Friday, 24 April 2009

Charles Linden is nice and Robert is nasty

I have a confession to make. I was horrible to Marie. I was not a nice person.

Yes, that's hard to believe, I know. I can hardly believe it myself! angel smileys

Why was I horrible to her? Had she been horrible to me? Lied to me? Spent too much money? Crashed the car?

No, none of those things. In fact she hadn't done anything bad at all. Not even slightly. I was horrible to her just because I was disappointed in her achievements.

Let me explain.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Last Wednesday morning, an apprehensive Marie and I were to be found travelling up the M5 to Kidderminster, home of The Linden Centre. Charles Linden had invited Marie to meet him there. Marie had started loosely following The Linden Method a couple of months ago and soon afterwards she began to change. Agoraphobia was lessening its hold. For more on the history relating to Marie and The Linden Method, please click here.

The Linden Centre was easy to find, and I was able to stop outside right outside the door of the building. So far, so good. There was a panel just inside the door, where one can press a button and chat with a member of The Linden Centre staff. Marie pressed the button.

Hello Marie,” said Charles (how did he know it was Marie? I should have asked him.)

Hello,” said Marie. “I ain't coming upstairs!” And she ran back out to the car.

A couple of moments later, Charles appeared and approached our car. Marie got out to shake his hand. Somehow Charles persuaded Marie to try to get to his office, and I went off to park the car. When I got back to The Linden Centre building, Marie was stuck, halfway up the 2nd flight of stairs, panicking. Charles was talking to her in his gentle, reassuring, DVD voice. Marie managed to move upwards and got to the 1st floor. That's when she discovered that she had another 2 flights of stairs to go!

Somehow Marie managed the rest of the stairs. In his office, Charles chatted with her and soon Marie was quite relaxed. He talked about various aspects of anxiety and about how important a good diet was. After 1¼ hours of pep talk, Marie agreed to accompany Charles on a short walk. I decided to look around Kidderminster and told Marie to call me when she was finished. If you ever find yourself in the Midlands with a couple of hours to spare, DO NOT go sightseeing around Kidderminster (sorry Kidderminster residents). It would have been more fun to have stayed in my car, counting the bricks of The Linden Centre! After 1½ hours of unadulterated boredom, I had had enough and phoned my dear wife. Even a devoted husband has limits on what he can endure for his spouse!

So what had Marie been doing for 1½ hours? She had managed to walk HALF A MILE around Kidderminster's redundant warehouses, and then walked all around a MASSIVE B&Q store. Yes, she had panicked during her excursions, but she was, with Charles' aid, able to come down from her panics and they began to lose their power. She met me in the middle of the huge B&Q car park. We went the rest of the way across the car park to the store. Later, we walked around Kidderminster looking for somewhere nice to eat. We failed (not surprising, really), and had to drive out of town to find a decent pub for a meal.

Appetites sated, we went to (my oldest daughter) Carla's house to pick up our children. Marie was buzzing and wanted to go out for a walk with Carla. They went to a local shop. The trip was almost totally anxiety free. Marie was still buzzing. So much so, that, back home, she found it difficult to get to sleep. She had tasted freedom. Freedom from agoraphobia. The freedom to go where she wanted to. For the first time since I have known her, Marie told me that she believed that she could overcome agoraphobia. All that she could talk about, think about, until sleep arrived, was walking.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Next morning (Thursday), Marie and I went for a short walk with our dog. A 2-minute walk. Marie refused to even try to go further. 1½ hours of walking with Charles Linden. Two minutes with me. I was a little disappointed. It showed.

She wouldn't drive the children to school and nursery. I was upset. I didn't mind showing that.

I took her to the nursery to pick up Orla, and she refused to try to walk 20m (20 yards) to see, for the first time, the inside of our daughter's nursery. She walked 800m (½ mile) with Charles Linden and she wouldn't walk 20m with me??? I was very upset now. And I wanted Marie to know.

When I arrived home after collecting Joseph from school, I discovered that Marie had gone to bed and wouldn't get up. Now I was getting angry. Unpleasant things were said.

I made dinner and afterwards put Orla to bed. Meanwhile Marie went to the shop across the road (in he car) with Joseph. She returned with loads of junk food. The day after she told Charles Linden that she would change to a healthy diet!! By now, I was seething. I became nasty. I was, to my shame, horrible to my wife. And I stayed horrible for the rest of the evening.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

At first on Friday, it looked as though nothing had changed. Marie didn't suggest taking the children to school/nursery, so I did that. When I got back, a cheerful Marie suggested going to town to buy herself a new handbag (purse).

In town, Marie told me to drop her off at the handbag shop while I went off to park the car. Not typical...

In the shop, Marie was wandering around the back of the premises without a care in the world. Unusual...

Then we walked to the car – about 200m (yards) – with no anxiety. Not normal...

And later, at Orla's nursery, while Marie didn't manage to get inside the building, she did walk some of the way there, alone, while I was inside. Progress...

(I nearly forgot – Marie did get a new handbag. It's smaller than her old one. It was easy to find a handbag smaller than the last one - Marie's old handbag was almost the size of a bin bag... The size of her handbag used to be a big problem. Moreover, she began to use the handbag straight away. None of this might seem important, but it is very significant to Marie.)

My cheerful, optimistic, confident Marie was back again. Actually, she was a more cheerful, optimistic and confident Marie. The meeting with Charles Linden was paying dividends. In the afternoon, Marie made an appointment for a smear test. This was something she had previously been too scared to do, . Next she contacted the doctor to ask for occupational therapy. Then she went to the photographer's and got passport photos - now she's planning a trip to France (with me, I hope!). That's progress.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Above - Stogursey castle. Right - Marie in Stogursey church.

Today (Saturday) Marie and the children walked the dog together. It was only a short walk - but a first for Marie. After lunch, Marie, the children and I went to the Somerset village of Stogursey just to have a look around it. Stogursey is best known for its large church (impractically large for the size of the local population) with its Norman period carved arches and its 10th century castle complete with a filled moat and drawbridge. We parked the car in south side of the village and walked to the church at the northern edge, looked around it and walked back to the car. This was a significant moment in our family. It was the 1st family walk! Joseph is nearly 8 and Orla is nearly 4, and neither had been for a walk with their mother before today. Joseph was very impressed (as was I)!

Sorry I was such an a**hole on Thursday, Marie. scuba diving in the UK

The future looks hopeful again!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Charles Linden has shown Marie that escaping agoraphobia is possible, and he has shown her how to do it. If she doesn't get rid of her anxiety now, there will be only one explanation -

She doesn't really want to.

I'll post further about The Linden Method itself - I just have to get paid first! (Only joking!!)


diver said...

'Marie had started loosely following The Linden Method a couple of months ago and soon afterwards she began to change.'----------------------------------------
Like all your readers (no doubt) I've sure been enjoying hearing about Marie's ballistic progress lately ... it's been a great tale! About it's relationship to the LM ... may I venture a coupla questions ... ?
(1) what did you mean by 'loosely' following the Linden Method?
(2) did anything else happen to Marie a 'couple of months ago' that might alternatively explain the beginnings of her reformation?, e.g she changed her medication or she joined a therapeutic network or group, real or virtual?

Just curious :)

Coffeecup said...

Hi Robert, after managing to survive a trip to the hospital with my mum she rang to ask me the following day if I wanted to go shopping and have lunch out as a treat. TREAT my foot! Just because one achievement is made does not make the next attempt any less challanging. However, progress is clearly being made and Marie must be in a bit of a limbo between letting go of her old life and entering into something new and more scary. The road up the mountain is full of pot holes.

Sometimes it takes a kick up the ass to get things done. He perhaps was just reassuring enough as Marie needed somebody objective to tell her that she could, as happened when she drove to Scotland. I would go far myself I know if I had someone to tell me that everything would be okay and not take no for an answer.....

PS. What Diver said about medication. It was the first thing that struck me too. Marie is taking Citalopram isn't she? I have been meaning to ask if it's had any benefit.

PPS. I saw the shoes! Mine aren't nearly as fancy but that's not the point, and yesterday after buying a new handbag, I stayed in tkmaxx for two hours!! Must have realeased a happy hormone in my head lol! Now she's going for a smear too, crikey! Erm, lots of co-incidences. The only thing that I haven't got is a gorgeous patient lovely person like yourself to keep me company and take me places. Don't be hard on yourself Robert, I think it's perfectly natural and understandable to get frustrated at times. Glad your enjoying some good times right now xxx

Madison Rose said...

Were you jealous? would you have been equally upset if Charles Linden were Charlotte Linden? I wouldn't beat yourself up about it -from reading your blog and Marie's, you look after her really well, do a lot for her, and rarely fight (or do you actually beat her with a stick every saturday and not tell us? lol ;))

Seriously though, it's one thing to be a professional, and see a patient once, or once a week, it's quite another to live with somebody, see them every day, help them out with a hundred little (and not so little) things every day, and do it all again the next day, and the next.

It's not surprising that you got upset and said some harsh things, it is amazing how much you do for your family. You may say "of course I look after Marie and the children" but it's still amazing, nonetheless. You know that you're not really a nasty person, don't you? And who discovered and bought the Linden Method in the first place? It do believe it was you :)

rosiero said...

Having had phobias myself, I can understand Marie. It is very much a roller-coaster as to whether you feel confident to do things or not. You tend not to build on your successes but treat each occasion as if it's the first. If something goes well, you tend to think it is a one-off which won't be repeated again.

As someone else said previously, it is also different to achieve something with a "professional", than with someone at home. You have such faith in the professional and believe they hold the key to your recovery. You trust them implicitly. The poor old family member is "only human" and cannot possibly help you.

Try not to take it personally. I suspect Marie has to psyche herself up to achieve her successes and cannot always manage it at the click of a finger. But it does sound like she is generally improving in the right direction and a time will come when she can put her phobia behind her. As I have said before, I believe the children will motivate her to do more and more, as she will not want to miss out on major milestones in their lives. I started to realise that life is not a rehearsal ... you only get one stab at it and it seems some a waste to live it in fear and miss out on things, as the chance (particularly children growing up) never repeats itself. Hope this helps.

Bsquared86 said...

Her progress ebbs and flows but it looks like progress to me! And don't feel too bad about your sour mood, you're allowed to have feelings. Being a caregiver doesn't mean that you push all of your emotions to the side, all of the time. If you did that, you'd explode!

As always, great storytelling! And, for that reason, I am passing along the "Kreativ Blogger Award" to you! Check out this post for details!

Angel said...

Hi It's Marie
I need to catch up lots on my blog to give my side of things..

Diver I havent changed my medication.
Robert means by loosley is that I was reading the linden method and chatting to charles each week on the phone and following some of the things in the method but as I am not a organised person I had not done a full plan of what i was meant to be doing each day to follow it. But in the last two weeks I know what to do now and I am following it properly now.

I had hypnotharapy for a few weeks and I think that gave me a bit of confidence to get on the recovery road but the linden method has started to change my thinking each day and Im loving it :-)

Coffee cup

lol.. U trying to chat up my husband ?? haha yes he hes a luvly man and very caring and patient and I love to bits.

He has been off with me last couple of days but has said sorry :-) he was acting like a silly bugger but can understand some of it.

Marie x

Coffeecup said...

Hi Marie, lol, no I'm not chatting up your hubby ha ha but you know if he has a brother or a cousin who is as nice send him my number? So hypnotherapy was a big factor hey? That's interesting! XX

elanor said...

I'm so glad that Marie is getting some professional help with this as it's very treatable. It must have been wonderful to have that family walk together!

Your feelings are perfectly normal and understandable, one thing that often helps is to have a session with charles together so he can teach you how to work with Marie using his method, and teach Marie how to let you help her implement the method better. Thats what I do with clients with phobic problems.

You are both changing roles which is exciting but takes time to adjust to. so don't beat yourself up, your doing a great job!

Robert said...

Diver - Marie has pretty much answered your questions. She doesn't like reading instruction books, so she skipped the LM book & all that it contained. Then she picked out the bits that appealed to her the most from the rest. She did a couple of months of hypnotherapy before looking at the LM, but stopped that about 6 weeks ago when she thought that LM was working & hypno wasn't. This aside, nothing else in her life has changed. I'm no proponent of LM & Marie's improvement might just be a lucky temporal juxtaposition of a change in attitude & checking out LM. Personally, I wouldn't care if it was voodoo that was helping Marie!

Ms CC - Glad you survived the hospital appointment! Marie is still on Citalopram as her doc said to wait until her (good) changes settle down before trying to come off it. Hypnotherapy, if it helped Marie at all, only had a limited effect. At best, it made Marie feel more confident in herself. But when LM seemed to be doingthe job, she quit the hypno. Thanks for the compliments, but I only do for Marie what any decent husband would do for his wife. I don't have any brothers, but I do have 5 cousins. They're ALL pretty nice and aged between 45 and 65, so do you think I should give your number to all of them? Btw, they're all married with kids...

MR - No, I wasn't jealous. But I obviously underestimated the psychological bonus of being accompanied by a trusted therapist on Marie. I have resumed my normal role of letting Marie progress at her own speed.

rosiero - You have a great and accurate understanding of the situation. And I totally agree with your "life isn't a rehearsal" philosophy - that's how I look at life too!

Bsquared86 - I would like to be the perfect caregiver, but of course I'm never going to be that! Thanks for the compliment about my writing.

elanor - thanks for your advice. CL has told Marie to contact him at any time & he'll do whatever he can to help her. If they want to involve me, I'm available!

Nechtan said...

Hi Robert,

You are only human. We all have moments like this from time to time. It looks to me like your actions in this case were as a result of the fear that Marie might have been going backwards again. That would rightly bring on a reaction from you- in this case concern. You have lived with this problem so long that you know all too well how long any progress takes but what a short time it takes to revert back again. It might not have come over that way but I have no doubt your intentions were worry for Marie.

The road to recovery is there for everyone. It is I feel all about finding what works best for you. Having read many self help guides, including TLM, I really don't see anything but subtle changes in wording as to how to recover. But some are speak to you more than others. Like you said yourself that is all that matters. Long may that be the case.

Don't beat yourself up too much. I have nothing for respect for you and the way you manage your life of father, husband, provider and carer.

All the best


Robert said...

Nechtan - Thanks for your continued support. You're not far away from my opinion of LM, either.

Kit Courteney said...


So much achieved.

I'm rather stunned.

morethananelectrician said...

The progress is very important for her and probably still leaves some things for you to get used to also. It had to feel weird at that time and I can understand seems like a natural, instinctual reaction. None of us are perfect...are we?

Laura said...


This is my first time responding to a post on your blog so I will start by introducing myself. I'm 36 and live in New Hampshire. I also have agoraphobia and monophobia. I'm in a 10 1/2 year relationship with a wonderful, understanding and sweet man. He's good to me but he doesn't encourage me as much as you encourage Marie so I'm trying to get him to read your blog.

I think the reason Marie was able to walk 1/2 mile in Kidderminster was because it was a new place for her with no memories of panicking there. If you had invited Charles to your house and told Marie that he will be there in one week and the three of you are going for a half mile walk she probably would have been full of anticipatory anxiety for the week and would want to back out of going when the day came.

I don't believe that just avoiding junk food and is enough to rid a person of anxiety. I have a very healthy diet. I mostly only drink water, chamomile or decaf tea, or fruit juice with no corn syrup. I eat vegetables, chicken and fish. I rarely have sugar except in yogurt and I still suffer from anxiety. I believe that as long as people have a balanced diet occasional junk food is ok. I'm sure junk food can have a negative impact if she were to eat it before doing something stressful but I don't believe it's necessary to completely eliminate it from anyone's diet. There's so many other things that contribute to anxiety like negative thinking, improper breathing and lack of exercise.

I was very impressed when I read about Marie's trip to Scotland. I will write to her soon too I've just been too shy so far. I think she's doing great and she should be very proud of her accomplishments. The power to overcome her phobias is within her.

Robert said...

KC - she continues to improve. But did you have a typo in your comment. I'm sure the last line should have read "I'm rather stunning"??

MTAE - Unfortunately, you are absolutely correct - none of us are perfect. Although I'm rather close.. ;)

Robert said...

Laura - Thanks for dropping in & welcome! Shy people especially welcome! And you're the 1st agoraphobia sufferer to have commented here. I'd love to hear more of your story.

You could be right about the Kidderminster phenonmenon. Food for thought. Also, I think that being accompanied by an experienced therapist was a big help.

Marie's diet contains more junk food than you can imagine! Rarely a day passes without her consuming either ice cream or fresh dairy cream. She has sugar or salt with EVERYTHING! She drinks sugary drinks all day long... Luckily she DOES eat some vegetables too! An improved diet would be bound to help her.

I also believe that the power to overcome her phobias is within her (as it is with everybody!). What's good now is that she believes it too. And she believes - for the 1st time - that getting rid of them is possible.

I've got my fingers crossed - perhaps things will improve in a lasting way...

Mandy said...

Hi Robert

Is good to get Marie's take on this and I don't want to pick sides here because I think really you are both on the same side :>)

what I can say is I have lost my rag with Dad a couple of times and although maybe it got some of the pent up frustration out it didn't seem to prompt him to do anything more positive. And there's the rub sometimes our own frustrations (acting on them) doesn't always help the other person and sometimes that is because we expect too much at the time..or we are in a different place..or as is the case with the end of a tether.

Mostly I get angry with myself for losing control and that doesn't do Dad or me any favours but we are human beings, not robots, and certainly I am not a 'professional' who allocates a set time to provide therapy and can then switch off afterwards. Not dissing professionals so much as saying the relationships are different.

I don't want to patronise but reflecting back and talking things through seems best way and you seem to have done that.

As for recovery well it isn't always a one way street and better one step (or a half hour walk) in the right direction than not attempting to walk at all.

Robert said...

Mandy - yes, we are both on the same side. And you're right again about the reason I lost the rag with Marie - my frustration & misplaced expectations. I'm more relaxed now and I'm letting Marie do things at her own speed. It's working - she's doing better. Thanks for the comments.

Anne said...

Here's a comment from the other side of the world.

I'm in my 50's and coped with various degress of agoraphobia now for 12 years. Intially hynotherapy was a huge help and for some years I thought I had conquered it, then wham - it hit again, worse than ever. This was almost two years ago, hypnotherapy didn't help this time, I then tried a pschologist, if anything I was actually worse. I looked at my diet, was having quite a bit of aspartame, so stopped that, increased Vitamins etc, helped a little.

Next step for me was a treatment which can be done by oneself (once taught) called EFT (Emotional Therapy Tehnique)

to start with it seemed weird, almost felt like the person who taught me was a quack, but to my surprise it is the one thing that has helped me. Just over a year ago I found the worry of venturing out of the house terrifing, these days I barely think about it. While not 100% I've really improved.

Robert said...

Hi Anne - nice of you to pop in. Marie has an uncle, an aunt & 2 cousins whose permanent home is just South of Auckland. I'm calling it their permanent home because 3 of them aren't there at the moment - they're off touring around...

Marie tried EFT & it didn't work for her at the time. I've heard of other anxiety sufferers who have been helped by EFT. Perhaps it just wasn't the right time.

I hope Marie improves as much as you have!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just wanted to fight The Linden Method and Charles' corner, having read this blog, slightly by directing people to the scans of the NHS forms that the subjects filled in after just one session each using The Linden Method. The notion that Marie only responded because of the reasons you state is ludicrous folks. Charles has travelled the length and breadth of the country (often without charging) and has had visitors to The Linden Centre and the effect is the same regardless of geography. It seems that even now we are unable to convince people of the benefits of the programme. Anyway, here's the link: The scans are in the first article... maybe they might be more convincing being official NHS forms. Julie at The Linden Centre

Robert said...

Dearest Julie - Thanks for the link.

You must not have read my blog properly. I didn't give any reasons why Marie has been responding to the Linden method. I don't know why she is responding, and I don't care. All that matters is that she is responding.

You must also have missed the following from my post - "Charles Linden has shown Marie that escaping agoraphobia is possible, and he has shown her how to do it. If she doesn't get rid of her anxiety now, there will be only one explanation -

She doesn't really want to.

Please notice that I mention the fact that CHARLES LINDEN showed Marie the way...etc.

I am not a proponent of the Charles Linden method because I haven't studied it in enough detail to deliver a learned opinion. I am also not an OPPONENT for the same reason. Do you REALLY want uninformed supporters???

An apology might be in order. Comments like yours do no good to Charles' cause.

j said...

I am so glad to hear that she's doing better. I would like to say that if she does not get better, it's not "just because" she doesn't really want to... it may take time..

Anyway, I wish I lived in England to try out the Linden Method.. I am in USA and I have been suffering for sometime with agoraphobia..Marie is lucky to have a nice loving family to help her and support her! Wish you two the best!