Sunday, July 26, 2015
The Health Triangle & Turning the OCD cycle around
This triangle. This is important stuff. Between about November of 2013 and June of 2014, I was at my absolute lowest point with my OCD. My most severe and debilitating time. That summer of 2014 was not much better, although there was some improvement. Starting last fall and especially this past winter and spring, I have really been pushing myself toward better health in ALL of these areas. All of them are so important, and all of them affect each other. When OCD gets to an extreme level, you are in a mental torture chamber. Trapped in a prison that you've essentially created for yourself. I started avoiding everything and everyone. I lost my social life and in a sense I lost myself. I wasn't taking care of myself physically and it showed. I was a mental, emotional and physical wreck. It is a place that I don't ever want to be again.
For awhile, the OCD affected everything. As far as physical aspects, I let myself go. I stopped cutting my hair, stopped highlighting my hair, stopped wearing makeup, stopped wearing hairspray--all because somehow I would be contaminated by it or come into contact with chemicals. I recently looked at a picture of myself just from last winter, and I don't even look like myself. It is truly a person I don't even recognize. I wasn't sleeping well at all (and to be totally honest, I'm still not sleeping the greatest). I was waking up feeling utterly exhausted, like I'd been up for days straight, walking around like a zombie, feeling like I could collapse. I was having increased headaches, nausea and just a strange assortment of symptoms. Bad panic attacks, anxiety reactions, and shortness of breath. Severe teeth clenching (still have that too). I would be too exhausted to take care of my teeth, sometimes not even brushing them every day. Not eating properly, not exercising, not getting sunshine or fresh air. Cooping myself up. I felt numb, flat and detached. I was struggling to keep my head above the water. I felt like someone was holding me down and I was drowning at the time.
From a social standpoint, I isolated myself completely. Stopped going to all events. Made up excuses for every single social family gathering. I started only working from home (and still do this for the most part). I was too exhausted. Every day was a battle to get through. And then it started all over again the next day.
Mentally, my mind was consumed 24/7 with OCD thoughts or compulsions. Even in my dreams, it seemed I could not escape some of the stuff (and I will still even have OCD related dreams about certain obsessions, usually ones of my husband invading my "safe spaces"). I was not productive, I was more forgetful. I got to the point where I was just trying to get through each day. To survive the OCD each day.
Emotionally, I was a mess. The OCD was wreaking havoc on me, but also my marriage and the relationship with my husband was (and still is) extremely wearing on me. The marriage stress makes me more anxious, which makes the OCD worse, and thus the cycle continues in both directions. Never-ending. Sometimes it felt like there was no way out of it.
Slowly, as I started working on my OCD, I began to see that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. It is hard to become motivated to work on your OCD though, when you don't feel physically or emotionally feel. But when you don't work on your OCD, and it consumes you, you dive deeper and deeper into depression and the OCD cycle. I truly believe one of the biggest reasons why I slid so far down into the depths of OCD was because it became so depressing, that I literally just could not fight it off anymore. As I started working on all 3 of these aspects of the triangle at the same time, I saw myself improve in all areas. I felt less depressed, more "alive", and then I became more motivated. But it has taken a long time to really get to this point, where I truly can see results in my progress.
I am making it my mission to improve my health. My marriage is one of the most frustrating things I deal with. Probably even moreso now than the OCD, to be completely honest. I'm able to function much better right now, but I am still very much trapped by the OCD in a lot of ways. I am able to get out and socialize (although I still engage in certain "decontamination" compulsions when I get home). They do not affect my life as much as they used to. BUT....they still do affect me, and ultimately I don't want them to. I am trying to get more sleep at night. I am trying to take naps on the weekends if able. I am trying to eat 3 meals per day, and I actually have gained about 5-10 pounds over the last several months, which is a good thing for me. I am walking my dog several times/week, and trying to get outside and enjoy the sun as much as I can this summer. I am trying to push myself to get to family gatherings, and do things I wouldn't ordinarily do. I am trying to do the opposite of what my OCD tells me, and I've actually been doing fairly well at that part. I've been back to getting my hair cut now since early this year (and highlighted too), I've been wearing hairspray and putting on eye make up, and am getting myself ready when I go out to run errands or go somewhere. I look more like myself, and that is a good start. I feel somewhat better emotionally. And that is important. As much anger as I have toward my husband, it is ironically a good motivator for me. I have made the choice to keep pushing myself harder to get further out of this. I will NOT go back to the point I was at, at my lowest. I have seen my lowest OCD point, so I can only get better from this point on. The choice is to either be sucked in deeper, or suck it up and truck forward in the fight. Seeing where I've been, and seeing how far I've come is the motivation that I need. I am very aware of the fact that I can not let myself become depressed again. I need to continue improving my health physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. When I feel better physically, I feel like I can cope with things better emotionally and mentally. When I can cope better, I can deal with the mental stress of OCD better. When I'm fighting off the OCD, I feel emotionally better. They are all interlaced and very important. So, wherever you are in the fight against this monster, please know that it CAN get better. And it will...you just have to keep working in the right direction. So choose something today. Choose something to get the ball rolling. Every step you take is so worth it.