What Now? – Being Off Work With No Plans And Growing Anxiety and Uncertainty

Being a grown-up is a hell of a lot less fun than I expected.

Dear Diary,

I’m back writing on my laptop in my dressing gown and drinking a blackcurrent fruit shoot – mind racing a million miles an hour.

I’m trying to locate the cause or reasoning behind this nagging uneasiness I’m feeling and have yet to come to a conclusion. I’m probably embarrased and stressed out that I vommitted at work; I’m probably worried about going back to work in five or so days; I’m probably worried about my theory test and the content I need to learn by then and various other fears; And yet none seem to be the root cause.

I feel like I’m waiting to go back to school at some point and fall back into the routine of being a high-schooler. I’m waiting to be plucked from my new life as a working adult and placed back to where I truly belong, the place I was for most of my life.

Perhaps it’s being off work that is confusing me – (although this week off was desperately needed.) Maybe I’m feeling discombobulated about not following my routine as I have nowhere I need to be. My physical health is very poor; I can’t even walk to my Dad’s car without being extremely out of breath. I may stand still for hours upon hours at work, walking on even-flooring and walking quick short distances and back but these days I can’t walk down the high-street without repeatedly stopping for breath. In my entire life I have never felt this physically unfit.

Whatever the reason; I am lost and not sure where to go from here. I feel like a child playing dress-up, missing the carefree-ness of being a high-schooler (though high-school in on itself wasn’t exactly carefree) and I am scared of being given time to myself.

Food is still bothering me. Textures and hard bits in meats are causing me great discomfort and upset. My OCD is not great; I’m opting to not care about my appearance out of depression and not trying to make myself feel better by wearing my favourite clothes or accessorise.

I guess you could say I’m in limbo. I’m unsure of what to do and anticipating disaster and so are not doing anything productive or beneficial. I’m reluctant to start challenging my OCD or making myself feel better because I feel so damn tired. The idea of redecorating the house before a tornado strikes feels pointless so to speak. I’m just waiting for my tornado – and a tornado will always, always come – in a run-down shack instead of enjoying whatever time I have left in a cozy cottage so to speak.

Home Learning, Compulsive Hand Washing & Breakdown

Dear Diary,

So I started my home learning experience today. Actually I didn’t start anything – that was the problem. I spent hours staring at my assigned work and barely wrote the date and title. I could not focus no matter how hard I tried, so I decided to have a break from my work today.

If only I could have a break from my brain. I’ve been compulsively washing my hands and mouth. The backs of my hands and my lower face have the rough texture of dry skin that is eerily familiar to when my OCD was at it’s worst. The dry flakes of skin caused by my washing aswell as my acne are what my OCD calls “contaminated” so I feel extremely uncomfortable in my own skin. Everything feels wrong and I want to throw something – or many things.

I can’t focus in my schoolwork and I can’t focus being in my own body. Everything in the world feels wrong and I feel wrong. Part of me wants to have a shower – to give in to my OCD to the extreme sense of not just washing my hands/face but having a full-on “decontamination” but I’ve spent too long training myself to only have a shower every two days.

The world is crazy right now. I want to go to a spa type place and get my skin sorted or at least helped. I want to go on holiday and relax in Center Parcs and most of all I want to go to my therapist and the autism support place I recently joined. I want to not feel like everything I own is going to be ruined by myself.

I’m trying to distract myself by listening to music or scrapbooking but when you’re high on OCD anxiety the sound from headphones or a speaker is too much of a sensory problem; the process scrapbooking is also very difficult when you are frightened of “ruining” everything you own.

The Effect That COVID-19 Has Had On My Therapy/Recovery

Dear Diary,

It’s one o’clock in the morning as I am writing this draft and only one thing is on my mind: I wish I could speak to my psychologist.

I’ve done two or three zoom calls months and months ago which went well, however the real thing is no doubt better for a number of reasons. The first of them being that it’s awkward with internet connection; especially for someone like me whose house is notorious for having dreadful WiFi and secondly, because I would not be comfortable talking about intrusive thoughts over the video call – it would feel weird for me.

My psychologist who I have not seen in at least five months by my own reluctance to zoom- and my previous improvement in dealing with my OCD which also meant less need for appointments- is a child phycologist and guess what? Soon I will no longer be a child.

I was supposed to have more time with my psychologist over the last year. A pandemic was not supposed to happen and intervene in my improvements. I wasn’t supposed to have to grow up without being able to visit my therapist because of a virus. I suppose a lot of people will be feeling like this and I know that I am very lucky in the grand scheme of things – a lot of people have had to cope with a lot worse this past year.

I wish I could make it all go away. I’m feeling exhausted by lack of sleep, guilt, worry and regret. I wish I could give being normal – whatever the hell that means – a go for a day and spot the difference. I wish that I could’ve worked out some of my problems with my psychologist and psychiatrist (who are wonderful doctors and people by the way) during the past year in a world where the pandemic never happened. If wishes were horses.

But I can’t change what has happened. I can only sit here, in my pitch black room after resisting the urge to give in to my OCD. My skin spotty and hair slightly greasy due to the poor dietary choices I’ve been making lately. I can watch the shadows form around the light of my iPhone screen, my Alexa playing the soft sound Distant Thunderstorm in the background and hope that somehow, tomorrow will be better.

What is OCD Rehab?(+Merry Christmas)

Dear Diary,

Disclaimer: I’m not a trained professional, I’m just a girl with OCD and autism who has developed a strategy that helps me and may help someone out there. (I created this strategy completely on my own.)

Hello. My name is Medusa and I’m an addict. I think of OCD as like an addiction much like gambling or alcoholism. I’m addicted to the false feeling of control and relief I get when I listen to my OCD. Addictions are a way of coping – or rather not-coping – with stress or just life in general. They are heartbreaking and unhealthy. OCD much like addictions causes me to have relapses and stints in personal rehabilitation.

The feeling of relief and the flood of endorphins I get mixed in with the severe nervous energy every time I give in to my compulsions or avoidances is a sort of high. Momentarily It feels better, It feels like I’m in control of my life and that everything is going to be good. But this is a slippery slope that will almost always lead to a severe relapse and is merely an illusion. Every time I let my OCD win it comes back stronger and more often.

OCD Rehabilitation is what I like to call the process in which I go cold turkey on all my compulsions all at once. It isn’t a place or a facility it is merely a decision to put myself through what truly feels like the most impossible thing imaginable. It results in days of feeling confused and uncertain or even excited.

My rules: 1. Go cold turkey on your OCD and wait for the pain and anguish that your compulsions usually temporarily relieve to eventually fade. 2. Realise that this is your chance to get your life back, be pissed, be reckless in your disregard for your OCD’s demands. Do not negotiate with that terrorist.

After my first time in OCD Rehab I was in a sense sober. After days of confusion, pain and going against what felt like my very nature I, after nearly all of my life felt somewhat in control of my OCD. My anxiety and depression still needing to be managed but the OCD is just an unhealthy manifestation of them, the removal of that enables the true work to be done. I still have OCD but it is locked away in a locked box somewhere Doctor Sleep style and sometimes I slip up and open it without realising.

Much like a sober alcoholic, I cannot indulge in the occasional compulsion. No matter how good or hard things get I cannot even for one moment give in. A hand wash there because I’m worried I’ll ruin something means that next time I feel ‘contaminated’ I’ll be more reluctant to fight it. OCD is as familiar as the back of my hand and any regression made could result in returning to my darkest days.

I have relapsed before. Hell, I’m borderline relapsing now. Stressful events such as Christmas bring on the desires of avoidance and compulsions and it’s hard to hold it together.

If you relapse like I did and will do again, check yourself back in. I hope this has helped someone. Believe me I understand how impossible it feels to resist the temptation of your OCD and if you asked me two years ago if I’d be doing this I would have thought it impossible. But I’m doing it!

Please take care of yourselves this Christmas and I hope you have a wonderful time. It may get hard or stressful but we’re all in this together and we will all get through this because we have to.

Merry Christmas and let me know if OCD Rehab has helped you.

Doing Slightly Better…I Think: OCD Rehabilitation Day 3

I made some okay progress today all things considered. School is back tomorrow and I’m still feeling not 100%. My nausea is still coming and going a sure sign of my anxiety levels rising but I’ve not been sick as of yet and taking that as a good sign.

I managed to wear some jewellery today and eat crisps whilst on my phone which is something I used to be unable to do. I’m still a bit iffy around some things but I put foods I’d consider “contaminated” into the shopping bags whilst helping my Mum pack the bags at our local Morrison’s and I am currently wearing a dressing gown that came into contact with a dog treat box (another thing that my OCD considers as “contaminated”.

So whilst I’ve not been brilliant – I certainly have not been bad by any means. Little victories like today will help me get through tomorrow when I have to go back to the daily stresses of high school, socialising and homework and when I’m tired and not firing on all four cylinders. Well, we’ll see what happens tomorrow won’t we?