Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - Con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email, By Amy Dick­in­son

Dear Amy: I suf­fer from claus­tro­pho­bia. Af­ter I re­tired, it started get­ting worse. I f ind my­self wak­ing up in the mid­dle of the night pan­ick­ing about hav­ing to take an el­e­va­tor or be­ing stuck on a plane. I am hav­ing anx­i­ety at­tacks. I know this is an un­nat­u­ral fear.

Would coun­sel­ing or maybe hyp­no­sis help?

I’m em­bar­rassed to tell peo­ple of my sit­u­a­tion. Any ad­vice for me? — I’m Not Crazy

Dear Not Crazy: You are cor­rect — you are NOT “crazy.” In fact, it would be great if we could re­tire the word “crazy” al­to­gether (un­less the word is used to describe my Hal­loween out­fits).

Your fear isn’t “un­nat­u­ral” or even ir­ra­tional. But it is im­ped­ing you, and that’s a prob­lem.

An early ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing en­closed in a small space can cause claus­tro­pho­bia later in life. If you ac­tu­ally ex­pe­ri­enced this, then — in my opin­ion, any­way — your fear is quite ra­tio­nal. Early ex­pe­ri­ences im­print on you, and your adult fear is an un­der­stand­able, nat­u­ral and im­por­tant sur­vival re­ac­tion to the orig­i­nal ex­pe­ri­ence.

Some med­i­ca­tions — es­pe­cially sleep reme­dies — can cause side ef­fects and weird dreams. Re­view any med­i­ca­tions or reme­dies you are tak­ing.

Yes, you should see a ther­a­pist. Your anx­i­ety can be treated, and a ther­a­pist might rec­om­mend med­i­ca­tion, meditation or (pos­si­bly) hyp­no­sis. De­scrib­ing your fear and any trig­ger­ing episodes can help. Rec­og­niz­ing that this is real and that other peo­ple have sim­i­lar fear re­ac­tions should help you to un­der­stand that you are not alone. You should also be of­fered var­i­ous strate­gies to cope with anx­i­ety at­tacks, when they oc­cur.

The Anx­i­ety and De­pres­sion As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica ( of­fers a data­base of ther­a­pists, ar­ti­cles and sup­port groups. You can feel bet­ter.

Dear Amy: I am a 70-year-old wo­man who is 20 pounds over­weight.

I am slowly di­et­ing and hope to lose my ex­tra weight.

I am the mother of a won­der­ful 40-year-old wo­man who is mor­bidly obese (50 pounds over­weight).

I love my daugh­ter with all my heart and I worry about her fu­ture health. Her daugh­ter is 13 and is also over­weight.

I had a good re­la­tion­ship with my mother but now, years af­ter her death, I re­mem­ber clearly her few crit­i­cisms of me.

I don’t want to leave my daugh­ter with mem­o­ries of my neg­a­tive words about her weight, so I tip­toe around the sub­ject. I would be happy to at­tend, and pay for, nu­tri­tional coun­sel­ing with her.

I know it may seem fool­ish of me to not be more di­rect with my beloved daugh­ter. I know I have not been an ex­em­plary role model. Her friends have sug­gested my in­ter­ven­tion but I am afraid of hurt­ing her feel­ings. I know a mother’s words can sting more than any oth­ers.

I also fear this af­fect­ing my ex­cel­lent re­la­tion­ship with her. I wouldn’t want her to feel bad about her­self now, or feel bad about me af­ter I’m gone.

What’s your ad­vice? — Un­sure Dear Un­sure: If your daugh­ter is 50 pounds over­weight, she does not nec­es­sar­ily qual­ify as mor­bidly obese. Gen­er­ally, mor­bid obe­sity is 100 pounds over “nor­mal” weight, and is usu­ally mea­sured by a per­son’s Body Mass In­dex (BMI), ver­sus a per­son’s weight.

Re­gard­less of your daugh­ter’s sit­u­a­tion, you are wise to anticipate pos­si­ble sen­si­tiv­ity re­gard­ing her weight. No one wants to think she is be­ing scru­ti­nized and judged. On the other hand, if you open this up as a topic, she might want to dis­cuss it.

Many peo­ple find weight loss suc­cess when they part­ner-up with oth­ers. The value of com­mu­nity is be­hind the strength and longevity of pro­grams like Weight Watch­ers.

You could say to your daugh­ter, “I’m try­ing to take off some pounds and be health­ier. I found a nu­tri­tion­ist who can see me. Do you want to come with me? I’ll pay for us both.”

Your daugh­ter knows she’s over­weight. She can ei­ther say yes or no to this of­fer. Af­ter that, con­cen­trate on your own health jour­ney. She may be in­spired to join you.

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