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Claustrophobia and Face Masks


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I am asking for ideas.  I believe in face masks.  I have been sewing face masks for my family and extended family.  I used the pattern from Craft Passion which has the most room I can find around the nose and mouth.  However, I am extremely claustrophobic and cannot wear them.  Covering my nose and mouth, especially with something close to them and me breathing my hot breath -- it triggers me.  I can't do it.  So... I have currently ordered a nonfunctional as far as safety but adhering to the letter of what I believe will soon be the law, a sort of fishing sun hat that has a piece of fabric across the face, where the part in front of the mouth is mesh.  It won't be here until next week and I suspect it will still trigger me.  My next option that I plan on trying is one of those sun hats that has a big veil of mosquito netting so it won't be close to my face at all.  That might work.  I realize it doesn't work for virus protection, but I am thinking that might be too lofty a goal for someone who can't wear a regular face mask.  But, for instance, our state parks are now open and you must wear a face mask.  Also several nearby towns require face masks and a fine if you don't.  I wrote my county judge asking for an exception for people with claustrophobia, but I don't know if that will be successful.

Any thoughts, other than get over my claustrophobia (which won't happen)?

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I have claustrophobia, but I learned to deal with face masks when I worked in a lab.  The thing that worked for me was realizing that I wasn't actually suffocating.  After wearing a mask for several minutes, I become less bothered by the suffocating feeling.

I would see if you can desensitize yourself.  Start by putting it on for a very short time--like as long as it takes to breathe in and out once.  Then gradually increase the number of breaths.  

Also, certain situations seem to allow the hot breath to not seem as hot.  If you're wearing the mask in the car, the air conditioning blowing on your face helps a lot.  Also walking is better than standing still.

If you can get your hands on one, the masks with the valve in front make it so the exhaled breath is able to get out of the mask easily.  Unfortunately, these masks do not protect those around you because your breath isn't being filtered.  In spite of this, I see plenty of people wearing them.

Edited by EKS
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I'm sorry you are dealing with this!  As you know, mosquito netting won't work for why they are requiring face masks.  Could you possibly sew a piece of fabric to the netting in front of your nose and mouth area?  Won't be perfect, but better than just mosquito netting.

Or...I've seen face guards that is like a bandanna so it would hang a little further from your mouth than maybe a regular mask.  I've seen add pop up on my FB feed, but I can't find one of those ads now.

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Well I’m sorry to be harsh, but mesh isn’t going to do you or anyone else any good. I get the claustrophobia thing, I really do. But if you “believe in face masks”, and if you want to follow the law and common sense, you’re going to have to get over it. 
 

If your area makes masks mandatory, I sincerely hope you don’t try to get away with using mosquito netting. 
 

FWIW I wore a blue medical mask to work last week (and then the grocery) and even though I was REALLY worried I’d feel claustrophobic, it was fine. Not comfortable, not my favorite, but fine and doable. This is not the time to try to get around public health decrees.

I'm sorry if I’m  misunderstanding, but it sounds like you are asking for permission to break the public health law?

 
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10 minutes ago, perkybunch said:

I thought of this, but I'm not sure it would provide the protection?  Because in many of the pictures, the mannequins are wearing face masks under them

A mask needs to be snug around all edges. The linked product won’t do any good.

One way to test it, I guess, would be to wear it and let out a hearty sneeze. Preferably of something colorful or sticky so you can see where the droplets land.

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I get claustrophobic but have discovered that mine is triggered by being locked or shut in somewhere. This is great for me because I have to wear masks at all times and also a full on moon suit type hood at work now. I was really worried I wouldn't be able to but I can talk myself round even if I start to feel it coming on with a mask on.

I have tried several home made masks and some of them are definitely less difficult to breath through, so I think you should experiment with some different fabrics and also do what a previous poster suggested and slowly build up your tolerance. I hope you can find something that works. Maybe a lighter fabric mask plus one of the clear plastic face shields will work for you.

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I just had a thought for you based on TCB suggesting you try different masks to see which is most breathable. Early on in this whole thing, I ordered a reusable mask from a company in Singapore it was recommended by someone else here. It’s made of a flexible plastic, and then has small filters you insert. It’s extremely easy to breathe in, and looks like in the past it has mostly been marketed to cyclists in countries with a lot of pollution. The light weight, clear, easy to breathe nature of it might make it more comfortable for you. I haven’t actually been using mine when I go out anymore, because I somehow feel more protected in my homemade mask that is more difficult to breathe in😂. It’s supposed to be rated at N96. It would definitely meet the requirement for protecting other people from you, though. Much better than an open sided surgical mask, too.

https://totobobo.com/index.html

Edited by kand
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When I tried mine on in the house, I hated it. I hated how tight it was, how hot it was and it definitely felt like I was suffocating. But once I was at the store, it was different. My brain went into automatic shopping mode and forgot the mask. Every now and then, the suffocating feeling would pop back up but I'd remind myself that I'm actually doing it and not suffocating. Now masks don't bother me at all. 

I hope you can either find a way to wear your mask or another solution. I'm sure the stress over this is not helping the phobia one bit.

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I wonder if extra wires, not just to shape bridge of nose, but to keep the fabric away from your face could help.

 I have heard that some people are using cloth over a shaped coffee filter to get space around nose and mouth area.  The cloth getting washed, and the filter getting heat sanitized.  

 

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6 hours ago, perkybunch said:

I am asking for ideas.  I believe in face masks.  I have been sewing face masks for my family and extended family.  I used the pattern from Craft Passion which has the most room I can find around the nose and mouth.  However, I am extremely claustrophobic and cannot wear them.  Covering my nose and mouth, especially with something close to them and me breathing my hot breath -- it triggers me.  I can't do it.  So... I have currently ordered a nonfunctional as far as safety but adhering to the letter of what I believe will soon be the law, a sort of fishing sun hat that has a piece of fabric across the face, where the part in front of the mouth is mesh.  It won't be here until next week and I suspect it will still trigger me.  My next option that I plan on trying is one of those sun hats that has a big veil of mosquito netting so it won't be close to my face at all.  That might work.  I realize it doesn't work for virus protection, but I am thinking that might be too lofty a goal for someone who can't wear a regular face mask.  But, for instance, our state parks are now open and you must wear a face mask.  Also several nearby towns require face masks and a fine if you don't.  I wrote my county judge asking for an exception for people with claustrophobia, but I don't know if that will be successful.

Any thoughts, other than get over my claustrophobia (which won't happen)?

 

I will say that the first time I wore my mask I felt short of breath and claustrophobic. The second time still wasn’t fun but I was breathing fine. I’m hoping I will get used to it as I wear it more often. 

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10 hours ago, Robin M said:

I hate wearing masks on my face as well. I ordered some of these  to try out as well as bandanas to wear bank robber style.  They can be doubled up or augmented to make sure thick enough.

FWIW I found using a Buff made me feel much more claustrophobic than a medical mask. I really had to tamp down anxiety attacks at the grocery wearing a Buff, but found a mask to be tolerable. YMMV of course.

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17 hours ago, perkybunch said:

 I wrote my county judge asking for an exception for people with claustrophobia, but I don't know if that will be successful.

 

This will not be successful if you are in the U.S. You would not be under a court order but some sort of government rule (state or local) under a state of emergency. The court didn't make the law, the court doesn't get to grant exceptions. I doubt your governor or local body has made any exclusion for claustrophobia, but I would definitely look at the actual mandate for the specific wording.

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Thanks, Hive.  I decided to try and slowly build up my tolerance.  It was actually very helpful to hear that others had dealt with this issue and built up tolerance.  I am telling myself that I can breathe (and it's true), and it's working.  So thanks, y'all!  Appreciate it!

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