Thursday, 2 February 2012

Agoraphobia vs Habit

This has been playing on my mind today. I really should have worked this out a long time ago but its only recently that it's become more apparent.

So am i agoraphobic, or have i just got into the habit of living my life in a limited space?

Sure there were years when i couldn't leave the house. That was agoraphobia at its most extreme level. Not being comfortable anywhere but home, sometimes only in one room, and even when there being an anxiety filled mess. Living with parents, fear of being left alone, constant worrying, negative thinking, obsessing, panic attacks, no routine, day turned into night and lots of other stress related behaviours. Not a nice time at all.

And yet today, I'm not like that. Now i am OK. I have routine. I don't really experience anxiety at all. And if, out of the blue, i did, well I can cope with it relatively well. If someone was to watch me for 1 day i would appear completely 'normal'. I get up and prepare the breakfast, get myself and my son dressed. Decide who to visit, or if we will go for a walk. Clean the house and then head out. At some point ill go to the shops for whatever we need. And then after our day out is done we head home where i will cook the dinner, then bath, then put Nathan to bed. At points through the day they'd see me smile, looking confident or they would hear me laugh. No stress, No anxiety. No agoraphobia.

So where does the agoraphobia kick in? Well very rarely ill be driving the car and ill get stuck at a red light and my heart will have a little flutter. So i will take a few deep breaths and turn the music up. The light goes to green and I'm off, and forget all about it. Or similarly if I'm in a shop alone and stuck in a queue. But really that's about it.

But that's because i have gotten so used to my life as is it now and my routine. I don't need to face the agoraphobia because day to day, i can get to where i need to be comfortably. But the problem is, that should i need to go somewhere far, for example, if there was an emergency... well i would s**t myself. And now i am wondering if this is because of agoraphobia and thinking of past reactions. Or is it simply because I'm doing something I haven't done in a long time.

I think its a bit of both. It actually bugs me that my head no longer thinks like this.. 'Well i don't have plans for today, and Ive got some money in the bank, so how about i take Nathan swimming and then out for lunch'. 'Oh Nathans away out with his dad on Saturday so i could head into the city for some retail therapy'. I just DON'T think like that. I am much more likely to think 'well ill see who's free in my little area and then go home'. My routine and habits are so limited to the little bubble that my thoughts literally don't go beyond that. And yes, this is OK day to day, and i am utterly grateful i can even do that, because Ive experienced the other side of the coin. But I'm really wondering just how much of my fear actually exists anymore.

Yeh i can just imagine what your thinking. 'Well try it then, go head out and see where you go'. That's the point. I know i would still struggle, still be very uncomfortable when getting to a certain distance, or even panic completely, but how much of this is down to agoraphobia. or just the fact I'm doing something out of the ordinary, which in itself would get my head thinking... i shouldn't be doing this, this is not me, i should be panicking cause i would have in the past'. And it makes me think of the few times i DID need to push myself and travel beyond my comfort zone, and to be honest, when i did it i was fine. A few uncomfortable minutes here and there but nothing at all to bother about.

So for me i think its a bit of both. And the key to changing it, is doing what i always did with the agoraphobia anyway. keep going out, and keep practising. Make new habits for myself. I did this before and it bugs the hell out of me that i let that go. I used to think 'oh today ill go for lunch, or today i wanna try something a bit more adventurous'. But not now. Now my heads very much in day to day routine. One day is the same as the next and, i wonder how many of you can relate, but its HARD to change your habits when you have a child to look after. Its very difficult for me to focus 100% on pushing my boundaries when Nathan needs a nappy changing, lunch, a nap, entertained, dinner and so on and so on. Yes i know i can take him with me, and no doubt i will sometimes, but there are situations id be putting myself in where i wouldn't necessarily want him to be a witness. He doesn't need to see my panic. And of course for those of you well enough to have a job, then can you fit in your recovery around work? I know that when i worked, i dragged myself out of bed in the morning, got home afterwards and ate dinner, and then i pretty much collapsed on the couch. Maybe i just need a bit of an energy boost.

And then of course there is life. Normal everyday life can play havoc with recovery plans. I have family, they need me to do things. Baby sit, wait in for deliveries, sit and chat and discuss their problems. A house to run.. washings, dishes, cleaning. And ill be honest, I'm pretty exhausted!

So. Its time to start working on my habits. Because its pretty clear that my phobia has greatly reduced and if that's the case, then this is really the best time to get to work. In the meantime, sleep!


Lisa x said...

I think that a lot of people who have kids can relate to this post, even people who don't have anxiety problems. Having Nathan has been such a positive influence in your life and given you structure & routine, which anxiety sufferers need. I guess in a way,it's like a distraction. You have someone else to focus on rather than yourself. It's inevitable though that your going to want to push your boundaries and try new things.

For me, I find that after years of fear & worry about everything, I don't know what things I'll enjoy any more or how I'll react in new situations and it makes me hesitant to try. I guess the only way we're ever going to find out though is if we try xx

Blogger25 said...

i must say, i love your blog .. it's EXACTLY how i feel. oh yes, can ANYONE tell me how to put those 'buttons" on the side of my blog like she has??? i wanna do that w/ mine!

Lynn said...

Your right Lisa. We just have to try dont we. Pffft its so tiring lol. I hope your ok, we need a catch up chat x

Blogger25 thanks for the comment. What little buttons do you mean and ill let you know how i did it x

LexiPro27 said...

I was recently diagnosed with Agoraphobia by my therapist but from what I see, I do not believe I really have the sort of Agoraphobia most have. It's a long story to explain, but I will be explaining it later in my blog for everyone to read. I am a teen so it seems even harder for me to start my life out. Having anxiety is not easy, but not being sure exactly what you have is even more difficult.

Rodfather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Louis said...

The fact that you are now willing to make these comments seems very healthy to me. To face the idea of being comfortable with habits is something I think all of us with anxiety face. Having a job to force you to get out and get moving helps a lot lf the time but is sometimes a real challenge to meet too.
You are a blessing to a lot of people. I hope your progress continues. glad you added the facebook page.

mental health girl said...

It has entered my mind, for years now ive had mental health problems and this is my life, me with mental health problems, as time goes on there comes times when im doing so well no one would even think i have agoraphobia and anxiety, yet saying i no longer have it, is a scary thought, cos ive been like this for so long im scared of change, my first fears in which i got agoraphobia are no longer the issue over the years ive got so use to being scared of going out the house alone its become normal life and im now actually scared of going out alone instead of being scared of why i was avoiding it in the first place xx