Tag Archive | OCD

I’m Mentally Ill, Ha, Ha

‘I am totally mental, the men in white coats will be coming to take me away any day now.’

‘Talking with me for while is enough to give anyone depression.’

‘If you think you’re mad, I’m totally bonkers.’

Those are some examples of how some people have reacted to me when I told them about some of my mental health issues. I am not that surprised at the responses, but I am disappointed. Some people just do not take mental health seriously and see it as a bit of a joke. Someone even once said to me that a lot of people use mental health as an excuse, to get away with being more selfish or lazy!

Out of all mental health conditions I have experienced for myself, depression seems to one of the most trivialised and dismissed. The NHS Choices website states that ‘Some people still think that depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They’re wrong. Depression is a real illness with real symptoms, and it’s not a sign of weakness or something you can “snap out of” by “pulling yourself together”. People often seem to miss use the word depressed, saying that they feel depressed, when they actually mean they feel very sad. Real depression is ‘when you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days,’ NHS Choices website. When I am depressed I feel like my whole world is collapsing around me and I cannot see the point in trying to do much at all, even getting dressed or washing seems pointless. I think why bother, it is not as if anyone will notice or care. Some people say things like ‘I had depression, but woke up one day and decided the depression was not going to win and I was going to get on with my life’. I know people who say things like that are trying to be helpful, but it just makes me feel worse, like I have failed yet again, as I am unable to flick a switch in my brain and not be depressed. People who say that clearly either never really had full blow depression or they were at the end stages of it anyway. When someone has depression unless you are a mental health professional who is actually that persons assigned councillor or therapist, offering advice is normally the last thing you should be doing, as it will probably not help much and could make the person feel worse. I would rather people just said that they care, they love me, they are there for me, they are not going to abandon me and to maybe offer me a hug.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is another condition to get silly reactions. I get the ‘just try to relax and not think about it’ one and I get the ‘everyone has routine and ritual that is just part of being human’ one. If it was that easy not to think about it, I would not suffer OCD in the first place! I agree, everyone has routines up to a point, but not ones that make this little sense and that slows you down to the point you are late for things or even miss them altogether. The one I hate the most though is ‘I’m a bit OCD’. No you are just organised, or a tidy person or just really like something. The charity OCD-UK explain it very well on their website:

‘As understanding and public awareness about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has grown, so has the use of the term ‘OCD’ as a description for some kinds of behaviour that are not related in any way to the actual condition. When people use the terms ‘obsessive’ and ‘compulsive’ incorrectly, it leads to misunderstanding about OCD and belittles and trivialises the true suffering that the disorder can bring. As the internet and social networking websites have become more widely used, there has been an ever-increasing trend for people to refer to themselves as being a ‘bit OCD’. However, these obsessive or compulsive quirks, that last a brief moment, and rarely cause distress or any anxiety, do not warrant the label or a diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which can actually leave a person debilitated for hours at a time.’

The responses I get for autism are generally not too bad. People say that they either could not tell at all, or that they guessed as much, but it really does not bother them. I do get tired of people assuming my maths skills must be fantastic, as they are not very good at all. I think I might even have dyscalculia which is a learning difficulty with numbers and maths concepts (a bit like dyslexia for maths). As one blogger puts it ‘Asking if we like math, computers, or numbers because we’re Autistic is like asking a Black or African-American if he or she likes watermelons or rap music because he or she is Black or African-American.’ There was the time I was in a chat room and a person who works as a classroom assistant with autistic children said ‘they are all such lovely children’. Firstly she should know better than to call all autistic children they as if it was a race of people and secondly I honestly don’t think I always was such a lovely child. As with everyone else on the entire planet autistic people are a varied bunch, some lovely, some not so lovely and a lot of the time it has nothing to do with the autism.

When some people make a joke response to mental health I realise that some do this out of a sense of discomfort to try to make light of a topic they find very hard to discuss seriously with others. They themselves might have experience of mental health and still not feel like they can discuss it openly. However it is not a good idea to make a joke about mental health as a first response to someone who tells you they have issues. It can be very hard for people with mental health issues to feel that they can discuss them honestly with anyone, so the fact they feel they are ready to talk about them should be taken seriously. You should listen to them, it may help you understand the person better.

The other thing that gets me is having watched one documentary or met one person with the same condition people then think they totally understand you. Yes they may have some idea of what the condition is, but mental illnesses tend to vary from person to person a great deal. For example with my OCD I do not wash my hands over and over, but after one documentary showed a woman with OCD washing her hands excessively till they were red raw, for a long time after people kept asking me if that was something I did. When someone tells you they have a mental health condition please be sensitive in your response to them and think before you say anything.

Links:

NHS Choices on Clinical Depression 

OCD-UK on What is not OCD!

15 Things You Should Never Say To An Autistic blog

 

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Thoughts Intrusive

Sometimes I feel like my brain is struggling to deal with everything.  My mind feels like it is over whelmed with thoughts and I start to feel down about things.  During a recent session of this I decided to write down what it felt like, this is what I wrote:

Over thinking a lot of things, some of which are simple things.

Worrying about things before they even start.  Building things up.

Pre plan over and over in my head, seeing the future event taking place in my mind.  It can be something as simple as what I will do when I get home that day or what I will do at the weekend.

Visualizing things in my mind’s eye in great detail, sometimes they seem almost real.

Overcrowded brain.  Loud, chattering thoughts.

Thoughts swimming through my mind jostling for position.

This can lead to:

OCD  When I over think some things it can trigger me to think an action or task needs redoing as it might not be right.  When I am worrying about something my OCD tends to become worse.

Anger I get angry with myself sometimes at not being able to control my thoughts.  I get angry when I am stuck in an OCD loop or when confused.  I mostly just feel angry inside, but I have been known to shout out loud at myself sometimes, mostly when on my own.

Confusion When my mind is swimming with thoughts I sometimes get confused as to which thoughts matter and which don’t.

Worrying I worry something will not go to plan as I saw it happening in my mind.  I sometimes worry that I will never get better from feeling like this and that can scare me.

Tiredness  Having a brain that will not shut up can be very tiring.  When I am over thinking things too much it can make me tired.

Putting Things off/ Giving up I have an idea or a plan, but sometimes I put myself off the idea by over thinking it and imagining all the reasons it is a bad idea.  I worry about it either coming across as a daft idea to other people or just not working well.

Depression/ Low Spirits  When I over think something to the point it makes me worry or give up, then I can feel very low.  Sometimes I just go back to bed and sleep instead of having to listen to my overcrowded brain.  My thoughts can start to all be negative and I start to blame myself for how I feel.  I also feel low sometimes when something I pre plan in great detail does not work out that way exactly.

The worst is when I start to take out my mood on those around me, mostly my parents who I live with.  I try very hard not to do this, but sometimes I struggle.  I do not like how angry I get with other people at times.  Sometimes I feel the anger is somewhat justified towards them, but most of the time I know afterwards that it was not.

I wonder if anyone else who has OCD or high functioning autism or an anxiety disorder can relate to any of this.

 

 

OCD

  • I wash my hands over and over.
  • I turn the light switch on and off ten times before entering a room.
  • I think my family will die or get hurt if I don’t stick to my routine.

These are the most common things people seem to think I must do and think when I tell them I have OCD.  I would like to start by dispelling some myths.  Not everyone who has OCD washes their hands over and over, yes a germ phobia is quite a common symptom of OCD, but I do no have this.  I do like to keep clean, but only to the extent that most people do.  I can see why people think this, if  you look up OCD on Wikipedia, it even has a picture of someone washing their hands, which does not help me.  I have never had to turn the light on and off over and over.  I do have some issues with numbers, counting up to twelve when I do some things, but I do not  have a set number of times I must do any one thing.

I have always realised that if I do not do my routine my family will not die, nothing will in fact happen to them.  Most people with OCD realise this, and the thought that someone will die if the routine is not completed I gather is quite rare.  The reason I have to stick to my routine is more how I will feel if I do not.  I feel very uncomfortable and can’t relax if my OCD is not complied with.  I feel wrong somehow and my mind nags at me.  I can lie in bed at night, very tired and ready to sleep, but if I have not completed my full routine my brain will not shut-up.  ‘You need to check the door is fully shut, yes you do, check it, check it, go on, go on’ a bit like Mrs Doyle in Father Ted will not let you get away until you agree to give into her.  So I have to give into my crazy mind and get out of bed, no matter how comfy I am and re shut the door.  This is the only way I know I will get any peace and my mind will switch off for the night.

Another thing people sometimes say to me is ‘I think I might have OCD’.  Now everyone has some kind of order and routine or we would not function in society, but having a routine is not the same thing as having OCD.  OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and until your thoughts are so obsessive in your mind that you simply have to give into them or end up going crazy then you don’t have OCD.

Full blown OCD can effect you ability to function in society.  Firstly I find it hard at times to live with others as sometimes they can do things that mess up my routine by interrupting it, meaning I have to start all over again.  Sometimes people move or rearrange objects in a house, which can seriously mess with my mind.  Half way through a routine to find that something is not where I need it to be can set me right back.  Secondly I have been known to take so long to get dressed and ready to go out that by the time I am done the shops are shut or the event is half over.  So I either miss out totally or have a rather rushed experience.  Even if I do turn up in good time, I can often be worn out already by the long routine of getting ready to go out.

I have been on medication since I was about fourteen.  Paroxetine is better known as an antidepressant drug, but is often used to help with OCD.  I have no idea if it is still doing anything for me these days as I have been on it so long.  I am sure it was helping me in the first few years of taking it, making me slightly less anxious about not doing certain things, but now I am on a lower dose and may have become immune to it.  I do know I am addicted to it and have to take it or I feel awful.  It take about two or three days without it, but then I feel dizzy, sick, tired and my head feels like it has been hit with a hammer.  I ran out once when at university and I was without it for nearly four whole days, by the end I was seeing coloured sports in front of my eyes.  I am not sure being left on medication with these effects is a good idea long-term, but I am glad I took it.  I also had therapy for my OCD, but on its own the therapy clearly was not enough.

My therapy was mainly behavioural based and did help somewhat, but it was no cure.  The trouble with therapy is that I would sometimes have a good week and be so relaxed at the session that you would fail to really explore the true issues.  If you go on and have a few good weeks in a row the therapist may think you are making such good progress you no longer need to see them and then the sessions come to an end.  Then you go and have a bad week and have no one to help you.  I find stress, worrying situations and upset can trigger off a bad OCD phase.

Every day I have to do my OCD routines, but depending on my mood I can do them to a lesser extent at times, meaning that I can get on with life fairly normally.  Then something triggers me and I have to do them to the fullest extent.  This can be hard for other people who live with you, who may not understand how one day you can function relatively fine, then the next  hardly be able to cope at all.  I can sometimes work out why my OCD is playing up worse and explain this to people, but sometimes I do not know what the cause is and can’t explain it.  OCD is not always at a constant level, which some people seem to have trouble grasping.

To learn more about the misconceptions of OCD and what it really is and is not check out this web link I found.  OCD UK charity