Saturday, 21 February 2009

Be Positive

The last few time's I have written it has been about the dentist or my walks, I feel as though I have missed somethings out.

I have been receiving emails and comments on you tube and, to be honest, i have been shocked. I still find it completely mad that people say I 'inspire' them. People seems to find me brave, but there at times when that's the last thing I feel.

For example. before Gerry left for Canada he decided he wanted us to go a drive. He parked up outside my house and beeped the horn. He then called me and told me to hurry. I had just eaten dinner and was seeing to the kids, I was in the middle of things, and so i felt totally rushed. I did ask him to come in but he refused saying he was sick of sitting in my house. So to avoid a fight I ran out as quickly as i could. The whole drive felt totally sprung on me and I didn't feel mentally prepared. Out in the car I had lost the comfort that I had found in previous weeks. The only word I can use to describe it was 'exposed'. Everything around me felt too much and all that surrounded me was this small tin, i.e, the car. I told myself to relax, that it would pass and the comfort would soon set in. Unfortunately it didn't pass and i suddenly felt sick. My stomach was in knots and i really thought that I would throw up. I had to ask him to pull over. Nausea was never a symptom of my panic attacks in the past so this was new to me, although I didn't actually have a panic attack..or come close, the nausea wasn't too pleasant. It was enough to put me off the drive and ask him to take me home. As you can imagine, Gerry was less than impressed and told me I was making 'just another excuse'. He didn't come in but instead drove off as he had 'things to do'. When I got home the nausea continued but eventually faded. I still don't know if this was down to the drive or perhaps it was completely unrelated.

So it is at times like this when I don't feel brave. I feel a whole mix of emotion from anger to frustration and total hopelessness. It is easy to let times like that pull you down, but lately I have learned not to let this happen. I know that I might have a bad time in the car one day and the next day feel totally great and even go further than I had previously. I guess it is all in how we approach it, at least that's what I think it is.

For example, the night after the failed drive with Gerry my nephew's were over. It had gotten dark when they were due to go home so instead of them walking like they usually would, Gerry said he would drive them. Immediately I said I wanted to go too. So we piled into the car and drove over to my brothers house. I then popped into my brothers to say a quick hello while Gerry waited in the car. Then when I got back out we went a little drive on our own where I told him to go further. The reason for this was simply that the drive was MY choice! Someone making demands of me or telling me when I have to do something doesn't work. Time and time again this has been proven by Gerry and I. When he tells me what to do and where to go it usually ends up in a fight. But when it is my choice and he also has the correct attitude it goes really well.

Also this week my walks have gotten even longer. I have walked along streets that I haven't faced in about 3 years. It is totally true that the more you work on this the more your confidence builds. As I walked those streets I generally felt fine, the problem is that your head constantly asks you 'how do you feel'. 'Why aren't you panicking'? We have spent so long being agoraphobics that we no longer trust ourselves. Few of you may remember that I wrote about going to my local shops on my bike. I hadn't been in so long and when I finally made it I was so proud of myself, I wrote about it in a post and put up a photo. I now regularly make the trip to the shop but still did so relying on my bike. Even If i didn't ride my bike, I would walk along pushing it. Classic safety behaviour! My mind was telling me that I was more comfortable with the bike, less likely to panic and if the worst thing happened and I DID panic.... i could get home quickly to my safe place. This week though I was out on my walk and I was so close to the shops. I got closer on my next walk and then closer still. Finally on Wednesday I was the closest I have ever been. I stood there looking at the buildings and asked myself to push it further. My head said 'No'. My head told me that If I took those extra steps that I would panic. It made me feel like me walking to the shops was completely unrealistic, funny even. But then this new thought came up. This new 'positive' way of thinking has only began to grow in strength as I walk each day. I looked at the building and I told myself... 'You feel perfectly calm right now so why aren't you trying it. If you are ever going to attempt to walk to those shops you will want to attempt it NOW when feeling GOOD and not in future when you may be anxious'. And so I walked. I made it, I stayed calm and I remained there for about 10 minutes.

I guess I have forgotten to praise myself for these things. My little achievements may seem so small to other people but when i look back on how I was, things have improved so much and it has been down to me. I guess I should be proud. So I continue to walk further and the drives are ok. I still don't get out as much as i would like, but on Friday I went to a shop further away, one I hadn't been in for many many years, and I made myself go in and buy something. Following that I picked Luke up from school. Gerry likes to focus on the distance I drive from my house, and heading in the direction of his place. That is his goal. Me moving in. But i have soooo many other mountains to climb as well. I need to feel comfortable in shops, walking from the car, keeping appointments, going to the dentist, going to parties... in fact I need to learn everything from scratch! If i don't do all these things and build my confidence I will basically move from once house and into Gerry's where i will be even MORE agoraphobic. There I will live in a new town, surrounded by streets and shops that aren't familiar to me. If i cannot be confident in my walking I will be trapped there... When Gerry goes to work i will have no one to drive me from A to B, and so i think I would feel like a prisoner. If I don't learn to use buses and taxi's again I wont be able to visit my parents or friends unless I have Gerry. I don't want to rely on anybody but myself... and so I will continue working on MY things at MY pace.

Marie, who most of you will know, asked me how I have managed to make all the changes that have been happening. At first I said it was nothing really, just something switched in me, but that's not true. When I really think about it, there are a lot of things I do these days that help me with getting out and about. I know this part will be repetitive but I will try and share whats getting me through.

  • Keep a diary. Write what you have done each day, no matter how small. This way you will have a sense of achievement, order and also it is a useful way of looking back and seeing just how much you have improved.
  • Exercise. Ok I know not everyone enjoys this, but I do think that old saying is true... A healthy body, A healthy mind.
  • Listen to relaxation cd's as much as possible. I have mentioned many times that I listen to Paul McKenna daily.
  • Get into a routine. This for me was my biggest battle but I would say THE answer to my on going recovery. I slept most of the day and was up most of the night. Your not gonna make great progress if your all sleepy and foggy. Now my day is completely structured and sticking to this agenda is keeping me going.
  • Don't make huge unrealistic plans. Take baby steps. When I started all of this I walked to my Gate and back everyday. When I was ready I took it further, and if you have watched my video's you will see I can walk pretty far right now.
  • Do things at YOUR pace. Don't let anybody dictate to you. I would say that perhaps medical professionals could be the exception here but i really don't think anyone knows the right pace for you to do this better than you do.
  • My fight against agoraphobia didn't just start with walking, I have taken on other problems I had which seemed huge in the past. I would only bath during the day and I would never take pain killers (or any medication actually). Now i bath whenever I feel like it and I have relaxed with taking pills. So maybe you could look at facing some problems you have INDOORS before taking on the ones outside?
  • Talk! Anytime you have things on your mind either write it down or talk to someone. I will never bottle anything up like i did in the past. I know its not healthy for me and only leaves me sitting about brooding.
  • Make the most of the days where you are feeling good. A friend pointed out to me that he makes the most of his good days because when the bad days come and he is stuck indoors he doesn't want to think... I wish I had made the most of things when I felt better. Your only going to be frustrated with yourself for not fighting back.
  • Whatever task you choice, be it walking to the edge of your street, do it over and over and over again. Daily if possible. I know people might worry that their neighbours will give them funnily looks but at the end of the day who cares. Your getting your life back and that's way more important than their opinions. Also you could maybe talk on your phone so it doesn't look so strange or if you have a dog take it along. Making myself walk everyday has definitely helped me in the long run. Also if i have a day when I am feeling anxious I will maybe go a much shorter walk but I still attempt it.
  • Remember that there will be bad days and don't give up when they come. The good days always return.
  • Positive mental attitude. Seems so cliche but absolutely works.
  • Make a list to take out with you. If you get anxious and your head gets too messed up to think it is handy to have a list that You can read that has clear statements such as, this will pass. You are better than this. You are strong and will get through this.

Ok I think I am done... for now haha. I hope it doesn't sound patronising because i KNOW I am telling you things that you already know yourself. But i honestly thought in the past that I was THE worst agoraphobic ever! Everything seemed totally impossible and I really believed that I was beyond help. So to see the change in me I can be quite suprised at myself. The hardest thing is having the motivation to put it into practice. But for me my motivation came as the days passed and I stuck to my plan in getting back out there.

Anyway I think I have rambled for long enough tonight, I will mention that I have felt so silly for going on about the dentist being so easy that last time. I have been rather sore these last few days and have finally succumbed to pain relief. BUT... don't let that put anyone off. This is one of the best things I have done in year. I mean, I have lost 11 teeth!!!! If I had left it much longer i would be lucky to have any left so don't let it get that bad. When my work is all done I will post a picture of me with a huge smile to show the end result. You probably all think I'm quite gumsy now haha. Thankfully not, all the extractions were from the back but had i left it any longer I might not have been so lucky. So.. night folks xxx


Melisa (and Frankie) said...

AMEN!! (lol!)

You hit the nail on the head! MOTIVATION is my obstacle. It can be quite difficult to get myself moving in the winter. Sometimes it's just easier to use the snow and cold as an excuse not to move beyond the doors of my house.

Thanks for encouraging me to get motivated. Although, I am looking forwrd to Spring so I can actually enjoy my progress.

Goal for Spring: Drive to my Dad's house about 40 miles away (w/out Xanax). Wish me luck!

Take care!

P.S. Can't wait to see your new smile! Yay!

diver said...

Hi Lynn. I think your list of self-therapeutic measures is just brilliant - one of the best, most helpful, most practical things I've read online in a long while. Well done!

Mtav80 said...

What a great post. This thing is so full of great information and tips. This is better than some of the anxiety self-help books I have read.