Archive | Graded Exposure – Overcoming my Agoraphobia RSS feed for this section

19:28 – Lots of anxiety about these Pregabalin (Lyrica) tablets!

7 Aug

Yesterday turned out to be a good day. I finally took Mum for her belated birthday lunch and managed to travel around 25 miles and then get out once we were there and managed to go into a restaurant and eat lunch. We were in the restaurant for almost an hour before I started feeling a bit anxious and irritable so I paid the bill and we went for a little wander around the village shops. The rain had came on by then and neither of us had jackets so it was a good excuse to head back to the car and come home. As soon as we were back within a couple of miles of home the anxiety quickly began to calm down so I even managed to spend another half an hour in a coffee shop having a slice of carrot cake which was yummy. It was nice to spend a few hours with Mum and just have a proper chat about both the crappy stuff and some lighter stuff and we both agreed we should do it again soon. So I came home and had a reasonably relaxed evening in front of the TV but then a very restless night’s sleep where I just seemed to wake up constantly, it seemed as though every time I dozed off I woke straight back up. Really annoying and left me super grumpy and overtired today.

Thankfully I didn’t have much to do today. I had an appointment with lovely GP this afternoon and she wanted to have a chat with me about the Pregabalin. She’d received a letter from new psychiatrist regarding my appointment with him last week and he said he wanted to start me on 75mg twice a day and also increase my Mirtazapine dose from 30mg a day to 45mg a day. I told lovely GP about the appointment with new psychiatrist being a complete joke due to the whole 15 minutes it lasted, the fact that when I told him I’d been voice hearing again he simply shrugged and offered no opinion on why they’d came back, that he was still going on about me coming off the Diazepam and that he said I could be prescribed Pregabalin to help with anxiety long term. Lovely GP asked how I felt about it and I told her that the only information I knew about it was what I had read on the internet and that new psychiatrist didn’t even tell me what kind of drug it was, instead simply telling me to “try it, if you don’t like it then you can stop, if it helps you can stay on it”.

So lovely GP took the time to explain what type of drug it was and told me all of the common side effects but there was something different about the way she was talking to me, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on but she seemed kind of hesitant or a little concerned maybe about me taking Pregabalin. She said it was similar in make up to Gabapentin which I once tried taking as a mood stabiliser back in 2009. I only managed to take it for a couple of weeks, maybe even just days before feeling so suicidal and so on edge and a complete mental mess and was told to come off of it immediately. When she told me it was similar to Gabapentin I instantly felt my anxiety start to rise and I told her I’d taken Gabapentin and what a horrible time I’d had. She looked back on her computer to 2009 and found the notes that went along with it and said to me again that it was my choice if I wanted to try it or not but she really did seem like she wanted me to say “no I don’t think I do want to try it” and that was exactly what I felt like saying to her, but there was something niggling at the back of my head saying “what if this drug could really help you… what if it’s the one thing missing and with the combination of it and starting the talking therapy stuff, this could be the right cocktail for me at last…”

I tried to explain that to my GP and she said it was completely up to me, she would go with whatever I wanted. So I asked again what dosage new psychiatrist wanted me to start on and she said 75mg twice a day. I asked what the lowest dosage available was and she said the lowest capsule is 25mg so I said if I was going to try it I wanted to try it from the smallest dose possible and work my way up if I find it beneficial. So we agreed I would start off on 25mg three times a day and then I have an appointment to see her again next Friday and if I find I am tolerating it ok then we can increase the dose. The thing is that once I got home I sat and read the patient information leaflet and there are a LOT of potential side effects. Now I know this is the same with ANY drug even simple paracetamol has a long list of possible side effects and you would think that being on the maximum dose of a drug like Quetiapine that I wouldn’t give a second thought to potential side effects, especially when I know I have the lowest dosed capsules they make. But for some reason (more than likely because I keep having flashbacks of the Gabapentin experience) I am utterly terrified of trying the Pregabalin now. I haven’t given a single thought to increasing my Mirtazapine tonight, I know what side effects I might feel from that and none of them scare me, I know I’ll just feel foggy headed and a bit zombie like for a few days and then my body will adjust to the new dose. But I have sat here with the box of Pregabalin in front of me for a couple of hours now telling myself just to take one but something is really stopping me. Anxiety stopping me. How stupid is that – a drug that has the potential to really help my anxiety is actually causing me a hell of a lot of it?!

So I thought I had made up my mind that I would start with the increased dose of Mirtazapine tonight and let my body get used to that for a few days and then re-assess the Pregabalin situation, maybe by then I’d have built up the courage to try at least one capsule. But then I thought maybe it would be best just to start it tonight and deal with all of the side effects all at once from both meds.

Argh, I don’t know what to do I really don’t. Something is screaming inside of me to remember how horrendous those days taking Gabapentin felt and how stupid I felt when I was whizzing my way through internet article after internet article and reading how it was generally so well tolerated… how could I be in such an anxious and suicidal feeling mess when all these people were saying their side effects had been minimal?? Of course, I have since learned that all medications effect everyone differently. There have been drugs that I haven’t been able to tolerate for more than a few days/weeks/months which other people have said they experienced no side effects from and then there are other people who say to me now that they don’t understand how I can be taking 750mg of Quetiapine mixed with Mirtazapine and Diazepam and not feel like a complete zombie.

I said to lovely GP that I know the reason the psychiatrist wants me off the Diazepam is because it’s an addictive medication but I also said that sometimes the attitude of “if it’s not broke then why fix it” would make life so much easier. At the moment I am slowly but surely starting to get better with the agoraphobia. I still can’t leave my safety zone or travel on a motorway or go near any big cities or shopping centres, but my distance is slowly increasing so long as I know I will be on quiet roads to get to my destination and so long as I’m in a situation where if the panic becomes unbearable I can turn around and head for home right there and then. In other words any form of public transport is still way too much for me to even consider because I’m not in any kind of control over turning the bus/boat/train/plane around… whereas when I’m in a car a car can be turned around immediately. Anyway what I was about to say before I went off on that tangent was, I was telling lovely GP that in my opinion (and obviously I’m no professional) but in my own opinion I think the dose of Diazepam that I am currently on (16mg a day) is a relatively low dosage. And I cannot see what long term damage would come from me staying on that dose and carry on with my life how it is at the moment, some areas still very much a struggle and some areas beginning to slight improvements. Lovely GP nodded her head as if in agreement with me and just gave me one of her sympathetic smiles. I have also found out from my reading about Pregabalin online that it is a pretty expensive drug to be prescribed whereas Diazepam at the dose I’m on is pennies in comparison. It seems so stupid to me that when some bits of my life are kind of ok someone who barely knows me can come along and decide they are going to remove my safety blanket but offer to put me on an expensive drug with the potential for tonnes of unwanted side effects, that may or may not help with my anxiety all the while I’ve already been taking something for almost three years which I know helps. I admit I do have to self medicate with it sometimes and take more than my prescribed dose on particularly bad days, but then there are some better days where I don’t need my full dose so it all balances out. But as I said to lovely GP I know I’m not going to win the argument with new psychiatrist so if this Pregabalin stuff is my only option for long term anxiety management and the only thing he is willing to offer me then would I be foolish not to even try it even if the potential for a repeat of the Gabapentin experience is pretty likely to happen?

I really don’t know what to do and I suppose I’m not going to find out by sitting staring at the box, but I think for the next few days anyway I’ll just do the Mirtazapine increase and get adjusted to that. Hopefully in the mean time I’ll find the courage to at least try the Pregabalin… Then again I don’t even know if I want to find the courage because I’ve read so much about it and so many mixed reviews about how helpful it actually is for anxiety and there seems to be one common theme and that is that most people start on around 150mg a day but almost everyone seemed to need to increase, most people who it worked for said they didn’t get real benefit from it until they were in the 300mg+ range and another whole lot of people said it has a tendency to feel like it’s working and then just poop out on them after a month or two meaning more and more increases in dosage. Also it appears to be a bit of a bastard to come off of. Even my box of the lowest dose capsules says on the pharmacy label “do not stop this medication without speaking to your doctor”. The withdrawal process from it has been horrendous for some people, people who haven’t found any benefit at any dose and so are withdrawing from it completely and ended up with a whole new battle on their hands. I know coming off the Diazepam isn’t going to be an easy one but at least I can say it was worth taking all of this time.

OK I think I’ve rambled on quite enough now I see the word counter has gone over the 2000 mark! Argh I’m just really confused and feeling really anxious and just do not know what to do for the best. Maybe things will somehow become clearer through the next few foggy mirtazapine brain days… who knows.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with lovely support worker and then on Friday I’m starting this compassionate mind/compassion focused therapy bollocks with CPN#2. Must remember to do some reading from the workbook tomorrow night. On that note my stomach is rumbling and I think it’s time to think about dinner and try to stop thinking about all the if’s, but’s and maybe’s about these stupid tablets every two seconds!

Arghhhh!

*lets out silent scream*

Deep breath…

Focus…

Count to ten…

And…

Breatheeee

 

 

 

23:02 – Another week already…

5 Aug

And so, another week has begun. It’s Monday night and I’ve had a relatively quiet day just spent indoors mostly besides a few walks with the dogs. I’ve been feeling extremely close to self harming a lot today although I’ve stayed on top of it and haven’t acted on it (yet). There’s several reasons for this but I’m not really in the mood to talk about them at the moment (a lot of them tie in with Berry whose still bursting into fits of giggles), so I’ll talk about my weekly line up instead…

Tomorrow I’m taking my Mum for a belated birthday lunch (it was her birthday last week but this is the first day she’s had off work) and I’m feeling a little bit anxious about it. I suggested going to a nice little village I’ve been to a couple of times recently with best friend. It takes about 45 minutes to get there and the scenery is absolutely beautiful but it’s a big challenge to all of the agoraphobic symptoms. Even though the rational part of my head says that I’ve done it before so I can do it again, this will be the furthest I’ve travelled with my Mum for a long time. But she has been so good to me and I’ve been saving up for a few weeks so I could take her to a really nice (but pretty expensive) restaurant that sits right next to the water. It gets excellent reviews so I’m sure the food will be lovely but again that is another big test to me – both being far away from home AND having to sit and wait until food arrives, fight the anxiety off enough so that I can get an appetite to eat, sit and make conversation for an hour or so, take a wander around the little row of shops, then finally come back home. I’m going to leave the dogs at home so that I can use them as an excuse to get back home for. I don’t like leaving them for any longer than 3 or 4 hours by themselves so that will give us enough time to get there, have our lunch, look at the shops and get home.

On Wednesday I’m going to try and get an appointment with lovely GP. That will be almost a week since seeing new psychiatrist so I’m assuming he will have got a letter to her by Wednesday stating what medication changes have to take place. Going on Wednesday means it will be exactly two weeks before I’d be due another monthly prescription so that should work out quite well – it will give me two weeks of adjusting to the higher dose of Mirtazapine as well as seeing how I tolerate the Pregabalin. Then I can go back and see her two weeks later when I’m due my monthly prescription and we can decide if I’m happy with the new med adjustments or if I want to change anything. I have to admit I’m feeling a bit very apprehensive about adding a new medication into the mix. I know I’ve chopped and changed and increased and reduced a shit load of meds over the years but I’m always a bit phobic of them to begin with, convinced they are going to give me tonnes of side effects and leave me in such a state of panic that no med in my emergency stash will be able to calm me down from. I don’t know whether to just add on the 15mg to my Mirtazapine and take the full 45mg at bedtime – I currently take the 30mg all at bedtime, and I figure that way I can hopefully sleep off any side effects. As for the Pregabalin I don’t know if I should add that into the bedtime cocktail or take it in the morning. I pretty much take all of my meds at night to try and sleep off some of the zombieness that accompanies them. I guess lovely GP can recommend the best way to take them seeing as new psychiatrist didn’t bother his arse *rolls eyes*… So anyways, that is Wednesday’s plan.

Thursday I have an appointment with lovely support worker at rape crisis and I think that now we can maybe start getting back on track and doing the ‘work’ that I’m supposed to be doing there. Due to me not getting in touch with CPN#2 for so long, some of my appointments with support worker have turned into mental health type stuff and that’s not really what I’m there to talk to her about.

But Friday I have an appointment to go back and see CPN#2 so I’m going to dig out that compassionate mind stuff she posted out to me and make sure I read at least the first chapter before our appointment so I can at least sound as though I’m trying (even if I do think it all sounds a load of bullshit deep down).

So that’s my week ahead… exciting times eh?!

I want to try and get to sleep early tonight so meds have been taken and as soon as I finish rambling on here I’m getting straight into my pyjamas. I never know which is worse – wake up early and have time to get organised, mentally prepare myself for the anxiety I know I’ll soon be feeling, take some Diazepam, take lots of deep breaths, kinda ‘psyche’ myself up to it if you like. Or is it easier when I sleep in late, have to jump up and have a shower, get dressed, dry my hair, walk the dogs, feed the dogs, run out the door chucking some Diazepam down my throat – all of which done within 30 minutes of opening my eyes. Is it easier to take the time to mentally prepare or is it easier to just throw yourself in, very much at the deep end? I don’t know which is the best method, both have been tried and failed, both have been tried and worked. Sometimes I think the best way is just not to plan anything, that way you can never be disappointed in yourself. I try and tell myself I’m just going out for a while, just going to spend time with my mum or best friend or whomever, that I’ll be back home soon, there’s no need to panic, but sometimes the panic just laughs straight in my face then sucks me in, sends me crazy, then spits me back out as a quivering anxious wreck…

OK, on that note I’ll say goodnight. Fingers crossed that tomorrow won’t be too anxiety provoking and maybe I’ll even manage to have a nice time and enjoy spending a few hours just Mum and me. I want her to have a nice day so I really need my panic to behave itself and stay well away hidden in the background if only for a few hours.

Goodnight folks! x

13:06 – Well that was a surprise!

18 Jul

I have been wanting a kitten for months now but there have been none for sale/free to good homes in my area the whole time I’ve been looking. A couple of days ago I saw a little black cat called Tiff who is 15 months old but her owner was no longer able to keep her. Now – she isn’t a kitten which I wanted, she is pure black when I wanted a tabby or tortoiseshell, and her owner lived down one of the big scary roads that I haven’t attempted in years. The round trip was about 100 miles.

Something made me want Tiff and I phoned the owner and explained my situation about the agoraphobic stuff, to my surprise her husband suffered from it as well! So she completely understood and instantly I felt the pressure on me drop. I told her I was going to try and get there and set off with best friend and her two little kids in tow, I took only a small amount of Diazepam and plugged my iPod into my stereo so I could listen to music whilst I was feeling OK, but change it to the mindfulness tracks when I started panicking. We had one episode that lasted about 20 minutes where I had to keep the woman just telling me how to breathe, if anyone had looked at me they would have thought I was in labour as my full focus was on my breath.

But it worked! And eventually we got there! And because I made it there and back I no longer feel like the massive huge failure I felt for not being able to get to the dermatologist on Monday.

So before I go I just have one last thing to say and that is – meet Tiff! – I need to take a better photo of her but I interrupted her cleaning routine to get this photo so I’ll wait ’til she is curled up later. And the best thing is she has been in a house with dogs so she will come and sit on my knee and let the dogs play with her. She is starting to come out of her shell now and I think she’s going to be really happy here!

Hi I’m Tiff!

 

17:07 – “But you need to at least try….”

15 Jul

Tomorrow I have an appointment at big scary hospital to see a consultant dermatologist as my psoriasis is really bad at the moment. I have only been to big scary hospital in the back of an ambulance after I have taken an overdose or something and am sedated or completely out of it and tomorrow I am supposed to be there at 9.05am.

We have talked about this for a couple of weeks, whether or not I was going to try and go. We had come up with a plan that my social worker would drive and my Mum would come with us and sit in the back seat with me so I could cuddle into her and close my eyes. I had asked my social worker to speak to Mr Psychiatrist about a small amount of sedation like 2mg Lorazepam but he refused saying that I had to experience a panic attack without masking it with medication and realise it wasn’t going to kill me. I sort of understand where he is coming from, and because I can now get the bus back from the looney bin which is like 2 hours away he thinks my agoraphobia is pretty much gone. He doesn’t seem to get that I can only do that route now because I did it with sedation the first few times and now that it has become familiar to me it no longer scares me.

Big scary hospital on the other hand is not a route I am familiar with and so I hoped he would prescribe something for the first attempt at getting there, but he said no. I do have a little stash, as most of us mentalz do, I’ve got a couple of lorazepam from a previous hospital visit, I’ve got my prescribed diazepam and I’ve got a couple of Zopiclone that I got off a friend. I have already told my social worker that I will self medicate to try and get myself there and she basically said there was nothing she could do to stop me but the most important thing is that I get to the appointment.

My psoriasis is now covering my elbows, my thighs, my knees and lower legs and little patches are now appearing on my hands and feet. If I go to the appointment and have to show it all to the dermatologist then I will also need to expose my “worst” self harm scars. This worries me a lot as well.

This morning I woke up and tried to use mindfulness to put me in a calm and positive frame of mind but instead I ended up being sick then having a panic attack just thinking about it. So I took some diazepam but it didn’t make the panic attack go away and then I was sick again. Then I ended up in tears because I was panicking so much and nothing was helping it and I hate being sick also so I decided that I was cancelling the appointment. I phoned best friend to see what she thought and her response was “but you need to at least try and do it” – how can I even try when I’m so fucking terrified?

Mum is away to big scary city an hour away visiting my Aunt to see how she is recovering before the chemo starts so I can’t phone her until tonight. I have to let her know tonight if I’m going to try and go or not as we will need to leave here shortly after 8am tomorrow morning. I tried to contact my social worker as well but I know she will say the same, that ultimately it’s up to me but I really need my skin looked at and some proper treatment prescribed. We have tried every single steroid cream possible and the next step is UV light treatment. Which will mean regular trips to big scary hospital. But will it still be big scary hospital after I have done it once? Will I be able to do it with less/no sedation the 2nd or 3rd time once it’s familiar?

I really don’t know what to do. Every time I think about it I end up in a complete mess and I don’t want to mess anyone around in the morning. I need to decide that I am going to give it a shot or decide I am cancelling the appointment. I am scared that if I go in social worker’s car that even though I would be with two people I trust more than anything, I would be stuck in the back with no door to escape out of and once I’m in the car she could just keep driving and take me there even if I was hysterical.

I really, truly do not know what to do. I don’t think I am brave enough to try but then I look at my body and know I can’t go on like this. Why the fuck do I need to stay in such a rural area where we can’t even have a dermatologist outpatient clinic? I am so so scared and my mind is racing at 100 miles an hour back and forth, back and forth, can I do it? No I cant… Yes I can…. No I can’t. I need to make a decision and stick with it but I don’t even think I can do that. I want the easy way out – phone and cancel, but I also want my skin to heal.

Ugh I just do not know what to do.

Protected: Deleted

19 Jul

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: 15:02 – I am a fucking whale

13 Feb

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: 01:04 – Graded Exposure Journey 5

9 Jul

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: 23:42 – Graded Exposure Journey 4

8 Apr

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: 10:37 – Graded Exposure Journey 3

1 Apr

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: 19:35 – Graded Exposure Journey 2

6 Mar

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,826 other followers