Sunday, February 07, 2010

Party at my place.

Last week I had a panic attack. Actually, I had a series of them. If you've never had them, the best way I can describe them:

a) Ever walked into a room, flipped on a light, and something scurried or flew across your face? Remember little electric shock you got when that happened? Okay, hold onto that thought....

b) Ever been in a car flying down a road, and the road dipped suddenly and rose back up again just as suddenly? You know that sudden heart-in-your-mouth + slightly nauseated feeling you get? Okay, hold onto that thought....

c) Now add in that sinking feeling you have when you realize that you forgot to do something really, really, really important, and now you can't do it and you're seriously going to catch hell.

Add those up, and experience them all at once, for, oh, about a half hour. That's a panic attack.

So anyway. So, I had a panic attack the night before, and was dreading my long run. Then I had another one while out on my next long run. Which made me dread my next long run.  Which begs the question, 

What happens to long distance runners who get agoraphobia?

This is the first time I've had this problem since the late 90s, and
I only had one back then, but it's been building for a long time. I'll need to go see someone to deal with some issues I've been putting off for a long time. This has been building, by the way, for several years. For several years I would avoid going out to do errands because I "didn't feel like it".

But I thought I was past that. I'm not. Apparently, the downside of not having kids around is that you no longer have anyone to worry or be aggravated by, so you get all kinds of time to get into your own head, which for me, is not the best place to be.

There's all kinds of crap in there, in my head, stuffed wayyyyyyyy back into my "let's not deal with this right now" closet. Then I opened the closet, which was overstuffed, and a whole bunch of my past fell out, all over the place. So there it is.  The result is, "get the girl a magazine rack; she's got a lot of issues."

The short answer to the question "what happens to ultrarunners do who get agoraphobia?" is that they start searching for CBT providers in their insurance provider director. The even shorter answer is that they go to their family doc. Who gives them a fast-acting benzodiazepene to ward off the next panic attack.

Which worked, by the way. I used one pill yesterday (Saturday) when I felt one coming on for my 11-miler, and it worked. I didn't use any on today (Sunday) and got through my long run pretty well (18 miles).


I've got white wine, Wellbutrin, Xanax, powerbars, and HEED.

Party at my place.



  1. Oh, my . . . as a fellow agoraphobic (of the self-diagnosed variety), it is often difficult to just. get. out. the. door. Once I do, though, it all gets a lot better. I have luckily missed out on the panic attacks, but think this is inherently why I am a trail runner (in the forest, no one can see you freak out).

    Answer: Some long distance agoraphobics comment first! on blogs they stalk, instead of going outside.

  2. You wrote:
    What happens to long distance runners who get agoraphobia?

    They buy home treadmills?

    I like your approach better - all the best for getting along.

  3. you are so awesome Misty!

  4. Treadmill - got that. It comes in handy.

  5. I feel your pain! CBT + xanax = both useful. Good luck tackling the problem - I am confident you will beat it...

  6. I've never had a panic attack - so obviously I can't know how they feel, but I do dread long runs (and plodding out there for 3 x as long as my husband to do the same mileage). However, I haven't had a bad run in 2010, and I give Born to Run by Christopher McDougall all the props. It was this quote that stuck with me, and has allowed me to actually enjoy all of my (non-barefoot) runs - "Lesson Two, Think Easy, Light, Smooth and Fast. You start with easy because if that's all you get, that's not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don't give a (dog poop) how high the hill is or how far you've got to go. When you've practiced that so long that you forget you're practicing, you work on making it smooth. You won't have to worry about the last one - you get those three and you'll be fast!"- pg. 111. I've only gotten to "easy" but I have to say that I love EASY!!

    Maybe as you work out the stuff beneath the fears, you can also find the joy in being out there, and not the obligation.

  7. I wish I didn't know how bad agoraphobia and panic attacks suck. So sorry you're having to deal with that one-two punch. On the other hand, we've seen you tackle way bigger tasks than closet cleaning - so Go Girl! Get it done and take care of yourself.


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