Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And So It Begins....

Often times when I talk about living with my disorder or my mental illness I refer to the fact that I have lived with this albatross for over thirty years. Sometimes, I am dumbfounded as I say it aloud and hits me like a barbell to the chest. I have dealt with this for longer than most couples stay married. If it were a career choice instead of a mental illness, I would already have payed into my retirement fund and be living off of it ( probably somewhere in Florida wearing hideous, dark blue denim, high-water pants with an elastic waistband, dark black wrap around sunglasses, and  that little old lady red visor hat old people wear in bingo halls). If it were a prison sentence I would probably be out by now (depending on my crime).  If it were calculated by dog years, I would have suffered for over 112 years. You get the picture...it's a long time.

I wanted to talk about how OCD has affected my life. How it has changed over time, the pain, the struggles, the frustrations of what I have gone through as well as the many different symptoms I have had, but I realize that it would take more than one post to fit thirty years of this.....mental haunting into words. I want to be honest. I need to be honest. This is not just my blog but my confessional. My priest. My window to the world that I look out from and I so desperately want to just let it all out. Hang the dirty laundry and let it dry. Release the haunting and be free to finally be brutally honest not just about the more "comfortable" symptoms most of us willingly talk about but also the really bad ones. The ones none of us share because it makes us feel dirty, bad, sick, and so very very alone. So, I am taking that first shaky step with wobbly knees and unsure footing with this first installment of how it all came to be, how it all began, how it all started.....And so it begins.

My first vivid memory of an intrusive thought was around the age of four. My sister and I were playing outside. She, being two years older than me was my only real source of all things worldly. She was my Tom Brokaw of the news department and everything she said was taken as truth. After all, she was bigger and smarter. She was six. She told me that when you swallowed; the food, drink, saliva, whatever turned into blood as it ran down your throat. I was horrified. I hated blood and just the mention of the word made me feel faint. I am not sure how I reacted right after she broadcast this bit of news to me, but soon thereafter I started having issues with swallowing my own spit. I was afraid it was turning into blood and it scared me. I also started washing my hands, excessively. To the point my hands were cracking and bleeding. I became aware of how things were "dirty feeling" or "tainted" even when they appeared to be clean. Then the thoughts came. The ugly scary thoughts that turned my insides cold as ice. They made my palms sweaty and my heart jump in my throat. They showed me images of my parents suffering and dying in horrible ways. Car crashes, house fires, random crazy murderous burglars.....the most vile and scary things a kid could imagine and I was afraid it would happen to my parents, my friends, my aunts and uncles...ect. It made me think about death and the death of my loved ones, my pets, my friends, myself. It terrified me more than any boogeyman lurking in the closet or monster under my bed. It was the monster that lived under my bed, but I carried it everywhere I went. It lived in the recesses of my brain. It dwelled in the corners of my mind. It played in the shadows of my cerebral cortex. It left me unable to concentrate on anything else but the fear and the nauseous feeling it left in the pit of my stomach. I started to pray until it became a mantra. A mantra I said exactly the same way over and over and over and over, every time these images would pop up. I said them with tears in my eyes. I said them with my tiny fingers jammed so far into my ears that it hurt, while screaming "Shut up! Shut up!" over and over again. I hated the voice in my head but I didn't realize the voice was only in my head. I thought maybe others could hear it too. I didn't know it wasn't normal. All I knew is that no matter how hard I prayed, no matter how much I cried, no matter how loud I yelled it never went away. It never ceased. It never stopped. I said the mantra so often that after thirty years I still remember it verbatim. Most people have wonderful playful memories of the age of four and all of the innocence and laughter. All I have is the memory of : No No No, No No No, No No No No, No No No.

Soon the "No No No's" didn't work anymore and I resorted to slapping myself in the forehead. The pain made the intrusive thoughts waver. The shock of the slap gave me a instant relief but not for long enough. So I did it again and again. It got to the point that I would bruise my forehead from hitting it so hard, so often. When my slaps became not hard enough to shock the intrusive thoughts anymore, I started begging, pleading with my mother to slap me in the forehead. "Harder, Mom it has to be harder or the thoughts won't go away."

She took me to the doctor and he suggested it could be Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but they weren't treating children for it at that time and certainly not children that young. He suggested that they not tell me anything about it or draw attention to it and maybe it would go away on it's own....it didn't.

The washing became not enough to quell the anxiety and fear. Now it had spread into things like counting. One, two three, four...... Now I have to start over again....One, two three, four. I don't like even numbers. Four is bad, I need three. Why is there four when there should be three.....One, two, three, four.....

And onto touching things to make them even. You touched that part of your right  hand on the dollhouse. Now you have to make it even. Touch it in the same spot with your left. No, that doesn't feel the same. Touch it again. Touch it again. Touch it again. Touch it again. Touch it again. Do you want your parents to die? Then touch it again. Touch it again. Touch it again. Touch it again......

And finally it spread into checking. Are you sure you shut the front door behind you? I can see that it's closed but how do you know if it is closed all the way? It could be just halfway closed but not latched. Is it latched all the way? Turn around and jiggle the knob. Okay it's closed but are you sure? What if jiggling the knob knocked the door loose and it isn't really closed? Better go check it again. You don't want it to be open and something bad happen. Check it again. Are you sure it is really truly closed? Check it again. I am not convinced it's really closed. You may have knocked it loose. Check it again. And again. And again. And again.....

I was four and this had become my new reality. Not the reality of my friends who rode their bikes and played with their Barbie dolls carefree, but my reality. A reality where even if I rode my bike or played with my Barbie doll's my mind was sure to trick me. It was sure to plague me. It was sure to punish me relentlessly over and over again. It was sure to remind me that I was responsible for anything and everything that could possibly go wrong. It all depended on me. The future depended on my ability to touch things evenly, count correctly, have clean enough hands, and making sure the front door was closed and latched all the way. My family's life depended on it. It was a lot to ask of a four year old. And it continued that way with the guilt, shame, and anxiety of all  four compulsions until I turned ten. Then it changed into something else entirely. Something much worse....I became a PureO.

Neurotic Nelly

Next installment: http://neurtoicnellyocd.blogspot.com/2014/01/what-it-became.html

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lost in the Fog......

I am usually an upbeat optimistic individual. I have to be to deal with the onslaught of mental issues that have kept me down for years. I always try to look for the silver lining. It is just who I am.....

That being said, I sometimes get "down in the dumps." I seem to get lost in the fog. I never know when it will hit me or what will cause it, but every three or four months or so, I get what my friends and I call, "the funk". It started on Christmas day. Not really bad but it morphed as the days came and went until everything seemed to run together in a big blur. I realized today, that I hadn't talked to my best friend in two days (and we talk everyday) nor did I leave a hint as to why. Nor did I answer her texts or messages. She became worried about me. She called and left messages to check on me but instead of picking up the phone I just stared at it. I simply sat there and stared. I had left normal Nelly land and had stepped into the land of "the funk". It was official, I had lost the comfort of denial.

I finally called her back, not because I felt like talking but because I felt guilty for letting her worry. I told her about the funk and as I described how I was feeling I realized I had been lying to myself for awhile now and it has to stop. I used excuses. I used white lies that sounded like truths if I squinted my eyes really hard when I looked at them from a distance. If I held them at arms length and upside down. I don't have "funks". What I have is small bouts of depression.

I hadn't really realized it before now. I kept saying to her it's not really depression. I don't feel suicidal. I don't feel sad. I don't feel "depressed". I give her a great deal of credit because she was seeing some red flags that I had decided to overlook and she was quick to point them out to me....and she was absolutely right.

Our conversation went a little like this:

ME: Sorry, I haven't felt like talking. I am in a funk again. I just realized I have worn nothing but this dirty nightgown since Christmas and I haven't even changed. I am not depressed though.

HER: Well, have you at least bathed?

ME: (uncomfortable pause and foot tapping) No......

HER: Really. When was the last time you brushed your teeth?

ME: (more foot tapping and looking at the ceiling) Ummmmm.....I don't remember. The days all seem kinda like one big blur.

HER: And you haven't been talking to anyone....Did you at least write your blog today?

And it hit me.  Depression isn't always the feeling of sadness. Sometimes it is just a numbness that sets in. I know this and yet I have been purposely wearing blinders when it came to my issues with it. Giving it a cutesy name and pretending it isn't as bad as it is.

I don't know why it hits me. It doesn't do it very often and usually it lasts for three to five days. I don't feel suicidal or sad just very tired and like I can not handle one more ounce of drama. One more issue someone is going through. One more complaint, or sorrow, or feelings of any sort. I feel like I am incapable of handling anything else and I shut down. Not totally, as I do housework and I cook. I take care of my kids and am able to talk to those I live with, but not outsiders of my home. Not even my neighbors. I forget small things like the fact I need to bathe or put on underarm deodorant. I forget to brush my teeth or hair. I can't write or talk about how I feel. I am drained and exhausted and so very very numb. I get lost in the television or a computer game. I avoid gossip or communication with others. It feels like my batteries have died and I am rebooting. Recharging.

Maybe it was because of all of the anxiety of Christmas Eve family get together at my house? I felt extreme cleaning anxiety and it took me a week to get ready for the whole shindig. Or maybe it's a hormonal thing as I am currently taking a new medication for my diabetes. I am not really sure but I realized that I have to look at what I go through in these times as what they are. Not a silly name that tends to down play what I am experiencing but the actual name that it is called. Depression. There I said it. I suffer from small random bouts of depression and I don't know why. That wasn't so hard was it?

So while talking to my friend on the phone, I brushed my teeth to prove I had realized I have been neglecting myself. Then after we hung up I took a bath and even decided to paint my toenails. A light mauve color in hopes to lighten my mood. In fact the bath helped immensely as did my talk with my friend and I am starting to come out of the fog. It has been five days and I am soon to be rid of the bout of depression completely....until next time.

I am sorry I didn't write yesterday as I usually do on Saturdays but I was in a fog. I was recharging. I was in a funk and I was honestly, simply depressed. I hope you all can understand and forgive me. It happens, unfortunately and I don't know why but I am going to start monitoring it and writing down what has been going on before I fall victim to these horrid bouts.That way, maybe I can find a common denominator and figure out what I can do to get rid of it or at least deal with it in a more productive fashion.

Anyway, I hope to be up and writing on Tuesday. Same Bat time same Bat place. I hope to read all of your comments and hopefully my post will be a tad more upbeat than this one. Until Tuesday my friends....Be Safe and Take Care of Yourselves.

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Drag of The Razor.......


My legs are scarred but not by my own will. I am clumsy and  really have no business wielding a razor, but culture dictates that a woman must have smoother legs than her husband or words like "odd", "weird", or "gross" get thrown around. I am often considered "odd" and "weird" anyway for other reasons. I don't really  need to add "gross" to my repartee as well, and certainly not called "odd" or "weird" because my legs resemble a yeti in the summer time. So I shave...albeit it badly and often times dangerously.

What I found is I am used to cutting myself. I do it so often, I no longer feel the sharp stab of pain when the razor slips. I only feel the tug of the razor as it slowly drags across my skin. I curse not because of the fear of the pain, but simply because getting the bleeding to stop is a pain and requires more attention than I really wanted to give. It doesn't really hurt. It isn't pain as much as a slight sting. A sting that I no longer consider abnormal or unfamiliar.  It reminds me of how when I was a child, I would cry at the doctor's office because I thought I was going to get shots. My mother had coined an adage that I say to my children today,"Shots don't hurt they sting." An adage that turned out to be true as I got used to the needle pricks growing up. I guess all things considered it is a good thing I got used to them, as now I have to purposely stick my fingers four times a day for my diabetes testing.  I have become used to the pricking of my fingers as I have the cutting of my legs. They no longer wield immense pain, or the fear of it, they leave only a nagging sting that I quickly have learned to process and  ignore.

I find that having a mental illness for over thirty years has had quite the same affect. I no longer am terrified or upset greatly by the intrusive images and thoughts that my OCD throws into my face. I hate them. I am displeased that I have them in the first place but the stabbing pain of being tormented by them is much less than when I was a child, a teenager, or a young adult. I guess at almost thirty five I am no longer a young adult. Maybe I am a middle aged adult, or old? What is old anyway? I often feel we are old the day we are born. Cranky, angry, wailing, disgruntled, tiny bald people shaking our fists at the cold hard world and the injustice of it all. Who knows?

I am not sure that the pain of these thoughts is less because I have had them for so long or because I have had them in rapid succession so often that even they fail to surprise me, anymore. Maybe the fear levels have been raised so high for so long that I have become accustomed to them like an adrenaline junkie, that no longer gets a rush from roller coasters and now has to sky dive for the same endorphin release. Except that OCD is more scary than roller coasters or sky diving or spear hunting a pack of ravenous lions with nothing but a dull toothpick and a can of silly string. There is no more fear to be raised, I have already reached my intrusive thoughts adrenaline peak... I am no longer shocked by what OCD says or shows me. It has simply become a faulty pictured, static educed cable channel with nothing but old reruns playing over and over again.  I have seen all the episodes and know exactly how they end. It has become old hat. It no longer eviscerates my emotional capabilities. It no longer feels like my soul is shattering from the pressure of guilt or my heart is breaking from the pain. It is numbed by experience. The pain has become muted. It no longer hurts. It now only stings. I often wonder, if like my legs my mind is scarred. Big ugly red welts zigzagging across my cerebral cortex implying the deep cuts my OCD has tortured me with every second, every minute, of every hour for thirty years. I wonder a lot. I ponder on such things too often. Maybe I wonder too much?

To me the intrusive thoughts and images have become nothing more than the slipping of the razor, inconvenient and messy, irritating and annoying but no longer earth shattering or devastating. No longer completely time consuming or guilt educing. I have learned I can not prevent them or hide from them but I can choose to not let them take over my life.

I am not saying I am cured or I don't suffer from extreme anxiety. I absolutely am not going to sit here and lie to you. I sometimes feel so much anxiety it feels like it is it's own entity, taking up it's own space in the room beside me. I can feel it's chest heaving up and down and hear it's deep gravely breaths. I can feel it's warm air, fetid and disgusting beating down on the back of my neck. But the fear of what OCD tells or shows me is nonexistent for the most of the thoughts. The harm thoughts, the sexual thoughts, the relationship fears, the homosexual OCD fears, the blasphemous fears ...all of the fears that used to stop me cold and make the palms of my hands sweaty and the bile rise in my throat, now cease to trigger the deep fear they used to. I find them  disturbing because they still occur and I hate them, but I know who I am and that I am not what my OCD says. I am not capable of doing or being such things. I never was nor will I ever be. I see them for what they are, lies. That is not to say that I don't still have the health fears and the other OCD tendencies. I do have them and sometimes the health fears do ramp up the anxiety levels. Sometimes I do have to throw out a sandwich I just made and remake it one, or two, or God forbid, three times because it may have touched the counter and it seemed "unclean". Sometimes I do get caught up in the OCD webs of deceit and terror but I am getting better with dealing with them. It is as it always has been, a work in progress. I have bad days and good, like most people suffering from a mental illness.

For over thirty years I have had almost all of the OCD fears at one time or another. Sometimes, they overlapped and I would deal with multiple symptoms at a time. What if I am gay....What if I am a sexual deviant and I just don't know it yet...What if I stab someone with this sharpened crayon....What if I have murderous tendencies....What if I have contracted Ebola from this library book....What if I accidentally poisoned the food with bleach I used in the sink two weeks ago ...What if I didn't unplug the coffee pot and the whole house burns to ashes.....What if I said something inappropriate and upset others.... What if....always what if... Sometimes it was just one really big one that halted my progress as a "functional" member of society. Leaving me to shut myself away and stay at home so there wouldn't be any triggers that would pop out of nowhere leaving me feeling vulnerable and exposed. Many times the fear was so great I had thought about ending my own life. I was in so much pain. I felt alone and lost. I felt  unworthy of love or acceptance. I felt dirty, guilty, and ashamed. And what's worse, I felt totally and completely insane. I knew what was happening in my mind wasn't normal. I knew what was happening to me wasn't normal and I had no idea how to fix it or make it go away. But it doesn't go away. Not in the traditional sense and you can't simply "fix" it. What you can do is learn to live with it and learn how to get around it. Learn how to forgive yourself for not being what you think you should be or for not being able to do what you think you should be able to. You can learn to choose not to give it power over you. To dictate how you feel all of the time. To let it steal away the most precious moments of your life minute by minute. It takes treatment and hell, maybe even thirty years but it can be better. The intrusive thoughts and images can be less like an knife to the heart and more like a shaving cut. Not completely painless but not a deep throbbing pain. It can become a sting instead of an amputation. More of a nuisance and less of an infliction. Will you be magically healed and cured? No, but you will be more in control of how OCD makes you feel. It can be done.

It has taken me a really long time to get to where I am now. Maybe for some of you it will take half the time or even less than that. When I was diagnosed there was not nearly as many treatment options as there is now. I mean, most people had never heard of OCD at that time. I don't know everything, but what I do know is if you are suffering then reaching out for help now, can literally save your life. It can make the bad times easier. It can make the OCD less rigid and smothering. It can help you feel like the magnificent and strong person you really are but are unable to see it. Whether you choose to get therapy or medication or just blog about it to the world. Please don't just suffer in silence. I did that for way to long and I know how painful and devastating that can be.

Neurotic Nelly

Monday, December 23, 2013

Keep Your Chin Up....

Tomorrow is going to be super busy for me. I have to clean because I have family coming over. Not that it matters who is coming over, I must clean anytime someone comes over. It wouldn't matter if it were the Pope, the President, my mother, or the pizza delivery guy. If someone is coming over I have base boards to scrub, floors to vacuum, and smells to eradicate. They may not even be real smells, but they will be eradicated none the less. I will simply freak if someone thinks my house smells. UGH!

So, tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I am trying not to panic. Not to be overwhelmed. Not to get so excited I can't fall asleep until five a.m. Not sure if it will work, but I am trying.

To all my many readers, I am so grateful for you.  You have all supported me and lifted me up in my times of woe. Many of you have left encouraging comments that have helped me greatly. Even if you haven't left comments, the fact that you take the time to read my posts, alone have truly been healing for me. I can not tell you how amazing it is that I have been given a voice and you are the the reason I have that voice. When once I was muted from my mental illness and fear of judgment, you all have given me back my ability to speak. My ability to feel. And, dare I say it, a semblance of self esteem that had been vacant in my life for so long. I am immensely grateful for that.

Christmas is almost here, and I know that many families will be burning the roofs of their mouths by sipping hot chocolate and singing carols so loud their throats get sore. Many will be looking at the Christmas lights twinkling like dew drops, and cooking away for the Christmas feast. That one crazy Uncle of yours will drink too much alcoholic eggnog and dance bad enough to embarrass everyone that knows him personally. Some might even record it and post it on facebook. I know that many celebrate Hanuka instead and they have the spinning tops and other wonderful traditions as well. I think it is wise to remember that while for some of us this is the best time of year, it isn't that way for everyone. To us it brings comfort and togetherness. The simple act of giving gifts and watching the faces of your loved ones light up. The smell of Christmas firs decorated with care and peppermint cookies baking in the oven. It fills our hearts with glee.

But there is another side to the Holidays. For as many of us that love the holidays and are comforted by them, many of us find no comfort during the Holiday Season. For some of us this is the hardest time of the year. It can leave us feeling secluded, ostracized, and alone. It can leave us feeling depressed. It can wreck havoc on our anxiety levels, our feeling of safety, and our self esteems. It can be not a day of love and joy, but instead a day of object terror, frustration, or sadness.

So, for all of my readers and beyond, I am making a wish this year for Christmas. I am wishing you not just the proverbial Merry Christmas most people give out, but also a peaceful Christmas. A Christmas/Hanuka where you do not feel alone, because you never are really alone. I wish a safe Christmas, where you feel safe and not afraid. One without anxiety or sadness. One where you feel and know that that there are many out there that know exactly how you feel and we get what battles you are dealing with. I wish that you know how strong you are and brave and beautiful. I wish that this Holiday Season is easier for you than the last one and so on and so on until Christmas is no longer a well in which you are afraid to fall down and drown in. I wish it to be  full of not only joy but understanding from your peers and loved ones. I wish that you can have a few moments of happiness and bliss. I wish that this Christmas, you too feel valid and worthy like you all have helped me to feel. I wish that you can be relaxed and calm. I wish that you find hope because everyone needs hope and you are worth hoping for. You are worth all of the hope and wishes and prayers in the entire world. I wish that this year you get all that you want but at the very least get what you need to keep going, keep fighting, and keep trying because you deserve all of the beautiful things life has to offer.

I hope that everyone will have a peaceful, safe, wonderful Christmas and even if it gets tough, always remember you are worthy. You are valid. You are magnificent. You are beautiful. You have nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Keep your chin up, because you are strong, you are fierce, and you are never alone.

Merry Christmas my dear readers, my dear friends, my fellow sufferers....
Neurotic Nelly

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Self Hate......

A lot of people feel inadequate. Like somehow, they just don't measure up to what they think they should. They haven't done enough, or aren't enough to be accepted.  It is quite common to feel this way every now and again, however those of us with mental illness don't just feel this way every now and again. We feel it all of the time. It becomes a daily struggle to not only deal with our mental illness but also deal with the self doubt, self judgment, and self hate. Essentially, you are left with a stripped sense of self worth, a dissected  image of yourself where nothing is where it is supposed to be and yet, nothing fits. You become a jigsaw puzzle ready to be put together but unable to find all of the pieces. The missing pieces have been torn away and scattered in the wind like ashes...

My battle with self hate started as early as four, only I didn't know what it was. I would punish myself because I had a bad thought or intrusive image, often times sending myself to go stand in the corner. I felt I needed to be punished because bad little kids get punished and surely these horrid images and thoughts meant I was a bad little girl. The self hate had begun.

Then as I grew older it became more about things I couldn't do rather than the things I could. It became more about my appearance and things I perceived as failures on my part. Failure. That was the one word that I used the most. The broken record of self abuse that never ceased playing. I was a failure. A worthless, stupid, ugly, unlovable failure. I fail. I failed. Why try, when I will only fail again?

Then teenage hood came. My mental illness had went into a form of remission from ten to fourteen. I was dealing with extreme bullying an nothing seemed to help. My Mom complained to the school but they looked at me as an outsider as well. In the whole school, only two teachers protected me and they couldn't be everywhere I was at the same time. I began to hate my hair color, my skin tone, my accent, my boobs that had started to grow faster than the other girls. I hated anything that drew attention to me because that made me even more of a target. I hated that we were dirt poor and mostly I hated myself because I felt less than the other kids. Ostracized and worthless. Ugly and different.

Then we moved and I went to a better school. The OCD silently stepped forward . The intrusive voice was back. I was reaching for a towel and it told me if I didn't touch the shelf with one hand the same way I did with the other that my Mom would die in a fiery car accident. I was aghast. I knew this wasn't normal and yet that voice sounded so very familiar. I had heard it before. All of a sudden, my mental block ripped away like a scab and the painful memories of this voice, came rushing back. It was familiar because I had heard it all through my childhood. I was old enough now to know it wasn't what normal people heard. I was secretly afraid I was insane. I had failed to be normal...again. I was worthless and damaged and broken. Who could love me and Oh my God, does this mean I have to be committed? God, please anything but that.
It took me a month of silent suffering before I told my Mom. I just couldn't hold it in any longer and she took me to a great psychiatrist who diagnosed me. Still, even with the knowledge of what I had under my belt, I blamed myself. I was the reason I was broken. I hid the self hate on and off for years. Wearing the mask many of us often wear. The "I am alright, nothing to see here" mask. The mask with the fake smile that never fully reaches the eyes. The mask made of paper mache, glue, and silent tears.

I had such bad panic attacks I had to drop out of high school three weeks before graduation. I failed at that too.

Then I tried Beauty school, in which the same thing happened and I had to also drop out. No one wants their nails done by a snot covered, crying, panicked woman waving a nail drill around in hysterics. The feeling of dread was so great, I simply couldn't go anymore.

The darkest period was when the depression set in. My first marriage was toxic and since I self hated so much, all of my self worth was wrapped up in how this man felt about me. I was unable to feel anything about myself but anger and disgust. He was way older and I had just turned eighteen when we met.  I struggled with trying to be the best wife I could when we married. I tried to do what he wanted, be what he wanted. Thinking it would make me a better person. A person I could live with, maybe even get to like. Or at the very least, a person I didn't hate quite as much. I thought it was love, but in reality it was just another form of a paper mache mask. Hiding what I truly thought about myself underneath all of the smiles and late night dinners I cooked for him. And when he told me I didn't need medication, I should just take St. John's Wort, I listened. I took St. John's until the point I was swallowing half a bottle a day. I felt I couldn't even do this right either. It wasn't working and it was my fault. I had failed to even do that right.

I hated myself so much, I started punishing myself by starving and over exercising myself. I became underweight and still it wasn't enough. I was still fat, too fat, way too fat. I had developed what I call an almost eating disorder. It was almost because as rapidly as it had formed, it simply stopped. I am not sure why.

Then I had a miscarriage and any self worth I might have been clinging to was gone. It to me was not only devastating but yet another example of just how screwed up I was. Just another example of my failure. Failure to do the most natural thing in the world. The whole reason women were created. I was no longer even a woman to myself. I was a broken shell and I hated myself deeply for it. I became numb except in the center where my soul should should be. That had been taken over by a rolling boiling core of self hatred like I had never experienced before. To fill the empty shell I had became, I started to eat. I over ate. I stuffed any feelings I had with brownies, cookies, and cake. I stuffed them down my throat with cheeseburgers and french fries. I allowed myself all of the foods I wanted when I was starving myself but hating myself even more for swallowing them. I felt like each bite, each swallow was proof of what was wrong with me. I couldn't even not fail at being thin.

My self esteem got so bad I would thank my then husband after he had sex with me. I found myself so disgusting, so vile and repulsive I felt it had to be a chore to sleep with me. It had to have been hard for him to want someone like me. A huge, disgusting, failure. How painfully pathetic is that?

Then I got a job and penned all of my hopes on at the very least being able to work. Surely, I could do this. I only lasted four months before the anxiety stopped me cold. My physical health started taking a toll on me because my mental health was being ignored. I was losing the ability to leave my home. I became agoraphobic. In my mind, was not that I was still grieving, or that I needed help. In my mind, it was simply yet another thing I failed at.

And then the kicker...he fell in love with someone else and  left me. Now, I had nothing left. All of the years I had tried to be what he wanted because I hated what I was, had left me hollow.  I was lost. All of my self esteem was wrapped in someone who was no longer there. I was unsure of anything and of course I blamed myself for everything. I was a loser. I was unlovable, I had failed one more time. I wasn't good at anything except for maybe failing at things. That was something I was apparently, very efficient at. And I hated myself even more.

It was the closest to suicide I had ever been in my life. I started drinking to numb the pain but it didn't help. I thought of many ways to die , but my OCD and I couldn't decide on how to do it. I didn't want to traumatize anyone. It just proves how far off my thinking was. Everyone's suicide is traumatizing. And then magic happened. I got a bus ticket and moved back in with my mother and got a new therapist. I worked on my self hate issues and I started to realize that I was never really any of those things I thought I was. I was never ugly, or stupid, or worthless. I was never a failure. That just because OCD wants me to think that I am responsible for everything doesn't make it true. I am not God, and I do not control everything. It wasn't my fault I couldn't work. It was OCD. It wasn't my fault I was bullied. It wasn't my fault I had depression. It wasn't my fault I had intrusive thoughts or images. It wasn't my fault St. John's Wort hadn't cured me.  It wasn't my fault I couldn't finish school or that I had panic attacks. It wasn't my fault he fell in love with someone else and left me. It wasn't my fault that I lost our baby. It wasn't my fault. None of it. And as I started to work through the lies I had let myself believe, I realized I had been blaming myself since I was four for every rotten thing that had ever come my way. I had blamed myself for every thing I thought I should be able to do but couldn't. I had to realize everyone is different and not everyone does the same thing, they don't have to. I started to let go of all of the anger I carried because I had OCD, or I was different, or I didn't do something I wanted to, or I was unable to. I started to get to know myself not just with the OCD but also separately as well and I found that I was hiding under a mask for no reason. I am not a monster, or damaged, or bad. I learned to let it go, all of it and to stop punishing myself. Because I am a good person even if there are some things I am unable to do. I am capable of other things like being a good mom, something I thought I would never be after loosing the first one. I found new love, real love with someone who would never instruct me to stop mentally taking care of myself or anything that would hurt me. I found support and even through this blog, a voice. Finally a voice to say, I have been where you are and I know how it feels, AND IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!  Maybe I had to go through all of that pain to be where I am now. Maybe I had to hate myself before I could learn to forgive myself. Maybe I had to be broken to heal. I don't know really know. I just know that self hate isn't indicative of who you are. It isn't really about you. It's just the mental illness talking and it's wrong. You are none of those things just as I am none of those things. It's all in our heads. The self hate doesn't really belong to us. It belongs solely to the mental illness we suffer from and we are not responsible for it. I don't know why it had to take me so long to figure this out, but I am thankful I am where I am now, today, this very moment.  I just wanted to share that I too have been where you are and it can get better. It does get better and you are worth so much more than the self hate lets you believe.

Neurotic Nelly.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

In Honor of Us......

When I started my google+  group, The Mental Illness Experience, I would post a new famous person with mental  illness every week. Many times, especially when we are first diagnosed, we get scared. Negative thoughts and images rush to our minds. Will we be productive? Do we now, somehow lose the ability to stand and be counted?  Will we be able to be what we want to be? Does life stop for us now? Are we destined to live a life full of nothing but pain, sadness, and loneliness? Do we lose the ability to do great things with our lives?
The answer to these questions is a resounding NO!

We have and do matter and we can and have changed the world. I would like to share with you five of my old posts depicting famous, talented, and creative people that also suffered as we do now. In honor of creativity. In honor of truth. In honor of ending stigma and discrimination. In honor of us.

Adam Ant 1954-
(born Stuart Leslie Goddard; 3 November 1954)

Adam Ant is an English musician, and one of the seminal figures of post-punk new wave and alternative rock music. Ant has candidly talked about his experiences with severe depression.                                                                        

Florence Nightingale

was born in Florence, Italy on the 12th May 1820 and died on the 13th August 1910. So this year also marks the centenary of her death. A prolific writer and statistician, Nightingale accomplished her goals in spite of a lifelong illness that kept her bedridden for decades. She was thought to suffer from Bi-Polar disorder

Tom Harrell 

has been called the John Nash of jazz. Against considerable odds, including pronounced tardive dyskinesia, Harrell has successfully struggled with schizophrenia and become one of the most respected jazz trumpeters and composers of the past 30 years

Mary Ann Lincoln (née Todd)

 December 13, 1818 – July 16, 1882) was the wife of the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and was First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865. Is said to have suffered Depression and Delusions.

Tracey Gold

 is an actress, known for her work on the television series “Growing Pains,” who is now recovered from anorexia nervosa, with which she struggled during the late 80’s and early 90’s. 

Tennessee Williams was a Pultizer Prize-winning playwright, popularly known for The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Williams suffered from depression, which exacerbated after his schizophrenic sister underwent a lobotomy in the mid-1940s.

Stephen Fry 1957-

British actor Stephen Fry attempted suicide last year, he said during a podcast interview on Wednesday in which he talked openly about his ongoing battle with mental illness. He is Bi-Polar.

These are the faces of mental illness. Productive, intelligent, creative, and even famous people can suffer from mental illness. It does not discriminate. It does not judge. It does not care how much money you have or what religion you belong to. Mental Illness can strike anyone, anywhere in their lifetime. It is time to stand up and refuse to be told we are anything but worthy, productive, magnificent people and we deserve more than just bias and stigma. In honor of me, In honor of you, in honor of all of the silent sufferers. We are everywhere and we matter.

  You can read more of my old Famous Mental  Illness Sufferers posts here:  plus.google.com/u/0/communities/109735324461735716247/stream/6f1e4b19-9f39-4896-9f4d-f75d5447bbcb

Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I Stand.....(rant)

As a wife, daughter, mother, sister, friend, as a blogger, as a person, just in general, there are some things I am unwavering about. There are somethings in which I stand  rigidly, unbending, straight as an arrow, refuse to back down about. There just are and I don't think that I need to apologize for them or make excuses. They are a part of what makes me ....well, me. Good or bad, right or wrong they raise me up, they define me, and sometimes they devastate me as well. They are both my curse and my crutch. They are my paradise and my hell. My fear and my safety just like everyone else's. They are my cross to bear but they are also part of what makes me a determined, stubborn as an ox, proud, fearless woman. Because I have lived it I can heal. Because I have tasted the poison, I can spit it out. Because I have agonized I can offer my words of comfort. Because I too know what it's like to suffer....

I can take a lot. Put up with a lot. Swallow my pride enough. Try to be accepting...but there is a point. There is a line in which I will not cross. There is a line in the sand and this is it.

I don't have copious amounts of money. I am not rich, by any means. I am unable to work. I am unable to drive. I talk entirely too much. My comments on other people's posts are novella in size. I sometimes forget to  "filter" what I say. I am constantly thinking. I am way too oversensitive. I cry when I get really really angry (and it's the ugly kind of cry). I have a problem with smells (I don't like them).  I often think I am one pee jar away from Howard Hughes status. I can't stand comb overs (they irritate me. You aren't fooling anybody. Cut it already!) I am lactose intolerant. I say stupid puns no one finds funny but me (and I think they are hilarious). I am terrible at surprises because I can't keep it a secret long enough not to tell the person getting it. I am not a morning person. I hate bananas, and waffles, and  brussle sprouts. I am also not fond of cauliflower or "fishy broccoli" as I call it. I have diabetes. I am a shame to southerners everywhere because I can't make eatable gravy (it tastes like burnt flour). I like eighties rock bands and fifties do whop and opera too. I know every word of Robin Hood Men In Tights and can quote it from memory. I am partially blind. I hate liars not just because lying sucks, but also because I can not understand the whole lying process when truth is soooo much easier to remember. I cry at all movies, as well as commercials, sad songs, and even the kindergartner play when they dressed up as a Christmas train  at my children's school simply, because it was cute. It didn't matter that I was there to see my first grader's class sing and I don't even have a kindergartner. I have faults and I admit to all of them. I am neither holier than thou or judgmental but there are some things that I will not put up with and there are some things that I stand up for.

I Stand For:
The belief that everyone is beautiful. That's right, everyone. No matter your skin color. No matter your waist size. No matter your religion or beliefs. No matter your financial situation. No matter your hair style or fashion sense. No matter your tattoos, or piercings, or body modification. No matter who you love.  No matter your choice in music. No matter your I.Q.  Especially if you are mentally ill. Everyone is different and magnificent. We are  the colorful paintbrushes that paint the sky at dawn. We are shades of blue and red and orange and yellow. We light up the sky.

I Stand For:
Always being as truthful as possible. I hate liars because it is lost on me why we can't just be honest. I hate to be manipulated and lied to... It sucks! Stop doing it!! I am terrible at fibbing or talking out of both sides of my mouth. My mouth simply refuses to work that way and so does my brain. Just be truthful and multiply. (bad pun, sorry)

I Stand For:
Being an advocate for mental illness. Because I suffer from mental illness. Because mental illness does exist and just because some people want to pretend it does not, doesn't make it the truth.  I was told yesterday that I was promoting death and disease by talking about mental illness. And that it doesn't exist. No one needs therapists or medications, they just want you to fail at being happy. That I just need to be happy. And because I didn't subscribe to his bountiful logic, he ended with the comment that I would be swallowed up by the universe and to have fun with my nightmares..  ....  .....

And I guess that's true. If by promoting death you mean, I am writing blogs on why not to kill yourself, because we all matter and are important even when we think we aren't. And if by promoting disease you mean, the fact that I write about how I have OCD and I am terrified of germs and contamination to the point that I carry more hand sanitizer in my purse than a hospital carries medical gloves. Or that I tell people to reach out for help because no one deserves to suffer in silence, or feel like they are alone in their suffering. Or because I tell them they can get through this day by day because they are strong. They are magnificent. They are warriors.

I mean, I guess he could be right...right?

As for the nightmares, I am not too worried about that statement, simply because my nightmares have haunted me for thirty years. I guess that's what it was that has made my life hell, not  a mental illness, because obviously they don't exist , but  nightmares have caused all of my intrusive thoughts and general lack of self confidence. It couldn't be my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It's just nightmares that I have to fear..

Listen bud, don't come at me with talk of nightmares. I have lived nightmares for thirty years that would make your hair curl and your heart scream. It is a nightmare to wash your hands so much they crack and bleed and yet they still don't feel clean enough. It is a nightmare to have to be afraid of everything because you trust nothing. It is a nightmare to believe that germs are going to kill you if you touch a door knob, a bookshelf, somebody else's pen. A nightmare to be afraid that you may have accidentally poisoned your loved one's food because you cleaned the counter three days ago and maybe the cleaner has somehow gotten into the food  and you cant throw it out yet again, so you have to sit there and watch them eat it, praying to God it isn't going to kill them. Nightmares are intrusive thoughts like holding a pair of scissors and being forced to see yourself stab your loved one six times in six different ways over and over again in great detail until you throw down the scissors because you are afraid you are capable of doing it, even though you are not. A nightmare to doubt things you know you didn't do but your mind insists you did so you have to constantly mentally test yourself. Does this turn me on... did I like that... Will I do this...ect.  Having your mind make you doubt your own sanity while still being sane enough to know that it is slipping away is a fucking nightmare. Nightmares have tucked me in at night as a child. They have helped me reach the toothpaste when I was too short to reach the counter. They helped me with my homework. They walked me down the isle. They help me with the grocery list in the store. Hell, nightmares handed me my bra this morning so I could get ready for the day. You want to talk about having fun with my nightmares pal, you are about thirty years too late. Nightmares don't scare me anymore. That ship has sailed. My nightmares made me a better fighter. They made me strong, they made me a warrior, they made me fearless and I kicked their ass. Nightmares are only shadows from the coat rack and little kids fear of the boogeyman. I have seen the boogeyman and he pales in comparison to mental illness. I was not impressed....

I Stand For:
Not being ashamed. I refuse to cower, cow toe, bow down, or hang my head in shame because I have a mental illness. I refuse to ignore the fact that in runs in my family. I refuse to be embarrassed or ignore my family members that also suffer. I openly tell people I have OCD and I openly tell people about my family's struggles with mental illness. I refuse to keep it a dirty little secret. Secrets keep you sick and there is nothing dirty about us. There is nothing dirty about mental illness. Mental illness is NOT a dirty word. I walk with my head held high and if that makes you uncomfortable, then too bad. I have learned to accept it and so should you. Either that or get out of my way. I more have important things to do then be ashamed.

I Stand For
Ending stigma and discrimination. I hate it. I hate the way some people (ignorant people) act when confronted with the topic of mental illness. All of the old cliche's come rushing to the surface. We are dangerous. We are freaks. We can't control ourselves. We should all be locked up. We are incapable of doing anything of worth.We are worthless. We are scary......Please someone get these people some facts! Contrary to the popular media hullabaloo,the leading cause of violence is not mental illness! In fact, people that suffer from mental illness are twice as likely to be victims of a violent crime rather than commit one. We are not incapable of being productive. Abraham Lincoln (depression), Howard Hughes (OCD), Winston Churchill (depression), Ludwig Van Beethoven (bi-polar), dancer Vaslov Vijinsky (schizophrenia)... are just a tiny few of the humongous list of people that suffered from mental illness that changed the world. Changed the way we think, the way we read, the music we listen to, and the way we view art. They were not unproductive and neither are we. We are not dangerous, or freaks, or scary. We are simply people that are misunderstood because of  ridiculous bias and news media wanting to promote something evil and scary to sell papers or get ratings or to blame so other people can rest easier at night thinking that only mental illness is the root of all violence. We are just people. Beautiful, talented, creative people that suffer from an illness. No different than diabetes or high cholesterol. No one runs from a diabetic with wary glances and mouths agape. It is a sickness, people...in our minds. It doesn't automatically make us rabid maniacal beasts with no self control or crazed glassy eyed maniacs drawing on the walls with our own feces while shouting obscenities at an invisible force in the corner. Not all mental illness is like that and no mental illness is like that when treated properly. Come on guys, give us a break and learn the facts. Sheesh.

and finally

I Stand For:
My blog. It's mine, and I work on it constantly. I have put blood, sweat, and tears into this thing. It has become my outreach, my friend, my diary, my therapist, my priest, my source of inspiration, my self esteem giver, my confessional.  I pour out my heart and soul about things that are going on with me personally and how I feel about them. I write about mental illness. AND not just my mental illness but mental illness in general and the stink of stigma that permeates all over it. That is why it is called I am Neurotic and I Need Help and not I am Hungry and I Need a Burger. Neurotic means neurosis which in turn should indicate the subject matter of mental illness. It is not a blog about food, or smelling sheep farts in Scandinavia. It's about my fears, my hopes, my dreams, my inspirations, and sometimes even my failures. Point being, it is my blog and I stand by everything I say in it. It may offend some people. Some people may be uncomfortable with the subject matter. I am, however, not sorry about that. This is my blog and if you don't like it then you don't have to read it.  I refuse to be censored.

So here I am. This is me and I stand. I stand for acceptance and truth. I stand for ending of stigma and discrimination. I stand for understanding and love. I stand for the ending of suffering in silence. I stand for compassion and knowledge. I stand for not being ashamed of who we are and what we suffer from. I stand for reclaiming our self confidence and self respect. I stand for dropping the cloak of guilt we are all used to shrouding ourselves in. I stand for being fierce and fearless and educating the truth about mental illness. I stand for you and I stand for me and everyone else out there that suffers. I stand. Will you?

Neurotic Nelly

Saturday, December 14, 2013

To Those Of You.....

To those of you:

To those of you contemplating suicide, you are not alone. You are not ugly. You are not stupid. You are not worthless or a burden. You are not bad. You are not a slut. You are not a disgrace. You are not an embarrassment. You are not an abomination. You are not fat. You are not invisible. You are not hopeless. You are not clumsy. You are not unlovable. You are not less than. You are not a statistic.

You are a person. You are beautiful and unique. You matter. You are important. You are seen and heard. You are irreplaceable...

I know how bad the pain can be. I know that some days it is so heavy and so great that you just don't know how much longer you can bare it. I know that you feel lost and alone. Like no one understands....It's not true. Many understand. I understand.

I know that you think maybe your loved ones will be better off without you. Maybe your friends will be happier. Maybe the world will be a better place......They won't. It won't.The world needs you. You friends need you. Your loved ones need you.

I know that you feel numb. Like your soul is made of ice. Like nothing warm will ever touch you again.... It will touch you, again. You will become warm.

I know that you feel lost and so very very alone. You feel invisible. You feel like no one would notice if you are gone. Like no one would care......They care. Someone cares. I care.

Suicide isn't beautiful. It isn't romantic. It isn't Romeo and Juliette. It isn't like the movies or television. It isn't quiet or clean. It isn't lovely or inspiring. It is ugly. It is devastating. It is a black whole left behind for those that knew you to carry around where their hearts used to be, for the rest of their lives. It is a loss of a future and all of the things that could have been. It is a stain on the fabric of life where something beautiful once was. Someone beautiful. You.

Suicide has touched my life twice. The first was my Great Uncle when I was around two. He no longer could deal with the pain and he chose to end his life. Is wasn't romantic or pleasant, or neat and tidy. He didn't leave a note. He didn't see past his pain to realize that my great grand parents heard the gunshot. That they would break down the door in hopes of being able to save him. That his brother would find him first. That they would find his body broken and disfigured. That there would be a whole in the family where he once stood. That nothing could ever erase the emptiness he left behind. That no one in the family would ever get over it. They never got over it and to this day the ripples of his decision is still felt. The pain of him choosing to leave this world that way, was much greater than anything else. That no one ever could truly accept or make peace with it. It is a haunting. A phantom that hovers over the families of suicide victims in hushed tones and whispers. We don't know why he did and it wouldn't matter anyway. Nothing would make it less horrific. Less devastating.

The second brush with suicide was my mother's attempt when I was ten. She  swallowed a bottle of pills. She suffers from Chronic Depression, PTSD, Bipolar, and a touch of OCD. My Dad found her and she was rushed to the hospital. She had taken pills that couldn't kill her, thankfully, but she didn't know that. If it had been any other medication  she would have left me. My mother tried to kill herself. It's a knowledge that is hard to accept even now as an adult. She tried to kill herself. I sometimes think if I say it enough times aloud it will get easier to accept. That it will somehow lessen the sharp sting from the words. It doesn't and it never will. My mother tried to kill herself when I was ten. Because she was in pain. Because she felt alone. She felt lost. She felt broken and damaged. Mostly she felt numb. And so too would my life had been had she been successful. I would have never gotten over it. I was not better without her. She was not unloved or a burden. She was beautiful. She was unique. She was my mother. Had she successfully killed herself she would have missed out so many wonderful things that she has been a part of after she got help. Me growing up. My first crush. My first school dance. The birth of both of my children. The many birthdays we share ever year because I was born on her birthday. She would have missed the man she married two years ago that is quite possibly the love of her life. The good times. The days filled with our love and laughter. Days filled with what my oldest learned at school or the stick figures my youngest drew with crayons. She would have missed twenty four years that she has had since her attempt. 8765 days. 52594560 minutes she would have ceased to have. Those minutes filled with joy. Those minutes filled with beauty. Those minutes filled with her. My mother was lucky. She got help and even though she still suffers from her mental illnesses, even though some days are not the happiest greatest days on earth, she lives. Because she knows the truth about life and that is it changes. The world doesn't stay dark and lonely forever. Things will and do get better.You may not see it right now, but I promise you it will come.

To those of you who feel lost and alone and feel like nothing could ever be good again, I say to you please please get help. Reach out. Tell someone. Talk to someone. If that person doesn't hear you then go to the next person and then the next. Never cease talking because you are worth more than "an easy way out". You are important and your life has value. You have value....You matter.

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Feelin' A Little Guilty

My dearest readers,

 I have added a blog list of some of the mental illness blogs I follow on blogger for easier sharing. Please take a gander on the lower left side of my blog and take time to read some of the awesome posts by my very talented friends. If you are a mental illness blogger that uses blogspot, and would like me to add you to this list, please let me know. The more we share the more stigma we can erase. I also added a section on the right for my most popular posts of all time, just for easier reading. Now, on to today's post.....

Feelin' a little guilty is really a daily occurrence. Sometimes I am not even sure what I am feeling guilty about. It just goes with the territory of having OCD. Guilt and doubt are it's personal tools of torture.

Years ago, I had a friend that was my best friend. We were best buds for a year. We came from similar backgrounds, divorced parents, lower income, and just trying to figure out what growing into a teenager was all about. We shared the secrets only silly preteen girls share. Whom we had crushes on. What famous rock star we wanted to grow up and marry. What jobs we thought we'd have after school. What cars we thought we would drive.

 She was my partner in crime and we did everything together until life got in the way and she had to move. Suddenly, I was left with the momentous task of finding a new group of friends when school restarted. I was alone. It was sad for both of us and hard to start anew, but we did. I found new friends and so did she. Our lives went on different paths.

I have been looking for her for over fifteen years. Not necessarily to rekindle our long lost friendship but out of hope that she had gotten all of the wonderful things in life that she deserves. That she did okay and was happy. That is really all a true friend wants for her friend's life anyway.
 I was lucky. I found her finally last month on facebook.

So we talked a little and caught up with each other's lives. She is doing great. She is happily married and has a career that she enjoys. I couldn't be happier for her. And then it happened.  Her father died.

Now, I knew her dad a little bit. He took us places a couple of times and he was very nice. He even took her to see me once after she moved. Our final goodbye as kids, as it were. He was kind, and funny, and a really good father to her and her younger sister. I was shocked and saddened and then she asked for all who would like to, to come to his funeral and I was stuck. I couldn't make it and knowing that it would be impossible to go made me feel very sad.....and a little guilty.

I wrote her a really nice note saying that I wouldn't be able to come and that I would keep her and her sister in my thoughts and prayers. She was very nice back and told me that she wished I could come but she understood. That was Monday and I still am dealing with the guilt.

I am not sure she really understands my reasons for not going and I didn't elaborate but there were many. It was a good drive away and we have  had over twelve inches of snow and ice the day before. It was at a time my kids are off of school and I have no babysitter. My husband would have to drive and we didn't know where it was. I have nothing appropriate to wear and I am not going to a funeral looking like something the cat  dug out of the litter box...that's just disrespectful. And mostly I didn't go because although, I knew her, her sister, and her dad years ago, I don't know anyone else. I would be stuck in a room with a great number of strangers at their most vulnerable and painful time and it seemed almost intrusive or voyeuristic for me to be there. My OCD was wrecking havoc at just the notion of going. To be there made the pit of my stomach twist and turn. But I so dearly wanted to support her.

So I didn't go. I had no way there and I was having panic attacks at the very idea of going. I am not sure she understood truly. And because all of that would have sounded like hollow excuses, I didn't say why I couldn't make it.. She doesn't know that I suffer from mental illness because at the time we were friends my OCD had been dormant. It didn't come back again in full force until the next year. I never discussed the fact that I had been fraudulently institutionalized at the age of ten for three months at a mental institution because my doctor was a fraud and scammed my parents to believe I was dangerous to myself for their insurance money. Even though he knew what OCD was and knew I was not anywhere near suicidal. Nor did I tell her about the illegal drug trials they did on me and all of the other kids there (that were just normal kids with truancy or lying problems) or the gut wrenching horrific memories I have of that hell hole. I had blocked it all out and also I am not sure just when a conversation like that would come up. She simply did not and does not know that I have this disorder. The subject never came up and ,in all honesty, I would have probably been terrified of being judged for it so I doubt I would have said anything to her as a teenager, anyway.

So I just wrote the nice note and left it at that. I didn't want to burden her with my problems or make excuses to sound like I was petty or didn't care. I care very much and if any of those hindrances could have been fixed, I would have went. But they weren't so I didn't.

And so rightly or wrongly I feel guilty about it. It makes me feel bad that I couldn't support her or pay my respects to her father. It makes me feel like a bad person. A bad friend. I have been able to slowly let go of some of the guilt but it is Thursday and I still have a great deal to let go of. Maybe by next Tuesday it will all be gone. Who knows? Learning how to forgive myself over and over can be really exhausting sometimes.
But I am working on it.

Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A little Bit Less Judgement.....

So a couple of days ago, the hubby and I were at a store looking for new Christmas ornaments. All my old ones had been lost, damaged, or just in general looked a little wonky. We were discussing which ones we liked and didn't like when I playfully asked why I brought him with me in the first place. He rebutted with because he is the driver.(This is our long running joke.) A sweet old lady behind us chimed in that this was why she left her husband at home. It was somehow brought up that the reason he drives and I do not, is because I am blind in one eye and have almost zero depth perception. Just my luck, this woman was lecturing me on how she has the same issue, and yet she drives just fine....I should try it...blah blah blah. She was really sweet and cute in all the ways little old people are and I am sure she meant nothing bad by her comments. However, I almost felt the need to try and explain to this complete stranger that not only am I legally blind in one eye to the point I run into my own furniture and the walls of my own home, so often, in fact, that I have permanent bruises I can't remember where, when, or why I got them, but I also suffer from OCD. Which is an anxiety disorder. Like I need to be driving around not being able to tell where the two ton vehicle is on the road while trying not to have a panic attack because I think I might have hit someone with my car. Not just out of OCD fear, because I am sure it would do that to me, but because I really wouldn't be able to tell sight wise.  What started as a non-personal conversation with a stranger had somehow taken a left turn into some underlying emotions and possibly judgments on my character. Leaving me scratching my head head as to how in the hell, I went out to buy some cheap glitter slathered balls for my tree and ended up feeling like I needed to defend myself in the Christmas isle at Biglots for God's sake. I mean, it's not like I have to explain myself  to everyone is it? If I say I can't do something, then I think I damn well know what I am talking about. After all, I have known myself for thirty four years and she just met me... Do I need to wear a caution t-shirt explaining all of my "issues" so no one judges me or gives me the old, "well, I can do it, so why can't you" speech"?  What should it say, CAUTION: this person has one blind eye, OCD, and diabetes. Maybe we all need to wear shirts with our issues or diagnoses on them. That way we can all make sure to be ready to lecture others on what they should and shouldn't be able to do. Ugh. Here's a tip, I am not you. I am me, and we are two different people. What works for you may not work for me and that's okay. I mean, there are probably body builder's that are blind in one eye too, that doesn't mean that I also can lift a two hundred pound barbell with one hand just because they can, now does it?

It just reiterates to me that although, I have learned to accept  the things I am not capable of doing, some people haven't. You know what I would like for Christmas? A little bit less of judgment. That would be the best present ever, except for maybe the Doctor Who scarf I got early this year, man I really love that thing....Okay, Okay, a little less judgement would be definitely be the best gift, and I am positive it could be just as warm as any stylish twelve foot scarf.

Neurotic Nelly

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I Already Own It.....

It happened again. I'm not sure why and I will never really understand it, anyway. It's above my pay grade or above my head or above me somehow in some way that I am unaware of.

 Sometimes I think it's me. Maybe they can't handle my problems. Maybe I'm too screwed up. Maybe I said the wrong thing. Maybe I'm not good enough. Maybe I am too needy. Maybe I am too annoying. Maybe this is all my fault and this is all I deserve.....And then I realize I am too good for this shit and maybe that person is just an asshat and it has nothing to do with me at all.

Some people for whatever reason, can't handle things or run away from things, or are just, in general, not willing to be an integral part of your life.  They can't stand to be needed or wanted or there, so the turn away. They simply turn away from you.

This can leave gaping holes in your life. Deep gashes that refuse to heal. Infections that spread throughout your life like poison.

My "real" father, excuse me as I try not to laugh at that phrase, didn't want me. Well, he didn't mind I was around, just as no one knew I was his. Something he still does even though he admits I am his to my face. It's just everyone else's face that seems to be the problem.

Then the man that raised me turned away from me as well. It wasn't a loud, sharp, noticeable severing of a relationship. No, it has been a slow withering, a soft dying away. No matter how hard I try and reach out, he rebuffs me. He denies me the simple words such as I care, I am proud of you, or even I love you. It is beyond painful. I take it in and hold it. I cradle the pain close to my heart like a newborn. I cradle it like I have all of those times before, the many bundles of agony that have come before this one. I weep and agonize and ruminate. In essence, I find excuses for their behavior or ways to blame myself. Surely, the fact that this keeps happening to me is somehow my fault.

And then I get angry. Because I am worth so much more than that. I am worth so much more than paltry excuses and blaming. I am worth more than being ignored or unaccepted. I don't deserve that treatment, no one does.

The phoenix rises from the ashes. The tigress walks out of the jungle, the anger builds, and my self confidence refuses to be dinged and damaged yet again because two grown men can't play like adults. Two men  that should have been there in my life, can't stop being selfish and rude long enough to do so. How the hell is that my fault?

Some people in this life are too wrapped up in themselves or are totally oblivious to what is going on. They are not able to be who you need them to be or to do what you need them to do. Some are unable or unwilling to give you what you need and you can sit around beating a dead horse to try and get it, or you can pick yourself up off the floor and move on. You can cry in the corner and blame yourself, or you can see them for what they really are, turn aways. Those that run at the first sight of trouble. Those that bury their heads in the sand. Those that flee when times are hard. Those that turn away from you when you needed them most.

I have to take a step back from the pain and remember that I do not define my self worth from others. I would like their approval but I don't really need it. I would like their love and acceptance but I don't have to have it. It's painful not to be loved or accepted or even approved of, but it doesn't make me any less of who I am. Of who I strive to be.

 I am strong. I am ferocious. I am fierce, loving, and good. I am sweet and kind. I am sensitive, honest, and all the things I was taught to be. I am respectful and funny and completely loyal. I am great. I am a great person, no matter my issues and sometimes because of them. Because I understand things in way other normal people might not. Because I keep trying even after I get burned over and over again. Because I refuse to back down, quit, or give up. Because I feel and I refuse to pretend otherwise or hide the fact. Because I love, I breathe, and I cry. I am me.

 It has taken thirty four years to get to where I am now, to who I am now. And I'll be damned if I let someone else just come in and try to destroy the very best parts of me because they "feel" like it. I have scrimped and clawed for every ounce of self confidence I own. I have fought and battled for my sense of self worth. I have earned every stitch of this brownie badge of courage in therapy, because I have delved and looked into the deep, darkened, black places in my soul, no one else dared to tread. I have built up my own self esteem brick by brick, layer by layer, year after year. And that does not depend on who likes me or who accepts me. It depends on if I like me and if I accept the person I have become. So you see, although it hurts when others turn away from me, I don't need approval. I don't need their love.  I don't need their acceptance to be whole or their opinions for me to have self worth. I already gave myself that. I don't need to base myself on the reactions of others because what matters is how I  feel about myself. I don't need approval or acceptance or self worth from others, I already posses them. I already own them. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that...Sometimes I just need to remind myself of that..

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, December 5, 2013

She, We, I......

The other day I was searching on the web to see if I could find some "believe" quotes. You know, believe in yourself, you are strong, you are capable, ect.  It is something I think everyone needs to hear and many of us do not hear it often enough. Those that suffer from mental illness tend not to hear it at all or worse yet, it simply fails to truly sink in. It falls on deaf ears that are either too unwilling or too broken to accept it. We don't always hear the the positive. What we do hear is a lot of negative. "You are fat, you are stupid, you are ugly, you are worthless, why can't you just be normal, Oh my God, you are so messed up"... and that is just our minds talking. God only knows what some of us have to endure from the outside as well.

It can be really hard to believe that we are good, worthy, strong, capable individuals. After all, if you call someone by a certain name long enough they will answer to it. What  do we call ourselves?  Weird? Freakish? Stupid? Worthless? Unlovable? Unacceptable? Broken? Damaged goods? Are these the names we allow ourselves to answer to? 

I found more positive quotes than you could shake a stick at, but the one that resonated with me, the one that spoke to the dark corners of my soul and peeled back it's dry rotted wallpaper was, "She believed she could, so she did."

I let it roll around on my tongue as I read it aloud. It sat heavy in the air like an accusing glance. It stuck in my throat and forced me to heave my breath in large gasps around the obstruction like an exhausted horse that has been ran too hard....I have been running too hard so much so, that I am sometimes no longer able to tell if I am running to something or away from it.

These words brightened the light-less places in my mind, it shed me of my negative thoughts much like a snake sheds old tattered skin. It rebirthed me and baptized me by fire. It made me ponder just what on earth I am allowing myself to believe about myself. That I am incapable? Do I really believe that I am incapable of being who I want or of doing what I want to do?

 She believed.
 She could.
 So she did.

I am not incapable. Yes, there are somethings I have issues with. There is definitely things I do not do well. There are situations that I may falter at or even completely suck at. But there are also things I excel at. There are times when I am functioning at maxim capacity, kicking butt and taking names. There are things that I am extremely talented at. And the things I can't do I can work around and still get the desired affect in most cases. I am complicated and different and even sometimes a handful but I am never incapable as a person. I am never incapable as a human being. I am never incapable.

I don't know why we tell ourselves that we can't. I don't know why it is easier to believe the bad things about ourselves rather than believe and revel in the good. I do not understand why we accept and allow ourselves to name ourselves things we are not and worse yet, we allow ourselves to believe them over and over again for years. What are these ridiculous and harmful notions that we keep perpetuating to ourselves and why?

Why is it so hard to believe that we CAN? We can do things even if they have to be done in a different way. We can find love. We can be happy. We can be honest and whole and accepted. And not just that we CAN but we ARE. We are lovable. We are strong. We are good people. We are allowed to accept ourselves and live happy lives. We are worthy and magnificent and unique and spectacular. We are what makes life different and colorful and beautiful...We CAN and we ARE.

Instead of She believed she could so she did, I think we should change the She to I. I think anytime we get bogged down and scared, anytime we fear failure or success, anytime we get that overwhelmingly niggling negative voice tells us we can't, we aren't, or we won't  that we look in the mirror at our bloodshot eyes, our exhausted faces, and at our pain stricken grimaces and tell ourselves the truth. It should be the first thing we say when we are under the covers trying to dredge up the will to get out of the bed in the morning. It should be the substance we stir in our morning cup of coffee with the cream and spelnda. The mantra we say when we are brushing our teeth, the comment we make after we read the paper, what we say after each negative thought, each step we place firmly on the ground, with every heartbeat, every sigh, every intake and exhalation of breath. The one thing we tell ourselves every moment of ever day because we are worth it. Because we deserve to hear it and what's more, we deserve to believe it. 

It shouldn't be just: 

She believed. 
She could.
So she did.

It should be:

We believed. 
We could.
 So we did.


I believe. 
I can.
So I will.

Because it is true. Because we can. Because we matter. Because we are worth it.
Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Update and Rant......

So, I am on the medication. The diabetes can not be controlled by diet alone at this point. I am a little upset but I am working through it. It's been kinda rough. On top of all that I am now obsessing over what I eat, carb intake...blah blah blah. I actually went to the bread isle in the store today and smelled the bread. Not  the actual loaves, although I was severely tempted, but they were baking at the bakery department and the heavenly scent permeated the air. OMG! It smelled liked toasted glorious carbiness that I am no longer "allowed" to partake in anymore. You know how many carbs are in a freaking dinner roll? Too many for my blood sugar that's how many.... Sigh.....and I love dinner rolls, and croissants, and well anything that has flour in it.

So my OCD is definitely still around acting up and being a general pain lately.  Can't say I am surprised. Nor am I thrilled to be dealing with it but what else can I do? I am afraid. I am terrified that his medicine is killing me but I am dealing with it as best as I can. I am trying to anyway, and this is why I get angry when people joke about OCD like it is funny or amusing. Does it seem like what I am going through is amusing to you?

Some people just don't get why we get so angry when others make fun of OCD or say they are so OCD because they have small quirks or like things orderly. So let me spell it out for you so there is no confusion as to why we react the way we do when confronted with people using our illness as a joke or as a excuse to be orderly.

I have a wonderful support group from my family and my friends but I know that they sometimes get tired of hearing my obsessions. Hell, I get tired of hearing my obsessions so I know how they must feel. Usually, when they are really bad I just become really quite. I look off into space and try to shut it out. I wish I could explain what is like to have constant chatter in your mind and not be able to ignore it. Like there are too many people talking at once in a tiny room  but it is ,in fact, only one really loud person that is boisterous, obnoxious, and possibly drunk. I mean how else does what it tell me to do make any sense? Surely, I am possessed by a drunk angry leprechaun with severe abandonment issues that lives solely in my brain. Only then would the crap that goes through my head make any semblance of sense.

And it is hard. Hard to live with, hard to explain, hard to quiet, hard in general just to get out of bed sometimes in the morning. Not only  is it just hard. It is also exhausting, complicated, overbearing, all encompassing, and breath takingly painful. That is why it is called a mental illness and not something comforting and cute like Organization disease. It is not about organizing or cleaning or ,God forbid, color coding your neck ties. It's not about stepping on cracks or if you dog ear pages in a book. OCD does NOT stand for ORGANIZING COMPUTER DESKS!  It stands for OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER! You obsess and compulse and it is a disorder!

It's about worrying until you cry yourself to sleep. It's about running your hand over a surface until it "feels" right to the point of your skin becoming raw. I't is about being afraid to eat or drink because you may have somehow accidentally poisoned it by not washing your hands long enough. It's about pulling out your hair because it "feels" different. It is about starving yourself because you are terrified to become what your mind deems as fat. It is about intrusive, horrid, unwanted sexual/violent/blasphemous images and thoughts that would bring the strongest of people to their knees begging for mercy. It is about obsessing over if you said or did something you know you did not and yet the repetitiveness of this thought has made you lose the ability to remember exactly what happened in the first place and so you doubt. You doubt that you are a good person. You doubt that you meant well. You doubt that life is happy. You doubt that the medicine is safe, or water is safe, or that anything is safe ever again. You doubt that you can live and be free and that people will accept you. You doubt that the soap is strong enough. That the counter is clean enough.That medicines are safe enough. That anyone can actually love you enough to put up with you. You doubt that you are smart. That  you are worthy. That you are magnificent. You doubt that you have anything important to say, because you doubt your sanity now as well. You doubt that diseases aren't actually out to get you. That you are ever safe and secure no matter where you are. You doubt if anyone cares about what you think or that you care what anyone else thinks. You doubt what you know to be true and what you know to be false. You doubt and doubt and doubt.  Because your mind tells you to. Because life is supposed to be rational and your mind has stopped making sense. Because you feel dirt that isn't there, see fat that isn't there, see proportions that are aren't there. You feel things and see things that no one else does and unlike other mental illnesses you are aware that it makes no sense! You are completely aware that your mind has "gone fishing" in the rational department and you have no idea why. You are perfectly in tune with the fact that washing your hands til they bleed, or touching the doorknob for the seven hundred and fifty second time, or begging God to just let you eat this one tiny bite of banana without it resulting in you catching Ebola is completely ridiculous and yet....you are unable to relieve this overwhelming feeling of dread. The shame and disgust because you swore thirty minutes ago was the last damn time you were going to wash your hands in scalding hot water, or touch that door knob more than once, or pull that last strand of hair because it calms you down. You are aware that something is wrong. You know that your brain is misfiring and you certainly don't need one more person to point it out to you. You know and the one thing you don't doubt with OCD and it's complimentary bag of crappily made party gifts is that you have OCD.....and it sucks.

So this is why we get insulted when someone nonchalantly claims to have OCD because they like to keep their pens on the left side of their desk or don't like to shake hands with strangers. It's not the same thing. It's not remotely in any way the same pain we go through. Stop saying it is. Stop acting like OCD is some exclusive club that only the "cool kids" get into. No one wants to be in this club, trust me. We would all gladly give up one night of our pain and frustration just to simply be slightly annoyed about where our pens go.

This is not a joke. It isn't funny. It isn't something we want to be a part of or do. It isn't a brownie badge we get in grade school for selling enough Girl Scout cookies. It is a devastating debilitating illness! So forgive us if we get a little ticked off when you talk about how many times you wash your hair and how OCD you must be.

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Take That OCD!

It's a holiday and as such I want to go away from my extremely painful post of Tuesday and write about something that has me feeling p.r.e.t.t.y good!

Having OCD is very hard. I have severe issues with certain things and one of those issues is Christmas trees. If some of you remember last year around this time, I wrote of how I hate the fact that I can not allow anyone to participate in the decorating of the tree. I mean, I try but as soon as the kids put a bulb on the tree I have to move it where I think it should go after they leave the room. I have these ridiculous rules that I have to follow on my Christmas trees. No colored lights. No tinsel. No bulbs too close together. At least three strands of lights...ect. It is a strict procedure and like anything else OCD, it has to be perfect, at least to my standards. My ridiculous standards....I so wish I were joking. 

Decorating of the Christmas tree is fun for me but also a form of torture for my family. My husband jokes that he is just there to put the tree in the stand and move it to where I want it. It never occurred to me how bad I am about it until last year. Last year one of my kids asked  me for something and before I could answer my husband told him, " The best thing to do is leave mommy alone when she fixes the tree. No one wants to bother Mommy right now, trust me." If it hadn't hit home yet how bad the need to fix the damn tree over and over and over had gotten I saw pictures of my best friend's Christmas tree on facebook. She has three rough and tumble kids. Her tree had paper ornaments her kids had made. It swelled with colored lights, shiny baubles, and crazy glitter cut out snowflakes. It was a testament to her love for her children. Her proudness of being a mother. Her family crest in pine needles and tinsel. My OCD hated the tree but something inside me broke. Why can't I be like that? I was so completely heartbroken. Her tree was glorious. Her tree wasn't beautiful because it was perfect like mine, it was beautiful because her children enjoyed decorating it. It was as if her tree spoke of love and family and mine was a hollow shell of what Christmas is supposed to be. Mine was perfect and beautiful and perfectly devoid of all things family. My tree was no more full of love than the beautiful tree display at the department store. It looked like Martha Stewart but now somehow felt shallow and empty. It hit me. My kids have no memories of decorating the tree. Because I can't let them. I can't even let them put the ornaments ,I love so dearly, they make at school on it. What kind of mother is that? Just what am I allowing  my OCD  to say to my children? "Sorry, honey Mommy can't put your beautiful paper angel you made in class today on the tree because there is only one of them and Mommy needs there to be two so it is even?" That's just horrible! It is so bad my family calls me the Christmas tree Nazi behind my back....and what's worse, they aren't wrong. I actually coined that phrase. I am rigid and fevered when it comes to the tree. I used to love decorating the tree but that day I realized how I had stolen the things that matters most about Christmas away from my kids, participation, tradition, and in a small way acceptance.

Later on when I was in the car with my Dad, I confessed that I was afraid I may never be able to give my children the ability to join in on the Christmas tree decorating and how I felt like a complete failure as a mother because of it. He told me of how his parents made hot chocolate, played Christmas songs, and had him decorate the tree. Specifically, they would have him put up a paper chain garland he made in kindergarten. They did this every year until he went to college and then they had him take it with him. It was a memento, a physical representation of memories. Wonderful heart warming memories that he can recall at any time. What memories have I given my children for Christmas? That mommy is constantly focused and manic about stupid glass ornaments and colored lights?

 I sat in the car just dumbfounded.  I have to stop. I have to find a way to get around this damn OCD. Okay, I get that it affects me. I get that it affects my family and everything that I do but I will be good and damned before I let it steal happiness from my children like a thief in the night. That is totally unacceptable to me.

So I thought about it and stressed and fretted until an idea popped into my head. This year I will decorate a Christmas tree as always, but I will have the kids decorate their own tree! We can use the fake tree in the basement. I will let them make their own ornaments! I will invite my Dad over to help since he knows how this is SUPPOSED to go. I will make hot chocolate and play Christmas music and take pictures. 
We made salt dough ornaments and ornaments from clothes pins. We made Santa's out of hand prints. We made the topper from a milk carton, foil, and sequins. I used stuff the kids made from school as well, because they deserve to be on the tree. My children deserve to feel accepted and heard and shown that they are loved. They deserve to know that what they create is beautiful no matter how messy or uneven their creations are. Mostly, they need to know that I absolutely love their creations even though my OCD makes it hard for me to put it on the Christmas tree.

I am not going to say it was easy. I made a promise out loud that I would release control of this project. The ornaments would be their's to decorate however they wanted. They could put the decorations on the tree wherever they felt they should go.I was not going to interfere or move things around.

I may have "fixed" the face of the snowman when the paint from the hat ran onto his face. I realized what I did and I did not allow myself to "fix" anything else.

When the kids wanted to make cyclops reindeer I may have had a moment of panic. My youngest wanted to make the reindeer have one huge eye and one tiny eye. My hands got sweaty. My heart raced. I said no. But then I asked my husband if I was doing okay and he reminded me that these are the kids ornaments and not mine. They don't have to be perfect.....I took a few breaths and relented. Yes, they could put weird eyes on the reindeer. Yes it could be a cyclops. And yes, a pirate Rudolph would be just fine. No better than fine, it would be marvelous!
When the hubby brought home colored lights I thought I was going to physically faint. I seriously had no idea how I was going to get used to this idea and yet have no control. Again he reminded me and I agreed that this is the boy's Christmas tree and since I had all but banned colored lights from my home, this should be what they get. They should be allowed to have everything my OCD has denied them.  I put up the tree three days ago and put on the lights so they could look at them and be ready to decorate today. It took two days before I started to not mind them so much. I think they are actually not to bad now.

Then it was decorating time and it was great to watch them have fun. The hot chocolate was a no go for me because I was recently diagnosed as diabetic and everyone else was too full to want any. My phone died in the middle of taking the pictures. The music died with my phone but the kids played Christmas songs on youtube to make up for it.  I felt so proud of them and me too. They had  great fun and I was so amazingly happy to watch them make positive memories doing what they should have been allowed to do all along. Enjoy the whole production of Christmas and revel in the love of our family. So this is going to be our new tradition every year. We will have two Christmas trees! We will have both Martha Stewart and Handmade Christmas decorations. We will make a batch of new ornaments to put on their tree every year and my Dad will be there too.
And even though the night didn't go exactly as planned it was wonderful. Even though I got kidded that I might "rearrange" the ornaments that are bunched together and I had a small moment of panic, I felt less like an OCD sufferer and more like a regular mom. I even promised out loud not to move anything and I won't.  This Christmas tree is a messy, unorganized, uneven, glorious perfection. It is the most beautiful tree I have ever seen. And although, I can see the imperfections, I wouldn't change a thing. 

 I can see the three Christmas balls so close together....but I am not even bothered by it.....

Nor the fact that this snowman is backwards....

Nor the fact that these two salt dough ornaments are side by side on the same branch...

This tree is the best most beautiful, imperfectly, perfect thing in the whole wide world and I absolutely love it.

Take that OCD!

Neurotic Nelly