Sorry I took a hiatus last week, it’s just that recently I have been lacking the motivation to do almost everything that is typically required of functioning humans. I’m just going through the motions, much like Squidward in the below GIF.
I’ll bounce back though, I always do. Unlike most millennial females, I really loathe fall *gasp* because I also loathe winter and fall is basically just a preview of winter with its diminishing daylight hours and plummeting temperatures (except for it is still in the 80s here in Atlanta). I just keep reminding myself to listen to my own advice.
So, how am I coping? With my favorite go-to: picking. Bet you didn’t see that coming!
Actually, you probably did. Because quitting picking has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted and, to be honest, it isn’t going well (see below).
I have not been able to stop. The treatments I mentioned in my previous blog about picking have not worked. All hope is not lost though! One of my best friends, Drew, gave me an infinity cube fidget toy, which you can continuously fold in on itself, and it has helped tremendously. I keep it in my purse so I can grab it if I notice myself picking, which is about 99% of the time. I use it at my desk, sitting in traffic, hanging out and talking to people. I have zero reservations about using it in public because it has been such a help. Below is a candid picture of me using it to ease my anxiety while driving on the side of a mountain this past weekend (I am truly terrified of heights. I ended up crying twice on the side of that mountain).
A quick search on Amazon for ‘infinity cube fidget toy’ will give some options for those looking to give it a shot. It really has been the only thing that helps keep my fidgeting under control. I don’t know the exact details of where mine is from or the cost but they are relatively affordable, especially if your picking is as bad as mine. I would recommend a metal one, similar to this because I think a plastic one wouldn’t be as durable and I, personally, like the weight of mine.
There ya have it, folks! That’s all I got, really, because I don’t have the motivation to do much more.
What a week, aimirite? I’ve actually been saying that since approximately 1:00 Monday afternoon but, in all seriousness, it’s been a rough one. In all honesty, it’s been a rough year, but I am trying my absolute best to not let it get me down. My biggest takeaway from 2018 (so far, at least) is that it is okay to not be okay.
The unfortunate thing is that, as a Certified Adult™, you can’t let periods of not being okay take over your life. And THAT, my friends, is hard. I would be a liar if I told you it was easy. I’ve been wondering/borderline stressing over what to post next because I don’t have any great updates or advice to give. I’m still checking. I’m still picking. I’m still overwhelmed with anxiety to the point that I can’t sleep. And me still doing all of these things that I am supposed to be working on NOT doing amplifies it and makes it even worse.
I met with the heavenly angel that is PG (my therapist) on Monday and, as per usual, she gave me some great advice. It’s important that we have someone to help us through being not okay. This might seem like a glaringly obvious piece of advice but I tend to close myself off from the rest of the world when things go sideways (which has been almost all of 2018) and it is probably the worst thing I could do to try and help myself. I’ve lived this way for 28 years and it is not an easy habit to break. But it helps. If you can relate to me and/or The Grinch because your heart is an empty hole and you have garlic in your soul then I suggest giving the whole Let Someone Help You Feel Better thing a go.
(I relate to The Grinch way too much, by the way. I knew that but I didn’t KNOW that until I was looking up Grinch GIFs and had 10 different tabs open in Safari. I’ll narrow it down to the most relatable ones and include them below.)
You’re probably asking yourself, if you are even still reading, what the point of today’s post is. The person who has been here for me the most is my husband Taylor. To try to keep things light and fun I asked him some questions. *In true Alaina fashion, I included some responses and explanations if I felt they were needed.*
When did you first notice the checking?
TK: I really started to notice when we moved into our current neighborhood [five years ago]. It seemed to get worse after Gail moved out. That’s when I remember hearing you forcefully yanking on the door in the morning to make sure it was locked and constantly asking if the cats got out when we left.
Did you think it could be OCD or that I am just weird?
TK: Just weird. I knew you had anxiety issues but I never identified it as OCD.
AK: I am weird. But I also have OCD.
What were your thoughts when I was diagnosed with it?
TK: I was pretty indifferent. I was happy for you that you could have a title for it what was going on as well as a clear path to overcome your tendencies. That being said, I was super happy and proud of you for having to courage to talk to someone.
Have you noticed that there are times or situations where it gets worse?
TK: Absolutely. Anytime you are in a stressful situation. Anytime someone is talking to you about something that makes you uncomfortable. Anytime someone is talking to you directly even if it’s a light-hearted conversation. If you feel attention is directly on you, you get to picking. If you are bored, you subconsciously start picking. Stress, discomfort, anxiety, boredom.
AK: So basically all of the things.
What is the most frustrating part of being married to someone with OCD?
TK: Not being able to use appliances like the dishwasher and dryer when I am leaving the house. Trying to turn on items around the house to find out they have been unplugged (hair dryer, lamps, toasters, etc.). Also, not being able to cook without being home. Sometime I would like to step away from the house while I am making stock or low simmering a large pot of something. Obviously, I would never leave something that is a quick cook. However, if I’m making something that simmers for hours, I would love to be able to run to the store.
AK: Never, ever going to happen.
Do you have any advice to give someone who’s partner has or might have OCD?
TK: RUN! Jk ;). I love you to the stars and would not have you any other way. Just be patient and understanding. Don’t enable. Not enabling can be more challenging than it sounds. In the past, I thought I was helping by ensuring the cats didn’t get out or that everything was unplugged and the doors were locked. Come to find out, that is just another way for someone with OCD to “check”. What I thought was helping, was, in fact, doing the opposite. It helps to understand the triggers and how your partner can work to adjust their response to those triggers. The more you understand OCD, the more you can help. Be supportive but also hold him/her accountable to bettering themselves. Also, work on bettering yourself. You should never place expectations on your partner that you wouldn’t place on yourself. This holds true in any relationship whether or not your partner has OCD.
AK: The “to the stars part” started as me making fun of a scene from The Titanic. I felt the need to explain that since I hate having any feels (remember, empty heart/garlic soul?).
Do you have any advice on how to support someone with OCD?
TK: OCD is very similar to addiction. You are never cured. You are always in recovery. There is no quick fix. Love your partner and be supportive even if some of their actions drive you crazy. Know that it drives them crazy as well. As I mentioned before, understand the illness and process to better themselves so you don’t enable. Look into yourself. If you want someone to better themselves, lead by example. Grow together. Don’t come down on them if you feel like they aren’t making progress. There is so much going on in your partner’s brain that we never see or understand. There is a constant battle of emotions that is tearing your partner in 1,000 different direction and all we see is him/her running back upstairs to make sure the hairdryer is unplugged. If you get frustrated, try to talk to your partner when you are not heated. Your frustration causes him/her stress which begets more anxiety. This all leads to triggers for OCD tendencies. At the end of the day, you are in this together for better or worse.
AK: Alright, folks, if anyone wants to ask for some more advice from T please form an orderly line and understand that there is an upfront fee of $100.
So there you have it. You see what I mean? Find someone who is there for you and will help you. It’s okay to not be okay.
As promised, here are some Reasons I May/May Not Be The Grinch
You guys are in for a treat. In this post, I will go over My Things in greater detail. I’ll also include some things I used to check but do not currently check, as well as some things that make me uncomfortable for no logical reason (this part is to keep it light and fun and make sure we can all have a good laugh/prevent us all from spiraling into a deep, dark depression). *Please note that I use the term logical here very loosely seeing as how my checking is driven by flawed logic (at best) that only I experience.
My Things, expanded:
The front door is locked. I will check it, check it again, recheck the recheck, etc.
The stove is off. I check each knob 3+ times, depending on how anxious I am. I have a gas stove now but I still did this when I had an electric one.
Dryer is off. I will open and close the dryer door a few times until I feel comfortable knowing it is off. I never leave the dryer running if I’m not home. It drives Taylor, my husband, insane.
Unplug the hair dryer. I don’t know why. I just really hate leaving things plugged in in general. Another one that annoys Taylor.
Turn off/unplug curling iron. Even though unplugging it guarantees it is off, I still check to make sure it is turned off JUST IN CASE, GOD FORBID I forget to unplug it (there’s a 99.999999999% chance I will not forget to unplug it). I have to make sure I unplug it and usually go back upstairs to check before I leave the house. I can’t remember the last time I straightened my hair but in the past, I did the same for a straightener. My OCD doesn’t discriminate on the type of styling tool I need to check.
Taking the same route to and from work, down to being in the same exact lane. I loathe using Waze (see below for my non-OCD reasoning, if you’re interested) because I need to know the route I am taking before I leave. Randomly having the Waze generated Boy Band harmonize the turn I need to take in 5 feet puts me in a panic. I take the interstate to work and back roads home. Every day I take the same route unless I am going on some exciting, post-work adventure (which never happens).
Following the same morning routine when getting ready for work. Brush teeth, plug in curling iron, do makeup, curl hair, get dressed. If I don’t follow this order then I face imminent doom.
I have to get in and out of the same side of the bed. Taylor travels for work so there are times when I have the entire bed to myself and could jump out on either side. But I don’t.
I love to make lists at work. It is how I am able to actually function. But if I start making a list and misspell something or don’t use consistent bullet points I have to start over completely. The list has to be perfect. Sometimes I’ll redo the list even if I technically didn’t mess anything up.
Cleaning in a particular order. This one is interesting to me because my OCD isn’t focused on cleanliness or organization (trust me). When I do clean the house it has to be in a particular order or else I will need to repeat steps/start over completely. If I vacuum before I dust then I will need to vacuum again because dust will fall onto the clean carpet. Luckily for me, I rarely get the motivation to clean this much! *sarcasm*
Making sure the animals (cats in particular) didn’t get out. I do not know why this is such a huge thing for me. It always has been. Long before I had adopted my own cats, I would risk being late to school just to run home and make sure the family cats hadn’t gotten out. Do I know that cats are usually well equipped to survive some time outside? Yes. Am I still going to run home and check to make sure they didn’t get out? Absolutely. I’m not ashamed to be a crazy cat lady (emphasis on the crazy…and the lady).
My Old Things:
Not changing out of the outfit, changing the channel, etc. of what I was wearing the last time I spoke to my mom/dad on the phone when I was at the other’s house on the weekends. Fun story: when I was in 1st grade or so I got this pillow in the shape of a cat and, when asked, one of my parents suggested I name it Lemon and the other suggested Orange. So, I named her Lemon Orange to avoid hurting any feelings. Lemon Orange went to college with me. I actually still have Lemon Orange but she is bedding in my dog’s crate because for some reason Taylor wasn’t 100% sold on the idea of me still sleeping with a 20+-year-old pillow named Lemon Orange. Also, my sister, Lauren, used to call Lemon Orange Lauren Orange and it made me so mad for some reason. But I digress…
Checking to make sure my mom or dad was still inside the house before I went to sleep.
…not gonna to lie, I thought this list would be a bit longer. Turns out the things I used to check/do, I still check/do. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
100% Normal Things That Make Me Anxiety:
Flat face trucks. They look mean and they make me uncomfortable. I’m also terrified of heights and 9 times out of 10 these trucks are the ones driving on the side of a mountain during monsoon season, or something equally scary and random. Its ok to laugh at this, I do it all the time.
My food can’t touch (My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, making this a real, modern-day tragedy.)
REVOLVING DOORS. I loathe them. This one is probably because a few months ago a complete stranger used the same compartment of a revolving door as me. I’m still struggling to get over it, tbh.
Public restrooms. Not because of germs, but because I get stage fright and can’t go if anyone else is in there.
Sharing an elevator/forced small talk. This one is especially bad right now because of the air cast on my fractured foot.
Getting stuck in traffic on the interstate. I get claustrophobic and slightly panicky if I feel stuck.
I’m sure there are more. Honestly, the flat truck is probably the one I was most eager to share. I am equal parts curious and terrified of what exposure and response prevention therapy would look like for this one…
For starters, I have a degree in geography (super useful if you enjoy going to school with folks to wear the shoes with individual spaces for one’s toes) so I spent many, many hours and many, many dollars making maps, followed by spending the last 7 years at a Real Job making maps. I like to think that I have a pretty good understanding of cities in and around metro Atlanta. The final straw with Waze was when it had me get off of the interstate, travel west (my final destination was east!), then get back on the interstate at the next exit WHEN THERE WAS NO ACCIDENT OR ANYTHING. The only reason I used it that day was to try and avoid traffic. I deleted the app once the Boy Band told me I had arrived at my destination with a beautiful melody.