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Friday, October 14, 2016

Medication and OCD--is it worth a try?

     I want to talk about medication today and it's use in OCD and depression in particular.  I have been opposed to medication for quite some time...but the tables seem to be turning, and I think I am reconsidering my view on this topic for some very important reasons.  There was a time when OCD completely consumed me.  It was all I did, it was all that I was for awhile.  It was during that time that depression reared its ugly head, and I believe was probably the downward spiral that sent me into such a deep dark place I never thought I could recover from.  I knew I was in a deep depression, I knew I was not functioning.  I knew I did not want to live that way, but I could not pull myself out.  In all honestly I was not capable of thinking clearly at that time.  OCD was a way of life for me, and I was stuck.  It was just the way I resigned myself to living for quite some time...ruled by obsessions and compulsions, and avoiding everything that I could.  This only deepened my condition.  I didn't really have a support system at that time (as far as someone I could talk to safely about my OCD).  After all, the only people that had a name to what I suffered from was my husband, my daughter and my doctor.  My marriage has been extremely dysfunctional, and highly toxic at times.  We have had our share of marriage issues that alone would be difficult for a marriage to endure, but once OCD was thrown in the mix, it became a whole other type of nightmare.  It brought about issues in our relationship that most people could never even fathom.  You can visit previous posts or search my blog for "husband contamination" if you want more details on all of that.  But in addition to the stress that OCD brought into the marriage, and the toll it has taken, one thing stands out to me that I never in my wildest dreams anticipated would be a problem.  My husband's anger at my OCD.  His daily anger at me for having this condition.  I've often questioned whether or not I can stay in this marriage.  I love my husband, but I hate what this is doing to us.  We don't have much of a relationship at all anymore.  And I am certain that OCD is not the only path that has led to that.  I never imagined that a spouse would check out when their partner became ill.  And yes, OCD is an illness.  It is a chronic, day to day struggle.  I needed someone there for me in my darkest days, and he failed to show up.  In fact he became more angry at me, which I believe further worsened the cycle.  I don't know how to get out of the mess with him.  For religious reasons, I don't believe in divorce.  Yet I also struggle with "Does God really want me to live like this?" 
     I have worked so incredibly hard over the past 2 years to reclaim my life back from OCD.  This was with a lot of hard work with ERP self treatment.  And I have a long ways to go, but I am definitely getting there.  That is something I truly believe he will never understand.  But it is something I am so proud of for myself for doing.  I have pushed myself and fought against this, in the midst of a highly toxic environment.  Without professional help.  Maybe I'm just stubborn, but I was bound and determined that I was going to do it that way.  Maybe I didn't want a professional pushing me when I wasn't ready for certain things.  But for awhile, I've felt at a standstill.  I feel like for some reason I'm not making huge jumps of progress anymore.  In reality, I think its just because I have the "big stuff" left on my list to do.  No more baby steps.  At this point, its jumping in and ridding myself of my safe zones.  I will never fully overcome OCD if I don't make that step.  Although I'm trying to get better sleep and exercise more, I just feel that I'm not getting anywhere.  In fact I went to my doctor yesterday and discussed all of my symptoms again (fatigue, irritability, low mood, low energy) and she feels I do have Seasonal Affective Disorder (which I mentioned in my previous post), and she wanted to see me feel better this winter.  I'm already dreading winter and already feeling blah.  I am so tired of feeling like this.  I want to live life again and feel like myself again.  OCD has already taken so much life from me, and my family.  It has taken away experiences I can never get back.  And it has created situations that I'm not sure can be repaired.  So, I think I have made a big decision....
     As I stated earlier, I have always been opposed to medication.  I took an antidepressant for a few days in my early 20's, and experienced such terrible hallucinations on it at night I thought I was going crazy.  I have never wanted to take anything similar to that again.  Another problem is that my OCD, believe it or not, has also not "allowed" me to take medications as my OCD fears I will have an allergic reaction to the medication or something bad will happen.
     What I do know, is that I can not continue to live like this.  I fear for my health--physically,  mentally and emotionally.  I looked at the Serenity Prayer again recently,
and in relation to my OCD and marriage, this is what I know.  I can not change the fact that I have OCD.  I have accepted that.  My husband has not.  I can not change his attitude or reaction to my OCD, and I have a hard time accepting that, but I need to learn how.  All I can do at this point is to keep changing the things I can.  Keep myself healthier.  That means working even harder at eating better, and exercising more.  One key component I have really been considering lately is my depression and feeling down about the way he treats me.  Feeling hopeless in the marriage.  This is an even bigger problem than the OCD at the current point.  For awhile I didn't think there was anything I could do about that.  But after talking more to my physician yesterday, she believes that medication could be a useful tool for me and she urged me to give it a try.  I'm not excited about taking the medication, but I'm considering giving it a try.  Because ultimately I want to feel my best.  I owe that to myself, and I owe that to my family.  I want to know that I'm making the best decisions for myself to improve my health, even if my husband's attitude never changes.  And the bonus part of the medication is that it is not only an antidepressant, but it has been shown useful in OCD specifically, to help filter those intrusive thoughts out of your head faster, so you're not getting so "stuck" on certain things. 
    I know that medication is a very personal choice for each person with OCD.  I've heard from quite a few people over the years from writing this blog, that it has truly helped them.  So, I'm thinking it may be worth a shot.  I still believe that ERP therapy is the gold standard, but I am hopeful that maybe this medication could be a useful tool in helping me do the rest of the work that needs to be done, and just to feel better in general.  Part of me feels frustrated that I have to take medication.  Part of me is so frustrated at my husband, and feeling like I shouldn't have to take meds just to deal with a marriage.  I'm torn between the "what if this doesn't work?  what if I have a reaction?  what if something really bad happens because of this medication", and the other side of the coin, "what if this can really  help?  what if I feel a lot better on this and can start living life more fully again?"  I am concerned about the black box warning on the medication, I won't lie about that.  That terrifies me. 
     I'm picking up my medication today, and I haven't made a set decision yet, but I know I'm  more apt to try it once it's purchased and sitting in my medicine cabinet, so I will definitely keep you all posted on how things are going.  If you are reading this, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject!   


     

20 comments:

  1. hi hopeful
    which medication has your doc prescribed?

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    1. Hi Saad! Lexapro, have you tried it?

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  2. no. have not tried any medications but since I am in the related field that's why i asked.
    the biggest problem with such medications is the dependency and withdrawal effect.
    but of course your doctor has considered these aspects as well. I have sometimes only thought of taking these anti depressants as well but never taken them.

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  3. Medication reduced my OCD by probably close to 50%. It took a couple of tries to find the right SSRI and some patience for it to be effective, but ultimately was definitely worth it for me in the end. I'm on Luvox, but each particular SSRI and their effectiveness vary between people. It took over 2 months of gradually increasing dosages until I saw a significant difference. Also, the main side effect for me was drowsiness, but that improved with time. Medication has been worth it for me and I hope that you have similar results.

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    1. Thank you so much for your input! I am so happy for you that it has helped you that greatly with your symptoms. That has to be a good feeling!!!

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  4. Hopeful, how have you been? I've been checking back lately to see if you have posted an update of how the Lexapro is working. I'm finally starting the have less obsessive thoughts and I've been on 20 mg for about a month now. I'm still really struggling. OCD is such a battle, I'm tired of being scared of so many things, so many contaminated things that I have to avoid in my own home.

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    1. Hi Jeanie! Thanks for checking back. I have not actually started the medication yet. It's sitting in my cabinet, but I just can't seem to start it. I am so scared of side effects. I am so happy to hear that it is working better for you now. OCD is such a battle and so draining. I totally can empathize with you. I will likely try the medication in the very near future, I'm still trying to gear myself up! :) One of the main reasons I am considering it is because I feel like the obsessive thoughts I have about my husband in particular are not going away anytime soon. Although I have chipped away at pieces of this OCD, I can tell that the main underlying problem is still there. I just want to keep myself clean. As long as I have that mindset, I don't know that I'll ever completely get out of that mess. Even though I feel I am truly functioning at a much higher level these days. I am so happy you are doing better!

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  5. My counselor says that we will never get over OCD but we learn how to manage it better �� May I ask what started the obsession that your husband is contaminated? Did you ever get the new car? I don't need to be nosey but it's nice to communicate with someone with a similar problem.

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    1. Hi Jeanie! You are not being nosy, no need to worry about that! After all the reason I started this blog was to connect with other OCD sufferers and share our stories. We did get the new car a few months ago. So far my husband has not had need to ride in it. I know the longer this goes on, the harder it will be to expose myself though. I know that when he does sit there, it will require a seat cover and a homemade seat belt cover that I came up with. Then everything will be wiped down so the seat is "clean" again after he has used it. Of course I will never let him watch the cleanout process. There are some things he is better off not knowing. As far as how he became contaminated, it might be easiest if you refer back to an earlier post. I've put the link here, if you care to read. It's a lot of detail. http://fightagainstocd.blogspot.com/2013/09/how-did-this-all-get-started.html
      Basically there is a big emotional disconnection between my husband and I. I am sure that a lot of the contamination I feel towards him is related to this. To put it shortly though it started when he started working with chemicals/farming/painting tractors and cars and doing a lot of real dirty jobs. I started to become fearful at that time, and he grew angry at me. It started to affect our physical relationship and then it has spiraled out of control. There is so much anger and bitterness on both sides. If you would ever like to communicate outside of this blog, just let me know! I have a couple of others that I email with. Just to share updates and struggles and feel like there is someone else out there who gets this. If you're interested ever let me know, and I can get you my email address!

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    2. Sorry for some reason its not redirecting to the link, but you can access it on the side bar of my blog, with the date of September 2013.

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  6. Hey hopeful, I stumbled across your recent blog posts and have started working through reading them all from the beginning but haven't quite finished yet. I wanted to thank you for being brave enough to share your journey with us. I suffer from OCD, I am in a medical profession and I share many of many of your struggles on a daily basis. Please keep posting and sharing.

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    1. Hi anonymous, thanks so much for reading and for the comment. That is quite a feat to take on all my blog posts from beginning to end! I would be very interested, if you can get through them all, in knowing if you feel like I've made a lot of progress or not. Sometimes it seems like it, sometimes it doesn't. I know that I am functioning much better, so that has to count for something, right? If you don't mind my asking, what do you do in the medial profession? I am sorry that you deal with this disorder too. It definitely is a struggle everyday, as something always seems like it's coming up and I feel like I can't ever just "be in the moment" due to worry/anxiety/what-if. I will definitely keep posting, I need to update soon! I also love to share experiences and stories with others, so if you would ever feel you wanted to connect/e-mail outside of this blog (I do that with a couple of others), I am always happy to do that too. Take care!

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    1. Hi! Thanks so much for reading and for the comment. I'm so sorry to hear that you deal with OCD too. I have not started the medication yet. Winter is a tough time for me, as it brings about more illness/germs, and I struggle to do exposures during this time. Have you had any experience with medication? How are you treating your OCD at this time?

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    3. I'm so sorry to hear about your mom and dad. I know that emotional stuff can really make OCD worse. I have a lot of trouble with my husband, and I'll be honest--I have a lot of bad negative feelings toward him too. He doesn't really understand the OCD, nor does he try to. He is not supportive or encouraging. I think he hates me because of my OCD. It has been a really rough marriage. I would have a really hard time with the smoking stuff too. Thankfully, I don't have any smokers in my family. But I know I get anxious when I walk by people smoking outside at the store or whatever. Or if I'm walking by someone and their smoke is blowing toward me, I feel like it gets into my clothes and hair and contaminates me. I can totally understand how that would be difficult to you. I, like you, feel that most of my obsessions make sense to me too. But I've heard from therapists (even though I don't currently see one now, nor have I for several years) that most of our worries are legitimate. It's just that we hypermagnify everything and let it overcome our life. But it's so so hard to get out of. Have you had OCD your whole life, or did you develop it as an adult? Do you live in the US?

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    4. Hi, it's me I just changed my name I got a little paranoid with my real name. Most of the times I feel so embarrassed that my OCD makes me the way I am and no one understands or even wants to. I feel like they think that I think they are dirty and I am better than them but that's not the case. I had OCD my whole life but now it's just becoming hard to live. Like today I left my son with my brother who smokes and was visiting my mom to play. I had to wash him because I felt the smoke was all over him. I'm sure my brother would be offended but I can't help it I had to get him clean. I don't even like going outside I have to come home change my clothes the kids clothes wash up and I even wash the groceries and whatever else I buy from target. It's a lot of work but it helps me feel better and safer. When I was younger I just use to make sure the ovens were closed and I would check them throughout the day and light switches. I live in the us what about you? I would really like to see a therapist I need someone to talk to I don't have anyone. Who do you talk to and do you have anyone that supports you? I feel like I'm drowning in my ocd and I miss my dad so much that it makes me worse.

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    5. Hi there. Please don't be paranoid about your real name, but I understand if you want to change it. Yes, I live here in the US too. I feel the exact same way you do. I feel especially with my husband, that he doesn't understand this. I feel very embarrassed and ashamed about my OCD, but I just can not help it either. I am truly driven to clean/wipe/decontaminate things, or I simply can not move on. I also feel that he thinks I am better than him, but he doesn't get it either. They just can not understand the way our minds work. I agree that so many things are a lot of work, but you right on! It makes us feel better and safer. And often I give into the OCD, just to have a moments worth of peace. I know it doesn't help the OCD though. It's really hard. I don't have anywhere to go with my OCD, other than my blog. I talk to a few people outside of my blog through email, so if you would ever like to do that I am happy to do that. It really does help, just to talk with someone periodically that gets it. My marriage is really awful right now. My husband gets mad at everything in regard to the OCD. My main support person is my teenage daughter, which is really not fair to her. She has been so affected by my OCD and definitely does not live a normal life because of my OCD, but she actually does understand the OCD and is by far my best support person, outside of this blog.

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    6. Yes I would love to talk through email! How do I give my email through the blog? You are lucky to have such a understanding and supportive daughter god bless! My kids are 1 and 4 and I'm afraid I will drive them crazy one day or they will turn out like me.

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    7. Hi! I guess you would have to ust leave your email in the next comment to me. But once you leave it, I can go in and delete your comment so it won't show anymore, It's up to you--if you'd rather not, we can certainly continue our conversation on this post too!

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