Happy New Year Everyone!!!
I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and are ready to start the New Year with a bang.
I try not to be very negative when I write my posts but to give a true account of the last few weeks I'm afraid I will need to be a little bit depressing. But firstly I will start with a quick summary of how I feel my year went.
I would say 2009 was a massive success for me in many ways. After around 5 years of sitting in my bedroom, I took on many challenges and won. In fact 2009 was a massive turn around for me. I started the year off by attending a New Years party in a crowded pub, I then went onto face the dentist for the first time in 8 years (resulting in 11 teeth being removed and 8 fillings or something like that). I walked everyday unless extremely unwell, I never broke this habit. I started driving lessons which took me out of my little village for the first time in many many years. This was my biggest achievement I guess because for years I didn't imagine for a second that this was possible. It felt completely beyond me. I drove not only around my village but another 5 on top of that. I started going out for lunch, dinner. Going to restaurants, the cinema, I attended my doctors which again had been impossible before. I got my smear test done and was given the all clear. I have been in hospital, gone house hunting. I attended Luke's communion and other school events. I visited several people at home which for years just did not happen. I got engaged and then I got pregnant. Around the later part of the year I joined the Gym which was a massive achievement and one I am proud to say i have really enjoyed and which has become a huge part of my routine.
The pregnancy was a sad part of the year. I can see the positives in the situation though. I was extremely scared when I heard the news as it is a massive change, especially for someone who really had no responsibility for so long. But I faced up to it and seen a completely different future for myself and for Gerry. I attended appointments way out of my comfort zone. I remember being extremely nervous before each one, but I always managed to get there in the end. Sadly the pregnancy wasn't to be and I miscarried. I know this was a very sad time in my life and it also had an affect on the progress I was making with my agoraphobia. My miscarriage was not straight forward and the process seemed to go on for a few months. With this at the forefront of my mind, i wasn't able to focus completely on my recovery. That's life though isn't it. I throws us all kinds of s**t at us and we can make the choice to crumble or just battle on. I choose to battle on, and I always will.
The year did have sadness but in all it has been my best year in a long time. I feel i have lived where as before I was just existing. Sitting in a bedroom watching tv or chatting online. Now I imagine many people out there who read this might be in that very situation. I am not for a second knocking them, because I really believe that back then I had no choice. I wasn't strong enough to take on the challenge of fighting my agoraphobia. I spent a lot of time inside my own head just figuring myself and my life out. But honestly I cant say I have regrets about trying to get better. At certain parts of this year I felt completely happy and content. Life didn't feel scary, I wasn't living everyday with a knot in my stomach. And I know that's because i wasn't living inside my head anymore. I was living a life and had other things occupying my brain.
The later months of the year, from November to December have been another challenge. I would say it could even be called a relapse. Winter has always been a hard time for me, but since 2008's winter went so well, i wasn't too worried. But it did have a negative effect. As soon as the clocks changed i felt my mood dip. Anxiety came back again. I did have anxiety in the summer something inside of me could handle it and brushed it off pretty easily. When it returned in the winter it wouldn't disappear quite so easily so it freaked me out a little. There were nights that i suddenly thought 'i don't want to go out tomorrow'. I hadn't had thoughts like that in so long that it basically terrified me. I was so scared and couldn't help but worry that I was going back to my old ways. The only way I got myself through this was by telling myself constantly that no matter how anxious i got, i would NEVER just stay in doors again. Even if I was an anxious mess i would FORCE myself to get out and walk, even if it was only around the block. I would not risk staying indoors for one day, as we all know, one day can quickly turn into one week and before we know it we are stuck.
I made myself keep up my routine. I went to the gym or the shops but I wasn't getting the same buzz as before. I wasn't a total mess when doing these things, but I wasn't getting the same sense of achievement. My mood was just very flat. There were times i felt anxious but i was stubborn enough not to run from it, but to ride it out, as we are told to do. Then i had the big attack in the cinema which i wrote about. Although it wasn't my decision to leave the cinema, it was Gerry's, it felt like a failure. Another knock to the confidence. So looking at it now I can see it was a slow and steady decline.
Then we have Christmas. Well i stressed myself out to the max about Christmas. Worrying about money and not having enough to buy all the gifts i would have liked to buy people. I put myself under so much pressure. Unnecessary pressure! On top of this, 2 of my nephews left the UK to spent 6 weeks in Australia. I talk about my nephews often as they are such a huge part of my life and i see them all the time. When they are around i will pop round to see them every other night, therefore having human contact, and getting out of the house. Suddenly they were gone, so who do I turn to to fill the gap... my friends.
Well I have also discussed my friends before. How agoraphobia can affect friendships. I was very very lucky that even though I became housebound I was able to maintain a few very special friendships. What is bizarre is that i spoke to these friends MORE when I was housebound! They used to say things like 'if you could go out it would be amazing, we could do....'. I heard this all the time and so the year came where i finally COULD do the things they wanted and where are they? Well I cant say they are here for me. It is very sad and it had made me realise that I value friendships much more than others. But I also accept that we are older, people move on with their lives, they are busy etc. So I am certainly not dissing them, but I cant help say I am disappointed.
With Christmas just around the corner I was getting further into a depression. It is probably a very sad game to play, but I decided that I wasn't going to contact my 2 best friends but instead wait and see if they remembered me. Christmas day was a gloomy affair. Gerry had made arrangements for us to go to his parents for dinner but I didn't feel i could make it. I was struggling just driving around Linwood with my new negative blue head on, and so i felt it was inevitable that I wouldn't make it, or what If i even made the journey but was anxious through dinner and had to leave. No no no it just wasn't ideal. yeah i know this is a really unhealthy way of thinking but its where my head was at the time. And so on Christmas day Gerry wasn't with me as I had dinner with my parents. Did my friends get in touch? No they didn't. I didn't actually expect them to, its a busy day, but it still affected me. I was very down, very anxious and suddenly very lonely. I didn't have a big happily family Christmas. I was pretty much alone and spent the night myself in my bedroom. But hey that was my choice right?
Ok so the 2 friends. One has 2 kids and a house to run, and this is her excuse for not being in touch. I do understand this, but she never texts or calls and I'm sorry, i don't care how hectic your life is but surely once a month you can fit in a text to a friend simply saying 'how are you?'
The other friend I have mentioned before as being unreliable. Her life is very hectic at the moment also so i understand I am not at the top of her priorities. But on the run up to Christmas i arranged about 4 nights out for us. I suggested Karaoke, a pub and eventually just a coffee and a catch up. Every night we had planned she cancelled, or simply didn't turn up. I know it wasn't on purpose but it still hurt. On Boxing day i just cried. It all caught up with me. I felt so down and depressed and so alone. Poor Gerry got the brunt of it. But i really did feel like I had no one. I know that if I had someone available everyday, i wouldn't be stuck indoors. But as it is, i pretty much do everything alone. Anyway the friend with the kids, i text her and told her how i felt and she accepted that she hadn't been there for me. I have since been invited round to her house and enjoyed a catch up. The other friend, i kind of mentioned my depressing Christmas to which she suggested we have lunch on New Years Eve. She didn't get in touch on the day so the lunch never happened (i did text and call so at least i tried)
Anyway i am not sitting bringing these girls down. I know they have their own lives to live, i just wanted to explain where my head was. I do have to say though, that i call and text both regularly and if they EVER needed me, i would be there in a heartbeat. So i need new friends. But seriously, it is really touch to make new friends at this age, I'm not really sure where to look ha.
Last bit on depression. When feeling very low i listened to happy music LOUD. It helped. When feeling very blue I reminded myself of the thing I enjoy and will enjoy again. The summer, the kids, the drives, the lunches, the smell of cut grass, the hot summers, the feeling of achievement. When thinking straight I wrote down several sentences to read when my head wasn't working so well. Like ... Remember this is your anxious negative head thinking, not you! See this anxiety as a positive, a challenge that you will beat and therefore be even stronger. Always attempt things even if you are scared because you will get that buzz you love. Even if you panic, at least YOU TRIED. Nothing feels worse than knowing you never even tried. Then you feel like a failure and the anxiety just gets worse.
Ok so the positives. We are over half way through the winter YEY! The nights are becoming lighter YEY! The holidays are over and normality can resume, including the gym being open again as it was closed over the festive period YEY'. I have a new diary which i will use to write my achievements, keep my routine up. I can focus on my recovery again with no Christmas worries to get in the way. We are in January so my nephews will return soon (on the 15th). And I will be working with Jorg so hopefully this will also build on my strengths again.
So I am sorry for the doom and gloom, but hey I am always honest. For those of you who had a fantastic time then I am sooo happy for you and really glad it went well. For the others out there who might have had a Christmas more similar to mine, then lets just celebrate that it is over now. Lets look into the new year with fresh eyes. See the obstacles not as chores but see them as challenges to beat! Kick their asses and just get stronger. I tell myself this depression has been a good thing, once it is completely gone, it is another battle that I have won making me even more experienced and even stronger!
Last year was a good year for me and surely this can only be built on. I will not go back the way, i simply refuse. Yes I have to accept that the bad times can still come, but now i try to embrace them and move steadily through them instead of freaking out and imagining the world is ending. The things we want are completely achievable. We just need to focus and do what is right for us. Baby steps seems to work well for me. The light at the end of the tunnel eventually shines. Sometimes it just takes longer than others.
I really hope we can share this year together. The good and the bad. We all need support and someone to talk to and i offer my ear to anyone who needs it. May 2010 be OUR year. All of us together.