Tag Archives: OCD

Mental Health Awareness


May is mental health awareness month, and it has taken me this long in the month to do a post about it for several reasons.

  1. Every year when I hear that it is mental health awareness month, I suddenly become overly aware of my own mental health.  I begin to take stalk of if I am in fact still crazy.  I wonder if I still have anxiety, over and over to the point that I give myself anxiety.  So towards the end of the month I realize that my diagnoses is still true.   I am still the wonderful bearer of and Axis 1 Anxiety Disorder, with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Traits. (that is mainly my circular thoughts that drive me and everyone around me nuts)
  2. This year I have started a new relationship with a boy.  While we have only known each other for one week, officially today.  We have been spending a lot of time together, which I actually enjoy.  He makes me laugh and I am able to relax around him.  Although, when I come home, like tonight, I am suddenly filled with free roaming anxiety, which in turn causes me to question everything about myself and why I like this person.  I am sure there is something deeply wrong with him, because he just seems too good for me.  Don’t misunderstand, this is part of my crazy.  I am hopeful I am wrong, but I never expect to be, which might be a major contributing factor to my eternally single state.
  3. I have been really sick.  I have gastro paresis and this month I have been having a flare up.  Which basically means my stomach refuses to digest food as it should, and I have to go to the doctor for never ending tests, which I can’t finish because I keep throwing up.  I have missed a lot of work, which really sucks, and I am scared to eat at all most days.  This causes a never ending cycle of me being starving, and me getting even more sick because I feel better and then over eat.  However, I think that this flare is coming to an end, just in time to coincide with my monthly round of female hormones which make me angry and anxious for a whole different set of reasons.

However, it is May still, and that means that it is the time of year when we are all supposed to be aware of mental health. I think that should be every day and not just an allotment of 30 some odd days at the end of the school year. We should always care about our friends, family, and strangers who suffer from mental health disorders.

So because it’s May, we should embrace the crazy in public. Have an outburst at work, you’re crazy right, then explain that you are protesting the fact that craziness is not accepted in our society. Well, maybe that’s not the best way to go about things. However, I do encourage you to start conversations with people about the importance of mental health acceptance, and what we can do to change the stigma about those of us who live we these problems every day of our lives, for the rest of our lives.

Also, embrace, and I do mean hug, the crazy. It’s mental health awareness in its kindest and most in your personal space kind of way. Hugs for crazy people, especially the ones who need drugs so they don’t punch you for the hug.

The Significant Insignificance of My Curtian


I used to have red curtains. Well they weren’t red per say, more maroon, but more red than brown. To most people they would just be red, and that’s what I considered them to be, even if red wasn’t exactly their true color. They weren’t the color of blood, or crimson. They didn’t represent a secret that I had hidden from myself, like that I had lost a serious love, was raped, or perhaps dead. They didn’t even do a good job of keeping out light, but that was because they were more lace than anything, not really lacy, but still lace.

They didn’t represent my anger at being a woman, the love of my all powerful vagina, or the pain I had suffered at the hands of my drunken lover. They cast a red glow on my living room, which did not represent that I looked at life through rose tinted glass, or that blood had been spilled, was being spilled, or was going to be spilled. They didn’t show anyone that I was anxious, I can do that just fine without symbolic curtains. They did show my OCD, they matched the couches.

Now I have only one lonely curtain in my apartment, and though I am lonely, my curtain doesn’t represent that. It hangs alone in a room, which is used in much the same way as the room where this curtain first lived. That was 8 years ago, before I had a kid, before I cared if people thought I was crazy, just before. Now the curtain hangs, haphazardly from the window frame, not covering the window at all, it’s more like a cape draped over the shoulder of the window. It doesn’t mean I’m trying to hide something without anyone knowing, that I’m secretly count Dracula, or that I might be a magician. I am pretty sure that it does not mean that I’m cold, like to carry a jacket, or that I’m am sloppy about protecting myself from anything in any form.

I think I bought the curtain, but I honestly don’t remember. It may have been my old roommate who was the purchaser of this curtain. She is the one who hung the thing in its first home. I do know I didn’t hang it in its current home, which doesn’t mean that I let others run my life for me. If anything it means I don’t really give a crap about curtains.

The sheer black fabric with its black velvet circles of varying sizes don’t show that I’m willing to expose only pieces of who I am and even then only to certain people at special times under the right moon phases. The curtain just exists in the same space that I inhabit. I don’t know where it came from, why it remains, or what will become of it.

It doesn’t show that I love things that are black, and dark, and depressing. It doesn’t mean that I am a vampire hunter, a zombie slayer, or werewolf destroyer, my curtain doesn’t say that.

It doesn’t mean I am depressed. Despite the fact that it came into my life just before things got complex and difficult, it doesn’t mean it caused anything good or bad to happen. It is not a plot point, or a theme in the story I am living. It doesn’t mirror my life.

It doesn’t mirror my life….

Crap…

Maybe I should get rid of the curtain.

Embrace the Crazy!

When Did You Become an Expert?


I have spent the past year trying to focus my writing around issues of mental health. With this I hope that I have given some helpful advice and some interesting stories. I like to believe that by doing this I have helped at least one person to see that they aren’t alone. What I wanted to achieve by writing about these issues was to give people who don’t live with mental health problems a glimpse into the difficulties faced by those who do. What has somehow happened is that people now have decided that I do not have a mental health disorder, but instead an addiction problem. I want to know when it became more acceptable to be an addict than it is to be crazy.

I think that part of this is because crazy is something we don’t control. People who don’t live with a mental health disorder, much less multiple disorders, seem to accept addiction more easily. Addiction is something that can be controlled, or at least that seems to be the prevailing theory of those who have been confronting me lately. It isn’t my OCD that causes me to think in circles, but instead it is some addiction. The truth is that I am not an addict. I can’t say that I have never drank too much or tried things which I shouldn’t have. I have never needed a substance to survive, well other than food water and air—all of which are made up of chemicals. I can live without medication, and even if I choose not to, this choice doesn’t mean I am an addict. I do not feel as if I cannot handle life without medication, and I don’t believe that for my disorders that medication is a long term fix. It is a band aid to be used while I learn other ways to cope.

The truth is that many people with mental health difficulties do self-medicate, and often find themselves in positions of addiction. Since I do not claim to be an expert in addiction, I cannot say anything more than that it is possible for someone who starts off with a diagnoses and medication can become an addict. I only know this much because I have seen it happen. This does not mean that anyone who has gone to a doctor for help and takes medication is an addict. Nor does it mean that every person taking medication is doing so because they need to. There are plenty of people who get prescriptions legally for problems they don’t really have. From what I have been told, and experienced, if you go to a doctor who is just trying to see as many patients as possible, all you have to do is give a list of symptoms and they will prescribe what pill goes along with that set.

Recently I have been told by recovering addicts that I have addiction problems, and that I need to get clean and sober. They congratulated me when I went off medication, and proclaimed that I was taking a step in the right direction. They seemed to think that they influenced my choice in going off meds, but the truth is I went off meds because I wanted to see what affect they were even having on me. The reality is that for the most part they were affecting my memory. There were other effects from the meds, but the most disturbing to me was with the memory. Other than that they didn’t change my personality and they didn’t help consistently with my anxiety, so why take them? Well for me the only time I feel medication is helpful is when I have to be in a situation where I have no ability to avoid my stressors. These would be holidays, family events, and weddings.

The next set off accusations about being an addict came from someone who doesn’t know me outside of text messages. We text a couple times every few months and that is the extent of our communication. I have never met this person in real life, and I really don’t have any desire to. Recently, while talking to him about my current job situation he accused me of being an addict. This was based off me not having been able to find a decent job in the past nine months. Because of course only an addict would have trouble finding a job in a bad economy, therefore I must be an addict. It couldn’t possibly be that my skill set lies with writing and mental health advocacy. Or that my degree, which he also claimed I must not have, is in a field which tends to require at least a Masters to find work. My education allows me to be a candidate for entry level jobs, but my experience puts me at being a little over qualified, or a little under qualified. If I mentioned that I am crazy I would spend another ten years looking for work.

So when did mental health turn into addiction? When did people who have no experience with one or the other become experts? I don’t claim to be an expert in mental health other than my own. I know what is wrong with me, and I don’t need people to create new labels for me to make themselves feel more comfortable. If you don’t believe that OCD, and Anxiety can cause extreme difficulty for someone, then I am not someone you should be associated with.

As we change how mental health is viewed, we seem to being adding a new face to crazy. I can’t just be crazy, I must be abusing something, or I wouldn’t act the way I do. Since people tend to think that crazy celebrities are only this way because of substance abuse, why not believe that everyone is this way? Well, the biggest reason for why not, is that it is Not True. Not every person who decides to embrace their own crazy, go out into the world and live their lives is an addict—just as not every person who is on drugs has a mental health disorder.

The picture of mental health is bigger than people seem to want to accept. The rules keep changing, and they aren’t all changing for the better. Every day we have to learn how to live in a world which doesn’t understand us, and has to create some new reason as to why we act the way we do. We can’t just be crazy anymore, no we have to be on something, and even if the thing we are on is to help us control the crazy aspects of our personality this now means that we are addicts. Not everything is so cut and dry. People however don’t like messy, and mental health is messy—it’s complicated and makes people uncomfortable.

So I am sending out a big thank you to all of the people who realize that this is not easy. Thank you to everyone who doesn’t try to change me or anyone with a disorder, and to everyone who doesn’t need to have me be an addict so that I can fit into your box. Thank you to all of the people who are fighting for these diseases to be understood, and who stand by their friends and family who are fighting everyday with some form of mental illness. And most importantly a huge thank you to those of you who are yourselves fighting for your own version of sanity and doing what you can to live in a world which hasn’t learned how to accept your particular brand of sane.

I hope you all have a happy, crazy, fun filled and safe Thanksgiving.

Forcing the Words


I tried to force myself to write the first week of Nano this year and for the second year running life and overwhelming anxiety about it got in my way. It is hard enough to look for a job and try to get you general life straight. I add Nano to the mix and suddenly my brain clears of the ability to form basic words for anything. My text messages become simplified and my blog posts usually become non-existent.

I enjoy writing, that’s why I write. However, when put in a position of writing for an event like Nano, my OCD goes into overdrive. I don’t like to use my disorders as excuses, but this month I am.

Reasons my OCD can’t handle Nano:
1. I hate writing for word count. It can be difficult enough to sit down and write every day without forcing an arbitrary word count goal for a 30 day period. I don’t mind a daily word count goal, my personal daily goal is 1,500 words. This is lower than Nano, and it doesn’t matter what I write.
2. I hate writing without editing. Now I know that not all my posts are edited, in fact I have a whole section for non-edited short fiction. However, intentional 30 minute stories are different than a novel. I don’t mind writing for hours at a time to meet a personal goal. I can edit as I go if I just have to meet a personal goal. One point of Nano, or so I’ve been told, is to not edit as you go. This drives me bonkers! I constantly look back and try to fix unless I set a time limit. I suppose I could set a time limit for my Nano writing, but why force yourself to write a story you constantly want to go back and fix, but you can’t just so you can meet a word count goal? I would rather write for story content not for word count. Grrr.
3. I think after 4 years of Nano attempts, I need a break from my own bad fiction. Now I am not saying I will never want to write fiction again, but I just don’t have any ideas for fiction right now. The more I try to force ideas, the more I hate my characters. They are boring, without friends, who sit around thinking about living life but don’t. Maybe this is a representation about how I feel about my own life at the moment, and that’s fine. I am bored, I do spend a lot of time alone, and I am the person who is keeping myself from the life I want. Good self realization does not help write good fiction.

So, I am going to have to change my November focus. This Nano I will write as much as I feel like writing. I will focus on whatever I want to write when I open my computer. And finally, I WILL edit if I feel like it.

Now that I have decided that I am an official Nano rebel, I guess it’s time to change my novel info on Nanowrimo.org. I hopefully my brain will follow suit and allow me to write again. If I am stuck working jobs which make me hate myself, I refuse to write things which make me hating writing.

Embrace the crazy, work with it to create what you want to create. Don’t force the things that just won’t work, but don’t give up on yourself or your own life. This is my take away this week.

Mitch Hedberg Got it Wrong


Mitch Hedberg once said that addiction is the only disease you can be yelled at for having. Unfortunately, I have found in my life that people are just as willing to yell at you for being crazy. So ultimately he got it wrong.

If you have a mental illness, people often get upset with you for it. Post-partum depression is one that people really just don’t get. Often people think that if you just have more time to bond with your baby that things will be alright. Or if you have anxiety they get angry because you can’t always do the things you want to do, or planned to do. Those who have never experienced these things often get angry with the afflicted person. Even if they truly wish to be understanding, at some point they get mad.

Now the problem with this is that it is completely counter productive to tell a crazy person to stop being crazy. You can’t tell someone with OCD to knock it off, it doesn’t work that way. I can’t shut off my OCD any more than I can shut off the need to eat and drink to live. I don’t need OCD to live, but I’m hardwired for it. Getting angry with me because I see the world different isn’t fair. It’s not like I have an opinion you don’t agree with, my brain literally works differently than yours does.

Lots of crazy people end up with addiction problems and then get yelled at even more. Well I think that if we were more understanding in the beginning that some of these people would have never turned towards self-medicating to feel better, or feel nothing. When everyone around you doesn’t understand you or accept that you have a problem it is tough to recover, whether you’re an addict or have a mental illness, we need love and support. Screw that, as humans we need love and support.

Now there is love and support, and there is smothering. You can just be there as a friend to be loving and supportive, you do not have to constantly go over to your friend’s house to make sure they are alive, a text works. A phone call to show you care. Be there when they need you, so they know it is okay to ask you when they need help. Be prepared to be frustrated, those of us who are crazy and know it are a tough bunch to be around. You have to understand that we can’t always control how we feel, most people can’t control how they feel all the time anyway, so why expect us to be able to.

We are a little different, maybe even slightly broken. This doesn’t mean to throw us away, this means you sit around while we stich up our gaps. Just existing helps us more than advice. If you don’t understand it you can’t fix it. Those of us who do understand our illness can’t fix it. We think differently, and that’s a good thing. If everyone in the world saw things in the same way, then it would be a very dull world.

Embrace the crazy. Don’t be angry about it, learn how you can live with it.

Wow, just Wow!


 

So although I had every intention of writing more last month, I unfortunately did not meet my own personal goals.  While this was largely due to a new job (if you can call it that) and being too tired to think when I get home at night, part of it was sheer laziness.  I have been crawling onto my couch and loosing my mind in television, well not entirely, I have managed to read four new books in the past month so I’m not completely wasting my free time.

Tonight however, really made me realize the amount of truly unstable, and mentally unhealthy people I have managed to encounter in the past month alone.  While my “job” creates numerous opportunities to face the mentally infirm everyday, it has been just this past weekend where I have experienced some of the most astounding cases of mental health.  More specifically, I have encountered those who are unaware they have their own problems with Crazy.

Friday, I was “dumped” by a guy I had been texting with, because I “needed to get my head out of my ass.”  Turns out the person accusing me of these issues, had decided that not only was I jobless, but homeless as well.  This all based on the fact that I can’t pay my cable bill this week.  Now I might be crazy, and any number of other things, but having my head in my ass is not one of my prevalent problems.  I am the first one to say that I have issues.  Seriously, I write a blog about being crazy, I know that I’m not all that stable all the time.

This accusation, of course played on my personal crazy and helped in sending me into a massive panic attack, fueled by ignorance and depression.  I often feel as if I am a failure (something I believe is not that abnormal), but someone who doesn’t know anything about me has no right to tell me this.  So Friday night I had my most epic anxiety attack in months.  And during this unfortunate event I realized that I seriously need a new job, and some hope for humanity.  This ignorant boy really made me doubt the future of our species, if the “smart” people are so unwilling to listen to what a person is saying, what hope do we have?

By today I had regained some hope for humanity.  Then I went to the gas station.

On this trip with my friend, we were ambushed by a girl I had briefly met at an open mic several months ago.  I don’t know how she recognized me, but she ran across the parking to speak with my friend and me.  The conversation, was tainted by her drunken state, and the extreme and obviously drugged state of her two companions.  Now I don’t judge people for drinking, and if they really want to do drugs fine, not my thing, but to each is own.

This gas station interruption took almost 45 minutes and really made me think that I am much better off then I had been feeling I was all weekend.  I might be crazy, well I am, but I know it.  Not only am I crazy, but I try to do something about it.  I worry about people sometimes, who are blissfully unaware of their personal choices and their own instability.  I am not judging this girl and her friends, but I really hope that they made it home safely, and that she gets herself into a safe situation away from the people she is spending her time with, if not for herself, then for the safety of her children.

It’s too bad that there is such a stigma on getting help, seeing a therapist, or just not self medicating all the time.  I hope that in some small way my openness about my own struggles with depression, anxiety, and OCD will help to make others more comfortable with being different, and admitting that sometimes we cannot handle everything alone.  When we force our crazy into a box, and cover it with arrogance, drugs, or both nobody wins, and we only hurt ourselves.