Saturday, 9 May 2009

Changes in agoraphobia and The Linden Method

It is 2½ weeks since Marie met with Charles Linden. Her agoraphobia has changed, but it has been up and down.
First the good news. The biggest change in Marie's lifestyle is her increased ability to get around in her car. She can now drive up to 8 miles unaccompanied. Marie can now take our children to and from school, visit her friends when she wants, go to some shops and take Blaze out to places where he can run around freely. One major achievement is that Marie has been able to join the local gym and goes there by herself.

Secondly, the not-so-good news. Marie's new-found ability to walk any meaningful distance has now more or less deserted her. Almost all her previous improvements have disappeared. The most disappointing aspect of this is that Marie is no longer able to go into Orla's nursery. She can take her there in her car, but she can't take her inside. She can take the dog to nearby fields, but she cannot walk him when she gets there - he has to run around by himself. She can drive to the shops, but unless she can park outside them, she cannot go in. Larger shops and supermarkets are beyond her capabilities.

However, Marie retains her positive attitude. She still believes that she is on the road to recovery and takes delight in the areas of improvement which have dramatically expanded her personal freedom. She has significantly improved her diet (aided by yours truly, who has been active in the healthy cooking area) and this, with her new fitness régime has given her a lovely, healthy glow. She has never looked so healthy.

Marie is still, in her own way, following The Linden Method. By saying "in her own way" I mean that Marie isn't, in her own words, extending herself "as much as she should". She has had all the support, by phone and email, that she has requested from the Linden Centre. So as I wrote in a previous 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".

Marie has been proceeding at her own speed. For my part, I have been predominantly a non-participating bystander. Not that I really have a choice...


rosiero said...

I expect it is bound to be one step forward and two steps back at times.

Coffeecup said...

Bloody Hell! In the space of two weeks Marie has managed to get herself to the gym and drive miles! I don't understand what the disappointment is?? I wish I felt able to go and have a work out alone!!

With all the support in the world it's up to the individual to believe in themselves how far they can go and what can be done. I wish I had a tiny bit of the support Marie has, and yet we are both very different in what we can do. I can walk further than she can at present but I panic in the car. Some ingrained fears will be harder to shift I suppose, why can we do one thing and not another? It's too complicated to say that it's just down to desire to get better. I really found the tone of this post confusing. You are pleased aren't you? Sometimes there's only so much a person can fix maybe?

If she's not extending herself as much as she could what's stopping her? A lack of desire to improve or the same fears that have held her back for the last how many years? Crack open the champagne and celebrate the achievements. This is incredible news and fantastic progress. Way to go Marie!

Robert said...

rosiero - As long as there are more steps forward than backward, Marie is happy. And so am I.

Cc - Lots of questions to answer. Let me do them in order:
- Marie is disappointed that she was able to take Orla into her nursery, but now she can't. Orla is also disappointed.
- Marie also can't understand why one thing frightens her more than another; or why the fear can significantly alter from day to day.
- Yes, I'm pleased with Marie's progress. I should have made this obvious in my post.
- Marie is fixing as much as she feels comfortable with.
- The fear of panicking is stopping her extending herself further. Charles Linden tried to show her how to work her way through this, but Marie is unable to do it just now.
- It's the same fears holding her back. Marie's desire to improve is stronger now than at any time since I met her.

If Marie drank champagne, I would surely share some with her. I do the best I can to show her in other ways how pleased I am for her.

I hope to post more PROGRESS in due course!

Aimée said...

Thanks for all of your support Robert. I really appreciate it. I am so excited for all the new freedom Marie has found! Hopefully there will be many more in the future.

Anonymous said...

Hi Robert,

This situation is familiar to me. When I had my good spell over a year ago things went the same way. I started branching out as I got more comfortable in the car but I soon realised I had abandoned my walks. I thought to myself why walk there when I can drive? It was on hindsight detremental.

I was able eventually to go into the nursery to drop off my daughter and collect her. It never though got any easier. In fact if anything it started to get harder as I think complacency left me less ready to deal with panic when it came.

I can't explain why this. From memory I can only think that the car itself becomes its own safe zone and you become comfortable in it. Its hard at the begining but then you are on autopilot. You have that familiar environment with you and if you panic are less likely to be seen with a faster getaway.

Of course that is not to say that Marie's current situation is the same as my own was but it does sound familiar to me.

You know Marie best. If she cannot make a full recovery then I cannot argue your reasoning. Can I ask though why Marie wouldn't really want to. This is something I saw Charles Linden post on a forum previously and didn't agree with him, though his was a generalised remark. To my surprise though some people with anxiety problems agreed with him. As someone with an anxiety problem who hates every second of it I just can't get my head around the concept.

It is good to read of the progress so far. When you look back to the turn of the year posts and how little had changed it is really amazing to see how far Marie has come in a comparitively short space of time. I don't think progress can ever go completely smooth when dealing with eradicating habits and some obstacles are harder to pass than others but so far it has been a big move in the right direction.

All the best


Michelle said...

I don't think it's a matter of not wanting to. Getting over panic by experiencing it while doing new things is basically a walk through hell. You can't blame someone if they don't feel like taking that particular stroll...

That's how it feels to me, anyway.

Robert said...

Nechtan - I think my post didn't adequately show how pleased I am for Marie for the progress she has made thus far. I'm really impressed!

You're right about the car becoming a safe zone - that's exactly how Marie sees it.

Why wouldn't Marie want to get better? Well, for many years, she didn't. She was comfortable as she was. I'm not saying that she wanted her agoraphobia - I'm saying that it was easier to accept its restrictions than to try to get rid of it. This is why she's doing so well now - she really wants to get rid of it. If she can keep this attitude and recognise how much she's been missing these last 16+ years, then I feel that eradicating agoraphobia is within her grasp.

Why would some people not want to get rid of their agoraphobia? Because it can have advantages, such as the removal of responsibilities or the need to face up to a traumatic incident. That's what CL was mentioning. There are quite a few anxiety sufferers on NMP who are happy in their comfort zone and don't want to get better. Marie discovered a few of those!

Robert said...

Aimée - great to hear from you again!

Robert said...

Michelle - I've had a few panic attacks, so I know how awful they are! Also, I don't write perfect posts - I can give wrong impressions (sorry!).

I'm not an expert on the CL method, but I watched him talk Marie down from the pre-panic fearful state she was in. He has taught her not to fight that fearful state - just accept it and wait until it subsides. Every time she does that, she's retraining her brain. He doesn't advocate that she should court panic attacks and ride them out. If the medicine was worse than the illness, no one would want to get better! Does this help?

Anonymous said...

Hi Robert,

I think all your recent posts have shown how impressed you are so no worries there. I wouldn't expect anything less from you when you have been living with the problem too for so long. The joy and pride over the past few weeks has shone through the posts you have made.

Thanks for the explanation about Marie. Everyboody situation is different and their anxiety problems vary so I just wanted to know why that was the case as I couldn't relate it to my own. The strange thing is that she can go into the Gym but not the nursery. I just wonder what she is doing right in the Gym that is not working for her at the nursery. But then no anxiety issues are rational.

CL's generalisation though I do not agree with. For every person not wanting to get better there is someone desperate to do anything to get better. And because his method doesn't work for them it does not mean they are lacking the will to recover. I mean I could come up with a method and claim that it works but if it doesn't work for you then its because you don't really want it to. That is water tight but I don't believe right.

What you said about him talking Marie down is I believe effective in dealing with panic. Its what Claire Weekes calls first and second fear where you stop the panic at source, first fear, rather than waiting to ride out the second fear- the fear of fear. Making it become a habit though can take time and success can vary.

I hope this is just a blip at the moment for Marie and she can take all the positives so far to start moving forward again.

All the best


Robert said...

Nechtan - Marie can park very close to the gym, and once inside, she has only a small lobby to negotiate. The nursery is up a path about 30m long, and once inside there is about 10m of corridor to negotiate. Quite a difference, you'll agree. Marie has never got inside the nursery unaccompanied, but can go to the gym by herself.

Mr CL may have an excellent answer to anxiety, but he's not so good at PR!! On NMP, he was frequently arrogant and rode roughshod over people's feelings. I would actually probably agree with him that if you follow his method you will escape anxiety. But CL has no answer (imho) for some people, for whom not being able to follow treatment is part of the problem (e.g. Marie, in the past). Most psychologists agree that this inability to follow any course of treatment will stop progress dead in its tracks, and often the trigger that allowed anxiety to take over one's life has to be discovered and dealt with before one can deal with the issue of anxiety. Also, if one's life before anxiety was crap, there's not much incentive to remove the anxiety. I think that people have to believe that there's something worthwhile to look forward to, to work hard and long to deal with their MH demons. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Hi Robert,

That makes perfect sense to me. I forgot for Marie its the distance from the car rather than distance over the threshold that is the problem. I now see how the nursery is a bigger problem. This is what happens when I try to relate someone else's anxiety problems to my own thinking they are the same when they are not.

I agree about CL on NMP too. I'd never seen him before or read anything he'd written but he very quickly got my back up which is unusual for me. Personally I thought very little compassion came through in what he wrote on the forum and what he said on his youtube videos. People did say they were very informative but I can only think from that they had never read anything on their own condition as it was nothing new. The irony was that the thread was named 'stress less with CL' yet he was the most stressed on it. I agree also that his method does certainly work for a lot of people and it was working for people long before he discovered it. But his claim that it is the only 'curative' method and it only won't work if you are not willing I do not believe.

Having a reason to move forward definitely I feel too is a big factor. If you have nowhere to go then there is little motivation to get there and that can only come through having reason. The reason for staying stuck is exactly in my opinion also as you put it: the inability to follow a course of treatment. For me that comes down to one thing and that is the belief in what you are doing is going to get you better. This I think is why people respond better in the early days with new treatments. They have the belief that it is going to get them well and push on with it. But when experience starts to tell you there is no improvement the doubt that creeps in stops you following the treatment. There is no way you can put yourself in discomfort repeatedly unless you truly believe it will be for the better long term good and it is finding this belief which is key. Its like falling backwards and putting your trust in the treatment catching you. If you don't have the belief then you won't fall back because you know what you will get won't be nice.

Apologies for the long post as its a subject that could be debated for pages. It is good that you have made a post which opens up discussion and I know that you are well learned in the subject you are discussing.

All the best


Tyler said...

I've found myself at somewhat of a crossroads with the Linden Method. I have read the majority of the book and I do the audio exercises almost every day.

I guess for me it works but only to a certain point. Perhaps I just need to work at it harder. In any event, I'm thrilled Marie is able to get help from it and I wish your family the best of luck.

Melody said...

8 miles is awesome! :) Hopefully she can start going farther and farther.

Something that has helped me is having a GPS in the car. Its a huge comfort :) I used to stress that if I started panicking, I would forget how to get home, and its nice knowing that all I have to do is hit the "home" button, and its all routed out for me. Also, all important addresses are programmed in for the same reason. It also helps me with going new places even if its not that far (like taking the kids to the dentist, etc.).

maz said...

Hi Robert I'm so glad things have improved with this method, maybe in time marie's confidence, in other areas will re-emerge too.

Here's hoping!

maz x

The Dotterel said...

Fantastic news! And let's not forget that progress never runs in a dead-straight line. Moving on is always in a zig-zag (and some of the 'zigs' go back!). The main thing is to be on that moving path, and not just standing still.

Robert said...

Tyler - That's interesting. Have you rung the Linden Centre for support? They're very good.

Melody - There is GPS in the other car (factory installed, so I can't take it out to use in another car). Very useful in unfamiliar areas, but marie has never used it close to home. I'll bear what you said in mind, though, if she decides to drive somewhat further afield.

Maz & The Dotterel - thanks for your support!