Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Stress Stress Stress

Hello!

This is the longest I have ever went without posting.  There are a few reasons but mostly just life! Life has gotten in the way and there has been a lot of diversions in my way.

This has been 1 tough year!  I like to think that I can be pretty strong but sometimes things can get in top of me, and the last few months have been no exception.

So to sum up the mental side of my life, for those who haven't read my blog before'. I am 32 years old, I have had anxiety since I was 19, which lead to full blown agoraphobia at the age of around 22/23.  After 5 years of doing NOTHING but sitting at home, I fought back. I fell in love, I got engaged, I got pregnant, I got a house and I moved out of the family home.  I learned to drive. I started living again.  I pushed the boundaries. Took on new challenges that I never imagined would ever be possible! I kicked anxieties ass to be honest. But then life got in the way.

My relationship turned sour in the most horrendous way.  Cheating, mental and verbal abuse. Then physical abuse. The police were involved, Court dates, yadda yadda yadda. But I stayed strong and I kept fighting the anxiety. I took him back. Yeh I know I am an idiot but we all do crazy things when in love.  And I tried to make it work, keep the family together. But as I knew it would the cheating and the unhappiness happened all over again, just as I knew it would.

So.... that brings us to this year.  We started the year together, Nathans dad and I.  Why did he cheat?  Well because of my agoraphobia.  He wants to live a life full of travel and excitement and he wants to share those experiences with a partner.  And so although I knew he went about it in the wrong way (over and over and over again) I also felt like I couldn't really blame him.  Maybe that's wrong but its how I felt. We didn't do anything together.  He wasn't a very hands on father and worked away A LOT. So I was left raising Nathan alone.  I found it really difficult focusing on tackling my anxiety when I had other responsibilities to deal with.

Being a Mum

Breakfast, Bath, Get dressed, Go to the shops, Lunch Time, Nap time, Play time, Dinner, Pajamas on, Bed.

So when and where do I fit in getting out there and pushing?? When  do I fight back?

Do I take my son out in the car and see how far I can go?  I suppose that's possible but I never really felt it was fair on him.  Especially if I did panic. A 2 year old ain't gonna help me out is he?

And so every day blurred into the next.  Days turned into weeks and weeks to months.  My partner would arrive home after working away and I would just enjoy seeing him.  I was happy to make a meal and just be a family at home.  Cuddle up and share our sons experiences.

'Look how much he has grown and hes learned so many new words this week. Watch this new thing he can do' 

I was proud. He was only ever home for a couple of days at a time. And so we never really made plans.  Big mistake I guess, looking back.  But my limitations had crept back up on me and I wasn't comfortable doing much.

Within my little bubble I could function fine.  Going small walks and drives.  Taking Nathan to the park. Visiting friends and family.  But there isn't much in my little town.  Certainly no nice restaurants or recreational facilities. To do those things we would need to travel further. And since I wasn't getting a chance to practise that stuff, well I couldn't suddenly just do it because my partner wanted me to.  As much as I might have liked to.

I did explain that we needed to start small.  That when he was home he should come with Nathan and I to the park.  We should try swimming in the new pool.  Small family things.  Get me used to being with him again as I was always doing things alone. Just Nathan and I.

We went to the park once.  Just once.

He continued to work and work and when he was home he would explain he had a night out with the boys planned, which I was always ok with. He deserves it, he works hard!

He wasn't on nights out with the boys.  He was out with other women.  Nights out, champagne, hotel stays.  Some will say it was wrong.  Some will say he needed it.  Its irrelevant now.

Round about April I realised the extent of what had been doing on and so I asked him to leave.  I packed up all his stuff and closed the door.  Time to start again.

I felt pride that I had stood up for myself. Cause I knew that what he did was wrong.  I was keeping house and raising Nathan, doing a good job of both.  Ok I have anxiety issues but here is no need for that kind of betrayal.  And so for the first few months I was strong, probably because I was angry.

But time passes and emotions change.  I went through anger, then I went numb, kind of blocked it out.  We kept in touch now and then by phone but there was no real contact. He had moved with his work and was now a plane trip away.  Probably the best for us, but not really the best for being a dad.

We went through 7 weeks with no visits. Nathan got the odd phone call or facetime but that was it.  Then 3 weeks ago he said he was coming up and wanted to see his son. 

I have explained on here before that I have been struggling with separation anxiety when it comes to Nathan. I don't mind him being away from me, but due to my own issues with distance, I don't like when I know hes far away.  Ive always said I would let my agoraphobia affect him as little as possible. So ive had to suck it up and let it go.  When he goes out for the day with his grandparents, sometimes im fine. Sometimes I struggle.  I can never really predict how i'm going to react. But I am used to them taking him out, I am not used to his dad taking him out.  So... I can get really nervous.  Call it irrational but its all anxiety pretty irrational?

So he came up for his first visit and it was pretty horrendous.  Throughout all the years we were together I kind of shut down my emotions as I just couldn't handle anymore pain. Im generally pretty numb now and don't really express emotions at all. I never cry. never.  But when he came back into our home I felt it. My anxiety and pain all came to the surface and it was scary! I cried, I felt sick, I panicked. God I must have been attractive!! But I also felt like it was a release I had been needing for a long long time.  Why did I feel those things?  Well I realised that there was no hatred there anymore.  Yes I will never forgive or forget what he has done, but mostly I was just heartbroken that our family was in tatters.  And that my son will now be raised without a full time dad.  That he will never remember us being a couple.  I was also very aware that my back up was gone.  My support.  Someone to take a little bit of the parental pressure off whenever he was home from work.  This was it now. I was on my own.

My devastation changed nothing.  In those moments I would have taken him back.  As crazy as I know that is, I'm just telling the truth. I would have had him back in a heartbeat.  But he didn't want it.  Said he couldn't go back to that life.  And so he was gone.

What now?  Back to the grind.  Full time mum head back on.  Emotions reeled back in, huge wall built around myself I got on with things.  Mum duties commenced and I was OK.  I decided that I have had enough of anxiety, of limitations.  I am tired of looking at facebook and feeling envy towards the people checking in at the airport, or posting pictures of family days out at the beach.  Do they know how truly lucky they are?

So I called my doctor and told them I needed some help.  I told them its high time my meds are changed because mines just do not work.  Ive been on them for over ten years so I must be immune by now! Ive been talking about changing for a long time but avoided it like everything else.  I also explained that I am exhausted ALL. THE. TIME.  So we arranged for some blood tests to be done.  Something else I had been meaning to get round to.  Apparently they are giving me a really good check up and are testing for all sorts, anaemia, thyroid problems etc. All tests done, the results are due any day.

So while all this is going on something even more important happened when I was called into the nursery.  The teachers wanted to have a word with me about Nathan.  OK so at this point Nathan was 2 and a half years old, but they had noticed a few things that concerned them.  Nathans speech was quite immature, but I just assumed this was a 'boy thing'.  My nephews were quite slow with their talking and so it never overly worried me.  His speech and a few other behaviours were discussed, very minor things, but they asked if I would mind if the education psychologist could observe him (along with a few of the other children)  Obviously I agreed and so I was called back in a few weeks later for the results.  Basically I have a very happy very clever little boy, but he is showing some signs of autism.

At 2 and a half they don't want to label him as it is too early to tell.  But he has been referred to speech and language therapy and we are taking it from there.  The psychologist did say things like 'will struggle at school' which did come as a surprise to me as I do agree that hes very clever, but only time will tell. However, this is the start of a long process of meetings and obviously a worrying time too.  So the stress levels are being thoroughly tested.

3 weeks back at work and Nathans dad announces hes coming back for a visit. This time he doesn't want to see me, he wants to take Nathan away on his own.  We have had a total communication breakdown now and all we do is fight. Via phone, via email, via text.  And so I thought I would do the sensible thing and contact a lawyer.  I thought it would be best to have a 3rd party make the necessary arrangements as we just cannot talk to one another anymore. He did not like this at all.  I would have thought it would suit him better, as it protects him too, but he wasn't happy.  After a lot more texts back and forth he finally agreed he would contact his lawyer. BUT since he doesn't have time to do it on this visit he wants Nathan before the agreement is made.  Tomorrow.

So the arrangement is that Nathans granddad will pick him up and take him to his dad. And I feel ill. I know this has to be done. Would I be feeling ok about this if I didn't have the anxiety issues?  I don't want it but im decent enough to know that what hes done to me shouldn't affect his relationship with his son. And Nathan will be happy to see his dad.

And so the saga continues................................

What never fails to amaze me is the physical symptoms extreme stress can cause. In the worst moments I have literally felt like my brain has expanded and my head is swimming.  The saying 'cant think straight' is an understatement.  I've had palpitations, sweats, panic, breathlessness, dizzy spells, pins and needles in my hands, and really crappy thoughts.  Someone described this as 'stinking thinking' which I thought was quite good. Dealing with the mental and physical symptoms of stress is scary! But in a way its been a good challenge for me as I have faced it, accepted it and found out the best ways to keep myself comfortable.  Sometimes I have felt like something is ready to give.  Surely I cannot handle another blow, ill lose it! But I surprise myself that eventually I pull myself together and it passes.  I am staying positive and telling myself that ive had a bit of a tough time but I am still strong and still focused on a good life for myself and Nathan. And now I am completely single and the unhealthy relationship is over, surely things can only get better?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a 44 year old who has struggled with panic his whole life and agoraphobia for the last 5-8 years or so I can very much relate to what you are going through. I have the disadvantage of not being able to be alone without panicking, but a *huge* advantage of a very supportive wife who is willing to work with me the best she can (and it is very, very hard on her). I feel horrible about how hard it is on her. I also have two young ones (6 and 8) and fear how it affects them.

I have no great words of wisdom to help you... just know there are others out here with similar challenges. It is devastating. It is humiliating. I wish I could do something for you and for me.

Best of luck and thank you for your blog. It helps me to know I am not the only "crazy" one out here.

Rab said...

Lynn,

You've certainly come through a lot more than people should have to go through. From reading your blog in the early days I think you have progressed more than you realise and give yourself credit for- its always easier to see from the outside rather than amid it. My kids are older now and I haven't done half the things you have with your boy so don't beat yourself up as your boy has all he needs from you which is more than some kids get.

I do hope things pick up for you soon.

All the best

Rab

Anonymous said...

Oh dear Lynn, it really sounds as though you've had such a lot to cope with. You're inspiring to so many people though, because you cope so much better than so many others ever could! Honestly, don't ever forget how strong you are. It's good to hear that you're going to take the plunge and swap onto some different medication. Finding the right antidepressant (in my case Escitalopram/Lexapro) was the main turning point for me, and I couldn't believe how much it helped me. Wishing you lots of positivity and improvement. Rose xx

Lynn said...

Thanks for all the comments. Its nice to have your support and a little reminder that im actually doing ok. I m really focusing my energy into the right things now and hoping to see big changes. Think Positive :) xx

Anonymous said...

I think some anxiety about your ex taking your son is perfectly natural.

Regarding the "stinking thinking", I read that stress is a survival response. It used to be that stress occurred to help us out of danger. Adrenaline. Flight or fight response. Like living outdoors and taking a hike and seeing a bear. You will naturally feel stress and it's in order to keep you alive.

Well in today's society, we aren't exposed to those types of situations as much. But that doesn't mean those defense mechanisms go away.

I am no doctor. But I have been trying to cope with stress and anxiety in my own way (including but not limited to searching how-to's on the Internet). It's a lot to do with reassuring yourself that whatever is happening, isn't life threatening. And if you can't convince yourself of that, maybe try and accept that death is a part of life, don't spend your life fearing it. Don't spend your life in constant fear. Doesn't mean you shouldn't have a healthy fear of bears.

And if that doesn't work... Consider life in older times before advancements in travel. People didn't go many places. Or at least not everyone in the household. Maybe to the watering hole. The local stores. Etc. School, church, neighbors... Whatever floated their boat. -- have you considered moving to a smaller community? There might be a town out there perfect for you where you don't have to feel ashamed about not wanting to leave the house much, but still a tight knit community so that you're not in danger of becoming a recluse.. But of course that's a gigantic step.

Or maybe something that builds your confidence would help you. Like martial arts or something. Something where you can feel, "no matter what, I know I can protect myself."

I mean no harm, just trying to help. Good luck and many blessings to you and yours.

what is good for anxiety said...

I’m sure that we can live without
anxiety. Although it is isn’t fatal it
afflicts us with a constant doubt
that tortures us with no apparent benefit,
and may cause us to seek relief
of insecurity with insobriety,
or an irrational belief
whose side-effects include a quest for piety,
benefiting liquor stores,
drug pushers, charlatans, psychologists and shrinks,
and turns us into dreadful bores
when sober, and still worse ones after drinks.
Complaints about it quickly lead
to feelings in those listening of satiety.
However hard these people plead
for your attention, boycott their anxiety.

Greg Weber said...

Wow, you've really had a go of it! I appreciate the dedication and skill you've shown dealing with a relationship breakdown and staying strong for your son.

It's awful how hard dealing with everyday life is when you suffer from anxiety. People who haven't been there just don't understand what a struggle it is.

mel m. m. mccarthy said...

Hi Lynn, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your story. Somehow it's easy to feel like we are alone in this, when there are other people out there quietly suffering the same challenges. It means the world to have people like you who share. And not to offer unsolicited advice, but I wish I'd found this book years ago. It's the GAPS diet. Gut And Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. I am using the diet to treat my severe agoraphobia and depression (and it makes an enormous difference for my low iron etc too) but many people swear by it for autism, especially when it is used to heal kids who are quite young. Anywho sorry for the unsolicited advice; I just wanted to share that with you in case it might be of interest or help. And thank you for sharing and helping others with your beautiful strength! hugs, Mel

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