Dealing with Agoraphobia

agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which one feels and often avoids situations that may cause them to feel panicky, trapped, helpless, or embarrassed. Using public transportation, being in a crowd, and standing in line are a few examples. According to the Mayo Clinic,

You may feel that you need a companion, such as a relative or friend, to go with you to public places. The fears can be so overwhelming that you may feel unable to leave your home.

I definitely identify with this as I only feel safe leaving my house if my husband is with me. It is especially hard for me to drive myself anywhere. He has to be the one to drive. I believe my fears have to do with previous anxieties experienced in crowded situations. The noise and unpredictable stimuli of people merely moving around me is anxiety-producing for me. I don’t know why and I don’t know how to stop it, but I do know that I am tired of it controlling my life!

I take a PRN anti-anxiety med before going to any social event, which helps a great deal. However, I have to ration them because my doctor only prescribes me five of these pills a month per our agreement due to my addiction history. Thus, I am left with no medication assistance when I have to go to places like the store or to some of my kids’ activities.

So, what’s been happening over the past three weeks is I have been working myself up into an anxious state before leaving the house to do anything by telling myself how awful it is going to be and how much I DON’T want to go. I now realize this type of thinking has to stop if I am to find any relief.

Therefore, I have dug out my DBT (Dialectic Behavioral Therapy) binder to review some skills to help me regulate my emotions. I am starting with “Wise Mind” which is the part of our mind where “Emotional Mind” (our thoughts based on distressing feelings) and “Reasonable Mind” (rational thoughts) merge together (what I want to do vs. what I should do.) Wise Mind says, Yes, our Reasonable Mind is right, but Emotional Mind is important and needs to be validated, too. It is all about having compassion for yourself while still pushing yourself to do what is out of your comfort zone.

Last month, I overextended myself by doing way too much out of my comfort zone without checking in with my feelings and wants. I completely ignored Emotional Mind and blindly succumbed to Reasonable Mind, which over time lead to a state of depression and extreme anxiety – throwing me full force into Emotional Mind. Hopefully, with my new-found awareness I can now start using my Wise Mind to get back on track to emotional well-being and productive living!

What type of “Mind” do you tend to have – Wise, Emotional, or Reasonable? How does this affect your emotional health?

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8 thoughts on “Dealing with Agoraphobia

  1. I suspect I succumb overly much to Emotional Mind. This weekend I visited my wife and children and things didn’t go as well as I had hoped. Today I am ruminating on it and find it difficult to move forward.

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  2. I have a reminder on my phone to review DBT Skills three times a day. I have a lot better chance of using them if they’re in my conscious mind. I guess you might call that “Cope Ahead”, I don’t know. It’s Effective to study the skills with some consistency šŸ™‚

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  3. I was recently diagnosed with Agoraphobia. I used to think that meant you blocked yourself in your house with plywood and wouldn’t open the door except of the pizza man. I guess not, huh. I get myself into such a state before leaving to do anything. For instance I want to go to the gym but my mind or body or whatever is screaming no!!! I get derealization symptoms sometimes and it’s really freaky. I’m just so tired of it. I wasn’t like this before. I can see seeds of it in my previous existence but now it’s overgrown. A previous therapist told me that DBT wouldn’t be appropriate for me but now I may look into it. I can’t stand myself right now.

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  4. Pingback: Social Anxiety Strikes | Write into the Light

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