My everyday life is quite full usually: I have my two handmade jewelry brands (@daily_art_by_angelina & @psychotrinkets) , my art (@drawing_tales), my photography (@a_mavrogianni_photography), my home/ art studio that always needs something done, my – practically fresh- significant other (we don’t live together, but still there’s quite some time devoted to him), my grandma and her second husband next door to me who are both in their mid 80s and have things that have to be done for them. Plus, I live everyday with my OCD in the background. And for the past 4 months I have stopped (the proper way) my medication which I have been taking, for my OCD, for almost 3 years.
A couple weeks ago I made a decision: to try to chill more and focus on my mental health. Just for the tough period of going off the meds (my sweet little brain has to re-adjust, but until then it shows no particular mercy). A wise decision to focus on my mental health.
I didn’t turn off everything, but I try to do less, so I have time to relax and take care of myself more.
I am a control freak, a multitasker that feels like I’m doing something wrong when I’m not doing something 24/7. But, I realized that I had to somehow take some time off, so I can feel better again, after going off my meds. But, still balancing things.
- Posting less on social media (main way to promote my work my work).
- Creating/working less (so, I have a less strict schedule, and more time to relax).
- Not pressuring myself to do a lot of things during the day.
- Trying to keep up with my relationships (but not doing so much that I will feel pressured).
- Doing… nothing (I never do “nothing”, I practically can’t, but I realized that my kind of “doing nothing” is to chill out, do the things that feel good, go through YouTube or Pinterest, not saying to myself “you have to do this and that”, chiiiill; it’s so soothing and relaxing during this tough period).
- Giving some responsibilities (grandma related) to other members of my family, taking a break for a while from them.
- Taking a break from things that put too much pressure on me.
In the meanwhile, life happens, and it’s not always easy to keep up with my decision. But, having set the goal to focus on my mental health is important. Each single day, I try to care of myself, my emotions, my mood, and not let go (keep working towards the better days that are going to come). And some days (who am I kidding, most days), it’s pretty difficult, but the bottom line is loving myself and showing myself this love and care.
The world (and everything) will be here even after this tough period ends!
Well, as you have seen from previous posts, going off meds for OCD (even if it’s done in the best, most proper, way possible) is not easy. Many bad staff comes back. It’s not pleasant, but it’s a necessary part of the procedure. You take something from your brain (in my case its extra sertaline) and your brain wants it back! So, for a period of time you roller-coaster alongside it, even through you weren’t up for the ride in the first place.
So, I was thinking what are the most important things in this procedure. There are a couple, but this post is for one of them: cutting yourself some slack.
As you may remember if you have read previous posts of mine, I have managed to become a friend with my OCD. We have a type of communication and we work together when hard moments appear. After many years with the disorder, I realized that going against of what I have in my mind isn’t the best thing I could do, it can create tons of extra pressure.
When, a trigger happens, I have some kind of talk with my OCD (“I know this stress you out, we’re gonna fix it, no need to freak out, etc”). This helps me keep more calm, well as calm as I can get after all. It soothes things a bit.
Sometimes it’s like talking to my self, calming myself down.
And that self is the main theme of this post!
I know how difficult and nerve wracking having OCD can get. And we who have it (I never use the word “sufferers”, I don’t like it) and live with it each single day, are going through so many emotions/rituals/intrusive thoughts, plus all the everyday day tasks. If it sounds like a lot it’s because it is a lot. A lot for a human to handle. And it doesn’t easily go away, and it may have some relapses during the therapy procedure, and at times it can get as frustrating as it can.
We, the ones with OCD, we go through so many little “battles”on a daily basis, but I think we usually forget one simple thing that we should always keep in the back of our minds for when it’s needed: cutting ourselves some slack.
We should be good and sympathetic with ourselves more frequently. We go through these difficult situations/moments, so before/after/in between we should tell ourselves how proud we are, and how we are such good fighters, and how good we’re handling whatever comes our way.
I think we usually forget to do it and I have found out that it can make a difference.
For example, especially now that I’m going through a difficult period of time going off meds, it makes a big difference to remind to myself how far I’ve come, how sometimes I’m the bravest girl in the world. Or even, tell myself at some points that I deserve a break, some time in my comfort zone.
Our brain doesn’t always cooperate with us, but what is left if we don’t cooperate with our own selves and if we’re not good with ourselves?!
Be your own comfort if you need it, tell yourself a few good words, after all it’s doing a very good job dealing daily with the thing called OCD!
I have been thinking of writing this post for some time now. But, the truth is that having OCD is a constant produce (in very high speed) of thoughts for my mind, and it’s going to be quite tough to write about it (too many things and details).
But, anyway, I’m going to write a short version about it throughout the day.
Here we go!
I’m Angelina and I have OCD (diagnosed), my obsessions are basically about personal hygiene, I hate stains, dirt, etc. I have managed to become friends with it and don’t fight it, but this doesn’t mean that it’s not a main part of my everyday life and that it can get really difficult at times.
* Well, woke up a bit more relaxed than other days. One of the first things I thought was that last night I fell while mopping and my leg fell straight on a pair of shoes that are a big trigger and haven’t washed them yet (apparently that’s a thing, many times it takes me a while to clean an object that it’s “dirty” from a trigger). Went straight for a shower after the fall.
* Have to go out this morning: bank/ craft stores/ a meeting with a friend. Oh, I’m going to have to deal with quite a few triggers while doing all these.
* Didn’t wash my hands before going to the bathroom (have to have a shower, but anyway since I’m going to be out for hours and gather more triggers I will have a shower later in the day).
* Do I want to go out and have to deal with triggers today? No, but every single day practically I make a choice to keep on going and not letting my OCD being a bigger burden that it already is.
* Before leaving my house I have to clean any object that I have to take with me and that is considered trigger for my mind.
* A two hour session of errands can have five to ten, or even more triggers that I have to deal with so I can continue with the things I have to do. A stain on the street, on the pavement, places where I have to sit (or not, usually it’s a not), people around me that seem not-so-clean, etc, etc.
* After many triggers, and a lot of things done, finally got back home. Got the trash out, so afterwards I can take off the clothes I was wearing outside.
* Usually I have to clean everything I bought (or almost everything).
* I’m separating my home between “clean” and “not clean” spots and places. When I’m a trigger myself (ex. when I return from errands) I clean the spots/places that I want to be clean later or the next day. Yes, my mind separates and puts things “in boxes” a lot, it’s an OCD thing for me, but in the same time helps me keep my triggers in control.
* I clean a bit, kitchen, bathroom. And every day I have to sweep and mop the whole house (so, I won’t step with my flip flops on unclean floors before going to bed later, after having a shower; well that’s a great example of obsession/compulsion). It’s a good thing I’m living in a two room apartment.
* Yes, my own house has spots that are considered a trigger for my mind and I avoid touching them. It’s hard to get over an obsessive thought for let’s say an object. If I have a trigger with it, my mind locks it as “dirty” and even if I clean it, it may continue feeling like a no-no.
* Actually, it’s quite liberating when I’m a trigger myself and I can move around at home, cleaning, tidying up. I kind of relax when I don’t have to be constantly careful about where I touch; the “programming” in my mind doesn’t stop working of course, but I can pay less attention cause I’m going to take a shower soon.
* A bathtub is one of my favorite places basically. A shower it’s so soothing for me. I have managed to create a schedule where I have only one shower a day, every night. And then going straight to bed that is one of my “holly grails” (aka spots/things/places that I always keep them clean and safe for my OCD).
* My mind never actually calms down, even when I’m sleeping I feel quite anxious, watching weird dreams, etc.
So, that was a day in the life of OCD!
There aren’t too many details because (a) the post would be a two/three/four part thing if there were and (b) having OCD it’s so complicated, all the thoughts, all the obsessions/compulsions, it gets really difficult/tiring at times to explain to others the details of a thought that could have its roots years before. But I wanted to give you a glimpse of how everyday life is when with it.
That’s it folks!
Adulthood definitely comes with a cost, ok. But what happens when your mental health becomes… let’s say distorted?
What happens when you have mental health issues that end up getting in the way of your life?
I remember that back in the time, before the past years (full of mental health issues, sickness in the family, etc.) happened, my main goal was to be happy.
And here I am, after relationship disasters, a mental breakdown, an OCD diagnosis, caring for sick family members, caring for old family members, realizing that I have never been more far away from that “being happy” goal. Realizing that I have basically spent the past three years surviving and not living, and definitely not being happy.
You see, after two years, it was time to go off my meds and along with great amounts of tears, and endless hours of all kinds of bad mood, one good thing that happens is that my brain thinks kind of clearer. I see things for what they really are, see details I wasn’t able to notice while being on anxiety medication. It’s like being in the middle of a tornado, trying to survive, and then when all the mess stops, you’re left wondering what you’re going to do with what’s left.
Time to pick up pieces of yourself that you left behind, add to your life things that came along afterwards, find new balance.
And for me, there’s something more now, go on to accomplish that older goal of mine, “being happy”! Of course things have changed and I have changed, so it has to be done differently.
Plus, it has to be done while living with a not so cooperative brain sometimes.
I basically have/want to find happiness while dealing with mental health issues…!
Thought of making a couple of quick sketches about how OCD feels like.1. All the mess/thoughts creating a never ending circle with no way out.2. Sometimes a trigger comes after another trigger, and another trigger, and another. Sometimes you’re trying to get over a trigger and you stumble upon another one.3. A trigger-free state is like a pleasant/safe box. But, usually having OCD feels like a big mess.
The antidepressants are off.
The therapy is ongoing.
Big good things have happened (starting a relationship).
Bad things have happened (changes in everyday life, the health of my grandmother next door has worsen).
My “life without OCD” is on pause, because there are so many data/feelings/new situations that need to be processed by my brain. And for about a little more than a week now, all this has to be done without any help of pharmaceutical help, which basically means more work for me.
And menstrual hormones are sprinkles on top of this cake!
Well, when I tapered my medication I started realizing it effects. It’s a procedure to start over with a lesser dose. And now that they’re completely off, it’s a procedure to start over without any meds.
You see, I find this the most important thing to keep in mind: when you’re going off your antidepressants (reminders: I was on mine for my OCD/ we should never stop taking our meds without our doctor’s advice) you should keep in mind in all times that your brain needs time to adapt to the new situation. Well, it can get a bit tough at times.
At least my sweet brain has opened closed boxes. I guess there are things left to be processed inside those boxes. Or it’s just my brain wanting to see how it feels without the meds to keep the balance.
Here we go again, process/think/live through it solve. And again. And again.