Saturday, August 31, 2013


I am not Catholic and yet I often times wish I had a wandering priest following me around so I could have someone to unburden myself from all of my constant guilty feelings. I feel the need to confess. I need a portable confessional, anyone know where I can get one? Anyone?

I try very hard to hold in the urge to confess my imagined sins. Intrusive thoughts that I would never act on and that horrify me. Something said that made me uncomfortable. The feeling that I may have inadvertently insulted or offended someone or said something that was bad about them. I can feel it rise up my throat like bile as it threatens to explode out my mouth in a wave of mass hysteria. The more I bottle it in the more pressure bubbles to release it.

Always the guilt. The dread. It bogs me down like wet concrete threatening to close off my wind pipe. I am weighted down. I am drowning in my own mind. I can't breathe. I need to confess. I might have said something that would be offensive. I need to apologize, I might have overheard something that makes me feel like I have done something to be ashamed of. I must let it out. I must let it go. I must be absolved.

.................................................................The voice in my head plays over and over like a broken record that suffers from Tourette's syndrome. It yells at me, randomly. It damns me. Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Bad! Bad! Bad! Pathetic! Pathetic! Pathetic!

I feel bad. I feel like an evil, awful, terrible excuse for a human being. I must be reassured that I am decent. That I have not done anything bad. That I am not a bad person. That I am not lower than dirt. I go out of my way to be good but for my OCD it is never enough. It won't stop until I have called my absolver. I guess she is kind of like a priest except that she is a Southern Baptist, and a woman, and my mother.

It is so hard to openly discuss what goes through my mind. My insanity is overwhelming to some. I know that explaining the feelings I have of guilt, even though I know I have done nothing wrong, is hard for many to understand. Hell, it is hard for me to understand and I have been going through this for thirty years. I don't know how else to describe it except that it is a soul shattering awareness that your mind is often times your own worst enemy. That you suffer needlessly because you can not totally accept that what your mind tells you and reality are two different things. That you are not alone and yet at the same time feel excommunicated from the rest of the world. It's difficult and sad and frustrating.

To say I have an overactive guilt complex would be an understatement. I blame myself for everything. The eco system, what the neighbor said to me, world hunger, the fact that I can't work, the ozone layer depleting, the Pope's caravan driving down the wrong street. I realize that I am not responsible for these occurrences but I feel guilty about them non the less. I have so much guilt I could seriously share some with the rest of the world and still have plenty to go on myself. Overactive guilt complex wouldn't be the right term for me anyway, because that seems to indicate that at some point you don't feel guilty. Like you can have some days where you don't feel like you are drudging through a tar pit of guilt. That doesn't happen to me. I am always feeling guilty about something. Always.

So I confess. I try to rid myself of this warm, wet, suffocating cloak of shame. I try to save what's left of my day. I confess to my mother, sometimes my husband, occasionally my friends, mostly to this blog.......My personal confessional. My personal journey from out of the mouth of madness to the reality of what I go through looking back at me on the computer screen with the little blinking line patiently awaiting what I decide to type next. Sometimes it comes easily and sometimes I swear to God, I am pulling my teeth out trying to figure out how to describe what I am dealing with. Always afraid in the back of my mind that others will think I am insane......kind of ironic actually. Because I am certifiable. Not that I am proud of that fact but I have just recently decided to stop being ashamed of it. It is what it is. I can not change it. I can only keep getting better, stronger, and doing the best I can. I can only do what I can do. I can offer support to those that suffer the way I do. I can be an advocate, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. If that means that I feel guilty over and over again then so be it. I have to confess. I have to be honest. I have to open because I am incapable of being any other way.

So, this what the guilt of OCD is like. This is what it does to people. It makes them feel bad when they are the complete opposite. It makes them feel guilty when there is nothing to feel guilty over. It makes people feel lost and alone. Always second guessing. Always doubting. Always unsure..........

I hate OCD but I refuse to be shamed any longer because of it. This is my confession.

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, August 29, 2013

It Makes No Sense.......

Dissecting my OCD symptoms leads to the realization that my symptoms often don't make any sense. I am aware of the oxymorons, if you will, of my symptoms. It is not this way for everybody but it is this way for me. It makes it harder to get others to understand the more complicated OCD issues I go through.

When I wash my hands I will take such care to get them clean or rather to feel clean. This is where the making no sense comes into play, I will often dry them on my pants. Pants that I have worn all day. You would think that my pants would be a source of dirtiness but my mind has no issue with it. I do not regain the feeling of dirty hands after wiping them on my pants. It appears that my OCD is only preoccupied with the washing sensation but not the drying.......It makes no sense.

I have issues with residues and textures. They make me feel unclean and I have trouble touching them without physically flinching and yet I can stick my hands deep into the earth and plant flowers and not be bothered. I can see the dirt and I wash them but there is no anxiety like when my hands are actually clean and I didn't like the feeling of whatever I ran my hands across........It makes no sense.

Back when I had suicide idealization I would contemplate suicide and yet not eat a sandwich that brushed my counter top because I couldn't remember if I scrubbed the counter good enough and I was afraid of  ecoli......I was thinking about dying but worried about dying at the same time......It makes no sense.

I can flip out and feel dirty by simply touching something my mind has deemed filthy and yet I do not bat an eye when grabbing a shopping cart which has been known to be ,quite possibly, the filthiest thing on the planet. It doesn't affect me in the slightest. I know it's dirty but I don't care. Stores usually offer the antibacterial wipes to wipe off the handle and I don't use them. I never use them....But ask me to pick up something that feels off to me and I have to bring out the hospital grade antibacterial gel.......It makes no sense.

In my mind somethings are dirty and somethings aren't. I only have the anxiety on what my mind deems to be dirty and not what actually is dirty. It is a mind game. A false perception. A lie and often times it makes no sense and yet I am powerless to it's wills.

The symptoms I have are specific to each issue I come across and often times they end there. They don't necessarily have to be complete. I am a germ-a-phobe but somethings, even though I know they are dirty, do not make me feel the anxiety or the symptoms. Somethings do not trigger my OCD and yet other things do. There appears to be no rhyme or reason. They just pop up when I am stressed or I least expect them too. The more stress I am under the less I am able to ignore my intrusive thoughts. Lack of sleep makes the symptoms double in magnitude and strength. I have to always remember to try and get enough hours of sleep to help combat my symptoms. So basically I have many symptoms that don't really make much sense however, I still have them and do them. It doesn't matter what is actually dirty, I already know that it's dirty but I have no anxiety about it and let it go or just wash once. My mind informs me on how to feel about what is germ encrusted or bacteria laden. My mind controls the anxiety and the anxiety is what I wash or mentally compulse to get rid of. Therefore, it doesn't really matter that my symptoms don't always makes sense. It changes nothing except that I am aware of how insane the whole process seems.

Neurotic Nelly

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Addiction

Washing my hands is a release except for when it is not. It is helpful except for when it doesn't work. It can be pleasurable and nice except on days when it is a torture. Days when I am too stressed. Days when my hands feel soiled and no amount of washing will take away the feeling of dirtiness. Days when my hands are left raw, cracked, and or bleeding.

I wash my hands, on a good day about, twenty to thirty times. Not an astronomical amount and depending on your daily activities or work it is possible that this is normal or even less than how much other's may wash their hands daily. Such as a doctor, nurse, butcher, childcare giver......places that you would need to be more conscious of germs and bacteria. I am none of those things. I rarely leave my home, I am surrounded by the same germs and bacteria everyday. 

It isn't just about the amount of times I wash. It is about the process in which I wash. And there is always a process for those of us that have OCD germ and contamination fears. A way we wash every time that never wavers or falters.

On some days I love to wash my hands. I love the sickly sweet heady scent of soap that reminds me of helping my great grandmother hang the laundry out in the sun to dry or summers spent as a child blowing bubbles from soap when the bubble solution spilled or disappeared. The smell I equate to cleanliness. I love the texture of soap. The way it bubbles and froths. They way I can cover every inch of my hands to where I know that germs are dying. I often think if I listened really closely I might be able to hear them beg for mercy before the soap zaps them into nothing. I love the calm the washing can give me from the intrusive thought of being poisoned, accidentally poisoning someone else, or getting myself sick. It is hard to describe the pure joy of simply being deemed clean enough by my own mind. 

My process consists of almost scalding hot water, hot enough that I can just barely stand it. Then it's the liquid soap. I place it in my left palm. I smear it onto both hands and then I commence the scrubbing. I scrub on the inside of my fingers, on the outside of my hands, and I spend an inordinate mount of time washing and scrubbing the backs of my hands. Mainly because I use these to touch my face when my hands feel dirty when I can not wash. I make the bubbles resemble gloves and then it's on to rinsing. I have a process here as well. I take the left hand  and hold it under the faucet in a circular motion, then the right, and so on for a few times until, it feels clean. 

This takes several minutes and I don't usually mind the process. Sometimes I even enjoy it. But then there are sometimes where my washing is more like a bad addiction that I can not break. A sadistic painful torture I inflict on myself and am powerless to stop. On these days, I no longer love the feeling of clean hands because my hands refuse to feel clean. I no longer enjoy the smell of soap because it is a reminder that I have already washed over forty times today and I just want to make the disgusting heavy dirt feeling go away. The contaminated feeling. The germ encrusted feeling. I no longer have the release just a chasing of the release like a heroin addict searching for the high. More and more and more and more but still no relief. At this point I loath soap, I loath cleanliness, I loath OCD and everything that is does to me. At this point I am unable to function except to turn on the tap and wash again. Maybe this time it will be enough. Maybe this time it will make the thoughts stop. Maybe this wash, this last wash will calm me and I can stop. This last wash and it will be okay. I can stop for today. Much like the false promise of an addict's last cigarette, last needle prick, last hit of the meth pipe, except my addiction is the last dollop of Dawn, Ajax, Ivory, or Palmolive. I can stop anytime I want..........I can stop right now. Ten minutes later, I am standing at the kitchen sink and scrubbing my skin away again. I am wasting another five or ten minutes chasing something that never truly exists or at least it doesn't exist for long. Peace and quiet, stress relief, lack of negative horrifying guilt ridden thoughts. The seconds used up by washing add up to minutes which add up to hours. I wash for hours. I waste hours of my day standing in front of my sink washing away imaginary germs, imaginary bacteria, and an imaginary feeling that something is on my hands that no one can see. I can't see it either but I feel it, so I wash again and again, and again.

I knew it was a problem at four years of age when my parents slathered my hands in lotion and placed plastic bags over them because the washing had left them so dry, cracked, and chapped that any movement of the skin would make it tear and bleed. This isn't just something we do just to be funny. It is something other's take for granted but  to us it can become a personal hell. A place that steals away large quantities of time and yet gives us nothing but pain in return. 

Thankfully I have more good days than bad. Thankfully I have been able to not have to use the bag and lotion to re-hydrate my hands in a long time but I do remember it. It can get better and I do have other alternatives. I use antibacterial gel in place of washing sometimes. I have learned to wait to wash and deal with anxiety somewhat. I have done a lot of progress but mental illness is not fool proof and sometimes, I fall off the bandwagon and wash too much. Sometimes I fall back into bad old habits. It happens. I am working on it. I am struggling but I am trying and that is all I can ask for right now. I am not trying for magnificent or fantastic I am just trying for possible. I am trying to make washing less, possible.

Neurotic Nelly

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sticks and Stones Will Break My Bones.......

Sticks and stones will break my bones but words can never hurt me......Anyone who has been bullied or in an abusive relationship begs to differ. It's a child's saying to show solidarity. To deflect ugly insults and damaging words being flung in their direction and it isn't true. Words can hurt, deeply. In fact, words shape the very confines on how we look at things, how we define our surroundings and relationships, how we communicate. Words shape our lives. Words have the power to heal, to enlighten, and often times devastate.

I have come to realize that there is a problem with how mental illness is viewed. Not just in the actions of stigma but in the words we use to describe our symptoms as well. It can often leave a bad taste in our mouths.

Certain words used for OCD symptoms, I find to be harmful, at least in my opinion. I feel they promote more confusion rather than clarity. With these words comes preconceived notions and ideals that can harm the sufferer more than we realize.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a post about OCD. I had the distinct niggling voice in the back of my head that told me not to read it because I had read one or two other posts about other mental illnesses  from this place and I thought they were kinda.... well, odd. The niggling surmised the post would probably rile me up. I read it anyway and the voice was right. It totally irritated me. Why? Because it had bad comparisons and contained what I deem to be the holy trinity of words that I find to be harmful to those of us that suffer from OCD. No, they are not curse words but the wound  just the same.




Just think about word association when you hear these three words and bear with me. Let these words roll on your tongue and fill your mind and then decide what they convey to you.


Definition of Superstition: a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation

Often times you will hear someone describe some OCD symptoms as our superstitions. In fact, the post I read was comparing OCD to carrying a rabbit's foot or opening an umbrella in the house. Things we have all heard that derive images of bad luck or good luck. It's a terrible comparison and is strictly untrue. OCD sufferers are not doing or avoiding things because we are concerned with luck. We do them to cease the agonizing intrusive thoughts. It's rather hard for a person like me to believe or occupy my time with the delusion of luck when I am trying to fight off unwanted horrifying images of people I love being massacred, in an accident, poisoned, or being hurt in some fashion running through my brain constantly. I am a tad too busy for worrying about the likes of luck.

We are brought up to believe that superstitions are silly. Therefore this word is associated with silly contexts like black cats crossing your path, broken mirrors, and walking under ladders. Bad luck and good luck is what makes a superstition. First off we don't need your silly old-timey superstitions we can and do make our own. Secondly if what we do has nothing to do with luck is it really a superstition or is it simply an avoidance of something that makes us uncomfortable?

Hearing us say we have superstitions makes others think that we are preoccupied with silly beliefs and are obsessed with the idea of luck whether it be good or bad. That what we have can not be that serious or painful because superstitions are not based in reality and are ridiculous past times from ancient ancestors that didn't know any better. It makes others think we are silly. Just because it may seem silly to others makes it no less painful for us. In fact, the implications of what we go through as being silly hurts us and stigmatizes us even further.


Definition of Irrational: not endowed with reason or understanding

Another word thrown around a lot is irrational. We have irrational fears. We suffer from irrational thoughts. We have irrational emotions....ect. I get that. I understand that our fears are not based in reality. I understand that our intrusive thoughts are just horrid images and thoughts that are not real nor do they have the possibility of becoming so. All OCD sufferers understand this fact. It in no way takes away the anxiety or mental torture of them. It does not lessen our pain. When you are talking to someone about irrational fears they automatically assume that since they are not based in reality that you are either being overly dramatic or that it can not be painful to be afraid of something that isn't going to happen. It can, it does, and it is painful. The irrationality of it all is what tortures us most. We know that what we go through is not based on any form of rationale and yet we still have the thoughts, the compulsions, and the overwhelming sense of guilt. The fears may not be real to others but they are ever so real to us. They hurt us deeply.


Definition of Rituals: a ceremonial act or action

Of all of these three words, I dislike the word rituals the most. The first time I heard this I almost fainted from horror. Word association for me when I hear the word rituals is not a pleasant thought. I never say I do rituals. I don't know what mental picture you get when you hear the word rituals but I'll be damned if I am going to use a word that makes me think of sacrificing harmless chickens or standing in my front yard with a giant boiling cauldron, stirring a potion made from frog legs and eye of newt, while cackling hysterically and sporting a pointy black hat. It's not going to happen. I use the word compulsions because that's what they are. There is no mystery to be had here. There is no reason to make touching doorknobs, counting lines in the pavement, or excessive hand washing sound so ominous or sinister. We simply have compulsions whether it be mental or physical they are just  compulsions.Nothing supernatural or spooky about them. They are and can be painful, time consuming, and frustrating but they are not evil or scary.

I really think that if we want people to understand what we go through on a daily basis we need to look at the words we use to describe our symptoms more carefully and realize that they might have past connotations already attached to them. Connotations that we may be uncomfortable with assigning to our mental illness. Connotations that may or may not be true. Notions that can confuse the person we are trying to explain it to, frighten them, make them think we do not suffer seriously, or blur the lines of truth.

Yes, I avoid things that tend to stress me out. That doesn't mean that they are superstitions. That does not mean that they don't affect or hurt me. Avoidance tends to be lonely. Yes, my fears and intrusive thoughts are not based in reality but that does not mean that I can simply wave a magic wand and no longer have anxiety or phobias. They still paralyze me with fear and they are still agonizing. Real or perceived they hurt period. Yes, I have things I do in a certain way at a certain time. That is not a ritual to me. It is a compulsion and I accept that. It doesn't need a big scary confusing word to describe it and make everyone else in the room uncomfortable by using it. I can achieve making everyone in the room uncomfortable all by myself just by doing whatever the compulsion is in the first place. I don't need help in that department. But I do explain to them what I suffer from and what I do. Usually, they are made more comfortable by the honesty in which I present it and I dare say the word ritual would not help set them at ease. So please be mindful of the words you use. They have the ability to help or the ability to harm........

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I am Crazy..........

Okay, so I read something today that really irritated me a little bit. I would like to remind people that when they use the term Mental Illness, that they are including everyone with a mental illness diagnoses in that term. Everyone from OCD sufferers to Bipolar to Schizophrenia and everything in between. So when using such a term it would be nice if people took a second to realize that what they are saying is about all of us.

I read an article today that said that crazy people do not know they are crazy..... They specifically used the term mental illness and I take major offense to that statement.

I take offense because if there is one thing I know for sure, I know that I am "crazy". You don't have to approve of the word "crazy" to understand what I am trying to get at. I have known that the things going on in my head have been not normal for as long as I can remember. You see, OCD people are aware that what we do is odd, weird, and just plain strange. We know the thoughts we have are irrational and disturbing. We would never act on them but they do tend to upset us and make us spend hours worrying and fighting off the all engulfing feelings of dread and copious amounts of soul shattering guilt. We know that we are "crazy" as it was so politely put. I actually have no problem with the word crazy. Call me whatever you like as long as it is factual. Don't call me psychotic because I do not suffer from psychosis. Do not call me manic as I do not have bipolar. If you are going to call someone the name of a mental illness at least take the time to figure out which one they have first. I do fit the definition of crazy. If you want to call me crazy,  insane, mentally ill, or neurotic  then  hey, I am down with that. Whatever, I don't really care, as long as you call me something that has to do with my particular diagnoses. I do ,however, know that I am all of these things or at least appear to be all of these things to others. I do not have delusions or have trouble deciphering reality from fantasy. Some mental illness can cause this but my particular one does not and to imply such is maddening. Not because I have anything against those that suffer from these terrifyingly painful symptoms but because it promotes false information about what OCD and other disorders that do not include a psychosis are. And when you use the term Mental Illness you are including OCD sufferers as well as other disorders!

Yes, there are diagnoses of some that are not aware that something is going on with them. For some the line between reality and fiction can become blurred. There are mental illnesses that do this. It's a fact. However, when you use the general terms and claim that all people with mental illness have this issue you are promoting stigma.You are promoting a false notion that all of us are the same or suffer the same symptoms. It is simply not true. Yes, we can all identify with each other's pain and suffering. Yes, we can all relate to the same stigma and discrimination. Yes, no one understands what suffering and surviving from mental illness is like more than we do but we all have different diagnoses and therefore have different symptoms.

Many of us realize that what we do or think is not normal. I remember the first time my OCD came back in full force. I was grabbing a towel from the linen closet and my intrusive thought talked to me. I shut the door and cried. All I could say was," Oh my God I am insane.... I am insane." In fact I was so terrified that I was insane that I waited a full month before I confided in anyone. Why, because there is a stigma that all mental illness means that you need to be straight jacketed and whisked away to a mental institution. I was afraid of what the term insane meant and what my life would be like now that I could no longer deny that there was something wrong with me.

The definition of insanity according to Albert Einstein is that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. As an OCD sufferer I do this. I repetitively do things or think things each time hoping that it will make the intrusive thoughts go away. These things are called compulsions or rituals. They can either be physical compulsions such as touching, counting, or washing or they can be purely mental such as mantras and things we repeat to make the thoughts cease. Make no mistake I know when I am doing them. I know that they are irrational. I know that they are not normal. I have no allusions to the fact that I am mentally ill. I have always known there something wrong with me.

In fact, that is part of the hell of OCD. We are over aware of things in our lives. We are over aware that you have cat hair on your sweater. We are over aware that the lines in the pavement are crooked. We are over aware there are germs everywhere. We are over aware that bad things happen and therefore we worry about them constantly.We are over aware that we are not like normal people. We are aware. We may pretend to be normal or fine but we still are aware that we are not. When we are first diagnosed we already know that what we do seems crazy. We don't need others to confirm that fact. We know.

So I would just like for others to take note that generalizations really harm more than they help. Though many of us are considered to be "crazy" that doesn't in any way mean the we are oblivious to that fact. Many of us know that we are having issues. Many of us with different diagnoses are aware that we are mentally ill and I would really appreciate it if you are going to make assumptions about a particular mental illness that you actually A.) research what mental illness you are going to discuss and B.) be specific and don't bunch us all up together by using general terms and then end up promoting ignorance and bias.

False information hurts. It causes confusion and ignorance. It promotes stigma and unnecessary fear and avoidance. It builds a wall around the mental illness community that we didn't ask for in the first place. Please be mindful that the term Mental Illness is a general term not a particular diagnoses and when you claim that mentally ill people do this or that you are in fact talking about us all. You are talking about each and every diagnoses not just one.

 Neurotic Nelly

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Feeling Like A Failure......

So today was the first day back to school for my children. I can't believe that my oldest is now a sixth grader......It's official I am now getting old. I was excited to go to their classes and meet their teachers. My youngest in is first grade and he liked the fact that I was taking pictures of him on his first day. My oldest....not so much. We have reached the point that everything I do in public is embarrassing to him including taking pictures of him and asking him to smile. He wanted me to just drop him off and leave. It's the whole me being the mom so even the way I breathe could be classified as an affront to the coolness factor he is trying to achieve.....lest others think him a mamas boy....which he is. I went through the same thing when I was his age with my mother. I can relate. I try to be as respectful to his ego as possible when we are "in public".

The school called with an automatic message asking for a small core group of parents to help out with cafeteria duties or watching the kids during recess. I got kind of excited as the possibility occurred to me I might be able to volunteer once or twice a week. It seemed like it could be fun. I told my husband and he reminded me in the sweetest kindest way possible that the school would depend on me to show up every time. Then it hit. The feeling of failure and loss. Because I know I can't be depended on that way. It's why I cant work. I could show up a few times maybe even make it a couple of weeks but then the overwhelming sense of dread would arrive. The anxiety would start. I would become paralyzed with fear and my body would shut down. It simply refuses to leave my home anymore. Then I would have to make excuses and apologies to the school which would make me embarrassed and feel awkward anytime I would set foot through the doors.

I know that I am not normal and yet sometimes I forget that there are things I can not do. It smacks me in the face that I am not able to function like other people.  It makes me feel like a failure. I know I am not a failure but the feeling still lingers and it hurts. It's depressing. I function so well inside my home and around my friends that I can froget why I can't work in the first place. But put me in a work or volunteer situation or anytime there is a pressure for me to do something over and over and things are expected of me constantly the stress levels start to rise and I start to avoid it. I can't shake the bad feelings and dread. It takes over my whole week, worrying about that particular day when there is something I have to do. Something that once may have been a joy becomes like physical and mental torture. I end up not being able to continue to do it and the failure feeling comes back in full force. My wonderful husband has watched me do this time and time again. He has watched me offer myself up for something and then crash and burn. He has watched as my legs became rooted to the ground and not move. So he always makes sure I know exactly what I am offering to do and I start to really honestly ask myself if I can actually do whatever it is. The answer is usually no, I really can't. After my last job, I became agoraphobic for three months. That in turn garnered me a healthy dose of depression. My body began to become sick. In the six months I was working I developed bronchitis, shingles, stomach bugs, rashes, and a plethora of other mind boggling and odd sicknesses. It was my body screaming at me to stop because I couldn't handle the stress of it all. And my body was right, I can't.

So I was saddened again that here was another sign that I can not handle or function the way normal people can. In a perfect world I would love to work and be with other people on a daily basis. I am a people person. In a perfect world I could volunteer my time at my children's school and be able to be depended on that I can always show up. But the world isn't perfect is it? And I am not normal am I?

There are many reasons I shouldn't volunteer anyway. I would have to walk one mile six times to and from the school just to be able to be there as well as walking them to school and back. I would probably totally embarrass my oldest by squealing hello and doing that dorky mom wave when I saw him walking in the hallway or God forbid call him by one of his cutesy pet names...I'm sure he'd just love that. My youngest would want to go home with me which would start tears to roll as he realized I would have to go home while he stayed. Not to mention that the volunteering is for three hours and involves helping corralling hundreds of children. What was I thinking? I can barely corral my own two children sometimes. I can just envision  me walking home with school mashed potatoes smeared in my hair and incoherently mumbling.  So, I am going to sit out on the volunteering this year. Maybe I will be able to next year....just as long as I pace myself and remember that there are some things I can not do and that is perfectly okay. I am not a failure even thought there are things I can not accomplish. There are many things I can, and I just have to remember those things whenever I feel down.

Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

When Phobias Attack........

Growing up with OCD was a huge trial for me. As I am sure it is for everyone that goes through such. Anxiety had become my doppelganger and followed me wherever I went. I had soon developed phobias far more terrifying than my brain could actually conceive or form into words. My main phobia at ten years of age was doctors. I equated them with pain, needles, and all of the unholy procedures that pinched, poked, and prodded. Taking me to the doctor was pure hell for my parents. I admit it. I feel bad for them looking back at that time. In fact I just called my mother about fifteen minutes ago and apologized again for

My mother and I had stopped into the local store on the corner. It was called the Piggly Wiggly. I loved this store not because of what they sold but because it had a huge goofy smiling pig cartoon on the sign. Pigs are my favorite animals. They are so wiggly, and fat, and cute. We had been walking when my ankle brushed up against a floor glass display case. It cut me right above my ankle and I freaked. My other phobia at that time was blood, specifically the letting of my blood. While I was over dramatically engaging in the fear that I was going to bleed to death in the middle of the Piggly Wiggly store my mother was holding my leg up and applying pressure to the wound. It was in truth a decent amount of blood and the sales clerks grabbed rolls of paper towels and wrapped my ankle and on we went to the doctor's office.

The doctor was a younger guy that smelled like antiseptic and too much cologne. We sat in his tiny room waiting to hear about my ankle and I secretly prayed that he could slap a band aid or gauze on it and I could go home untouched by my other phobia....needles. It was not meant to be.

Now, to his credit, he had no idea that I was terrified of stitches, per say. Mainly because I had never had any before. I however, was smart enough to know that stitches meant that your skin was actually sewed back together with a needle. He made some comment under his breath about popping a couple of stitches in it. This was all I needed to hear. My octaves got higher and louder as I proclaimed,"Stitches? Stitches? Stitches!!!"

My mother knew this was not going to be pretty. I am not sure if she asked for people to hold me down but it usually took three just to give me a shot. This was going to be much worse. Now, I should mention that I was usually fine until I saw the needle, then I panicked and needed to be held down. A phobia of abject terror would wash over me and I was no longer in control of my body.

We were ushered into the medical procedure room. It was the usual pastel white and blues all sterilized rooms tend to be with the slick smooth paper over the place you lay on. There were several people in the room now. I couldn't count them but my mother claims it was five or six. I wasn't able to see what they were doing but when they stuck the needle in the wound to numb it I felt it. This prompted me to lift my other leg high in the air and almost kick the one nurse in the face. There was a lot of Nelly put your leg down comments.  They went unheeded and I started screaming," There's a string on my toe!" over and over again. I have no idea why this was important but I was not truly really me anymore at this time. They removed said string and started to stitch. My mother had read or heard somewhere that if she pinched my earlobe it would distract me from the horror that was being done to my doesn't work......never has....and didn't on this occasion either. What I found that really worked was to reach up tightly grab a large fist full of my mothers long lustrous hair and yank her down to my face while screaming as loud as I could ,"God hates me!!!!" in her ear repeatedly. I was truly possessed by my own terror. They had so many nurses holding down my legs they had no one left to hold down my arms, which allowed me to become like Linda Blair in the Exorcist and flail my hands. Something I had never reacted to this extreme before or since. I would not have been surprised had I been able to turn my head 360 degrees while spitting out pea soup.

 I remember that as soon as they were finished my mother pried my hand out of her hair and long red strands fell to the floor. I am sure her scalp was in agony and I may have even made a bald spot or three. I had received three stitches. I don't remember pain, I only remember intense fear. It was the straw that broke the camels back as my mother from then on refused to be the one that had to take me to get my shots or any stitches that may arise. That would now be my father's job. He was stronger, taller, and he had shorter hair.

 I am positive that this was a learning experience for all of us. For me I learned I had a phobia of the likes I was unable at that time to control. My mother learned not to be around me while I was freaking out on this level or at least not with her hair down. My doctor learned that maybe he should ask if his patient has a phobia about needles before he just mumbles the word stitches so nonchalantly like it's not a big deal. To some people it is a big deal. A very big deal!

So this long drawn out post is mostly about how in the midst of a complete terror you can come out of it. I no longer after two kids, many surgeries and numerous  i.v.s have phobias towards needles or stitches anymore. I still freak out a teeny bit when I cut myself but not to the point of flipping out uncontrollably. Phobias can change. I have also learned to control my breathing and how to calm myself so that I don't get to the flailing my arms and legs point. It is a really good thing to learn. I actually find the whole thing funny looking back on it. My mother, however, remains traumatized by it. It is something I wish I could take back, but such is life and once you do something you can never take it back now can you? Just remember if someone you know has an extreme phobia of something and they have to have it done, be there for them. Try to be understanding and supportive. Always....Always, put your hair up as high as possible, just in case.

Neurotic Nelly

Friday, August 16, 2013

Shaking Hands......Jazz Hands

As a complete germ-a-phobe there are somethings I am required to do that make me completely uncomfortable. Shaking hands is one of those things.

Growing up in the south we shake hands when we meet new people. It's a sort of requirement that we all have to do, kind of like wearing a bra when you go out in public. No woman wants to do it but it is expected of you in this day and age. No woman has ever said to me "I can't wait to put on my over the shoulder bolder holder because I just love to feel itchy, sweaty, and confined." I wish I could be like Howie Mandel and get away with fist bumping but fist bumping requires a kind of cool factor that I truly do not possess. It seems to say," hey there buddy bump my fist because I am ridiculously stylish."
I have been called many things but I have never been accused of being fancy, overtly cool, or ridiculously stylish. Fist bumping just doesn't seem like a "me" kind of thing. To my ten years old's embarrassment I have on occasion used the words rad, groovy, and cool beans in public....Apparently these words are no longer acceptable in the "cool" crowds anymore.

If I know I am going to meet someone in advance I usually psych myself up for it. Pep talks and conformations are in order. However, sometimes I run into new people and I am required to be polite and offer my hand if they offer their's first. I hate this. I absolutely and completely despise the shaking of hands with strangers. Then again, I was brought up to be polite and assertive. To not shake a hand when offered is rude. Kind of like pointing at someone, which in the south is a big no no.

I usually look at the hand offered and do a mental assessment. Is their hand clean? Do they look like someone who washes after they use the bathroom? Does it seem like I may get away with shaking this person's hand and not develop Ebola afterwards? It only takes a split second to go through this entire process and I reach out and shake. I like to shake hands with a firm grip. I was taught limp hand shaking means that you are weak. I don't like to be thought of as anything but a strong individual. So I use a firm grasp but not to the point of hurting someone or myself.

I hate the whole process as there seems to be no definable rules to hand shaking. There are some things I believe  are necessary for a proper hand shake.

First off, don't have wet hands. It's gross and it makes me feel that you have recently used the restroom or have touched something disgusting.

Second, a firm handshake does not mean to grasp my hand with all of your strength and then roll my knuckles. I have a brother, I am familiar with this tactic, and it hurts.

Third, for the love of God, please do not hold onto my hand after we have shaken. This is just uncomfortable for both parties and down right creepy. I don't care if you are Channing Tatum, let go of my damn hand already. It's weird and I didn't even want to touch your hands in the first place.

And there you have it. I shook hands looked the person straight in their eyes, feigned happiness, and exchanged pleasantries. Now that I have done what is socially required of me I am going to find a dark corner somewhere and use my antibacterial gel.....twice. Oh, all right if we are being honest I may use it three or more times. Depends on the hand, and the person, and the place that we shook hands at.  I really feel that hand shaking should go away completely and we could replace it with something where touching is not involved. Like maybe ........Jazz hands. Where we just wave and make happy hand motions around our faces.....Seems like a perfect idea to me.

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Hamburger Patty and The Woman With One Shoe.....

Sorry about not writing yesterday. I visited a friend and by the time I got back home I had a million things to do and little time to accomplish them. Today's post is going to be two examples of how my OCD effects me in my life. Two more extreme stories of how I deal with OCD everyday.

The Hamburger Patty.........

We went to my mother's house on Monday. My grandma lives with her in a really cute basement apartment under my mom's house. We helped them with some yard work and our kids played in the yard. They had a blast, as usual. We had a very nice time. My mother's husband, whom I care about deeply, grilled out some hamburgers and hot dogs for us. I was starving by the time they were finished. Starving.
I sat down with the family. Grandma said Grace and we made our hamburgers. I had tomato, pickles, cheese, mustard, and ketchup on mine. It looked mouth watering and I took a huge bite. The flavors delightfully swirled in my mouth as I looked down to the hamburger and realized....the patty was raw. My hamburger patty was less than done. In fact, it was so not done I was afraid if I listened really carefully I would be able to hear it moo back at me. Now to some people this isn't an issue. I am not some people. I held the bite in my mouth and slowly chewed as panic washed over me. I was willing myself to choke it down or at least let the bite roll down the back of my throat. My first reaction was to spew it over the table and freak out but my mother's husband was sitting directly across from me. To not eat the burger would have been rude enough as he had slaved away at the grill for an hour. To spit it across the room and cover him with raw patty, chewed food, and my spittle would have been a tragedy. I tried to resemble normal as my mind was reeling. My OCD in full force and was now naming all of the diseases and sicknesses eating raw meat could give you. Not only could it give me but as an OCD sufferer it was telling me what it would give me, because you know that is exactly how OCD works. Not could but would. My first battle was to swallow the bite. My second would be what to do with said raw burger. There weren't many options and by now my family was watching me physically flinch as I tried to play it off. Still slowly chewing and freaking out at the same time. Now that they were looking at me I couldn't simply spit it into a napkin. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings or seem rude. At the same time after I managed to swallow the offending piece there was no way in hell I was gong to take another bite. Luckily, my husband of twelve years saw my reaction to the first bite and knew what was going on. He offered to trade burgers with me and the crisis was averted. Sigh.... I love that man. As it turned out I had picked the only hamburger patty that was raw. Just my luck I guess.

The Woman with One Shoe.........

Rewind to yesterday, we needed to get some odds and ends at the store. We had just come from the food isle to the soap isle because I was out of dish liquid and we needed more cat food. As I walked across where the isles meet I noticed a crusty, well worn, house shoe in the middle of the isle. I thought it strange that there would be such a thing just lying by a promotion of school supplies or some such thing. As an OCD sufferer I tend to notice things out of place....It can either be a gift or a curse depending on the situation.  As we kept walking down a few isles, I noticed a older lady in a motorized wheelchair. The kind of scooter like thing the stores let the elderly and handicapped use. She was missing a shoe and was teetering dangerously over as she was trying to reach the fabric softener. She was trying to put her barefoot on the ground but then thought better of it and was leaning as far as she could to reach the item she wanted on the shelf. She was nowhere near grasping even the air in front of said item. Now, I don't like touching dirty things. I don't like especially touching other people's dirty crusted shoes. But this woman obviously needed some help. I heard the OCD talking to me about what diseases may be on this crusty house shoe but I ignored them. I wasn't sure what freaked me out more the thought that woman was about to put her bare, possibly germ infested foot on the ground or the thought that she was about to place her bare foot on the germ infested floor. Either way, I could not stand there and watch this woman struggle and flail around like a fish out water and possibly end up tumping the wheelchair scooter over on herself. So I reached down and picked up the shoe and took it to her. Trying my best to touch as little of the shoe as possible. My OCD started and I could feel the germs on my skin. I actually thought that my fingers were going to disintegrate like ashes and fall to the floor there for a second. I talked to her and placed the shoe by her foot. She attempted to stick her foot in the shoe but was unable to manage it so I actually picked up the shoe again and placed on her foot. Her foot, people. Then I asked which softener she was trying to reach for grabbed it and placed it in her cart attached to the chair.  She thanked me and I left to do the shopping we had originally came for. I did, however pull out my hospital grade antibacterial gel and use it on my hands....twice. The OCD was still bothering me all night long but I would have done the same thing if faced with the same situation.

What is interesting is that both times my OCD acted up but both times I had different reactions to it. The first time I could not have gone through eating the burger because the anxiety was too great to overcome. The second experience I was able to do it simply because someone needed my help, therefore I could ignore or drown out the thoughts long enough to do what she needed done. Both times the anxiety and issues that derive from OCD plagued me for a few hours after the situations but I still managed to function when needed too. I find the fact that I can override my OCD in dire situations when someone needs my help but not just because my food is raw interesting but also a little confusing and possibly a little frustrating. I can react differently in the moment but I have the same dread and anxiety after the moment has passed in both situations. Strange.

So I guess the moral of the story is that apparently sometimes I can push through my germ-a-phobe ways and my OCD to some extent and sometimes I am knocked to the floor by it. I just never know which situation will affect me which way until I go through it. But I refuse to be scared by this and stop trying. I refuse to give up on myself. I refuse to believe that I can not achieve something just because I have OCD. I refuse. I do believe the more I try the more I will able to do. Baby steps and if you happen to be eating a hamburger anytime soon, check to make sure it's done all the way just never know what could be lurking in there. Bacteria, diseases, worms, an angry miniature group of ticked off leprechauns carrying torches and sharpened toothpicks.......What? Just because angry leprechauns have never been found in meat before doesn't mean they aren't there. It just means we haven't found them yet.

Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Mosaic

Me and my Grandmother

These are pictures of me before. Before the ticking time bomb of OCD was activated. Before the sleeping giant of my mental illness was awakened. There is nothing in these pictures to suggest that I would become mentally ill. They are just pictures of a happy go lucky two or three year old. A normal goofy, playful, hyper child. Normal appearances and normal things that children do. This is before. Before the smiling became a grimace of anxiety and fear. Before the intrusive thoughts. Before the washing my hands til they cracked and bled. Before the irrational fears of being poisoned or health obsessions. Before I knew that bad things can and do happen to good people. Before all of that I had a normal life. I wish I could remember what that was like but unfortunately, all I have of that time is smiling pictures and stories told to me by my grandmother and mother. I have no recollection of that time except tiny blurry visions of certain things. A favorite toy, a dress I liked, tiny blurbs of memories that sometimes are so convoluted they make no sense. Not uncommon as I have fuzzy memories all the way back to when I was two and a lot of people don't remember everything back that far. I wish I remembered more of it. It might be nice to know what normal is like.

                                                             My mother and me

Then again, why dwell on something that is no longer vital in one's life? I used to have problems looking at these pictures of me. I would silently grieve for a me I never got to know. A healthy well me. It took time to learn to let go. I was never going to be truly normal anyway, my OCD is genetic. Fantasy is nice but I live in the real world and the world is me now. The person I have grown into. The me that is strong, kind, and yes sick.

Finding myself is sometimes like trying to build a mosaic out of broken pottery. A puzzle where I try to make the pieces fit and to create a picture. Place the broken pieces with the whole ones. Lay the smooth edged pieces next to the jagged and sharps bits. It is time consuming and sometimes highly frustrating. Luckily, I am a crafty person. I do occasionally run out of grout and mortar. That is when I take the time to rest and look at what I have created so far. Building myself up and taking it back down. It is my life and I can create any mosaic I want to.

                                                        My grandmother and me 2013

I have been blessed enough to have help in that department. My mother and Grandmother are two of my greatest supporters. When others didn't understand or simply walked away they remained my constant. They have always made sure that I knew that I was not broken. That I was not all that my mind tried to tell me that I was. I have learned a lot having a mental illness for thirty years. In truth, I learn more everyday. You are never old to stop learning new things about yourself or the world around you. Everyday is a new day. Some of them will be horrible. Some of them will be neither good or bad. Some of them....some of them are terrific days. Those are the days I look forward to. That's not to say I don't have days where I am completely annoyed with myself. That is not say I don't have days with soul shattering grief and worry. That is not to say I am cured or recovered. Sometimes I wash too much. Sometimes I want to put my fingers in my ears and scream to drown out the intrusive thoughts. Sometimes I will sit on the couch and a wave of eviscerating guilt will wash over me and I have know idea why. Was it something I did that my brain deems as wrong? Was is something I said that may of hurt someone else's feelings? Was it an intrusive horrid thought that I have now forgotten but the feeling of dread has still lingered? It happens.

                                                      Mom and me on our birthday 2013

I guess if I have anything to say about being mentally ill it is that life is hard. There are struggles and hardships. That pictures of smiling people never show the bad times. Truthfully, who takes pictures of the bad times when you look like hell and feel like you have been through the wringer? Maybe some, but not most of us. However, I think smiling pictures are a good thing. It shows that there were times when we were happy. That we can be happy again. That we are at least worth the try. That we are important no matter how hard our minds try to tell us otherwise. That people depend on us. That we are loved. That we are unique and beautiful.  That we are strong. That whether we know it or not we are all crafting our own mosaics of our lives with the pieces of ourselves. Broken, whole, sad, happy, shattered, healing, jagged, and smooth pieces of our lives that make us who we are. The only real decision is what picture do we want to make them into as we glue them in place.

I think I would like mine to be a sunflower.......
Neurotic Nelly

Friday, August 9, 2013


I don't know if I will have time to write tomorrow because it's my birthday. I probably have it listed on the 15th on google + just because I am paranoid about putting my accurate birthday online, which makes no sense because I am writing this post and telling everyone my actual birth date and then sharing with the world.....oh well no one ever said I had to make sense.

This post is called Mama because of course not only is my Mama the reason I am here but also because tomorrow is also my Mama's birthday. I was born thirty four years ago on her twenty first birthday in a semi-little town in Texas.

It may seem weird for a grown woman to call her mother,  Momma but as a southern girl we all call our parents the same childhood names we called them as children no matter how old we get. It is not unusual to overhear a fifty year old call her parents Mama and Daddy. You usually start off calling them Mommy and Daddy and at some point you change it to Mamma and Daddy. It is just how things are done down there.

To share a birthday with someone you are extremely close to, for me, has been a blessing. I know no matter where we are or how far apart we may have been, that she remembers our birthday. She was always the first one to call me and wish me happy birthday. The first to send a card. The first to show up at my door. Which makes perfect sense because she was the first person to feed me and hold me. She is after all, my Momma.

There are few things in life that have the bond like between mother and child. As a mother myself I can now better appreciate the sacrifices she made for me. The unbending will to stand up for me. To stand beside me no matter the consequence. To be there for me at anytime in any situation.

She taught me so many things about myself and honestly she is there with me every step of the way, as I continue to learn. She was the first to recognize my mental illness. The first one to get me help. The first one to sit me down and be completely honest and open with me. We have that kind of relationship where I can ask her anything without fear of judgment or embarrassment.
She was the one who went to my high school and confronted the scariest principal on the planet because I have dyslexia and couldn't remember correctly my address. The principal scolded me for an hour calling me a liar and my mother a fraud in front of other students and didn't let me go until I started to cry. My mother went there and totally made the principal so uncomfortable that for the rest of my time in that high school the principal made a point to wave to me in hallway and to be extra nice. My mother would put up with a lot of things but messing with me was not one of them. I have no doubt that she would walk on burning coals or broken bits of glass and not bat an eye if it were to protect me. I feel the same way about my children and I believe that unwavering lack of fear is something she passed down to me or instilled in me.

She put aside her PTSD, Bipolar disorder, and Lupus to take care of me. To go to my singing concerts. To show up at any school function no matter how horrid she felt. To drive me and my friends to the mall. Many times when I had a panic attack and couldn't go to school she would drive me on a very long drive and we would get KFC and talk. Not just mindless drivel but actual real conversations.

She taught me when to be a lady and when it was okay to be not so ladylike. She taught me when to bide my time and keep my head down and when to stand up and not take crap from someone. She taught me the importance of learning a big vocabulary. She taught me that just because we were on welfare we could still present ourselves the way we wanted to be viewed. Many times she went without just so I could have something. She taught me to be compassionate and kind. She taught me to believe in myself. She taught me to independent and strong. She is strong and beautiful, and unique. She is after all my Momma.

So tomorrow we are going to do what has been our tradition for ten years. We are going to get all gussied up, break out the high heels and dust off the dresses, slap on some war paint, curl our hair and go to dinner. No one else just me and her. We are going to eat and laugh and be silly. We are going to be ourselves and share our bond. No longer just a bond between child and mother but a bond that has strengthened as two women who are so magnificently alike. A bond of two people that have been not just parent and child but also the closest of friends. My rock and hand holder. The woman who kissed my scraped knees and told me when I was being a completely know it all angst ridden teenager. The woman who hugged me but had no fear of grounding me. The woman who made sure I knew she was proud of me in all of my endeavors and always supported my decisions even if they weren't very good ones. The woman who taught me how to paint my nails and put on make up. The woman who let me traipse around her too big of shoes and play in her closet as a child. The woman who gave me my first perm (think Reba McIntyre early eighties) and  taught me the importance of wearing a bra. The woman who taught me how to shave my legs and manage not to cut off any appendages while doing so (I am still working on that).The woman who stood up for me and held me when my mental illness was at it's worst. My confidant. The woman who sent me care packages from 1500 miles away when my depression was at it's lowest and I thought of ending it all. The woman who was there in both birthing rooms and held my hand as I cried out in pain. Because she is amazing and there is no one else on earth I would rather share my birth date with. She is my Momma after all. I love her, I respect her, and I am grateful that she is in my life and always has been.

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Poisonous Platter....

For hundreds of years the Europeans were afraid to eat tomatoes. True story. Why you ask? Well for three reasons. Number one the tomato plant and roots are poisonous if consumed. The only edible portion is the fruit a.k.a. the tomato. Number two is the fact that it is in the same family of  the deadly nightshade plant. Not something you want to mess around with. Number three and possibly the most interesting fact of the three is that in the medieval ages the more influential families had dinnerware made of pewter. Now pewter back then was not made like it is now. Pewter then was made with copious amounts of lead. Some even as high as 50%. The issue with the tomato was that tomatoes are full of acid. It's a wet gooey kind of fruit and therefore the acid was much more evident, shall we say. The acid would leach the lead form the pewter plate causing lead poisoning. So they were afraid of the tomato when truthfully what was killing them was their pretty plates and silverware.

I am sure about now you are asking yourself what on God's green earth does tomatoes and superstitions about the gloriously gooey red fruit have to do with a mental illness blog. We are the tomatoes of the world, my friend. We are perceived to be dangerous when we are not. We are thought to cause harm when statistics prove otherwise. We are feared and it has nothing to do with us personally just the preconceived notions and stigma placed on us. Mental illness isn't the dangerous and treacherous condition is is made out to is the poisonous platter it is served on that is the real danger. The media, the false rumors, the scary misinformation that is spread about mental illness and those that suffer from it. We are the sweet, tart, harmless fruit that has been discriminated against and feared. Not because we are likely to turn into the monsters that roam in the dark shadows at the stroke of midnight or the boogedy man we all feared lived under our beds and hid in our closets just waiting to get us as children, but simply because people are afraid of what they don't understand. And when people are afraid they make judgment calls that may not be appropriate to the actual situation. They panic and fear and make up silly superstitions that unknowingly continue to promote stigma. So you see it isn't us they are really afraid of, it's the lies and falsehoods that they have been served. These falsehoods and lies are essentially the pretty dinnerware that masks it's beauty with poison. Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of or frightened of.....what we should be afraid of is the poisonous platter it served on.

Neurotic Nelly

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Things I'm Scared of and Thing's I'm Not

I am scared of many things. I hate spiders and their creepy twitchy hairy legs. I hate rabbits and their creepy twitchy whiskers. I am scared of failing my loved ones. I'm scared of elevators. Of not being a good enough person. Of hurting other's feelings to the point of going way out of my way not to seem rude or offensive even though many times it is seen as being weak and it comes back to bite me in the butt. And then I am scared of all the OCD fears that would take up all of this post, and the next post, and the next post.....ect. So you see  I have a lot of fears. A lot. There is one thing I am not afraid of. Maybe I was at one time but not now. I am not afraid of talking about mental illness. Specifically my mental illness but also the stigma and discrimination I have dealt with. On this one issue I am totally unafraid.

For eight months, now I have written a blog post everyday except Sundays and Mondays respectively. I have written about bits of my life and my experiences. Never with an excuse or blaming anyone, just a honest open look at myself and my life. I have met so many others like me on this journey. Each post for me is like a therapeutic purge. I type on the pages and let the pain bleed onto them. I have written about my family member's suicide and my mother's attempt when I was ten years old. I have written of my failures and accomplishments. I have written about the abandonment of my real father, the search for my biological brother, and the severe bullying I went through because I was poor and different. I have written about my first marriage which was toxic and abusive and the loss of my unborn child. I have written about stigma and judgment. I have written about my institutionalization in a mental ward as a child and all that happened there, even before I realized I had never told my husband of twelve years because I had "blocked" it out. I have written about my children's struggle with OCD symptoms themselves. I have begged, sobbed, and bled but I have always written.

I have offered up my experiences on the internet sacrificial alter and let others pick and examine it's bones. It is a grisly and yet completely honest display and I am proud of that. I am proud of how far I have come from never speaking about my mental illness except in hushed tones with fear to blatantly discussing it and sharing it with the world. Good or bad. Right or wrong.

It doesn't make me famous. It doesn't make me rich. It does for me the one thing I had never had before. It gives me a voice.

Sometimes my posts are shrouded in humor. Sometimes my posts are rants and sometimes....sometimes my posts are so deep and agonizingly painful that I can not reread them after I have written them. Typos be damned.

I have always been very honest about my life and the things I have done. No, I have not traveled the world or scaled Mount Everest. What I have done may not be the the most interesting or influential things on the planet but I am proud of them. They mean a great deal to someone who before I started all of this was feeling separated and lost from not only others but myself. I own these words that fall from my lips. I own them and I am proud of myself. To suggest that I am scared of reaching into the deep dark depths of myself and pull out the hideous mental illness that has plagued me for thirty years is preposterous. Not only do I pull it out but I have examined and dissected it. I have lived it. I have choked on it.

That picture you see on my google+ profile is the same smiling face on each and every blog post. Yeah, that one right there....that is me. That is my face on my words because I became tired of my mental illness shaming me into seclusion. It is not right for everyone but for me, I had to put my face on my blogs. People that are scared do not broadcast not only their words but also their face to the world.

I am not about to get into a pissing contest with someone because they didn't like something I said or did. I am an adult last time I checked and I don't do pissing contests anymore, sorry.

The issue with me being a positive person is rather simple. I have suffered. I have agonized. I have been numb before. I became a positive person because at one point it became the one thing that saved me when I was scared, alone, and lost. Hope saved me. It was my crutch and I will not apologize for that.

To judge me because I refuse to sit and dwell in a cesspool of rage, anger, resentment, and self loathing and drink it down like a stagnant rotten porridge is insulting. I have dwelled there before and I choose to be different now. I choose to hold onto hope. I choose to be thankful for all the wonderful and beautiful things in my life because at one point I was too lost to see them or I unknowingly threw them away. I refuse to be that way anymore. I deserve to be happy and I am going to do my best to get that way. I had to look at ugly horrid things and work through them to get where I am now. The good of me and the bad of me. I am not perfect and it is a daily struggle but I refuse to be rained down upon or side jabbed because I no longer dwell in a place no one deserves to dwell in, in the first place. If you think that makes me weak or scared then so be it.

People need to know where they stand and so this is me standing and showing you that I am scared of a lot of things but my mental illness isn't one of them. And if you don't believe me then the fact that I have shared 150 public posts and separate guest posts detailing my struggles with mental illness should speak for itself. As should the fact that I have placed my face on each and every one of them.

Just because I refuse to be bitter, harsh, or rude does not make me weak. It makes me polite. Just because I find something dark and disturbing uncomfortable doesn't mean I am afraid of it. It simply means I am no longer willing to dwell in the dark recesses that kept me lost for so long.

Neurotic Nelly

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Stop Already.....

Back in our grandparent's day people didn't talk, or at least they didn't talk about serious important things that would have been beneficial to discuss. They didn't discuss feelings. They didn't discuss sex and they sure as heck didn't discuss things such as mental illness.

My grandmother grew up thinking that if she washed her hair while she was menstruating that her period would stop and she would be pregnant. Now, I have no idea where she got such a cockamamie idea, but no one corrected her until she got married.

In an age where all information is at your fingertips or on your phone we still are not talking. Not like we should. Yes, everyone knows that taking a shower and washing your hair has nothing to do pregnancy, but what do we know about mental illness. I mean what do we REALLY know about it? And how do we open the discussion to it to find out more about it?

Now, I have read things and heard things that tell you what not to say to someone with mental illness. Things not to do and ask. Comments you should keep to yourself. Don't ask and don't tell not placed upon by the government but placed on us by ourselves as a society.

 Please stop doing that. Please stop telling others what not to say to us. For the love of all things holy, stop it already.

No one hates a rude comment about mental illness more than I do. I hate the self righteous attitude and I detest the ignorance. But that's kind of the point isn't it?

I don't want people to remain silent because they are afraid of hurting my feelings or they fear making me angry. I welcome comments even bad ones. I welcome them because it is an opportunity to discuss. The topic is open, finally. How am I suppose to enlighten people with the truth if I have no idea what false notions and ignorant ideals they have?

How do we learn if we do not ask? How do we explain if no one talks about what they are thinking?

How many stress free showers could my grandmother have had without fear of pregnancy if someone had actually taken the time to listen to her and openly discuss the topic with her? But they didn't. They didn't because that particular topic was uncomfortable to discuss. Because it was unheard of to discuss such things in that time. They felt it was not important she would figure it out soon enough, why bother? So she was left to believe in an opinion that wasn't true, for years.

It's the same with the topic of mental illness. No one really likes talking about it because it can be uncomfortable. It is frowned upon to talk openly about such things. People feel it doesn't apply to them so they don't need to know. They are left to opinions that aren't true and will remain that way until someone actually takes the time to discuss it with them. But to do that we have to first know what those false opinions and ideals are.

Not letting ignorant comments come to the surface helps no one. You can't enlighten if no one is talking. You can't change their minds if you don't know what is in their minds in the first place. Nothing changes if everyone is silent.

Yes, ignorant and rude comments are hurtful but I feel they are necessary to a greater purpose. Not everyone who feels this way are complete douchebags. Some of them just don't know any better. Some of them are sheep in wolves clothing. These people can be given statistical facts. These people can be educated about the history of mental illness like the horrors of asylums. They can be taught about the discrimination we go through and the pain we suffer. They can be enlightened to the fact that we are more likely to be victims of violent crime rather than commit anything remotely violent against others. They can be taught better. They can be taught the truth about mental illness and that we are not like what they see on the television or read in the media. Some of these people can learn.

Some will not drink in this knowledge. Some will rebuff the truth and remain ignorant. There is no one so blind as those who Will not see. It happens. But if we refuse to talk and discuss when someone hits us with an ignorant comment, we are effectively shutting down the lines of communication. For those that we can not teach, let them remain the way they are with their ignorance and douchebaggery. But I feel it is important to reach out each and every time a hurtful comment is broadcast. I feel we must sit down and discuss it with them each and every time. We may not change everyone's opinion but think of all of those that we can. All of those that have never been sat down and taught the truth. Those that may not completely understand what we go through but will stop and think before they spew hate-filled or ignorant comments. We can erase stigma but only if we refuse to hide from the negative notions others are harboring. Only if we take the time to correct the notions every time we hear them. So although, I do get hurt from things that are said, I feel it is my job to try to see where they got such a false idea in the first place and correct their ideals.

In a world where we tend to shy away from uncomfortable discussions we have to stop being afraid. It is too important not to.

We can't stop the stigma if we do not know what the actual individual stigmatized ideas are. We can not solve math problems if we do not know what numerals we are working with........It is the same context but a different outcome.

Neurotic Nelly

Friday, August 2, 2013

It Doesn't Matter How You Get There........

I am full of wonky sayings, bad puns, and crazy quotes.  It is just how I roll. I often hear of people that say, I took a shower but I had to push myself. I ate a piece of toast but it was a struggle to do so. I tried to get in the car and drive myself to the store but I only managed to go halfway and turn around. They feel defeated. They are disappointed in themselves. It hurts me to hear this or read this or even think like this.
I too have been there. I too know what that is like.

It doesn't matter how you get there, it only matters that you have arrived. Now this seems silly but it is the truth. It doesn't matter what you had to do or tell yourself to take a shower, the main point is that you took one. The point is that you mustered up enough energy and resolve to do so. The result is more important than the process. Instead of being frustrated that it took so much work it should be commended that you were able to conquer all of the crap you were going through and do it. That is no easy feat for people suffering from mental illness.

It doesn't matter how much you hate toast and how much you weren't really hungry, you still ate the toast. You still got up toasted that bread, put it in your mouth and chewed. It's an accomplishment to do so.

You got in your car and drove. It shouldn't matter how far you went or where you ended up driving to. What should matter is that you actually got in your car, turned the key, and drove.

I think it is easy for us to judge our accomplishments too harshly. We tend to put them next to others accomplishments and they seem lacking. Normal people take showers without a second thought, normal people make toast and eat it, normal people are able to drive one handed cross country in a mini van full of loud kids and wet dogs while eating tacos and listening to music. We compare our achievements and I truly believe that is our downfall.

It's like the old adage comparing apples to oranges only in this case it is more like comparing basketballs to oranges. They are both round and orange and that is about the extent of their similarities. We look normal and we do normal people things. However, our emotions are all over the place. Our perceptions are faulty. Our minds are tortured.

You wouldn't judge what a basketball can do to with what an orange can do would you? Of course not. Why are we trying to compare ourselves with people that do not have our issues? A basketball is a great ball but it tastes like crap. An orange tastes great but makes a terrible ball. They are different and therefore don't need to be compared.

We forget to realize that for some of us a shower, a meal, a drive is an accomplishment for us. That instead of putting ourselves down for being able to only get this one thing done or how long this one thing took to do, we should be proud that we have managed to go that far today. That yes, today was a struggle to take a shower but you did it. The hope that  if you can take a shower today maybe you can take another one tomorrow and so on. Maybe you might even be able to change your clothes along with it.  Yes today, you didn't want to cook. You weren't up to it but you did make toast. Maybe tomorrow you might even be able to put butter on that toast. The next day you might even be able to scramble an egg with the buttered toast. Yes, you didn't drive all the way to your destination. You did however get in the car in the first place. It may not be as far along as you want to be but you have conquered the first part. You have tried. You can always try again and again. The point isn't how you get there it is that eventually you will arrive. You will get there one step at a time. Don't look at what you were not able to accomplish, look at all that you were able to do. No, it's not climbing the Grand Canyon but to us, it might as well be. To some of us the Grand Canyon is less daunting than our everyday issues.

It doesn't matter how you get there, it only matters that you have arrived.....and you will arrive. It may take a little longer. It may be slower than you thought it would be. You will be stronger for it. You will take baby steps. You will make it and you will arrive.

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It is What it Is

Sometimes I wonder why I bother to slither out of bed in the morning. Today everybody and there dogs decided to call me at the butt crack of dawn. By the butt crack of dawn I mean ten a.m. and by everybody and their dogs I mean two people that don't even own dogs....whatever it's totally possible that dogs were trying to call me and they just couldn't push the buttons with their paws. It's possible!

I had to make phone calls this morning, which I detest. I ended dropping the phone and then knocking over my floor lamp sending it crashing to the ground and shattering all over the floor....awesome. So I then had to sweep and vacuum up the glass.

The word butterfingers comes to mind. I could blame it on my defunct finger that has never been quite as mobile after I broke it or my eyesight. The truth is I am and always have been utterly clumsy. I have a drunk swagger but yet I do not drink. It is was it is.

I don't like excuses. They seem to be a band aid slapped over the gaping wounds of the soul. I try not to make them. I want to not only accept my issues but be honest about them as well. No excuses means no lies and being forced to look into the deep ugly truth. The truth about me.

It is what it is.

I have mental illness. It makes some things harder than others. I have ,at one time, lived like a superhero. I have an alter ego. I was Super Nelly when I was around others that I have not shared my plight with. Complete with cape and spandex and a mask. Okay, maybe not spandex....but you get the idea. They only saw what they wanted to and I did not correct them. They saw a mask of smiles and capability. The alter ego makes me look like I have my stuff together. Like I am invincible. Like I can handle everything. It is so easy to get so caught up in this lie that I start to believe it myself sometimes. The real me crumples to the floor. The real me can not handle stress or things expected of me. The real me has no super powers or a mask. The real me is strong but weary. The real me is sometimes a broken heap lying on the floor.

It is what it is.

I will not apologize for being sick any longer.I am doing the best I can. Sometimes I fall. I get back up and it is very possible that I will fall back down again. I keep trying. I am stubborn that way. I will not make excuses. It happens.  This is me trying. I don't need to be punished or stigmatized on top of the amount of crap I am sifting through on a daily basis already. If you don't like my attitude, then there's the door.

It is what is is.

There are things in life that are hard to talk about. There are things in life that make you want to run and hide. I don't really have that option. I have to talk about this. I can not run and hide from something that lives inside me. I've tried. It just follows you and infects everything you touch like a disease. The only way to get away from it is to face it head on and deal with it. I am tired of running and at some point you have to take a stand. So, I am standing.

It is what it is.

It is what it is. There is no magical potion or wand that is going to fix me. I have to do that myself. I have to keep trying. I have to keep talking. I have to keep getting back up. I have to, failure is not an option when it comes to something as important as this. So I am no longer going to act like I am a super hero. I don't have to. I am already stronger than any fictional super hero out there. Superman deal with mental illness....please he'd be crying in the corner like a wimp. So, this is the hand of cards I was dealt with. I can do this. I will keep on getting back up and fighting but know this, I will not apologize to make others feel better. I didn't ask to be born with mental illness and I don't accept the implications that I did. I will not cower in fear of your judgment. I really don't care about your opinion if you are just going to stand there and remain ignorant on the subject. I am not going to make excuses for my having a mental illness. I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. It is what it is and I accept it, maybe you should too.

Neurotic Nelly