I am doing something I don't usually do. I am writing this at 11 at night. I usually write around noonish on Tuesdays but today was hard for me. I actually purposely avoided it. I knew that this would be hard for me to write and even harder for me to think about. I knew that when I write I feel what I type and I had tried to avoid what I have been feeling all day.
A deep rush of dread has been in the background. It isn't the most powerful of my emotions but it is underlying. Like layers of paper, it is under my other feelings. It resides under my daily activities. Under my phone conversations and chores. Under my laundry lists and planning for Thanksgiving. I can smile, I can laugh, I can have a peaceful cup of tea but underneath is that niggling feeling of dread. Much like the feeling of waiting for a bad report card to show up in the mail or an abusive parent to come home. That feeling of dread of what is to come. I know it will come just not when or what will set it off. Not necessarily the face I present to my children or my husband but it is there waiting for me be still. So it can creep up and rush over me in waves of horrible dreadful fear. It is so palpable I can taste it. It is it's own being. A monster lurking in the shadows. I can hear it breathing.
It's hard to describe what having an "episode" like this is like. I try to find words or euphemisms that make sense to my understanding husband. All I can come up with is pure unadulterated terror. I am being terrorized by my mind and I am unable to describe it. I am left mute by it. I try to avoid it. Mostly, I try to not be still.
You see, having OCD means that I can not just let go of things. I can not simply be fine with certain issues. I worry. I fret. The harder I try to deny what is going on the stronger the feeling of dread is. It waits patiently for me to go to bed. When my hands are not busy washing or cleaning, when my mind is not occupied by lists and plans, when my body is simply too exhausted to have the will to fight it off. It doesn't need to be loud or intrusive. It simply waits. It always gets what it wants in the end. Eventually, I will feel the fear in full force, so it just lingers around to let me know that it is there. Always stalking. Always waiting.
I went to the doctor's yesterday. I have been worried I may have another stone in my bile duct. I have been doing good so far, but I feel I can't really trust that. I have had stones for eight years and this year I had four surgeries in a four month period to remove them. I became extremely ill and turned yellow before the last surgery. As someone with severe OCD I am paranoid of health issues anyway. This did not help things.
I was told that I am now diabetic. Borderline mostly and I need to lose weight to see if I can get rid of the diabetes. It was a shock to say the least. Diabetes runs in my family. I am not an extremely large person but I need to lose around sixty pounds to be where the doctor thinks I should be. I have put on weight after having my children and the medications I used to take for my OCD. I still was not prepared to hear my diagnoses. I had no symptoms or any idea that I had become diabetic. I knew I should lose weight but I had no idea what was really going on inside my body. The problem for me is not that I am diabetic per say. It is the unknown. I am not good with the unknown. My doctor put me on a medication. She rushed me through and didn't answer any of my questions. I have had surgery not to long ago and although rare, this medicine can cause death if certain criteria are met. Recent surgery adds to this criteria. My doctor didn't tell me this but the little sheet of paper on the pharmacy package did. My doctor did not order me a script for a blood glucose monitor. She did not tell me to check my sugars. She in essence told me nothing. I felt angry and scared and mostly in shock.
Here is where the fear comes in. I do not see the dietitian until the fourth. Because I have OCD I am terrified to eat. Terrified to not eat and too exhausted to figure out which way is the best way to handle this. Because my doctor is not answering the questions that I think are pertinent, I had to call my GI surgeon to ask if it is okay on his front to take this medication. Is my liver healthy? Do I have any renal problems they are unaware of? I have to ask these questions because for six months after my last surgery I was on a liver medication. My doctor didn't seem to be interested in that fact. This scares me. I am still waiting on my GI surgeon to get back to me. So I am waiting and as anyone with OCD knows the longer I wait the worse my fears become.
Eating terrifies me. Not eating terrifies me. The medication terrifies me. The not taking the medication terrifies me. I am completely terrified. To hold all of this back instead of being strong and facing what I know is going on with my OCD, I decided to clean. I scrubbed the floors, made the beds, got my house ready for Thanksgiving. I put up the boy's Christmas tree, that they are going to decorate on their own.( more about that on my next post). I hung Christmas stockings and planned meals. I vacuumed, swept, mopped, washed, scrubbed, till my knuckles were raw. I avoided each fear, each feeling that threatened to rush over me with taking out the trash, doing laundry, and straightening picture frames. Even going so far as to clean my yard and porch in twenty degree weather while it snowed down on me while my fingers became numb with the cold. Knowing that if I stopped for one second, if I let myself even look at the feeling of dread, the fear would rise up like a wild fire in the pit of my stomach and spread throughout my body with the hot scorching flames licking at my limbs, torso, and face until I was so engulfed in it that I would become immobile. I would become so absolutely terrified that I would break into two halves and fall to the floor. I would lose all composure and be lost.. I was, no am desperate to not feel this misery I know is going to attack me when I lay my head down to sleep tonight. Except I wont sleep, because I will be worrying. I will lay my head on a pillow of dread and wrap myself with the blanket of fear. I will cry myself to exhaustion and then maybe I will get a few moments of complete emptiness enough to nod off. Stuffy nose and tear streaked face to accompany my dreams.
You see, I have health fears so to me, I am afraid my body has turned against me and I just don't know it. It's hard to describe except that I often fear my body will betray me. It will make me sick or hurt. I constantly fear my organs aren't working properly. Sounds weird but it is how I feel. This is health fear OCD folks, and it is a doozy. I am usually able to ignore it but not today.
I also have contamination fears. After I had to get off my medication for OCD because it was known to cause a severe heart arrhythmia and was killing people, I began to look at medicine as poison. Not intentionally but because my OCD picked up on it. Medication or at least the thought of it terrified me to my very core. When I had to take the liver medication, I prayed every night, sometimes twice, that it would cause no damage and would just do what it was supposed to. Make me better... Please just make me better and please don't hurt my liver, or make me sick, or make me...die. Please don't take me away from my children. Please don't make me miss them growing up. Please don't let me hurt them by leaving them without a mother. They need me. Please. Please. Please God. Please..... crying silently into my pillow until my body became wracked with exhaustion that I would fall asleep. I did this every night for six months. I never told anybody. It was ridiculous sounding. It seemed silly to cry myself to sleep as an adult over something I didn't even know was going to happen or not. More than that, it is extremely painful to spill out my deepest fears, my weaknesses, my shame. To say them aloud is to own them and it is beyond agonizing to admit them to my loved ones, my friends, let alone anyone else. To admit that I am sometimes so very strong and sometimes so equally devastatingly weak. Sometimes I am broken. Sometimes I am simply, overwhelmingly, terrifyingly broken..
When I got off the medication I was a little scared the stones would come back. I was afraid of more surgeries and hospital stays. More terrible food and anxiety attacks because I was far away from the safety of my home and I had to deal with strangers on a daily basis. They were nice but they weren't my family. I was also grateful that my secret nights of crying would be over and now I would get to be me again. No pills that could harm me. No one would have to know about my weak nights. My silent crying until my pillow was soggy nights. My begging until I fell asleep nights. I was free, finally.
Now, I know with my brain that medications are important. I know this. I know that this diabetes medication is taken by thousands of people and they do marvelous on it. I would most likely be no different. And after I lost the weight I wouldn't have to take it anymore. But the fear is there. It is back almost as if it never really left. The unfounded yet extreme fear that this medication is actually more poison than help. That this medication could harm me more than heal me. It may not be founded as the complication is rare, but that is how OCD works. I have a fear of catching the plague in Wal-mart. It isn't factual but there it is. No one has reported a mass outbreak of the plague at Wally World recently but it still goes through my mind. That is why I love hand sanitizer. There is no hand sanitizer for poison that comes in pill form.
Then there is the fear that by not taking the medication my sugar level maybe too high. I don't have a monitor to check it and even if I did, I would still be terrified. The only way not to worry me would be to have one surgically implanted so it could read it every second of every day and they don't have anything like that. I am terrified when I eat things. I wonder if my sugar has gone through the roof. I have to force myself to swallow and not think about it turning into pure sugar as it goes into my bloodstream. I don't know what else to do until I see the dietitian, so I try to avoid breads and things with a lot of carbs. Then the OCD sets in and I am scared that I am not eating enough. Maybe my levels will go too low and that could cause diabetic coma. I am sometimes alone. This could be really bad. And how the hell will I know either way if I don't know when to check it or have a monitor to check it with? I now eye every fruit, every vegetable, every single piece of food as suspect. I now am terrified of what I drink. I have no idea what is going to spike my levels nor if they are spiked without me knowing. I feel like I am being tortured every time I walk into the kitchen. I am being terrorized in my own home and it is by me. I am terrorizing myself.
So, today I did what OCD sufferers do best. I avoided. I avoided writing and thinking and anything that remotely resembled obsessing about it out loud. Until now, because I feel that I have to and need to, be honest about my OCD. Because you can't write a blog about mental illness and pretend that everything is okay all of the time. Everything is not okay. Sometimes I do not have great days. Sometimes I do not have great weeks. Sometimes not even great months. I need to purge my fears even though they are extremely painful and scary. Even though I know to normal people they seem completely ridiculous. Event though I am afraid of being judged by them. Even though a million reasons of why I should just shut up and deal with it like an adult goes through my mind, over and over and over again. I need to tell my readers because there may be a million reasons not to tell but, there is one extremely important reason to tell, because there are others out there like me that are too scared to talk about it. And they need to know they are not alone. I want them to know that there are people that go through the very same feelings of believing that they are weak, that they are broken, the very same feelings of fear and dread, and yes, the very same feeling of shame because they feel that no one understands. I have to be honest because I don't want one more single person to have to cry silently in their pillows at night. And worse yet, keeping it a secret because they feel ashamed by it. My shame ceases to be shame if it helps one person feel less alone.
I am going to be okay. I know that whatever my surgeon says I will be fine. I am going to do what I need to do to be healthy and if it is this medication than I will have to just learn to deal with it. I may cry myself to sleep at night and beg til my voice is but a whisper but I will get through it. I may be scared but I will forge on. I will find out what I can eat and can't. I will go to the gym and exercise. I will get healthier so that this does not define my every waking moment. So that my OCD takes a back seat and is no longer trying to drive the car. I will win this battle, not just because I want to but because I really have no other choice. It's fight or drown and I have no desire to breathe in water today.
I heard once that the strongest of steel is forged in the hottest of fires....If that is true than we surely will be stuff cities and civilizations are built on. We will be the strongest of beams, the toughest of walls, the tallest of bridges, and the sharpest of swords. We will be unbreakable....