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.

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.

So Many Phobic Updates, So Little Time

My life has been utterly crazy since my last update.  You’ll be glad to know that the whole hormonal thing is no longer an issue, at least for another few weeks.  The rest of the updates might take more than one post, because so very much has happened.  I’ll try to take it one step at a time though, and see where we end up.

I hadn’t mentioned (I don’t think) a trip I had to take to visit my parents in Tennessee.  I didn’t want to mention it because I was afraid I would back out, or that you the reader would see just what a wreck I really am.  Regardless, though, here I am in Tennessee.  I made it with my son on an airplane and into the safety of my parents’ new home.  It wasn’t easy and it required a lot of preparation and tricks, but I made it.  Am I looking forward to doing it again to get home?  No.

The second night I was here, I had the big talk with them.   I came clean.  I told them everything.  Agoraphobia, panic, the whole deal.  I asked for their help to get me on track.  It went beautifully.  I’ve said before that my parents are such amazing people, and they proved me right once again.  We’re not sure yet what the next step is, but they’re going to help me take it.

The next night I spoke to my fiance and came clean about it all to him.  I even directed him to this blog.  I didn’t expect him to do anything drastic like pack up my stuff and tell me to get lost, though I also didn’t expect him to be SO understanding.  He was/is amazing.  He told me whatever plan I hatch up to get through this, he will support.  Though when asked for his advice, he smartly said that it is a poor idea to take the advice on this from someone I will be spending the rest of my life with.  Fair enough.

Before I left for Tennessee, I had contacted a hypnotherapist.  She seems really great, and I’m looking forward to talking more with her.

Things are looking up for me today.  I feel a lot lighter, because I’m not hiding anything from all the people I love so deeply anymore.  Hiding isn’t quite the right word, but letting them in on my recent realization.

There’s a lot more detail to go into, which I will do while I’m still here in Tennessee for the next week and a half.  But if this isn’t progress, I don’t know what is.

Days 9 – 11, Flop And Flutter. And Flop Again.

I know I haven’t updated in a few days.  It’s not like I can say I was busy, either.  You guys already know I don’t really have that much going on.  I barely ever leave my house; what could I have so pressingly important?

Nothing.  I just needed a break.  I’ve spent many years avoiding dealing with my problems and then spent the last week talking about them here.  I just needed to go back to avoiding for a couple days.  This may sound like  I slipped up or went into some kind of depression, which isn’t the case.  I was already slipping up and no more depressed than usual.

I did go out once since I last wrote.  Sunday, I was really craving some Melting Pot.  So I told my fiance to shower and get ready, because we were going out to dinner.  He looked at me like I was an alien.  But, since there wasn’t any football on, he decided he was curious enough to just go with it.  He showered and I panicked.  I really wanted Melting Pot, but I didn’t want to go anywhere.  Maybe we could just buy a fondue set (wait, don’t we already have like four of them somewhere?  doesn’t everybody?).  Maybe I could just heat up some pizza and we can watch movies.

No, none of that would quench the lust I had for their spinach artichoke cheese appetizer and their mojo style oil.  I needed Melting Pot more than I needed to be panic free.  But, I’m not a fool.  The only way I’d survive the outing would be to be 100% prepared.  For everything I could think of.  After packing up three of my son’s backpacks – one for food for him, one for toys, and one for diapers and emergency items – I went and got myself dressed in something other than my usual drab of jeans and a spaghetti strap bra top.  I remembered that I used to like getting dressed up.  At first, it kind of made me sad.  Thankfully, though, Melting Pot brings out a very special and happy side of me, so it didn’t last long.

So, B was showered.  X was packed up and ready for nuclear attack.  I even had on a long skirt.  It was time to go.  We stood by the door and B stared at me, again like I was an alien.  I was waiting for him to grab the keys.  He asked me if I had seen what he was drinking before I told him to get ready.  I remembered seeing a yellow plastic cup from his bachelor days, but I didn’t happen to notice what was in it.  He’d also chugged the last of it right before showering.   Crap.  He was too tipsy to drive.  I felt the blood leave my face as I felt the happiness of Melting Pot leaving my grasp.

My exact, but censored for blog land, words were “F. that.  Give me the keys and get in the car.”  I had not endured panic and preparation, and god forbid – effort to have my mojo taken from me.  (Yes, I just made a fondue pun.)  I was going, and no one better stand in my way.  I was ready for all of it.  People staring at me, ordering at a restaurant, having X throw tantrums of epic proportions while the whole restaurant stared at me.  I still cared about all of that stuff, very deeply, but I couldn’t be bothered thinking about it.  I could smell and taste the spinach artichoke cheese fondue already.  I would stop at nothing.

And there we were.  We were the first customers there, which people with small children will tell you is prime time to go.  I used to go to Melting Pot every week, but stopped a few months ago as the agoraphobia got worse.  It was also putting a significant dent in my expendable budget.

The strangest thing happened when I walked in.  The two hostesses squealed when they saw me and came running up to meet X.  They told me they talked about us (me and Alli) all the time and thought they’d done something to make us stop coming there every week.  They were so glad they finally got to meet X, who they insisted was “much bigger than the pictures”.  They called me by my name and asked me if I wanted to sit in David’s section or Gary’s section.   Holy crap.  I remembered David and Gary.  Those were my guys!  They both know my drink (it’s a specialty drink of theirs with a few substitutes – usually only the staff drink it).  They both used to load me up with tons of extras and freebies.  They were both such nice guys.  I was stunned that I’d ever made any kind of impression on a restaurant across town.

It worked out that I sat in Gary’s section, because David was coming in thirty minutes later that day.  Gary strolled up to the table and kind of stage shouted “Annie!  Where have you been, girl?”.  He had my drink in hand.  I felt like the princess of Melting Pot.  Immediately, I was at ease.  David came over later to talk to us before his shift.  They brought a bunch of stuff out for X, including a balloon – how did they know he loves gravity defying objects?

I had his backpacks next to me in the booth and added a few things to his kiddie plate.  He was satisfied for a while.  And when he wasn’t satisfied anymore, I pulled out one toy.  When he wasn’t satisfied any more, I put it back and pulled out another.  I repeated this several times throughout the night.  Meanwhile, B had found his favorite wine in the whole world that is almost impossible to get in the states on their wine list.  Even in his favorite year!  So, I told him to get a bottle of it.  Again with the alien look!

I don’t even think I have to say it, but dinner was amazing.  It came time for dessert, and I looked over at X, who was flirting with a nine month old in the high chair next to him.  Tears came to my eyes when I realized we’d made it to dessert with ZERO tantrums.  People were staring at us and talking about us, but it was to notice how well behaved he was.  I was so proud of him and I really let him know.

Dessert – also amazing.  Paid the check, packed up all of my bags, said goodbye to Gary and David, and left.  Alli only lives about four blocks from the restaurant, so I dropped off my broccoli leftovers.  It’s her favorite food in the world.  Yes, you heard me right.  After driving to the restaurant and knowing I had to drive home, I also agreed to make a pit stop at Alli’s with my family in tow!  And then I drove us all home.  (For anyone wondering, I was not drunk.  I had the one drink Gary brought at around 4:15pm and didn’t leave the restaurant until 6:30pm after eating a four course meal.  Drunk driving is what killed my best friend and set into action my fear of driving, so I don’t mess around.)

It was a really great day.  It makes all the previous days’ failures not seem so bad when I make up for them on a binge like that.  Reflecting on the evening, it could not have been more perfect.  I can’t remember the last time B and I went out for an enjoyable evening together.  I certainly can’t remember doing so with X in tow.

And that wraps up my long, long update.  On a side note I’d like to ask anyone who works for Melting Pot if they put crack in the dishes there.  There’s no good reason to have the sort of intense cravings that both Alli and I get for their food.  It must be crack.

A Thoughtful Comment Leads To Panic?

I almost didn’t blog about this.  I thought letting anyone in on my sometimes ridiculously crazy thought process would be like broadcasting how pathetic I can be.  I decided to just get it out of inside my head.  Either to analyze later, or just for the sake of not holding on to it.

Yesterday I checked my comments and received this one:

Michael, on January 21st, 2008 at 10:11 pm Said: Edit Comment
I am of the opinion we quit doing something when we get less out of it than if we did not do it to start with, If it were me, I would ask myself, what am I getting out of this behavior that makes me keep doing it?

There must be something in it for you? Oherwise, why bother…? “

I suspect that if I were a reasonable woman, this is what I would have thought – “Here’s a nice guy who took his own time to read my blog and think of something to say that he thought might be helpful.”

A reasonable woman I am not, at least not initially.  I don’t think I’d even finished reading the comment before I hung my head a bit, feeling judged.  Deep breath.  I read the comment again.  Amazingly, I was able to stop the feelings of inadequacy and shame to at least find out who this guy was that I was so willing to hand over any sense of accomplishment I’d felt from starting this blog and getting it all out.  He has his own blog at http://www.venagozar.com.

As I read his blog, I felt ashamed again.  It was different, though.  I read his blog, which he dedicates a large portion of towards helping other people through his own life experiences.  This time I was embarrassed and ashamed that I had suspected such a seemingly nice enough person of trying to be cruel to me, a total stranger.

Even with all of that evidence pointing to the fact that I had not taken his comment into any degree of rational perception, I was still torn.  Maybe I was pathetic enough for even a nice, helpful, seemingly genuine person to have no patience with.  Maybe I was the one who could make a monk on a vow of silence curse me.  And in the spirit of complete honesty, these types of thoughts sat with me for a good couple of minutes.

After that, though, I somehow came back into the real world.  Who did I think I was anyway?  Even in my weak moment, I somehow needed to feel special.  Special enough to make that monk curse.  But I realized I didn’t want to be that way.  And no one else was forcing me to feel that need.  So, for at least that moment, I let it go.

I also realized that poor Michael who had no idea being helpful would create a tailspin of crazy in my head, had asked a pretty valid question.  I am not used to writing for audience, so I suppose I haven’t really answered that question directly.  And to remind you without having to scroll up, the question was: “…what am I getting out of this behavior that makes me keep doing it?”

Of course I’m getting something out of this behavior.  I get a feeling of safety.  I can manage my panic attacks.  No panic stimulus = no panic attack.  I feel more in control of myself, so long as I’m within the safe confines of my home.  I don’t have to deal with uncomfortable public situations.  I don’t have to worry about whether I will get lost on the way home or crash my car.  I don’t have to worry that I’ll start sweating and choking in a full fledged panic flip out and have someone think the paramedics need to be called.  I don’t have to worry that my son will start screaming in the middle of the grocery store and people will stare at me like I’m the worst mother in the world.

So, there are a few of the major things I get from my behavior.  But is that it?  Case closed?  I’m not giving up that easily.  While I am benefitting from “playing it safe”, I realize that this is all naive thinking.  I realize that while I may feel better now, I won’t feel that way in the long run.  I don’t want to have to explain to my son why Mommy can’t come see him in his school play or piano recital or chess tournament or whatever he gets into.  I don’t want my son to think it’s OK to live this way.  I don’t want to depend so heavily on my fiance, and on the occasional day where I feel the need is great enough for me to go out.

I am benefitting, yes.  Absolutely.  It’s just that I’m realizing that I’m also sacrificing things I’m not really willing to sacrifice.

That’s kinda where I am right now.  Taking the baby steps to move from realizing the sacrifices to doing something about it, and eventually being free from it.

I wanted to apologize to Michael for assuming bad things about you because of my own insecurities.   I know you/he didn’t know I had done anything of the sort, but I feel that an apology is owed regardless.  I also wanted to thank Michael.  While your words weren’t exactly what I needed at that moment, my reaction to them was.