Thursday, August 1, 2013

Suck it up baby & put on the big girl pants

Well today has been a test. Oh yes,.. A very big test indeed. I had to do many things today that I normally can’t do. My OCD curse,… my social phobia,… all tested me. But I am proud to say that I put on my big girl pants and sucked it up and just DID IT.

First thing this morning I had to bring my youngest daughter into the dental surgeons as she was having a wisdom tooth removed. As everyone knows, I don’t like public places,… I don’t like talking to people I don’t know,… But as a mother I had no choice but to take her.  Things went well until I had to go to the back and get her. Suddenly I was given papers and gauze and prescriptions and instructions. The nurse was literally overwhelming me with her list of things that could go wrong. By the time we left, I was more nervous and anxious than the day I brought this child home from the hospital when she was just born! Of course I couldn't show any of this. So hopefully I gave some semblance of a normal capable mother and shoved the poor kid into the car and couldn't get home fast enough.

I think one of the reasons I was so anxious and overwhelmed was not only having to care for this kid which, according to the dentist, could suddenly develop a serious problem at any moment and die (well OK, not DIE actually, but to a person with severe anxiety it may as well be that serious,..)  It was the setting itself. A medical clinic. Now for anyone who doesn't already know, in 2005 I got a job working at a clinic in Newmarket as a medical administrator/lab technician/phlebotomist. (Now there’s a mouthful) I was very comfortable with bodily fluids and any other situation that could bring on the heeby-jeebies to anyone else. I took patients’ blood,… checked urine samples,.. and well, you get the drift. And I did this for 4 years. But suddenly, and I mean almost overnight, my OCD kicked in with something new. I couldn't touch bodily fluids and everything in the clinic was contaminated and therefore untouchable. I tried to overcome it over the next few months but it just seemed to get worse.  Until finally I stopped being able to take blood. Everyone there really tried to help me however they could. But I just couldn't do it. And because taking patient samples was a large part of my job I realized I had to resign. No one actually knows this is the reason I left except the Doctors I worked for.

Anyway,… I digress,…

The minute I walked into this dental clinic to pick H***** up from the recovery room, I got totally freaked out and overwhelmed and anxious and nearly had a panic attack. Luckily my poor charge was higher than a kite at this point and knew not a thing of how her mother was a weak ol bird. I did get her home safely though and she is recovering well. (See,… she didn't DIE!)

Then,… and as if one traumatic situation isn't enough for one day,… I went over to my brothers to pick up my car. He had taken the time to fix it after the shop was going to charge me an arm and a leg and my first born child. He did it for a fraction of the cost and I am eternally grateful. But he had a spare part left over that he told me to go and bring back to the auto recyclers  ( ok, it’s the junk yard but doesn't auto recyclers sound so much nicer) Now because of my anxiety I don’t talk to strangers. I don’t walk into a building, alone, to meet people I have never met,… And I especially will not be left alone with a man ~ any man ~ except my brother. But here I was, doing all that to bring these parts back. Now whether my brother didn't know the anxiety this would cause me, or he did but felt I should anyway I don’t know. But I managed to get through that ordeal in one piece too. But let me tell you,… By the time I got home I was ready for a daiquiri and to never leave my apartment again. These ‘events’ may not seem like anything at all to the ‘normal’ person. But to me they were both a huge deal. BUT I DID THEM!

It took a lot out of me though and I will definitely need a break to just chill now. Man,… OCD and social anxiety are bitches,…

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Just do three things,...

Yes, for anyone who reads my blog they know that my rule for times of distress is to "Just do three things today" The reasoning behind it is that it makes me feel less guilty when I am having a black day. And sometimes, if I do three things it inspires me to keep on going. You know the theory,... well your up now, you may as well do such and such as well. Sometimes it can turn my black day into a somewhat shifty shade of grey.

But today. Today was a real test. I woke up feeling very depressed and down. Add to that the weather is extremely hot (34* ~ 40* with the humidity) and I just felt like a limp dishrag. I'll be honest with you. I wished that I could have gone back to bed and never woken up again.

But, I forced myself. I did my 3 things. I went to get my chest x-ray done,... I went to get my blood work done at the lab,.. and I went to the grocery store and bought some fruit. But once I came home I sank down into my lounge chair and didn't move for hours. I still feel sad. Depressed. Lethargic. Useless. A failure,...  (yes, this Black Fog is a bad one) But I have to say that having done my "3 things" I do feel like I also accomplished something and that is good.

I really hope this depression shifts soon. It really is a horrible way to feel. But while its here, I will keep in mind that baby steps are better than no steps at all,...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

After the crash

Back to the psychiatrist I went yesterday. After my crash I thought I would at least try to be pro-active.  Let the Doctor know what happened. And talk about it. And talk we did. I brought my support person (a family member) as I always do because that way the Doctor gets to know two sides to my behaviour. My version (from the oblivious little bubble I live in) and the real version. The two are rarely the same. It would seem that I “am an enigma” (her words ~ not mine) and that my illness is complicated because I have overlapping diagnoses. It’s hard to find a medication regime as one may be good for the OCD but may not be conducive to my depression or agoraphobia, etc,… I am a melting pot of illnesses. Apparently I am a “challenge” to treat for my psychiatrist. But we are all working hard to try. My Doctor, my family and myself. I know I will never be “normal” (what is normal anyway,…?) but I think if I work at it, I can still do well.

Things are better. I do see positive changes. Ten years ago I was, well,… let’s be honest,… a big hot mess. I had this illness but I didn’t have a clue how to cope with it. Nobody did back then so everyone was just floundering around not knowing what to do. I didn’t see my bad choices and behaviours. My family certainly did but they didn’t know how to deal with me. It wasn’t until I was able to get some professional help in the last few years that things got better. Before,… when I crashed,.. bad things happened (which we won’t get into except to say they were extreme and I always ended up in the hospital) Now, when I crash, I can see it. I can do things to help myself. medication is one aspect but it’s not the whole answer. I am now learning how to deal with it by doing certain things to help myself.  Spending time in “Homewood” (a psychiatric hospital) two years ago was probably one of the best things to have happened to me. I learned so much about myself and how to care for my illness.

So even though I am still feeling depressed and guilty and a failure right now. I’m not going to let that take over. I will continue to do my “Just do 3 things today” so I am at least doing something and I will just wait this ride out.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Peeking through the letter box

That was an awesome run. I felt good and was pretty productive for the past few months. I was sleeping okay for the most part,… being somewhat social (Is shopping alone being social?) Seeing family more than usual,… I was (dare I utter the phrase “almost normal”) My apartment is pretty much done and looks awesome now if I do say so myself. 

But, (as there always seems to be a “but”) the run seems to have ended.

I have to say firstly that even though the past few months have been good. I did get carried away with all the painting and decorating. In typical OCD fashion I became obsessed with getting it perfect. And in getting it perfect I spent a lot of money. I mean A LOT of money,… way too much money,….  And my mind was constantly on things I would do. If I had an idea for  the decorating at 2 in the morning while lying in bed, I would actually get up and look it up on the internet. If I decided I wanted something (because it would be “perfect” for what I wanted it for) then I would just go out and buy it. But being OCD I had to buy it now,… I “needed it” NOW. Sometimes I would leave for Walmart at 7 in the morning when it opened because I just couldn’t wait. I know this behavior is illogical but in the world of OCD logic doesn’t come into it. You get fixated on something and then its tunnel vision on that fixation until it is done. I don’t even think of the consequences. I just do it and worry about it later.

Well, It’s later,…  And now I am forced to think of it. I now realize I spent way too much money. I now realize I went way overboard on the decorating. I now realize my behavior wasn’t normal. But,… whats done is done.

And so on Friday when I did my banking I saw just how much I spent and it all hit me like a sack of wet potatoes. Again, like many, many other times in my life, I had made yet again some bad choices. I see it NOW,… but during the past few months I just thought I was being normal. That’s the evil of mental illness. You can’t see it when you’re in it,… It’s only later you shake your head and wonder what the hell was I thinking. I mean in what part of my brain did I think I was some kind of self-made millionaire with a bottomless bank account?? What allowed me to think that painting at 3 in the morning is normal?? How could I have possibly thought that any of my behaviors over the past few months even resembled normal?

I came crashing down with a thud. First,… I had a good cry because we know that has an important purpose (insert sarcasm there). And then I could almost feel the black fog lowering down on me. The negative thoughts,… the depression,… the total disgust at myself. The guilt,… and just feeling like a total failure. I went to bed in the hopes that it was just a passing mood and I would wake up feeling much better. I didn’t. My brain was foggy. The apathy was beginning. I knew this wasn’t going to bode well for today’s mood either. That whole day I felt a little out of frequency. Things were unclear,… I was getting lost inside my head which is never a good thing for me. I knew this was going to be a bumpy ride.

So now here I am, 3 days later and I still feel like I’m walking in molasses. My mind a haze. I feel numb. I still have some things to do like cleaning up all the paint, etc,… and putting it all away. But I don’t have a place to put it and that conundrum is just too much for my brain to handle right now so I just leave it. In fact, my mind can’t seem to make any decisions right now. I can’t go outside. Not even to take the garbage out or get my mail. I  am supposed to go to the hospital for a chest xray and the lab but I can’t. I need to make a few phone calls but I can’t talk to anyone. The past 2 days I have not even cleaned or tidied. I just sit and watch TV mindlessly. It’s really horrible to feel like this. It is what I call the dreaded “Black Fog”

So I guess it’s back to “Just do 3 things today no matter how small”  I don’t know how long I will be hibernating away this time. But I do know it will get better at some point. It always does. And THAT is what I have to keep telling myself. This won’t last forever and you will feel better again. I just have to grin and bear it until it does.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Jacquie's Little Adventure

Wednesday night started out like any other night except that Hayley was visiting. We were chilling out in the living room waiting for “Paranormal Witness” to come on at 10:00pm.  We both love scary stuff but are afraid to watch things alone so we like to hang out and watch it together.

But suddenly I got a pain in my chest. Not just a little pain. A crushing pain. It felt like when you get a Charlie horse in your calf or something. Tightening,… gripping, unbearable pain. I tried walking it off. I tried laying down. I tried sitting, standing, curling up in the fetal position,… but it just got worse.  After 15 minutes and finding myself in agony, nauseous and sweating profusely I started to get scared.  Crawling on the bathroom floor I got to a point where I couldn't breathe or talk. It was time to get help.

Hayley called my brother and off I went to the hospital. But within 15 – 20 minutes of arriving there the pain subsided and I started to feel a lot better. But to be on the safe side the doctor kept me in overnight hooked up to an ECG to monitor me. By morning I felt completely better.

They still don’t know what the cause was. They don’t think it was my heart because all those tests came back normal. So they thought it must be either gallbladder or severe indigestion. Um, what? Indigestion?? But I felt like I was dying. I remember being on the bathroom floor thinking ‘Seriously? THIS is how I’m going to go?? Writhering in pain on the bathroom floor with my 18-year-old daughter watching??’  ~ I mean I seriously thought I was having a massive coronary and was going to die. ~ So hearing indigestion really threw me. Oh come on,… indigestion!

But apparently it happens. It could also have been gallbladder but I don’t suppose we’ll ever know unless it happens again. I mean, How embarrassing is this? Being rushed into the ER with a bad case of indigestion. It’s all kind of left me red-faced and feeling silly.

It does bring to mind that I’m getting older though. When I told the doctor I doubted it was a heart attack because I was only 49, he said plenty of people have heart attacks at that age. That was a little eye-opening. He was right. I am now at an age where maybe I have to start taking a serious look at my health and start taking better care of myself. So maybe it’s time to implement some changes. Diet (yup, that dreaded “D” word) and exercise (well that one may as well be considered profanity in my world). Just something for me to think about.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Please make my mind stop,....


Wow, 4 weeks of feeling really good. Woo-who!! My living room/dining room painting got finished and it looks great. It now looks like an adult lives here and I’m not squatting in some college dorm.

But, Sunday I took a turn for the worse and now I’m back to struggling again.

It all started on Friday when my daughters were coming to visit for a belated Mother’s Day. I wanted the apt to look perfect (can you say O-C-D?) so I was going crazy all day cleaning and puttering around. When you have OCD everything has to be just so or you can’t sit down and relax. So every time I did sit down I saw something that wasn’t aligned right or were just slightly out of place so I had to keep on getting up to “fix it”. By the time the girls arrived I was already tired.

I had told my eldest daughter (M*******) that she could bring her cat as I know she worries about him when she asks her roommates to watch him because they forget to feed him. So in came Toby,… her un-fixed male cat. We knew very quickly that this was not going to be a good situation. To make a long story short,… my cat (a fixed female) and her cat did NOT get along at all and her cat started spraying everywhere. We had no choice but to get him out of there. So less than 2 hours after they all arrived, I was driving M******* back to Barrie 2 hours away. I was sorry our visit was cut short as I rarely get to see her lately but Toby had to go. I left at 2 in the morning and didn’t get back till 5 in the morning. I was exhausted. But instead of going to bed, my OCD kicked in. I could not rest until this apartment was scrubbed clean. So that’s what I did. I started cleaning. I finally got so tired I took a nap and didn’t wake up until my youngest daughter H***** woke me at noon.

My OCD was really “pulling” me that afternoon. All my mind could think of was cleaning my apartment because in my mind it was totally contaminated. But I forced myself to spend the afternoon with H*****. But once she left at dinner-time I went crazy cleaning,… scrubbing,… disinfecting,… spraying,… and then starting the whole procedure all over again. Because in my mind, it still wasn’t clean enough. I had to kill the actual germs. I knew I wasn’t being logical but I couldn’t stop myself. So I just kept cleaning. Only taking small breaks to rest. I did this for 3 days strait. I stayed up most of the nights cleaning as well. By the time Wednesday rolled around I knew I was out of control and had to stop. I fell into bed in an exhausted crumpled mess and slept for the next 25 hours. Not waking up until Thursday at noon

Luckily I already had an app’t booked with my SW for Friday. During that appointment I told her everything. She immediately called the psychiatrist to book an appointment with her. And then she threw out the dreaded “B” word. If I was up for two nights in a row cleaning then maybe I was having bipolar swings. Grrrrrr,…. Not this again. I get so frustrated with everyone trying to figure out if I do or don’t have bipolar. At this point I don’t even care if it’s yes or no but instead let’s just fix what’s going on with me right now which is the OCD taking control. I’m so exhausted right now I can’t clean anymore even though my mind is telling me I have to or the germs will take over. My body is in pain from all the moving of furniture. I ache from head to toe and my shoulders are on fire from the pain. And yet my mind is still telling me to clean. It’s just so illogical. But I can’t stop it.

So today and yesterday I have done nothing. I can’t. I’m too tired. Too sore. But most of all,… I have just felt too depressed. I’m back to the “just do 3 things today” if that’s all you can do,… (On my depressed days, I force myself to do 3 things no matter how small or insignificant as sometimes it kick starts me to do more) But today all I did was watch TV.

I’m also dealing with my old addiction urges right now. My body is in so much pain that all I want to do is take drugs to numb out so I don’t have to feel that pain or the depression. But I can’t do that anymore. The urge is great though. It made me realize that it is true. Once an addict ~ always an addict. It’s been well over a year and a half that I have been clean of my prescription drug abuse and I thought I would never miss it. Not so. Today my mind wants it. But that’s not going to happen. That would just be too slippery a slope to go down for someone who has my past. So drug-free it is. (Ice packs and A-535 are in total use though)
So as you can see it’s been quite an eventful week. I didn’t know whether to write about how controlling my OCD can be to me at times but in the end, it’s another issue I deal with.

I still have my kitchen left to paint. But right now I am finding that way too over-whelming. So I think I will give that a miss for the time being. This poor old girls mind and body needs a break for a bit. But once I do start feeling better it will be back to the decorating. I refuse to give up just because I have ‘obstacles’. I may not get things done the way most people do,… but in the end,… I usually do get it done.