Dr. Paul Kiritsis presents the entry and a short biography for the shared first place prize of the "Transpersonal Psychology" competition written by Christina M. Gnaedig.
Healing Agoraphobia with Divine Guidance
Fear that overwhelms you, paralyzes you, steals your breath, bends your knees and takes you in a distant world is simply an emotion, just an emotion. The nightmare becomes a daydream when this fear gets a hold on you and resists leaving you, hiding in every corner of your daily life. “Will it come now?”, you continuously scan yourself being relentlessly alert, feeling it as a constant threat and inhibitor which ends to control most your actions every day, every minute. You become imprisoned in your own life often your own home. It steals your joy and the colors around you become dimmer. A fear that can be difficult to be understood if one has not experienced it himself. I had to struggle with this kind of fear, a fear that seems to be invincible, a big monster that cannot be touched nor be won. The name of that giant– agoraphobia.
As it is defined by the books, Agoraphobia (Greek word meaning "fear of the marketplace") entails intense fear and anxiety of any place or situation where escape might be difficult. Other emotions such as feeling vulnerable, out of control, exposed and of going crazy are often involved.
Agoraphobics may avoid situations such as being alone outside of the home; travelling in a car, bus, or airplane; being in a crowded area; or being on a bridge or in an elevator. Endurance of such situations can put a person with agoraphobia under great stress, and a panic attack may result. In general, people with agoraphobia restrict themselves to a “safety zone" that mostly includes their home or the immediate neighbourhood. Any action beyond the boundaries of this zone creates mounting anxiety. Even when they restrict themselves to "safe" situations, most people with agoraphobia continue to have panic attacks at least a few times a month.
People with agoraphobia can be seriously disabled by their condition. Some are not able to work, and they may need to depend on family members, who must do the shopping and household errands, as well as join the affected person on rare outings outside the "safety zone." People with this disorder may become housebound for years, with resulting inability of social and interpersonal relationships. Thus the person with agoraphobia typically leads a life of extreme dependency as well as great discomfort.
My purpose is not to explain in detail what Agoraphobia is nor tell you practical ways to help yourself or someone close to you, there are many researches, articles and books written by brilliant people, doctors, psychologist who do this much better than I could. I would like to guide you through my journey to a new way of approaching not only Agoraphobia but any kind of fear or emotion that keeps you bound. No matter how much science and psychology tries to decipher this emotional condition through a mental approach; they will only manage to come within reach of it but never solve it, simply because it is a matter of the heart not the mind. It is an emotional process and this is exactly that makes it difficult to heal because we focus on healing it with the mind and see the emotion often as a side effect.
I discovered this after I went through hell and came out healed. It is a process that nobody can do it for you but you can find powerful guidance that will take you through it. It takes courage and faith to dive into this darkness and allow it to conquer you. Having gone through this darkness and embraced the monster I am ready to share my journey with you.
It all started when I accepted a wedding proposal that I did not want, panic attacks at first, so intense I needed days to recover fully till the next one hit. Then I discovered that out of the blue I had to remove my thyroid that was cancerous. An endocrinologist had tested me six months before that and nothing had been shown. After the surgery I had to spend few days in a hospital, locked up in a tiny room that had metal walls to avoid the radiation to emit in the building. I was given a radioactive pill with iodine that burned the remaining thyroid cells. The doctor did not expect me to get out of there in less than 3 days. The first night was heavy and having with me an angel book I prayed with all my being. I never took angels seriously nor was convinced of their existence but in despair I kneeled on the bed, begged for healing and had an image that Archangel Raphael was standing in front of me and sending through his hands intense light to my throat. Tears were flowing till I went to bed and felt that the room was full with presences, I felt protected. During the night I woke up in immense sweat (necessary to expel the radioactivity), one that I never had before neither had till now. It came out that I could leave the 2nd day to the doctor’s surprise and all went well. I started believing that something beyond me was watching and helping.
After the recovery period I had the impression that all would go back to normal but changed my mind when walking our dog and felt panic just being across the street of my house. Fear started to become a good friend of mine and panic attacks a frequent visitor. Three years I was struggling with it, living in and with the fear. At the time I was studying Traditional Chinese Medicine and often had to turn back home half way there. Every activity was with fear, standing in line at a bank a nightmare, often I had to try another day because my dizziness was reaching fainting at times. After many medical tests I was convinced by doctors that it was no physical reasons that created these symptoms, I had to accept to my dislike that it was just fear doing all this.
My life was a living hell and above all I was not capable to feel joy or any other emotion deeply. Desperate to heal this I went to a psychologist to help me, though her practice was outside my safety zone. I took the car until a point where there were people I knew, like a base, and then a taxi. To be driven was better. One day, when leaving the practice, I waited for a taxi to pass by on a heavily crowded street. None appeared for 10-15 minutes which seemed strange and started to enhance my fear. In my thoughts came the idea to take the bus till the next main road, I looked to see if there is a bus station near by and did not see one. At the same time my logic was saying “No way! I am certainly going to have a panic attack in a bus, besides I have no ticket and no kiosk is around”. So I held desperately on the choice of a taxi. Suddenly, out of nowhere a lady appeared and asked me where a bus station is, I obviously answered that I have not seen one and she continued. Dazzled by this “coincidence” I looked back to see where she went and there she was standing at the bus station few meters further down which in my denial had chosen not to see. At that moment a bus arrived and I ran and jumped in without thinking and felt it is going to be ok and it was. In the bus I smiled and realized I was gently guided to face my fear. The moment I went of the bus a taxi driver was closing his trunk and of course he was free to hire. This small but clear experience of guidance awakened in me a trust, a feeling that I am not alone and I have help.
A more conscious journey started. Bit by bit I was more courageous to face my fear and have faith that the way is through the fear. Information started coming to me and learned that to heal, one has to experience his emotions not struggle through an event. The key was not to fight the emotion and face it like a tough warrior but to take action that would trigger it and allow experiencing the emotion with the only weapon and protection a deep breathing. Allowing the fear to conquer you, to let it happen, to pass through you. I learned that all emotions when experienced rather than living in them have a bodily reaction, meaning grief creates tears, anger needs physical defusing and shouting, and fear makes the body feel cold, shaky among other. It made sense and was excited but was not certain how I would practically apply this theory, how is it done? The day soon came where I had no other choice than to learn it. After a surgery the same evening I had a panic attack at the hospital. Three nurses where standing at the edge of my bed looking helpless because there was no doctor to prescribe a sedative. So I had to go through it, it started with a tingling in my feet that quickly covered all my body except the face and I ended up continuously vomiting and simply wanting to die. The feeling in my abdomen was just horrible. After four hours I calmed down but my trip through hell had just begun. At home I was in constant intense fear twenty four hours a day. Unable to function my parents had to take care of me; I could not eat anything other than water, fresh fruits and rice cream for two weeks. Anything else especially meat and fish made me feeling sick, my body was detoxifying.
All suggestions to go to a psychiatrist was denied because I did not want medication knowing that it only suppresses, I wanted to find another way but after the 3rd day I was exhausted and gave in. I was taking half of the calming pill than I should. I wanted to trust that just breathing correctly and experiencing the fear and releasing it this way was the answer. My mind was saying “Are you crazy? You will win that Mount Everest with just breathing and feeling?” but I was so resistive to cling on medication and tried hard to make it happen until one night I woke up and felt the fear expanding through my whole body. I went into the living room not to wake my parents who magically slept deep till morning and began to process the fear all night long. I prayed intensely and begged God to help me go through this and breathed and let my body do as it knew. There was a natural pattern, at first I trembled all over my body then I was very cold and a disgusting feeling in my lower abdomen came alive. With every breath I took, it felt like a spoon was scooping a part of this feeling and with exhaling was taking it out of my body. Then the next phase, nausea and throwing up and in the early morning hours it stopped.
The following night was even more intense, I almost crawled to the living room where a feeling of intense depression brought me to my knees, a feeling of wanting to die overcame me and I prayed for God to help me and in my mind I heard “Lie down on the sofa and feel”, so I did and the moment I went into the fear, depression left me. This night was the most challenging of all. Again, I experienced the same pattern of physical symptoms but at some point a new one appeared. In a fetus position I froze and was feeling that if I would move an inch I would go insane. This was the fear of going crazy and only my breathing kept me present and anchored to life. I knew I had to let this happen and that my life west was the breathing. Suddenly an image came to me, that in my brain were rods like in a nuclear power station that were in water and pulled out of their positions and were reallocated to another. It felt like my brain was being reprogrammed. At some point I was going to the half asleep-awake state wanting to give up from tiredness and forgot the breathing and there it happened. I heard clearly in the room a man’s voice telling me “Christina breathe!” This immediately took me out of the dozing off state and alert felt this man standing behind my head where I was lying but unable to see him since I could not move. I trusted him; his presence was almost natural and familiar. He was calmly standing there and patiently reminding me to breathe whenever I was drifting away, he kept me awake. His voice was firm, clear and loving. At some point it felt that this would never end and wanted it to be done, there he said “Don’t push yourself just let it happen” and so I came to the present moment again and stopped expecting it to finish. I focused on my breathing until this fear left me and I could stretch my body. He had left but a feeling of absolute joy and happiness overcame me and I laughed. I felt that this fear had gone for good and there came a memory of my childhood.
When I was nine during playing with my two years older cousin she started talking with no coherence, nothing she said made sense. Troubled I took her to my mother and aunt telling them that something was wrong with her. They chatted with her and I saw the fear expanding in their eyes; there I knew it was serious. At that moment a thought of mine became the doorway to the fear of going crazy, the thought was “Will I get this too? Like the flue, is it contagious?” This tiny memory was there to access after I released this fear, experiencing the fear guided me backwards to the source of the emotional injury.
After that heavy night the others became more bearable to go through and above all I had proof that in the worst moment I have protection and guidance. After two weeks the day came where I felt ready to try to go for a coffee with a good friend who picked me up and we drove to a nice café next to the sea. It was Sunday and therefore much crowded which was a good test. I was on guard to face any panic attack but the most miraculous thing happened. While sitting at the table I was searching in me the fear that would soon boost based on my experience but I could not find it, it was gone. Such joy rose and knew I was freed. When fully able to function independently I started experimenting and testing myself.
Firstly, I followed my desire to visit a friend in New York. It was a long trip from Athens with a stopover in London. I did not know how I would manage but was ready to give it a try. My desire for travelling was bigger than the fear. In London I was feeling a light dizziness but not overwhelming. Small events that happened showed me again that I was not alone and had support from the “invisible world”. All went very smoothly. At some point I thought it was time to go to my gate and realized that the walk was a long way which I had not calculated. I started stressing but the moment I was approaching the lift the doors opened, nobody was standing there, and I went in and arrived at the train to take me to another building. The moment I entered the wagon, the doors closed and I off we went. I arrived at the gate the moment the last two passengers were checking in. It seemed very well calculated and I smiled.
Then months later I visited my relatives in Germany, alone. I flew and then rented a car in Stuttgart and drove one and a half hour to my destination. First time in my life I did this alone. While driving I was singing and screaming of joy. I was able to enjoy a drive alone far away from safety on a German Autobahn. The drive back to the airport was a challenge because I was late and had to hurry. That triggered a fear halfway to the airport. I stopped at a parking lot and allowed to feel the dizziness and nausea reminding myself that it is just an emotion and it will pass through me and leave and so it was and arrived on time at the airport.
The trips continued and in spring 2012 I felt ready for a big test. I wanted to go to Spain and two weeks later a friend asked me if I wanted to join her on the trip she had planned to Madrid. Again I felt my guides were giving a helping hand. I agreed and planned though to go three days earlier than her because I wanted to spent time alone something I had never done before. So I made a plan, arriving in Madrid I took the train to Salamanca a beautiful old city. Arriving at the train station in Salamanca small miracles started to happen. There I rented a car to explore the area; they gave me a Diesel car and a bigger one with the price of a small one. As a consequence, I paid very little gas for the long distances I drove. At the Hotel I booked, the room was very small and had no view and of course there was no other available. This triggered my loneliness which I could feel through. Whenever I needed information the right people came along, I found good maps and never drove astray. I wanted to go to a vegetarian restaurant and the only advertising card of a restaurant on the Hotel reception was a vegetarian one. I wanted to eat sushi and around the corner was a sushi restaurant. All was laid in front of me and felt that the moment I had the courage to face all these emotions by travelling alone, loneliness, fear, shame, insecurity, vulnerability God was making it as easy as possible in the material world, it was as he was saying “From the moment you dare to face these emotions I will assist you to focus on that and leave the material stuff to me”.
The biggest challenge was the 2nd day where I drove a longer distance than the first to explore the area. At some point while driving in the middle of nowhere dizziness started, I stopped at the road side and started breathing deeply and told myself it is ok if I don’t follow through the planned route. It was all right to go back but I was so close to victory. Further down was the road where I would turn to make the way back from a different route. Feeling a bit better I decided to drive until the road and see if it was an easy accessible one and if not I would take the known way back. The moment I turned into the road I saw the forest and all fear disappeared and it shifted to joy. The drive back was smooth and I treated myself with a nice dinner at a restaurant and having faced the fear of dining alone the previous day I was now in a position to enjoy it. The next morning in full satisfaction I made my way to Madrid by train to meet my friend, the snow that had fallen at night gave me a gift of beautiful scenery.
Since that difficult time three years and few months ago I never had a panic attack again, I drive, travel, and do things alone with no thought of fear luring around the corner. There have been moments where fear rises, there are quite a few in me but now I trust that firstly it’s just an emotion and secondly that I know how to release and heal one by one.
It is important to mention that I do not take any medication or psychiatric drugs. I took during the 2 weeks of constant fear and panic a minimal dose of a tranquilizer and after the emotional experiences I had, I started a therapy with an antidepressant (that has an effect after three weeks of intake) which I quit taking after 2-3 months with the doctors approval. Normally, it is suggested to take it minimum 6 months otherwise it cannot be considered a therapy. The reason I wanted to stop it was simply that I was not able to experience deep emotions with the medication. I watched a romantic movie and was excited to have a good cry which never came; it got stuck in my throat, very unsatisfying. I chose to connect to my emotions even fear, trusting that I had the tools and some experience to face and feel them. All else is false living, faking and suppressing our true self, disconnecting from our identity and becoming a stranger to our own selves. If we are not capable to be intimate with ourselves how will we ever be with one another in order to build real relationships that will fulfil us and touch our hearts?
This journey showed me that emotions are our nature as humans and emotions are energy that affects the physical body and actually can harm it when not experienced.
Emotions are the core of our being they are our link to our physical energy being restored or depleted. Emotions need to be released, this is how humans are built to feel and to progress through that function because every emotional block such as fear or anger when released allows another one to come to the surface like grief and this is where we can connect to our hurt and heal it. This way a path is opened to access real joy and happiness step by step. Emotions as they have entered us so they must exit us, all of us have trapped emotions in our soul and body that direct our lives like an autopilot and not being aware of it. It is a choice one has to make for himself to enter his inner universe and explore it; there are black holes yes but also beautiful nebulas.
As a recovered agoraphobic who found the way to heal I can suggest to practitioners who fight with their clients to heal this condition to become guides to their clients like mine that appeared and walk them through their fears by experiencing them rather than reprogramming the thoughts one has, it is not enough. Medication should not be used as a solution because it is none; it just detaches you from yourself and creates a fake wellbeing. I believe only the desire to feel love deeply can motivate one and give courage to face the music, meaning to take responsibility for his emotions and life. In case one chooses that path, there will always be help from our spirit guides or as some say guardian angels and as I believe God, one has only to become aware of the gentle guidance occurring as “coincidences”, songs that get stuck in one’s mind or a question a stranger might make on your way. Sometimes it just needs a playful attitude and an exploring heart to try to discover what I shared with you for yourself, after all it is an emotional experience and there is no logical reasoning to persuade one. Either way, the truth is that if we dare to face our darkness, light will guide us all the way back home, ourselves.
Christina M. Gnaedig is a quality assurance counselor as well as a channeler. Her Management and Product Design studies and work experience in that field never suppressed her interest in the metaphysical and spiritual.
She has numerous experiences from childhood that belong to the metaphysical realm. Her passion for truth and healing eventually led her to acquire the 3rd grade Reiki certification and a diploma in Shiatsu therapy. During that time her mediumistic gift was awoken once again and grew in clarity especially after her health adventure.
Today she is of service to what seem to be two worlds of different interest- the business world as well as the spiritual world. She assists businesses to operate harmoniously and effectively. Christina also assists individuals with their personal soul progression by channeling their spirit guides. In her spare time she writes channeled messages, her experiences of the spirit world and records emotional processes that have led to important personal realizations and change.
Click here to contact Christina.