Saturday, January 25, 2014

Taking Care......

I  have to confess.....I don't watch medical shows...I don't like them. I don't want to know about them. I watch medical type dramas like Grey's Anatomy, but I don't watch shows like Dr.Oz. I turn off the news when a flu outbreak pops up on the television even if it is half of the world away. I refuse to read articles about what is in my pop, or a can of pringles, or where my chicken is processed and frozen. Not because I am callous and don't care or because I want to be unaware and stick my head in the sand, but because I can't watch them. I just can't.

These shows don't just make me aware of my surroundings, they make me hyper aware of them. It damages me. It leaves me afraid to leave my home, or eat, or buy a bag of chicken. These shows and stories don't help me or make me wiser, they scare me and put me into a tailspin of OCD triggers like you wouldn't believe. Suddenly, the symptoms of disease they have talked about on the show makes me feel like I may have it too. I can obsess so much that I actually lose the ability to tell when I am actually feeling something or if it is just my mind telling me I am. Convincing me that I have something I know I don't and yet I end up doubting the validity of that statement. The news broadcasts and articles make me fear every surface is covered in whatever plague they are glorifying on the news for ratings and I become more afraid to touch things. More unwilling to leave the safety of my home. More terrified of what lurks outside of my door. Leaving me fearful of not just leaving my home but also fearful of the very real possibility of forming a bad case of agoraphobia again, and I so prefer not to dwell in that form of hell twice in my lifetime. These shows are supposed to warn the public and make them safer but for me they terrorize me and make me more alarmed than safe. It makes me feel even more crazy than I already do and I hate it. So I do what a lot of people with OCD do, I avoid. I change the channel.

I have had to make concessions, living with severe OCD. Some of them have  been tougher  than others and some of them have really sucked. This is yet, another thing I have given up. Not that I miss it, because I truly do not. I am not good with the alarmist type of news or television. I know they are there to inform people but in my case the information is too much and so it plays on my anxiety and I just can't handle it.

It might seem strange to some people that I can't simply get through a health news broadcast or a hour long episode of doctors discussing various health concerns, but I have to think of my mental health first. My mental health has to stay intact so that I can be physically healthy and it is really important for people to remember that.

Often times, we forget that mental health is just as important, if not more so, than physical health.  I find it odd that at any given moment you can find t.v. shows talking about the dangers of being overweight or smoking cigarettes but not many about how mental illness can impair your life. It kind of bothers me that besides Dr. Phil, there really isn't a huge daily broadcast about mental illness and it's affects. Actually, it doesn't kind of bother me, it really bothers me....There isn't a small portion of news dedicated to mental illness and it's sufferers either, and yet there is always sections about eating non processed foods or how to not waste your money. The mental illness front is rarely covered, rarely openly discussed, and rarely launched into the public eye. Why is that? Why is it that we are comfortable talking about strange growths on our elbow or why not to buy a lottery ticket on a wednesday, but not about depression, anxiety disorders, Bipolar, or even PTSD ? Why do we pretend that mental health issues are not a big deal, when they so obviously are?

Mental health is very important. We need to be more open about mental illness and not only it's affects on our families but also the toll it takes on ourselves. After all, if you aren't taking care of your mind everything else falls apart as well. If you are suffering you tend to forget to to take care of yourself physically. Mostly, because all of your energy is focused solely on what is going on with your head. On how emotionally torn you have become. On how desperate you feel. Eating, bathing, working, and sleeping start to take a back seat to the issues you have always pushed away. They are no longer willing to be ignored or denied. Your mental illness needs your immediate attention and you are powerless to do anything but finally give it the attention it needs to get better. We end up spending our whole lives trying to pretend nothing is wrong until the hammer falls and our lives are left in pieces. If our mental health declines unchecked it takes our physical health out the window with it.

For me, avoiding medical shows and articles keep me calmer. It makes it easier to leave my home and go to the grocery store without wincing when I have to touch the grocery cart. It keeps me from feeling like I have some incurable ailment because my left big toe hurts. Sometimes to be healthy, you have to avoid things that make you feel unhealthy. I just can't subject myself to this type of media. It doesn't mean I don't care, it just means I can't handle yet another thing that could possibly be out there to "get me". I already have enough fears and triggers funneling around in my brain. I don't need to worry about what fungus grew on what and made who sick. I just can't do it and function on a daily basis. I know these shows are there to inform and save people but for me they do the exact opposite. As an OCD sufferer these shows play into my fears and anxiety and actually make me worse. They harm me more than they do good for me. The worry me more than protect me.

I think it is great that these shows are out there to provide us with information and understanding but I also think it would be an even bigger help if there were just as many shows about mental illness. I think that even more people could be helped if there were news stories and hour long specials on how to take care of yourself mentally. Not only would it help those of us that suffer from mental illness but it would also help others to learn the signs of when they need to start looking for help when they first see signs of mental health issues pop up, as well. Not mention the huge impact it would have on ending stigma. We need to be represented and we need to be just as proactive in our mental health issues as we are in our cholesterol intake or the sugar content in our  children's juices boxes. It should be in the forefront of our thoughts just as much as our physical ailments are.   That would be a show I could watch and not be terrified to eat to eat a piece of beef after, or leave my home because of, or be afraid to listen to. We need to get the message out and start to remember to take care of our brains just like we do our hearts. You can't live without either one, so we might as well take care of both. And really, we should be more cognizant of both equally. They both are EQUALLY important.

Neurotic Nelly


  1. Great post! Unfortunately,I think that the burden of informing and getting the public, health professionals and government involved, depends on us. Those of us who have or are affected by mental illness. There is a huge problem of mental illness and mental health care especially with young people, in America, which has been swept under the carpet, and it's boiling over now, so all we can do is keep our voices up and out to the public, letting them all know that this huge problem, this worldwide epidemic, isn't going away and neither are we until we are treated and given the rights to adequate health care, treatment, support, and an end to stigma. It must be affordable for all. Just because insurance companies are willing to cover people w/mental illness doesn't mean we will be able to afford it. We've got a huge mountain to climb, but if we don't give up the fight, we'll get to the top, to make life better for all of us. We're all in the same boat now, so we all need to row it together. Thanks for sharing.

  2. It would be so helpful if their were more shows about mental health.... accurate ones! I understand not being able to watch certain things. It sucks, but at the same time at least we aren't adding that negativity to our lives! I agree, they are both equally important. For some reason everybody seems to believe physical health is what you need to maintain, but mental health can effect our physical health too. Great post!

  3. Nelly, remember that these shows are categorized as forms of entertainment and are produced and distributed by the entertainment divisions of media conglomerates. They aren't as informative, I believe, as alarmist, because they want to attract viewers and keep them and increase them so they can attract advertisers. You're right when you say it's about ratings, because it is. I'm glad you are taking care of yourself by ignoring these types of programs. I believe you are the medium (or channel of information) that you are seeking. You have a great following, and because you aren't driven by ratings and advertising sponsorship, you are blunt and honest, and you are being listened to. As they say, "Be the change you are looking for..." Best,

  4. Thank you so much Bipolar Nana and I totally agree with you. :)

  5. I can so relate to what you say Nelly, for years I was a SEVERE hypochondriac; I was in the urgent care at least 3 to 4 times a week, I constantly was reading health books, at that time there was no FB and did not have computer, I was a single mom raising my 2 small children...and my anxiety attacks became unmanageable where I finally was referred to a phsychiatrist and put on Xanax...Yes I do like the Medical shows, Grey's Anatomy, etc...but found that they even triggered my anxiety at I don't watch them. Right now a close family member is battling cancer, I have gone to the hospital, and cancer wards, not easy for anyone, but especially when having panic attacks, depression, and etc...but I put that aside to be there because I know I would want my friends/family to do the same..Thank your amazing post!!

  6. K MARIA, thank you so much! I can relate to the torture of the hyper awareness and it really can be frightening and painful. I hope your family member gets better quickly and I will keep you guys in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you so very much for your support!

  7. This was a wonderful post! I have battled with depression for twenty-one years now. I also suffer from panic/anxiety attacks, O.C.D's and being a hypochondriac. Your the first person I have ever run across that has the same fears and thoughts that I live with daily! I am a germophobic (sp?). I constantly have clorox wipes, clorox spray and hand sanitizer readily avaible at all times.I never, never touch any kind of raw meat-it freaks me out. If it were not for my amazing hubby we'd be vegertarians!

    I, like you panic quickly if I have a pain on my side or a bruise I can't account for etc..
    it's a terrible way to live-but I have a strong loving family who understands and supports me. All though I drive them up the wall at times. Thank you so much for being so real and honest about your fears and anxities. You have truly taken about 500 lbs off of my shoulders. No one has ever shared or spoke of what I feel like inside all the time.


  8. Donna, thank you so much! I always enjoy talking to people that have OCD as well. It seems like we are all so very similar. I am honored that my posts have made you feel less alone and have helped you. That is my whole reason for writing. To heal myself and maybe in the process help others to see that we all not so different and that we are never alone. :) You comment means a great deal to me. Thank you so very much!