Friday, 19 February 2010

Negative Thoughts and Mental Health Chat Rooms.

Hello dear bloggers. Once again I have been seriously neglecting my blog, and eventually the guilt takes over and I feel the need to write, even if I feel there is nothing particularly interesting to write about. But hey don't disappear just yet. I know this isn't the most attention grabbing first paragraph but lets see where my typing leads us.

Ok the Secret. I wrote a quick post about this because while I was listening to the audio I felt totally inspired. It grabbed both my attention and my imagination and I totally believed what I was hearing. I'm not going to say my opinion has changed now, its not that at all. But life can be pretty busy at times and basically I haven't had a chance to listen to the rest of it. There are a few interesting tips and good ways of looking at things, so when i eventually get back to it, i will take notes and post some info on here.

So what agoraphobic type issues do I have to talk about? Well since i no longer live my life obsession over agoraphobia I have stopped researching it as much. This includes self help books, audio, video etc but last week I decided to have a little look online. Im afraid I still didn't find the golden ticket, you know 'the cure'. What I was actually looking for was a video of someone having a Panic attack. Since Youtube pretty much has videos of anything, i thought that would be the best place to look. Maybe I wasn't looking very well but I actually couldn't find anything! Ok i found 2 videos. One is a man in a taxi driving through New York (i think) and if im honest I wasn't sure if it was a spoof. The next one I found was a man on a plane having a terrible time. This one seemed much more believable but actually a bit distressing. I suppose I was looking for someone like me, just sitting at home or out doing some shopping. Something more realistic. Anyway no such luck but what I did find was videos upon videos from people claiming 'Stop panic Attacks now', 'What to do if you panic in a supermarket' etc. Do you guys watch these videos and find them of any use?

I told you on previous posts that i was having a bit of a bad time with my anxiety and what felt like the onset of depression. Thankfully this has passed but at the time i decided that when I next had a panic attack I was going to film it from start to finish. Well unfortunately and fortunately I didn't have one again, but the little bit i did post on here before of the aftermath of quite a bad attack worked as quite a good distraction at the time.

What I also did was bought a notebook which i decided I would carry everywhere with me. I had done this before but with a piece of card with things written down to help me mid panic, you know that point when your heads all over the place and you cant quite concentrate. I'm sure many of you have tried the same thing or at least written down affirmations somewhere. When I think back to just over a month ago I was actually in a really bad place. I can admit I was having totally crazy thoughts, the worst Ive had in years. I was very down and everything was a bit gloomy for me. Talking to Jorg about this he tried to give me a kick up the bum and get me thinking positive. One of the tasks he gave me was that every night when I was writing my diary I was to list 5 positives from that day. I don't know if this is what has helped lift my mood but it does help you focus throughout the day and notice the little positives which you might have ignored in the past. Anyway, back to my notebook, i will share with you what I have wrote down. This is a bit of advice to myself either to calm me when I'm in a panic, remind me of reality or give myself a bit of metal motivation. See if it makes sense for you... No laughing ha

  • This is your anxious head doing your thinking. Ignore it. Your thoughts are not rational right now.
  • Breathe Lynn. In through your nose while counting to 3. Hold it for 3. The slowly out of your mouth for a count of 9.
  • You are where you WANT to be (this one if for when i am away from home. I would want to run while panicking but this is a reminder that I am doing what i WANT to do. so no running!)
  • See this hard time as a challenge
  • This is a good way to get even stronger
  • Be stubborn
  • You have a choice here. Do you choose to give into this? No!

  • Everything you want to do - you can do it! It is ALWAYS easier than your head tells you it will be.
  • Go out everyday and do SOMETHING. No matter how small.
  • Always attempt things that scare you. When you succeed you will feel the buzz. If you panic well at least you tried it. If you don't at least try it, you will never get anywhere, you'll kick yourself and the anxiety will have won.
  • When your anxious, think of someone really confident and imagine what THEY would do in that situation.
  • Kick Ass!!!

Wow what words of wisdom ha. Most of this is totally common sense but it is so easy to forget common sense while in the grip of panic. The most difficult thing is changing your thinking isn't it? When your in that mind set it can completely absorb you, and this is what I was going through for a couple of months.

One night I was thinking about my day and realising the mental struggle I had just gone through. A day of voices in my head. No no not the crazy voices where a little demon is telling me to do bad things. Just the anxious voice and the realistic voice. I realised the conversation throughout the day would probably go like this...

  • Bad - Morning. I'm still tired and feel a little anxious. Maybe I will panic in a minute
  • Good - No you wont. You know you can sometimes feel like this when you just wake.
  • Bad - Yeh but maybe it wont go away this time
  • Good - It will, it always does
  • Bad - Ugghh look at that grey sky, a depressing day i should stay in
  • Good - Don't be silly, life goes on. Ill go do something productive
  • Bad - Like what. I don't want to go far. All my friends are busy. Ill stay in
  • Good - No you will go out and feel better for it
  • Bad - (walking to the shops) have u got your phone, you might panic while walking here
  • Good - Got it, but wont need it
  • Bad - Might need it actually. Might panic in this shop and totally freak out
  • Good - You'll be fine
  • Bad - Nah you might panic real bad and need help and not be able to walk
  • Good - Not gonna happen
  • Bad - Well that wasn't a great day, you didn't do much, didn't see anyone
  • Good - but I still went out so that's good. I didn't sit in and mope
  • Bad - yeh but your alone now with nothing to occupy you so you will prob get anxious
  • Good - No i can relax and have a nice time just chilling out

The sad thing about this is that it goes on constantly throughout the entire day with far more negative thoughts than I even realise. But when I thought about it that night I felt utterly exhausted! What a battle to put myself through every. single. day. For you guys out there going through the same thing, my sympathy is with you because its bloody awful! But on a positive note, like I always say, 'this too shall pass'. I have had some really dark times but they do always pass. Its just important to have patience and not beat yourself up too much. At least that's what I try to do.

For women out there, have you noticed a change in your mood at your time of the month? I didn't for years but recently it has become more and more apparent that my cycle affects me. When I was at my lowest it was coming up to that time of the month and for the first time in over a year I just cried. I felt so down and totally hopeless. Yeah we all get PMT but for it to actually affect my thoughts and anxiety was quite new. The answer to this??? I don't know. I just tell myself that it will be over in less than a week and knowing there is possibly a reason that I am more anxious seems to help.

While online I also noticed more and more mental health chat rooms. Do any of you use them? I understand that maybe people find comfort in these chat rooms, talking to people who understand them and can empathise. But I take a different view. Yes I have agoraphobia but this doesn't define me. When you eat, sleep and breathe that you are an agoraphobic then I would say your gonna find it pretty difficult to move on from it. There is far more to me than that. And sometimes, when I am feeling good I can actually forget about it and have a 'normal' life. It is not the be all and end all. And when in these chat rooms I feel it is a reminder of an illness. Ok i realise that people in there have fun and joke around and stuff. But I feel like in the back of my head the reminder would always be there that I am in this room because I have a problem. And these people have a problem. And then eventually someone new joins and they ask what your problem is, and you tell your sordid tale all over again. And really what is this doing to help you? Also what if you are attempting to get better and your trying out some new therapy or relaxation method and one of the members quickly tells you 'Oh I tried that and it didn't work'. Well talk about a confidence booster. Do we really need to hear about peoples failures? I say this because in the past i DID try these rooms. When I was at my most desperate I would turn to such websites for help, but I never found it. I was so desperate to find that agoraphobic who had been cured. Who had gotten over it and could tell me how they managed it. But I never found one person on there who had overcome agoraphobia. And this actually made me think that NO ONE had ever gotten over it. All the therapies and other methods I tried seemed completely pointless. I guess the simple answer to this is that all the agoraphobics who have truly got over this are out enjoying life and are too busy an occupied with other things to sit down and go on to a chat site to talk about an unpleasant part of their past that they would rather forget. And then these is the final point that sadly you will find people in these rooms who are so completely frustrated, sad, lost, desperate with life. And Even though they think they want to get better, they never really try anymore. And so when you start making progress and getting your life in order they will quickly beat you down because they don't want to hear about someone having successes when they themselves are failing. Do we need that? I don't.

I admit i don't find it helpful but forgive me if you don't agree. If you find these sites helpful, or you've found a recovered agoraphobic then good for you. We all find different things that work for us. But I would like to think that if someone told me they were trying a new technique that had failed for me, that i would still encourage them and give them as much hope as possible. We all need to see light at the end of a tunnel, and not that of an oncoming train. It actually makes me regret previous posts where I have talked about nothing working for me but imsure even in those I would have said that just becayse it didnt work for me... it may work for you.

Ok the guilt of not writing my blog for a while is lessened slightly the only issue I have now is that i think this post is rambling nonsense ha.

What do I have coming up? Not a great deal. Out everyday walking and driving. Spending as much time with Gerry as possible. Seeing the kids as much a possible but I am enjoying the change in weather. Already it is having a positive effect. It is still cold but the sun has been shining lately and today I was buzzing. I have been very busy lately and my thoughts have calmed, I am just living at the moment and not having these mental battles as much. I have some more dental appointments coming up and im ok with this. Finally all the cosmetic stuff is starting so I will hopefully have a smile to be proud of soon. Oh And I have been looking into Volunteering! I have found an adult literacy class and am hoping to be getting involved with that as soon as possible. The class is for adults who cant read or have very limited skills and I have offered myself as a tutor. I would love the chance to do it and help people out in someway, i think it would be very rewarding and to be honest I need to find something to do with my time. I am still a long way away from returning to work although I do look locally for any part time positions which may be available. No such luck as yet. And so I bid you goodbye dear reader. And if you have read this far than I congratulate you and thank you.


Robert said...

Yes, it is a monster long post, but I made it to the end!

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing! i copied and printed out the positive self-talk you shared and i plan to carry it on me so when i feel panic, i can pull it out and read it :)

and yes, my mood is definitely affected by my monthly cycle. i have about 10-12 days a month where i am totally useless. i feel extremely depressed and anxious during this time. i have a doctor's appt scheduled to discuss this matter. hopefully i can go -- you know how it is for us agoraphobics!! lol

and i understand your viewpoint regarding mental health chat rooms. when my panic/agoraphobia hit me last summer, i was desperate to talk to people who understood me, so i could be assured i wasn't totally losing my mind. i found comfort at first, but as i work on my recovery, i am finding it less helpful. i am trying not to define my life by the agoraphobic label. it sometimes feels like as i work on my recovery, that i don't "fit in" with the group anymore ... if that makes sense?? that is why i enjoy your blog so much because i feel i am on the same page as you and it inspires me.

so on that note ... keep blogging!

Louis said...

Just looking in to see how you are getting along. I did like the video you had of yourself with the panic it is more meaningful to me than one I am not certain of like you mentioned.
I go to Daily Strength help site now and offer what little i can to people who are having a bad time with panic and I think I have helped a couple of people. I think I have also made some of the girls mad at me.
Hope you continue to improve yea for volunteering excellent idea.

Jason said...

Great blog. That back and forth inner dialog is very familiar to me. It gets tiresome sometimes, but as long as a person is aware of the negative thoughts and has a mind to correct them, it really can go a long way in getting you through the tough spots.

Lynn said...

Hey everyone thanks for your comments. Jason as always your totally right, as long as we are aware of the negative comments and KNOW they are irrational we can work on them (and ignore them ha). Anonymous I am glad you found the self talk helpful. It really works for me, keeps my head straight. And obviously you can adapt it to suit your needs.
Louis good to see your still checking in, hope your well. I am chasing the volunteering as much as possible... maybe even hounding them ha but I know i will really enjoy it.
Robert congrats on reading till the end. x

Tate said...

I totally agree with you about not letting the agoraphobia define your life. I have recently completed a university degree (externally of course) and am now having my first solo Art Exhibition.

Because the gallery is to far out of my comfort zone, the gallery staff 'skyped' me in on the opening night so I could talk to my family, friends and interested buyers. It actually turned out to be quite fun and novel. Thanks for your blog even I get to it a month late :+).

Anonymous said...

Hi there. I'm fairly new to all this stuff, as my problems with agoraphobia and panic attacks only just started last year. It's been really hard but it's nice to see people writing about it. I've started my own blog to write about my experiences with it thus far.

It's so hard for me to read all this talk about getting on with your life. I can barely walk out my front door and the idea of going to the grocery terrifies me. I feel that I'll get to the point where I can handle something like that eventually (I'm improving all the time) but I'm not there now. And the idea of watching another person having a panic attack on video sort of turns my stomach, I'm glad I didn't stumble upon that...

I only just found your site, so I don't know how you're living with your agoraphobia, but I'm trying to deal with it as naturally as I can. I still have xanex for emergencies and major panic, but mostly I only take a homeopathic remedy and some supplements. It's been a long, slow process, but it's really helped me a lot.

I thought you might be interested to know that I never had PMS until a few months ago when it started to be unbearable. All my panic and depression seemed to well up all at once about a week before I started to bleed. I talked to my naturopath and she said that she thought I had an estrogen imbalance because my liver Qi was backed up and sent me to get energy work. After 4 weeks of Shiatsu, my period came and went this month without a hitch, I barely noticed it at all.

If you have some time, I'd really appreciate it if you could check out my blog and give me some pointers. I'm really new to blogging, reading and writing, and I could really use some feedback. Here's the link:

Please, if you get a chance, let me know what you think. Thanks so much for writing about your experiences, there are far too many of us going through this. I think it's important that we share our experiences with one another.

Jill said...

Thank you for this, Lynn. I find the anxiety and panic forums to be somewhat helpful but I don't like to define myself by my agoraphobia or panic disorder either. Also some of people in the forums (I found anyway)have really little interest in really getting better. They just like to bitch and complain about their sorry lot in life. That doesn't help me one bit.

Phil said...


This blog is so good! Agoraphobia is so challenging!

I also wanted to mention a really awesome resource for a agoraphobia, free telephone conference call support groups for overcoming agoraphobia & social anxiety,