I was interviewed on a radio station recently by co-hosts, each of whom had experienced different kinds of fairly severe fear. The three of us had experienced agoraphobia in one form or another, so knew exactly of what we were speaking when we talked panic attacks. We all agreed the experience is mind altering and often life altering. We 3 also were intimately familiar with self medication (alcohol, chemicals) as well as prescription addiction; you know, tranquilizzzzzers and anti-depressants and mood stabilizers.
One of the hosts had overcome addiction and for the most part fears, but the other was still struggling with anxiety and addiction. Both were very upfront about themselves, as was I. It seemed like a lively discussion and I hope well received. I mostly tried to level the playing field for people with serious anxiety issues. One host suffered severe loss, appearance issues, and abuse at home. The other had loss and physical trauma at the root of a high anxiety state.
I, on the other hand, didn’t experience trauma, something real that happened and sent me into a panic attack. I went straight into a panic attack for no apparent reason, other than something vague may have startled me. That was my trauma. The result for all 3 of us was that our alert system got set a little higher, taking the form of general anxiousness. Additional traumas, mine in the form of panic attacks, programmed our “flight or fight” system to be constantly alert – a higher level of anxiety.
The fact is, all anxiety is fear-based. We are exceptionally self-protective, ever on the alert for danger – via the amygdala, the most primitive part of the brain. I consider it a storage area where memories are kept – memories of all kinds of trauma, danger signals, danger thoughts, all the sorts of things that you have decided to put in the fear category. I’m an English major; I don’t really know much but general information about the brain system, so a lot of what I think about this is sort of made up but based on science. I do know we all have to get out of our anxiety the same way – by reprogramming our neural systems to start working our way.
My book Un-Agoraphobic is the fully equipped, all you need package to begin the recovery process and find yourself standing on the other side of your agoraphobia prison wall – laughing and crying at the same time. But for now, get to work every day on the routine and write of your journey. I had to overcome my fear of panic attacks. I didn’t have to overcome my fear of traveling beyond a certain distance; I had to stop being afraid of having a panic attack. People who have suffered physical and or verbal trauma will probably have to resolve their specific fear issues as they work on the agoraphobia recovery program. It’s hard work but the payoff is unbelievable happiness.