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 :)


Anxiety Mamma said...

congratulations Lynn!!!!

I knew you'd be able to do it, and its so lovely seeing your pictures and the happiness in your face. Whenever I go out now I think of you and how far you've come. Keep it up, you are a huge inspiration.

Sending lots of love from Australia :)

~S~ said...

This is so inspiring! Please keep writing and sharing. Reading about your personal journey is helpful for anyone suffering any anxiety and I certainly appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Well done Lynn ~ I am so proud of you!!! And I am so inspired by you. I've been doing your "F... it" list idea lol. Kind of funny for a 45 year old who rarely swears hahaha. Whilst I have a LONG way to go I am getting a little further away from my home all thanks to your amazing journey and sharing your progress. I have a mentor who goes driving and walking with me each week and I shared with her your "F... it" idea. She thought I was saying I am doing an Effort List lol. I stopped saying F it and said the real word and we both burst out laughing. That laughing got me further away from home. It's so much harder to have a panic attack when you are laughing.

Anyway I have rambled. Thank you for sharing your journey with us and keep enjoying and celebrating those mildestones, no matter how big or small they are. You certainly are an inspiration!

~ Belinda (in Australia)

Anonymous said...

*milestones* not mildestones ~ Belinda

Anonymous said...

Oh Lynn, this is such a joy for me to read! I was at your current stage of recovery about 2.5 years ago and, you're right, it's all about the 'f*@k it' attitude and the willingness to practice. I have been reading your blog for a number of years now and, recently, I've been thinking to myself, 'come on, Lynn, stop thinking these pointless thoughts and get yourself better - you can totally do it'. And you are doing it, and I am sitting here doing a little happy dance.

I agree with all the pointers you have given others. For me, going into supermarkets caused much anxiety so I would make sure I slowed down (rushing around doesn't help you feel calm!) and focused on things close to me, as you have suggested. I would read labels and take my time rather than looking around and freaking out at the windowless vastness! In queues for the checkout, I'd read stuff on my phone while I waited, or I'd just look at my feet. I used these sorts of tactics for maybe a year before I realised that I didn't actually need them anymore. All the bad memories of panic attacks in supermarkets were replaced with new memories of supermarket trips being totally boring and dull. In other words, totally normal!

I keep thinking that I am 100% in control of my anxious feelings, and I am, but every few months I realise that I am feeling even better than I did before. Whenever I think I've maxed out in my recovery, I keep feeling even more in control of myself. So when I hear about other people suffering, I empathise but I also want them to know that you can, and should, just help yourself to get over it. BUT (I hasten to add) I do fully understand the pressure that an anxiety disorder puts you under. I know full well that only you can be the one to sort this awful ailment out.

Please, please keep pushing forward, Lynn. If you start to wobble, push yourself. Replace your bad memories with positive experiences and don't let the negative ones back in. Just reject those thoughts outright. And be prepared for it to take a while. You train yourself into anxiety and you have to train yourself out of it. Ahh - I am so, so proud of you and pleased for you. Keep at it. Have courage. Have strength. You are so nearly there! There is honestly know way for you to know I am happy for you right now!

Emily Hill said...

This is so inspiring. I am currently suffering with agoraphobia and I can't seem to find the inspiration to just do it, but I think you just gave me that. Thank you.

Lynn said...

Awwww anonymous if I could high 5 u right now I would. Awesome comment and if im ever slipping ill be sure to give it another read.

Emily you've got loads of amazing new things to experience... go do it! Youll be so glad you did.

Belinda Im sitting here giggling about your Effort List haha that's made my night. Id love to hear whats on there :)

Anxiety Mamma and S... big hugs and thank you for following my journey xxx

Me said...

Amazing! You have both done so well. Look at how far you have come! You both look like you had a great time.
The photos of the hotel and the scenery, not to mention the pool, look beautiful. Well done, you deserved it all!
Your posts have given me such hope and encouragement.
You write with such honesty that you make me think "I can do this too" I am going to truly put more effort in working harder to tackle agoraphobia, rather than accepting "this is how it is going to be for me, always".
I love the "f*ckit list" haha....I am going to start to write one of those. What a great idea!
I also love the advice you have written. I can read a hundred self help books and articles, but the best advice I find, is when that book or article is written by a person who has suffered with or suffers with agoraphobia and anxiety, and all the rest that it entails. I pay much more attention it it.
Keep updating your blog, won't you? It truly is inspirational, plus I love seeing all the pics too, of how well you are doing.
I am so happy for you! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, good on you! I am won who followed your baby posts and ended up having two babies! I used to comment to you years ago. I used to say I want to get from Australia to London. Well guess what, I made it!! Now I want to go back to Australia! Bloody mind!. Does that part of Scotland snow in February? I am looking for a lovely place to take my children in February that has definite snow.

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