A good two weeks. One frustrating day.

I have zero patience today and I can’t seem to shake the foul mood.  For once, it’s not PMS to blame, either.  I guess we’re all entitled to bad days, even if it’s our attitude that is the cause.

I’ve updated a tiny bit in the past couple weeks, but I wanted to give a little more detail.  I have been out of the house nearly every day for 10 days now.  Except today.   I tried today.  I really did.  It started out with my son refusing his nap for the third day in a row (my recovery time) and ended with my head hitting the sofa in utter exhaustion by 4:30pm.  Thankfully, my mother is here to help me, but she wasn’t thrilled with the idea of caring for my son during my later afternoon doze.

The main reason I haven’t been updating this blog as much is that I’ve been spending a lot of time writing.  I guess you can call it a novel, though the word count isn’t up there yet, and it’s not finished.  So I  guess it’s more of a creative writing project for now.  It’s loosely based on my own struggles with agoraphobia and some of my OCD type tendencies and centered around my obsession with the Violent Femmes.

It seemed selfish to mention it on this blog.  Like I’m saying “Hey I’m writing cool stuff in my word processor instead of here and you can’t read it for a long time.”  And it still does.  Somehow, though, I think my main readers will understand that that’s not where it’s coming from.  Nor do I feel like I owe any explanations, but offer this one nonetheless.  I’ve sent out the first scene to a four people now (family/friends) and only one friend has read it and asked to read more.  That pretty much put me on top of the world, to have someone actually enjoy what I’ve been pouring my heart in to and loving almost every minute of.

Places I’ve been in the last 10 days:

Bed, Bath, and Beyond (needed a garbage can with a lid for the dog) 40 miles from home

Kmart twice

Grocery store twice

Circuit City (new 320G external hard drive, woo hoo!) 40 miles from home

1 mile walk around the neighborhood twice

To go get a massage

Today: the mailbox

So that’s my update for the time.  I’ll try to balance my time better, but I’m still learning.

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

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.

An Adjustment Period

I’m starting to think that things here in Tennessee might work out.  Of course I don’t want it as a permanent solution.  I want to go back to my fiance and my home desperately.  I’m starting to think I just might be able to get some of these issues under control before I do, though.

I have been out of the house here every day since I got here.  Of course, I had at least one parent with me, so that’s not a huge deal.  But every day is!  I have been taking klonopin to help me get out.  It’s working.  I still have to leave the stores sometimes and catch my breath.  But I go back in and at least give it one more shot before I call it a good effort.

Attempting to make this place feel like a temporary home is a big emotional.  I keep thinking, “But if I put this here, where will B’s stuff go?”.  Things like that.  It also just plain isn’t our home, so there’s that ever looming feeling of being a fraud.

I’m actually looking forward to my psychiatrist appointment next Thursday.  I wish it were sooner, obviously.  I’m really ready to lift up my sleeves and do the work.  Agoraphobics don’t care for waiting, if you don’t know that.  It causes us tenfold the anxiety.

I’m curious what this doctor will say.  What medications will she put me on, if any?  Will they work?  Does she want me to do combined medication and CBT?  Some other treatment I’m not familiar with.  I need answers!

My son is having the time of his life out here in the country.  Especially with all of the boxes to unpack and moving paper still a bit strewn about.  He is running around outside like a crazy man.  Pushing his plastic lawnmore.  Riding his bigwheel.  Digging up rocks.  And generally just being a little boy.  I am thrilled he is able to do all of this stuff, but still feel quite guilty that I’ve been depriving him of some of these things at home because of my own phobias.

I’m scared.  But I’m armed and ready for battle.  I’m not sure there will be much more to update between now and the doctor’s appointment, but if something comes up I’ll be sure to let you all know.

Cheers,

annie

An AgoraTwist

In yet another turn of  events, it seems that my son and I will be staying here in Tennessee a bit longer.  No, you drama queens, it has nothing to do with my fiance and I.  It’s regrettably in spite of that, even.  Of course it’s not to get away from each other.  No matter how much he picks at his damned feet, I still want him around for the rest of my time.

It is here that I can get the most help in the fastest, most efficient way possible.  I’m ready to go back to that fun chick I was.  She still comes out in me from time to time, but it’s usually not long enough.  I have found a place here just outside the country area my parents’ new home is that offers some pretty serious kick-your-ass therapy.  All at once.  In your face.  It’s like rehab and bootcamp for agoraphobics all mixed in to one.  I’m terrified.  I have my first conversation with them tomorrow.

I’m sad and excited all at once.  If this works, I think it will have been every sacrifice our family had to make.

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.

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.