Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I'm About To Rant...

I am very upset and I apologize now for the following, foul mouthed rant, but it needs to be said.

I admit it....I was ignorant. Completely unaware of what people that suffer from a learning disability such as ADHD and ADD go through. I was ignorant until a few months ago when I started to strongly suspect my oldest was suffering from ADD.

In reality, we have known he has a problem with focusing since first grade. His teacher at that time, suggested he may have it and like good parents we took him to the doctor who poo pooed on the idea. Of course our son was not hyper active so there was nothing wrong with him.

Now I should say, that my oldest is brilliant. I know that all parents feel that way about their children but in this case I have the test scores to back it up. All of his teachers have told me how intelligent he is but they have all complained of his loss of focus, bad organization, and losing his homework. It didn't seem to affect his high marks in the lower grades but last year it started to become a big deal. His grades suffered and he started feeling bad about himself. We tried helping him feel better about it. I mean, he is only a kid.

This year we tried new ways to help keep him organized and help focus. To no avail. Then after a surprise ambush by the teachers in front of my son, in which one teacher suggested his math scores were of a special ed student, I got angry. Who says that to an eleven year old? Seriously. Especially, since they could look at his testing all of the years before and knew this was not indicative of what he has scored. He lost all self esteem and started to call himself stupid.

As any parent would feel, it breaks my heart to see him hurting and worse to belittle himself. As I and my husband confronted the teachers about their behavior, the testing for ADD came back up. Instead of listening to what the original doctor said, I started to research it. And my son was the epitome of ADD. I took him to his new doctor and got the paper worked filled out by his teacher.

Friday it was confirmed. My son has ADD. Finally an answer to his struggling. I was relieved because we now have a name and if you can name your ailment you have a better chance of fighting it. We have spent hours talking to our son about how this doesn't mean that he can't achieve things, he will just have to work a little harder than other kids. How many extremely bright people have this and have made huge accomplishments. That this in no way means that he is less smart than other kids. We have spent days discussing how this isn't his fault and that he is not broken or damaged or a freak.

Fast forward to Monday. I turned in the paperwork for the program my school is supposed to put him on to help him with extra time and to learn better organizational habits. He also will be getting therapy and counseling to deal with the anxiety and low self esteem that I believe the school has created. The school with it's belittling and inappropriate comments have made my brilliant child feel dumb. And I am pissed.

The paper my son's doctor gave me was supposed to be handed to the principal. Instead, I was told to hand it to his teacher who then proceeded to take me to the special ed teacher. I was a bit confused. Why was this lady asking me a bunch of personal questions about my kid if the meeting we were supposed to have hadn't happened yet? Why was she asking me about my child if the "program" hasn't even been discussed? Why does she want to know what he struggles with and if he will be on medication or not? She isn't his teacher nor has she reviewed his case.

Then I was told the school psychiatrist would have to diagnose my son. Which is bull , the doctor already did that. I was told he would not need a "Program" that they would just switch some things around, which I did not like because he wouldn't get the extra testing time he needs. Then the special ed teacher said he would get the program but this all depended on what the psychiatrist had to say. Which again, was confusing. I am unclear on how an official diagnoses from a certified doctor can be ignored. This is the United States...right?

Then I was asked if I would place my son in the after school math tutoring program which they assured me would "fix" his problem...
Seriously..... Like being in the class he hates three extra days a week is going to improve his ADD that specifically is active in that class. Being taught by the same teacher he has the worst time focusing with....Yeah that makes total sense.

Then I was railroaded down the hall to the math teacher's class and the teacher that was leading me around proudly proclaimed, that yes my son would be joining the tutoring for math class.

  I was even more pissed. But I held it together because there were kids around and I didn't think it would be appropriate to yell obscenities in their presence, no matter how desperately I wanted to.

I was made promises that a teacher helper would go through my son's homework folder with him to make sure that all of his work was where it needed to be and to help him keep it organized, at least until they were able to come up with a program for my son. That was Monday, people.

Not one person has looked in this kids folder. Not one. Ever.

And the last thing that royally cheesed my cheddar, the piece de resistance as they say,  was after all of the meetings we have had before this, after the official diagnoses, after the railroading I got on Monday, the math teacher had the tell my son I needed to sign his planner because he wasn't paying enough attention in her class.
I am just going to let that sink in for a second. I have done everything right. Gotten all of the paperwork together. Turned it in. Told everyone that my son has ADD and this is what I get. Snarky remarks that are totally ridiculous.

So I checked and signed his planner and I added a little note too.

"Since my son has been officially diagnosed as having ADD and I have filed for the IEP and 504 that is understandable."

And I sat there and seethed anger because this shit is just uncalled for. Seriously. Yay, let's as adults all pick on the ADD kid and just try to knock him down just one more peg. Because he doesn't feel bad enough about his issues. Because he doesn't worry that he will get in trouble for it, he now needs an ass whole teacher getting onto him in class, shaming him, and then making it seem like I was going to be mad at him because of it. Because of what, a disorder that he can't help!!!??? Are you fucking serious!!!

And just when I thought I couldn't be anymore frustrated, annoyed, disappointed, and angry I find out today that she didn't even bother to read his planner. She wanted me to sign it to make my son feel bad but didn't care enough to check and see if I even wrote anything back.

So right then and there I made a decision. Next year my oldest is going to be home schooled. I absolutely will not allow the public school system to tear down my son's self esteem any further. I will not allow them to take my brilliant, sweet, kind, compassionate child and turn him into someone who blames himself and hates himself. Because I have been down that road and that is something I do not wish on anyone, let alone my own child.

And it got me God, my kid can not be the only one that has had this shit happen to them. He is not the only one that has been shamed and accused of not caring. Not the only to have felt helpless and stupid not because he was but because the school was too lazy or too ignorant to know how to help him. We are not the only parents doing absolutely all that we can to help instill a positive outlook a good self esteem and manage something like ADD and ADHD and get placated and lied to. We are not the only parents frustrated, and disillusioned, and frankly down right pissed. Pissed that our kids are demeaned overlooked and are left to slip through the cracks. Good kids, that frankly, in this day and age deserve a hell of a lot better. This is 2014 not the fucking stone age and there are programs that are state demanded to be used and yet here we are, angry, sad, and hurting for our kids. It's nuts. It's damaging to our kids, and it is unacceptable.

A few months ago if asked, I would have said that kids that suffer from a learning disability didn't have it any harder than the rest of the kids. I thought there was special help for them and that all schools were willing to offer that help. I admit that I was wrong and I was completely wholly ignorant. My eyes are opened to the reality and the reality is pretty damn sad.  Kids with ADD and ADHD do have it harder. They do struggle and they are falling through the cracks of a system that has failed them in every way that counts.

I realize that now and it makes me sad. It makes me sad that I now have to try and undo the damage my son's teachers have done to his self esteem, his sense of self worth, and his belief that he can be anything he puts his mind to. And it not only saddens me, it devastates my whole belief in the public school system as a whole.

Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Try, Try, Try Again....

Today while talking to husband, I told him a story about my issues with school and anxiety. At some point I had developed devastating panic attacks. There were a great many stressful things going on, and I was fundamentally unable to cope with them. And it inevitably created anxiety every time I walked into my high school.

My mother was sick with Lupus and was having a hard time catching illness after illness as her immune system was compromised. I was taking care of her around the clock as we two struggled to make it on our own. I had been sexually assaulted at a party a few months before and dealing with the God awful flashbacks of it. My dyslexia was making the math harder and harder for me to understand and it made me feel completely stupid. We were on welfare and many times had little to eat.  Things were hard.

My OCD did more than just flare up, it inflamed my whole existence and for some reason it started to arise panic around anything involving school. The very thought of school made my stomach turn. Panic attacks would creep into my personal space. The world would turn upside down and my breathing would become labored. My pulse would raise to the point of me feeling like I was going to pass out.

When I stopped being able to make it to the bus stop, my mother would drive me to school. Only to have me open the car door, take a few steps towards the front steps and have to turn around crying and gasping for breath. It felt like an overwhelming sense of dread and despair was creeping up my spine and crushing my rib cage, effectively suffocating me. Some times I didn't even make it out of the car.

Sometimes, winning the battle would be if I could simply make it to the car in the first place. Good days were the ones the panic attacks would happen later on in the day, like after lunch, in front of everyone and their brothers. It was hell.

Everyday I knew that it was going to be rough. I was going to shake in public. I was going to cry. Sometimes the anxiety was so strong I would literally end up bolting out of my class and running down the hallway to the bathroom. Where I would hide until it ebbed back away to a more functional level.

I was looked at as odd. Told by other kids to just go home already. Snickered at. Judged. Sometimes I was pitied. Mostly, I was ignored or looked at as a freak and it hurt my self esteem greatly. I began to not see myself as a strong person or a worthy person and started to think of myself as broken. I looked broken, I acted broken, and I felt broken.

It was frustrating, trying, annoying, and exhausting. It was painful and isolating. I hated it. I hated feeling weak and at the mercy of my panic.

And yet even though I knew I would suffer and be embarrassed, I still got up every morning and prepared to go to school. Even though I knew the chances were slim that I would even make it through the school doors, I still tried. Day after day. Week after week.  Not trying was never an option.

I don't think it was because I was brave or glutton for punishment as much as it was I never wanted to let the panic attacks win without a fight. And so I fought the only way I knew how, by never giving up.

Eventually, the school was able to work with me and the teachers came to my house to teach me. I was bummed that I had lost a great deal of the social connections I was privy to in school but extremely relieved that I would no longer have to deal with the debilitating panic attacks and finally get my studies finished.

It never occurred to me not to fight back against my mental illness. It always seemed if I gave it an inch, it would take a mile. I always strived no matter what, to try, try, and try again. To take any progress as a win. To not be angry or sad at what I couldn't do but to be proud of the things I was able to accomplish. Even if it may have seemed trivial to others. And I think it helped me in a great deal.

The panic attacks finally ceased after I left school and now are extremely rare. But still even if they came back tomorrow, I would still keep getting up and getting ready to do whatever they don't want me to. After all, it's my life and I will be damned if panic gets to tell me what I can and can't do.

I learned a great deal from all of this crappy anxiety stuff. I learned that I can do more than I ever thought I could. That sometimes just having the will to fight is a win in itself. To never give up. To never blame myself and to always believe in myself.  I am many things but broken isn't one of them.

Neurotic Nelly

Saturday, February 22, 2014


It occurs to me that because of the media portrayal of OCD that many think we enjoy our compulsions, our issues, our attempt to control our surroundings. I find it painful and frustrating that this is how people see us. Further frustrating to me  is when the idea is reiterated by people calling themselves OCD in general reference to being neat and tidy or organized.  It makes what we as sufferers go through seem trivial and promotes more misunderstanding of the condition.

The big difference to being just quirky or extremely retentive, is that those people take pleasure in being those things. It is an enjoyment to those who color code their shirts in a closet or arrange their pens in order from biggest to smallest. It becomes a sense of pride for them. Away to be different.

As sufferers, we don't want to be different. We don't like to feel ostracized and odd. No one takes pleasure in being OCD, at least no one that has OCD does. It isn't something that feels good or makes you happy. There is no joy or satisfaction when it comes to the rituals, mental or otherwise, that we do. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Unlike our quirky counterparts that claim to be OCD, we do not want to do these things. We would rather be normal. The kicker being,  we can never be normal. So, in fear of living in rejection, we mock being normal to the rest of the world. We pretend and we have become masters at it. Unlike people that think they are OCD and aren't, we don't love to tell people the truth. We don't tend to celebrate our rituals and triggers. Our truth is often times too painful for that. Most people don't even know that we do suffer from OCD. We don't have that sense of being safe because of it.

I can tell you what we do have. We have a sense of shame. A sense of overwhelming guilt. A sense of being different and wrong. We know what we do is weird. We know that our rituals and thoughts make no sense and are irrational. It's part of what makes having OCD so scary. We are aware that our minds are broken and our perceptions are faulty. We have a sense of being judged. We have a sense of being poked fun at, misunderstood, and rejected. And we now have a sense of people using our debilitating devastating illness as fodder to explain away why they like things orderly. I can't tell you how many times I have heard," Everyone has a little OCD."


So, everyone has unwanted violent/sexual/blasphemous thoughts running through their heads 24/7? Everyone is worried about accidentally poisoning their loved ones by not washing their hands enough? Everyone has issues with triggers? Everyone is afraid if they don't touch the doorknobs twenty seven times that their family will die horribly in an accident and it all depends on how many times they touch that door knob correctly? Everyone has other OCD spectrum disorders like pulling out their hair, repeating themselves, starving themselves? Everyone has this? I had no idea. Or how about scrubbing the floor to the point of damaging the tile, or scrubbing the tables till the finish is gone? Or hoarding so much stuff that your house could be condemned? What about the picking your skin till it bleeds? Or washing your hands till they are raw and burning? Hating yourself because you feel ugly and your body seems out of proportion? What about being afraid you will hurt the ones to love because you see it in your head and so you avoid them because you are scared what the OCD shows you could become a reality? Even though you know it wont and yet you are still terrified.

Does any of this seem enjoyable or exciting?

You see we don't do our rituals or compulsions because we like them. We do them because the OCD makes us. We do them to prevent the anxiety provoking thoughts. We do it to control our environment because our minds are going crazy and we just want one thing to feel like it's going right. We want a day without triggers and since that isn't going to happen, we do things other people don't understand. IT then gets misrepresented and we end being the butt of everyone's jokes or worse yet we have our mental illness associated with being anal retentive or being treated as if it something small and quirky.

It's not small and quirky. It is not less important than other mental illnesses, and sadly it isn't less deadly either. People with untreated OCD can become suicidal. People assume that OCD centers around what the media has presented as our most common symptoms and they are wrong. That is not what OCD looks like nor is it what it does to us.

And just to add two more recent examples of just how wrong OCD depictions can be I would like to offer up these two tidbits:

On the soap opera Days of Our Lives, the character Nicole was talking about a doctor and referred to him as being "the typical OCD" because he kept impeccable paper work and wrote lists...

On the popular television show Grey's Anatomy, the writers gave a beloved character MIranda OCD tendencies by making her repeatedly twitch her fingers and needing everything in place...not because she was born that way or had OCD tendencies before but because she had a trauma happen to her.....

If we were to go by those two depictions we would think OCD is about making lists and being organized and about keeping everything in place while twitching your fingers.

Nowhere is there talk about intrusive thoughts or images. Nor is there an implication that OCD is generally thought to be a genetic or hereditary, not trauma induced as Grey's has implied.

It's frustrating to watch the mental illness that has haunted me for over 31 years being used as entertainment value. I mean, if you are going to go there, then please actually go there and get your facts straight first. Portray OCD as it really is and not how you want it to be. Show it as a agonizing illness that steals away bits of your soul a day at a time. Show the therapy involved to deal with it. Show how it affects our loved ones and family. Show how it forms and grows. And make damn sure that you show how OCD really is and not just the stereotypical symptoms that many of us don't even have.

I am all for showing it and bringing out to the public, but do it right. Show that it is a hereditary mental illness. Show that it is an anxiety disorder. Show that it isn't about organization, washing hands, and making lists.

Represent us but represent us in true form. Represent us as strong intelligent individuals that suffer from something we don't enjoy. Something we know is wrong with us. Something we are trying to live with every day. Represent us fully and unequivocally as who we are not just what makes t.v. more interesting.

Please stop taking our mental illness and making it into something it's not. It's not fun. It's not cute. It's not amusing when you are the one suffering from it. We deserve better than a general mention and a goofy context that is completely wrong, and hurtful at the same time.

Until next time,
Neurotic Nelly

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


It's there. Beneath the skin. Pulsing and pounding. Stretching and vying for a better hold. The anxiety. This damned feeling of ever present dread. And I don't know why. It hovers in the background like that forgotten something that I just can't quite put my finger on. OCD is like that sometimes. Not a conscious feeling but more of a subconscious guilt. A haunting of my soul. A mist of my mind. A deep fog that settles over everything I touch and see, making it impossible to breathe. I can't see it or smell it. I can't taste it or touch it with my hands but make no mistake, it is there. Lurking. Waiting. Stalking me.

It bothers me. The repetitive thoughts and notions. The overwhelming guilt associated with it. The unwanted images. The disturbing thoughts. The loudness in my head. The coppery taste of fear. The rapid heart beat. The sinking feeling of guilt that churns in the pit of my stomach. Always the feeling that somehow I have done something wrong........or worse, that somehow I am responsible for something bad happening.

If I had a quarter for every time someone has told me I am repeating myself, I would give Bill Gates a run for his money. I hate that. The notion that the fact that I can not simply just let things go, annoys people. I am not trying to annoy. I just can't help it. I can't let the subject go until I feel that I have been heard. Sometimes, not even then. I feel like the OCD feelings have filled me up to the point of spilling over and so I end up purging. I end up talking about the same things over and over again. Each time hoping that this time, finally, the bad feelings will ebb away. That I have released the OCD demon and can breathe again.

I wonder if other people understand me. I wonder if they understand the need to talk about the same things are a way to get them out. Set the creatures loose. That those conversations are the verbal equivalent of sticking my fingers down my throat to expel the guilt, shame, frustration, and pain. that they are me purging. I don't repeat myself because I forgot the things I said. I do it to be able to forget and move on to something else.

It is frustrating to talk and talk and talk and feel like I am being tuned out. I know that I have said these things a million times but until I feel the relief then I have to say them again. I need to feel like what I say has been heard. I know that's hard to do. To listen to someone go on and on and on about the same crap. I have OCD, I am not delusional. I know that I repeat myself. Sometimes, it is because I feel I wasn't really listened to. Sometimes, it is because the person I am talking to is bobbing there head up and down like they are paying attention but their eyes hold the thousand yard stare. Sometimes, it is simply because the feeling of the purge hasn't happened yet. I still feel too full of the negative, debilitating, taint and can't shake loose of the feeling of anxiety.

Only then can I enjoy a few moments of relief. Until something else pops up. Then I am sure I will have to talk about that as well...repeatedly.

Being repetitive is a part of having OCD. It is it's calling card, if you will. If we do something, you can bet we are going to do it again....and again...and again. It's all part of the illness and as frustrating as it is for you to have to hear it, it is even more frustrating for us to have to do it. Frustrating and painful. Devastating and often times lonely. Like ripping the scabs off of old wounds only to re bandage them again. So if someone with OCD wants or needs to readdress a subject you have already discussed, please take a moment and think about how hard it is for them to have to go over it again for the sixteenth time with the anxiety building each time. We don't enjoy it. We don't want to do it. We just want relief and if at all possible, a tad bit of understanding.

Until next time,
Neurotic Nelly

Monday, February 17, 2014

OCD Woes...

So today, I got new carpet installed; which was terrific. Terrific until the installer tried to vacuum afterwards. I say tried because what followed could be called many things, but vacuuming probably wouldn't be one of them. You could have called it combing the carpet. Maybe slightly sucking up the carpet, but to actually refer to it as vacuuming would be a lie and go against all that is holy about the whole process of sucking up bits of trash and dirt with a machine. And yes, this post will be about vacuuming because I have OCD and I detest anyone cleaning in any form in my house. Because I feel like I have to do it myself. Because I feel there is a certain process and to not do it in that order makes it seem as if it is not clean. Because the saying, "it doesn't matter how you get it done as long as it gets done," may be an actual truth with the complete exception of trying to clean an OCD sufferers home. In which case it does matter how you do it, and it is not truly clean to them if you stray from that process....

It is apparently in the contract to vacuum up all the tiny tidbits after installation. I tried to tell him I was more than happy to do it myself. My husband even tried to explain it to him, but to no avail. He had to do it and what followed was an anxiety level like I haven't dealt with in awhile.

I was excited when he came from the truck toting my exact vacuum model. This may not be so bad, I thought. I mean, I have had other people help me clean before and although I had hated every stinking second of it, I made it through and really how bad could it be?

Firstly, he missed whole sections and the beautiful marks the vacuum made where all out of line and every which way. He ran it over the carpet not with a passion like I do but more like someone who finds vacuuming tedious, And I don't blame him for that. Most people hate to vacuum. I on the other hand, was extremely excited to get vacuum it for the first time. I looked forward to the possibility of it, like a child looks forward to getting an ice cream cone on Sunday. I was so stoked. Yes, I am aware that makes me weird and no I don't care how that makes me sound.

If the anxiety of the way he vacuumed wasn't bad enough, I realized that the vacuum dustbin was overfilled. It was making the high pitched whine that a too full vacuum makes as it struggles to suck dirt in and has no where to store it. Just watching it no longer able to spin the dirt around in the tunnel was enough to drive my nerves into a frenzy. I had visions of myself walking up to him, unplugging the thing, ripping out the dustbin and emptying it and putting back together, and plugging it back in without saying a word. I wanted to. I really did, but who does that, seriously? So instead, I refused to look at it. I refused to watch the vacuum massacre going on in my living room and instead bit my lip until I tasted blood. It would all be over soon, I told myself. Then I could whip out my vacuum and do it properly after he left. My husband just watched me and patted my hand. He knows how much other people cleaning in my house bothers me.

And so this is the problem. I don't want other people to "tidy up" in my home. I am totally uncomfortable with it. I wanted him to just leave it and let me do it. However, some people
have complained before if they leave bits of carpet fibers around after they install the carpet. Seriously, why? Why complain about something so minor as that?

The installers were highly professional and did amazing work in a really short time. My husband even called the store to compliment the installers for the excellent work they did. I hope they get rewarded or something, because they really deserve it. My issue is that because of my mental illness, getting people to do not do things that make me very uncomfortable can be impossible. My husband even told them that I had OCD and preferred them not to vacuum. They didn't understand or they weren't allowed to not vacuum and that kinda bothers me. I know the world doesn't revolve around me and my illness but on the other hand, I really wish people understood more about OCD and how debilitating it can be. Even with something as small as a carpet installer vacuuming after he installs it.....

The carpet looks marvelous and I am really happy with it. My whole family is. I even was thrilled with the installers. I am just not thrilled with my OCD but there isn't much I can do about that, I guess. I did vacuum it properly as soon as they were out the door. My cats love the carpet too.

Mr.H loves laying on the new carpet. Yes, I know he is fat. We got him that way. Lol.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I Did Not Panic.....Sorta.

Sorry I seem to be writing later and later on my usual writing days. I have been down a computer and four people sharing two computers has severely limited my ability to write on schedule. Thankfully, I have ordered a new one, so hopefully I will be back up and running more efficiently sooner rather than later.

Everyone in my house is sick..... I did not panic. No, as usual I whipped out the Lysol spray and anointed the house with it's holy germ killing properties. I scrubbed the handles and knobs. I wiped down the light switches and keyboards. I was convinced I would eradicate what can only be described as the Flaming Gungamo.

It first started when my husband got home. Stuffy nose, fever, and just in general feeling like hell. Sweaty exhausted heap of a man just desperately trying to breathe through his nose.....Out came the anti-bacterial gel....I did not panic.

Then my oldest was struck down. He now makes a high pitched whistle when he tries to breathe through his nose. (I wonder if the neighbor's dogs can hear it?) No amount or decongestant or blowing his nose seems to help. He feels tired and cranky and horrid...I started dolling out medications and home made chicken soup like consolation prizes....I did not panic.

Then my youngest said he felt bad....and still I did not panic, sorta. I got this, I thought. I can clean it away. I can degerm my home. I can spray all of it away with cleaners and I....don't let them breathe on me and I wash my hands often enough....and so far it has worked. Until tonight. When my oldest coughed in my face. Now I'm screwed.

I tend to be over dramatic. It's a charming quality, I think, except when it's not. And now is not the time to be all theatrical, but I can't help but feel like I am going down like it's 1340 and my house is infested with fleas carried on rats. Yes, that was a Bubonic Plague reference. As I look at my family dropping like flies around me, I get a sense of how horrible that must have been. I mean, my family is just dropping like flies onto the couch and into their beds with the common cold...I can't imagine how painfully devastating it was for those that lived through the Black Plague.

Not so fun fact: it is believed to have killed 45-50% of the European population in a four year period......and people wonder why I am terrified of germs.

And I am not just terrified of germs or the Bubonic Plague. I am terrified of all sickness. You name it, I am petrified that is out there, lurking in the shadows, waiting....Some people are afraid of horror movie villains.  Ax wielding murderers hiding in the attic....I am afraid of a cold. Ebola, Aids, Gangrene, Tuberculous, Meningitis, Staph infections, the Flu, hell allergies even. Yea, I said it. I am afraid of allergies. I mean, since we are being honest here, I am pretty much scared of every single illness, bacteria infested, germ laden thing out there. Terrified. Petrified. Consumed by the fear. It dwells in my everyday thoughts. It floats around in my brain when I am walking to the bus stop, to the mail box, to the store.

I don't want to touch things. I don't want to breathe the air near strangers. I have seriously asked my husband if I had asked for a gas mask and those 3 inch thick rubber gloves people use when dealing with toxic chemicals, if I would have gotten them...Ya , know because I would have been over the moon for something like that. It wouldn't go over well at parties or the dinner table, but you have to start somewhere, right?

I get the feeling like I am being tainted or infected constantly when I go out. When I touch something my mind deems it to be dirty. Sometimes it is a table, a hand rail, a door knob. Sometimes it is simply the air I am walking in.....I mean, how is the air dirty? I know that  it isn't rational and yet here I am. Wishing I had that gas mask I saw at that army surplus store in the flea market four months ago....

If I had the mask, my oldest would have coughed on it instead of my face, and this disjointed post would have never been written and I wouldn't be doomed to wallow on the couch for the next three days whistling through my nose and feeling like I was hit by a bus....Oh well, you can't win everything can you?

Till next time, stay safe, have a good day, and wear a gas mask if you have one....lest you end up like me. Crazy and now infected by the Flaming Gungamo...

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy Heart Day Everyone!!!

Happy Heart Day, everyone....

I know that for many of us Valentine's Day is a great a day. A day filled with chocolates (that I can't have :(...), flowers, possibly jewelry, at the very least a card or home made valentine. It is a day to celebrate love and being loved. The joy of buying those adorable valentine's cards for your child's school classmates and sloppily writing their name on them because they have decided their arm is too tired after signing the first three, or as in the case in my house the twenty two valentines we made by hand. Decorated little hearts with bright colors only achieved by crayolas with the paper torn off and love.

But for some, it is just another day. And yet somehow even is a day that seems to force the idea that if you do not receive such gifts that you are somehow unworthy. Somehow less. Maybe even somehow unlovable. A day where many feel left out, depressed, and in a lot of cases, lonely. For many Valentine's day is just another day to further prove how alone they really are.....And it sucks.

Having a mental illness is rarely something that makes us feel like we special. It can make us feel odd. It can make us feel misunderstood. And in some cases it can make us feel like we are damaged or broken. Really it is just the self hate talking, but many times we feel like we are so messed up, so royally defunct that we are not just weird or "off" but also unlovable. And that is just not the truth. Holiday's like Christmas and Valentine's Day are supposed to embody family, relationships, and comfort. But what if you have none of those things? What if those relationships are almost nonexistent? Those family ties strained? That comfort as foreign as a snowball floating around in Hell? What then?

Walking down the street and being forced to see brightly painted decorations and huge billboards filled with happy smiles and kisses can have the opposite affect than intended. Instead of laughter and joy, it can bring pain and sorrow...and yes even loneliness too.

I have grown to dislike Valentine's day. I mean, I love the cards that we handmake but I detest the commercial side of it. I loath the idea that one must receive a gift to prove that they are loved. I despise the ridiculous force fed notion that one day a year is when we show others our compassion and our appreciation. I hate that commercials and billboards and ready made cards in bulk are what  Valentine's Day has become. Not really, a day of romance or love but a day to buy and produce your offerings up to your loved ones like a sacrificial lamb. Like some atonement. Almost like a bribe.  I have come to the realization that I don't need Valentine's Day to know that my family cares. I get that every day when I tuck my children into bed at night. When I have share a quiet morning with my husband and a good cup of coffee before we wake the kids for school. Every time I speak to a loved one or spend time with a friend. I have come to beleive that as Valentine's Day becomes more about keeping up the Jones's that we lose the beauty of what it used to be. What it was supposed to be. A day you take time to celebrate your love and respect, not with shiny baubles and over priced chocolate, but with paper doilies, markers, construction paper, and a glue stick. With hand written poems that are heart warming because they were written for you, no matter how horrible they are written. Heart shaped cookies baked for the kids with those silly red and white sprinkles. Time spent together without the forethought that this is what must be done for a successful Valentine's Day. I want none of that. I want my family around me because they want to be, not because that is what a jewelry company dictates.

And as this holiday continues to grow more and more about buying and less about taking time and thoughtfully creating, I am struck by how hard it must be that if the media says you don't get these things or do these things then you are less than. Unloved. Unlovable. And it bothers me.

We as sufferers really don't need that kind of tripe dangled under our noses, we already tend to feel negative things about our situations. Not all of the time, but man, when it hits hard.

So I propose something I like better than one day of fruitless jargon and overspending. I propose that for now on I will not buy into the notion that gifts prove your worth or your "loveability"  as it were. I propose that instead of telling those that we care about how much we love them on one day, we strive to do it everyday. And why stop there? I propose that we go out of our way to be caring and supportive to other people as well. I propose that instead of buying things like chocolates or cards in bulk, we sit down and actually make something. Something that we think long and hard about. Something that we spend time on and not just go the easy way out and go buy it. And that we give it to each other for no reason! Except that we want to show our appreciation. Our respect. Our love.

I propse that one day a year is simply not enough. There are millions of people in this world and one day just doesn't cut it. I propse that we show our love and appreciation everyday and not call it something that has been sullied with commercialization and profit. I propse that we call it something more meaningful, like Heart Day. Because what we make and give and feel come from the heart not the pocketbook.

I propose that we all stop letting the media and large corporations tell us how to feel and when to feel it and that those of us that are single are losers, those of us that suffer from issues are unloved, and that those of us who do not go out and buy buy buy don't care enough. It's crap. All of it.

So since everyday is Heart Day for me, I would like to say this to all of those alone, all of those feeling lost and lonely, all of those that feel defunct and damaged....No one is unlovable. No one. It doesn't matter what the adds say or the commercials spew out. It doesn't matter what some asshat has said to you growing up, or some jerkface whispered behind your back at the coffee shop. It doesn't matter what you think of yourself when you look in the mirror. It doesn't matter if you never fit in. If your never felt like you were enough. If you never have had any kind of relationship that you could trust. It doesn't matter what color you are, what dress size you wear, what religion you are, or how many mental issues you have......Everyone.....Everyone is lovable. Everyone deserves respect, compassion, and kindness. Everyone deserves to be told that they matter and they are valid. Everyone deserves a heart day, not just today but everyday.

So, in keeping with that......HAPPY HEART DAY, EVERYONE!

Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Here's For Hoping Anyway...

I am back. Sorry for not writing on Saturday but I really needed the time off to reflect on things. Loss in the family, mental stressers, things I needed to do at home. This last week has been really trying for me. I have felt overwhelmed, sad, and a little apprehensive. My writer's block came back and well, I just decided to wait until I could form my thoughts on paper better. So I am back and I thank you all for being patient with me.

I am hating this weather. The ice and snow has made it almost impossible to do anything or go anywhere. The salt used to melt the snow is tracked all over the place, mainly through my living room. It is almost as if everyone in the world has stepped in rock salt and took a quick once over in my home. It is slowly driving me insane. I sweep. I mop. I vacuum. I sweep. I mop. I get the picture.

Then there is the dirty baseboards that are the thing of my nightmares. They are old and marred. Covered in decades of bad paint choices. No matter what I do, they refuse to clean up or even to remotely appear that way. I know that most people don't look at baseboards but I am not most people and I can't look away from their ugliness. It haunts me like a bad B movie.  It is just like a horror flick except instead of Freddy Kruger waving around his glorified razor glove,  it is a dirty baseboard flailing it's dented arms at me laughing in high pitched creaks and pointing at me accusingly.

 I am planning to fix my dining room into a formal dining room. Something that I have always wanted. A nice table to sit with the family and discuss the day over spaghetti and meatballs or homemade chicken noodle soup. A beautiful pace to have Christmas dinner and Thanksgiving at. A place that makes me feel proud and not embarrassed. You see, I have a tendency to only see the imperfections. I notice what others do not. I can not simply enjoy the meal I have with family when I see smudges on the wall or a dirty wood floor that is desperately crying out for carpet. I can't truly be present in the conversation if I am subconsciously thinking about all of the unfinished things in my home.

And it has become quiet a double edged sword. I love to design interiors. I love antique and vintage pieces, mixed with some newer pieces. I love bold paint colors and warm reds and soft grays. I love everything about designing a room in my home. And because I have OCD I get caught up in it. I end up ruminating on it over and over and over and over again. Do I want this paint color or this one? I search google for images of the look I want to achieve. I greedily read articles about whatever aesthetic I am going for. I am constantly obsessing over it.

In a way I find it helpful to have this as a distraction. If I am obsessing over paint colors and baseboards then I do not have time to obsess over intrusive thoughts. I am not able to think about my deep sadness of a loved one passing, or listen to my OCD trigger about germs and contamination in the middle of flu season. If I cant quiet my mind enough to sleep, I can go through every change I want to make in my house, in minute detail until I fall asleep. It allows me to block all of the bad and hold onto happy exciting things, like making the improvements I have always wanted to do.

Then again, my constant questioning and rumination over such minor things can be irritating and annoying to those closest around me. I can end up talking about the same paint colors ten times before I realize what I am doing. I can debate over which rug to use or where to place the furniture for hours. Because OCD is very much a disorder that just can't let anything go or let anything rest, I am almost always ruminating about something. It is the ravenous beast that must be fed constantly.

I am excited to start painting and fixing the things I have obsessed about fixing for the last few days. I can't wait to do it. I can't wait to see the finished project. In fact, unlike the negative things I have ruminated over, I find ruminating about these things quiet nice. I like to plan, after all, and rumination allows me to plan well in advance and in great detail. Being creative has always been an extremely important outlet to release my anxiety, my doubts, my fears, my emotional stability, and to create the peaceful moments that I so desperately need in times like this. I need to get my hands dirty. I need to change something around me to break up the monotony. I need to escape for a few minutes into the creative side of my brain and abandon the logical, hardwired, unforgiving OCD side of my brain. If only for a few moments.

I have been feeling so down lately. Not a depression, just a numb kind of acceptance. I am happy to finally be excited about something again after a week of feeling lethargic and hollowed out.  Excited that I am finally coming out of the fog and back into my original spunky self. I mean, I am still sad at the passing of my Aunt and am still dealing with that but I am no longer an emotional zombie walking around with my mouth agape and my eyes droopy with exhaustion from crying.

Tomorrow I paint, and then new carpet, and then new baseboards! Yay!!!! I am hoping that this excitement will help keep me away from the negative feelings and depression. I have already started to clean with a gusto like I used to. Which is a good thing, because you can't let yourself get too far behind living with four cats, a man, and two boys. That's a recipe for a cat hair covered, bomb of toys going off in the living room,  dirty laundry on the floor that failed to make it to the laundry chute kind of disaster. And trust me, no one wants that.... I am hoping that by replacing my sad ruminations or painful intrusive thoughts with ideas on how to improve my dwelling, it will help save me from the funk I have been in and keep me from plunging down the rabbit whole any further. I am hoping that a couple of  Valspar paint cans and this nifty and thrifty chandelier I found to jazz up the place, will help keep me occupied while I am at this vulnerable state. I am hoping the new carpet will allow me to quit seeing every imperfection of my unfinished hardwood floor. That new baseboards will let me finally concentrate on the things that matter most, like family. I am hoping that the antique dining table I got for a freaking steal will ease the worries about not spending enough time with my kids and husband. Ease the anxiety that we may have become disconnected somehow between all of the computer games and cell phone texts. That I can finally let go of the fear that I am missing out on their daily events because we don't eat together at a big table and talk, like I did when I was their age. I am hoping that all of these small improvements will make our house feel more like a home. Our home. And that we will feel peaceful and safe and at ease because we have taken the time to make it as comfortable as possible. Maybe it is silly to think that way. Maybe it is unhealthy to obsess over paint colors and carpet textures. Maybe it is, but then I would rather ruminate on something that doesn't involve me feeling tons of guilt for something I didn't even do, or can't help, or don't want; than on something harmless like house improvements. It may very well be silly. It may be odd. It may be just be the proverbial putting lipstick on a pig, but right now it is what is keeping me functional. You know, dreams and wishes, and what have you. Hope is a powerful thing. You have to have hope to dream. And having and believing in your dreams can get you through almost anything.

 Creating, designing, and crafts have always helped to calm me and keep me focused. I am hoping that this will do the same. Here's for hoping anyway....

Until next time,
Neurotic Nelly

Monday, February 3, 2014

She Could Fly...

Sunday was a sad day for me. I have been trying to figure out how to deal with this issue. How to get out my pain. How to honor someone who meant a great deal to me. You see, Sunday my Aunt died.

To start her story I have to go back to a time when not a whole lot was known about birth defects. My Aunt was born with Cerebral Palsy. Unable to speak, walk, or have full use of her hands. Unable to do many of the things most of us take for granted everyday.  Her family was told that they didn't know how long she would live. As it turned out my Aunt proved their assumptions wrong. She not only lived, she lived happily, strong, and full of laughter for fifty nine years.

Looking back in my memories of her, I can remember many things. I remember her struggles to use her hands. Her struggles to point to a board that had words on it to say what she wanted. Her struggles to go out and not be stared at. But I also remember something else. Aunt Debbie's strength.

She wasn't just a person with a disability, she was a whirlwind of laughter and joy. She had the brightest smile. A great sense of humor. She loved animals and children. She loved music and bowling. She loved life and when I think of Debbie I can hear her laughter in my head. She had quite possibly, the biggest most fullest laugh that I have ever heard. One of those infectious laughs that once you heard it you started to laugh as well. She was like that. Infectious with her joy.

She faced obstacles and judgments I am sure. I am sure she was stared at and possibly even pitied by those that didn't know better. What those people failed to understand is that Aunt Debbie wasn't someone to pity, she was someone to look up to. She was able to look at life in a way that most of us never do. She was able to see joy in the little things. The things we take for granted everyday. A child's laughter, a small breeze, a butterfly landing on your shoulder. Things we overlook because we are to busy trying to achieve whatever we think is so important that we fail to see that the big achievements aren't what makes us who we are. What makes you who you are, what  is important are the little things you do in life. The things you take time out for. The things you really look at and appreciate. Aunt Debbie was more aware of this world than we ever gave ourselves the chance to be, because we surround ourselves with excuses not to. We are too busy, we will do it tomorrow, we will procrastinate and look at that sunset later on, when we have more time. She didn't hesitate or procrastinate. She took joy in every moment.

One of the biggest most vivid memories I have of my Aunt was the first time I saw her participate in the Special Olympics. She and another woman were in the wheelchair race. I am sure she had been told many times that she would never walk. That she would never be able to to run. That racing would be something she would never achieve. Instead of listening to that, instead of giving up, she raced. She was laughing all the way to finish line. She was beautiful and graceful as she glided down the race track as fast as her wheels would carry her. I think that is when I first realized what a strong woman she was. That she ignored what people said she was capable of and not capable of and just did what she wanted to do. She did what she wanted. She believed in herself.

I don't remember the whole day or every course that she participated in. What I do remember is that race. Her race. That was the moment I realized with the wind blowing through her hair and the smile beaming on her face that a  girl in a wheelchair didn't have to be able to run to fly.  She only had to believe in herself, spread her wings, and laugh all the way down the race track. That is when I realized my Aunt wasn't special because she was disabled, she was special because she refused to let it stop her from living the life she wanted. In my small child's brain I saw her for the first time, as not just someone who had to work three times as hard to do the things everyone else takes for granted but that my Aunt did something no one else knew how to do. She knew how to live unedited. She knew how to give everything she had. She knew how to fly. And I was certain as she flew down that race track that she was a miracle. A miracle person that had a superpower. She was strong, funny, beautiful, and she could fly right in the face of everything others had said she would never be able to do. Her superpower was faith in herself. Stubbornness in what she wanted, and strength in her ability to live happily no matter the obstacles she encountered. She did those things regardless and she did them with a flare that showed just what an amazing person she was. Although I am sure she never really knew it, my Aunt Debbie was in many ways after that day, my hero. A humble hero that never knew how that one race changed my outlook on things.

To say everything that spending time with my Aunt taught me would take hours, days, months, years even but I will leave you with a few things that she taught me without ever uttering a word. Things I think, have helped me to grow not only as a person but a person that struggles with a mental illness. Things that she obviously knew and things that we all tend to take for granted or simply don't take time out for because we always expect them to be waiting for us tomorrow.

Life is precious. How you treat others in the face of adversity is what defines you as a person. Hardships and struggles are a part of life but there is always tomorrow and tomorrow can always be better. Believe in yourself. Be stubborn and never give up. Love with all of your heart. Take pleasures in the small tings in life. Admire the butterflies, smell the roses, listen to the sound of your loved one's laughter and laugh with them. Love deeply, Smile freely, and Laugh often. Be proud of all you have accomplished. Look for tomorrow but always be present in today. Go bowling. Do things that make you happy. Never allow your disability to make you give up. And maybe most importantly......Never let anyone tell you that you can't fly.

Rest in peace Aunt Debbie. I will always remember you and all of the laughter you brought to my life. And when I think of you I will always see you as you were that day with the wind blowing through your hair and the smile on your face...and I know that is an accurate depiction because I know that now you don't need the racetrack anymore, you fly with the angels.

Neurotic Nelly