I'm mid 40s old (male) and I'm so glad I found this forum. After years of suffering, it's only just occurred to me to Google all the symptoms together and that brought me here where I've read through this thread with eyes wide
open. Thanks to everyone who's shared their experiences - I know it's not an easy topic - so I'm going to reciprocate and share my experience in the hope it may help someone else.
My D started when I left university. I'd had a nice safe time (relatively speaking) all through childhood (parents separated when I was a baby but that didn't bother me). It became an alternate reality for me (a safe haven) and I even spent the days before my finals "escaping" rather than revising/working. Net result was failed exams and booted back to the real world. I think that's when the problems began. I soon found that I had something similar to agoraphobia - I found that going out with friends in at night became a nightmare. I felt that I was horribly exposed to a world that I no longer felt entirely connected to (I'd stopped using marijuana by this time - probably owing to unavailability - but it had already taken its toll I guess). Somehow I found that I would start needing the loo - quickly - and endless bouts of D would ensue.
This then started that old vicious circle (which it appears most people on here also have experienced) of using my imagination to worry about
what might happen if I don't get to a loo in time. That increased the A/P (I'm using shorthand terms that I've just picked up on this forum - if you're reading this and don't know what A/P is then just read from the start of this thread - there's more to learn in there!) and so that increased the frequency and strength of the D. My closest friends were patient with me - but I could be a real bore - with them waiting for ages outside some public loo for me.
The worse time came when I had to travel back to uni for my graduation (this is a year later - I'd since managed to hide away and study and was allowed to retake the finals). My emotions during the trip swung wildly between A/P and the need to stop to go to the loo (including painful, sweaty "close shaves") and something akin to euphoria (when the bad attacks were over). I almost missed the graduation ceremony by being on the loo.
This continued for some years until I sort of settled down with a girlfriend and my life started to take on a "normal" routine (work, socialising with close friends etc.) but I would still get jittery going on holidays etc. - in fact I think I hated any sort of free time away from home (I preferred the safety of a known routine).
That relationship stopped after a few years (I was about
28 by then and sort of growing up) and because the symptoms had mostly disappeared by then I managed to have a normal life - moving to London, enjoying new challenges at work etc. (although I would still get D and A/P if I had to give a standup presentation to people). It may be worth me mentioning that this pre-presentation A/P was a complete nightmare for me professionally - and in the end I combatted it as follows... First I decided that I had to beat it. Then I decided that to beat it then I would have to understand it and to do that I would have to go through it repeatedly whilst trying difference ways of dealing with it. Therefore I decided that each new presentation (or public appearance) would be "a challenge" - it became an opportunity to test out a new theory. Almost instantly, this helped lower the A/P and D - probably because the situation was no longer purely negative, there was something positive in there for me. I wanted/needed to do the presentation to help me get to the bottom (no pun intended) of things quicker and get cured. Bit by bit the symptoms started to disappear until I started actually feeling confident with myself in that situation. My self confidence increased and I was on the mend...
OK - so here there's a gap of 12 years or so - I found a new girlfriend, got married, had kids, bought a house etc. - a new life of relative safety and virtually no symptoms during that time.
Then I started my own business in a new country. All went well for a year or two but then, all of a sudden, I felt that old feeling come back. I felt out of place (the proverbial fish out of water) and I felt that agoraphobia feeling and, sure enough, back came the A/P and D. Lucky me!
I've been battling it for about
a year and although I'm using the "challenge" strategy I think I'm more worried about
the "what if" situation because of a couple of "close shaves" (do I have to define that to anyone here?) and the worry that maybe I'd disgrace myself.
It may be worth mentioning here that I suspect that things started again because of an emotional response. Despite being married (and completely faithful) I had managed to fall for a girl at work. So I started to question "everything" and this could have had the effect of pulling the safety rug from under my feet. Strangely enough, I do seem to remember my original "bout" back at university to have started around the same time I fell for a girl there. There are similarities between these girls (sorry, can't define this better) so perhaps there's some sort of subconscious thing going on.
Please don't judge me on the above bit of info - it's something I have to work out. But I will say that I'm just as determined to beat this now as I was before - and I did manage to beat it before. It's a matter of finding a positive aspect - no matter how small - to reduce the A/P and to help break the vicious circle of emotions. I like the idea of keeping a journal (recommended by someone else in this thread) but I suspect that may not be such a good idea given the current circumstances.
Anyway, I've beaten it before and will do so again - just got to get my feet firmly back on the ground.
Just wanted to put back some of what I got out of reading this thread.
Final comments/notes which may help spark more discussion (sorry this gets a bit detailed in places)...
- I often get a runny nose when the A/P starts coming on - anyone else get that? (I found that swallowing the mucus made things worse/quicker so always have tissues to hand)
- I find that drinking water and staying hydrated reduces the effects and duration of the A/P and D attack. This means peeing more often - but that's a lot better than the alternative.
- My attacks are almost always in the morning and usually when I'm away from the comfort zone of home (away from a known loo!)
- Very rarely will I get attacks in the afternoon - that seems to be a safe haven time for me.
- I find that a humid/steamy environment can trigger the A/P and D - going into the bathroom after my wife has showered almost always brings it on (as does public swimming baths).
Hope that helps.
Edit per rule # 1. No dicussions of illicit drug use.
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Post Edited By Moderator (stkitt) : 6/13/2010 6:57:27 AM (GMT-6)