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 (adaa.org) 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.