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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Request

Morning all, how are we? Sleeping well? No, because it’s so hot here in the UK, bored of the consistent sweating now thanks.

So, other than all that, I’m working with my local mental health organisation Talking FreEly and we have a blog, which we try and feature guest bloggers each week, now if any of you reading this would like to write something to feature then feel free to drop me a line and I can sort this out for you. We will of course promote your blog in the piece also so you’re getting something out of it!

Now for a personal request, does anyone follow any groups, individuals or hashtags on Twitter and Instagram that they would recommend, looking to get involved in more conversations and help raise awareness as much as possible so if people have any then do let me know!

Finally, feel free to request the same of me, happy to write introduction to OCD pieces, or OCD coupled with anxiety and depression if you need anything for your local causes!