Adventures in going out: Week 5

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To infinity and beyond

Today was my fifth outing in pushing myself to new places and pushing my limits. This outing I had been wanting to go to for a while, and had been excited about going here. This week I went to the Franklin Institute. After seeing they had an exhibit on Egypt I just had to get out there. I have always been fascinated with Egypt so I wanted, no needed, to check it out. Then they added a Pixar exhibit, and I was in salivating over the idea of going there.

This outing however would really test me. All of the times I had gone out in the past five weeks, I had journeyed alone. It is always easier that way. This time would be different. This time I would go out with my brother, his wife, and their kids. A nice little family outing. To most people, that is nothing. For someone who struggled with anxiety and panic attacks all of their life, it can be a nightmare. I will be honest and say that such an idea did make me feel a little anxious. But I must and will reiterate that it was just “a little.” In years past a day like today would not be a little anxious. I would feel so much anxiety, so much panic, that I would spend multiple trips in the bathroom. Either using the bathroom, or throwing up. One or the other. This was so normal for me that any time I had to be somewhere or do something, I always had to make sure I had an hour and a half before I had to leave to give myself enough time to be ready to go through my rituals. So to be at this place within myself where it was just small little jitters is a blessing that words can not describe how good that felt to me. To not be back and forth in the bathroom, over and over, or to be throwing up repeatedly. To just have little jitters, that I would just move on from, was/is huge.

I will never blink

To not be stressed, to not be anxious the whole time before, to not get up multiple times the night before thinking about the day coming up, was so incredible. Much like Mr. Incredible. See what I did there? I was able to go there, and be fine the whole time. We were out there for about 5 hours. And I enjoyed the whole trip, and was not spending it looking at my watch and hoping to get home to where it was safe for me. I was able to enjoy myself. With my family. So many family outings have I missed over the years because of anxiety/panic. This was a great change. I look forward to many more trips while I continue my weekly journeys. There are many more places I want and hope to visit in the upcoming year.

I enjoyed the Pixar exhibit, I love Pixar. Have enjoyed just about all their movies. Not a fan of Cars, and still can not sit through Cars 2, and they are going to make a 3rd one. Surprisingly they did not have any statues of Cars there. True story I once as a teen had dreams of working for Pixar, sadly, my parents said there was no money/future in art. And discouraged it. While I do draw/paint from time to time. I never spent the time doing what I love. Drawing.

The Egypt exhibit was a let down for me. It was very small, and did not have much. Still cool to see, would have liked to have gotten like a small Anubis statue, or something, but did not see any for sale. Boo! Afterwards I rewarded myself and my success with a new video game. I find that it is very important to reward yourself during your successes… Or perhaps I just like free stuff.

After this trip, I was still feeling good, and still wanted to go out. Whoa! Right? That is huge. But couldn’t really think of anywhere to go so just drove around for a little bit, and stopped in a giant Walmart 45 mins away. That is always an experience. Anxiety or not.

The one thing this outing showed me, was that I could go out for 5 hours with my family, than it is very possible to be able to go out with someone that I was dating. Which can open doors to a future relationship. As the life I was living was very hard on relationships and caused a few to end, terribly. Life is whimsical. It really is.

row, row, row your boat.

What do you do when your body doesn’t work?

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That is the question I have asked myself over and over and over again over the years. What do you do when your stomach doesn’t work properly and nothing seems to help it work better? When you see doctor after doctor and they can not help you, and others tell you it’s all in your head. It’s all in your head, one of the worst things to hear, when you go through things, or when you have anxiety. It cuts so deep. Maybe on some level it maybe true, but it’s not the words you want to hear. You want people to believe you, and support you. Not make you feel like a loon that is bonkers. My other favorite, just do it this one time. Go out this one time. Do it this one time, as if there is a giant switch that I can flip to make myself “normal” for the night. I guess they don’t think to themselves, had their had been a switch, I would have broken it into the on position long ago.

The most frustrating thing of it all is when you can not get any answers so you can not really get any help. All you can do is just take this pill, or take that pill, or take this other pill. Maybe if we up the dosage of the first pill it will work. What the pill doesn’t make you feel good, well it’s just you. The pill doesn’t do that… Yes, that is sadly a true experience. I’ve had multiple tests, I’ve had things shoved in places they probably shouldn’t be shoved in. And even worse, after they shove it in, they never call you the next day. It’s like wam, bam, thank you ma’am. Typical. I was never diagnosed with anything. I had symptoms that are similar to many things. I knew someone with Crohn’s and we were similar with what we go through. Yet, I never got that diagnosis. Never got told I had colitis. After many more pills, they were going to do a third colonoscopy, I guess the first two were so much fun for me, that they wanted to do it third time… Before I would decide to either live with it, accept there is nothing I can do about it, or take things into my own hands.

What exactly is a “body that doesn’t work?” (This part will be a little graphic and you may not want to read it. I am putting it in for those that have also gone through it, or may one day. ) Well for me for my entire life, I suffered when I would eat foods. Foods would cause terrible bloat, give me gas, and send me to the bathroom multiple times in a day. Sometimes with return trips after just leaving the bathroom. So imagine living like that and then being out places. Where you are wondering where all the bathrooms are and will there be enough time to make it to the bathroom. Not wanting to be in the car for extended amounts of time because it takes you away from the bathroom if you needed to be. Which is now creating and giving you anxiety about how your stomach will be, and what happens when you are somewhere not home or near the bathroom. Eventually agoraphobia starts to kick in and you don’t want to be anywhere. If you are in the car you don’t want anyone in the car with you. In case something were to happen and you couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time.  Being there is full of anxiety, so much so, where the idea of being somewhere causes you to be sick to your stomach and gets you throwing up. It would cause full blown panic attacks.  Needless to say all types of relationships suffer from it. From personal romantic ones, to family relationships, where you start to miss out on all family functions and events. Sadly, I have missed many family events because of the way my body works.

So back to where I started, what do you do, when your body doesn’t work? To me there was nothing that I wouldn’t do, or try. Desperation starts to kick in, and you will do what you must. I have tried many, many things over the years. I’ve talked to countless doctors, tried even more pills than I could imagine. I prayed, oh boy, did I pray. That I would be lucky and fortunate to have a miracle occur and my body would be miraculously cured. And I could be “normal” like everyone else.

Then one day, this past Summer when I was so low,  a place some call the dark night of the soul, I would decide this was it. I had had enough of living like this. I wanted more out of my life. I wanted to make something of my life. I wanted to live life. I wanted to love life. Up until this point I was starting to hate life. And hate myself. I would decide it was time to make changes to my life. Make changes to me. I had ballooned up to 255 pounds. I had sleep apnea, heartburn, suffered from terrible headaches, had no energy, could barely get up in the morning, and was having difficulty breathing fully at time. The only way to get anywhere was to change my life. Everything about my life.  And that is exactly what I did.

I changed my life. More on that in a later post.