A handy little download for when your feeling anxious. Be it general anxiety, or heightened anxiety, this is good advice. This is similar to how I learned to deal with my anxious moments. Eventually, they just stopped coming! Practice makes perfect
Sunday, 7 December 2014
Posted by Lynn at 18:36
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
I am sitting here with my anxiety/panic attack kit.
Not much in it to be honest. I have my phone, my laptop, a bottle of water and some wet wipes. That's about it really. I have just taken a couple of my beta blockers and I am all set to ride the waves of anxiety.
I am alone. And right now, that's the way I want it to be. I can think relatively clearly and if someone was here having a conversation with me I would probably be quite irritable and snappy.
I wrote last time about my separation anxiety. I had feared that by writing about it I would suddenly make the problem much more real, but at the end of the day, I knew the feelings I was experiencing needed to be addressed.
After the blog the anxieties continued whenever Nathan had any appointments or when he had to go somewhere out with my comfort zone (without me).
The stress this was causing me was unbelievable. In my negative, anxiety riddled mind, I had made the situation much much bigger and scarier than it needed to be. The outcome of the situation because of my messed up perception, was bleak to say the least.
Nathan was due to regularly attend his nursery in another town that I cant get to. He was also due to attend several hospital appointments in the same town. Me going to these places wasn't an option, and so I would need to face the separation anxiety on a regular basis.
My stress and anxieties all came to a head during this time and I felt ill. Really really crappy! My head was firing all the unhelpful negative thoughts around all day. The physical symptoms were constant. Churning stomach, nausea, loss of appetite, the feelings of utter dread. I was finding it hard to focus on day to day tasks. My head was like a sieve. I was permanently nervous and jumpy. Short tempered and never off the toilet!
I missed appointments, made excuses. I avoided. He went to some and I would feel I done well that day, and then he would miss others and I would feel like the worlds worst and most selfish mum ever.
My poor mother, who takes Nathan to all his appointments in my place, she was worried sick. She worries about me as her daughter, but also worries that I wont get a grip on this and her grandson will be left to suffer.
Don't get me wrong. Nathans physical health is all perfect so its nothing too serious. But he needs his behavioural issues looked at so it doesn't affect him later in life. For every missed appointment I was wracked with guilt. Was I jeopardising my own sons future? As a mother, it is your natural instinct to put your child first, no matter how dreadful you feel. So how come I was putting me first? How come I was avoiding these appointments and choosing the easy option that day? A day where I didn't need to feel the anxiety and the discomfort?
Had I faced the appointments I would have felt awful. I would need to go through the anxieties I'm filled with when he is gone, but I would get through it and feel a sense of achievement that I had done the right thing. And that night, I would be relaxed and calm. Instead I choose to avoid the situation, to dodge the unpleasant feelings I would go through. And for an hour I might feel ok, but soon the guilt would kick in. And then the thoughts..... 'If you don't face this now you never will. If you don't address this problem it is never going to go away. You are affecting your sons chance in life. You are creating problems for your son. What If he ends up being like you. What if he ends up with these anxieties. The nursery and the hospital are going to start looking at you. You are not good for Nathan and so your probably going to lose him. They will take him off you' And then I would be a nervous wreck anyway. No relaxing and calm night.... just a permanent state of discomfort and stress.
Broken sleep, weight loss, (or weight gain if your a comfort eater), more anxiety. To be honest, as I read what I have written so far it doesn't paint an accurate description of the utter despair and hopelessness you feel at times like this. Your whole day is dark, your how thought process is about that ONE issue. Whatever the issue is, it is the cause of a multitude of mental and physical reactions. You feel completely and utterly lost.
So I reached out and I got help.
I called my doctor and told the truth. And although I was terrified that I sounded like an irrational nutcase I just had to be honest. I needed someone professional to tell me I wasn't going to lose my son. That's the size the issue had become in my head and I was a bit of a wreck for a week.
It was my doctor who changed the dosage of the beta blockers. What I was taking was apparently just not enough. Apparently I just needed 'a little help'. My beta blockers basically stop some of the physical symptoms. They keep your heart at a nice normal rate and you lose the feeling that its about to burst out of your chest. The churning stomach disappears, the shakes, the dry mouth etc etc. The thoughts are still there but your body doesn't physically react to them in the same way. (Let me stress it doesn't take them away COMPLETELY, otherwise we would all be cured, but it does take the edge off). I was also referred to a mental health team for some support.
I should explain that I am at my happiest and most relaxed when I am at home with my son. I don't really have time to be anxious as he is so demanding.
One day he was going out with his gran and he had only just left.... I was never THAT great when he went away with other people as my little buddy and security blanket was leaving me alone for a day. It felt weird. But he needs to live a normal life. So off he went. But on this particular day, when he left, I had a huge panic attack. And unlike the ones I had controlled in the past, I felt I couldn't get it to stop. This was my mistake! Had I waited just a little longer, the panic would have passed. But I jumped and I ran. I got my son from the bus stop before they had even left. I was shaking like a leaf, I felt like the worst mother ever, but I didn't care. I just needed those sensations to STOP! And when Nathan was in my arms, they did. BAD DECISION. That day I sowed a very nasty little seed.
My fear is that when Nathan leaves... in that first 10 minutes, I will suffer the mother of all panic attacks. And the only way it will stop is if Nathan is with me. If he is out of my comfort zone, then I cant get to him to make the feelings stop. If he is with someone else he wont be back QUICK enough to make the feelings stop... so ill be suffering the most horrendous feelings you can experience with nothing to make it go away.
Is that reality? Is that REALLY what would happen? No of course its not. But it doesn't stop my head from thinking that way. I hope I'm not losing the agoraphobic readers with the fact I've moved onto separation anxiety, but the reality is its all linked. Its all about anxiety. Its all about control and its all about how we think. And so although my agoraphobia is still very present.... this is just my biggest issue at the moment.
So... how do beat this problem? Yeh... you face it. Dead Simple. (hahahaha)
I tried facing it!!! It didn't make it easier the next time. It didn't fix it! Results weren't quick enough and so I panicked even more. Realistically this problem was gonna take time to beat and it couldn't disappear by facing one event. But I would get through 1, 2 then cancel the 3rd. Id manage the 4th then cancel the 5th and 6th. It was never gonna work. But there were days that I literally felt that I had no fight in me and I just couldn't do it!
I had about a week and a half with no nursery and no appointments. Bliss! I decided to relax and use that time to be calm. Get my head together again. Sleep lots, eat lots. Get myself back into a good place and be ready for it all starting again.
Monday this week arrived and BOOM there was the familiar anxious thoughts and feelings. And all because I knew it was time to get back to reality and face life. With 2 appointments and 2 days at nursery all on my first week of facing the problem, I knew I was in for a rough time.
So I am sitting here with my anxiety/panic attack kit.
Not much in it to be honest. I have my phone, my laptop, a bottle of water and some wet wipes. That's about it really. I have just taken a couple of my beta blockers and I am all set to ride the waves of anxiety.
Posted by Lynn at 14:06
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
Today is yet another day I have been dreading.
Separation anxiety can be a nightmare at the best of times. Knowing, like most anxiety, that I'm being completely irrational doesn't really ease the nerves when faced with an uncomfortable situation. When it comes to my son, I tell myself frequently that I WILL NOT allow my situation to affect him. Of course, in many ways it does, given that there is places I cant take him. But I remain positive that one day I will join him, and in the mean time he can experience the big wide world with other family members.
So that's all fine in theory. But the minute I get a call from someone asking if he's free I am filled with dread. I wont deny him his day away, but I dread how I'll mentally/physically react to it.
When family want to take him away there's a certain degree of flexibility. I tell myself that should I panic, I will never give in and call them to ask him to be brought home. But in the back of my mind I have the comfort that should I NEED to do that, I can. So far that has never happened.
However, when its something else, for example, a hospital appointment or important meeting, then my control is taken away. Again with the CONTROL.
So today is an appointment that we have been waiting on for months! About a year ago I was told that Nathan should be tested for Autism, and at the time I readily agreed that he needed the test. His behaviour was quite strange at times and he was definitely ticking some of the boxes. Since then I am less convinced that Nathan has autism but it is an important assessment that needs to be done. At least I will be closer to knowing for sure. For Nathan to miss this appointment would mean I would be up against my own horrendous guilt. Prolonged anxiety which I will have created by not letting him go, leading me to then worry that I was going to start doing this for every appointment. The appointment would be moved back so therefor I would still need to go through the whole process eventually, why delay it? I would have health visitors, Doctors etc judging me and perhaps even quite concerned by my behaviour and most importantly, I would be doing my son a huge disservice.
And so with the appointment approaching I put on my determined head and promised myself, that even if I couldn't attend it with him, due to distance, then I would go through every panic attack that hit me and endure each wave of fear. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
We are told repeatedly that the more we challenge these thoughts and behaviours, the less our anxiety will succeed. Our body's and minds will become used to the challenges and we will experience lesser and lesser reactions in difficult times. Sounds great in theory but I am constantly challenging this particular fear and the horrendous battle that takes places doesn't feel to be decreasing THAT much.
For someone who doesn't experience separation anxiety then just compare this to whatever your challenge may be. This is the same reaction I would have when trying to push my physical boundaries, however, even in that situation I feel I would have more control as id simply turn the car around and head back to my little safe bubble.
But where is the escape for me today? I cant stop my son going to his appointment, and so here I am ready to ride it out. And right now, as I write, I am riding those familiar waves.
I was actually less nervous as the appointment approached. Less nervous than I would usually be, a good sign! I had my new medication on hand should I need it, as I did last time. And the usual coping techniques that I have use time and time again.
Plan Of Attack!!
Keep busy on the morning of the appointment. Don't allow myself to sit about an over think.
Hand Nathan over and get my head distracted by something else.
If the anxiety is getting too much, step the distraction up a gear. Do some big job in the house that i have been avoiding (Wallpapering anyone?)
If the anxiety is still not passing, call someone to come sit with me.
If the anxiety is STILL not passing do star jumps lol ... honestly! (burn the adrenalin)
Take a beta blocker
So.... here I am. And what Have I done? I've handed him over and BEFORE he'd even left, I took a beta blocker. Why bother experiencing the peak of my symptoms when I have this to cushion the blow? But what if it doesn't work? When half an hour had passed I assumed it must be working and I definitely did feel somewhat more comfortable, but the panic was still looming. With Nathan gone I decided to clear out the loft/attic. Manual labour, plus loud music on headphones could work. And yeh I guess it did for a little but my loft is pretty tidy already. Heart rate growing again.. Hot humid day so I'm also sweating. Since I have challenged my thoughts before and now know I will not pass out, I will not stop breathing... my head decided to play a new fun game! Lets make up NEW horrible possibilities. My legs feel weak so perhaps I'm going to lose the use of my legs? Such fun!
So my brain is going 200mph, I am now hot and sweaty, and since I took my beta blocker I should have quite an even heart rate, but instead its going like the clappers cause im running around the house like a nut case trying to find things to do! Its actually a pretty funny image. Neurotic to the core.
In the end I have got myself into a nice cosy quiet room, and I have started to write. My head feels fuzzy with the whole crappy situation but the clock is ticking by and my son is getting the assessment done as I write. The panic is gone, the anxiety is ...... in the pit of my stomach and threatening to rise. But I have my water and if I really cant handle it, I can take another beta blocker by now. Even if its only working psychologically ill use it for now, but I don't think im going to need it.
What would be better here? If I had went with him there would be no separation anxiety but instead there would be the ARRRGGHHH im so far away from home. Nathan would know something was wrong, and I doubt id be any use at all in a meeting. So for now this needs to be endured. Not forgetting the next 3 appointments this month. Ill be a pro at this in no time!
Of course im telling myself im completely irrational. That there is nothing to fear here. That I should enjoy the time on my own, childfree. Drink tea and chat to friends, surf the net, read or sleep. Nathan will be back in no time at all demanding my attention and driving me crazy! And I should praise any achievement no matter how small. I didn't avoid this meeting. Nathan is where he should be. Pat on the back for me. But it never really feels that great does it? What would feel great would be to never have to go through this stuff in the first place. But such is life and since I like to think im quite a positive person ill say, well at least im quite an interesting character. Id hate to be boring!
In the meantime I will leave you with a link to a site which someone left in my comments. I had a read and im going to give this a try. Its so cheap that it would be silly not to give it a go. Hope you are all well and battling away! xxx
Posted by Lynn at 13:59
Tuesday, 24 June 2014
This morning has been tough!
A challenge that only those with anxiety will understand.
My son has a hospital appointment which we have been waiting a few months for. Nothing serious, but important all the same. We have discovered that Nathan may need his tonsils and adenoids removed and today is the day we find out if that is going to happen.
So..... heres me with agoraphobia and separation anxiety. I cannot attend the appointment myself, as its just too far out of my comfort zone. My mum has always been the one who would be taking him today. But as the day as loomed closer, I have found my anxiety rising.
Probably only one reason. What if I panic while he is gone? What if I cant get him home quickly enough to stop the anxiety flooding through my body? What if I lose it? I could freak out, pass out, stop breathing.... and the vicious circle of negative thoughts has continued.
My rational head tells me that my son will always come first. That no matter how uncomfortable I find myself, I will ride it out. I will face the fear, suffer the anxiety, and he will go to his appointment and it will all be ok. Even if I am completely debilitated I will deal with that, as long as Nathan gets to where he is meant to be. Because at the end of the day, this appointment is a step towards him feeling better.\
\Rational thinking can leave pretty quickly when your gripped with panic.
His appointment was at 11.20am and so my plan was that he would stay with My mum the night before. I planned to stay up late watching movies in the hope that I would sleep the morning away. When I woke up, Nathan would be home, or at least ALMOST home. But like plans can often do, it didn't quite work out that way.
I went to sleep at 5am and woke at 9. My anxiety began. My body was tense, hands sweating, mouth dry, heart pounding. Really uncomfortable sensations. And throughout it all I had this internal dialogue making every feeling get stronger. 'I cant do this', 'I need to bring him home', 'I need to cancel this appointment', 'I will get in so much trouble for this'. The thoughts raced through my head and I was trying to think of a way to avoid dealing with any of it. The best way to stop this, was to stop the appointment happening.
But with doing that I would create a whole new anxiety. And that anxiety would be accompanied by crippling guilt. How is my son ever going to grow, live a full, happy, healthy life, If I behave in this way? I am doing wrong by him. I am failing him. Surely to be a good mother you need to not think about your own needs and think of the needs of your children?
So I battled.
I can handle my panic attacks. I can handle the fear, the terror! I can deal with all the horrendous physical and mental activity as long as I can breathe. But this morning my chest was tight and I struggled to get a full breath.
This sensation made it feel impossible for me to cope. I was going to lose it for sure.
I had visions of me running into the street crying for help. Driving to the local doctors. Calling friends and pleading with them to rush over.
No, No its coming
I cant take this
Do I need a paper bag
How can I get a breath
in through the nose lynn
Its not passing
Many people, when reaching this state of anxiety, will reach for the Xanax (or something similar). Despite the extreme anxiety I have never taken anything like that, but always had some handy 'just in case'. Again, this was another cause of anxiety. The what ifs when taking a new pill. Not knowing if I would have a bad reaction to them. And I've argued with myself so many times, that maybe that little pill would help me in life. Just taking that little tablet will take the edge off and help me to progress? Maybe the fact I haven't even been willing to TRY them has held me back. Maybe I would travel further, take more risks, if I would just take that chance! Fear of the unknown has always stopped me.
What kind of life is this? I live in a bubble or security. Scared to push beyond that and therefore limiting my life and my experiences in so many ways. Im doing myself a huge disservice and for what? To feel ok? So I don't drink.....because I don't want to freak out by the 'drunk' sensation. I want to stay in control. I don't want to suffer panic attacks the next day (which I always did after a night on the wine). I don't take drugs..... because they are bad. But even the recreational ones that obviously DO make some people feel good, well I just wouldn't take the chance. I used to LOVE a night out with the girls. A few drinks and that lovely merry drunken feeling. Talking about random things, laughing till your head hurt. Feeling more confidence, dancing the night away without a care in the world. I am depriving myself of such a simple thing and for what? Fear. Fear of the unknowns and the what ifs. Its bad enough that as an agoraphobic I deprive myself of travelling, seeing the world, experiencing other cultures and living a fuller life. But when its affecting even the way you live your life at home.... well it sucks. I want to go to the local pub and get drunk. I want to be the Lynn I was before. Who just did what she wanted and didn't think about the what ifs. Relax for god sake! Lighten Up! Live a Little. I feel like a bore!! And I was NEVER a bore! I was a fantastic drunk and absolutely hilarious (to my alcohol fuelled self lol)
So I've kind of strayed off the subject a little, but you get what im saying. This uptight control freak behaviour sucks. But it keeps us safe. We know what to expect, and we know what we can handle. But is that living?
An outsider looking at me would probably think I'm quite boring. Straight laced. Sensible. Careful. reserved. But who I really want to be, if I could be anyone, do anything? Id like to be the girl on the beach surrounded by friends, laughing, having fun. Travelling from country to country and meeting new people on my travels. Id like to live abroad, somewhere warm and beautiful, next to the ocean. Id like to have a drink and socialise and eat nice food and share jokes. Id like my son and I to experience the whole world together and for him to grow up with confidence, ambition and drive. All the things I want to be and all the things I want to do are the polar opposite of who I am right now. So am I happy? I guess not. I'm unfulfilled. I'm sad. I'm lonely. And there's no one to blame for that but me. I don't actively fight it the way I used to. I tell myself that ill do those things 'one day' but I don't really make any steps towards achieving it. I stay safe. And I appreciate that within that safety net I have a lot to be grateful for. Ill never forget those years when I couldn't leave my house. I practically couldn't leave one room. I could never be on my own. And so what I have become now HAS taken work, and it has shown strength and ill never take those successes for grated. I know there are people out there who as in a much worse place than me so please don't think of me as ungrateful. I am lucky to be where I am. But there is so much more to life. And I want to live it.
Back on to this morning. The waves of panic were getting quite unbearable and I got to the point when I decided I was stopping the appointment. My parents would be disappointed, my sons future health was hindered. The nursery staff would judge me. I was setting myself up for more unhappiness, stress and anxiety. This appointment wasn't going to go away. Id need to go through this all again at a later date so procrastinating was only leading to more upset. Feel the fear and do it anyway, isn't that what they say?
The panic always passes. It does comes in waves. Some waves are bigger than others. Some take longer to pass, but they DO always pass. And so my rational voice was battling to be heard.
'No. I will not give into this'. 'I will face this and I will deal with whatever comes next. My son is going. And I will not do this anymore.'
As my chest tightened again and I struggled for breath I thought to myself.... 'Fuck this'
I reached into the cabinet and I found the pills that I have never ever relied on before. Why am I allowing myself to suffer like this when I've been told that this little tablet can help me. It can take the edge off all this. It stops the physical symptoms of anxiety apparently. The sweating, the shaking, the heart pounding, but best of all... it stops the shortness of breath and the tightening of the chest. I popped the packet and I took it.
For anyone else this is nothing. Its regular. They pop pills for all sorts of ailments. But that's just not me. So this small thing was actually a massive step for me. I handed that control to something else. My fear was always that id panic (surprise eh), I was scared id take the pill, and then I would freak out. Cause once you've swallowed it there's not much you can do. But as I swallowed I felt relief. A sense of strength, pride even! That I had faced it and gone down a different route.
And here I am. My son is now miles away at his appointment. I'm sitting here anxiety free. No horrendous symptoms. No discomfort. And I don't need to face weeks of guilt and shame for hindering his progress. I could have spent today hating myself and fretting about the future and all the things I cannot control. But instead I tell myself that I faced today with some inner strength and I won. Today has been a good day
Posted by Lynn at 11:34
Sunday, 5 January 2014
Oh yes this will be my year. It's going to be filled with positivity and happiness and wonderful new experiences and joy and laughter and ..... Well it better be cause 2013 SUCKED
Posted by Lynn at 00:25