Ok, so maybe it’s not the BEST anxiety book on the planet…but it is REALLY REALLY GOOD! I want to share with you a part from The Anxious Athlete eBook on my battle with Agoraphobia, so if you are suffering from Agoraphobia get your thinking caps on and get ready to end your fears once and for all!
How I Stopped My Agoraphobia
My own 31 days of agoraphobia came to an end towards the end of summer in the year 2011. I had no choice because my time off work was coming to an end. I knew it was time to face my fears. So this is what I did:
1. I left my house. I forced myself to stop avoiding and start facing the public places I feared most. Although I still avoided much of my friends and family in order to hide my condition, the overwhelming feelings of intense panic slowly started to subside as I put effort into reconditioning a new mindset about the places I feared, and making certain lifestyle changes that would add to my recovery from GAD and panic. I remember vividly the first place I went to when I left my house and that was the grocery store. On that day it seemed I had killed two birds with one stone, I overcame my agoraphobia and also went somewhere crowded and normally uncomfortable for me, as I walked the two very long blocks to the grocery store that day I remember being aware of everything around me from the cameras at the stop lights to the design on an old man’s hat, everything. I felt a little lost and confused but I thought who cares, I’ve made a decision, I’ve learned from others who have overcame their own mental struggles and I’m ready to take on the world. As I continued walking I became more aware of my panicky bodily sensations and they were creeping up on me fast, I felt my heart palpitating and dizziness kicking in but this time I was prepared for them. I quickly remembered the movie The Gladiator and how Maximus mentioned “death smiles at us all, all a man can do is smile back.” So with that in my mind and my immense fear of death due to what my panicky sensations might do to me…
I had brought with me a recording that I recorded myself that reminded me to simply ‘allow’ the sensations to be present, then apply a challenge to a physical exercise which for me was power walking to the store, and the challenge was to get to the store in seven minutes flat, the final step was to let the storm pass. This recording played through my headphones over and over again and repeatedly kept my mind focused on facing the fear and not running from it. I got to the grocery and accomplished my challenge of seven minutes, got what I needed, check out and applied the same three step reminders on the way back. As I got home I didn’t care who was watching I pranced around just outside my door like a conquering hero, I was thrilled and now I realized that I am in fact welcoming the challenges that my mental health was creating rather than running from them and I couldn’t wait for the next day to feel that same sense of accomplishment again.
3. I was proactive. If you are struggling with your own mental health, you have to become a great problem solver, and not play the victim card day in and day out.
4. I focused on celebrity success stories. These stories gave me that light at the end of the tunnel that for so long I believed didn’t exist.
5. I surrounded myself with positive people. I learned the importance of who you surround yourself with and how you go about overcoming anxiety disorders, you don’t overcome your fears by listening to other people talk about what a victim they are and how depressed their day has been. Sure, you can comfort them, but if you spend most of your time going from forum to forum online simply listening and sharing your sob story with the world day after day, don’t expect anything to change. I went to the people who had overcome their fears, and I just followed how they did it. Inspiration is a powerful thing and it was the fuel for me when it came to ending my agoraphobia.
expressing yourself consistently with someone that understands what it’s like to have gone through a traumatic event themselves, or a professional who has dealt with some PTSD victims in their past will over time make the memories of the event less and less frightening.
In the case of agoraphobia caused by PTSD, a treatment that works for one person, such as gradual desensitizing, may not work for another person, and some sufferers may need to try different treatments in order to find what works for them. But if you persevere and find what works, you will get your life back and reep the rewards for overcoming your greatest fears!