Very Frustrating Fear

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Pilotguy44
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 10/20/2007 10:16 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello everyone,

My name is Ryan and I'm 18 years old (turning 19 next month). For years now I have been putting up with a very strange, yet extremely frustrating problem.

When I was about 8 or 9 years old I was on vacation with my entire family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc) in Long Beach Island, NJ. On one night we decided to barbeque some steak for dinner. I loved steak at the time and looked forward to it. However, everything would change after my first bite. The piece was too big and I didn't chew it enough, and began choking. I must tell you - it was the most scary experience of my life. I couldn't breathe or talk, and I thought I was going to die. My dad saved my life by performing the Heimlich maneuver on me. The 45 seconds or so it took to get everything up seemed like an hour.

Since then I have had this problem, which I presume is anxiety-related, that has continually gotten worse over the years, and plagued my social and nutritional lives. I am by far the slowest eater in my family and also the slowest eater out of all my friends - and I do mean "by far". Depending on the particular food we're eating, whether it's with family or friends, I usually take 20 to 40 minutes longer than everyone else, and usually just end up throwing the rest away or saving it for later, even if I'm still hungry. I almost never eat around friends or in public, and dread going out to dinner because of this embarrassing problem. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE food, but I just get so embarrassed by my extremely slow and odd eating habits, that I elect not to eat in many social situations.

These embarrassing eating habits come directly from my fear of choking. I can't seem to take a bite of food and not chew it for a good 5 or 6 minutes simply because I fear of choking on it. It's rediculous. Food also seems to get caught in my throat more often than I know it should. Mind you, it's not choking because I can still breathe - but I assure you food often gets caught in my throat, forcing me to either gag or try to throw up to get it out. I can't even take pills - I have to resort to liquid or disolvable tablet medications. I even tried taking a pill - about a year or so ago, and got it stuck in my throat for 23 hours (I'm not exaggerating either) - and it was a freaking Advil, the smallest pill out there! I can't help but think it's all anxiety related.. and that my throat closes up because I get nervous.

This problem is reaking havok on my social and nutritional lives, as I am 5'5" and 125 lbs. I haven't seemed to gain so much as a pound in over a year now either. So please, if anyone has advice or similar stories with success, please share with me, I need to remove this very pesky and frustrating problem from my life.

Thanks in advance, and sorry for the short novel I have seemed to of written, lol. tongue

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 10/20/2007 10:44 AM (GMT -7)   

Dear Pilotguy44

Welcome to Healing Well and the A & P  Forum. I am so sorry you have been going through this for so long and I feel that your bringing your problem here is a positive step.  It is good to be able to talk about your fears and anxiety to a nonjudgemental and caring group of people.  You have taken a huge step in trusting us to support you.

Here are some of the thoughts that I have jotted down in response to reading your post.

An overwhelming fear of choking is a more common phobia than you might think. If you suffer from a choking phobia, don't despair; there are several methods you can try to control your phobia.

Reflect on any traumatic events that may have triggered your choking phobia, in your case your choking episode when you were very young.

Tell yourself that you can control your choking phobia. Negate any self-talk that says you are helpless against your problem. Try facing a mirror and repeating positive phrases to yourself such as, "I accept my choking phobia," "I can control my fear," or "There is no reason for me to feel afraid."

Keep a daily journal of your thoughts and feelings. Take special note of any recurring themes, particularly any thoughts or feelings you have when faced with eating, swallowing or any other trigger for your fears.

Cut your food into very small pieces to minimize your mind's association with a particular food and choking. Add foods one at a time, starting with the soft, easy to swallow foods, puddings, soup, pastas.  Making sure to get a good balance of all the food groups.

You may want to use some of the high caloric, high protein supplements available readily at any store that sells foods.

Ask your doctor whether anti-anxiety drugs might be indicated. Also you may want to consider therapy to help you learn to deal with your anxiety re choking.

One more thought would be to consult a Gastroenterologist re the swallowing problem.  A doctor can effectively distinguish among them with a thorough medical history, physical exam, and testing.

Please know we care and you have every right to be anxious about this problem so let us help you sort it out.

Again a Warm Welcome.

Kitt


 


Respectfully
Kitt
Moderator Anxiety ~ Panic Disorders
*~* Not a mental health professional at all *~*
Dx: Anxiety/Panic, Depression 
******www.healingwell.com/donate******
_____________________________________________________
"If you doubt you can accomplish something, then you can’t accomplish it. You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.” 
~Rosalyn Carter

 


Pilotguy44
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 10/20/2007 5:20 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks for such a warm welcome Kitt. =D


I already feel better about things having gotten this out, even if it's just on a forum online, it's good to know there's people out there who share the same difficulties as me, and care.

I will be sure to take my next step soon and look into one of the many great suggestions you have so kindly pointed out to me.

I can't wait until I can actually go out to a restaurant with my friends or family and not have to worry about being the last one eating and having everyone stare at me. =)
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
-Wayne Gretzky


Danxiety
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 322
   Posted 10/20/2007 5:57 PM (GMT -7)   
hey man! Welcome to the boards. While i've never experienced what you are going through, I sympathize with you a great deal. I know the feeling of self isolation around friends and family, and i know the feeling of not wanting to do something because of my own anxiety, while others pressure me to do so -- or simply don't or can't understand. You express yourself very well, and i'm glad it felt good to get it off your chest. I know there are some really great people on here that suffer from similar symptoms -- so you're definitely not alone. Kitt provided some really really get ideas to help you out. So i just want to say welcome to you, and say to keep writing and keep us posted.

You sound very optimistic, which is fantastic! It sounds like you have the will and drive to really over-come this. Just be kind to yourself. Nothing you are doing is abnormal. You had a very traumatic experience when you were young and the phobia you developed from it, like kitt says, is really common...

Hang in there!
Dan

PS -- Your signature is awesome!
---
Anxiety and Panic Disorder.

"Breathe! You Are Alive"
- Thich Nhat Hanh

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