by Neal Sideman

I have chosen to focus on my healing, and to say only a few words about my long period of suffering. Chances are, you already know – firsthand or secondhand – more than you'd care  to know about the suffering! My own suffering had its unique form, but essentially, it was no different from what you probably already know.

After my first two panic attacks, I awakened each morning to an instantly racing heart, hyperventilation, and cresting waves of fear and apprehension. My range of activity for each day was dictated by my agoraphobia, and my range gradually got narrower and narrower.

Every aspect of my life was deeply affected. Once, a friend asked me to explain what things I couldn't do. I answered that it would take much less time if I simply listed those things I could do.

At my low point, I was buffeted from morning to night by waves of panic anxiety, and I was barely able to venture one block from my apartment.

To summarize a story that could fill many pages, I spent years doing everything I could to heal from this condition. After many disappointments, my tenacity finally paid off. I found my answer.

The answer I found was the deeply transformational process of learning mastery over my panic and anxiety.

For me, there were two keys to learning this mastery and curing this condition: education and practice.

Read the rest of Neal's story on his website. 

"A friend asked me to explain what things I couldn't do. I answered that it would take much less time if I simply listed those things I could do."
Disorder

Comments

I've been searching the web for about 2 years and I've read every success story there is, my thing is what about the people who need the help but have no money are no insurance I want help but there is no help unless you have a pocket full of money every story begins with what to do how to do it and then the big $$$$$$$$$ comes

Hi Natalie,
I haven't fully recovered from agoraphobia; I still struggle with traveling in the car and on planes. However, if you're housebound, there is a book that might help - "Simple, Effective Treatment of Agoraphobia" by Claire Weekes. It's an old book, the language is a little outdated and the author is no longer alive, but it's one of the best I've read so far. She shares the stories of people that were agoraphobic for 10-20+ years and still managed to recover.

The short version of every recovery material out there is basically this:
-Face the fear over and over again in a systematic way, in small steps until you can do bigger and bigger things
-Try to do it while calm so as not to reinforce the fear
-Let time pass as your nervous system slowly calms down

You don't necessarily have to have a therapist - a calm person that can accompany you and remain calm while you are anxious can be incredibly helpful. There are also affordable therapists online, if you haven't looked into online therapy, I would strongly advise it. Social support was one of the strongest contributors to me getting better, you may be able to do it alone, but it will be far more difficult.

MONICA SANCHEZ

June 20, 2018

In reply to by Laura

try lemonbalm tea or capsules ( at your local health store) also called Melissa- I jut started- been looking for a long time for relief- seems to be working!! good luck- this is horrific suffering we are enduring

From past few days I bought a bp machine when I checked my own bp is much higher . From dat day I feel very deprresed .. that night I felt I faint and my whole body is going numb. Suddenly I went to doctor bp was 180/100 .. I don't want to take medicine . Please help me .. I'm worried

I did the same as you. Evry time I see a blood pressure machine now I panic.
i have to calm myself down before I go to the doctor . It has gone up in the 200's having a panic attack over it. Do not take it when you are worried.! it will be high then you will get nervous and make it higher.. vicious cycle

I did the exact same I panic over my bp. With the machine it was higher then having them doing it manual but then you wonder if they can hear right lol.. I will feel my pulse cause my chest hurts a little thinking it’s real fast and it usually isn’t. One point I went to urgent care thinking I was gonna have heart attack and the EKG was good BP was high but it’s bevause I was freaking out. Then I went to my dr had blood work done and it was perfect, sugar, thyroid, cholesterol, blood count etc. but I still worry and I can’t seem to stop dr gave me hydroxine as needed but I don’t like to take meds so I’ve never taken it. It has been years since I had one and since Thanksgiving it’s like they won’t stop! I hate this feeling I want to feel normal again!!

I was diagnosed with agoraphobia over 20 years ago when no one really understood it that well and I am much better now but the first thing to do is find a therapist and describe exactly how you're feeling I didn't leave my room for 2 years I just wanted to die but even as terrifying as it is there is help for it I can do just about anything anymore except I still have bad days sometimes. There really is a lot of help out there nowadays so the first thing I would suggest is to set up an appointment with a psychiatrist. Good luck I know how debilitating this condition can be.

I suffer from agoraphobia. It is controlled now. Seems to come back every 7/10 years though :( You should look at all treatment options. Psychiatry and CBT therapist or psychologist is a good combination. Gene tests are available to predict which meds your body can tolerate the best. I used Genesight. They offer pay scale. If you can go to library there are self help books. The more you know about what you are going through the better. You learn about triggers. You might be able to figure out what's cause this. Mine is stress and social anxiety. So I work on these areas. I wish there was a simple solution but for me it's using all of these. Set goals for yourself. Ultimately you will have to expand your safe zones. Little by little. I wish you the best!

Take calm breaths, know you are not alone in this, and you are one of us. You have more mind and self control than you think. As long as you do things under your control you should get through little by little. It's ok to be afraid, it's ok to not be ok. Acknowledge this, and you will understand more. I have SO much advice but not enough space. Feel free to contact me if you like.

Paul camacho

May 27, 2018

In reply to by natalie grant

Hello... I know how overwhelming the sense that you are losing your. Mind can be because of panic attscks, because I suffered them myself... And I also cured myself...
I was 19 and experimenting with drug when after a particular heavy might of cocaine use i began feeling a shortness of breath... The feeling of not being able to catch your breath is sifforcating and unbearable... Because I was young and didn't understand enough about the affects of drugs I thought I was overdosing and having a a heart attack... I began to panic badly and felt like I was losing my life energy and would pass out and die... At the emergency room though I insisted I was sbiut to pass out die... They just kept foe observation knowing better... A few hours later I was more come and felt more comfortable and they let me go hone... It was the scareiat experience of my life... I was fine for about three months thought I worrying about that felling often... Afraid it might come back... Sure enough, 3 months later I began having pa attack... It was a miserable time of my life... I would have then every day and I would not leave the house... Agorahobic.. I thought I was going crazy and it seemed that this would now be my life and it sickened me... I couldn't watch anything on TV except sports programming because everything else would inspire bad thought or feel key with anxiety... But baseball just went inning in inning out and seemed to soothe me... The worse thing I remember was this fear as I tried to go to sleep every night that I was going to die in my sleep... Imthis continued for 18 months until finally I broke... And this is what I did to beat it... I was tired of the fear... So damn tired and I just wanted to sleep peacefully... And I remember vividly ontheblast night I had one just giving up and getting very angry..m I was angry at them plaguing me...m and I remember twining to myemself before I went to be in raging inner voice filled with anger... And I said to myself... I don't csre... I dint csre if I die in my sleep.... I was just sontired and sick of it... I took a stance of anger toward and with absolute rage I just didn't care what happen to me in jay sleep that night... I didn't care if I died... I was done worrying and being afraid of it... And that night I sleep so peacefully and I woke up the next say feeling rested and fresh... And though I was worruong I may have a panic attack... I didnt... They stopped... I raged it yeah some how... That was all... It worked some how... So what I would recommend to oh is to get mad at it... Get angry with it... Find that rage inside of you and. Yell at it... Really, just scream out loud at it... Face it and tell it that you don't care abut it and your not going to fear it tonight... Not this night... I think once you do that you gain a sense of confidence back.. I think that's what csuaes them... A sudden dramatic traumatizing blow to your deep seeded sense of security and comfort in dealing with your reality... Its as if your fundsmnetal belief system that supports your ability to feel safe... Suddenly erases and you feel vulnerable and in fear of everything... To regain it you must rage agsisnt the fear... Rage agsisnt the sickness... Tell it you don't care about it... And it cent hurt you... Because after all... Its only in your mind... I hope that helps... It Wes the best thing that ever happen to me... Good kuck

38 years now of this agoraphobia and still scared of the panic attacks.i have a new list of things now added on as well.i think i need to understand why am so scared of the panic attacks that's my problem and its this that stops me from going and doing things i really need help now.i no life to short but am so scared still i don't have confidence anymore just more problems.

thankyou for your email.i have missed alot of my life due to being to scared its so silly but so horrible.i have anxity,deppression,fear of going far,tall buildings,open spaces.etc might as well shoot myself plus i cant spell.but thankyou for email back

In a weird sorta way this actually does make allot of sence! I have suffered from anxiety for 30 years and have had countless panic attacks! At some point, as hard as it is, you do have to get mad and tell yourself to just stop! Regain that confidence and try to snap yourself out of it!

Thanks for that, you don’t read that In self help information but I feel at a point where this kind of approach is beneficial. Sick of living in fear, learning to live with anxiety and not let it dominate your every move. I just went out to a family gathering I spent all day anxious about forced myself to go no matter what and will continue to go till this horific illness ceases or looses its power over my mind

Hi help
So sorry to hear that your not well. I can relate. I'm 47 and have been sick a long time. I'm a "home body" also:) and havery been searching for help without $. Unfortunately that's how this world is:( I have 7 diagnosis's. I do receive an ssI check and Medicaid. I had hoped that medicaid was the answer. Unfortunately no it's not. It's had made my struggle a tiny bit better. I'm a Christian. If not for my faith in God, well, idk I don't believe I could make it thru such pain. I feel for you. And will keep you in prayer.
Thank you
Ski

Tammer p jensen

July 18, 2018

In reply to by natalie grant

some days i can get up no problems then start to leave my bedroom and then get panicky have to stop and try and stay still until it passes i joined a group caller DARE stared by a man named BARRY McDonagh he has been a life saver this program has been the reason i can write this note but there are still days i just want to feel normal

MM731

September 8, 2018

In reply to by natalie grant

Natalie, I am in the same exact spot as you. I have had agoraphobia for 5 years. I drained my savings and checking accounts on a few sessions with a phobia specialist. All of the phobia specialists make you pay out of pocket but because of the agoraphobia, I can't work and I can't pay the specialist. The cycle is exhausting. It's the most helpless I have ever felt. You have a phobia, you need help, but you have no money because of phobia, specialists won't help you. You remain sick. I've tried to get well as much as I can on my own but it's been a long 5 years. I need actual help but like you said, only the people with money can get better.

Abraham Martin

February 3, 2019

In reply to by natalie grant

I am suffering from rapid anxiety panic attacks disorder anxiety disorder depression schizophrenia and Agoraphobia Autophobhia Monophobia I have searched internet for every penny I got from parents as long as they could have provided..... From measly 6kpbs gprs to WIFI HOTSPOT if anybody had heart to provide the same what I got was ridicule insults mixed with very small amount of money to 2 or 4 doctors psychiatric all I ever got was banned pills to hate and self claimed mayo clinic doctors the pharmacists, all they cared about was money and labelled me as stupid melodramatic uncared for....... Ahhhhhhh the pain I am malnourished as I have bone density less than that of 70 year old person osteomalacia I hardly got out of home so no vitamin d or less sun, not proper absorption of food I am 40 years old everyone has black hole for money and abuses as midday hot summer sunshine I am literally dead man breathing....... OTC supplements medicines natural allopathy are none to few and costly enough to buy food for weeks...... Help.

You can overcome agoraphobia if you apply yourself and use a well designed strategy of progressive exposure challenges preceded by and followed by detailed training with your anxiety. I recommend Mindfulness Therapy for this. Most people can expect to see big improvements after the first month when they take this mindfulness-based training approach to their agoraphobia.

Actually as a life-long PD warrior, I'm often read that PD or panic attacks themselves hold absolutely no danger. I'd say that for most people, this is likely true since they're always described this way.

For me the situation is much different. Without detail, I will only state that chronic panic attacks initially cost me at least six jobs -- six jobs, my God. The reason for the dismissals? My employers suspected I was either drinking on the job or drugging on the job.

I have never considered doing such a thing -- I'm a hard-working girl who only sought to do my best for my employers. This aspect of panic attacks -- to me -- makes the severity of the individual's experience all-important in recommending treatment. Job loss is traumatizing. Losing jobs over something that I couldn't anticipate, understand or discuss with my employers has been more frightening than the condition itself.

Thanks for hearing me.

Suzanne

Hello all,

I first started getting panic attacks when i was 16 after i "Greened Out" smoking weed. I woke up the next morning feeling odd, I haven't felt the same since.
I put up with them for about a year, everyday on the bus in the morning I would get minor panic attacks. I gave up and just accepted that was my life from then on.
I then developed Derealization/Depersonalization out of the blue, as bad as it was, it kind of sheltered me from reality and i stopped getting panic attacks. This along with cutting out caffeine helped me THE FIRST TIME.

Here we are now in 2018, I haven't had a panic attack in over 8 years. Untill a big week off with the boys (I've stayed away from drugs since my first scare)
A long week of neglect for my body, sleepless nights, drinking alcohol non stop and smoking cigarettes like a bloody chimney. The first day back at work, BOOM! it hit me, I was shocked because i knew exactly what was happening, I forgot how bad panic attacks actually were, I thought i had overcome panic attacks and here we are, back to square 1.

This made me rethink my lifestyle so I have quit smoking, caffeine and general unhealthy eating, I am currently 3 months into quitting smoking.
I have had 3 cigarettes in the past 3 months and each of them triggered a panic attack. About 2 months ago I started getting pretty bad Insomnia, I find myself constantly waking up throughout the night and cannot get back to sleep. There is a link between Anxiety and Insomnia, throw a little nicotine and caffeine withdrawls in there and 2 months later I still can't get a decent nights sleep.
I have tried a few herbal remedies and sleeping aids with no success, I believe that the Insomnia is caused by my high Anxiety.

6 months ago I was a confident happy, grab life by the balls type of guy, now the thought of going somewhere unfamiliar scares the crap out of me.

Does anybody else suffer from Insomnia? Please let me know if anyone has any remedies worth trying.

Best wishes for everybody experiencing mental health issues

Had the same problem. Been taking homeopathic medicine called Sleep Naturally . It contains Glycine,Theanine and Magnesium. These all help with anxiety ,and has a calming effect on the brain and helps reach deep sleep faster. This medication helps with sleep without the "morning hangover" effect associated with prescription medications. Also therapy and meditation help too ! So I strongly recommend that too . Also writing down the things that are bothering you ,write down everything!

forty yrs.plus my understanding is its in the center of your brain there for why cant the doctor put in a chip in they do it in everything else therfore cutting off the signalds of panic i have tried meds.this and that times running out i do have about a 40mi.radias can.t have a relation ship nothing 68 come june got this at eighteen

I recovered from over fifteen years of panic disorder and agoraphobia by attending free meetings held by Recovery International. They have online meetings as well as meetings in many towns throughout the U.S.A and severa countries. Please visit their website at Recoveryinternational.org

Since I was a child/teen I’ve struggled with anger, depression, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and severe anxiety. Usually stressed induced. My father is an alcoholic which I didn’t know how that impacts life of children until I first sought some therapy while in college. I’ve sought medical help, and prayed for relief off and on since 1986. I’ve tried most mental health medications off and on.The side effects of each and every medication were/are horrible. Little, if any relief. My life has been more rough than happy. Poor self esteem, destructive; reckless, poor decisions, etc.

In Dec. of 2013 I tried again to get dedicated medical help because I was literally sick, shingles. I was 6 months into a new job and it was going down hill. I thought I should try for more structured medical help. I committed to regular care with a psychiatrist, psychologist, plus my internal medicine doctor -for severe anxiety, panic attacks, borderline personality disorder, agoraphobia, depression. More prescribed drugs and little relief. I just turned 58. Hormones are now in play. And I am worse than ever. I feel hopelessly lost, isolated, and have given up trying. I have no friends. And no job as of 7/5/2018. I rarely get dressed. And rarely leave my apartment. Negative thoughts swirl in my head nonstop. I hate this. I’m lost. Exhausted. My unemployment benefits will end the first week of January 2019. Then what happens...

My mother has never liked me. Very critical. She now has some signs of dementia, and she had a stroke on 5/31/2018. She has always shamed me for lack of motivation, and my mental illness. I can’t confide in her. My personal and professional relationships have dropped off to near zero.

I have a BA. I’m considered pretty. My jobs have been above average in pay. Mid-level management. Good employers. All stressful. STRESSFUL. I have been fired from 98% of my jobs. I average a year at each; I do well for a couple months then self destruct due to stress, and then grandly fired. The most recent firing on 7/5/2018 they stated I was aggressive. The job before that I made poor decisions, and was aggressive. I just can’t take stress. Proven fact.

-Apologies for the rambling.

Just talking to someone can help. As you said, you can't find someone to confide in. Me neither. Or at least, I don't want to dump on friends and family as that can turn people away. Wish there were local anxiety support groups.

Mart...I started having panic attacks 35 yrs ago. I was lucky enough to find a support group way back then. The awareness of the severity was not known back then, yet there was a support group. I cannot believe there isn't any place where you can talk to others with the same or similar problems. My thought are with you.

Hello I'm just trying to seek help I barley leave the house if need be to go to work and food shopping I work close to home and pay 6 dollars a day to catch a cab right around the corner today I had another panic attack I've been dealing with this since I was 15 I am now 20 I dropped outta school this is and has ruined my life I can't go out and enjoy my life like I should I feel trapped in 1 city 1 place and feel like I need a income therapist but I'm told old,that's what I was told to the resources in my city please help me I just want my life back