Monday, September 24, 2012

Back on the blogging map.

Ya, so about the fact that I haven't blogged in literally 7 months...oops. Showing up here again makes me want to toot my own horn in regards to the absolutely perfect title I managed to give this blog when I started. Roller.Coaster.Ride. Ultimately, however, if I were to sum my current state of mind and OCD (they're actually one in the same--which is very unfortunate) into one sentence I would say  "I have been a lot better and I have been a HELL of a lot worse". So I guess that points towards progress, right? Unfortunately though, with this mind of mine even the slightest bit of a downward decent feels like a death sentence. I start to feel really "stuck" and overwhelmed really quickly. Yes, I can now walk down street without every person I walk by being absolutely terrifying due to HOCD, I can carry out normal conversations with females, I can watch movies and TV shows with gay people in them, I can talk on the phone to my boyfriend without feeling miserable from the over analyzing, I can spend large amounts of time with my boyfriend with seemingly no compulsive or checking oriented thoughts or behaviors, and I can have conversations with him and others about our plans for the future without feeling like I'm going to throw up. That's just a short list of the improvements I have made, so I get it...the place I am in now compared to the place I was almost a year ago is almost unfathomable. BUT, it is still so frustrating when I feel myself going backwards again. My brain could care less about the severity of my anxiety and the behaviors associated with it. The thoughts, concerns, and fears seem just as threatening, and the results of these thoughts seem and feel just as catastrophic. I still end up in a horrible state of mind and feeling incredibly depressed, which ultimately leads to a decline in my OCD defense mode, and the uncertainty becomes just as unbearable as before....even if I can walk down the street like a seemingly normal human being.

The worst thing about the spike in my anxiety this time around is that my brain REALLY played tricks on me ( I know it doesn't even seem possible that this could happen any more severely than it has in the past...but it did). In the words of my therapist, I have "developed OCD over my OCD". For the past several weeks/ almost months/ I've actually been doing it FOREVER...I have been doing my typical obsessive researching and info seeking about my health. Physical and mental health. Constantly searching for things that could be wrong with me, that of course seem incredibly reasonable, that would explain the way I am feeling all the time and give me reason to believe there are solutions for my OCD and ADHD. Trying to figure out why I feel the way I do, why I am so much different than I used to be, why I feel so tired all the time, why it is so hard for me to feel happy for more than a few months, why I don't enjoy the activities that I used to, why my personality has changed etc etc. These are, of course, all valid everyday concerns that anyone could have...I get that. But with the way my brain works things out these concerns are just making feel worse, because I am looking for certainty I am never going to get and checking, researching, obsessing, and and compulsions are all involved. I will think I have found a solution for a short period of time and then it of course flips around to something else. "It's just your OCD, it's your ADHD, maybe your thyroid is messed up, maybe you have this or this or this or this or this". I have been constantly over analyzing every little thing going on with my body and mind...with the fear that if I don't figure it out I am going to be miserable and feel this way for the rest of my life. Little irrational don't you think? Surprise Surprise. This has of course led to heightening anxiety in regards to all of my themes. What I have come to realize during this latest fad is that the overall theme of my OCD is making me terrified of living a life in which I am unhappy. Whether it's because of a fear that I am with the wrong guy, the fear that I should actually be with a woman, the fear that I have a problem I don't know about that is going to cause me to feel depressed and unfulfilled the rest of my life, or whatever the hell else my brain comes up with...I am terrified of being unhappy. Where does all the fear get me? Feeling unhappy. Pretty ironic.

That's the end of the rant. Fortunately, I have a therapist that a lot of people on here talk about wishing they had. She rocks...and if I can pull myself up from my boot straps and get it back together again, she provides me with every bit of information and guidance I need to grind through this new theme. Here's to hoping.

Also, thankyou to everyone out there who has continued blogging and sharing their experiences. It was so nice to pop my head in and read everything you have been writing, again making me feel like I am by no means alone and it is normal to take a few steps backwards at times. Let's just hope it's not more than a few.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Long time no see: new therapist and other updates

Well, it's been awhile since I have written anything. Since my last post I have seen my new therapist two times. I really only have one word to describe her: AWESOME. Like I said in my last post she is a professor at a University in the area, and in my first appointment she told me she had actually just finished teaching a class to her Doctoral and PhD students called CBT Therapy for OCD and more specifically those with Pure O. Could her experience with OCD be any more perfect? I think not. The first appointment was my intake, and actually took 2.5 hours. It's funny that I can talk that entire time about my history with OCD and still have things to say. She gave me an awesome OCD book that I had not seen before--Getting Over OCD: A 10 Step Workbook for Taking Back Your Life. If you haven't purchased this book I would highly recommend it. Our second appointment was basically a question asking session for me. I had several things I wanted to discuss with her including medication and other topics. The questions I had allowed us to discuss a lot about my compulsions, avoidance's, and obsessions, as well as how they should be handled. The all elusive UNCERTAINTY of course. Gosh, I hate that word. But all in all she is incredibly understanding, encouraging, and informed. Definitely couldn't ask for any more.

I was going to continue this post with an update on my medications and some info about my experience thus far with possible ADHD, treatment and bla bla bla. But, I can't focus and am going to go eat some dinner :) Will try to update more tomorrow or this weekend. Hope everyone is doing well.

Friday, January 20, 2012

You'd Think I'd Learn My Lesson..

You would think that after hundreds of spikes I would eventually learn my lesson. Definitely not the case, unfortunately. But. In my defense, I really don't think the OCD will ever allow me to learn my lesson. Basically, I have been on cloud 9 since vacation. Everything has been going incredibly well and I have had no unmanageable spikes with either R or H. But, this is lesson I clearly haven't learned.--It will come back--. No matter how clear you are seeing things on the good days and no matter how much you know your OCD notions are ridiculous on these days--the OCD will show its face again at some point in time, and no matter what kind of clarity you were feeling in the past, everything will become blurry and clouded again. The last couple days have been a clear example of this. It started with exposure therapy about two days ago. I had met with my therapist and we decided I had made so much progress that we could start meeting everything week--woo hoo. Just the next morning, however, I started feeling a little "off". Things were bothering me more than they had in a while and I just didn't feel like myself. I decided to use it as an opportunity for exposure, since it had been so easy recently. I basically thought it would just be a challenge, especially since my therapist and I had just talked about how I was at the very top of my hierarchy and exposure was going to have to be more hands on. The next step in my hierarchy was getting online and reading coming out stories. Horrible Horrible Horrible. I think I finally learned what exposure therapy was really about. Anxiety=10/10 and my head started reeling immediately. It totally knocked me off my feet and I haven't quite gotten back up yet. I went into a panic for the most part and called my therapist to schedule a meeting for next week instead of the week following. I also went into major reassurance mode. I immediately got on StuckInADoorway...reading post after post after post. I also went into reassurance mode with my boyfriend. I skyped with him the night I tried doing the exposure and told him what I did and how crappy I was feeling. He was incredibly tired that night and not super talkative. He was also incredibly busy the next day with interviews and school. I of course went into catastrophe mode and started assuming that me telling him about my exposure the night before had completely freaked him out and he probably thought I was just a lesbian, and didn't want to be with me anymore and wasn't talking to me much because of it. Typical. After texting him more than one time in reassurance mode I had to get through the day while he was doing interviews and family stuff. Of course, that night he texted me just like normal and everything was fine. Had the stupid reassurance I needed.

The thing I am most confused about is why I had this random spike. I had JUST talked to my therapist about how I made it through an entire period basically without even knowing I was having it. I had zero physical side effects like headaches and ZERO OCD flare ups. Usually my period is hell and I know it is coming days ahead of time. I was so amazed...then three days AFTER my period finished I started feeling exactly like I do during that time of the month. I am assuming, and hoping, the explanation is the ADHD meds I started last week. My doctor put me on a non-stimulant med called Intuniv. Definitely not the right drug for me. I was sleeping 16 hours a day, started getting horrible headaches and 4 days in I started going through this with my OCD. I have already stopped taking them and am going back to the doctor next week to discuss other options. So, like I said, I am HOPING that is the simple explanation...especially since it is a slow release capsule and the OCD flare up most likely wouldn't have started until a few days in...which is what happened. I am heading back to the therapist on Monday, and am planning on doing my exposure in the office instead of on my own. I am going to print off several stories from the website I was on and go through them with my therapist. I know anxiety and fear is what OCD is all about, but you don't realize how awful it really is until you're back in the middle of it again. Ugh. Hoping to wake up in the morning without my OCD glasses on. We shall see. Goodnight everyone.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lots of Catching Up to Do

Phew. I feel like it has been months since I have written a post, and there has been so much to write about I don't even know where to start. Well, first and foremost, I made it back from vacation with my boyfriend...I am alive, well, and still in a relationship so I have already exceeded my expectations! ;) We left on vacation the 26th and I arrived home late last night, so it was a full 10 day adventure. Our little trip started with a 9 hour road trip in which I told my boyfriend about my HOCD. Until now he only knew about ROCD and I had told him I would tell him the other part once I was ready. Let's just say it was even harder than I thought it would be. I have never been scared or nervous to share ANYTHING with him...but the whole lesbian fear thing was terrifying to relay. It took me a full 10 minutes just to spill out one sentence. But, I did end up telling him, and explaining things to the best of my ability. We both agreed he definitely needs to do some reading on it so he can gain a deeper understanding, as the whole notion was still quite confusing to him, BUT he of course took it well and we continued on our little vacay. I talked to him about exposure therapy and we actually had a pretty fun time with it while on vacation. Anytime I saw something somewhere that would usually cause a spike I would just say ET and we would comment on it and move on while usually making a joke about it. Who knew Exposure Therapy could be so fun? ;)

While we did do work on ET, the first three days were really rough. I didn't have ANY issues with HOCD, but my ROCD was kicking me in the face. I felt completely disengaged from everything. It was that "faking" feeling, and it accompanied everything thing I did and every word I said. I constantly had the nagging thoughts I was having last week related to narcissism. "You don't really care about what he saying right now", "You are selfish and don't care about him so taking part in this conversation is just a lie". It even goes as far as telling me that if bad things happened to him I really wouldn't care and be bothered by it, because I don't care about him. While riding in the car I would constantly question and test if the experience "was enough" and the feelings were there. The worst part about all of it is that it KILLS my self confidence. I feel so incredibly worthless and undeserving of him. There were so many times I almost asked for reassurance about why he put up with me and why he had hung around for so long. The person I am when my OCD is flared up is not me, and I feel like he's spent 90% of his time with that person. I am so stuck in my own head that I can't engage in anything with him or take part in conversations with his friends. In a sense I just feel like a huge buzz kill. I hate the person that OCD causes me to be at times. I am hard to get along with, high maintenance, reserved, and flat out boring. All of these things are so far from what I am when I am just plain old me. I used to have no trouble being happy, have been told I am incredibly low maintenance and get along with everyone I meet. The other crappy thing about the ROCD is the cataclysmic thinking. We got into a bit of a battle on the second or third night of vacation. We were disagreeing about plans, I was incredibly grumpy and difficult, and getting things to go smoothly was just not working. This happens to everyone though. It should be no big deal. Not for me. We were sitting in the car in the middle of our little argument and all I could do was concoct world ending scenarios in my head about the fight. Things like, "Well, you should just let him go with his friends tomorrow and stay home, because he probably thinks you're incredibly boring anyways and would  rather spend his time with them than with you"...This then leads to more catastrophic thinking and I come up with ways this one fight will probably ruin our relationship and obviously gives reasons for why things won't work out. This whole "mood" or spike lasted the first three days for the most part.  On top of struggling with the OCD, my prozac has been causing me to have horribly graphic and disturbing dreams that I can go through step by step when I wake up. I HATE THEM. This is the one side effect of the drugs that really bothers me. So, on top of the nagging feelings during the day, I was not sleeping well at all throughout the night. I had told myself that I wasn't going to do any reassurance seeking on the trip, but I gave in on the third day. I woke up on the third morning and shed a few tears in my pillow then got on the internet and resorted to one of my favorite Dr. Grayson articles. It is unreal how much reassurance seeking helps. We all know it is a love hate relationship, because as much as you shouldn't do it..the benefits are hard to pass up.

I am not sure if it was the reassurance seeking or not, but I kid you not when I say the fourth night I slept like a baby and woke up a completely different person. We spent our first three days skiing so part of it could have been that I was completely exhausted, but either way, I have never been so happy to get a good nights sleep...and not remember a single dream I had all night. Incredible. I honestly feel like I woke up the fourth morning a new person. The old me. I was talkative, engaging in conversation, smiling, laughing, the whole shibang. Every hour that passed I could feel the dark cloud lifting and the questioning and doubting fading bit by bit. We took a flight that day to head to our second part of vacation and when we arrived to our second destination I had the best five days I have had in a long long time. I am not an emotional person in this sense, but thinking about it almost makes me teary eyed because it has been so long so I have been able to feel the way I did. I was not analyzing every thought that went through my head, I was wholeheartedly laughing at things my boyfriend said, I was able to act like a normal girlfriend and be the person I know that I am when I don't have OCD flare ups. For the first time in months the feelings that I have known the OCD was suppressing came flooding back. I also did not have a single comparing type thought to my past relationship the last five days of the trip  which is a biggy. It may sound crazy to some but I was able to sit down on the couch, take a nap, and enjoy watching TV with my boyfriend like a normal person. This is something I couldn't enjoy a few months ago. I would have been constantly worrying that I was not in love and that we should be out doing something or going somewhere. But this time, there were no worries. I could lay down, close my eyes, and relax. So, you know what OCD, thankyou, for making me appreciate the good times in my life so much more than I used to. I will never take for granted feelings I have for another person ever again. I had such an unbelievable time during those five days, and there is no way in the world they could have been better. So, I guess you could say I'm making progress :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Turning the light switch off

It's been longer than usual since my last post. The last week has been a mixture of things. The highlight I guess has been that my HOCD has practically vanished (let's knock on wood here). I have been able to interact with friends, employees at stores, watch movies with gorgeous actresses, and quite simply just walk down the street without discovering things or seeing other people that I believe make me gay. It's a pretty crazy feeling when you've finished watching a movie and realize that you have not had one single thought related to HOCD. Or, after walking to a destination on campus you realize that you did not look at a single person walking by you on the street and question if they were gay, if they thought you were gay, if you are attracted to them, if you could see yourself being with them and bla bla bla. Definitely making progress.

But, let's not get too excited (that's what I keep telling myself). Because, we all know that OCD likes to knock on the front door when everything seems to be just dandy. It has done exactly that in a couple different ways this week. When driving home from school for Christmas Break I realized that both forms of my OCD had been incredibly under control for about two days, which is a big deal. I wasn't obsessing over anything (well I was, but it was the positive aspects of my relationship) and like I said, the HOCD seemed to be something that I had trouble with decades ago. Then like clockwork, BAM, my first anxiety provoking thought in literally weeks. I was listening to Dr. Joy Brown on the radio and a caller asked for advice about her father who she believed to be a narcissist. For some reason I was not fully aware of what being a narcissist entailed. So, sure enough I googled it (damn you google) and started reading through descriptions and wikipedia pages. Like a freight train, it hit, "Am I a narcissist"? I immediately found several similarities between myself and the characteristics listed on the internet. Of course this led to immediate rumination and over thinking on my drive home. This was of course accompanied by the tightness in my chest and butterflies in my stomach. Luckily, it is something that created anxiety and really bothered me but didn't "stick" I guess you could say. It definitely didn't develop into some new obsession, but chose to slide its way into my ROCD instead. For the last two days anytime I talk to my boyfriend, my little OCD shadow just says to me "you're selfish, you don't care about what he has to say, you just want to talk about yourself. If you really cared about him you would want to listen to everything he had to say and wouldn't be so concerned about yourself. When he talks a lot you just get annoyed, which obviously means the relationship can't last long term". The most frustrating thing about it is that it is literally like a light switch. For a week straight I was feeling great about the relationship and like I said was obsessing about it but in a positive manner (still not a good thing, I know). I was incredibly excited for our vacation and missing him terribly. Then, we have one conversation, through text messages, that causes the switch to turn on. There was absolutely nothing about this conversation that should have caused any concern. I simply wasn't in the mood to talk and was watching a show online. He, however, was very talkative and texting left and right like we always do. The conversation completely turned me away and immediately made me start feeling like I didn't care. It's like all of the sudden I see that as some tall tell sign that the relationship isn't meant to be. Like normal people are ALWAYS in the mood to talk to their significant other. Right OCD, right. Anyways, it has basically turned into two straight days of grouchiness with him and me feeling like I am "faking it" again. This of course leads to rumination about past relationships and picking apart every tiny aspect of this relationship that will cause it to fail. It's like someone turns on the OCD light switch and the OCD causes you to have to put on sunglasses that blur your vision from all reality. Like no matter what you tell yourself or what you do you cannot see things clearly. When you are stuck in those moments you can't assess anything for what it really is. I see my boyfriend almost as a figment of my imagination. Like I don't actually think about him, I only think about the negative storyline I have built in my head. If I manage to cut through all the fog and illusions I begin to feel better because thoughts of him as a person and not an idea make me feel great. This probably doesn't make any sense at all,  but it's just how things have been for the past couple days.  Eventually, something will cause the light switch to turn off again, and I will come to the realization that my bad days were ridiculous and I will question why I could ever think that way. But for now I'm stuck and hoping something flips the switch for me.

I have been doing quite a bit of reading over break, and will fill everyone in on my next post. For those of you with Pure O who haven't read "Imp of the Mind", I strongly suggest it. It's the only book I have read that is directly written towards the pure form. I have also started to read a lot about mindfulness and Buddhism actually. I am finding it to be incredibly interesting and am working on putting a lot of the mindfulness techniques into practice. If you haven't read up on this theory of thought I would suggest it as well. Goodnight all.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Girl Problems

It's funny how there are weeks that go by with no spikes, and very little amounts of OCD when you find yourself feeling completely normal. Then, bam, it hits and the doubting rolls back in. Tonight I started searching the internet for reassurance that what I have is actually OCD and was comparing myself to those with physical compulsions (I have Pure O) thinking that "maybe I don't even have OCD, is what I have even related, it is so much different". After browsing through posts on stuck in a doorway I am feeling much better. It's just frustrating. The most frustrating thing about it is that this 5 days of the month I have very little to no control over my OCD. Yes, for all you ladies reading I am talking about hormones. I could write a weeks worth of posts on what my hormones do to my OCD, and probably will eventually, but let's just say it is like clockwork. I was at therapy on Thursday, where I had my first session of ERP. I was on top of the world and telling my therapist how great I had been doing, how few spikes I had been having, and how much progress I had been making with exposing myself to fears. I put my hierarchy together on note cards and she walked me through almost all of them with imaginal scripts. I barely had any anxiety. It was great. Almost like the OCD has never been there. Then, I went home that night and was watching Law and Order and an episode about a transgender came on. There it went. I immediately started ruminating and questioning whether or not that was a possibility for me. Maybe since I was such a tomboy when I was little it really just meant I wanted to be a man, which would explain why I think I am a lesbian, because I really should be a man anyways. I was so bummed. I had been having so many good days and then all of the sudden a TV show spiked me (granted, not nearly as bad as it would have 6 weeks I know there is still a ton of improvement). I then went to bed that night and for some reason was thinking about my therapist and decided to look her up online. I came across a site that listed all of her specialties and they included things like gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual individuals. Well, as you can imagine...spike central. I started thinking what if she is a lesbian and I have been saying all of these things to her and offending her. I ran through all the conversations we had in my head trying to figure out if she had said anything that hinted to the fact that she might be gay. So dumb.

Needless to say, I was tad bit frustrated. But, I immediately put the puzzle pieces together when I noticed a few other tall tale signs. It was about to be my favorite five days of the month (insert sarcasm here). It is honestly like clockwork. My hormones fluctuate and the OCD creeps back in. I have been trying to push myself through it, since it is a good time to work on ERP because my OCD is at a higher level than it has been for the past few weeks. Tonight I watched an episode on Oprah called "Pray the Gay Away". I kept telling myself that I accept the possibility that any of the things I saw on the show could happen to me, and if they did, I would handle them when necessary.  The hard part for me though, is that my anxiety is so much lower now that I am on meds. I find that I have very little anxiety and more simply just lots and lots of rumination. The times when my OCD latches onto some "new thought" is really the only time I experience the anxiety I used to. This of course just adds to the OCD because I try to figure out why I don't have the anxiety. Anyways, enough rambling. I am going to start posting lots of things about my ERP, what kind of exposures I am doing, and what is and isn't helping. I am very excited to start moving in this direction and also very excited for these five days to be over so I can really get on top of things again. Goodnight All. I hope this post finds you well :)

P.S. I love how my OCD tells me throughout the entirety of this post that I am just over exaggerating, making things up, and trying to elude everyone. So pleasant. Do any of you find that when you blog about things you have that voice in the back of your head making you doubt even what you're writing?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Daily Reminder in Ink

So...I've never been a tattoo person. At all. I am very conservative as far as clothing style goes and am dressed in either all athletic gear or gap/ J Crew...aka not really tattoo style :). I have had a few piercings here and there when I was a teenager (belly button, nose, cartilage) but now I am just a plain Jane with one piercing in each ear. The reason I have never had the urge to get a tattoo is because I haven't felt like I have had the appropriate cause, or something that provided enough meaning for me. But what could provide more meaning than OCD?...right? :) I officially decided tonight that I want to get a tattoo that signifies my 6 year battle with OCD and can provide me with a daily reminder of what I have been through and how proud I am of myself. I had several ideas and of course immediately started obsessing over and researching tattoo designs. After three hours of googling I have decided to go with "let it be." in small cursive letters on the inside of my left wrist. This way if I need to cover it up I will simply put on a watch or a bracelet :). I was searching and searching for the perfect design or perfect phrase and the second I saw let it be on the screen I actually got anxiety because it was so perfect. You couldn't ask for a better reminder in regards to OCD and everything it entails. The thoughts, the doubting, the rumination, the obsessions, the rituals......Just let it be. That's the only way any of us are ever going to get past the OCD. We have to learn to let the thoughts be there. So, that's my random rant for the night. Have to admit I am pretty excited, and also glad my parents don't know about my blog ;) Goodnight all.