Monday, 11 January 2010

Hard To Stay Strong.

My week has been another roller coaster. I stopped enjoying Roller coasters when i was about 15.

I started the new year with my head trying to think positive. And i was somewhat successful. I attended them gym after several weeks off and I went on a few drives.

But lots of things had been getting to me. I haven't really done anything BIG in quite some time. I haven't overcome any big obstacles and felt the buzz of 'YES! I did it!' And so my plans for the New Year are to get that back. I actually remember last year being at a point where I WANTED anxiety to come. I wanted to panic and be in a position where I had to test myself. I wanted to take it on, and observe it, and then work through it and feel stronger and even more successful. But obviously if we are actually WANTING to panic, it will probably never happen!

Which beings me nicely to Tuesday of last week. Monday and Tuesday I had made myself one goal. Go to the gym. On Monday I had a nice chat with Jorg and he got me thinking nice and positively as i headed off for my first day back at the gym since the Christmas holidays. I was nervous. I was actually a little shaky, but I took the positives from my trip there. Ok i was a little nervous but hey I had still gone there alone. I got on with my work out and actually did more than I had expected to get done, i felt quite good. Then on Tuesday I went again and this time I was probably MORE nervous. Not really sure why. At a couple of points I felt really unpleasant but I was adamant that I would not leave. There are times in the gym when I have some negative thoughts but usually I just get lost in my work out. This time the thoughts were quite prominent, one being 'What if I leave here and try to drive my car and it doesn't start'. Having that on my mind obviously made me uneasy but I got into my exercise eventually.

Tuesday night i didn't feel too hot. I was fixated on my breathing again, do you ever get this? I had it about 2 years ago and it caused panic back then. One night after focusing on it so much I caused myself to hyperventilate and it only stopped when I asked my dad for help. Tuesday night was much of the same. This time i felt I could control it enough not to hyperventilate but sadly the thoughts were enough to cause me panic. I dealt with though, alone. I tried all the usual methods of distraction that work for me, and they did work to a point. But instead of having one big attack it was coming in waves. Each time I thought it was passing and I was calming down it came back. Not at all pleasant and yes very scary. What shocked me most was the reaction my body had AFTER the attacks. It was the very same reaction I had after my first ever panic attack. I had obviously been very tense throughout the whole thing because afterwards I was physically shaking. In fact I couldn't actually walk without my whole body trembling. The good think about this happening, is that i know that's the attacks over. My body is calming down and I am starting to relax. And so after the shaking stopped I got into bed and fell asleep. As part of the distraction at the end I videoed my shaking. Silly in a way as the camera is all over the place, but on listening it was my breathing I noticed most. You can actually hear the trembling in my breathing.

And so the vicious circle begins. I woke up at 7am and immediately thought 'am i anxious, am I going to panic today' and so my heart began to pound rapidly, but i stayed put and just took some relaxing breaths and soon fell back asleep.

So Wednesday I had no great expectations as I know the anxiety had knocked me a little. I wasn't going to make a trip to the gym or try any big long drives. In stead I just popped round to my brothers for a visit and stayed pretty close to home.

Thursday my car wouldn't start. Bizarre really as it has never happened before, even when i thought about it at the gym, there was nothing to suggest it might actually happen. The cold here is the worst we have seen in years and it is affecting is all in so many different ways. the cold had caused my car battery to go flat. Great! My dad and I attempted to give it a jump start but it wasn't working and he told me the next thing we could try was just plugging it into a charger. My car was parked too far away so we had to push it. Obviously i was keen to get the car going as this is my mode of travelling greater distances, but my dad was busy and not able to push it. Fabulous! So on Thursday i was again stuck at home. I went a walk but that was about it but i was pretty much indoors. Not good for me really. Just shows how often you really need to keep up your routine.

Friday is usually my favourite day as I'm busy. I will go to the gym and then collect Luke from school. The car was still dead so it wasn't possible and again i was stuck at home. but thankfully i got the car hooked up to the charger and then after an hour I finally got the car going again. To charge the battery I took it for a little drive. Gerry was over at night but basically the most of the day was spent at home. My mood being affected with every hour.

Saturday I had Luke and he didn't want to go anywhere. The snow is usually the cause of so much excitement with the kids here but we have had it so long that they are just sick of it now. I tried to tempt him out of the house with the promise of building an excellent snowman but after a quick walk around looking for a good place, Luke got bored and wanted to go home. Also I then got a phone call from a friend in need who needed to talk. So she came over, followed by Gerry. Dinner was made and before I knew it the day was over and it was another day where I was pretty much always in doors.

My point is this. Life. Life can cause all sorts of obstacles that we cant predict. And this week my routine was once again up in the air through no fault of my own. But last night after days of doing nothing really the negativity kicked in. I lay with Gerry and my mind was spiraling. I haven't been out, I haven't done enough, I don't know if i can go far again, I don't want to go to the gym now, i don't want to even go a walk, I'm scared. And so my anxiety crept up slowly until at one point I lay and looked and Gerry and just cried. He didn't know it thank goodness but I felt so sad. Why is this happening again, why am I scared. This poor guy is lying here wanting to be with me so much but instead of getting better I am getting worse. I felt huge love for him but massive fear that I cannot give him what he needs. I thought about telling him what I was thinking, but it was so intense all ready, i felt that if i said the words out loud i would scare myself more and become even more upset. I reasoned with myself that it was my negative head doing the talking again and that the reality would be much different. I would get up early in the morning, get back into my routine. I might not go straight to the gym this week but I would at least get dressed in my gym gear and drive there. In fact I made my expectations even smaller! I would go a walk around the block. I would go a small drive with no destination in mind. But I knew that even if it was something small i had to get out of the house and do it. I told myself that even if i was panicking and under extreme anxiety i would STILL walk out the door and face it, cause it always passes. But then the little demon pipes up and tells me 'but what if you try this and everything starts to spin and you are far to terrified and need to run indoors'.

Why on earth do we do this to ourselves. It is so hard to describe to someone how the thoughts can seem so real, how the cause a fear that is so intense that it affects the way we live our lives. I try to embrace this and tell myself, this is just another challenge to beat Lynn. You will fight it. But sometimes you cant help just think 'why me. Why is this STILL happening'. But please people don't give up. I will never give up. Life is too precious and I don't want to miss out on any of it. I always said that agoraphobia stole my 20s from me and that i wanted to head into my 30s with a new lust for life. My 30s are going to be fabulous. Well on Friday I turn 29. Could this also be a source of my anxiety?

I think so. I don't enjoy growing older, and I don't think any of us really do. When your of an anxious nature I am sure that from time to time you think of death. That is hardly a cheery thought for anybody. I think about how i want to keep my body in shape and I head to the gym to try and keep my body at its best for as long as i can. But every now and then I find another stretch mark or a little more cellulite. Maybe its a control thing again. We with anxiety seem to be control freaks in someway (perhaps not all but i am) and this is something i cannot control. I look at myself heading for 30 and still living with my parents, with no children and no careers and It can really get me down. But i know all this negativity doesn't do me any good at all. Now i know some of my older readers will be saying 'oh shut up Lynn your going to be 29, i wish i was 29, that's so young'. But its just like all the thoughts we have isn't it, irrational? Turn this into a positive. I still live at home so I have time to save, its never too late to go back to college or go get a career going. And maybe its best I don't have children right now because it means I am able to focus on myself and my recovery and not sacrifice my children's happiness in the process?

So all this anxiety and all these crappy thoughts it can be very hard to stay strong. Life can feel so difficult at times. An uphill climb. And when the climb goes on longer than we thought it would we can lose heart and feel like its never going to get better. But we are not psychics, so why are we so certain our futures are going to be crap. We have no proof of it whatsoever so why convince ourselves otherwise. We know are thoughts are usually always wrong anyway so I try my best not to listen to mines anymore. Do you have a voice in your head that tells you all the bad things, and then another little voice, the voice of reason, that will say to you 'Don't be silly, that wont happen'. I think we all do, and that's the voice I am going to be listening to from now on.

When I first started my recovery I was strict about writing things in my diary. Everything i did in my day, no matter how small, i would write it down so that I had a sense of achievement. I have my new 2010 diary now and I have been writing everyday. If you don't have one, and you are trying to recover from agoraphobia or panic attacks then I do suggest you get a diary. Writing goals and achievements down make me feel much more focused and my head feels much clearer.

Today i woke up at 1.30. immediately I was anxious and annoyed as basically the darkness kicks in at 3.30, so i had missed the best part of the day. Gerry was in a lazy mood and quite happy to lie in bed (since he works night shift) but I knew i could not risk another day stuck at home. I knew that if i stayed in, i would lie in bed and night kicking myself and probably work myself into a panic. I felt lousy. I looked worse! But women have a wonderful gift. Something that can make us look and feel better on the outside, even if we don't feel it on the inside. Make up! It is probably one of the main things that make me glad to be female. I can look so dreadful at times that I don't know what I would do without my war paint, apart from scare children. Don't get me wrong, i don't wear make up everyday, but some days it is NEEDED! Today was one of them. I put my make up on and I'm sure women will understand, I felt better for it. It can be amazing how it can cheer you up. I felt a bit braver even? Ready to take on what was coming next.

I planned a small walk, but was asked to get some things from the shop so before I knew it, i was in my car and on my way. I pulled up near the shops, and yes i did feel anxious, and even had some thoughts that could have made me turn back, wobbily legs, but i tried to just push on. I got my shopping and when I got back to the car I went a little drive.

Ok it is hardly the most thrilling day out but I felt so much better for it. Once again I faced my demons and I didn't let them put me off, where as in the past I wouldn't have crossed the door. Another little win? No matter how minor it may seem, and i happily put it in my diary tonight.
Yes there are times my head feels completely crazy. I am filled with fear. I feel every horrible symptom that you guys do, be it mental of physical. But we need to keep strong. It is probably the hardest thing to do isn't it? When your anxious. But isn't sitting in the house worrying about it and working yourself into a frenzy far more unpleasant than actually facing the situation?? The thought is usually far worse than the reality.


Robert said...

Don't forget that EVERYBODY feels worse in the winter. Spring is coming...better weather, better days, better times!

Don't analyse yourself too much (Marie does this too). It doesn't help.

Btw - great opening paragraph!

agoraphob said...

Sometimes we need a break, but not too long as we find ourselves at the same exact spot were we started. Winter gets me down too....

hang in there lynn, you are a strong girl and have accomplished so much!

diver said...

Hi Lynn. I'm agreeing with Robert. Sounds like you've been overthinking everything ... aging, ambition, careers, children, Gerry's expectations. Yikes, hammering yourself something fierce! Maybe it'd be best to simply nurse yourself through to Spring? Things will settle down for you then, you know they always do.

Happy birthday for Friday Lynn :)

Lynn said...

Thanks everyone. Yeh i probably have been overthinking but isnt that always the problem. Diver im doing exactly as you suggested, just taking things easy until the spring as i know it always gets better. I hope you are all ddoing good x

Jason said...

Happy birthday! Hope you have a nice one.

I was just thinking, you might google vitamin D and breathing. I started taking vitamin D a few years ago and I don't seem to have the breathing problems quite as often now. It used to be a really major problem for me.

It's pretty common for people to become vitamin d deficient in the winter because you don't get nearly as much from a typical diet or supplement as you do from the summer sun. I suppose you could go lay in a tanning bed for a while and see if it makes you feel better:)

Most likely though, it's just the anxiety. It's really been a pleasant surprise that I haven't felt as anxious lately. Normally, the dead of winter is a time I'd prefer to just hibernate.

Good luck and hope you get feeling better soon. I know you will eventually, even if it doesn't feel like it.

tate said...

Hi Lynn,

My name's Tate and I'm writing from Australia. I recently discovered your blog and wanted to thank you for your candidness and honesty about your experiences of dealing with Agoraphobia. I too am a 're-covering'agoraphobic (seem to be recovering forever!!), and can relate to so many of your stories and experiences (as you have probably been told by many other fellow agrophobes). It is kind of comforting to know that I'm not alone, although I wish that none of us had to endure this disorder.

I also feel that no matter how well intended, friends and family can't really understand what it's like, only others experiencing it can really know, well that's my experience anyhow. That's also why it's a relief to find this site, cause as you know, you can start to feel pretty alone in it at times, as I don't know anyone else who is dealing with Agoraphobia. Anyway, I wish you well with everything, Tate.

Cindy Cooke said...

It is very reminiscent for me to read your comments - I also lived like that for decades. Then, through a series of very unusual circumstances, I finally stopped trying to control the fear and let it spill over me - erupt was more like it - and it was gone. Actually what happened was that I was terrified of letting go of feeling the extreme pain - and I finally was in a place where I just couldn't hold it in amy more - and it was like going over Niagra Falls - only the water at the bottom was smooth and calm. From that day forward, something changed. I stopped trying to control feelings and just let them come - not in front of other people, of course, but by myself. What I discovered was that day by day I got better and better, and now I am in peace with no anxiety. If anyone wants to talk about it, you can contact me at