Friday, 22 February 2008

The New Dog

Collette & her fiancé Neil have just got a new dog. It's a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. She's called Dee and is 10 weeks old.

Click on the pictures if you want to see her up close.

The children were enthralled by the puppy.

Marie, who has been pleading for a dog since Collette took her Border Collie away with her, renewed her pleas. I've had dogs since I was 16 and I don't miss the
cleaning, feeding, grooming, walking, toilet breaks and expensive vet bills that dog ownership entails. However, I've told Marie that she can have any dog she wants (and her present favourite is an Irish Red Setter) as soon as she can walk it herself. I'm not being hard on her, am I?

Monday, 18 February 2008

The Sensitive Son and Agoraphobia

My son Joseph is 6½. Blue is his favourite colour - hence the colour of the type in this post. In this blog, there is a lot about how agoraphobia affects Marie (of course) and, by association, me. There isn't so much about how Marie's agoraphobia impacts on our children - particularly Joseph. So this is a little anecdote about him.

The weather being like a sunny spring day, albeit a little cold, Marie decided that she wanted to go out to the countryside. The children - particularly Joseph - were very enthusiastic about this idea. Now I knew that Marie wasn't going to venture more than a few metres away from the car, so I said to Joseph, "You know that your mum won't be able to go on a walk like we do when we're on our own. She'll have to stay close to the car and we won't be able to walk out of her eyesight. I don't want to hear you complaining about this and spoiling your mum's enjoyment of her trip." "Ok, dad," he replied and soon we were on our way.

About 30 minutes later, we arrived at our destination - a beautiful area of the Quantock Hills in Somerset above the hamlet of Triscombe.

Marie had suggested to the kids that they collect leaves, and later she would help them make them into a work of art (using paper, glue and paint). This kept them occupied for a while and then they started climbing (up banks, for Orla and up trees, for Joseph). They found a small pool and threw stones in it. Marie moved about in her safe area - an oval whose perimeter was about 4m from the car - admiring the beauty of the location and the views afforded by our elevated position, receiving leaves and taking photos. In this way, we spent a very pleasant hour or so.

Joseph was true to his word. He didn't once complain, even when he was told, on several occasions, not to go any further away. Then he surpassed himself. On the way home, he said to Marie, "Mum, I had a really good time out with you." This remark, designed to make his mum feel good about our trip had its desired effect. Marie was really pleased.

Now, isn't that a sensitive son?

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Agoraphobic Valentines Day

Valentines Day was celebrated in different ways by my older daughters and their respective partners.

One couple gave and received gifts, cards, flowers and went to the cinema. (They are supposed to be "broke" - one wonders what extravagances they would get up to if they were well off...)

One couple exchanged cards and went out for a meal.

One couple exchanged cards and went out to a Valentines Day supper dance.

One couple (also "broke") gave cards and celebrated Valentines Day at home.

My son Colm and his "girlfriend" (very loose definition of the word) exchanged cards and a couple of nights later had a night out bowling followed by a meal in the nearby pizza restaurant. (Since both of them have learning difficulties, they had to have a responsible person to keep an eye on them. That person was me.)

Marie and I had the agoraphobic Valentines Day celebration. No romantic meal with the table close to the door, the car parked directly outside and the constant checking of the mobile phones to make sure that they still have reception... No; I got her flowers this year, and we stayed in (so there was no anxiety). After the children went to bed, we turned down the lights and enjoyed some delicious Indian snack food, delicious beverages which Marie organised earlier, a tub of Hagen Dazs and two spoons, and a romantic movie. All this led to some cuddles and... ... ...

Our Valentines Day was not adversely affected by agoraphobia!

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Sunday Outings

Spring has arrived here! Wall to wall sunshine for the last two days and more forecast. The daffodils are flowering - below, the daffodils at Joseph's school. (Do all little boys look this untidy?)

All this spring weather makes us want to get outdoors and catch a few rays. Marie decided to go out in her car and socialise. By herself. She continues to build on her recent progress. The rest of us decided to go for an energetic walk for a few hours up the hills near my home. Quite a lot of the family were here today - three of my grown-up daughters, one future son-in-law and three grandchildren. Below are my big girls (left to right, Colleen, Collette & Carla) - never separated from their mobile phones!

Once we had got down from the hills, I took the children to the beach while the others had a pre-dinner rest. As the sun began to set, we had a very picturesque skyscape to admire. Below Joseph, Orla and grandson Reece are enjoying running around on the beach.

It was a smashing day. We are so fortunate to have such a variety of beautiful landscapes surrounding us. As usual I was wishing that Marie could have been with us. But then, if she continues to progress, that might be happening in the not-too-distant future...

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Agoraphobia & Depression (1)

Marie had a really good weekend, and so did I.

I went to Weymouth very late on Friday night – after completing necessary domestic chores - to Marie's parents' house. She was waiting for me & rushed out to the car to greet me. Not having seen her for a couple of weeks, I was briefly, pleasurably amazed by how attractive she is. We put the children to bed (they were fast asleep and only woke up briefly during the transfer from car to bed & cot), after which Marie & I settled down to some quality time on our own…..

Last week, Marie contacted Emma Roberts to arrange some EFT sessions. Emma, currently fully occupied with other clients, referred her to one of her associates, Jane Bennett. It turned out that this lady is also a counsellor and CBT therapist, and combines all three the disciplines as appropriate. Marie has had two telephone sessions with her and feels that they have been worthwhile. She’s determined to follow this lady’s suggestions and do her “homework”. Homework is not Marie’s strong suit, so this is an advance all by itself. The most important development, however, is Marie’s optimism – her hope, bordering on expectation, that things are going to get better. Long may it last!

During the weekend, Marie was keen to show me to what extent she had progressed in her fight against agoraphobia. We went to some large shops where Marie was able to walk about 15m to the entrance and explore the area around the entrance while I did some shopping. This might sound almost insignificant to some, but for Marie it’s a major achievement. Earlier this week, she walked 25m to her car – on her own. Again, a big achievement for her.

Marie’s home with the children and me. My stint as a single parent has passed. The kids are very pleased to have her back – especially Orla. And so am I. The depression has vanished. I hoping that life won’t return to normal…I want it to become better than normal.