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Thread: My story

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    My story

    I decided to choose the agoraphobia section, but, not being given a diagnosis that is official, I tend to go between agoraphobia and social anxiety (which in my experience relate to one another). By "agoraphobia," the technical definition is "fear of open spaces" which is by no means what I have, but rather my fear of my own version of panic attacks (more on this later) makes me fearful to leave the house.

    At the risk of shortening the story too much, over the past 16 years, my fear has been of many things, but always centred around a fear of fainting - not entirely an unjustified one since it has happened on several occasions. I have "self-diagnosed" myself as having vasovagal syncope brought on by anxiety. I must say that is is frustrating to run across many sites that claim that fainting is rare with panic attacks since one with this problem already feels like a freak, so I guess I am a freak among freaks. (By the way, for those who recommend I see a doctor about fainting, I am talking to a doctor about it, and I KNOW it is not "medical" as such, as in having some blood-sugar or heart problem since the occurrences are SO situation specific).

    It started in 1994 and by 2000 I was finally able to get some medication and regularly see a counsellor and things really improved. I still was wary about not being in "control" (e.g., I would rather drive my car the be in a car, have an easy way "out" and sitting at the edge of movies theatres and at church.) For certain occasions I would take clonazepam, that (to me) wonder drug that really brings me through particularly anxiety producing events. I know clonazepam is addictive, and I try to use it sparingly (I also take Cipralex, which I am not convinced really does anything, but I keep taking it anyway.)

    Anyway, about a year ago, the H1N1 thing came around and here in Canada they give us all shots for free if we want them. So, although I was anxious, I didn't feel too bad. Well, I minute after it, I felt "funny" and had to lie down and lost consciousness for a few seconds. the thing about fainting for me is not only the embarrassment, but the experience itself is VERY frightening as I almost have very brief amnesia and completely lose hold of reality for that brief time, and I HATE it. Which is why I fear it so much - aside from the fear of what other people thing, which I guess is a side of it that i need to work on - who cares what people think?!

    Well, I chalked it up to the effect of the needle (needle induced vasovagal syncope), but I always have had a fear of being in medical situations. A few weeks later, I took my daughter to the doctor,and during the visit, I started to feel sweaty and uncomfortable, and excused myself to go to the washroom. I ALMOST lost consciousness. I had to lie on the floor and I raised my legs and I finally recovered. I felt bad that I left my 5-year old alone with the doctor and and quickly brought her home. Now I was worried. I was not particularly anxious taking her, but it kind of "hit" me and shocked me with its strength. Then a month later or so, I went to get my hair cut and, again, while in the chair I had this feeling of being trapped and had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom. I barely made it. I was unable to even turn the lights on and I lost consciousness in the dark, which was particularly frightening!! I made an excuse and got out of there.

    So, now I am at square one of sorts. I am seeing my doctor more often, and taking clonazepam more. I very often have this anxious feeling in the put of my stomach and have a fear of many things, particularly of getting my hair cut. I thought I would tell the hair stylist about the problem, but she was not very understanding (made me pay beforehand because I said I may have to leave) but I chose to have my hair "buzzed" so it was fast and would not have to be done in a while. Since then, I had it done one more time. But I still fear that it will happen again. Part of it was the very intense and surprising speed that this happens.

    I am better about telling people that this is a problem, but it is hard to find understanding people at times. I am a friendly and gregarious person who is often forced to stay at home. I have a wonderful and supportive wife, and wonderful children.

    I am doing a doctorate and want to be a professor. If I ever get a job, I will probably have to move, so IF that happens (jobs are very scarce in my field, but it is a dream I have always had) I will likely have to move and go through many changes and "unsafe" events in my life, let alone the support network I have built. Most days I do not have a panic attack, but just have that gnawing worry. Of course, it doesn't help that I have a dissertation of 300 words to write in the next year or so!

    My doctor has been helpful in arguing that it is extremely hard to faint if I keep flexing my legs and keep the blood flowing, but the fear if often still there and there have been close calls. Sometimes on the bus, I have had intense sweating and dizziness and have to flex my legs - so far it works, but there is that part of me that worries one day it will not work.

    So that is where I am, in a nutshell. I need to get my hair cut in the next few days and the more I avoid it, the more fearful I become and the more that gnawing butterfly with teeth flies in my gut.

    Rob

  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    I am also wondering if anyone else has a similar fear to mine. I was hoping for some responses :-(

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Thank-you for your response. I have done a lot of reading on anxiety and, as I mention above, I do speak to a doctor about it. I am aware of how the body reacts and I know many of the techniques in terms of a "panic" attack (though I still need to work on them). I guess I am struggling with the fact that the fainting feeling comes on so quickly and is a HIGHLY physiological response - vasovagal syncope. Once the "feeling" arises, then it is hard to make it go away, so, you are right that I live in fear of the symptoms, so I also panic a lot thinking it MIGHT happen, and live a great deal of the time with a general anxious feeling that makes me tired, and irritable.

    I have fainted about 4 times in the past 10 months, which is more than enough to worry about for me. It scares me because often associated with it is an intense feeling of doom and death, and an intense sense of disorientation. Obviously other worries are of having it happen in public, and what could happen then.

    Rob

  4. #4
    https://www.facebook.com/Neurocardio...ncopeAwareness please come check out my page. I just started it and just got diagnosed! Hope to see you there!

 

 

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