Agoraphobia: Four Things I Had To Change Before Healing Could Begin.
I suffered with agoraphobia for more that twenty years. During that time I tried all sorts of treatments, some conventional, some not so, and nothing I did seemed to have any sort of positive effect upon my agoraphobia, panic disorder or anxiety disorder. In fact, some things made my condition worse, in some cases, much worse.
When my panic attacks started, back in 1985, I was left with a travel phobia but as the years passed, my safe-zone became increasingly smaller until I wound up being more or less completely housebound. During this time, at two separate stages of my downward progress, I consulted with a couple of homeopaths to see if they could help me. We tried all sorts of different treatments but nothing seemed to work. However, there was something that they both told me that lingered with me for a long time afterwards. They both stated that there was a “time for healing”. I must admit that I didn’t fully grasp what they actually meant by that and figured that they were trying to say that there was some God-given, pre-determined date when my recovery would begin. It wasn’t until much later, when I was well on the road to recovery, that it finally dawned on me what they were talking about.
I was working with the wrong definition of time. What they were getting at was that, there is, in a person’s life, a “suitable point” at which healing can take place. Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t until I had got to that suitable point that I was able to figure out what they were trying to tell me. You see, unbeknown to me at the time, there were some things happening in my life that were preventing me from getting well again. Looking back now, I can plainly see that until I went ahead and physically removed these things, I hadn’t a prayer of getting better.
Here’s a list of things that needed rectifying:
1. The first thing I had to get over was my resentment toward my agoraphobia: Right from the moment that I suffered my first panic attack I was extremely resentful of the fact. In my opinion, I wasn’t a bad person. Why me?
2. The second item was my denial that I had agoraphobia: It took me years to acknowledge that I was ill and in need of help. I truly believed that one day I would wake up and it would magically be gone. In the meantime, if asked about it by even the closest of friends, I’d deny that there was a problem.
3. The third in line was the guilt I was carrying because of letting people down: I had this crazy habit of agreeing to anything that I was asked to do, including things that involved travelling, and hoping that everything would work out fine on the day. Things seldom worked out fine and more often than not, I just couldn’t face the journey. Even if I could confront going through with what I’d agreed to, I’d put myself through hell just to keep someone else happy.
4. And the last item on the list was self-medicating with alcohol: At first it started out as a couple of drinks to steady my nerves but as time rolled by, I started to lean on the stuff more and more. Eventually, I was drinking just to get through the day and wound up with depression.
Something had to change. The first thing to take a hike was the booze, followed closely by my no longer making promises just to keep others happy. If I was invited anywhere, I’d say that I would try to attend but I’d ask the host/hostess not to make any special arrangements and not to be upset if I didn’t make it. I started to accept my “fate” and settled, quite contentedly, into my restricted life. I started to look upon it as a puzzle that I had been given to solve. Looking at it from this perspective made a game out of it. Also, if and when asked about my agoraphobia, I was truthful with my answer.
Within a short space of time, I started to feel better. I was no longer viewing life through an alcoholic haze and the depression started to lift, the guilt I felt from my missed engagements ceased, I was no longer kidding myself that I would magically get better and, last but not least, the resentment that I used to feel had been replaced with a sense of determination to find a cure.
Doing the above didn’t cure my anxiety, panic attacks or agoraphobia but what it did do was pave the way for my recovery by removing most of the stress from my life. Once this was done, right on cue, I stumbled across the system that I needed to remove the agoraphobia and its cousins completely.