430: My anxiety has left me agoraphobic
In this episode, we are responding to a listener question asking what helps when anxiety leads to feeling housebound or agoraphobic.
“Thank you so much for your wonderful podcast. I love how you both incorporate holistic healing into each topic discussed. I have been a sufferer of anxiety and panic for two years. I am a stay at home mom and find it very hard to be vulnerable with others. My situation, therefore, leaves me very lonely. My anxiety has now left me agoraphobic. Where I am pretty much housebound. I still am able to go to some local shops and bring my kids to their local programs. But other than that the thought of going past my invisible borders bring on such anticipatory anxiety and out of this world sensations. I feel hot/cold, lightheaded and feel like I’m going to pass out. My breathing and eyes go all weird which brings me back running home. I’ve tried to take the approach of Dr Claire Weeks, and it has helped. But this agoraphobia is just too much. I’ve tried therapy but not successful. I would really appreciate it if you both can talk about this topic and give some more information on how to deal with agoraphobia and get my life back! I know it is all linked to fear, but it’s a very difficult thing to overcome. I feel like I’ve tried multiple modalities and without enough success. Acupuncture, naturopathic doctor, homeopathy... I just want to be me again.”
Begin by asking yourself questions and gathering information
Fear of leaving home due to anxiety is a very individual experience. Asking questions and finding out what exactly you feel anxious about is a good start.
Do you feel unsafe to be away from home?
Do you fear being ill or having an anxiety attack?
Or does it feel overwhelming to you to be away from your safe place?
Our listener mentioned anticipatory anxiety about moving past invisible borders, this comes up a lot from people who are suffering with agoraphobia.
We recommend writing down what the anticipatory anxiety is about.
What are you anticipating happening that provokes anxiety and sends you back home?
Once you know the specifics of this kind of anxiety, you can use techniques like EFT Tapping to dissolve the anxiety and help you feel more confident and comfortable about leaving your home.
Why do you want to leave home?
Can you find positive meaning in leaving home?
List three places you would love to visit and why you would love to visit them, look at some pictures of the people or places you would like to visit and focus on building the desire to leave home rather than the obstacles anxiety is putting between you and where you want to go.
Remain open to possibility
There can be various challenges with agoraphobia that responds best to one-on-one support. You mentioned trying different modalities without success - don’t give up. Keep exploring and trying.
Your anxiety may tell you nothing works, or you’re stuck like this. Anxiety is not telling you the truth.
EFT Tapping is a highly effective technique for agoraphobia and finding someone you can work with towards dissolving your anxiety and building your confidence is highly possible.
Keep in mind what you can do and build on it
Our listener said she can go to some local shops and get your kids to their local programs - that’s good. Those are two things she can do. Note what you can do and acknowledge that you are doing that. It might not be easy for you, but you’re doing it.
Keep drawing your mind back to what you can do and then try building on it in small steps. Maybe visit a local park with your kids or go for a short walk.
One way to do this is to stand by your front door and use EFT Tapping until you feel calm, then walk out the door and walk for 5 minutes away from your home, then turn around and come back.
We recently received a message from someone in our Facebook group who used Tapping to overcome his fear of driving with great success.
Build internal strength and self-appreciation
Look at what you have and what you can do every day.
People with Agoraphobia often just want to feel safe, like our listener who said, “I just want to be me again.” Here are some questions to sit with to get back to feeling like yourself:
How can you be you indoors?
What do you like to do that you can do anywhere?
How can you be more you without it having anything to do with leaving your home?
Anxiety will always pull your mind to what you think you don’t have, or can’t do. Counter it by doing what you can do and noting with awareness and gratitude what you do have.
In conclusion - three things that help:
Establishing a desire to go out
Find inspiration, desire and meaning in moving beyond your current boundaries.
Build enthusiasm and possibility
Put pictures in a journal or on your fridge, somewhere where you can see them.
Learn skills to help you dissolve anxiety
Learning EFT Tapping can help you calm anxiety anywhere. You can use it to feel more comfortable before you leave home, to calm your specific fears and concerns and to help you feel safe when you feel like running back home.