Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Sky High Anxiety

Over the last month I feel like I have endless doctors appointments. It is nerve racking on its own because it means that I am forced to go out of my comfort zone. I know that is meant to be a good thing. A bit of exposure is never a bad thing so that is a positive note for this blog.

I had a doctors appointment today, funny enough. I was late leaving the house because of my checks. I was feeling too anxious because my doctor is on holiday so I had to see a doctor that I didn't know. On a plus side I got to the doctors office early only because I walked the shorter way even though it put my anxiety sky high. The short cut was not on the main road for most of the way, if something happened to me I don't think anyone would have taken notice. I had every scenario playing through my head and I had to remind myself that it wasn't real.

So, I had gotten myself to the doctors eventually and the receptionist made me feel really really bad about myself. There is this new checking in system on the wall that patients are meant to use. It is all touch screen and it is just something that I cannot touch. Too many people touch it and I don't think its clean and I am not going to touch it to go into a public toilet to wash my hands to make it even worse. So when I started to tell the receptionist that I had a 10am appointment with doctor ... and before I could finish she cut me off to tell me to check myself in at the touch screen.
I froze and I quietly said to the woman, 'I can't' She just looked up at me as if to say why, and I repeated, 'I can't, I suffer from OCD, I can't touch surfaces'
It's not as though she said anything nice or helpful. I just got this look from her, then she asked, 'date of birth?' and within 15 seconds I was signed it. How hard was that for her? not very. How hard was it for me? Extremely.

I had to sort out for my sick leave from work. I have been off for over a month now and I am trying my best to stay hopeful and sound hopeful about my return. Secretly I am absolutely dreading it but it has to be done eventually and maybe once I get there it wont be so bad. Secretly I have the fears running through my head about my return to work and it has turned into something that I can't switch off. So here are my worries listed below.

-I am going to get the train to work and I am just going to get back on to the other one and go back home.

-I will get to work and not be able to do what I am supposed to do and then be shouted at.

-I will serve someone at the till and then I will panic and wash my hands but I wont be able to stop washing my hands.

-Customers trying to make idle chit chat with me will turn into me thinking I have shouted and insulted them or the other way around, I will see it in my head and then I will spend the rest of the day trying to remember what exactly happened and if those things really did happen.

-The cleaning chemicals will get on my hands and I will panic and then wash my hands until it feels right and what if it doesn't feel right and I can't stop washing my hands.

-My hands will get so badly cracked and will bleed and it will be open to infection. Germs with handling money or chemical getting into my cuts will make me sick and I might die.

-I wont be able to do a full shift because one of the above will happen and I will rush home and then I will be constantly watching my back because I think someone might be following me to abduct me, rape me, torture me and I wont get to go home.

So I am aware that this sounds a bit mad but the thing is, when it is going through my head it is all too real and I am all too convinced that things will happen or they have happened. It is very frightening.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Second Therapy Appointment = Disastrous Day

I am trying to find some humour in today. At least there is enough hours left in the day for something good to happen.

I found it really hard to leave the house today. I knew well enough ahead of time that I was going to struggle with this and it was the usual. I mean, what is so different from one day to another when all of the routines and checks are the same. Maybe identical? Likely. but I am so hurt, annoyed and frustrated right now that I having a hard time to stay positive and to keep this blog a nice positive place and I am only on my second posting. sheesh. I swear I am not a negative person. I promise. Now will the negativity go away? Please?

I made sure to leave the house early enough that if I had to turn back to check everything all over again (yep, it felt like one of those days) then I would have enough time to turn back, do it all over again and walk back to catch my train. Thankfully I never turned back. I kept reminding myself that I checked the stove and everything else the usual 5 times and I even listened for a gas leak and there was none. Everything was in the clear.

I made it for my appointment half an hour early. I was so impressed and even more impressed because I remembered my book. So at least that half hour waiting wouldn't drag by. Before I knew it I had been there for an hour. Not that I was so caught up in my reading material that I lost track of time. No, I checked the time what it seemed like every five minutes. I was getting more and more anxious by the minute. I even started to fear that I would have to make a trip to the ladies toilet and I would miss my appointment slot and then I would get into trouble and taken off of the list again. Every possible outcome made me forget that slight urge of a visit. Just like when your watching t.v and you feel like you need to ah, and then you get so caught up in your program that you forget about it.

I couldn't understand why I had been waiting so long. I mean I checked in, stated my time of appointment, name and who my appointment was with. I was told to have a seat and here you might think, silly girl. You didn't have an appointment that day or you were scheduled earlier or later on in the day. Well. No. They forgot that I was there. If I had ever felt invisible it was definitely for those 40 minutes after my appointment should have started that I was still there. The whole time people coming and going. The staff stopping in font of me to the water cooler for a drink. Eventually, and I think eventually fits here. Not that I was acting impatient. I was actually too nervous to go up and say anything, but then the same woman who checked me in called down to me, asking who I was and whom I was waiting to see.

Within 5 minutes my therapist was rushing down the hallway, very apologetic. Once we were in her office I could see how annoyed she was. She assured me that this never happens and she is deeply upset and angry that they never called her to say I was in. Especially the fact I was so early and every other appointment that I have with her she will personally come out and make sure that I have arrived if she hasn't had word.

So once all of that was over with I had a 20 minute session. Fair enough that I was very agitated but I wish I prepared myself better because I have never rushed home so quickly in my life.

I had a call on my mobile phone while I was walking home. Not knowing who it was I declined. I couldn't handle much more as it was. Eventually when I arrived home, quickly unlocked the door, rushed in, locked the door and checked twice that it was locked I finally breathed.

I got myself settled in and then I picked up my phone to dial that number back. This is where the positivity comes in because I struggle to talk to strangers, even over the phone. So here I am, calling a number that I have no idea if I know that person on the other line. Well, unfortunately I did.

The new manager of the cafe I work in. She hasn't spoken to me once since I had my complete break down and had to call in sick. I am still on my sick notes and the doctors are reminding me that there is no rush and it is important that I get back on my feet before rushing back to work when I clearly can't handle leaving the house.

Well, she starts by asking how I am doing and what can they do to get me back in the workplace and soon and I am left standing there thinking, is she out of her mind? I can barely leave the house and she knows that. She tells me how she phoned HR and that she would like to come see me at my home, since I am unable to leave the house. To discuss my 'condition' and for myself to give them some notes on it.

Every time that this replays in my head and believe me, it wont stop. As much as I would like it to it wont stop. It seems to get worse and worse. I am in a bad enough state as it is and I couldn't stop crying though, I still can't. I don't even know what she can and can't do.. I don't enjoy being off of work, I want to be normal and live a normal life. Go out my front door without resulting into a panic followed by a fit of tears. I am especially scared if I'm forced out of my job. I don't know what is worse. Being forced back before I am ready or forced out completely

I am feeling like a failure most days but then I don't want to go around feeling sorry for myself. I don't want to come across as either one but I am finding it hard to keep at it and to not give up. :weep:

-This blog was something previously written but edited. This is about 4 weeks old. Like a puppy.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Check one, Check two, Check Three, Check Four, Check Five Times

I could spend my day writing, actually every day just writing. Although not on actual paper with a pen or pencil. I start out just fine, then I hate it and unlike typing I can't just go back and fix what I don't like. I have to rip it up and throw it in the bin and start over again. This is usually the case for about 4 or 5 attempts and then I just give up all together. This is a 5-10 minute process all together. Usually after the giving up part I make myself a giant coffee and do nothing. Nothing at all. Then I get restless, annoyed and very irritable.

I think that I spend more time annoyed with myself than anyone else. Every time I attempt to do something that is meant to be helpful followed by failure, well I don't think that I need to say how I feel but I will give a hint, It rhymes with bhite.

I managed to go out last night to see a band play in Glasgow. I was really looking forward to going when we bought the tickets months ago. Then the last month I started to dread the idea of going. Mainly the fact that I have a hard time to leave the house because of a recent set back and then because of how stressful the checking has become to being just completely afraid out leaving the one safe place and being surrounded by strangers and their germs. The thoughts of them going to the bathroom, not washing their hands good enough or not at all, then touching surfaces that I might accidentally touch.

I know that there is a certain stigma attached to OCD, being with germs and neatness and David Beckham with all of his cans of beer lined up front facing, all the same way or Katy Perry with freaking out if any pet hair gets on her clothes.

Well, I have to clean clean clean and no I don't enjoy it. On a really bad day I will clean things over and over again. If I want to go out I have to check everything in the house first, make sure that there is no electrical things on or plugged in. The only exception is the fridge.

Then making sure no water is running and that the gas stove is off and by that I have to run my hand over each switch 5 times and then I need to make sure all of the windows are shut and locked, even if they were never opened in the first place, even the patio door. I go around each room to do all of these things 5 times and it does take up a lot of time and this is only one of my many rituals that I have to do. It is annoying on so many levels but what is even more annoying is the times I leave the house to have to go back in to do it all over again. If you think that sucks then it gets worse, the times where I get to the top of the street to have to turn back to do it all again.

I always have to give myself extra time to do all of these things before I have to go out for work, doctors appointments and such. If I don't I will either be late getting there or worse of all not being able to get there at all.

One good thing that has happened despite my major setback at the moment is that I was able to get out of the house last night in decent time, although extremely anxious and just about every worse case scenario running through my head and having to remind myself and remember that none of those things happened and that its not real and its just the OCD. I went out to see one of my favourite bands play. The venue was crowded, it was hot and stuffy but it was also a big achievement. I stayed for the entire gig.

Even though I stayed in the back of the venue to watch it all which before I would have been right up front having all of the fun I still had some fun followed by 'what if this ceiling collapses and we all get trapped' to being so distracted by that thought and several others that I missed part of the show.

At least one bonus, it was so loud that I heard a constant buzzing in my ears all night, which meant that when I went to bed I didn't hear anything that wasn't there. Yes, I hear things that aren't there. I don't know if that is part of the OCD or something else all together. I really am a bag full of illnesses. Stay away in case its contagious.

Friday, 20 May 2011

First Day Of Therapy

I am sure that it is not unusual when starting a blog of any kind you think 'Where do I start?' But seriously. Where do I start?

I suppose that I would like a blog that is possitive even if my entry isn't on the most possitive days, which I have not had many of those in quite a while and I would like them to come back, soon.

This is the start of my therapy and I hope that my new journey through this is a good one. I will try to remain optimistic and hopeful, despite how hopeless it can feel at times.

So here I go. First day of therapy. Almost like a first day at a new school.
You don't know anyone there and you have no idea which way to turn down the corridors to get to which ever room your meant to be going to, although they all look the same anyways.

Getting out of the house has been torture over the last few weeks. I can actually count on one hand how many times I have stepped foot out there in these past 3 weeks. Some outside activity has been successfull and other times not so much. I guess it it better to forget about those unsuccessful times and remind myself the times that I enjoyed and how good it felt.

So here I am, trying to leave the house on time. To be exact, 5 trips around the house to check that everything is off and unplugged. No taps or toilets are running and the gas stove is completely off. Only 15 minutes late getting out of the house, not so bad.

Once I get to the train station I realize that I had missed the earlier train and the next one is delayed. Seriously. No snow, no ice, not even a drop of rain in Glasgow. There was sunshine! Eventually it was cancelled and I was going to be late. I felt anxious enough as it was and trying to keep a smile on my face without bursting into tears and rushing back home was difficult.

Eventually I make it to the clinic. I asked the receptionist where I was meant to go. She pointed down to the stairs and off I went. To be told by the next receptionist that it was actually upstairs that I was meant to go. After trying to pay attention to her directions and trying to remember them off I went.

I made it upstairs and could not remember for the life of me where I was supposed to go. Thankfully this place was just full of receptionists. So here I am, asking a third one where I am meant to go. I said, I have an appointment with dr ... and I am not sure where to go.

As she tilts down her glasses and takes a look at me, it is apparent that she doesn't understand what I am saying. Is it my accent? am I doing that thing when I talk where it is not quite loud enough, I babble a bit and my Canadian accent is definitely there. So it is! So I am! Not again..
She replies... 'Are you here for the weight management sessions?'
........ Ok I can laugh at that now :lol:

I quickly shake my head, I look down, next to tears. I was frightened enough as it was but now extremely self conscious. She gave a list off the top of her head of the other departments. Is that the right word? Departments?
Eventually she said the right one and I could only muster up enough to shake my head yes, and she pointed down the corridor and I was off.

Forth receptionist was a success!

This was the first therapy session. The woman seemed nice but I am still wary. What if the therapy she is using on me is all wrong? what if some of the questions I couldn't be totally honest answering because I am so ashamed and it will affect my treatment from being successful. Well that part happened. Some questioned I got so flustered I could hardly answer. I maybe looked at her a few times while she spoke to me. But here I am, a grown woman, staring at the floor through the majority of this session.

I don't know why I don't remember more of the session, I remember every step getting there but that is about it. Well that and the questions I couldn't bring myself to answer truthfully. And the ones that I did, I had a whole other set of questions too, 'why?'
And I really didn't want to tell her why. Could I tell her that? could I say to her, 'I don't want to tell you why' I don't think it would be wise, what if she kicks me out of her office and tells me to stop wasting her time?

This is difficult, but as the woman says, we are going to aggressively tackle your OCD. We are going to have a zero tollerence policy towards it. I don't know if I like the aggressive approach. What if she takes this on too quick and I get frightened off like my driving lessons?

Next appointment is Tuesday. I just hope that I can focus more and maybe relax a little and not get so flustered.

3 Blogs. I may have to start another to keep it even.

I think that the first post in a blog is the worst. There are too many possibilities and starting somewhere first is hard. This is my third blog. I keep Bazzle Dazzle for day to day things. I now have A Day In The Life Of OCD and I also have a private blog on OCD-UK. Since that blog is a private one I would like to put some of those blogs onto this one and then add things to this one that I don't feel like I could add onto that one. Oh I hope that doesn't get confusing but I like to write and for me writing is a good kind of release.

So, I have been suffering with OCD since my early teen years. I have memories from my childhood, around the age 6 of these thoughts and the fears. But I don't like to say that I have suffered with it since I was a child. Mainly because those memories are so few and far between and I hardly understood any of it at the time and I don't recall ever thinking anything of it either. I suppose I thought it was normal because it was all I ever knew and I don't actually remember a time where I didn't have these thoughts and fears but it also didn't scare me like it had done while I started into my teen years. Even in my teen years I didn't fully understand where it was all coming from but I knew it wasn't normal or right. I wish that I had the help that I have now. It may have turned out much better since I am not getting any younger.

I can have a good day where I hardly have any of the thoughts and the rituals that keep my fears at bay and the ones that I do have are only half as bad. That one good day can carry on to a few good days or a week and rarely several weeks. However with all of those good days in a row I get anxious because I know that out of nowhere the circle begins again and the bad days will start and they can also last just a day, or days, weeks, months. I just never know one day from the next. Anything can happen and it can set me back to square one all over again.

On the bright side I had spoken to my doctor about what was going on and I am still going through an assessment, another assessment actually. Soon I will start the right treatment and I will have a better way of understanding and coping with this illness.

At the end of the day it is a mental health illness and there is nothing wrong with that. Even though it is still a taboo for some and sadly an illness taken so lightly that it is also just a laughing matter for some. Even though it is not something that can be easily understood by most that even as a sufferer I have a hard time to understand it all sometimes.

I know how I feel and I know how hopeless it can be, how depressing and frustrating. Living in fear of just about everything and unable to live your life normally. Some people have no idea just how lucky they are and I envy them for that. It must be bliss but maybe my opinion on that is just bitter. I don't want to be bitter though.