Friday, December 30, 2011

Improved mental health

I am hesitant to say it, as if saying it will somehow trap me in the "I don't need help" chategory when I will in fact need help. But I'm doing better. I no longer wish to be dead. I no longer pray for death. Etc. Etc. Instead, I ponder it. How come I don't want to be dead today? Huh, I don't know. Nothing much has changed, except, I suppose, the chemicals in my brain. Praise God for medication and/or whatever brought about this astounding change. It's amazing. The whole thing is. Wanting to die (duh, who wouldn't?) though my sister couldn't even immagine such a state of mind. Taking the thoughts for granted because they were around so often. It was just my life. I spent each day with the nobel and challenging goal of living until the next day, at which point the process would be repeated, and I'd live another day to get to the day after. Admittedly, it was exhausting. And now, just as wishing to be dead was just a part of life, not wishing it has now become a part of life. Now it's, duh, here I am and this is what's going on in my life.

Anyway, I saw my psychiatrist yesterday. Perhaps it helped that I'd already spent an hour earlier in the afternoon, part of which was spent trying to explain my current state of mind. I think I'm still mildly depressed, or some level that leaves me firmly outside the hospital with no immediate risk of landing in the psych ward. But I don't really know what normal is, and neither does my counselor. I guess there's this "normal is what you were before you were depressed" idea, but it doesn't work so well when my life has been weaving around depression and anxiety since I was a kid (not saying I was depressed all the time, but I don't know what "healthy" is supposed to feel like). Anyway, I explained to Mr. Psychiatrist that, since returning from Puerto Rico (location of my two "gap" school years between highschool and college), I've spent lots and lots of energy, first trying to go back to Puerto Rico, then trying to fight the mental illness stuff, especially the OCD, and then fighting to live each day. But now, I live each day automatically. I don't have to struggle so hard to get through each day. So I feel kind of empty. He suggested that I sit back and enjoy it for a bit. Which, of course, goes against my former beliefs that aren't completely former that rest and fun are potentially wrong. And he suggested that I keep working on my goals for my life (i.e., college classes for my Communication Disorders degree, or working on relationships that are important to me).

I think the OCD is still around, it's just learned to hide in the woodwork a little bit better, and it's being smart enough not to do something major like ruin my paperwork or stop me from doing  something I really care about. And, of course, Exposure Response Prevention is pretty intimmidating and uncomfortable as well, so as long as I think the ERP would cause more distress than it is worth, the OCD skates by relatively unchallanged. Actually, I also think that the OCD has moved from being a major issue to being a minor issue. And perhaps I've stopped the ERP too soon. Perhaps the OCD is causing more trouble than I realize. Let's ruminate over that for a while.... I wanted to say, just kidding, but I probbably will think about it for a while until I settle the question somehow.

I also told the psychiatrist that I was scared of going back, and he told me I was in good company. I now join the mass of people just out of a strong depression who are decidedly scared of falling back into the deep depression.

And so the Psychiatrist and the Counselor gave similar advice for different pieces of my life puzzle; keep doing the things that help me and bring me pleasure - like the dance exercises and the online college classes.


  1. Well, even though it's not perfect, it's great news anyway. But yeah, now you have to figure out what life looks like without it.

  2. This is great news!!! I agree - now what? Take it one step at a time. Let it evolve. Like your psychiatrist said - just enjoy it.

  3. Just existing from day to day is VERY hard work. I'm glad the meds are helping you too. I doubled my meds (from 1 to 2) last Aug., after decreasing down from 4. I didn't realize how much work i was doing at the 1 pill level until i went back to 2 and felt like i had a stronger grip on ocd.

    Yes, i will be having this problem too, of having a hole where much of my life was focused on ocd: when will it show up, what will i do, what if... erp, more erp, accidental erp. heh heh. Therapy ends for my in 3 sessions and i will have to wait and see what life offers next.
    Having had this happen after therapy years ago for depression/ child abuse issues i remember asking my counsellor 'what will i do now? so much of life is focused on this" and she said 'not to worry, it will fill up'. IT would be worse if i couldn't let go of the 'i have ocd' role and stay mired in it. i may be stuck with it for my life, but it won't define least that's the plan.

    Good luck with your new lease on life, too!!!

  4. So glad you are feeling better, this post is inspiring. I have felt very similar over the past month or two from starting my medication regimen, the volume of my OCD symptoms are down tremendously and I have a new excitement for life, but I ask myself, "what next." I do admit that I am also afraid of going back to the place I was just 6 months ago, when living in constant fear of this or that, but I will push forward, just as you are.

  5. You are stronger than you know.

    When you said, :"spent each day with the nobel and challenging goal of living until the next day"-- it brought a tear to my eye.

    I hope 2012 is a wonderful year for you filled with better and better mental health.

  6. Thank you all of you. Your comments mean so much to me.