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.

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

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.

Very quick update

So it seems that making an appointment with a mental health care facility is not as easy as making one with your hair stylist. I have spent the last 4 hours of my morning researching, calling, and being told they can see me in several weeks.

No, not good enough. I’m here to get better. This is my agoraphobia bootcamp. I’m here to get a job done and get the heck home where I belong.

I’ve made 2 appointments. One is about an hour away and set for next Thursday, February 21st. The other is a bit closer, but can’t see me until March 11th. The woman who I spoke with on the second call heard my story and said she will be keeping my file next to her telephone and calling me the minute someone cancels. She told me to be ready for short notice.

Either way, progress is progress. And I’ve taken yet another step in the right direction. So here’s your update! Love you all.

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.

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.

Day 8 – I Can Bore The Worst Of Agoraphobiacs

I’ve been struggling with writing an update today. Pretty much anything I write will sound exactly the same as the last four or so days. I am even boring myself with all that nonsense, so I can only imagine how you’re feeling!

I have been thinking about how I got so far gone in my phobias and panic issues. I keep wondering how I could have just plain missed it for so long. And the question I keep asking is how? How on earth did I miss it? How did I not catch it before it got out of control? And then I wonder, exactly what day, what incident broke the camel’s back?

Was it something I’ve already written about? Something I’ve forgotten? Was it a general collection of years of little things? But still, there had to be a single point when I crossed the line from being “above average anxious” to “refuses to leave the house”. I wonder if I would have done much different even if someone had warned me. In my younger years, I wasn’t much for thinking about consequences of my actions. At least not the consequences that only had an effect on me.

It’s getting more difficult to not be hard on myself for the things I have failed to accomplish since figuring out something was wrong and I want to fight it. Right now, I’m fighting like a girl. Time for a new strategy.

Day 7 – Agoraphobia’s Winning

I have a million reasons to not leave my house today.  My fiance will be working until well past my bedtime, so I gave him the car.  It’s cold and windy outside.  It’s raining off and on.  I have a lot to do around the house (but shockingly none of it is getting done – curious, isn’t it?).  I don’t have any spending money for the rest of the month.  I could keep going, but I’m actually not trying to bore my readers.

But now, a week into my realization that I have agoraphobia and it’s gotten out of control, I am finally, just now, seeing that there will always be a million reasons to not leave my house any given day.  I will always have an up to the minute list of at least ten reasons I “can’t” go out today.  I seem to have gotten lost again in my denial.  Like I’m saying “Yeah, sure I have agoraphobia.  I get that now.  But that’s not the reason I’m not leaving my house today.  The reasons for today are:”.   And it made a world of sense to me until I just put it into writing and saw the absurdity of it.

While I still feel a little silly for making the discovery so late into the problem, and then jumping right back into denial, I’m going to attempt to stay positive.  I will be a whole lot more aware of if something I’m feeling is real or a byproduct of denial.  I’m not saying I’ll get it right, or be disciplined enough to follow through all the time.  Awareness is a start.

I think everyone who reads this already knows that they aren’t reading the blog of a recovered agoraphobic.  You’re not even technically reading the blog of an agoraphobic in recovery.  You’re reading my blog, and all I’m doing is blindly taking baby steps in an effort to one day make it to the stop of the staircase.  I appreciate everyone who has joined me so far.

Cheers to you!