Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm claustrophobic and have panic attacks

I hate this - I hate that I have this issue to deal with or even think about. I hate that it affects me the way it does. I have panic attacks when I feel enclosed and unable to escape. I don't know that I'm necessarily fearful of small spaces - just spaces or situations where I can't escape.

In my mind I think this is absolutely idiotic and insane - I hate it. Its stupid - what is going to happen to me? However, at the moment itself I have such a physiological reaction, that it isn't something I can stop or prevent - it happens in the moment and it begins as a physical response and progresses to include a mental response.

My chest feels like it is imploding. It isn't painful, it just feels crushing and tight - like the photo above. I have a hard time breathing and my heart races. My mind also begins to race and I start to panic - how am I going to get out of this? What am I going to do? What if there is no way out? Panic, Panic, Panic. I hate it.

I've had panic attacks on a busy El car - I had to get off and get on a less crowded one. I've had them in an extremely slow McDonald's drive-thru line. I had one this summer when we bypassed the Boerman Expressway when it was flooded, as did everyone else and the roads in Lansing were at a standstill and we had nowhere to go. I recently had one in an elevator that I thought had stopped - I don't normally care about elevators, but I thought this one had stopped. I've had them in heavy expressway traffic - I have to drive in the outside lanes.

I also had one at the Daughtry concert we went to a couple of weeks ago. It was a small venue, there were 130 people in the room. It was fine - I was fine. Until the host announced that we needed to get up to go to the bathroom now, because once the show started the doors would close and we wouldn't be able to get out. BAM - physical response: chest is tight. Mental response: panic. I spent the first half of the concert intentionally calming myself down and assuring myself that it wouldn't be a long concert and we would be able to get out - and if I really, really NEEDED to leave, they would HAVE to let me out.

I had one while I was on the phone scheduling my MRI last year - on the phone, just thinking about the MRI. Does this look horrible? It really isn't, but I was scared to death and ended up having to take Valium before the test.

Sometimes I panic because I don't feel like I can escape, sometimes I panic because I'm scared of a mob mentality if an emergency would happen - like the Daughtry concert. Sometimes I get the physiological response just from watching something that would terrify me - my chest got tight when Meredith drowned on Grey's Anatomy last season, I can't breathe when the immunity challenge on Survivor involves going under water for as long as the person can (breathing through a tube or at the top of a screen while the tide comes in). Its not even happening to me and I begin to panic!

I hate it. Its stupid. But it isn't something I can prevent - some day I will get therapy.

QOTD: What are you scared of?

getting to know me in 100 days - day 28


Jen 7:57 AM  

Heights. I know I not going to fall but I feel like I am. Upper deck as US Cell kills me.

Spiders. Paying full price at Gymboree.

Mommy Brain 1:08 PM  

High, big, tall, suspended bridges freak me out...white knuckle freak out.

And lately, complete darkness can cause that extreme tightening in my chest.

Oh, and dentists

Jen 12:11 AM  

Completely dark rooms. I tried to sleep in our basement storage room when I started working midnight shifts because I knew it would block the daylight. Completely freaked me out. I thought someone was in the room with me all the time.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Hiya, Im currently working on a Masters thesis, looking at 'phobias' and was wondering if any of you might be interested in helping me with my research by answering some questions about your experiences?

Oh and I have a very mild 'phobia' but it does make me leave rooms or beer gardens and this is wasps. As a child if I saw one I would run and run and run to get away from it and when I eventually stopped and couldnt see it I would swear it was on me somewhere. Stupid I know but even now I have to leave if they are in a room, and I get hot and sweaty hands if they surprise me. Anyway get in touch if your interested to help.

Seagal 8:50 PM  

I am absolutely terrified of small spaces , like the MRI. I had my 3rd one in 3 years recently. The one before that I thought I would at least try it without valium. About 5 minutes into the test I started panicking. I couldn't control it. I knew something horrible was going to happen to me if I didn't get out of it. I started to try and wiggle my way out of it while telling the tech. I needed to get out. As you know you can't actually crawl out of that machine. This last one I took the valium and had a much "better" experience. My other fear is of heights. Now I love to fly but it is being in real tall buildings, on cliffs, and driving over very high bridges. My body feels like all the blood is leaving my hands first,then the panic sets in. There is no logic to these phobias to me but I have them and they do suck.

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