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joy seeker
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As a severe claustrophobic, I thought I'd see how many other folks out here might deal with claustrophobia as well. Anyone? (I'd be happy to be PM'd if anyone doesn't want to publicly discuss it)

I don't like closed doors, I NEVER ride elevators, I don't ride in cars where ANYONE besides myself or that man o' mine is driving...and NEVER anywhere but the front seat by the unlocked door with a working window.

Crowds of people totally freak me out--all that push n shove n no escape *shudder* In fact, without crowds of people, I'm not nearly as bad about closed doors or such...I can control 'getting out' if there aren't people in my way!

Overwhelming smells suffocate me(I carry a vial of Vicks VapoRub in my bag!).

I don't go very long without fresh air that I can breathe deeply...

Weird enough for ya?

Anyone who has successfully overcome claustrophobia? Not just 'made it through' a situation--although that in itself is commendable--but truly feel like they've conquered claustrophobia?

~~
 

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I do not think I am "cured". I do have better control now than I did at other times in my life. I have worked w/ the same man for over 10 years. I can FINALLY have a meeting w/ him in a closed office w/out eyeballing the door the entire time. But, he does know that he can not be between me and the door.

I can't do carwashes by myself. I will never forget the first one. My husband was driving. No idea this would bother me. I tried to open the door in the middle of it. I have to have someone talking to me and holding my hands to make it through one. I think I have been through three times now.

For me I have better control if fewer people are fussing over it. Acknowledging it is one thing but I don't want a big deal. I start to panic then.

I do avoid situations as best I can. I hate basements. I work in a lab that has no windows (that would be a danger) so I take frequent walks to the windows in other parts of the building to calm me. We built our home into a hill so that the basement has a door directly out of it (and light coming in).

My best advice (no matter how hokey it sounds) is to learn some breathing techniques - like they used to have us do for labor. If I find a focal point and focus on slowing down my breathing I can get through most situations. That does not work for sudden forced confinement, though. Ask the man that thought it would be funny to block my way out of the closet under the stairs (NOT my husband). He ended up writhing on the floor and ticked because I "couldn't take a joke". I have no memory of anything after he started trying to force me further in the closet.

Gosh, I'm sorry I wrote a book. I can't offer you a cure but I can empathize w/ you and tell you that most times I can control it.

Mary

p.s. Parking garages! Those are terrible for me. My husband will drive deeper and deeper into the bowels while I am about to have a heart attack.!!
 

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I'm right there with y'all. Crowds of people are the worst for me. I haven't been to a mall in years, and can only do Wal-Mart at 7:00 AM (and only then when I HAVE to). I avoid "events" whenever possible--parties, funerals, weddings, meetings for work, concerts, festivals, the State Fair (haven't been since 1989, but would LOVE to see the chicken exhibits). For most stuff I want to avoid, the responsibilities of the dairy (real or made up!) give me a good excuse. WIHH, I hadn't really made the connection to clautrophobia 'til you mentioned it, but I can't be hemmed in at the grocery store either. In fact, I often park my buggy out of the way at the end of the aisle, and then walk down each aisle to fetch what I need. That way I can escape faster. Also, I have minimal window treatments in our home, and none at all in the living room. People go, "Aren't you afraid of someone looking in?" A quarter mile off the road, and with nine dogs? No, I ain't worried about that.
 

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I also have this same problem. I don't do crowds, will not close doors in the house if possible, no window coverings in my house, except my youngest sons room. He has a blind he can use, as he likes it closed all the time. Freaks me out ! As soon as he leaves the house I'm in there opening it right up. I won't stay in a room with no windows etc.... don't think I will ever completely get over this, been this way since I can remember. As a child I had to get things in the basement once in awhile. I would go down really slow ( no windows down there ) and once I had the item, I was out of there like I was being chased. My heart pounding in my chest! I'm not that bad any more, but it's still there....
 

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Broken Dreamer
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I used to be like that. I've overcome most of it due to repeated exposure (desensitization) and the temporary use of prescribed medication to face certain intense situations. Not by choice, mind you, but life goes on despite our fears. And yes panic attacks make me feel like I'm about to die. I've managed to avoid panic attacks for many years, but some situations make me come very close to this day. Maybe some would say I've had panic attacks but nothing like I used to.

I still tend to avoid elevators but I am not as anxious about them as I used to be. I will definitely avoid them if a whole bunch of people get in - no thanks, I'll wait for the next one that will have some breathing room.

I still hate - HATE - planes. No escape. *shudder* A few years back I had the chance of a lifetime which required me to get on a plane - not a pretty sight. I was so focused on the fear that I couldn't concentrate on things that were being said. I started clamming up like I was in shock or something. I had to board a plane 4 times during that trip, and each time got easier so that I felt like I really overcame something by that last plane ride. However it's been so many years ago that the old fear is back. At least I still have the memory and knowledge that I can overcome it again if forced to.

I also get that same claustrophobic feeling if I drive long distances by myself. If I have someone with me, no problem. An hour or 2 by myself? I feel stranded in the middle of nowhere with an intense feeling of forboding. Maybe the opposite of claustrophobia there.

If you can't bear to start desensitizing yourself, medication can really help you take those initial steps, to be used only when facing those specific fears. Then you can wean yourself off during repeated exposures as you get used to the experiences.
 

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All I can offer is WOW. You guys have my sympathies as I honestly am about as far from claustrophobic as they come I guess so I can't even begin to relate. I actually enjoy the adrenaline rush from trying to squeeze into a crawl space, pipe, cave etc.. I do however share your concerns about malls and crowds.....Keep me away from all those people. I detest window treatments not from any fear, I just like to freely observe the world around me. I do know from other phobias the cure is to take baby steps- I would recommend starting with a single sheer drape on one window only half closed. In a week/month, close it. Once you're comfortable with that, either sheer another window in the same room or replace the sheer with a darker shade. Once you conquer that room, move on to another....Baby steps.....Phobias rarely develop overnight and thus can rarely be cured overnight. Good luck to all as we each struggle to slay our own dragons.

David
 

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Original recipe!
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I don't know if it is claustraphobia or not, but I have many issues in common with ya'll.
I DO NOT, WILL NOT fly.. for the same reason.. no escape! No options and no control. It is not death I fear, but being in the plane when it is going down listening to others screaming and not being able to get out. (sorry.. I know I gave some of you the willies)

I like to be the one to drive unless I have trust (lots and lots) in the driver. Poor DH can't drive at all.. I freak out the whole time. He rocks the wheel back and forth the whole time and I wince and squirm and cry out. It is exhausting.

I don't like elevators and have been in one that broke loose and fell 3 floors. Came crawling out with an issue with elevators.. imagine that. But I was a courier for years and spent hour upon hour everyday riding them way up.. like 30 floors.. and back and can deal with if I have to.

I haven't thought about the crowd thing.. I know I just don't like them. And other than that I think I am ok.:)
 

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When someone finds a cure please let me know!
i am right along with yall...I couldnt even do an open aire MRI I am so bad
I do not do crowds avoid them every chance i get . When i do have to be out in a bunch I will take a klonipin for my anxiety and then get out of the place as soon as I can!
I have even told my kids when i die to cremate me cuz the thought of being in a casket with lid shut just freaks me out.....as if i would know it was happenin! bet ya those two kids of mine wont have me cremated, lol, they will have to get last laugh on me.
 

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I had never thought about the fact that my lack of window treatments might be related to the claustrophobia.

I have said the same thing about caskets for years.

Here is irony for you. I was dx w/ a very rare cancer. As a result I have to have MRIs indefinitely. They give me enough Ativan "to knock out a horse" and I calm down but I don't go to sleep like they think I should.

The anxiety of the crowds from shpping can cause me to have a migraine. It is really nice that one condition exacerbates another.

This discussion has made me more aware of my failure to try harder to control it. Maybe I'll do better now that I think about the claustrophobia causing it.

By the way, does anyone else feel like every dr's exam room they are in is like a closet (or a casket?).
 

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I have even told my kids when i die to cremate me cuz the thought of being in a casket with lid shut just freaks me out.....as if i would know it was happenin!
I've told DH that, too! He says, "And you'd rather burn up???"

Tell us some more about "Klonipin."
 

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but I had no idea so many of the things I do/dislike were related. Boy, I'm really worried now.

If I ride an elevator I ALWAYS check to see if there is a way I can get out and I ALWAYS make sure I know where the exits are, plane, hotel, meeting room, bathrooms, etc. I've ridden in planes and can do it if I'm with someone that I TOTALLY trust but I have never been in a plane that experienced any kind of problem. Slid into the snowbank the other day and couldn't get my truck door open, which by the way I never lock while driving, and felt that panic at the base of my throat and heart pounding. Silly, I just had to slide over to get out the other door.

If someone can find a cure, I really don't think there is one, please let me know. I've climbed a lot of stairs to avoid elevators that were not safe looking or didn't have an escape hatch.
 

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I'm actually pleased to read this thread to know I am not the only person who has a problem with this.

I can go on elevators if I am the only person or with one other person (if I know them) on it. My heart beats erratic the entire time. If more than one other person gets on - I get off. I CANNOT go through car washes. I went to one concert and knocked over a couple seats trying to get out. Cannot bear to have anyone between me and a door.

The mere thought of being in a cave leaves me gasping for air. Riding in a car, I must sit by a door otherwise, forget it. I was actually sitting at home watching a sitcom some years back (an old Barney Miller show) where everyone was herded into a jail cell until it was so crowded they could not move and I could scarcely breathe watching it.

I really do want to avoid the medication route - I just avoid as much as possible situations that I know will problematic.
 

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I think that a lot of my "hermit" tendencies have to do with this, actually. I don't do crowds -- hate them. I *LOVE* to travel, but I have been on a small plane, and will NEVER do that again -- gotta be a big plane with several "outs". As it is, I can't sit still for a long flight -- I have to walk the aisles.

I don't do small, enclosed spaces. Elevators are about the absolute limit for me, and even then, if there is an alternative that doesn't involve walking up forty flights of stairs, I'll take it.

When I was a young adult, I shared a house with several other young adults. One evening, the boyfriend of one of my housemates was goofing around, and shoved me in the utility closet under the stairs and closed the door. I don't remember much of it after the door closing, my roommate said I screamed loud enough to wake the dead, and when they opened the closet door I was hyperventilating.

I used to live in Toronto, and anyone who has lived there and commuted on the subway will be able to relate to this. There is a certain cultural group who is predominant there who, if you are riding the subway in an "off" time and are sitting alone in a train car, will get on and, of the 100 or so available seats, will sit next to you. RIGHT next to you. I would experience this and, every time, get up and get off at the next stop and wait for the next train. I can't stand people being in my "personal space".

And, to a large degree, I think this is part of why I'm turning into a hermit. I prefer to be here, without people infringing on my space, and the acreage is *JUST* about enough space to ensure I can maintain a comfortable distance between myself and others. Being surrounded by uninhabited grain fields probably doesn't hurt :)

I certainly don't have acute claustrophobia, but I think I suffer on a level that a great deal of the population does -- you can handle any situation in small doses, by shutting your eyes and breathing deeply, but for long periods -- not going to happen.
 

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Nette...Klonipin is used for Anxiety,panic disorders and seizures disorders.
I take it for Anxiety, if i feel an anxiety attack coming on I will take one and let it do its thing...usually followed by a nap as it does cause drowsiness. Due to this fact I dont take them unless I absolutely have to.

for more info on Klonipin here is a site...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clonazepam
 

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I can sympathize with ya'll. Can't say I am cured but not as bad. I still don't like anyone in my space or touching me,can't do strong smells,or dark rooms with closed doors.The crowds and elevators I don't like but I can tolerate for short periods. My cure also was medication. I had to go on meds after my mom died, for anxiety I stayed on them for 2 years and have been off for 7 the severe anxiety symptoms have not returned.
I never equated my fear of dentists with having to sit still but it makes sense.
 

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I absolutely loath being high up. I DON"T like the adrenaline rush, yeah, just don't see the attraction for that "about to throw up feeling". If we have to drive through mountains, it has to be at night where I can't see over the edge. If we have to go by day, I read or sleep.
I know for certain, that I will never get on an airplane. There is nothing, & I mean NOTHING I'm that curious to travel & see by using this mode of transport.
I also hate having to go to crowded people places. (a mall tops this list)
Having my teeth worked on is one horrible day for me.
-----shuddering at all these, just thinking about it-------
Now having just listed what gives me the heebie jeebies, I will say that when I HAVE to do these things, (except the airplane thing--no, no, never, never) I just suck it up and grit it out. If I can get what I need elsewhere, I do not go to malls, I want to have healthy teeth, so I put up with the nasty dentist etc. I don't go around obsessing and worrying myself into stress related illnesses over them. So is it still considered a phobia?

I must be an oddball, for my "adrenaline rush" comes from seeing a stacked cord of wood, being around to see my animals give birth, going horse riding, being in the nail aisle of any hardware store, oh, here's one, trying to get the cows back in their pens only to see them get on the railroad tracks and head to town. With excitement like that, what else is there? Hey--I've alwys said I'm easily entertained. :)

On the other hand, I can understand & respect when people feel this way about certain things that bug them. Is it really that important that the person is forced to overcome his fear about them? Sometimes fear of something will save one's life.
I suspect, that if I had to try to save my dh or children if they were hanging over the edge of a cliff, I would have to overcome my problems and do what I could to try to save them. And I supppose if someone had to keep doing something that they had a phobia about, then they either would overcome, control it and master it, or they would find other avenues or careers not involving that phobia.
I absolutely hate it when other people think they can solve my fear factors by forcing something on me--such as in a couple of posters fear of closed in places, being shoved in a closet. I suspect if anyone did that to me, they would be hurting something fierce when it was all over.
I know I have overcome the dentist thing quite well over the course of many years. Mostly I have such sensitive teeth, that there is physical pain. When I was very young, our dentist didn't use novacaine, and he slapped me for not sitting still. (if that had happened to any of my children, well, mama bear would have been in there with fangs showing, I assure you, & a new dentist would have been found) My parents did nothing. I was knocked out when I had my wisdom teeth pulled, for I insisted that I was not going to sit through that, awake, in any way. Gas only made me throw up. I didn't stop going to the dentist, but finally found one who would work with me. I still don't like the smells, the sound of that nasty little drill, & I leave a dent in the chair but it's something that has to be done. He stops if I flinch, but we breathe and go on, for the job has to be finished. I couldn't do this if people were forcing their opinions or making me do this. I have had to come to a point where I force these feelings down. I am in control and master over them. There is some comfort in knowing that, yet, I still have to sleep and rest the rest of the day after a dentist visit.
So, is it still considered a phobia? And how is success, measured? Is it success only if you swing to the other end of it and do the thing most feared like it was nothing more than swatting the occasional annoying fly?
Interesting thread.
jd
 

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joy seeker
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Nice to commiserate now and again, isn't it?!?

It's also good to hear different ways other folks have developed to cope with claustrophobia...although we all seem to avoid situations and/or breathe deep and just get through! I'm learning that sometimes breathing deep and getting through does work out okay...tis just so suffocating, the whole thing.

I have my comfort zones, but I fear that there will come a point remaining rigid in my comfort zones may deprive my family of travels/activities and I just can't let that happen. Thoughts like that are what spurred my 'is there a cure' question. I guess it's all about coping mechanisms!

As for the dentist :| I need to go soon and I know it'll mean oral surgery-- I am abjectly, utterly terrified of the thought. That's another thought that spurred this thread. :|


~~
 

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I think the survival instinct runs stronger in some people. I don't see that as a bad thing. It's a comforting thought for me to know I have a good sense of what's around me and maybe what's coming. Do what you like, but I'm going to trust myself first. I may or may not get around to listening to others.

Actually, some of my toughest lessons have come from not first listening to myself. If my insides are screaming ahead of something happening, there's a really good reason for it.

I don't really have a fear of anything. I trust my inside self that much. There are ALOT of things I really don't like and try to avoid, like flying in a jet that has to be dragged away from the loading gate backwards by a bunch of trucks hooked up to its tail. I was trying to get off that jet when the captain came over the speaker and told me to sit down and shut up. I reasoned by the tone of his voice that maybe I should do just that. I made it home and vowed to never grace a jet with my presence again. I've kept my word.
 

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not nearly the troubles you all have, but more than just a few ppl in an enclosed area (church, schools, stores, etc.) make me feel like i am breathing in their germs. i dont' like touching handles, doors, etc., for fear of what is on them. the dentist chair is fine, but him breathing on me is tough to take. i dont' get my hair washed at a salon for same reason. so in small spaces its not so much the smallness but of who may be in there, breathing. ew. i need to go outside
 

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I don't have the claustrophobia thing. I did have a suffocation thing for years. Couldn't even kiss my husband because it was allowing something too close to my face. Heights--oh my. Now there is a hard one. Bridges are nearly impossible, airplanes are more manageable. I went to a hypnotherapist years ago and he took care of the suffocation thing for me but was not successful with the height thing. I also cannot, CANNOT, live in a landlocked state. I have to have an escape route that can include the water.
 
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