Even on the Bad Days

I had some topics ready to go today, but I don’t feel like it.  Today it has been cloudy and gray, and my mood has reflected the weather. 

I had therapy yesterday for the first time in a long time.  I unloaded everything onto her, and she agreed with my self-diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder, and then she remarked that most people in my situation of unyielding stress would have given up by now. She called me strong and resilient, echoing the sentiments I often receive from my mother, who calls me the strongest woman she knows.  But…was there another option?  My friend Carey gets this comment a lot, too, and always answers the same: what else am I supposed to do?  Seriously.  We would like to know.

Both of us do not agree with the concept of suicide, ergo neither of us consider that an option right off the bat.  And then there is the other options…I could have a breakdown and spend a little time “on vacation.”  Or I could simply choose not to get out of bed in the morning.  And yes, sometimes, both seem like viable options.  But they aren’t.

Because if you stay in bed, it can’t get better…there’s no opportunity for improvement.  And if you check out, same thing…it’s just running away.  If you truly want it to get better you have to stand up and fight, and put in the work to make it better.  You have to be strong.  You have to be resilient. There is no other option.

Because of the stigma of mental illness, many people think my diagnoses make me weak.  On the contrary, nothing has made me stronger than having to battle my own stupid brain chemistry every single day. 

So, I like to think, on days like today, that while I am tired (oh-so-very tired,) I am still strong.  While I might not write the big blog post I intended, I can still write something…even if I don’t really want to.  Because I have to push on, no matter what.

There are no other options.

Housekeeping: So I have paid for my domain names, so you can still find me at hamneggs17.com and brigidhannon.com!  My plans still need funding, however, so feel free to drop me a tip in the jar to the right.  (Also, if my pages get wonky any time in the next month, let me know.  I’m not sure how many premium features I am using at the moment.)  Also, and this is kind of unrelated, but I have a job interview tomorrow which would be super helpful right about now, so fingers crossed.

Oh, look!  The sun came out!

Stress Monster

Acute stress disorder.  I was diagnosed with this once, after what I suppose could be deemed a traumatic event.  It’s like short-term PTSD.  It resides in a different timeframe, so you can develop it anywhere from days to months after the event.  PTSD takes longer.

There’s lots of symptoms for both, but I will focus on my own, the major one being vomiting.  I throw up when I’m stressed, I already know this; it is a hazard of gastroparesis.  Alas, it should not be landing me in the hospital.

Over the past two weeks, I have had a LOT of stressors.  I think that the “smaller” stress compiled itself, and launched me into acute stress disorder again.  It feels the same as last time.  And of course, I’m sitting here wondering what traumatic event could possibly have brought this on and, oh yeah…my mother.

I am happy to report that her chest is now closed up, infections are gone, and she will finally be leaving the ICU after three months.  I am less happy to report that I haven’t been sleeping, I’ve been puking every day, and am consumed with racing thoughts.  I put a call in to my doc and counselor, so hopefully someone will get back to me today, because this is absolutely ridiculous.

I really wish I had more to write about right now.  Truth is, I do, but my fingers are numb.  I want to write about camp, which starts Sunday, but honestly, I’ve got work to do on that front that kind of takes precedence over a longer blog post.  No, I don’t know when I will be updating next, as I will be working nonstop next week, but I will catch you when I catch you.

Can’t turn that into another stressor: CANNOT.

Price Point

Today I went to check on my chappie on a whim, just to see if maybe a review came in that I hadn’t noticed.  I haven’t checked in with her in a while, so suffice it to say that when I saw she was now listed at 25% off, I threw a hissy-fit.

My immediate thought was whose pocket is this money coming out of, and it had better not be mine!  Second thought, what do I do now?  Well, God bless Google, because apparently this is an oft asked question and it led me to several forums and articles about what to do when your book price drops.

Now, I have been assured by a few sites that the money is not deducted from me, but I’m not 100% sure who is footing the bill, be it the publisher or Amazon.  I just know it ain’t me, and that’s fine.  Many sites suggest buying up your book when this happens so you can sell them at full price by hand, which is not a terrible idea…right now it would only cost me a couple of bucks a book, in the long run, and I would have stock to do a signing or something.  Still, my writing funds are low-I only use what I make writing for my writing.  It’s a career that supports itself, at the moment. 

Alas, that kitty will grow if I can sell a few of these ladies at their new rate…so if you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of A Lovely Wreckage, I invite you to CLICK HERE and get it while it’s 25% off.

I think that if it drops lower, and I can scrape together the funds, I will buy up whatever is left.  The reasoning for price droppage that I found was either that Amazon determined it will sell better at that price point (no, not out of the goodness of their hearts-they want to make that money,) or they have a stock they are unloading.  Either way, if it goes lower, I’m snatching them up.  Then I’m finally going to try to figure out how people end up with signings and such.

Soon, I will hopefully also have single-run limited edition copies of my minichap, and ideally, I’d like to be able to sell the two of them together.  Alas, I am waiting on my editor to get back to me.  A month ago he said we were almost there…then nothing.  I sent an email a few days ago, but I know he is busy not only with the press but also the bookstore he is opening.  So, I will bide my time and hope.

Speaking of hope, I just remembered my other minichap…did I tell you about that one?  It’s about nature through the lens of depression.

You know what?  Let’s save that for another day.  Like the day it gets picked up.  I don’t want to rain down any bad juju on it.

Anyway, go get a copy of my book, so I can get some copies of my book.  Please, and thank you.

Happy Thursday.

S.A.D.

My first depression-related diagnosis was Dysthymia, which is like a low-grade depression that lasts over an extended period of time.  Then I was upgraded to Major Depressive Disorder, which pretty much means depression is my baseline and anything else is an improvement.  Now, there are all kinds of depression, but today I am talking about one that I have not been officially diagnosed with, because it is a sort of depression offshoot: Seasonal Affect Disorder, or SAD.  (The acronym is hilarious.)

Because I have MDD, I haven’t been diagnosed with SAD, despite the obvious symptoms of it.  I recall once many years ago when I went to a new doctor and they did a full blood panel, and discovered that I had low Vitamin D.  My doctor literally said “but then, so does all of Western New York.”  Which is true, because despite our beautiful summers, we don’t get much sunlight ‘round these parts, especially in winter.  Winter is cold and snowy and dark.  Spring is rainy and gray.  Even our Autumn carries with it clouds and potential for snow.  It’s just generally “blah” around here sometimes.

My husband suffers greater in the winter.  He spends a lot of spare time sleeping, and always packs on a few extra pounds. However, once the sun starts arriving daily, he is up and about and moving and exercising and everything you would expect a healthy, cheerful individual to do.  It is entirely dependent on weather for him sometimes, and I saw that yesterday.

It was beautiful here, over 60 degrees and sunny.  There was a lot of wind, but that didn’t stop him from waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to go.  We planned on going on a hike but that fell through, so inste4ad he did some things around the house for me.  We were both in very chipper moods and had a lovely day, opening the windows wide to let in the sunshine and fresh air. 

Now, it is morning.  It’s 37 degrees, and raining.  The sky is a cloudy gray, and there is no hope for sun or warmth in the forecast for the next few days.  Yesterday was a blip, and today is more of the usual.

It’s hard to fight SAD.  I know some folks take extra Vitamin D, and others use sunlamps and such.  I don’t think I need those things, because while the weather can get me down, as I said, depression is my baseline.  I have my meds and my coping mechanisms and my therapy…I can manage.  Others need that extra boost come wintertime, however, and it for them that I write today, as we stare down the end of a long and chaotic darkness…spring starts in a couple weeks, but not for us, not really.  For me, it’s not until after Easter, when the sun finally makes an appearance and the flowers start to bloom.  For now, I will drag myself through the next month, pray for more 60-degree days, and hope for sunlight to stream through my office window soon.

rawpixel.com

Lenten Sacrifice

I haven’t sat down at my computer since Thursday.  The kids were here so no work was done, and I’m pretty sure one of the kiddos broke my desk chair.  Awesome.

Yesterday, I had a panic attack.  It was around 1030pm and I could not fall asleep.  Both Mark and I had big days ahead, and I was very hungry all of a sudden.  I went in search of a snack and couldn’t find anything suitable, and suddenly, I was crying.  By the time I walked out to the living room, I was hyperventilating.  By the time Mark woke up and realized I was in panic mode, my heart started beating out of my chest, and my whole body ached.  Mark ran to find my Xanax and I took it and did some breathing exercises. 

Why was I panicking?  Couldn’t tell you, in the moment.  I thought maybe it was just stress over the fact that I couldn’t sleep when I knew I had to be up before 6am, but it really wasn’t that.  It wasn’t even the lack of snacks. It was just that I suddenly had this very childlike anger about not getting what I want.

Due to various circumstance, I have been sacrificing many things I want.  From writing advancement costs to large household purchases to simple everyday pleasures, I have said no.  And then, at 1130pm, when all I want is a couple Cheese Doodles and a good night’s sleep, the universe denies me this modest act?!  I don’t know; I just snapped. 

It’s not that I really mind, you see.  I am sacrificing for a greater goal, and that is just fine with me…most days.  But some days, my inner 6-year-old comes out and throws a hissy fit.  I just want what I want when I want it!

I don’t know if this feeling triggered my attack, but I’m guessing.  It’s how I felt in the moment when I started to cry, and I think it just snowballed from there.

I am remembering school today, because right about now we would be working on our Lent assignments, always the same every year: what are you giving up for Jesus?  I was typically urged to give up sweets, because I was fat in the 90s…before the rest of America caught up.  I knew one girl whose whole household gave up television.  I thought that was some serious commitment on their parents’ part.  Then, on Ash Wednesday we would read our little essays about sacrifice and get ashes on our foreheads and have fish for dinner.

So, if you’re a constant reader than you know I quit Catholicism some time ago, but all this stuff?  The sacrifice and the no meat and such?  Indoctrination, baby.  I can’t not think about it once Mardi Gras rolls around (which I would much rather celebrate.)

Sometimes, even as an ex-Cath, I think of some sacrifice to make during Lent.  Something small…or something nice to do for someone else maybe.  Not this year.  I’m not giving anything up, because I have been sacrificing for a very long time now.  This year I am going to reap some benefits, damnit.

Mark and I both started new jobs, so we are extremely hopeful life is about to change up real fast.  I can feel it coming, I’ve had some very prophetic dreams, and I have been told that I’m a little bit psychic (by a psychic, no less.)  So, I am currently confident in a quick end to the sacrifice.

Though, let’s be real…how quick?  Probably six weeks.  Let’s circle back at Easter.

New Year, New Me? No.

This is my last post of the year, and I don’t have much to say.  I already shared my writing accomplishments over the course of 2021, and I don’t have much to report on the personal front because let’s be real, it has not been a good year.  Really, it has been one smack in the face after another this year, and I am fine with 2021 being over.

What annoys me at the moment though is that this December there seem to be a lot of folks posting about how 2022 is going to be “their year,” and don’t get me wrong, I hope so, but c’mon.  We’re still in a pandemic.  It’s a lot more likely you’re going to have to go back to remote working/learning at some point, always have to wear a mask, and watch a bunch more people get sick and die.  So, I guess I’m not really feeling the positivity, y’know?

Don’t worry, I have an appointment with my therapist on Monday.

In the meantime, I just have to pull out the good ol’ Emotional Toolbox.  The ET is a concept I came up with many years back, essentially a mental list of my coping mechanisms.  It has little tricks for panic attacks, like sit in front of the fan, or pet your fuzzy blanket.  Then it has more complex plans for fighting anxiety and depression, like what I call the “Ross Method,” in which you break a task down into itty-bitty pieces so that it is accomplished easily.  One of my favorite tools in the ET is the “Silver Linings Search,” in which you find the good in the bad.  This always helps me out, and this is what I am using right now as I write this blog.

What good things happened in my garbage year?  Well, I had my surgery, which helped my tummy a little.  And my husband left a very toxic work environment.  My dad remains cancer-free.  My mother is getting her foot surgery.  My sister moved out on her own.  We got to have Christmas with my grandma.  We didn’t get sick. 

These are all good things.

Now, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, except for my annual declaration that I shall read more.  That might actually happen this year though, as I have both a brand-new Kindle and upcoming cataract surgery.  I don’t think I will make any huge accomplishments, except perhaps releasing my mini-chap, which could happen sooner than I think.  Though, lack of accomplishment might be my depression talking.  In the beginning of the pandemic, I was ok.  In fact, I was ok for a long time, watching as my healthy-brained friends lost their minds when faced with the sudden onset of anxiety and depression.  I was peachy. I was a pro.

Lately, though, it seems it’s starting to wear on me.  Like, I don’t know if it’s Christmas letdown or what, but I am just not in the mood.  I mean, I try to write an end of the year post, I wanted it to be uplifting, but here we are, discussing depression again.

Because that’s how she works, my friends.  I never get a day off.

Anyway, if you want to go make 2022 “your” year, more power to you.  I hope you succeed.  I will be cheering you on.  Me, my goal is both simple and infinitely more difficult: get out of bed in the morning, and carry on.  That’s my New Year’s resolution.

What’s yours?

Creating Flavors

Back before the world got sick, I forced myself to attend an open mic poetry reading at a local bookstore.  Then, that ended because of the pandemic, and I retreated back into my little anxiety shell and didn’t come out for a year and a half.  Then, last week I saw an ad in the paper for a writing workshop.  There were only a few slots available, but I figured what the heck and threw my name into the hat.  Two days later I received an email saying I was registered.  Turns out, it was also a free event, so I was even more pumped because in case you were wondering, poetry collections are not best sellers. 

But then, as it does, my stomach came out to play on Friday and sent me into a tizzy.  Saturday, the day of the workshop, I felt better physically, but terrible mentally.  Firstly, I did not take my meds the night before because I was fearful of throwing up again.  Secondly, they pumped me full of the strong stuff at the ER and it was still wearing away come Saturday afternoon.

At 3pm, I was near tears, scared to go, unprepared, rushed…all the feelings of anxiety that like to stop me in my tracks.  I was even a little sick to my stomach, which made me all the more worried.  Mark did what he always does, and that is get me through it.  He remined me how excited I as when I got the registration email.  He reminded me how badly I wanted to get out into the world again, and he reassured me of my talents, as he does every day.  So, I got dressed and drank some coffee and got in the car and went.

Awkward at first, as always, I was maybe the second person to arrive.  I settled in and we got a box full of goodies (photo below) with a notebook and a journal in it, along with supplies for making tea bags.  First, Julio (whom I met once before at that bookstore, so it was a little easing to see a face I knew in the room,) gave a talk about the histories of tea and the cultural and religious significances, and then discussed the tea flavors we had and what they symbolized, which was very interesting.  I jotted down my combinations I wanted to try: hibiscus mint for mom, lemongrass mint for Bernie, and lavender chamomile for me.

After our selections, we took to writing about our flavors.  I didn’t get anything very good, because I was writing longhand which is just TORTURE in my opinion.  But I of course typed it up and then cleaned it a little, so you can find it below.  Everyone else shared their pieces, and they were lovely.  I like open mic style things because everyone’s flow is so different.  You have free form, traditionalists, rhymers, alliteraters, slam poets…so much variety.

After the journaling and sharing, we put our tea in the bags and decorated tea boxes.  Then, Bianca, who seemed to be the one in charge, gave everyone a personalized cup (and you just know I love stuff with my name on it.)  We had a little open mic, where you could share whatever, and I read Sick Since Sixteen because it was the first poem that came up on my phone.  It was a good choice though, because I received both snaps and “mmmh’s” which is like a standing ovation in the poetry world. Then everything broke up and most people started heading over to The Gypsy Parlor across the street for an iced tea tasting, and that’s when my brain screamed “NO.  GO HOME.”

So, I gathered my things and thanked my hosts and left, dejected.

See, the mingling bit was the part I was looking forward to the most.  I barely know any local writers, and it is so hard for me to get out of my shell and find actual humans.  And my stupid brain said no, then triggered my stomach to agree with it, causing me to gag on the corner of Grant and Potomac.  Sometimes I feel like that stupid brain-gut connection is truly ruining everything good and exciting in my life.

Anyway, I went home.  I made my tea, and it was delicious.  Soothing chamomile and destressing lavender.  Very helpful.  Then I typed up what I wrote in my journal, and texted Sahar to tell her of my woes.  She suggested I try to network virtually, which I don’t know if I would be better at.  I decided to follow the hosts of the events fb pages.  Hopefully that will keep me on the radar for upcoming things.

Julio is having an ugly Christmas sweater open mic, which seems pretty cool, but who knows if anxiety will let me attend.  I will try, though.  I will always keep trying.  In the meantime, I shall sip my tea and write in my journal and hope to make a new friend that I can talk about the business of words with.  Someday…

4pm
Gram was British, 
so 4pm meant tea time.
Our cups, 
filled with cream and sugar, 
(honey and lemon if you were sick.) 
Biscuits were a necessity, 
though mother would say 
“It’s too close to dinnertime!”  
“She’s already overweight!”  
No mind paid by Gram, 
tea and cookies at 4pm.
Rose Red tea, 
so I could collect the porcelain figurines, 
and terrible shortbread 
from a blue metal tin,  
She would have been one-hundred on Saturday, 
but I lost her when I was eight, 
her body as cold 
as the cup of leftover tea 
on her nightstand.
my goodies.

Survivor Stories

As the regular reader might know, I love to research.  I have been doing so since childhood, when I would spend hours amongst the stacks at my local library trying to figure out the mysteries of the universe.  Now, as a writer, one of my favorite parts of the process is the research part.  You get to find all these little puzzle pieces, and then you put it all together.  I like finding the pieces, it’s kind of like hunting for clues!

A common joke amongst writers is the Google search history.  We like to tell each other what crazy things we have recently researched that would make an FBI agent raise an eyebrow.  With my current WIP, I have Googled such things as “Bahamian police uniforms,” “the weight of a 9mm. gun,” and “what kills you faster, the belladonna leaves, or berries?”

Now, Google is a great place for information on places, items, time periods, and even plot points, but it has nothing when it comes to characters, in my opinion. For instance, my current WIP has to do with a cult, and those who have escaped it.  I can read every article and book, but that doesn’t show me the people themselves, and their emotions and thoughts in regards to the situation.  I would consume documentaries to find what I was looking for, but there are only about a dozen or so about cults.  Yes, I’ve seen everyone I can get my hands on, most recently a bit about the Turpin family, which wasn’t a cult but was absolutely crazy (do not click this link if you’re squeamish.) Then, one day, on a whim, I found TikTok.

I don’t follow many people on there, but there are two folks I have found that have inspired my writing.  One, Jilly, I found first.  She didn’t have a cult background, but she did have abuse in her past, specifically of the narcissistic variety.  As my antagonist is somewhat narcissistic, and most definitely abusive, my interest was piqued by her account.  I wanted to see how a survivor of such abuses could speak out and fight back, and I have been watching Jilly for weeks now, doing just that.  I was inspired by her bravery, and I poured a little of her courage into one of my MCs (main characters.)

Then I found Candid.  I don’t know if that’s her real name, but it’s what it says on her page, so it’s what we shall call her.  Candid grew up in a homeschool cult.  It wasn’t “organized” in the way the cult in my WIP is, but again, I’m not here for plot; I’m here for personality.  Her youth was somewhat similar to my characters, so seeing the way she has grown and changed since leaving home has inspired me to work harder on my two MCs development as they escape and discover the outside world.  I am also taking note of her trauma reaction posts, as it pretty much goes without saying that anyone who came out of a cult probably has complex PTSD (another thing I’ve been researching…that hasn’t been as fun, because it makes me confront my own traumas, and that’s just…well, it’s just for a different blog post, is all.)

Anyway, I am watching these two women who are survivors in the way my MCs are, and I am inspired by their journeys.  I think I learned more about the human condition in relation to my WIP since joining TikTok than anything else…except that Ludacris audio.  That’s in my head all damn day.  (If you’re on TikTok, you know what I’m talking about.  Luda…BACK AGAIN!)

I have included a graphic here with the national suicide hotline number.  I looked around for like a crisis service number or something, but those are only local.  If you need help, reach out!  Use this number, go Google your local CS, or call 911 if you are in a really bad spot.  Someone will help you; someone wants to help you.

In the meantime, I hope we all stay strong, together.  Everyone is a survivor of something.  Wear that like a badge of honor.

Weak and Flat

So, the other day I stumbled upon this tweet, and it got me thinking.  Specifically, about high school.

@brttnyblm

See, as a kid, I was fawned over by my English teachers.  I was hailed as a reading and writing prodigy.  I was told by my mother that I was deserving of awards.  When you tell a child things like that, they will believe it, because they have yet to meet the people of the world that will tell them otherwise.  Then, one day…they do.

Now, high school was no highlight of my lifetime.  I was an unmedicated mentally ill diabetic and I did not have control over my own mind or body by the time I was 16 and a Junior.  It was the worst year of my young life and I don’t like to talk about it much but I am today because something good did come out of that year, and that is spite, as a motivator. 

It started on parent-teacher night when my mother, a kind woman who finds the good in everyone, almost went apeshit on my 11th grade English teacher.  Said teacher pretty much told my mother that I had no talent and that my writing was weak.  She said my work was subpar and she didn’t think me capable of better and was curious why she had heard such good reviews from previous teachers.  Mind you, I had a blood sugar level of maybe 400 at the time, so no, I wasn’t turning out my best work…but as my mother rationalized, if you heard I did well before, wouldn’t you assume something was wrong?  All my other teachers were telling them something was wrong.  This teacher was just telling them I sucked.  My mother will probably go to her grave not liking my 11th grade English teacher and that’s just fine.  But that’s not the whole story.

Adding insult to injury, this teacher was also the drama club moderator, the only other thing I cared about in high school.  I tried out for the school play that year and she called my acting “flat.”  Here’s another thing everyone has always told me I was good at except for the person whose actual approval mattered at the time, who thought I was trash.  Ok.  Let’s regroup.

Teacher told us in the springtime that there would be a one-act play festival, and that anyone could submit a play for it.  So…I wrote a GD play.  It was called For My Mother but it should have been called For My 11th Grade English Teacher because that’s what it was really about, now that I’m grown and confident and no longer being graded on American Lit. 

And reader…she picked my play.  I cast it and directed it and it was performed for the festival.  And I did it while directing another professional show, and pulling up my abysmal Junior year grades.  I then took my little play, marched my C+ butt over the 12th grade English teacher, and begged to be let into her elective classes for the following year.  No, I didn’t have the grades, but I had my play, and I had improvement, and I was going to get into those classes, damnit!  Creative Writing and Drama!  I mean…c’mon!

And I did it.  She was impressed.  I’m sure she spoke to my other teacher and lord knows what she had to say about me, but in the end I got into the classes I wanted to and I passed the classes I was failing and so help me god I would never be weak or flat again.

Many years later I was at the Artie Awards, which is like the Tony’s but for Buffalo theater.  We’d just won something or other and we’re getting our drink on when they announced the “newcomers” to the stage, people who had performed in their first professional role that year. I, of course, did a spit take with my red bull and vodka when they announced “11th Grade English Teacher.”  She wasn’t there, I don’t think, but it was enough to call my evening to a close.  It’s not like I hold any ill will towards her; she was just doing her job.  Do I think she could have done it a little better?  Maybe, but whatever. The end result was pretty decent.  I got good English grades Senior year, enjoyed my electives…she even cast me in the Senior play.  She was a lot better to work with as a director than a teacher, I feel, and I’m glad she found a spot in theater because I kind of sensed her heart was more in performance.  Of course, I could be wrong and you should never make assumptions, but that’s not too bad of one to make. 

Truth is, I was at a terrible point in my life back then and if this teacher hadn’t of slapped me upside the head, maybe I would have given up.  Instead, I got mad, and I got motivated, and I wrote my heart out and have been doing so ever since. 

So, there you have it.  Spite as a motivator.

OCD Awareness Week

October 10-16th is OCD Awareness Week, so let’s talk about that.

I started showing symptoms during puberty, around 11 years old.  I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 19, however, as child psychology was still a bit taboo in the 90s.  It started with Trichotillomania.

For those unaware, Trich is a compulsive hair-pulling syndrome.  I started pulling my hair out in 6th grade.  At first, I didn’t realize I was doing it because I would fall into a sort of a trance, only to come out of it and discover hair everywhere.  My doctor diagnosed me with alopecia, because she and many other medical professionals I encountered over the years had no idea what Trichotillomania even was. 

When I realized I was the one doing it, I researched the crap out of it, as I tend to do when something makes me nervous or scared.  Once I realized what I was dealing with, it took 8 more years and three psychologists before I found one who knew what I was talking about.  I had another flareup when I was 19, so I marched my bandana-covered head into my doctor and said “Listen…this is what I have.”  She agreed.  She knew what I was talking about.  It was instant relief.

And then she diagnosed me with obsessive compulsive disorder. 

Trich is a definite red flag and true cousin to OCD, so there was little surprise.  They asked me questions, such as do you ever have intrusive thoughts that you can’t control?  Um…yes, doesn’t everybody?

Apparently not.

I was never the neat-freak, handwashing kind of OCD, but my compulsions lie in Trich and my obsessions rest in my brain.  It’s a truthful diagnosis, and also my best controlled one.  I deal with my anxiety and depression all day every day, but my OCD is pretty well regulated.  The only thing that still bothers me is the incessant counting…i used to count everything, but these days it’s mostly just my steps.  Mark got me a Fitbit so that I can remind myself there’s no need to count because my watch is doing the work.  It’s helpful…sometimes.  Not all the time.

I don’t think much about my OCD because it is so well-controlled now.  I do however take great offense when folks who have “quirks” claim they have OCD.  Oh, you can’t go to sleep at night with dishes in the sink, so you don’t have to do them in the morning?  How quaint.  Sounds a lot more like a personal preference than something you have to do in order to keep you and your family alive, which is how an OCD brain can think.  OCD is not quirks; it’s patterns of behavior that disrupt your life.

Alas, my life is not disrupted by it at the moment, which makes me happy.  I do worry daily about another Trich relapse, though, and I am extremely particular about my hair since I lost so much of it in the past, and it is much thinner than it once was.  However, I know now that should that happen, I can immediately call my doc and we can figure out a game plan.  That wasn’t a luxury I felt I had in my early 20s.  And even when I count my steps, I remind myself that my Fitbit is on the job, and try to use coping mechanisms to draw my attention away from the counting.  I do the same with the intrusive thoughts.  Truthfully, I am making progress daily.  I hope others our there can say the same some day.

Here are a couple of links to resources about OCD:

International OCD Foundation

Symptoms of OCD

Help for OCD

Trichotillomania Learning Foundation