Anxiety

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There are times I feel I’m floating
there are times I feel I’ll drown as
life’s current keeps on pushing some
times upstream sometimes down while I
choke on murky water as fear presses in
around until calm flows in and settles
when I touch the solid ground then I’m
lifted up and rushing somewhere down
the stream once more reaching for
something to cling to brushing
past the peaceful shore faster
I am being carried torment drags
me out to sea and I’m trying not
struggle as the pain envelops me so in
stillness I surrender sinking to the
depths below and I see that light is
waning as much further down I go
and as hope reaches the bottom
I push up with all my might
through the darkness that’s
subsiding thinking I may
be alright gasping as I
break the surface fill
my lungs and I exhale
just in time to be
sucked under stretch
ing out to no avail
then a hand comes
out of nowhere
from the one
who heard
my plea I
leave all
I’ve known
behind
me reach
for Him
and I
am
f
r
e
e

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Down the Rabbit Hole of Depression

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Yes, I fell off the face of the earth.

In much the same way that Alice fell down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, or Dorothy was swept up by the twister and deposited in Oz, I was whisked away…no…more like drop-kicked…into a land that only exists somewhere in the far reaches of my reality beaten mind, but isn’t nearly as glamorous as the afore-mentioned tales.

I got lost there; or comfortable there, depending on how you look at things, and I’m still there now; searching for a way back home.

Or not.

I don’t know that I’m ready to come back just yet.

It all started immediately after a nice vacation at sea; four days of fun in the sun with my husband, best friend, and other friends and acquaintances. I ate delicious food, sipped fruity things with little umbrellas, watched people go by from all circles of life, and took part in an assortment of entertaining activities. It was a truly magical experience. Like all vacations, though, it had to come to an end.

An ending is one thing, though. An abrupt and painful ending is another thing entirely. I was no sooner getting my land legs again when I found myself unexpectedly facing my demons. I wasn’t ready to face them yet. My mind was still somewhere at sea.

I was first asked not to write about certain people or past events. I considered this and surmised that it rather defeated the purpose of my writing to begin with since the things I write about are therapeutic to me. Sort of a shared diary of whatever is on my mind or heart. I share to let go. I let it out so it’s not IN anymore. I put fingers to keyboard and emotionally flow. If it pains me, aggravates me, makes me smile, or makes me laugh, I share it with others in the hopes that someone else can relate.

Then I was called onto the carpet and made to think twice about things that I had previously written. I came under fire for my OCD and the way that it affects my family. Truth be told, I hadn’t even brought my OCD with me on vacation…I had left it at home. Imagine my surprise when I found out it had followed me.

I felt like a horrible person for days after being forced to face the things I do and the way that I am. For the first time in years, I honestly wanted to die. I thought that, in my inability to “just shut it off” when others expected me to, I’d be better off if I took myself out of everyone else’s misery. Willing death is a far cry from follow-through, though, and I’m simply not capable of commitment to such finality. In reality I like certain aspects of life, even as screwed up as I am.

So, I simply shut down.

After crying all the way back home, I walked into the house with my shoes on (gasp), dropped my bags, crawled into bed, and stayed there for 3 days. I didn’t unpack, didn’t clean up after anyone, didn’t care.

Or tried not to care. Tried really hard not to care.

I thought, “If everyone wants to do whatever they want and have me not care, fine, but I can’t watch it happen.” So I stayed in bed, miserably tucked away from anything and everything that would send me into an anxiety fueled tail-spin.

Until 2 things happened.

First of all, it all got the better of me. I had to get up and clean up because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Three days is apparently my limit when it comes to what my OCD can and can’t handle.

Secondly, I thought about what I am.

I…am a human being. I am who I am. I’m in no way, shape or form perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I have hang-ups, issues, eccentricities, emotional baggage, and mental problems.

But you know what? So does everyone else. Try and show me someone that doesn’t, and I’ll direct you to the word falsehood in the dictionary.

So I got up, brushed myself off, and tried to throw myself back into life again.

Tried.

Something had changed, though. Several somethings, actually.

I had completely lost my desire to write for one thing. I still wouldn’t consider this a triumphant return. It’s more like an explanation, and writing this now is not without a certain degree of struggle. The passion and fire that I had for writing before have now been redirected into other past times; legal of course, but perhaps not entirely unsinful depending on how you view video games.

I also lost my desire to work. Maybe that isn’t all that unusual, not many people actually want to go to work. It’s just exceptionally more difficult for me now than it was before.

I don’t want to be around people, either. I’ve become anti-social. I find it easier and more enjoyable to be alone with the exception of my immediate family (at times) than I do to be among friends.

I suppose you could call the land that I’m currently lost in ‘Depression’…or ‘Selfishness’; likely a combination of both.

And there you have it.

While I may not be ready to come back yet, don’t write me off completely. Consider my absence as a hiatus until I find my way back to reality…

Which, with any luck, will be soon.

You, Me, and My OCD

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Yes, I suffer from a mental disorder. Honestly, I bet 99.9 percent of the world’s population suffers from some sort of snafu up in their cranium in one form or another. Maybe some just aren’t as prominent as others.  Or, perhaps they simply remain undiagnosed.

Do you suffer from PMS or sometimes just get sad or irritable and really can’t pinpoint why? Well, there you go; you could be bi-polar.

Do you alphabetize your DVDs, make sure your socks are matched and folded before you put them away, or check again to make sure your door is locked before you go to bed at night? Then congratulations, I’ve just diagnosed your OCD.

Has something ever shot out of your mouth and immediately afterward you thought, “Did I just say that? That couldn’t have been me!” Bam. Multiple personality disorder.

So you see, whether you pay much attention to it or not, most of us suffer from a mental disorder in one way or another.

Mine just happens to have been diagnosed by a doctor. I guess that makes a difference in the grand scheme of things when it comes to how the world looks at you, right? Perhaps it shouldn’t, but believe me, it does.

I generally don’t talk about my mental illness to people that I’ve just met if I can help it. My husband, however, likes to throw it out there in casual conversation like it’s a truly interesting discussion piece. Who knows, maybe it is. That doesn’t change the fact that spreading the word to people I barely know gets under my skin nonetheless.

This isn’t because I’m ashamed of my disorder or the way I think. I know it’s “not normal”, sure, but I don’t think I’m some sort of terrible person because of it. I don’t want to go bury my head in the sand or hide out in a dark room because, Heaven forbid, people know.

No, I honestly don’t like to mention it much because people tend to get ridiculous about it.

No one should feel the need to talk to me like I’m a ticking time bomb. Don’t think I didn’t notice that your voice went up 2 octaves in my presence and that you’re addressing me like a child because you don’t want to rock the boat. I have a mental disorder. I’m not an idiot.

I don’t know if other people that have been diagnosed with OCD can relate, but I’ve been faced with all kinds of stupid remarks or reactions when my little (okay, big) mental issue is brought to the surface.

“What, you mean like that hand washing thing?” This is one of my personal favorites. Thank you for the ignorant stereotyping. Your lack of knowledge is duly noted.

People with “that hand washing thing” only make up a small percentage of those suffering from OCD, which is defined as:

An anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).

So yeah. It naturally must be “that hand washing thing”, even though OCD can present itself in pretty much any way that a mind with some sort of imagination can conceive.

Mine happens to lean more toward the compulsion side that the obsession side of the disorder. I have an immaculately spotless house because dust, dirt, loose hair, fingerprints, and a plethora of other things can give me anxiety attacks. I say the word can, because over the course of the past few years since I decided not to walk through my life in a drug induced stupor, I’ve had to work really hard at combatting this thing and I’ve experienced a great measure of success. There are things that used to send me into anxiety fueled fits of rage that I am now able to overlook.

It’s been a huge struggle, though, let me tell you.  I’m still not “cured” by any stretch of the imagination, and maybe never will be, but I have made some huge strides in several areas thanks to some family-inflicted cognitive behavior and exposure therapy. This basically boils down to my husband putting his foot down over certain things that I would do, even at the risk of my mental anguish, before I drove the rest of the family crazy. Yes, I resented this for a while, but I got over it.

Sometimes, when you don’t have a choice in the matter, all you can do is try not to totally flip out, cope, and move on. I have realized that anxiety levels can’t stay intensely elevated forever. It’s like a bad high. You have to come down sooner or later, and as soon as I realized that I would eventually come down, things started getting better.

As much as I’ve worked hard to overcome certain obstacles though, it just makes it worse when people, who know exactly what my OCD entails, throw this little gem at me:

“Wow. You should come clean my house!”

Umm…no.

You see, you’re assuming that I, in some way shape or form, enjoy this behavior. I don’t. Not at all. Doing what I do and feeling what I feel is like a ball and chain around my neck that I can’t ever take off. It’s a huge weight on me all the time. By suggesting that I branch out and take this behavior outside of my home, you’re essentially implying that I should give up the only small sense of freedom that I currently enjoy, because when I am able to step out of my home, I am also able to breathe and relax.

Which brings me to my next point:

Stop apologizing for the condition of your own home when I walk through the door. Okay, so your place is a little messy. So what? Are you honestly under some false assumption that this will cause me to freak out to the point that I’m hyper-ventilating into a paper bag while I stand in your living room?

To be honest, your mess is like a breath of fresh air to me. I’m living vicariously through your stacks of junk mail piled up on the kitchen table and the dust across the top of your entertainment center because I can’t be that way but wish I could.

You wouldn’t know it though, because you won’t come to my house.

For different reasons, people are terrified of visiting my home. This is either thanks again in part to my husband spreading the word about my anxiety disorder, or the fact that I will bend over backward to over-correct my nervousness when we have visitors so that maybe people won’t notice it. Then, my obsequiousness just scares people, so I can’t win either way.

My in laws won’t visit because I make them uncomfortable. My family won’t visit, either. I can honestly admit that it hurts worse knowing they won’t come, than it would working through my anxiety with a house full of people. It makes me feel somewhat unloved when those closest to me refuse to help me get better at the risk of their own discomfort, or mine. Isn’t family supposed to be there to help us work through our issues?

This is why I adore my best friend. She’s the only one that seems to get this. Maybe it’s because she herself suffers from Bi-polar disorder, so we’re kind of like 2 screwed up peas in a pod. She will make the 5 hour pilgrimage from her house to mine occasionally, and I love her for loving me enough to stay with me despite my issues. She knows all about my anxiety, and guess what? If she sees me get nervous, she’ll talk me through it. That’s a true friend. Other than her and my husband, I don’t seem to have many of those, but not for lack of wishing there were more. People that understand are hard to find.

So I say this to those who don’t know how to handle a person with a mental disorder:

You can get to know us. We don’t bite. We’re honestly not all that different from you, we just have heightened emotions at times, and tend do things that others might not consider to be normal. Then again, who’s to say what genuinely defines normal?

We are who we are. People, just like you. Your perception of us won’t change a thing.