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  • Mrs Chakotay 2:32 pm on April 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , agoraphobia, , , , , , ,   

    Here we go again 

    Mum was with us for 6 months while I attempted to function as her carer. For various reasons, it did not work out, and we took her home again in March and have arranged for professional carers to be on hand to look after her. My caring duties have not completely finished, but I now have a buffer of 250 miles or so between us, which really is much better for my own mental health (and hers, it would appear, although there are issues with her not taking her meds for bipolar which I can’t control from a distance and that is a frustration and a worry).

    I expected that, when the stress of looking after mum was lifted, that I would get well again quite quickly but in fact the opposite has happened and I have retreated and isolated myself again with agoraphobia.

    My physical health is quite bad at the moment, but issues have arisen (conversations on twitter and with my eldest child, mainly) which have make me realise that in fact my physical ill health may in fact be due to early childhood and repeated trauma.

    The ACE score is a study which looks at Adverse Childhood Experiences, and uses it to predict a number of outcomes related to physical and mental health in adulthood. Out of a possible total of 10, I score 4 on the ACE quiz, and my resilience score is low (3 out of 14) when it should be high.

    I am going to come back and look at this in detail, but it is such a hard subject to look at, I don’t really know where to begin. I feel as though I am having to force myself to open a Pandora’s Box of evil that I thought was long dead and buried.

    In the first instance, though, I am told that the way back to health and wholeness (other than the standard pharmaceutical and CBT) is:

    1) Talk about it.

    2) Write about it,

    3) Talk to other survivors and finally

    4) physical exercise.

    Due to the agoraphobia, physical exercise outdoors is not an option right now, it’s just too overwhelming, so I have brought the running machine in from the garage, and it’s set up in the bedroom, so I’m heading there next. I am annoyed with myself that I’m missing the beautiful sunshine and blue skies of spring in Cornwall, but it can’t be helped at this stage.

    Also I have made an appointment to see my GP in two weeks to discuss the possibility that all my mental and physical illness is actually manifestations of Complex PTSD.

    Just to clarify, the trauma that I received was not physical or sexual, but mental, emotional and spiritual in nature (church abuse amongst other things). I mention that, because for years I didn’t see it as abuse even though I knew I had been traumatised. What I hadn’t seen at all until this week was that I had unknowingly perpetrated some of the same kinds of abuse I had received on my eldest child. I can’t tell you how deeply I regret that.

    Next time I will talk about the symptoms of Complex PTSD. I have given myself license to use that term although at first it felt a little bit wrong (because I associated the term with other types of abuse that are more serious and more damaging) but I think it fits, and in the absence of another term.

    I don’t know who might be reading this, but if you have recovered or are recovering from mental/ emotional/ spiritual abuse and have Complex PTSD, I would be interested to hear from you. I can’t give any advice other than what helps me, and perhaps that can be another topic for another post.

    Bye for now.

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  • Mrs Chakotay 1:23 pm on April 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: agoraphobia, cortisol, , , , , survivor, ,   

    Dark Frontier 

    We took mum home about six weeks ago now. Since she has been gone I have tried really, really hard to relax and largely failed for some reason. I don’t ever seem to be able to properly relax.

    I thought that reducing stress would help my physical health but instead, somehow, it has just got worse and worse; despite which, all the results of all the testing I was sent for, and all the various referrals to different consultants have come back negative. My MRI showed no obvious evidence of damage from my bike accident. Endocrinology didn’t find significant evidence of Cushing’s. There would appear to be an intermittent excess of cortisol, but there doesn’t appear to be a tumor either on my pituitary or my adrenals. The non-significant levels don’t justify more testing.

    It would appear to suggest that my cortisol levels are likely related to anxiety. Anxiety that I wasn’t consciously aware I had.

    I have reverted to my previous agoraphobia. Agoraphobia of course is a sign of anxiety, but somehow I didn’t connect it. Now that I don’t have a group to go to, I pretty much don’t go out unless I have to. I go to church on a Sunday (and once I went twice!) and I go out if husband drives me somewhere. But largely, I am hibernating and hiding.

    I hadn’t realised until recently what the source of all my issues were, but a chance conversation on twitter, together with a conversation with my eldest child has forced me to confront some very dark and disturbing issues from my past going back to my childhood.

    I’m not sure whether I want to dwell on that here. I have other places to talk about mental health and spiritual abuse (for that is what it was, if anybody is interested to look at that).

    The question is, how to move forward. I know that I have to confront my past if I’m to get through it and get well and recover mentally and physically. Talk about it, write about it, meet with other survivors, they say. But just thinking about it has made me more physically ill than ever.

    I prayed at the end of last year that God would reveal the true source of my illness so that I could get well. I really thought I was on to something when I the doctor suggested Cushing’s. I think she was right that cortisol is a big issue. But the cortisol is actually (probably) in response to trauma. I wasn’t ready to consider that, but now that I do it all makes sense, and I just want to cry. I have to open up a whole Pandora’s Box I thought I had long buried. It makes me feel vulnerable, like a little girl again.

    If I still have any Star Trek fans following me, you will recognise the name of the Voyager episode in which Seven is confronted by her past – in which her parents took the risk of studying the Borg, thinking they wouldn’t be harmed, but not only are they harmed but they allow their daughter to be harmed, taken by the Borg and raised by them, and in turn Seven goes on to commit atrocities on others as a Borg herself. It’s a very good metaphor, for me, effectively being raised in a cult-like church, and later going on to do harm to others in the same vein (in particular, I regret, my eldest child).

    It’s not easy to face.

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 10:31 pm on July 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: agoraphobia, , CBT, ,   

    CBT Therapy 

    I have realised that my agoraphobia and anxiety is selective.

    When I was having therapy last year, I was repeatedly told that what I was experiencing was a form of social anxiety – in other words, that the root of my panic and anxiety was due to a fear of people, or people’s judgements, or feelings of inadequacy or some such basic inferiority complex.

    Nonsense.

    The therapy I was offered, CBT, (cognitive behavioural therapy) might have been useful had the therapist actually been willing to listen to what I told her. But she wasn’t. She was determined to squeeze me into a neat round box. Presumably she was following a flow chart which didn’t allow for any free thinking, or square pegs.

    What I have noticed is that I have no problem in social situations (though I may find them exhausting), no problem with crowded rooms, shops, restaurants, no problem driving, unless I am particularly stressed. The only thing I struggle with, regardless of stress level, is walking out in the open, and that has nothing to do with social anxiety.

    I have been out a few times – pubs, restaurants, shops, over the last few months with no problems. But on a day-to-day basis I am practically housebound. I hate it. I deeply dislike the house I’m currently living in, but can’t seem to escape it.

    I have good intentions – next week, I will definitely go out, for coffee, to see the sea, something, anything. But it never seems to happen. I’m dependent on circumstances forcing me out – hospital appointments, husband taking me out.

    We’re supposed to be moving again soon and I really hope that will signal an improvement. But house moves aren’t known for their calming effect.

    I really just want to shrug this anxiety off and start living a normal life again. The best therapy might just be immersion – just jump in, or out as the case may be.

    But don’t hold your breath. I might just dip my toe in and sit in the garden.

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 9:37 am on March 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: agoraphobia, , , , Holsworthy,   

    Drive to Holsworthy 

    I have actually lost count now how many weeks I have been holed up at home, cocooned from the nasty weather, but it’s at least three weeks and could easily be double that.

    This week I had a task that couldn’t be put off any longer. I had a cheque that I needed to put into the bank. I could have posted it in, but we need the money as fast as possible, so I needed to put it in by hand.

    So I girded my loins and drove to Holsworthy. It’s quite a nice, country drive, about half an hour from Bude (I keep to the speed limit – it’s doubtless possible to get there quicker if you don’t). I wasn’t overjoyed to go as I had no company, and that always makes it harder, although I find driving largely okay provided I know where I’m going and I know where I can park.

    But because I had no money, I couldn’t park close to the bank, I had to park in the Waitrose car park which is free and walk up the hill. Not far, about 5 minutes each way, but – you know, walking!!

    I did it, and didn’t have any panic attacks, and so I popped into the co-op to buy myself a drink and a snack as a reward on the way back to the car.

    If I were feeling stronger (and richer), I would have gone into Waitrose there. It is really such a civilised shopping experience compared with Morrisons etc. Sainsbury’s in Bude is also quite pleasant, and the Bude co-op is usually nicely empty too.

    But not this time. I walked straight in, straight out and straight back to the car. The weather that day was nice so I enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine and the beautiful view over fields from the top of the Waitrose car park. But then I went straight home and slept all afternoon.

    Small steps turn out to be quite exhausting.

    Sorry no photos. Still no new phone. Feel free to donate to the Bude Agoraphobics Benevolent Fund.

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 4:10 pm on January 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: agoraphobia, , , , , , , panic attacks   

    Trip to Morrisons 

    So, as I alluded to in my last post, I am a (hopefully recovering) agoraphobic.

    I never previously considered myself an anxious person (although I suspect my husband might disagree because he is so laid-back that he thinks hippies are highly strung! 🙂

    But we have had a run of hard times, culminating last year with our landlord evicting us – not because we were bad tenants, or because we weren’t paying the rent: we were good, regular rent-paying tenants – but simply because he wanted to sell the house. My friends in the US were shocked and appalled that such action is legal, but here in the UK, tenants have almost no security, even when it’s the landlords who are bad, as in our case.

    Our old house stood empty for almost a year while our greedy landlord learned the hard lesson that greed doesn’t always pay. And needless to say, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for him.

    So, here I am, traumatised! Really not liking the house we are in now, but ironically stuck inside a lot of the time because going out sets off the anxiety, and I find ways to avoid going out unless absolutely necessary. Shopping deliveries have been a ‘life-saver’ in that regard.

    But I am on the mend, hopefully, and trying to make sure that I do step out as much as I can.

    So far this year the weather has been pretty horrendously un-outviting (humour me!) But since today was a little brighter, I girded my loins and got myself out… To the supermarket. Morrison’s in fact. By car. Not my favourite place, for sure. (And no pictures, obviously) But I did it.

    One of these days – perhaps in the summer, I will actually start walking to places from home again but, for now, going by car and not having a panic attack inside was a small achievement.

    So, yes, I do hope that my next outing will be more fun and joyful than a supermarket!

    And it will be really great if you can forgive me for the boring blog without pictures so far, and help me with encouragement and accountability to keep trying 🙂

     
    • Emma 8:33 am on January 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      It amazes me what landlords can get away with. When I was pregnant we asked our landlady if we would be able to stay in the house we were then renting long term. She said yes. Two days before my daughter was born we got 60 days notice she wanted the house back (as with you, not our fault, she just wanted to live in it herself). It’s criminal, if you rent you have very few rights and little security 😦

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  • Mrs Chakotay 2:33 am on January 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: agoraphobia,   

    Did I mention… 

    …Did I mention that I suffer from agoraphobia?

    I don’t know what I was thinking, setting myself the challenge of blogging the favourite new places I find!

    I haven’t actually left the house yet other than for absolute necessity, since New Year!

     
    • neverforsaken1 2:19 pm on January 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I know what you mean…I often find myself asking myself that same question: What was I thinking!” It seems like so many others who have agoraphobia and other anxiety conditions have no problems writing about it online for anyone to read. It takes me weeks or months to make a blog entry, and I seldom comment. I start to panic so much whenever I even think about it. But I have a goal to get back into writing a blog again. I hope you can find the courage to continue on as well..I do leave the house (with my husband) once or twice a week, and I take my camera along.It is not easy, so that must mean its worth it!
      God bless~ Lisa

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      • lillbjorne 3:49 pm on January 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thank-you! I am actually a lot better than I was. It’s the second time in my life that I have suffered from agoraphobia – the first time was as a teenager; this time it was as a result of the stress of being evicted. 😦 On the mend hopefully. Small steps 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • neverforsaken1 2:22 pm on January 19, 2016 Permalink

          So glad to hear you are on the mend…life is so short, and I’m guessing you’re quite younger than I am, so you have so much ahead of you…Keep fighting the agora and you will learn new coping skills…I did when my daughters were young I was able to function and even work at a job for several years. My panic did not get too bad until after I retired (medical retirement), and then when I went through cancer I developed PTSD afterward, which aggravated the panic/agora. I ended up in the ER physically unable to move or feel my body for a few hours. Now I am scared to go anywhere alone since that is when it happened when I went to church alone one Sunday morning.
          So, it can get worse like a domino affect if it gets a foothold on you.
          God bless~ Lisa

          Like

        • lillbjorne 2:36 pm on January 19, 2016 Permalink

          Thanks 🙂 I’m in my 40s. I have had a spot of PTSD before myself, and yes I know how one thing can come on another and overwhelm you. I did manage to get out to church this Sunday, but didn’t manage to speak to anybody! (That’s a whole different level!) 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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