Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Big News

You have probably guessed but I am once again pregnant. I held off announcing it this time but I have made it to 3 months, so past that scary time. I am very much showing and looking more like 5 month pregnant!

I have my scan on Tuesday. And yes I am getting very worked up about the journey. I have made a couple of practice runs and am doing another today. Fingers crossed all is well

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Definition of Agoraphobia

Following my last post Diver brought a website to my attention. For those who don't read my comments I thought I would make a post about it as I found it interesting.

This is from the American Psychiatric Association who are re-writing the current diagnosis of Agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia is a codable disorder.
A. Marked fear or anxiety about more than one situation from a characteristic cluster of agoraphobic situations typically include: being outside the home alone; public transportation (e.g., travelling on a bus, ship, train, plane); open spaces (e.g., parking lots, market place); being in shops, the theater, or cinemas; standing in line of being in a crowd.
B. The individual fears and/or avoids these situations because escape might be difficult or help might not be available in the event of incapacitation or panic-like symptoms.
C. The agoraphobic situations consistently provoke fear or anxiety.
D. The agoraphobic situations are avoided, require the presence of a companion, or are endured with intense fear or anxiety.
E. The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the agoraphobic situations. NOTE: Out of proportion refers to the sociocultural context
F. The duration is at least xxx months*
G. The fear, anxiety, and avoidance cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning**
H. The fear, anxiety, and avoidance are not restricted to the direct psychological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., cardiopulmonary disorders).
I. The fear, anxiety,and avoidance are not restricted to the symptoms of another mental disorder, such as Specific Phobia (e.g., if limited to one of a few circumscribed phobic objects or situations), Social Phobia (e.g.,in response to feared social situations), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (e.g., in response to dirt in someone with an obsession about contamination), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (e.g, in response to stimuli associated with a traumatic event), or Separation Anxiety Disorder (e.g., in response to being away from home or close relatives).
*Need to examine a potential duration requirement in secondary data analyses and field trials
**An option that will be tested in the field trial is the possibility or deleting criterion G
Agoraphobia: Alternation Option that is under discussion
A. Anxiety about being, or anticipating being, in places or situations from which escape might be difficult or embarrassing, or in which help may not be available, in the event of having a panic attack, being suddenly incapacitated, or having sudden physical symptoms (including panic-like symptoms or other somatic events such as dizziness, vomiting or diarrhea).
Agoraphobic fears typically involves characteristic clusters of situations that include being outside the home alone; being in a crowd or standing in a line; being in the centre of a theatre row or on a bridge; travelling in a bus, train, car, or plane; or being in open spaces (e.g., parking lots, market place).
B. Situations from which escape might be difficult are avoided (e.g., travel is restricted); endured with marked distress or with anxiety about having a Panic Attack, panic-like or other symptoms; or require the presence of a companion.
C. The fear, anxiety, or avoidance cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
D. The anxiety or phobic avoidance is not restricted to the symptoms of other mental disorder, such as Social Phobia (e.g., avoidance limited to social situations because of fear of embarrassment), Specific Phobia (e.g., avoidance limited to one or only a few specific situations like dogs or elevators), Social Phobia (e.g., avoidance limited to social situations), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (e.g., avoidance of dirt in someone with an obsession about contamination), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (e.g., avoidance in response to stimuli associated with a traumatic event), or Separation Anxiety Disorder (e.g., avoidance of leaving home or relatives).

Friday, 14 May 2010

Persceptions of Mental Illness

I was talking to my friend last night who is at university studying to be a licensed practical nurse. At the beginning of the week they were looking at mental illnesses and Agoraphobia as discussed. I have obviously discussed Agoraphobia with Angela several times throughout the last 10 years, but like many of my friends, she struggled to really understand it.

Its funny because on a quiz show the other day it asked the question 'What phobia is the fear of open spaces'?. They answer was agoraphobia and my other friend was confused. 'So your scared of open spaces'? I tried to explain that although i might not really be scared of open spaces,I know that some agoraphobics may not like this. For example, some would struggle to walk into the middle of a huge space like a field. I tried to explain the condition but found myself failing. I don't know how i find it so hard to put it into words. To me it makes perfect sense.

But when Angela told me that they were discussing it in Uni i was interested to find out what she had been told. I suppose I was a little smug and expected again that she would have been given the WRONG information which seems to be so common but I found there explanation far better. Her tutor told her that Agoraphobia is NOT really the fear of spaces but is better explained as 'the fear of having a panic attack'. To me this makes far more sense and it seems Angela could understand it much better too. In fact she said 'I now understand why you used to be able to come to pubs and clubs with me, but would struggle to go into a supermarket'. 'You obviously had never panicked in a pub and so it was still relatively safe to you, whereas you had suffered bad experiences in a supermarket and so you would then avoid going back there'. Thank you! Yes that is correct. It also made me feel LESS 'weird'. I must say i have never felt weird at all but you do wonder how other people perceive you sometimes.

Something else that cropped up this week which I found interesting. Another friend who has been working with the same support team as me, who is doing AMAZINGLY well, was asked to help the team in recruiting new support workers. Quite rightly they thought it would be a good idea to have one of their clients sit in on some interviews and see what she thought of the candidates. No one knows the kind of people needed for this job better than people who use the service. And so she went on Monday and sat in for 4 interviews. 2 people were great and got the job but what shocked me was that one of the candidates was talking about people with mental health problems and drug use. He was going on about methadone and other drugs and seemed to be under the impression that anyone with a mental health problem seemed to have a drug problem. I had always thought that in this day and age people were far better educated when it comes to phobias, anxiety and depression so i am completely flummoxed as to where he has made this connection. I am still clueless to be honest. Hopefully he was just a one off and this isn't an opinion shared by lots of people. Needless to say he wasn't one of the successful applicants.

As for me, well I have been ok. My blog has been lacking as I feel I have nothing of interest to tell you ha. I am plodding along taking things day by day. The depression I suffered at the start of the year definitely seems to be lifting. I still have no news on the house front but I am hopeful that I will hear something soon. Myself and Margaret (who is my support worker) have went down a different route and applied for house on the basis that it will help my 'recovery' from agoraphobia. It will encourage me to live a more 'normal' life, I will gain routine and can settle down and focus on my health as I will have gained more Independence and confidence. Which I totally agree would happen. So i am basically just waiting for a decision about this. Fingers crossed.

During the winter I stopped travelling as far, which can so easily happen, but i was annoyed at myself for allowing it. Nervously I have been out pushing the boundaries again and thankfully have been improving. I have been out for lunch a few times with friends, gone shopping alone, gone longer drives and been really enjoying all of it so I am glad I am back to where I was. I still have a bit further to go but at least I'm getting there. Last weekend I went to my friends daughters first communion, as pictured, and had a great day. I will never stop appreciating being able to attend events like these. I missed so much in the past that I just buzz the whole time that I can be involved in something like this.

In fact the other day I was out with Gerry (ill discuss this another time ha) and he was asking me to go to the supermarket Asda. He is obsessed with Asda. He seems to think its the best thing since sliced bread and that everything there is cheaper so its the only place to shop. On this day I really didn't feel like going to Asda. I was slightly anxious and since its a bit further away really wasn't in the best frame of mind. And so i suggested going to a closer supermarket. 'No don't go there is crap. Its not as cheap as Asda' Well I explained to Gerry that I don't actually care about the prices. So some items are a couple of pence more expensive. I don't really care. I am just thrilled that I can go to ANY supermarket and do my shopping because for so many years this was impossible. It is amazing how much we appreciate the small things. I can be so buzzing after a trip to the supermarket. The buzz that 'normal' people might only achieve if they did something huge like... I dunno a bungee jump ha. But the small things really make me happy.

Oh an update about the literacy course. Travelling to the new location was just beyond me but I called them up and just told them the truth and they have guaranteed my place on the next course. So basically i just need to wait and see when I start, this was good enough for me, they were actually very understanding. And the girl living in the car park? Well she never did get back to me but I have heard that she is now left the car park and is back living in her own home. Great news! Apparently it was in the newspaper last week, gutted i missed it, but I also hear she is now suing the health system as it took her to appear in a newspaper to get help. Not sure If i agree with that. Could it maybe be that she wasn't looking in the right places? I'm not sure.

Anyway I hope you are all wonderful and positive and I will be back soon with some HUGE news!

Ive found the latest article about the girl in the carpark if you want to hear the latest, click here