My experience with claustrophobia – Part 3

Continued from My experience with claustrophobia – Part 2

I slept restlessly. I awoke several times secretly hoping some mysterious ailment would claim all the train travellers so I could have an easy trip to work.

The weather was poor, so the train was the only logical option. I got ready and dragged my feet to the station. It was early morning and the crowd wasn’t too bad but I was still feeling overwhelmed. I walked to the end of the platform praying that the carriage on the next train would have seats available. I was watching the entrance to the station. Counting each additional person as an obstacle to my success.  I’m not religious at all but that day I was. Any deity would do, just as long as they got me through the trip.

The train arrived. I jumped on quickly and secured a seat. I was sweating profusely and my heart was thumping. I grabbed my forearm and pressed so firm my finger tips went white. The train doors closed and I was stuck for the next 2 minutes. I closed my eyes and tried to focus on something else.

My suffering increased 2 stops later when someone sat next to me. I didn’t see them as my eyes were firmly closed but I sensed their presence. My stomach was churning and I was feeling light-headed.

Like the day before, I set myself the goal of making it to the next stop. Each stop was a chore but again I made it all the way to work.

The trip home was no less painful and I kept my eyes closed throughout until I reached my destination. I had taken a couple of days off going to the gym, as my mind was so jumbled and I was so exhausted from the train rides.

And so it continued. Each day I struggled to get to and from work on the train but each day I made it. In very, very small increments, I felt it was getting easier. I continued the hypnotherapy but not for long due to the cost and also as I felt my personal exposure therapy was more successful.

There were setbacks though. If a train was overcrowded and I had to stand, I would wait for the next train with disappointment at myself. I was coping but struggling.

For months this is how it went. I realised early on if I listened to music on the train it distracted my thoughts enough to reduce the unpleasant sensations. I still had my eyes closed and had a firm grip on my forearm but the sweating had stopped.

I would like to say that one day, it was all gone. Well, maybe that would happen if they transplanted a new brain in my melon. The initial attack occurred approximately 4 years ago and I still have some residual problems.

To this day, I will always move to the end of the platform for the less populated train carriages. I have the ability to board crowded trains with standing room only but I can’t say I feel overly comfortable.

I still prefer trains that have frequent stops rather than express trains. Mentally, I can manage when I know the time between stops is less than 10 minutes. Ironically, I now work for the railways but in a customer service role rather than as a driver.

I have yet to board a plane. It is a massive obstacle for me. The thought of sitting on a plane with no option to escape for hours on end is a mountain too high for me at the moment. I suppose I could light myself up with Zanax and be zonked out for the duration but that doesn’t appeal to me. With my aim to retire to 5 years to Thailand though, I will have to get on a plane again. It won’t be fun but I know I will do it.

By chance, my friend Brakes for Beauty posted A Fear of Flying as I was in the middle of drafting the final part of this post. Her courage to overcome her fear has made me reconsider my current strategy of avoidance. I am encouraged to follow her example and get myself back on a plane again and open up the world again.

Mental disease is a constant challenge and just when I think I have it figured out, it throws up a curve ball that sits me on my butt. The illogical thinking that accompanies my thoughts is upsetting and frustrating. I’m glad in one way that I recognise that my thoughts are without reason but sometimes I wish I was oblivious.

I used to be a ‘why me?’ victim. Now, I accept that it is a constant companion and I adapt my life accordingly.

I celebrate the days of a peaceful mind.

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Author: The Frugal Batchelor

Hi, my name is Scott. Batchelor by situation, not by practices. Used as a means to indicate that I am approaching my blog from a single persons perspective and any successes or mistakes will be the choices I make. Live with my cat Minty. Finding the days becoming very samey. Looking for the next step in my way through early retirement to Thailand. Don't have the money to do it and don't know where it will come from. Passion and commitment will find me the way.

3 thoughts on “My experience with claustrophobia – Part 3”

  1. Personal exposure is such an important role in overcoming fears, so glad you push yourself to get on the train despite fears. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to something that scares you. I really hope (in the future) to see a post about a plane ride 🙂 you can do it! Eff the anticipatory anxiety (the what if scenarios that give u anxiety before u even do it!)

    Like

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