Wednesday, 24 June 2015

We Did It

Our weekend away was a success!

It did take a lot of mental strength to take on this new challenge but I got there and was absolutely thrilled about it. 

The hotel itself isn't actually that far away from where I live but its a distance I have NEVER driven and its an area im really not familiar with.  But I was so determined that I was going.

Of course I had all the usual off-putting thoughts. What if I panic in the car on the way? What if I get to the hotel and cannot calm down and relax? I even made sure I knew where the closest hospital was.... just in case.  But in the end OF COURSE I didn't need to worry.  I drove to the hotel with no problem whatsoever.  And when I arrived in my hotel to be greeted with a screen which read 'WELCOME LYNN' I was overjoyed.  I sent friends and family texts to celebrate my achievement and headed out to check out the new digs :)

The hotel itself is a huge building as you can see from the pics, and I think in the past this would definitely been something I found intimidating but for some reason I was ok.  Maybe all the work ive been doing building up to this has desensitised me a little.  Also the pictures don't begin to show the beauty of the surroundings.  I felt like I was miles and miles from home.  Some little remote part of Scotland but in truth I really wasn't that  far away.  After years of living in a my town surrounded by houses and shops etc, the sheer size of the hills in front took my breath away.  It was almost TOO much to take in.  Too must stimulation to the eyes... if that makes any sense at all.  I guess it goes back to the fact agoraphobia is a fear of wide open spaces (apparently).  I DO feel less exposed and more protected when I have buildings or trees around me.  But here it was just hills and golf courses and water for miles.  I couldn't help but appreciate the beauty and feel grateful that I was getting to look at it with my own eyes.  Not via a book or tv screen.  I walked the length of the golf course (in heels may I add, ouch).  We ate a beautiful meal. Went for a swim and sauna.  Listened to the entertainment in the lounge and then at night decided we would sit out side drinking our Prosecco while the sun went down... all the while taking in the views.

There were a few times my inner voice asked 'Am I alright' and I really was.  I was so busy trying to squeeze as much into my day that I didn't really have time to think about it.  However, when I went to bed and lay there in the dark my thoughts were harder to escape and so my anxiety did appear.  It wasn't too bad, certainly not unbearable but I refused to give into it.  I was worrying about the drive home, getting back to Nathan. What if I couldn't relax in the morning, waking up in a strange place. What if I panicked and couldn't get out of there quick enough, ruining the whole experience.  But I just told myself to stop being stupid.  The thoughts were natural as this was a completely alien situation and my thoughts are pretty much always wrong.  SO when I woke up in the morning I did feel a little jittery.  In the past I would have definitely freaked by this point and would no doubt have been in the car heading home with my heart in my mouth but I told myself that even if I did panic I WAS NOT MOVING! And so I went to breakfast and then we went to the gym.  From there I decided to just push myself even further.  The anxiety disappeared, we checked out and drove to another town I haven't been to and we went to.... a shopping mall! I went shopping.  Not online shopping for once, but actually in a huge busy shopping mall. Where I took my time browsing, bought myself an outfit as a treat, waited in queues all without a problem.  I think that for me this was an even bigger achievement than the hotel.  Probably because its somewhere that my friends and family go to regularly and I have never managed.  I then drove to visit my brother where he works... ive never done this... and then went home.

I was exhausted for 2 days after this ha. Mentally drained no doubt but worth every single minute.  My confidence again has been boosted. For once I gave myself a pat on the back and recognised my achievement.  Yey Me!

Following the spa ive been at several school meetings, each one taking over an hour, and sat through them at ease.  In the past I used to sing in my head or play eye spy with myself ANYTHING to make it pass quicker so I could GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE, who am I kidding, in the past I wouldn't have even GONE to the meetings! But now I sit through them comfortably. Yes there are times I feel the sweaty palms start, or my breathing getting slightly quicker, but that's ok... old habits die hard.  Getting over all this takes time and , touch wood, I have plenty of that. \

The comments on the last post made me so happy and totally overwhelmed .  I cant believe there are so many people who have read my blog and been inspired.  Its given people a bit of hope and courage and that is the best feeling in the world! I am always particularly touched when people find my pregnancy posts helpful.  The fact they seem to have given people strength blows me away and I am really grateful to everyone who has read and taken the time to comment.

For the woman who asked for tips on coping outside.  Well I like my sunglasses at times.  They feel like a mask I guess... im slightly hidden and protected.  If you are feeling overwhelmed try not to focus on all of your surroundings but instead just take nice breaths and focus on something small like your footsteps.  Count them for a while.  Karen carries a bottle of water and having that to sip was something she found helpful.  I said a long time ago that I keep a diary and I write down my achievements each day.  They literally began with - today I put make up on.  This increased to - today I walked to my garden. And I counted each little thing as a success.  With your successes you grow in confidence.  You start to believe in yourself again.  but for me my diary gave me some clarity and it helped me focus on what I was trying to achieve.  Even now if my head feels muddled ill go back to my diary and get something's on paper.  I also made sure I did something every day. No slacking. No procrastinating.  I did that for years and it got me nowhere, literally! Some people find listening to music when they are out is helpful.  But practice really is the key.  It may seem hard and overwhelming at first but you just need to keep pushing because the sensations you experience really DO decrease as your mind starts to get familiar with everything again.  Our thoughts are nonsense.  Ive proved this to myself over and over again.

And so the F*** It list has grown and I have more I want to do. Snowboarding, Adventure Golf (Doesn't that sound like a contradiction of terms), various parks, horse riding, a visit to a farm, cinema, we are visiting a loch near by, many many more restaurants I want to sample, a hotel stay with Nathan ... the list goes on.  Nathans nursery finishes for the summer holidays on Friday so we have lots on the agenda.  I will be in touch :) x

I wanted to add a little about Headspace.  Its a meditation/mindfulness app that I think has really helped me.  It helps me to relax, clear my head, and I've definitely found myself much more comfortable in situations I would have found more difficult in the past.  I don't know if its down to me, the app or a bit of both, but I try to do a few sessions each week.... it only takes a few minutes.  I recommend giving it a go :)

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Over It!!!

Please excuse my lack of posting. You see.... Ive been living! After all the crap I went through I finally realised... Our thoughts are unreal. And im ready to have a life.  Because these negative thoughts and all our doubts aren't our reality at all.  I have spent years avoiding, years worrying, and although anxiety is meant to protect us, when you have it in excess it actually does the opposite.  I have avoided life for so long. In fear of what??  A panic attack.  So now im saying 'so what if I panic'  I will stay put.  I will calm myself and I will continue with living.  I wont run away and hide at home because it snowballs and creates so many more problems! Not content with anxiety I faced many other issues like separation anxiety, low self esteem, guilt over Nathan.  I had to be in control of everything to the extent that I wouldn't dye my hair for the fear I couldn't change it immediately if I didn't like it.  I wouldn't take pain medication, in fear that it made me 'feel weird' Honestly I could write a book.  But enough is enough.  Slowly I have started to challenge every single thought and fear and I have learned that my heads been lying.  All the catastrophes I expected never happened.  All the worst case scenarios was fantasy.  Instead, over the last 5 months I have travelled further than I have in over 10 years.  I have went to places I never  thought id visit again.  And ive managed to do a lot of it alone! Because instead of saying 'Noooo I wont do that. I cant!' ive said ... 'Im doing it. Whats the worst that can happen?  And should the worst happen then ill deal with that too. but im not gonna sit around here doing nothing.  I used to avoid walking far from my car, my safety, but now I just do it. Im not feeding these silly thoughts.  Obviously at first it was hard but im surprised at how quickly ive progressed and how freeing it feels.  Suddenly your in the moment instead of constantly being 10 minutes ahead forseeing all kinds of crazy unrealistic scenarios.  Instead of taking the short cuts ill go the long route.  If I have a feeling inside of 'today I don't want to go to the next town' then ill make sure that's the day that I do exactly that.  Because I KNOW I have it in me to cope in these situations.  We all do! We just need to start believing it.

I understand anxiety.  I understand my own mind.  I know why I feel the way I do, when I do. And this is very early into recovery.  At least I think its recovery.  I know I might relapse.  I know ill have dark days and that's ok! I know im determind and stubborn and strong and if setbacks come, ill just keep on pushing.  Nathan and I have done more in the last 5 months than we ever did in 4 years.  We used to get in the car and if I drove for more than 5 minutes he would say 'Mummy your going far'  He had already learned that mummy didn't do as much as the rest of his family.  He doesn't say that when we are driving now.  He used to tell me he would like to go to certain places and he would tell me who would be taking him there.  He knew mummy wouldn't.  But now its always me who does these things.  Today I went into town and bought him his first school uniform.  In the past that job wouldn't have been done between my mum and online shopping.  We go to the park, swimming, restaurants, play areas. And we have fun! As a little reward I have booked myself into a spa next weekend with my friend Karen.  Karen has been in my position too and we actually met when she read my blog! Karen and I are going to stay in a very fancy rather posh hotel.  We will have a 3 course luxurious dinner and we will spend the rest of the time in the spa having massages, going for a swim or a sauna.  We will stay the night in the deluxe rooms and we will have a little drink, toasting ourselves and our hard work.  Im nervous as its a distance I haven't travelled yet, but I have no doubt that I will make it. 

I have decided with Karen that Instead of a 'Bucket List' We will be writing a (forgive me) 'fuck it' list.  We will take on challenges that we never ever imagined we would be able to do.  Clay pigeon shooting, paintballing, posh hotels, tattoos, snowboarding... all kind of random acts because these were things we just never had the guts to do. We missed so many years while our friends gained new experiences, travelled abroad etc, while we sat at home with anxiety.  And so im sorry that I've been quiet... and I will update in much more detail soon xxx