pick apart the pieces you left

today’s inspiration

I have three notes on my phone that are ongoing blog posts that I am slowly but surely working on. None of them seem relevant. None of them really explain how I feel, although now that I think about it I’m not sure anything would really explain how I feel. I don’t even know if I can explain how I feel.

I go to therapy every Tuesday, which means Tuesdays are almost always my worst days. There’s a good chance I may have mentioned this before but my favorite coping mechanism is to just constantly ignore feelings and pretend I am 100% doing great when I’m really not. Tuesdays are now the days that I know I am going to have to face things. This week was when I finally admitted that I am angry (which is tied with Guilt for the top spot on my list of Least Favorite Stages of Grief).

I am angry. This is the angriest I’ve ever been. I feel like the grumpy old person who doesn’t want to see anyone having fun, the only difference is I don’t want to see myself having fun. Anger is my newest enemy and it loves to partner up with its BFF Guilt to come and ruin anything in my life that has a chance to offer me a temporary break from grief. And I need a damn break. Anyone who has ever experienced grief knows what I mean.

The worst part about this anger is that I am angry at the person who isn’t here. I am mad at Taylor. I am mad that I am left trying to figure out my new normal. I’m mad that I am left here to figure out finances and money and how I am supposed to navigate life without my partner. I’m so, so angry that I can’t sleep or start my day or drive down the road without having flashbacks of the night I found him. This is the absolute worst. I didn’t ask for this. No one would ask for this. But here I am, somehow making it through this nightmare I am dealing with now. The only thing that really helps are the times I find myself hanging out with people and temporarily forgetting about the bullshit I inevitably will go back to (and I truly cherish those moments, btw, if you are reading this and have spent any time with me where I can actually just be Happy Alaina). What makes me the most angry is that I am stuck here picking up the pieces of our life and he isn’t. And he is the only person I know who would know what to do, or at least know how to make me feel better, and he isn’t here. I am mad that I am left here to worry about it all and he isn’t. The worst part of acknowledging this anger? It is quickly followed by guilt. Because I am the one still here and it doesn’t seem fair to be angry at someone who isn’t.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I will say it again, but I’ll be okay. I just need to be angry.

-AK

all that i know is no way to fix it

Inspiration

You know the episode of The Office where Michael announces Mr. and Mrs. Bob Vance before they are actually married and then, upon realizing his mistake, he goes “uhhhhggshhhhhhhhhh” and awkwardly backs up to join the groomsmen standing at the altar? That’s me in every single aspect of my life right now. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


I’ve been living in a constant state of uhhhhggshhhhhhhhhh (0/10 recommend, btw). But this is my only option, unfortunately. The other day I shared this article on Facebook that resonated with me, and hopefully other people who have experienced loss recently/at any point will find it helpful too.

Unless anyone passing by looked deeply into my bloodshot eyes or noticed the occasional break in my voice and thought enough to ask, it’s not like they’d have known what’s happening inside me or around me. They wouldn’t have had any idea of the gaping sinkhole that had just opened up and swallowed the normal life of the guy next to them in the produce section.

Losing T on Thanksgiving Day and then going through the holidays has given me a constant support group that reaches out to make sure I’m still hanging on (I am hanging on, btw) but the times where I feel most alone and isolated and lost are when I am grocery shopping or running errands. It is almost always when I am surrounded by people. The week before Christmas I went to Target and became so overwhelmed that I started crying in the middle of an aisle with a completely empty cart. There were so many people and they were all in a hurry and I felt like I couldn’t keep up. None of the people shopping at Target that day knew that my husband died. There wasn’t a way for them to know how hard I was trying to keep it together or that I didn’t want to get out of bed that morning. Even now, 33 days after Taylor died, I still struggle. I almost lost it at the grocery store yesterday because it felt like my brain couldn’t keep up. Everything was so overwhelming.

And while I didn’t want to physically wear my actual circumstances on my chest, it probably would have caused people around me to give me space or speak softer or move more carefully—and it might have made the impossible, almost bearable.

So strangers don’t know what I’m going through. And that is okay. They don’t need to. The best thing I can do is acknowledge that I am most likely not alone when I feel like crying over an empty shopping cart at the store. Just being aware that I’m not the only one struggling will make it easier for me on the days where things seem impossible and hopefully provide some comfort to the stranger who finds themselves in the same position.

It’s not all bad news, though. I’ve started settling in to what is my new life (at least I think I have?? Who knows. It isn’t exactly like I really had it all together when T was here if we are being honest). I’ve been spending time with friends, I started cooking again, I got a new tattoo (always a great pick me up, if you ask me), and next week I am going to start my slow, but much needed, return to work. I am allowing myself to have fun without quite as much of the guilt I would experience just a few short weeks ago. I know I still have many days of uhhhhggshhhhhhhhhh ahead of me but the fact that I can make through a day without crying seems to be a decent start.

-AK


Spotify users! I finally updated the playlist! Be sure to follow my obsessive-compulsive diaries playlist for some of my favorite groovy tunes. It is a delightfully random mix of new songs and old songs from a bunch of different genres. It’s a great playlist if you need a good dance party or if you need a cry. Or a crying dance party.

guilty

I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t concentrate. I’m miserable and that’s really the only way to describe it. There have been a handful of short breaks in that misery but, for the most part, I just feel stuck and there really isn’t much I can do to get unstuck besides reminding myself that it will slowly but surely start getting better. But the worst part is the constant guilt I feel. It never ends. No matter the situation I am, I feel guilty. I have guilt because I’m still here. I have guilt for not being able to help T before the paramedics got to the house. Then I have even more guilt because I’m still here and he isn’t. I have guilt when I get angry or frustrated with anyone, especially one of the many people who are just trying to help me. I have guilt for all of the times I was frustrated with Taylor for the smallest, most inconsequential things like waking me up when I still had time to sleep or making dinner plans and not telling me until the day of. I would do anything to go back and soak up every second of that time I had left. But the worst guilt happens when I drag myself out of bed in the morning and start my day or the moments I find myself smiling or laughing. Why am I the one who is still here but he isn’t? How can I enjoy anything without him here? I have guilt for being frustrated that he isn’t here to help me through this. I have guilt for not doing more to support our family and friends who are also grieving. I have guilt because I STILL can’t remember if the i or the e comes first in the word grief even though I know the stupid rhyme about it. Guilt even shows up during the off chance that I actually get some sleep. Even my dreams involve the many different versions of guilt I feel.

My last piece of guilt – there isn’t any inspiration or message behind this post. There’s no way to ease the guilt or lessen the severity of it. Right now this is just reality.

no need to cry, i already am

This blog has helped me a lot over the past year and I sure hope that continues because I need it. I need all of the help I can get. On November 28th my husband died. He died. And seeing/speaking/typing those words is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

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4/1/2016 (our wedding day)

I’ve lost close family members in my life but the physical and mental pain I am in now is absolutely nothing compared to how I felt during any previous loss. I don’t know what to feel. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know anything anymore. My best friend is gone. The one person who I knew would do anything and everything to keep me from feeling how I feel now is gone.

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Snapchat filter FTW

I’m now part of a group that is almost exclusively reserved for those who are decades older than me. I am a widow. At 29 years old. I hate the word widow. It wasn’t until today that I even said it it out loud.

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Monday was my first day of therapy since losing T. I’m seeing a new therapist, which I feel is for the best because OCD is the least of my worries right now. Am I still struggling with my OCD? Absolutely. In fact, I’d say it’s gotten worse since That Day. But I don’t care. I honestly could not care less. I’m sure this is probably the complete opposite of the advice that should be given but, at this point, if picking or checking or any of the obnoxious/annoying habits my OCD has so graciously given me helps me cope with the loss of my husband then why would I try to stop them? I’m not using the teensy, tiny amount of motivation that keeps me going everyday to stop doing the things that I don’t even realize I’m doing because they are some of the only things that comfort me right now.

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2015

The only piece of good news in this post? I still have that teensy, tiny bit of motivation. Everything I’ve done since the day Taylor died has seemed impossible. I preformed CPR while pleading with a 911 dispatcher to send someone to save my husband. I rode in the ambulance while they were trying to revive him. I cried in the ER after the doctor told me “it was not looking good”. I’ve cried for hours and hours and hours until I fell asleep. I worked with a funeral home to plan a ceremony and cremation. I’ve spent days just existing because losing Taylor still doesn’t feel real. I wouldn’t wish the last two weeks on anyone. It’s been truly awful. But there is still that small bit of motivation that keeps me going.

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Babies in 2012

Live like Taylor. Give 110% to anything and everything you are passionate about. See the best in everyone and be a friend to everyone.

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November 2019
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2018
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2016
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One of my favorite pictures we’ve ever taken, inspired by iconic ATLiens (2019)
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Comparison for reference 

-A

Given the overall depressing nature of this post, I felt it was important to share this information again. If you are struggling with your mental health and need someone to talk to please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here to start an online chat for free and confidential support. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line via SMS message at 741-741 for free crisis intervention. *please note that the numbers listed above are available resources to those in the United States*

hello it’s me

today’s blog title inspiration

When I tell you that I have started the process of writing this blog post for months that is no exaggeration. I started one back in May by writing it down on paper but then I lost said paper and used that as an excuse to just give up. I didn’t want to give up on the blog, necessarily, but kept putting this intense pressure on myself to come up with a blog post that is helpful and not just me rambling to come up with content. I have had intense writer’s block for the better part of 2019. Actually, I’d describe it more like writer’s anxiety. I started this blog over a year ago (time flies when you’re constantly picking your fingers!) when I was officially diagnosed with OCD in August 2018 to raise awareness/laugh at my struggles but I had no idea that a few months later I would be struggling with such a deep depression that I would cry before I got out of bed every morning. I am not lying when I say my life has taken a complete 180 since August 2018. I was open about my struggles when I started treatment late last year. Once I left the program I decided to take a leap of faith and hit the reset button on life. I left my job and started working part-time, which turned into a full-time gig (which I could create an entirely new blog post on because I’ve never experienced things randomly work out so perfectly). I spent so much time thinking of all the things that could go wrong if I followed through with leaving my job that I didn’t consider the positives. My goal here isn’t to encourage people to make major life changes based on my experience. However, if I hadn’t pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I don’t know where I would be today. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just don’t know if I would be in the positive, supportive place that I’m in now. I spent so much of my life (basically all of it seeing as how I’ve been checking for as long as I can remember) thinking that Anxious was a normal state of mind that it gives me anxiety to not have any anxiety (so much free time?? What do I do??). Sometimes it is worth taking the risk, no matter how scary and terrifying. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Don’t worry, friends. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder never leaves. It’s an unwelcome guest that has overstayed its welcome but can’t take a hint. Do I still check the door before I leave? Yes. Do I still make sure all electronics are unplugged before I walk out the door? Heck yeah. Do I still pick my fingers endlessly? ABSOLUTELY I DO. I am torn because I would rather my life not be a giant ball of anxiety but without the anxiety how would I have content for this blog..? 

-AK

PS: Back in May, when I took pen to paper to physically write a post (that I never typed or published), I wrote something that simultaneously stuck with me and made me laugh at my lame humor: “Basically I am a Mean Girl to myself. I am both Cady and Regina (and also Karen).”

 

 

It has been 364 days since this post, which is mind blowing to me. If you’re reading this, please know that I am so incredibly grateful for your support.

Umm, let me have my life, I want it

today’s blog title inspiration*

I’ve been thinking a lot about my next move here on the blog. I know this started as a blog to document/entertain the masses (all 14 of you) about life with OCD but ever since I experienced my elegant fall from grace (please note that I may or may not have renamed my experience so it sounds more blog worthy) I feel like it is important that I share what I experienced to help anyone who might find them in the same unfortunate situation.

So here is the first warning that if you are ONLY interested in OCD content then you might want to go ahead and say thank u, next on my article because I am once again going off topic.

There is a reason I chose this song lyrics from Omaha Stylee by 311 for this blog title, I promise. You’ve stood by my side this long so no sense is leaving now…

One of the biggest things I was forced to deal with during my time in the intensive outpatient program was, and I quote, “what do I gain from my illness?”…well, tbh, I don’t gain a single thing. There is not one single thought or experience that I can recall where I benefitted. I was miserable, honestly, and on top of that, I was putting on a front of being okay. When I was faced with the question of what I gained during my depression my immediate reaction is being defensive and slightly offended because I never wanted to experience that low. No one wants to experience depression. Or anxiety or any mental illness. Society is still so hesitant to discuss and acknowledge mental illness that it is easier to sweep it under the rug. Well, I am here to try and stop this nonsense. I loathe sweeping and I definitely hate sweeping under anything (furniture, rugs, etc…) to clean up a mess so let’s just get it all out now.

What did I “gain” from my illness? I gained a very warped sense of comfort. I am a creature of habit (which is where OCD ties back in) because I would rather stay in an uncomfortable situation that I am familiar with than risk stepping outside of that comfort zone. THIS MAKES NO SENSE and I know that! What’s the worst that could happen if I step out of the comfort zone that provides me zero comfort? In fact, now that I am typing it out for the masses (again, thank the 14 of you who are my ride or dies), it truly makes no sense. But this is a huge thing. I am not the only one who would rather stay uncomfortable in my “comfort zone” and at least know that I am going to be uncomfortable for the foreseeable future than risk taking the teeniest, tiniest step outside of that zone and discover that I am comfortable in this new zone.

I hope the above makes sense. I’m still trying to figure all of this out so please excuse any nonsensical ramblings.

So there it is, friends. If you find yourself in a similar situation then I encourage you to try and answer the question “what am I gaining?”, because even though the word gain makes it sound like a positive when it really isn’t, this exercise could provide you the opportunity to discover something about yourself. For example, I discovered that I am a creature of habit. I will stay in the familiar, no matter how painful, before I try branching out. Stepping outside of my comfort zone is the only thing that I could do to start the recovery process.

You when you realize I might be right 😉

Anyway, keep this in mind friends. I promise I won’t lead you astray.

These pictures help illustrate how treatment has changed me for the better. Full disclosure, they all involve Snapchat filters and in the first two pictures I took my glasses off and chose temporary blindness over the ability to see because I really dislike wearing glasses.

-AK

*Amazing how a random song lyrics (although it is important to know I’m a pretty big 311 fan) can really speak to you, huh? Also, I couldn’t find a decent GIF and/or image that I felt deserved to represent Omaha Stylee…** 

**This might be the only time I show my full support for Omaha. No offense to any Nebraskans, I would just rather be anywhere other than the midwest unless I am storm chasing…***

***Please note I was born and raised in Georgia, still live in Georgia, and am completely aware of the state’s downfalls. But it is much closer to the beach than Nebraska so IMO it reigns supreme. 

 

it works if you work it

For my first blog post of 2019, I want to take a quick second to thank you all for your support. This project I started back in August to document my success and struggles with OCD morphed into a way for me to see how depression, which is something I wasn’t really even aware I was struggling with, had pulled me down. Way down. When I create a picture in my head of where I was October through December of last year it looks exactly like the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean where the pressure is so intense that not much can survive aside from blobfish and the weird fish with the dangly light coming from their head (just did a quick Google search and discovered those are called angler fish and they truly are nightmare fuel, so proceed with caution…).

I have been in treatment (and recovery!) for depression for 43 days. There are still days where I struggle or don’t feel like myself but when I think back to where I was just a few months ago I can feel a difference.

There are two big things I have learned over the past 43 days. The first is how many ways my depression was manifesting but I failed to see it as a warning sign. For example, I stopped cleaning the house, doing laundry, and caring about how I looked. I stopped finishing projects that I started, no matter how small they were. And I also kept telling myself that I was fine when I knew that I really wasn’t. I didn’t ask for help because I still kept telling myself I could get better on my own. This entire experience has really helped me. I urge anyone who might find themselves in a similar situation to take the first step (which I know is scary but if you already Googled an angler fish you can handle almost anything) and ask for help. The second thing, which may help anyone struggling with reaching out, is that there are free support groups for those who feel overwhelmed by their emotions and don’t know what to do.

For anyone interested, I highly recommend Emotions Anonymous. It is a 12-step program based on the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. For more information check out this link. To find an EA meeting near you, click here. You can also contact me if you have any questions about my experience with EA or the overall calamity I have experienced for the past 4 months. At this point, I am pretty much an open book.

ea chip
I have completed step 1 🙂

Lastly, since this is technically a blog about OCD, I would like to report that I straightened my hair today for the first time in years. This is a pretty BFD (big forking deal) because the first thought that crept into my mind was that by straightening my hair instead of curling it something terrible was bound to happen. It could have been the lack of sleep that caused me not to care about the possibility of impending doom but I like to think it was because after 43 days I am finally feeling like myself.

-A

If you are struggling with your mental health and need someone to talk to please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here to start an online chat for free and confidential support. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line via SMS message at 741-741 for free crisis intervention. *please note that the numbers listed above are available resources to those in the United States*