Agoraphobic Moving Across State Lines?!

This post is long overdue.

I made it to Oregon a few days before the start of February! I’m so happy and proud of myself.

For a few weeks leading up to going, I had been seeing my exposure therapist several times a week. We started driving in circles on the on and off ramp over and over. Then I would drive on the freeway to the next exit, and back to the exit by my house. Over and over. Then I was able to make it two exits down the freeway…

The night we left I was having more anxiety than normal, so I took some Xanax. I was really tired, and started feeling pretty loopy from the  Xanax. I felt comfortable that I would probably pass out in the car, so I told Rex to just start driving. We loaded the baby, the cat, the dog, and grabbed what we could. My dad had flown out from Nebraska to help us move, and to help my mom. He told us not to worry about anything, he’d pack the house, and if I was feeling capable of going, then to go.

We must have left at two or three in the morning.

I was pretty nervous a lot of the beginning of the drive, but once we made it over Highway 17 (a long winding road through the forest that goes over a big hill, and you come out on the other side in San Jose), I felt better. I felt like I’d made a big escape. I was so happy to leave the bay area.

We listened to the audiobook Ready Player One (by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton) the whole drive.

I went in and out of sleep the whole time. I woke up a few times and caught glimpses of snow, forests, mountains, and lakes.

When we got to Oregon it felt like a dream. I had spent over a year dreaming of being out of the house I was so afraid to leave. Dreaming of moving somewhere that wasn’t so congested, full of crime, and expensive. We had wanted to move out for so long, but that was impossible (Check out this article about how it’s the third most expensive place to live in the nation).

But we did it! Even though I was battling agoraphobia, and even though there was a time I was so housebound I wondered if I would ever be able to leave the house, I moved to a different state and I couldn’t be more overjoyed.

Since it’s been over a month since we’ve been here, I’ve definitely noticed my anxiety is a lot better. It helps that there’s not crazy traffic. It helps that I’m not afraid here. Every time we hear news from Santa Cruz, it’s terrible. Rex’s friend got stabbed twice in the back last week. Dirty needles washing up on the beach. Shootings happening in the parking lot of my favorite bookstore. Ugh. I just keep thinking, what if we had gone with our baby to check out books, and BAM stray bullet? It feels so much better to be here, where I feel like I can go out and be safe. That’s definitely helped with my anxiety a lot.

My anxiety hasn’t completely gone away, but I’ve found it’s a million times more manageable here. I still get anxious if I start getting too far from our new house, but that’s only when we try to leave our town to go to different surrounding towns. I feel fine anywhere within our town, which is a far cry from not being able to go around the block.

My best friend is here, and it’s amazing to be raising our babies together. We even went and saw a play together last night! I was initially nervous about going to a play and having to sit through the whole thing, and that came up a few times during the play, but I breathed through it and found myself just letting myself enjoy the play and forgetting to worry.

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Horribly groggy. Snapped a selfie at a random rest stop on our way up to Oregon. 

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Rex and I outside our new house. We got really excited because it was snowing. Silly Californians.

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My first post-partum corset. Getting back into waist training and it feels amazing. I’m not a 22″ waist anymore but, you know, I’ll get there.

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My adorable baby! She’s almost five months old now!!!

Thank you for reading, and for sharing this journey with me. It’s been hard to write with so much going on, and still adjusting to motherhood… but this blog, and the people whose blogs I read, and those who comment, just mean the world to me. It’s a long journey, and I’m still going through it.

❤ Chloe

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Not stopping, starting Zoloft.

I made it to another appointment! It was fine. Again, surge of adrenaline beforehand, but pushed through and didn’t panic.

I’ve been really wanting to start freeway driving, and I don’t know what’s been holding me back. The rain? I don’t know.

I’ve been visualizing driving on the freeway every day.

Yesterday I had an anxiety attack (not a panic attack, I differentiate hugely between the two). I’m not sure why, but I looked in the mirror and thought, “I’ve felt better than this, and I’ve felt way worse. And I’ll feel better again, this won’t last forever.” Somehow that seemed to make me feel a lot better.

I started taking Zoloft today. I’m kind of nervous about it. I feel like it’s such a critical time for me to do well right now. I want to get up to Oregon by the beginning of February, and I’ve been on a good upward swing, and my head has been racing about whether or not it’s a good idea to introduce anything new into my system, in case it sabotages my progress… But then there’s a chance that it could be that extra boost that I need to make progress even faster.

My housing situation is not looking good here. There’s a chance of eviction, the energy is heavy, the city keeps coming around for inspections, the landlord wants to overhaul the place, and there is no affordable housing in the area… so I can stay here and let things run their course, or I can take charge and move somewhere that I can be happy, relax, and not have to stress about having a stable place to live.

I really hope that I don’t get a bunch of weird side effects from the Zoloft, and that it will actually help instead of hinder progress. I’ve never been successfully on an SSRI for any amount of time long-term, but of all of the different ones I’ve looked at, it seems to have less side effects than other things.

I’m really grateful that my anxiety has been lessening, and I’m really proud of myself for pushing through, despite how grueling and difficult it has been. I feel like anything life throws at me will be nothing in comparison to having to overcome agoraphobia, and severe panic attacks. Sartre said, “hell is other people.” Sure, but it can also be yourself. I think it’s worse when it’s yourself.

So.. have still been meditating, visualizing, and have also been reading up more on the law of attraction, and the power of “I am” affirmations. Baby girl has been keeping me busy, focused, and grounded.

Also, happy solstice everyone!

 

 

Maybe really moving? What?!

I successfully made it to my daughters doctor appointment yesterday! I still felt a twinge of anxiety and an adrenaline rush leading up to leaving, but I pushed through anyway. I was reflecting a lot on how that adrenaline rush that comes when you’re feeling really anxious about something is incredibly similar to the feeling you get when you’re super excited. I have another post called turning fear into excitement, but it was really helpful to revisit that technique. I was initially nervous, but instead I started thinking of why it was such a good thing, and kind of convinced my mind and body that it wasn’t panic, it was excitement – and transformed my negative feelings into positive ones.

I was talking to my grandma the other day, and she lives in the town I’m hoping to move to. She visited a property that is for rent – three bedrooms with a big back yard! I ended up getting in touch with the woman who owns the property today, and she said that we are the only people interested in it, and basically implied that if we want it it’s ours. It’s also less than a minute from my best friends house!

I want so badly to go, and I’m very seriously considering putting a deposit on the house to hold it, and aim to move by the end of January/beginning of February.

I am feeling pretty optimistic about making this happen, but there’s still a part of me saying, “you were barely able to go outside or down the street a few months ago – do you really think you’ll make it through a several hundred mile drive?”

So, I’m doing my best to quell those fears. I have been driving every day, but I am going to call (or text) my exposure therapist today to try to get some freeway driving in, and start preparing myself to really go. I got a comment on my last post from someone that said, “just start packing like you’re going!” And I think that’s the best and simplest advice. Just start doing the things it’s going to take to really get myself up there, and I’ll get it done.

There are so many things I’m doing on a daily basis that a few months ago would have thrown me into a frenzy of panic and fear, that now feel mundane and like it’s no big deal at all. I was reflecting on this earlier, and it feels really good to sort of sit back and say, “wow, I’ve accomplished a lot. I’m doing things I once feared I would never be able to do again, and now they’re okay.”

I remember sitting with my therapist months ago and telling her, “I just want to be able to go to a grocery store and buy food for myself.” And I felt such a longing for something so simple, to have something so normal feel easy and boring – and I’ve already reached that point. Grocery stores are no problem… so hopefully, I can do the same thing with a long distance drive.

Also, I’ve been making more progress on my book! I’ve written around 6,000 words the past few days, and that feels really good. And I’ve got a lot more where that came… and I’m excited to keep working on it!

Also, here is an artist called Pokey LaFarge that my grandma recommended to me, and I’m loving it!

And Rex keeps telling me to revisit this video when I’m feeling hesitant about doing things. It’s kind of effective.

❤ Chloe

 

Writing a book and moving out?

I’ve been getting out of the vault (as Rex calls it, as he’s been playing a lot of Fallout 4). It’s been good! I’ve been hanging out with these guys a lot:

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and today I didn’t just drive to the beach, I finally got my feet in the sand!

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I’ve recently discovered the fun of taking panoramic pictures.

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Things are going well. I’ve started working on my book again (that I stalled around the time I found out I was pregnant). It’s really nice to write about something other than myself. It’s therapeutic. Also, I love writing. I love weaving together stories and creating worlds. I recently decided that I wanted to put everything I’ve got into finally finishing a novel… and I have also decided that I’m going to self publish it after it’s done. I feel like I should probably have a blog and a twitter and stuff dedicated to this, but I’m kind of lost right now with it. I have this blog, and I love this blog, but it mostly revolves around my struggles and successes with mental illness – and as much as I don’t care who knows of my struggle, I feel like it’s not the best platform to promote a young adult novel. If anyone has any experience with publishing a book and having an authors blog, or know of any good blogs to read up on the subject, I would appreciate you commenting on it so much! Thanks in advance ❤

I’ve also been really wanting to move. I want to move out of state. I’ve been driving every day, but I still haven’t made it to the freeway. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but California is EXPENSIVE. I mean, damn. To move out, we’re looking at $2600++++ for a two bedroom house that may or may not be falling apart, that is probably in a sketchy area, or has a slew of other problems. It’s kind of unbelievable how much it costs to live here. I really want to move to Oregon, but the only thing holding me back is my fear of making the drive there. If anyone has any advice on this (moving an agoraphobic), I would be extremely grateful.

Rex and I went out dancing Sunday night which was a lot of fun! I had been feeling in kind of a funk for the two days prior, but my spirits were lifted a lot by getting out and having some adult time and fun.

Other than that, I’ve been focused and excited about working on my book. Hoping to figure out how to better proceed with establishing an online presence before it’s finished though!

❤ Chloe

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.

Red tagging an agoraphobics house?

 I’m currently waiting to hear back from the city on whether or not they are red tagging my house. As in, deeming it unfit for habitation and giving me zero notice to leave. By zero notice, it would mean I couldn’t stay in my house tonight. 

 
They red tagged the unit below me last week. There was carbon monoxide leaking into the house every time the hot water was turned on. 

Also, it turns out that panic/anxiety/obsessive thinking are side effects of carbon monoxide. Great. 

They turned off the hot water, so I’ve been out of that for the past week+. 

This also explains why I may or may not have at one point thought there was a ghost in the bathroom every time I would try to shower… Carbon monoxide leaking straight into the bathroom when the hot water was turned on, and not a ghost!

Anyway, I’m trying to stay calm and not panic. It just feels like the most ironic thing ever. 

Rex referred to it as an obstacle in the heroes journey. I feel like I’ve been through enough of that. I mean – shit. Fuck this. I don’t want to be forced to leave my home at a moments notice and go stay in a hotel. 

I gave my exposure therapist a heads up that this is happening, and she said if need be she would help me get to a hotel, so that is good. 

Also, I had an awesome outing with my exposure therapist yesterday. I even made it to a kids toy store and bought a wooden magnetic rocket ship :).

Anyway, here’s to hopping I don’t have to relocate in the next 24 hours!

I can’t wrap my brain around knowing over 1,000 people in person, and remembering things about every single one of them.

I don’t understand how some people have such booming social lives, or how people can know so many people. I’ve always been the type of person who has 1-3 good friends at a time. Quality over quantity, you know?

I was thinking about that today, and then I started thinking about Rex (my boyfriend). We’re kind of complete opposites in a lot of ways. For instance, I’m kind of a computer/internet geek who has been making internet friends for over ten years and is incredibly introverted.

I don’t think Rex has a single internet friend. Yet, he has over 1,000 Facebook friends. And he knows them all in real life.

I literally cannot wrap my brain around this concept.

Not only does he have over 1,000 Facebook friends, but I’d be willing to bet you could point to any one of them (not exaggerating here), and he’d be like “oh yeah, that’s so and so’s brothers ex girlfriends sisters fiance’s step-cousin who works at this place downtown, who I met at this one party, and so-and-so introduced me, and then we talked about [insert a band or something], and they have really great stories about interacting with giraffes while wearing protective goggles.” I don’t know, just weird ass connections and random facts about everyone.

I imagine that every time he does this (go into excruciatingly specific detail about people he knows), my eyes gloss over and a little drool drips out of my mouth as I sit in a sort of bewildered stupor, wondering how the hell anyone can, a) know that many people, b) remember that much stuff about someone you met a handful of times.

I mean, I’m agoraphobic. This blog mostly deals with me being agoraphobic/anxious as hell, and trying to go places. Every time we go somewhere, he will inevitably run into someone (or lots) of people he knows. Dude, like how? How is that even possible?

I think maybe he is curious as to how I know so few people? Because, if you’re used to knowing so many people, it might be weird to think about not knowing a ton of people. Like how I think it’s so freaking weird that he knows every single person ever. And he has a person for everything. Car broken down? He has several car connections that will just come help him out, and several locksmiths. I mean, I’d be willing to bet he knows someone in any given profession that is useful (except a vacuum repair man. What the hell, Rex? It’s okay, we got our vacuum fixed anyway, thanks mom!). So, not every profession, but a lot. EDIT: after posting this, he has informed me that he has known vacuum repair people in the past. Of course he has. He also has informed me that you probably don’t want to know vacuum repair people because they are predominantly tweakers. Duly noted.

Anyway, it’s like 4:30 in the morning and I’m up in bed, less than two weeks from my due date, and everything is uncomfortable and hot and itchy and achey and stupid and bloated, and I was spacing out thinking about how weird it is to know so many damned people. And I was going on a rant in my own brain about it, and decided to rant about it via keyboard for you, wonderful, beautiful reader.

Also, I have been making progress with exposure therapy and driving… except that I’m so freaking pregnant, and I feel huge and nauseous and bloated, and it’s really hot every day, and everything feels like it’s way harder than it should be. As Rex keeps telling me, “you’re playing life on hard mode right now.”

But. I have been making it to more places, and I’ve gone places that I have been unable to reach up until this point.

Like this park.

I have selfies of me at the park, but I'm feeling too self conscious about myself lately. So enjoy this bench and a vague view of the ocean.

I have selfies of me at the park, but I’m feeling too self conscious about myself lately. So enjoy this bench and a vague view of the ocean.

Okay fine, here's me and Rex at the park. I feel so bloated.

Okay fine, here’s me and Rex at the park. I feel so bloated. I keep feeling self-conscious that my face is gaining weight, but I’ll just need to get over it and be sassy and awesome and own my shit. 

Okay, here's a selfie of me driving. In the car. Outside. Sweet.

And here’s a selfie of me driving. In the car. Outside. Sweet. 9+ months pregnant.

Oh, and I finally confronted the light that has been the bane of my existence for the past six months or so. And it wasn’t a huge deal. And I went to Walgreens. And they were selling a ton of Nightmare Before Christmas stuff, and I went crazy and probably spent too much money on halloween stuff, but I figure it’s been one of my goals to make it there for 6+ months, so it’s okay and I shouldn’t feel bad about it.

And red lights have been getting easier. And some other stuff too. And I’m thinking that maybe this anxiety stuff will keep getting better. I hope it keeps getting better. I think it will.

I leave you with a song by one of my favorite people. I could probably rant a lot about Erik Peterson (Mischief Brew), but It’s getting closer and closer to 5 AM, so maybe I’ll save my rantiness about him for another day. In the meantime, enjoy, and thank you for reading ❤

Also, I’m just posting this without reading anything back. Here’s to hoping I’m good enough at writing to avoid bad spelling and grammar.