Saturday, December 15, 2012

OCD and depression as an illness, and sleep as a key

Wow, I've gone almost a week without posting. Probably has a bit to do with my being done with my two online courses for the semester. I don't have to do as much online, especially with deadlines.

Prepare for sudden topic change. Back to mental health. I think one of the greatest "proofs" to me that depression and OCD are actually illnesses is what recovery for me is like.

Take OCD. One of my worst (i.e., most disturbing to me) obsessions was up and running when I "fell apart" and started medication. Exposure Response Prevention was too stressful for me to do much with it with this particular obsession. Then came one of the med changes, and this issue has for the most part melted away. Since then, I've switched SSRIs a couple times, but this issue has never regained all the power it once held. My counselor pointed out that it could have to do with my therapy, and maybe it did, but how much this obsession bothered me followed by how much it just melted away, well, that is just amazing. If this obsession was part of my personality, if it was a spiritual issue, I don't think it would have gone away like it did when it did. If it was an illness sometimes treatable by particular SSRIs (which ones and how much depending on the individual person's response to medication), then I would expect that large symptom to slip away to a small reminder every now and then, not unlike how my toe kept hurting sometimes for probably years after I broke/sprained it.

Then take depression. When I'm in it, at least if I've been in it at that level (moderate, severe, mild, whatever) for a while, it seems normal. When it is severe, it seems strange that lots of people consider life worth living and even something to be desired. When it is mild to moderate, I think it is just me being lazy. Actually, I think that when I'm at a mild stage of a flu, too. I'm just lazy, that's why I don't want to and wont wash my dishes. I'm just not a good enough person.

And then recently, something very mysterious has happened. I can wash my dishes. Not always all at once, but I can wash them, without it taking incredible willpower and effort. I can clean off my table without dreading it for many days, without working up my superhuman abilities so I can just put some of my belongings closer to where they belong. It is so amazing, and I was thinking about it today (after washing my dishes and cleaning off my table shortly after I got up for the day, wanting to get my chores out of the way so the rest of the day would be free). It isn't that huge struggle it seemed to be before. Partly because I've been doing it more often, so I'm not as far behind. But perhaps (and I'm pretty sure you could never completely prove it, but I will hold it as evidence in my own eyes anyway) I wasn't just being lazy when such chores seemed like mountains. Perhaps, as I wondered, it really was the depression. Perhaps, because corresponding to my feeling better for longer, these chores are getting to be less of a big deal in my eyes.

Actually doing the chores, however, continues to be a big deal on the celebration side. I did it! I actually did it!

Switching topics again, my week started kind of low when I took an evening first aid and CPR class Monday night. By Wednesday, I was quite discouraged when meeting with my counselor. But after following her suggestion of going to bed early that night, I started feeling better. It seems that I got to short on sleep, which I know throws my mood off. Sleep is one of those important keys to my mental health. Maybe someday I will be better able to handle lack of sleep, but for now, it is very important for me and those around me.

Someone asked me what it looked like when I lost my temper at work. Which got me thinking. Yes, there are outward signs. I might get extra quite. Except when I get extra firm when speaking to kids that aren't listening. I might say things to coworkers that are a bit bolder than usual. But most of it probably stays inside, where it is like I'm filled with this disturbing feeling of lack of control and upsetness and sometimes anger. So that probably explains part of why I hate getting upset at work. Even if it all stays inside me and doesn't bother a soul around me, it bothers me. I don't like it. So I will value my sleep.


  1. Sleep is huge for me. I learn this lesson time and again. If I sleep too little or two much, my mental health suffers.

    I'm so glad doing the dishes is easier these days!

  2. That's great that doing the chores is easier. OCD and depression are illnesses, as you say, and can respond to things that we do for illnesses--medication, therapy, self-care, etc.