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sweetanise

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I'm feeling kind of confused because my agoraphobia has seemed to have disappeared in the last couple of weeks. While I'm obviously feeling pretty good about being able to go out into the world again, I'm left wondering whether this is normal. Has anyone ever heard of such a thing before, i.e. the sudden disappearance of symptoms? I hadn't been doing anything special, therapy-wise, although I'm getting rather good at CBT techniques, as well as being able to "go with the flow", knowing I can retreat for a minute and calm down later, if need be. However, I hadn't been practicing with gradual exposure. All I know is that one day, a couple of weeks ago, I needed to run some urgent errands, didn't have the cab fare for the ride to and back, so decided to take the bus. Needless to say, things went very well. The thought of having to take public transportation, among other things, would have terrified me before! It didn't that day, and hasn't again. And I don't think it's been caused by the lovely spring weather, as this had not happened in previous years. Besides, I've been out walking in the rain, since then.

I don't get it. I'm pleased, but I don't get it.

Do you thing this is kind of a fluke? Will the agoraphobia come back?

Thanks for reading,
Mel
 

David Baxter

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I do think that some people are able to learn by trial and error or other means to manage their own anxiety states. As a child, I used to experience something called paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (PAT) which is a stress/anxiety response characterized by rapid pounding heartbeat. I didn't even know what it was called at that point but even before my teens I had figured out ways to at least stop such attacks fairly quickly once they started (the first time it lasted two or three days). Later, I learned what it was and that it was basically a manifestation of an anxiety disorder but I didn't need to know that to learn how to control it.

You also indicate that you have become skilled at CBT - whether you did that on your own or with the help of a therapist isn't clear but either way that almost certainly helps.

Will the panic attacks ever return? Possibly, or possibly not. In part, panic disorder is the result of an overactive physiology so the vulnerability will probably always exist - it may depend on how much stress you have in your life and how adept you are at managing that.
 

sweetanise

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Thanks for your reply, David!

I realized today, after running a few errands, that it's still not as easy for me to go out as it was "before". Let's just say that I was very glad to make it home again.

I guess the main thing is that I now know that I can make it outside for a good while. It's so good to feel somewhat "normal" again.

You're right about stress-levels - they're at a minimum for me right now. If and when I go back to work, managing my panic disorder may prove to be more of a challenge.

Anyway, I'm feeling encouraged. :)

Mel
 

David Baxter

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One thing you might find helpful:

One of my clients with panic disorder has been keeping a log monitoring when panic attacks occur and how long they last. She is discovering that most of the time the attacks last less than 10 minutes and often less than 5 minutes. This knowledge is helping her by reminding her that as bad as it may feel at the moment all she nees to do is hang on and in a few minutes it will subside.

Of course, she is also using other techniques to manage the anxiety and panic attacks but it might be something to add to your repertoire of coping strategies.
 

sister-ray

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sweetanise,

Im so happy to hear your agoraphobia has disappeared, ive suffered with agoraphobia most of my life, but have had times like this when it has just gone, and I have travelled all over the place in england and then all of a sudden it returns and again I am a prisoner in my own home, at the moment with me i can do certain things and not others, and am working on getting better, sometimes I just wish it would go away again like it has before.
 

jkb

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I also want to say congrats on your huge accomplishments :) As another agoraphobic here you must feel so free and proud! i am so happy for you :) As for the pat you mentioned David, that is a biggy for me and i never knew it had a name. Once again Mel i am so happy for you!! Btw what techniques helped you the most? take care :)
 

sweetanise

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Thanks for your congrats, Jen and through-these-eyes! They mean a lot to me.

I'm not certain of what helped the most, to be honest, but I think a few Cognitive Behavioral techniques were a factor. Although, they're probably not "by the book". To put it simply, when I'm out, if I start to feel overwhelmed, I try to ask myself what is making me feel this way. Let's say I realize that it's because I'm feeling hot and sweaty.

Here's my internal dialogue:

*Okay, I'm feeling hot and sweaty. I think it's because I'm anxious. Could there be another reason?
*Yes, I'm out of shape.
*Okay, so I'm out of shape. So what?
*Well, walking around some more will make me more fit.
*The more I get out and walk around, the less out of shape I'll feel (i.e. overly hot and sweaty)
*Is there anything else bothering me?
*Yes, what will people think if they notice?
*You know what? They probably won't care, if they notice at all.
*And if they do notice and think I look funny, I probably won't even know or notice myself. Poeple don't usually tell you you look funny right to your face.
*Well, alright. Once I get to the bus stop, park or whatever, I can sit and relax a little. My discomfort will pass in a few minutes. It has before. If I need to take longer, I can. No problem.

Of course, all of this goes through my mind quite quickly. Thinking about it now, I realize that recently, I just need to get to "The more I get out and walk around, the less out of shape I'll feel" before I start feeling better and proud of myself for being out at all. All of this has taken practice, but I guess I didn't notice I was practicing, you know? I'd usually have to have my mother or a friend accompany me to most places before, but I know I did do some of this "rational" internal talking-to-myself with them too. I do it at home, as well. I also do a lot of visualizations.

A book that helped a lot was The Agoraphobia Workbook by Alec Pollard (Available at Amazon). It has a lot of good information.

So, in short, that's that. I hope to god I just keep getting better...

All the best to the both of you,
Mel
 

sister-ray

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Thanks for all the info, I couldnt find the book on the UK amazon, but will look elsewhere on here. After having quite a fight with the NHS here for some help for me, I have finally got some, only 8 weeks, and at my Doctor sugery, its thanks to my Doctor I got it, it starts on 8th May with a lovely therapist called Jackie, she will be using CBT with me :)
 

ThatLady

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Congratulations to you, Sweetanise! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, hon, and think positively. Sometimes, if we keep seeing ghosts in the closet we can convince ourselves they're really there when, actually, they're only shadows. Let's just keep on keeping on and allow the agoraphobia to remain a thing of the past.

Good news, too, through-these-eyes, that you've finally made it through the maze of NHS and will be getting some therapy for yourself. We'll be anxious to hear how things go for you. :)
 

Halo

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Hi ThatLady I just wanted to say that I absolutely loved your post and the following quote.

ThatLady said:
Sometimes, if we keep seeing ghosts in the closet we can convince ourselves they're really there when, actually, they're only shadows.

It really hit home for me. I just might steal it from you, if you don't mind. I often realize that the ghosts that I have been keeping in the closet are real until I am in therapy and I bring them up and realize that they are really shadows. I just didn't know how to explain it until I read your post.

Thanks again.
Nancy
 

ThatLady

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You're welcome to the quote, hon. Heck, if it helps you, type it up in BIG letters and hang it on the fridge! :)
 

jkb

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thanks Mel for all the info you shared. that is something i need to add to my list of things to work on. for example i am doing this now, for my tummy is off for the last while and feeling sick in anyway gets me going sigh. Yet i am not panicky believe it or not haha! i am focusing on it though but am trying to do the self talk and rationalize it. yes i am very bodily aware! anyhow ty again Mel and keep us updated :) Also wanted to say that i am happy for you Through These Eyes that u are getting the help you need and want finally:) keep us posted to. take care :)
 

jkb

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Ps..i think i am going to steal that qoute to ThatLady if you dontmind. it does hit homeand ty for such wise words.
 

foghlaim

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Through these Eyes,
just wondering .. is it too early for an update on how u got on at the docs & the cbt??

wishing u the best

nsa
 

sister-ray

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Hi notsureanymore,,

Ive only had one session, a couple where cancelled because the she was ill, and now she tells me she is leaving and I only have two more with her, there is another therapist starting after she goes who I maybe able to see, but it means starting over again with someone new, I was due 8 sessions with her shes everso nice too, and the first session went well, this inconsistency is typical of our services here, I wont get on my soap box about that or else it will be a very long post LOL. Im going to make the most of the two sessions but its not enough to work on all the things I want to. Im trying to work on some stuff for myself, like going out on little walks in the local area and doing some smaller things, like going to the hairdressers, Thank you for asking after me and for your good wishes they are appreciated :)
 

ThatLady

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I'm sorry to hear your therapist will be leaving; especially, since you seem to have connected so well with her. Let's hope the next one is just as nice, or even nicer!

Kudos to you for your efforts to help yourself, hon. I know it's not easy, so you really deserve a lot of credit for the efforts your making in your own behalf. :)
 

sister-ray

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Thanks Thatlady, Im going for a walk everyday, as long as the weather is okay, manage to get to the garage(petrol shop/ convience store) the other day, needed some fruit, havent been there on my own for a while, its so busy, even at quiet times but I did it!! :)
 

foghlaim

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well done Through these eyes: i'm sure you are proud of your achievements, we are. and as TL has said maybe the next therapist will be just as nice as the lady you now.

keep up the good work.

and thanks for the update.

nsa
 

ThatLady

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It's really wonderful to hear how well you're doing, through-these-eyes! Every success makes the next effort just a teensy bit easier. Before long, I'll bet you'll find you'll actually enjoy a good, brisk walk and a stop for a cool drink. :)
 

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