Living with OCD (no.10)

Anxiety means having a voice inside your head, constantly talking and thinking what you have to do, what you haven’t done, worrying about everything, thinking, talking, and basically never stopping, even when you’re sleeping!

Yes, it’s as hard as it sounds.

This morning, as I was having breakfast, was no exception. I was sitting, eating, and I thought to myself “why am I stressed?! “. I continued making a list in my mind, of all the things I had to do today. And as it turned out there were no monsters, or demons, inside that list. Nothing crazy, nothing unusual, no first-time-experiences, just things I have done before.

So, why my mind was going quiet mad in overthinking? Yes, it’s the anxiety, yes, it’s my ocd, but those few minutes really helped me calm down a bit.

And I’m going to practice this exercise again and again! 

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About psychotherapy 

This one is dedicated to my therapist… A person that I had the luck and privilege to meet when I was in great need. A person that helped me through crucial times. A person that still helps and guides me, so I can become a better person. 

This post is about my experience with psychotherapy. Being treated for a mental health issue is a big and complicated deal, so I prefer talking about what I really know and have been through. 

I had reached a critical point for my mental health when I finally decided it was time to ask for help. This was almost two years ago.

In the past, I went through a couple of opinions about therapists, some positive, some more on the negative side. But, if you ask me now I will tell you “do it!!”, “you will do yourself a great favor”, “everyone should go to therapy, it changes the way you see things”, etc, etc.

What happened in the space in between then and now? Years of untreated OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an anxiety disorder), which eventually led to depression and climaxed in suicidal thoughts.

The untreated OCD was like being in a cage. The depression was like being on a desert. The suicidal thoughts can sum up in the moment that I went through, when my mind told me how I could kill myself.

So, I did the wise thing to ask for help. And I’m getting this help, until this day, when I have managed to become some kind of friends with my disorder and being not simply myself, but a continually better version of myself!

In the beginning I had to survive the hard times. I was feeling helpless most of the time, and therapy was the most important thing in doing better! Baby steps first. It was like I was inside a cave, I knew there was light in the end of it, but I couldn’t see it. It took some time and lots of hard work, always under the guidance from my therapist. In my case, some help from medication was needed. 

I actually always make a joke about how in the first session, she told me that she was happy that I started my treatment with therapy and not medication. In the fifth session, she told me that “I might also see a psychiatrist (they’re the ones that can prescribe medication) , so I don’t suffer”. Well… 

Where was I…?! Oh, yeah! So, medication helps a lot, but I believe that therapy, personal work and the determination to get better are more important. Psychotherapy changes your way of thinking, a lot! It did it for me. The first few months were about overcoming the really difficult situations.

Then, the way I was thinking about things, and the way I was reacting started to change. It didn’t become totally different, but it did impove, always under the basic idea of feeling good and having a good everyday life. 

During my therapy, getting rid of my OCD was never a plan, we were aiming on keeping some aspects of it that had to do with my functioning. At some point (while life was happening, and I had to deal with my mother’s cancer and her care), I started working towards making my OCD my friend and cooperating with it. I thought “since I’m living with it, why not cooperating with it as well?!”.

As more time was passing, I realized that I was dealing with life in a much better way, calmer and more mature. I was becoming a real friend to myself, more than ever! I was correcting things I didn’t like, maybe leaving some behind. 

In the same time I was working with all these in therapy (and on my own, I keep saying  it, but it’s so crucial to work with yourself), I decided to become friends with my body. When you start to feel peaceful inside your mind, you want to go all the way I guess.

And these procedures continue until the moments I’m writing this post actually. 
Taking care of your mental health and improving as a person is an ongoing process, it’s a type of growth that never really ends. But I believe psychotherapy is the key, the main door to that world! 

Living with OCD (no.8)

This one is about the nightmares. 

Or as they’re also called, anxiety dreams. 

Having anxiety, or an anxiety disorder, or both, goes hand to hand with lots of anxiety dreaming. 

You go to sleep, you manage to fall asleep, but Guillermo del Toro and Tim Burton cooperate, making a movie out of your daily life. That’s the best way to describe my nightmares at least!

My brain’s hyperactivity is at its best sometimes, while I’m sleeping. Thoughts I had during the day, issues that concern me, people, friends, subconscious, some of my obsessive compulsive ideas, things I have to do, family, things that have happened in the past, people I used to have in my life, stories!

I’m really working with myself and my issues. I’m meditating. I’m always looking for new ideas to better sleep. I’m trying things like listening to calming sounds while sleeping, preparing myself a couple of hours before going to bed, etc, etc. Sometimes, some of them, work; other times they don’t. 

And I end up waking up in the morning full of anxiety, after spending a night flipping around on my bed like I was Cthulu! I’m one of the lucky ones, that I manage to fall asleep, but still, I’m not sleeping well for months (more than a year and a half now). Part of me ia used to it, see it like a part of my ocd (which I live with in peace), but another part of me feels tired and agitated, and hopes for some good sleep…!

And the thing is that I don’t know if they ever going to stop. Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe they will come and go, according to what’s going on in my life. 

But for now, I’ll just have to keep living with them…. 

Cheers to anxiety and nightmares! 

Little visitor 

First story/post of 2018!

I grew up in a house with trees and nature all over it. And this is where my parents still live. This is where I’m spending the holidays this year.

A couple of days ago, we found out that we had a little visitor, who happened to like some of the chocolates we had inside a bowl, in the living room.

When you’re living very close to nature, you’re kind of used to unexpected visitors.

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And I’m finding mice cute, and those tiny bites on the chocolates even cuter! But, we can’t live under the same roof…

So, after about two days of looking for the little visitor, I had the privilege of meeting him.

I was entering my room, when I heard noises coming from a bag, on my desk. Inside the bag was a box with chocolates and next to them, there was now a little mice. Yeah, the one we were looking for!

We did what we had to do to catch him/her (I feel sorry for it, but there is basically no other way). But, until it was caught, I had myself a pretty good trigger!

I have OCD, I have an obsession with being clean. When I’m in a house with other people, I have a comfort zone, a place in the house where everything is clean (for my standards). Usually, my room is this comfort zone, and now a cute little mouse is visiting…!

No matter how much I like the little guy/girl, I had to move some of my stuff in an other (not ocd-friendly) room, and having all my ocd-routine (I like having a routine about bathing and getting clean, not anything excessive, but it helps me feel calmer) altered.

That’s a pretty big trigger….

…. which I handled very well! I had all this unconfortable feeling, some hard time, but after all these I always manage to find the next best solution. Managed the trigger!

And new year found me caught between having a trigger and working on it!

Life doesn’t always going as planned. Unexpected things happen, some small, some bigger. And usually is better going with the flow, you have better chances of “surviving” a situation, going through it in the best way possible!

Here’s to a good, unexpected 2018!

Living with OCD (no.7)

This one is “just” a photo. I was relaxing at home, listening to music, waking around when at some point, while I was standing in front of the mirror in my bathroom I thought “I should sit down on the floor”.

I ended up sitting with my back on the bathtub. Yes, the next thing I was going to do after my music session was to have a bath (I would have anyway). But sitting there for a couple of songs, pretty calm, next to the toilet was a big step.

Living with OCD and working on more freedom!

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