Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Communion Pictures

Luke is obviously thrilled to be pictured with me and Gerry came dressed as a chef haha

Luke's Big Day

Luke made his first communion on Saturday. It was the day I was hoping to attend the most and i was so glad to be there. All the work and nerves were made completely worth while when he seen me in the chapel. His little face lit up. Pity he doesn't looked so thrilled in our picture.

The weather was totally miserable which was a shame but the service was lovely and I was really proud to be there and watch him. He done so well. The Alter is up some steps but his step dad thoughtfully built a ramp so that Luke could be independent and wheel him self up to make his communion like the rest of the class.
After the service we made our way to a local bowling club where the families joined together for some food and drinks. It really was a lovely day... but a tiring one! My nerves held out perfectly to my relief but when it was all over i was exhausted.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Advice for Relatives/Friends

Looking over the 'Stresspac' information that I was given from David i found something useful. At the back of the agoraphobia supplement there is a section called 'Advice for Relatives/Friends.

I haven't seen anything like this before and wish i had given this to Gerry before we set out on our many trips. I thought I would type it out for you and see what you think...

If you don't suffer from agoraphobia, it will be hard for you to understand how it is affecting your relative or friend (now referred to as 'partner'). Talk to them about it. Try to look at it from their point of view. Even if you still cant understand it, accept that it is real and is not going to clear up without a great deal of hard work. Your help will be of great use. You may find the following points of use.

  • It will usually be easier for your partner to go out with you rather than alone. At the start, this is very useful. So make yourself available.

  • Always do exactly what you have jointly planned. NEVER do anything the two of you have not planned. If you have agreed to meet at a certain place at a certain time, make sure you are there ahead of time.

  • You may have to cope with irritation, anger, criticism etc. from your partner. These are often signs of stress. Try not to react to this. At the same time, try to keep your own irritation, anger and criticism under control. It is very hard coping with a partner who has this problem so accept that this problem is putting you under a lot of stress as well.

  • If something goes wrong, don't criticise. Talk it over, work out why it didn't work and plan ways of coping next time.

  • Offer all the encouragement you can, especially after a setback. Pats on the back after success are crucial.

  • Remember that this is taking a lot of guts on the part of your partner to face these places which cause so much fear so make sure he/she knows that you are with them 100% of the way.

  • Make sure that as your partner improves, his/her dependence on you eases. Encourage your partner to take on challenges alone.

  • Accept that your own life will chance. You may have got into habits of paying bill, doing the shopping, making decisions. You will have to encourage your partner to share these tasks.

  • Always be there for your partner. Give him or her a shoulder to cry on when the going is bad.

  • Why not a rewards to show how you feel about the hard work and progress - a bottle of wine, chocolates etc

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

New Download Available & More News

Last Friday I met with my new Occupational Therapist David again. I was giving LOTS of paperwork and a relaxation cd. I haven't listened to the CD yet but I am going to put it in the download folder if anyone wants to try it out. Just click the username is and the password is blogger. Also for those of you who don't know there are other downloads available there like Paul McKenna and the Linden Method.

So it was last Tuesday when i last wrote and I have more to tell. Gerry and i had been out for a meal, which i told you about and on the Wednesday we went out for food again. We went to the local pizza hut first but we had missed the buffet so Gerry wasn't a happy chappy haha, so we went for a pub lunch near by. It was delicious and i had a nice day out with him. Thursday was quieter. I went for a drive and popped into visit a friend but it was the weekend that was most exciting for me.

On Friday I had another successful driving lesson. We headed into Paisley, the place i used to dread most of all, but i drove there with no question and enjoyed my lesson. On Saturday we ventured back to Pizza Hut and this time we stayed. It was enjoyable but more of a challenge as it was VERY busy and we had to wait 15 minutes for a table. Queues and waiting have never been a strong point of mine but i just tried to read over the menu and talk to Gerry as distraction. It worked and the meal went well. From there I went back to Asda the big supermarket. It was less than a week ago that I had gone there with my dad and felt a little nervous but this time i wandered around happily with no nerves at all. I do think that positive thinking helps and obviously building your confidence.

Sunday was the big day. Sunday actually blew me away and by the end of it my head was all over the place. I got up and decided to take Luke swimming. I was excited at the thought of doing something for him as there have been so many years we have just spent time together in doors. He was thrilled at the idea so i packed our bags and headed for the pool. Luke didn't have him swim shorts so I had to drive to his house in a different town. He has lived there for 8 years and I have never seen his home! So it was very exciting to me to finally see where my brilliant boy lives.

We got to the swimming, again in this completely different town, and i was ok until we got pool side. We walked in and I was hit with this heat. It was very humid and it took my breath away for a second. Also since Luke is disabled i had to undress him and myself, so knew that If i felt panic and the need to run it was going to be awkward. Thankfully once i got out of my heavy clothes i cooled down and was able to breathe easily. We splashed around together for about an hour and had a total ball. I did notice my co-ordination in the pool was shocking. I didn't have the chance to go for a proper swim because i had Luke but i am definetaly out of practice!

From the swimming we drove to Burger King for a drive through meal. What a very normal day. Hmmm.... but it goes on.

Back at home i got myself ready and decided to go a drive with Gerry. The sun was shining and i was feeling good from the mornings swim so we headed off and before i knew it I had driven to Gerry's house. I think you all know how important this was for me. I really wanted to get there for so long, well it is almost a year since we met. Gerry was very very proud and was even more surprised when i told him i wanted to go inside. I spent sometime in his flat, rooting through his cupboards and drawers, learning about where my fiance lives. It seemed so bizarre that I had never been there before and it was nice to see where my other half spends his time when we are not together. After a while I said we should drive around town, it was time for me to see whats changed in the past 8 years.

I have noticed that my new problem is that I need to be the one driving the car to go anywhere. It means that I'm the one in control and the driving acts as a great distraction from the places my thoughts can sometimes go. But on Sunday i told Gerry he could drive for a change, i wanted to drive around the town and relax, enjoy the ride. We drove around and to be honest not that much had changed a great deal. Obviously there are new buildings here and there, shops with new names etc but my own village has changed more than Paisley.

I then suggested it was time to meet his parents. Yip I hadn't met them yet. I had an idea where they lived. I thought it was close to where I had taken some driving lessons but i was wrong. We seemed to be driving for a long time until we were in part of the town that I didn't recognise at all. I actually don't think I have ever been there and eventually i completely lost my bearings. But it was so bizarre because i just didn't care, I just got on with it. And so finally i met Gerry's folks. A really lovely couple who gave me a warm welcome and made me feel completely at ease in their home. They have no idea about my agoraphobia, Gerry has never told them for whatever reason, but they wouldn't have known anyway as i was relaxed and chatted away easily enough.

We left there late in the afternoon and Gerry asked if i would like to go meet a couple who he is friends with. I said Yes with no hesitation at all and even though the day was already going well i think he was a bit surprised. I did ask how long it would take to drive there so i must have been a little more anxious at this point but he said they lived 2 minutes away so i was fine with that. Well he lied lol. The drive took longer than that, or maybe an agoraphobics 2 minutes seems longer? But it felt like 10 minutes to me. Finally we got there and i met Andy and Fiona, a lovely couple who had been looking forward to meeting me ever since Gerry told them about me a year ago.

It was now dinner time and i was starving! There was somewhere I have always wanted to go for dinner but had never managed before. A small village called Houston in the opposite direction of Gerry's house. I drove there and did feel more anxious by now but was determined not to give in and just go for it. We had the more gorgeous meal together. Gerry enjoyed a few glasses of wine and some of there own brewed beer. When we got home i was totally exhausted. I was happy but as i settled into bed my mind started racing. Its as though it just doesn't understand whats going on. It is struggling to keep up with me. When that happens I do start to feel anxious again, but i just remind myself of how far i have come lately and if i had the strength to get out there and fight once, then i have it in me to do it again.

I'm sorry if this blog has been long winded but i wanted to show people just how much progress has jumped lately. I would say Sunday was the first day where I have travelled with no limits, no majorly negative thoughts, no anxiety and no worries since i first became agoraphobic. This has happened totally out of dedication and perseverance. Someone recently asked me how Gerry has been feeling about all these changes and thankfully he has been superb. He supports me 100%, is very proud and tells me this often and also we argue much less as our relationship is basically working the way he always wanted it to. He said he feels like part of a 'normal' couple now. So i am happy that he has been patient for a year and I think he is too, it seems that his patience had paid off. On Saturday I have the first major family day out to attend. Well the first in about 8 years, Luke's communion, So i will let you know how it goes.