Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Agoraphobia & Anxiety get even worse...

My blogging hiatus is over. For the moment at least :) Free time, always a precious commodity, has become very scarce. Looking after an agoraphobic wife, my immediate family and business, while also attending to my wider family when required, has exhausted my free time and most of my energy...

For Marie, things have gone from worse to worse.

She is almost housebound. Her only escape is by car and she is even becoming anxious about going out that way. Gone are the days of driving trips to the shops/scool/friends' houses. No more visits to shops or any unfamiliar address. She is constantly in a state of anxiety. Not only is she regularly irritable with me, but also with the children (particularly Orla), who cannot understand what is going on. I have had to increase my parenting time and duties, which has caused me to pay less attention to my business.

Despite the inappropriateness of the timing and with only a minimal effort on my part, my business has been expanding. While in strictly financial terms this is good, in logistical terms it is an unwelcome extra burden.

At the end of May, the children and I spent a quite enjoyable week in Ireland, visiting Jenna, the only one of my children that doesn't live near me. Here is Joseph in front of her house.
Jenna now lives in a typical sprawling urban housing estate (with all the inherent problems of this type of area). In social terms it's a retrograde move, but now that she has much more contact with her mother she seems happier and that's all that really matters.

Orla and Elisha (my grand-daughter, 13 days younger than Orla) enjoyed each others' company.

They are both "Dora The Explorer" fans, and here they are sleeping with their "Dora's" in "Dora" night-clothes.

We went out as much as we could and the children had a terrific time. The highlight of our trip was a visit to Marble Arch cave complex.

The weather was wall-to-wall sunshine, while back in the southwest England cloudbursts and other extreme weather conditions were prevalent - this was the (very welcome!) opposite to the norm.

Marie went to her parents' house where she (she told me) she had an "okay" time. She seemed glad to return home. Anticipatory anxiety (about my impending trip to Ireland) was no longer a viable reason for her heightened anxiety and no substitute reason was offered. It's a mystery.

Optimism is waning. Does it show?


The Fabulous SarahC♥ said...

I am sooo happy to see you writing again, i think i can speak for most - you HAVE been missed :)

Sorry that Marie is not doing so well right now. Was there anything that sparked this latest decline in her agoraphobia?


Aff said...

Oh dear :-(

I - and I daresay a fair few others - have been checking daily for some sort of update, hoping for positive news.

Sorry to hear that things aren't going well for you or Marie. It seemed to be getting better for a while.

Chin up, we're all here hoping it improves. Just glad you've posted to let us know that you're 'okay' - well, as okay as you can be given the circumstances.

Coffeecup said...

Thank Heavens you're back! You have been missed, folks have been asking about you, worried, but assuming the best. 'No news is good news', 'don't go pestering', 'he'll be too busy to reply', such thoughts and others have crossed my mind. Damn! How foolish!

I'm sorry to hear that Marie is in a dip at the moment. Anxiety is peaks and troughs, and she will surely find her way back up as has been the case in the past. Perhaps the trip was sufficient to bring about negative assumptions and fears for Marie, which has triggered the current loss of confidence. You both must feel terribly frustrated!

Good news that you're 'expanding'! Stresses do happen in hoards don't they? Happy to learn the family are doing well, and that you're okay-ish under the circumstances.

P.S. Aren't the girls so gorgeous and cute together!?

Big hugs to you both.....X

rosiero said...

Sorry to hear things are not good at the moment. It must be so difficult for you trying to cope with an expanding business and with the problems at home too. And, yes, your mood does sound low. I feel for you. But things can improve. Maria has to take that first step towards getting professional help. Does she want to let the agoraphobia beat her or the other way round? It is after all a state of mind, not a physical threat. She has to see that she can overcome the state of mind purely by reprogramming her thoughts and reactions. Obviously getting the anxiety levels down will help that. So she needs to seek a psychiatrist or counsellor who can help her control breathing, relax, control the anxiety. That will then lead to being put in situations she is uncomfortable with, but on a small level until she can build up to face the bigger fears. If she thinks this is a lot of mumbo-jumbo, tell her I got better and I once never thought I would.

Maximum said...

Hi Robert,

Although sorry to hear that things are complicated just now, I'm glad you've given time to blogging again. Like others have said, you've been missed and many people have been concerned and worried - myself included. I hope Marie's bad spell doesn't continue too much longer, you do sound drained.

On the brighter side Orla and Elisha look so much fun - my daughter is a big Dora fan too. Look out for the stage show - not for the faint hearted!


tashi said...

Hi Robert, great to see your smilin face online again. OK, sounds like you're not actually smilin just now. This will hopefully prove a passing phase, eh.

Hi Marie, tashi is 'almost housebound' at the moment too. Well, not 'almost' .. more like 'completely' ... hasn't been off the farm in over a month. He's ok with the isolation though, given that its a bitterly cold drought afflicted winter in this part of australia just now.

And he has lots of indoors projects to keep him busy and absorb his nervous energies, so he's a housebound agoraphobic but a fairly happy and productive one at the moment. Occupational therapy, mmmm, can't beat it!

All the best to you guys.

Rachael Hale said...

Good to see your back Robert.
Sorry to hear about marie though, i really hope things improve soon and im sure they will do eventully.

rosiero said...

I have been having more thoughts about you and Maria. Obviously the easy option is to do nothing and let the agoraphobia take over. It then becomes easy not to do things in the name of agoraphobia. Can't do it, cos of the phobia. Can't go out cos of the phobia. Everyone will understand. Everyone else (you and others in the family) makes excuses for her too, so the acceptance of the agoraphobia extends to a wider group. You all make excuses for her. In that way you reach impasse.

Maria is really the one who has to make the super human effort. But it has to come from her and nobody else. In understanding that the phobia is a state of mind and not something physically wrong with her, she can reprogramme that state of mind. But only if she (and others) refuse to let the agoraphobia win each time.

The first step is to get help in learning how to relax (with better breathing techniques) and reduce the anxiety levels. Once that has been mastered, she can slowly build up to face the things that frighten her. A small step at a time. Maybe the first time she could open the front door and stand there for a minute or two before going back inside. Then the next time step outside the front door. Then the next time take a few steps to the pavement. And so on. Eventually she will be able to stand at a bus stop, then get on a bus and take a return trip to a shopping centre. She can vary the build-up so that she does it with you at her side, then gradually alone. On and on until the challenges get greater and greater. By achieving these milestones, she will be eventually be able to face even greater ones. Who knows she may be able to go to Ireland with you one day. It all starts with the small step of wanting to beat the agoraphobia and agreeing to meet a counsellor who will start the process to recovery. I know it probably seems far-fetched and insurmountable to her now. But as long as she uses the agoraphobia as a prop and her family cushion her with their support for the agoraphobia, she will never recover.

As I said before, I used to do/think the same (though my phobia was different from agoroaphobia). It was having a child and realising that I was missing out on so much and wasting my life that made me want to change. We only have one life – it aint a rehearsal for another one – so it seems an awful waste not to be enjoying it to the full. Also, seeing that my phobia was also affecting my child’s quality of life made me want to change even more. Maybe that is what will give Maria the impetus to start on a process of recovery.

Robert said...

Thank you everyone for your very kind words. I have missed you all!

Marie & I don't know why her condition deteriorated. But one gets used to just about anything in time and learns to cope.

However, Marie is still the loving lovable person she has always been; the children are worth every second of my time spent on them. I still consider myself a lucky man :)

Robert said...

Hi rosiero -

Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I have shown them to Marie in the hope that they will give her some encouragement to try to fight her agoraphobia.