Hi, I’m not home…

Since Thursday, someone has been calling my home phone number constantly. We have Caller Display, because thanks to my agora, I cannot answer the phone unless I know who it is. This number is with-held. Our answer machine message says something like, “we can’t get to the phone right now, please leave a message and we’ll get back to you”. I’ve often joked that I should change it to “please leave a message, it’s rude not to” because the amount of callers who just hang up pisses me off. If it’s so important that they need to call constantly for three days (not counting the weekend) why don’t they leave a damn message? Or write to us?
I have actually got to a point where I’m wondering if BT can do a trace…

It’s a Record

I started writing this yesterday, the day after the “Biggest Panic Attack Ever!” and at some point thought, “this is crap, people don’t want to read about my miserable-ness”. The point is, that’s what I’m supposed to be keeping a blog for. To record my panic attacks and anxiety, and let the world know what it’s like.
In hindsight, I don’t remember much about the actual attack, all I know is that somewhere in the middle of it, I did a complete work out, because my muscles are killing me. My chest, back, arms and legs all feel like they’ve done the rounds at the local gym, and yesterday I felt exhausted. I didn’t sleep that night, and spent yesterday wandering around, not able to concentrate on anything for very long.
This is what I wrote (edited slightly so it makes more sense)
I think I set the record for the biggest panic attack ever. I want a statuette, dammit.
Monday, when Mr D finished work, we decided to go for a ride out (I wanted some lemonade and sandpaper anyway – strange diet, I know) but the main reason was that Mr D was convinced there was another way into work.
His journey isn’t that long, but the main road he uses is very busy, and is a notorious accident blackspot. From what I’ve seen, I’m not surprised. There is something about that road that turns driver’s brains to jelly, and for eight miles or so, there’s this real-life Wacky Races situation. Of course, my husband drives like a saint…
So, we drove. I felt okay – I’d been busy that day, and was tired, but not really that anxious. It was a situation I’d been in many times before, there was nothing to be afraid of. I did well, we went into the supermarket and bought lemonade (and plenty of other things that we thought we needed), then we went to the DIY store and got the sandpaper.
On the way home, as we were coming into the town, we passed under a railway bridge, and suddenly there was this horrible clattering sound. I jumped, and someone reset the anxiety dial to max, but I didn’t panic. There were cries of “What the bloody hell was that???” and I looked up and saw some kids on the top of the bridge. They’d obviously thrown something at the car.
I count in Japanese when my anxiety is bad. I do it because it’s something that forces me to concentrate on things other than panic. It helps. It doesn’t help when Mr D, still flustered from the arial attack, isn’t watching the traffic lights change, and has to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting the car in front.
I think I screamed, I can’t really remember. I remember yelling over and over for him to stop the car, I needed – no I HAD TO get out. It seemed like a million years before I could open the door. My head was swimming, I thought the car had stopped, and I fell out onto the pavement. I scrambled to get away, I stumbled, and somewhere a sane thought said, “sit down. just sit down” Somehow I realised that if I didn’t sit down there and then, I would probably just keep running. I remember breathing – gasping and feeling like I was going to choke, the razor-wire fear enveloping my being. Then there was my husband. He was there, his arm around my shoulder, talking softly to me. His voice cutting through the insanity. I became more aware of my surroundings, and realised that I was sitting in the middle of some bushes, fetal and damp. Mr D helped me to the car, and I sat there with my feet out, my head in my hands, trying not to be sick.
When we got home – my familiar place, my safe place, and after I had cried a lot, Mr D said that two women had come over and asked if I was allright. I had no idea. He said that he’d explained to them I was having a panic attack, and I’d be okay, and they left us to it. I want to say to those two ladies, I’m sorry, I had no idea you were there. Thank you for caring. Thank you for showing concern, for being human.

Title Schmitle (or something)

This last week, I have been using most of my brain power on building a new computer. I’m kinda wondering if I have a brain quota, which only allows me to think so much during a given time period. I’ve built the computer, installed everything – and it’s peachy, but literally everything else I’ve tried to do has turned to shit. It’s like my brain has said, “WOAH!!! That’s it, missy, no more cognitive processing for you!”
My husband’s favourite is my putting the sugar in the fridge the other day. He’s really tickled by that. I don’t mind, at least it takes his mind off the job shit he is enduring yet again.
He is still with the same company, but they seem to think it’s okay to offer him temporary work, then at the last moment right where he’s crapping himself about how we’ll pay the mortgage next week, they offer him another few weeks work. It’s really taking it’s toll on both of us, and because of the incredibly long hours he’s working, it’s making it really difficult for him to look elsewhere. So, if anyone out there is looking for a highly skilled mechanical engineering quality inspector, e-mail me. (Like that’s really going to work…)
After the whole incident of not going to therapy last week, I have decided to write a letter to M, explaining why things have gone to shit. It mostly involves explaining about the Efexor experience, and how my panic and anxiety have sky-rocketed. I’ve tried to explain that it’s a different kind of anxiety – really sharp, like a kind of mental razor-wire. I guess having a constant headache and nausea doesn’t help. Funny, though, I’ve only had two panic attacks this month. I feel like I’m on the verge of a panic attack most of the time, especially when I’m out and about, but I always manage to avoid an actual attack.
My other symptoms are still there, and I feel flu-ey and hungover most of the time. I wish I could stop being so impatient. I’m aching to feel ‘normal’ again. Like my husband keeps on telling me: I’ll get there – eventually.

update

I had a panic attack and I’ve cancelled my appointment. The receptionist is going to get M to ring me around my appointment time, so we can catch up on the phone.
I hate this stupid anxiety. 😦

Thoughts of a Panicky Person

I’ve a funny feeling I don’t need to write this. A quick search of my archives finds the exact same thoughts here.
This is the first time in ages I’ve had an appointment with M that I’ve needed to go to by myself. The last one Ginger took me, and before that, there was a big gap in our meetings as M was on leave.
I guess this time, it’s a bit different in that the weather is crap. It is freezing cold, there is ice on the roads and paths, and snow is forecast. My appointment is at 3pm.
I’ve paced up and down, and wasted time this morning, and now I realise I could have called to see if M could see me any earlier. 3pm isn’t bad – it’s just that it’ll be getting dark when I come home, and I don’t have lights on my bike. I refuse to bike on the footpaths. Also, there’ll be a lot of people and traffic at 4pm – schools coming out and stuff.
Or is it an excuse? I’ve not been out on my bike for ages. At least three months. I’m not too fit, and I’m feeling really panicky just thinking about what is going to happen if I need to get off and push because I’m too unhealthy to cycle up that hill, or if it’s too dark, and I need to push my bike on the paths. What if the weather starts getting bad while I am out? I could come out of Psychology to find blizzards – it’s forecast, after all.
Plus, I still feel a bit shit in my Post Efexor state. I’m still dizzy, and can’t think straight. Maybe I’d be safer cancelling. But that would feel like failure. I wish I knew what to do. I hate the way my stupid brain works sometimes.

Neglectful

Over the past few weeks I have felt more and more as though my brain isn’t working properly. It sounds crazy, but my concentration has gone completely. You have no idea how many times I have started with my blog, then deleted the whole thing because it looked stupid. I’ve never been good at accepting praise, or even giving myself credit for things well done, but if there was ever an award for stupidness it would belong to me.
The thing is, I know why all this is happening.

Continue reading

Journey

I saw M again today. I biked there – on my own, and felt much better about myself. I told M how I’d felt last time, like I’d somehow failed.
M, as usual, put things into perspective. And it goes like this. All my life, I’ve set my own standards. I’ve had no-one else’s standards to look to for guidance, therefore I push myself too hard, and am more likely to think I’ve failed. It happens a lot with only-children, apparently.
She suggested that I write about the things I have achieved – even from a year ago – and look at the dramatic changes in my life, and the way I have coped. Okay, I will give this a go.
This time last year, I could not go anywhere without my husband. Now, I can go on my own to my therapy sessions. Even though I feel sick, and my anxiety almost chokes me, I still get there, and that is a big ‘something’. I was very depressed last year, and could not see how my life could improve. Now, I have managed to work through my depression, and deal with my demons. Even coming out of a depressive phase, I was able to keep going when Ginger was made redundant. M said to me that she thought that was a ‘make or break’ point for my illness, in that I could have easily slipped back. However, I have coped, and helped Ginger cope too. Now, we are pulling ourselves out of a pretty traumatic time, and I think we are closer for it.
I need to get out of the habit of thinking I could have done things better, or faster, or feeling like a failure all the time. From now on, every time I start thinking like that, I need to remind myself how far down I have been in the past. If my legs had been smashed in an accident, I wouldn’t expect to walk as soon as the bones were mended, so how can I expect to get my life back to normal after three years of agoraphobia?

There and back

I did it. Not that I feel any better for this achievement.
Getting there was not too bad. I talked to myself a lot, discovered a cycle lane that I never knew existed, and breathed deeply. I locked my bike up outside the building, and raced up the stairs to the familiar reception area. It was only after I had announced myself to the receptionist and sat down, that I realised I was shaking.
Suddenly, there seemed to be some confusion over my being there. I wasn’t in the appointment book. M came and saw me – my appointment was in her diary for Wednesday – not Tuesday.
At this point, I crumbled. Tearfully, (and in hindsight, somewhat pathetically) I said, “but, I’ve come on my own!” M asked me to hang on a moment – she would see me for a few minutes before her next appointment. I sat there, dazed with that feeling that Christmas has been cancelled. All that build up – all that preparation. All that anxiety. I felt sick.
Whoever throws the dice in life decided that I needed a break at that point. M’s next person didn’t turn up, so she allowed me the full hour. I spent this hour rabbling on (as I tend to when I’m anxious) and listening to M telling me how well I was doing. Giving me the praise no-one else could.
Leaving the building later, I felt very alone. The whole skirt-tucked-in-my-knickers (from here on acronym-ed to STIMK) thing feeling all too real. Cycling back was uphill, but I did it, thanks to the extra surge of adrenalin kindly provided to facilitate panic.
Once home, I felt sick, lost and fatigued. I slept most of the afternoon.
I know this is going to be a hard process, but I am tired. So very tired. I hope it all gets easier.

Quandary

I have an appointment with M this morning at 10:30.
The thing is, I have to get there on my own, seeing as though Ginger is at work. I have two options.
One – I can go by taxi.
Two – I can bike there.
Both options scare the shit out of me. If I go by taxi, it means getting into a car with a stranger. Not that I’m worried about anything that they’ll do, but I hate interacting with people. Plus, I know I’ll be judged because I’m going to the pscyhology department, and it’ll be obvious that I have an appointment, because I’ll need picking up an hour later. Anyway, what if I’m upset afterwards? Taxi drivers round here like to converse as if they’ve known you forever…
d e e p b r e a t h . . .
Okay, so what about going by bike? Well, it’ll be the furthest I’ve been, and it’ll mean I have to go onto some of the busier roads. I’ll have the adrenaline, thanks to the anxiety that I’ve been whipping up this morning, so powering my pedals isn’t going to be a problem – until I come back, that is. See, it’s mostly uphill coming back. If I have to get off and push, I’ll feel too exposed- it’s hard to explain. I call it the skirt-tucked-in-your-knickers syndrome. It’s that feeling you get when you go out and you know you’ve forgotten something, or something’s not quite right.
I know what will be going through my mind on the way there, regardless of how I go.
“Did I lock the door? Did I switch off the coffee maker? I’m sure I forgot to lock the door… Have I got my phone? Have I got any money? What if there’s no-one there when I get there… Did I lock the door?…”
In fact, I have already started planning this, making sure my phone is charged, and I have put some money in my purse. I’m leaning towards going by bike, so I’ve made sure my lock is wrapped around the handlebars, and on Sunday when Ginger and I drove past the hospital, I looked and made sure there was somewhere to lock my bike up. I’ve programmed the Psych department’s number into my phone just in case. I’ll go early, mostly so I can catch my breath and calm down again. I have my little backpack organised, and I’ve put my battered copy of “The Fellowship of the Ring” in it, so I don’t have to glare at the walls, and the posters advertising helplines and groups for people with every possible mental problem there is.
I hope I can do this. I have this horrible image of me calling them and saying I can’t make it. That would be worse than anything, because it would be failure.

Lots happening

Indeed.
Since I last updated my blog, I have had so much happening, I’m almost living my life from the sidelines.
Firstly, and most importantly, I bought a bicycle. This was something I had been thinking about for a while, because it would give me a reason/excuse to go outside more. Also, it was something my good friend George said about cycling being easier to achieve than walking (from an anxiety/panic point of view).
He was so right. I started by cycling around the garden – mainly because I was afraid of falling off and making an arse of myself in front of all the neighbours. Then, I progressed to cycling to the end of the street. I quickly went from that to cycling around the quiet streets in my estate. The feeling when I’m on my bike is amazing. I feel so free, and it is an excellent way of getting rid of the cobwebs.
Last weekend, I set myself a goal – and achieved it. I had a couple of parcels to send to the US, so I put them in my backpack, and cycled to the post office. This was so big for me, I can’t tell you. My heart was beating so fast, I thought it might burst. However, I concentrated on the cool air of the morning, and obviously the sparse traffic. I took a few deep breaths, and I was fine. In fact, the worst thing that happened was my bum hurting! Five minutes on a bike, and I get saddle-sore!
I am keeping it up, not necessarily going to the post office or anything, but I’m riding around and getting used to being outside without Ginger.
Ginger has done the job interview thing, and it went really well. They are looking for someone who fits in with their small team, rather than someone with a shed-load of qualifications. Ginger said that he felt very comfortable with the interviewer, and not nervous at all. I guess that’s a good sign too. The way things have been worded, and the way certain things have progressed, we are fairly certain that Ginger has the job. It’s been advertised through an agency, and they have forwarded Ginger’s references etc to the new company (henceforth known as, er, SpreadingTheJam Inc – based on Operation Toast with Jam – until I think of something better). Basically, we are waiting for the go ahead from one of the managers who seems a bit incognito.
Meanwhile, Ginger is back at TakingThePiss, and wishing he wasn’t. Next Monday is a public holiday, and I’m guessing that SpreadingTheJam are waiting til that’s over before they take Ginger on.