Thursday, 25 June 2009

Agoraphobia - same old same old...

Almost all the progress in diminishing Marie's agoraphobia have disappeared. Apart from a small improvement in her diet, all the agoraphobia-busting routines that she had observed have also disappeared, and with them the hope that she's making the effort to change her condition. I have to accept that Marie's inability to follow through with any sort of treatment or routine is part of her problem.

This means that the greater part of childcare - virtually all of it outside our home - continues to fall on me. I enjoy this immensely, but regret the absence of a mum for the children when embarking on excursions. And Marie misses so much - I sometimes wonder if she knows how much of her children's lives are currently inaccessible to her.

For example - here I am, making a fool of myself on the trampoline at Carla's house. Orla thought this was hysterically amusing. Marie wasn't able to get to the trampoline - it's about 10m from the back door of Carla's house.

The children love to "explore" and there is lots of exploration available all around us! Below, the ferns make this deer path seem like a trip through the jungle.

Marie may never see this pebble mound, on a beach a few miles from our home. Click on the picture if you want to read the inscription on the stone.

A dried-up ancient harbour is fascinating for children, who imagine pirate ships going in and out... In reality, all that passed through the entrance to this harbour were small goods ships carrying away the lime which was burned beside the harbour and bringing in coal to use in the lime kiln. But why spoil a good story by introducing the truth?

This is what that harbour looked like about 100 years ago. If you want to see the full-size picture, just click on it.

We have lots of beach activities. The children are never bored on a beach!

Plenty of activities for the children and me through the summer, then. Does Marie really know what she's missing? Perhaps I'm being somewhat pessimistic. Perhaps Marie will recover lost ground.

Nothing would make me happier.


Sarah♥ said...

What is happening with the Linden Method? Is Marie still in contact with him?

Casdok said...

I hope she does.
Wonderful family photos :)

Robert said...

Sarah - Charles Linden spoke to her a few weeks ago when Marie wasn't taking her medication regularly - so it wasn't the right time to offer her any specific help. She hasn't been following the Linden Method (or anything else) for quite a while now. It did help her and if she is to recover lost ground, she'll go back to it.

Casdok - I'm so lucky with my family. They're also pretty supportive of Marie. We'll see how things progress in the future.

Nioniel said...

I'm sorry to hear that Marie has begun to slip back again. Unfortunately that's often the way that things tend to go with agoraphobia, but I hope that she will get back on track soon.

Wonderful photos, the children look like they're having a fantastic time.

As a mother of two young children I suspect that Marie knows all too well what she's missing. It's heartbreaking to have to rely on someone else to create these memories for your children when you know that it should be you.

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Hi Robert,
I'm back in the blogging world again after months of stress and heartache... but I'm back in a really great situation!
I really hope that Marie improves! and what a wonderful family you have - great photos!

Michelle said...

Oh, I'm quite sure that she knows what she is missing. I miss what should be family vacations, and I am all too aware. If I dwelled on it, I would probably do myself in. That is the single most painful part of agoraphobia as far as I am concerned.

As far as not sticking to things goes, it is extraordinarily difficult to "stick to" something that makes you feel like hell.

For example, if you started throwing up every time you went to work, soon you would associate going to work with throwing up. And you wouldn't want to go. Of course, you'd try to "get over it" because you have to earn a living. Sometimes you'd be able to make it to work without puking, even though you would feel nauseous. Other days, just when you had had a couple of nausea-free days and felt as though life might be normal again, you'd throw up over and over again. Some days you'd just give up. Once you'd had a big enough break from all the throwing up, you'd probably give it another go.

That's the best way I can think of to describe how it is. It can just be a living hell, but if it is not focused on all of the time, one has an opportunity to enjoy the part of life that one lives well, and feel somewhat normal, whatever that is.

Mandy said...

Hi Robert

Having read through your blog post, I thought it more appropriate to comment on Marie's blog. Nothing to do with 'preference' more about personal exprience :>)

Really relate to Michelle's posting on here. Certainly, the days when I am not pre-occupied with fighting illness..and am pleasantly distracted...they make the fight more bareable.

Best wishes to you and your family

Nechtan said...

Hi Robert,

Sorry to hear that Marie is having a difficult time. Fingers crossed that it has not set her back too far.

Great photos of the kids. What a real adventure that must be for the kids going there. Their imaginations will be allowed to run riot as it should at those ages.

All the best


Robert said...

Nionel, The Brit & Nechan - Thanks for your support & comments about the children. We are all really lucky to live in an area where such a diverse range of environments is available within a few miles. It's ideal child-rearing country, and I want to make their childhoods as good as I can. It's not all one-way - I get an immense amount of pleasure from it, too!

Robert said...

Michelle - I really appreciate you putting my pathetic moans into perpespective! I can see that whatever hardships Marie's agoraphobia causes me, the hardships it causes her are much greater. I'll try to bear that in mind in future. It might be more difficult to explain this to the children though...

Mandy - I don't mind you commenting on Marie's blog at all!

Michelle said...

It is difficult to explain to kids. In my case, I told my son that when I am in the car for very long, I feel like the cat. (The cat hyperventilates and throws up.) He gets it. (I heard him explaining it to his teacher one day...ack.)

It's certainly not ideal, but it's the way it is, at least for now. It would be the same way if I were in a wheelchair--there would be some things I could not be able to do with him. This thing is my disability, and I am fortunate that my family accepts me in spite of it. I never quit being aware of the limitations it puts on us doing things outside my comfort zone together as a family. Somehow I believe that someone with a visible disability wouldn't beat themselves up over it quite so much. I think the depression over it affects my son more than not going on the vacations or to the lake, you know? So, I try not to go there.

rosiero said...

It will be particularly hard with the summer holidays coming up soon. The children will want to do so much and Marie will feel bad for not being able to do it with them. As they get older it will get worse too. Such a shame for her and more responsibility heaped on you. Sometimes, being the only person around to do something is the spur needed. Maybe you should "go sick" like you did on that recent trip North , or have to go away on business, and she would have to jump to the helm. I think her maternal instincts would kick in if she knew the children needed her to do it.

Nota Bene said...

It must be so frustrating for you an eternal optimist, I feel sure when the time is right, progress will be made

Kaci said...

I'm sorry to hear Marie hasn't been doing so well lately :( I really do hope that things get better for her soon! If she did it once, I am sure she can do it again! :)

Robert said...

Michelle - Marie tells Orla that she "feel dizzy" in certain places - which isn't too far removed from the truth. The only problem is that her "dizziness" is inconsistent and the places she could go a couple of weeks ago are no-go areas now. Of course, we explain that mum's dizziness sometimes is worse, sometimes better, but it's a difficult concept for a 3 year old. Joseph knows that his mum has agoraphobia, understands it as much as any 8 year old and accepts it totally.

If Marie's agoraphobia never changes, we'll still get by, but I might have the odd moan about it sometimes!

Robert said...

rosiero - If Marie really wants to do something, she can rise to the occasion. This is common with agoraphobics, but she will always (like all agoraphobics) look for the easiest solution. If I went ill, and we're at home, this means enlisting the help of friends & family. No, I'm going to have to cope with the situation (which, despite my moaning, I can) and hope for better times for Marie.

Robert said...

NB & Kaci - We've had ups & downs before & this is a "down" period. I'm sure that an "up" period is around the corner. I'm just not sure where the corner is... ;)

SH said...

Hi Robert & Marie!
Your pics are great, your kids are adorable. I have had agoraphobia for some time. I did get over it at one point, but here I am again!
I have read here before, and I thought I had read Marie seemed to be getting better? I know I have my days, but damn, right now I would settle for just grocery shopping alone! But first I have to conquer driving alone, and standing in line, that is one of my huge fears.
Marie, you can do this :) And Robert, you are a terrific husband and father!!

fizzycat said...

I hope Marie improves. You have a great family there.

timmyb_84 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah♥ said...

Hi Robert...Long time, no update.

How is everything going?


Faith Hoffen said...

Hey Robert, how are you and your family doing? We've missed your postings. I hope everything is alright, and that Marie is getting better.

Bsquared86 said...

The children are growing up so fast! I prefer the pirate ship story, as well. No need to spoil the fun, lol.

I'm so sorry to hear about Marie's setback. Hopefully, the fact that she is missing so much of her children's lives will motivate her to follow through with the treatment.

Keep us updated!

alice said...

hi robert,

hope everything is ok with you and the family. miss the updates.

Jona Jacobson said...


Oh my - what to say? I hope for your sake, for your childrens' sake, and Marie's sake that she is able to recover lost ground, and begin to experience a fuller mum's life!

I just read your comment on my Beyond the Bugaboo post - I've been offline for quite a while: in addition to my father passing away in December, my Grandmother died, then I was shot (see my blog, then an uncle died - so I'm just now getting my head back together.

Thanks for the comment, and I hope things look up for you. Keep being a fantastic Dad, and great person!

ladythinker said...

I'm so sorry to hear that it's been a backward step.

So disppointing for you too - it's hard to take when your hopes are raised and dashed again. Thinking of you . .

Robert said...

Thanks everyone for taking the trouble to post a comment. I really appreciate it.

I'm going through a particularly busy period just now. I'll be back in due course.

Thanks again.

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Kat said...

Your blog shows what a great dad you are to yoru children. My mother has been agoraphobic since I was 6 (I am now in my early twenties), and despite various times in the past when she was got better, it was always short-lived.

She has now given up trying, and my dad is battling on to do things for her, including looking after her own elderly mother (who she hasn't seen for months due to being too far away for my gran to visit her).

I hope your children realise that despite their mother's illness they are blessed in having you to balance it.

I get so angry when I think of all the things I have missed out on but I try to feel more sympathy for my mother, who has let her adult life slip by without trying to stop it.

maz said...

Hi Robert, glad you're ok!
I was starting to worry a little!
I hope things are a bit better with marie too.

Take care,
maz x

ewright said...

My 17 year old has agoraphobia as well as my husband. My husband has fought it since his college years. His room mate got out of bed one night went across the street and murdered a woman and slit the throats of her 10 month old twins and 5 year old son. It juswt hit him and it took 18 years to reach some sort of normalcy. I'm not sure why my son picked it up, it's puzzled me. My husband was traumatized. My son has never been through a trauma like that.
Was there a trigger for your wife.

my child has agoraphobia

Robert said...

Dear ewright - sorry to hear about your situation...

Yes, there was a trigger for my wife - several triggers, in fact. There is always a trigger. The trouble is - my wife can't remember the first trigger, although she can remember later triggers which served to make her agoraphobia worse. This is quite common, particularly when agoraphobia starts in adolescence.

This is how I see why people allow agoraphobia to take over their lives - based on listening to the life stories of many agoraphobia sufferers over the last 9 years.... Agoraphobia has benefits as well as detriments for the sufferer - the most common of which is that the sufferer can avoid facing unpleasant or difficult issues which the rest of us face every day. To get rid of agoraphobia, the sufferer needs the incentive to make the effort. This usually happens when the sufferer realises that the detriments of agoraphobia are exceeding the benefits; and this is why for most sufferers agoraphobia is temporary. My wife's life, although much restricted, is not so unpleasant that she feels that she needs to tackle her agoraphobia in any major way. She knows how to get rid of the demon, but lacks the incentive to put in the effort.

Agoraphobia is slightly more common in children of agoraphobia sufferers than in the general population. The children of sufferers witness their parent escaping their unpleasant lives through agoraphobia and may employ the same method if facing difficult issues of their own.

Is this any help?

j said...

I hope you are hanging in there~ I think it's fine for you to allow yourself to moan time to time. You are a human being after all! And as I suffer from agoraphobia myslef, I think Marie knows what's she;s missing but it's not that easy to kick it... Wish you two the best and make sure that you take care of yourself as don't want to burn out!