coffs Harbour. More info Xavier 0411 338 699.

“Come for a cup of tea or coffee, a chat or just to listen. You don’t have to be alone.”

source;http://www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/

bipolar-agoraphobic-introverted

Just because I’m agoraphobic doesn’t mean that I’m introverted

My bipolar disorder makes me agoraphobic, not introverted

Maybe you would call me an introvert. I stay in the house for weeks at a time, never sticking my nose out into the fresh air. Most days I wear pajamas all day. My husband does the grocery shopping, picks up my prescriptions, and does most of the other errands. I go out when I have a doctor’s appointment or when Dan entices me out with the promise of a restaurant meal.

I don’t consider myself an introvert, and I do consider myself a social person. So why do I stay indoors?

My bipolar disorder makes me sensitive to noise and crowds. Technically, I think this is more agoraphobia than introversion. I can handle being in small groups of people or audiences, but hundreds milling around, (like at a mall) make me panicky. And forget places that are both noisy and full of people, like Chuck E. Cheese or other family-intensive restaurants.

That said, I like to be social – on my own terms. That largely means Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, various online bipolar support groups, IM, email, Skype, and the good old-fashioned telephone. In the years since I’ve been on Facebook, for example, I’ve connected more deeply with old friends and coworkers, reconnected with old schoolmates and Girl Scout troop members, gained new relationships with friends-of-friends, and discovered things I never knew about my acquaintances. I keep up with birthdays, look at baby, travel, and pet pictures; and cheer on accomplishments, as I would in person. (Except for the hugs. Virtual hugs are just not the same. But my husband takes up the slack there)

Most of all, I stay inside because I can. My husband enables me in this, as when he does the grocery shopping. We tried splitting the shopping, but even with the little runabout scooter-with-a-basket (mobility issues), I was overwhelmed and exhausted after shopping just one-half of the store.

The work I do is conducive to telecommuting. I can sit in front of my keyboard and monitor, in my pajamas, and still be a useful, productive member of society. I have clients and interact with them in the aforementioned ways. I haven’t had an assignment that involves leaving the house in years – not even to do research. I used to have to visit libraries occasionally, and while they’re not known for being noisy and crowded, Google and the internet put virtually any information I need right on my screen or hard drive.

Admittedly, getting out into the fresh air would be good for me. We live in a nice secluded area that would be good for walking, and there are any number of parks nearby, if I want variety. I know that going out and getting at least a small amount of exercise would be good for my bipolar depression, but I haven’t been able to force myself to do it yet. Going outside to walk involves getting out of my jammies into real clothes, and possibly taking a shower, either before I leave or when I get back. And many of you know what a challenge showers are for people with depression, bipolar or otherwise.

But again, this is a symptom of my bipolar disorder and the immobility it causes, rather than introversion. I’m not afraid of meeting people while out walking, or even having conversations with them. Usually “hi” is all that’s needed in these situations, and I have the ability to make a limited amount of small talk appropriate to the occasion. (“Sure is windy today.” “Are those shoes comfortable?”) Since I seem to be riding a hypomanic swing these days, perhaps I’ll be able to get out and walk occasionally. I know my husband would heartily endorse the idea and most likely go with me to offer me encouragement.

But the bottom line is that I can go out amongst people if I want to. I just usually don’t want to.

source;http://www.sheknows.com/

depression

Zoloft Antidepressant Side Effects: Risks From Sertraline Prescribed For OCD, Panic Disorder, Depression

If you are suffering from depression and have been seeking help, you may have heard of a drug called Zoloft. With the generic name of sertraline, Zoloft is used to treat depression and listed in a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

In addition to being an antidepressant, Zoloft can also be used to treat obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Depression

This class of drugs is the most prescribed type of antidepressant in the United States because their side effects are minimal. Despite this, Zoloft has a black-box warning due to an increased risk of suicide, a possible mental side effect of the drug among those 24 and under with a psychiatric problem, according to Everyday Health. It should be noted some young people experience suicidal thoughts when they first begin to take an antidepressant. However, according to Drugs.com Zoloft has been approved by the FDA for children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Most of Zoloft’s common side effects are physical, including nausea, diarrhea, drowsiness, headache, excessive sweating, uncontrollable shaking of a part of your body, and constipation. However, some side effects can be rather serious. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says to call your doctor if you experience seizures, fever, abnormal bleeding or bruising, or hallucinating.

Another serious side effect of Zoloft is serotonin syndrome, caused by a high level of serotonin in your brain. Zoloft can cause this because the drug works by increasing the availability of serotonin in your brain. Similar to Zoloft, serotonin syndrome can cause diarrhea, excessive sweating, and headaches, but severe symptoms can include high fever, seizures, irregular heartbeat, and unconsciousness.

source;http://www.medicaldaily.com/

vlcsnap-2016-11-02-16h30m35s255

Agoraphobia help- woman struggles to find treatment in rural Smokies

You may know someone who suffers from panic attacks, a type of anxiety disorder. A more severe condition is called “agoraphobia,” the fear of fear.

One of the biggest problems for people needing treatment for agoraphobia is having agoraphobia. How can you get help without leaving the house? It’s even more complicated when you live in a rural area, and you can’t get more remote than living near the North Carolina-Tennessee line at the edge of the mountains.

When Tammy McGaha steps out of her front door, she can’t go much further than her front yard. Like the mountains that surround her home in Cosby, her anxiety disorder – plus distance from professionals – shuts her off from getting the help she needs.

“I know I need therapy with the medications, but there are no resources out here to get the counseling that I need because I do need severe counseling,” said McGaha.

At 48 and a grandmother, McGaha is disabled. She has been able to get counseling through state paid assistance, but says its not consistent enough to help her get completely well.

“I’m taking these medicines, but I’m not getting the counseling that I need for the agoraphobia to get me back out here in the world,” she said.

Tammy McGaha

McGaha was in the car when both yer younger sister and dad were killed in a crash in 1982. She says that life-changing event triggered what would eventually be diagnosed as her post-traumatic stress that leading to panic disorder that got worse as she got older.

“Agoraphobia is real. It’s not made up. I’ve been suffering from it for 25 years,” McGaha said.

Psychologist Dawn Fortich is the clinical director at Bearden Behavioral Health. She does not know McGaha, but says people like her with agoraphobia need therapy. She says it’s difficult to get.

“Accessibility is a major problem for folks in rural areas. Primarily because there aren’t enough health care providers in rural areas to meet all the folks who live there,” said Fortich.

For people like McGaha, teletherapy would be ideal. From her office, the therapist would have face to face contact with a patient from their home. Teletherapy is conducted over a secure encrypted network. By and large, insurance does not cover mental health teletherapy sessions in the state of Tennessee.

“At this moment, unfortunately, teletherapy services are a cash service,” Fortich said.

McGaha remains on a wait list for home treatment and hopes the progression of her disorder doesn’t get worse.

“It beats you up on the inside. You don’t have no hope,” she said.

As it stands, legislative efforts are being made so insurance does provide teletherapy for patients who can’t get to a psychologist’s office. The hold up is making sure the electronic infrastructure of providing counseling over the internet is secure and conforms to federal privacy regulations.

source;http://wate.com/

aagmighty-640x213

The Unexpected Neighbor I Met While Playing Pokemon Go-Agoraphobia Help

pokemon sitting on a coffee cup

For years I have struggled with my mental health issues. I am diagnosed with panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and psychotic hallucinations. I am in a constant state of working on coping with these things so deeply rooted in my mind. My combined diagnoses has also lead to agoraphobia.

I take medicine, go to therapy, and attend a weekly anxiety group. I’ve noticed I will get looks from people in my anxiety group when I mention “The last time I left home was to come to this meeting last week.” I don’t mind the confused looks. I actually prefer for people not to understand.

pokemon sitting on a coffee cupLast week this silly little game comes out. Pokemon Go. Surprisingly, my nerdy self has never played a Pokemon game in my life, even though I have been married to a Pokemaster for five years. I had played Ingress, an augmented reality game from Niantic, which they used to test data pools for Pokémon Go locations. (I hadn’t made much progress, given I am usually home.)

I decided to download it since I thought the augmented reality premise on a popular game was a neat concept. From my home, I managed to catch two Pokémon, but I knew if I wanted to advance, I would have to get out somewhere new. I figured I would wait until my anxiety group, therapist appointment, or my visit to the psychiatrist, and look around then.

I would still check on the app from my home. A few days ago, I noticed a lot of rustling leaves around my complex, which meant there were Pokémon to be had, but that would mean going outside. This is where something unusual happened. I put on my shoes, put my dog’s vest and leash on and went to catch me some Pokémon dammit!

pokemon sitting on feetWhile I was out there, I was only paying attention to where I needed to walk and where my dog was wandering. (I did kind of feel like I was walking a personal Poke-Terrier.) While walking, I noticed a woman whose actions mirrored mine: look down at the phone, look around your area, walk a few steps, look down again, change direction, and such. Without even thinking about how this person in my complex is a stranger to me, I shouted, “Excuse me, are you playing a game?”

“Yes! I’m playing Pokemon Go!” she responded kindly. 

Turns out we were both headed for the same rustling grass, so we walked together and talked while we both searched for our Pokemon.

This is where something truly beautiful happened. After a bit of Poke-talk, she starts to open up on a more personal level. We wound up learning that we are neighbors and even have the same first name. We talked a bit about our dogs and our husbands, but then she took a big step and started to mention her struggles with anxiety.

“Sometimes I’m not able to leave my place for a week” she told me. I tried to be open about my struggles with anxiety, panic, and agoraphobia, so I didn’t leave her hanging. I told her I also have that issue and I have been fighting for years.

There it was. Two women, typically scared to leave their homes, talking, playing a game, bonding outside. When I told her I had similar issues, I noticed the look on her face… I know the look because I had it when she shared her struggle with me. It’s that look of “Wow, so you understand!”

Two women who have seen each other more and more the past few days, happy to talk about Pokemon or any other little topic. Two women leaving their homes to go on Poke-walks, when usually they would be inside alone. Two women who realized something as silly as a Pokemon game has become a helpful tool in their dealing with anxieties and phobias. Two women who have started a friendship all because they happened to be playing Pokemon Go.

As I read articles and blog posts with stories similar to mine, I can’t help but smile. When I downloaded the game to my phone, I had never expected anything more than a silly distraction while I sat at home. But in the time I have been playing, I have been walking so much more.

Getting out into nature and increasing my movement has had a great effect on my mind and my sleeping. I have met people whose paths I would have never crossed. I have visited places I was always too afraid to check out before. I have started to feel less afraid. Even as I type this, I am thinking about how I cannot wait to go to my therapist and tell her all I was able to accomplish in a week. I am so grateful something that seemed so trivial has turned into another tool to help me with my fight against some of my mental issues.

source;http://themighty.com

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Does Having Agoraphobia Mean You Miss out on Life?

 

Anxiety often means not getting to do everything you want to do, but it doesn’t mean you should stop trying.

When you move somewhere for a set amount of time it’s typical to have a strong desire to explore the area constantly.  We’ve only got 13 months in Germany so of course we want to make the most of it.  At the same time, I have some intense anxiety issues that hold me back from making this experience all that it can be.

In the first few weeks that we lived here I kept thinking that this opportunity should have been given to someone else.  Someone who would go on walks, be willing to take the train by themselves, and frequent nearby restaurants to try out the local cuisine.  Now that we’ve been here for almost six months I realize that I just have to keep trying to get out there and stop beating myself up when I fail.

Of course, there are often times that I’m sitting at home wondering if I’m missing out on the best parts of my life.  I think back to my college days, when I enjoyed walking around the university botanical gardens for hours by myself.  Those walks gave me so much: exercise, time to think, beautiful scenery, and great memories.  They helped me to feel creative and inspired.  I’m not entirely sure how I went from enjoying solitary walks to being strangled by anxiety when I leave home.

I think the question “Am I missing out on life because of my agoraphobia?” is the push that I need in order to stay motivated.  I’m a sucker for personal development.  There is a healthy dose of fear that accompanies the thought of missing a good opportunity, and that is what I need or I might become complacent with my downfalls.  When I’m having a bad day my husband often quotes this to me: “I’d be more apathetic if I weren’t so lethargic.”  I don’t want to be that person.

So I’ve come up with some more ways to fight back against my agoraphobia (see my first post about it).  These are more weapons in my arsenal that will help me to go out and have the experiences and the life that I want to have.

Accept all invitations.

If someone invites you to something just say yes.  Don’t even think about it.  Yes is your new favorite word.

Sure, there’s a (pretty good) chance you’re going to freak out and have to cancel.  But there is a chance that you will go.  In my experience, it becomes easier to go out when you do it often and work on conquering that fear.

I recently found a group online that welcomes newcomers to our area of Germany and set up a meeting with one of the women.  I later canceled our lunch because of my anxiety (although I was also a bit sick that day) but I immediately asked if we could reschedule.  I was doing better the next week (plus I’d be mortified to cancel on someone twice in a row – fear is an excellent motivator!) and I met up with her for lunch this week.  That connection led me to another group for local expats, and I accepted an invite to go out to coffee with them the next day!  I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve left home by myself since moving to Germany, and two of the times were this week as a result of receiving invitations.  There’s power behind scheduling a meeting, and you’ll feel so much stronger after you go.

Find a destination that really entices you.

Get on Google, Tripadvisor, or Pinterest and search for things that interest you.  Don’t just find one of the top ten touristy destinations for your area – keep looking until something makes you wake up and think “I’ve got to see that!”

The story behind this realization isn’t one that I’m proud of, but I’m going to tell it anyway.  Mr. Meena and I were out for a Sunday afternoon stroll and we had a big fight.  Instead of finding a mature resolution I chose to walk away from him and he didn’t follow me.  That incensed me even more so I just kept walking.  I got lost and inadvertently found the Hauptfriedhof (the main cemetery).

Schweinfurt Hauptfriedhof (main cemetery).

It was the first time I felt relaxed and peaceful while walking alone in Schweinfurt.  I was struck by how beautiful the cemetery was and how all the graves were lovingly (and recently) decorated.  Everyone there was respectful and gave me plenty of space to walk.  I realized that I wanted to come back and see more of the cemetery (it’s quite large and I had to get back home to reconcile with Mr. Meena) so badly that I was willing to try and do it on my own.  There’s no bribe you could give me to go to the mall by myself, but I’m much more willing to try and see a place when I want to be there.

Use the buddy system.

When I try to go out by myself I fail about 90% of the time.  When Mr. Meena and I are going out together I only fail about 10-20% of the time.

One of my biggest fears about being outside is crossing the street.  It’s even more of a problem here in Germany, where we don’t have a car and we walk down busy streets a whole lot more than we used to. But instead of focusing on all the cars and traffic that makes my anxiety worse, I can focus on talking to Mr. Meena and let my fear take a back seat.  His presence is an immediate confidence booster.

Write out goals often.

For longest time I only ever wrote out financial goals.  When I was looking over our budgeting goals earlier this month I realized that I could do the same thing for my emotional, physical, and spiritual goals.  I can wish all day long that I get past my agoraphobia but wishing doesn’t help me overcome anything.  When I sat down with my husband to go over these goals we had a serious discussion about why I want to change and how I can accomplish my goals.  That’s the kind of conversation and accountability that results in progress.  Here are some ideas for your own goals:

  • Go one new place each week.
    • Chose one errand, such as grocery shopping, and try to slow down and enjoy the experience instead of rushing to get home.
    • Find a support group and attend a meeting.
    • Go talk to your neighbor.
    • Find a homey coffee shop and drink your coffee inside instead of using the drive-thru.
    • Commit to walking for 30 minutes outside each weekend.

    I’m not sure if I’ll ever be completely free of agoraphobia, but I know that I don’t want to be a parent one day who can’t attend an event for her kids because her agoraphobia has control over her life.  Or a wife that doesn’t go out on dates with her husband because the thought is too intimidating.  I may not always be able to get to the grocery store, but I plan to always show up for the best parts of my life

 

SOURCE;http://www.mymeenalife.com/

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3 Things That Got Me to a Place I Never Thought I’d Be With My Agoraphobia/Panic disorder

Let’s throwback to the time we got kicked out of a Weird Al concert.

OK, so maybe “kicked out” is a tad melodramatic. Technically we didn’t get kicked out of the theater till the concert was over and the meet-and-greet for Weird Al was about to start. The meet-and-greet was only for a select few who paid for VIP badges. And we had no stinkin’ badges. So at the end of the concert where we were in the very back row, I decided I wanted to try going down to the front of the theater and looking up into the balcony.

As I’ve mentioned in previous writings, I live with agoraphobia, which can make it nearly impossible to enjoy theaters and stadiums without tremendous bouts of anxiety. Through the years, things have gotten a tiny bit better, and I’ve even been able to enjoy concerts and go to the theater without anxiety. This day was no exception.

I had no anxiety throughout the entire concert. So afterwards, I decided I’d be really brave and see if I could go down in front of the stage and look up at the balcony.

In the past, even if I’d been able to tolerate the venue, I’ve never been brave enough to go down front and look up.

And guess what? I did it. I went down to the front, turned around and looked up. It was a glorious, anxiety-free moment I never thought I’d have in my lifetime.

Then the voice of doom spoke out behind me: “OK, we are about to start the meet-and-greet, so if you don’t have a VIP badge, that mean you gots to go!”

In between wanting to correct his grammar, or give him my blog promo cards in an attempt to let us stay, or explain to him how big this moment was in my life, we decided to forgo all of those options and just head back to our hotel.

For the entire drive back to our hotel, I was basking in the glow of my victory. When I was a kid I never believed I’d one day be able to go into an auditorium/theater without a lick of anxiety and at the end of the show go down front and look up. So how did I get to this point of success? I have to say it took time, and it wasn’t always pleasant.

1. I think one of the biggest things that I did was starting to go to a very large church with a large auditorium when I moved back to the Midwest about five years ago. I do have to be honest and admit the first two or so times my husband Chad and I went, I was pretty anxious and had to sit in the back near the door, and I clung to Chad’s arm the whole time. But the more I went, the more comfortable I became.

2. After I became used to our church, I was able to gauge how big a space was and if I’d be able to handle it based on if it was roughly the same size. Sometimes when I’m in the middle of a panic, this can be hard to keep in mind, so I was glad when I had friends around me to remind me of this. It was because of this reminder I was able to go to the Grand Ole Opry and see Loretta Lynn perform. Highlight of my life!

3. I married a concert junkie! Seriously, Chad loves concerts and music. And because he also enjoys spending time with me, I’ve gone along to many a concert in our almost decade-long relationship. This has helped to desensitize me to venues and situations that would have caused anxiety for me in the past. It should be noted that for some of these concerts I did have anxiety, but the more I went, the less I had.

I hope if you live with agoraphobia like I do, you’ll find hope in this post. Also, please be aware that although this has been my experience, this may not work for you. Remember you are not alone!

source;http://themighty.com

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Is Agoraphobia Just Like Social Panic Attacks?

There are many panic disorders an individual may develop. What panic disorders all share would be that the subject can seem to be intensely afraid, worried and anxious in a few instances.

Inside the same grouping of tension disorders are fears, which similarly cause irrational, yet intense, fear, worry and anxiety responding to particular conditions. Agoraphobia is a such fear one could have, also it is among the most generally treated fears on the planet. In addition, it may be an overpowering fear, which frequently needs specific treatment so that it is reduced.agoraphobia

What’s AGORAPHOBIA?

Way over only a situation of feeling shy or reserved, agoraphobia is definitely an overpowering feeling of dread of departing the security of home and venturing in to the perceived danger from the outdoors world. It is also found in conjunction with other fears, for example obsessive-compulsive disorder or social anxiety. Its signs and symptoms include feeling trapped, unmanageable and outdoors from the focus which individuals feel in charge and comfy. Sometimes, the emotions of agoraphobia is really so overpowering that individuals struggling with it feel not capable of departing their house because of the anxiety about anxiety they are able to experience when going outdoors.agoraphobia

AGORAPHOBIA IS Totally Different From SOCIAL Fear

Agoraphobia is a reasonably misinterpreted condition. First of all, this isn’t a anxiety about open spaces, neither is it anxiety when finding yourself in an audience of individuals. Although these conditions might be present inside a person too, agoraphobia is basically anxiety when being too much from the safe location, no matter others. Lots of people struggling with agoraphobia welcome visitors to their home, even when they do themselves not leave. Agoraphobics wish to feel in complete charge of a scenario to feel secure and relaxed.

THERE Is not An Inherited CODE FOR AGORAPHOBIA

There aren’t any social or genetic traits that may suggest whether somebody will build up agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is all about two times as common among women than among men, however. The introduction of agoraphobia could be predicted, however, if a person is struggling with a far more generalised type of panic attacks, anxiety attack or fear, for example social anxiety . Happily, agoraphobia may be treatable. The very best treatment methods are a mix of gradual exposure and medicine so the person struggling with it may be accustomed to being outdoors their safe place and educate their marbles never fear about this.

Some therapists will visit agoraphobics in your own home, and remedies like hypnosis are gaining popularity like a strategy to agoraphobia along with other anxiety conditions. Cognitive behavior therapy may also help you’re able to grips your agoraphobia or social anxiety to be able to understand to feel calm and also have less fear in social situations or outdoors your house.

As The CAUSES Will Vary, TREATMENT Is Identical

Even celebs have worked with agoraphobia previously, including Woodsy Allen, Kim Basinger and celebrity chef Paula Dean. The bottom line is to acknowledge that it may be overcome. Should you suffer agoraphobia, the initial step is to inquire about the aid of your loved ones, buddies or physician to start the process of recovery.

While two different panic disorders , agoraphobia and social fear could be developed simultaneously. What they likewise have in keeping is the fact that people struggling with it may attempt to decrease their feeling of dread by self medicating with alcohol or illegal drugs. However the best and healthiest method to treat both social panic attacks and agoraphobia is to talk to your physician. Medication and therapy will help you sort out either disorder to be able to live a proper and socially active existence.

source;http://casparcg.org/