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.

 

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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…

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A Mother’s Guilt – An Erased #Haibun

 

rage-ppd

PeopleImages / Getty

 

I close my eyes. The guilt presses against my skull. Blood pounds the base drum in my ears. I try to breathe, but a noise pulls the trigger and rage convulses out of the monster‘s mouth. Their confusion shines through giant brown mirrors that reflect the ugly creature before them.

 

tears spill

moments slip away

defeated

 

hands

press against

my eyes

(breathe)

until the monster

is no longer a giant

and the mirrors reflect

how I want to be

 

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Erased haibun is a form I learned for #NaPoWriMo.

Submitted for this week’s open link night over at dVerse.

 

 

 

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exposures

My mind

Holds onto fears

Folds them up and keeps them

Forever

 

I was born this way

But I can break this code

Rewire

And freely live

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Written for #wispwrit

Prompt: Born

Mental Health Monday – Scrupulosity

I had read on a few blogs online from other OCD sufferers that OCD can effect one’s faith. I did not , however, know that there was a term for it or that it was it’s own condition.

Scrupulosity : “A form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) involving religious or moral obsessions. Scrupulous individuals are overly concerned that something they thought or did might be a sin or other violation of religious or moral doctrine.” –IOCDF

When I went to my first therapy appointment recently, she asked me when I started to notice my depression coming back. I thought for awhile and said it was a year ago, when I started to doubt my faith. She asked me to explain my doubts and fears about it. As the session went on, I explained my OCD thoughts and compulsions, not realizing that the religious stuff was at all linked to my OCD.

After a while she finally stopped writing notes, looked up, and said that I definitely have OCD with emphasis on scrupulosity. After she explained that OCD is sometimes called the doubting disorder and that it lies and attacks everything we love and everything we are, it all started to make sense.

My whole life has been about God. I grew up in church, I became a christian at age 5, I was active in youth group and strong in my faith as a teenager. My whole relationship with my husband was based on our faith together and before started dating  we spent a month in prayer and seeking God’s will for our lives. If He didn’t exist, if my whole life was based on one big lie, then what does that leave me with? Does that mean my choices were all wrong? What purpose does life have? I was completely lost and alone and I felt like I could tell no one. No wonder depression had taken over my life.

Practicing my faith became very hard over the past year. I doubted everything I thought and everything I heard about God. I started tuning out the pastor’s sermons because with everything he said there was this little voice that would contradict and pick and cause doubt.

If I tried to pray, I was convinced God wouldn’t hear me because I doubted. I didn’t read the bible because I could no longer accept anything it said.

I was in the praise band and every time I played I would be berating myself inside.

“How can you be leading worship when you’re not even sure you believe what you are singing? All these people look at you and hold you to this standard that you are failing to meet. They think you are this great christian woman. You are a fraud.”

After a while I couldn’t do it anymore so I pulled myself out of praise band. I was letting everyone down and they had no idea why.

But now that I know there’s a reason for this doubt, that this is not me but my OCD, I can start to fight back.

I will be starting ERP soon. It is going to be a slow process. My therapist said it might be a while before we can address my faith based obsessions because they are huge and we need to start very small. But it gives me hope that I will one day be able to have a relationship with God again.

For now, I am going to take a small step on my own. After being out of the band for a while and not being able to play christian music, I am going to try to play a song for the Christmas season. I can’t promise I’ll succeed, but I am going to try and push through even when OCD is screaming in my head. I am not going to let OCD ruin who I am.

I know God is real. I know he sees my heart through all the doubt in my mind.

OCD lies. That is the truth that will keep me pushing forward.

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.

 

 

 

You can’t Ignore Me

Don’t go to sleep yet, sweet one.

Silly naive girl. You can’t ignore that nagging feeling you have.

Get out of bed and check the front door.

Again.

Again.

Again.

What about the stove? Go back down and make sure it’s off. You don’t want the house to burn down, do you?

That’s a good girl.

Lift those heavy lids, my darling. You didn’t say your prayers. You know that if you don’t say them just right your family’s deaths will be your fault.

Come on, start over. You drifted off a bit.

Start again.

No! No! No!

You said the names in the wrong order.

Start again.

That’s better.

Check the clock.

3:00am

You have to be up at six.

I’ll see you then.

 

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This story nabbed an Honorable Mention over at Flash! Friday. This excites me not only because there are so many talented writers (who, I can admit, are intimidating to compete with) every week that I consider it a privilege to be among the few chosen ones, but also because of the deeply personal subject I chose to write about. Last week was OCD Awareness Week and I submitted a few pieces to different competitions that had OCD themes, showing what it’s really like to have this disorder. I am elated that our wonderful judges Foy S. Iver and Holly Geely were able to see the true meaning behind this story. They seemed to be able to relate to it , whether it be from personal experience or second hand from a dear loved one (I don’t know for sure).

This disorder is so watered down in many cultures that it has become a joke. I am so glad that I can use my writing as a tool to spread awareness as I continue to fight the stigma attached to OCD.

Here are the judges wonderful comments on my story.

FI: I love a left-fielder! The ‘cost of obsession’ was a popular element but “You Can’t Ignore Me” sucks you in, almost convincing you that the voice is inside your skull. The syntax drives that impulse to heart-root, compelling you to get up and check the stove (did I turn it off?), or the lock (maybe I only thought I turned it). For me, it resurrected dead memories of compulsive prayers whispered in the dark, never good enough for the ears of God. Absolutely gripping, friend.

HG: You…wow…Whether or not it was the writer’s intent, this story captures the essence of Obsessive Compulsive disorder. I had to take a moment after I read this one, it strikes so close to home. Beautifully done.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cure – #Fieryverse

Photo Credit: Matt Brown via CC2.0

Photo Credit: Matt Brown via CC2.0

Where is the cure

for my obsessions?

the exit for this maze?

the solace for my weary soul?

Am I to be forever tormented?

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Written for #Fieryverse

Prompt: The Cure