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Thread: Clausterphobia

  1. #1
    Brian Cooper's Avatar
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    Default Clausterphobia

    Okay guys, I know I'm a weenie. I have been having worse and more frequent panic attacks under houses. I have always been slightly clausterphobic, but it's a problem now.

    Other than mind over matter (I'm not strong enough to beat it) what works to cure this stupid phobia? I'm open to anything that works, not snake oil "read this book and be cured in 30 minutes for $100" stuff off the internet.

    HELP!!!

    NHIE Practice Exam

  2. #2
    David Banks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    You must have memories of your Mothers womb. No way out. But wait all of a sudden your out! See nothing to fear you just go out where you came in.
    I am sure this is a complexed problem that can probably be minimized with some type of professional help.
    I think most of us have it to a certain degree. Now a crawl space does not bother me at all but put me in a small hole or culvert where I can not move my arms freely and I start to panic a little.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    Brian
    I have always had a fear of heights, still do. But, I am able to control my fear. Start by going in with someone you trust. Do this until you are comfortable, then go in alone.
    BTW I'm a licensed pilot with an instrument rating.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    A remotely controlled vehicle with a remotely controlled video camera attached to it.

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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    Brian - I feel for you. I have some similar problems sometimes. I've had a couple of panic attacks over the years. Docs tend to prescribe Ativan. Here is what has been helpful for me - example: I went up in a balloon. I had flashes of panic both from being crammed in there with other people to the point where you could hardly move, and feeling the flexible bottom of the basket under my feet. I had an Ativan in my pocket. I never took it, but just knowing it was there and I could take it if I had too made a big difference. Try not to feel like a weenie - this can happen to anyone. I almost didn't go into home inspecting because I wasn't real comfortable with ladders and heights, but over time I've made a lot of progress. There are professionals who can teach you techniques for relaxing, too.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    Brian,
    It's funny how the brain works....and how you can get it to work FOR you.

    I was an avid mountain climber, and climbed for several years. Did one big wall and slept (yeah right) on a porta ledge one night and thought I was going to die just about every minute I was on that wall. Never had a probelm before or after in my regular climbing (5+ grade climbing), and have no fear of heights. HOWEVER, I can not stand to be on very tall ladders, or do any kind of work on a tall ladder, such as handle wood and hammers, etc. When I did framing, I could walk all over the place without a problem...but a ladder? I get the willies.

    Roller coasters used to be my thing. Still like them, but can not stand the corkscrew type or anything that goes backwards. Sorry. Anyway, I used to get myself ready by thinking: 1. It's going to be over in less than a minute. 2. The accident rate is so low that I have a bigger chance of getting hurt driving to the amusement park. and 3. Little kids love this stuff, so I should be able to handle it for a short amount of time.

    Crawlspaces. I once got myself stuck bent around some waste pipes and could not move. I was really scared. I then calmed myself down and slowly started working my body around until I got out.

    I have been in many crawlspaces when my flashlight went out, and had to feel my way out in the dark. Once again, I worked myself into a frenzy, but then calmed myself down and dealt with the situation.

    I guess you have to ask yourself what is it that is REALLY bothering you about the crawlspace, then try to deal with it.
    1. Darkness? Always carry an extra pocket flashlight.
    2. Tight places and afraid of getting stuck?

    I think you probably have fairly low odds of getting stuck, or falling down a cistern or well. While we all have seen live wires in crawlspaces, I think we have pretty low odds of actually getting zapped by one.

    Snakes, spiders, rats, etc, getting you? Again I think it's pretty low odds of having a problem.

    I think if you isolate your fear, or what you THINK is going to happen to you in these tight places, the better you will be prepared to cope with those fears.

    If your fear is getting dirty, or getting a bruise or two, then you might need to find another gig.

    Like I said, the way I try to deal with my fears and concerns is to try to isolate what it is I'm concerned about, then focus on the reality of those fears, and my odds of actually having them occur, and get myself into the proper mindset.

    I'm probably not explaining it as well as I could if we were just talking, but I think you get my point.

    Good luck with it
    JF


  7. #7
    Brian Cooper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    I appreciate the input. The bugs don't really bother me. I leave them alone, they leave me alone. Same with snakes and mice. Getting dirty, not a big deal as I am capable of using a washing machine.

    I don't know why I panic. Sometimes it's not even that tight and I panic. Sometimes I have to wedge myself in and can barely move, and I'm fine. I've had more than one fit where I'm trying to be calm and not let the customer know that I've lost my cool. I'm tired of being worried about it. I cannot make my mind calm down and I just flip.

    Should I find a specialist? What should I look for?


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    Brian - If you don't want to go the medication route, you might want to try cognitive therapy (disclaimer: I have no direct experience with it) which is supposed to give you practical techniques for dealing with this sort of thing (as opposed to trying to get you to resolve childhood traumas, etc.). Just a suggestion.
    Cognitive therapy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia


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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    I found that if I dress for the job I loose many of my fears.

    So for a crawlspace I dress in a full Tyvek suit. I wear a full face respirator and I wear gloves. Then I finish my space suit with a little bump cap or at times a baseball cap. I am then ready to tackle what is ahead of me! I have convinced myself that nothing can get me, I'm impervious to the grit, grime and little critters in the crawlspace. Well, this is what I tell myself!

    When I speak in front of a group I wear a suit or sport coat.

    When I work with my Boy Scouts, I wear a Boy Scout leader uniform.

    You have to find your comfort level.

    If all else fails I find that prescriptive chemicals tend to do the job! I know a couple of inspectors who take Xanax or similar drugs to help them cope with what we have to go through. Not saying that this is the cure, but something to think about. Contact your family doctor and talk with them about this.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    If the crawl space is too tight, dont go in , just tell the customer there is not enought room.


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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    I'm not a big fan of pharmaceuticals, and try to resolve problems without resorting to using them. However, I understand that there are just some things that can't be fixed without them.

    Yoga, Tai Chi, and martial arts all have a part that is more cerebral than physical. Kind of the notion of getting in touch with your inner self and taking power from within kind of stuff. Once again, I'm probably not explaining it very well.

    JF


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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    I'm not a big fan of pharmaceuticals, and try to resolve problems without resorting to using them. However, I understand that there are just some things that can't be fixed without them.

    Yoga, Tai Chi, and martial arts all have a part that is more cerebral than physical. Kind of the notion of getting in touch with your inner self and taking power from within kind of stuff. Once again, I'm probably not explaining it very well.

    JF
    Ah grasshopper you explain very well, just don't get into that Fungshey, feng shui , Swayhay or whatever!

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 01-10-2008 at 04:48 PM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    Try a different kind of respirator. I had problems and turned out they were related to my breathing in the mask.
    JLMathis


  15. #15
    Jeffrey Hart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    get a small dog. Jack Russel Terrier or toy poodle. Keep it in truck during inspection and bring out for crawl. Tell people your are training or have trained it to flush critters. The dog will help redirect your negative internal dialog. They love it under houses!

    Jeff


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    Brian,

    There is only one way to deal with claustrophobia under a house and that is to fight the fear.

    In the last 20+ years i've crawled a many of them. I've seen the snakes, the rats, cockroaches big as a small yorkie.

    I've crawled up on the edge of a old farm well that a house had been built directly over. Now that will get your attention. I saw this depression area thinking maybe it was where a sump pump or something might be located. Before I knew it I was laying right up on the edge of this well. You could see all the bricks around the inside of the well wall. Shined the ole mag light and you could see it was probably 35-50 deep down to the water.

    Put on a TYVEK type suit as you can dispose of them and there not so expensive anymore. I'm not a fan of cloth jumpsuits because I don't want to wash them in with my other clothing not knowing what chemicals and things I might be picking up on them in a crawlspace.

    The best thing is to find you a home with a crawlspace with some decent headroom and get under there all the way back as you can get and turn off your light and just lay there in the dark. You'll be able to actually hear your heart beat. Breathe slowly.

    Flick you light a few times if you start to panic just to see there's nothing around you.

    Doing termite work I've been under a house for 8 hrs. straight many of times. I'd be treating and my son would keep the tank on the truck filled and operating. The only problem with being in a space too long is that some of the places you crawled over or under may not feel the same when you come back through. You get your body all pumped up and sometimes have to make another route or hand dig some soil back from under a duct you crawled under before.

    Don't be a weenie as you say.

    rick

    Last edited by Rick Hurst; 01-15-2008 at 09:08 AM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    claustrophobia

    I can't help with the fear of confined spaces, but here is the correct spelling.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    Jim,

    Thanks so much. It was really beginning to bug me.

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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    I am not a nit picker on spelling (since I have to use spell check) but once I see something wrong, I have to correct it. Hmmm... maybe that is why I am a home inspector.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  20. #20
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    I, much like Jack, have done alot of mountain climbing in my day. I also earned my master parachute wings while in the military some time ago. Point being, heights are not an issue with my psyche.

    Again, like Jack... that freaking 2+story ladder that starts to shake/ rattle/ roll on ya, is quite unnerving. Falling from that height is something that gets a heck-of-alotta respect from me. I don't care who you are, there are no good PLF's (parachute landing falls) to be made from a second or thirs story ladder.

    The crawlspace is alot about controlling your breathing. If you find yourself having trouble with your breathing pattern, just turn over onto your back and shine one of your flashlights onto the sub-flooring and concentrate on why you are there. While not moving and while controlling your breathing pattern, take your time and visually/mentally concentrate on the reason for being there... to do an inspection of the structure, condition of the plumbing, etc... It will give your mind something to do instead of letting your body tell it what to do.

    Serioiusly, controll your breating... makes all the difference.

    Rich


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Rushing View Post
    Serioiusly, controll your breating... makes all the difference.

    Rich
    Try this: pay attention to your breathing. After you exhale, wait two seconds before inhaling.


  22. #22
    Richard Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    Brian,

    Don't know if this will help or not but it might be worth a try.

    Get yourself a good sized "trouble" type light (+ extension cord) and hang it in the crawl near the entrance. Perhaps having your exit area brightly lit, and knowing it will always be so, would alleviate some of the fear. ???

    The better mask also makes sense as the "panic" could be a result of breathing difficulty or CO2 build-up. That's just a guess...no MD here!


  23. #23
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    If I have a crawl space that is going to be hard to get around in I sometimes put a 500 watt quartz worklight near the ebtrance to the crawl space. It sure makes me feel better about what may be in there besides me!


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Cooper View Post
    "read this book and be cured in 30 minutes for $100" stuff off the internet. HELP!!!
    Brian,

    This one's free, read entirely and pay close attention to and practice 4.

    I suggest you do this practice before ever entering another crawl.

    It will come automatically after a while and this technique does work.

    Panic attacks

    Hope this helps! Practice, Practice, Practice!!!

    I can't do a canister type respirator for long but found N95 disposables work fine, for me anyway.

    Last edited by BARRY ADAIR; 01-18-2008 at 09:05 PM.
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  25. #25
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clausterphobia

    Brian:

    This might help . . .

    YouTube - Elevator - Claustrophobia

    Aaron


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