when your OCD wins

Well, well, well what do you know? Looks like my blog about OCD is actually getting back to being a blog about OCD. Today’s overshare (kidding, of course, seeing as how I do this willingly) is inspired by a post from my friend over at Yeah OCD.

I know the fears that fuel my anxiety (which turns into compulsive checking) are irrational. I know that. I know my front door is locked. I know I unplugged my curling iron. But what about the times where I didn’t unplug the curling iron? Or I accidentally let one of the cats out? Or I didn’t lock the door? Or check to make sure the burners on the stove were off? On the off chance one of my OCD fears becomes a reality, I don’t just go back to starting over. I go further back as if I started a race a few seconds early and was forced to move my starting line back in return (and, for the record, I don’t like participating in any event that involves a starting line).

Having to start over AND start further behind is incredibly difficult. The OCD won and it uses every opportunity to remind me of it.

OCD reminding me about that one time I forgot to do that one thing back in 2009 as I am walking to my car.

If I leave my curling iron on in the morning and discover it when I get home my first feeling isn’t reassurance that the house is fine and everything ended up being okay. It is a complete guilt trip turned panic attack because I didn’t check enough. Now, instead of checking 2 or 3 times before I can leave the house (and by that I mean leave the neighborhood because there have been many, many times where I turn around to go back and check before I’ve left the complex) I will check 4 or 5. And then, even after I am in the car, the OCD is in the back of my head reminding me about the time I left the curling iron on and plugged, even if it was years ago. There is no expiration date on these things, which I would argue is one of the hardest parts of living with OCD.

I am okay. I’ll just be sure to stress about this for eternity.

I actually left one of my cats out in 2011 and still, every time I leave the house will watch my feet as I open and close the door. Go back in and check to make sure she is in there. Look through the windows to see if she is still inside. It is a really, really crappy way to live. I know what I am doing is irrational but checking is the only thing that eases my anxiety. And if that doesn’t help then I have a backup plan.

On a completely unrelated and much happier note, today is the day after Thanksgiving which means only one thing: ya girl is decorating for Christmas. Some people spend their post-Thanksgiving time waiting for hours in line surrounded by strangers (my literal nightmare) to possibly, but probably not likely, get a deal on a new TV.

plasma tv

But not me. I freakin’ love decorating for Christmas. Come Friday my house will be filled with candles that smell like fresh cut Christmas trees, Elf and Christmas Vacation on repeat, and a custom holiday playlist that includes some of my favorite Christmas songs, such as this Hanson staple, anything from this album, and most definitely this 1994 classic.

-A

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rainbows & a month of tomato soup

Monday marked one month since losing my grandmother. Am I sad? Yes, but I am doing better than I expected. Those baby steps I wrote about before are starting to make a noticeable difference. The day she was buried there was a small rainbow that formed as my family and I were getting ready to leave. I saw an almost identical rainbow after I went to visit her on Saturday.

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10/23/2018
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11/17/2018

As you might already know from my previous post, the guilt I felt about not making that damn tomato soup haunted me. So on Friday I visited my amazingly talented tattoo artist, Josh, and got a permanent reminder of the good memories I have with my grandmother (and tomato soup). *a special shout out & thank you to Josh for waiting on me because I live in Atlanta so traffic is an unpredictable nightmare*

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This was the day after I got it done if you couldn’t tell by the swelling and bruising.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving so I wanted to take a moment and say thank you to my family and friends, for their unconditional love and support, Taylor, for sticking with me during the lowest of lows I’ve hit, and last but certainly not least, you all for reading my blog and letting me know I’m not alone when it comes to my struggles. When I started this blog it was a way for me to share my experiences with OCD but it has evolved into me opening up about my anxiety and depression, which is not something I had ever really planned on doing. There have been many times in my life that I have felt like I was on an island when it came to mental health and starting this blog has shown me that even on my worst days I am not alone. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. Thank you for lovin’ me, thank you for bein’ there! Everyone’s thankin’! The whole world’s thankin’ you! Thankin’ us, for thankin’ you! What’s your Thanksgiving song?

-A

 

Also, if you haven’t started following me on Instagramcooler

 

baby steps

I knew last week would be rough. I didn’t realize this week would give it a run for its money. Yesterday was the first day since October 18th that I didn’t cry. Don’t get me wrong, I found myself on the brink a few times but I am finally starting to feel like the massive blanket of depression that has been wrapped around my shoulders is starting to loosen. I can look at pictures of my grandmother without crying. I can remember the good times without (quite as much of) the guilt I felt for any of the free time I didn’t spend with her during her last weeks and days. Don’t get me wrong, I think we all need a good cry every now and then, but my eyes need a break. I’m starting to think I have entered a state of advanced dehydration due to the amount of crying (and occasional evening Bud Light Lime or four) I’ve done the past two weeks.

So, how did being thrown into the first week post-loss go for me? Less than stellar. The water to our entire complex was shut off Monday for emergency maintenance, so I sat on the couch like a potted plant instead of attempting to cross anything off of my to-do list (which started in July 2017 and has never been fully completed). I woke up Tuesday with a bit more pep in my step but it was quickly washed away once I got to work, where I was greeted with typical work things and promptly discovered the soup of the day was none other than tomato, which I’m pretty sure ya’ll already know didn’t go over well. I ended up using my lunch break to get cup of tomato soup and go to my car and cry. Because when life gives you lemons, what do you do? Go to your car and cry. Also, and this is small potatoes compared to the whole soup car crying thing, I have somehow managed grow an Olympus Mons (geography degree nerd humor, FTW!) sized zit on my face overnight Monday and it has truly flourished in the anxiety and stress ridden environment that is my life right now. Wednesday was definitely the highlight because, not only was it Halloween, it was my Super Awesome, Totally Rad Mom’s birthday!

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Here is a pic of us from earlier in October with my brother, Dan, who is also pretty awesome.
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Here is a comparison of my mom and me at the same age. Or maybe not. Could be the same baby.
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Since you already saw our 2017 ‘stumes, here is a picture of me and T dressed up for Halloween in 2013. (I tried really hard to make that NOT rhyme but no matter what it ended up sounding like something from a Kidz Bop cover of a rap song.) Shake and bake, baby!

Thursday was a long day that began with accidentally branding my arm with a clothes steamer and now it is Friday. Finally. Here’s to hoping I don’t end up crying in my car during my lunch break next week. But if I do, that’s okay too.

one of the most painful realizations that comes with grieving is that our lives go on—and that has to be okay.

If anyone is struggling with returning to life as usual after a loss, this article was a huge help to me.

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This is how I looked most of the week.

Now that you’re nice and sad, some exciting news: my blog surpassed 1,000 views! 

Thank you all for taking time out of your day to read about lil’ ol’ me, the human equivalent of a houseplant but with more complicated emotions. The calamity that is my life doesn’t seem to be slowing down so I’m happy to continue supplying the masses with relatable content/content that will, at the very least, make you feel better about your own situation. Let’s keep this good thing going!

-A

….Now that I’m thinking about it, I probably account for around 25% of those views but whatever. Still counts.

10/19/2018

There are many things I am bad at and lying is one of them (others include math, being patient, and expressing emotion). The past 4 days all I have been doing is lying. When someone asks how I’m doing my instinct is to say that I’m doing okay. But I’m not doing okay. I feel like my entire life has been turned upside down ever since I got a call Friday at 3:30am because I knew what I was going to hear before I answered the phone. Six hours after I posted tomato soup the one thing I have been dreading this entire year happened. And I try to remind myself/take my own advice to remember all of the great things I was able to do and experience when my grandmother was here but I’m struggling. Part of it is because I am just expected to go back to life as usual after the funeral tomorrow, which is impossible. Part of it is because any progress I feel like I have made with my checking is gone. Even before she passed I took a longer route back to the highway on the way home because that was the route I always took. I almost had a panic attack because I used a different eye shadow color Thursday morning. I came back inside after locking the front door to make sure I had unplugged the curling iron not once but twice. It feels like all of the tiny steps I have made to try and control my obsessions and compulsions have been replaced by the need to do them even more. I know that I will be okay and that I will get back to a place where I don’t get so overwhelmed thinking about the loss of my grandmother.  But right now my heart physically hurts knowing she isn’t here anymore.

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If anyone reading this finds themselves in a similar situation then I highly recommend the song The Permanent Rain by The Dangerous Summer. I’ve also added it to my Spotify playlist.

Also, here are a few helpful links for anyone who might need them.

Symptoms, Not Stages

Understanding the Stages of Grief

Lastly, here are pictures of my super cute pups to help put a smile on your face after such a sad post. I promise these will start taking a turn for the happier eventually.

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Beans
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Kaper

♥♥

-A

 

tomato soup

Grief is a weird thing. Adding to the complicated web of emotions that usually coincide with it, it is an especially complicated thing to deal with since everyone grieves differently. I wish I could put up an away message circa 2003 instant messenger for life. Basically just a BRB but with some angsty lyrics from a pop-punk band (which is still some of my favorite music to date. I have no shame).

My grandmother’s health has been declining for the past 3 months or so (and is one of the biggest reasons I have started going to therapy in the first place). She went from being independent, to having daily check-ins with her nurse, to now needing 24/7 care. The past 24-48 hours, in particular, have been the worst. We know she doesn’t have much time left here with us, which is very hard, but she is at peace and she is ready. Before she got to this current state, she would tell us stories from growing up or memories from trips she took. My entire family is so very lucky to have had her in our lives and we take comfort in knowing she isn’t scared of whatever her next journey has in store.

So how have I handled this incredibly emotional time? I haven’t. I have had times where I cry and get angry and upset, but those times are greatly outnumbered by the times I did absolutely nothing to prepare myself for the inevitable loss I have to face.  Until now, I never truly understood the amount of guilt that comes along with grief.

If there was an award for Putting the Most Pressure on Oneself on a Daily Basis, there is a very good chance I would take home 1st place. And probably 2nd and 3rd, depending on what is going on in my life during the judging. Up to this point there have been a few times where we thought it was my grandmother’s time. Luckily, she pulled through. She toughed it out long enough to meet her newest great-granddaughter, Laura Jean, who was named after her. She enjoyed performances her oldest great-granddaughter, Lily. She met her great-granddaughter Charlotte, who lives a few hours away in Alabama, and was able to soak up all of the snuggles. All of these amazing things were just more memories for her to add to her memory bank. A few weeks ago when Taylor and I went to go visit, she gave us her recipe box because she knows we both enjoy cooking. We spent time talking about the recipes and looking through them. We all bonded over our love of tomato soup and she helped us find the recipe card in her box. As we were leaving we said excited to make a batch of the tomato soup since the weather was cooling off, planned to make some the upcoming Sunday, and told her we would bring her some.

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The sacred box of recipes.

I got a call from Taylor while I was at work yesterday saying we should go see her. I asked him how it was looking and he said she had gotten worse. She was in pain and it was making her sick. I left work to go home and meet Taylor so we could make the trip together and when we got to the facility she was groggy from the pain medicine but knew we were there. It was very hard to see because even throughout the last few months and weeks as she was getting weaker she still seemed like herself. Yesterday I could tell it wouldn’t be much longer. We spent time with her, told her how much we loved her and she told us the same. I held her hand while she dozed in and out of sleep from the medication. And I cried. I guilted myself for not spending more time with her, for not going by and seeing her more. I cried because I felt guilty for all of the times I had gone out to a brewery with my friends or had a lazy Saturday at home instead of making the 30 minute drive to go see her. And then I sobbed when I remembered the soup. I didn’t make the tomato soup and I didn’t bring her any after I told her I would. That one seemingly small thing that I am almost certain she didn’t remember was the final straw.  It made me realize that I have spent the better part of the last 3+ months not letting myself grieve the inevitable loss of someone so incredibly important to me because I would feel overwhelming guilt for grieving the loss of someone I still had in my life while simultaneously guilting myself any time I did something fun or relaxing because it was time I could have spent with her. I cried the entire way home. I cried in the drive-thru as we were grabbing something to eat so we didn’t have to cook because it was late. I cried texting my mom about that damn soup. I likely spent a combined 4-5 hours crying yesterday evening and I feel confident in saying that almost half of that time I was crying about tomato soup (a first for me, which is surprising seeing as how much I enjoy it).

It’s not easy trying to put on a brave face and go about your normal routine when you know someone you love so, so much doesn’t have much time left. My chest felt heavy as I forced myself out of bed to get ready for work this morning. I cried after putting my makeup on. I cried in the car on the way to the office. I cried at my desk. I’m crying as I type this out. But my biggest supporters through all of this have reminded me of the most important thing when it comes to dealing with loss. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t make the tomato soup. It doesn’t matter that I spent time with my friends or being lazy on the couch instead of going up to Acworth. I have memories eating my grandmother’s tomato soup. I have the recipe for the soup. I have so many incredible memories from all of my 28 years involving my grandmother and, although it is incredibly hard since I am the Queen of Self Inflicted, Unwarranted Guilt, I can’t let the idea of not making a pot of tomato soup prevent me from grieving the loss of someone who I love so much. It is ok to grieve while still going through the daily routine. It is something I am trying to remind myself of.

Me at work trying to pretend everything is A OKAY.

So if anyone reading this finds themselves in a similar situation, remember the tomato soup. The memories I have from spending time with my grandmother and eating her tomato soup are so much more important than spending my time guilting myself for not making some to take to her, especially considering she likely has no recollection of the conversation in the first place.

As I wrap this incredibly emotional post up (there are wayyy too many feels going on for me right now and we all know how much I hate having feels), please keep my grandmother and my family in your thoughts. She is so very loved and while we know that she is ready for the next chapter, there’s no way for any of us to be. 

-A

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Helping me get ready on my wedding day.
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Me trying to get the ring that was now stuck on my finger off. Basically a picture of me being my true graceful self.
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A picture of a picture from Easter where I was very unhappy about wearing a poofy Easter dress.
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One of my top favorites, if not my favorite.

party time, excellent!

**WOW WOW WOW my post has taken a turn for the better since I started putting it together! I took a break from writing to write this intro because I just found a party planning guide on the International OCD Foundation’s website and it DOES NOT disappoint!

TLDR: I’m using the Fundraising House Party Guide to plan a theoretical party to educate my friends and family on the intricacies of my OCD.

 

 

OCD B&W
This picture was an accident but I feel like my twitching eye really needs to be on the internet forever. Also, the state of my desk is worth noting. And my reference to The Office.

 

Happy OCD Awareness week! I feel weird using the word happy here because I’m pretty certain that I would be a lot happier if I wasn’t dealing with OCD in the first place but… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As I predicted in last week’s post, I didn’t come up with anything fun or exciting this week. I did some research (took 5 minutes out of my lunch break to look at this website) to see get some inspiration. Unfortunately, my favorite one (host house party to raise funds) isn’t an option given that it is 2:00 on a Tuesday so I opted for social media and hashtags. And because I am all about transparency I also included some of the pictures (I took a lot. A. LOT) that I normally wouldn’t share because I look like such a dufus.

 

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Doing it for the ‘gram. (@lfkiew)

 

 

 

 

 

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oH mYy gOd i aM lYkE soOo OCD! *hair flip*

 

All super flattering pictures aside, I am really digging this OCD party planning guide. So much so that I am going to summarize it for all of you because it is #1 on my newly-created list of Things That Probably Don’t Need to Exist but Do Anyway.

Step 1: How to Host a Fundraising House Party

Here we learn that house parties can come in many forms. Is this a freshman year of college-style party? Will there be a keg involved? Jungle juice? Perhaps your friends would really love one of those murder mystery clue dinners that you briefly interrupt to request a monetary donation. It’s ok if you aren’t sure because this guide goes above and beyond by giving some suggestions. Pool party on a hot day? Wine and cheese gathering at your home? Sign. Me. Up.

Step 2:  Steps to a Successful Fundraiser in Your Home

Two words: template invitations. Unless you want to be super OCD about the whole thing (see what I did there…) and create your own. Your invitation needs to mention that this party is a fundraiser and that there will be a presentation. Personally, I think I would take a different route and surprise all of my guests much like Michael does in the Dinner Party Episode. Consider including an envelope with your invitation (because instead of using an evite like the rest of human civilization you are sending it via dinosaur). Don’t forget to mention that donations are tax deductible. We don’t need the IRS asking why Susan tried to write off her $10 donation to the IOCDF. Last, but certainly not least, is to call and harass any guest who hasn’t sent an RSVP to let them know that their delivery dino is hoarding mail. As an added bonus, you can include your story on the invitation so that your guests know the ways OCD has impacted your life but also that you aren’t trying to scam them out of $10.

Page 5 shows the benefits of using Facebook, evites, and even Twitter (probably need to make this the first suggestion and not mailing a paper invite, my dudes. Also, why is the word ‘even’ in front of Twitter?) to help boost party attendance. For example, you can message a handful of your closest friends about your party so that it can get lost in a sea of Candy Crush invites and chain letters telling them to post the color of their bra to confuse all the men in social media land. One of my favorite tidbits is you can also “tweet” about it to your Twitter followers because anything with unnecessary quotation marks takes the sketch level to 11.

Step 3: Get That Money, Honey

First things first, make your guests put their name on a sign-in sheet when they arrive. That is a foolproof way to make sure they attend any future parties you throw. Have everyone crowd around you while you kill the party vibe by sharing your personal story about living with OCD. Once you’ve dug up enough anxiety by oversharing to all of your friends, have a respected and well-spoken member of the gathering (well, that eliminates almost anyone I invite to my parties) “call on the guests to make a donation.” What’s better than a guilt trip to donate money to a cause? Doing so in front of a group.

Okay, I am sold. Let’s do the damn thing. 

Friends, please keep an eye out for my invitation. Though bear in mind that it might be a while until it arrives because I’ll be Fred Flinstoning these bad boys to ya’ll on evenings and weekends since I work full time.

 

Me pulling up to deliver your invite.

 

 

-A

 

*I know you all love my quick wit and sarcasm, and since I recognize my quick wit and sarcasm can come across as just me being a jerk, I made a donation to the Pediatric Campaign 4 Hope. One of my biggest coping mechanisms, for better or for worse, is humor.*

OCD Receipt

If you are interested in donating to the Internation OCD Foundation, click here.

Thank you all for the overwhelming amount of support I have received since I started this blog.  It has been more helpful than I ever expected. 

 

 

ya take the good, ya take the bad

Hello, my dear friends. My apologies for the lack of consistent posts but I was lucky enough to catch a stomach virus Monday night and was out of commission all day Tuesday and most of Wednesday. Fun stuff! Anywho, I am back to almost normal and using my lunch break to update the masses while eating a plain, baked sweet potato for lunch (well I added ground cinnamon since I’m not a complete psychopath…) because I’m still waiting for the big break that turns blog writing into a full-time job.

There were a few posts I started over the last month or so that I was contemplating using today but since none of them were actually complete (hello procrastination! my dear, old friend) I decided to build off of a post I began working on when I first started the blog because it was perhaps 5% complete and I have a few other things I can add on to bring it up to a whopping 70% complete (my personal standard for actually posting something).

It’s been a few months that I’ve been navigating life with OCD and if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: I don’t want to just cope with it. My goal is to get to a point where I don’t feel the crippling anxiety every time I leave the house or think about every single Worst Case Scenario to the point that I can’t focus on anything aside from all of those things happening at once. I have made some progress, which is great, but I’m starting to notice seemingly small/routine things I do that are probably just another way OCD impacts my life. For example: I had a pretty nasty stomach virus Tuesday and Wednesday. I went to the doctor Tuesday, feeling as if my death was imminent, and when I got home I immediately changed out of the clothes I was wearing while at the doctor’s office for an hour (at most) and tossed them in a pile (a completely separate pile from the other piles of clothes on my side of the room) to await their fate. Yesterday afternoon I started a load of laundry, tossed Those Clothes in with it, and when I eventually stumbled upon them to fold I considered not wearing them ever again since I had worn them to the doctor when I was sick and I don’t want to get sick ever again (there are many flaws to this logic, and I know that). One thing to note here is that the thought of not wearing them wasn’t driven by germs but the fact that I wasn’t feeling well when I wore them. TL;DR: I realized how irrational the thought was but still thought that perhaps if I was to ever wear those leggings and that sweatshirt again I would get another stomach virus. But not from germs. Just because. I ended up folding them and putting them away (yay!) but part of that is because I actually really like those leggings and that sweatshirt, otherwise I might have actually considered donating them (a bit rude, tbh, seeing as how I didn’t want to get sick but some rando thinking they scored a great deal at the thrift store can). Unfortunately, this isn’t a new obsession/compulsion for me. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember (I touch more on that in a previous blog where my goal was to show how my OCD has evolved but instead just showed how nothing has changed and I’m still an anxiety-ridden weirdo). My therapist is going to have a SUPER FUN TIME listening to all of this when she gets back from vacation and I haven’t had a session in over a month!

Now, I know that my posts tend to weigh on the cynical side (WHAT?! NO WAY!) so I decided to mix things up and include some activities that help me when I feel myself on the verge of losing it. Please note: these things work great on their own but doing them consistently and not just when my life is in complete chaos is my ultimate goal.

  • Snuggling animals! (Ok this one I do pretty much all of the time but it needs to be included because it is most likely the easiest of all these things and, according to one scientific study, is also the most therapeutic*).
  • Cooking dinner – I love this one because it gives me the satisfaction of a routine and being able to follow things/check off a list. Plus, it helps save money AND what’s the point of working out if I’m eating the same way Doc Brown fueled the DeLorean at the end of Back to the Future. (Kyle Kinane reference, anyone…?)
  • going to the gym in the morning before work – This one is tricky because I loathe mornings and getting out of bed before 10:00 am but I never regret going and working out. Plus I have a great trainer, which is critical when you are on the verge of 30 but need the same amount of sleep as a 16-year-old.
  • spending time with family – Always a favorite. I include this one because it is very easy to get caught up and your day to day routine and let days, weeks, months etc. pass before having a phone call or grabbing dinner with people you’re close with, family or not. Make time for this, even if it means leaving work a few minutes early. Or calling out one day. Or buying the plane ticket. Or moving to a remote island (I kid, I kid).

As I try to wrap this giant run-on sentence up (welcome to what it’s like inside my head!), in my last blog I mentioned the infinity cube (which, unfortunately, does not give superpowers, despite its name leading one to think otherwise) which has helped me cut down on my picking. A pricier alternative, which I discovered last week, is buying a manual transmission car because its hard to pick at your cuticles when you need one hand to steer and the other to shift! Was that my intention when I bought the car? No. Am I still going to add it to the ‘pros’ section of buying said car? Abso-forking-lutely.

 

Me trying to make it to the gym on time in the morning.

 

And lastly, next week is OCD Awareness week! My goal is (was? idk, we’ll see how motivated I am later in the week…) to do something fun and exciting but, in typical Alaina fashion, I will most likely wait until Sunday night to really put any effort into it and keep myself up all night with anxiety for not working on anything earlier.

-A

 

 

*I conducted this study and was able to prove my hypothesis (IF I am sad and cuddle animals, THEN I will no longer be sad). Science rules.