I need help

So tonight, as a sit awake at half 3, wired. I’ve had two herbal sleeping tablets, a few shots of gin and nothing. I’ve cried, unsure why anxiety isn’t letting me sleep.

I’ve decided I do need to go back on anxiety medication, just to get me started. I have a therapy session booked in with a CBT therapist in a couple of weeks and I’m doing a little CBT each day but I need help. I can no longer do this on my own.

The last week has been tough, the presentation made me realise how little I have dealt with this, passing it over to the side and I’ve been overwhelmed this last week.

I’m feeling pressurised by my job, I want to do well, I enjoy it. The people are lovely and I feel valued, for the first time in about 3 years I want to work hard and I want to acheive. But it does mean I’m adding an additional layer of stress to myself but regardless I enjoy it. Plus I’m busy, being idle is my enemy, I’m no good at it.

So back to now, I’ve not had a great week, I’m actually scared to go to bed. Scared of a bad nights sleep, scared to toss and turn. Why am I scared? Poor sleep equals poor performance, poor performance equals failure, failure equals disappointment and I don’t want to let anyone down. So slowly, after the last week, my sleep has got worse. I have plans in place to help my anxiety but unfortunately they require waiting. Doctors, therapists, even sleeping tablets and alcohol need time to work, I needed a now.

I rang the samaritans. To be honest, I felt like a fraud, I’m not suicidal. I have thought about it this week as the anxiety is so great I see it as my only way out, the only way it will end but I would never do it, not in my current state. I wouldn’t do it to those around me. But I needed to talk, I needed to say to someone I feel really, really shit, I can’t even do the basics. And he was great, I mean he has no idea what phone line he is answering, I was probably quite a nice one, I just needed a chat but I dread to think who was on the line after me. We spoke for about 40 minutes and he calmed me down, I started the call a crying mess and ended it still a mess, but a mess that can get through it all. I’ve got this far, I can do so much more. I need to remember eaeach day just how strong I am, OCD and anxiety doesn’t make me weak, it makes me so much stronger. I’m just having an incredibly tough time, he also said I needed to be kinder to myself. I give myself such a hard time, expecting nothing less than perfection which I cannot achieve. I need to stop striving for what everyone else has and focus on what is right for me. I’ve spent years focussing on what others expect of me I’ve neglected myself. I put a front on that everything is ok, it’s not, I’m not ok and that’s ok. I have terrible self esteem my weekly running mileage is creeping up because I’m desperate to be skinny as everything will be ok then but I eat shit because I feel bad about it all. I still enjoy the runs but there is so much pressure to do it that I can’t miss one. Still, we’ll get through it, we’ll go on medication and I’ll go on medication, I will get better.

I’m always happy to chat and you can drop me a message on the ‘Contact’ tab, however I am not a mental health professional and if you would like this support please see the ‘Support’ tab.

Presentation

Well I did my presentation and I think it went ok! I’ve never spoken that openly about OCD before, essentially told a group of strangers my fears around being a paedophile. It was daunting and I did tear up, need to sit down and just read my notes for a bit to get through it but it’s done.

Afterwards people came up to me to thank me, congratulate me and tell me their stories. One has very similar fears, several were concerned for their children as they could see things happening that we adults hide so well. They sought me out for reassurance wanting to feel better. I got asked if I felt better for being diagnosed. Yes I did, for a moment as it meant I wasn’t a dangerous person just an ill one, then reality hits of being mentally ill and the burden that goes along with that, the stigma people would now place on me. They sought me out for diagnosis, I do this, does this mean I actually have OCD? Sorry but I have no idea, I’m not a doctor and I’m not going to advise you.

I received several thanks, calls that I was brave and even a hug. I did feel immensely proud of myself after I had done it, something I have kept silent for so long up there for all to see. Stood in front of people telling them my ultimate flaw, open entirely to their judgement, I was so completely vulnerable but yet I wasn’t scared. Nervous yes as public speaking is horrendous but scared of what they would think, no. There was no need, I’m already my greatest critic and think the worst of myself that it doesn’t matter what a stranger thinks of me. I’d purposefully told friends not to go, I didn’t want their judgement, their eyes on me as I said these words, couldn’t handle it. Gary was there, of course he was, he always is and it didn’t bother me. There’s nothing I would have said up there that was new to him and I know he loves me in spite of it all.

It left me exhausted, like a therapy, an intense exposure session I felt lighter yet shattered. I lay on the sofa all afternoon and dozed, I was drained. Now a few days on, it’s a distant memory, confined to the corners of my mind. It’s not something I would want to do again but it’s certainly something I’m glad I did.

I’m not a mental health professional and if you would like this support please see the ‘Support’ tab but if you want to talk, I’m happy for you to reach out via the ‘Contact’ tab.

Guilty pleasures

Few things in an OCD life are without spoils. Everything gets overthought, analysed and considered. Lunch with friends, am I talking to much? Focussing too much on me? Did I say the wrong thing? Running with my club, they all think you’re fat and slow. As I indulge over the weekend, disgusting, fat and unattractive. As I sit enjoying a coffee with my family, they’re only here because they have to be, they don’t like you.

But one thing remains untouched. Now I may be jynxing this, but somethings I just enjoy, pure, unadulterated enjoyment. One of these things is my all time favourite movies. I don’t watch a whole load of movies, my attention span isn’t that long, I don’t like watching violence or gore, not only does it trigger me, it’s just gross. I do love soppy movies, those that are ridiculously predictable and make you fantasize for that kind of true love, the kind of arguing and making up in the rain with grand gestures, not arguing over the dishwasher and falling asleep on the sofa but I guess that’s reality.

I have two favourite films, they’ve been my faves since I was a child and I have memories of singing the songs and practising the dances. The first is ‘The Sound of Music’, I bloody love it and know all of the songs by heart. My ultimate favourite is ‘Dirty Dancing’, I’ve probably seen it over a thousand times, can recite the entire film and piss off Gary as I say the lines before they arrive and swoon over Patrick Swazey. As I’ve grown, you notice a lot more that goes over your head as a child and your perspective does change as Baby is ultimately a child messing in very adult topics but I remain unfaltered, my favourite film.

It’s also entirely unspoilt, it makes me feel better, a kind of therapy for my soul. Taking me back to being a child when times were simpler and I’d sit on the floor then order my younger sister to be my dance partner.

Mental illness is cruel, it takes so much of your life, I can’t even eat my favourite sweets or have a gin and tonic without feeling guilty, so if you find something that keeps you sane. Keeps you at your core, then grab it with both hands and hold it tight.

I’m always happy to chat, so 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.

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.

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.

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.

I don’t have to be beautiful like you…

It’s something I wrote a few months ago on an old blog but wanted to bring the words here, as think they’re becoming increasingly important in the world of filtered selfies and zealous over-sharing of only the good things in life.

“I’m beautiful like me.’

Words I read this morning.

I don’t plan what I’m going to write on these blogs, I wanted to write today but didn’t know what to write about. I like to wait until something inspires me or something happens. Something inspired me today. I was scrolling through Facebook, and there was the usual, cats, dogs, cakes, gin, someone went on holiday, someone got engaged, etc etc etc. Then a video of a larger set woman posing in a bikini in a changing room with her daughter in the corner also trying on a top when she asked her mother if she agreed that she looked beautiful. The video started explaining their trip to the shop that day, how the girl had been polite, kind and complimentary to everyone she met. Why? She was imitating her mother, her mum was kind, polite and complimentary to those she met, friends and strangers, the young girl had watched this and learnt that this was the way to treat people.

Her mum had also told her every day that she was beautiful, so the girl thought nothing else. She was beautiful. The mum was going to comment on her own appearance, say she felt fat and ugly, but bit her tongue, if the child would pick up on the positive behaviour she would almost certainly pick up on the negative behaviour. So she said she was beautiful, she felt fat, but said she was beautiful. She didn’t want her daughter thinking anything else, she was beautiful. The mother realised how important what she said and how she acted was on other people.

If she was mean, rude and offensive, her daughter would copy this, if she felt bad about herself and consistently said negative things about herself, her daughter would copy this. Then it’s only a case of falling down a rabbit warren of the thoughts becoming your own reality. True or not. The mother then realised she was beautiful, not in someone else’s definition, but for her own definition. She was kind, polite and had raised a child to be this also, she has confidence, self-esteem and empathy, she is beautiful.

I, naturally, related this to me. I have low self-esteem, my brain has a split personality of incredibly arrogant and pitifully low self-opinion. I want to be thinner, I won’t, my bones won’t allow it. I want to be kinder, more generous, more careful, thoughtful, less shallow and worried about what people think. I want to be beautiful like you, not beautiful like me. But I think the words have such power, 7 billion people in this world and only one Serena Moden. Actually is, I’ve checked, but even if there were more, I’m Serena 1.0, the only one, the one with OCD and from Ely, the one with a crazy family and a penchant for being witty, the one that likes gin and cries when someone else cries. I’m the only one and that in itself is beautiful. I will soon be beautiful like me, not beautiful like you.

You do you, you’re smashing it and I’ll do me.”

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

I have no friends

Or at least, that’s how I feel most of the time.

I was a popular child, albeit a massive tomboy that surrounded myself with boys but friends all the same and throughout school I was invited to all the parties. I then hit sixth form and met my first ‘proper’ boyfriend and I did what many girls do at that age which is become obsessed with that person, and I slowly lost my friends. We split at uni and I met a new boy which luckily I wasn’t as obsessed with and I gained some close friends I still have today a decade later.

However, the reason for the title, the friends I have, I’m constantly concerned we’re not actually good friends. It feels like I’m always starting the conversation and making the effort, it’s probably not true but that’s how it feels. I still get invited to parties, dinners and social occasions but hello OCD and depression.

If I’m ever with friends I’m constantly evaluating how I’m acting, too loud, too quiet, rude, why would you say that? No one laughed, you’re not funny, just go home, no one wants you here, stop trying so hard, no one is bothered.

It means I’m incredibly anxious when I see people that I overthink every little interaction, how often I get interrupted, do people look bored? Brain constantly telling me they don’t like me, it’s why I don’t get many likes on Instagram or many texts, no one likes me.

I’m incredibly jealous of my partner Gary, he has had the same 2 best friends for most of his life, they’ve grown up together and have a bond that you simply can’t make as an adult. I don’t have this, I still talk to people I went to school with but rarely and politely. Not conversations scattered with in-jokes and a lifetime of memories. I understand friendships are very different as an adult, life gets in the way and you’ll never speak as much or see each other as much as you would do as a child. Just would be nice to have an interaction with someone without overthinking every second!

I’m nice, I really am, I am actually too nice, I promise, so why does no one like me?

If you would like to talk feel free to reach out on my ‘Contacts’ tab, however, I am not a mental health professional and if you would like professional help, please see the ‘Support’ tab.

Still proud

We’re out of the World Cup, to be honest I only watched one game and that’s because it was Father’s Day and my dad had it on, I have however had the John Barnes rap in my head for 2 weeks straight, think I know it by heart now.

I’ve never liked watching football, I used to play as a kid and was quite good, even trained with Cambridge United for a while under a coach called Jesus, but the interest died out as I got older. To me it’s just a game, something kids do at the park and middle aged dads do on a Tuesday before several drinks in the pub that they’ve definitely not earnt.

I dislike the culture, the lad, lad, lad culture. I dislike and yes I’m stereotyping, the drunken idiots on Saturday who chant obscenities with little regard for who is around. I also hate, absolutely hate how much professional players are paid. I appreciate the supply and demand culture, companies sponsor them due to a large audience but they don’t deserve it, this goes across the board for all athletes I must say but footballers seem to be paid the most. You should not earn nearly £2 a second for kicking a ball, it’s absolutely absurd which is why I will not support it. They do give money to charity, but this is mandated and I’m not sure all of the English team would unless they had to because to be honest, and this is a limited impression, but they don’t seem to come across as nice people.

However, all that being said, it has been a very united few weeks. Regardless of whether you like football or not, it’s been undeniable that most of the country has got behind them and supported them. The country is generally speaking, in the shit, everywhere you turn there is hate, even today as the orange one descends on the UK there will be protests of hate, pride month was ruined by anti-trans protesters spouting hate. You could post a picture of a kitten, a puppy and a baby and someone would have something negative to say, probably, who is the irresponsible parent who let such wild animals near a defenseless baby?

It’s generally assumed the UK is disliked by most of the world and we don’t even like ourselves. But for the last few weeks, we’ve been proud, felt hopeful, excited and it’s difficult not to be swept up in it all. It’s been great to see something we all have in common, be displayed on the world stage. We usually go out early but this young team was able to go above our expectations and create a real air of celebration.

In the aftermath of the defeat, the atmosphere here is not one of regret or loss. But pride and gratitude. We’re proud we had something positive to discuss for a few weeks, a distraction from the grit of life, to the England team we don’t beat you down. We stand with you, thankful.

Plus, it just goes to show that even with the world against you and your own side lacking in belief, we can achieve more than we expected. Our history does not define us, it gives us reason to keep fighting.