A Perpetual State

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, namely because I haven’t had the time. January passed in a blur, with the full throttle of wedding planning, work being a constant state of manic, running everyday for Mind and needing to eat and sleep in that time. January soon rushed me by and the year seemed to be off to a flying start. Therapy is also kicking in, we’re tackling the main compulsion I have, avoidance. If anything is difficult or makes me feel uncomfortable my immediate reaction is to flee, run as far in the opposite direction as possible. This stems from an acute sense of failure, of letting people down and if I run, I’m in control of that, I’m failing but on my own terms. Needless to say it’s not a lifetime strategy and difficult things in life need to be dealt with as they aren’t just going to go away if I ignore them, in fact they tend to get worse.

Now, like I said the year was going well, I was forcing myself to do the things I was avoiding and the sky didn’t fall. But it fell a different way all the same.

My nan, 82, and other than a dodgy knee and slight forgetfulness was a fine bill of health, I saw her every other week for tea and cake as she excitedly asked about my wedding, future children, nieces, my sister’s new house and only last Thursday I was talking to my dad about her being a witness at my wedding and seeing her Sunday. Roll around Friday, February and a phone call informing me of nan’s heart attack. I’ve never asked someone to repeat something out of shock but I couldn’t believe it. I went to the hospital, sat there with family as we waited for a few hours for sporadic information. It seems a quick eternity, we were seen for a total of 15 minutes over about 6 hours but we weren’t angry, we knew the doctors were busy and would be doing what they could. Finally, I got to see her, give her a kiss and tell her I loved her, hopeful, forever hopeful all would be fine, it had to be, she would live to 94, that’s what she had always said. Went home, slept and waited some more and over the day news came, it wasn’t good and that evening, I was informed she was no longer with us.

Since then, I’ve felt every emotion, currently in disbelief, a bad dream, can’t be true. Not my nan, she was superwoman, so proud and strong, it’s one cruel joke and I can’t bring myself to correct it. I’m exhausted, I’ve slept for about 10 hours a night, wake up like I’ve not slept at all, my brain a fog and I can’t comprehend how the world just carries on, how they can’t understand the magnitude of what’s happened, why are they ok?

I know after losing Fluff at Christmas it will be a matter of time before OCD grabs hold, tell me I’m grieving too much, too little. People are bored of me talking about it, people have it worse and I should just get on with it. In a sick way, I’m looking forward to it, I want something else to go on in my head, instead of this perpetual state of exhaustion and what should have been.

I’m always happy to chat and if you would like to reach out, 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.

Alcohol

It’s Dry January!

December is a month of excess, end most days too full and gin heady. Sleep soundly to wake with no alarm and no agenda for the day.

New year’s eve ends in a passed out state as I can’t just have a couple. Roll around January 1st and we have dry January.

It’s a mixed bag. It’s great to wake with no headaches and the extra calories are not missed albeit replaced with Christmas chocolate. However, there is a sense of anxiety. I’ve said it before I have a complicated relationship with alcohol, I use it as a way to avoid actually dealing with problems, as a way to get to sleep if I’m a bit anxious, need to be early or am somewhere new. Use it to loosen up and quieten the mind when I’m in a social situation. Tipsy Serena can talk, sober Serena sits and mutters awkwardly and rather than face it, I have a couple.

Dry January allows none of this, I must do it all without drink and to be honest. It’s been easy so far and I’ve not missed it but I’m starting to panic, will I do it? What happens when I drink again? Will I go back to my bad habits? I don’t want to become an alcoholic, a liability, a drunk, but I also want to be able to drink and not feel guilty for it, scared of it. I want to be like normal people.

I’ve mentioned before that many people with OCD are sober because drink makes it worse. Drink raises your heart rate and can cause anxiety making the symptoms of those that suffer worse. I don’t want to be sober forever, I just want to be sure I can be if I want to, I want to be certain. OCD certain.

I’m always happy to chat and if you would to reach out to me, 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.

Update

I’ve had writer’s guilt, been wanting to write, so desperately but been unable to. Been an odd few weeks, the medication has now well and truly kicked in and I remain a salient calm, still feel but not as extreme and everything else seems to be going well.

I am still an OCD mess questioning everything, Gary has unknowingly bore the brunt of this recently. I spoke of him highly in a recent therapy session and afterwards I felt like a fraud. Did I really feel that way about him? Was I just doing it for effect? I don’t know anymore. I begin to analyse every little thing he does, get easily agitated and snappy. How do you know what love is?

Other than that, I’m still a sleeping alcoholic with money troubles, Christmas always brings up my money concerns. Wanting to treat those around me coupled with a fear of over spending and it running out. Plus, I’m getting there with sleep, now I’ve worked out a link with sleep and danger it doesn’t pose the same stress however I now have the worry about not worrying!

So a short post I appreciate but an update nonetheless! I’m always happy to chat and if you would like to, 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.

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.