Saturday, November 28, 2015

Bah Humbug...Bah Higgins.....

          Thanksgiving dinner went fantastic. All of my food was great and I finally broke my five year turkey dressing curse in which I have bought stove top as a back up for my mad scientist concoctions of dressing recipes which have all been ultimate failures every year. Inedible bricks. Gross slop in a bowl. Unappealing mushes. Tasteless fluffs. Terrible tongue torturers. This year my sister gave me our old family recipe and it turned out delicious. I am beyond stoked. The curse has broken and all is right in the Thanksgiving world of breads, dressings, and stuffings. I can now officially reclaim my southern woman card now that I can make great dressing and sometimes my homemade gravy is actually edible. Sigh....

.................Now we wait for Christmas to arrive.

              As I brushed my cats tonight, I had a realization. Hobbs loves to be brushed. Lola is over excited when combed. They will actually chase me around the couch if they see me with their brush in my hands. In anticipation of all of the scratches and scrubs the brush gives them, they will flop on the floor and rub their fat fur bodies all over the carpet. But my cat Higgins hates to be brushed. He eyes it with a wariness only those who know the betrayal of a glove of soft rubber bristles will understand. He hides from it. He gives you the stink eye when you edge ever so closely to comb his unruly mane. Brushes are Higgin's number one enemy. Though I have no idea why. The brush has never maimed him. It has never scratched him too hard or even pulled a tangle in his fur. Nary even a hair pull, but he mistrusts it. He dreads it. He hates it.

              And it came to me.....there are two types of people in this world when it comes to the holidays. There are the Hobbs and Lola's of the world loving everything Christmas or holiday related. Basking in the l.e.d. glow of Christmas lights and cinnamon scented candles. Rolling around the eggnog flavored beverages on their tongues. Chasing the big hand holding the holiday sale coupons around the block with glee. They watch Christmas movies and make hot chocolate and string popcorn garlands. They love the smell of Christmas trees and delve into wrapping presents with a gusto rivaled only by Martha Stewart on baking and craft day. They relish everything holiday related and everything holiday related makes them feel happy and accomplished and most of all, warm and fuzzy inside. They love Christmas and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

              Then there are the Higgins' of the world. They are mistrusting of the holiday season. It makes them uncomfortable and edgy. They may have very good reasons for feeling this way or absolutely no reason at all but that does not lessen the truth of their feelings. It makes it no easier for them. They may stink eye other's love of holidays or hide from the crowds of caroling masses. They may ignore the friendly holiday greetings or turn away from the numerous three month long commercial adds proclaiming the holidays are soon upon us. Something about this time of year is upsetting to them, or sad to them, or painful for them and they have to go through it anyway because days will pass and Christmas comes once every year. Just like being a cat that needs to be brushed, it is inevitable. There is no true avoidance of it and we should remember to be extra kind to them.

              I am not saying we shouldn't be jubilant and happy around the season of giving and thanks and family. I am saying we should also reach out to the Higgins of the world and see how they are doing because the holidays can be a very stressful time. It can be a very lonely time. It can be a very hopeless time for some.  While we are focused on buying or making our loved ones gifts for the holidays, we should remember that the best gift is caring about someone to begin with, and we should show how much we care by making sure that the Higgins of the world know that they are loved and appreciated and thought of. Especially, when they are struggling just to get by the hardest part of the year when they are grieving, or depressed, or have anxiety issues, or simply have jerk faces for family members.

            When I brush Higgins, I talk to him nicely and I remember to not brush very hard so he isn't more upset. I make sure to comfort him and make him feel safe. Because really, all anybody wants in this great big world is to be loved and appreciated and to feel safe. People really aren't that different from cats.

              So, be happy if you are a Lola or a Hobbs and celebrate but please remember people like Higgins who aren't as excited about the holidays as you are. Let them know you are there for them. Let them know you care and if you can, let them know that you understand the way they feel because there is nothing wrong with not loving the holiday season either.

 My best wishes to all of the Hobbs and Lola's out there and my understanding and best wishes to the Higgins' of the world as well. We will get through this holiday season, one breath at a time just like we always do.

Neurotic Nelly

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hey You.....Yeah You....

         Well, it is that time of year again when turkeys are roasting in the oven and brown sugared sweet potatoes are being mashed and made into gooey marshmallow covered casseroles. It is a time for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and a ton of dishes to clean up afterwards....Yes it's that time again.

          I have read an astronomical amount of " 26 days of Thankfulness" Facebook posts. Actually, if I am being honest, I should say I have scanned over an astronomical amount of "Thankfulness" posts. I tend to not jump in on trends as a general rule. 

          You see, I know what this holiday is supposed to be about and it isn't supposed to be about me and the twenty six things I am thankful for this year. It is supposed to be about the  pilgrims and the Native Americans joining forces as they learned to live together in peace and harmony. That is what those elementary school plays with the construction paper pilgrim hats say it is about, anyway. That relationship of joining forces kinda went south after how badly we treated the Native people a few years after the "historical Thanksgiving" we all think of when we think of this holiday. A fact they seem to omit  in the window displays of the local grocery stores next to the cardboard cut outs of Thanksgiving cornucopias filled with fruits, bread, squash, and goodwill. There is no mention of that when we go out to buy more canned cranberry sauce and five dollar turkey shaped butter sculptures, though I can't imagine why......(sarcasm). 

             It annoys me, this being thankful for twenty six days trend. Like I have to tell the world what I am thankful for or I am not thankful enough for it. Like I am required to participate in something I think somehow sullies my thanks.

             First of all, I do not have to take stock of why I am thankful for twenty six days a year. I do it everyday. Every morning, I wake up and am thankful for my friends and family that stick by me, love me, and put up with me. That isn't a Facebook quota. That isn't one day a year. That is every damn day, because I am very aware that I am blessed to have those people in my life. I could very well have shut myself away and never let anyone in.

                I am thankful for my friends who push me to do better, to try harder, and to believe in my ability to do things. I am thankful that their belief in me has made me learn to believe in myself. I am thankful for this blog and it's amazing readers. I am thankful, whether I loudly shout it from the rooftops for everyone to hear or if I quietly close my eyes and whisper it to an empty room. I am thankful. Trust me...

               The thing is, I don't feel like I need to list all of the things I am thankful about for twenty six days. I don't feel like twenty six simple days could remotely be enough to cover all of the things in life I am thankful for. Because you see, there were times in my life where my depression had made me blind to those things. There were times when my OCD made me deaf to them. There were times when my battle with my mental illness left me too exhausted to focus or see anything else before me but my own pain and struggles. There were times in my life, when it felt as if I lived inside a sensory deprivation tank unable to feel, or smell, or taste, or think unless it was about my intrusive thoughts. Twenty six days of trendy posts on Facebook couldn't possibly explain that. There really isn't any words to properly describe how bright the world is when you have lived most of it in the dark. It can shine so brightly that it hurts your eyes. The light of it can be blinding.

                 Nor is twenty six days enough to tell the world, or in this case fb, how I used to be so ashamed of my imagined faults, that I had zero self esteem. I let people treat me poorly because I thought that was all I deserved. Or how I was lost to myself for years because I was different and I blamed myself for those differences and judged myself too harshly for them. There is not enough Facebook posts to explain how much I despised myself or how much I grieved for the "normal" life that I would never have, when I realized that my OCD would always be a factor in my life. That I would always have it. That there would never be a day that I could simply wash my hair in the shower and it would wash down the drain with the shampoo suds and bits of soap. I am thankful that I no longer dwell in that place of pain and self doubt. Believe me, I am thankful.

                   I guess it bothers me because my thankfulness is very personal to me. I am aware that many people struggle with the things I have struggled with and may not be able to feel thankful about it right now. I want to be compassionate and supportive in that when dealing with life and all of it's curve balls, sometimes it is too hard to see all of the little things in life. Sometimes it is too hard to feel the sun on your face. Sometimes it is too hard to feel anything at all let alone feeling thankful for anything.

                   I don't feel like, what feels almost like bragging to me, is very helpful when so many are really struggling with all of the issues that have come their way. I am in a good place right now, and I am so thankful for it but that doesn't mean I don't understand what it is like when thankfulness seems an impossibility. I don't need to pressure everyone else to feel that way right now, because it is trendy or the thing to do. It doesn't mean that in my thankfulness to be in a better place mentally in my life, I should ignore those that aren't there yet or turn a blind eye to others that are suffering today. I get it, I really do.

I am thankful, yes, but I would rather not engross myself in that as much as spending the time to tell others that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. To let others know that they are not alone in this fight. That one day thankfulness can come into their lives as well. That thankfulness is not just an fb trend but rather something that happens to you when you are ready to see it and feel it and live it. It will come.

So, if this holiday things are not going the way you had hoped, if things are stressing you out, if things in your life seem completely hopeless....please hang on. The world needs you. Your loved ones need you. You are worth so much more than you know. You may not be able to feel or see or hear thankfulness right now, but those that have you in their lives are thankful that you are there. We are all important in this world, no matter our struggles. We are all meant to be here. We all have a place here, even if you can't yet see yours. On this holiday when the world is thankful for everything, I am thankful for you. Because every person on the face of this planet matters. 

Thanksgiving to me, isn't about overpriced turkeys sculpted out of butter, or canned cranberry sauce, or construction paper pilgrim hats. It isn't about all of the things I am thankful for. It isn't about a stupid twenty six day Facebook post. It is about giving to others. So, I drink a toast to you, whoever you are, the person dealing with so much that they just don't know how to feel. I am thankful for you being here on this earth because believe it or not, you are just as important as everyone else. You belong. You matter. You are a magnificent human being. 

Happy Thanksgiving my readers, I hope it is a wonderful holiday for you all.
Neurotic Nelly

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Don't Like The Label....

                   As all human beings are individuals, I don't like the use of labels or umbrella terms describing us as if we are all identical. Living with any illness, be it mental or physical, you are going to have to come to terms with people labeling you to put you in a category with similar people for statistical purposes or to more easily describe to others what you suffer from. You get used to it, and even get used to using these labels when describing yourself. Because it is easier. Because it is common place. Because  like anything else you repeatedly hear and do, it becomes habit.

                  That being said, I have a problem with the term I am supposed to use for my disorder. I have a problem with the term anxiety disorder when describing my OCD. There I said it. Everyone light your torches and get your pitchforks ready...I don't like the label. I can not speak for everyone, I can only attest to my own thirty two years of having OCD and what my opinion is about those hellish thirty two years. Anxiety disorder as a description is not wrong when it comes to OCD,  but it lacks the complete description of what actually goes on. OCD, to me, is not simply an anxiety disorder. It is an anxiety causing disorder and there is a difference.

               Anxiety happens to everyone at some point in there lives. That isn't what we are talking about here. Anxiety has several disorders under it's wing. We aren't talking abut those in this post, either, although those are equally life altering and important to talk about. We are talking about a mental illness that isn't as much triggered by the anxiety as it causes the triggers to be there in the first place. It causes the anxiety. It creates the issues. Not the other way around and I think just simply calling it an anxiety disorder and not an anxiety causing disorder makes people misunderstand how it works.

                Calling it just an anxiety disorder doesn't explain how OCD fishes through your brain to find the most vile, most revolting, most disturbing thoughts to bother you with. It isn't interested in small things that don't upset you. It wants to horrify you, terrorize you, and make you live in a world of shame and guilt. It needs the anxiety to function, so it must cause it to do so. These thoughts are what cause the anxiety. Once it finds the one thing or three things or ten things that are completely unlike your personality, once it has uncovered something that really disgusts and upsets you, that is the image or thought it hooks onto. That will be the thing you obsess over. That will be the thing it haunts you with, until you learn to desensitize yourself to it. Then it goes fishing again. Once an intrusive thought no longer bothers you, it is dropped by the OCD so it can search for something else to up the ante, crank up the fear, and increase the feeling or horror.

                 No, the term anxiety disorder doesn't quite explain the Hounds of Hell that live inside your head, trying to take over your life by making you feel dirty and shamed, afraid and horrified. It doesn't really speak of the depth you will go to avoid such upsetting thoughts or how much you can end up giving up just to try and prevent the hell that OCD shows you. Calling it an anxiety causing disorder makes way more sense than just calling it simply an anxiety disorder because that is what it does. It causes the anxiety that causes the anxiety. It is more than just a few words under a label. It is my life. It is many other people's lives and it entails way more than simple labels can describe. That is all I am saying.

                    Labeling it as just an anxiety disorder makes some people confuse it with normal anxiety and it is way more than just anxiety to us. It is a life full of undeserving guilt and pain. It is a life full of people misunderstanding your diagnoses. It is a life full of pushing through and jumping over hurdles that OCD purposely puts in your way. It is the hell we are trying to crawl out of one fistful of dirt and ash at a time. To call it anything less than what it is to us and what it does to us feels insulting and sanitized and there never anything sanitized about having OCD. It is an anxiety causing disorder not simply an anxiety disorder and I refuse to call it anything else. I refuse to bow down and live my life under a label I don't believe describes my pain accurately. I refuse to label myself with something that only half describes the hell I live through on a daily basis.  I think it is important to label ourselves correctly if we are going to be forced to wear the labels given to us, around our necks like chains, to make us more easily identifiable by our mental illnesses. So, if we must be labeled, I am  going to label myself by how I feel my disorder affects me. And when asked by others what OCD is, I am going to say it is an anxiety causing disorder because for me, it is the truth. It is my truth and I will wear that chain of labels more proudly if I feel it represents what I live with more clearly to others. I mean, I will probably put charms on my chain and snazz it up with some spray paint or modge podge or something, but I don't mind wearing a chain of labels or a chest plate covered in name tags, or whatever the hell they want to give me to describe my OCD, as long as it is factual to what I go through. I just need factual and honest and real if I am going to have to use labels to define my life's issues. I don't really think that is asking for too much, I mean I could be wrong. But I have to represent myself the way I feel I am not how others think I should be. This is me. My name is Nelly and I have an anxiety causing disorder. I have OCD and I am not letting something as small as a not descriptive enough label hold me down.

Neurotic Nelly