Thursday, 9 April 2009

Me and Marie

I met Marie when she wrote to me about 2 years ago regarding a post i had written on a random website. I had written about how i suffered from Agoraphobia and Panic Attacks and obviously Marie seen we had something in common. Soon after her first email we began to chat on MSN. We are now very close although we have never met in person. Marie has been there for me through a lot of tough times with anxiety and other issues and I would like to think that I have been there for her too.

About a year ago Marie and her husband Robert were taking a road trip and asked if I would like them to visit me. At first I said yes but unfortunately as the date approached I had to pull out. I was sorry for this because I know Marie was upset but I never doubted the fact that we would one day meet in person. I knew it would happen.

A few months ago Marie mentioned us meeting again. We talked about arranging it for the summer. Marie, Robert and the kids were thinking of taking a trip to Loch Lomond, a beautiful area in Scotland, and while there Marie could pop by and visit me for a couple of days. Then Marie got in touch to tell me that Robert would be attending a conference in the coming weeks. He would only be a couple of hours drive from me so she asked if she could make the drive up with him and then come and stay with me from the Sunday to the Wednesday. I agreed.

As the date approached it looked unlikely that it was going to happen due to Robert's recent trouble with cellulitis. See his blog here. It was only confirmed that they were definitely coming on the Sunday morning. Apart from Robert's health issues there was the obvious problem of Marie's agoraphobia. I know most of you are familiar with Marie already and so you know her story. She has suffered with agoraphobia and panic attacks for many many years. She has gone through times of depression where she hasn't left the house and doesn't want to drive anywhere. When Marie does go out in the car it is usually with a safe person in the passenger seat, but when travelling in the car with Robert he is usually the one doing the driving. On top of this Marie will very rarely drive on her own. Even driving to the local shop just seconds away has been a problems.

And so on Sunday morning I was very surprised to hear that they were definitely coming to visit. Robert wasn't going to be able to drive for 7 hours without a bit of help due to his foot problems but I think even he was unsure if Marie would be able to do the driving... given the fact that she doesn't like motorways. Well Marie surprised us both. They set off on the Sunday afternoon and Marie drove from her home town all the way to Scotland. I am so proud of her and completely in awe too. I have no idea how she managed it. Robert drove for the final hour or so and they arrived at my house at 11.30pm.

I was excited to met Marie but also excited to meet Robert. I have spoken to him a few times on the phone and read his blog regularly. As i waited on them arriving i didn't really believe it was happening. Marie and I have spoken for so long i feel like we know each other as well as possible but the thought that they would be in my house was all a bit hard to imagine.

When they pulled up outside my house I met them at the car to help with bags. Marie got out the car and i was greeted with this tall beautiful women. (I knew Marie was tall but it is rare that i meet any female taller than myself as i am 5'10') She towered above me but then she was in heels and i in flats. Robert was exactly like I imagined. Extremely warm and with a big smile i hugged him and then Marie. That night we just had some tea and then headed to bed. The following morning Robert had to hit the road and he left so early i didn't see him. Marie eventually crept into my bedroom and asked me to go into her room. She was getting stressed that I had forgotten she was there haha.

The few days that followed seem like a blur to me. What I have achieved by having Marie here has shocked me and my head hasn't quite got round it yet! We had already decided that while she was here, Marie and I would go out for drives. This meant that I could practice my driving skills and Marie could see where I live, the places I have spoken about etc. On Monday I had my appointment with the people from the job centre to discuss my benefits (the people who at first refused me a home visit). The women from the JC ticked the required boxes but the best thing was that she brought another Occupational Therapist to meet me. I think his name was Dave. He was really nice and knew exactly how I should be tackling my recovery and asked me if i would like to work with him. I said yes as i think any support being offered should be taken, even though I am doing pretty well on my own. After the meetin i drove with Marie around my usual safe roads but before I knew it we were down into the main part of the village, where i had previously only just gone with my driving instructor. I was calm and we chatted away happily. Would i be brave enough to drive to the petrol station with Marie to get fuel? I didn't know if i could manage it. The thought did make me nervous, but i challenged myself and drove there anyway. Oh we had such a laugh! Since i hadn't been anywhere near the garage in 5 years I didn't know that you could pay at the pump. This meant I also didn't know how to work it. The 2 of us must have been a sight for sore eyes. Marie took care of the payment, but for some reason i think it took her 4 attempts. Meanwhile she was trying to take pictures of me filling the car with petrol (that was once we had discovered which side the petrol cap was on). Even though we paid at the pump i still wanted to walk into the garage and buy something just to prove I could. And so i did. I was completely amazed and so so proud.

With new found confidence i took a little detour to my doctors surgery. 8 years it has been since I have been there. But there I was sat outside with Marie. We parked up the car and I told Marie that i wanted to take a little walk through the village and see how i coped... and then i might pop my head into the doctors and see if it had changed. Poor Marie. I didn't realise that she didn't like to be left alone in the car like that but she coped brilliantly. While she was here I tried to make her as comfortable as possible. If i left her at anytime i always let her know I had my phone, where i was going and how long i was going to be. When Marie could see me again she started taking pictures of me walking to the surgery. Inside the surgery I walked up and booked an appointment for my smear test! I only just wrote about it a few posts ago but i never imagined i would be in that building so soon. The test was booked for Wednesday at 2.00.

After the days success we went home, had food and then got settled in my room. We sat on my bed watching tv all night, both on our laptops. That night i slept better than I have in months.

Tuesday. Up and dressed we went off out in the car again. This time i pushed myself and we left my town. I drove a new road and even Marie could tell I was nervous at this point but we survived and after about 5 minutes we were back in Linwood again. I drove to places I hadn't been able to get to in years. The local sports centre, the bowling club where Luke's communion party will be, the pub which used to be my local and then to boots where Marie could spend some money. Marie bravely bought some hair dye whilst there. In the past the thought of dying her hair has made her too anxious. I think its the control thing, knowing that once it is done, she cant change it back. Also i know she has said she would struggle havin to sit there calmly while the dye developed. So we got home and i set to work on colouring her hair which is almost at her bum! She did brilliantly. You really wouldnt have known she was nervous at all. The only give away to me is that she went and got her handbag (regular readers of Robert/Maries blog will know that this is Maries safety behaviour kicking in). I thought the end result was fab, infact you couldnt really see a difference apart from the fact it covered some unwanted grey hairs. That night a friend of mine popped round. I wanted Marie to meet some of the people I have spoken about for so long. Again that night I slept like a baby.

Wednesday arrived and it was the day of my appointment. My mum also had an appointment at the doctors that day and luckily it was at the same time as me. So i drove the 3 of us there. I was a little nervous as i sat in the car park. My mum went in first and I waited with Marie in the car, then it was my turn. I went in and sat in the waiting room. I really hoped I wouldn't be kept long and luckily i wasn't. I had my test! I am so glad. I will have the results through the post in about 4 weeks.

(a quick video while in the waiting room of the doctors, i really must stop filming things sideways)

In the afternoon Marie met my nephews Riley & Jude and my friend Angela and Taz the cat killer. We sat in the garden and everyone got along great. I will add pictures of this when i get them.

Then we ordered a huge Indian and waited on Robert coming to pick Marie up. He arrived on Wednesday evening and we ate. Then we all sat and watched tv. Marie, Robert, myself, my mum and by then Luke had arrived. I was glad she got to meet everyone. Unfortunately my dad and Gerry were both working but at least she met some of the important people in my life. I did dread Marie leaving. I have achieved so much in the short time that she was here. I had a perception of Marie from chatting online but meeting her in person has been different. She is so kind, sweet and really funny. I think we have a friendship that will last and I am very honored to call her my friend. I always knew we would meet and I know for sure it wont be the last time. As we said our goodbyes Marie cried and i felt awful but i reassured her that we are closer than ever and have loads of fun times ahead. Thank you for 3 amazing days!

Last night I slept for about 10 hours. I think i am mentally and physically exhausted. I did worry that now she was gone I would have lost my driving partner and wouldn't be able to do as much. So today I asked my mum nicely if she fancied a little trip. Thankfully she agreed and i drove us to the petrol station. I fueled up and this time i paid in the shop ha. From there i drove to a local supermarket. I parked up and went in alone. I bought food for tonight's dinner and lots of Easter goodies for Gerry and the kids. I did get a little nervous, but i always do when trying new things. It was a little strange as I have never been in this shop before, so didn't have a clue where anything was, but I was also proud of myself. Now I am home and its time for a bath, and then dinner and tonight i guess i will be in bed early again. Robert and Marie are still on there little road trip and I look forward to seeing all their photographs on their return.



Nioniel said...

Wow, look at you two! I'm so pleased for you both that you got the chance to meet, and that you've both accomplished so much. Keep up the good work, you're doing so well!

Caz said...

Aww, well done both of you :) I know I haven't known either of you very long, and don't know either of you very well, but I'm still really proud of you both :)

Your post really made me smile - it sounds like you had a great time together.

(And I know there is probably no connection at all but it struck me as odd to read how tall you both are. I'm just over 6' in bare feet, and usually between 6'1" and 6'2" with shoes on.

I doubt if tall women are more prone to panic attacks but I was just wondering if maybe we were slightly more likely to be lacking in confidence. I know that growing up I always felt awkward to be so tall and used to wish that I could just blend in with everyone. It's only recently that I've learnt to love my height. Shopping for clothes can be a nightmare but I'd much rather have my long legs than be short!)

Take care and have a good long weekend x

Jason said...

Great story lynn!

Anonymous said...

It just goes to show what a bit of mutual support can do for both of you. Sounds, and looks, like you both had a really good time and it was a real benefit. Now that the two of you have done it once I hope it becomes a regular occurrance.

Happy for you both.


alice said...

im glad you both had a really good time. the pictures look great. look what you can achieve with a bit of mutual support. brillinat.

Lynn said...

Thanks lots everyone. I feel good about it all. Its weird though... overwhelming! Has anyone else felt this way. You do something big and new but you dont really feel proud of your achievement, its like it doesnt sink in sometimes? Anyway its a huge leap and i am very happy, there is no denying i am getting along better than i was. Thanks everyone for reading. Knowing your there urges me to keep on going.