Hi again everyone!
In this 3rd of my series “Coexisting with agoraphobia, anxiety and panic attacks “ I’d like to share with you the nitty gritty about how I make my life work on a daily basis while living with my challenge. Maybe some of you might pick up a tip or trick that will make your life a little easier. The first thing I would like to address is the ever popular question of “HOW DO I GET MY GROCERIES???” LOL
1….Everyone asks me…like it’s rocket science: HOW DO I GE T MY GR OCE RIES? ! Consulted on two plays and one movie and in all the interviews that was the #1 question. It’s not like there aren’t people all over the place that you can hire to do errands for you! I myself found a wonderful way that works for me today. I barter. I found a gal named Tammy on Craigslist and I make her shirts or other advertising items for her bisiness and she shops in return. It’s a great way to do business and a lost art!
2. Haircuts: Since July of 1981 I have been using a Flowbee. It’s the greatest gadget for cutting hair and saves me a lot of money as well as solves my hair cutting problems. Of course if you feel you can go out and get your hair cut GO, but if you cannot, this is a great solution. Also good for the elderly who can’t get into the shop or someone just home from hospital etc.
3. Clothes shopping, banking and shopping for almost anything else can be done online. God Bless computers and my friend Luci for convincing me to get one many years ago! When I find something that fits such as jeans or shoes I usually buy more than one pair. For most all things other than clothing I use ebay or amazon.com. I don’t have enough good things to say about amazon.com, especially their Prime plan which includes second day delivery.
4. Medical Services… This one can be tricky. Sometimes I have to go without medical services, but sometimes, like now, I am lucky enough to have found a visiting physician’s service that comes to the home. I used to have a dentist who made home visits, but no longer do, but hope to sometime soon. One way to find a doctor who might visit you at home if you have not had luck so far is to call the local nursing homes. Often doctors who visit there will come to see others at home as well.
I’d like to mention here again that if anyone has a service that comes to their home for any reason I’d appreciate your contacting me through my website at http://eaisaksen.com and let me know so I can add it to the list.
5. To help me keep a handle on my day-to-day anxiety I have two counselors that I consult. I have one, David, who I see regularly and who keeps me on an even keel with the daily happenings in my life and one that I have known for even longer that I talk to via phone when I really get stuck with the anxiety etc…Flora is an agoraphobic specialist and can usually help me through a hard time in a heartbeat. Both bring different and invaluable things to my life. Ongoing support is so important for anyone with our challenge in life.
6. If you don’t have or can’t afford a counselor good friends who can lend an ear can be just as valuable. I have friends that I have made online that I have never met that I consider family! Luci is one such person. She is also a homebound agoraphobic and is the person in my life that I can most identify with and can who can identify with me. We have known each other over 25 years and I am very fortunate to have her as a friend as she can understand so much more about where I am at at any given time than the average person who does not have the same challenge. It’s very important to maintain friendships even if you cannot always get to see that person in person. Talk to your friends about how you feel, and ask them for what you need from them. Opening up about how you feel is a large key to reducing anxiety. If you are hurting or grieving for example, let yourself FEEL those feelings. Pain, hurt and grief are all parts of life…parts we need to experience fully. By all means make a point however, to balance your conversations with friends and loved ones with fun and lighter things as well so there is a balance in your connection/relationship.
If you are trying to bring new people into your life and personal space and feel awkward I have had good luck telling them a bit about myself and then arranging to do a project with them that will keep us occupied while they are here. It makes things less awkward and makes it easier to get used to one another. It works with family members too….it’s a good way to be together and NOT focus on anxiety!
7. The telephone can be our best friend. I have learned to use my telephone to accomplish almost anything I could do if I actually went out. Sometimes I have to get assertive or creative but it usually works. When my mom was ill and living with me my home was like command central and I covered all her medical care etc right from my home. Sometimes I’d even arrange teleconferencing with her doctors and health care providers to straighten out certain situations!
Other issues like tending to bill problems can be dealt with via phone especially if you tell people you are disabled. I hate that word, but often it gets people’s attention and they will cooperate with you.
8. Eat a healthy diet….I try to eat fairly well. I eat a good breakfast, my main meal at noon and just eat lightly at night. By now many of you know sugar and caffeine especially can be bad for us as they are stimulants. Most of us already know that there are many healthy diets out there but what I mainly wanted to add here is that high anxiety can wreak havoc with our blood sugar. I learned in a course I took that at times of high anxiety to eat high protein foods if possible…..even when going out it is a good idea to carry something like a cheese, eggs, chicken or peanut butter. If you feel weak-ish or light headed it can be from low blood sugar due to the anxiety. Protein is the healthiest way to bring the blood sugar back up.
9. Stay creative….try to get up every day with some thought of something interesting that you can do or become involved in. I can’t tell you how much this has helped me. It may take a little effort to think about what that might be, but if you can focus on the things you can do it will give you more reason to be joyful in your day. Stay as positive as you can and try to have FUN with what you choose to do. The important thing is to try to get out of your own head a little and stay involved in the world, even from home. You can take college courses online or do home repairs or just play on your computer. I have a business making mostly custom printed items and OFTEN get very excited when I think about a new design I can make for the holidays for example. I have a T-shirt design and Christmas ornament that I designed for agoraphobia support. You can find these things again on my website at: http://eaisaksen.com or http://living-with-agoraphobia.com.
10. Keeping positive thoughts in your head as much as possible….I know how easy it is to have your mind race all over the place. This is never helpful for those of us challenged with anxiety. One way I have found that helps a lot is to listen to interesting or inspirational audiobooks. I work from home and am fairly busy most days and don’t’ have time to read many books cover to cover so I belong to audible .com ( a division of amazon.com) and listen to books all day long at times. If I am not listening to books I am listening to peaceful music. I find that even if I don’t hear every word of a book some of the messages really do get through and when my mind decides to run amok many times it is the words from the book that I am thinking about instead of random scary or negative thoughts. It gives our brain an alternate and positive place to focus. I have many book recommendations on my website as well.
11. Have a routine….. For me having a routine is very important. It helps keep me organized and less scattered. I don’t do well with “scattered”….It’s good to break from your routine once in a while so you don’t become rigid, but for me at least a usual daily routine helps to keep my anxiety down. One thing to be sure to do however, is not make your routine so full of things you have to do that you get overwhelmed. Once again small increments and baby steps are the way to go!
12. Laugh and play…..Laughing is so healing. Find something humorous every day to laugh about, even if it is at yourself. Some of my funniest stories pertain to mef and agoraphobia. One of them is about my parrot Crackers. Once I went to put him in his cage and was very anxious and not focusing and tried to stuff him in the garbage. Another time I tried to stuff him in the microwave! POOR Crackers! I hope your stories are less threatening to your pets than mine! Pets, btw, can also be very calming influences on us. Their unconditional love is invaluable. I am an animal lover and have had everything from horses and sheep to monkeys and reptiles. Today I just have two dogs and a parrot named Graycie
13. SLOW DOWN, Don’t RUSH …. As a group we are people who are easily stimulated and tend to move quickly and have racing thoughts. SOMETIMES I have noticed that if I can’t slow my thoughts down IF I MOVE slowly, walk slowly, and talk SLOWLY it helps a lot. Sometimes the mind will follow. Try it out, especially if you have an appointment or something to do outside…..plan ahead so you don’t have to rush and move slowly and talk to yourself SLOWLY….it will give you your best shot at keeping the anxiety down.
14. Following closely behind slowing down is the concept of SLEEP. I wish I could tell you the difference in myself when I don’t get enough sleep. I am pretty rigid these days about my sleep habits. My days start pretty early in the morning (I am usually awake around 5ish) but I also make them end early and no matter how busy I get that is not negotiable. I go into my bedroom very early…soon after dinner… and just rest. I might watch a little mindless TV and then read a bit or listen to music or meditate. One great thing to meditate on is the person you really are deep within ….the one without the anxiety. We all have that part. If we can get in touch with other parts of ourselves, the parts we truly love and remember from days when we didn’t have anxiety, it gives us hope that we can be that way again. That person in not gone, just a bit covered up! So, what I am saying here is I do my best to bring my day to a peaceful ending by giving myself enough time to unwind before going to sleep. I hope you are all able to find a way to find your own version of doing that in a time frame/ pattern that works for you because it really can make a difference.
15. I try to remain as open as I possibly can about my challenge with anxiety and easily tell others about it. I used to be embarrassed and would always make excuses for why I didn’t want to do things with people. These days I no longer care much about what people think. It’s my life and I have to live it as best I can. I share how I feel, which is extremely important on many levels, one being that fact that people cannot tell how I feel by looking at me as a rule. SO, when I am anxious I have to share it. This takes some getting used to, but honestly it is easier in the long run to just be open about it than to try and hide it and expect others to be a mind reader. I ask people to try to just accept what I am telling them even if they really can’t understand it. I ask them to work with me to try to make some things doable. Those who are willing invariably stay in my life longer.
Ours is an invisible illness…one of the most difficult to deal with because no one can “see” it. If we had no legs no one would expect us to dance , but when they see nothing “wrong “ with us others may have expectations at times that are beyond what we can do. We need to trust ourselves to know that we are honestly doing the best we can do and that’s all we can do and NOT beat ourselves up for what we cannot do OR WHAT OTHERS think or don’t understand. Many people, however, are very willing to go the extra mile to get to know us…we just need to find them. When we do we have to do our best to let the love and caring in so we can have as much support as possible to go forward on our journey.
It is my wish for all of us that others would see beyond the anxiety and fear and agoraphobia and into our hearts to the real being inside. We are so much more than anxiety!
I thank you all again for watching my little series. See you next time!
You can reach me by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org