Friday, January 3, 2014

I Was Unaware and Unprepared........

I had a few weeks of quiet as my OCD recharged into finding a new way to scare me or make me uncomfortable. OCD is very much it's own entity. It is after all your mind, and how does one simply shut off or outsmart one's own brain?

My new symptoms hit me first while riding in the car with my mother. I was fifteen. We were going to go get some ice cream.  In the console there was a pairing knife from when she had peeled an apple for lunch in her car. My hand accidentally brushed against the handle of it when I was undoing my seat belt. Instantly I had flashes, images of her slowly reaching into the console, grabbing the knife, and stabbing me repeatedly with it. This was the first time I had an intrusive thought about someone being violent towards me.  I just sat there and stared at the knife blinking in disbelief. What the hell was going on? It wasn't enough that I had just got over the homosexual fears now I had to start seeing people stab me with random objects? I told my mother what happened and she reached down, grabbed the knife, walked to the trash can at the ice cream place and threw it away. She didn't have to do that but she wanted to reassure me that she would never hurt me, even if it meant getting rid of every knife, kitchen utensil, or pair of safety scissors we ran across.

The images got more progressive. Anything became a trigger of the violent images. I sometimes felt while washing dishes that I was going to stab myself with a butcher knife, or a fork, or an ice pick that we didn't even own. I didn't even have touch these items to be triggered. Looking at them or even talking about them would set my OCD off. The images were so strong and intrusive it almost felt like an urge. My OCD would tell me I wanted to. But I knew this was a lie because I was terrified of blood, let alone physical pain and I was not suicidal. Still the "urge" feeling was there and it scared me the most out of all of the images and thoughts being thrown in my direction.

Therapy seemed to help but I always found it a struggle to describe an urge that wasn't really a true urge. I tried my best to ignore it but it was kind of like ignoring a raging alcoholic screaming two inches away from your ear and spitting in your face at the same time. Just look forward and pretend everything is fine. Pretend your mind isn't screaming inside of your skull. Pretend that you aren't so full of so much anxiety and fear that you can taste the coppery flavor of blood because you have been biting the inside of your cheek unconsciously the whole time, to try and revert some of the attention on something else, anything else than the disgusting and terrifying thoughts playing in your mind like a broken record.

On top of the violent images that now plagued me, I still had the underlying fears of germs I had always had. I still washed excessively to rid myself of the dirty tainted feeling but something new had decided to coincide with the germ fears. Contamination fears. Now, I had not just the fear I would become deathly ill from germs but I also developed the fear of chemicals contaminating my food and drinks. Chemicals getting on my skin and leeching into my blood stream. A constant fear that somehow I was being poisoned by my environment. Although, I cleaned to relieve anxiety, the fear of the cleaning chemicals made my head spin. I didn't even have to spray them in the same room as the food. Just the idea of the particles floating in the air meant that it could land on my food or the food of my loved ones, causing me to throw it out and start over again. Lest, I have to sit and worry frantically about accidentally poisoning them for hours.

Two different medicines later and the violent images started to cease. The germ and contamination fears still remained but were mostly controllable.Or at least they didn't bother me as bad as they once had.

For the next three years, I had panic attacks again so badly I had to be home schooled to get through the school year. I was great at my studies but the actual walking into the school building was too much. I would crumple to the ground in tears and hot breaths. My heart would race until I felt like it was beating out of my chest, literally. Some days I could go and do the extra curriculum activities and sometimes I could not. I never knew which days would be which, so I just tried as hard as I could to get through it. I ended up quitting school three weeks before graduation. I simply could not walk into that school one more time...

I turned eighteen and met an older man I fell for. Although, I was very young and in no real condition to get married, I did anyway. Because when you are young, you are inherently stupid. I had the fortune of having a double whammy. Not only was I stupid with wiles of youth but also extremely sick with mental illness, I just wasn't aware of either fact yet. I am not saying our relationship's failure was all of his fault. He certainly had issues and none of them were wonderful but I played a huge roll in it's downfall as well and most of it was due to the fact I had a mental illness and it was anything but under control.

I had little to no self esteem due to the fact that OCD constantly put me down. I self hated and I self abused. Starving myself. Blaming myself for every little thing. Believing that I was undesirable, unlovable, and pathetic. He probably tried to change my feelings on that but it wouldn't have done any good because my OCD was the puppet master and it was pulling all of my strings. If it said walk, I did. If it said jump, I jumped. If it told me I was ugly, stupid, and worthless then I believed it.  When the OCD turned it's symptoms into Relationship OCD, I was unaware and unprepared. I didn't even know there was such a thing.

I developed this irrational fear that my then husband was cheating on me. If he went to the bathroom at the restaurant for five minutes, my mind told me he had been with a woman in there. If he was talking on the phone to a female coworker, I felt they had been seeing each other behind my back. In all honesty, I accused him of cheating at least once a week. Maybe even more depending on how stressed I was. In my defense, he had a very bad habit of being extremely inappropriate when talking to women and exceptionally overly flirty and he felt the need to discuss how sexy his coworkers and other women were with me. I wasn't able to process that his behavior may have made him immature and possibly sleazy, but not necessarily a cheater. This not only hurt me deeply but also did wonders for upping the insecurities I was already dealing with all on my own. Then the OCD fears turned into me feeling guilty that I thought the guy down the street was good looking. My OCD turned finding Brad Pitt attractive into:  I was a bad wife, I wanted to cheat on my then husband, and I was unfaithful in my thoughts. It made me feel guilty if someone hit on me when I was out with friends. Or if someone said something sexual to me I felt as if it was my fault. Like I had caused them to act that way. I was to blame for their actions or words. Surely, it was my fault and it was because I was putting off an image or some invisible pheromones that broadcast that I wanted to cheat. It told me I didn't love my husband. It told me I was ugly and unlovable and that no one could love me. It told me he didn't really love me, he just was unable to get rid of me at this point. None of this helped my self esteem any and it certainly didn't help our relationship or lack thereof. I felt like he couldn't be trusted and at the same time neither could I. After all, I did find Brad Pitt hot, surely that was a sign that I was a failure at being a faithful committed wife and all things marriage related because of it. We moved away and I was completely alone except for him. His parents lived at least an hour away. Mine lived three hours away. I became clingy and depressed. I talked about not wanting him to even leave for work. I would beg him crying to please not leave me alone. I was so angry and sad and confused, I started to clean and scrub the house until I started washing the floors so much I was scrubbing off the linoleum. I would spend hours wiping away imaginary grit and grime until my hands were raw. He became so scared of my moods he started taking his guns to work with him in the trunk. He was not so secretly afraid I would shoot myself while he was gone. He may have been right...I was too far gone to really realize what I was even feeling anymore.  I went to new doctors and tried new medications and therapies. Some of them worked but most of them made me feel groggy and fuzzy. I had a miscarriage and lost it so badly I almost had to be institutionalized again. The thoughts refused to leave me alone and so I stayed in bed for weeks on end. He was uncomfortable about my mental state and he often joked my mother still owed him two goats and three chickens for taking me off her hands....Further putting me down and making sure I knew what a burden and inconvenience my emotional outbursts were.

And so he fell in love with someone else. Someone I accused him several times of cheating on me with ( he was constantly talking about how hot she was...ect), and he may have been, but I believe I certainly pushed him to that by being unhealthy and toxic at some points. I won't say it didn't hurt because I really thought the pain of it was going to kill me, but it was the best thing he ever did for me. To let me go, so I could learn who I really was and how to deal with my mental illness without his judgment or his discomfort, his chickens and goats be damned.

I moved back in with my mother at twenty one with a failed marriage under my belt, a miscarriage I was still grieving, and a host of horrible uncontrolled OCD symptoms to go with it. It seemed like fun times were ahead for me for the next few months. I got a new therapist, actually it was the one I had when I was having the homosexual fears as a teenager. I had to relearn how to stand up for myself because I played doormat for my ex husband for so long I had forgotten how to say no or if I didn't like something. I had to learn to like myself even though I still washed too much and was so very afraid of my symptoms and what if anything they meant. And again my symptoms changed as I did. Sometimes more scary and sometimes less severe. It all depended on the day, or the hormones, or the lack of sleep....The next symptoms would be my hardest to overcome. They were the ones that almost made me do the unthinkable and end it all. They were Postpartum OCD and they were nothing short of a living breathing hell....

Neurotic Nelly

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