Join Date: Dec 2009
Re: Agoraphobia - Please Help
I have a problem with agoraphobia. I first had this problem when I was 16. Finally by age 17, I started Prozac. For a year of my teen life, I wouldn't leave the house. I would only eat toast and drink orange juice. I didn't want to eat at my family dinner table because I would sit there and my mind would race, and I'd panic. My dad didn't understand at the time, so he'd yell at me. So I avoided eating. I'd eat the toast and drink the juice to keep my blood sugar up. I weighed about 95 pounds. I'd sit in my room and watch happy movies to take my mind off of the panic. I'd make my mom sit with me, too. When my parents were at work, I'd want to hide in the closet, I was so scared of the world around me.
I started Prozac, like I said, which I was terrified to take, but after a couple months, I felt great! I never thought I would leave my room again. I remember staring out the window at all of the cars driving by and just cry. I longed so badly to go outside. Then the Prozac worked, I started venturing out slowly to the movie store (this was in the early 90's when we didn't have internet and computers). I met my first boyfriend at age 18 and forgot all about my anxiety. I was in love! Who had time to panic!
Years later, my anxiety came and went. I lost/quit jobs because of it. I went off and on the Prozac. I never kept insurance long enough to go to therapy, so I just kept falling off the wagon.
This brings me to current time. Last year I developed agoraphobia again. Lots of stress in my life. Tried Prozac again and I ended up in the hospital. It made me feel really wired. I thought I was on drugs and couldn't come down. This really discouraged me from wanting to try new meds. But I did. I tried several others and one made me lethargic/weird feeling (paranoid) and the other made my heart race to where they took me off of it (even when I took klonopin to calm me). Now I'm suppose to start Zoloft, which I have been putting off for three months.
You are not alone. Every situation is so different when it comes to panic, it's so hard to tell someone what to do, you know? For example, with me, I started freaking out at work. Luckily I worked with a laid back boss and my husband worked with me, too. I'd panic three times a day, even taking klonopin. I'd go sit in the stairwell for 30 minutes and just cry, wait for my klonopin to kick in and then get back to work. I'd eventually not be able to work. I never go out with friends and I avoid busy stores or stores with strange lighting. I remember freaking out at Ikea and getting out of there is a maze - it's terrifying.
I manage to get by when I have to. But I'm really fearful of work. My husband and I just moved and I need to get a job. I turned down a REALLY good job because it was too far away from home. Too far away from my comfort zone. Now I wish I hadn't. This causes more stress, having no money, etc etc etc. You understand.
As far as what to do.... stopping drinking helped me. I used to self medicate. I didn't get wasted, but I'd have 4 or 5 beers a day to numb myself up to where I could sleep. The alcohol made me worse after the buzz wore off. Getting good rest is really helpful. Being too tired made me feel like something was medically wrong, so getting plenty of rest helps me. Getting out of bed helps. I'd lay in bed all day some days because I as dizzy or didn't want to face the day of anxiety. I'd want to sleep it away and ignore it all. But getting out of bed, eating a nice breakfast, really helps start the day. And last, making yourself get out of the house is really important. When I do leave, even though it's the toughest thing in the world to do at the time - when I do leave and "get through my panic", I want to stay out all day and keep going! I get excited that I'm out of the house! Even if it's just walking around the block or down the street. Or even sitting outside in the sun. The worst thing that I can do, for myself, is stay in my room all day. It definitely makes me worse.
As far as your being paranoid with people looking at you, I think that's normal. When I'm fearful and out of the house, I sometimes hate to deal with people and talk to them. And men gawk (no offense, men). It's natural. You're young. But also, when I am anxious, I feel like everyone is looking at me and they "know" I am freaking out. I've been in a grocery store line where my husband went to grab something else, and disappeared. When he wasn't there, I about fainted. I couldn't see him and dealing with the cashier was the WORST thing in the world to me for some reason, that I about ran out of the store and left everything there. The cashier was staring at me and I felt helpless. My body had a mind of it's own. Trembling, shaking, hot flashes.... etc etc. As SOON as my husband got back in line, I was fine. I can't explain the rationality. And no matter how much I tell myself it's panic, I still feel like I'm going to die when I panic.
Talk to your doctor. I take klonopin when needed, and like you, I dont take a lot, because I don't want to rely on it. I take about a quarter a day (of the lowest dose - 0.5mg). Sometimes when I have to go out to the dentist/doctor/store, I may take half. I also had a counselor that was TERRIBLE, but keep trying. Counseling really does help when you find the right one.
Have you tried an SSRI?
Sorry to rant on and on - just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. And one day at a time is all you can do. And each day I make it through is glorious! God knows each hour is such an effort! Seriously!