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.
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.
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.
Anyway, keep this in mind friends. I promise I won’t lead you astray.
immediately after starting treatment
at the end of treatment
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.
*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.
Sitting in my therapist’s office and hearing her say “What you are describing sounds like OCD. I am 99.99% sure you have OCD…” felt like a massive weight being lifted off of my shoulders. A few days later I was in a psychiatrist’s office for an official diagnosis and treatment plan. I have been living this way for as long as I can remember but never had the courage to really talk about it until it was official, which is how I got to this point.
I like to think that I’ve been doing a good job hiding my OCD¹. To be honest there are still times, even after speaking with my therapist and a psychiatrist, that I find myself second guessing the diagnosis. I’m sharing my experiences, past, present, and future, in the hopes to give outsiders a better understanding of what it’s like to live with OCD/possibly inspire them/let them know they aren’t alone²/as entertainment for anyone reading³. I’m not looking for sympathy (trust me, I’ve spent enough time over the last month feeling sorry for myself and it didn’t do a damn thing). Talking about mental health is still so taboo, which is crazy to me because so many people struggle with it. Please know that if you ever feel like you want to take the first step and talk to someone I am always here. I will not judge you. It’s not an easy step to take. The Helpful Links area is where I cleverly hid some links that I found useful when I was first diagnosed.
My problem is that I check things. A lot of things. And I check them multiple times. I will be outside of my neighborhood, turn around and drive back home just to make sure I locked the door. Or the stove is off. Or my curling iron is unplugged. Or that my animals didn’t sneak out of the house as I was leaving. I know it’s not normal but if I don’t check My Things (we’ll get to this fun list later, my friends 😉) I will have crippling anxiety that slowly turns into a panic attack (0/10 recommend, btw). PLEASE TRUST ME WHEN I TELL YOU THAT I KNOW IT IS CRAZY TO CHECK THESE THINGS. I wish it were that easy. Truly. It would make my life a hell of a lot easier. But here I am, still checking My Things no matter how many times I tell myself everything is ok and that I do not need to check My Things. My closet isn’t organized. I have boxes piled up in the spare bedroom from when we moved over a year ago. You can easily tell that I share my space with 2 cats and 2 dogs. If you unexpectedly showed up here you would not know that I have OCD, which is truly unfortunate because I would be much more excited if my house was actually clean if someone were to randomly appear at the front door.
Treatment for OCD is tricky. It involves medicine and/or therapy (lucky me, I get both 🥇). The problem is that Exposure Response Prevention sucks. It’s not easy. When I leave the house I can’t check the front door. I can’t ask someone else if I locked the door or if I accidentally let the animals out or left the stove on. This ends up turning the house (in my mind, at least) into an apocalyptic scene of rogue curling irons starting fires and strangers stopping by to leave the door wide open so the cats and dogs can roam the neighborhood freely. Adding to the unfortunate, although sometimes entertaining, experience of ERP is the fact that my Ring doorbell documents all of my successes and failures as a small reminder of how far I have come and the work I still need to do (TBD on when those videos will make an appearance).
There have been times in my life when the anxiety hasn’t been as intense, which makes my checking less intense. But 2018 has been one for the books as far as crap years go. It’s time I really work on getting myself back to “normal”, no matter how many times I fail or how miserable I am along the way. So welcome to my blog. Hopefully we can all laugh at my misery together. 🙂
¹For the most part I have. I asked my husband, Taylor, and he said that I’ve done a good job hiding it to the masses but that he picked up on it and that it’s progressed over time. Looks like I just found some material for a future blog.
²I laugh during uncomfortable situations and 85% of my life is an uncomfortable situation right now because of Exposure Response Prevention.
³Full disclosure: I mentioned it to my therapist today and she thought it was a great idea which means here I am actually sharing it because I told her I was going to and I am really bad at lying.
curling iron off
curling iron unplugged
clothes steamer unplugged
lights off (give ‘em a little switch on and off to “make sure” but do that AT LEAST 3 times)
oven is off
all stove burners are off (gotta check each 3 times..!