Zombie?

Well where are we, three weeks into medication and two therapy sessions down, I’m feeling positive.

Part of it is the medication, it relaxes me, calms me down and turns my anxiety into something manageable. It doesn’t stop it, I still fret, feel guilty if I don’t think I’m working hard enough, if the house isn’t clean or if I didn’t run far enough but I’m not paralysed by it.

Take for example this evening, I planned to run but had to work late, a few weeks a go I would have run, anxious about getting fat and never running again. Instead, as I’m doing a running challenge over the next month, I resolved to rest, I stayed in, still busy, tidied the house, cooked dinner, decorated the tree, did some Christmas shopping and wrote the cards but I’m not consumed with fear and guilt. I feel bad for not going but not bad enough to make me go.

Now that’s the thing I’m scared of with medication, if it means I’m not all that bothered about missing something I love, what else could it mean? Will I soon become an unfeeling zombie? Will I stop working properly because I can’t be bothered and be fired? Will I cheat on Gary because it doesn’t matter? I don’t know.

I’m keeping on the medication whilst I learn the CBT techniques properly so when I do come off the medication I’m equipped, able to handle the anxiety the way normal people do. Medication scares me, I’ve steered clear of drugs as I’m worried about what it can do and yet here we have a mind altering tablet I take each day. I have no idea what it’s doing, not really, will it have lasting effects? Will I ever be off it properly? I just don’t know.

But for now, it means I’m able to get through the day without crying, able to handle an intrusive thought without descending into a ruminating mess and able to feel a bit more positive.

I’m happy to chat and if you would like to then do 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.

Medicated

I’m now being medicated and can feel that it has kicked in, gone is the incessant fear of impending doom and it’s been replaced with a gentle anxious hum that lives as an undercurrent beneath my skin.

It’s an odd feeling as generally it makes me feel no different, I still enjoy the same things, still do the same stuff and am annoyed by the same things it’s just not as urgent, still urgent but not as urgent. If that makes any sense! I’m able to sit with the anxiety more easily rather than do anything to get it out of head, it doesn’t stop the anxiety at all just makes it easier to manage.

I’m still faced with the same issues, I still lie awake last night as I was due to catch a train this morning anxious that if I don’t get a good night’s sleep all hell would break loose. I still took the sleeping tablet and was disappointed in myself for it. Anti-depressants aren’t removing all the problems at all and are in no way a fix, it’s just showing me it can be easier.

I went to a therapy session Tuesday, am doing CBT to try and retrain some of my thinking. I have all of the negative thinking patterns ingrained in my thinking. I jump to conclusions, I catastrophise, I see things in black and white, generalise, personalise situations and look for danger. I’m essentially a walking ball of negative, if there is a worst outcome I will find it and this is where the anxiety comes from. Predicting the future and predicting it will always be bad, ignoring the many millions of times it’s gone well and even if things have gone wrong, ignoring the many millions of times that I coped and it was ok. Simple things like I met a friend for coffee just now and feeling guilt for not working, despite being a hard worker and being entitled to a break. I have a belief that people should work hard and therefore I must always work hard despite this not being possible or healthy. I will still make up the time and work late most nights but I’m still being very hard on myself and comparing myself to perfection when perfection doesn’t exist.

Well this has been a rambling post so I apologise if it’s a mish-mash of words but it’s a how an anxious mind works!

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

A week in the making.

Well, what a difference a week makes.

I’m in no way better, in fact I feel generally more anxious than I was last week about everything but I’m making steps.

I have a therapy session next week, am doing a little CBT each day, back on the medication and focussing on feeling more positive each day. Even started meditation! It’s quite relaxing, just need to keep it up and fit it all in.

I seem to have found the reason, or at least the theme to my anxiety. The things I get really anxious about are all things I can control, exercise, food, work. I can control how much I exercise, what I eat and how much I work. Problem is, it becomes something I have to do and don’t enjoy it. Now, I say ‘have to’ with a pinch of salt, I get that we have to work and exercise but I mean I actually cannot stop. The moment I stop, I panic and I’m not giving myself a break which is only going to put me in hospital.

The reason I’m doing it, I have so little control over the OCD that I think I’m trying to find something I can control, something I can manage. Life unfortunately doesn’t work like that and whilst I can control all of this, I’m not happy, I’m not enjoying life and I’m not facing it. I’ve written it down to cover it off with the therapist next week, my need to be in control and being responsible so hopefully we can get somewhere.

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.

Sorry I’ve been quiet

It feels an age since I wrote anything here, to be honest I’ve been cheating on my blog. I’m speaking at a mental health get together thing this weekend so my mind has been focussed on writing my presentation for that. The presentation is now all written, just need to learn it! I don’t want it to sound like I’m repeating it parrot fashion however I also don’t want to stand there with no clue what to say, sweating as random strangers stare at me. Therefore I’m aiming for well rehearsed winging it.

How am I? Ok I think, I’ve been nice and anxious about several things. Started the new job and loved the herbal sleeping tablets which are a habit I need to kick, I’m at least not mixing them with alcohol so that’s a step. However my will power is weak at half 1 in the morning when I need to be up before 6 and the anxious sweats are not fun. I’ve also started dreaming about the wedding next year, so far it’s included the hotel not having my room and needing to bunk in with my mum and step-dad followed by my dad getting drunk with the chef and refusing to walk me down the aisle. If this is how it is a year out, I can just predict how bad I’ll be next year. Goes hand in hand with this, naturally I’m panicking about Gary, do I love him? How do I know? Can I put up with his bad habits forever? When will I cheat on him? Will we end up hating each other? I’m powering on regardless, trying to ignore the thoughts. I stayed away from home the other day at a sales conference and I was terrified of cheating on him. It’s not unheard of me to hook up with a colleague on a night out and so the evidence is there to say I have acted that way before, why wouldn’t I do it now? Do I love Gary enough? Who bloody knows.

I’m also feeling the pressure, the thought of children is suddenly becoming very real, this time next year I’ll be a wife and society immediately starts asking you when you’re going to have kids. I mean, my sister-in-law got married at the beginning of this month and I’ve already asked her when she will have my little niece or nephew. I don’t feel ready at all, I’m exercising a lot to try and burn off my little belly without reducing the amount I eat and I won’t be able to exercise as much with a child, will I hate the way I look? I don’t like my body now, it depresses me and I don’t feel attractive, will this only get worse?

So there we have it, I haven’t been here but I’ve definitely been struggling. There’s a lot going on and I think writing the presentation has brought to the fore unresolved feelings that I haven’t wanted to face the feelings. If I put them down here I have to start processing them, see them for what they are, whereas leaving them in my head I can just brush them to the side.

So sorry I’ve been quiet, I’ll try to be more talkative going forward!

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 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.

Suicide.

When will this stop?

Today I’ve read about an Olympian that at just 18 took her own life and the media has been a frenzy with the singer Demi Lovato whom his currently hospitalised for an overdose which is a suspected attempted suicide.

I’m fed up of it, how many more people have to die or attempt to kill themselves before this is taken seriously? Death is the only inevitable thing in life but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it when it happens too soon or take it ourselves, it doesn’t make it ok that the person chose to die.

It is also not ok that we brush it under the carpet, uncomfortable when someone mentions that they’ve thought about it. It’s not ok that we’re scared by it, it’s the only thing we are destined to do. I don’t believe in God or a grand plan, but I do believe that as people, we have the right to choose.

My argument here isn’t that people shouldn’t be able to choose to die. I am all for people going to assisted dying facilities where they can safely end their lives, they are often severely disabled and have spent years living that way, having made the decision with family and friends that dying is the right thing for them to do as they simply aren’t living.

My argument is that people should not be dying alone, in painful circumstances, afraid. My argument is that dying should not be a form of escape, a fear that there is no other choice. My argument is that suicide off the back of treatable mental illnesses should not be happening. What kind of society are we that we allow people to hide their true feelings, feel shame and embarrassment at their minds leading them to not seek help and spend days, months, years in torment leading them to think they have no options? What kind of people are we that every time this happens we vow that next time we’ll do better, there shouldn’t be a next time to try, there should be help for all that seek it.

It’s a fanciful ideal but one we’re slowly getting to, with the high-profile suicides and attempts, it shakes us, it can happen to them those we think have it all, but they’re too far from us. They exist in a separate reality to ours, sadly, only when it happens to someone close do we really act. Only when the loss is ours will we do anything. It shouldn’t have to get to that, so maybe if we start to talk before hand, normalise suicide, normalise mental illness maybe it will happen less and we can treat it.

Hello, my name is Serena, I have OCD and I too, have thought about ending it. I have recited the letters my family would read at my funeral. I have wondered how many sleeping tablets it would take, how deep the razor blade would need to go. But it was never serious for me, from an ego perspective I wanted to know who would turn up at my funeral, I wanted to know if I would be missed. This is not at all what it is like for someone really thinking of it, they don’t wonder these things, they don’t wonder at all. It’s a case of either knowing people wouldn’t miss you, would be better off without you or wouldn’t care. It’s knowing that it’s the only way to end the way you feel, or, a way to feel something. It’s hitting a dead end.

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

Mental Health and Running

I have several great loves of my life but one as a child I never thought I would have because I hated it, is running. I’ve mentioned it before, I run to keep myself skinny but I actually love it.

I started properly a few years ago when I hit 25 and all of a sudden jeans that fit easily were getting tight, hangovers got a lot worse and stairs became even more difficult. I tried zumba and cycling but it never stuck so I thought I’d give running a go. I downloaded the Couch to 5k app, went out with my old trainers, cotton t-shirt and shorts, ran for 30 seconds and honestly thought I would die. Over 10 weeks, my fitness slowly increased and at the end, like the app promised, I was able to run 5k without stopping, not very fast or at all well, but I could do it. Then, the addiction starts, I can run 5k, let’s try 10k and slowly but surely you are regularly running and begin to build up your wardobe so you own more exercise clothes than normal clothes.

As normal, I got bored of running by myself and sought out my local running club. I joined with arrogance thinking I could definitely run better than most. Turns out I was distinctly average however, there were now people like me, I was trying new routes, meeting new people and happily paying for something I can do for free. Three years later, I plan my life around running, regularly participate in races and my running friends are some of my best friends, plus the online running community are some of the most supportive people I’ve come across.

However, there is another reason I run, when I was in and out of the doctors for panic attacks about sleep aged 19, looking back it was OCD, but they ‘prescribed’ exercise. Again when I was going back on medication they recommended exercise and a few weeks later I was running.

Exercise is ‘prescribed’ for many reasons, the main one being endorphins, after a run, regardless of how it went, I’m always glad I went. Even if it’s just to get outside. It forces me to remember that there are good things in the world, it might be as simple as seeing an owl early evening or watching a lightening storm as you run in the rain. It’s beautiful. Secondly, it tires the body so that when we rest we are not restless and to knacker the body forces the mind to rest. Finally, it’s just generally good for you, as you force yourself to look after your body, the rest follows, I eat better and drink less to make sure the work I’m putting in is maintained.

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Looking happy with the world at Cambridge Town and Gown 10km

However, it’s difficult. My mind is constantly telling me I’m not good enough, can’t do things and should give up. This is also the antithesis of my naturally competitive nature. Sometimes when I’m in a good place, I can run happily for miles, I am the most dogged determined person so I will get a good run done. Other times when I’m feeling low, be it due to anxiety, an OCD breakdown or just a standard bad day then I’ll struggle, really struggle. I’ll stop, walk, beat myself up, even to the point when I’m crying because I can’t do it, shouldn’t do it, feel stupid for wanting to do something I am no good at. I run with a watch and my times/distances get uploaded and I’m stupid worried about people laughing and judging me for how slow I’m going or little I’m doing, so I go faster, longer, harder, then get injured and can do nothing! But on the other side, I also cannot give up, I’ve never been a quitter, never been able to give up which usually is a great trait but it means I don’t give myself a rest.

Running is about listening to your body and mind, mine so frequently tells me if I don’t go I’ll get fat and no one will like me, tells me if I don’t go, my running friends would lose interest in me, if I don’t go then I’ll get laughed at for not even being able to run, meaning if I’m struggling, I don’t listen, don’t give myself a break.

It’s ultimately a great love of mine, but something I struggle with like most things in life. Also, remember there may be many other runners and exercise addicts out there that also struggle and it’s something to be mindful of.

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

Sleeping

We have sick days at work, days where we are full of cold and need to remain in our duvet burrito. Days when our eyes can’t open and the thought of having to work brings back the sickness that kept you up all night. We can have sick days for these, ring the boss, I’m throwing up, sneezing, and generally contagious. We get to crawl back into our duvet and remain there, sleep off the ill feeling and go back to work, you’re ill, you need time to recover, understandable. No one would bat an eyelid. Physical illness is an entirely expected part of life and we’re granted the time to heal.

Now, I don’t get physically ill all that often, I haven’t been to the doctors for illness in as long as I can remember. I had a 24 hour sickness bug a few months ago and I get an annual cold but that’s it, so no illness, yet if you were to shake me, I’d still rattle with the sound of tablets. Anti-depressants. Happy pills. Placebos. Whatever you’d like to call them. I’ve been on them on and off since my OCD diagnosis nearly 7 years ago, you go on them, you feel better, you come off them, you feel bad, you go back on them and the cycle continues. And where am I in this perpetual cycle? Off the meds, I don’t like taking them, I feel they define me, define the battle, define the struggle. Make me weak, make me fuzzy and they’re a beta blocker, they block my feelings.

I wanted to come off them because for me, they’re there as a reassurance, but also, make me weak. So I eased off them, taking them every other day for a few months and now it’s been a few weeks since I took one. How do I feel? Pretty empty. Low. The self-esteem is worse than normal, I feel unloved, lonely and without any feeling at all. I’m quick to anger, very literal and serious. So naturally, I woke this morning, after battling through the effort to go to bed last night and the last thing I wanted to do was go to work. I want to lay in bed, head under the duvet and not speak to anyone. I want to disappear, I want to cry, I want to curl up, hibernate, I want to not be anything I am today. I want to wallow in self-pity and just feel everything and nothing all at the same time. Can I do that? No, I need to be an adult, sit in front of a laptop and earn the wage that pays for the house I want to hide in.

We don’t have mental health days. Days when we can’t function, days when there is a cloud over every step we take, every letter we type. If we do take time off, it’s labelled as ‘stress’, everyone knows what that means, means the person has gone crazy. They can’t handle work and need a little rest, bless them, life has made them tired, ahhh, you then treat them differently, weak, tip toeing round them, so as not to stress out the poor little mite.

And that’s exactly why we don’t have mental health days, that perception, that condescending tone of taking time to heal is weak. It’s not weak to recover from anything physical so why is it weak to recover the mind?

Life is stressful, it’s a monumental pressure that teaches you to constantly perceive life as a perfect picture. If you show something real, something true, some emotion, you’re not coping and that’s a bad thing.

But you know what, I’m bored of that, fed up. I’m weak, I’m not coping and today I want to curl up and hibernate. I don’t want to be here today, I didn’t want to wake up, to be responsible. I want to feel nothing and everything all at the same time, I want to be overwhelmed with every true feeling and then watch as people struggle to find the right words, to tip-toe around me. I want to have a mental health day and see it called stress, see the different treatment I get. But I won’t, that isn’t the done thing, so I’ll do what I did today, wake up, feel sorry for myself, put on a brave face and tell the world that everything is just perfect.

If you would like to chat, feel free to reach out on the ‘Contacts’ page, however I’m not a mental health professional, and if you would like ease see the ‘Support’ page.