Monday, November 29, 2010

Back to work. Now hopefully my anxiety will calm down a notch since I haven't been away from work 5 days. The shakey feeling came back last night, to my intense displeasure. It wasn't as bad as the time I went to the ER and they treated it like anxiety. So I ate food and continued with my life and it went away.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I got an ear infection. I wasn't going to go to the doctor, but my sister said she would if she were me, and I know she's not big on wasting money, so I went, and it was probably good. Now I have antibiotics and a flu shot. If I turn into a monkey because of the flu shot... okay, so that's not realistic. Actually I'm just tired (can blame the ear infection, medication, ocd, and/or depression in addition to the flu shot) and my arm is a tiny bit sore. Just a tiny bit, not like my last nasty immunization (which was not the flu shot: this was my first ever flu shot if my memory is correct).

I put up a Christmas tree yesterday evening. My room-mate new I was nervous about it, but I wasn't quite so perceptive at first. But towards the end, when my temper was short and my brain was shutting down, I knew I had offended my OCD. I do the shut-down thing sometimes; I just hadn't made such a connection between anxiety and shutting down. But when there's been "too much", my brain kind of shuts off and I try to keep a smiling mask on my face so nobody knows I could be crying or falling apart. I get quieter, too, saying less. There I am, Abigail the turtle, peering out of my shell. Yes, it's nice to meet you, too. No, please let me rest before you ask me where to put that Christmas ribbon because there is now an "evil" Christmas tree in my house and I helped put it up for the first time in my life. (My family didn't celebrate Christmas "traditionally".) When I caught on to OCD's offense with Christmas, I did go ahead and put the Christmas ribbon up. So there, OCD!

And I was fighting contamination issues in the kitchen, too. I even washed some of the dishes, but stopped before cleaning everything up, leaving the kitchen irritatingly still contaminated. Then I said something abrupt to my room-mate like, "I finished." And she asked, "what?" And I realized that what I wanted to say was, please wash your dishes now and clean the contaminated counter off!" So I did not say that and the kitchen is still contaminated. I'd like to call this an excellent exposure, and maybe it is, but at the same time, my response prevention isn't going so well. I'm preventing one response (decontaminate the kitchen) and continuing another (don't touch the contaminated counter, only touch the handle of the sink as necessary, don't touch the rest of the sink). I guess I could mess that up by touching the sink and then eating lunch, but then what if I got ecoli and it was "my fault" for doing such a stupid exposure? Worst would be touching the counter. You can SEE that there had been raw meat there. Or tomato sauce. But "better safe than sorry" (NOT).

I want to take a break from my anxiety. I think I'll go rent a couple movies, but that will set off my anxiety, too. Am I wasting money? If I get the one I want to see about someone with schizophrenia, will my ocd continue it's "you have schizophrenia" game? Wait, I thought my ocd thought I had bi-polar. Silly ocd, keep your story straight. Yes, so my plan is to offend my scrupulosity ocd by watching movies in my house that now has an "evil" Christmas tree (but I'm not doing it to offend the ocd; that's just a byproduct). The good news? Night is coming, and then I can sleep! So much for having no depression left. But wait, I didn't say I had no depression; I think what I told myself was that I had moderate instead of severe depression. And that is still true.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


If I hadn't thought it out quite so carefully over so many days and talked to people about it as I decided... I would so want to site dying my hair as an example of impulsive behavior that was a side effect of one of my medications (pick whichever you want to get out of taking). I mean, I have never ever dyed my hair in my entire life until today. I know, I was really bold and daring - I dyed it medium brown and it was dark blond/light brown. Basically, it's about the color dry that it used to be wet.

I even did an OCD homework thought challenge about my assumption this morning that "dying my hair will ruin my life". I concluded that my evidence didn't cut it and I went ahead and dyed my hair like I wanted to. It might be a sin. I might be allergic to it (I have a sore throat) (and it started bothering my head before I rinsed it off). But I'm pretty sure it won't kill me. Unless it gives me cancer; then it might. But that wouldn't be right away, so I don't need to worry about it yet. Unless it gives me throat cancer. Okay, so that wouldn't be right away either. I should save my anxiety for more immediate issues.

Like the dinner I'm going to tonight. If I bring butter for my rolls, the butter might not be good anymore since I have had it for a while. I know that I lived through eating it last month, and I'd eat it again today if it was just me, but feeding it to other people is scarey. I will bring already opened salad dressing, so I will get an exposure in with or without the butter (not to mention the exposure to whatever immitation or real social anxiety I have). Hmm. I can almost immagine my counselor questioning me about this butter poisening I'm afraid of. Actually, it's margarine, so it might be good for 100 years. Spoilt margarine sounds less likely than spoiled tuna on my dish towel if I dried my tuna-water-y hands on it. Maybe I will bring margarine after all.

My other grand thought that my room-mate said I should put on my blog is this word of advice: If you have a choice between a one-syllable word and a three-syllable word, use the three-syllable word. This can slow your thinking down (at least if you sound out your thoughts like I usually do). I have been told the speed of my thoughts is part of my problem. So supposing I select elongated units of speech, this could possibly result in slower thinking. Or confusing myself, which is fine, too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

dreaming of a better future and eating tuna

Started new job today. And saw my counselor. On my to-do list is... breathing, or more specifically, not to stop breathing. I dream of a better future, when I will be able to stand to eat more than two things for supper (currently tuna and crackers plus fruit and veggie or bacon bits and cheese on salad, but it used to be pizza and veggie or cornbread and beans), when I will quit holding my breath as if that will help me deal with the situation better, when I will have a good night's sleep and not wake up early nor have trouble waking up from a medication, when I actually want to live most days of the week. Yes, this sounds lovely.

In the mean time, I have started taking classes at my local gym. Well, really, I've only taken one so far, but I intend to add to that shortly. And I've been excersizing at least 5 days a week for at least 20 minutes. Have i been working on relaxing? No. But excersizing? yes.

Today I expressed to my counselor that I was upset that my ocd didn't follow the rules I think it should (haha, as if ANY of our ocd follows the rules we want). See, I did the bathroom cleaning exposure and then journaled about it. But I got the bathroom clean in about half an hour! I was doing well! I mean, if you overlook the fact that I had several different excellent examples of catasrophic thinking in the short half hour, I was doing great. So she suggested I do some of the cognative work thinking about what evidence that I have that because I touched my swimsuit with dirty hands, I'd contaminate the whole chlorine-filled pool next week or month or year when I go swimming again (or pick another example of catastrophic thinking; I wasn't short on them!). It's just so irritating that the ocd can play so many games in thirty minutes. So the bathroom ended up clean, but my anxiety level was raised and my poor brain must just get really tired sometimes - I get tired of it even if it doesn't get tired of me.

Then there was the tuna example. Since I have switched tuna from the list of foods that might poison me to the short list of foods I'm willing to eat (go figure!), I fix it more often now. And after touching it, I want to wash my hands with soap before touching the dish towel because I don't want tuna germs on my dish towel. Immagine! She suggested that a normal person might wipe off their tuna-water-y hands straight onto the kitchen dish towel! How terrible! I mean, think of the germs! But my counselor countered that I eat tuna. But not after it's been sitting on a towel for a day! One of those conversations that leads me to suspect I have more contamination issues than I realize. If I die of tuna poisoning, then don't copy my tuna exposure of .... only rinsing my hands (no soap) before I dry them on the kitchen towel. Really risky, I know, right along with not PERFECTLY cleaning the bathroom. This life is hillarious (and depressing) but I wonder what life without ocd feels like.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Now I have given my two weeks notice, so it doesn't have to be a secret. I'm changing jobs. Not fields, I'll still be an early childcare teacher. Well, maybe I'll get to be less of a lead teacher, but that is okay with me right now. And working in a classroom WITH another teacher sounds GREAT (even though it can double the number of kids in the class). So that was my big anxiety creator for my last blog post; I was going to give my two weeks notice when I went to work and I was worrying about accepting the job the evening before.

At my current job, the worse depression came back, not as strong as it has ever gotten, but stronger. I hate depression. But Saturday came and I felt better. Amazing what the weekend can do. Good thing I'm changing jobs. I hope it helps (but it could make things worse; I'll have to "take that risk" like my counselor keeps talking about).

I'm doing pretty good at not washing my hands this week! Not so good at writing down every handwashing, which was the actual assignment. :) And I've never kept track at work. Maybe that's avoidance, maybe it's recognizing that a toddler teacher can justify washing his/her hands pretty much any moment of the work day. Really, I don't wash my hands as much as I "should" (early childcare guidelines) but sometimes I throw in an OCD handwash (marked by greater germ worry). On the positive, I've eaten with "dirty" hands a number of times this week! So funny that I get to celebrate that fact. It is a little bothersome when I'm with someone who doesn't have OCD but does care about clean hands and germ caution. But usually it's just myself that I slightly annoy.

And don't be too impressed and for sure don't feel bad, because handwashing is not nearly my biggest OCD issue. It's one of my little issues that is easier to fight.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


It seems to me that exposures come quite readily without my seeking them out. Going to the gym to exercise is an exposure all by itself (because I might die if I go. No, I don't know how that would logically happen). Then work, particularly a work change coming up. So I sort of brought it on myself but I am SO SCARED!!!! Not for any super good reason. Well, anybody would probably feel scared, so I guess I just need to not let fear paralyze me. But really, I took last week off, remember? And this week I have to deal with this????

So my weekend of stability has run into an anxiety challenge. The kind of anxiety that robs me of a normal night's sleep - not to mention potentially steeling my appetite. Oh, great. So I did a thought challenge thing where I wrote my thoughts and feelings and cognitive distortions and more logical response. Helped some. But does that make it a compulsion? The questions never end! Hence the fact that I'm almost never bored.

And with the anxiety, the depression tries to gain a better foothold.

Oh, well. The sun is shining, and I have exercised today, and I'm going to work despite my fear, and I could go to a support group tonight if I choose to, and so I can accomplish my list of to-dos for the day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

mad lib obsessions

The depression might have stabilized. I'm assuming so until otherwise notified for more than a few hours. What a pleasant surprise that the break from work helped. My counselor said that sometimes people need that rest.

So the OCD is having fun. What used to be a miserable obsession has become a mad lib game. The color(s) and substance to be used keeps changing. I'm in danger from an orange and purple panda bear, or orange and green spinach, or purple and green giraffes. Who knows. It is all very funny. Especially since these objects aren't readily available and dangerous.

But I'm back to work - the purple and pink panda bears don't interrupt too much. And the absence of the feeling that my emotions are about to hijack me and slam me this or that direction, that is nice. Dispite a stressful day at work. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

rest can be good?

So yesterday after finishing my time using the library internet, I had a meltdown in my car. I wasn't working. I didn't want to eat. There's some Bible verse about not working and not eating. Why was I so foolish as to take the rest of the week off work? I was doomed.

But talking to my sister last evening, I was able to look at it a little more positively; maybe this would help me to learn that my value wasn't all tied up in the job I did. If I could learn that, that should help with my depression.

And later last evening, I went to a Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance support group meeting. The first one I went to left me feeling more desperate, but I enjoyed this one. I'm starting to get to know people. And we can talk and laugh about other things, not just discuss mental illness. I like going to this and to the NAMI Connections support group because I feel like I don't have to pretend to be someone else. I can be me, depressed and discouraged. I can move my hands and feet with restless nervous energy and not worry about it. I can be one of a group of people dealing with mental illness. Kind of like being one of a group of people who blog about OCD. :) Not alone.

And then today, amazingly enough, I felt better. This morning I slept in and then got myself to eat breakfast. Then I was allowed to crawl back in bed to read a fiction book because it was on my list of things to do today. I finished it! Finished a fiction book that wasn't short! Yay for my growing attention span!

Then I excersized. Another thing checked off. And then I was for sure feeling happier, BUT I did not have an appetite for lunch. Then I thought to myself, this is how I usually get stuck back in depression; I think my feeling better should cover more than it actually does, get frustrated and upset, and return to my previous depressed low for a few more days. So today I tried to not be conserned that I wasn't hungry for lunch (and ate anyway). Instead I appreciated that I cleaned out the oven so I could bake corn bread muffins and that I actually baked corn bread muffins for the first time in a while. I read a magazine and got through lunch and made two scarey phone calls and started cleaning my room... (good progress on my list). And now I'm at the library. :) Writing, which was also on my list. I was planning to write on my story, but I think this counts, too.

So now I'm not nearly so upset (for the moment) that I took some days off work. If that's what helps me get better, I am SO willing to try it.

And I was maybe going to switch to a nearer, cheaper counselor, but she recommended I stick with my gut feeling, which leaves me with the counselor I like whome I'm already seeing. So now I can stop worrying about changing counselors for the moment. :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

accepting loss

I just read the article by Jonathan Grayson about "obseessing about obsessing" that's link is above. Reminds me of me.

Monday I was discouraged and my counselor and I came up with the idea of asking my doctor to write a note so I could take a few days off of work. This was supposed to be helpful; a break from the stress.

Tuesday, I worked part of the day, then left with the note from my doctor. Today, I'm so frustrated. Why can't I work? (Well, I could work, but I'm taking a break.) My own appreciation of my value is so tied into my work. If I do valuable work, then I feel valuable. If I feel valuable, I think I am valuable. If I'm not doing work that I percieve as valuable, then I don't feel valuable and think that means I am less valuable. I KNOW it's not true, but it feels that way.

So, oh, what a priviledge, I get to sit here and not work while my brain yells at me. Please, can it go away now?

Dr. Grayson talked about accepting what we do have, which includes mourning what we don't have. Mourning that, in fact, I'm not at my paying job today. Mourning that I'm scared and procrastinating certain tasks. Mourning that my brain doesn't always tell me the truth. Mourning that I'm not "better" yet. Mourning that it takes so long. Mourning that I'm afraid my life is doomed because I went home from work yesterday and because of what I said to this person and/or that person.

But if I wasn't so busy trying not to explode with frustration at my irritating brain, I could be enjoying writing this. I could enjoy how well I can sometimes type. I could look to see if going to a college this winter interests me. I could enjoy the sunny weather outside (like really, can't it rain when I'm in a bad mood?!). I could take a walk. I could go to the gym even if I was afraid that I'd make some terrible mistake there. I can enjoy my teacup even if I'm not so crazy about tea. I can enjoy my book even though I'm not at work earning money. I can enjoy life - what a thought!

Sometimes I try to write out two "good" thoughts for the next day, coping thoughts or hopeful thoughts or something. I started writing, "I deserve..." last night and then got stuck. Do I deserve anything? I don't think so. But I'm thinking that deserving is based on doing, not being. If we have to do enough to deserve life or happiness or respect or anything, well, that gets tricky. Have we done enough? What is enough? Where is the line? But if it is being, well, I happen to be a person, regardless of what I do. If people deserve respect and love...? then I do, too, because I'm a person. Oh, so hard for my brain to grasp. I don't know if we deserve it, yet God grants people mercy.