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New job means new anxiety!

I started a new job this week, I’ve been dreading it, not only way I required to get up early, but also drive for 4 hours a day, meet new people, and I was panicking about fitting everything in. I’m in Sales, a very people focussed job for someone not great at people in my private life but work wise I’m great at it.

So anyway, first, sleep, I have a love hate relationship with sleep, I’ve mentioned it before that I struggle with it if I need to get up early as my brain panics. What if we don’t get up? What if we look tired? What if we’re late? So the answer, panic for weeks then don’t sleep. I use herbal sleeping tablets and if I really hate myself, alcohol, which I did this week and managed a solid 3 hours sleep. So I was shattered, drove without trouble and started my new job. I panic, who will I meet, will they like me, will I be any good? Everyone I met was genuinely lovely and the day passed by quickly, drove home relieved, but anxiety crept in again and I think I managed 5 hours sleep. Got up, drove, accident meant I was late in which I felt terribly guilty for, did my day and drove home to a terrible run and the start of a cold. The next day I worked from home as did I today.

I’m already worried though, it’s a different kind of sales, one I’ve not done before and whilst I know 4 days in I’m not going to be outstanding at it but I’m worried I’ll be shit. It’s requiring me to be outstandingly organised and I usually am. Anal in fact, everything is packed, organised and sorted, we never run out of things at home and everything gets done. However my head is running away with me, fear I’ll be rubbish and if I’m rubbish I’ll just stop.

I needed to change jobs, the last one didn’t suit me, didn’t motivate me, just wasn’t me. I’m already enjoying this more but I don’t want to mess it up!

In other news, I turned a year older last weekend and you’d think I would have rang it in happily. Well no, I rang it in more than a little upset. Earlier that night we’d been out for my sister-in-laws birthday, I’d been surrounded by her skinny, attractive, fashionable friends, I simply felt fat and frumpy, why didn’t I look like that? Why didn’t I have the body confidence I was promised in my late twenties? We then got home and I realised I’d lost my make-up bag, I was pissed, pissed I was useless enough to lose it and pissed about how much money had just been chucked down the drain. I felt ugly, fat, useless and poor, then the clock chimes midnight, my birthday hits and I feel old. Cue over an hour of sobbing, crap sleep and waking before 6 to feel just as shit. The day got better but what a start!

My feelings have been all over the place recently, made me irritable, snappy and frankly fed up! Made worse by spending my Friday night cleaning the house which no one enjoys! Hoping it will better, hoping!

I’m happy to chat and feel free to reach out on the ‘Contact’ tab, however I am not a mental health professional and if you would like this support please see the ‘Support’ tab.

Exposure

So I believe I have mentioned exposure before, it’s a technique taught in cognitive behavioural therapy and essentially means facing your fears. OCD is an anxiety disorder centred around thoughts that something bad may happen and then using compulsions to either avoid or attempt to stop it coming true.

Exposure looks at saying screw that, hear that thought, do it. Not do it in the very literal sense, that would be disastrous but let’s not do your compulsions and see what happens. I had my chance at exposure this week.

As you’ll know, a lot of my thoughts are based on paedophilia and violence. Now I’ve been off work and in a fit of positivity I texted my sister-in-law and asked if I could babysit my niece, cue the yes response, the second of excitement and the crashing reality of OCD. Paedophile, molester, danger. Cue the tears, the fear and the dread about the day. I wanted to cancel but my sister-in-law had changed plans so I could have her so it was awkward of me to change, I had to deal with it. A week between asking and babysitting. I was anxious, stressed, and very flippant with Gary, I actually stopped talking to him at one point because my head was a mess. I then started OCD behaviour and looked for something to do, to keep us busy and around people which looking back I shouldn’t have done but still, I contacted a friend and agreed to have a playdate for a few hours. The day rolled around and after a night of visions and fear, I was scared but knee I needed to get through the day. I pick up my niece, needed to change her which was what terrified me the most and generally felt on edge. I took her to mine and slowly the anxiety began to subside as I was facing my fear of being with her, so OCD kicks it up. We have cats, 2 of them, they haven’t had a huge amount of exposure to kids and my niece is 1 and naturally heavy handed, she pets the cats harder than they are accustomed, they take it as playtime and start to play claws out. I hit them both on the noses, not hard, but enough to say stop. One took the warning, one took it as playtime and was promptly removed from the area. Then my head is filled with animal abuser, you’re going to snap and kill one, they’re gping to run away, cat killer. I was like for f*cks sake, this isn’t fair, I’m protecting my niece, she doesn’t understand her heavy handiness and cats don’t understand all humans are not to be played with. OCD had me in a corner, I was everything that day, I so nearly cried as I hugged my cats tight promising I loved them and hugged my niece tighter promising to always protect her.

The day was tough, exposure is needed, I needed to spend time alone with my niece and make her laugh, look after her, show myself I could do it and OCD backed me into another corner which I’ll expose another day. It’s hard, but it’s the only true way to recovery, taking the power from OCD and back in my hands. I’m sorry my little niece that you have been exposure, but I love you, I wouldn’t hurt you and I hope if you ever need me, then I will be there, plus we had a lovely day.

If you would like to chat, feel free to reach out on the ‘Contact’, however I am not a mental health professional and if you would like this support please see the ‘Support’ tab.

Podcasts

Again with my radio silence, I’ve been enjoying a work and blog free week, one more week off work then it’s back to the grind!

Now I don’t know about you, but when I’m running, commuting and pottering around. I listen to a variety, ‘Guys We Fucked’ which is about female sexual confidence or anti-slut shaming. It’s two unapologetic American comedians chatting to a variety of people, be it men they’ve slept with, those on the LGBTQ spectrum, other comedians or someone else and it’s a dose of reality mixed with comedy. Other podcasts include ‘Mad World’ by Bryony Gordon which is a mental health podcast and more recently ‘GriefCast’ by Cariad Lloyd to discuss grief.

Podcasts are great, they’re essentially putting you as a fly on a wall of an intimate conversation between a couple of people. I’ve laughed, cried, learnt, been shook, disgusted and awestruck. The most important thing being, it’s all real, it’s not a piece of fiction. These are real people, having real conversations and I love it. I get lost in them.

I get lost in books, but they’re to escape the real world, I can get lost in music, but the rhythm moves the body and soul. Podcasts have a way of moving my very being.

So the point, other than to turn everyone on to podcasts, is that I’m on one! My half-sisters cousin (tangible!) Is starting a podcast for people to discuss what they’re passionate about and for episode one, he picked me! I’m passionate about, shock, OCD. It’s alot of who I am and I know alot about it over my many years of having it so yea, I can talk about it for a while. It was also, cheekily, great exposure for me. I don’t usually talk, physically, about my OCD, I like to hide behind a screen but there I was in front of a person laying it all bare for the lovely public to listen to. I haven’t listened to the episode and I don’t think I will as I hate the sound of my own voice but I’m glad I did it.

Arrogantly, I felt important to be picked, happy that the work I’m putting in to removing the stigma around OCD is being recognised and hopefully beginning to make a difference. It was a great experience, being sat in a garage surrounded by gym equipment with two microphones and a laptop! Would highly recommend it if you get the chance, otherwise take a listen to some podcasts, they’re definitely worth it.

Feel free to reach out via the ‘Contact’ tab however, I am not a mental health professional and if you would like this support please see some of the links available on the ‘Support’ tab.

Transition

Apologies for being quiet, I usually have plenty to say but recently I haven’t.

Simply put, I’m changing jobs, I’ve disliked my current role since Christmas and when I don’t like something, I really struggle with the motivation to carry on. I’m perhaps the most determined individual when I like something and feel like I can achieve, however, the role felt impossible. It required me to change parts of my personality and be someone I’m not which I don’t agree with. I also feel like it was missold to me but that’s by-the-by.

Despite not enjoying it, it was something I needed to do, it was a role I would always wonder about and would need to find out if the role was for me or not. Despite essentially failing, I needed to fail. I’ve had months of dreading going to work each day and ending every Friday with a banging headache as the relief of the week being over leaves me. I was an anxious wreck for 6 months and when a job is impacting your mental health, it’s time to take the decision to move on or make it better.

I moved on, found a new role and handed in my notice. Been working my notice for a few weeks now and am back to my old self, banter with Gary, enjoying running again and generally feeling happy and optimistic. I’ve had the occassional OCD thought but having the time to breathe and process them properly without the ordinary stress of daily life was very needed.

I’m acutely aware that work is a necessary evil for most of us, but it’s important to recognise that it is only a part of life, and in no way is the most important part of life. If it starts to impact your life negatively then you need to be selfish, need to start looking after yourself and thinking, what do I need? What about me? And despite change being terrifying, better the devil you know and all that, at some point, something will give, something will break and you’re better off ensuring that the break, isn’t you.

If you’d like to chat feel free to reach out via the ‘Contact’ tab, however I am not a mental health professional and if you would like this support, please see some of the links available on the ‘Support’ tab.

The good in the world

So often we look around and everything you see is bad. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, violence, hate and crime.

It seems like the world is spiralling towards our own apocalypse where we destroy ourselves but this week out of a shitty incident, I’m reminded there is good in the world.

There seems to be a flurry of stories on Facebook at the moment with animal cruelty. I just don’t understand, I’ve always been an animal lover and I can see myself soon becoming a vegetarian as I reconcile the meat with the animal more as an adult and as a kitten mother. Pictures flood Facebook of tiny, defenceless kittens and puppies used as bait for fights, starved and beaten animals at the hands of someone I can’t describe as human. The desire and the buzz from hurting something weaker astounds me.

The reason for my post is that with an OCD brain I’m incredibly pessimistic and I look for the bad in the world so that when the light comes along, I’m blinded. When a good deed, even if it’s comes from something bad, makes me feel positive.

The story, out with my running club last night on a rural route, we spot 4 men hare coursing in a field, which is catching and harming hares with a starved dog. The men then set fire to the presumably stolen vehicle they used to get into this field and in the process start a couple of fires in the field of the unknown farmer.

We could have done nothing, criminals tend to have a nothing to lose attitude and react with violence. We could have gone on our merry way. Instead, we alerted the police, the fire brigade, the farmer and blocked the main exits to the field ensuring the men were diverted across the boggy field delaying their exit.

Now, it’s no heroism, we didn’t save lives or achieve anything great but we showed the criminals that good stands in their way. We wordlessly stood together to achieve the right thing, the right outcome.

I doubt we’ve moved them away from the path they’ve chosen but at least disrupted them.

It was heartwarming to see that there are good people in the world and a fair few of us. We get all consumed in the bad, the negative and the wrong, yet I remind you, there is good. There are people who will stand for the right thing, stand for the good in the world.

If you’d like to chat, feel free to reach out on the ‘Contact’ page, however I am not a mental health professional, if you would like this support, please see the ‘Support’ tab.

The body one

So when does ‘body positivity’ kick in?

As a nearly 29 year old, I still struggle with how I look, my self-esteem forever low. I will blame the media and the portrayals of women, all skinny and able to eat whatever they please with what seems to be no exercise.

I know it’s unrealistic, but I also see examples closer to home. I have members of my family and friendship groups who are skinny with no effort, they eat and drink what they want, I also no they do minimal exercise and stay that shape. I also know the opposite side if the scale with people who will always be bigger and have acceptance of that. I’m perpetually jealous of both sides.

The logical side of me knows I will never be a size 6 or 8, I’m simply not built that way, I’m broad so even if I were simply bones, I’d still be too wide. Yet I still want it.

The rational side of me knows it’s not that big of a deal, I’m happy with my life as I am, being smaller is highly unlikely to make me any happier. Yet I still want it.

The competitive side of me knows that it’s something I’ll never win. Yet I still want it.

But most of me thinks it’s bloody unfair. I eat mostly well, exercise regularly, drink plenty of water yet I will never be that. I will probably always want that.

Many people say you begin to accept your body throughout your twenties and into your thirties, someone please tell me, when does this happen? I’d like to be able to get ready for a night out that I don’t look in the mirror and want to cry as I survey the lumps and bumps, vowing to run some extra miles this week?

I’d like the answers please!

I’m happy to chat if you’d like to reach out on the ‘Contact’ tab however, I am not a mental health professional, if you’d like this support, please see the ‘Support’ tab.

Talking

OCD is an exclusive club. 2% of people have OCD in some format and we range on a spectrum – some housebound, some like me bugged occasionally by breakdowns and some with barely noticeable symptoms.

I’ve joined a WhatsApp group for people with OCD and honestly it’s refreshing, already in the space if a morning I’ve met people with very similar symptoms to me. Not exactly the same of course, OCD is different in the sense that it molds and shapes itself to the individual which why it’s so difficult to shift, it’s our own greatest fears, our own nightmares. But it is as always, a relief to find there are others like you, I’ll never be bored of knowing I’m one of many, my battle unique, my army of the masses.

I’m constantly amazed by how brave these people are who are able to share so openly, I do not see myself as brave mind, rather, having little choice, if these thoughts don’t come out this way, they may never. they may fester, linger and permeate, forever keeping me trapped. So I speak for my own sanity.

I’ve also noticed I’m reluctant to write in my diary, I don’t know why, but I end each night disinterested in wanting to jot down my thoughts. Hopefully I was using my diary as a coping strategy and that not writing in it each night is a good thing but you never can tell with these things!

Regardless, I’m not fancying it.

Should yo wish to talk, feel free to reach out vie the ‘Contact’ tab, however, I am not a mental health professional, so should you wish to seek professional help there is some information available on the ‘Support’ tab.

Anxious

Currently, all I seem to feel is anxious, just a perpetual state of being.

I’m anxious about not being able to fit everything in, I’m anxious as I’ve written a piece for a local charity and it’s being broadcast very locally so people I know locally who don’t Google OCD blogs will be able to find out about my inner workings. I’m anxious because yesterday my head was a fuzz all day and I don’t know why. I’m anxious because I’m struggling at work. I’m anxious because I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I’m anxious because I’m exercising more and being more careful with what I eat and drink therefore my brain assumes I’m tumbling into anorexia. I’m anxious because I’m not a size 8. I’m anxious that my teeth aren’t straight and the bags under my eyes make me ugly.

I’m anxious because I start conversations with friends. I’m anxious because my relationship doesn’t look like the movies. I’m anxious because my cats go outside when the roads are busy. I’m anxious about being a wife and failing dramatically. I’m anxious about becoming a mother and screwing them up. I’m anxious that somewhere inside me cancer is growing. I’m anxious that I don’t drink enough water. I’m anxious that some days I drink too much and will drown from the inside.

I’m anxious that all my OCD intrusive thoughts are true. I’m anxious that they are not true and the only interesting thing about me no longer exists. I’m anxious that today I will have conversations I don’t wish to have. I’m anxious I will disappoint, anger and upset those who had faith in me. I’m anxious that I have no faith in me. I’m anxious that one day I will not exist. I’m anxious that one day those that I love will not exist. I’m anxious that one day I will wish not to exist.

I’m anxious that people read these posts and judge me. I’m anxious people read these posts and don’t care, I’m even more anxious that people read these posts and do.

Essentially, I’m a pit of anxiety.

Should you wish to talk, feel free to reach out via the ‘Contact’ tab, however, I am not a mental health professional and if you would like this support, please see the ‘Support’ tab.

Exposure

Treatment of OCD is usually a combination of medication and CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy. Part of CBT often includes some form of exposure therapy which when you first hear it is terrifying.

When the therapist I was seeing at the time described it, I was confused and shocked to say the least, it was described to me as testing your anxiety. I took that to mean, if I’m scared I was a paedophile, I had to try it out and see if I liked it.

I told the therapist this, she laughed and quickly corrected me. It is however, testing the compulsions or avoidance behaviours to see what would happen, so if you currently avoid something, you need to do it. If you have certain compulsions, stop them.

It’s obviously not that easy and can be very distressing but it often shows that the fears the compulsions are based are not true and OCD slowly loses it’s grip as you are no longer doing the compulsions that keep it going.

I had my own chance at exposure yesterday. I’m shy, awkward and steer clear of social interaction with people I’m not comfortable with and if I do go, you will find me drinking as this lessens my anxiety and allows me to relax. Previously, I’ve put myself in a situation where I can drink, i.e. do not need to drive and have somewhere to stay but since moving this can’t always be the case. Yesterday, I was driving, we were going to Gary’s friends and he drove last time so it was my turn and I was dreading it. They’re all lovely people, we’ve known each other a few years but I still worry, get anxious and usually drink through it. Yesterday I couldn’t. So I had to suck it up, I was crabby and snappy and nervous. I was thinking of faking an illness, an argument or something to get me out of sitting with people trying not to be awkward, but I couldn’t. So I went and yes, the first bit was unbearable, I did have a small beer as we would be there for a few hours but it was nothing to dampen my anxiety. I made small talk and sat, slowly though as I spoke to a couple I get on well with I felt myself relax and was able to come out of my shell.

The day wasn’t perfect and I’m in no way cured but I got through it and I showed myself that I can do it, which in the very least is a victory for me. I struggled, could barely talk to some people and did feel awkward. But less than I thought, and definitely better than not going. This way, I know I can do it and when the situation arises again, I’ll feel a bit better and each time, it will get better and better.

I’m always happy to chat and if you want to message privately, feel free to do so on the ‘Contact’ tab, however I am not a mental health professional therefore if you’d like support, please see the ‘Support’ tab.

Doubt

OCD is known as the doubting disease as it causes you to doubt everything you think and feel, it permeates your every thought, do I really think this? What does this thought mean? Do I really feel like this? How do I know it’s real? You get used to a niggling feeling that ironically you do not doubt.

I thought of this today as I heard the words, ‘If you look for doubt, you will find it.’

Rarely do you hear words more true, it’s true that as someone with OCD, I, without thinking, seek out the doubt in my thoughts, seek out the proof  to the thought, look for evidence and try to rebut it. A thought enters my head and I doubt it, but doubt isn’t enough, I look for evidence, doubt this so I seek out more and more, endless on my quest to find the right piece of evidence that will finally hush the beast. But I don’t, I continue to doubt.

The next line I heard, ‘If you look for sunshine, you will find this too.’

Again, this is true, difficult sometimes, but true. Think of it this way, have you ever learnt a new word and then suddenly you hear it everywhere, it’s not that this word has only now started being used, it’s because you notice it, because it’s new and you’re looking for it. Seek things out and eventually, they’ll appear.

I try to listen to these quotes not as a hope that they will be a miracle cure, because it shows at least as these quotes are mainstream, doubt too, is mainstream and that everyone has them.

It relaxes me in the same sense that understand everyone has intrusive thoughts relaxes me. At least I’m not crazy!

Understanding that everyone has doubts and intrusive thoughts does not make this illness any easier to live with but it does make it certain that it could happen to any of us, and the research and work that goes into attempting to cure mental illnesses is vital. As is us talking and sharing, getting it all out in the open so that when someone reaches out, scared and confused, they’re welcomed by people who know what they’re going through and not met with the disdain that so many of us were met with.

If you’d like to chat, feel free to reach out on the ‘Contact’ tab, however, I am not a mental health professional and if you would like this support, there are some resources on the ‘Support’ tab.