Long time no write

I wish I could tell you all that I’ve not written because I’ve been doing so wonderfully that I haven’t had time.  The truth, though, is that I’ve slipped into a pretty decent depression.  Not so much progress as back pedaling.  It all started when I was left alone for a week while my brother was commissioned into the Navy as a Lieutenant.  I was left alone with my son, two dogs (one that was dying of cancer), and two cats.  Housesitting, it was called.

The second night I was home, my son figured out how doorknobs work, and while I was fast asleep thanks to some sinus issues and benadryl, removed all of his clothes and got into every “no” room in the house.  Somehow, he scraped up his genitals very badly, sending me into complete panic and forcing me to drive to the emergency room.  Terrified of my son hurting, and of driving, I coped and made it through.  Thankfully, he was fine and just got some antibiotics since none of us knew what he scraped them on.

For the next several days, I spent in paranoia.  Was children’s services coming?  What about the mess in the living room I hadn’t been able to get to because of my “trauma”?  Was I going to lose my son to the state in the whole week that I had no support system?

They never came, of course.  And I never got around to the major messes, except to pick up all the dangerous items he’d strewn about the house the night before.  After my paranoia, I went into a depression.  I figured myself an incurable lunatic.  I checked the mail, and that was it

My family came home, and mostly helped me get back on track, but the depression was still there.  My son had turned 2 shortly before the household evacuation, and my fiance had been to visit.  I was so intent on showing everyone how well I was doing.  His birthday was awesome, no doubt.  And I was THRILLED to see my fiance.

I ran out of medication a week before I could get it filled, and things got even worse.  I couldn’t get up off of the sofa for any decent amount of time.  My mother was (probably still is) beyond frustrated with me.  And then, yesterday, we had to put our dog to sleep.

It was horrible.  I felt horrible yesterday, like there was a hole so big in my heart a truck could drive through.  Today I just feel very, very sad.  We were with her when she went, and it was very peaceful.  The vet, who I love, confirmed she was very sick and we were doing the right thing.  I’ve never been witness to the life going out of someone/something before, and I feel a bit traumatized by the experience.  I think I’d be more traumatized if I hadn’t been with her, telling her how much I love her and that she put up a good fight.  It was a no win.  And today, the house is empty without her.  My heart aches and I can’t help but wish things could have been different, that she could have lived forever without suffering, but I know how childish that sounds.

So that’s my update, sorry it’s a bit of a bummer.  Give me a few days and I’ll be on the right track again, hopefully with more frequent updates.  I think I got a bit scared off by where my traffic was coming from, instead of the fact that I had any at all.  So from now on I won’t be looking.

Take care of yourselves everyone.  And RIP Abbey, we loved you so much.

A blog! An update!

It’s been a much better week.  I’m starting to feel like my old self more and more every day.  I’m laughing again and have my sense of humor back.  I can distinguish between reality and dreams.  All in all, back to where I started with some progress.

I’ve been going out every day, almost.  The weather has taken a change for the nicer (except for today, the day I say something, of course) and I’ve had my son out playing in the dirt most days.  Yesterday I took him across the lot to play with one of the little boys outside who is 20 months old.  My son turns 2 in exactly 2 weeks.  Time has really gone by quickly.

I also went to the store yesterday.  By the end of the day, leaving the house for such long periods of time each had me pretty worn out.  A side effect of the  new drug I’m on is “inner restlessness” and “the need to stay in constant motion” and I suspect that had something to do with my wearing down quickly, too.

Today the way I talked myself into getting out was to treat myself to another massage.  It was amazing and perfect, and I actually laid still the whole hour.  No fidgeting or pacing around like a lunatic.  Hopefully the rain will let up soon and I can let my son go play with the neighbor little Braden again today.  He’s currently resisting naptime.

I have been taking more xanax lately as this new restlessness side effect has kicked into high gear, but I feel like it’s all going to waste, because I’m only taking it to combat side effects of another drug instead of PRN just when I need it for anxiety.  The idea of the abilify causing anxiety to treat anxiety is a bit baffling to me, but I’ll certainly bring it up at my next appointment – April 9th.  I’m going to continue giving this medication a fair shot, though, because I really am starting to feel better and perhaps there’s something other than a benzo that can help alleviate the one side effect I’m experiencing.  Though I must say, I don’t think I’ve moved around or walked/paced this much since I was much younger and more spritely.

So that’s where I am right now.  Exciting things are happening every day.  I’m attempting to quit smoking again on the 24th of this month.  I will have been undergoing intense hypnosis each day for two weeks at that point.  Wish me luck on that one (again!).  I feel like a hypocrite puffing away on cigarettes and saying “oh look at how anxious and agoraphobic and ocd and xyz i am” while adding a CNS stimulant to the mix every hour or so.  And not drinking enough water.  Though I have done my vitamins every day since I’ve been out here in Tennessee, so well over a month now.  My fingernails and hair are the main things that show it.

I also went out and got my hair done this last week.  It just keeps getting blonder and blonder.  My fiance will be thrilled when he sees me next.  We have a little agreement.  I keep my hair long and blonde and he doesn’t get to grow facial hair.  It’s pretty fair all around.

Am I still agoraphobic even though I’m leaving my house every day with minimal problems?  Maybe.  It hurts my head to think about it too hard, and I’m fairly sure it doesn’t matter.  What matters is I’m trying.  I’m failing sometimes, but I’m mostly succeeding.  I’m learning from the failures, and trying not to repeat the missteps.

I felt a bit “manic” yesterday, last night, and today.  I say “manic” in quotes because it’s not like the real thing.  I just get a bit silly and want to spend money on things that make a lot of sense and I probably need, but shouldn’t buy at 11:30pm on the Internet without first consulting my fiance.  I didn’t sleep well at all last night, which makes me think I could be right about the slight mania.

Fiance, if you’re reading this.  I put my credit card away.  I promise.   No new toys for me this month.

I have a long way to go.  But I think I can make it.  It’s a baby step process, just like everything else in life.

Much love to you all,

annie

I have not jumped ship!

I know, I know.  It’s been forever.  I’m sorry.  It’s not that I don’t love you all.  If you want a full explanation, I’ll have to email you the rest of the boring details.  I’ll try to give a brief synopses of event since my last entry.  It’s kind of a depressing story, at least the majority of it, so if you’re not in a place to read that sort of thing right now, it might be best to come back later.

Initially I had technical difficulties.  (I still am, but that will be fixed by tomorrow or the next day for good).  After the technical difficulties were somewhat fixed, I had annie difficulties.  While most of you were very worried about the xanax, I didn’t take too much of it at first.  I was taking the remeron (mirtazapine?  whatever) and turned into a completely different person.

At least as an agoraphobic prior to the remeron, I was a functional at home agoraphobic.  I dressed myself to shoes every day.  I had routines in place.  I could get myself showered, dressed, and at least function throughout the day.  Enter the remeron.

For 9 days I was in a constant state of confusion.  I didn’t sleep.  I wasn’t manic by any means, just completely sleep deprived.  When I took the pill, there was about an hour where I was OK.  After that, and it’s supposed to make you sleep after that, I went into a crazy state of mind where I had no concept of what was real and what was some kind of lucid dream.  And when I tried to sleep, I was physically awake, but mentally dreaming.  I knew I was dreaming at the time.  But I’d wake up and have no idea whether what “happened” the night before was real or part of some weird lucid dream.

Day 8 of taking the remeron, and utter sleep deprivation, it was time to take it again.  I held it in my hand with the water in my other and I started physically dry heaving.  I made a mental note: my body hates this medication.  But I took it anyway.

Day 9 of taking the remeron at the same time every night, my body decided to take charge.  30 minutes before it was time, I was overcome with the need to “just put my head down” where I was sitting.  I woke up the next morning having no idea where I was, what day it was, or whether it was 4am or 4pm.  It was 4am.

Once my head caught up and I realized, “oh crap, i just slept for the first time in days” followed by “… because I didn’t take that poison”.  I felt better already.  I wasn’t sure yet whether I would attempt to take it again that night or not.  Then I got a voicemail from my dear friend Peg.  She was wondering where the heck I had been.  Why hadn’t I been updating my blog?  Why hadn’t I been talking to her or the other people I am so honored to know?

The truth is: I don’t know.  I just wasn’t OK.  I don’t have any other explanation.  I could barely get myself motivated enough to shower, or have interest in my son/playtime, let alone blogging or the accountability I’ve set up here in our little community.  I was able to find my dear friend Peg online and let her know I was still alive, and what was going on with this evil pill (for me, at least).  And I was holding the pill in m hand, deciding whether or not to put myself through it again for the sake of saying “I gave it a fair shot” when I got a message from her.  It stated something to the effect of: “I don’t think you should take that pill again”.  I’m not always one for “signs from the universe” or whatever, but this definitely was one of those things that made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.   How did she know the pill was in my hand?  How did she know anything that was happening in my head at that second?

She didn’t.  She said she’s obviously not a doctor, but that going backward when I’m trying to go forward was never part of the plan.  I had an appointment set for tomorrow (Thursday) and I could just talk to the doctor about it when I went.

Then I got to thinking.  I was SO up front with this woman during our first session.  I explained I’ve done my research.  I know how this is “cured” or overcome, and if she wasn’t willing to work with MY plan, then it wouldn’t work out with us professionally.  She nodded and nodded, said she agreed, and went in the complete opposite direction.

The problem with all of that, though, is that I really like(d?) this woman.  I felt there was a decent connection.  Ultimately, though, we just completely differed in approach.  I can find out why I get triggers all day long.  It’s interesting, and certainly insightful, but fat lot of good it does me now.

Of course, now is the time in any story where something disastrous happens.  It did.  Our family dog was sick, and then in critical condition.  It was going to be up to me whether or not to keep her alive or put her out of her misery, based on the findings of this morning (which was tomorrow when it was going on).  I was quite certain I was going to have to be the one to pull the plug on my parents’ dog, since I was the sanest person about the whole situation.  You can always tell when something is bad, when I’m the most held together person in the room.

Then, on a whim, I tried to call a place here that is much, much closer to where I live than the Knoxville doctor is.  I’d tried to call before, but they had the appointment set out for about a month and a half advance, so I had to pass.  One of the nurse practitioners happened to have a cancellation for the following day (today) and I could come in.  I happily obliged, with much gratitude for my “whim”.

It was a miserable experience, today.  What I thought would be about an hour of feeling uncomfortable turned into 3 hours of all kinds of new anxiety.  I’m about 82% certain I was the only person in that lobby (it was packed, in great contrast to Knoxville doctor) who wasn’t there by court order – if you get my drift.  I had to see about 3 different people before I could even see the nurse practitioner.  By the time I got to her particular waiting area, I was half expecting her to fly out on a broom to greet me.

She was actually a really interesting woman.  I liked her, much as I liked Knoxville doc, but in a different and more professional way.  This Nurse Practitioner works in what I can only describe as a puppy mill for mentally ill people.  In/Out/Next Please.  And just from the things I overheard myself, and the people I saw around me (yes, OK, I’m judgmental, but you all love me anyway) she must see quite a variety of issues.  I thought about this at the time.  There were downsides, sure.  But the upside was, there’s no freaking way I could be something new to her.  Or shocking to her.  I bet it takes a lot to shock that woman.  The upside of the mentally ill mill?  She’s seen it all, probably twice just this morning.  The downside?  I have to go there.

I’ll save what she said for a later post, because I’m actually starting to feel up to posting again.  Or even typing “wordpress.com” into my browser, which was a huge task before today.  But I’m hopeful.  Starting new meds tomorrow, staying on the “as neeeded” xanax (which hasn’t been a WHOLE lot, less the last couple days with the critical condition dog), and have discontinued my relationship with Knoxville doc.  Knoxville doc’s office was closed today, but I left a message to cancel.  I will call tomorrow and tell her the truth.  As I said earlier, I like this woman.  I owe her an explanation, or at least a “this isn’t working out”, but I’d prefer to not go to my appointment tomorrow and have to pay $160 for the pleasure of feeling closure.  A phone call should do it.  Don’t you think?  So long as I own up to it?  What I really don’t want to do, which is a very “me” thing, is to just cancel and stop calling or taking calls from her.  I’m trying to be bigger than that these days.

If you’re curious, I’m still getting prescribed the xanax, though not in large or abundant doses.  It works, so long as I don’t start abusing it (another “me” thing).  And the new medication I’m on, is a VERY low dose of abilify (aripiprazole) at 5mg.  I believe the usual dose is 30mg.

So that, along with a PRN (as needed) xanax is probably going to do the trick for me to take charge of my own recovery and start “practicing” as Dr. Claire Weekes describes in her books and audio.

That’s all I have for now.  I really appreciate your comments and emails, and I am so sorry that a lot of the last emails I sent bounced back to me.  I promise I will be feeling up to catching up soon, but this post alone has taken hours and breaks and more hours to complete.  Also, it’s 3 minutes until midnight here, so it’s at least past time for me to go lay in bed and try to pretend to sleep.

I will get there.  I haven’t given up.  I’m kinda back at square 1.  Maybe 1.5.  But it’s progress nonetheless.  Once I start getting more back to my “old self” (which wasn’t a great starting point) I promise to at least write personally to the people who have taken their time to write me.

Much love and appreciation,

a

Week One Part One of Homework

XT and I went outside and played for a while this morning.  We had a lot of fun.  I would have liked to stay out longer, but it’s gotten very cold and rainy here in the last week.  I think we’re going to try again later this afternoon, hoping the sun will make an appearance.

The remeron put me pretty out of it last night.  I need to remember to take it right about thirty minutes before I’m ready to fall asleep.  That’s hard for me, because I’m so rigid about my routines and schedules.  But like every other issue this blog talks about, it’s not the end of the world to change things.

I will be personally responding to all of you who sent me messages about my posts yesterday.  I am completely floored, honored, and full of gratitude that so many of you came to show so much support.  I feel like I have my own cheerleading squad rooting me on.  And well, I guess I kind of do.

I have to get back to doing some of my regular stuff for a bit now – you know the good stuff like laundry and emptying the dishwasher.  I’m also going to be getting a massage later today.  I figure I’ve earned it.  Thank you all again so very much.  I will be getting back to everyone today when I get my routines back on track.  (Hey, I said it wasn’t the end of the world to change, not that I was ready to become some new spontaneous person!)

Much love to you all.  Cheers!

I Came. I Saw. I Medicated.

Today went really well at the doctor’s office.  She and I got along very well and have a lot of the same ideas and ideals.  I’d have preferred she give me more benzos, but it’s her call and I’ll go with it.

She put me on Mirtazapine – Remeron is the name here in the US.  I also got a very slight amount of xanax, but have pretty much been instructed it’s for absolute emergency use only.  I can deal with that.

For the CBT, my homework assignment this week is to spend time out in the yard every day playing with my son.  I am supposed to raise my anxiety to a level I can deal with, but not anything near panic.  There’s no time limit on playing outside, just that I have to do it until I start having fun.  Seems reasonable to me.

I’m a bit drained from the day’s outing and the pill I took recently.  I’m sure I’ll remember more and write about my progress tomorrow, too.  Thanks again for all of your well wishings.  I have the best people in the world reading my blog.  Hands down.

T Minus 5 Hours

The one morning I can’t sleep in later happens to be today.  My anatomy seems to be messed up, as my throat is now where my heart resides.  While I know the appointment itself won’t be bad, or at least I don’t think so anyway.  It’s just that pre-anxiety that’s making me so jumpy.

I have been overcome with the outpouring of support and well-wishing from the readers of this blog.  People I don’t know, who don’t know me, and who are genuinely rooting for me.  I thank you all so very much.  I never expected this blog to get read, let alone the flood of amazing people I have come to cherish and “anxiously” await emails from and comments, too.

What am I going to do for the next 5 hours before I have to leave?  What any self-respecting agoraphobic woman with pre-anxiety would do.  Clean everything in my house.  Twice.

Updates on the appointment coming soon.  Stay tuned.

Outings and Preparations

Today I conquered two huge fears.  Leaving home with my father and going to the DMV.  I cannot begin to tell you the horror I have about the DMV.  But it wasn’t so bad.  And it’s step one towards sorting out my health insurance.  I did it.  I survived.  And then I came home and slept for several hours.

Tomorrow is the big day.  My appointment is at 2:00.  It’s an hour away.  We haven’t worked out the logistics of who will be watching the X man and who will be driving me.  We’d take him with us, but it’s during prime nap time, so who knows.

I don’t have much to update.  The nonsmoking thing is going OK.  I’ve slipped a few times, so I won’t add the counter to the end of this as not to be a hypocrite, but I am still making the effort.  I’ll bring it up with the doctor, too.

I’ll let you all know how it goes tomorrow, of course.  Wish me luck.  I really need it this time.

Bouncing Agoraphobe

As you can tell from my last post, I’ve had a bit of depression in addition to the anxiety and agoraphobia.  Oh, and I’ve quit smoking, too.  I’m just loads of fun this week!  I seem to be going from moment to moment in any given attitude.

First I’ll be super excited.  I can’t wait for my appointment on Thursday.  What does the appointment hold for me?  What will the doctor’s office look like?  What kinds of medication will be suggested?  What if this helps me, like it all just works – wouldn’t that just be a kick in the pants?  Oh, there’s so much to be excited about, so much to look forward to.

Then I’ll be extremely apprehensive.  What if this doctor is a total douchebag?  What if his office smells?  What if he argues with me and insists on putting me on medication I’ve already tried years ago (this has happened before, an M.D. isn’t a diploma for common sense)?  What if he thinks I’m a fraud, or worse yet not an anxiety/agoraphobia case at all, but just an attention seeker?  A drug addict looking for my benzo fix?

Then there’s the whole part about being away from home and my fiance, who should be nominated for sainthood, by the way.  I miss him terribly.  I feel so guilty and embarrassed for dumping all of this on him and just expecting him to wait around for me to start getting better and come home.  I often wallow in my own shame for putting so much on him, and then picking fights and making outrageous demands – all because I was too afraid to tell him what was really going on.  Not that I really knew what was going on, but that’s neither here nor there.

At any point during the day, you’ll find me in one of these states of mind.  It tends to follow the clock schedule pretty well.  Mornings are good – I’m optimistic and  ready to kick some ass.  Afternoons I start to get the apprehensive fidgety thing going on.  And evenings seem to be a complete wreck of crying, guilt, shame, etc.

But I really only have to make it a little more than one more day to put at least this phase of it behind me.  Thursday can’t come soon enough.  Or can it?  I don’t know, what time is it?

And if you’re curious about the non smoking, as of right this second I have been a non-smoker for 16 hours, 52 minutes, 26 seconds.  In that time I have not smoked 14 cigarettes I would have otherwise, and saved $4.20.

Wish me luck.  On all of it.

The Hypochondriac Agoraphobic

I’ve spent the majority of my day in bed, having strange dreams about diamonds and email and other random things. I woke up feeling hazy and weepy. I thought I was just having some kind of estrogen surge of some sort until I wound up later on the floor of the restroom. I’ll leave the graphic details out, but I was indeed hating life right then. After my stomach was done kicking me while down, it let me have a rest. A three hour rest, at that. Thankfully, I’d gotten most my chore duties done early in the morning when I was just hazy.

X’s Nana (my mother) was ready to swoop in and care for him while his Mommy rested. I won’t think too hard about it, because if I did I might wonder if she took some joy out of her gain from my misery.

I think the point here is that there is nothing wrong with me. Yes, I felt ill. Yes, my head pounded (probably from the bit of self-medicating I did last night – save your lectures, I’ll just ignore them). But I think the truth is that today is Monday, and that means it’s now the same week as Thursday, which is when I go bare my soul to some jackass with a medical degree. And this scares me to death.

No, not because I have to tell my story and admit my faults to the possible jackass. Not even because there’s a real possibility that this doctor is indeed a jackass. But because I feel like this is it. This is my last chance to get it right. If I fall down again now, I’ll never get up. What if the jackass in question can’t help me? What if this is as good as I get?

That’s enough to make anyone ill with a pounding head.

Agoraphobia. Period.

Just a warning: If the mentioning of menstruating women makes you uncomfortable, this post might be one you’d prefer to skip.

Hello everyone!

Apologies for the length of time between the last post and this one.  I’ve had a pretty insane case of PMS for a good week and a half now.  It tends to make me even more antisocial than I already am, which apparently now extends to my blogging hobby as well.   I’ll try to be more aware of it next month.

Last week kind of came to a screeching flop after my last post.  It was in part agoraphobia as well as part hormonal.  Also, if you want complete honesty, I had been too housebound prior to that, that the roots in my hair were showing.  I never like to leave the house when I look like crap.

I took care of the roots, finally.  There’s a high end hair salon across the street from me.  While I’d prefer not pay such outlandish prices for throwing some bleach on the roots, I’ll pay for the location.  At least I can occasionally talk myself into going when it’s just an elevator ride and a jay walk away.   Looking better quickly led me to feeling better and wanting to leave the house for a bit on Sunday.

My fiance took my son and I first to Target, then later to lunch at Texas Land and Cattle.  It’s no Melting Pot, but I’ll never complain about steak.  Target is usually numero uno on my “Places to avoid” list, but I was feeling newly blonde and spontaneous.  I got there and those horrible automatic doors opened.  The spontaneity, it turns out, was fleeting.  My throat closed up, my chest got tight, I got a bit of tunnel vision, and there was a man with drool on his chin staring at my boobs.

I have no idea how it happened, because if I did I would bottle and sell it, but I was able to just suck it up.  I spent a fair amount of time last week reading about the different approaches to Cognitive Behavior Therapy for agoraphobia, and just took some of the concepts to heart.  I realized that I wasn’t at my own execution, it was just Target.  I mean, Target sucks, but I can make a list of places I’d way rather not be than there.  1. A bar where people throw peanut shells on the floor  2. prison  3. buried alive.  That’s pretty much all that came to mind at the time, but it was 3 places worse than Target.  It didn’t fix how I felt, but it made me feel silly enough to just get our shopping done and get the hell out.  My poor fiance must think I’ve taken up a drug habit, because he shot me that now common look where he’s obviously questioning whether or not aliens had replaced me with a lookalike.  That look is growing on me.

Realizing that I’d made it out alive and generally unharmed, I decided to tempt fate and take my fiance out for a pre-Superbowl steak.  It was pretty cool to see his face go from shock to disbelief to excitement when he realized that we were going out to dinner for the second time in two weeks.  Once again, I packed enough for an army of toddlers and once again the entire meal went without any form of meltdown/tantrum from our son.  Or me, for that matter.

So in the spirit of trying new things, I’m not going to start hounding myself because I will only leave the house on weekends.  Instead, I’m going to try to keep adding things to the weekends, because that’s clearly where I’m comfortable working right now.  And when I’ve conquered the weekends, I’ll consider the possibility of trying something new during the week.  I don’t think I have to panic about that just yet, since I still have a lot of work to do where I am.

At any rate, that’s the update.  The PMS thing is starting to fade now, and my updates should theoretically be more regular now.  So long as I have something to say, that is.  I promise to respond to all comments and emails by the end of today.  Thanks for continuing to read and cheer me on.  I couldn’t do any of this without the support of these online communities.