Thursday, 29 January 2009

Down the therapy road again.....

This afternoon I decided to google therapies in my area in the south west. Haven't a clue why. Because I really don't know if I believe in therapy anymore. When I have seen a new therapist in the past it normally makes me really confident for a couple of weeks or more and I start to believe in myself. Which is good.. But never lasts!

Could it be the same as buying new clothes? Having new clothes to wear gives you confidence doesn't it? Then having anything new like a new car, a new puppy, or even when you have a new bf or gf gives you that confidence buzz.. So does therapy work?

Going private with therapy can cost hundreds of pounds or more. I told my sister on the phone today how I have been thinking that therapy may be a confidence booster, she said well if you think that you may as well spend a few hundred pounds on clothes and get confident that way!
Which is true really. That would make me feel great for a while.

My sister Kim works in the mental health team in her area. She helps people to get back into work or tries to get them interested in a college course etc. Kim goes to a number of meetings and courses which she learns more about my condition. I know one meeting last year she got very upset about what she heard about how hard it is for someone to live with a mental health illness. Agoraphobia came up as one of the hardest things to deal with. This hit home for my sister as she has seen her little sister grow up with this condition.

I started to write down the diffrent therapies in my area.. and I have decided to go with hypnotherapy again. I last had this properly when I was 18. It worked rather well then, but something happens in my head that my agoraphobia gets worse again after a few months of doing well. So I am willing to try it again.

I rang a few therapists around my area one is quite far from me - still in the south west but the traveling time would be an hour and a half.. This man is a hypnotherapist and he does EFT also.
He sounded really nice on the phone and I felt at ease but I think he is to far away to see each week really, so I will put him on hold.

Another therapist I rang - he lives about 6 miles away from me. He concentrates on NLP
but he sounded a very strict therapist and takes you out walking etc to make u face it!
Which is probably the best way to deal with my issue but seemed too scary talking about it!
lol.. so I haven't chosen him. Saying that, he is coming to my house on Tuesday morning for a one to one first session to find out my problem.. that can't hurt can it? So we will see..

The last therapist I had on my list I had found on the internet was a nice medium built man with grey hair and a grey beard.. I know this as he has a pic on his website lol
and on the phone he seemed a very sweet and gentle man. He is a hypnotherapist and a pshycotherapist. He lives actually 4 minute walk from me lol what a find!! whoo hoo.
He is coming to my house on Monday evening at 8pm so I will let you know what happens.

Here's a hypnotherapy visual aid. Concentrate on the centre circle. What do you see?

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Seven pounds

I just watched the film Seven Pounds. I cried most of the way through it.
When I sat and watched this movie I started to think how my life was. How can I start to change the way I am? It is up to me to start thinking positive and begin to think what I want from life.
I know I can start to change the way my anxiety controls my mind. To start doing this I have to tell myself I am in charge!! I hope anyone reading this can start to believe they can too.
Life starts to change the day you want it!!

Marie x

Thursday, 22 January 2009

My magic bag and OCD

It all started when my sister Kim gave me a new school bag as a present. It was a bright yellow Benetton duffle bag. I was very pleased as they were the rage at the time.

I put all my school books etc. into the bag ready for school the next day. This was probably the first time I had ever been organised for school with my bag packed. Having a new school bag even made me set my alarm clock 2 hours earlier than normal. Which was totally not me, as I normally jumped out of bed about 20 minutes before I had to leave to catch the school bus.

My alarm clock was very annoying and very loud. My parents had bought me it one Christmas, thinking it may be the the answer to me getting up for school on time. Boom Boom, get up! it shouts. Then, if you don't turn the alarm off, it gets even louder. BOOM BOOM time to get up!! You can see how annoying this is. But it didn't make the slightest difference in me getting out of bed.

This particular morning I did get up early. I had an extra two hours to get ready so I could look my best with my new bag. Maybe I should have bought a new bag everyday (lol). I had breakfast, a bath, did my hair and did my make-up. Looking good!! ;-)

I was so impressed that I was ready in time. I put my coat on and went out the front door to wait for my friend Leanne. I started to play hop scotch on the front path outside my door. Not exactly the coolest thing to be seen doing when you are 14. I got bored of hopscotch after 10 minutes. I decided to try and walk to Leanne's house by myself to surprise her that I was ready on time. I didn't tell my mum that I was going to try and walk there on my own. So I just shouted through the letter box goodbye. I put my bag on my shoulder and started to walk across the road and down the lane. I was totally fine. There was no feeling of fear or anything. I got to Leanne's house and rang the door bell. She came out with a very surprised smile and then we walked to the bus stop together.

After that day I started to notice that if I had this big bag on my shoulder I could walk on my own. I didn't feel light. I felt confident and in control. If I tried walking on my own without this bag I just felt all funny again. A smaller bag was no good. This made no sense to me at all and still doesn't now.

It felt great that I could walk on my own again to and from the bus stop. I have never been able to walk out my house without a big bag or a oversized handbag since. Plus it has to be a certain weight. This doesen't really bother me. As it doesn't affect me in the slightest. Until the day comes where I want to go swimming, I can't see it being a problem. It will have to change then as I would look rather odd in the pool with a handbag!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

My best friend Claire and Anxiety

My best friend is called Claire. I met her when I was 11 and she was just 7. Her family had just moved into the house opposite where I lived with my parents. I remember being quite excited watching a removal van arrive at the house opposite with a family also getting out of a car in the drive. Two children got out. One was Claire and the other, her sister Racheal aged 4.

It was later that day I was riding my bike along the pavement outside my house just trying to be nosey. Then Claire and her sister came out on their bikes and started to ride around and around the lamppost. We were all quite shy and didn't speak. I decided to ride around the lamp post also. I guess we were playing the children's game follow the leader. We started to smile and giggle amongst ourselves. Then it went from there to following each other around the paths and lanes.

Since that day we have all been good friends.

We went to different schools so when we got home we were straight round each other's houses.
A few of my friends thought it was bizarre that one of my best friends was only 7 but this didn't stop me being friends with her.

At the age of 11 there was no sign of panic attacks or agoraphobia. Looking back I can see how free I was. Just taking playing with my best friend for granted. Having fun making dens, riding bikes, round the village, playing chase for hours. All this started to change at age 13 but as long as I was with someone I could still play.

We loved playing tennis but this is one game that was the hardest for me to play. We played it outside my house on the pavement. I must admit I was that good at tennis that when Claire served the ball I mostly missed hitting it and off it went down the road behind me. It was fine if the ball was about a few metres away from me but further than that Claire ended up running down the road for the ball each time I missed it. I can see how frustrating this must have been for her but she didn't show it.

One day I went over her house to play and she showed me what she had bought in town. It was a badminton set. She said that she bought it for us to play instead of tennis as the shuttle cock just lands if you miss it. We still giggle about our one-sided games of tennis. This is just one of the examples that Claire was a great friend.

Walking across the road to each other's houses started to get more difficult with the anxiety getting worse. It started off with me starting to get scared of the space between our two houses and I began to dread it. Claire started to walk me to and from her house so I did not get scared. But it got worse. I started to be scared walking with her sometimes.

I'm not sure if she understood how I was feeling but she never really asked. She just accepted that I had a fear and tried her best to help. As it got harder walking to and from our houses, we would leave our front doors and Claire held my hand and just said RUN!! and we both laughed and ran. This actually helped somehow.

This was all a small part of our friendship and how my anxiety started to effect what we could do.
I'm sure I will write more about Claire later in my blog.

Claire now is 26 and she works in a home for children with autism and other problems. She is one of the most caring and patient people I know. I'm glad that we are friends.

Anxiety at School

In my last post, I wrote about being scared walking to the bus stop. After this, my anxiety started to change my life.

I had a best friend at school called Leanne. She lived half way down the lane on the way to the bus stop. I told her about the way I was scared about walking to the school bus in the mornings. She was very sweet and told me that she would call for me so we could walk together. This made my anxious feelings lessen as I didn't have to worry about walking on my own and freaking out.

Every morning Leanne called for me and we walked to the bus stop together. If she was ill my mum would walk with me and when I got to the bus stop I was fine. Coming home from school I got off at a different bus stop and I felt fine walking home on my own. There were kids walking the same way so this made it easier. There came a time when this started to be a problem and I had the same strange feelings of fear, heart beating fast, and that terrible feeling that everything around you doesn't seem real. I really didn't understand what was happening to me. Why was I feeling this way? After this Leanne would walk home with me or else my mum would be waiting for me at the bus stop to take me home.

Anxiety started to take over how I was at school. Leanne started to walk me to my classes and then meet me when they had finished. I didn't feel anxiety in the classroom. It was just walking to and from classes on my own. When I was walking with people I just felt happy and content. It was like nothing bothered me. The only subjects at school my anxiety started to interfere with were PE and games. So playing tennis outside on the large courts would start to bother me. I felt light and scared. I dealt with this by playing on the court near the steps of the school and no one knew any different. I just looked like a normal 13 year old school girl. When we were in the main hall in the school, playing badminton or doing gymnastics, it was just the same. I had to try and stand nearer the exit. I didn't have to tell the teachers about these feelings as I seemed to be dealing with them enough to be able to carry on with the sport activities.

As the years went by the fear grew worse. I had to tell my teachers about the situation I was in. When playing in the hall I could only cope with some of the activities if I could stand near the exit of the hall. Some teachers got rather cross with me and just told me to get on with whatever the activity was but my fear was more scary than them!! So I would spend a lot of my PE lessons sat on the wooden cold bench on the side of the hall.

My concentration started to be affected in class by the fearful thoughts that would come like how am I going to be walking home? etc.

When I was 15 it was that most important year at school. The year I would do my GCSE'S. This made me even more anxious thinking I had to sit in the large hall having to spend two hours or so doing exams and not being able to escape. I was hoping I wouldn't have to sit in the middle of about 80 kids. I discussed this with my Mum as I was getting upset about it, so she phoned the school to discuss it further with the head master. They organised that I would be able to sit at the front of the hall each time I had an exam. So that was another thing I didn't have to worry about so much.

I got through the exams but only got D grades (C is considered by employers as a pass), so my future did not look that good.

It was time to start a new chapter in my life.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Reflex anoxic seizures and anxiety through the years

Me at age 13

As far as I can remember I have always had anxiety and fear. First there was the fear of blood. I used to pass out with the sight of blood or if anyone had hurt themselves. or if I saw an ambulance or I was visiting someone in hospital etc. This began to affect me in other ways. I did not like to put myself in a situation like being in a pub late at night as a fight may happen or a drunk would end up throwing glass bottles at someone.

Before my fear of blood, I used to suffer from seizures. These started from age 2. I would have a seizure in a situation where I was scared, or if I had a sudden fall where I would be in a state of shock. I would turn blue and go limp. My heart would shut off for a while then start up again.

From seizures then on to anxiety. Maybe it went on to anxiety because I was expecting to faint or to shut off when I got scared about something and then I started to feel out of control as I have never had to deal with it before. I found out about a year ago my fear of blood and passing out may be caused by the seizures.

The next thing I remember is when my panic attacks started :-( There are a few moments in the past where I can remember that feeling of a panic coming on but I can't remember which of my memories come first. Here is one of my memories, I first noticed the signs of panic.

Age 13 -One day I left my house to catch the school bus. I then walked across the road it is in front of my house onto the pavement, then down this wide lane which is as wide as 2 roads. Trees along the sides with some fences where some back gardens ended. Just walking along like normal thinking of what the school day would bring, and then suddenly this horrific feeling came from nowhere - feeling of fear, dizzy, felt lost. I didn't know what to do. Carry on? Go back home? Well I chose to walk to this high wooden fence and just stood there for a moment. I then noticed a boy walk passed that was from the same school as me. I started to feel fine. Then walked the rest of the way to the bus stop following behind him and carried on like nothing had happened.

Next time this happened I walking to the same bus stop some time later. The same thing happened again. This time it scared me a bit more but then saw the same boy walking to the bus stop and followed him and felt fine. From that day I started to wait for this boy to walk down the lane before I left my house. as I noticed this feeling only happened when I was walking on my own. This helped for a few days but then one day I waited for this boy as I was looking through my living room window sat on my Dad's leather chair. He did not show that day and I knew I was going to be late for the bus if I didn't leave. I remember the feeling of dread at the thought that I had to walk to the bus stop on my own.

But I picked up my school bag and coat and said bye to my Mum.

Went out the door.

Crossed the road felt fine and started to walk down the lane.

I started to look back at the house seeing how far I had walked and I started to have that feeling again, but it was worse than last time. I felt that I was going mad, my thoughts were going all round the place, I could not focus, I was shaking, heart was beating, so I to ran towards where I had to go, to see if the feelings would just go.

They just got worse.

So I started to run back to the house and my bag fell of my shoulder and I just dragged my bag all the way home and ran through the front door! Mum was stood in the dining room. wondered what I was running in for. I told her I couldn't walk to the bus stop any more and just broke down and cried. She wanted to know why I couldn't, she asked me to explain and the only way I could describe it to her was that I felt faint as I was walking. She then said to me "I told you that it's important to eat breakfast." I did think, Oh maybe she's right, it's just that, and I had that day off.

And Mum walked me to the school bus the next day and I was totally fine.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Hi, I'm Marie

Hi, I'm Marie.
I am 30 and I suffer from agoraphobia.. Hmm great I already gave myself a label. Some people maybe thinking oh god another anxiety freak!! she should just understand, it's all in her head and stop trying to get attention bla bla bla..

Well for one I do know it's all in my head, and sometimes I do feel like a total freak But a couple of questions that id like to know is.. how do I start thinking I am in control of my life, to tell those fearful thoughts to FUCKOFF!! quite a few of my therapists have said they are only thoughts! Yes they are but they control me, well I guess I let them as I don't want to find out if I can suffer any more anxiety and fear than I already do, I should just ignore them and Run..

I do run but from the fear not through it!!

OK lets try and make me start sounding like someone with a life hey :-)
I am married, to a man that I love so much it hurts, I really didn't think Id ever feel the way I do about him.. He is called Robert. Plus I never thought anyone could love me the way he does either,
I have been with him 9 years this coming march. And married 3 years this April 29th
We have 2 children together Joseph aged 7 and Orla aged 3.
Robert also has 5 other children from past relationships and also grandchildren, I must admit having been 21 and going out with a man about twice my age with 5 children and grandchildren was hard to deal with, plus I know it was extremely hard for his children to have their Dad to be dating someone half his age plus the fact she was agoraphobic. But after 9years his children /Grandchildren feel like family to me and I can truly say I love them to bits.

Before I met Robert I lived with my parents.. I also have two sisters Kim and Karen
They now have children.. both little boys which makes me an auntie. Yey :-)
The other people that are special to me are my Auntie Joan and Uncle Ray, they have got to be the best auntie and uncle in the world!! then there's My best friend Claire, we have been friends since I was 11 so we have shared a lot. I wouldn't swop her for anything.

And last of all my new friend Lynn that I have been friends for about 2 years now, She also suffers from agoraphobia she lives in Scotland so we live miles apart as I
live down south. We met through the internet randomly she had written a letter
about herself living with agoraphobia... so I replied!!
Probably the best email or letter I have ever written as it got me a friend that I never thought id get, she has been like an angel since.. and I love her to bits xx