How can you live with agoraphobia

How panic attacks have ruled my life

You don't talk about that. But very many people are affected by anxiety and panic attacks. It's a taboo subject because it's kind of embarrassing. You don't want to be labeled weird or even crazy. After all, there is nothing physically missing. That affects our psyche. And mental illnesses are indeed "recognized" today, but still have a bit of the stamp that one is somehow "different". Often this problem is played down by others. Sayings like "Oh, don't take it so seriously" and "What should." you often hear it as a victim. You can't really relate to a panic attack as an outsider. I always wanted a leg in plaster instead. So something like that is simply kept secret. I had panic attacks for many years - I got it at some point certified in writing by a doctor. Agoraphobia with panic was on the piece of paper. What is it anyway? According to Wikipedia, agoraphobia is nothing more than an anxiety disorder that could also be described as claustrophobia. I quote: "The main characteristic of agoraphobia is an unfounded or unrealistically strong one Fear of certain places or travel.This fear escapes volitional control and can also be expressed through rational arguments cannot be eliminated. Those affected usually show strong avoidance behavior, as panic attacks can occur to varying degrees. Fear can be limited to going into public places or shops, often specifically avoiding crowds. In pronounced cases, the fear already sets in in the apartment, so that it is no longer left. "This anxiety disorder is very different for everyone. And it can also be that several anxiety disorders interact with one another.

What does a panic attack look like?

A panic attack cannot simply be overlooked. :-) In my case, I already had situations in my childhood in which I felt certain symptoms. Only then I didn't know it was a panic attack. Certain experiences in my childhood triggered anxiety in me, which I then addressed with certain counter-strategies such as avoidance or aids. So that you can follow me, I'll best describe how I had a common panic attack. In the situation (or even before the situation) I felt a touch of fear, a chill on my body, a little dizziness and a strong palpitation of the heart. I got hot and cold. Sometimes I would start shaking and feel very sick. But I never vomited. In such a situation, I was very scared that something bad would happen to me. The fear was quite intense and was in the direction of deathly fear. I always got panic attacks like this while I was out and about. First alone, then with others. As soon as I left home, such a panic attack could happen at any time. Later I also had panic attacks at home when I was feeling very bad. In a situation like this, I am quite trapped and unable to travel any further or do anything. People on the outside usually think I'm having a heart attack. I look very pale, scared and dazed. I was very uncomfortable with such a situation in public and that also contributes to the fact that the symptoms get worse.

The first signs in childhood

Well, even as a child, I couldn't travel well. I've always felt sick in the car (back seat) or bus (no matter where), I am very sensitive when it wobbles. But in order for such a clinical picture to develop, in my opinion a few more factors have to come together. The mere fact that I was feeling sick while driving wasn't enough in my case. Other factors also played a role, such as the behavior of other people (upbringing, reactions) and my personality (e.g. self-esteem, strong body feeling, various experiences). I can tell you all of this so clearly today because I have spent a great many years putting all the pieces of the puzzle together and understanding why I have or had panic attacks in the first place. After successful therapy and a long self-analysis, I know the causes very well, as well as the roots of my symptoms. I can also say with certainty that treating the symptoms alone would never have helped me. In my case, panic attacks were a very important indication that I have to deal with a lot of what has happened to me in life. My panic attacks never came “out of the blue”, even though they always felt like that. They resulted from the interplay of many experiences and experiences.

What can you do about panic attacks?

After repeatedly having panic attacks and realizing that these are not physical problems (because that's what you always assume at first!), I read a lot about it in books and on the Internet. The same thing is always recommended - a visit to the doctor, who may refer you to a psychotherapist. Since I was very young at the time and had no experience, I naturally listened to my family doctor. Her husband happened to be a psychotherapist (joint practice) and I got a place with him. However, I did not feel very well from the first session. He told me that he likes to try extreme situations himself so that he can “keep up” with his patients. I should dress a little "tight" so that I have better "support" in the event of a panic attack, so that I can relax during the situation and, if this doesn't work, grab a small bottle of alcohol that I should have with me in my handbag - this would definitely relax me. I couldn't believe my ears! Alcohol? Is this his serious therapy? He could also prescribe medication so that I can manage my everyday life to some extent. I refused. I've never been a friend of drugs when they can be avoided. And I haven't drunk alcohol to this day. I went to see him again and said that I was feeling much better. I just didn't have the strength to do more and was left to myself for a few years. Postponed is not cancelled. I then had to experience this bitterly when I felt very bad. Then nothing worked anymore. My condition then worsened so “spontaneously” that I had panic attacks all over the place. It also felt like burnout combined with panic attacks. I no longer knew what I had now and could barely manage. I was about to be admitted to a clinic as an inpatient. Of course I couldn't get a seat (on the fly) and called a nearby psychotherapist. He had time and after a few days I was allowed to come. It was like a miracle! If he had time, I thought he wasn't in great demand. But every straw was fine with me. To get through the bad times at all (even before), the book Angst! Help in the first emergency from Claudia Mandorf very much. I recommend it to everyone who acutely does not know how to proceed. And of course I have to say that I was always accompanied and supported lovingly and understandingly by my boyfriend at the time (and now husband).

I took everything in hand

Nobody knows you better than you do. I realized that when I was sitting with the new psychotherapist for the first time. He said little, he asked this and that and I felt as if I was talking to myself. It annoyed me that I had to take everything into my own hands. I didn't even know what to do now. So I sat there with him in the session and reconstructed my life. I came to him for the third session and he suddenly said, “Please excuse me for neglecting to ask you about your history at the beginning of the treatment. I just didn't think about so many things and I wasn't sure what was going on with you in the past. ”Where did I get from? He hardly knew me. Fortunately, I was so open and just told him in isolation. Everything came up: my childhood, the change of country including losses and problems, the new language, recurring (alp) dreams, fears, my environment then and now, the job and much more. I told them and he listened. He said little. At some point I came up with a diary where I wrote down my panic attacks. I drew a table and rated the attacks according to their intensity. I always came up with new ideas and he was amazed at my active approach. When asked if I could ever get rid of my fear, he couldn't answer. After all, it's very individual. So I sat in therapy like a detective, slicing my life into pieces and taking a closer look. Then I put them together. He threw in very important things, small fragments that I had lacked for understanding. He just had a different point of view and I often came home with an aha-effect. Since we had one session a week (and the therapy didn't last very long), I had time to reflect again. Little by little, I understood what was actually going on with me. I hadn't made any direct connection to the panic attacks, it was much more than that. It was a basic understanding of my inner world. I now knew that I was (and still am) not responsible for many things in my life. The situations that happened before have nothing to do with today. Only they are of course called up in the brain today, since I have this experience in me. But with the new knowledge I have now learned that I can "create" new paths in my head and also go along them. At some point the old patterns become paler, like a path that is overgrown with grass. It was similar with my overall condition and the panic attacks.

Understanding is not enough, you have to do something

So in theory I understood everything. I also have to say that I didn't feel it. It was really very theoretical. The emotional level was very often faded out for me. I didn't have any emotions. Sometimes I collapsed and then for a few days I couldn't do anything other than cry. Then usually a knot had burst and I got on. So at some point after I understood my situation, I started to act actively. There is no point in understanding everything and continuing to live your old life. Then you slip back into old structures. It is important that you realize that changes are coming up now. I've turned my life upside down. I let go of the past (no blame), changed jobs, and moved. I suddenly noticed what was good for me and what was not. I no longer wanted to function and to submit to my "fate". After all, it wasn't good for me, I noticed that. Suddenly I was doing things that I wanted to do since childhood and made up for what I had been missing (although I wasn't consciously missing it!). And gradually my condition improved. I became more stable, stronger and more confident. I got a very good feeling for what I want. I had visions of the future.

How am I doing right now?

I'm doing very well today. I'm writing this post, I'm just a little excited because it's a bit emotional. But I'm pretty relaxed because a few days ago I made my first long trip alone (with a toddler). Quasi as the end of my therapy - although I would say that you never stop learning. I am very grateful that I had the panic attacks in the first place. My last panic attack came around 2012. This illness showed me that I need to change my life. She just made me do it! If I didn't have it, my life would be completely different now, less authentic and self-determined. And I would not have known and learned so much about myself. I would never have had so much understanding of why I am who I am now. I want to thank my illness because it showed me so much and made me so strong. And I am writing this post for all people who are perhaps just starting out - there is always a way. It may be complicated and difficult. I used to just smile tiredly when someone told me it was getting better. I am very grateful that I can now sit here and say: "The time has come, it is wonderful!". And at some point the time will come when you too can say that. You just have to stay tuned, take life in your hand, take full responsibility, become active yourself and search for the cause. In my case that was the optimal solution.

Article by Lisa Albrecht published on October 29, 2016.