I’m finally doing the things!

I’ve been doing the things and it’s been great! By “the things,” I mean I’ve been going out of the house daily and doing various things.

I stayed in a hotel for five days. My house did get red-tagged, but got un-red-tagged.

I have gone lots of places and done lots of things – more than I have in the past year combined. It’s a breath of fresh air from not leaving the house at all, and driving around the block over and over again, or not being able to drive around the block at all.

I made it to a doctors appointment with no anxiety. I went to a museum and a marine sanctuary. I’ve gone shopping at a lot of different places.

And I met one of my favorite authors, Jenny Lawson!

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I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on how it felt for so long as though I’d never be able to leave the house again without getting a panic attack.

And it was always the little things I would hyper-focus on.

Things like, “I miss grocery shopping,” or, “I feel like I’ll never be able to get a Starbucks again.”

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And those things felt so big and huge and unattainable.

And the more I’ve gone out and done things, the more I feel like everything else keeps getting easier.

I started small – going the the library by the house, the grocery store by the house, a local coffee shop… and then branching out from there. Allowing myself to take my time. And the less pressure I put on myself, the less the anxiety was there and the more I was able to do.

I finally feel like I can really beat this stuff, or at least manage it to the point where it’s not all-consuming. I know that anxiety will probably be something I’ll have to manage for the rest of my life. But that’s okay, as long as it doesn’t completely overrun and consume my life.

There are still a lot of things that I want to do, and things I don’t feel quite up to yet, but I feel like I’m getting closer to those things every day (like drive on the freeway, and move out of the state). Those things felt so unattainable just a few months ago, but now I feel as though it’s possible for me to be up to them in a week or a month, or maybe tomorrow if I’m feeling good enough.

As soon as getting around the block became totally normal and not panic-inducing, it felt like the rest of the world started opening up even more.

I’ve certainly gotten twinges of anxiety here and there, and sometimes I’ve set out to do something and said, “hm, maybe I need to stop pushing myself for now and come back to that later.” And that’s okay. But I haven’t gotten a panic attack, and that’s freaking awesome!

I’m finally feeling like despite having panic disorder, maybe I won’t be agoraphobic forever. Maybe I can really do this thing.

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So, I’m excited for the future, and finally feeling in a good place. Motherhood has been really good for me, and Rex has shown to be an amazing father! And we just had our anniversary yesterday!

It’s been difficult to find time to blog lately what with being a new parent and spending a lot of time being out and about… but I fully intend to keep up with this blog (hopefully more regularly in the coming weeks).

I feel very determined to be successful in getting past all the things that have held me back for so long. All the fears and phobias and future-tripping (aka “what if this or that happens?”).

And if you’re struggling, just know that there is light for you as well. I know that when I was in the middle of the worst of everything, it made me feel better to read about people who had been through similar things and pulled themselves out of it, because it gave me hope that maybe I could do the same thing… but often I’d be hard pressed to find an agoraphobia recovery story that wasn’t one of the same three or five ones that showed up on google, and instead would end up finding awful stories.

I think that a lot of people who have gone through hell and come out on the other side have a hard time going back to that place to share about it. I know that for me, sometimes it’s hard to talk about or even think about how bad things were, how hopeless everything has felt, because part of me feels like if I allow myself to go there it will all come crashing back. So maybe it’s easier to write about the bad stuff when you’re in it, and then not want to re-visit, or acknowledge how bad things were later when you’re doing better. I don’t know. I guess I just feel like it’s important to talk about all the good stuff that happens when you start to emerge on the other side of mental illness, because when you’re in it sometimes it feels like no one else has ever made it out, and it makes you feel like you never will.

Not that everything has been easy – after staying at the hotel, and returning to my apartment, I felt like I had walked into a time-capsule of my sadness. I looked around and just thought, “wow, I barely left this place for an entire year. How did I even do that?” And I felt so overwhelmed, and almost let myself go into a really bad place… It took a lot of work to pull myself out of it. A big part of me wants to move and start fresh somewhere else. And I’m really working towards that, but for now I’m going to have to make do with where I am, and show myself that no matter where I am I will be okay, even if where I am is somewhere that I was really not okay for a long time.

As always, thank you for reading ❤ you are wonderful.

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More progress with exposure therapy! And rock ‘n roll baby time!

I’m feeling really good about today. I had an hour long drive with my exposure therapist at two today, and it went well. We even stopped for smoothies, and she said I’d driven farther than I have the whole time she’s been seeing me.

After she left, Rex asked if I wanted to keep driving, and I did. I drove even farther. I went to the post office! And bought stamps. And it was kind of boring! Yay! I get way too excited about things being relatively boring, which I guess makes them not as boring, really. But, boring is good. Mundane is good. Panic is not good. So anything that’s not panicky or anxious is good in my book.

I bought two sheets of forever stamps so I can mail out some thank you cards to people from the baby shower. That felt awesome.

After that, I wanted to keep driving, so I did. I drove even further again, and ended up making it to Rite Aid and shopping for things for my hospital bag. I got socks, mascara, travel tooth brushes, travel shampoo/conditioner and things like that. And it felt totally normal. The fact that it felt relatively normal was almost overwhelming, because I haven’t felt able to do normal things in what feels like so long. The more I do things, the more I feel like there’s actually hope that I can be a fully functioning human being, out in the world doing normal things, and not a total shut-in who can’t leave her house for months/years on end. Phew. That’s relieving as hell.

I’m still feeling nervous about making it to appointments, but not as much as I have been. It seems easier. I realize that the worst part is the anticipation. Like, there were so many times today where I would see a street up ahead with a light and be thinking, “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, what if I get stuck, what if I suddenly faint or black out, what if I go blind, what if I lose my shit and just can’t….. oh, okay, it’s already over, cool. That was actually kind of easy. Nice.”

Also, the crib, car seat and stroller arrived in the mail today. I ordered them a few days ago, and am really excited to start setting up everything before baby gets here.

I finally picked out a crib bedding set, and it’s inspired me to do a rock ‘n roll theme in babies room.

This is the crib set I ended up picking out! Also the crib in the photo looks exactly like the one I ended up getting. I can't wait to get it all set up!

This is the crib set I ended up picking out! Also the crib in the photo looks exactly like the one I ended up getting. I can’t wait to get it all set up!

I was thinking about decorating with images of strong/bad ass women in rock… Joan Jett, Debbie Harry, Siouxsie Sioux, Patti Smith, Stevie Nicks etc. And maybe some Bowie. I was thinking it could also be a really fun DIY project to make artwork and stuff, without having to spend a bunch of money on premade decorations. It’s a pretty unique theme at least. I’ll keep you guys posted on it.

And speaking of badass women in rock, I give you Suzi Quatro. 

and one more…

Transforming Fear into Excitement

During the past seven months I’ve been plagued with the fact that I need to get to doctors appointments because I’m pregnant.

Don’t get me wrong – the pregnancy has certainly been no walk in the park (well maybe, because walking in the park up until recently terrified me, so maybe that is an accurate description after all?), but I am not unhappy to be pregnant. I’m actually looking forward to being a mother so much. And I know that I will be a great one. Oddly, that has never been my fear. I’ve always known I wanted kids, and I’ve always loved kids. I love watching other peoples kids, and I know it will be hard as hell, but I also know it will be possibly the greatest thing I’ll ever do.
I’m saying this all wrong.
What I’m trying to say is this: I’ve spent months with these appointments looming over my head in complete and utter panic about having to physically get myself to my appointments. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to appointments. I did. I wanted so badly to go, because I want to make sure everything is going well, and I want to be responsible and a good mother. However, my intense fear of leaving the house, coupled with even more fear about being in the car, led me to totally lose my shit every time I had one of these appointments coming up.
My first “appointment” was horrible, and it was really just a pee test. I mean, I was fine when I got there, but the drive itself was awful. I spent the whole ride closing my eyes, burrowed into Rex in the back seat, crying, and trying to ignore the fact that it felt like dementors were swooping and swarming around the car trying to get me.
I kept cancelling appointments and rescheduling. After about a month and a half into my pregnancy, we tried to take me to the emergency room in the middle of the night, because the theory was that I might fare better when no one was on the road.
It didn’t quite work out, and instead we spent several hours getting into the car, driving a block or two, only to have me panic and beg to turn the car around.
When I finally made it to my first real appointment, I ended up signing a paper that said “just take me against my will no matter how much I freak out.”
This was scary, but here’s the thing… I would be hellbent on going, and I didn’t want anything to go wrong… up until the point I got in the car. It was like I turned into a different person once that primal fear kicked in, and I felt like I was fighting for my life. When I’m not having a panic attack, I’m a total rational and capable human being. I did make it to that appointment, and I’m so glad I did.
The last appointment I went to was the best. I did a meditation, and then just got in the car and we drove. And I was fine. And I enjoyed it! I enjoyed seeing how my town had changed. Like, damn, they put up a new grocery store three blocks from my house. It’s been there for six months? Damn. I’d never seen it.
When we made it to the appointment I was practically beaming.
I snapped this in the doctors office. I was so happy, and so proud of myself. This was the moment I finally felt like I could do anything. Like I could get anywhere I needed to go without turning into a panicked mess.

I snapped this in the doctors office. I was so happy, and so proud of myself. This was the moment I finally felt like I could do anything. Like I could get anywhere I needed to go without turning into a panicked mess.

I’m writing this because I just got a phone call that a few months ago would strike fear into my heart.

The dreaded automated appointment reminder phone call.

But this time, I was overfilled with excitement and joy, because it’s an appointment for a 3D ultrasound.

And I absolutely can’t wait, and I couldn’t be happier.

I missed several 3D Ultrasound appointments that I felt so guilty about. When I would miss an appointment, I would cry and sulk for days, feeling like a total screw up, hating myself, and feeling utterly rejected and ultimately extremely guilty.

But now I know that I will without a doubt make it to this one, and I’m finally able to enjoy how exciting it is.

Music has helped me in so many ways throughout all of this. There’s one song that I would play in the car when trying to get to appointments. It has this line in it.

“When you feel like you’re going through hell, keep going.”

I would repeat it like a mantra. Keep going. And I kept going, and I’m so excited to be able to see what it’s like on the other side.

Also, here’s that song:

Made it to the beach, and nothing bad happened!

Rex had been up all night playing video games, so he was pretty tired. He's a trooper for going with me at 9 AM anyway!

Rex had been up all night playing video games, so he was pretty tired. He’s a trooper for going with me at 9 AM anyway!

Today I drove myself to the beach!

This is a huge milestone for me, seeing as I only recently was able to conquer driving around the block comfortably.

Okay, so I live really close to the beach. It’s like a five minute drive. But it still involves going through two traffic lights (I get especially panicky at traffic lights), and gazing at a wide open space (another thing that can set off anxiety for me).

Last week I drove to where I could see the harbor. I wanted to be able to drive to the beach, and it has been one of my biggest goals for months. A month ago, driving and just looking at the beach seemed impossible – but today I did it. I also managed to pick up a latte on my way there! And Rex came along for support, and it was lovely.

I didn’t stay for very long, and I didn’t actually set foot on the beach, but I know that I will soon.