Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Greatest Tragedy......

         I am going to go into a territory that is going to make everyone uncomfortable and I am going to go there because someone has to. It needs to be said but more importantly it needs to be heard.

         This country and it's media are adept at avoiding it's problems head on. We are masters of deflecting and sensationalizing. We stick to our ideals and angrily attack others for theirs and yet no one is listening to anyone and no one is getting the bigger picture. Someone needs to step up and be honest and I think it should come from our community because we know what is really going on. I am a representation of this community. The mental illness community. I am mentally ill.

         We have had these horrible incidents of mass murder, carnage and pain, blood and bullets. Yet instead of reporting the facts, instead of having an honest conversation, what we do is sensationalize and look to the first thing we can look to to explain the events.

          In the eighties asylums and mental hospitals were shut down at such a rate the many mentally ill people who had resided in them were left destitute and homeless. Unable to get the proper support they needed, they lived on the streets ignored and overlooked for decades. And as the people that needed help languished in poverty and filth, laws were passed to make having adults committed to mental illness facilities almost impossible unless the person first tried to harm themselves or had committed a violent crime. Problem being, that many of our mass shooters have never committed a violent crime until they became mass shooters.....pretty terrible loophole right?

           America, we do not have a gun problem. We do not have a racism problem. Are these two things problematic and causing issues? Yes, but that is not what is going on here. America, we have a mental illness problem and it needs to be addressed.

           We as a country love symbols. They are simple and neat and convenient to blame when things go horribly wrong. We want to look at inanimate objects as the cause of our issues instead of the root of the whole problem. It is much easier to blame guns, or flags, or people that have been dead for over 150 years and make it seem like we are making progress because in this country we have accepted that we don't really need actual progress, just the symbolism of it. Symbols make great scapegoats. They are easy targets. Take them away or call for their desecration and on the surface it appears that we have solved our ills. We have cut out the offending issues. We have accomplished something.

          The only problem is, we are not looking at the right problem to fix. We are not even addressing the real issue. Symbols are neat and tidy and fixing the actual issue is messy and hard. We have become lazy and we accept our laziness as long as we are able to sleep peacefully at night because we have gotten rid of inanimate objects instead of the very animate issue. Our denial makes us feel safer. Our denial is slowing killing us.

         I am not a doctor, but I can see the problem very clearly because I belong to the community of those who are overlooked or ignored. I know when someone goes and shoots up a theater, or a church. or a school that it isn't because of guns or flags or whatever the media wants to spew out of it's mouth hole. These people are insane.  These are the people who's families have tried to get them help but were turned away. These are the people who can not get or do not take the medications they need to stay functioning. These are the people that said and acted as if something was very wrong with them and people ignored it. The world ignored it. The system ignored it.

       And why? Because this system is fundamentally broken. Laws have been passed with loopholes so large you could drive a train through them. Lack of funding. Lack of desire to try and fix it. Lack of understanding. Lack of staff. Lack of empathy. Lack of proper medication. Lack of fighting stigma. Lack of accurate representation. Lack of media truth. Lack of proper places to go. Lack of places that are willing to help. Lack of education on mental illness. Lack of honesty about just what is going on here. No this isn't just a symbol problem...this is a "lack there of "problem.

      Many people knew these people needed to be committed but there was no one left willing to take them, no place left to help them, and nothing left to stop them.

      I say it isn't solely about guns because when someone has gone this far they will use anything to kill whether it be bombs, knives, or sharpened spoon handles. I say it is not solely about racism because there is racism all around this world for every single race and yet most people, ignorant as they may be, do not go and shoot up a church and murder nine innocent people. I am not saying he wasn't a racist, I am simply saying he killed because he is insane.

       President Obama in a speech once said that America doesn't have a monopoly on crazy people and he is right. Except that what America does have a monopoly on, is a poor understanding and an extreme sense of denial when it comes to "crazy" people. We are one of the few countries still willing to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that mental illness plays no part in our daily lives....

These people didn't slip through the cracks, they were thrown out of the door without so much as a second thought.

Adam Lanza's mom tried to get him help but was turned away.
James Holmes's family knew something was wrong but was unable to stop him.
Aaron Alexis was known to be violent and had acted violently but it was all brushed over.
Dylan Roof's friends had seen his bizarre behavior and said nothing.
John Russel Houser's family was so terrified of him that they fled and got a protection order against him.

No one listened and no one cared....until it was too late.

       None of their victims had to die. It was not inevitable. It was not unpreventable. It was not fate. It was ignorance and the lack of support. It was pure and simple denial and it makes me wonder how many more times this will have to happen before people stop making it about their political agendas, stop making excuses, stop blaming symbols, and start to open their eyes.

      The truth is that until we fix the system that is supposed to catch people that are like this, this will continue. You can protest and shout about the symbols all you want. It changes nothing. Change comes with fixing the problem that creates the shooter in the first place. Change comes from fixing a broken system that makes helping people like this before they get this bad, impossible. Change comes from seeing the truth.
This system is supposed to protect not just the rest of the world from these people but also protect them from themselves.

       We, in the mental illness community, don't like to talk about these mass killers because we do not like to be associated with them. Statistics prove that we are far more likely to victims of violence rather to commit it. We don't want to blamed when these nut-jobs do this but on the other hand, it is everyone in America's fault because although we know it's a problem, no one wants to really look at it. No one wants to do the arduous task of fixing it. No one wants to get their hands dirty with this. It is much easier, much safer to claim it is because of something else and not look the problem directly in the eye. No matter how many people it kills before we get intelligent about it.

      If anyone had bothered to ask the mental illness community, we could have told you how broken this system is. How inadequate it has become. How ridiculous the laws to prevent people that need to be committed are. How tiny the funds for mental care facilities are. How many mental illness sufferers are taking up most of our jails rather than being treated. How many hospitals don't have enough beds for those that need them. How we are running a race to a finish line that makes no sense nor has any rewards because the decks are stacked against us. We are either blamed or ignored but no one wants to actually listen and that is probably the greatest tragedy of all. These types of acts could be minimized and maybe even prevented all together if only people stopped ceasing to ignore the obvious, simply because it is the easier thing to do.

Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Doctors......Warning Possible Triggers....

No one really likes to go to the doctors office but for me it is like the seventh level of Hell. I don't actually know where that saying comes from, but if Hell has levels than the doctor's office has to be somewhere in there right?

It isn't just that I have contamination fears and will be around sick people (which is bad enough) but I have had some bad life lessons from the doctor's office. I don't remember hating them before the tooth pick debacle of 86  unless I had to get shots, which all children despise even thought they are a necessary evil.

When I was about seven years old I had to go to the doctors because of my foot. My Dad had this annoying habit of chewing tooth picks and breaking them and throwing them on the ground. I had the bad habit of walking everywhere barefoot (still do). I stepped on something and felt it go into my foot but saw nothing when I looked at it. I continued to play. I told no one and no one was the wiser until a few days later when I was no longer able to put weight on it. Then came the red streaks which meant I had an infection and there was definitely something in there. So, we went to the doctor and sure enough they had to numb it as best as they could and remove whatever I had stepped on. Mind you, past a certain point numbing medicine doesn't work and this was one of those points. I remember flailing and screaming and finally they were able to cut and pull out a half of a toothpick out of my heel. I remember all of it, the pulling, the grabbing it, the cutting.....not a real great memory to remember.

Then I had this wonderful doctor that used to whistle bird calls when he looked into your ear. He was kind and funny and kinda looked like Colonel Sanders. We moved away after having him as my doctor for about a  year. He was one of the only doctors that made me not hate going to the doctors office. He made me feel comfortable and less scared. I found out that a few years later he had contracted A.I.D.S. and most of his patients left making him have to shut down his practice. He was later found stabbed to death in his own bathtub. Very sad. He was a really great kid's doctor and the whole story makes me really upset. He deserved better than that.

Then there was the asshole fraud psychiatrist that scared my family into committing me so he could abuse the system and suck up all of the insurance money when I was ten. I hope he lost his ability to commit children when he was sued for fraud. Actually, I hope he rots in Hell but that isn't a very nice thing to say so I have to say I hope he is rotting in jail somewhere instead. But I highly doubt us, his many victims, could get so lucky.....Bastard.

Not to mention, the doctor who gave me my first stitches but didn't realize, I at the time, had a huge fear of needles. He thought he would just say out loud it needed a couple of stitches and go on like it wasn't a big deal for me. That went swimmingly....not. Just ask my mother, she probably still has bald patches where I snatched her hair out. I was around twelve years old.

Or the perv psychiatrist I had when I was twenty one, who made sexual comments to me when I was in need of actual counseling even going so far as to make me lift up my tank top when I was braless once to "check my heart rate". Something he never had done before the whole time I had been seeing him ....He too should be in prison but I was too embarrassed to say anything. Not to mention I figured I had no proof of his actions. He made sure we were alone. I was really ashamed and uncomfortable.....he was also a Bastard.

Or the E.R. doctor that felt the need to shove his finger into my open wound after I had accidentally impaled my shin on a stick when I was twenty six. No he did not numb it first. No he did not warn me first. He just stuck his finger in it up to his knuckle and moved it around.....That was pleasant. I secretly think he may have been a sadist.

So, yeah doctors are not my favorite past time for obvious reasons.  And I have a new appointment with my new doctor tomorrow and I am absolutely freaked out about it. I know it will go fine, probably. I am worried about my test score for my diabetes. I am worried he will be an asshole. I am worried he will be inept or mean or just plain rude. I really hate when that happens. Anyway, I have waited six months to see him and my anxiety is literally through the roof.  Ugh, I don't want to go but I have to. Ugh and double ugh. Anyway, I am just really hoping above all else, I can get my anxiety under control and make it to this appointment without a panic attack because I have to take good care of myself and that , unfortunately, means going to my biggest triggering place, the doctors office.

Wish me luck,
Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

It's Not A Sidebar.....

        I was watching a news channel yesterday and came across a story about a man cycling for awareness of a disease that killed his wife. He wants to promote awareness and raise money and I applaud him for that. My problem was the way the news sanitized his wife's illness and death.

        First, they both called her Depression a mood disorder. They did it repeatedly and then said that Depression had killed her. At no point did they mention mental illness anywhere in this supposed news article. At no point did they say that she killed herself.

        My problem with this is that it seemed very sanitized, very PC, very scrubbed clean and there is nothing clean or orderly about Depression.

        Is Depression a mood disorder? Yes, but lets call a spade a spade shall we? Depression is a MENTAL ILLNESS. Say it. Say it often, roll it around in your mouth until it feels familiar. Stop being afraid of these two words. Stop shying away from this term. We as sufferers have learned to use it without attaching stigma to it and so should everyone else. This woman didn't have Leprosy, she had Depression. It doesn't need to be dumbed down or sugar coated. It certainly wasn't sugar coated for her when she was suffering from it. She killed herself. Her Depression made her life so unbearable, so unspeakable, she was so desperate, she suffered so much that suicide, to her, seemed like the only option. Don't you dare sugar coat or undermine what she went through.

         You see, as a mentally ill person, I find the sanitizing and politically correct scrubbing of the struggles we go through on a daily basis an insult. It represents that what we go through is somehow less painful or less ugly or more acceptable.

         This woman didn't die from Depression. She committed suicide. There, I said it. I know it is hard for other people to hear that word, or read that word, or understand that word but you can not and should not whitewash that word into something less awful, less devastating. Because there is nothing beautiful or soothing about suicide. Yes, Depression is the reason she killed herself but say that. Don't over look the choice she made and the horrors she faced by saying she died from Depression and not explain what it made her do. If for some reason, you can not bring yourself to say the word suicide then simply say she lost her battle with Depression.

            Look, I am sorry that the words mental illness and suicide make other people uncomfortable. You should try living with them and see how uncomfortable that is. The point is, we don't have time to scrub away the ugly thoughts about these two words. Mental illness and suicide are ugly. We should know. In a country where suicide takes away somebody's loved one every 13 minutes, I hardly think we need to waste time trying to sanitize  something that needs to be talked about openly because only then can we get real and start making changes to a broken system that allows good people to fall through the cracks. This system is damaged and defunct and until we start looking at this problem as an actual problem nothing will change and it has to. Suicide is 100% preventable. And yet we as a society are too afraid to look into the dark abyss where it dwells because we are scared. Our society is cowardly when it comes to anything that deals with mental illness or suicide and it is proven and reiterated every single time this subject comes up. Because they white wash it. They sweep it under the rug. They look for other excuses. Or like in this case, they simply exclude these three words altogether.

            If you want to help us, if you want to change the system than you have to stop making excuses. You have to stop shying away form reality. A reality that all of us that suffer are very familiar with. You have to say words like mental illness, pain, suicide and you have to own them when you speak. You have to look people in the eye when talking about them. You have to stop promoting the stigma with your fear and be fearless. After all, we are fearless when talking about these things because we have no choice and if you want to be part of the solution than you have no choice either. We are not a side line. We are not a cutline. It is not a sidebar. It is the story. We are the story. We are real and our suffering is real and we deserve to have it talked about it, exactly like how it is. No sanitizing, no white washing, no scrubbing clean.......you cannot diminish the pain of mental illness by minimizing it's affects so you are less uncomfortable with the reality of it.

Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I Am Howard Hughes...

I am Howard Hughes. Well except for the whole being a rich man that designs and flies planes thing. I am also not a playboy....or dead. I am however a Texan...and I have OCD.

Last night, I watched The Aviator for the first time. A movie that I have purposely avoided watching till now. I sat there, palms sweaty, terrified of the mirror that would be held in front of my face. Before I hit the play button, I swallowed the lump in my throat that felt like a mini bus and asked my husband, "How much of myself am I going to see in this film?"  He had seen parts of it before. "A lot." he said.

"Wonderful." I thought in my purely sarcastic tone.

I have avoided watching this film for fears of triggers. You see, Howard had contamination fears and so do I. I was very afraid of having to sit through and hour and a half, triggering while Howard was triggering and trying not to completely freak out alongside the main character. It was daunting. It was unsettling. It was... magical.

For the first time, I saw a movie that did not glaze over my disorder. It did not present my disorder as something to laugh at. It did not show the character as being unaware of what was going on. Something that many OCD depictions overlook and try to cover up with humor. He clearly saw that what he was doing made no sense. It showed the clear agony of OCD on his face when he compulsed. It showed the hesitations. The little pauses we take when triggered. I had never seen that before in any film or read that in any book. It was like my typical day of what social dictations demand vs what my mind forces me to feel and I was blown away and thankful. I mean, I do not have all of Howard Hughes's symptoms, but I totally understood them and it was, for me, a relief.

The raw meat scenes.....totally my reactions. With the door in the public restroom scene, I could feel the complete panic. Not just because of the superb writing of the script and terrific acting of the actor, but because I do that. I look at the door knob with fear of knowing that I just washed wash my hands and I do not want to do it again. The complete panic and dread that sets in.

                               ( WARNING possible TRIGGERS on video )
                           (I do not own this video or any part of this video)

There is this part when he is in the plane with Kathrine Hepburn and he drinks after her. The hesitation before he takes a sip. I was yelling at the television. Oh my God. I don't think people understand what that means for a person with contamination fears. I do, but I am not sure other people can. I remember the first time I found someone I could drink or eat after. It was freeing and it is the first time I caught a glimpse of what it must be like to be like everyone else. To be not OCD.

Yes, I was triggered watching this movie but it moved me. It made me want to scream when they used Howard's OCD against him. It made me hold back tears when he was in pain and isolated himself. It made OCD real for the viewers and no, maybe they don't understand every nuance but they got the gist. And that means something. More than anyone else (normal) will ever know.

The hardest part of the film was the reality that many of us joke about. The dirty, unshaven naked man, reduced to peeing in his recycled milk bottles because he is afraid of being contaminated. I have often said I am one step away from being Howard Hughes. That isn't true, really. I am not to the point Howard got to but the idea of that I could become like that, terrifies me. That is what has kept me from watching this film, despite it's raving reviews, for eleven years. It was too close. It was too real for me because I can not simply walk out of the movie theater and pretend it was all just a movie. I live it everyday. I can not simply just turn off the television and go on about my day like everyone else. It wasn't a film that taught me about OCD because I know it too intimately, already. No, I am not peeing in milk bottles. No, I am not unwashed living in one tiny room afraid of contamination. No, I am not repeating myself over and over and over again. But I could have been and that is the point. I didn't really need to learn about Howard because I already am Howard Hughes on some small level. I knew him even before I didn't. And I think most OCD sufferers would understand that because I know them too. Just as they know me like only we can. Because only we know what it is like to live with this disorder. But now, because of this movie, maybe others will start to know too and that is....beyond gratifying. It is magical.

Neurotic Nelly


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

This Burden....

        I have spent my whole life trying to make up for being broken. I have always been a nice person, hoping people will accept me before they know my dysfunction. My life has been full of apologies and trying to swim through the swamps of my mind while trying desperately just to keep my head above water. I have always wanted to be liked. I put everyone else before me. Laying down my feelings on the sacrificial alter for others to trample on.....I have always tried to be so good to prove the things my mind was showing me were wrong. I am always trying to help others while helping myself. Sometimes I fail on the myself parts. And I apologize for that.

I beat myself up for not being perfect. I chastise myself for not being good enough. For not being a hero. For not being able to fix myself. For not being able to fix everyone else. For not being able to be there for everyone and everything that goes on this world. I blame myself for too much and do not forgive myself nearly enough. I lay my body on the concrete steps letting others scrape away my flesh and pick apart my bones till only my faults lie there in my place. Still it seems as if it is not enough. The suffering has become something that somewhere along the line, I picked up thinking it is all I deserve.

This burden has become too heavy and exhausting.

I know now that this is untrue. No, I am not perfect but I am no longer certain that is something I have to apologize for. I am a good person and I do not need to sacrifice my emotions to prove that to anyone, least of all myself. After all of this time, I should know who I am and what I am. I do not need to prove my worthiness or my sweetness or my goodness. I am a good person. I am a sweet person. I am a worthy person. I do not need reassurance for the first time in my life and it is exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.  I feel hurt by those that have hurt me simply because they can and yet I feel stronger than I ever have. Finally, I have broken through this wall made of bricks and clay that I had carefully erected with my own childish hands trying not to keep others out but to keep myself in. Because I felt that is where the monsters belong. I can see the light shining through the holes I have clawed away and I can feel the sun's warmth on my face. I will no longer live with the darkness that I placed myself in. The empty blackened chamber I made for myself. The punishment I have inflicted upon myself for simply existing. I am no longer afraid. I do not believe that no one will ever love me, truly. I am no longer afraid others will not accept me. I am no longer unsure of my place. Those people's feelings about me do not change who I am. Their opinions on who I should be or what I am do not change my worth. I am not them. They are not me.

The more I look at myself in the mirror, the more I reflect on my own reflections, I realize that this burden I have been dragging behind me is not my burden to carry. No one is perfect.
The blame I have carried is not my blame to cock and point at myself. I do not need this damp and musty overcoat of shame anymore. It never fit me very well anyway.

I am Learning... I don't need anyone else to confirm who I am. I already know and I deserve to treated like the good, caring, responsible person that I am. I don't need to hold on to this self hatred any longer. There is nothing I could ever do that would make me deserve the punishments I have given myself on top of the suffering I already have. This stops today. I will no longer apologize for who I am or what I can and can not do. No one is held to these kind of standards and I shouldn't be held to them either. Even if those standards were something that only I have placed on myself.  So this is me dropping the lies, the blame, the guilt, and the overwhelming sense of shame and letting them all fall away. This is me accepting me, wholly and completely...and I am learning that those that can't stand be behind me on that, don't deserve to be standing beside me as my friends. It is they who are not worthy enough to be in my life and not the other way around....

Here is a short video of me talking about my acceptance of my OCD.
Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Insomnia and Being A PureO.....

Some things have been going on lately, making it hard to sleep. The night is my worst enemy. It is too quiet. It is too long. And my brain starts to thinking it's most when it is quiet and too long. I can't clean to occupy myself because everyone is asleep. There is nothing on television to mindlessly space out and stare at. No music to distract myself from myself because to do that the music would have to be loud enough to drown out my thoughts and my thoughts are very very loud.  I could have read but I was feeling too lazy. I could have written but the words wouldn't come to me. So, I just laid there praying to get exhausted enough to override my own mind. I just laid there and listened to the silence. Well, at least I think it was silence in the background of all of my thoughts.....I am not completely sure.

Insomnia blows.

I am so tired right now.

I will get over it, probably.

Please take few seconds to check out my new video about being a PureO. Thanks, and I promise to write a better post next Tuesday.

Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Why OCD Is Not Funny....

That is what I feel when someone makes fun of my disorder. We live in a time where information is just a click away and yet such ignorance abounds us all, it is amazing to me we can see through the fog of it. On a weekly basis I am confronted with people making light of my disorder or minimizing it's effects with dumb t-shirts or ignorant coffee cups and I become disheartened and offended.  It seriously happens to me all of the time. And as frustrating as it is, I can not totally blame the people that do it. They just don't know any better. So I ask myself how I can change the perceptions of things like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to the masses. Granted, I will most likely not change the world with my posts on this blog, but if I can help just one person understand OCD a little better or help a fellow sufferer feel less alone, then I feel all of this has been worth the struggle.

 In looking through several videos on youtube about OCD, I have noticed that although there is a great deal on OCD, they aren't necessarily specific. There are several videos on compulsions that go hand in hand with Obsessive Compulsive disorder but not many on the obsessional or intrusive thought part of OCD and I would like to change that.

So, I have decided to make a few videos about my life with OCD and the things I have learned while suffering from it for almost thirty two years. They wont be anything spectacular. There won't be any animations or flow charts. No, art work being drawn as I speak or anything fancy. Just me talking about the things many of us OCD sufferers are afraid to talk about (the scary, guilt inducing, upsetting intrusive thoughts that rule our lives). I will be discussing what it is like to be a PureO because we are OCD sufferers too. Just not the ones most people think of when they think about OCD because our symptoms are not readily seen to the naked eye. I will be discussing why OCD is just as serious as every other mental illness and just why we do not find your Obsessive Cat Disorder shirts or Obsessive Coffee Disorder coffee mugs hilarious.  I will admit I am a little terrified of doing this. Writing is one thing, being on camera talking about it is quite another. I may even have hives and a panic attack before, after, or even during filming. Who knows. But I do feel it is important to try and I hope that it helps even in some small way.

So, here goes nothing...

             (you may need to use headphones the volume is low).
     (( I apologize for the overuse of the word "um", I was nervous))

Neurotic Nelly