Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Riding The Waves

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.

Cant Breathe
Its passing
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
Be Calm
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


Denise said...

I relate so much to the things you have written it's scary! My own blog sounds eerily similar.
I understand your struggle, as I have the same one. Just thought I'd leave a note to send you some good vibes. Congrats on taking the pill, and know we are strong enough to handle this! :)

- Denise

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn, believe me, I understand. I have had agoraphobia to varying degrees since age 25. Currently I'm having to adjust to living alone for the first time in many, many years. I'm starting to take public transportation, sometimes successfully, sometimes I have to cross the street and ride the first bus back home.

Today was my only daughter's wedding. She had a small wedding at the courthouse downtown, up on the 5th floor. I have been dreading this wedding for weeks, as escape would be very difficult. This morning I was so freaked out there was no way I could go. She was gracious about it, but I feel horrible about not attending. I also missed her high school graduation some years ago.

I will continue to work on this and make progress, but at this very moment I feel absolutely horrible and very disappointed in myself for not being able to do this. What a terrible thing for a mother to do. :'( ~~ pat

Lynn said...

Pat I feel your pain. You will be beating yourself up about the wedding and I totally sympathise. Sometimes its just TOO hard to overcome. Don't be too hard on yourself. You tried your best and if it had been possible you WOULD have been there. I wish I could take your guilt and disappointment away and say the right words to give you some comfort. I just hope your daughter understands, which im sure she does. This isn't something we choose. Big events are so much harder down to the pressure we put on ourselves and the expectations of others. Although they will us they wont mind we will always worry that deep down they do.

Denise ive read your latest post and it appears we are very similar! I look forward to having the time to sitting and reading back through your story! Keep up the good work :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lynn. Yes, my daughter was very understanding about it. I did attend the reception later and the family breakfast at a restaurant the next morning; even though somewhat anxious, those I could do because they were small venues and escape, if needed, would have been easy. I will always regret that I couldn't be there for the most important moment in her life thus far, but am hoping I won't feel so bad about myself in time. :/

Lynn said...

Pat I am so impressed. A huge well done for what you managed to achieve. I am so happy that you managed to attend.

If I was getting married and my mum couldn't be at the actual ceremony I wouldn't mind. But I would be so grateful if she could be there at some part of the day, and that's what you did! AND you managed the breakfast. Hats off to you and give yourself a bit of praise. Don't focus on what you didn't do and be proud of what you DID do. You could have allowed the anxiety to win and avoided the entire event, but you didn't do that, so you need to give yourself some recognition. Well done again and congratulations to your daughter :) x

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn,

I can totally relate to everything you have said!!! I suffer terrible separation anxiety and have a fear of popping a pill to take the edge off. I'm scared I will feel spaced out and panic worse! You did so well to put Nathan's needs first and ride the waves of anxiety and also pop the pill. You are such a fabulous mum, you really are and please don't ever doubt that.

I hope Nathan's appointment went well. Does he have to have surgery for tonsils?

Take care,

Your friend Belinda in Australia