When life gives you shit, do something about it

The (exact) half of 2020 is over. Saying it’s been an interesting year so far is an understatement.

For me it started with big problems with my grandmother and her husband, who happen to live right next to me. They’re 86 and 87 now, she’s in the first stages of dementia and in the beginning of the year he fell to bed and has been in bed ever since. Not a good combo when you have OCD and in the same time you’re the first responder to a situation like that!

Then, the quarantine came, and I decided to spend it with my parents. Living under the same roof for three months wasn’t easy at all. You know when you’re in therapy you start seeing things differently….

Then the quarantine ended and it was finally time to return home. By the way, my home needs a lot of work, because there are many triggers in it and I want to work on them.

Plus, as you may understand from all the above, I’m not really happy with my life for the past months. And there are a couple more things, for example I’m very pleased with my art, but I would like it to sell more. My OCD isn’t at its best, I’m going to start medication once more (but my doctor can’t return from Sweden for now, how fun!) and I want to improve many things in general.

The number one thing that’s going well is that I have found a good man, that accepts me for who I am and also accepts my OCD. We’re even going to live together in autumn! So, even if things are kind of a mess, this keeps me going. I was planning on writing about love, relationships and mental health for some time now.

But I won’t. Because this also went sideways. A few days ago, out of the blue, my boyfriend told me that he wanted us to break up. I didn’t see it coming, because there was no indication of it coming. After all I might write about how mental health affects relationships, but from a whole other point of view than the one I was planing.

So, here I am, I’m basically unhappy with almost everything in my life right now, plus a broken heart.

The good thing is that my character helps in these situations: I’m what you call a “fighter”. And the more low I go the more I get determined to get up.

Here I’m going to document my journey with getting over my break up and putting my life back in order. And I will continue writing about mental health, OCD and my art.

See you later!

What’s happening?

If you open the TV, or scroll through Facebook, you see a lot of news (international and national).

A nurse, who as I read was working overtime during the pick of the pandemic, being dragged by her hair by the police because she protested for a raise. A black man being killed by the police, in cold blood basically, only for using a fake 20-dollar-bill. People who try to find refuge in another country, because theirs is in war and they try to keep themselves and their families alive, being treated in the worst possible way by governments. Women being abused by their boyfriends/husbands and when they eventually find the courage to ask for help, the police isn’t willing to help them.

I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the point. And I won’t even get started on the violence against animals and kids.

So much violence, so much hate, so much corruption.

Why?

How did we get here?

How humans became… not human?

The lives of others

Living with OCD is not an easy task. Actually, it can become really difficult sometimes!

There are moments when I want to do something different than what my OCD tells me to do, but I do what it tells me anyway. And there are so many routines and rules that I have to follow. Even for the smallest everyday tasks!

Which brings me to the point where after almost 14 years of living with obsessive compulsive disorder, there are many times when I’m jealous of other people’s lives. Not in a bad way; I just find it amazing to be able to live your life casually and being more “normal” and relaxed, instead of living in a world of triggers with constant anxiety and stress!

It’s the small things that count: being able to move freely in your own space instead of being careful about where you brush up against or what you touch. Being able to go out without getting prepared for a trigger. Being able to use objects without checking with your memory/brain first, to see if they’re triggered or not.

For the past couple of years things have been everything but ideal for me and my mental health hasn’t been at its best. But for the past year I have trying over and over again to make some progress with living a little more “normal”. There have been ups and downs with this project, and lately I’m on it again.

Always having as my motivation the thought of a more relaxed everyday life!

Progress loading…!

What’s left behind to come back

I turned 31 on February. It felt kind of a milestone. Last year, 30 was “oh, I’m getting into a new decade”, “oh, my, 30!”. But this year that decade started moving a bit faster.

I did a lot of thinking about where my life is now, and focused a lot in my art and professional projects. Until then I had created a brand with colorful boho jewelry (named Daily Art by Angelina), one with horror/psychobilly jewelry (Psycho Trinkets), was making my original artwork as Drawing Tales and my art photography and my digital collages as Angelina Mavrogianni Photography. For everyone who has a small business or who’s an artist is very well known that there are many struggles, especially if you don’t have a lot of money and if you don’t know many people. So, things weren’t so great for all these projects, or at least they weren’t as great as I would like them to be. And back in the beginning of the year it felt so right to make changes. So I did.

I stopped creating jewelry for Daily Art by Angelina and decided to create my original artwork, my art photography and my collages (plus a new kind of art jewelry) under my own name. And kept my Psycho Trinkets brand as well.

Apart from these changes I brainstormed about letting back into my life things I have let behind; basically cinema and music (the two things I have studied).

Have you ever had something in your life, an activity, an interest, that you stopped working on for some (or many reasons) and then came a point where you were missing it?

I stopped writing scripts and working on short film projects, because of a very bad experience I had directing a play. It was a big mistake to even start that project, was only 19, hadn’t even finished film school, but I was pressured by my father to find work as a director, even after health problems I had that year. I ended up stepping out of that project and leaving directing for ever. Plus, after that I realized the importance of timing, each person has their own timing for doing things and that timing is very important.

The other thing that I have left behind is music, singing. After I finished school for singing (and teaching singing) I was in a band that didn’t go so well and then things started happening in my personal life, my mental breakdown, my mother’s cancer and I basically never got back to it.

I miss both cinema and music terrible. I miss creating a story, a movie, I miss singing, writing songs.

And that’s why I decided that this year was the time that I would get them back in my life!

I started writing a horror comedy, but I paused that script and currently working on a horror short. Hopefully it will become a movie until 2021.

And I’m thinking of maybe starting a YouTube channel with covers of my favorite songs, but I’m still working on that idea.

The important thing is the evolution of one’s self. It feels good to change, and change again, and maybe once more, but have some things that work as a base for this change. Some things that are parts of you.

The future

Last post about updating you about my mental health so I can keep on posting regularly about it!

This one is about what’s to come.

Having OCD my whole adult life (started in 17 and I’m 31 now), I often think about how things are going to work out eventually, if I’m ever going to live without it, or with a really small percentage of it as it is now.

As anyone who has or had personal experience with mental health issues knows, there aren’t always certain answers. And as life goes by the factors and the stressers can change things.

My goal is to be able to have the minimum effect of OCD in my life at some point, but I take it one step at a time! I would love to be able to be more relaxed and not having so many compulsions and rules in my life. Let’s see….

The daily life with OCD

My OCD is oriented towards contamination. To be exact I hate stains and bodily fluids. Plus, my OCD is pretty severe. Currently my day is full of patterns that go according to my obsessions, but in the same time help me being functional.

I want to be able to function properly and do things, so many times I have to push myself. But, of course, going out in the city or doing errands is like Russian roulette: chances are I’m going to have a trigger.

There are periods that things are better and other that things are pretty tough, like the past couple of months. But there are always the good, better, days!

The rage

I’m a fighter. I’m the kind of human that will get mad if I come across something that’s not fair. And I’m pretty vocal about my opinion.

But I never had anger issues. Until I did.

For the past couple of months, along with my therapy realizations, the anger showed up. The suppressed anger that was building for years surfaced, I let it surface. And it’s been one hell of a ride!

I never lose control, when I get angry I never let words come out of my mouth without thinking about them first. I know very well how to keep my cool and I do so even in the most intense moments. But with the anger levels I’m going through lately it’s been a little bit harder to stay “calm and collected”. It helps that I have practiced keeping quite calm, but creating also helps a lot.

Being an artist I have learned to put my thoughts and feelings into my art. And with anger it’s super super useful. Making something helps me keeping it under control and in the same time externalize what I’m feeling in a very healthy way.

It feels great that I’m not letting myself go and that I don’t let the heat of the moment get the better of me. And it’s jind if weird thinking what I would have done without art, where all this baggage would go…

I believe that this period it’s a phase that I have to go through, until I fully accept my new discoveries and become my more, normal, calmer self.

The trauma

For some time now I have been thinking how I should go on with balncing talking about mental health and sharing personal facts. And I decided that there is no way I can create even the slightest impact on mental health awareness, if I don’t talk from the heart. And sometimes the “heart things” have to get personal.

So…I always had the question “how my OCD was created?”. I always knew I started feeling extra anxious during my teenage years, especially after 17, but I could never pinpoint the precise root of my disorder. Until I did…!

Less than a year ago, I came to the conclusion/ realization that my OCD was created by the huge fights I had with my father from approximately 15 to 20 (years of my age). My father is very insecure, the type of insecure that drops all their shit to other people and are easily offended and stuff. During those years huge fights would start from the smallest things, something that my father didn’t like, or something I would say and my father would think of it as lacking respect for him. The fights would usually end up with me crying, and I still remember being 16, crying, and thinking I should get help because I hurt other people. Spoiler: I was a very calm teenager, didn’t rebel at all, all I wanted to do was stay in my room and make art. But, I happened to have a “emotional whore” for a father, and a mom that never even mentioned that all the mess was my father’s doing, coming from his issues. Additional to that, my father kept seeking attention all the time, always asking for something no matter if you were busy or not.

I realized that all the fighing was my fault around the age of 21. But, OCD had already shown me its true colors (I was opening doors with my foor by then, so I won’t touch somewhere that other people have touched). All the pressure and anxiety I have lived though damaged my psyche. After all I was already an anxious person and really feeling a lot.

I realized the true impact that period of fighting had in my mental health just a couple of months ago. It was totally liberating, but in the same time there is so much anger to process, so much! And many more feelings.

I have accepted that I have lived through trauma. And “trauma” is such a scary word, it seems like something coming from a thriller or drama. But my therapist helped me realize that thauma is an exprerience that had an impact (a really negative one) on someone. My family is the type that pretty much avoids the elephant in the room, so there haven’t been a lot of conversations about all these (one more interesting topic to talk about, being the only one in therapy in a family).

Accepting the emotional abuse (because all the above are basically emotional abuse) was kind of easier, because I have dealt with that my ex (of course the bad relationship I always had with my father has an impact on the way I treat men, and will also talk about it soon).

I want to analyze trauma and dealing with it in future post, after all it’s complicated and can’t be fully explained in a few sentences, but I wanted to create a base for the posts that will follow.

Take care until the next one!

The searching

The searching, a.k.a. the therapy.

I have been in therapy for the past four years. And it’s one of the best things I ever did for myself.

Being in therapy, talking, searching has helped me discover things of the past and aspects of my life and who I am.

I chose the “hard way”, I have chosen to reach pretty deep in the past and in my feelings. In therapy is the patient that basically chooses how much he/she’s going to share, and I believe in sharing all.

I feel like the deeper you go, the better base you create so you can recover and build again.

Currently I’m in the space in between: I have changed a lot since I began therapy, I have set new boundaries, realized a ton of things, and….I’m in the phase I have to accept the bad ones. And hopefully things are going to become much better at some point.

I have realized and accepted that my OCD was born inside the family. My family is a family of four, and I’m the oldest kid. And my trauma was created during my teenage years, from the really bad relationship I had with my father, and basically the way he was treating me.

I believe that the trauma deserves a seperate post, so see you in the next one!

The mental health

As I mentioned in the previous post there are going to be six posts with thoughts and updates about mental health, and after them I will continue writing about it more frequently again.

This one is a little update.

Hello to the new people in the blog! My name is Angelina, I’m an artist, living and creating in Athens (Greece), while having OCD. I’m 31 and I’ve had it since I was 17.

It was untreated until 2016 when it reached a point where it caused me to have depression and suicide ideations. And that’s when I got help (if I could go back I would have gotten help much earlier!).

Dealed with all that, have in therapy ever since and I was on meda for 2.5 years until 1 year ago when I stopped taking them (the proper way, tapering, it was my doctor’s decision, etc). And it was some kind of journey going off meds, oh my!

Now, I have reached a point when I will probably go back to them soon, because my OCD isn’t at its best.

For the past 4 years there have been many downs and only a few ups, which definitely didn’t help my mental state: I took care of my sick (with cancer) mama until she got better, my father got sick as well and has been in dialysis ever since, I happen to live next to my grandmother and her husband and they have really gotten old and their needs have been so many for the past couple of months. Plus, I’m an artist that tries to figure things out and reach a point where I can live off my art (not even close to that yet).

But, I have survived all the above, I have a couple of good friends and a very good man. And my OCD.

I’m functional even though my brain doesn’t help me a lot most of the times, I have my routines and my goal is to someday being able to live without it (or at least with a tiny part of it in my brain).

These are some basics about me, for now!

The next one will be about being in therapy, the searching and the discoveries I have made so far.

Take care until then!