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.

girls gone mild

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.

X-All-The-Y

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?).

A great representation of how I show emotion.

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.

-A

 


 

As promised, here are some Reasons I May/May Not Be The Grinch

 

Wanting to cancel plans because I have nothing to wear.

 

 

Needing time to myself.

 

 

Showing no emotion.

 

 

Lots of self-loathing.

 

 

Eating because I am bored.

 

 

Always having normal conversations with my animals.

 

 

no such thing

Hello friends! There truly is nothing like a good ol’ three day weekend to prove that the Sunday Scaries are not exclusively reserved for Sundays.

Me sliding into this work week after the long weekend.

Anyway, I survived the Scaries and am back to being a Barely Functioning, Supposed to Be Real Adult™ who spends her lunch break eating Cheerios and writing a blog. I’ve been pondering what to post throughout the weekend because, as much as I would love to have A+, top notch happenings to share with you, there aren’t that many things occurring in my day-to-day that are mildly helpful or entertaining. This morning, however, the universe had different plans (as it so often does) because I had a follow-up appointment with my psychiatrist to see if 1 month of medication and therapy has helped manage my OCD and anxiety. The great news is that both of these things have, although the physical act of getting to my appointment on time (8:20am) didn’t exactly help ease any anxiety (joking, kind of).

My doctor (who not the same person as my incredibly awesome therapist, PG) said something that stuck with me, similar to when PG gave me the life-changing “we need to be more understanding and compassionate to ourselves” pep talk. Doc K (I was going to abbreviate it DK but for some reason I didn’t want it to seem like I was calling him a dick, because he isn’t one) told me that we *vaguely gestures to surroundings, again* often say we want to get back to ‘normal’ or see other people who seem to have their ducks in a row and are jealous that we don’t have that level of ‘normal’ but, more often than not, we don’t know how to define the ideal ‘normal’. If there is one thing I have discovered since starting this blog, and this whole OCD saga, to be honest, is that almost everyone sees themselves as less than normal, whatever normal is to them. So instead of just saying “I want to be back to normal” (which I have said before), let’s set goals that we can actually use to measure our improvement instead of the generic ‘normal’ that (for me at least!) doesn’t have a definition.

BOOM, welcome to part two of my Ted Talk.

Hopefully that all made sense because my hour is almost up and I have yet to get an annual salary plus benefits from oversharing on the internet. Plus, as shown using the first GIF in this post, I’m not exactly functioning at 100% after a long weekend of new boot goofin’ and eating candy for breakfast.

-A

I just found out there’s no such thing as the real world, just a lie you’ve got to rise above.

(I love me some John Mayer and I’m not afraid to admit it. Continuum is easily one of my top 5 favorite albums. Plus, I couldn’t get No Such Thing out of my head after I used it as the title AND that line is oddly relevant to the post. I also really love this song, which he is featured on, if you are a Herbie Hancock fan/still on the fence about John.)

 


Spotify users! 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.