Monday, 30 December 2013

Happy Merry New Year!! Time to move forwards and let go of stuff.

Well we've made it to the end of another year.  I think that deserves some sort of Whoop, cheer, whoorah!  and if you don't think so, why the fuck not grumpy pants!? :D

For me it wasn't the greatest of starts, pretty much the same as many before it, however, it did improve, slowly, very slowly, but improve it did.  I realise everyone's will be different, some starting brilliantly, then going tragically wrong, or it could be that it went from one disaster to another, or any other of a multitude of ways.  Which ever way your year went, if you are reading this, you did make it to the other side.  A big achievement in its itself, and I don't mean reading this :-P, so give yourself a pat on the back and or give yourself a treat. :)

As I head into 2014 I am starting in the best position since my teens.  I'm not in my usual gloomy and depressed state.  I feel relatively happy.  Now this is certainly an unexpected surprise.  This has come about because of a change in my mindset, which happened as a consequence of the counselling I was paying for.  I can't say it's a complete mindset change, it's more a work in progress.  The more sessions I had and the thinking I did inbetween each session I slowly began to realise that I needed to let go of the thoughts I had of past, present and future events/situations, and how I thought of them, in order to stop them becoming stressful and anxiety inducing. It takes a determined effort, but very worth while.  The sorts of things I am talking about are handily illustrated in this link which I read yesterday and which also prompted my topic for this post.

20 things you need to let go to live happy life

As my mindset is changing I am finding I'm able to begin to relax into my life and on more than one occasion start enjoying it again.  It's quite freeing not having stupid worries.  I have a clearer head, one which means I think more rationally and frankly better, well most of the time.  Tiredness still does put a spanner in works. :D Now I know there are situations/events where worry/stress/anxiety are unavoidable, but you could at least mitigate how it affects you.

The last thing I can say is just go with the flow of whatever life brings your way and keeping striving with determination to not allow those bad things to stop you in your tracks.  Stories in literature, film and theatre would be boring without the highs and lows of life they show, we do all find them exciting.  Your life would be boring without them.  Embrace all that comes.  You'll be happier for it.

(okay, that was a little preachy, but honestly I don't care.  If you've just had experienced/still experiencing a time of shit, then I'm sorry.  I know it may seem like the end of the world, or that things won't get better, but they will.  Please don't give up, say a big Fuck You! to the ether and show the bastards you won't be beaten.)

I Wish You and your loved ones a Very Exciting and Fulfilling New Year!! :)

Monday, 23 December 2013

My last couple of months and my year as whole.

L Oooooo!! Well it's nearly Christmas,that time of year for stuffing as much food as humanly possible down your throat, possibly drinking yourself into a stupor to get through the day with the extended family and receiving presents, hopefully ones you actually want and not re-gifted items, vouchers, socks or some plastic piece of tat bought last minute because the gifter -

A). couldn't be arsed to spend any thought on it
B). politely doesn't like you
C). does like you, but was incredibly busy and felt guilty/or embarrassed to not give you nothing
D). is just plain and simply a lazy so and so.
E). any other reasons I can't be arsed to think of... :)

For me, this time of year is usually a little melancholic.  My birthday was a few days ago... inching ever closer to 40, only 24 short months away. Due to my issues I have tended to take stock of my year and my life and found what a wasted pile of arse nuggets it has been and depression, often very deep, would set in for the rest of the winter. This year, while there was a tiny bit of melancholia, well for me, on my birthday, I am feeling pretty good about myself and where I am at and where my life heading.  

I have been living in my flat for 6 weeks now.  Once I had moved all my belongings in, the past few months of arranging stuff and the actual move caught up with me and I felt mentally shattered.  I felt it on the first Sunday night, like being struck by a wall to my mind.  Had quite a large anxiety attack, but come the next day it subsided.  Once I was finally unpacked and had the flat how I wanted it, I started to be able to relax.  After a month it started to feel like home and now I enjoy it, having my own space.  My two neighbours in ground floor and basement flat have been welcoming and really nice.  I'm actually spending Christmas day with my basement flat neighbour, as we were both going to be home alone, mum is coming over on Boxing Day.  Here is a pic of my flat.

For the first time since starting my Open University degree a few years ago, I have attended 2 tutorials.  Felt quite anxious during the first one, even when being driven there, something I will continue to have until I am able to travel on public transport on my own, and having someone there.  Second one was a little easier.  Hopefully there will be a mostly forward progression as I attend more.  So far I have enjoyed the interaction with fellow students and the tutor, finding it helping to consolidate my learning. Looking forward to the next one in January.

The weekend of the 23rd November was, well just AWESOME!!  I'll explain why, hopefully not too long winded.  For the past couple of years I have been a member of the SFX magazine Forum, an online place for like minded geeks to chat, play games, etc.... Though I'm not sure why I wasn't using it before that, as I have been buying SFX magazine for about 16 years now.  Come to think about it, why was so reluctant tlo use any other social media, as I also joined the Book of Face shortly after and then 8 months after that I joined the online delight that is Twitter.  Anyway... Through these online social portals I began to make many online friends, friends who are now becoming real world ones.  There is an annual weekend get together at some holiday cottages in Chester, from the Friday evening to Monday morning, organised by a couple of lovely forumites.  So this year I decided to try and go, this was back in July when I was only just starting to go beyond my street.  I thought it would be a great incentive for me.  I am so happy I did, because it worked, along with the help and support I had been receiving, I had that extra something to look forward to.  This was the first holiday away I've had since my teens, so this was a big thing for me, holidaying with over 30 others.  The plan for me to travel from Kent to all the way up North was to get a lift to Milton Keynes and then I would be sharing a car with two or my lovely online friends.  Oh and to travel up the Thursday afternoon and stay overnight in Milton Keynes.   For reasons I can only put down to being my stupid brain, I had written down and in my head that it was going to be the weekend of the 30th. I received a text, from said friend in MK, during Thursday, which I didn't read until 6:30pm, saying "How's the journey going?"  So after phoning said friend, feeling stupid and much panicking and frantic packing and more phoning asking for a revised lift to MK, the journey to Chester was really relaxing and anxiety free.  I can't thank enough my travel companions for such a lovely journey.  Yes I know I have used the "Lovely" a lot, but everyone I met during the Geek meet simply was and really welcoming.  I couldn't have been put at more ease.  Everyone there helped me to have the best weekend in years.  A weekend of films, games, food, drink, laughter, a play in the car park oh and the Dr Who 50th.  There were a couple of minor issues, two power cuts, no heating to the bedrooms all weekend, some toilets broken, however, if anything these things helped bond everyone that bit more.  I will DEFINITELY be going again next year.

The other notable thing that has been going on is that I have hosted two dinner parties.  Something I'd never done before.  I thought it'd be a nice way of saying thank you to my family for helping to move here.  Both meals went down very well.  I didn't burn, under cook, spill or poison anyone.

The first meal I cooked was -

Starter - Carrot, orange and Mint soup with a swirl of cream and ciabatta bread
Main - Grilled Salmon with chilli and lime butter on a bed of Basmati rice, with Mediterranean veg
Dessert - Apple crumble and custard, brought by my sister.

My second meal -

Starter - same soup as before
Main - Chicken gumbo with rice
Dessert - again apple crumble and custard

I will be cooking for mum on Boxing day, same main course and dessert as first meal, but with Courgette, potato and cheddar soup for starter.  I plan to cook for friends in the new year.

Well.... My year certainly didn't begin in the best of ways.  I won't explain again, if interested please read my first couple of posts.  But things have definitely turned around and now going in the right direction, FINALLY.  I think if anyone had told me in January that by the end of the year that I would be living in my first flat, going to tutorials, going away on a holiday or let alone cooking a meal for more than me, given I used to just heat things up or be able to go beyond the boundary of my street for any meaningful journey, I would have said "Fuck off."  But here I am and having achieved those things.  I am genuinely looking forwards to the next year, to meeting again and more for the first time my online friends, hanging out with old friends, making strides to be able to travel around on my own and achieving things I haven't thought of.

So if any of you reading this and have problems/issues/troubles in your life and think things aren't going to improve, well they will.  Maybe not imediately, but they will.  Keep striving, don't let the bastards beat and keep you down.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Top 20 Films of My Year

This is a list of the top 20 films I've seen this year.  As I haven't been able to see cinema released films and have to wait for Shiny disc, many on my list were released last year.

And these are in no particular order, but I do have a top 5, also in no order.



The Imposter

The Hunt

Silver Linings Playbook

Robot and Frank


Moonrise Kingdom



The Hunger Games


The Artist


Before Midnight

Top 5:

Kings of Summer

Iron Man 3

A Royal Affair

Life of Pi

Searching for Sugar Man

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Big Changes

Hello, how have you been?

Me?  Well it's actually been quite a hectic time during these past couple of months, something I've really not had to cope with in a very long time.  I went from a totally sedentary life to one with lots going on.  Before I say why exactly I've been so busy, I will give some context.  Oh this does tie in with one of the things my care co-ordinator helped me with before I was discharged.

Something I had begun to realise very early on during my counselling was that living at home with my dad and being around my parents in general, my mindset and often behaviour, was very much that of a teenager.  I absolutely hate it.  Then about a month or so later, dad went into hospital for heart surgery, he had a valve replaced.  The operation went well, though he had a bit of a scare after it, when a build up of fluid made it seem as though he was having a heart attack.  Apparently this fluid is quite common.  Anyway, when he came home, he informed both myself and my sister that he had would be getting married next year and that he and his now fiancĂ©e would be moving to another area.

I was happy for them both, but there was a bit of apprehension on my part, not because of their getting married, it was to do with the fact that it meant I would be moving too.  Now you have to note that at this point I still hadn't even been passed the end of my street in any way shape or form, so I did feel quite a bit anxious.  They both told me that I would have a home with them, very kind and generous for them to offer.  Over the next few months my steady growing confidence in how I began to feel, coupled with the acknowledgement of the mindset I had, really made me think about what I wanted, that I did not want to move into a house with a newly married couple and that I no longer could put with how living with dad makes me feel.  It also didn't make me feel good about myself in general, that someone my age was still living at home, even if for pretty good reasons.  I knew I had to make changes to rectify this, to get my independence.

Speaking with my MIND mentor, she told me that they may be able to help as they have semi supported living accommodation for those looking to transition and gain their independence.  I filled the form in and waited.  In the meantime, my care co-ordinator had referred me to Sanctuary housing for a housing support officer, someone to help me making transitions and not just with housing, but other things like eventually working.  So for the past few months, this is what I've been doing, filling forms, many many many forms with various charities to try and get myself housing.  All this was extra impetus in my quest to get myself out.  I heard back from MIND and was given an interview to see how suitable I would be for housing.  A couple of weeks after my interview they let me know I was first on the list and would have first refusal of any flat which became available.  I was still applying for others in the meantime.  I did see one flat with MIND back in August, but for me it was too out of the way and quiet, something I've had way too much of, so I turned it down.

However, I am happy to announce that another flat through MIND was becoming available and one which today I signed the tenancy for, a 2 year tenancy and I will be collecting the keys for on Monday. :)


For over a month I've been sorting stuff out for the move, on top of my re-starting my studies and continuing to get myself out.  Oh and I managed to get to my first tutorial a couple of weeks ago, with support, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, after initial anxiety and fluctuating anxiety during.  Looking forward to the next one in December.

My life is beginning to turn and in a direction I couldn't have contemplated at the beginning of the year.  Things are happening, I have plans, exciting ones for me.  My aim is to change the title of this blog within 18 months.

Pictures will be up in a couple of weeks once I am settled in my own place.

Laters... :)

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Info of my past 7 months

Howdy! Ciao, bonjour, hello, hola, G'day......

Well it has been almost 7 months since I last posted anything about me and you may or may not be wondering about what I've been up to or what has happened during these intervening months.  It's a mixed bag of nothing and lots of stuff.  I'll try to explain in as brief way I can, a summation rather than a day by day account, which, let's be frank, yes frank not Bill or Timmy or Kenny, would be very dull.

Not long after my last post I had a really bad IBS flair up.  It was the worst one I've ever had.  It started with stomach cramps, then feeling extremely bloated and nauseous.  I then began to feel hot and really anxious.  Next I felt I needed the loo quite desperately, which turned into me not being able to remove myself from it from around 4pm until almost midnight.  Through those 8 or so hours I just kept producing industrial amounts of belching and farting, which had no relief what so ever, I was going from feeling hot to then shivering cold and back to sweating again.  The whole experience to a lot out of me.  For a few days after I pretty much ate nothing as I was still feeling ill.  Since this episode I have really started from the beginning again regarding my diet and my eating.  With the help of an NHS dietician, who visits me at home, I have been able to control my IBS, things are much more comfortable, I am feeling more human, less lethargic, stomach cramps and bloating have decreased a fair bit, though i still produce more burps per day than anyone should, so should I be meeting any of you who are reading this, I do apologise in advance.  It's something I can't help.  How much I actually eat in a meal became tiny, less than child portions, half a slice of bread with margarine and a third of a tin of tuna with a bit of lettuce.  I have been slowly increasing since then and now I'm a tiny bit away from a full sarnie.  I'm going to continue over the next few months until I can eat one and a half sandwiches, with a bag of crisps, a piece of fruit and maybe a cake or biscuit.  So subsequently I have continued to lose weight, hopefully I'll be going back in the right direction soon with increased calories.

The types of foods I can eat have changed.  I'm on a wheat free, gluten free, lactose free diet.  Which has helped me, but it is also much more expensive to buy.  A typical loaf of bread costs £1 for 800g, wheat/gluten free bread costs £3 for a 400-500g loaf.  My diet has also been quite restrictive too, but as of today, I'll be on a low FODMAP diet, essentially it's to do with the carbohydrates within foods and the ones which are known to cause the bloating in the guts. This is across all foods, from fruit, veg, condiments, starchy foods, etc...

Here's a link to Kings College London which explains it more in detail if you're interested

It means I can begin to vary my diet, woo hoo!  Maybe a little normalcy added to my life.

Well this is one of my support avenues which has been a great.  One which was frankly shit, was my local mental health team and my care co-ordinator/social worker.

I was referred to the team in the December of last year and was assigned a care co-ordinator in the January.  She visited me that month, once, I spoke to her the phone about 6 weeks later, after I called them, then I had no communication from them for months.  I decided to phone again to find out what was going on.  I manage to just catch her the week she is leaving her post.  It then took me 3 months of continual phone calling to get myself assigned to someone else.  My new one, was helpful from the start, even admitting to me that the team had been, what she said politely had been slack.  I was getting referred for other avenues of help.

Now I should explain that in the intervening months of my waiting around to hear from the mental health team and after being told by the IAPT CBT therapist I was going to be referred for long term psychotherapy/counselling, I decided to pay for my own counselling.  I pay £35 per session once every 2 weeks, not a small sum for me, but it's the best money I have spent, ever.  I think I have now been seeing my therapist, who visits me at home, for around 5-6 months.  I have worked so much stuff out, things that have been plaguing my thoughts, ones which I've been ruminating, never until now being able to stop the cycle of destructive thinking/anxiety inducing/worry/stress.  During these months it's been like fog slowly dissipating, allowing me to think clearly and also to not think so much.  This therapy coupled with my mentor from M.I.N.D, who has been absolutely brilliant in helping me to gaining confidence about walking to the end of my road quite comfortably (she's training to be a counsellor herself and I think will be a fantastic one) and the dietary help lessening my IBS has made things easier for me to be able to tackle my agoraphobia.

3 months ago I took my first car passenger drive, beyond my street with my sister, in over 5 years.  We only went a very short distance, but it felt really great.  Since then dad has taken me most days during the week, mum has taken me out a few times and so has my sister.  I am able to be out for longer and the distance is slowly getting further.  This isn't to say I still don't find it difficult, because I do, however, not like before.
Here's a couple of photos I took,

I am slowly but surely gaining confidence within myself and beginning to actually feel pretty happy about myself, something I haven't felt in a very long time.  Things are changing for me, not without struggles, but changing.  I am back with a new vigour for studying to complete my degree with the Open University, this took a fair bit of form filling filling and appeals to get my funding for my modules, but I have them all in place now.  Study has now begun.  

Oh yeah, I side tracked myself from telling you about the care co-ordinator... Well a few weeks ago, after being referred for a couple of things, one I won't tell you about this time, I will in my next post, because it's about something that's in a process of happening and I'd rather say when it's definitely happening.  The other referral was for the Eating Disorder Service, this was because of my weight, I think she believed of was bulimic or purposefully anorexic, which presently my weight is in that category.  I did the assessment for that last week and because I have the dietician and counselling that's working for me, they don't feel there's anything else they can do for me at this stage.  Anyway, my care co-ordinator discharged me from the mental health team.  Why? you may ask.... well because i am receiving help which I found for myself, they feel there's nothing else they can do for me, also because I have been on their client list for almost 10 months they wanted me off the books.  Which hasn't been helpful for me regarding this something I'll write about in my next post.

Anyway.... that's pretty much most of it.  As I said at the beginning a lot of nothing and a lot of something.

Friday, 12 April 2013


Set in an irradiated America, where everyone now lives within the walls of Mega cities.  Our film takes place within Mega City One, a chaotic, violent metropolis, which stretches from Boston to Washington D.C and is home to some 800 million people, and is  ruled by criminal gangs.  There is some order and this comes in the form of the men and women of The Hall of Justice.  They dispense justice, there on the spot... they are Judges, Juries and if need be... Executioners... They are the Law.

Judge Dredd is known and feared.  On a routine day he is assigned the duty of assessing Judge in training, Cassandra Anderson, who also happens to have a genetic mutation giving her psychic abilities.  Soon into their day they are called to one of the city's 200 storey slum mega tower blocks and the scene of three brutal murders.  Dredd and Anderson are told by one of the medics on scene that these deaths may have something to do with the Ma Ma, a prostitute turned criminal clan leader, who runs the block, from the upper floors, with fear and profits from the manufacture and distribution of the newest drug on the street Slow Mo.  A drug which does what it says on the tin, so to speak, it gives the user the perception of the world being slowed.  Dredd decides they will investigate, without backup.  They manage to apprehend Ma Ma's number 2.  She fear's that this will lead the Judge's getting information about her operation, so decides to lock down the entire block to stop Dredd and Anderson getting out and any help getting in, leaving the Judge's no option, but to fight their way out.......

I had read and heard many criticising Dredd for being exactly the same as the very fine The Raid.  Well... if you want to be reductionist about it, then yes the plots of both films are the same, both involve police going into a tower block to arrest the big kahuna  at the top and having to survive and  fight their way through the entire gang to do it.  This would be like saying that Home Alone and  Straw Dogs are exactly the same, because they are essentially home invasion films.  This is just silly.  Dredd is totally different.  Whereas The Raid is a brutal balletic film, Dredd is for me, Dirty 'Harry' Callahan, without the breaking of rules, meets Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch.

I have to admit to getting pretty fed up of seeing endless and the total overuse of slow-mo, but for Dredd it is very justified.  In fact I found the slow-mo scenes involving the films drug, Slow Mo, quite beautiful to watch and as for shoot out scenes, the slow-mo work made them more brutal.

My knowledge of the history of the character of Dredd is very limited, but from what I do know, this is a pretty faithful adaptation of the very long running 2000 AD dispenser of justice.  I think Karl Urban (Star Trek, R.E.D, LoTR) is pretty terrific as Judge Dredd.  This is how Dredd should have been played before, not that god awful version Stallone version did in the 90's. It is very ably directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point). Urban is well supported by Oliver Thirlby as Anderson (Bored to Death, Juno), Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale in The Wire) Kay, Ma Ma's number 2 and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones,  300) as Madeline Madrigal (Ma Ma).  It's actually a refreshing change to have the head honcho of the criminal gang being a brutal, hard as nails woman.

I really liked this film.  It is how I had expected a film adaptation about  Judge Dredd should be.  Full on brutal 18 certificate, with absolutely no comedy sidekicks.  It's just bitter sweet that unfortunately there won't be any further trips into Mega City One, well at least on film, as I would have liked to have seen this world expanded.  If no more movies, it would be great to see a Dredd HBO/Showtime style tv show, as I think this would be perfect.


Saturday, 2 March 2013

Self harm

Yesterday was Self injury awareness day -

A campaign about self harming, in the hope those who do will be more able to talk about their problems and for family and friends of people with problems to be more aware and help them understand possible reasons why.

In my early 20's this was something I did, though I am sure there are professionals who would say that my food issues are a way of self harming, see my post before this one.  The methods I used were cutting and scolding.  I always cut on my upper thighs and arms, places I could cover up and scolding was on my stomach and legs.  At the time I was feeling pretty numb, so I really didn't feel much pain from what I was doing to myself.  I haven't ever really thought about the reasons why I did it and why I stopped.  I think I was looking for an outlet, to feel something or as punishment for being in such a way.

Do worry I haven't had thoughts about doing such things ever again since.  I just wanted to say it.

Friday, 1 March 2013

My relationship with food and struggle with weight

Ever since the age of around 9 years old, I've had a totally unhealthy relationship with food.  It had started a couple of years before, but as with things like this, well for me at least, it takes time for things to properly go wrong.  My parents had taken me and my sister to the local Bonfire night fireworks display, for anyone outside the UK, this is the annual 5th November celebrations of the Burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes, one of the conspirators who planned to blow up the House of Lords in 1605.  Anyway... I digress.... So as usual I had eaten much of the burgers and candy floss and other sweet goodness on offer, and safe to say I'd eaten way too much of it.  When home I was right royally sick.  You are probably thinking so what? Well yes you are right, however, I was always a pretty sensitive kid and on this occasion I had made the mistake of using the bath tub instead of the toilet.  Safe to say mum was very pissed off and had, what i remember to be, very strong words.  Not really what you need to hear when in such a delicate state.  Anyway, being such a sensitive type and already predisposed to worry, that was the last time I HAVE EVER vomited in my entire life since.

This was the start of my phobia of vomiting.  For many, many years it was difficult for me to even hear/smell/or even think about it.  Luckily that has eased of the past few years.

It was this phobia which caused me to start controlling my food intake. For the first few years everyone around me thought I was anorexic, due to being thin and because I had started throwing away much of my food.  It was and has never been something I have done because I wanted to be thin, far from it.  I did cause a great deal of worry for my mum, though many times this came out as anger towards what I was doing, which didn't help me at all.  Thing is, I don't remember ever telling anyone why I was doing it, well honestly I didn't and still don't always tell people how I am feeling or what is really going on.  You may be thinking/saying writing this blog, you have improved?  Well a bit in that respect, but I don't always say because I still find it difficult opening up.  I guess it's partly I'm fed up of living with whatever it is and want to talk about anything else, I don't like burdening others with my ongoing stuff and I do sometimes feel silly about it. Oh and there's the whole trusting people too.  Anyway... going off track a little.  One saving thing was it never stopped me eating sweet stuff like chocolate, cake, biscuits, etc...  So basically what I was doing when it came to eating was I was careful with the quantity of food I would, well still do, eat.  You could say it's become obsessional.  No.. It is very obsessional.

The only period of time I ever relaxed about how much food I ate was for about a year or two between 17 and 19.  I had already started to stay out of the house as much as I could because of all the parental tension and arguing at home.  I was only getting an average of 3 hours sleep a night, though sometimes it was no sleep or 12 hours sleep.  Anyway.. through having a fucked up sleep pattern, I began to become wired and frankly ravenous through the whole day.  I was eating every hour to hour and a half.  In any typical day I was eating two or three chip butties, at least two KFCs, a number of rounds of sarnies/rolls, like tuna and cucumber, lots of lovely cake, a favourite being huge slabs of sponge cake from a local bakery, tea cakes/hot cross buns, biscuits, chocolate and raisins. In my car I had a carrier bag full of supplies and one of the compartments in the console was my Galaxy Ripple dispenser.  The crazy thing was I wasn't putting on weight, though I did eventually get an ulcer from this incredibly poor diet, which as it happens caused me to go really backwards in health, where I lost so much weight I ended up being under 7 stone.  This happened a couple years after the ravenous eating, though the diet certainly didn't improve, though this was due to depression because of the first time my agoraphobia stopped me from being able to leave the house.  This was the first time that my weight actually scared me.  I looked like you see in pictures of concentration camps.  That level of thin.  I did eventually put some weight back on, but never enough to be a properly healthy weight.

As per usual I just carried on, ignoring my problems and never confronting and trying to deal with them.  Hence why I am now finding it so much harder to deal with now.  Last year I had finally, well very almost was the minimum weight healthy weight I should be for my height, which is 10 - 11 stone.  I was starting to feel good about me, properly good, for the first time.  Though I must stress that I still haven't dealt with the food issue I have.  All my other issues and past stresses and not being able to cope with current ones started to affect all the work I had put into putting on weight, which had been nearly 1 and a half stone in twelve months.  So since the end of last summer my weight has declined again.  I have lost all the weight I put on.  It has made me feel really down and has affected my trying to get over the agoraphobia.  Hence my lack of activity on the Internet.  It's all one interconnected mess again.  Though the difference this time is I do have knowledge of things that worked in putting weight on.  I now just need to cope with stress and relax myself enough to ease the IBS, which has fucked up my eating and avoid foods that aggravate me.  So I start from the beginning AGAIN. 

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom - This is a coming of age romance, done Wes Anderson style.  Set during the 60s on a New England island.  Sam, a Kahke Scout, has resigned from his troop to run away with Suzy, a girl he met a year before.  Different groups then set out to find them....
I am a big fan Wes Anderson films, even though I have mixed feeling for the last three.  The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which followed my Favourite The Royal Tenenbaums, was a bit of a let down, The Darjeeling Limited was OK and Fantastic Fox, though while beautifully animated, it was a childhood favourite made for adults, which to me was very odd.  So while I came to this with lower expectations than I used to for his films, I was pleasantly surprised that this, for me, is his best since his first three, Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums.
If you have never watched a Wes Anderson film before, well they are quirky, not a word I like to use really.  They are very much in a style of their own.  As in all his films, the cast are excellent and as always, the ever excellent Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman are in it.  This time around though it's the kids who are the primary focus and in particular Jared Gilman, Sam, and Kara Hayward as Suzy who add the sweetness and charm.  Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Bob Balaban, as The narrator, are terrific as the adult supporting cast.  The direction as ever is great and the script is sharp and funny. 
I feel that there was a change in quality of the scripts, after Owen Wilson, who co-wrote with Anderson on the first three films, stopped writing with him, but this one seems to capture that spark again.  Not quite as good Rushmore or Tenenbaums, but very close.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Some Aussie film recommendations

After watching Oranges and Sunshine a few nights ago, I thought I would recommend some of my favourite Australian films, some you may have heard of and seen and perhaps a few you haven't.

Picnic At Hanging Rock - Is about the disappearance of a group of school girls and one of their teachers.  A beautifully shot and ethereal film.  Directed by Peter Weir (Master and Commander, Truman Show), who also directed Gallipoli, which is a terrific first world war film about the brave Anzac soldiers who fought in the Turkish campaign, Gallipoli.  Another of his earlier films which is a great B-Movie is The Car that Ate Paris

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Killer Joe

Killer Joe - Chris, Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild, Speed Racer..), is in trouble... he owes money and drugs to Digger, the local businessman, yeah he deals in drugs etc... Chris goes to his dad Ansel, Thomas Hayden Church (Sideways, Spider-man 3), to get the $1000 he needs, Ansel doesn't have it.  Chris then puts a proposition to him... they pay someone to kill Chris's mum for her $50,000 insurance policy.  Enter Joe, Matthew Maconaughy (A Time to Kill, Lone Star), a Dallas Detective who's a contract killer on the side, he wants $25,000 up front, they don't have it, so he suggests a retainer... and that retainer is Chris's younger sister Dottie.  Suffice to say the plan doesn't quite go to plan.

This is definitely a twisted tale.  The acting is very good from everyone, but two in particular shine, Maconaughy and Juno Temple.   Maconaughy is back on form and in a film where he isn't leaning against something in the film's poster, as Dr Kermode pointed out (Mayo and Kermode film review).  He's quiet and deadly menacing as the twisted Joe, who wants what he was promised.  Juno Temple, who I wasn't aware of before, is terrific as Dottie.  I think this British born actress is one to look out for in the future.  As for the direction, well it's very good.  Considering William Friedkin's age (French Connection, The Exorcist), he certainly isn't picking easy films to do, with this and Bug, he's previous film.  This isn't his best film by a long way, but if you like dark and twisted criminal gone wrong films, then check it out.


Sunday, 3 February 2013

Oranges and Sunshine

Oranges and Sunshine - This is about the true story of Margaret Humphreys, a social worker, who in the 1980's uncovered an appalling systematic cover up by the British Government and children's charities, such as those run by Barnardos and various churches.  Over many decades some 130,000 children had been removed from orphanages and children's homes and deported to Australia.  The children had been given the impression of a better life... what they found couldn't have been further from the truth.  Margaret worked to try and reunite the children, now adults, with their families back in the UK.

This isn't a particularly cinematic film, but this isn't a criticism of its quality.  It's a sensitively handled and well told film about a really awful and shameful part of British history.  Emily Watson is great in the lead, as Margaret Humphreys, bringing real emotion as she uncovers all that went on.  Watson is well supported by the likes of Hugo Weaving and David Wenham, as two of the boys shipped to Australia.  This is a fine debut feature from Jim Loach, son of Ken Loach (Kes).

It was only in 2009 when Gordon Brown apologised on behalf of the Government for what they had done in ruining  the lives of 10s of thousands of children's lives.


If you like this, you may want to seek out Rabbit Proof Fence, starring Kenneth Branagh, about the treatment of Aboriginal children over decades.

The Artist

The Artist - Outside of the premier for his latest film, Silent movie star George Valentin, Jean Dujardin, is photographed with an admiring fan, Peppy Millar played by Berenice Bejo.  The pic becomes from page news.  Peppy, an aspiring dancer, decides to go for a film audition, which happens to be for a part in Valentin's next film.  Valentin spots her on the set and they spark.  But like all good romance films things don't go smoothly.....

This is a warm and delightfully charming modern take on silent film.  Jean Dujardin is wonderful as George Valentin, deserving of his Oscar win for best actor, for me it's like he walked straight from the set of a silent classic.  While Dujardin may have won much of the praise for his performance, you can't overlook how good the rest of the cast is, no matter how small their role, especially that of Berenice Bejo.  She is excellent as the young starlet who's fame rises with the advent of the Talkies, while Valentin's wanes with the silent era being superseded.  Oh and you can't forget the acting talent of Valentin's film sidekick pooch.

While it may not have the spectacle or visual flare of some of my favourite silent era films (Metropolis, The General, ....), it is none the less a film I definitely recommend.  And if you are one of those who has a problem with black and white films, well Bollocks to you is all I can say.


This and Hugo would make a great double bill.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Seaking a Friend for the End of the World

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - After an unsuccessful attempt to divert/destroy an asteroid, named Matilda, The Earth is going to be obliterated in three weeks.  With inevitable death approaching, Brad (Steve Carell) finds himself alone after his wife walks out on him.  An encounter with a neighbour, Penny (Keira Knightly), leads him on a road trip to find his college sweet heart, with Penny in tow, after finding out she had wrongly delivered mail of his, which contained a letter from said sweet heart.

The tone of this film is both melancholic and uplifting, with some sweetness thrown in.  I can't say I loved this film, though it did make chuckle in places.  Keira's character bordered on the annoying, but I felt this was tempered by Carell's dispirited Brad.  The direction was ok and the supporting cast is uniformly good and played by well known, well to fans of certain American tv shows.  I think this is more for fans for either Carell or Knightly

I give this film 6.5/10  Another indie End of the World film from 1998 called Last Night, which is set 6 hours before everyone dies, is better and one I would recommend over this one.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol

To start... I would never call myself a fan of Tom Cruise, though I have seen the vast majority of the films he's been in, anyway.... that's beside the point.  The Mission Impossible films, for me, have been very variable in quality, so I can't call myself a fan of these either.  So you may wonder why I watch them.  My primary interest, well for the first, was because it was Mission Impossible, based upon a tv show I loved and one which has an awesome hummable theme tune, and because of who was directing them.  The first one was OK as film, but not really like the tv show at all, the second one I really disliked, even though it was directed by John Woo (Hard Boiled, The Killer), and the third I quite enjoyed and being a fan of JJ Abrams I didn't expect it to be shit, I wasn't disappointed.

With this one, my expectations were quite high, Abrams producing and Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Iron Giant) directing his first live action feature.  I was not let down.  For me, this is the one that is actually most like the show it's based on.  The story is... The IMF team are implicated in a terror attack on the Kremlin and now on the run, they must stop the Swedish scientist/terrorist hell bent on surreptitiously starting a nuclear war to create a better world from the ashes.

The action set pieces are really good and in particular the Burj Khalifa scene, which is incredible, though a difficult scene for me to watch as I have a huge fear of heights and I was only watching on a wide screen telly.  Whatever your opinions maybe about Mr Cruise's acting ability, he really puts his all into the action scenes and has big cajones for hanging and running on the outside, 120 odd stories up, of the tallest building in the world.  Kudos to him.  The rest of the cast are very good.  With Jeremy Renner now a member of the team, it wouldn't surprise me if if took over the leading role, if they continue and if Mr Cruise decides to step aside.  There is some nice humour throughout, mostly supplied through Simon Pegg's character.  The direction is great from Brad Bird, but seeing what he did with The Incredibles, it's not really a surprise.  Oh yeah, the female member of the team played by Paula Patton, I think should be considered for the female Expendables movie, she can really kick arse.

A top Saturday night film.  8.5/10

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Step 3 - Techniques for controlling your panic

I will state now that I am still trying these out myself and finding the ones which work for me, also there is the practise of them and maybe finding a combination of techniques that will work.  So a work in progress..... Anyhoo there are a few things the book highlights and perhaps there's something for you if you suffer panic attacks or even to help you if you are having an anxious moment for whatever reason.

Hyperventilating (over breathing) is something you'll want to get under control and 2 methods are given...

One being the paper bag technique. This is so you can reduce the amount of oxygen you are breathing and increase CO2 which will help calm you down.  I think you are probably well aware of this, though getting paper bags these days isn't easy, so cupping your hands over you nose and mouth is an ooookkk substitute.  Just remember to take normal breathes and keep doing it until you start to relax, oh and if you begin to feel light headed, then stop.

The other is slowing your breathing.  This technique is all about stopping you from taking short breaths which make you hyperventilate and have a panic attack.

The way to begin and practise is to focus on your breathing.  What you do is place your hand over your stomach and breathe by expanding your stomach when you breathe in and reduce any movement from your upper body (the shoulders and chest).

So you breathe in , though not too deeply, hold for ten seconds, but if you find this too difficult for as long as you can, then slowly breathe out.  Then the next breathe in to the count of 3 and let it out to the count of 3.  Continue to do this for a minute, if you still feel panicky, try it again.  Best to practise this until you get it right and find it easy to do.... something I haven't quite mastered yet.

The other technique is Distraction... and there are a few things you can try.  These are the ones on the book, but you may have some of your own.  Essentially these are to take your focus away from thoughts of panic, so you can gather yourself/thoughts.

The elastic band - Have an elastic band loose around your wrist, if you feel yourself getting panicky, pull it and let it smack your wrist.  This is like a mild version of that beloved movie technique of getting a character to stop freaking out.  You know the slap to the face.  Now please don't do this, for one that wouldn't be nice for the slapee and also for you, the slapper, who'll get clocked in the face or bollocks if you have them.

Counting - Try finding things/objects to count that are in your vicinity.  Not one for me really.

Visualisation - Essentially seeing in your mind somewhere pleasant and relaxing you like or would wish to be.  Like, for example, sitting by a flowing stream on a lovely warm sunny day or sitting on the beach hearing the lap of the sea/ocean.  Another slightly different way to visualise is to see yourself putting your anxieties into a balloon  and watching them float away.

Intellectualising - Is the final one.  Just kinda of trying to think rationally about it.  Acknowledging the feelings/symptoms in a logical way.  Self examine the experience, rate it.

One I have used in the past was talking with someone, whether a person near me or over the phone and actually speaking of phones, I fond playing with my mobile can be a good distraction.

The book recommends writing down on a piece of paper, that you keep with you,  the ones that work for you and using them in combination.

Next chapter/step is about changing your unhelpful thinking.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Ups and Downs

Yesterday my befriender came to the house for the weekly helping me to get out.  I was feeling a little nervous/anxious, though not in the same manner that I have done over the past... I can't remember how many years.  It didn't prevent me from leaving the house and I managed to get further than last week.  However, I couldn't shake the anxiety, well I did... sort of around lunch time, then in the late afternoon early evening it came back again and then I just felt like shit and mentally I was totally exhausted.  I woke up this morning still feeling slighty anxious and still having the feeling of fight or flight adrenaline.  I really needed to do some relaxation today, so I prescribed myself a day of listening to music.  An album which I have found very useful, over the past 12 years, when I need to release such tensions and also when I am angry/fucked off is Slayer's God Hates Us All.  Most of the lyrical content is pretty violent, so I thought I would give you an example, a tamer one, well lyrically at any rate.  Warzone

I realise for most people, listening to something like this would probably make them feel more stressed, but when you just go with it and feel the intensity of it, scream/shout/sing along with it, the feelings of stress or anger are pretty exhausted away.

Now I am feeling more chilled this evening I have been listening to the absolutely lovely Natasha Khan aka Bat For Lashes

and this one from her latest album and one of my favourite songs of last year

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Remember don't speak too soon!

Well I had to go and say I had had a few nights good sleep, where I actually felt quite rested.  Idiot!  Last night was a shit sleep.  Had my usual themed nightmare... being chased, but always high up trying to keep myself from the ground.  Though this time I was using stilts as well.  Fuck knows why. Stupid Brain! I woke up thirsty, like I hadn't drunk fluids for a month.  After that I was either feeling too cold or too hot.  Now feeling tired and mildly anxious.

Oh joy!

Moan over.  Normal service will resume shortly.

Friday, 18 January 2013

2 More Assessments! (and not exam like ones, they are looking to assess my needs :) )

Yesterday I had 2 assessments, one in the morning and then another in the afternoon.  It probably sounds like I am complaining about them.  Far from it, though going over the same questions and having to keep explaining the same things over and over occasionally gets frustrating, but that's only a tiny irritation.

The first assessment was from the Access team nurse.  I was asked what I would like help with.  Most of all I'm hoping that the nurse will be able to help and support me in managing my IBS better, it contributes greatly to how I feel and to my panic and anxieties.  As the nurse has IBS too, I am fairly hopeful.  The other thing the nurse wants to arrange is a psychiatrist appointment.  I'm not too keen, because I am not interested in taking pills to manage the anxiety. Also about 6 or so years ago I had a psychiatrist assessment and I was told I was suffering from Social anxiety, which couldn't be further from the truth.  Anyway, not keen at all, I think it's a waste of time.

The afternoon one was from the support workers who'll give me extra help in getting out.  Initially it'll be twice a week, but maybe more.  Though they only give 6 weeks worth of help.  If I require help for longer... then I would have to contribute financially.  I have no idea how much, they couldn't tell me, only that a finance officer would come to the house and go through all my bank, credit card statements and look at all my expenditure and work out how much spare cash I have.  Frankly I don't want someone doing that.  Luckily I still have the MIND befriender who can help for up to ten months.

The annoying thing is that I would have had this kind of help a year ago, however, because I was accepted onto the waiting list for CBT, I could no longer have any other mental health service.  It's because the Access Team is secondary care and CBT from the IAPT team is primary  careand you can't have both at the same time.  Which I think is ridiculous, it would have been more beneficial to have had that support while having the CBT.  So I ended up waiting for almost 8 months with no support at all.  Anyhoo there's no point being annoyed about it, what's done is done.  Onwards and upwards.

On a brighter note I have actually had a few good nights sleep this past week and I am feeling less lethargic during the day.  I am hoping this continues....

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Hunger Games and Goon

The Hunger Games - Set in an dystopian nation called Paneem. A nation divided into 12 segregated districts and ruled over by an ironfisted government from the nations capital, a wealthy metropolis. The reason for the segregation... to quell any further uprisings, which arose after a terrible event. An annual televised games, which the districts are forced to watch, acts as a reminder and an offering from each of the districts, whereby each district offers 2 youngsters from a lottery.. they'll have to try to survive from being killed by their opponents and win prestige for their district.
Around the time this was released in the cinema I had read and heard many people comparing it to Battle Royale, a future world where one class of school kids are annually chosen from a lottery and are dumped on an island, forced to kill each other, only one can get home.  Initially I was quite dismissive of this film because of the comparision and because I saw and loved Battle Royale when it came out, some 13 years ago.  So, while yes, there are similarities, it's not a proper reason to not watch, otherwise no one would watch anything again.
Anyhoo I digress... I was presently surprised by how much I liked this. The acting was mostly very good, notably from Jennifer Lawrence, as Katniss Everdeen the heroine of the story, who offers to take the place of her younger sister, and Stanley Tucci, as Caeser Flickman, the chatshow style master of ceremonies.  A new acting talent was discovered by the casting director, that being the amazingly styled facial hair of Wes Bentley's character, Seneca Crane who is the director of the  televised extravaganza.  Whenever Mr Bentley was screen all I noticed was the beard. Thankfully Mr Tucci was brilliant enough to not be upstaged by his comedy nashers and beautifully coiffed hair.  The only other minor quibbles for me were the comedy future styled clothes of those who live in the capital city, they look like the outrageous clothes you'll see from the catwalks at fashion shows and that the distinctions between each of the districts reminded me of worlds from Star Trek where everyone wears the same clothes and have the same attitudes, but as I say only minor things.  The direction was deftly handled by Gary Ross, not known for this type of action, given that the only other films he directed were Pleasantville, one I highly recommend by the way and Seabiscuit, which is a bit Meh.  Some could complain that the level of violence has been sanitized, but honestly it wouldn't have added anything if it had been as bloody and graphic as Battle Royale.  What mattered more was whether I cared enough if characters died or not and I did. 
Having not read the book, I can't tell you how faithful this adaptation is.  I like it and  I will be certainly watching the second part Catching Fire.
Goon - A bouncer, kinda outcast by his intelligent Doctor family and  not happy with his life and dreaming of being an ice hockey player like his hero Ross 'the Boss' Rhea, even though he can't skate or play hockey, gets a surprise life direction change.  At a local ice hockey game with his best friend, who's there filming it for his online hockey review show, he punches out a player who went into the crowd after being taunted by said friend.  The manager of the hockey team hires him to be the team's go to defender, essentially there to take out opposing team players.  From there he goes to the big leagues...
Sean William Scott, Stifler from American pie, as Doug 'the thug' Glatt, is pretty good in a film that while not the funniest comedy ever made, is very likeable.  It isn't the most original of sports film either, the same ups and downs and the eventual showdown in the final game, between Doug and his hero Rhea, this isn't really a spoiler.  However, it's a sort of sweet film, in a bone crunching, bloody kinda way.  It's likeable, with a few a chuckles.  Nothing more, nothing less.


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Panic and lifestyle

Step 2 -

This is about ensuring the lifestyle you live is the best it can be, as I have found out over the years that what I eat, not getting proper amounts of sleep, over long periods of time and not exercising all have contributed to my anxieties, stress and therefore panic attacks and agorphobia.

So take it from me, if you are suffering from stress, anxieties and or panic attacks, it's crucial to get these things sorted out, well as much as possible.  Just to add, frankly it's probably best that you do these things regardless.   It's not the cure, but they're contributing factors which can't be ignored.

So the first thing looked at is Exercise -

Yes  that often dredded word.  However, as said in the book and what I am finding out is that it helps with releasing tension, when done on a regular basis it may increase our ability to cope with situations we find stressful.  There are possible benefits to sleeping better, if you go out, chances of meeting new people, that's if you join a gym or club.  A benefit I am beginning to find is it's helping me with controlling my breathing.  Part of having a panic attack is feeling out of breath or hyperventilating, so slowly building exercise to where you are used to getting out of breath and learning how to breathe normally is very good for these situations.  The book doesn't say which type of exercises to do, just find something you'll enjoy doing and preferrably with someone else, and for those of you with a smutty mind, yes that could be a good exercise too :D

It's best to start with gentle exercises and slowly build it up so you don't do your body damage.  Try to exercise everyday or at least every other day and maybe have little rewards for doing well and continuing on.  Due to my circumstances I do a couple of miles on my exercise bike and I also lift weights.  Not terribly exciting, but I am beginning to get some fitness back.

Next is diet, with basic things to do and not do...

It's best to eat meals at regular times of the day, so your blood sugar levels are not erratic, as this can effect mood and anxiety levels.  Eat enough fruit and vegetables and make sure you drink plenty of water during the day, something which I actually do.  Anxiety can be increased through over consumption of caffinated foods and drinks.  So have restraint with things like coffee, chocolate, tea, fizzy drinks, etc... Yes I know, but if you want to help reduce anxiety, then it has to be done.

The book also mentions other stimulants like alcohol and cigarettes, which should also be reduced.  Luckily for me, I never liked alcohol and couldn't stand smoking.

Sleep is something I haven't managed to get right.  Either through my own fault, because of staying up too late or I wake up through the night, because of thirst, feeling cold/hot and sometimes nightmares which have me waking with my heart pounding.  I just don't feel refreshed, even when I have slept fairly well.  Frankly, I wander around the house quite lethargically much of the time, though some or much of this could be from my general situation.  I'm hoping I'll be able to get stability with my sleep, because when I go through periods of getting little sleep, my panic feelings increase and how I cope or lack of increases greatly.

The recommendations are all about unwinding before bed.  So things like trying to slow your thinking down about or hour or so before bed, you know know strenuous concentration, a warm bath/shower, trying to leave worries for the next day and stuff like that.  An effective thing to do is relaxation.  The book suggests you find activities you enjoy which you can do on a regular basis, so anything like walking, fishing...  just do something where your mind switches off from day to day stuff.  This is something everyone should do, a little me time.

I have been trying a relaxation audio, though not enough, I must do better.  Essentially you sit in a comfortable chair, with as little noise as possible, preferrably quiet and without interuption, and slowly working down your body tensing each part, holding for a few seconds then releasing and relaxing and then moving on.  So begin with your face muscles, then the neck and shoulders, then hands and arms, then stomach, onto the thighs and then your calves and feet.  I think it works better with an audio, but it does work without.

The next step is all about techniques to control panic attacks.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

When are you anxious and identifying panic triggers

Overcoming Panic and Agoraphobia - Step 1

This first step is essentially about monitoring and noting down when you have panic feelings and attacks, so that you can identify things like specific situations, places, etc...  Like with any type of problem, breaking it down makes it easier to deal with and I guess it can make it seem less daunting to tackle.

The first 2 exercises we asked to do is to make seperate lists of symptoms when we feel anxious and depressed.  This is used as a reminder so that symptoms of these don't get confused with genuine physical symptoms.

Next is looking at which types of situations and connected worries/fears are the ones which most likely set off panic attacks.  Basically just noting the date, the situation, for example being at the checkout in the supermarket or it maybe a particular person, then rating the panic attack on a scale of 0-10 and finally rating how well you coped with it, again on a scale of 0-10.

Mine are numerous. The one that sticks out firmly for me is connected to my fear/phobia of nausea/vomitting.  Something I actually haven't done since I was 7 years old. I have IBS, which can get very bad, I can feel like a can/bottle of something fizzy that's been shaken, but no release for the pressure, which makes me feel very nauseous and because of my vomitting fear all the more heightens my panic.  Fucked up eh!

As the book points out, many situations share common anxiety inducing characteristics.  The characteristics are

Escape not possible - anxiety inducing because if you have a panic attack you feel you need to get out of the situation quickly.

Embarrassment - it's not particularly pleasant when people around you look at you funnily when you are having a panic attack

Help not available - When you suffer with panic attacks having someone you trust with you or on the end of the phone is a comfort.  So when you don't have that it's anxiety inducing.

Going Crazy - it's when you think the feelings will spiral out of control, for example, you'll faint

Losing control - Some feel they will lose control over their bodies and may hurt someone and when in crowded places this can intensify.  Not something I have had anxieties about.

So the suggestion is to have a checklist sheet with the panic inducing situations and then 4 or 5  columns, ticking the characteristics you have for each situation.

And finally for agoraphobics rate 0-10 all the situations you go into very reluctantly or in my case as with most, avoid.

I have known most of this already, well I have had this long enough, but I hadn't ever rated them and put them down in such a way to begin to pick them apart to tackle them.  So I guess we'll see how this works as I go on.

The next step..... is about altering the things in my life they contribute/worsen the panic attacks 

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The book I'm reading to help me

As well as getting external help I am also reading a book, recommended by the CBT therapist I had, called Overcoming Panic and Agoraphobia by Derrick Silove and Vijaya Manicavasagar

The first part of the book just describes what panic attacks, panic disorder and agoraphobia are, what are the things that cause them and how the different methods of treatment are.  The remainder is a six step programme which uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques in dealing with panic attacks.

So I shall be following each step and seeing how it goes.

Panic disorder and Agoraphobia

I realised that I have neglected to say what panic disorder and agoraphobia are for anyone who may not know.  You'll have to excuse me as my brain isn't always very focused due to my panic disorder :)

Okidoke... I'll start with panic attacks, I imagine many of you could have possibly experienced the odd one or two during your life.

They are unexpected bursts of severe anxiety which come with physical symptoms and thoughts of dread.  A total sense of fear which is very overwhelming to experience.

Some symptoms -

shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, shaking, feeling week, sweating, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, racing heart, feeling dizzy, nausea, hot or cold flushes...

Panic Disorder -

Is when the thoughts and fear of having a panic attack dominates your life and how you live it, making you feel even more anxious.  At one stage I was having as many as twenty panic attacks a day and I began to avoid certain situations and places where I was having them.  So my overriding thoughts were anticipations as to whether I was going to have another panic attack. which eventually led to my becoming agoraphobic.  I stoppped going to places to avoid having another panic attack, this happend over a number of years, places where I felt safe became fewer and fewer.  The only place I didn't get them was at home, well that is until 8 years when I did, then the only place I ever felt comfortable became like a torturous prison.  It even got to the point where I was afraid to be alone or at least not able to talk with someone on the phone.  It was that way up to about a year ago, though I do get they occasional fearful thought.

Another assessment

This morning I received a phone call from my local access team, they deal with local mental health, asking me whether I was ok to have an assessment, because they'd just had a cancelation. I have been waiting to hear from them for over a month, so it was a welcome surprise.  Within about half hour the assessor knocked on the door.  The assessment took about 35 mins, it's just questions so that they can ascertain which things to focus on so I get the best possible outcome.  It's standard questions about whether I'm on medication, am I taking care of myself and there is a questionnaire asking whether you have thoughts of self-harm, if you are self-harming, whether you are a danger to anyone and even whether I set things on fire, etc... Many of these questions I am surprised anyone would actually admit to them, even the lady doing the assessment said so, but hey ho :)  I should get someone coming out once a week to help me get out.  Not sure yet what other things but I'll know soon ish, probably another two or so weeks before I hear again, but it's positive that I get more help and at a time I am fully ready for it. :)