Saturday, 11 April 2009

The battle between anxiety and desire

Once upon a time, two young women in their twenties met randomly online.

The two young women were called Marie and Lynn, and the one thing they had in common was that they both suffered from agoraphobia. They got to know each other very well and became very good friends. The thing is, these two girls lived over 400 miles apart - one in south west England the other in west Scotland. The only thing stopped them from meeting each other was anxiety. This didn't stop them from talking each day through MSN and phone calls.

Over two years had passed and by this time they became very close friends. Marie used to wonder if she would ever get to meet Lynn as she lived so far away and 'cos of anxiety they both suffered which just made this rather an ordeal.


Marie's husband Robert had to go on a buisness trip to the Lake District which was about 5 hours' drive away. This gave Marie an idea that maybe she could go and stay with her friend Lynn if her hubby would drive her another 2 or 3 hours further to Glasgow. This meant Robert would have to drive for 2 or 3 hours more one way and drop Marie off at Lynn's and then drive all the way back to the Lake District.

Robert agreed to make the extra drive so Marie could go and stay at her friend, Lynn's house. Marie was very excited by this but also very, very anxious... The idea was fantastic but the anxious thoughts were constant and very negative.

She thought, Could she cope with traveling more than 7 hours from home? What if she had a panic attack so far away from home? Would she go and book into a bed and breakfast and just wait for an ambulance to come and sedate her? Just thinking about being in control of herself that whole time was just a dream at that moment, even though she had been to Scotland quite a few years ago. Then, when she still suffered from anxiety it was a very hard thing to cope with being so far from home. Plus she would be staying with a friend that she hadn't met in a house that she had never stayed in. And without her safe person, her husband, Robert.

The next few weeks leading up to that date where Marie had to decide if she could go on that 7 hour drive to stay with her friend for 4 days without her hubby were very hard, as she had to deal with all the 'what if' thoughts of anxiety about going away. It really was a fight between anxiety and desire.

The weeks flew past and it was just a week to go untill the big day arrived. At this time Marie had tried her best not to think about going to Scotland as this was an easier option as she was getting rather stressed about the whole thing. Part of her decided that she was going and nothing was going to stop her but she still had the constant negative thoughts saying that she couldn't go and that she was out of her mind thinking that she could cope with it.

Marie started looking online to buy a new suitcase and new pyjamas trying to make it all seem exciting so she would stay in positive mode about going away. Sometimes she would cry at night whilst going to sleep knowing it was such a big thing to her to go and meet her friend. And if she could really fight against those negative thoughts she was having, that seemed to be taking over every time she tried to tell herself that she would be able to go.

She finally told herself she was going no matter what. This was about 4 days before the planned date of departure.

And the next day Robert became ill.

The only obvious symptom that he had was a tempature and Marie just took it that it was 'man flu'. But the next morning, when Robert got out of bed and saw that his foot was very swollen his face just dropped 'cos he knew that he had the recurring cellulitis that he has had a few times before. This meant that he had to go on antibiotics straight away which was lucky as the doctor prescribed him an extra lot last time he had it so he could go straight on them next time he had it. Last time Robert had cellulitis he had to keep his foot elevated for over a week and he had high tempatures all time and was sleeping lots 'cos of the pain in his foot and the infection flows through his body causing pain everywhere so not a nice thing to suffer with.

After she knew what was wrong with Robert she felt really upset and she just thought that was Scotland over before it started. She just broke down and cried. Just thinking that all that time she had been fighting with her anxiety about going away and that just as she was starting to cope with the idea of going, it all had been taken away from her as Robert was poorly and it looked like going to Lynn's was cancelled. Marie felt crap as Robert knew she was upset as she was crying and really down so it made him feel very guilty. Marie told him that she knew it wasn't his fault. After a couple of days his foot seemed a lot better and he didn't seem to feel so ill or in so much pain but the fact they would have to drive for over 7 hours meant that the trip still seemed very unlikely. So in her head the trip was still a non-starter.

Robert stayed positive and told Marie that he would take her to Lynn's even though he couldn't make it to his business trip as he couldn't drive all that way and not keep his foot elevated. Then Robert had a really stupid idea and said, "Marie, you could drive to Scotland...."

Marie just looked at him and laughed.

"Yeah right," she said, then a day later they both packed their suitcases and they were going to Scotland and who was going to drive?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Me... haha!

Hi Guys! xxxx

I actually drove all the way to Scotland. Hours before the drive I was shitting myself (excuse the French lol). But as I was packing I was going to tell Robert I can't do this but for some reason I didn't and oh! am I glad I didn't back out!

My next post will be all about my trip to Lynn's house....

So watch this space haha....


Coffeecup said...

Fantastic achievement Marie, a huge well done from me! I once was forced to drive from Devon to the North West and managed it only by avoiding the motorway after Bristol. The journey took a whole lot longer than using the M6!!

So what do you think has given you the courage to do this? I think most of us suffering want to understand so that they can follow your lead. I panic in the car and I know you're okay, though Robert usually drives. Was it having him with you? Could you have done it on your own?

I reckon that you're making such remarkable progress that you're going to be an ex agoraphobic at this rate and won't look back at the things that you couldn't do. Way to go girl! I feel pretty silly for being such a coward, but I suppose how you feel is crucially important to believing in yourself and what can be achieved. Whatever it is, I want some!!!

Keep it up lovely lady! ...X

Kaci said...

Congrats! That is SO GREAT!!! You must have been so happy when you realized that you were doing it and you got to meet Lynn!

I am also curious where you think the courage came from for the exact same reason as coffecup asked!

Angel said...

aww thanks bot of you for your comments... well Having hypnotherapy gave me a bit of confidence at the start and seeing a therapist each week to give me a kick up the ass was good. Lynn has gave me lots of courage to try and get out as she is doing really well at the moment and she is a breath of fresh air... and I love her to bits x

The linden method is fecking amazing its just all true, and talking to Charles has just gave me hope and the belief that I can get well. I am going to meet charles but not just yet I need to get a bit more confident as I know he will get me to walk but I NEED to Believe in myself more.

Coffee cup, I couldnt drive all that way on my own, or with just anyone, But I could but chooose not to thats the way we have to see it. we can do bloody anything but anxiety stops us as we dont want those sensations :-(

Marie x

Nioniel said...

This is such a huge achievement that it blows my mind - well done! I'm so pleased for you that you managed to make it all the way up to Scotland and meet up with Lynn.

Have read Lynn's post, and it looks like you both had a fantastic time, and made so much progress together. Can't wait to read your post on the visit too :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Marie,

I can identify with nearly everything you said there except the actual going ahead and doing it. You should be extremely proud of yourself for that. I know how hard that must have been for you and I am so glad that you proved to yourself you could do it. I hope this makes you realise just how strong you are.

Robert really is a diamond. I think his drive and positivity must rub off on you. Ultimately though it was your decision to go and presented with the choice you took the hardest option so well done- and you survived.

I look forward to your next post and hope to read about all the new things you are doing that you could not do before. You have no idea what reading these stories does for other people still stuck. Knowing that other people can get out gives us all a big lift.

Please though take some time out a few times a day to remind yourself how well you have done. You have done fantastic and should continually remind yourself of that.

All the best


Sarah♥ said...

I think it's wonderful how you have met such a kindred spirit online (and now in person), one who completely gets you.

It goes to show how anxiety takes a back seat when you REALLY want to do something.

What you did is wonderful, be so proud of yourself :)


Sonja Dupor said...

I think it's incredible that you two found each other and were able to stay in touch and finally meet. I suffer from agoraphobia too and 400 miles is a huge distance to an agoraphobic. I have to congratulate you overcoming it and going on your trip.

This is gonna sound weird but my sister has been wanting to go visit one of her friends that lives 4 hours away but she doesn't wanna go alone. She understands about my agoraphobia and wishes I could go with her. I've been wanting to go myself but I am so terrified of being too far from home.

Maybe you'll inspire me to at least try.

Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Mark Houston Recovery said...

congratulations- that's a great achievement :)

TawanaB said...

Forgive me, I'm a bit behind in reading blogs and commenting due to moving however, I couldn't let this one go without giving you a huge congratulations! What you did is awesome and is does give hope to the rest of us. I owe you a lot of thanks because until I started reading your blog I felt very alone with dealing with my problems. I have two people that I feel "safe" with and I feel a bit like a lead weight at times because I can't function well without being with one or the other. The most supportive is my husband and he has been wonderful although at times I'm sure he wishes he could have a minute to himself lol. Now that I know there are others battling this same problem at least I have more understanding of it. I look forward to being able to drive again and doing more on my own. Thanks for sharing your experiences.