September 26, 2011

OCD Odds & Ends Part Deux

This still isn't the post that I've been planning.....


I was driving to work today, thinking about my friend OCD, and how it has a knack for popping up at the worst possible times.  Then, I thought to myself "it also has been giving me some reprieve during this horrible time too".  The point is - OCD IS IN CONTROL. 

My train of thought went something like this:

"Geez I hope OCD is gentle with me today.  I just don't know if I can handle any more yuckiness today."

"You know - the more you let room for OCD to be there, the better off you'll be."

"I know, I know, but for some reason, OCD finds the perfect/worst times to invade my mind.  Just when I don't know if I can handle anymore stress/anxiety."

"But you know that you need to take charge.  You need to not be afraid of the OCD bully.  You need to bully over OCD so it goes back in it's corner."

My question is this:  How is that even possible - when, in reality OCD ALWAYS gets to pick when to invade our minds.  OCD IS IN CONTROL because it gets to dole out the yucky, scary thoughts.  And then on the very worst days, it takes advantage of us.  Days when we just don't think we can handle the anxiety, days when we feel like we HAVE to do the compulsion, so that we can have some peace. 

Overcoming OCD really does require strength.  CHOOSING to not compulse, to NOT do something that will make you feel better, when you are ALREADY in a yucky, vulnerable spot.  Well....I don't think that's something most people would do.  And some days I just don't feel strong enough to resist. 


My therapist and many of my OCD blogging friends have been saying to me "be kind to yourself right now".  Even my cousin said that to me yesterday when I was talking to her on the phone.  The thing is - what in heaven's name does that mean???????

I really don't understand what "being kind to myself" means, and I'm sure that speaks to my level of perfectionism.  I've never been great at giving myself credit.  And I suppose I just don't understand HOW to be kind to myself.  I think I'm learning, but to conceptualize what being kind to myself actually looks like.....I'm at a loss. 

On one hand I have to keep moving forward.  I have to keep checking things off my "to do" list.  I have to keep trying to take care of myself - going to the gym, eating well, seeing friends etc.  But you see - those are the kinds of things that I beat myself up for not doing.  Where's the balance?  I haven't eaten well since my mom went into the hospital in July.  I feel swamped with everything else in life, so most of the time I just grab a bowl of cereal and eat it quickly.  Or a coffee and muffin while I'm driving somewhere.  I know that isn't good for me in the long run, but if I'm ''KIND" to myself aren't I giving myself permission to slack off? 

I hope some of you who struggle with perfectionism will help me to figure out this conundrum that I am in regarding understanding what being kind to myself looks like. 

September 22, 2011

Need a big, warm, hug.

I have another post planned, but I haven't had a minute to write it.

I am tired with a capital "T".  That about sums it up.  As I type this my OCD is yelling at me: "You're being a whiner.  Suck it up and think of something positive to say."  But today I have to indulge in self pity and tell everyone how very emotionally and physically exhausted I am.

My mom is a complete inspiration.  She is still alive and has defied all the odds.  Her doctors said she would have died weeks ago.  Based on what is going on inside her body from a physical perspective she should be dead.  Her palliative care doctor called her "amazing".  This is all wonderful - especially since in the last week or so she seems to have bounced back and is quite alert and able to move around and carry on a fairly decent conversation.  But it has been a marathon for all of us - my dad, my brother, and all of her friends and extended family who have been helping to care for her.  Don't get me wrong - I am VERY grateful to have the extra time with her - even if it means just sitting beside her while she drifts in and out of sleep.  But I feel like I've run about three marathons.  And we have no idea how much more time we have. 

Since my mom went into the hospital in July, I have been spending as much time as possible on Vancouver Island where my parents live (usually 4 or more days/week, sometimes more).  In order to achieve this a number of things have had to occur:

1.  I have had to rearrange my work schedule.  In anticipation that a time like this might come, I purposely took two part-time, less demanding jobs.  Both of my employers have been very supportive, but I have had to miss a lot of time, do a lot of work remotely, and do a lot of schedule switching.  Not to mention, we never really know when my mom will actually pass, so my schedule - in every way - is very much in limbo. 

2. I have to make arrangements to have my house and cats cared for.  I have relied on my ex-boyfriend for this, and he has been very generous with his time, but my poor cats have had very little regular human contact in the last little while.  Not to mention, my house is a complete disaster, and I haven't had any time to do anything to remedy this problem.  Sometimes my garbage gets put out on garbage day, sometimes it doesn't.

3. I have had to commute twice/week to the ferry.  Getting to my parent's house involves driving for an hour and a half to the ferry terminal and then taking a 90 minute ferry ride.  Very time consuming. 

I could go on and on about this, but suffice it to say - I AM IN LIMBO, and I am VERY TIRED. 

I am currently juggling two jobs along with working on starting the Canadian OCD Network, taking care of my mom, dealing with spending a lot of time with a HIGHLY dysfunctional family and all the daily triggers that I am bombarded with, and finally - trying to take care of myself and OCD.  This past week has been really tough.  I am starting to feel depression set in and I had a huge OCD spike on Saturday.  I think some of that has to do with hormones (PMS), but whatever the reason, I feel so heavy.  I haven't been eating well, barely had time to exercise, and my heart is hurting.  I just want to sleep for days.  But I can't. 

What would help?  I don't think anything.  Time, I suppose.  But I could really use a hug. 

September 9, 2011

Denial about OCD

I had a very interesting and thought-provoking session with my therapist a couple of weeks ago that I’ve been meaning to write about.  As you know – one of my OCD fears is that I’m in denial about being gay.  Well, my therapist so boldly proposed to me that he believes that I’m in denial about having OCD. 

I’m sure if you read my blog, you can understand how that very word, and that concept – DENIAL scares the crap out of me.  We were talking about it because my Mom is in COMPLETE denial that she is dying.  She’s been in the hospital for 7 weeks now, declining regularly, requiring more and more medication for pain, vomiting, unable to eat solid food (therefore struggling to get any real nutrition), and barely able to remain lucid, but if anyone brings up the fact that she might be dying (barring a miracle of course), she gets very angry.  Of course the fact that my mom is so able to be in denial spurred me to think about my family pattern and how things were so quickly and easily pushed under the rug.  Of course this all triggered me to think “maybe I’m in denial that I’m gay”. 

My therapist’s assertion that perhaps I’m actually in denial about having OCD definitely hit me with some anxiety.  If I’m in denial about having OCD, what else am I in denial about?”  But once I got past the initial anxiety I started asking questions.  What did he mean by that?  Why does he think that?  He didn’t give a lot of concrete “answers”, but he said to me that perhaps I am scared to face and “commit” to the diagnosis of OCD, because I MIGHT BE WRONG, and what would that mean about me?  YOU COULD’VE KNOCKED ME OVER WITH A FEATHER AT THAT POINT.  Of course, as soon as he said that, our time was basically up, so we had to end our session for that day. 

After I finished my session, I continued thinking about what my therapist said to me.  I wondered to myself what I really was scared about.  Why I didn’t truly want to embrace my treatment and the fact that I have OCD.  As usual, though, I think my therapist was DEAD ON.  Not only do I fear that I may be in denial about being gay, what goes along with it is “What if I don’t really have OCD?”  From what I understand, many OCD sufferers have struggled with these thoughts, and Dr. Grayson even wrote about it on his blog recently.  You can read what he wrote here.  So, what my therapist meant in this situation is that although most of the time, I will admit to myself that I have OCD, I still haven’t truly embraced it, LIVED IT, and acknowledged to myself that this is a condition that I have and need to cope with for the rest of my life.  I also think that for the most part, I haven’t fully embraced treatment, because I didn’t want to accept that I have OCD, because WHAT IF IT WASN’T REALLY OCD???? 

I realized that I really didn’t want to accept and move forward with dealing with my OCD, because what if, for some reason, the diagnosis was wrong?  What if I really am gay and in denial?  That would mean that my ultimate fear would happen, and I would live a less-than-satisfying life, and will have harmed myself and many others in the process. 

This session was a breakthrough for me.  I knew all along that I had the fears that I might not have OCD, but I really didn’t realize how it was affecting me and my treatment.  I made the choice to take the chance, to embrace the fact that I have OCD, to trust my therapist, and to follow through with treatment to the best of my ability.  (Actually, I should say that I make the choice on a daily basis, each time the thought "What if this isn't really OCD?" comes into my head!) If I find out at some point that everyone was wrong and I don’t really have OCD then I will have to deal with it then.  If I discover at some point that I really am a lesbian, then I’ll have to deal with that too.