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Severe Casadastraphobia - Printable Version

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Severe Casadastraphobia - RedneckSpaceCadet - 03-19-2016 07:32 AM

Hello everyone. I've been suffering from casadastraphobia. The last 2 years have been especially tough with this year as it has started to get much, much worse.

There are two events that triggered this phobia. Originally I remember as a kid going to a parade and having a helium balloon and accidentally letting go of it, I watched it float up in the sky and vanish, and that opened my eyes to the idea of ultimately "falling into the sky". However, I never struggled with it until 2 years ago I had to sell Cd's outside of music venues, one of our stops was in time square and we had to walk around all day. I was completely terrified of the tall buildings because it made me uncomfortable to think about how high the sky really is. It was a severe vertigo feeling but looking back I don't know how in the hell I managed to make it out without having a panic attack.

Fastforward to a year ago, I used to live in Tucson where there are only a handful of tall buildings, a lot of open space, and tall mountains that surround the city. I stopped walking outside completely at this point. The only thing that could keep me from getting panicked was riding a skateboard, but if I had to walk at all, I would have to hold my girlfriend's hand. I've since moved to my little hometown in Kentucky where tall buildings are over 2 hours away even, there is no large structures anymore but this phobia has completely debilitated me. I find myself avoiding leaving the house all together, I hate going out in public in a parking lot where I have to walk a long way to get from the car to the store because I'm on the verge of a panic attack just because I don't want to look a fool running to the store.

It's got me down to where it's all I think about. I've read so many articles of people with this particular phobia and it doesn't seem to help. No matter how hard I try to think rationally, think about anything else, or avoid looking up, it's like my mind jumps to imagining terrifying thoughts of being sucked into the sky and such. I'm typically an anxious dude, I'm 22 years old and there's always something I worry about, I'm fact my whole life I've been a hypochondriac. I've been considering counseling but right now it's on hold since my car has been undrivable, hence my phobia getting worse when I have to walk to do anything.

I definitely believe it's why I'm especially worked up over this because I can't avoid these situations anymore. If anyone has any input on defeating this phobia, please unload anything and everything about it. At this point I'm at my lowest and I certainly don't think I can beat this on my own with rational thinking.


RE: Severe Casadastraphobia - Srztanjur - 05-01-2016 05:07 AM

Hey, there, RedneckSpaceCadet, I'm srztanjur, the person behind the term casadastraphobia. I created this word because when I was trying to describe my phobia there was no word for it. I have good news, and I have a suggestion. The good news is that, like all phobias, the prognosis is good if you get the right kind of help for it. My suggestion has to do with what the right kind of help is.

I have been seeing a social worker and a psychiatrist for eight years now. I first entered into treatment because I experienced a psychotic break, which resulted in an unending panic attack that rendered me agoraphobic. At the time I was seventeen and entering into my senior year of high school. I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Disorder. I was prescribed clonazepam and began undergoing cognitive-behavioral therapy.

About six months into my treatment, my psychiatrist evaluated my symptoms and diagnosed me with mixed, rapid-cycling bipolar disorder with psychotic features. You can think of this is a borderline diagnosis with schizophrenia, having many of the same features and also the same treatments, but without the severity of a schizophrenia diagnosis. As it turned out, many of my phobias might have taken root in both my generalized anxiety, and in undiagnosed psychosis, which can include fantastical beliefs, often associated with hypomania.

What I am getting at is that I am now five or six years in remission, and, at the time of writing this, I have no emergent symptoms. That means that my mood is stable, my psychosis is under control, and that I am not experiencing panic, phobic episodes nor generalized anxiety. This is where my suggestion comes in: do not wait until your symptoms render you non-functional before seeking psychotherapy and psychiatric evaluation. It may not feel as though those things can help you, but just finding the right medication alone (for me it was quetiapine fumurate, also known as seroquel) can be revolutionary in changing your life.

If your symptoms happen to be a part of a more complex disorder, therapy and psychiatry stand not only to heal your agoraphobia, but to improve your quality of life drastically. In my case, it tackled my hypomanic and depressive symptoms, but also drastically reduced my anxiety, allowing me to undergo exposure therapy which all but eliminated my casadastraphobia (except in unique, not-everyday circumstances, such as roller coasters and flight.) If your suffering is destroying your functionality, and affecting your quality of life this much, you owe it to yourself to get into mental healthcare, the stigma be damned. There is no telling by what degrees it could make your life not only livable but enjoyable.

I had hoped when I created this word to empower people to know that they are not alone in this fight, and I am responding to you now for the same reason. What you are facing is not beyond treatment. I was in your same position once, and it is very possible that you are experiencing something similar to me. Generalized anxiety can feed phobias; fantastic phobias can be rooted in psychosis; and both can be rooted in disorders with potentially psychotic features, such as the hypomanic phase of bipolar II and mixed bipolar disorder. So I strongly recommend that you take the steps necessary, or have someone who you trust do it on your behalf, to seek treatment right away. And know that there is hope, and that others like you have overcome this.


RE: Severe Casadastraphobia - Johncasper87 - 07-08-2016 03:35 PM

Hi srztanjur, my name is john. I am really happy to see your post. I have been struggling with this problem for the last 8 years or so. I'm 29 now. All tho I have always had an odd feeling when looking up to open spaces (sky, large ceiling,open fieldsource etc) the last 5 years have been the worse. When I found your word, back in 2012 or so, it really helped me put an idea for others to read and research. I have been to eye doctors and neurologist with all scans and tests coming back relatively normal. The CT scan confirmed higher than normal amounts of activity. But nothing to describe my issue. And never able to get any answers.

I researched alot about schizophrenia, mania, bi polar, derealization and feel bits and pieces of each. I have been to a few psychiatrist but, unfortunately never get very far. Is there a specific type of person I should talk to? I never spoke to a primary care doctor about this either. Do you suggest going there or is that a waste of time.

Finding your post reply here has helped me again. Knowing you have gotten better (and I have at times but never lasts) gives me hope. I have lost it recently and I dont know why. Where would be a good place to start with drugs? Is what you're on strong?

I hope you read this, I will check every few weeks (for years I'm sure) so whenever you see this just repond. am in need of alot of help. Thank you for the help you have given me so far.


RE: Severe Casadastraphobia - Srztanjur - 07-11-2016 03:53 AM

(07-08-2016 03:35 PM)Johncasper87 Wrote:  Hi srztanjur, my name is john. I am really happy to see your post. I have been struggling with this problem for the last 8 years or so. I'm 29 now. All tho I have always had an odd feeling when looking up to open spaces (sky, large ceiling,open fieldsource etc) the last 5 years have been the worse. When I found your word, back in 2012 or so, it really helped me put an idea for others to read and research. I have been to eye doctors and neurologist with all scans and tests coming back relatively normal. The CT scan confirmed higher than normal amounts of activity. But nothing to describe my issue. And never able to get any answers.

I researched alot about schizophrenia, mania, bi polar, derealization and feel bits and pieces of each. I have been to a few psychiatrist but, unfortunately never get very far. Is there a specific type of person I should talk to? I never spoke to a primary care doctor about this either. Do you suggest going there or is that a waste of time.

Finding your post reply here has helped me again. Knowing you have gotten better (and I have at times but never lasts) gives me hope. I have lost it recently and I dont know why. Where would be a good place to start with drugs? Is what you're on strong?

I hope you read this, I will check every few weeks (for years I'm sure) so whenever you see this just repond. am in need of alot of help. Thank you for the help you have given me so far.

Hey, John. I don't have the time right now to respond at the length I would like to, so rather than clipping, I'm going to reply when I have enough time to do so. But I don't want you to wait, thinking your post was not read. Give me a few days and I'll be happy to respond at length


RE: Severe Casadastraphobia - Johncasper87 - 07-11-2016 07:39 AM

Thank you, please take your time. I have been battling for so long, a few days or weeks are nothing. I have this thread set to tell me when you reply. Thanks alot.


RE: Severe Casadastraphobia - Srztanjur - 07-22-2016 06:19 AM

(07-11-2016 07:39 AM)Johncasper87 Wrote:  Thank you, please take your time. I have been battling for so long, a few days or weeks are nothing. I have this thread set to tell me when you reply. Thanks alot.

I have not forgotten about you! My life has been very busy lately. I will respond in length; I promise


RE: Severe Casadastraphobia - Srztanjur - 08-08-2016 02:25 AM

I fear that if I don't respond to this now, that I never will. My life has been very busy as of late with a number of transitions going on, but I don't know how long that will go on for, so I'm going to do my best to reply right now.

I think that I should start with a little bit of background information on myself. I first experienced casadastraphobia when I was twelve years old. It was not the first anxiety-driven condition in my life. As early as the beginning of sixth grade I began experiencing panic attacks, though I did not know what they were for quite some time after that. There was a lot of home-based trauma in my life, and I'm sure that my anxiety problems are somewhat rooted in that, but, as I got older, another layer to the problems with my mental health started to become more apparent. Though I did not accept it, though I did more or less realize it, I was beginning to experience the onset of bipolar disorder. With it came a number of complications, including depression, flat affect, emotional blunting, high anxiety, and something more insidious in the form of unaddressed psychotic features.

This went on for some years without diagnosis or treatment, in no small part because I refused treatment on the grounds that I did not believe that it could help me and would be a source of needless worry for my then single mother who was financially struggling. I came close to suicide a number of times in this period. My relationships were a mess. I had errant religious beliefs that were grounded in fear rather than in acceptance. And I was struggling with boredom, physical discomfort, and an unhealthy lifestyle.

None of this would be brought into the light until it came to a head, less than one month before my senior year of high school. I had gone to my father's for a week to visit, and although I'm sure he sincerely means no harm, his religious beliefs are somewhat apocalyptic, and I was struggling with my religious identity at the time -- particularly with the idea of redemption and forgiveness. It happened that by chance, a fair we went to had a stand where free hand-held bibles were being passed out, and I accepted one on the basis that if I were going to consider myself Christian, I should at last read the entirety of the scripture. (To clarify, I am Christian among many other things, including Wiccan, Buddhist, Shintoist, Daoist, Spiritualist, and Unitarian Universalist, perhaps owing to my schizotypal personality, but more on that later.) It was going fine until I happened upon the passage of the unpardonable sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. In that moment, I remembered a time back when I was rather young and had an intrusive and profane thought toward the Holy Spirit after first learning about the unpardonable sin then. You might say it was self-fulfilling anxiety and owed to obsessive thinking. But the short of it is that it triggered an episode in me that would require that I seek immediate psychiatric help.

The less short version is that I had a several weeks' long panic attack that rendered me agoraphobic with the thought that my intrusive and ruminating thoughts had placed me beyond redemption, to suffer irrevocable severance from God -- a terrifying thought, particularly to my already anxiety-ridden and untreated younger self. I would later understand that this was a form of psychotic break, and, though traumatizing, it was actually one of the most important things to happen to me in my life. This was because, immediately following the start of this episode, owing to the quickly approaching need to go to school, I had no choice but to start psychological and psychiatric care. I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder, My psychological treatment revolved around getting my intrusive/ruminating thoughts under control, and developing coping mechanisms. My psychiatric treatment, however, illuminated something else.

About six months into my care, my psychiatrist finally recommended a comprehensive diagnosis -- mixed rapid-cycling bipolar disorder with psychotic features. The challenge of this disorder is that it is very difficult to distinguish from the early stages of schizophrenia, but the upside is that both can be treated with the same classification of medicine: atypical antipsychotics. At first I was put on a drug called Abilify, (though I was already concurrently taking anti-anxiety medication in the form of clonazepam) and we gave it about six months to bring my symptoms under control, but, unfortunately, it never really did anything but make me fall asleep in class. But, after I reported to my psychiatrist that it wasn't working out, he recommended a second medication -- seroquel, and we began treatment with it right away. That was a watershed moment in my life.

This is sort of what I've been building up to -- the sort of 'before' and 'after' picture of my mental health since I started down the path of remission. So to shed light on the differences between my condition before and after I began my regiment with seroquel, I'm going to describe them in some more detail here:

At my lowest point living with a psychotic variation of bipolar disorder, I would have essentially three mood states: hypomania, which would last for about half a day, followed by a mixed phase that would last a day or two, followed by depression which would last out the rest of the week before cycling back again to hypomania. During my hypomanic phases, I would experience emotional euphoria, increased productivity, a burst of creativity and energy, restlessness, sleeplessness, increase socialization, warmth, but also racing thoughts, anxiety, and irritation. During my depressive phases, I would experience hopelessness, a lack of energy, low drive, extreme guilt, emotional blunting, flat affect, boredom, physical discomfort, and powerlessness. But, by far, the worst periods were the mixed phases: hopelessness, irreparable discomfort, anxiety, restlessness, anger, irritation, catastrophizing, globalizing, fatalistic, and suicidal ideation where I nothing could soothe me and I was powerless to soothe myself. Those mixed phases, coupled with life events, brought me dangerously close to suicide a number of times. That was my life living with untreated bipolar disorder, and I was quite convinced that 'talking' to a therapist wasn't going to help -- afterall, I talked with a lot of people about it, and it never made it any better.

What I did not consider was the possibility that my condition was physical, and could therefor benefit from medicinal intervention. And one I found the right medication, the contrast was shocking. I'm sure the expectation is that the most relieving thing about finding an effective treatment for a disorder I had lived with for nearly a decade was in the release from the disgusting feelings of my mixed phases, and the emotional stability it offered me, but this, perhaps a little ironically, does not turn out to be the case. In reality, the thing that I most appreciate about my life after starting seroquel is the emotional vibrancy and diversity that I was experiencing almost for the first time. I had been so used to living from one nebulous mood state to the other that I never really realized that I had not ever experienced this smaller, more intimate, more life-affirming emotions -- emotions like warmth, sheepishness, affection, marvel, excitement, surprise, and even true sadness, an emotion very unlike depression, and one of my most treasured emotional experiences since obtaining the ability to experience it.

Medication, of course, didn't simply erase all of the many interrelated issues I was dealing with exacerbated by bipolar disorder, but it became apparent to me after the fact that it was the /minimum requirement/ that needed to be fulfilled in order for me to begin my journey down the path to mental health. I would say that it took me five years to more or less get me to the point I'm at now, and I'm always working to improve some aspect of myself, but understand that the difference between these past eight years I've been in treatment and the ten that came before that is the difference between night and day. It was like having a dark pall that rested over every aspect of my life lifted. It allowed me to think constructively, and cast aside obsession and rumination, and it gave me the ability to /really/ experience emotion.

But going back to how this all relates to casadastraphobia, I want to tie this all together by defining what exactly casadastraphobia is. Casadastraphobia, I think it's important to keep in mind, is an anxiety based disorder grounded in a belief that is inherently fantastical in nature, but which sufferers have been given no choice but to believe in the possibility of by their own neurophysiology. I say this because I have a hypothesis, though I don't know how reliable it ultimately is, that casadastraphobia is a combination of an anxiety based disorder and an inclination toward psychosis. I believe that because it is a basic requirement for this fear to be realized that we accept, in some fashion, that it is possibly, however unlikely, that gravity will simply stop working one day and behave in a bizarre manner not consistent with any observation of our known universe (if gravity /really/ stopped working, matter would fly apart -- not simply allow for individuals to fall off of our planet's surface into space.) And it was indeed only when both the anxiety /and/ psychosis parts of my condition were addressed that I was finally able to use exposure therapy to overcome my irrational feeling of falling into the sky.

I make mention of this in case it might be of some pertinence to you. If you are struggling with a psychological illness that has affected you for so long, and is connected with a fear you shared with me in casadastraphobia, it may be that we do not have very unlike clinical histories. But what I want for you to take away from this is two very important things: your condition is not untreatable, no matter how bad it is, and it is possible to obtain remission, which, if consistent with my own experiences, might completely revolutionize your life.

To be clear, what I'm advertising is not happiness. A lot of people believe that psychiatric medication creates an artificial, almost saccharine form of happiness that you will be able to clearly contrast with the true happiness you lack in the same fashion that you discern sugar from aspartame. This is not correct. What medication does do is levels out an imbalance in your neurochemistry which /prevents/ you from obtaining happiness, giving you a level playing field from which to build your /own/ happiness -- a playing field which naysayers already enjoy and therefor often misunderstand to be inherent (and why they give you unhelpful advice like suggesting that you simply change your way of thinking, as if your thinking is not also influenced by the same condition affecting your emotions.)

So, in closing, my advice, and what I hope you've taken away from this is: don't wait. Don't wait until you have a psychotic break which forces you to begin treatment for a condition you can begin treatment for right now. While, ultimately, it was worthwhile, the trauma of that experience is hard to overstate, and there's no guarantee that you would survive it (not that you're predestined to experience -- just that there's no need to take that chance.) And when you do seek treatment, stick with it. It might start slow. The first medication might not help. But give your psychiatrist and psychotherapist time to learn more about you, and to become more intimately aware of your psychiatric and therapeutic needs, and the effects on your life might be far more than you thought possible before experiencing it. This is my advice even if you've tried therapy and psychiatry before. Don't be afraid to speak up and tell your caretakers what isn't working. Don't be afraid to suggest things if you think you understand better what is going on with your body and mind than they do. That's how I ended up here, years later, in remission for so long now I'm not sure at what point exactly it began. Like I said, I'm not promising happiness, but what I believe the right form of treatment offers is the /capacity/ for happiness, both in a quantitative and qualitative sense, and with that you will have a much better chance at creating happiness for yourself.

I'm sorry it took me so long to write this. I realize it is quite lengthy, but I hope it is helpful. I hope that I have gotten to you in time. I hope that this helps you find the answers that you're looking for. Whatever the case may be -- don't give up. It's a struggle, but it's worth it. Take care, and be well


RE: Severe Casadastraphobia - Johncasper87 - 08-08-2016 08:01 AM

Thank you so much for you openness of your life and your battle. It may come as a shock (something tells me it won't tho) but there are things you have said that, had I not known better I would have thought I wrote them myself. If that makes sense. It's just, I've talked to so many people and I have felt for so long that I truly would never meet someone who could ever understand some of the deeper things going on.

I agree with you, that there is a psychiatric anomaly that we somehow share. I was also raised by a single mother. My father who I met a hand full of times was abusive. And a gut wrenched drug addict. I have been suffering for as long I can remember with the hypo mania phase accompanied by the depression phase. However I never gave grounds to the moderate one. I just assumed it was the cusp of the 2 phases rather than it own phase all together and has given me a new prospective on my constant switching of emotions, and intrusive thoughts.

I was an avid user of many different drugs as a way to self medicate. Crack, was one that subdued this phobia. All tho I must admit, I do not think that this is nearly just a fear. There must be something physically different in our brains. Stemming from some sort of ptsd during the development stage of youth.

Alot of my issues stem from GAD, and Ocd. I am obsessed with the idea of the origins of humanity and that got me into these deep rooted thoughts about space and our existence. I tend to globalize many thoughts which mentally startle me. (As if I can see how we as a species evolved i.e. how we breath the same, laugh the same, react similar to the same stimuli) and that's what started my path down the road of this fear. I do not believe in a higher power. Because we are clones of one another. And if a higher power is not protecting us and keeping gravity on point. Then one day it can flip. And even knowing that the atoms in our body would explode, it does not calm me down. But instead makes it worse.

I also suffer from grandiose thinking, "what if I don't explode but survive because I'm special." " what if I'm a supreme soul being and something differnt happens to me".

And it's weird, because I don't believe in a higher power or souls. So these conflicting thoughts are all I think about on a never ending loop. Like a train in which every stop is just a new jumping off point. But eventually going through the same towns over and over.

I wish to have a sheeple like emotion/thoughts. To be normal and free of my mind and that agony it causes. I have attempted suicide twice and have come to realize that I don't really want to die. I just want peace. And I will spend 40 more years attempting to get there.

You have given me alot of hope. And that is what I think is most needed. I will see a doctor in the coming weeks and hope to go from there. I wish you the best of luck and couldn't be happier to have finally talked to you. You have given me the idea that I am not unfixable. Even if I cannot see it for myself. I see it in you and your story. I will drop by here and post updates from time to time and hope to converse with you more. Even if it is on a pace of once a decade. It may sound strange but, I feel a connection with you. Something we mentally share I'm not sure.

Thanks again and best of luck to us both.

-John