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.

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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*

 

 

 

choose not a life of imitation

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and part of that is because I have been busy, but mostly I wanted to be strategic about how I share what is going on. It’s no secret that I have anxiety and OCD. That is why I started this blog. I use my own humor and sarcasm to help cope with everything, which up until recently had worked. But another way I cope is by closing off and bottling up. The worse I feel, the quieter I stay (spoiler alert: this never ends well).

Me playing it totes cool when things are, in fact, not totes cool.

It’s no secret that 2018 has been a hard year. I’ve struggled with just about everything that’s been thrown my way. Last Thursday was when I finally reached the tipping point. I had a phone session with my therapist. She urged me to go get an assessment at a mental health institute. She knew I wasn’t suicidal but she held firm on her wish for me to be evaluated. My first thought was how to tell my family. I’ve been closed off, pretending I was fine when I really, really wasn’t, and now I had to explain to my parents and my husband (who was out of state for work) that I needed to be evaluated ASAP {as possible}. Not tomorrow or over the weekend. I needed it now/yesterday/a week ago. I knew they would be blindsided. Everyone likes to think, myself included, that if we had a family member or close friend in crisis that they would know that they could come to me with zero judgement. But when the crisis comes and you’ve spent so much time and energy pretending that things are ok it’s a completely different game. After work, my mom picked me up and took me to the facility. We got there at 8:45. We waited. My brother brought me something to eat and hung out with us in the waiting room.  After being evaluated and hearing the treatment plan that the doctor recommended it was almost 5:00 am. My mom was still there. My brother was still there. They came in and heard from the clinician what the doctor felt was best. Partial hospitalization. It didn’t (and still doesn’t, honestly) feel real. It seems like such an extreme measure for someone who is just going through a difficult time. The problem was that I had surpassed difficult time.  I wasn’t a danger to myself or others but I wasn’t in a good space. I was in a terrible space and no matter how hard I tried nothing seemed to pull me out of it.

I’m still totally new to what is going on (I started yesterday) and I’m not going to lie, there are multiple times a day that I still think I can do this on my own. The truth is that I can’t, though, and I am in a situation where I can take the much needed time to work on myself. I hope that anyone reading this who happens to find themselves in a similar situation (ideally that would be no one but the reality is that it is highly likely), please know that you aren’t in it alone. Trust me. I write a blog chronicling my struggle with anxiety and OCD (depression has been the added bonus!) but I still felt like I was alone. Keep in mind that at the very least you have the girl who fumbles through a blog (and life, tbh ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) who can relate. Don’t ever be ashamed of what you need to do in order to take care of your mental health.

I’m here to be your biggest fan…*looks around hoping someone appreciates my dad joke*

So what does this mean for my irregular blog posts? Well, hopefully, I can share what has helped me start feeling like I am back in control and healthy coping mechanisms to use when things start taking a turn for the negative (turns out humor/sarcasm isn’t exactly on that list). But don’t you worry one bit because this entire episode has been the accelerant that my OCD craved. Much to my dismay, it is thriving.  For example, today while driving home I was passed by two fire trucks when I was a mile or two away from my house. They were driving in the direction I go to get to my house (so not towards my house, there is a distinct difference) and I felt the panic start because surely my house was on fire and that is why those two fire trucks were driving in that direction.

I should know that the fire scenario highly unlikely because I unplugged almost everything before I left this morning (and was late, as usual) and made two additional trips to check that things were unplugged between my front door and my car. So yeah, blog content won’t be an issue.

For today I will leave you with this: since I am trying to have a more positive outlook on things, at the very least now I can say I’m the jolliest asshole this side of the nuthouse and it is a fact.

I know I used this in my last post but it was too good of an opportunity to use it again.

-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*

 

 

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.