Tuesday, May 29, 2012

OCD showed up to "help" me move

Moving went... better than I expected. I decided that people helping you move let these people see a little too intimately into your life. As in, they can see some of the forty or more board books I have collected, or the pink castle I bought from the thrift store. Very personal things. Or rather, things I am sensitive to criticism about. The books might be okay; even I agree I have too many. The pink castle and the other toys? Well, my "conscience" and I have wrestled over this (not sure if it's my real or my fake conscience), but these things represent hope and dreams about the future, about me being a speech therapist or an early childhood teacher some day. So that is why I keep them.

Cleaning after the moving, that isn't going so well. Somehow, I managed to sign the lease for the new place without a big OCD showdown (yet). A few small ones cropping up, but no disasters (yet). But getting the old apartment cleaned up? There's a list. A move out policy. It says things like "wash the walls." If I don't wash every wall, every square foot (an inch here or there might be okay, but I'd better scrub that tiny spot there until it comes all the way off!!!), I will have sinned. See? That's why my exposure talk isn't working. I just figured it out now.

I was going for the money arguement. I wanted it clean enough not to loose any unnecessary deposit money. So the logical question and response was to ask myself, "What is the worst that could happen?" The answer; you won't get all your deposit money back. Let me assure you, the deposit money is looking less and less valuable the longer I clean, the worse my mood gets, and the more my wrists complain. So now what?

I think it's the "sin" issue. That still isn't logical, but then again, when is OCD limited by logic?

So I must wipe down the walls. If I don't, something terrible will happen (OCD's famous signature in my life; vague but sure doom). And I must scrub this, and I must clean that to perfection. And let me let all of you without OCD in on a little secret. No job can ever be done to perfection unless God is doing it all and I am not at all involved. Such a pity. So I know this and I'm aware of this and I dislike dislike dislike this (three times over). But how to stop? Where do you draw the line between good enough and not good enough? Where??????? Between three and four inches? Do you mean between 3.5 and 4 inches? Do you mean between 3.75 and 4 inches? Oh, but do you mean between 3.9999999999 and 4 inches? Oh, but I can't get it that accurate. It might even be 4.000001 inches, which is clearly not between 3 and 4 inches. Let's just watch this anxiety make my mood worse and worse without it helping anything. Meanwhile, let's watch how the rag I'm using to clean is leaving lint on the wall. And see where the wall looks dirtier than yesterday? Did the people picking up leftovers for the thrift store really scrape the wall right there? And what's more depressing than redoing an unfinishable task while more rooms wait for my magic cleaning skills... besides getting a call from the doctor's office about a biopsy I was supposed to have had fifteen minutes ago.

So I hoped if I wrote about it, I could solve the problem, but guess what? OCD doesn't like to be solved. I'm stuck. Exposure, here I come. Somehow, it feels more like, battle-with-guarenteed-victory-given-to-OCD, here I come. Yay for depression and anxiety.

And, since that clearly isn't enough to deal with at one time, how about remembering how you couldn't wake up this morning? How, when you finally woke up to your boss's call this morning, the cell phone (carrying my second and third wake up alarms) lay untouched on the couch where you set it the night before. Sleeping through alarms has risen to a new level, the level of not even bothering to turn the alarm off! Well, my dream was exciting. Somebody was saving someone else (a child) from being trampled by a horse. Kind of distracting from wake-up alarms.

Well, I'd better go. Eventually time might trump the OCD cleaning issues. The ones that (mostly) aren't even about germs. What harm could possibly come from a spot on the wall? But then, each spot adds up. There are probably a hundred spots on the wall that no-one but me will ever know about. I won't even know about them, because I've run out of brain space for even hearing alarm clocks.

No, I'm going to watch a recital. That should be fun. There is plenty of time to argue with my OCD tomorrow (don't have to be done with the apartment 'til the end of the month).

another episode in the "Abigail and the Hematologist" saga.

I see I haven't written in a while. My mood is very... strong right now, whatever I am, I am very that. Very tired. Very okay. Very depressed. I switch between these slowly, as in, over a few hours or a day. That is slow compared to switching in a matter of minutes. Over all, I've been doing remarkably well.

Recap. Last week on Tuesday at about 2:15, I got a phone call. This one is just so great, I have to share. "Hello?"

"Hi, Abigail? Did you know that you had a bone marrow biopsy scheduled for today at two o'clock?"

Mmmhmm. Special. Especially as it makes major miscommunication number three (not counting billing issues) with this doctors' office. The first incident was in December, the, oh, you have lots of tests... followed by my, "what tests are these?" followed by,... "bone marrow..." followed by, "I never agreed to that... The doctor didn't even talk to me about that..." accompanied by high stress and anxiety, which, as you all know, I clearly need more of. That must be why I'm getting it from the doctors' office.

Second incident, April. Phone call, "Did you know you were scheduled to have your blood tests taken yesterday?" Um, no, they said they would call me closer to time and schedule it with me then. I hadn't realized that meant they would call me after the time for which they scheduled me. But that was not too difficult to recover from. I took the tests, then got the results that my stupid anemia is up to no good again (but very stable in it's no-goodness, so the nurse let me know I didn't need to freak out). I waited for the doctor's oppinion, and was told that I should take the blood tests again on May 29th. They even gave me a date this time.

But then they called me a week before that, having expected a bone marrow biopsy. They should have told me about it, she said. She did grant that there had obviously been a miscommunication. She wondered if I could still come in that day, but I would need a driver. Could I get a driver and come in?

Anyway, I raised my, I why do I need a bone marrow biopsy question (you know me and asking too many questions... well, actually, I really do ask too many questions, but this wasn't one of them). This time, I actually got to talk to the doctor on the phone. Apparently, being miss-scheduled so severely has some small advantage. He let me start by just taking blood tests. That I was willing to do.

But I was all freaked out. Did I need a bone marrow biopsy? My insurance ends in under two months. And I was getting ready to move. And my depression, spiked by the rainy weather and moving, was not at all pleased with the medical issue-financial issue added in. Talk about how to move your depression from the mild category to the moderate category with perhaps a touch of severe.

Oh, and included in my stressful list was that I hadn't yet been approved for the apartment I was about to (hopefully) move into.

The good news is, once the sun started coming out and I got approved for the apartment, I started feeling much, much better.

I am scheduled to see a new hematologist for a second opinion tomorrow. This one is with a different doctors' office.

Also, the previous one called me about my test results. Due to rising hemoglobin levels, I'm off the hook for a bone marrow biopsy - he has other, less serious tests higher on his list now.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

something you learn, or something you better get right right now

I saw my counselor again today. We got to talk about my picture story regarding last Sunday. When I cited my drawings on the sermon notes as an example of my "sin" (I wasn't listening to the sermon like I should have been and I was not hearing the pastor "right"), she told me a story to help me understand that lots of factors go into what happens. Her story was about someone student teaching with a bunch of complicating factors. I didn't quite see how I could "blame" my trouble listening to sermons on any factors besides my own "sin," but instead, I saw something else. I realized that in the childcare setting, I knew people had to learn skills over time, but in my personal Christian life - the stuff closer to the more "churchy" parts or formal religious parts - I didn't see a development of skills. I saw pass/fail with no way to pass. No wonder I get depressed about that.

Recently, a new person started working at the childcare center that I work at. She helped me see how much I had learned from when I started. When I started, I had a hard time taking care of... (drum roll...) two toddlers, with three toddlers almost doing me in. Three and a half years later, there are days when I can handle six or seven with no major problems. It took me years to get there, and there is still plenty more for me to learn. And I kind of understand this, especially looking back (sometimes in the present I go back to black-and-white thinking).

But with my "spiritual" life... Okay, first, let me set aside the whole "your faith involves your whole life, not just what you do on Sunday" issue. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about how I'm dealing with things. It's a little OCD-ish. My counselor explained that, while a person without OCD could work towards being "perfect" and still go about with their normal lives, a person with OCD could get stuck in it and put an enormous amount of energy into it because we would be going for "perfect" in a different way. That makes sense to me in that I have explained myself enough a few times to get strange looks from people without OCD. Somehow, they handle the whole issue differently. My friend locally with OCD similar to mine, though, she understands where I'm coming from.

Anyway, I'm rattling on. The point is, I want to start thinking of my spiritual life as a learning experience instead of a black and white, beat-your-head-against-the-wall-to-no-avail issue.

I thought about it at the store today in the context of how I use my money. I had told my counselor how I had sinned, buying a two dollar item from the thrift store that I shouldn't have (the item wasn't wrong, I just shouldn't have spent the money, I concluded), and my miss-spending my money eventually hurts other people, like her (she works with me to help me be able to afford counseling). She said that she didn't care. I said I still felt guitly. She said that she knew I would and that nothing she could say would change that. Yup. She had me there. Anyway, at the store later, it occured to me that spending money wisely and budgeting and all is actually a skill one learns. When I looked at it that way, I felt so much more free. I got through shopping with decidedly less guilt. I am learning to use my money well; who would even expect me at my age to have that down perfect (okay, some rigid, black-and-white thinking in that area might let a person still judge me there, but rationally, I don't have to judge myself).

So this is my current goal, to allow myself to learn and grow instead of demanding perfection, in my whole life instead of just at work.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Trouble Listening to Sermons

The day began remarkably well once I woke up. I had my perky feeling. I was feeling good, and the sun was shining! I got to church a tad late but not too late. We sang songs, and I sang as one on the other side of the depression darkness instead of in the midst of it. I thought about not thinking about how good I was feeling, but of course, that wouldn't work. I knew the good feeling might not last, but I was hoping. I was thinking that maybe this time felt different from all the other times I have thought I was passed the darkness only to have it return. Anyway, we sang and all was pretty well.
 Above, you see me smiling and the stick figure worship team.
 Then the worship team left the stage and the pastor took the center point just below the stage. And I thought, "Maybe... Please let me be okay this time..."
 My sketches are right to left and top to bottom, so a little confusing. The pastor kept talking, but his words somehow reminded me of... How do I even say it? In my picture, his words roughly formed in the air shapes of disapproval and thoughts that I used to hurt myself. I would like to say that I feel in no position to evaluate what he actually said. It could have been very reasonable and correct, and it certainly wasn't what I interpreted it into. I'm trying to explain how I interpreted it, how my thoughts affected me. "You, (Abigail,) are a terrible person, totally unpleasing to God. You can't please Him..."

And then I think, "Something is wrong here. I don't think I am hearing him right, but I don't know how to fix it. Back to coping. I'm not all 'better' yet."
And coping comes in the form of flowers, many, many flowers. Actually, today I was busy making my picture story. Other days I have drawn many, many flowers.
 "Maybe if I draw pictures, somebody else can help me solve this riddle..." (The "somebody" in mind was my counselor.) Then, I went back to filling in a blank or few on the sermon notes, which let me hear a few more words that I could misinterpret into whips with which to afflict myself. "Back to drawing."

And then my heart gets to have thoughts or feelings, too ("God, help me!!!!!!"), which led to more thought/feelings ("I can't do this...").

 "The sermon is (should be) almost done," I think. Angry Face says, "I hate you, Abigail!" Angry Face is pictured very faintly a second time, but the picture is overtaken by the firm thought, "No, I choose to believe there is something wrong with this picture." In other words, Angry Face isn't telling the truth; my perceptions aren't accurate and I don't need to despair.
 The sermon... "end. Soon. It will." The pastor starts praying, "Dear God..." Actually, I think he doesn't exactly start his prayers with those two exact words, but you get the idea. And I want, again, to make clear that the next words are my thoughts, not his words. "Abigail is a horrible person... If you (Abigail) are really a Christian, drop this 'depression' excuse. You can be saved. Ha, ha, no you can't. This wouldn't work. You are doomed! ..."

"STOP" I declare, demonstrating some rational thought.
The music people came back up and started a song, but I was busy with my picture. I finished, and then sang, a seeking, "Help me, God!" type singing. 

The service ended, and I talked to a friend for a little.

And then came the best thing of the morning! I walked out of church into the sunshine, and after the distracting talk with my friend, my perkiness came back! Maybe not quite at 100%, but it came back. Like a new base line that I could return to. Maybe this depression thing really is getting better.

Anyway, my pictures explain, at least to me, why Sunday mornings can be so difficult for me. No wonder I have trouble; I'm interpreting things into thoughts that I use against myself and the result is... upsetting. So maybe now that I've seen the problem more clearly... I can ask my counselor about it. I haven't gotten a solution in my own mind. I have more trouble at my home church than if I visit another, neutral church. I think this is because I feel that I have more to loose at my home church.

And now... Hopefully, after reliving this to write it out, I can go ahead and move on one more time. And exercise. I think that will work out. After all, for the moment, I have a more positive base line to return to.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I found an apartment. As long as nothing goes wrong with them accepting my application, it should work out! It's a studio apartment with a kitchenette that would fit in a closet – that practically is in a closet. The refridgerator will... not win any awards size-wise unless it is a contest on loosing weight. And I will have an excuse for not using the oven or stove – since there isn't one. That could be a little tricky. I'm looking into an electric skillet or something for those rare days when I actually decide to cook something outside of the microwave or bread toaster. I keep hoping that some day I will … eat more healthily? But I'm very not into cooking, so that is a complicated goal.

I've been in this perky mood lately, and it just keeps going. Maybe this is what it is like not to be depressed. I still have moments, but now it is moments of depressed thinking and hours of this strange, perky mood. It is almost scarey, even!

However, I have not yet started into my summer class (the one I can take a whole year on if I choose to). I think that the combination of no school (especially after an overwhelming semester) and maybe the medication and therapy and all is working out in my benefit. I hope it lasts when I start studying again.

I have even thought that I could potentially cut back to counseling every other week! I hoped for but at the same time couldn't imagine such a state, and now, I just might be in it. I have decided to wait a month or so before trying to cut down on any supports right now, though, including counseling. And the Seroquel that I wish I wasn't on? I think I'd better keep it for several months after reaching a steady, non-depressed state. And even then, I might still need to take it. I'm choosing to be okay with that.

Anyway, I'm almost scared to say how well I'm doing, because I know it might not last. I don't want people to conclude that I'm all better now and I won't need any help anymore. Of course, come to think of it, even “healthy” people need help. But anyway, I'm hoping this better mood lasts, but I wouldn't want to promise that it would. :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

apartment searching

There is this in-between land. Too healthy to qualify for some services, to ill to quite make it as a healthy person. Too poor to afford housing etc, but too rich to qualify for help?

My "riches" this time come in the form of my having taken twelve credits last semester. Disqualfied me for at least one subsidized housing option. My job, however, would qualify me easily. So how, I wonder, are students supposed to find housing? Are we supposed to be taking out loans to pay for our housing, when if we were just smart enough to take one class less, we would be able to get assistance now and at least slow down our debt accumulation process? Are we all supposed to have relatives and live with them, regardless of our age or current situation or even the location of these relatives? And here we are, accumulating debt since we either aren't patient enough or aren't holy enough (I don't really think this is the problem for me, just now; don't worry) or just aren't something enough to pay for our schooling as we go (while we work our minimum wage jobs not quite full time, since we actually want to pass our classes and avoid a visit to the psych unit of the local hospital - which would add to our debt again, by the way). Anyway, I think I'm here complaining about money.

There is one thing I really like about the Bible verse Matthew 6:26 about God providing for the birds and even more for us. It points out that the birds aren't farming for their food. They aren't working for it. And God is still feeding them. I don't mean that everyone should go quit their jobs; I mean that I don't have to worry about if I'm working "enough."

So back to my money complaints, I guess the complaints don't help much except for amusing me. I did find a possible place to live, but my dear Mr. Guinnea Pig wouldn't be allowed to accompany me there. And that would be sad. I suppose I could see if he would qualify as a service animal, but that just seems, well, a little like I'm "using" my depression, and I don't want to "use" it. However, I do spend an aweful lot of money on my mental health. Probably about as much on mental health as I do for gas or for food a month.

Oh, well. Maybe that's enough money talk for now. The One feeding the birds will... I don't even really know what He will do, since I don't exactly see a guarentee that He will make sure every person has an apartment. But somehow, it will work out.

Monday, May 7, 2012

dentist, moving, and classroom arrangement

I was just at the dentist. One side of my face is numb. Not the entire side, but still too much of it. :) I could feel myself being very tense during the whole numbing and cavity-fixing experience. I tried to relax a bit, but didn't even try to completely relax myself. And one of the shots to numb me really hurt (not really, really hurt, just actually hurt). Still hurts. Too close to my jaw, maybe?

So it's a good thing I called about an apartment option before getting my face numbed, when my words sounded completely normal.

I'm moving. I've got a few weeks, but it's coming. Closer, closer. I need to go through the Christmas decorations. Actually, I bought most of the ornaments (from a thrift store). Very few are my room-mates. But she asked that I go through them so that I pull out the ones I want before she sells the rest at a garage sale. I guess that's fair warning. I don't think she's as good at remembering whose is what. She wouldn't intentionally sell things of mine that she knew I wanted, but I've got to get my stuff out of the way. But she was up front about that. :)

I would like to have a couple days overlap between the place I move out of and the place I move into. That would help for me moving.

I was imagining it earlier today, moving, I mean. Imagining the moment when I'd have to stay in my new place. It made me feel scared and insecure. But I've dealt with that before. The same thing happened when I moved into my current apartment. I moved my stuff in, and then I went home to my parents and spent one more night with them. I was sick, too. That was a bit of an excuse. But faced with the actual move, I wasn't quite ready. That extra night at home helped. Anyway, I dealt with it before, but not so long before that it was before facing the OCD issue. That bodes well for the next time I face it.

I got my classroom set up in a way I like it! I've wanted a shelf, even to the point of considering bringing one of my own from home (a free one that was rescued by my sister from a garbage pile). But today, my boss saw what I had done so far and said she had a shelf they weren't using much downstairs. So I got the shelf! So now my classroom has toys down where the kids can get them themselves. It was a case of different styles of day care set up. The style I learned in college had a supply of toys down. My classroom had them all up. It isn't that big a deal in that children can be well cared for either way. But now I feel like I'm doing a better job, just because I have the shelves set up. Now I'm closer to the current theory on the "best" way to set up a child care room. Now, let's see if we can survive the current theory, or if we will all grow to regret the shelf of toys. Oh, well, it wouldn't be too hard to put back. The hardest thing about getting rid of the shelf again would be dealing with it in my mind, and, well, my mind is just going to have to deal with some stuff.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"5 Good Things" pages and my weekend.

Well, above are some of my "5 Good Things" lists. I love adding the stickers. I have a nice collection of stickers to choose from now.

Today, I had planned to go to a church a little further away that had people I used to know. The hope was that this would help me to process some stuff that happened back then. But... I slept in. Rats! But I did. And then I was faced with being really late to this other church, pretty late to my own church, or visiting a third church. I chose to visit a different church. I was mentally prepared to go somewhere new, and I could get to this church pretty much on time while still getting my apartment clean to my satisfaction before I left so that when my landlord showed it to prospective renters this afternoon, it would be in good shape. This morning that meant cleaning the guinnea pig's cage to cut down on the rodent smell.

Anyway, I listened to pretty much the whole sermon. I had light conversations with strangers. And then I left. It was really pretty this morning outside. Now it is still pretty, but not as pretty.

I think maybe the medication is helping (how many times have I said this before?). I seem to be in a better mood. Maybe this will last. I hate this cycle, though. But oh, well, I'll enjoy the up side of it and hope the cycle doesn't reach another down side.

With my classes done for the spring semester, I have more time again. I am working on getting back into helpful habits like exercising, going to support groups, getting out with people, and doing things that I think are fun. I was doing better last December after finishing school. Maybe we should call this the Post-Semester-Mood-Elevation. As in, elevated from deeper depression to a healthier state. As long as it lasts... But even if it doesn't, I'm enjoying this time.

I was finding that my "5 Good Things" lists were turning into inverted To Do lists - in other words, I Did lists. Now I'm keeping some of that, but working on putting in more experiential things, like the warmth of the sun or the beauty of driving in the dark out in the country when you turn your high beam headlights on and it lights up the road and the nearby trees. I'm guessing this would qualify as a small nod in the direction of mindfulness, since I have to be able to think of these things.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Today was my first day after finishing my classes. In celebration of my new freedom... I cleaned my room. At first, that was okay, but towards the end, I thought more depressed. But I didn't want to stop until I was finished, either.

Then later in the afternoon, I thought, maybe I should go ahead and sign up for another summer class; I'm just not too good with free time.

I think part of it is the drop-dead-date effect, when I have a due date I work towards, and then afterwards, everything should be so much better. Why, I shouldn't even feel the depression, especially since I'm curently thinking that my medication might be helping it. Unfortunately, depression doesn't just vanish for me, not yet.

This evening, one of my tires was really low, as in, I could tell it was more than OCD this time. But I went and filled it up, and here is the exciting thing; I was able to use the tool that measures the tire pressure! I had given up on my ability to use it, since I always got different - and sometimes far off - results. But this evening, it worked! Another of those moments when a big, insurmountable problem was suddenly removed. Now, if the tire will just stay full enough and not have a leak... (because I really don't want to go to the tire store and deal with all that).