Friday, 23 December 2011


I'm on to wish you all a Merry and Fabulous Christmas as i don't think ill have a chance to get on before then.

I hope you are all in good spirits, looking forward to the get togethers, dinner and gifts. I truly hope you are all calm and can relax over the holidays and just enjoy this time. No fretting or anxiety. If some of you are stressing about journeys you need to make or things you need to attend, then i send you my most positive thoughts and remind you that you can do it.

As for me, well I've been working really hard on pushing my boundaries and while there have been some failures, there have also been many successes. To be fair theres only been on failure but I'm not dwelling on it too much. Briefly i will explain.

An early Christmas dinner was booked for 7 of us at a restaurant. It was brought to my attention more than once that it had been booked at a location JUST for me, so that I could be there. Whenever people discussed the plans i assured them I would be there. I didn't once allow myself to think it wasn't going to happen. I listened to relaxation Cd's, i worked on my breathing, i visualised the journey over and over again. And when thinking about going i felt ok, whereas in the past id have been nervous for days before it. And so i was gutted when i got in the car to drive to the restaurant and felt the old familiar anxiety kicking in with a little bit of nausea chucked in too. Circumstances on the day weren't ideal and so i backed out. I realised i wasn't doing this meal for me. I was doing it for everyone else. I wanted to be excited about it, and look forward to it, but it didn't happen. I was scared to say no to it, scared of the total disappointment and guilt id feel when i went home having failed. But i was fine. It just wasn't the right time and I know i will eventually be back in the situation where i WILL do it.

And although i did look at this as a down point, there are a lot of things that are now achievable again that weren't for a while. I'm walking much further, I'm driving further. I'm making appointments and sticking to them. I'm going to the supermarket on my own. Making plans with friends. And these things have been done with little or no anxiety at all. This is down to practice, not avoiding AND my little helper Rashelle.

Another achievement which might not seem much, was Nathans 1st birthday. I THOUGHT it would be less hassle to have it at home. I THOUGHT it would be a quiet affair with close family and so i THOUGHT it made more sense than to book some venue when he wouldn't have a clue what was going on. In the end Nathans party had over 20 guests (which doesn't sound much but looks VERY busy in my small living room). It took me 3 days of organising the house. Decorating the place with balloons and banners, shopping and providing a huge buffet, not to mention pres ants and of course the cake. And while this might usually be easy, it was rather stressful doing it with no help and Nathan constantly by my side demanding my attention. I never realised that by throwing the party it meant i never really got to enjoy it. I never stopped! Giving drinks, food, more coffee, cake etc etc. I had to make sure my guests were happy, which they were, but the whole things a bit of a blur to me. In the end though everyone had an amazing time and felt extremely proud of myself. I did all that all on my own. This a girl who used to be cowering in a bedroom in her parents house, scared to be left on her own for 5 minutes for fear of a total panic attack breakdown.

Following the party i then took Nathan to watch my nephew in his school Christmas concert. Sitting in a huge hall surrounded by hundreds of people i was proud to be there with my son. To do something 'christmassy' together. It got me in good spirits and it was more evidence of my improvements because a few weeks ago I'm not sure if i would have faced that, but I'm doing my best not to avoid things so much (minus the restaurant).

So as the party ended my focus moved to the next event. Christmas. Well it can be pretty easy for an agoraphobic to do Christmas shopping, as practically every shop has a website now. So that's never really posed a problem anyway. Yeh of course i do miss walking around the city centre, seeing the Christmas lights and hearing the Christmas songs playing from shop to shop. But hey who needs to stomp around in the freezing cold, wait in queues and fight with people over the last 'must have toy' on the shelf? That was always my excuse when i got invited shopping and to be honest i think id still do most of it online even if i could get out there. But anyway, with gifts easily ordered i decided to step up and offer my mother a break this year. Every year since, well every year since i can remember, my mum has cooked Christmas dinner. she never gets to sit and enjoy a meal cooked for her, shes harassed and tired and i figured she deserved to properly enjoy it for once. So Christmas dinner is at my house this year. I'm only cooking for 5 but considering Ive never cooked a Turkey this could be an interesting challenge. And again cooking it with Nathan wrapped around my legs should be fun too. But hey these are the joys of motherhood and i love it.

I very vividly remember a Christmas where i was an anxious wreck. Taking panic attacks throughout the day i couldn't even have my meal. Instead i was sat on the sofa beside the dining table, watching everyone else. Theres video footage of that Christmas and I'm sitting biting my nails with huge frightened eyes. Its so sad to see and i remember it clearly, but i feel i can say i KNOW that will never happen again. I think that was my first year of panic attacks actually so it was all so new and scary, now i feel like a veteran.

I'm all organised now. Ive got in all the food, the table is ready to be set. Nathans gifts are all wrapped and ready to be laid out. All i need to do now is cook. But i hope it goes well and i can give my mum an amazing day, and i hope my OCD with the cleaning can take a back seat for a while because already I'm dreading the dishes this meal is going to create (i MUST chill out!!!)

Well i suppose i should get off and head to bed. Its Christmas eve tomorrow and i am going to offer my gift wrapping services to my mum, who unlike me hasn't wrapped a thing. I really wish you all the best and if ANYONE is having the anxious not so good Christmas then please feel free to get in touch. x x x

Thursday, 15 December 2011


To my beautiful, bright and amazing little boy Nathan.
Cannot believe its been a year but we managed to get through it in one piece. I look forward to many, many more. I am extremely lucky

I Love you Nathan x x x

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Stay Positive

Hello bloggers!

It is a new, far more positive Lynn writing to you this evening. Finally!

I wonder how many of you can identify with this scenario? Sitting in your home. Looking out of the window. Your feeling down. A bit depressed. Frustrated. Your mind is running 100mph questioning everything. 'How did i let this happen', 'Where do i even begin to fight back', 'Is this my life now...forever'? You start to sweat, you feel anxious. You worry your going to panic and you look out of the window again. 'If i could just get out there, even if i just went a walk'. But then the little demon on your head says 'Noo don't do that, you'll only feel like crap. It wont be pleasant. Much better to just stay indoors'.

That could easily describe a typical day when i was at my worst, but really its just the tip of the iceberg. When you allow yourself to be shut in that little world, your mind really does take over. And as much as the brain is a wonderful and amazing thing, it can also be a right old pain in the bum when left to its own devices.

When i was housebound i felt that i could always find ways to fill my time and that i rarely got bored. Due to this constant state of comfort I probably didn't have much reason to fight back and want more from life. Yeh i knew there was a big wide world out there and people were always commenting on what i was missing, but i guess it didn't really bother me. And then i got a little taste of freedom and how different life can be when your living outside of that box. Your days are filled with far more interesting and exciting things. Your mind is occupied with healthier thoughts and more positive experiences. Instead of sitting looking out of a window at the world and constantly fretting over things i SHOULD be doing. I was doing them, and so the anxiety left me and was replaced by a buzz and new lust for life.

Well sometimes life just gets in the way doesn't it (we had a death in the family, my car has broken down and been off the road for weeks). And our plans don't always go as we wanted them to, so for various reasons i found myself back in a darker place for a while.

Don't get me wrong, i didn't go back to being pretty much a recluse. Scared of my own shadow and constantly living off my nerves. But for a few weeks i did struggle. Believe me i can see now that 'cabin fever' does exist. When you are shut indoors looking at the same walls day in and day out, it has an affect! For me i became obsessed with my house being tidy. I wasn't kidding when i said before i felt i had OCD. My house would need to be immaculate and the slightest bit of dust or item out of place would need put right immediately. I think i have identified that this is just about control. I can control whats going on in my home. And since there were areas i felt i had lost control completely, i went a bit OTT with the things i could manage. So the house was forever perfect, however i did realise that if i was out there living a fuller life, the speck of dust on the living room table would seem far less important.

Guilt. I shovel it onto my shoulders and it weighs me down every day. Guilt that my son should be out doing more things but because of me he is held back. Guilt that hes watched too much TV that day. Guilt that he hasn't interacted with another child his age. Guilt that if i could get to a decent supermarket he could be eating a bigger variety of food. The list goes on, and that's only the list regarding Nathan. Don't get me started on the other members of my family or my friends.

My friends have their own lives to lead. Their own families and jobs and children to care for. I noticed i was getting a bit p****d off when they hadn't phoned in a while. Or if they didn't reply to a text quick enough. I would sit about, looking out the window, fretting, jumping up to wipe some more dust, and then resent my friends for not being there to keep me company. Don't they know that my son would really like to play with their kids? Luckily i got a grip of myself and remembered... i am not their responsibility. They are living their lives just as they should. They are good to me and I'm grateful for each and every one of them. But sitting about thinking, and thinking, and thinking, well u just drive yourself crazy.

So whats the answer? If your anxious and wishing you could go out. And feeling nervous wondering how to fight back. If your wondering if your going to be like this forever, cause it seems so impossible and its never going to change...

Go out.

I hope that doesn't sound patronising, because believe me i know how hard it is. But i also know from so much experience, that the thought is ALWAYS worse than the actual act itself. Little baby steps, no matter how minor they may seem, need to be celebrated and noticed. Its about taking control of your life again.

Its literally only been about 2 weeks since i got back into the swing of things. Through my focus, my therapy and my determination I am back out there. You know i do go out everyday and would never spend a full day in doors, but it was becoming more of a chore for a while. Now though i go out for a walk, or a trip to the supermarket and i come home buzzing. What i do may be small, but it feels good to know that i done it, and i took my life back even for 5 minutes instead of sitting about the house obsessing.

More than once in the past week have i walked further than usual and caught myself saying 'i feel totally fine here'. Its a great feeling. At home I'm not sitting around obsessing. I'm not focused on the negative thoughts and piling on the guilt. Nathan is happy and not at all bored and fed up... it was me who was bored and fed up. I'm not fixated on my friends not calling as much, in fact Ive hardly even looked at my phone. I'm generally just feeling more positive and much brighter. Things were starting to feel a bit hopeless and impossible for a while, but why do they need to be? They don't. I can get out there and do whatever i want. I have the power within me and so do you. It might take a little bit of practise but its completely possible.

Still doing my therapy on a Thursday i am discovering more and more about myself. And although its things Ive always known, I'm starting to pay more attention. For example, i do everything fast. I whizz around the house like I'm on drugs when I'm doing my housework. When i cook the dinner i have the dishes done as I go. When I'm playing with Nathan, I'm already thinking about when ill be tidying toys away. Its a fast paced, tiring way to live, and no wonder I'm always so tired!

When i go on my walks i will try to push my boundaries. Even if i go a street further at a time. But what i would do is, id walk along where i was comfortable, and when getting to a new stretch of road i would run out and then back again to where i was comfortable. To me i was still making the achievement because i had reached the place i wanted to be, but there was no enjoyment in it. And so last Thursday on my therapy we walked slowly to the point where i started to feel uneasy. And we just stood. We talked and we tried a few techniques to reduce my anxiety. I did feel quite uncomfortable at some points. We were standing on a long straight road and so when i turned around i could see how far I had walked, but more importantly i could also see how far i would need to walk before i was back home. This is the part i don't normally like. And so my head started 'what if i cant make it back', 'what if i get dizzy'. 'what if my legs turn to jelly and i cant walk'. But i stood there and tried to hush those voices, and I'm learning that the more i practice this, the easier it is to silence those thoughts. When i asked myself those scary questions i simply answered with 'None of that is going to happen, but so what if it does, I'm gonna be ok'. And instead of rushing home and whizzing about as i would usually i slowly walked home and felt fine. But this is down to practise!

I know it sounds a bit too simple and its easier said than done but whoever came up with the phrase 'practise makes perfect' was speaking sense. The only way we are going to get results is by doing these things over and over and giving our positive thoughts some power. They don't really get a chance to be heard if we are just sitting about worrying and not actually putting anything into practice.

My therapist also made a really interesting point about how anxious people are generally always living in the future. We are worrying about whats coming. 'what if i panic', 'what if i don't feel good. 'what about that party i need to go to', 'I'm gonna have to go out', 'how am i going to pay that bill'. We are always worrying about whats to come instead of living in the now. And so this is what we are working on at the moment. Getting me to 'live in the now'. We done a few exercises that stopped my mind racing and brought my head into the now. And when she asked me how i was feeling i can honestly say i felt fine. I felt calm and at peace with myself and it was a lovely feeling. I'm going to be learning more about this, and mindfulness and i will share anything that i think will be of interested to you, or anything i think might help. But judging by how much my mood has lifted and how much better i am feeling about myself then I'm sure there will be plenty more upbeat posts to come. I really was going back down that old anxious, crappy road. Filled with self doubt and hopelessness. Frustration with myself. And even though in the past i felt i was literally rid of agoraphobia completely, i suddenly lost the belief that could be possible again. But i was wrong. Its completely possible and this time it can stick... so hang on in there people. Its NEVER has bad as you think it is.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Digging Deeper

Well hello everyone. How are you all getting on? I realised I better get in touch to update you on my change of meds and anything else that's been happening. So where to start....

The meds. A letter of referral has been sent to my doctor to advise my medication is reviewed and surprise surprise i have heard nothing so far. Of course I am fine with this and just play things by ear. When they are ready to make the changes, i will do as i am told. Someone commented on my last post saying that I shouldn't do it 'cold turkey'. I totally agree and that's not something i would ever consider. i think when you've been dealing with mental health issues for a long time you realise how to handle somethings, but if there are people out there who have been put on a medication and suddenly start to feel normal again, my advice is simple. Do not just stop your medication. You probably feel better BECAUSE of your medication and to stop them suddenly could lead to withdrawals, and withdrawals can be quite uncomfortable. With any medication do what your doctor recommends because at the end of the day, they know more about this stuff than we do.

Anyway in the mean time Ive been feeling much better and much more positive than in previous posts. We have reached the time of year i least enjoy but its not bothering me too much. Nathan and i are doing great and enjoying our little home and our routine. We had his first Halloween, which involved the blissfully unaware Nathan dress as a skeleton and we had his first bonfire night. He saw a few fireworks but to be honest he was more interested in playing with some random object at the time, he really does go into a little world of his own. He is so big now and looks much older than his 11 months. 11 months! But surely it was only last week we got home from the hospital!!. It will be his 1st birthday on the 14th of December and i am holding a party for all the family at home. I would have booked one for elsewhere but i feel that since he is only 1, home is fine. He can be lord of the manor and play with his new presents while us adults eat cake and take pictures. I'm sure he will enjoy being the centre of attention. I am not trying to be a martyr here but may i just point out that Nathan turning one also signifies over a year since i had a full nights sleep. What is a lie in? I haven't had one since.... well i cant remember. Nathan has never spent a night away from me and so every morning i awake to the sound of him ready to cause havoc...and cause havoc he does. I think i must have also changed approx 700 nappies. The joys eh. But that's motherhood for you and i love every minute and when he hits that 1 year mark i will be so proud of both of us. Him for being my special favourite person in the world, so clever, so beautiful and always entertaining. And me for my first year of being a mum.

Ive gone on before about my opinion on agoraphobia recovery and how i think its very much down to the individual. I found that therapy's i had tried for example EFT, TFT, EMDR, CBT, and lots of other abbreviated things didn't help me as much as i hoped. I found that when i took the bull by the horns myself, that's when i made the best progress. Maybe it was just the right time, but whatever i did back then opened up a whole new world of possibility to me. From being housebound and pretty much not doing anything for 5 years i was suddenly out having a life again. Doing all the things i never imagined possible. I acquired a new lust for life and an inner buzz that made me want to do more and more and more. I did get to the stage where i questioned... so am i cured now? I knew i was going in the right direction. My life was fuller, my anxiety pretty much non existent, but i still had limits on where i could travel to.

But life ain't easy. Oh no just when i thought i had it sorted i was met with setbacks. I swore to myself that if a day came that i didn't feel like going into a certain shop or felt any sense of panic, i would not avoid it. I was strong now and i would fight and fight until id chased those fears away again. But suddenly i was pregnant. I was tired. Exhausted. I didn't feel fear when thinking of doing things, and so i didn't do them as much. Thinking it was ok to do this as i wasn't avoiding things for agoraphobic reasons. But obviously the less i done them, the harder they were to do again. I realised to my own surprise that I had gone backwards. And to realise this when you have a new born baby isn't really ideal. So the guilt kicked in. This gorgeous little bundle of mine deserves the world, and here i am uncomfortable to take him to a park. Ive told you these things before and for sure my world has got smaller and smaller again. Then came the relationship issues. So to cut a long story short this year has been a hard one. I very hard one. My focus has gone from more important issues and Ive relapsed back into that frightened unsure nervous person again.

And so it was perfect timing when i was told about a girl who works with people with phobias. I had already got through the toughest part of the year and with a new determination to focus on my agoraphobia i figured it would be a good time to find out more. I was told that this girl has fantastic success rates, has helped countless people with phobia and/or anxiety. Takes great enjoyment from her job and doesn't do this for financial gain. She does it because shes a good person who enjoys using her skills to help people better their lives.

Well Ive met so many therapists and tried so many things that i guess Ive been a bit sceptical in the past. Ive often met with people with the thought 'wow they might cure me' but quickly became aware that NO ONE is going to cure us. The only person who can do that is US but there is nothing wrong with getting a bit of advice and a helping hand on the way.

And so i met with the 'life coach' last Thursday. I expected someone arriving armed with a pie chart cut into sections... Relationships, finances, hobbies, etc and to to help me find fulfilment in the areas causing me problems. But it was nothing like that. I immediately liked her and can see why she has such a success rate. She is a warm, caring beautiful person who immediately puts you at ease. Instead of me feeling my achievements were nothing special, she made me feel proud of myself and gave me a much needed boost. We done some NLP exercises and i genuinely could feel some of my anxiety reduce. Thinking about driving distances would initially make me feel tense, but after some work on these issues i realised the tension and nervous tummy were settling down. The session lasted 2 hours and was all based on my anxiety, my past panic attacks, memories of fear etc. Talking about where all my 'issues' have come from really did help me see things a bit clearer and make a lot of connections where i hadn't noticed them before. She explained to me that the work we did would be making changes in my head, or my sub conscious if you like. And so i was to let it all happen naturally and just see how i felt. Well in the days that followed I felt very tired and on one day all i did was cry. I don't cry unless I'm reeeeeally upset, it takes a lot to make me cry. But as i shed the tears i felt i was having a great release. A release i really needed.

In the following week i knew i had to try a few things to see if changes had been made. But i knew, as did the therapist, that i wasn't gonna be 'cured' in one session. Not when Ive had my problems for 10 years now. But i went out and tried a few things and although i could see things clearer i was still hitting a bit of a wall. For the first time in ages i found myself questioning how on earth i ended up with this. Why do i have the behaviours that i do. Did i get this because i am just a worrier. or could it be that my life experiences have caused me to behave in certain ways and make certain decisions? Am i gaining some sort of benefit from being agoraphobic. I have 2 inner dialogues. One which wants a life and to get out there and do so many things. And i have another who tells me 'oh don't do that you might panic'. It took me a while to realise that both of these sides to me want the same thing. To be happy and to be at peace. They really need to get together and have a chat. They might like each other and stop arguing.

And so my next session came and i expected the same kind of work but this time it was quite different. It turned out she had read my blog and learnt a lot more about me in the week that had past, and in learning new things we started to dig a little deeper. People have often said that the way to deal with your problems is identifying where they come from, working through these problems, past experiences etc with someone i.e a therapist, and in doing this you will release them. Well again i doubted this and figured there was no point in rooting around in the past because it is what it is. Whats the point in wasting time talking when i need to be doing something more practical, i.e going out! But as we chatted i made connection after connection and realised so many parts of my past and my thoughts could be having an effect on my present. Who'd have known i have major confidence issues. Who'd have thought i don't have much self respect. That i don't see myself as very valuable. That when treated like a doormat or hurt id just think 'oh well maybe that's all i deserve'. Like i said Ive had sessions in the past and its not done much for me, hasn't stirred many feelings. But as we chatted i found tears rolling down my face. I felt a huge sadness and yeah OK i felt a bit sorry for myself. Ive beat myself up about so many things for so many years. Ive carried a lot of guilt. I don't take compliments well and i expect most people wont like me. Why? A cried a few times and when she left i felt that id made some kind of discovery. I think my problems as far deeper than i ever imagined. I think there are many 'issues' that Ive maybe never recognised before, but in noticing them i did feel less confused. Lighter. And after a few exercises we did i immediately felt a sense of 'i am worth something. and i don't deserve to be treated like crap'

So although the thought of a long journey still makes me uncomfortable i am finding a little candle burning inside of me again. Just a little flicker. But i can see that in working together, and working on my own too, its gonna get brighter and brighter. And in dealing with all sorts of issues its going to have a positive outcome in where my life is right now.

I will of course keep you posted on my future challenges. The girl/women/therapist/life coach has a website and no doubt will have no problem with me linking you guys to have a look but ill get her go ahead first. I am nervous. But i am excited about the doors opening for me here.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Duh Duh Duuuuuuh

Uh oh the dreaded day has come! The day the doctor decides to change my medication.

Probably seems like nothing at all to most people. For years Ive heard of other people doing it with no worry at all. But those people weren't me. Me the neurotic, obsessive, control freak. If i am late even by an hour in taking my tablets, id panic. But wait.... id never be late taking the little blue pill. I am far too uptight for that. I have an alarm set to remind me everyday to take it at the SAME time. Obsessive? Yip! Ive even heard people say 'I wasn't feeling too good today, and then I realised I have forgotten to take my tablet for a few days'. Excuse me?? How can you forget such a thing. I have realised that while i thought I was quite a chilled person in some areas, I am very highly strung in others.

There is absolutely no need for it, like with many things in my life. I have never felt a pill is the cure. But for years I have happily taken mine thinking 'ah its not doing me any harm'. Never mind the fact it probably isn't doing me any good either. 10 years Ive been on this stuff. 10 years is a looong time. Ive often been asked how long i have been on my medication and when i respond my answer is met with a raised eyebrow and a suspicious look. After 10 years why haven't my doctors changed it? Why have I not wanted it changed? My answer has always been the same, 'its never been a good time'. Always an excuse with me hey. But for years i was housebound and thought maybe the medication were keeping me sane. maybe without them Id have been an emotional wreck. Ive never been prone to depression, maybe that's because of the pills? Then my recovery began. Well I best just stay on them while i focus on my recovery. I don't need to deal with withdrawal at this time, wait till im stronger. Then Something else would come along.

We did discuss coming off them when i was pregnant but i was told they wouldn't harm the baby and it really wasn't a good time to be perhaps be feeling more anxious.

So here we are. The day has come. And how do I feel about it? Well I'm scared of course. Maybe someone else would take it in their stride but i know how my mind works. I don't know what the doctor will suggest. Will they lower the dose at first, or will they tell me to miss a tablet out here and there? Either way, on the first day that medication is lowered or missed i will be a nightmare. I'm wise enough to know it might be fine, and while its happening I will need to distract myself, keep busy. But I'm big enough to admit I ain't looking forward to it. Once again its the fear of the unknown but what i do know is that I am willing to do it.

This happened because i decided to take the bull by the horns and start fighting back again. I met with a nurse yesterday and discussed my latest situation. How ive maybe stepped back since Nathan was born. And so her first concern was my medication and contacting my doctor. Oh Lynn Lynn Lynn you did ask for it really. On a positive note i do want this. Ive heard a few people over the last year who have been put on a medication that really HAS had a positive affect on them. They are feeling happier, more positive and are out doing more than ever. Now i am not suggesting a pill is the cure, because I have ALWAYS felt its about us putting the work in. But when Ive been speaking to these people I couldn't help but wonder if it was something i should think about. Something to give me a little kick up the bum maybe. So now it looks like its happening anyway. I will no doubt keep you informed of any changes and lets keep everything crossed that its a success. At the end of the day, even if its a horrible experience, ill get by. Always do. I was bad enough trying to get ON these tablets and if i can handle that then i can deal with some heightened anxiety as i go through these changes. My medication is 30mg Seroxat a day. For my American readers I think its the equivalent of Paxil. In the 10 years since I was first prescribed this, medicine has changed and there are far more preferred drugs for people with anxiety/agoraphobia. Id go as far to say that my doctor probably wouldn't prescribe my pills to anyone these days.

I received an email the other day which some of you may be interested in. Admittedly I haven't checked the website out yet but the women was telling me some of the readers might find it helpful. It seems to be only American but its called Healthtap. They sound quite interesting and you can check out the website or the mobile app. Certified in 82 states they put '5000 Doctors at your fingertips' and according to my email, its free! So maybe take a look and see what its all about.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Back to the drawing board...Again

Well hello everyone. Another overdue post, it seems i am turning into Miss Procrastination these days. Not good!!

I like to keep my blogging positive but there is some depressing crap i should get out the way first.

Its that time of the year that I like least! The change of seasons from summer to Autumn. or in Scotland's case.. from slightly warm and sunny to dull, freezing and gloomy. We have had a really poor year weather wise and it feels winter is definitely upon us. This change affects me year in, year out, especially when the clocks change. I'm not sure when this is happening but i sense its soon.

I have always wondered if I have SAD (seasonal affective disorder) as i am pretty useless in winter. lacking motivation, a bit down etc. I am without a doubt a sun worshipper. I could spend all day laying in the sun or walking with Nathan or my nephews. And my mood will always be bright. I seem to spend all year working towards summer and the progress i will make in those months. Because in the summer I feel i can DO MORE with regards to my agoraphobia. Its completely stupid of course and totally wrong as I am pre-programming myself to be pretty rubbish in winter. But realistically who wants to go a walk in the freezing cold. Or go a drive when the roads are covered in snow and you don't feel particularly safe. However i should try to think positive!!

So as the seasons change I always ask myself, how did i do in the past few months. Did i do anything big? Did I make progress this year. And the answer this time is simple. No! Ive not done anything at all. Certainly nothing to be proud of (apart from 1 thing which i will go into later).

I am an expert at making excuses. Aren't we all? I didn't do this today... but that's because of such and such. Well my excuse this year in my lack of progress and slight relapse is that its been one tough year. Ok compared to some people it might not seen like much but i would say its been stressful and stress really does have an affect when your trying to focus on getting out in the world and pushing your boundaries. Obviously at the start of the year I had just given birth and so I took a few months to just learn to be a mum. Ok not something you can learn but something i definitely had to adapt to. My life changed completely in so many ways when Nathan came along, but even then I still kept up with my daily walks and trips out. As the months progressed my relationship was going down the drain and I had to deal with that, not knowing just how badly it would turn out. Next thing I moved house. I don't think i really appreciated just how stressful that would be. More so because i basically done it on my own, while seeing to a new born. Stress, stress, stress. Settled into the house and within a month BANG relationship disaster and total devastation. Am i being over dramatic? I think you'd need to have been there to see how bad it was, and i allowed the hurt and anxiety of that break up to go on for months. For about 4 months it was a daily event to be arguing face to face or via text with my ex or someone else involved. It was utterly exhausting and more than once i thought i was actually losing my sanity! I wished so many times that I was stronger and able to deal with things better but hey it is what it is and its all done now.

So these are my excuses. New baby, moving house and relationship in tatters. Dealing with that I the nagging guilt that I needed to be on form for Nathan. He couldn't see me sad and so I would paint a face on each day and appear to be fun happy mummy. Making sure he wasn't affected and lacked for nothing and god it was so tiring. I always have the guilt that hes not getting to do all the things he deserves and so ill go out walking with him, or visiting friends and family as much as possible.

Its had an affect on my nerves for sure. A few times I struggled with small walks. A lot of things which were once easy suddenly became a struggle again. Ive had issues with walking without the pram. Ive heard this so many times, it becomes a crutch, you get used to walking with it. And so when its gone you feel a bit, unsteady. Insecure. So Ive had to mentally get over that. I started to struggle with walking through open spaces like a square or field for example. Obviously very common in agoraphobia but not something that ever affected me. I felt i needed a smaller more closed in area where I had something to hold onto close by should i 'have a turn'. My eating problem, with not being able to swallow properly got quite bad and so i lost a ton of weight. I put this completely down to stress.

The biggest cause of my agoraphobia was always avoidance. And so when i started to get better i decided i wouldn't avoid anything anymore. It was such a buzz to say yes to things for a change instead of 'no i cant'. but as the years progressed Ive found myself using avoidance once again. Appointments have been avoided, or just ignored. And its bugged me cause I know this is dangerous territory. I know what this behaviour can lead to. Time for a good swift kick up the backside for me! Turn it into a positive here. Ive recognised what Ive been doing and I wont let it happen again. Time to smarted up and give myself a shake!

In the home nothing is avoided. I AM a domestic goddess. The house is permanently spotless, all washing done, meals cooked, Nathans bottles prepared. Hoovering, dusting all done. To the point I have wondered if I have OCD!!! It would make sense. Its something i have complete control over but i COULD not sit in a mess. I need my house immaculate and everything in place when i sit down at night and then i can relax. I'm afraid i must be a nightmare to live with. If i see a cushion out of place ill run and plump it up. What is it with us women and cushions??? I have way to many on both my couches and my bed but it looks so much nicer. Never mind the fact i spend most of my day fluffing them. Or taking them off the bed only to put them on again. I just counted 20 off the top of my head.

So the way the year has been i have taken my eye off the ball. Ive allowed my head space to be taken up by less important things. Should fighting agoraphobia be at the top of my list. Well yes probably but in everyday life its not always possible. And so its not been my main focus for a few months. I could deal with that if i was on my own but with little Nathan here i cant help but feel guilty. He doesn't need me to be taken steps backwards. I have been anxious a lot but Ive had no full blown panic so i need to get my fight back. My focus is returning to where it should be and I'm getting back into that 'zone'. Get out more, push myself more. Go further, get the buzz back. Its and endless struggle and sometimes you just cant be bothered can you. Its sooo tiring! But but but but its worth it when you get there!

Nathan and I go a walk everyday. Its probably only half an hour but I'm doing that old routine of taking it a street further each time. Its been relatively painless apart from the odd wobbly moment when my hearts went like the clappers and Ive felt that urgent ARRRGH feeling. But i tell myself to breathe and look into Nathans eyes and distract myself. Always wanting to be in control I'm not great at being in cars with other people driving. I like to be the driver. But now and then ill hand the reins over to someone else as a little challenge to myself. Sometimes I'm ok but a few times Ive had a little panic when the person driving has been a bit slow or on one occasion, when we has parked up and i was ready to go, they sat chatting on their mobile. No no no when you have me in your car you go go go! I held it together though and didn't scream at them even though i was screaming in my head. I feel in a way its back to the drawing board. Back to square one. But i tell myself its not square one. I made all my progress after being completely housebound. And so i know i have it in me, whereas back then i didn't think i could do a thing. Now i know that's not true. I am capable of so much more. We are ALL capable. We just need to get the belief. More so we need the confidence and i can totally see that's where Ive suffered this year. My confidence has taken a major beating and so its time to get that back.

My plan of attack is the same as before. Go out everyday, although that's never stopped, i do need to push the boundaries more. Listen to my Paul McKenna agoraphobia audios. And work with the support worker to improve and not avoid. A simple plan but Ive been here before and i know what it takes. Oh i should mention that I deleted my facebook incase anyone has been lookinf for me. It was just a break i needed after the split. There were a few people on there who were involved in the relationship split in some way or another and i just wanted to take a step back for a while. No doubt it will be reactivated in future.

On a more positive note we have Nathan. A total joy in my life. I still get excited to see him in the mornings. He has become quite the delinquent and i am usually woken by the sound of him wrecking his cot. The mobile is ripped off and he uses it to bang on the bars. Always with a big smile for me. His first word has been. It was 'HIYA' which he mostly says when looking in the mirror. Talking to himself already. Hes crawling and into EVERYTHING! He says Dada but hes always said this and I'm not convinced he knows what hes saying , its just a noise he makes haha. Hes said Tata and waved a few times and so we are working on this new talent. And his latest thing is kisses. Tonight he was in his baby walker as i made dinner and as i walked past at one point he lifted his arms and blew kisses awwww I love this stuff. And hes at that age (9 months) where he will be doing more and more.

The one thing I'm proud of is taking him to the park. It was something i wanted to do for ages and it nagged my head for a long time. I wanted to go but didn't feel confident to go alone and so finally there was a day when my mum and I were both free and we headed off. I think i was far more impressed than Nathan and also the bigger kid. I didn't care how silly i looked but I went on each swing, slide, roundabout without a care. It meant a lot that i could do that with him and i plan it to be a regular thing, as long as the weather is decent. Hes got a good little life and that's something i am grateful for. A family who adore him. A steady home routine with mum. Our walks and stories and play. And for the trips further afield, he has regular days out with his grandparents and his day swimming with daddy. So we are coping ok for now and as time goes on i KNOW ill be doing more and more. Watch this space!!!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A Career in Agoraphobia?

I read Nathan a bedtime story every night and so as i settled down tonight with a new book I couldn't help but laugh when I discovered the story. Not what I expected really.

'Scaredy Squirrel' by Melanie Watt. The first page describes how the little squirrel is too scared to leave his tree. He much prefers life at home, surrounded by the things he enjoys. And although his daily routine is always the same - Wake up, eat a nut, admire the view, eat a nut, admire the view, eat a nut, go to sleep - he is perfectly happy because the world beyond scares him. But even while he never leaves his tree, he has a little emergency kit... just in case. How many of us have one of these kits? A brown paper bag, medication, or mine, an ipod, wet wipes, puzzles....

One day a bee scares the squirrel and it knocks him out of his tree. He is terrified at first but after spending an hour or so in a bush playing dead, he realises that nothing bad is going to happen and so he starts to venture out more. I thought it was a very accurate description of an agoraphobic/anxiety suffers life and so i shouldn't have been surprised to discover that the author never leaves her apartment. In the authors note, it tells that she prefers to stay at home and write children's books. And judging from the amount of them on Amazon, Melanie is doing pretty well.

Are there agoraphobics out there who don't miss the outside world. Quite like the way their lives are, and just get on with it. Looks like there are, in fact I'm sure i was one of them for a while.

Which reminded me of another artist who recently contacted me via email about his talent. Charles Bryant is an American singer/songwriter and long time agoraphobia sufferer. After years of trying to get finance to make an album (and being refused) he has finally released his first CD. Visit his website and check it out for yourself. Having listened myself i found a beautiful soulful voice and as a lover of acoustic guitar, i did enjoy the 'Agoraphobic Waltz'.
Charles wants to reach out to others and has even started his own outreach program ADAO (Agoraphobic And Disabled Artists Outreach), details of this are also on his website (or will be soon).

It saddened me to hear that this very talented man has difficulty performing in public and it makes me think things like 'what a waste', and 'its such a shame', things that have been said about myself over the years. But hopefully this talent wont go unnoticed if we all have a listen, enjoy and spread the word.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Checking In

This is just a quick note to say my next post is on its way. I was going to write it tonight but i dont have it in me. Im ok, its just been one HELL of a month!!
I thought previous months had been stressful but uh uh... this one wins the prize.
I thought my relationship with Nathans dad had broken down, uh uh its gotten waaaaay worse.
I thought my agoraphobia was only slight.... well you get the picture.
Needless to say a HUGE update is due but the outcome will hopefuly be a happy one. Im seeing the light at the end of a never ending tunnel but, wow its been my hardest journey yet.
In the meantime this song has been helping me through. Again ive related it to agoraphobia in a way but really just everything thats going on in my life right now. The guy sings a lot of lyrics really quickly but hopefully you will get the idea. Click here to watch

Thursday, 19 May 2011

New Beginnings

It feels like forever since I last wrote and have lots to tell. I haven't had Internet access for a few weeks and its been driving me crazy.

So more changes. I was talking to my mum one day about my living arrangements and how I love my flat but it is just too small. It only has one bedroom and since Nathans cot is in there, i slept on the couch so I didnt disturb him. It was taking its toll though as I wasnt getting great sleeps and my back was taking a beating. So after discussing it with my mum I went home and had a look online at what properties were on the market.

I noticed an advert for a house but it was showing no pictures. Luckily I recognised the address and knew exactly what house it was. I hoped that maybe since there were no pictures, there would have been little interest and I might just have a chance at getting it. The type of property it is, had there been pictures, would have been gone immediately. And so i rang up on the Tuesday and arranged a viewing on the Wednesday morning. On Wednesday night the property was taken off the market and was mine. Moving date, two weeks time.

Well I was delighted. This house has not one bedroom, not two bedrooms... but three! It would feel like a mansion to me. Not only that but it also has back and front gardens. It solved all my problems. Nathan would finally have his own room where I could actually put his toys. In the flat there was simply no room to have his toys out on show. A garden where on a sunny day he can play or just lie and sleep in his pram. That wasnt possible in the flat. My own bedroom again. No more sleeping on the couch for me. I could go to bed and watch tv or read a book without worrying that I might wake Nathan. It is 2 minutes walk from my mums so instead of loading the car with bags and a car seat when i only want to pop in for a cuppa i can just walk down with the pram. Oh its all so exciting!

Yeh then reality hit. I have taken on a huge property within 24 hours. Have I really thought about this? Can I afford this? I got nervous and tried to just put it to the back of my mind but soon it was the day to sign the lease and collect the keys. What made matters worse was that when i took my dad and other 'workmen' to see the house they were telling me just how much work it needed.

Ok the house was recently refurbished as it had previously been a total disaster. It was now freshly painted with a brand new fitted kitchen and bathroom. Newly laid wooden floors etc. But when you took a walk round you seen just how shoddy the work was. I have no idea who done the work on this house but lets just say, doors hanging upside down and my letter box being on back to front were just the tip of a very wobbly iceberg!! Ah but i had signed for it now. Someone even said to me 'would you like me to talk to my lawyer to see if we can get you out of this contract cause that house is a disaster'. Well if i wasnt anxious before, I was now.

I had to hand in my notice on the flat asap as obviously I couldnt afford to keep 2 houses. And so basically I had 2 weeks to move. Each night, exhausted after a day with Nathan, I would pack a few boxes. I would load them into the car all set for taking the stuff to the new house in the morning. Slowly i moved more and more stuff and my flat was becoming more and more bare. I didnt like this feeling. The flat was absolutely my safe place and I really started to question If i was going to be able to make the move. When i moved out of my mums house last year it had been hard but I was able to calm myself by saying 'Well if its too hard or i dont settle, i will just move back to my mums' (im sure my mum would have had other ideas but it kept me sane). I settled into the flat ok, probably knowing my mums was always an option. But quickly the flat became my home and where i wanted to be. Leaving the flat I would have to hand over the keys So on the day of the move there would be no going back. I couldnt use that as my safety net. I had to make the leap and pray that I would settle into the new place, otherwise who knows what i would do.

So I got the keys and i moved my things bit by bit getting more and more nervous. I then began the mammoth task of cleaning and decorating our new home. Why did I think it would be easy? What made me think it didnt need much done? I was unbelievably stressed. My mum would watch Nathan as much as she could but when she couldnt i would be standing with a paint brush in one hand and rocking Nathans pram with the other. It was exhausting and to be honest I wasnt getting anywhere fast. I try so hard to be independent and do everything for myself, which is no doubt because when i was housebound i relied on other people 100% and i swore i wouldn't go back to that. But after almost having a nervous breakdown one night I asked my family for help. Thankfully my brother was at hand and we wallpapered and painted for days. Now we were getting somewhere. Yes the house was coming on but at the back of my mind it still didnt feel remotely like my home and I couldnt imagine myself living there.

Do you ever get a sense of urgency when your anxious? When you just want to get home and get there fast! Well i would work in the house from 8am but when it came to about 4pm my mind would say 'enough is enough'. I would be filled with the sense of urgency that it was now time to leave and i wanted back to the flat. This worried me. How was I going to feel when i had to move in and i as sitting in the house and the clock hit 4, 5, 6pm and i couldnt be running off to the flat. More nerves.

So i was reaching my limit on how much else i could cope with and then it just got worse. My car tax was due and with no money spare to pay it I had to put my car off the road. But for some deluded and irresponsible reason I decided to drive it one day. Oh it will be ok i told myself, its not far and I have far too much to do!!! What an idiot. Round at the new house on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor, my brother arrived. 'Well what you going to do now' He said. I had no idea what he was talking about but when I looked out the window i seen it. My car was clamped and had a lovely big sticker on the window saying UNTAXED VEHICLE. Oh i was so embarrassed. What would my new neighbours be thinking. At this stage I had no money in the bank due to all the decorating materials I needed to buy but I knew this was going to cost me. Basically to get the clamp removed I had to show them a valid tax disc. If i had the tax disc i could get the clamp removed for £100. If i didnt have a tax disc it was £260! A no brainer really. Time to get a tax disc. In a way I was glad cause it gave me a kick up the bum to get it sorted but it was money i didnt have. I had to tax the car which was £92 and then I had to take the tax disc 20 miles away to prove i had one, and then get the clamp off. The house stuff was on hold. Time to deal with the car. By this stage i was fit to be tied and so i dealt with the tax disc but my poor dad had to take time off work to drive the tax disc to the office as proof. This meant me being back in my flat all anxious, with no car outside. This made me nervous because although i stopped driving it, knowing it was there was always a comfort, now it was gone. It was parked at the new house and if i wanted to drive it, it was impossible. Not good for a control freak like me. I know i know its my own stupid fault.

While this was going on I was suffering with a really sore neck. I assumed it was due to constantly sleeping on the couch but the night i was without the car it came to a head. This wasnt a sore neck or a pulled muscle from humphing boxes, this was something else. I looked in the mirror and i looked like quasimodo. I had developed a lump under my jaw which looked like a tennis ball. I also started to feel like utter crap with a temperature etc. Home alone with Nathan i got a bit worried and had to phone the emergency doctor. Being that it was nighttime there was nothing much they could do but i seen the doctor the first thing in the morning. I had a virus and an infected gland. Great! A course of antibiotics and rest was recommended. I was like a zombie by this point but this was the Wednesday and i was meant to move house on the Thursday!

I decided I would take the Wednesday off. I would take my pills and stay on the couch with a cover. I would sleep and hope that in the morning i was able to face the move. Well i woke up feeling no better but I had no choice. With my car now back and taxed I filled it to the brim. I still didnt want to leave the flat, i actually told myself that if i just left the curtains up it would be ok. If i REALLY panicked in the new place i would go back to the flat that night and sleep on the floor, Nathan would sleep in his pram. Seriously the things we tell ourselves to cope!

My friend took Nathan that morning and i started driving back and forth moving my things. I emptied the flat of everything apart from the big things like the couches and bed which would need to be moved later in a van. I worked like a dog emptying bags and finding a place for everything. That night when the van brought the last of my things the house was complete. Not just livable, but basically finished. And who would believe it but i was fine. I fed and bathed Nathan at his usual time and he was put into his cot and fast asleep at his usual time. Looking back I have no idea how i managed it. I went to my new bedroom and slept like a log but that was probably due to the virus i had and being totally exhausted.

Well that was a week ago. I went back to my flat once to collect any curtains etc that I had left and I havent looked back. I admit i hung onto the keys for 3 days more than I should have but they are gone now too and i cant get back in there. I don't want to go back though. I have my new home and as soon as I had my own things around me i was settled. There are still things that i want to do to the house but there is no rush anymore, i can take my time. Nathan has a bedroom filled with books and toys and bright colours just like he should have. I have attached a picture of him in his new ballpit which he didn't actually like but maybe he will in time ha. There has been a couple of nights where i have been a bit scared. In the flat It had buzzer entry and so you felt quite secure. Here we don't have that and one night i could hear noises downstairs. Well i was frozen stiff with fear but eventually i sucked it up and went on the look out. I have a son to protect now so no time for being a scardy cat. Yeh it was nothing and prob just the noises of the house cooling down, ill just have to get used to it.

Since then Nathan and I have both got the cold and today i was pretty much useless but hopefully its passing and we can finally enjoy our new start here. I will get pics of our little home on as soon as.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Well where to start?

More anxiety I'm afraid. I have had 2 strange episodes where anxiety has hit me in new ways. I thought after 10 years I had experienced every kind of anxiety my body would ever create, but i was given fresh new symptoms.

Sometimes I a wary of what I write on here because i don't want to influence anyone. I know that when i was living a very nervous life i would find myself worrying i had problems other people had. I never did have i learned to get over that but i hope no one over thinks my new issue and creates it in their own lives. Then only reason i share it now is for those who have had it before or are having it already and can possibly relate and realise they are not alone.

Ok the first one was the strangest. It was a Sunday night and I was enjoying a yummy pizza. I was really hungry and really loving every bite when suddenly i felt a bit anxious and had a thought. 'I cant swallow this'. I ignored it and kept on eating but in my head i had a feeling i really couldn't swallow my food. I had a feeling that i might choke. Every bit i tried to swallow would result in my heart pounding rapidly. It was very bizarre but it worried me and so i got a bit flustered. I chewed my food more than ever before to make swallowing even easier. I was chewing so much it was basically mush, but yet i still had problems swallowing. A couple of times the food actually stuck in my throat and i had to cough it back up. It wasn't nice and it really really bothered me. What bothered me most was that in the end, although i was still hungry, i didn't finish my meal.

Now this was a new problem i did not need and did not want. I have enough crap to be dealing with without adding to the list. So i made sure over the next few days that i didn't avoid eating anything. A couple of times i thought about something i might want to eat and then would catch myself saying 'no that will be too hard to swallow'. As soon as i had that thought i would make sure i ate whatever it was and not cop out. I used distraction methods again and when i was eating i would read a magazine or something so i wasn't so fixated on the swallowing. I'm not even sure if this is a good description but that's how it was. Thankfully it hasn't happened again and I'm back to eating and not stressing myself out.

Honestly anxiety is crazy and bloody frustrating. I know this is due to my guilt at the moment. I have spoken in previous posts about Nathan and how I'm so determined i can be a 'normal' mum. Unfortunately even though I'm doing everything with him i am still riddled with guilt and wanting to do so much more. He isn't even caring of course. Hes happy in his wee chair sitting staring at whatever has caught his attention, or babbling or sleeping. He is blissfully unaware. And yet I'm sitting thinking 'we should be swimming, or at a safari park, or a park' I give myself such a hard time...but I'm working on it.

The next anxious episode was in bed one night. Sitting in bed on my laptop i think and i felt extremely dizzy. Even sitting there very still i just felt really out of sorts and unsteady. I NEVER ask anyone for help anymore. I don't know if it is because i want to be completely independent or because i feel that when i ask for help i am actually saying 'ok I'm not coping with this to help me' and if i admit I'm not coping i feel more anxious. Anyway, this time i sent Gerry a text and had to tell him i wasn't feeling well. I just needed to let him know in case i needed him to leave work and come and help me. I felt very sick and when i tried to stand up and walk to the kitchen i felt i literally couldn't walk in a straight line. I had to bend over while i was walking to feel i was keeping balance. I spoke to someone else who has had this and she explained it really well by saying 'its like trying to walk on a boat'. That's exactly what it felt like. It was hard to stay calm because i wasn't quite convinced it was even anxiety related but i got all my essentials round me like wet wipes, glass of water etc. Eventually i lay down and managed to fall asleep.

I should explain, since i haven't really mentioned this, but i am living alone. I am on my own with Nathan. I think most of you thought Gerry and i live together but for whatever reason, that hasn't happened. Although i see him quite a lot he has never actually stayed over night or helped with night feeds and so i know the lack of sleep will be adding to how i am feeling. Thankfully i have got Nathan into a fantastic routine. He goes to bed every night at 6.30/7.00 and happily goes to sleep without any fuss. He generally sleeps right through now till 7 in the morning although he may have a wee cry at some point he is easily settled. But it was not always like that! Yes it has been quite hard but its so rewarding and i feel really proud of myself. I am running the house single handed and it is always immaculate, Nathan is happy and content and I am very independent. I just wish i could relax and appreciate what i have a bit more. Meaning, how well i am coping. I want to be completely self sufficient. For example, last week i wired a plug and felt so happy with myself and tonight i unplumbed my washing machine and put it out to be collected (it broke) and i did that all by myself and that was no easy task. I know my body is going to feel like it was hit with a bus tomorrow cause that machine was damn heavy! I think ill plumb my new one in myself too, ill give anything a go.

Its just tough as it feels theres not enough hours in a day. Between keeping the house. Getting Nathan ready, me ready, shopping, paying bills, going walks, dinners, baths. I'm still not getting my head to focus on pushing my boundaries and it is bugging the hell out of me. I wish i could relax and give myself a bit of slack, But i think i know i am capable of travelling further and doing more outwith the house. And since I'm not doing it, its constantly in my head. And to me the solution to that problem is to just get out there and do it. But when?? Also Ive been sleep training Nathan this last week and I'm pretty exhausted because Ive been sleeping on the couch. Nathan sleeps in a cot in my bed room and he makes so many noises when hes sleeping i would never get a wink. And so Ive been on the couch to try and get a decent rest. I'm sleeping great but my backs taking a beating lol.

I feel i am rabbiting on now but hopefully i have put you in the picture. That is my life as it is at the moment. Busy busy. On top of this Ive been visiting friends as much as its only locally, spending time with my mum, had people over for dinner, and this weekend I'm going to have a party I can safely say i never spend a single day where i am on the couch doing nothing. I think its time to get my relaxation Cd's out at night and just totally chill. One thing i have realised is that i am a fighter and will NEVER lie down to any of this anxiety rubbish (touch wood) so far I'm still giving as good as I get

Monday, 21 March 2011

Toughing it Out

Well last week was hard! Anxiety was very present and you all know how scary it can be when you've been rid of it for a while. I am, without doubt, my own worst enemy! I managed to give myself an emotional beating by thinking about problems over and over and over again.

The weather was typically poor with very dull sky's and rain and then to top that off we had a day of heavy snow.

I was stuck at home although as usual i made myself walk everyday, even just a little. I was fretting that I'm not doing enough outside, Nathans not getting out enough. Is this the agoraphobia coming back (although its never fully been gone). Is this going to get worse? No I wont let that happen i will fight it. But what if its too hard? This went on for a couple of days non stop until i was fit to be tied!

Why do we do this to ourselves. It is so frustrating because I knew the whole time I was just thinking about things too much. Fretting about things that probably wont even happen and making things seem far worse than they need to be. God its so exhausting!

Eventually the anxiety came, thanks to myself. At first i was even more anxious wondering how i would cope with the inevitable panic attack, as i have never had one alone in my new house OR while I'm with Nathan. But soon i talked myself round and decided i would ride it out and that it would actually be a good thing if it happened, as i need to learn to face it again, and tough it out on my own. So i got my panic attack essentials ready. My wet wipes, for the sweats. A magazine for distraction, a glass of water and my ipod for music distraction or some Apps i could play with. Even the app for panic attacks which is a last resort usually. Oh and always in my mind is 'I will video the attack' as this in itself would be a good distraction tactic. Of course when i finally faced it and was prepared, i was no longer in such fear of it and so the panic attack never came. I did have a few mini flutters, but that was all.

I fought back by making sure i was out even more each day, it is clearly not good for me to ever be stuck in the house too long. And i went visiting people to keep myself and Nathan entertained. Also i went a drive and pushed myself a bit further as i know without doubt I'm feeling a bit more on edge because I know i should and could be doing more than I have been. It all helped and the anxiety passed. I was able to kick back at night with the knowledge that I had fought and won, and that i had done enough that day. Enough for who? Well enough for me because it seems i like to give myself a really hard time!

The rest of the week was much more relaxed but i have definitely taken a step back recently. Its such a nightmare but all we can do is preserve isn't it. There have been a few times where i have been walking and thought 'hmm I'm not feeling too good so i will just not bother going to... wherever' but i plod on anyway because i know that's the kind of avoidance behaviour that got me into this mess in the first place. I feel less guilty about Nathan because I have such great family that they are always offering to take him places. He goes out with me everyday and each grandmother once a week so he is doing and seeing everything he should be at his age. I just look forward to doing so much more. I need to get off my own back. Hes only 3 month old for goodness sake. The distance he is travelling shouldn't even be an issue!

On Friday i got a bit of worrying news. If you have been following the blog for a while you will have read me talking about my little nephew Luke. I sing his praises all the time as we are so close and he is more like a brother to me. Luke was born with spina bifida and is wheelchair bound but really he lives such a full and normal life. He is a fantastic little guy and brings happiness to so many peoples lives. However Luke has always has very sensitive hearing and doesn't enjoy things like fireworks or loud noises. Lately the bell ringing in school has been bothering him and so his parents were going to get his hearing checked again. But on Friday it went a little further. When the bell rang he suddenly got himself worked up. He couldn't breathe and it looks like he took a panic attack. Well.... this is one thing we never want to happen to any of our loved ones. Don't get me wrong there have been times i have wanted certain people to experience JUST ONE so they can see how horrific it really is. But not the kids! Poor Luke was screaming in the playground and luckily his grandfather who had just taken him to school was nearby. When he finally got to him Luke was screaming 'Don't leave me'. It took an hour and a half for him to be calmed down. Apparently he has sweat on his top lip and was shaking for a long time afterwards. So to me it definitely sounded like a panic attack.

He was taken to the doctors and the doctor gave some good advice. Well in my opinion it was good advice. His mother was going to keep him off school for the rest of the day but the doc told her to take him straight back. Since it was Friday he may has spent the weekend dreading going back and getting himself into a tizzy. The doctor explained what the breathing problem was, he hyperventilated, and told him the trick of using the paper bag. He also explained that we shouldn't make too big a deal out of this. Act normal. Because really we don't want to scare Luke. He is a sensitive wee soul and actually very easily spooked. Thankfully he went back to school and was totally fine. I called him later and although i didn't want to make too big a deal out of him i tried to explain casually that i have had many attacks myself and that they aren't so bad once you learn to cope with them. I should mention this has happened to Luke once before and so you can see why we are worried this is the beginning of a longer problem. If it was a one off due to the bell we might not be so concerned. Anyway, he wanted to come and stay with me that night. Whether that's because he wanted to talk about dealing with panic or because i am such fabulous company i don't know ha. I asked him to explain how he felt when it happened and told him about the first time i took one and to be honest he looked at me like i had 2 heads so clearly our experiences werent very similar, but id still say it was panic nonetheless. We all know it can come in many forms.

We will all be keeping a close eye on him from now on...but just from the side where he cant see us. Lets hope it doesn't happen again. How heartbreaking to watch these little innocents deal with something so horrible and to feel completely helpless. I think that's what scared me the most was that i couldn't just make this go away for him. Because really the only person who can make panic attacks go away, is the person who is taking them. So fingers crossed for little Luke.