Tuesday, September 9, 2014
OCD and a myriad of emotions
Today I want to talk about all of the emotions present in OCD. I would love to hear from all of you too, and the emotions that you experience with this disorder. I've had a couple of people say some things recently regarding OCD and it has really struck a nerve with me. I feel like I'm starting to climb down this OCD mountain a little bit at a time (and truly getting into some moderate level exposures)...and I will post a progress update next post....but the emotional aspects of OCD are really wearing on me, and I could really use some good advice. My boss said to me on the phone the other day, after learning that I was having some "health struggles" which is the extent to what they know, "Well, I can't see you, but you sound okay". I also had a relative comment awhile back when talking about people being type A or organized in general, that "everyone is a little OCD, aren't they?". This relative doesn't even know I have OCD...as does none of my family, other than my husband and daughter. Those of you that are familiar with my blog probably have already heard me say that at certain points. I have also have been seeing more posts on Facebook that are upsetting in general...pictures of things being "off" or assymetrical and kind of mocking OCD in general, and others posting pictures of organized rooms in their house with the statement that they are #soocd. Maybe they are, I don't know. Just things in general that are getting to me. I have felt so many emotions through my struggle with OCD, but what I'm primarily dealing with right now is GUILT....because of avoidance behaviors!!!!! I haven't been to a family function in almost a year on my moms side of the family. I have missed all major holiday gatherings and grandparents birthdays, parents birthdays, nieces birthday--making up excuses every time that I didn't feel good, or I had to work, or some other excuse. My daughter has missed spending time with family because I don't want to go anywhere. My daughter has missed out on a lot of experiences because of me. My husband has been affected by this (aside from our other marital issues unrelated to OCD). All of my personal relationships have been affected by this. Our finances have been affected greatly by this....to the point where I have spent an insane amount of money on this illness--SO much money spent on new clothes, shoes, slippers, paper towels, plastic gloves, leashes for the dog...replacing anything that is contaminated. The contamination issues have kept me from going to church for several months...although I did go back for the first time this past weekend. I hadn't given offering for such a long time because my money was going towards replacing everything in my wardrobe constantly. I feel SO guilty inside. In some future posts I plan on talking in detail about how each of these relationships has suffered, but today I'm going to try to stick with this topic. I socially isolate myself mainly because I don't want to be trapped and hug people, because that triggers me so bad. I am making so much progress in certain parts of my OCD, but feeling contaminated by other people is the very top of my hierarchy, and I just can't handle people touching me right now. I don't want to walk on their carpets, I don't want them touching my clothes, I don't want to sit on their couches. I don't want them hugging me. I can tell that my mom is getting irritated with me not coming to anything...I think she just kind of feels like I don't care if I come to stuff or not. Like I have other things I want to be doing, so I just don't come. She is starting to sounds more upset,with me sometimes on the phone, and to be honest that is another emotion that I feel. Numb. It's like I don't care if people get mad at me anymore , or what they think. I just distance myself emotionally. I think I really do care though...it's just that I know my OCD is in a place where I can not deal with that, and I just want to shut out the noise of people and just not deal with it emotionally. My sister was diagnosed with thyroid cancer earlier this summer and had her thyroid removed. She is divorced mother.....and so my parents help her out quite a bit. She stayed at my parents house for almost 2 weeks while she recovered from surgery, and several of her friends came by to see her during that time. I have not seen my sister at all since she was diagnosed. She is doing well now and they don't anticipate any long term problems, but I still feel really guilty. Like I wasn't there for her. My dad called me last night and told me that my grandpa, who lives by himself in an assisted living facility, is declining rapidly health wise. He had a hospice nurse evaluate him and they told my parents that he had begun his end of life journey. I really want to go to see my grandpa and I don't know how my OCD will allow me to do that at this time. I just feel awful, like I am a horrible person. The last time I saw my grandpa was last Thanksgiving (actually that was the last time I was at my parents house too). It was shortly after I started my clothing contamination issues (which in turn has caused the social isolation), and I remember wearing a super old pair of jeans and old sweatshirt to their house, because I knew after I hugged people I wouldn't be able to wear those clothes again. I feel HORRIBLE saying that. I have to throw away clothes because I hugged my grandpa in them. I can't go to my nieces birthday party because I don't want her to hug me. Little children really trigger me too. The thing is, is that I am getting better sitting in public places. That is something I've been working on. Again, I will talk more about this in the next post, but I have been able to wear clothes in public again and wash and re-wear them without too many problems. Its hugging people and having their clothes or hands on me, that bothers me. I am so not ready to work on that yet. I just feel guilty. And embarassed and ashamed. I feel lonely and angry. I feel sad and depressed. I feel isolated and misunderstood. I feel disconnected from those around me. At times, I feel numb. I feel like a horrible wife and mother a lot of the time. A horrible daughter, a horrible sister. A horrible friend, and a horrible employee. But yet to people who look at me....I "look normal", so I must "be" normal. I "sound" normal, so I must "be" normal. I still carry on with my responsibilities. I go out and do grocery shopping. I run errands. I work. I take and pick up my daughter from school everyday. I clean my house. I pay my bills. I cook dinner. I help my daughter with her homework. I take care of my daughter and my dog. I still have lots of happy moments. I can go out and do things. But I look very rude and distant to those around me, because they just don't know what is really going on. On the outside I appear "normal". But the inside is a different story. And unfortunately, the inside is a part that I keep hidden. My secret. My suffering in silence. But I know I am not alone out there. I know so many people suffer from OCD and keep it hidden too, oftentimes keeping it hidden until it gets so severe it can not be hidden anymore. But what is it doing to us on the inside? I feel like I hit my rock-bottom worst with the OCD from about August 2013-May 2014, and I am starting to come out of it. It is a deep hole, that can feel so overwhelming. It took me about 9 years to really start doing something about my OCD, all the while it continued to worsen and morph and grow, and I can honestly say that I am so happy that I started self-treatment. I have actually gotten further than I ever thought I would, by devising my own program....and I know I just have to keep pushing forward. One real quick thing I want to add is a few things that I have done in the last week that if you told me three months ago I would do today....I wouldn't have believed it....(and these are just a few examples of improvement, like I said more to come in the next post!)........I went to pick up a pizza and the worker was wearing a band-aid on his finger and I came home and ate the pizza over the course of 3 meals. I ordered a sandwich the other day and the worker was wearing a huge gauze bandage over his thumb (even though he had his hand covered with a glove), and I came home and ate that. Also, I am down to only one wash cycle for most clothing now this week---which is GIGANTIC improvement, if you look at my laundry post from last summer. I am still separating things out, but this is also HUGE, and again....something I didn't think I would ever be able to do again. I've been washing and rewearing many contaminated items, even though I will admit I have still thrown some things out. I'm allowing myself to feel contaminated more often and not doing anything about it. I have almost completely cut out antibacterial soap...and although my hands still look unhealthy, they are free of the redness/cracked skin that once covered them for so long. I feel myself SLOWLY coming out of the deep, dark, consuming OCD. It definitely still affects my life everyday. I would still consider myself severe OCD, but I feel better emotionally than I did. I don't feel as depressed anymore. The hardest part is the guilt and the isolation that I mentioned. I KNOW that I can keep working on this and will come out stronger because of it. And if you have deep, dark, consuming OCD...please know that it CAN be beat. You CAN start to come out of it. Our minds are stronger than our OCD . We just have to believe in ourselves, and get our stories out there. So we know we're not alone. So we can help each other. So we can get awareness out there to the public to fight off the horrible stigma that mental illness has. Because OCD is a mental illness...and we need to remember that. An illness. But one that can be beat with some hard, persistent work.