I'm doing all the right things but I'm getting worse

I stopped taking meds in April. The reason I had gone on meds (five and a half years earlier) was because I was agoraphobic. At first my anxiety was really bad but I felt like I was dealing with it ok recently. But for some reason, I'm becoming more and more agoraphobic. I have been trying to make myself go outside as much as possible and to continue working in another city and travelling around the country as my job requires, but to be honest instead of getting better and me becoming desensitised as I'd hoped, the panic is getting worse.

I don't so much have panic attacks when I'm away from home now as feel really ill. My body goes very weak, I get nauseous and have a lot of diarrhoea and I just have this ever-present feeling of terror - like I'm in imminent danger. It isn't episodic, it is present for the whole time I'm away. I try telling myself there's nothing to be scared of but all I can think of for the whole time i'm away is that I need to get home. It's exhausting.

I'm going away on Monday camping with friends. I've been trying not to think about it at all and have been putting off organising myself (haven't even bought the stuff I need yet and will have to do so tomorrow!) because I don't want to think about it. But now that I've realised I have to go shopping tomorrow and I'm actually going to be in the middle of nowhere for four days I feel really bad. I don't think I can cope with this, I want to pull out, I don't even think I can cope with going shopping in town. But I know that whenever I pull out of things because of irrational anxiety I feel like a total failure and that just makes me worse. I don't want to let this beat me this time, I don't want to be stuck inside my house.

Does anyone have any tips?

5 Replies

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  • The only thing i would say is just do it, do not let it beat you. I have had the attacks for approx 29/30 years now and i let them take over my life, i can assure you hun if you do this you will have no life, i know this from experience and where i am now so just push yourself to the best of your ability and when you feel you cannot push any more then don't. Think about the fun you will have. One thing i would say is if your fellow friends are not aware of your problem then please tell them, they will be more than helpful and supportive im sure. Good luck and have fun. xxx

  • Thanks. I think one of the problems is that I'm saying teh wrong things to myself. Everytime I get through a trip away I try to tell myself - "see, you got through it" - but that's just it, I'm using terms like "got through", i'm telling myself being away from home is horrible but I managed to get through it. This time I'm going to try and concentrate on actually enjoying myself (I've not actually enjoyed myself at all away from home for the last year or so) then I will have positive memories to replace the bad ones. Thanks for your support. I hope you are gaining control of the attacks yourself as well?

  • Hi. I really agree with deborah. You need to keep going. I suffer from agoraphobia and stopped going places because it got too much for me and now I am trying to get back out there and it is a real struggle. I try to tell myself I imagine I will enjoy myself - because your brain has to actually imagine what that will be like and thats part of the desensitization process. I always try to imagine things going well and then things becoming challenging and imagining myself dealing successfully with that. Reading some positive thinking books will help as it will challenge your though patterns and suggest words and terms to use.

    Go and have a lovely holiday. Write downthe positives each day - your brain will start to remember these and forget the negatives.

  • So sorry to hear you've been unwell again lately, I don't mean to pry so please don't feel you have to answer this but why did you stop taking your meds...did they stop working?

    The reason I ask is that I am taking Quetiapine daily and without it I wouldn't be able to function, with my doctors support I have come off it before but then I went through a difficult time which triggered the anxiety off so I started to take it again, just as I would take paracetamol if I had a recurring headache.

  • This time I stopped taking them because I had a physical problem the doctors initially thought was a reaction to the meds. It turns out it wasn't, but I decided to stay off them because I wanted to know what it felt like not to be on meds.

    I've been on and off them for 12 years and have been through all of the SSRIs except escitalopram, as well as Venlafaxine and Lamotrigine (SNRI and mood stabiliser respectively). To be honest, some of my biggest crashes have been when I was on meds rather than off them and some of my biggest achievements have been when I was off meds rather than on them, so I'm not 100% clear whether they're really doing anything at all. Sometimes they work for the first three months, then they stop working all together and I'm back to square one. Then my doctors want to wean me off and put me on something else and the withdrawal symptoms make the anxiety worse, then the side effects of the new drug make me feel worse, then the new drug helps a bit for a few months then stops helping....I'm just not sure that in my case it's really making matters better. However, I am completely exhausted this weekend. I have slept a lot and tried to take it easy. I feel better than I did yesterday and the day before, so hopefully it's going, but the exhaustion is incredible. I'm not sure whether anti-ds really do much for exhaustion exactly, but I'm thinking of going back to my doctor and explaining what is wrong and getting their opinion on whether I should try escitalopram (don't fancy the old style meds so I'm sticking to SSRIs) or take a different route.

    Altogether, I would prefer to be able to just get through it on my own. If I had all the time in the world, I think this would be achievable. I'm perfectly fine sitting here in the house, getting plenty of rest and allowing myself the time to get better, but I'm back at work on Weds so I don't have the luxury of time really. The only reason I take meds - the only reason I have ever taken meds - is to fasttrack the time my phsyical symptoms subside to a manageable level so I can go to work (or school right at the beginning of my problems). If I didn't work I wouldn't bother, I'd just get used to the feelings and try to do something like acceptance commitment therapy where you sort of teach yourself to minimise the feelings and accept them as part of yourself then continue. But I don't have time to do that really, I need to feel well enough to work quickly.

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