Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I Am Howard Hughes...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neurotic Nelly


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

This Burden....

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

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

This burden has become too heavy and exhausting.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Insomnia and Being A PureO.....

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

Insomnia blows.

I am so tired right now.

I will get over it, probably.

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

Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Why OCD Is Not Funny....

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

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

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

So, here goes nothing...

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

Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


" Sometimes the people around you won't understand your journey. They don't need to, it's not for them." -Anonymous

         Deflected. That is what it feels like when someone makes excuses to not sympathize with how you are feeling. I get irritated when someone assumes that because I am upset about something, that it is because of my mental illness. As if, I am not allowed to have true feelings unless it is related to my OCD. Like somehow my OCD means that I can not truthfully be angry or hurt. It matters not what has transpired during my day or what situation I am facing. Crying or showing otherwise perfectly normal emotional responses to something is thrown back in my face because, surely it is my mental illness's fault and not because I am truly upset over something. It can't be because I had a shitty day. It has to be because I have OCD. And since I do have OCD, my feelings are just overreactions. My diagnosis has fundamentally colored the way I am perceived. And I am apparently perceived as someone who can not feel unless my mental illness is dictating it.

I know it may be hard to believe, but just like everyone else I am a human being. And being a human means that on occasion, I actually have human feelings. And they can be trampled on or hurt. (Go figure.)

         Few things hurt  more than when I am discussing my feelings on something and someone's response to it, is that I need to get back on my medicine. (I have medication resistant OCD). I don't think it is meant to be insulting on purpose but it is insulting all the same.  What you may be saying is that I am really passionate about whatever we are talking about or that I am really upset, but what I hear is the soft click of the door of communication as it closes tightly shut behind me. What I hear is that you do not care about my feelings. What I hear is that you can not get on my level and understand where I am coming from. What I hear is that my opinion is not important and my feelings are annoying and should be kept to myself, lest I bother anyone else with them. You may not know it, but these few simple words have effectively swept my emotions under the heavily stained, moth eaten carpet that everyone has trampled and wiped their dirt covered feet on.  It pushes my feelings away and crushes them down. Leaving me to feel misunderstood, extremely frustrated, unbelievably isolated, a tad bit devastated, and just plain sad. No one likes to feel ignored or swept aside and it is no different for those of us that suffer from mental illness.

       Even when I was on medication, if I had a moment when I was struggling or upset with something that had nothing to do with my mental illness at all, I would be asked, "Did you take your meds today?"

       I wanted to scream,"What the hell does my medication have to do with the validation of how I am feeling? Is it not possible for you to see me as a whole person? To see me as someone who is hurting? What does it matter even if it is my mental illness making me feel this way, are my emotions any less important? Any less valid? Do I not still feel them just as deeply? Why are my emotions ignored and overlooked and dismissed just because I suffer?"

I want to yell these things, but I usually end up just ending the conversation. Because once my feelings have been rebuffed by someone, I have a very hard time trusting that someone with them again.

        I can not begin to tell you how incredibly hurtful the medication question is. If you really think about it, it is more of a statement rather than a question. It says you are judging me. It says, albeit subtly and well hidden, that I don't have a right to have feelings let alone express them because they clearly aren't real. It implies that no one that has mental illness has any real emotions. They are a figment of our fractured minds and therefore do not need to be validated or listened to. They are immediately suspect and mistrusted. They are almost always looked at with a wary eye and a half closed ear.

        I mean yes, sometimes my mental illness affects my mood or causes me to react a certain way. But that is not every single time I feel an emotion. When someone has been a complete asshat to me and it hurts my feelings, I get pissed. I do not get pissed because I have OCD. I get pissed because someone has been a complete asshat to me and has hurt my feelings. I should not have to explain that. I should not have to validate that to someone else. I have a right to feel the way I feel about things.

 We are not emotional zombies. We are people.

       Asking me if I have taken my pills when I am upset makes me feel like I have to constantly validate my feelings when I feel them. It makes me start to feel as if I am not trustworthy of my own emotions. Like somehow, I am defunct and incapable. That my feelings are not important on the basis that I am mentally ill and because of that, those feelings have no merit.  Your feelings count and are treated as such. So should ours.  There shouldn't be this overwhelming need to explain why we aren't faking it or not overreacting. There should be no long drawn out explanation we have to give every time we are upset by something. Our feelings matter and they are very real to us. That should be more than good enough for everyone else.

         Somehow people with mental illness are always asked to defend how they feel about something and I hate that. I hate that I have to feel like my emotions are not my own and it is okay for them to be sterilized and whitewashed over simply because I have OCD.  My feelings are not a old barn door that needs to be reclaimed and painted over. They are not grimy bed linens that need to be washed clean with bleach. They are not distasteful and something to look down upon. They are simply feelings. Not something to be scrubbed away or sanitized.  Being told I need to water down my emotions when I am hurting is total bullshit and I vehemently resent it.

We are not exempt from feeling things. We are no different than anyone else.

            I am not asking you to understand every single thing we feel. We don't expect that from you. What I am asking is that you be compassionate. That you be kind. That you listen without ridicule or judgement. That you offer support just as we do you when you are upset or hurting. That is all I want. That is all any of us want. It really isn't that complicated. We just want to be heard. We just want to not have our feelings glossed over, ignored, omitted, or have them remain unvalidated. No one deserves to remain unvalidated.

You wouldn't like if we treated you like your views and emotions were pointless, so please don't do that to us either,

Neurotic Nelly