Tuesday, January 31, 2006

No Post

Had some tragic news this morning so will not be doing the post on shyness. Please come back tomorrow and it will be up.

Thank you.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Panic Attacks

The aforementioned Webster's defines panic as a sudden overpowering fright; esp: a sudden unreasoning terror often accompanied by mass flight. It's definition of attack is to set upon or work against forcefully. So the panic - or overpowering fright - works upon you forcefully by using "symptoms" to defeat you. This is a simplistic way of looking at the disorder, of course, but very effective in understanding what occurs. Remember that anxiety is not an illness - it's a behavioural condition. There is something that interferes with the brain synapsis - little electrical sparks that causes the body to react in a given way. It is normal to experience anxiety - it contributes to survival, the fight or flight principal. It is when these feelings are overwhelming that it becomes a problem. It's important to remember that if these symptoms occur while experiencing anxiety then it's a panic attack - they do not cause the attack, the attack causes them, and it is not an underlying medical condition. In other words, a medical condition would cause the anxiety, occur first with anxiety being the result. It's also essential that you understand that you cannot die from this although you may feel like it. I know that's not a lot of comfort and, personally, doesn't make the sensations any better, but it could lessen your anxiety when having an attack.

Some people can actually suffer from an axiety disorder without ever experiencing any of these symptoms, or they can be so mild that they are not aware that they are actually having a panic attack. Others only display a few, while some will suffer a full spectrum of symptoms. No matter how many of these you experience it is still a panic attack. Below are the most common symptoms of panic attacks.

1. Rapid heart beat, pounding heart or palpitations
2. Sweating
3. Shaking visibly or inside
4. Choking sensations or lump in throat
5. Smothering or shortness of breath sensations
6. Chest pain or discomfort
7. Nausea, bloating, indigestion or abdominal discomfort.
8. Dizziness or unsteadiness
9. Feeling light-headed
10. Derealisation (feeling unreal or dreamy)
11. Depersonalisation (feeling outside yourself or like you don't exist)
12. Fear of losing control or going crazy
13. Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations) in face, extremities or body
14. Chills or hot flushes
15. Skin losing color
16. Blushing or skin blotches
17. Urgently needing to urinate or defecate

Sunday, January 29, 2006


The dictionary defines agoraphobia as an abnormal fear of being helpless in an embarrassing or unescapable situation that is characterized esp. by the avoidance of open or public places. (Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition) But there is more to this mental condition than that. Most people's perception of agoraphobia comes from movies, television or books. They think of a person who literally cannot leave their home. While this is true, it is only the most extreme form of the disease. Some people can leave their home, but not their neighborhood. Still others can leave the neighborhood but not their town. Some can leave all three places but can only go to "safe" places. The third is me. I go to the same stores, gas stations, post office, etc. and am fine, but ask me to go somewhere new by myself and the panic sets in. I avoided our new post office for a couple of years, preferring to go instead to the more inconvenient older one because it was "safe". I knew where it was, what it looked like, where I was supposed to go once I got there, etc. I don't like surprises. Really! I can go to new places only if I am with someone and only if they are driving. If I must go on my own - and this has to be a must - I HAVE to know exactly how to get there, where to park, what door to go into, the whole nine yards. I also cannot drive in heavy traffic. I can drive on highways but never during or near rush hour. When I am forced to do otherwise I will have a panic attack. I can't breath, can't think or form coherent thoughts, my heart beats too fast, I start sweating and shaking and sometimes, in the more extreme cases, parts of my body can go numb. One time I had to go to another town, through heavy traffic, to pick up my sister when her car broke down. It took me 3 days to get all of the feeling back in my right arm.

I am also shy - which doesn't help matters. Through years of therapy I have been able to handle some aspects of the shyness, but it's still there. Put me in a room full of strangers and I will be quiet - and I will sit as far into the corner as I can get. Put me in a room with friends and strangers - well, that's a little different. "They" call it social phobia. I call it a pain in the neck! Oddly enough not all agoraphobics are shy. If you come into their environment they can be just as outgoing as any other extrovert.

I hope this gives you some insight into just what an agoraphic is. That's one thing I want to do with this blog, educate people. I want it to be a place where people can communicate and learn about agoraphobia and shyness. There will be no judging here, only support.

But I mostly want this to be a place to celebrate those little steps we each take in confronting these fears.


Friday, January 27, 2006

What Am I Doing?

I need another blog like I need a hole in the head but here I am. So what am I going to do with this blog? I haven't decided yet. Maybe I'll use it exclusively for my writing, or maybe I'll talk about my cats here - I think they're getting a little bored with them on my other blog. I know I won't be here every day - at least until I figure out WHAT DID I DO THIS FOR?