PDA

View Full Version : Agoraphobia Sufferer.



JMH
08-22-2011, 06:55 PM
My newest novel features a 16 year old agoraphobia sufferer.
I am looking for similar people of any ages willing to share their stories with me about their experience with agoraphobia, not only sufferers themselves but parents, friends, family.
I would love to acknowledge you by name in the book, or would of course also respect wishes to remain annonymous.
PM is fine if you don't want to post here.
With thanks,

tedi.s
08-24-2011, 02:59 AM
Don't know if it is what you need or if it is what you want but I have had many panic attacks. Is there a specific trigger for your 16 yr old?

Witch_turtle
08-24-2011, 03:11 AM
I don't mind sharing...no need to include me/my name in anything, though.

I never considered myself agoraphobic but recently during some reading about the problems I *do* have I learned that some of my feelings are attributed to mild agoraphobia. Hopefully it will be somewhat helpful to you.

I started suffering severe panic attacks when I was about 16 (and I'll be 21 next month). I didn't know what it was, at first. I thought I was sick. Dying. They happened most frequently during this one particular physics class, and I remember sitting in my seat with my heart pounding so hard and fast it was painful, my body trembling so violently I physically was unable to write notes. I got cold and hot flushes, felt like throwing up, running away. I remember I used to dig my fingernails as hard as I could into the palms of my hands to try and ground myself or focus on something other than the totally irrational terror I was feeling. I ended up skipping a lot of school that year, either because I would start panicking in class and leave and go home because I felt so sick, or just not go to school because I was so scared it would happen. And that's the start of agoraphobia.

A lot of people think agoraphobia is simply "fear of open spaces" but it's not really that simple. In some of the reading I've done it says that usually a panic disorder leads to agoraphobia, because the person becomes frightened of having more panic attacks and so avoids situations in which they might occur...specifically where they can't escape. I believe agoraphobia can manifest without prior panic attacks as well but that's not my personal experience.

I'll also say that my agoraphobia isn't really life-altering or debilitating to any great extent. I know there are people out there who actually can't leave their houses. I've never experienced anything that severe and I hope I never have to, but hopefully my comments are still helpful to you. How severe is the agoraphobia your character suffers from?

For me, a lot of my fear surrounds eating. Eating in public or in front of other people is one of the most difficult things I have to do in my life. For years I would go to restaurants with my family or friends and order nothing, and tell them all I just wasn't hungry. You get a lot of inappropriate comments when you do that, from people you know and from total strangers...like waiters. They'll tease you for "never eating," ask if you're worried about your weight or sometimes even assume you have an eating disorder. The other thing about panic attacks and agoraphobia is that your instinct is to hide it at all costs. So no, I couldn't tell people the truth---that I was terrified of choking, or throwing up, or having a panic attack while in the middle of the meal. That I needed to sit somewhere where I could easily go out the door or to the bathroom if I needed to escape. It took a long time before I was comfortable eating around my friends, and still I struggle. I won't eat around new people, and it's a whole mental-ordeal if I'm in public alone (like say, on lunch break at university).

I honestly don't know why my fear manifests itself around eating, but for some reason that always seems like the best time to have a panic attack these days. But the needing to know where the bathroom/exits are and having a clear path to them is pretty typical of someone with agoraphobia.

If you have any more specific questions I'd be happy to answer them.

Spy_on_the_Inside
08-24-2011, 04:15 AM
That is something to consider. Most cases of agoraphobia begin when a patient is diagnosed with Panic Disorder, and the anxiety of having a severe, unprevoked panic attack becomes so great, the patient will shut themselves inside their homes because they are so afraid of what might happen if they have a panic attack in the outside world where they can't control their environment and how people will react. I know when I once had a panic attack, school security came to my classroom and personally escorted me to the counselor's office. That would be enough to make anyone want to double bolt themselves into their room.

Snick
08-24-2011, 04:32 AM
i loathe the marketplace, and i have since i was quite young. i don't enjoy shopping when stores and malls have few people, but going to a store when it is crowded is very annoying. I get around it by planning such trips at times when there are few people shopping. I found that grocery stores are almost empty at 7 AM, and mall stores have very few shoppers before Noon.

LoopyLinde
08-24-2011, 04:42 AM
I used to have this when I was about 19, though it was not associated with panic attacks. Just that my social skills were so rudimentary, I was afraid of trying to interact with people and avoided any place they were, because someone might try to talk to me.

The odd thing about it was I was just as afraid of not enough people as too many. Yeah I was strange.

Tepelus
08-24-2011, 06:33 AM
I don't mind sharing...no need to include me/my name in anything, though.

I never considered myself agoraphobic but recently during some reading about the problems I *do* have I learned that some of my feelings are attributed to mild agoraphobia. Hopefully it will be somewhat helpful to you.

I started suffering severe panic attacks when I was about 16 (and I'll be 21 next month). I didn't know what it was, at first. I thought I was sick. Dying. They happened most frequently during this one particular physics class, and I remember sitting in my seat with my heart pounding so hard and fast it was painful, my body trembling so violently I physically was unable to write notes. I got cold and hot flushes, felt like throwing up, running away. I remember I used to dig my fingernails as hard as I could into the palms of my hands to try and ground myself or focus on something other than the totally irrational terror I was feeling. I ended up skipping a lot of school that year, either because I would start panicking in class and leave and go home because I felt so sick, or just not go to school because I was so scared it would happen. And that's the start of agoraphobia.

A lot of people think agoraphobia is simply "fear of open spaces" but it's not really that simple. In some of the reading I've done it says that usually a panic disorder leads to agoraphobia, because the person becomes frightened of having more panic attacks and so avoids situations in which they might occur...specifically where they can't escape. I believe agoraphobia can manifest without prior panic attacks as well but that's not my personal experience.

I'll also say that my agoraphobia isn't really life-altering or debilitating to any great extent. I know there are people out there who actually can't leave their houses. I've never experienced anything that severe and I hope I never have to, but hopefully my comments are still helpful to you. How severe is the agoraphobia your character suffers from?

For me, a lot of my fear surrounds eating. Eating in public or in front of other people is one of the most difficult things I have to do in my life. For years I would go to restaurants with my family or friends and order nothing, and tell them all I just wasn't hungry. You get a lot of inappropriate comments when you do that, from people you know and from total strangers...like waiters. They'll tease you for "never eating," ask if you're worried about your weight or sometimes even assume you have an eating disorder. The other thing about panic attacks and agoraphobia is that your instinct is to hide it at all costs. So no, I couldn't tell people the truth---that I was terrified of choking, or throwing up, or having a panic attack while in the middle of the meal. That I needed to sit somewhere where I could easily go out the door or to the bathroom if I needed to escape. It took a long time before I was comfortable eating around my friends, and still I struggle. I won't eat around new people, and it's a whole mental-ordeal if I'm in public alone (like say, on lunch break at university).

I honestly don't know why my fear manifests itself around eating, but for some reason that always seems like the best time to have a panic attack these days. But the needing to know where the bathroom/exits are and having a clear path to them is pretty typical of someone with agoraphobia.

If you have any more specific questions I'd be happy to answer them.


You sound much like me, except mine was mostly driving. I became terrified of driving. Whenever I had to go somewhere in public, I always looked for the exit. I was for a time becoming agoraphobic, I couldn't stand to leave the house. I could be outside in the yard, but I couldn't go for a walk down the street without the fear of passing out. The worst of it started in 2007, but I think it was manifesting itself for a couple of years prior. Today most of the fear and panic attacks are gone, though once in a while I'll get a short mild one. It seemed to help me a lot when I quit smoking. For some reason after that, the panic attacks just stopped.

JMH
08-24-2011, 02:35 PM
Wow you're all fabulous, thank you so much. Your stories touched me and it's very kind to share something so personal.
Also I'm pleased that what I have written so far is correct!
The being unable to eat part is not that uncommon, and I discovered recently that any stress, upset or trauma affects the digestive system first, effectively shutting it down.
Oh I really do appreciate your help, I didn't think I was going to get any answers! Keep them coming and thank you all again.

CBrothers
08-25-2011, 01:17 AM
I can second that mine started w/ mild panic attacks, but got progressively worse, significantly worse after I gave birth. Mine manifests while driving as well, specifically alone at night. I tend to cling to the familiar and comfortable, the central areas of my life. Sometimes that means I don't even want to venture outside my own living room...for over a month after my son was born, I slept in the living room. It was irrational even to myself, the closest logic being that the living room is central, and. Even my bedroom was too far away. Other times, it just means I have. To stay in my really small town, rather than go to the next town over, (there is almost nothing in my town, so that's a problem).

Otherwise, it mostly seems to be social situations that trigger my anxiety. I can be really looking forward to a party or shower, but when it's time to leave, the anxiety hits.

The worst part though, is that no one understands what you are going through.

Tepelus
08-25-2011, 04:54 AM
The worst part though, is that no one understands what you are going through.


This is so true, and even worse is when someone who is supposed to be the most supportive and caring of you is the least understanding and supportive of anyone. When they tell you you are faking it and need to get over it, well, it makes you just want to scream, or cry, or something. Yes, it is so easy to just get over it, with the imbalance of certain chemicals in my brain causing this to happen in the first place, but oh, it's not like you'd understand anyway...after all, I'm faking it! Sorry for the mini rant.