Dealing with Agoraphobia

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright 2000

Dear Annette,

Have you written about phobias? I think I am suffering from Agoraphobia, a fear of being away from home and family. Can help me with this?

Sincerely,

Afraid

 

Dear Afraid,

I would have to know the specifics of the problem to be able to work out a plan to help you get over your phobia. I would have to know:

  1. How did it start in the beginning?
  2. When it starts, what triggers it?
  3. When is it at its worst and least?
  4. What have you done in the past to counteract the problem?

I would like to help you work through this if you would like.

Below is a general outline of what we would be doing to take care of it.

This four pronged attack has worked for everyone who has tried it. Its an unbeatable combination.

Here is a general overview of how to handle fears yourself. The specific action taken for this person is at the end of the general overview.

 

Facing and Overcoming Your Fears & Phobias

Step Work

1. Write down the environment, event, or situation that is frightening you at this time.

2. Write down the most frightening situation you can think happening with this situation.

3. Write down the least frightening situation dealing with this same situation.

4. Write down a frightening situation you can think of dealing with this same situation that would fall in between the most and the least frightening to you.

Example: Fear of high places

Least: Standing on a foot high step-up in my kitchen

Worst: Looking over the edge of a high building.

Steps in between:

Standing on a high ladder.

Riding in a glass elevator.

Looking out the window of an airplane.

5. Write the in between steps into order of frightfulness to you.

Example: Fear of high places

Worst: Looking over the edge of a high building

Steps in between:

Riding in a glass elevator.

Looking out the window of an airplane while it is flying.

Standing on a high ladder.

Least: Standing on a foot high step-up in my kitchen

6. Write down in baby-step progression what would lead you to accomplish each situation from the least frightening step to the most frightening. Write them as a goal statement.

Example of overcoming: Fear of high places - 1st goal and that of least fear.

Stand on a foot high step-up in my kitchen.

Stand on a high ladder.

7. Outline each goal is small doable steps as it gets time to do them.

8. One should not progress to the next step until there is little fear involved with the present one.

9. Now put the plan into action. Note: It may be impossible to accomplish some steps such as flying for some people without highly developing relaxation techniques and using self indoctrination.

 

A Relaxation Exercise to Relieve Stress

 

* * * Relaxation Exercise - Practice three times /day. * * *

Tense up the following body parts and then release them completely until these parts hang from your body like a rag doll's would.

Tighten, but not strain, the body parts in the order listed below for a slow count of five.

Release completely (rag-doll feeling) for a count of ten. Breath deeply and slowly.

If you are not sure a body part is relaxed then tighten it and then release it Then you know it is not tense.

Order of tightening and releasing:

* feet, ankles, calves, thighs, and buttocks

* lower back, stomach, and chest

* shoulders, biceps, forearms, and hands

* neck, scalp, forehead, and mouth

When you can relax the different parts of your body, separately, try to relax all of them at once, starting with the feet and ending up with the mouth.

Tense and release the body that refuses to relax.

When you can make your body relax with commanding it to do so then you are ready to start self indoctrination if you should choose to.

 

Reprogramming Your Subconscious Negative Thoughts

1. Start with the Relaxation Exercise. Tense up all the body parts and then release them completely until these parts hang from your body like a rag doll's would. Inventory the relaxation in each body part as listed below: Breath deeply and slowly.

* feet, ankles, calves, thighs, and buttocks

* lower back, stomach, and chest

* shoulders, biceps, forearms, and hands

* neck, scalp, forehead, and mouth

2. When you are completely relaxed, see yourself in a place that will bring you peace.

* This may be on the beach with a warm sun beating down and waifs of cool air playing over your body.

* Feel it, see it, and smell it with as much detail as possible. Practice going there 3 times/day.

* Do so until you can be totally relaxed just by conjuring up your peaceful place.

* You may find that you may fall asleep doing this exercise.

* If you are having troubles falling asleep this is a good technique to get you there.

3. You should lie down in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. When you are totally relaxed in your peaceful place:

Close your eyes and feel yourself inside your head suspended somewhere between your two eyeballs. While there, see yourself entering an elevator.

Feel yourself slowly floating down five levels. Think each number level in your head as you slowly proceed downward. Each level should find you more relaxed that the first.

The bottom or 5th level will find you suspended somewhere mid-scull, at the level where the head meets the neck.

4. Spend about five minutes of total peace and relaxation there.

5. Then come back slowly to level one. Tell yourself you will be awake, alert, and refreshed when you get there. Upon reaching level one open your eyes and go about your day's events.

6. Practice going to level 5 in at least once a day for a week. When you can lie down and reach your destination with in 3-5 minutes, you are ready to talk to yourself and reorder your negative thoughts to positive ones.

7. Practice on reordering your thoughts should take place at least 3 times a week. The more often you do it the faster the change. At 3 times a week you should see a definite change in the negative attitude in about 3 to 4 weeks of subconscious restructuring.

Making Changes

What do you want changed in your life. Do you need more self esteem? Is there something in your life that you are afraid of and would like to overcome it? Level five is the place to do it.

1. Decide what you want to do before you even start to relax. Perhaps you want to state positive affirmations to yourself to overcome a fear or a negative belief of yourself. Ex: I can get on a jet and fly to my destination without fear.

2. Now see yourself in the most positive picture you can conger up. See yourself smiling as you step up to the flight attendant to give him/her your ticket.

3. Feel the peace in your body. Feel how proud you are of yourself. Feel confidence surging through your body.

4. Note everything that should take place on the flight.

5. Finally see yourself disembarking at your destination, still happy and peaceful.

Positive Affirmations

Never state anything to yourself as I won't/can't ________. Always state things as things in a positive, action form. The statement should say whatever positive thing you will do.

Example 1: "I won't be afraid," should be stated as "When I feel even a little fearful I will breath deeply and relax all the muscles throughout my body. I will stand/sit straight and feel happy with myself. I will erase the fear from my thoughts by going to my peaceful place on the beach or elsewhere. I will breath deeply and slowly. As I breath I will feel picture red and warms to all my muscles and my body relaxing them."

Example 2: A Positive Affirmation: I can set goals and attain them by__________.

Do not say: I am not a failure.

Positive affirmations are most effective just at bedtime. The subconscious replays what was thought just before sleep for about an hour. So your subconscious hear the positive affirmation again and again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Afraid,

Good news.... Most of your problem is an over active obsession with all the "what-ifs" of life. Unfortunately, if it continues you will finally blockade yourself into you house.  There is even the possibility, when left untreated the problem could digress to the point that you would have to be institutionalized. The point is, to deal with the problem now before it gets any worse.  Do not procrastinate.   Deal with this swiftly and now!

Most of the things you tell me are normal and natural fears blown slightly out of proportion. We all fear the unknown When we prepare to go on a trip we try to think of all the things that we will need to do so things will not go wrong. Your preparation in advance will go a long way to elevating problems.

Unfortunately, garbage happens in our lives, no matter how hard we plan or pray. That doesn't mean that we did something wrong. We cannot blame ourselves for not being able to see the future. The "I should have known..." syndrome will kill you. You cannot know everything, you cannot think of everything and further more YOU cannot stop bad things from happening.

You need to trust in the Lord. Your not letting Him do His job. Perhaps you stopped trusting Him after the birth of your third handicapped child. Maybe you though He was not able to take care of things anymore, so you needed to. I'd hate to explain that to Him when you come face-to-face with Him.... and you will! Besides you are doing a lousy job of it and driving yourself and others around you crazy. It takes the power of a God to do the job right. You do not have that capacity.

I think we had better get this straightened out between the two of you right now!

You have to be willing to trust that God knows what He is doing. That He can see what your future holds for you and that He actually manipulates it to help you to grow into a more capable strong person, especially in the areas you need growth. That is actually what He is there for.

I didn't say that He would hold everything constant and happy in this life. That would be furthermost from the truth. Some things He causes... other things He lets happen, and then manipulates things in our life so the we grow from it and become more capable strong people.

Will you let Him do His job? Will you put things back into His hands and stop obsessing over things you cannot control?

ASSIGNMENT 1

1. Instead of obsessing when family or you go out the door, put it into the hands of the Lord. Say a prayer and state, "Lord my child is going_______. Please look out for her and see that she gets safely there." Then put it into His hands. You are not to think of it again until she is to check in with you.

2. Every time you feel like obsessing over it again take a deep breath and blow the air out, shake out your muscles and then "Dial a God" to take care of it because you cannot! Just pray!

You state: "I mentally prepare myself for the worst possible news." Don't think this way, period! You'll just drive yourself up a tree. Instead pray!

Lets discuss just for fun what if the worst thing should happen and you blow up in the sky, the plane gets hijacked and the hijackers blow each of you away one at a time, or the jet smashes into the earth and everyone dies.... So what? Can you tell me what is so bad about being dead? Don't you know that this life is as close to HELL as can be? Actually Hell is a much nice place, there is no sickness, physical pain, or disability. The Hell or the Telestial world that the Lord has prepared is a much more beautiful place than here. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that if we could see it, we would kill ourselves to get there. Of course, if you killed yourself that is exactly where you would go.

The thing that makes it Hell in the Telestial world is the spiritual death, that of never seeing God the Father or Jesus Christ ever again. I doubt there will be any spiritual goings on there, being that is where murders, liars, and thieves go.

The Terrestial world is even more spacious and beautiful. There will be good people there. You can leave your doors without locks. The is an abundance of love and kindness there. Even the love and light of Christ is there. It's not a bad place to be, except we will not be able to see Heavenly Father and Mother again and we will not be able to become like them... God and Goddesses in our own right and have eternal increase!

For those who are trying to be the kind of people they should be and are actually working towards that, Christ makes up the difference, that they have not achieved, through the atonement. It is those people that will make the Celestial kingdom. A place of great beauty, love and light. There is where our Father, Heavenly Mother, and Christ dwells. Finally and most importantly we will be able to have worlds of our own with our own spirit children.

To have a child die and know that they went to the Celestial kingdom is the greatest blessing I can think of. I pray for that day.

At this time, I have three sons that are only worthy of the Telestial kingdom. I have been promised that Christ will watch personally over them to make sure nothing will kill them before He has had a chance to make them into the kind of Celestial people they should be, because they were taught when they were young how they should be and when they get old they will not depart from those teachings. Christ personally promises that to all parents!

Don't worry if your family and friends will get mangles in car accidents etc. Those things can be dealt with because the Lord will help them deal with those things and He will help them grow from the ordeal. If it makes them closer to Him it was worthwhile. Worry that you have taught your children all the things you should have to help them to become capable strong people ready the challenges of this life and to meet their God.

If they are trying to do what is right and by some good chance that they are spared the horror of this life and taken from us, rejoice! For they are going home. Hooray for them! You know who I feel sorry for? All of us who have to stay here and fight this tedious existence each day.

We do need to take care of the days that the Lord had given us, but only He know how long that is, so put your best efforts into preparing your family and you for the at trip home. Make sure your family is ready when their time comes. Everything else is inconsequential. Do you understand what I am saying?

Take your fear to the Lord and give it to Him.... Trust that He will decide when it is time of each of us to die. Garbage happens.... when it does trust that the Lord will make the best of it for you. You cannot stop things from happening no matter where you are. Give it up to the Lord and let Him worry about it. Instead, ask Him to direct your efforts to make healthy plans and preparations for your trips and to help you stop obsessing over the common comings and going of your family and you.

Traveling alone across state, especially across the US alone is not common and is an incredibly dumb move. This is not a good world. There are predators out there looking for victims who set themselves up to be ripped off, raped, killed or all three, by being alone. These are the things that the Lord expects us to use good judgment in and prepare for our well being and safety. Another words don't ask for trouble!

ASSIGNMENT 1

Get a priesthood blessing. You need one.

ASSIGNMENT 2

D&C 38:30 .....if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.

Being Prepared

1. The first week of the trip when we will have guides with us in Venice and the Italian Alps.

2. Trouble with my diabetes.

3. We will not be able to park the car near the tourist places.

4. My daughter-in-law (X) will not know what to do with my 5 year old daughter (Y) while we're gone 5. We will not find a place to stay each night while we're there.

6. We will be stranded in Italy somewhere.

7. We will have our money and passports stolen.

8. We will be in an accident in Italy.

on the main roads. I won't drive in the big cities.

ASSIGNMENT 3

A relaxation exercise to help you keep fear from getting out of hand in real life and while working thoughts of fear and stress.

* * * Relaxation Exercise - Practice three times /day. * * *

Tense up the following body parts and then release them completely until these parts hang from your body like a rag doll's would.

Tighten, but not strain, the body parts in the order listed below for a slow count of five.

Release completely (rag-doll feeling) for a count of ten. Breath deeply and slowly.

If you are not sure a body part is relaxed then tighten it and then release it Then you know it is not tense.

Order of tightening and releasing:

* feet, ankles, calves, thighs, and buttocks

* lower back, stomach, and chest

* shoulders, biceps, forearms, and hands

* neck, scalp, forehead, and mouth

When you can relax the different parts of your body, separately, try to relax all of them at once, starting with the feet and ending up with the mouth.

Tense and release the body that refuses to relax.

When you can make your body relax with commanding it to do so then you are ready to start self indoctrination if you should choose to.

ASSIGNMENT 4

* Reprogramming Your Subconscious Negative Thoughts *

You should lie down in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed

1. Start with the Relaxation Exercise. Tense up all the body parts and then release them completely until these parts hang from your body like a rag doll's would. Inventory the relaxation in each body part as listed below: Breath deeply and slowly.

* feet, ankles, calves, thighs, and buttocks

* lower back, stomach, and chest

* shoulders, biceps, forearms, and hands

* neck, scalp, forehead, and mouth

2. When you are completely relaxed, see yourself in a place that will bring you peace.

* This may be on the beach with a warm sun beating down and waifs of cool air playing over your body.

* Feel it, see it, and smell it with as much detail as possible. Practice going there 3 times/day.

* Do so until you can be totally relaxed just by conjuring up your peaceful place.

* You may find that you may fall asleep doing this exercise.

* If you are having troubles falling asleep this is a good technique to get you there.

3. When you are totally relaxed in your peaceful place:

Close your eyes and feel yourself inside your head suspended somewhere between your two eyeballs. While there, see yourself entering an elevator.

Feel yourself slowly floating down five levels. Think each number level in your head as you slowly proceed downward. Each level should find you more relaxed that the first.

The bottom or 5th level will find you suspended somewhere mid-scull, at the level where the head meets the neck.

4. Spend about five minutes of total peace and relaxation there.

5. Then come back slowly to level one. Tell yourself you will be awake, alert, and refreshed when you get there. Upon reaching level one open your eyes and go about your day's events.

6. Practice going to level 5 in at least once a day for a week. When you can lie down and reach your destination with in 3-5 minutes, you are ready to talk to yourself and reorder your negative thoughts to positive ones.

7. Practice on reordering your thoughts should take place at least 3 times a week. The more often you do it the faster the change. At 3 times a week you should see a definite change in the negative attitude in about 3 to 4 weeks of subconscious restructuring.

Making Changes

Decide what you want to do before you even start to relax. Perhaps you want to state positive affirmations to yourself to overcome a fear or a negative belief of yourself. Ex:

"I can let my children go do their daily routines without fear." Say it to your mind, believably!

1. See yourself in the most positive picture you can conger up. See yourself smiling as you say good-bye.

2. Feel the peace enter your mind and body as a light as you silently pray for their well being as they step out the door. Feel how proud you are of yourself. Feel confidence surging through your body because you know that the Lord is on duty and will care for your loved ones.

3. You also know that if anything does happen it will not be more than you or they can withstand because He will strengthen you and you will win the day. See you and the Lord walking hand in hand. See Him helping you over the rough spots in the road. See Him smiling at you. Feel the warmth of His love through your body as you breath in.

4. You also know that if you loved one was called home that it was for the best. See everyone smiling in heaven. See Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother welcoming your loved one. See the loved one happier than they have ever been here on this earth. See them all trying to help you through your daily life. Feel the warmth of their love for you.

5. See you going about your day without fear with a happy smile on your face. See Christ with you as you going through your day. See yourself talking to Him. Feel the warmth of His love as you breath in every breath.

6. Finally see yourself your loved one return home, you are still happy and peaceful. See yourself thanking God for His goodness to you this day. See yourself giving Christ a radiant smile for His help through the day.

7. State firmly:

"I can let my children go do their daily routines without fear."

"I can let my children go do their daily routines without fear because ____________."

"I know can let my children go do their daily routines without fear."

Going fearlessly out on you daily rounds.

"I can go go on my daily rounds fearlessly." Say it to your mind, believably!

1. See yourself in the most positive picture you can conger up. See yourself smiling as you say good-bye as you go out the door.

2. Feel the peace enter your mind and body as a light as you silently pray for your well being as you step out the door. Feel how proud you are of yourself. Feel confidence surging through your body because you know that the Lord is on duty and will care for you.

3. See the beauty around you. Thank God for it.

4. You also know that if anything does happen it will not be more than you can withstand because He is with you and will strengthen you. You will win the day! See you and the Lord walking hand in hand. See Him helping you over the rough spots in the road. See Him smiling at you. Feel the warmth of His love through your body as you breath in. Feel the suns rays and bask in its warmth.

4. You if you were called home that it was for the best. See everyone smiling in heaven. See Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother welcoming you. See yourself happier than you have ever been here on this earth. See you helping your family through their daily life. Feel the warmth of your total love for them as you help them.

5. See you going amongst your loved ones already in heaven with a happy smile on your face. See Christ with you as you going through your day. See yourself talking to Him. Feel the warmth of His love as you breath in every breath.

6. See yourself going places happy and efficiently with Christ at your side, helping you through your day.

7. Finally see yourself return home, you are still happy and peaceful. See yourself thanking God for His goodness to you this day. See yourself giving Christ a radiant smile for His help through the day.

8. State firmly:

"I can go about my daily routines fearlessly."

"I can go about my daily routines fearlessly because __________________."

"I can go about my daily routines fearlessly!"

Positive Affirmations

Example:

"I can go about my daily routines fearlessly."

"I can go about my daily routines fearlessly because __________________."

"I can go about my daily routines fearlessly!"

ASSIGNMENT 5

Ask God to participate in your cure.

ASSIGNMENT 6

Coping Tools

Many people have poor coping skills and chose food, drugs, or indulge in other behaviors to an excess to bury all their problems under. Instead of doing choosing unhealthy behaviors to relieve a distressing feelings or to procrastinate something, learn these coping tools to get rid of the problem instead of covering it up.

The following is a list of things you can learn to do to cope:

ASSIGNMENT 7

Make a friend out of God!

He is your Father. I don't know about your earthly father, but mine loves me very much. He always wants to know how I am and what I've been up to. Why then would Heavenly Father be any different? If He has a perfect love for all His children, why wouldn't He care about you and in everything you do? Well, He does!

How do you make a friend? Do you talk, share confidences, go for walks together, cook together, cloud-watch to look for shapes, and laugh and cry together. That is my God!

Take God down off His pedestal, dust Him off and use Him. Make Him your friend. Do the things that I have suggested above and more. Make God someone who you can and would want to go to for any reason, just to be near Him, because you love Him so much. So much so, that you can't stand to be away from Him because it would break your heart.

Note: All prayers do not have to take place on your knees. A pray can be only a thought away.

This is one most important assignment here!
I save it for last so you would remember it!

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Annette Nay Homepage


     
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