Saturday, 25 April 2015

Walls Closing In

Over the last few months, I feel like my agoraphobia's been getting worse.

Agoraphobia isn't a black and white thing. It wasn't a sudden change, but gradual. When a psych first attached the term to me at age 16, it wasn't 'that bad', but it had been creeping on for a while.

At first, I think it started with being afraid to go to certain places, but at the time I just put it down to being part of other general anxiety or social anxiety issues. Over time that list became bigger, and eventually I only went to 'safe' places. That list, in contrast, shrank. The last place I could go on a regular basis, except for my appointments, was the supermarket. I haven't even been there since... January 2013.

For the last couple of years, my limit has pretty much been: going to appointments, going for drives without getting out of the car, and sitting on the back porch in my armchair. These days I have trouble even getting past the second, more open half of the backyard to the safety of the garage. If the car's parked out the front, there's not a hope in hell of me getting there.

But now even those few abilities are being jeopardized.

Firstly, I was subject to a... disturbing incident the other week, which has threatened my ability to feel safe in the car.

We were out on a bit of a scenic drive to distract me for a while, and on the way home, mum stopped in at the shops to quickly pick up a few things. So I sat in the car, which is usually fine except for a few situations.

I was sat there with my head in my hand, trying to hide, smoking with the windows up because even rolling them down is too hard these days. A man approaches, and stands facing the driver's door of the car next to me. I assume he's fiddling with his keys, or trying to steal it, but as more seconds pass and he remains standing there, my anxiety levels are sky-rocketing.

I've got my phone open, actually with the phone open, ready to tap and call mum at any second. The next thing I know, he's facing toward the front of the cars, and I hear water.
This man is peeing next to me.

I was totally panicking, but what the hell was I supposed to do? He turned and walked off, making some gross throat-clearing sound. Mum got back to the car seconds later, and we drove off, the obvious puddle left behind.

It's really shaken me, more than I thought it would. It took me nearly two weeks until I mentioned it to mum, at which point I broke down crying. It just made me feel dirty and ashamed and gross and icky. Now I can't even feel safe in the car by myself any more. Each time I've been alone in the car since then, I go into a complete panic. It's like the safety that the car provides doesn't even matter any more.

Secondly, I'm also starting to feel more an more anxious in my own backyard and on the porch, which is problematic as I spend the bulk of my waking hours out there in my armchair.

It's mostly of a night I've noticed the increased anxiety, when it's dark and I'm alone. I haven't been sleeping well lately, and wake up every 2-3 hours most nights. A lot of times, I get up and go outside for a quick smoke to help get me back to sleep before my head starts running.

But recently, I don't even feel comfortable in my armchair after dark. It gets me more stressed out than I'd have been had I stayed inside. Every little noise plays on my mind, and if I hear a car pull up or people's voices or someone driving down the laneway, my heart races and I can't stay outside. Even my early mornings have become difficult. 5AM, going back inside to sit on the couch until it starts to get a bit lighter outside. It all sounds so irrational, but it terrifies me.

The worst part is that no one really cares, has ever cared. For years now, like every aspect of my mental health, the agoraphobia just keeps getting worse and worse. From the initial psych through to the MHN, no one's had any suggestions on how to help or has even really talked to me about it. Maybe they just don't know how to. Maybe it's not that important. But it's killing me and I don't know what to do any more.

I just don't know what to do. Everything just seems to be getting worse. It is getting worse. And with agoraphobia, there's never been any offers of help beyond "just go out and realise there's actually nothing to be afraid of".

Is it not 'bad enough', because I still get out in the car, because I still make it to my appointments each week, because I can sit on the back porch and breathe fresh air? How long will that even last? I feel like I'm on the fast track to losing even that.

"It's like your Basic Freedoms are becoming less and less." - Mum

And she is so right.


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Real-Life Friends

On Saturday I got out of the house to see my friend, R. I only see friends in real life once or twice a year lately, so this seemed worth mention.

We were drinking, so I chose a bottle of wine online which mum ran in to pick up for me en route. Over the last few years I've discovered that vodka & Diet Coke is not always the best option - I simply cannot fit 8-9 standard drinks into 750ml, and trying to have more than a couple will lead to my stomach rejecting it.

When I got there he was cooking bacon and eggs, which was okay because it was relatively safe (it was even lean shortcut bacon). I wasn't hugely fussed about the calories and wanted to be polite. I'd been overly-concious of my weight and bubbling with anxiety all day, and knowing I'd be drinking my calories, only had a few crackers in the afternoon.

I know a few of you responded to me saying I felt fat in my last post, so I wanted to add a little bit on in this post. I think I have a bit of a fear of not losing weight in between seeing individual friends. I've been so isolated pretty much since I developed Anorexia, so I feel like people have some sort of an expectation of me. But then it's like, I weigh about the same as I did a year ago, so I must be fine, right?

We watched Big Hero 6, which I somehow have not seen before, and drank close to two bottles. I thought I was going to be sick in the middle of the night but I managed to stomach it. I didn't sleep that great. I'm not good at sleeping in different environments any more, and sleep is a tough thing in general at the moment.

He asked how my health was going at one point, but I never know what to say to this. I've always been fairly open about my mental health, but nine times out of ten, I deflect by talking about my physical health, COPD, osteoporosis, the seizures. Because really, what am I going to say?

I get a lot of anxiety just about talking to people, even online. I feel like I don't know how to talk to people any more, especially normal people. Like, holding conversations. Everything feels so shallow and forced unless I spend a day stressing over what I'm going to say. He's pretty good at keeping the conversation going which makes me feel a little less awkward, but still.

I had a pretty bad breakdown within half an hour of getting home. It's really a sharp, sudden contrast to go from drinking and laughing with a friend to landing back in the same old world of shit where it's a struggle to get through each day. It happens nearly whenever I leave the house. I wanted to tear my skin off. I spent the next day and night sleeping more solidly than I have in months. 

I still haven't gotten out anywhere else except to see the kitten a few weeks ago, so no where in public. The overwhelming urge lately is to hide from the world. Warrnambool is next Friday and I'm already edgy as hell about it.

Tipsy selfies because evidently I'm more photogenic (and more likely to smile) after I've had a few. 
I barely picked at my skin (on my face and arms, anyway) for some three days beforehand. Also the first time I did my hair and makeup in months. 


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

It never rains, but it pours

I'm going to spend a night away, the weekend after my birthday at the end of the month.

We're going to Warrnambool, which has turned out to be a safe-ish destination as I've been there a few times these past few years. Mum is slightly obsessed with a cheese & butter factory down there, so we make the two hour drive to pick up kilograms of aged cheddar a few times each year. There have been times I haven't felt up to going out, but we've still driven down to pick up the cheese while I sit in the car, do a U-turn and come home.

It's very hard on me to be two hours away from home with only the car to retreat to. Day trips are extremely stressful when I don't have that space. I've had some devastating breakdowns in the car, crying and shaking and feeling like I'm going to die because I just can't be there and not knowing how I'll get through the journey home. It's not good, for me or for mum. Considering these breakdowns happen on most outings, I've kinda been holding out for this overnight trip before we returned to stock up on cheese.

But there's an added anxiety this time. We've stayed down there overnight a couple of times before, mum and I, though not for a while now. But some time ago, I suggested to my brother that he and his girlfriend join us on one of our cheese trips. So this time, there'll be four of us.

I'm not used to being around people, aside from my mum and brother, so it's going to be an experience for me. I feel incredibly awkward around people, to say the least. I pick at my skin, and am constantly on the edge of an anxiety attack or other breakdown, and then there's the food issues, and I can't hold conversations normally, and have strange, hard-to-understand boundaries when it comes to where I can and can't go when I leave the house, and am just... yeah.

Part of me is looking forward to going, having a nice dinner, a few drinks, going shopping... But the bigger of me is just dreading it. I am literally filled with dread.

My brother booked and paid for both rooms last week, so there's no backing out now. I can't just panic and decide to cancel it, especially when it involves other people. After so many failed outings in the last six months, this one has to happen. 

Given my constant urge to hide from the world and everything/everyone in it, it's going to be a challenge. 

On top of this, I got a message on Facebook this morning from a real-life friend, let's just call him R, asking if I'd like to spend some time together this weekend.

I know what you're thinking: "Real life friends? Since when does Bella have any of those?"
Yes, I do still have some friends who I know from the real world, but the few remaining are seldom seen or spoken to.

In the past three years, I've spent time with a grand total of two friends, E and R. I hung out with E three times, but haven't seen her for the last couple of years. This will be the third time I've seen R, but again I haven't seen him for over a year now.
In the few years before that, I was dating my ex-boyfriend but even more isolated (if that is even possible).

My anxiety levels are through the roof right now. I still haven't replied. I should really do that at some point before the end of the day... I've been shutting myself off and really bad with replying (or even reading) messages these past few weeks, like, more so than usual. In case you were wondering, yes, I am going to try to get over to see him, but oh god, the anxiety. I'll even put on Real People clothes and make-up for the first time in months *shock horror*

(and oh god, I'm still so fat)

I'm over halfway through my five weeks without the dietician. I see my GP this week, but that's the only appointment in all that time.

To be honest, I'm not missing the appointments that much. Yes, I'm kinda missing having some semblance of routine in my life, but ever since the Scales Drama, the appointments have become more of a black spot than anything else. I don't open up and talk to her like I used to. She doesn't weigh me any more. I haven't been accepting much support with food for a while, so there's little missed there. I'm still tossing up about cutting back to fortnightly appointments when she gets back, because I really don't see the point of going weekly any more, but it would really be a huge change when I have so little in my days.

I'm starting to think I should just give up on the real world and start playing World of Warcraft again.


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

When Tradies Invade

Over the past couple of weeks, we've been having a bit of plumbing work done around the house. 

For me, one of my biggest fears is having people in the house. It doesn't matter if I know them or if they're strangers (although the latter is obviously worse). I just can't deal with it. At all.

The fear came pretty directly from the abusive 'relationship' (I hate that word - I prefer the term 'abusive situation') when I was 14/15. It was one of the last times I let someone in the house.

It's been this way for years. Four, maybe five years ago would've been the last time we had visitors. Even my brother's girlfriend of four years has only been over once or twice (and even then I wasn't actually in the house). I feel awful because I know it's unfair on my family, but I just can't cope with it.

Anyway, the plumbers have been here for four or five sporadic days over the past few weeks. They turn up pretty much when they feel like it, so I've been on edge the whole time, waiting for the phone call that banishes me to the garage with five minutes notice.

Last week was different. 8:30am, and mum and I are sitting on the back porch, having a coffee and a smoke as per usual, and there's a metallic clattering out the front. It sounds like ladders. Mum went to check if it was the plumbers, remarking that they'd usually call first. They'd been there the day before, though, and said they'd be back tomorrow.

Then I hear the front door open, and a "good morning!"
PANIC. I grab my phone, water bottle and smokes (the true essentials in life) and bolt inside. I don't know why I went inside when I usually retreat to the garage. But I ended up in my bedroom, sitting on the floor next to the bed, hyperventilating and sobbing and having one of the worst panic attacks I've had in a while.

Mum came in and found me. She told me the plumbers were still out the front if I wanted to go out to the garage. So I bolted again. She brought me out my meds, an extra lorazepam, my notebooks and a box of tissues. All I could say was "it's not okay, it's not okay".

I haven't been coping well with having them in the house at the best of times, but the fact they didn't even call made me totally freak out. It felt like the house had been invaded and I was trapped, and it was so not okay.

I kept telling myself; hey, at least it's the last day.
But of course, while doing the last job they discovered another problem with the guttering, so they'll be here for three full days this week.


Today has been another day of anxiety, waiting to see if the plumbers will turn up, because who knows if they'll call first or not. They did not. But tomorrow, the plumbers will be here, and I'll be cocooned in the lounge room from 8:30-4:30 for three days straight.

Usually, I base myself on the back porch for the bulk of the day, in my armchair, surrounded by all the necessary comforts. But with tradies hovering the perimeter, there's not a hope in hell of me sitting outside. The garage/car is simply not feasible for three whole days, as I wouldn't be able to go inside for anything in case they were near. My bedroom is a no-go, and I still haven't put the blinds up in my study. So it's the lounge room.

I even have a list of things I must do before 8:30 and things I cannot forget. This morning my notebooks (intake, smoking, notes-notebook and journal), smoking gear, pens, tweezers, water bottle, Coke Zero, were all in a pile ready to go.

I'll be ninja-stealth'ing it to the toilet and kitchen. Even though they'll be working outside, they'll still be walking through the house itself, and the lounge-kitchen-toilet is right along their rite of passage.

I really, really don't like having people in the house.

But I haven't thrown up for three days straight, so hey, bonus.

And I'm sorry for being so negative lately. I know it probably doesn't make for the most pleasant reading, but there just isn't a lot positive going on right now. Every thought I have is negative. I haven't been doing much at all. I stare at the wall, pick at my skin, and smoke. Everything just seems to take so much effort. I don't know why it's so hard. I'm just so sad, so stuck. It's actually been scaring me how low I feel. But I don't know what to do any more. Nothing's that simple.

Thank you guys for putting up with me through all of this. Seriously, it means the world to me to know there's a group of people who'll be there for me, good days and bad days.