Where Has the Summer Gone??

It’s September 7th!

Summer is gone, my kids have started school, and pumpkin spice is threatening to take over the world. (Ahem… can I get apple pie or maple syrup flavored coffee please??)

I do not feel like I have accomplished anything I wanted to this summer. I look at my blog and see the last post was the end of June and I’m like “WHERE ARE ALL MY AWSOME POSTS I WROTE???” Oh, right. They were all written in my head and I never actually sat down and wrote them out.

It’s been a crazy  4 weeks for my family and I wish I had the time to blog through it. With my husband falling ill and struggling with full blown lyme disease I have had no extra me time to sit and write. (Although on a night he was feeling ok I escaped my house and joined a beginners hockey team for adults. Whhhhaaatt? High school dream of playing hockey achieved!!!!)

Honestly I have feet like a horrible wife because my depression, anxiety, and OCD gets in the way of me being a good caregiver. I promised to be there for him in sickness but I have gotten angry and impatient at times and can barely hold it together through this whole ordeal. But really, at the root of it all,  I truly hate seeing my husband so helpless and sick, unable to do the things he desperately loves to do. Some days it’s a struggle for him to hobble around the house. All he wishes he could do is go on a run or join kung fu with our boys. I’m watching him struggle with daily tasks and standing back as he pushes himself to go to work even though his hips hurt, his legs ache, and he can only hear out of one ear. And all I want to do it make him stay home and rest. He is an active person. He hates being still for long but after an 8 hour day at work all he can do is sit. (This past week has been better though, Praise the Lord! He has been able to walk short distances and had energy to do a few things around the house.)

All this to say that it’s been a struggle, that last month of summer really gave us hell. I feel like my family was sucker punched in the gut.

But we are still standing… sorta.

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I Have OCD and I’m not Afraid of Germs

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

When most people hear the term OCD, a picture of hand washing or a well-organized room comes to mind. I don’t like telling people I have OCD because they automatically assume I’m afraid of germs and am a “clean freak”.

If you were to walk into my house without giving me a week’s notice I’m pretty sure you would be disgusted. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t let it get unsanitary but it’s definitely not company worthy. There are dirty pans on the stove and dishes in the sink always. I have “clean areas” but through out my house I have piles that gather in corners, and on end tables. I have hardwood floors and a cat and three kids so there is always crumbs or cat hair. I have piles of unfolded laundry and a computer desk with piles of opened mail and kids projects. And don’t even get me started on the status of my bathroom. I am not an organized person and I hate cleaning. Cleaning actually triggers anxiety and I have to work extra hard to motivate myself to do it.

My Obsessions and compulsions are currently mostly in my head.

So let’s brake it down a little for you.

Obsessive

Obsessions are unwanted thoughts or fears that you can’t get out of your head and cause anxiety. These thoughts or fears can be about anything.

My obsessions consist of fear of harming someone I love (harm OCD), and fear that my doubts have caused me to lose faith in God (scrupulosity).

Compulsive

Compulsions are something you feel compelled to do that alleviates the stress and anxiety caused by the obsession.

The most widely known compulsions are outward and noticeable. For example: straightening things to make them symmetrical, turning off a light switch many times, touching things, washing hands or sanitizing.

Inward compulsions are less noticeable because they take place in the mind. Sometimes a person may not even recognize these as compulsions because they can become second nature.

Currently my compulsions are mostly inward, although I have had many outward compulsions through out my 16 years of having OCD. Thankfully, through recent therapy (ERP therapy), I have been able to gain control in many areas of my life.

My biggest inward compulsion, which I am currently working on with my therapist, is avoidance. Avoidance is actually very common among OCD sufferers. I reduce my anxiety by not doing the things that cause my anxiety. This has hindered my growth as a wife, a mother, and as a christian.

Disorder

“A disorder is a problem or illness which affects someone’s mind or body”

OCD is not a quirk or character trait. It is not an adjective, it’s a mental illness.  It interferes with your daily life. It can make you lose time, make you miserable, and causes stress, anxiety, and depression.

You can’t be a little OCD. There is no such thing.

 

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*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional. I write about OCD and mental illness based on personal experience and research online. If you think you may have OCD based on anything you’ve read, please seek professional help. You don’t have to go through it alone. You can overcome it and gain control of your life.

I am an #OCDvocate. I write articles and poetry about OCD to spread awareness. My goal is to help you understand that OCD is different for everyone and can manifest in many different ways. ” In the United States, about 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children have OCD. And according to the World Health Organization, OCD is one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability, worldwide, for individuals between 15 and 44 years of age.”

I have chosen to speak out and to be heard as part of my healing process.

 

Healthy Doubt Versus Unhealthy Doubt

This is what I am struggling with now. As I am trying to tackle my scrupulosity through therapy, I am often caught in the obsession of “Is this OCD? or do I really think this?”

My therapist is starting me small and wants me to say “this is OCD” whenever I have a doubt concerning my faith and just sit with that realization. But I am having a hard time with even this simple task because I’m afraid a thought won’t be OCD and I am labeling it wrong. After all, as Christians we are supposed to be inquisitive and curious to deepen our knowledge. I am afraid I won’t be able to recognize an OCD doubt and a real doubt when it comes to say, reading a book or hearing a sermon that doesn’t sit right. Because right now, nothing sits right. Everything feels wrong, sounds wrong. It’s a very lonely feeling that I struggle to share. Because someone who doesn’t understand could take my questions or doubts wrong and reassure me in unhelpful ways.

I have just restarted my therapy after a bit of a break (me avoiding treatment because of the anxiety) and I already feel hopeless. Scrupulosity is so different from my harm OCD. So many uncertainties that my OCD takes and runs with. I am already exhausted.

 

This is a great little article and I intend to look into this book.

ocdtalk

crossing NYC street

This post first appeared on my blog in August 2013….

I’ve previously written about how I used to scrutinize my son Dan, trying to decipher which of his behaviors were OCD related. I finally realized my intense involvement in his life was doing us both more harm than good, and I was able to let go and just trust my son.

What I wasn’t aware of at the time is that sometimes those who deal with obsessive-compulsive disorder aren’t sure themselves if their thoughts and behaviors are related to their disorder. Because those with OCD often have good insight in regard to their illness, I just assumed they knew when what they were thinking or how they were acting was OCD based. However, from reading blogs and connecting with people, I realize this isn’t always the case.

So how do we know if certain feelings and/or actions are related to…

View original post 275 more words

I Just Need a Moment…or Two

 

I let the water fall over me
not hot enough to burn but turned up enough to hurt a little
to overpower the pain of the voices
the thoughts that pelt my mind
like pea sized hail in constant down pour
puncturing tiny holes in my sanity

 

I let out a whispered scream
don’t want to wake my husband and toddler
napping down the hall
my two boys are playing some game downstairs
but they might as well be right outside the door
their whiny voices

“Get your leg off me!”
“Ow!”

carry up the stairs penetrating my moment of solitude

I scrub at my scalp
wishing I could peel it off and massage my brain
maybe then it would relax
and give me peace, if only for a little while

I crank up the heat a bit more
Stopping at ‘pink skin hot’
I need a few more minutes

 

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This is my entry for day Ten of NaPoWriMo. It’s a day late but it took me a while to get what I wanted to say to come out right.

Prompt:  “write a poem of simultaneity – in which multiple things are happening at once”.

Daily Torment

Out of reach

I lift my arms

To no avail

Lofty, unattainable

I gawk at my mind’s mirror

I cry out

Call out

Stop.

Can’t.

Not good enough

Here I am.

A spec.

A blip.

Take a step

SLAM

Pick the brick from my skin

Walls meant to

PROTECT

KEEP OUT

                                                         Kept in

                                                                              Diminished

                                                                                    Inadequate

 

                                       Beaten down

Get up

Stumble

Get up

Fall

Get up

“Stay Down!

Small.

Insignificant.

Imposter.”

 

I lift my weary head

 

I.

 

STAND.

 

AGAIN.

 

 

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For this poem I use prompts from Day Six and Day Nine for NaPoWriMo.

Six challenged us to play with line breaks and Nine challenged us to write about when something big and something small come together.

This poem is about the daily fight with mental illness(BIG) and self(small).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ERP – A New Journey

Yesterday I had my first session with a counselor who specializes in Depression, Anxiety, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Confession

One of the reasons I put off going to see a specialist (besides bad experiences and lack of finances) was that I knew that getting better, truly attacking OCD where it hurt, would mean going through Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. I follow many blogs and have read many articles and they all say the same thing. ERP is the best way to treat OCD. But the thought of exposing myself to my fears and doubts terrified me and thus I used the excuse “I don’t have the money and it’s way too expensive.” So I put it off and continued to get worse.

 

But after these recent dark weeks I knew I had to push through and take the first steps to getting better. I had no Idea how I was going to pay for it as we are currently struggling financially due to some unfortunate circumstances. But God saw the struggle I was in and even though I have been doubting Him and everything He is, (this, as it turns out, is a facet of my OCD) He has graciously provided for me through my church as well as other ways.

Sitting in that room with the counselor and listening to her explain how my OCD worked and how she can treat it was eye opening. I already knew some of what she talked about but hearing it from her seemed to help me come to terms with my disorder and be willing to commit to ERP.

I am so fortunate and greatful to have a great support system. I had my husband, a close friend, a mentor, and a few fellow Christians praying for me yesterday and I could feel it. There was such a peace when she spoke and i felt like I was exactly where God wanted me to be.

This new journey is going to be hard. I know that it may get worse before it gets better, but I have to be willing to go through the pain of demolition before rebuilding can happen.

 

Mental Health Monday – Seeking Help

Some of my readers may have noticed that I have been away from my blog for a while.

The truth is I was am in a dark place. I sunk so deep into myself that I could not see the light. I felt like I was trapped inside my mind clawing hopelessly at the walls of my skull.

My thoughts were so twisted I didn’t know what was real. My beliefs were shaken. Truths that I have know my whole life felt wrong.

The anxiety overwhelmed me. I felt like there was something wrong when there was no danger.

My OCD was in overdrive.

I had thoughts of not wanting to be here anymore.

 

Confession

I have not been seeing a therapist for quite a while because of a bad experience with the last one. It’s been over a year since I’ve sought out help. I had it under control though.  My depression had gone away due to diet and lifestyle changes. I was doing great. Until I wasn’t.

 

Taking action

After two breakdowns and a major panic attack I finally reached out to a close mentor a few weeks ago and after hearing my doubts and fears out loud I realized I needed to do something about them and soon. So I sought out a qualified therapist to deal with my conditions. Unfortunately I live in a tiny town with very little good-quality mental health resources so I had to look in towns an hour or more away. But I found a therapist that I’m hoping will be able to help me.

Today

Today is my fist session. I am so nervous because I have trust issues when it comes to therapists due to past experiences. I can’t let that stop me, although right now I want to crawl into a ball and “forget” about my appointment. The depressed little girl in me just wants to hide away where it’s dark and safe.

 

I am hoping that this therapist is the right fit for me because I don’t know if I have it in me to search out another one.

 

 

 

Mental Health Monday – Depression

Photo by Kiran Foster via CC2.0

Photo by Kiran Foster via CC2.0

Depression can:

-Come on fast and hard.

-Make you feel utterly hopeless.

-Make you feel alone, even in a room full of people.

-Make you feel like a burden to you family and friends.

-Make you lose interest in doing the things you enjoy.

-Make you angry at nothing at all.

-Cause unprovoked hostility toward the people you love.

-Cause strain on your relationships.

-Leave you with no ambition.

-Make you feel unable to do everyday tasks like household chores, taking care of yourself and/or children, or going into work.

-Make you tired, so tired that getting out of bed is the hardest thing you’ll do all day, if you can manage to do it at all.

-Make you physically sick (e.g. body aches, unexplained pain, upset stomach, nausea, extreme fatigue).

-Make you question truths that you once held on to.

-Make you think that not being here would be best for everyone.

 

Depression is a very lonely condition. Even when you have people who care about you and people who would be willing to listen, you can still feel like they just wouldn’t understand. You feel judged. Sometimes you can recognize that there really is nothing wrong, that your life isn’t that bad, and yet you feel absolutely hopeless and awful and you now feel guilty and want to scream JUST GET OVER YOURSELF! but it doesn’t help and only makes you feel worse.

Depression is hard to understand if you’ve never had it. It can make you(the un-depressed) frustrated and angry at your loved one who, sometimes, seems like they’re just faking it. You might think they are being selfish.

You need to know that they are suffering. They don’t want to feel this way. No one wishes for depression. We know  your penitence and understanding is a lot to ask for sometimes. We know what our condition does to those we love and we hate it, just as much as you do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#OCDweek – My #OCD Story

ocd-awareness-week

Please bear with me as I have never really written down my whole OCD story before, so it may be a bit of a jumble. I’ll try my best. Please also know that I am sharing some very personal things, some of which I have not shared before. If you know me in person and don’t think you can handle knowing these things please, don’t read on.

My OCD started to show itself in my early teens, 14ish I think. My very first obsession was thinking that the water I was drinking was poisoned (only bottled water). The thought just occurred to me one day. It didn’t strike me as odd; it was a perfectly reasonable possibility. To make myself feel better I had to take the first sip and spit it in the sink. One was good for a while, then two, then three. Three was the magic number. It wasn’t a problem at first, then I had to do it when I was out at picnics. I was able to compromise with myself and just pour it out rather than have to spit it out, but I was still “randomly” pouring out perfectly good water. I would usually try to go somewhere out-of-the-way, to do it when no one was looking.

Then, my nighttime routine started. First check the stove, then front door, then back door, stove again, front, back, stove. wait…stove again. This could vary from night to night how many times and in what order. I just had to do it until it felt right.

Then, the intrusive thoughts started. These thoughts came out of nowhere. Horrible things I would never EVER actually do. I was so confused when my first inappropriate sexual thought came. I was just reaching puberty (late bloomer). I didn’t understand these thoughts or feelings. I was horrified. To make the thoughts go away I would repeat over and over (in my head) Jesus saves, Jesus saves. I felt like an awful person. There must be something wrong with me. I am disgusting.

One day when I was doing dishes (I was washing , my sister was drying)  I picked up a steak knife and an image of me stabling my sister entered my head. I dropped the knife and washed a dish instead while chanting Jesus saves in my head. Those thoughts came every time I washed or dried dishes. I began to hate dishes. I would do them really fast, which would cause me not to clean them well and I would get in trouble. My mom just thought I was being a normal teen who hated chores. I never told her. She still doesn’t know.

Thoughts of my family getting hurt continued with fear of fire, gas leaks, and deaths caused by me. My compulsions ranged from the noticeable ones, like checking or gathering clothes in piles by the door for emergencies, to inward ones,  like praying specific prayers before bed, making sure I covered each problem and each person and if I forgot something or started to fall asleep, I had to start all over again.

I never told my mother any of these things. She saw some of the things I did, but she would just tell me to stop or yell at me. Like when I became afraid of touch for no reason and would react when people hugged me at church, she would scold me for being rude. I became obsessed with germs getting in my cup at meal time and would cover my drink with a napkin; it wasn’t a problem until I knocked my milk over during dinner because I was rushing to get it covered when someone started talking. Lunch time at school was a nightmare, all my friends so close to me, breathing near my food.

I became depressed. I didn’t even notice it, I just was who I was. When I was 16 my mother made me go to counseling, but she didn’t know why I was depressed because I never told her anything that went on in my head. And I didn’t realize that those things were the reason I was depressed. The first counselor didn’t work out. She actually made things worse although, looking back, it wasn’t her fault. She didn’t know what I was dealing with because I never told her. My second counselor was great. I still never shared any of the thoughts or things I did,  but she respected my space and helped me through my depression. By 17 I met my (future) husband and with the help of the counselor and his support I got a lot better and she released me from counseling.

But my OCD was still there. I continued to have new fears as the seasons in my life changed. New apartment, marriage, kids. My husband saw my “quirks” but I never told him the thoughts. (Luckily, moving out of my parent’s house  stopped the sexual and murderous thoughts.) After my second son was born I started getting really depressed again. My stress levels were through the roof and I started having panic attacks. I became obsessed with thoughts that my kids were going to die and it would be all my fault. It had to do with any decision I had to make. For instance, I reach for a glass in the cupboard, the first one will cause my son’s head to be chopped off, the next one would be my husband’s death, then the next one would cause my mother’s death. I would have to try to find the one that would be safe for everyone. This would happen with everything. Grocery shopping was awful. There was no such thing as making a quick trip because I had to find all the safe items.

At some point there stopped being a “safe” option. Someone would die no matter what I chose, including me. So, to save my family, I would pick the one that killed me. Of course it didn’t actually kill me. So a logical person would conclude that my family wouldn’t die either, but it doesn’t work like that when you have OCD. (Keep in mind that I still had no idea that’s what I had) So that became my new “normal”. I would have to “sacrifice myself” 50-100 times a day. It was exhausting. My depression and stress was at it’s all time high. I had no energy, and I felt physically sick all the time.

The pinnacle moment when I realized something wasn’t right was about two years ago. I was hanging up laundry (we have drying racks in our hallway) and I have to hang the clothes on the “right” rungs. I went to hang up a shirt but there was no safe rung and there was no sacrifice rung. I had to chose between my kids’ deaths or my husband’s. I started to panic. My husband was in the other room and heard me. When he came out, he took one look at my petrified face and knew what was going on. He grabbed the clothes and pulled me away from the rack and held me tight while I cried and tried to breath again. When I calmed down my whole body got tired and cold and I had to lay down while he finished the laundry. That was not normal. Something was wrong.

Several months later I finally got help and reached out to a counselor. When the label OCD was thrown out there I was stunned. Wasn’t OCD when you counted and straitened and organized and washed your hands ’til they bled? That wasn’t me. But as I researched it and learned more about it, some of the things I read made me stop and show my husband saying, “Woah. That’s me.”

If I was educated in exactly what OCD was, I could have sought help earlier. #OCDweek is a great way to spread awareness so that those suffering can finally put a name to it and get help.

So that’s my OCD story. It’s a scary disorder full of fear, doubt, and dread. It is time-consuming, stressful, and tiring. It is not just the need to have your books in alphabetical order or your house clean and tidy. It is not a joke.

Help spread the word. Consider sharing your OCD story. Let your voice be heard.

 

Mental Health Monday – Weekly Segment

I would like to introduce my new weekly segment, Mental Health Monday.

My goal for this weekly post is to spread awareness and break the stigma that goes along with mental illness.

What to expect

-Links to informative articles

-Re-blogged posts from fellow bloggers who write about mental health.

-Personal thoughts on Depression, Anxiety, and  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

-An occasional poem or story with mental illness themes

 

Looking Ahead

October 11th-17th is International OCD Awareness Week. During that week I will have a post everyday about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCD is a widely misunderstood disorder and I want to be part of the movement that spreads awareness. Please feel free to subscribe and receive these weekly posts. Also, join the movement by posting on your blog during OCD awareness week. Be sure to tag your posts with #OCDweek.