OCD Status

It’s been a while since I wrote about mental health, or more specifically, my mental health. I left group therapy at the end of November this year. It felt like time since early summer and after putting in a lot of thought and reflecting on where I stood in my biannual review with the group I set my mind to leaving.

The last week or so I have been undergoing, what I now realise, is a process of leaving that is pretty much part and parcel of the therapy I have had. I have been down, volatile, self-doubting but I have also felt lighter, self-aware and stronger. I appreciate my personal journey with OCD has not concluded and I may require more therapy in future but I am no longer taking any antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications and I feel in tune with my mental health needs.

It seems 2018 will be a very different kind of year for me in a lot of ways but I don’t regret the journey I took with psychodynamic group therapy and I am so thankful for sharing that journey with everyone who was part of it. My relatively active social life is part of me I reclaimed through therapy and will no doubt be a portal of continuing to be a happier me.

#MentalHealth Review #OCD 

Despite being seen three times a year by a psychiatrist to review the nuts and bolts of my OCD, depression and anxiety and the effect prescribed fluoxetine and anxiolytics are having on my general health, I now have another sort of review in my psychodynamic group therapy. Every six months we take stock of our goals, risks and achievements. I volunteered to go first in this new uncharted territory of therapy as it gave me less time to dwell on it and arouse the many critical thoughts that may have disabled me from benefiting from this event.

Reviewing myself or letting myself be reviewed, as a group activity, was odd, firstly because it is the only time, unless you want to have the spotlight in group, you are thrust into the group’s crosshairs. I was grateful for only having a week to ruminate over what initially felt like a bureaucratic hoop, but in all fairness I think I forgot about it by the weekend and only brought it back to mind the morning of my next session. 

Refusing to be cowed and rendered defeated by my thoughts I considered the individual points of the review in my allotted fifteen minutes at the start of the session and found that, without being completely aware I was doing so, I do actually keep a mental ledger of where I was at the start of my therapy and where I am now. With so much food for thought from each session over the weeks months and now years my mind has mulled over the problems presented to me, not just about my own psyche, but those reflected to me by others around me. I consider it one of my greatest achievements to take into account the way others might see me differently to my perceived view of myself and find I am able, albeit in an analytical fashion, to accept these observations to reflect and think about without drowning in a sea of my self-made negativity. 

I have never formally looked at what therapy is doing for me in such depth verbally or mentally, so viewing myself, my thoughts, emotions, goals and progress in this way clarified what my goals are from here on out. It was encouraging to see the positive work my ever chattering mind can do, even when I don’t feel in focus of the sessions I have weekly. It appears, as I have always suspected you don’t need a therapist to be with you daily but a mental voice that represents a therapist does exist in my cognitive choir. This maybe why I don’t feel defensive about the way I feel or come across and am altogether willing to consider the effect my behaviour has on others and on myself. 

To date I am grateful for the increased self-awareness I have developed in therapy. I am glad I appear to cope with the depression and anxiety I have more constructively whilst being more aware of their origins. Each session seems to increase my arsenal of tools to augment or mute my analytic thinking and self-reflection leading to a neuroplastic change that benefits me a little at a time. I am burdened with fleeting dark thoughts on a daily basis but I am finding more balance with the lighter thoughts I seem to be able to generate. 

I may have a few chronic illnesses, but my OCD and whatever else keeps it company, has to date affected me the most in my life and I have tools I am getting better at handling to cope with the condition. I know what my next step is in my self-development, and here’s hoping I generate the impetous to take it before the next review. 

The Origins of My Positivity

This Autumn has been a season of stock taking for me as I have felt its time to reflect on how far I have come in various journeys of the past few years. As I conducted this stock take, in private and in group, I was asked a question by someone who is facing similar struggles to me about how I overcame my emotional hang ups.

Not having realised until I reflected that, yes indeed I accept myself for who I am, mistakes not withheld, I tried to retrace my steps. I’m by no means finished in my journey of self discovery. Firstly, I think I had to see the pain I was causing myself by my harsh judgments and impossible goals. Then I had to pare back my expectations to what do I really need to be happy. This was hard because I had to face the fact that a lot of what I was aspiring to wasn’t making me happy. The happiness I was seeking was there, if I would just open myself up to believing I deserved it.

I was put in a position where I had to build myself up again as I had fallen to pieces. When you have been at rock bottom you know it’s not a place you want to go again. Luckily, I used my depression as a springboard knowing I could not put myself and my husband through that again. 

None of this happened overnight and it is impossible to lead a life where you can be free of criticism. There is always something someone will criticise you about. The criticism more often than not comes from a place where someone is struggling with their own issues. 

Me vs OCD

On a daily basis I struggle with defining myself, my personality, likes and dislikes and what would be considered OCD. After all I undergo intense self scrutiny everyday, that I suspect ninety percent of the world’s population don’t, and that’s not even taking into account the self reflection and awareness that accompanies complying with my weekly psychodynamic group therapy.

I’m not sure, even now, six years post mental health assessment and diagnosis exactly whom I’m supposed to measure up to in order to decide if it’s OK to do, think or believe x, y and z. It’s very hard to trust others anyway, again I’m not sure if being so distrustful of people is part of me or the pathological aspect of my mental illness, but the added edge of failing by trusting the wrong people is terrifying.

It could just be me, the annual seasonal affective disorder or the OCD, but sometimes I think the only peace I will ever attain will not be in this realm. The narrative of what I think life should be about, faith should be about, kindness and kinship should be about is not compatible with the reality in which I live and I grow weary of trying to sheild myself from it.

I’m no different to millions of confused people out there who feel we are the individuals that have not been cut quite right and have never been, nor will ever be, fit for purpose. Any useful purpose. However, there’s no way out of this nightmare or these constant questions and self-analysis and denial only gets me so far.

I go through periods of finding purpose in trying to be content and then questioning if content is good enough, finding no answer except abstract negativity and feeling severely worthless for making the effort. If there was an option in the big picture of being broken down to my fundamental elements and ceasing to exist in any way in any form without consequence, I would take it.

Living With (Being A) Chronic Pain

Currently I am having another sleepless night, whilst experiencing a gnawing sensation in my left iliac fossa. Seriously, any minute now I expect an Alien-like creature (approximating Ridley Scott’s interpretation) to pop its toothy little head out of my abdomen and go skittering behind the bedroom furniture.

Thank heavens I have my iPod to take my mind off it, although I’m not sure Abba’s Chiquitita is helping much. However, it has been suggested quite emphatically that the physical pain I feel is simply mirroring the emotional pain that I spend all my time denying, but surely the throbbing pain I am experiencing is just the endometrioma discovered on ultrasound last Wednesday? Can’t endometrioma pain just be simply pain from endometrioma?

Apparently not. I would be making a grave mistake if I didn’t admit to myself that I am bitterly disappointed with having yet more pain from endometriosis, particularly when almost a year ago laparoscopic surgery showed no endometriosis; something I heard the nurse in recovery saying when I came around from my anaesthetic and was later confirmed by the consultant who performed adhesiolysis. So what the hell is causing this relentless pain? Scotch mist?!

I am way beyond being surprised I have a cyst where I have no ovary (I had a left salpingo-oophrectomy in 2010), and I naively thought I had been cured of my endometriosis. I even remember the mild scolding I got from a relative for being ‘over-smart’ for having multiple surgeries for endometriosis in the first place, regardless of the fact I was and am in severe pain from endometriosis. However, I look alright so rather than being in my pelvic cavity maybe it’s all in my head; and we are back to emotional pain again.

I pick the scab of my psyche on a weekly basis via psychodynamic therapy with a group of highly intelligent fellow sufferers of mental illness. So just maybe this therapy will drain the discontent my remnant ovarian tissue is experiencing, alleviating the need for any CT guided drainage or a full blown surgical procedure. I admit imagining a small aubergine-like foreign body where my ovary should be might be having an adverse effect on my pain perception, but I wouldn’t be imagining the aubergine if it didn’t hurt so much.

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Lost For Words…

The last four entries on my blog have been re-blogs, they are fine blog posts which I enjoyed reading and sharing and I say a big thank you to the respective bloggers for their great posts.

Those who have been reading my blog for a while may have noticed a change in content. The reason for this is that I can no longer share thoughts relating to my mental health on my blog, I must take these to formal group therapy. This is a condition of the psychodynamic treatment I am receiving. I have been humbled by the response I got to my posts about mental health, it was heartening to realise I was not alone from the messages I got and still get from people who can relate to the emotions, low mood and inner conflict of being anxious and depressed. Although I can no longer post about my OCD, anxiety or depression I am still happy to answer queries from those with questions.

Not being able to write about anything related to my own mental health is hard as I have shared so much on this blog. I don’t regret a single post I made nor do I regret talking openly and honestly about having OCD, anxiety and depression. It is with great reluctance I removed some of my posts but I need to symbolically remove this blog as an emotional outlet for now. The act of removing them was difficult for me as I do not go back on what I have written and I have only ever presented the truth from my point of view for which I make no apology. I simply wrote what I observed and experienced, I didn’t force you to act this way so I could blog about you.

I will be sticking to book reviews, Slimming World and my experience of skincare, make-up etc., just things of a lighter nature as I enjoy blogging and will not be giving it up after all the hard work I put into this blog for 18 months. I wish all my readers a good day and hope you will continue to tune in when I post. Thank you for being there.

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Mental Health Awareness Week: Living With My Current Anxiety

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It’s hard to believe that I ever went to University, where I lived away from home for 5 years, lived alone for 3 and a half years after I graduated while I was single and working. I worked for 4 years after I was married. During that time I suffered from anxiety which was debilitating but now I cannot leave my home on my own. I wish I had sought help years earlier but hindsight is always 20/20.

I suffer from anxiety and nausea at the thought of going anywhere without my husband. I only feel safe in my home. Even leaving my home to go into my garden by myself is difficult for me as I am anxious about being seen by neighbours who can look into our garden. I cannot do the shopping by myself, in fact my husband does it most of the time alone and I go with him if I feel like I can face the anxiety of being around people in a supermarket or shop.

I cannot bear the thought of anyone being in our home other than my husband and myself. I feel my skin crawling and icicles up my back at the thought of strangers or anyone else entering our home. It’s nothing against them but I don’t want to expose them to my environment. Also it’s the only safe place I have and I don’t want my sense of security altered by others.

When I go to the hairdresser, hospital, dentist, GP or spa my husband comes with me leaves me at the salon and then comes back to get me when I have finished there. I have been like this for 8 years now. I have tried a few times to go out on my own but it has resulted in anxiety attacks leaving me feeling so ill that I don’t want to move let alone leave my home for days.

I find being like this frustrating. As much as I love my husband and know he is supportive, I want to find my self-confidence and self-worth again. My independence has been eroded away by anxiety. Although I can do whatever I want to do, I cannot do it alone, I have to have my husband with me. Without him I fear I will panic and not cope.

I recognise the issues I have and anxiety plays a huge part in my problems of functioning alone in society, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is also a label I have acquired for my condition. I hope with the therapy I am currently undertaking to gain more independence and do things by myself outside my home but from where I stand now it’s a steep hill to climb.

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