Guest Author - Tracy Hamilton
The NHS website describes agoraphobia as follows:
‘Agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult, or help wouldn't be available if things go wrong.
Many people assume that agoraphobia is simply a fear of open spaces but it's more complex than this. A person with agoraphobia may be scared of:, travelling on public transport, visiting a shopping centre and leaving home’
It can be debilitating, and often stems from panic disorders which can be brought about through trauma, bereavement or associated fear or memory of feeling trapped and out of control.
Like other mental health challenges, the thoughts and associations around the situation play a big part in how you are affected. A therapy that can assist with noticing your thoughts, challenging them and experiencing the effects they have on you is usually very beneficial.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is fast becoming the preferred way of dealing with many disorders such as; stress, anxiety and depression. Due to its nature you are taken on a journey into your mind and thought process’s so you are more able to make different choices and decisions.
When anxiety gets a grip, the fear and sensations experienced can make you feel completely overwhelmed and out of control. Through mindfulness, meditation or stress reduction practices it is possible to take charge of the sensations and feelings as they are happening, rather than being totally floored by them.
This may sound impossible, however if you take a few simple steps it won’t be long until you have a handle on them.
Notice the feelings in your body, the increased heart rate, feeling nauseous, the changes in your breathing and just stop. Be completely with the feelings and let them wash over you without resisting or reacting to them.
1. Take a few deep breaths until things start to settle down. Evaluate the situation; what is happening? Am I in danger?
2. Know that you are ready to run away or do whatever it takes to feel safe; within that ask yourself what am I scared of and what will happen if I don’t run?
3. In the middle of it all, think of someone of something that makes you feel safe and happy, then try to conjure up an image of them to hold in your mind for security. What would they do or say to you if they were with you?
I know that this is not an easy journey and it takes time to get to the point of being able to feel into the fear and feelings that are coursing through the body; however, taking steps to change the intensity can bring about a breakthrough.
Most importantly be kind to yourself. Honour that you are afraid, do not try to force anything; rather try to understand and find new meaning and associations that are conducive to moving you in a new direction. Through self enquiry, self reflection, self love and a lot of support, it is possible to come out the other side.