After months of fighting, begging, and waiting I have finally started an OHIP covered treatment program for all the anxiety/panic issues I’ve been dealing with. The next few months are going to be rough, but I’ll be working with a team from a few different outpatient clinics and health centres in the area. Last week I met with a psychiatrist and a social worker (separate services) for assessment, and both agreed to continue working with me. OHIP only covers a handful of sessions with each, but I’m hopeful that even the short time will be of help. They’ve both also mentioned options for services following their own, ones that they can get me into – therapy, panic support counselling, anxiety wellness group. I finally feel like I’ve been able to gain access to this seemingly impenetrable system after 8 long years.
The timing of this is equally perfect and horrible. You see, for as long as I’ve been dealing with these issues, I’ve never had my world shrink down to it’s current extreme. My anxiety may have been bad in the past, but school and work and life always forced me to keep my bubble large and rather elasticized. There was always the occasional bad day where I just couldn’t, but most of the time I’d take a deep breath and step out into the world. If need be I’d go out to my car or into a stairwell to have a panic attack or cry or shout in frustration. But, I was still out there, moving, interacting.
But I don’t have that anymore. I don’t have school or work or life. In the spring my bubble was the whole of central London. In the summer it was the spaces (and walking route between) home and work. Now it’s shrunk to the second floor of the house. The world outside the bubble feels dangerous, filled with unpredictability and discomfort. Everything has the potential to set me off, to make me lose myself in a space that is not safe, and that’s terrifying.
I wasn’t familiar with the idea of the shrinking world until recently (at least not consciously), but it’s a shift I began to notice over the past year. Those who know me know I love to travel, and would go just about anywhere in a heartbeat. But in spring 2014 I had a flight booked and entire trip planned to Oslo, but on the day of departure I couldn’t get on the plane. I was terrified and I didn’t know why, so I spent days/weeks beating myself up for such an irrational decision to not go. I mean, really? I’ve been to 15 countries, half of those travelling solo. I’ve had so much shit thrown at me while travelling (figuratively and literally, as some of you may remember!) that I know I’m fully capable of dealing with many worst case scenarios. And yet…
I’d hoped it was a one off, but then in November when I was meant to go to New York I once again panicked. I sent a text to a close friend stating “I can’t go to New York. I just don’t think I should go.” and when she asked “How come?”, I replied “I’m terrified.” Truthfully, the only reason I did end up going was because of an argument at home and the resulting fear of staying and dealing with the ramifications of that outweighed my fear of going on the trip.
That trip was two months ago now, and since returned home my bubble has snapped back in around me. I don’t leave the house for days on end (a week in a few instances), and when I do, I don’t venture far. And because of this, every time I go out, it’s more difficult than the last time.
After my appointment with the psychiatrist last week I was so utterly frustrated with myself and how bad this has gotten that I got in the car and drove to Toronto, where I got out for about 15 minutes before driving back home. I then had a massive panic attack, of course, but two steps forward, one step back is better than the reverse. The leap without looking approach has always been my go-to in the past, and has served me well. I mean just over a year ago I went for a one week holiday to the UK, but decided to skip my flight home and stay for 10 months instead. Unfortunately I’m not in a position to leap right now. I have no money, no job prospects, and no where to go. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in the past to have people who took me in while I got back on my feet after a massive leap, but I don’t think such an option exists this time round. Plus, shouldn’t there be a point where I can do it all on my own?
I must also admit that one of the worst things about the bubble is that it doesn’t limit me to the space itself (though that does indeed suck), but it limits my interactions with people outside of the bubble. I can’t talk to people anymore. Partially because I don’t know what to say, and partially because I’m embarrassed about being a narcissistic, scatter brained mess (and who on earth wants to have anything to do with that?). It’s easier just to not talk to people. Their lives are going so well, and the last thing I want to do it be some kind of damper in that.
Anyway. The social worker has given me some mundane tasks to accomplish (leave the house twice a day, even if only to do a quick walk around the block), cook a proper meal (apparently eating cereal for dinner every night isn’t great?), and get in contact with some people she suggested. I’ve yet to technically accomplish any of these things since our appointment on Wednesday, and I feel beyond pathetic about it. But tomorrow’s a new day and all that.