Thursday, January 31, 2013

keeping anxiety in its place?

When I talked to my counselor about my college-related (and non-college-related) anxieties of the last week, she kept asking what I was doing about it. And I kept saying I was just living my life.

Apparently this time, the professional speaking to me is not telling me to fake it 'til I make it. Because isn't that what just keeping living is? I do my schoolwork, even if it scares me (well, in and around putting it off, I suppose). (For example, I am putting off an assignment right now, which is probably growing scarier by the moment. But I will do it, because it is due tomorrow).

So this week, I'm trying to track "what I'm doing about it." And sweetly, she suggested a method besides ERP. Before you remind me that ERP is the super-OCD-reducing method, I'll add her justification, that a lot of my anxieties from last week were generalized anxiety, not strictly OCD.

So here's what I'm trying to do. Mindfulness.

1. Mindfulness exercises, like breathing, or focusing on my surroundings and/or how I feel inside, etc.

2. Devoting time to what it is being devoted to. Circular argument? Let me explain. When I'm at work, I don't want to worry about school. Actually, I usually don't worry about school while at work, because my job is rather draining in that it requires a lot of attention, patience and/or self-control, and effort. But then when I leave work, some of my time is for schoolwork. Like now. This is being written during my schoolwork time. But other times are for relaxing, resting, having fun. During those times, I try to not focus on schoolwork. Not in the don't-think-about-pink-elephants kind of way, but in the taking my focus and putting it back on my movie, breathing, whatever. Away from school anxieties.

And now I think I'll tackle that scarey project. It really shouldn't be too hard.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Well, this is a day that blogging actually takes work. I'm tired. I'm sick (I'm thinking a sinus infection, but I have until Thursday to recover before I plan to go to the doctor - gotta get that full two weeks in for the virus to run it's lovely course). And I'm tired.

But hey, I'm not stuck thinking about death.

Per my counselor's suggestion, I decided not to sing with the worship band at church every Sunday. I was concerned that it was adding to my stress in more of an unhelpful way than a helpful, triumph over anxiety way. So I was singing from the congregation, safe by my chair today. And I was a little sad that I wasn't up singing with them. But then it occured to me; I'm not stuck on depressed thoughts of death like I sometimes was last weekend. That absense made me feel very happy. So, I suppose, that outweighs my missing singing with the worship team. That also explains how I can be pretty happy when I'm still notably sick, purely because my symptoms are not as severe or disturbing as they could be.

And instead, I'm thinking about a nap. Please, please, I just want to sleep. But that requires driving home from the library.

So, so much for researching for my toddler class next week. I'll pull something out for tomorrow. I think we will do scrap paper mosaics. I'll figure out how to tie that into my theme when I choose which of my book templates to copy for another day this coming week. And beyond that, I can do it tomorrow or Tuesday.

So, I wish you a cheerful Sunday and hope you are healthier than me, but if you are suffering from one of the cold viruses going around, I wish you a good, satisfying nap.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

OCD meddling in my education (again)


What do you know, the insert picture function thingy is working today! Hence my photo not taking over more of the blog than it should.
Today, if OCD were little g gods, I would have offended the gods.
Actually, I did it last night. Thank you so much, professor, for giving OCD the opportunity to knock me to my knees. I'll have you know, however, that I am making some small show of resistance. Which I will explain.
This is what I did. I did the communication screen with a little kid as per the instructions.
Then, looking over it at home, I thought I missed something, so proceeded to correct something to say how the child actually pronounced it, not how I forgot and left it. And then the monster pounced.
Because, being an hour or so removed from the situation, I no longer knew for absolute certain how the child said that word anymore. But I had just struck through the assumed mispronounced sound. So do I go all the way and put above it the sound I think she substituted? Do I stop where I am? Do I type the lab up so that they never see the offending strike of the pen?
Context; the child's pronouncing or miss-pronouncing this sound is irrelevant; the sound doesn't need learned until later in the child's life.
But accuracy! has forever been compromised. And, since I have OCD and the OCD happened to pounce on it, I am dreadfully aware of it.
Well, I tried to cut my losses and just not do anything more. Which might show them that I made a mistake, or might look like the child ommited the sound, which I'm positive didn't happen. So maybe leaving it was misleading. But you can't erase blue pen from black print on white paper. Which is kind of the idea of using a blue pen. Showing it is valid and unaltered. Rats!
The OCD is very disturbed.
So, I did not explain my predicament to the instructor about my minor pen mark. I thought that sounded too compulsion-like ("Professor, I'm so sorry; I made a mistake. I put this mark on the paper and now I don't know what I should have done. So here is my scrupulously honest letter explaining my very horrible tiny mistake. Please don't fail me for "falsifying" information on a lab").
The "falsifying" word comes from the exposition on the academic honesty standard that was carefully expounded to us at the beginning of the semester. I realize that what it really means is that I will actually do the lab instead of sitting at home and making up the answers. But OCD is busy trying to make a way for me to be kicked out of school.
The other thing I didn't do was re-type the lab. Which is compulsion-ish while also arrousing OCD on the "that might be dishonest" account, so I'm kind of left 50-50 on that being a compulsion resisted and a compulsion completed all at once.
So if I drew an OCD cartoon today (which I still might, but you wont see it until later), it wouldn't be as victorious as the picture above. It would probably be me suffering the anxiety of a run-in with OCD before I come out the victor (which means OCD doesn't have to get back at me yet, since he's still getting at me the first time, so I guess that is a small plus).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Well, I got one of the bugs that is going around. It really isn't that bad, just makes me tired and ready to sit cozy on my couch. With a slight bit of worry about spreading it. And more worry about getting another bug from my work. The worry of spreading it will come up tomorrow when I decide whether or not to go to a scrap booking get-together. But I have a feeling I'll just sleep in too much and then feel lazy and have the excellent "I'm sick" reasoning to take it easy and stay home (until I want to go out for something else). But my primary motivator (or inhibitor) isn't spreading germs, so I wont worry too much about that.

My ring always turns up-side-down when I type a lot. Is that normal, or does it mean my ring is too big and doesn't fit me right?

I think I had more to say that I forgot. Oh, yeah, form-filling, honesty OCD. Yyyyuck. But it can wait for another day. :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Happy with a C on a test!

Well, today I decided that I was going to take my test on the Human body nervous system. I was done having the test postponed, even for good reasons like not having covered all of the material yet. Sooo, I did! And I still got a C on it (can you believe that I'm actually saying as a good, satisfactory thing?!). I got an A on the midterm, mostly Bs on the other tests. And my goal is a B, so I can handle a C after my A, especially since the test isn't worth as much as the midterm.

Also, today, I realized that I mixed two Facebook friends up when I was commenting. Rats! It wasn't a terrible mistake, but it was a bit annoying; I probably would have at least worded it differently if I realized who I was actually commenting to. But then what do you do? Say, oh, sorry, I mixed you up with someone else who has similar letters in their first name.? Or just leave it be, since the actual recipient seemed okay with what I said. So yeah, I'm leaving it be. Except for blogging about it. Some sort of OCD compulsion to confess? Or somehow, if I admit it, I feel reassured? Or maybe I'm worrying too much about what exactly I'm doing. Overthinking it, in the words I dislike. Wasting my wonderful thought-power on something not worth the time or energy? That sounds better.

Today, I also started getting irritable. When scraping my hand pulling something out of the refrigerator makes me angry. Yup, there I was in my apartment, getting mad over this and that. Knowing that if I'd just put away the text book and do something bigger than reading, I'd probably feel better. But hey, I really wanted to get that Nervous System test done. My tap dance lesson sure helped. Being upright, getting the oxygen circulating somewhere besides just my eyeballs (wait, don't they get oxygen from the air (i.e., part of it not from the lungs)? I bet if I'd studied more, I'd be able to answer that more precisely - and I don't really care! Yay for Perfectionism being taken down a notch). And then I came to do my test. And now I am chilling out, delaying my supper in a less-than-ideal way. But I don't know what I want to do to amuse myself while I eat supper, so I keep typing...

This happened last night, too. I wasn't sure if I felt sick to my stomach because I was looking at the computer too much, or if I was really hungry. Turned out I was hungry, and after I ate enough, I went to sleep normally... But I was a little late to sleep... so I think I'm hungry and tired, and that combination can sometimes produce quick, irritable anger, even if the people around me never see that I am angry!!!

Happy Monday.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday

Well, played guitar in church today. I only dreamt about it two nights since Wednesday when I agreed to play. And neither dream was a total disaster... Anxiety, how much you do for me. Glad that's over until I start working up to playing next Sunday, too. Two Sundays in a row. Probably good for dealing with the anxiety monster.

The pastor preached on Psalm 4 today, the second half of the (very short) chapter. It included dealing with upsetting emotions. He was good about saying that having the emotions themselves wasn't the problem, but then we have to deal with it. By stopping. A good old "be still" type verse is stuck in there, along with that vague "meditate" word (but not in my version; mine used other words for about the same meaning). The pastor's paraphrase of the meditating part was to address yourself, telling yourself to "be still" etc. Anyhow, by the end of the sermon and the chapter, he was hoping that people around us would see the peace in our lives as opposed to the distress, and that that would be a witness for God.

Personally, I'm still stuck with the physical emotions followed by talking to myself, followed by a slight calming, followed by more emotions. Basicly, I feel like I'm short-circuited from finishing the chapter like I would envision an "ideal" Christian doing.

But that's a fact in my life right now. A short circuit or something in my brain letting me deal with alarming false alarms that keep going off. Well, I like to think that peace in God doesn't have to be an emotion (or lack of emotion), but more of a sense (I guess that is almost an emotion, after all, isn't it?) of reliance on God. Because I can have such a sense vaguely in the back of my mind while I deal with some stupid mental illness thought that came to visit. Actually, maybe I just get that sense part time, but I trust it will come back. In short, there's a reason why it says we should have "faith" in God; because it isn't all always clear to us. Don't know why that almost comes as a surprise. But anyway, short circuit and all, I'm okay with myself for the moment.

Well, I think I'll go home soon and be lazy/relax. I got my table cleaned off last night, so that is much better!

Really, the whole weekend is better than last weekend. Last weekend was one of those when depressing thoughts were getting too close for comfort. I was still fine (translation: safe), but there were things I wasn't sharing widely. I wanted to have a church where I didn't need to hide my depression, but some thoughts just aren't shared quickly and calmly, followed by walking away to sit down for church. Anyway, this weekend, with the exception perhaps of this morning when the anxiety was launching one more attack before I went to church to play guitar, I've felt a lot better. Tired, but okay.

And feeling okay is SO, SO WONDERFUL compared to where I've been.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

seeking solutions

Well, I think this weekend is going better than last weekend. As in, I really want to sleep, but specific depressed thoughts have not shown up. And really, I'd rather be really tired than deal with those familiar, really depressed thoughts.

School has started up again. I think I'm maybe taking it too seriously. I can feel the tension. I've gotta get it done; I've gotta do enough (whatever that is; I don't know yet since I haven't had an exam); I need to absorb the material; I don't want to get behind; not only that, but I want to get ahead; I've got labs to do that have too many variables, too much uncertainty, so I just want them done! So much for wanting to live in uncertainty. I don't want to fail, so really, I want to finish all my classes this weekend so that I can stop worrying about them and relax. Talk about an unreasonable and impossible goal.

And I've been dreaming about work and about playing for church this Sunday. And I've been dreaming about dreaming about work and playing for church this Sunday, since I knew in my dreams that I had dreamt about that stuff. And needing spaghetti noodles for a meal with my church small group tomorrow; cant remember if that was a dream of needing it, or if I just thought about that in real life. But I was trying to go to a grocery store in my dream... or was I just near the grocery store? And in real life, I knew I needed guitar picks (or rely on whatever was left at church by the other guitar players, but I have my favorite kind).

So I've got the guitar picks. I'll get the noodles (less-tasty white noodles in deference for the little kids, even though in this particular area of noodles, I much prefer whole wheat noodles). I've listened to my lectures for the week. I've glanced at the text book that I've actually received through the mail - it looks like a time trap, with lots and lots of pages teaching me about the anatomy of speech and hearing and neural signals, as if I hadn't taken whole, three credit courses on anatomy of speech and anatomy of hearing (two separate classes), and as if I'm not in the middle of studying the nervous system for the Human Anatomy course that I would like to kick over a mountain and far away - except no, I wouldn't, because then I'd fail the course, and that would just be terrible. Actually, the information is interesting enough; it is deciding when I've learned enough and when I need to study more and when to take the quizzes and exams. Perhaps that indicates that the problem is our good friend OCD, not the actual class. But now all my classes have some element of exposure therapy or compulsion practice contained in them.

And I don't want to leave them alone, because if I do, something terrible might happen. And that is my OCD's favorite, trademark phrase; "Something terrible might happen!"

Okay, what did my counselor say? About my worrying about an assessment I'd have to give... when I re-read the syllabus that originally sparked my anxiety, I noticed more facts that took most of the anxiety away (until I came up with new anxieties, but that is a new set, extremely similar but not to be confused with the old set). So, she pointed out, I didn't have to waste my time worrying; I could have taken a second look, gotten more facts, and saved my worry.

But if it is OCD, then it is a toss-up whether more facts will end the anxiety or turn into an endless reassurance-seeking cycle.

Problem: I don't want to leave my school studies because I might miss something and eventually fail the class.

Solution: Re-read the syllabus? Done that. Check the calender? Done that. Listened to all the lectures for this week? Done that, too. Can I gather any more facts? I guess I could put the calender in my purse so that I could stop worrying about it/check it compulsively (either end could occur).

Solution! Print out when the assignments are due for the semester. I just did that, and now I feel so much better!

This is one of my current goals; when I come up with a problem (like money issues or school worries), try to look "outside the box" for a solution. Sometimes there are solutions that can settle my problems. Sometimes it isn't just a worry I have to live with. And sometimes, with cognitive therapy type skills, I can pair down the initial fear, and then when it is time for Exposure Response Prevention, I've made the exposure into a smaller one that I can more easily handle.

Now I'm going to try to add when I need to read what chapters to my new printed out assignment list!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Well, my spring semester has started. And I have embraced the anxiety of choosing to work in a group for the research paper instead of going it alone. This is more risky in that there is a possibility of failure that isn't fully in my control. You kind of have to trust the people in your group. But it could also be really good. So I might regret this decision, but I just might really like it. We'll see.

I did have Sunday lunch with my pastor and his family, and it was actually pleasant. More than pleasant, I suppose, since I was having a depressed day to that point, but while I was at their house, the really depressed thoughts gave me a break.

Over all, Friday through Monday was rough, but I'm doing better right now, in the middle of the week. This seems to be a pattern for me.

I got to see my counselor today. I found out she won't be there next week, which brought on the initial fear of going it alone, but was eventually replaced by hoping it will go well and relief not to have to pay for that week. :)

I almost asked her for reassurance that I was spending my money well, despite being in debt, but then I stopped myself. And then, I told her I stopped myself from trying to get reassurance. And then, she straight out gave the encouragement that I really wanted. She said she thinks that my guilt about "wasting money" is largely OCD. I guess she wants me to fight that guilt. So did she give me reassurance, or encouragement? I guess it doesn't matter. And I'm encouraged anyway, so if it was reassurance, it is at least working for more than 15 seconds. :)

I'm trying to get myself to not spend forever on the computer this evening, so I guess I'd better take off. Happy mid-week, everyone!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Well, with encouragement from you, I did try to get a coupon price reduction for the textbook I bought.

But today, my anxiety picked up on other things. Or my emotions. Or whatever.

Like this afternoon. I was peacefully watching cartoons, eating food that tastes ridiculously good, so good it doesn't seem like it should count as food (and some might argue that the cheese curls and the muffin weren't so much food as junk food, but the blueberries were healthy!). I was soaking in the light from my therapy light and relaxing after my morning at work (which, over all, went really well). And then a potential invitation to eat a meal with my pastor's family. Thankfully it was a text.

Because I freaked out. Felt the fear run through my body. I can hardly believe the anxiety reaction that pastors trigger! Like, seriously! The pastor's wife is my friend. The pastor is someone I trust. And I still freak out (in a motionless way).

So then I start wondering, is this still me dealing with the past when Church A fell apart? Or was I scared of pastors before. Yeah, I was scared of pastors before that, but I guess I blamed that on being a kid.

So there is me, scared of my boss, scared of my pastor. Not that either of them would hurt me. They are both good people and I KNOW that.

But anxiety isn't rational, so I can stop worrying about the logical fallacies.

And what did my counselor say about dealing with big anxiety issues, like my lovely fear of a speech test I have to give for one of my classes this spring. Pin it down and look at it. In the case of the speech test, when I re-read the syllabus, my feared ending (not passing the class, not graduating with this degree, etc.) seemed very much less likely.

So feared ending with my boss? Her disapproval? Because I don't think she'd fire me. But her disapproval seems too small a thing for my anxiety level sometimes. Doing a bad job? Well, I guess I might be a super perfectionist in doing a good job at work (though I have lightened up on the germ side of that perfectionism), so maybe the fear of doing a bad job is that big. That doesn't make sense either.

But back to pastors. Is it the OCD monster again? My compulsion would be avoidance. And I didn't choose that path. I may choose denial of my anxiety, but I'm trying not to avoid the situation.

Who knows. Annoying issue with no clear cut answer.

But the sun came back out today!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I'm so upset, but it's about something stupid.

I was trying to order a textbook for this coming semester. I like having them ready when classes start. I like finding the cheapest price.

So I found the cheapest price, and there was a coupon code to go with it.

All is well, until I go about buying it and miss seeing where to put the coupon code in. So I lost about nine dollars, or rather, I didn't save that much because I didn't put the coupon code in because I didn't see the spot in time, placed the order hoping it would show up, and, well, I didn't get to use it. So I'm really upset, which is pretty stupid, because it is $9. Okay, but if I had to deal with a crying child long enough to earn that nine dollars...! While I'm this grumpy...!

But really, Abigail, nine dollars? You're gonna be okay.

That or die of debt, which I haven't heard of ever happening, so I guess I should take that off my list of concerns. (Especially since it is nine dollars that are apparently going to push me over the edge. No, wait, I'm actually worried about the very dollar that pushes me over this edge, wherever it mysteriously lives. This might explain my great anxiety over purchases at the dollar store.)

Speaking of such purchases, I got some really yummy cheese curls. Really yummy. For once, my one friend's advice to treat myself to junk food actually served me well. Between the cheese curls and the new talking snowman I bought, my very depressed thinking turned to lighter, happier subjects.

This talking snowman is FABULOUS! And I officially bought it for speech therapy purposes (for the day when I can actually earn my living that way, Lord willing). Because this super snowman repeats what you say to it! Great incentive to talk out loud. So great, in fact, that I was talking, and not quietly, in my apartment, and laughing at the little snowman bobbing up and down and squeeking my words back at me. The snowman could use some articulation therapy, actually, considering a few of his problems pronouncing things. But that's okay. It just means that I have to talk more clearly to it if I want it to talk more clearly back.

To clarify, in this case, no, I'm not talking to myself or my pet. I'm talking to a toy that talks back to me (with echolalia).

Now that was a happier subject. I'm feeling better. I guess, with the help of my snowman, I'll get over my monitary loss.