Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Home Alone

I am knackered!!!
On Friday my parents went down to England to visit family. My brother has moved back to the family home temporarily and so i knew I wouldn't be home alone at night. In the past I wouldn't be left alone at all, day or night. Now I seem to be totally fine during the day, but the thought of being alone all night can stress me out. Only because I never have to be alone. Someone is always here... usually my mum.
My mum was always my safe person, but over the years I have tried to make myself self reliant. I know that I cant rely on other people to make me calm. I need to be the one that can do that, otherwise what am I going to do when that person isn't around. Not only that, but relying on other people really restricts what THEY can do with their lives too. My parents haven't been on holiday, they have never stayed away from home together, not even for 1 night. When Luke was in hospital and family were allowed to stay overnight, one of my parents would always make sure they were home for 8pm. And why? Because of me. At 26 I still needed a babysitter!
I was looking forward to them getting away together but at the back of my head I had a little niggling thought asking myself 'will i be ok without them'. Its silly really because even if i was to have a panic attack i would just shut myself away in my room. I would never go to either of them and ask for help. But just having someone at home is a comfort.
Anyway they left on Friday and I decided to have a little dinner party. Basically Gerry and I cooked for a couple he knows, who have become my friends. I cleaned the house from top to bottom in preparation. It took me 2 days and i was exhausted but I wanted everything to be perfect. I did feel a little anxious on the lead up to the dinner but I think that was just tiredness and the apprehension of how the night would go. Thankfully we had a brilliant night, with lots of laughs, food and drink and I really enjoyed myself, as did everyone else.
Now that the dinner was over I had another idea. I decided i would have my 3 nephews stay overnight with me and we would have a 'sleepover'. yeh they stay overnight all the time but they cant really let go with my mum here always telling them to tidy up and what not so i let them run a bit wild (as i did too). It was another success and I really enjoyed having them all together and it was nice knowing that while this was going on, my mum wasn't in the other room tearing her hair out.
My mum bought a new kitchen a year ago and since then it has sat in boxes all over the house. Even when my dad was unemployed for a few months he STILL didn't get round to fitting it for her. So trying to be nice i suggested that I would fit the kitchen while she was away. Well I had no idea how big the job would be. For the past few days I have ripped a kitchen apart. Cleaned it... No SCRUBBED it. Re painted it. and put everything into its place. At the moment the kitchen is ready for Gerry to come and fit the new cabinets. I know i always say I am tired but wow i mean it. I have been feeling utterly wiped out. On top of working on the kitchen i have been looking after the kids again and also trying to keep the house tidy in general. Hmmm not sure i like this 'housewife' malarky. No, to be honest I have really enjoyed it. My days are filled with activity although its hard work, i feel like I'm accomplishing something. I am excited to see the finished kitchen and to know that I done that for my mum will make me really happy, after everything she has done for me its the least I can do.
As well as the kitchen and kids I picked up my new car today. I love it! I had grown attached to my old rust bucket but she has seen better days and had to go to the big scrap yard in the sky. I was a little worried about not having her anymore but the new car has quickly turned into a little safe place for me. In fact a safer one that wont breakdown at any given minute (touch wood). It is so smooth to drive and comfortable which is the opposite of my old car.
Finally it is 2.40 am... so basically the middle of the night, and i am home ALONE. My brother rang to say hes staying with his girlfriend tonight and i am totally ok. I was worried at first but the bigger part of me wanted to test myself. I wanted to go through this night alone because realistically, when I move out I am going to be alone a lot through the night. Gerry works nights so i will need to be alone 5 nights out of 7. I know ill be proud to wake up in the morning and say 'i did it'.
Oh and bad news on the job front. I mentioned it in my last post because i thought I had a good chance of getting one that I had been told about, but it fell through. With the credit crunch going on so many people are job hunting, and there aren't many jobs going, but i am actively looking all the same. If i find anything I will obviously let you know. I know i sound chirpy and things but i want people to know that everyday is a battle. I still worry about panic attacks. I still get anxious. I still avoid things a lot but I am working on that, but through hard work and determination I have definately made progress and gave myself a better way of life. I hope everyone remember how bad i was in the past and realises that if i can do it then you can too. And so that sums up my past week. it has been very busy, very tiring but very enjoyable and I am loving life. I guess its at times like these that you look back and remember how bad i was and i think 'look at me go'!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Another stressful week

This week has actually been ok i suppose. It was the tail end of the week that was a little more challenging. Since starting to drive I have come to rely on my car very much. This doesn't actually bother me as long as i am getting out and about. But it was time to put my car into the garage to get some serious work done. I had originally been given a quote for the work, and although it was a bit steep, i figured it was worth it as long as it keeps me on the road. So yesterday the car was out into the garage which left me without wheels for the first time in ages. Hmmmm. I didn't like it very much, but only because it was a change and we all know that change isn't welcome ha.

I did well during the day actually. I went out walking and went to the shops and things as usual, just as i did before I had my car. I knew i would only be without it for a couple of days and it would all be worth it when my car came back all mended. Oh well i spoke to soon. I awoke this morning to the mechanic calling me to tell me that the car will cost much more than i expected to repair. Well its silly money really and i would be cheaper buying a brand new car. But I don't have much money so what do I do??? Life without a car just doesn't seem to appeal to me. As much as i was out yesterday, i certainly didn't venture out as far as I would in my car. So i got a little worried at first but then took action. I collected my car before the guy done any work and went about car shopping. I looked at a few models and finally found one I am really happy with. Ok it's nothing flash but its nice and comfortable to drive, much more reliable and much newer than my car. In the end the new car will cost me the price i would have been paying for repairs...and its new and shiny and all mine! As pictured above.

Also this week i took on another challenge. A visit to the cinema. Well the cinema near me is massive. I think it has 20 screens or something so you can imagine this isn't a small intimate building. This place is like a supermarket inside. I wasn't actually worried about the building, just how i was going to manage to sit at piece for the 2 hour show. Waiting to leave for the cinema i was getting anxious. I told myself that it would be far easier to just cancel. Why do i need to go?? Ill just call it off. And then i remembered that that kind of behaviour is exactly how i ended up agoraphobic. Why deprive myself of a nice day out, and possibly seeing a good movie, just because of nerves?

Yes i was nervous on the journey there, and also inside i was a little on edge. During the movie i was thinking all sorts of things. but mostly it was this.... it is so dark in here. When i walk outside and its suddenly very bright is the rapid change going to freak me out. will the light be too much stimulation and will i panic?? Bit if a bizarre one isn't it, but hopefully you'll understand none the less. Eventually I decided that I would take a walk to the toilet and see how i reacted with that. As obviously leaving the dark cinema into the slightly lighter hallway would give me an idea to how i would react. Panic over.. i felt ok. I chilled out throughout the film. Which was 'bruno' and was pretty good. And afterwards I enjoyed a McDonalds with friends. Not a bad day out and totally worth the initial apprehension.

Next time i may have news of.... a job!!!!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Moving On

What a horrible time. It really has been a nightmare! I had discussed my pregnancy in the past and it really was a total rollercoster from the start.

I was told that i may be having a miscarriage at around 5 weeks. Due to my agoraphobia i wasn't able to get to the hospital to have it confirmed. Finally at 8 weeks I went for a scan to be told i wasn't miscarrying, but had a cyst on my ovary which was causing the problems. Phew! Total Relief. I started to grow excited and enjoy my pregnancy. Although most people wait until 12 weeks have passed before telling people they are expecting, i thought that since baby was ok at my scan, i could start spreading the news. So i told everyone in the family and basically anyone i met when i was out and about. Worst of all i told all my nephews.

I was calm again. The agoraphobic symptoms were getting less and I was feeling more at ease day to day. Obviously I still had my worries. I had never felt that great making the drive to the hospital, and when at the hospital I wasn't exactly enjoying my visits. So i thought about the labour and didn't actually worry about the pain (naive?) but i was more worried about having the baby and then being told i had to stay in hospital for a few days. I wasn't sure how i would cope with that at all, but told myself that I would be fine and would want to stay wherever my baby was.

Then the bleeding returned. Not only a little. I wont be too graphic but basically if i had been 9 months pregnant i would have thought it was my waters breaking. On 2 occasions i was soaked. Must be the cyst i thought. Perhaps this is what happens when a cyst bursts?? I didn't know. But all the while i didn't worry about the baby, because deep down I knew the baby would be ok.

I am not here to discuss the miscarriage, but my agoraphobia, so i wont go into detail but basically i was asked to go to the hospital again for another scan. This is when I was told the bad news. In the hospital we were kept for what felt like hours. I don't like lifts so had to walk up and down 4 flights of stairs several times. Eventually we were put into a quite room to discuss our options with hospital staff. Wow i DID NOT want to be there. Obviously the stress of the news was having an effect. I went from feeling ok, to pacing the room and wanting desperately to leave. We were kept waiting as we needed to speak to a doctor, but the doctor was busy on the labour ward. I couldn't think about the news that had just been given to me, but instead kept thinking about the drive home. Now that my nerves were completely shattered I really didn't think I could manage the drive home. It seemed too far, too difficult, too busy. But at the same time i couldn't imagine allowing someone else to drive me, i needed to be the driver. Maybe once i started to drive I would be distracted and id make it ok. In the end i knew i didn't have any other option. (Well none that I would be comfortable with).

I drove home. And although I'm sure i didn't break the speed limit, i was definitely driving at the maximum speed allowed. I'm sure my mum and friend who were with me were scared, but no one would say anything knowing what i had just gone through. We all made it home in once piece. Now what?

All my plans have stopped. I can stop my lists now. Baby names, what I need for the nursery, what i need for my hospital bag. I can't believe it. I feel empty.

I was told that i would need to go back into hospital but i couldn't face it. By then I had completely lost my nerve. The experience in the hospital was not a happy one and it seemed even more difficult for me to get there now.

On the days that followed i continued to go out. I have basically kept up everything that i could do, but i have noticed I haven't really attempted to venture any further. I think its just too much at the moment. My body and mind are both completely exhausted!! I hope that as the days and weeks pass I'll regain my motivation. It is horrible that at times like these, we should be able to grieve and perhaps spend a few days in bed, but that agoraphobia wont allow this. If i took to my bed for a few days I know i would risk the agoraphobia coming back. OK, it may not be extreme agoraphobia, but its not a chance that I am willing to take. And so although i am tired I plod on. Obviously I have broke the news to all of the family, but how do you explain this to children. I have told them though and they all seem to understand.

So i need to go back to hospital but to be honest I have been putting it off. I need to be rescanned to see if it is all over. I don't want to go into that scan room again. It holds such horrible memories. I will say though that should i get pregnant in future i know i will be nervous, but i will go to any appointments with faith that all is well. I think just now its a little too fresh. My head is very messy and I'm sure my hormones are all over the place so i guess its understandable that i am a little drained. I want to be proud that I still fight my battles everyday, its just hard sometimes when you are so tired. I know all will be ok in the end.

I also wanted your opinion on something. A friend of mine suffers from agoraphobia, and we actually met after he contacted me about my blog. This guy is fantastic and continues to fight his agoraphobia no matter how down he gets. He is always thinking of new tasks or ways to challenge himself but lately he has been facing a tough time. We all know that at times our anxiety levels can leave us with the fear of being alone. I remember my fear being so acute that I would actually need someone to be with me even when going to the bathroom. Anyway (Ill call him John) John has recently begun to fear being left alone. He lives with his parents and during the day when they go to work he is left home alone and HATES IT. He used to be able to relax at night once his parents came home but now he spends his nights anxious, imagining what the day ahead will bring. Will he completely lose control? John's safe person is his mum and when things get really bad he relies on her being at home in order for him to feel at ease. So... this week John's parents are off work and he was looking forward to a more relaxed week, he hoped he would feel calm enough to focus more on his tasks and going out, instead of being home stressed out.

John has recently started to see a new 'helper' referred to him by his doctor. When his helper was visiting last week his parents told of Johns recent attachment to them and asked for advice. The helper has told John's parents that they must go out regardless of how John feels. No matter how much he pleads for them to stay, they have to leave him on his own. So... I think this is a bit harsh. I can completely understand what the helper is trying to do. They don't want John to develop an unhealthy attachment to his parents, for him to rely on them so much that whenever the HAVE to leave the house he becomes ill. But this has caused John to stress EVEN MORE than he had been about being alone. Obviously he is thinking so negatively and is completely freaking out because now his parents have announced that they WILL be leaving him alone, no matter how much he protests and that they are taking the advice of the 'professional'. I feel so badly for him and I wish i could talk to his parents. I know the helper means well but as an agoraphobic and having suffered from this problem myself in the past, i know that i would have been a trembling panic stricken mess had i been left. I was lucky that I had a stay at home mum who rarely went anywhere. So, what would your advice be to Johns parents or do you agree with the helper?