Tuesday, July 31, 2012


So, I feel a little bad lamenting my weight when I know that other people have more trouble than I do. But here it is, anyway.

I used to be the skinny one of my sisters. I think I was the lightest, too. It had to do with my build. I was built more skinny. I figured my figure would change - when I had a baby. Little did I know that it would actually change... when I took Escitalopram.

My mom is helping with costumes for the musical. So last week, she handed me a dress to try on, saying it might be too big, but to try it anyway. It was almost-hold-your-breath small. "I'm heavier now," I told my mom. She agreed, commenting on noticing my shape had changed. And it really did. And I'd like to blame a little of it on just growing up - I wore my high school clothes for a while after high school. Actually, I'd like to blame all but 12 pounds on that. The twelve to fourteen pounds on top, however, I blame on escitalopram and myself. If only...

If only what? I still don't like eating on more depressed days (though these days are growing fewer, at least for that symptom). I still sometimes have to make myself eat. And in fact, I used to eat frozen pizza just about every day, whereas now I only eat it more like twice a week. And I'm switching to light yogurt and even 1% milk (doesn't taste as good, and I think I'm tempted to drink more of it, negating the benefit). But the scale still slowwwwwlly climbs.

I haven't researched it, but I'm wondering if the medication changes the way my body works. It's hard to go from needing to feed myself pretty much anything I would eat to trying to avoid eating too much and thinking about the weight value of different foods. I used to need to eat enough fat just to make a meal stick for a couple hours and keep myself from feeling hungry sick. I still get hungry-sick sometimes, now. So it's just this big confusing mess, made big by... distorted thinking.

When I try to step back and think more reasonably, I know that 12 pounds isn't such a big deal. I'm just barely over the upper edge of what the internet generalizations say I should weigh based on my height. And before I gained weight, I decided that medication that helps my mental illness is more important to me than weighing too much. Those words are harder to stick with when they are tested. :) But let me give at least a little effort towards not catastrophizing. "And then I will gain more weight, and more and more and more, and it will be terrible, and I don't know why, and, oh; this sounds like an anxiety issue. Hmmm, I feel the anxiety fade as I recognize it for a distortion."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

When fun was still fun

Last night, I was having (one of) my mid-twenties version of considering the difference between being a kid and being an adult. But then I started wondering if maybe I was really talking about the difference between having an anxiety disorder and not having one. I was considering fun. As a child, I remember dancing and getting ready for recitals and the big recital we did one year that my mom didn't like as well because it was too big and too fancy and we did it three times. I enjoyed it. For me, the fun still thoroughly overshadowed the drawbacks. Now, I'm in this show, and part of me is enjoying it, while part of me is stressing over it. Hence the anxiety disorder spin. Having fun is a lot more difficult when you add in various persistant (but at least some of them unlikely) fears. Suddenly, a "fun" activity is one that doesn't get swamped by anxiety. Okay, I think I'm getting too philosophical for my current mental state. Maybe it makes more sense at 10 o'clock at night. The moral of the story is that the things I do for fun now can be threatened by anxieties, and the anxieties make the "fun" activity turn into work. If the enjoyment is not swamped by anxiety, then the net effect is that the "fun" activity wears me out a bit, but I still have fun. If the anxiety plays the trump card, well, I had some fun, but that was work.

I think I will go endeavor to help the people working on the sets for the musical... maybe that will quiet my oversensitive guilt compass. One hour. That isn't much. Is it enough? Blah, blah, blah... There's some anxious thinking with no solid answer, so let's not look too hard for the non-existant 100% certainly correct answer.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Puerto Rico

Friday. :) I love Friday, once I get off work. I have the weekend to breathe. Well, that and practice for the musical. I think I can call that my exposure therapy for until the show is done. It isn't all OCD, at least I don't think it is. Its being there with people. It's wondering what people are thinking of me. It's wishing I was home and could go to bed or do something alone in the safety of my apartment (i.e. safe from other people's judgement - there are at least physical walls between me and any person who could disapprove). Its wondering why I can't learn the words and the dance faster. Its trying not to take criticism too personally. It's trying to improve without going overboard. It's enjoying a shared moment when another cast member lets me into their life for a moment (i.e., they acknowledge my presence with eye contact and they don't look upset that I'm there and they maybe even look friendly). It's enjoying the music and then getting irritated by parts of songs that have run through my head tooooo many times. Yeah, it's a big mix of feelings and thoughts and dance and singing and words and movement and locations. And it's stretching me. But it is a dream coming true; the dream just stuck to the good parts and missed lots of the challenging parts.

We were told to bring our own props this time. That means a mug for "coffee" (pretend coffee) and a tablet of paper and a pen. Or a pencil, but I like pens better, so my character can, too. I'm not completely sure how realistic it would be for an executive of a toy company to spend all day writing on a tablet of paper, but oh, well, I'm not carrying a computer around for that.

I looked at three stores before I found the perfect mug, but when I found it, I was delighted. The perfect mug was white plastic, but looked enough like a generic mug. And it cost less than a dollar, because it was a thrift store mug. At home, I decorated it with the two colors of permanent marker that I own. I was a little afraid I would ruin it, but I'm pretty happy with how it came out.

Good news; I almost got the Spanish phrase right; it should be "Isla del Encanto," not have an a at the end. Shortly after returning to the US after I lived there for two school years, I would draw pictures of coconut trees and the ocean. The pictures would give me a peaceful, pleased feeling. To my surprise, they still do.

My time in Puerto Rico was really special in that, most of the time I was there, I felt I had purpose in being alive and I enjoyed living there with the warm weather and the beautiful trees and ocean and bright light from the sun (tropics). My vague instant recollection would be of light and freedom. I've heard that OCD can be thrown off track by a large change in location/environment, and moving to Puerto Rico was definitely that. No one from my stateside life ever physically was present in Puerto Rico, and I didn't know anyone from Puerto Rico (except for a couple phone calls and their websites) until I went there. I went from semi-arid to near a rainforest, from a place that gets snow in the winter (and where one just might want to wear their jacket early in the morning on the 4th of July) to a tropical island, from a place that spoke English to one where Spanish, American Sign Language, and English were all used. It was a big change. I don't know what helped me. The sunshine, feeling my life had meaning because I knew I was helping the little kids I worked with (though I can have that somewhat here), being accepted as myself instead of as one of the many kids in my family at home, loving my work (even while I joked that I wanted to retire on multiple afternoons). Who knows. But it was a special time.

I guess it's also a loss currently; I had close friends there, but we don't have much contact now. And it was a job, a role (position), a place, and a culture that I loved. So whatever the how-to-deal-with-grief steps are, I don't think I'm completely out of them, though I've accepted the move a lot more now than I used to.

This picture (at least the one above) is from 2007.
 This plant is named Esmirilda (or Miry - pronounced Meery). She was my pet plant when I lived in PR.

Well, there's my walk down memory lane. (And the pictures are a random collection of pictures from various locations in Puerto Rico taken from my other blog, because I don't have any other pictures with me right now.) When I do try to do that meditation stuff that involves imagining a place, I usually try to imagine a beach in Puerto Rico.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

illness and health

I have reached day three of my current mysterious illness. True to form (i.e., true to my previous patterns of behavior), I lived the first day in the mental haze that a cold/flu mercifully drops over me at the beginning (nice break from depression and anxiety). The second day, I lived somewhere in between, and the third day, I started wondering if I was making it up. Welcome to life in my brain.

Well, I'm pretty positive I wasn't making it up Sunday or even Monday, so that just leaves today to wonder about. And if I'd just eat right, would it all go away? That is a puzzling question coming out of a stomach upset. See, not being all knowledgeable, I don't know the exact moment to switch from eating toast to eating pizza. I think I usually do it too fast, but also usually worry that part of my stomach trouble isn't because I'm sick but rather because I'm eating wrong or anxious or whatever.

Um, now I"m distracted.

Okay, so Sunny's comment on my last post got me thinking about how, when things get tough, I think I must have made the wrong decision. My depression got worse and I struggles when I took three classes last semester, so I concluded that I made the wrong decision. I'm struggling with all involved in being in this musical, so I think maybe I made a mistake deciding to go ahead and try. But that isn't always so. I know in my mind that the "right" choice doesn't always turn out to be the easiest, but when real life comes, I wonder. My depression gets worse, so I think it must be my fault, so I look for what I did "wrong." Adding too much stress is an easy thing to blame. But I'm not actually in control of all the situations going on in my life. I didn't choose to get my hours cut at work. I didn't choose to get whatever stomach bug/cold thing I got this weekend. I didn't choose certain key factors in my struggles regarding church. I didn't choose my genetic predisposition to depression and OCD. I didn't choose to need a long time to figure out the right medication (ha, what a ridiculous thought!).

Actually, right now I'm feeling better depression-wise. I'm just pulling out of my cold/flu-numbed state, so that could be part of it. I'm on the upswing of the teeter-totter I seem to be riding regarding the state of my mental health. It goes like this. I'm healthy... - ...I'm depressed and anxious... - .... I'm healthy... - ... I'm healthy, so why can't I handle life... ....I'm depressed and anxious... I'm doing better... .... I must be healthy.... ....so why can't I handle life... ...I'm anxious... And depressed... But I"m feeling better than I used to be... On and on. Then, on top of it, I hypothesize that if I just stopped thinking about it that the teeter-totter would stop. I am, therefore I think, therefore I am, therefore I think, therefore I am, therefore - couldn't we think about something else?

I ordered character shoes in the mail. These are (for people like me three weeks ago who didn't know) - at least for ladies, it seems like - high-heeled dance shoes. These are also going to be my first pair of high heeled shoes at all. And I'm going to dance in them. I tried to express my concern to another dancer, but she didn't get caught up in my mental anxiety and brushed it off, saying it wasn't hard; I'd do fine. Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting them because I got to justify spending money on them (job hours cut, not to mention financial state before that happened, and I'm trying to cut down on my spending money for "fun") and because they are new and new to me, and because they are coming in the mail. All very exciting. And they are black, and they should look nice, and I can wear them around my apartment as I get used to them, and they might make me feel "grown-up" like wearing clip-on earings (this has a simultaneous kid-like and adult-like association due to the fact that the earings are clip-ons but some of them actually look like real earings and then I feel more like the adult I am).

Speaking of earrings, does anyone else have OCD trouble with the whole thing? First take scrupulosity. Some people think... well, I've heard earrings being seen as a sign of slavery, and I'm not into the whole being-a-slave-to-my-husband thing (and I'm not married, either). Forget that. Kind of an old, dead OCD issue for me now - well, mostly dead. Then take the spending of money. Is it justified? Then take wearing heavy earrings; rumor has it they can stretch out your ear lobes. Is that not taking care of your body? Okay, even I see that one as lame. Stick to the spending money issue. How about the unnecessary risk of getting some blood-born disease? Now let's go straight to the germ issue; what about the risk? Now let's move on to the pain issue. It looks painful. And not just momentarily, but also while it heals. Okay, so the pain issue isn't OCD. And then, finally, the issue of wearing earrings around babies and toddlers. Hanging earrings are pretty much out for that job. I've watched little ones pull on earrings before. I will stick to trying to keep my glasses on my face. But what about the others? What if a piece falls off? What if someone eats it? And now, one of the less sensible parts of my OCD, what if they swallow a piece and no one knows. Somehow, to me, no one knowing, resulting in no-one doing whatever necessary to preserve life and health, is worse than it being traced to me. Okay, I'm pretty sure most of the OCD issues don't hold enough water. So what stops me? The pain, the germs, and the money. So there. Oh, yes, and I do realize I'm only talking about 25 or 35 dollars here. :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I really do better in the morning. I mean, aside from the fact that I have to pry my eyes open and set several alarms in multiple places to get myself awake. Aside from the fact that I might still be trying to keep my eyes open two hours later. Some of it could be not getting enough sleep. I would like to blame some of it on medication side effects, because I think that has made it worse. But regardless of all that, I still tend to have a better mood in the morning.

By 9:30 at night when we finish rehearsing for the musical? The better mood may well have slipped away. Then there is the awkward "goodbye hug" that seems to be quite cultural with the teenagers in this theater program (at least here). Though I think hugs can be a good thing, they can stress me out - I'm talking about the everyday, ordinary hug. I wonder, did I do it right? What did the other person think? Blah, blah, blah. Oh, well, there's only so much time I want to spend lamenting this particular area of social anxiety. I managed - though I obviously still don't know what the other person thought. And then I did my version of a friendly but anxious good-bye, the "I guess I'll see you tomorrow" (or whenever it is). Note the word "guess." This ensures that if I don't make it, I haven't lied. Don't ask me how long I felt guilty for telling someone I'd "see them next Wednesday" at a dance class when I was a kid, only to break my toe that week, which left me out of dance for several weeks. I had lied. Somehow, I don't think anyone else saw it that way.

Anyway, the hardest thing last night at rehearsals was the "I'm disappointed in you [plural], you should know this better by now, my good mood is going away" speech. It's not the first general rebuke that I've taken personally and then gotten all upset about. Well, let's just say it might inspire me to practice more, but it definitely faded my good mood really fast. I could have practiced more. But on the other hand, I was doing my best at the time. And apparently, my best wasn't good enough (this all concluded from a statement to everybody in general and not me specifically). Oh, well. I got over it some time today after practicing that "disappointing" song and some others for a little while. But I will probably be more careful to practice on my own before hand.

Let's just say that my earlier "I wish this group effort of making a musical never ends" has vanished. I'm glad it's only a few more weeks. It is stressful, and me and stress don't have the best relationship. And I still struggle with perfectionism.

And that one pastor said, be content with the excellent and don't even try for perfection. But here is a problem; what is excellent and where does excellence end and perfection begin? I bet he would look at me like, "Really, lady? Excellence is very good and perfection is impossibly perfect. Duh!" Only he was a polite pastor, so I don't think he would have said, "duh!" Or maybe he would have said some sentence that used to drive me crazy like, "Your best is good enough." Yes, but my "best" can never be reached because I always "could" do more. Let's just say that my Mom's response to that was along the lines of people's responses to other OCD thoughts. The, "that's just not it, your explanation is incorrect, and I don't know why you would even think that, and I don't know how to explain the obvious that you are missing, and I'm just a bit frustrated by your not understanding this" look. My counselor might use some other phrase that I find acceptable, like, "That's your OCD." (That answer makes sense to me and let's me out of trying to find the answer.) Or someone could say, "You think too much." That one still makes me at least a little angry. What do they want me to do, turn my brain off? (I know, I know, the more knowledgeable about OCD would mean to think about something else, not just stop thinking.) So, let me let this mystery go and try to aim for excellence, not OCD perfection. By the way, there's a lot of memorizing to do to sing a very quickly worded song and dance and harmonize at the same time. My brain is not remembering everything fast enough. Hopefully practice will make ... excellence.

Anyway, today was better and no terribly discouraging (to me) criticism was given. And now, I have a few days before next rehearsal. Yay!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Well, I suppose maybe I "ought" to be home practicing music for the musical I'm in. We're supposed to be "off book" tonight. I don't have a book, but I'm guessing they'd like for us to be off the written music, as well. Actually, I know they'd like that. But the thing is, I still don't even know all of the music. I have one under some semblance of control and two still to learn. Oh, well, what are they going to do? Take my music from my hands? And then what? I just can't sing it as well (not that I can sing them well anyway). Okay, I do wish I knew the music, but I ended up working this afternoon unexpectedly (that's my excuse). Blogging doesn't sound like such a noble excuse. I'm "taking care of myself." That sounds better. And I might still have half an hour to learn the other two songs (ha!)...

Last night, I did talk to my counselor for a bit. Actually, I was mid-conversation with some other people when she called. I immediately was distracted and then left the room since I had planned to take her call. Then later I had this anxious, what did I miss in the conversation, thought. Did I miss some thought that would have really helped me out? I had the same concern in another conversation with my dad where I'd wonder, if I hadn't have spoken so quickly, would he have said something more on this or that, something really helpful to me? Have any of you had that anxiety? It's irritating, but I'm working on moving on.

Anyway, my counselor said that actually, I did very well at doing the things that are supposed to help depression. She thought I did alot. I didn't feel like it. I felt like there is much more I could do. But now I've been telling myself, you are doing alot. You are working to do the things to help you feel better. You don't need to focus on all that you aren't doing but could if you were a superhero. You are doing the things you are supposed to. Like exercising (sometimes) and eating and sleeping and thinking and blogging and reading and working and pursuing a higher education degree and getting out with people in support groups and being part of this musical coming up... Okay, that sounds a bit exhausting, probably because it is.

The musical has given me mixed feelings. Sometimes I enjoy it, particularly dancing parts when I'm finally getting them down. But then there is lots of wait-around time. Translate - awkward social time or avoiding social time or whatever. My parts aren't that big, so there is lots of wait time. Also there is practice until 9:30 at night. I tend to start going downhill at some point in the afternoon/evening. Then there is perfectionism that won't be hit because even I know it's impossible. And... I don't know. I think the thing is; the grey feeling that visits me daily right now has no problem showing up at rehearsal. My depression and anxiety have no problem presenting while I'm in this "social" setting. And maybe I hide it. But really, who would suggest not hiding it? I could walk around saying, "this and that makes me anxious," but it would make me anxious to say that, too. So I'll keep at least what I consider to be less "normal" anxieties to myself (unless I get the urge to inform people of my mental illness and how present mental illness can be here in this life). And then depression? I don't even want to know myself that I'm depressed while I'm at rehearsal, and telling someone else would mean me having to hear it. My ears are too close to my mouth. So I think I'll continue keeping it to myself. And after all, I'm acting and I'm supposed to be acting because I was cast as an actor, so I can save my self-revelation for my blog or support group or some other time (unless, as I already said, I get the urge to share about my mental illness, because there are sometimes when I feel like talking about it and maybe it isn't even the most wise time but I don't really care right then because I want to share it). Actually, off "stage" or practice stage, I don't have to act to cover up who I am. Really, I mean using discression on when to talk about mental illness. There are lots of other honest things to talk about, like my guinnea pig or how I cleaned up throwup twice at work today and how I couldn't get the smell out of my classroom (they might wish I stuck to talking about a little depression - some child care stories gross people out).

Okay, I'd better go. Talk to you later.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


The sky could be cloudy outside, just a blah cloud cover, and it might fit my mood. But that wouldn't make the sun painful enough, so it has to be more clear out there ... at least I think the sky is blue and it's pretty clear. Strange that I don't quite remember (I'm in the library now). There is one place where I can get sunburned all summer and not seem to get a tan to sufficiently protect me, and that is in my hair on my part line. Very annoying. I could wear a hat, but I don't think I like the way the hat looks... I'm not even sure about that. I guess I should get it out. When did I care that much how I looked anyway? And I dislike sunburn on the top of my head (but not enough to put sunscreen on).

I went to counseling, and, well, we were running late. I got to talk to another person, hoping to give encouragement to another client. Someone did that for me my first year with this counselor. But then my private counseling time was short. So she (the counselor) offered to call me later this afternoon. But what would I say? I wondered. I'm still wondering, but see my persistant hope in miracles? I asked her to go ahead and call me anyway. Because maybe this time I will have some breakthrough in understanding and my life will get immediately better and more enjoyable.

I don't even know what healthy feels like. Is this healthy? Is it still depressed? Is it anxious? Probably, since I'm asking so many questions. Will it get better? Will it get worse? Will it start interfering with my life more? Will I be able to sleep better tonight? Am I really not getting as good a sleep most nights now, or am I just making that up? Do I even have a "right" to hope for nights without bad dreams (that usually are disturbing, not scarey, and I often forget them, though sometimes the disturbed mood sticks around)? If I went to bed earlier, would I feel better? If I exercised more, would I feel better? If I hadn't skipped lunch, would I feel better? If I hadn't gotten so angry about something that happened at work, would I feel better? And then I stack up all the irritations at work into one big problem to rant about. To myself, of course. I'm still very good at not sharing my feelings at work, which isn't always good.

I don't even know what I want. I don't know what's wrong. It's just this feeling or something, and I want to figure it out. So in a sense, it seems like I'm present in the present, but I'm so focused on trying to figure out this mysterious disturbing mood that it isn't really helpful for normal life. Sometimes, if I have a good cry, I'm ready to move on. Or I could loose myself in a book and not deal with the feeling until I surfaced for air.

Maybe it's anxiety. About what? About everything that has made me anxious in the past little while and stacked up into a general disturbed feeling. I'll let go of each issue in a sense; I know I can't solve my anxiety on most of the issues. But maybe the vague feeling adds up and becomes a problem.

Or is it depression? Which I'm not supposed to ask about if I'm really depressed. Only, I think I might have managed to ask it sometimes when I was hospitalized, so go figure, I'm a mess of confusion and anxiety and depression sometimes. That or you could say I have a "gift" for questioning a million things. I think it could be depression.

I think I convinced myself that I was doing better, because I am, but then maybe I decided that meant better than I actually am, and then I didn't give myself enough leeway, and then I wonder why I'm feeling as bad as I still am (even though hands down it could be worse.

Okay, Mrs. Counselor/Therapist, I wrote it out. Then what?

Ah, the mysterious "then what."

I don't have the answer, so how about going for distraction and/or making supper. No, making supper will be too much work. I'm already sure of it. Even before deciding what I'm having. Maybe I should stop at the store and get a pizza. Would that make me happy? Maybe sort of. As happy as I can be while still having to eat. Okay, I have a plan, involving going and finding a book to read and then getting pizza. Happy Thursday, everyone.

Wait; what about the whole, how's talking to my counselor going to help anything, question? I don't want to waste our time. Don't I already know what I need to do? The one foot in front of the other thing? So all I have to do is do it, right? How's counseling supposed to help? Or is it just for helping me feel less alone in my fight. I guess that would be worth it, too, huh.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I don't even know what to write. There are a couple stressful issues that I probably shouldn't air on the blog (since the advice is not to post anything you wouldn't want up on a billboard for the world to see). Then there are other things. Like not feeling too good (not sick, just not feeling too good). Or loosing 5 hours a week in my work schedule since I'm now scheduled to come in an hour later. And being half an hour late for work because I gave into the "just one more moment of rest" temptation which turned out to be half an hour more sleep, up to the point when I should have arrived at work, not just woken up. So sleep-wise, a later schedule in the mornings should be good. Money-wise...

I had a few good days last week. Luke maybe four or five in a row. No, wait, memory returning; 3 days in a row. Which is still pretty good. I even went out to visit my family yesterday. I had a good time.

My house is a terrible wreck. I don't have any more clean forks, bowls, or plates, nor any clean cups or glasses that aren't in a box or OCD-labeled "possibly contaminated" (that's just one cup, but somehow washing it would be too much work and possibly a waste of time, water, and soap,). My guinnea pig's cage needs cleaned, and I'm busy having a pitty party for myself right now.

Tomorrow, my sister visiting from out of town is coming to visit me in the afternoon. It should be fun. But I still don't want to clean my house, but I want it clean for her. I want her to help me clean it? What kind of hostess am I?

Ah, well, I should feel better later.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

how Honesty scrupulosity can impact how I put a puzzle togethr

You wouldn't think that OCD could do anything at all to putting a puzzle together (the picture kind with 100 or 500 pieces or whatever). I mean, what is there involved in putting a puzzle together? You just do it, right? Some of us faster, some of us slower (practice does make a difference, I once found out), maybe even "better" or slower strategies. But OCD and worrying about lying? Yeah, it is there, too. Have you ever opened a puzzle - even brand new ones - and found two pieces still together? Well, it might be a "lie" if I leave them together, because then I wouldn't have actually put the puzzle together by myself. Of course, there are actually two approaches to satisfying OCD. One would be to break apart all the pieces. Then, you might have to mix them up a bit, just so you don't cheat. The other way would be to word it very carefully whenever you spoke or possibly even thought about it. "Here is the puzzle I... put most of it together." But what if someone questioned me? That just sounds weird. Who put the rest of it together? Well, it came that way? How could I explain that without revealing that I have a strange, "incorrect" thought process? I might feel guilty then, too, because its also wrong to be so literally true? That's not making sense either. Okay, the simple solution is just to always break the pieces apart (and mix them up some afterward).

Then comes ERP. The bright idea, I could leave them together for an Exposure. And so I leave some of them together. But I leave them together as an exposure, because that tips the scales some and makes it easier to do. Against leaving them together; I might lie. In favor of leaving them together; it takes out that unnecessary hassle of an OCD step, it is an exposure, which should help me shrink the OCD in my life. Just lying versus convenience is a tough set up; scrupulosity can win pretty easy. After all, isn't it a sin to do something convenient instead of something "right?" But using it as an exposure, that little anxiety-provoking act (or rather non-action) has more value; it is helping me win - at least in a small way - over the OCD.

That is an example from today (and other days that I have puzzled). It isn't an issue I'd cry over. It doesn't jeopardize my job or prevent me from socializing with people. It's just a little pesky issue. I think I probably have lots of these. They almost make the diagnosis of OCD seem undeserved to me since they individually are so small. But OCD's cumulative effect is probably what hurts me most. Any one thing I could handle. Well, I also usually have one or two bigger issues that bother more (whether or not I'm depressed is the big one right now, and it makes it's victory like sandpaper - it just keeps going over and over and over), but I usually also have little pesky ones. And I often let the little pesky ones win. And the big ones. I guess I'm really not much for actually doing ERP. Or maybe I just don't do it perfectly, so I don't want to count it. I wouldn't want to lie to myself, now, would I? (Hmmm, is that what keeps the "do I have depression" issue going? Lying? Oh, what kind of ERP would my counselor come up with for that? I'm sure it would be unpleasant.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

last psychiatrist visit before I loose health insurance

Today, I had my last psychiatrist visit before I loose health insurance. The good news is that I can still go see him for 15 minute med checks at a reasonable price. I won't go every month, though. I'll see him again in two months. Which isn't bad; I know other people have to wait longer. I did have a little meltdown at the end, though, feeling scared about not having insurance.

And about one other thing; I don't want to feel this way forever.

Mr. Psychiatrist didn't want to change my medication. He thought I was at a relatively good spot, and that things I am doing, like being in the musical and exercising and reading, will do more for me than if he tried adjusting my medications again. My translation, of course, ran along the lines of, what if this is as good as it gets. I agree; I am lots better. I don't want to kill myself all the time, or even much at all. (Stop a moment; that one sentence is worth SO MUCH. And now moving on...) I enjoy parts of each day. The sun has decided that summer can, in fact, finally arrive in my part of the world. My job is going great, I'm in a musical, I have friends, etc.

But there are still moments, each day.

Dr. Psychiatrist agreed with my counselor that I don't need to be worrying about whether or not I have depression, how bad it is or isn't, or if I'm making up the depression or making up the non-depressed part ("that sounds tiring," he said to my description). Yay for my latest most time consuming obsession (really? couldn't it be about something more helpful or rational, like... germs? No, not germs. I like my freedom from them). He said that when people are really depressed, they don't question it; when they have anxiety, they do. After he added on the anxiety part, I did agree; I'll just assume that when I was really depressed and wondered if it was a figment of my imagination, that the anxiety was to blame for that particular concern. Incidentally, that still removes my ability to use his statement as solid proof; as long as I have anxiety, that will mess up the "you won't wonder if you are depressed when you are really depressed" experiment. Add a variable. An uncontrolled variable.

So what would ERP be for this latest, greatest OCD attack (really lousy one, too, by the way, OCD; what kind of creativity is that? Oh, I get it; you are stumping me and that is worth the lack of creativity to you). Would I tell myself that I am not depressed? Immediately I feel depressed. Would I tell myself that I'm just making it up? Way to fuel the scrupulosity mental illness debate. Hmmm, let's call this a loose-loose situation and come up with... Distraction! The psychiatrist said that was a valid tool when I referred to it for dealing with another feeling. Distraction! Should be followed by a picture of firecrackers going off in the night sky... No, wait, those are another - though weakening - anxiety spot.

Anyway, I think that the anxiety has taken up residence as the new mental illness-in-chief. The depression was winning for a long time, but seems to have been superseded. The anxiety isn't so much too acute as it is too persistent. Anyway, Dr thought that my lost feeling or missing the answer feeling or whatever it is feeling might be from the anxiety; he explained that anxiety can make either reality or the anxious person feel not quite real. I don't feel not quite real; I sometimes feel not quite connected to reality. We both still exist, I'm just not grounded right. I'm floating like a kite when I really need some sturdy, stable connection with the ground (and kite string doesn't count, though it is preferable over nothing). Yay for getting an apartment that isn't on the bottom floor.

Now it is time to go home and heat up my sloppy joes. That is my meal of the weak and latest attempt at eating a whole pound of ground beef before it goes bad (thanks to not having a very good freezer; it's great for ice and those flavored ice pops and that's about it). I'm also working on getting my dishes washed, but using the "little bit at a time" coping tool where I "trick" or "bribe" myself to do something by taking just a small piece of the job to do at once. You can all be relieved to know that I cleaned up the dishes from making my sloppy joes. Or maybe just I will be relieved; in a tiny, one room apartment, the cooking smell just hangssssss arounddddd, especially when the window is closed to keep out the heat.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I did get a part in the musical. Actually, I got two parts, and at least one appears to be a chorus part, the other is likely small as well. But I don't actually know much about the musical in the first place, so I know very little about the characters. All I know about the whole thing could fit in one paragraph. The first rehersal is Wednesday, though. :) I'm excited.

define sin

I revisited the church I went to last Sunday. I was excited until Sunday came, at which point the anxiety came back. The irritableness visited during the church service, and I wasn't sure that I wanted to go to Sunday school, not feeling like that.

Instead, I picked up on a comment the pastor had made regarding how our country might be healthier if it followed God's laws. I decided to ask him about it. After all, I've only been there twice and I don't have that much to loose yet. I'd rather know up front if he judged mental illness to be because of sin.

His answer was complicated, citing three categories of sin, one being like the blind man, who was blind so that God could be glorified when he was healed, not because of sin. The second was people who had sinned and that when God forgave their sin, they were healed. His examples here seemed too much like a correlation without proved causation, so I wasn't convinced. Thirdly, I forget. Maybe it was more general illness because of not following guidelines regarding sanitation, etc., and he cited Old Testament laws that could bring health benefits. In short, I considered it quite possible that he would go to a sin issue for my depression and anxiety. (And also, he kept enough clauses saying he was generalizing and each case is different to avoid too much trouble.)

Wanting to nail him precisely, I brought up Job. He passed that test. Then I threw out my depression and anxiety and asked him if he would say it was because I had sinned. He said that if I was going to trust him enough to be that honest, he would be honest back. I'm not exactly sure that trust would be the right conclusion there, and I'm not sure if he expected that, but I rather think that anyone asking the questions I asked should be suspected of having a specific instance they are really asking about. Anyway, he answered by asking if I was a perfectionist. "Yes," I answered without preamble. So he proceeded to take me to his office and show me his "diagram" about how perfectionism starts by being hurt and trying to please someone and then we exhaust ourselves going for depression, fall into disillusionment on the one side or depression on the other, regain our strength, and repeat the process. He equates this with bipolar, the part where we surpass excellence trying to attain perfection being the manic part. I disagreed and said that the manic part should be off the page high, but he wasn't interested. Thus, he unknowingly grouped himself with the pastor at another church who told a very similar scenario of how perfectionism led to bipolar disorder - this pastor, when confronted, assured me he wasn't talking about me, and I presume I should be comforted by that fact? Instead, I am annoyed by their misunderstanding.

Back to today, I tried to pin the pastor's opinion down to judging me, but it didn't quite work. I said, so if I do this, I'll get better. He clarified that no, it wouldn't happen over night, but yes, it would happen. And since the future hasn't happened yet, I can't prove him wrong. So I asked, if I do this and am still struggling in 5 years, does that mean I did it wrong? No, he countered, then we would have dealt with one issue/layer and we could move on to the next. We have to work on what we know to start with. I even threw out that I'd been working on the perfectionism for a while, but that didn't solve anything, (neither in my current life, nor in my current conversation).

Then he got into the holiness doctrine/theology/whatever, which included re-defining sin as intentional rebellion. All in all, he preserved gentleness and grace in his overall theology. I was impressed by that, but I'm still skeptical about the redefining of sin as deliberate transgression instead of any falling short of the perfect law. To some extent, I think his perspective would really mess with my OCD, maybe giving me some more freedom. But I'm still hesitant to accept new ideas. Some ideas appear freeing and helpful when they enter, and then they snap on handcuffs.

Anyway, I missed Sunday school and got overwhelmed by new ideas talking to the pastor such that I am distracted from the whole do-you-think-mental-illness-means-I'm-doing-something-wrong idea. I'm looking for a church that wont trigger my false guilt as much, so these questions matter to me.

Also, I did try out for a part, but I haven't heard if I got one or not in the musical. I did hear that I did a good job with my audition, so that's nice. And I really enjoyed experiencing "normal" anxiety. Let's just say it was much nicer than the moments that my OCD really worried me about "lying" on the paperwork. "Normal" anxiety seemed nicer in that it was bound by time, not expected to continue forever, and in that it didn't question my self-worth.

Friday, July 6, 2012

performing arts aspirations

I got off work early today. It isn't exactly ideal... but then again, it was nice. (In my line of work, sometimes things get slow and they send staff home when they don't need them; it was my turn to go home.) I took my car in for an oil change and brake fluid addition (mine is the sort of car that beeps at you when it thinks you should do something for it). I worked on a craft. I read a story - actually, I still have a tiny bit left of that. I ate lunch. Turns out apple butter is as good with ham lunch meat as I hoped - maybe better. I was still hungry, so I ate cereal. Now, I can't decide if it is the milk, the cereal, or my anxiety giving me an upset stomach afterwards. I worked up the courage to smell the milk and it doesn't smell like it's going bad, but it does smell just a little bit unusual. And I have an extremely picky stomach when it comes to milk. A pity that I like milk so much.

Next week, I see my psychiatrist again. For the last time before my insurance runs out. I think I will continue to see him, but much less often after insurance is over. I'm not sure quite what I expect or hope from this visit, except that I want complete clarity and understanding of all my symptoms, and I want the perfect medication solution. Not expecting either, but hey, I can wish. Especially for clarity. My mood jumps all over and annoys me. And I can't tell how I am, I get all caught up worrying about whether or not I'm depressed or not (and how depressed). I wonder how much I can handle in life, but I don't really know. Too many unknowns. I guess I should just say, "Oh, hello, OCD, and how are you today? By the way, you are taking too much of my time again. You should lay off before I have to martial all my ERP skills and determination." The problem is, my determination for ERP feels very low, so I don't think that will move fast.

I'm actually excited to go back to the new church this Sunday. I even had a bad dream in which I planned to go to the service and then I got stuck dealing with something else. It was very disappointing.

I did not sleep well last night; I kept waking up. That could be a bad sign regarding depression. Then again it was one night. But I'm concerned, except that even my concern feels half lost in the haze clouding me in. Reading a fiction book can add to this and probably did; I can feel a little out of touch with reality.

And now, for the excitingest scary news, or scariest exciting news. No, it isn't that. Getting a new job would be scarier (and I don't have a new job right now, just to clarify). There is going to be a community theater production in my home town, and I want to audition. Simultaneously, I am freaking out. And I kind of hope that they smile, say thank you, and then forget about me, because I am worried about not being able to handle being in a theater production. I keep telling myself, lots of actresses have mental illnesses. I haven't actually worked out the factual statistics, but I'll just assume it is true. I can do this, right? But what if! (Oh, hi, is that you, OCD? Using your trademark expression?) What if they actually choose me for a part. And what if I can't do it.

Wonder what the optimistic, anxiety free view would be? "I hope I get a part. I think I'd really enjoy it. I've wanted to do something like this since I was a little kid." We can verify the history part, at least for the most part. In fact, I was influential in a certain couple of Nutcracker performances produced in my family's home, not to mention a few plays and musicals. I even composed music for at least one of them. I think it was based on some silly little book. And I sang confidently with my little siblings following along, "Book worms need fresh air... It must be stifling .. in there."

That reminds me of a time when I was out from under the rule of anxiety, when I was confident and enjoying myself and certain that I was offering something worthwhile to the "audience." I danced, too, for six or seven years. I really enjoyed dance. I was a leader in my class - and I even recognized it. I was part of the group of girls, not completely off by myself. I knew I was important, and I knew I was good, even if my technique wasn't quite as good as another girl's. My mom would tell me, "You have a gift."

Things changed around my thirteenth birthday. My vague recollection of this time was that somehow a gray fog descended over me the year I was thirteen. Twelve had held new discoveries and the world I had access to grew, including permission to hold babies standing up (my mom had us stick with holding them sitting down for a long time; watching little kids hold babies now, I understand), but thirteen brought this mysterious cloud. And my mom told me to smile more at dance class. I'm certain she didn't think that would hurt me, but I decided to take a year off dance since I really didn't feel like smiling. I'm sure there was more to it, but I took that year off, and the year became permanent when my dad lost his job. Looking back, I wish I hadn't stopped. Maybe if I was still going when my dad lost his job, my teacher would have been able to convince my mom to work out some other arrangement for payment (i.e., house cleaning or letting me help her teach the littler kids). But that is just speculation. On an emotional side, I wasn't ready to dance with a smile, and I wish I had kept dancing anyway. That would have given me one more way to express things, and maybe that would have helped. I was afraid (with my wonderful, OCD predisposed mind) that dance was only okay for happy things, that a couple of Bible verses meant that I should only dance happy. I never fully ascribed to that, at least long term, because periodically, I would still make up a dance to music at home, and those dances were not happy.

And there's a long rambling of my life minus several years. I'm still kind of sad I lost dance. I didn't loose it completely. One doesn't need a class to keep dancing, but it sure helps.

So maybe I will get a dancing part. And then maybe I will mess it up. And then, what is the worst that could happen? The favored therapy question. Hmmm, I could mess up the dance. Either the other actors would carry on, I would somehow pick up and move on, or maybe they would fire me. But at least I would have tried. Huh, that's not too terrible. So here's the scarier scenario; I don't get enough sleep, I get too stressed out, the depression and/or anxiety skyrockets, and I end up in the hospital again. How's that for my worst case scenario? We don't want to go worse than that; that's bad enough.

But if that happened, would it just be from being in a play? Or maybe would other things be involved? Maybe I'm just scared of being the one to set things in motion to land me back it the hospital. I don't want it to be my fault. I really, really don't want it to be my fault. I want to have done everything I could to have prevented any worsening of my depression and anxiety.

But maybe being in a play would be good for me.

And so, I am left with questions and fear of not-completely-rational guilt. What do you know? You'd think I had OCD and depression or something. Let me guess; the questions aren't going to be silenced today. So I'll just keep living in spite of them. I'd better go print out the audition form.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

getting better

I splurged on colored duct tape. More encouraging to work with, don't you think? Doesn't look like it belongs in the white witch's stone castle (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis) anymore.

I got one of my books that I ordered in the mail. Not the one I most wanted to read right now, but the second one. Actually, when I got it, I read a little from the back (I already read some from the beginning before I purchased it). Then I just held it. I wanted that connection with proof that someone has been through a dark depression with doubts about God and spiritual things and came out the other side. The book? Loosing God: Clinging to Faith Through Doubt and Depression, by Matt Rogers. I can't exactly recommend it yet, since I haven't read the whole thing, but I've appreciated most of what I've read so far.

Monday, July 2, 2012

This morning went well. I mean, it was a relatively normal day at work and the sun was shining and nothing bothered me too much. I had good conversation with my boss (I always think this is a plus since I seem to have developed a beyond rational fear of anyone who could fire me). I had some small successes with my little kids. I got off work 30 minutes early! Which is lovely because I don't loose much pay but I get the little boost of getting off early. I went home, by which point I was too tired to want to prepare lunch. I would have blamed this on depression up until last counseling session when I complained of not wanting to make supper after a long bike ride. Apparently, that is actually a normal, human thing. So today, I thought to myself; I'm tired. I just came home from work, and it makes sense that I don't want to make lunch. So I grabbed out enough food to satisfy the part of my brain that decides if I'm eating enough (the part that doesn't agree with my fickle apatite), and played computer games while I ate. Then computer games turned into getting really tired (nap time tired), and then I gave in to a half hour nap. Haha. Those only work on rare occasions. Normally, I end up resetting the alarm for later, turning even that off, and sleeping as long as I want.

Which presents the "you slept for three hours until around 4:30 and how do you expect to fall asleep tonight?" issue. Not to mention the "You were feeling so great; why did you go and take a stupidly long nap? Are you secretly depressed?" issue (remember; my OCD or my perfectionism or my not-so-wise brain really wants to always know exactly how depressed I am).

But I managed supper and an exercise class. This would be the class that let's me know that I still have lots of room to get more in shape. Never mind the 7 miles of bike riding one day last week, or the rides yesterday. Never mind the other Zumba class. This teacher's classes push me. Even though I simplify them. I took dance for several years, which helps in Zumba class in two ways; I probably can pick up the routine faster, and I know how to simplify. Mostly, I avoid jumping. Never make both feet leave the floor at the same time. You can bounce, but jumping gets hard. When I get my version of really in shape, then I can try to push it and jump a few more times than I would otherwise, still much less than the instructor and half the people (or more than half; either they don't know how to simplify and think they have to jump when the teacher does, or they have more energy or perseverance than I do, and I'm guessing it's the former reason for the most part. Has it even ocured to them to simplify?). But don't worry; I have a noble excuse (that remains an excuse and not usually my real reason); I am adjusting the routines to be lower impact. I'm saving my knees.

And now I am on to procrastinating. If I stay up really late, I won't have to experience the "I'm having trouble falling asleep" effect. Really, it isn't as terrible as I make it out to be to not fall asleep until an hour after turning out the light. Hey, I did that much of my life. But after part of my really bad depression spell - the part that landed me in the hospital, where I still had trouble sleeping - I'm scared of that "can't fall asleep" feeling. I suppose I catastrophize, thinking that if I loose too much sleep, I'll fall apart. Of course, my brain actually thinks that is fact, the unknown being how much sleep I'd have to loose. But I do realize that I could loose an hour or two here and there and still be okay. I do anyways on nights when I stay up late.

I wanted to be in a play locally, but looking it up today, it looks like in addition to whatever I'd have to do if I got a part, I'd have to put at least 20 hours into other support work for the production. I don't think I can do that much. Being in the play might push it, but I don't know about adding even more. So maybe that dream will die (for this summer).

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Rose of Any Other Duct Tape Wouldn't Smell So Bad: A sticky Situation

One of my current aspirations is to enter something into the local fair. Not this; don't worry. This was a practice round. So far my only practice round. As in, Abigail, if you really want to enter a duct tape creation into the fair, don't you think you should practice a bit more? These flowers and the vase were made of the cheapest duct tape I could find without going to more stores. Unfortunately, it is also the smelliest duct tape I have ever found. And it's not the main brand.

I have a headache. I'm guessing it has something to do with eating "wrong" and watching too much TV and a video. I got drawn in to a TV show here that was a real life "who-done-it." And I didn't know until the end, and even then I wasn't 100% sure. There is too much room for a "what if" in the story.

I visited a nice church this morning. The sermon was nice. I do have one concern, but it isn't about this place in particular. This is my concern; once I get attached to a church, will I just repeat my same freaking out? My potentially beyond rational fears of issues in churches? It seems that as long as I just attend a church once, or perhaps even only a few times, I don't have too much trouble. And I still find myself looking for trouble, looking to see if I can take offense at what is spoken.

Okay, time to go try out my new 6-muffin tin, in which I can cook my food-stamp-bought corn bread in my given-to-me-by-my-mother toaster oven. I bought the muffin tin at the dollar store, so I have a small concern that it will poison me. But not a large enough concern to spend seven times that to buy one somewhere else, nor enough to purchase paper liners. Actually, I'm trying not to spend any more money (except on gas and food) until I get paid again... That's probably a pretty big factor in my dollar store decision.