Anxiety and claustrophobia

Discussion in 'Mental Health Disorders' started by DrNick1010, Jul 11, 2012.

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  1. DrNick1010

    DrNick1010 Well-Known Member

    I've noticed over the past few years that I'm becoming increasingly claustrophobic in crowded places. The two places I dread the most are airplanes and theaters (movies or plays). I don't fly very often, but the nice thing about it is that you can always request an aisle seat or politely ask someone to switch with you. There's still that sense of being confined, but if you have to use the restroom or get up and stretch your legs, people on airplanes are generally understanding and will let you get by. Theaters though are really starting to freak me out. If it's not so crowded or I'm by the aisle, I'm fine. But too often I get talked into going to movies with friends on an opening weekend. I drop hints that I like to sit closer to the aisles, but most of the time they just tell me to relax, shut up and watch the movie and we always have to sit in the fucking center of the theater with total strangers almost completely surrounding me. That drives me insane. I get a stomach ache. I can barely concentrate on the movie and keep feeling like I have to go to the bathroom even when I don't. One of the worst claustrophobic anxiety attacks I ever had was in March of last year when I saw Louis Black at my university's theater. I sat in the balcony which was jam-packed, in a far corner almost completely as far as you could be from the aisle with only two inches between my legs and the back of the seat in front of me. Then at the beginning of his set, he made a joke about being annoyed when people get up and leave. He was still funny and I don't regret going to see the show, but it also made me never want to visit that theater again. I know how ridiculous a lot of this sounds, but at one point during his set I had anxiety so bad I was afraid I'd throw up all over myself. I hate that I can't enjoy going to a theater unless certain criteria are met, which they seldom are. Sometimes I get anxiety going to sporting events as well though at least there you can talk to your friends and take your mind off of it. In a theater you just stare straight ahead and for me most of the time my anxiety is such that all I can think about is getting the hell out of there. I don't think that theater claustrophobia is something that most people understand. Any thoughts on what I should do? I don't want to just avoid theaters and having a good time with friends or a date, but now when people mention going to a play or movie on opening night it's almost like a crisis for me.
     
  2. total eclipse

    total eclipse SF Friend Staff Alumni

    Hi i too have that claustrophobic feeling I was put on a med for anxiety it helps but also taught breathing exercise that helps relax you when you do feel trapped. It works somewhat too. I think if your friends are not understanding of your illness and not willing to work with you then they are not the right friends. I do hope you reach out and either get some therapy for you or get on some med to help decrease these anxiety attacks hugs
     
  3. TheLoneWolf

    TheLoneWolf Well-Known Member

    Eh, well, I've never really been claustrophobic, except for a completely irrational fear of getting stuck in a tiny tunnel or other tight space... I used to have high social anxiety and agoraphobia though, so I can relate to not wanting to be around other people. The weird thing is, I'm fine in crowded situations, because I just pretend like the people around me are just animated obstacles. When I'm in a theater, of course I prefer to sit away from strangers, but if that's not possible, I'll sit between them and just pretend like they don't exist. Literally, my mind blocks them out. The only time I notice them is if they bump me (which I respond to with a grunt of frustration and a look of disgust) or if they try to talk to me... the second scenario is really what bothers me, especially when I'm on an airplane or something. 9 times out of 10, I don't want to engage in a conversation with a total stranger. The only exception being if they are somebody who seems really interesting, or a very attractive female, lol. Of course, those options come with anxiety problems of their own... it's difficult to talk to somebody who intimidates me.

    Anyway, getting back to my point... those crowded situations don't bother me, because I know I can blend in and disappear in a crowd. What bothers me is when I'm in a slightly less crowded situation and I suddenly become the center of attention, usually for a negative reason (i.e., I did something embarrassing to draw attention to myself). Those are the situations that drive up my anxiety. Otherwise, I just pretend like I am invisible and like the other people around me don't exist. Most people tend to ignore my presence anyway, so it doesn't require a great stretch of the imagination on my part.
     
  4. DrNick1010

    DrNick1010 Well-Known Member

    I'm sure most if not all of my friends would understand if I explained it to them. I always feel awkward bringing it up. My friends often see me as someone who is very laid back and easy going, usually up for anything and the last one to complain about something. I suppose that's a good thing, but when I break out of that mold they sometimes put up a fuss. I actually stopped hanging out with one of my friends a few months ago because he'd call me all the time and we'd just end up going to some crappy bar. He was basically using me as an excuse to foster his alcoholism and whenever I confronted him about the things he needed to work out, he just brushed me off. I've never had the highest opinion of myself and part of the reason I just go along with the flow is because I usually assume other people know a hell of a lot more of what's going on than I do. In truth, I never respect my own opinion about anything and so no one else does either.
     
  5. TheLoneWolf

    TheLoneWolf Well-Known Member

    Psh, I don't need an excuse to foster my alcoholism. I drink alone, dammit. I'm not paying bar prices for a few shots when I can buy an entire bottle of the stuff at that price and drink it at home without being bothered by the other drunken idiots.

    Nah, I know what you mean though. I'm used to always going along with whatever other people want to do... I have opinions, but I generally just consent to whatever the majority of the people I'm hanging out with want to do, because I know that they'd probably hate anything that I wanted to do.
     
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