Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Is Recovery like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny?

photo by Space Potato
Seriously, is Recovery even real? Or is it something doctors make up to tell their patients so that they will keep coming back over and over again for more medication, more therapy, more hope. Can someone with anxiety ever be "normal"?

I have been trying to be grateful and soak in the goodness I have been feeling lately since I haven't had a full on panic attack but that doesn't mean I am cured. I am far from it. I still get anxious and I have anticipatory anxiety and I am majorly avoiding my fears. This weekend I have a conference for work that involves a luau and a family BBQ. Did I think to myself, "Oh that sounds like fun. I can't wait to go." No. In fact I put down that I wouldn't be attending. Why? Because I don't know how to drive there and I don't want to stress about trying to find it myself or feel stupid for putting someone out of their way for a ride. Also because I will be going alone and I don't feel like having to eat at a small table with other coworkers since that is really hard for me. So what am I doing? I am avoiding the whole situation. But then I feel guilty that I am giving into my fears and I can't do that. So I think I have talked myself into going to one of them.
I also have some friends coming over Friday to see our new room in our basement and we'll have a BBQ. Am I crazy? I want them to come over yes, but I don't want to BBQ. I am dreading the BBQ. Anytime I think about it I get butterflies. What is wrong with me? I should be excited to see friends.

My friend at work who has been nothing but nice to me is having a baby shower Aug. 3rd. That happens to be my 5 year anniversary. I should be really bummed that I won't be able to make it, but instead its a huge relief because I won't have to worry about eating in front of a bunch of women.

I guess I am letting The Victim and The Perfectionist in, but I can't help but feel like enough is enough.

I want to feel what "recovery" tastes like. Just a sample. To me recovery doesn't mean the panic attacks are gone. Recovery means I look at social events with my friends, family, and coworkers as something to look forward to, something to want to be involved in. Recovery means not avoiding "life."

Is that even possible? Will this always be something I manage, like some chronic illness? I've read that you can be "cured" in 6 months to a couple years. I think I have to see it to believe it.

What does "recovery" mean to you?

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elphf said...

You have encapsulated so completely how I feel sometimes that I hardly know what to say. Recovery is a process not a destination. Sometimes we improve so slowly that it doesn't feel like it is happening at all, but it is happening. Someday I'll be able to look back and see that the obstacles that I think are so big right now don't look so big anymore and that there are more good moments and fewer bad moments.

I don't believe in a cure because I believe everyone feels anxiety sometimes. That is normal. If they don't, that is probably a problem too.

I don't believe anxiety is something that will always have to be managed either. I think this idea of "managing" anxiety (for me) is part of the disease itself, part of my need to control the environment around me to keep myself "safe".

Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog and I love it! You have put into words exactly how I feel! I have friends coming into town this weekend, and I should be excited to see them, but instead I have intense anxiety over it. The thought of going out to dinner with a group of people makes me want to crawl into bed and avoid the whole thing. I am sick of making excuses and having to miss out on life!
Recovery is absolutely a process and I don't think that anxiety is something we can completely eliminate, but we can get to the point where an evening with friends is something we look forward to, not dread.

Molly said...

A while ago I abandoned the word recovery. I finaly decided that I just need to be confortable with who I am.
I think that once you can recognize what your triggers are, and why they are your triggers, you can become comfortable with who you are.
I was at a big wig lunch today and had "a rush." In the past this rush would have sent me to the ladies room to do breathing exercises, splash water on my face and convince myself I was not going to die. Today I was able to talk to myself, while sitting at the table, and allow the feelings to happen while not letting them happen TO me.
Is this where close! Do I know myelf well enough to know that I am comfortable with the fact that this is part of my life...yea!

Take Care

Anonymous said...

It's different for everyone, I wish there was a cut 'n dried method. I've been fighting anxiety all my life and only now, I am 40 years old, am I really beating it. Meds, therapy, meetings, reading... it all helped me. I hope yours goes away, Aimee.

Aimée said...

Wow I am so grateful for all the support that you guys have offered. You are all awesome. You are full of such good ideas I love it. I am glad I am not the only one that feels the way I do.

Anonymous, welcome to the blog and I am so glad you enjoy it. I hope you come back soon.

I really like what you said Molly, about abandoning the idea of recovering and learning to be comfortable with who you are. The more I think about that the more it makes sense. If I feel like I am not "cured" than I will always feel like there is something wrong with me as opposed to loving myself just the way I am. Hmmm, thanks for the new perspective.

social avoidance said...

Hi Aimee, thanks for stopping by at the Social Anxiety Blog. I agree with Molly 100%, I'm walking the same path right now. Just accepting myself the way I am and recognizing my strong and weak points. I want to have friends whom I feel comfortable with, I want to be around people whom I feel comfortable with, I want to live my life just as I am and stop worrying about being the way I am.

ShamWOW! said...

I think Edie said it well. "Recovery is a process, not a destination".

I've read about many anxiety sufferers who considered themselves cured, but from their writing it didn't really sound as though they were cured to me. Maybe it's just my inner skeptic, but who knows?

I do think recovery is possible, but complete recovery? Maybe for those who didn't have all that bad of an anxiety problem in the first place, it's possible with CBT and stuff. On the other hand, for someone like me who only months ago was experiencing multiple panic attacks every single day, I don't think it's possible to recover from that. The trauma alone will be enough to keep me on guard for the rest of my natural life, probably. It was horrible.

But, if you look at it as a process, you can kind of see it like Molly does. It's just about getting better and adapting. One has to be comfortable with the fact that there will be times that they're going to be a little "off". However, the frequency and intensity of those times CAN be minimized and one can lead a happy life regardless.

I'm WELL on my way in that department. I've abandoned the concept of "total recovery" because I think it puts too much pressure on me. That's to say that when I have setbacks, my disappointment is amplified.

So screw it, you know? I am who I am. If I don't want to go to a big gathering, I won't. Even before Anxiety-Panic disorder came into my life I never like that kind of thing, anyway. Why, then, should I be comfortable about doing that sort of thing now of all times? It's just my personality. I like small groups of close friends, and acquaintances in small doses. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

I don't think I've talked about this subject in my own blog in a while, and I very well may write an entry about it pretty soon. Hope you don't take offense.

Great topic, though.

Aimée said...

Great feedback Debaser. By all means blog away I don't mind. The more discussion the better.

After all your comments I think I am going to give up the idea of full recovery. That way I can take the pressure off, learn to be comfortable with who I am, and like Debaser says, "Screw it!" lol. Then if someday I realize that I have reached my dream world than great, but I won't leave my personal happiness dependent on that day.

Its amazing to me how many different topics that I think about always return to the self esteem and confidence issue.

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