Live your mental health with pride

This one if for all the fellow “sufferers” of mental health. “Sufferers”, because I don’t really like the word. Yes, it’s a challenge living with a mental health disorder or illness, but “suffering” reminds me of pity. Plus, there are many undiagnosed people out there that for their own reasons haven’t seek help yet, and this one is for them as well.

I’m all about talking about mental health and creating even the slightest awareness about it. And I talk quite openly about my experience with OCD as well. Recently, I broke up. It was a relationship with a person who was very supportive with the everyday issues created by my OCD, but in the end the reason he used (I say “used”, because there were a couple of issues regarding himself that led to his decision to break up, that I guess he didn’t want to express) for his decision was my OCD. So, he told me that my OCD would never get better and things would keep going from bad to worse and he wouldn’t be able to handle it. When I heard the words coming out of his mouth, for the first couple of minutes, I felt that my obsessive compulsive mind was right telling me for months that eventually he was going to leave me because of my mental health problems (my mind was telling me all these when in reality there was no indication of any of it). For those moments, my mind started telling me that it was right, that there would be no one to be able to handle my OCD in a relationship; ever.

And then I said to my mind “no!”. And I also said “no” to my now-ex-boyfriend as well. No, having OCD isn’t a sentence for life, my OCD taking a turn for the worse doesn’t mean that it will be like this forever. OCD is a part of who I am basically.

For the past couple of days now, I have been thinking how society and people around us perceive mental health and other people with mental health issues. And that’s when I knew I wanted to write a few words to all of you out there…. so I can also read them from time to time, when in doubt!

  • It’s not your fault.

We were either born this way, or either shaped this way from situations and people (or both). There is NO way our mental health issues are our fault, no way at all!

  • It can get difficult for family and friends to deal with your mental health, but always keep in mind that the person that has it the worst is you.

Living life with a brain that doesn’t cooperate, a brain that makes everyday activities harder, a brain that may even create a parallel reality, a brain that won’t shut the fuck up, a brain that’s strong and exists inside your head? Come on, we’re warriors living and battling our own brains basically. Let’s keep up the good and hard work!

  • Wear your mental health with pride.

You might not want to talk about it publicly in a blog, or on social media, but do you. Either way we must be proud in our everyday lives that we keep living our life with its ups and downs and fight (some days more, some days less, it’s ok).

  • Never forget, even when things are bleak and unbearable, that mental health has ups and downs. And that brighter days await for you in the future!

A mental health journey isn’t only black and white. There are many shades of gray and pinches of all the colors as well. Just hold tight because we’re experiencing that color prism while riding a roller coaster.

  • Love and take care of yourself, always.

It’s easy to have issues with yourself when you have mental health problems, but it all begins with loving yourself, your body and even that weird brain of yours that’s creating the problem. Feeling conformable in your skin is a good base getting better!

So, that’s all for now. Take care until the next one!

Angelina

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 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!

OCD & the pandemic

What it’s like to live with OCD through a pandemic?

Well, it’s like an episode of The Twilight Zone basically. It’s like that for everyone I think, but if you have OCD it’s one of the hardcore episodes, the ones that the world as the hero/heroine knew it is coming upside down.

It’s weird seeing everyone doing what you usually do because of a mental condition; doing routines and actions that you have mastered through the years of (unwilling) practice.

Now everyone washes their hands regularly; I wash mine countless times daily, for years now.

Now everyone keeps their distance from others; I try to keep my distance from others all the time, I basically hate it when strangers come too close (aka approximately 1 meter).

Now people use antibacterial tissues, which are basically one of the top 3 essentials I always bye from the grocery store and I use them even inside my own house (and, yeah, now I can’t seem to find any).

Now some people clean their phones, their cash, the groceries, all these things that I always clean.

Now some people throw their clothes to the laundry basket straight after they enter their house; well I have been doing this for years (only wear something once and after I wash it).

Now people pay attention to where and what they touch; this is a constant thing for me.

Normally I’m the odd one out of the norm and, now, my “abnormality” is the new norm.

I have been living with obsessive compulsive disorder for years now. You know that fear you feel nowadays, that you’re going to get sick, that something bad is going to happen if you’re not careful enough? I feel like this each single day; I create through this, doing everyday chores through this, live through this. And it’s not easy at all.

Now, during this weird and hard period we’re all going through, I am cool about it, because this is life for me, I do what I always do, keeping the pieces of balance I have managed to create for myself over the years. And because it’s all these repercussions are second nature to me, I’m quite sure I do my best so I and the people around me won’t get sick.

Think about it, how you feel with the coronavirus pandemic. Imagine having all this pressure and paranoia 24/7 inside your head. This is exactly how OCD feels like.

The madness of this epidemic is like being inside the mind of an OCD patient. And the virus is like every fear and obsessive idea that someone with OCD has. It might not always be so real as this virus, but it’s 1000% real for the brain and the body of the patient.

Maybe all these words are food for thought… something to think about if you’re in quarantine and you have so much free time in your hands.

Take good care of yourself and we’re all going to be just fine in the end!

A new era for my OCD

If you follow the Microcosm for a long time you already know that I live with OCD for 13 years now (since I was 17, 10 years undiagnosed and diagnosed for the past 3 years). Actually it will be 14 years this year.

I started therapy during a very critical point of my life, when I had a mental breakdown, after all the years being untreated about it my mind had enough, I had depression and reached the point of suicidal thoughts. And that’s when I asked for help (not recommending asking for help when you have reached your limit, if you need help ask for it before things get too hard and before it’s too late).

For the past 3.5 years I am in therapy and for 2.5 years out of them I was in antidepressants. Life hadn’t been easy, not only because of my mental health issues, but also because I had to move back in my family home for some time due to financial reasons, had to care for my mother while she was sick, while in the same time my father almost died. Now my father is weekly doing dialysis and my mother is healthy again. And me…, I keep having OCD and keep working on myself, with ups and downs.

One of my resolutions for 2020 is for this year to be the last year with OCD as a huge part of my everyday life. Of course you can’t be sure what’s coming in the future, and it’s not easy to overcome something that’s a habit after so many years, but it’s time to let go of the coping mechanism that was created so long ago.

One of the things I’m keeping from previous posts is the “good” relationship I have with my OCD.

I believe it’s a bad decision to go against it, and a very wise one to become a friend of it, show compassion towards it, there’s a reason it’s been created in your brain, and you need to take it easy with it, until it’s time to move on.

And that’s where I am right now!

Life with OCD

I think I need something fresh.

I have written so much about my OCD and mental health, but I feel the need of making some changes, refreshing a bit.

My OCD is evolving as fast as life does after all. My belief that each one of us should tell his/her personal story is stil here. One step at a time more awareness can be created.

Here I am; I have spent 13 years with it (unofficially), with only 3 years out of them being officially diagnosed. I live with it, I have created patterns, tricks, some kind of program so I can be functional. But one great truth is that living with OCD is never easy. In my case, an outsider might look at someone who’s figuring things out just fine, when in reality it takes so much energy to keep up with life sometimes.

Yes, I know that so many people, even without OCD have to deal with life. But imagine having to deal with it all and add to this a mind that’s constantly thinking, that constantly needs reassurance, that has to do certain things a certain way (always) and gets irritated and super uncomfortable if things don’t go as planned. It can get absolutely exhausting.

Well, this one is going pretty melodramatic already, so let me continue with some more positive stuff.

I never gave up, I never accepted my OCD and just sat down and waited for the next order from my brain. Yes, things have changed since my diagnosis, there are always ups and downs, but one very important thing is that I never gave up!

In this phase of my life my goal is to have a more relaxed and maybe OCD-free life in the future (long story short), a goal that has many many aspects.

So, I’m going to continue my “Living with OCD” and “Living with-out OCD” series of posts, but with a fresh attitude!

Diary

Summer of 2019 started with my need for rest and relaxation. So, I decided to spend a big part of it with my family, in the house where I grew up.

Well, let me tell you that didn’t go as I have planned. I realized a couple of important things about my family (and the way certain things have eventually effected me), my OCD and I did a lot of work with my art. Hadn’t planned any of it. But things came that way. And in the end I think that in reality I was in the right place at the right time.

So, I have many things to deal with, the project of “living with/out OCD” still in progress, a lot of new artwork done and inspiration to help me create even more.

Tomorrow, I will be back home. And the first thing I’m going to do is a super decluttering! I live in a small flat that’s both home and art studio. I’m definitely a maximalist, and I have many corners/objects that are considered a trigger for my OCD and I keep avoiding cleaning them. And now it feel like such a good timing to do so.

A super decluttering is on the way!

And a new beginnings already happening!

Living with/out OCD (no.12)

Going of antidepressants, after almost three years of taking them, while still having OCD and being in therapy.

It’s for the better, but the fact doesn’t make it any easier. I wrote a few posts about the procedure and all the things that I felt. This one is about the time that things got better.

It’s been 5 months since I stopped taking my meds (after a period of tapering tge dose and always under my doctor’s instructions). And, I won’t lie, it was one of the most difficult periods of my life (until now).

The uncomfortable feelings, the massive amounts of crying, the demons and memories awakened.

During all the above, that are totally normal by the way when you stop giving your mind the extra sertaline that it really liked, there was one thing that I realized: how much tired my body and mind were. So, after trying many things in order to feel better until the storm was over, I decided to press pause for many things in my life, take time for myself, learn to do nothing and relax. A couple of weeks after putting my idea in action….magic!

One afternoon I finally felt better. And calmer. The calm I was feeling with the antidepressants. And the storm was quite over. Yes, there are moments that things get weird and tough, but I deal with them pretty good!

In the past months, the progress I had already made with my self-awareness helped a lot, and the therapy was there to help at hard times, but I believe that what was really crucial was the fact that I knew it was just a really difficult period that would eventually end, during which I was willing to feel it all and look for ways to feel better.

And that combo of patience and fighting the darkness paid off in the end.

Maybe now it’s time to continue with my “Living with/out OCD” project!