Friday, April 28, 2006

No Hopeless Cases of Agoraphobia

I believe hopelessness is a myth when it comes to agoraphobia.

If anyone was a hopeless case then I was. For two years I could hardly leave my home without being totally overwhelmed by debilitating panic. During the daytime, I fought a constant battle to keep from hyperventilating and scanning my body to make sure all my vital organs were working. At night I paced around the house, worrying that I might stop breathing and die at any moment.

Each morning, I awoke to the sounds of acid churning in my stomach. Just taking a shower exhausted me and I could hardly swallow food at breakfast. I couldn't go to school, work, or church. I couldn't even go visit a friend and I was terrified when the telephone would ring and I though it was for me. I had panic attacks even when I was at home and at times I was confined to one "safe" room by my fear.

I tried therapy, a support group, and medications - but nothing seemed to help me. I thought about giving up and seriously questioned the value of my life. But I did recover. Many people with agoraphobia believe that if therapy, support groups, and medication don't help them then nothing can help them. There are many agoraphobics like I was who go through times of thinking they are a hopeless case.

There were two major turning points in my recovery: 1) Doing reading on my own to get educated about my disorder. 2) Meeting someone who had made a personal recovery from agoraphobia with panic attacks.

When I met someone who had experience with recovering from panic disorder and agoraphobia, not only could she understand what I was going through from her own experience – she knew what to do to get better. I could have confidence in her suggestions because she had made a complete recovery from agoraphobia and panic attacks herself.

Meeting someone who had recovered from the same thing I was going through was like being lost in a forest and meeting someone with a map who could show me the way out.

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