Flat tires and phone calls!

Life is becoming more normal for me and the calm is setting in. Want to know how I can tell?

Because I worry obsessively about flat tires. Yes folks, you heard it here. I call my guy at least three times a week convinced that I have a flat tire. I make him double check on Sundays. Oh my gosh, it is ridiculous. But he is so sweet and always obliges with a nod and a smile.

Finally today as I begin the trek to campus for the last time for this semester I am walking out of work and I did the 10 minute walk around the car and kick the tire routine. Then I sat down in the car and realized this routine is a habit. I called my guy and started the convo the usual way, “I know you just checked my tires, but I am just sure that the back right one is low. I hope I don’t get stuck at campus.” Keep in mind last week it was the front right.

He says, “I know, MR, but I just checked it. I think it is okay” and I smile and say, “Ok.” Then flat-tire-770803as I am driving I am letting go of the wheel and seeing if it veers cause if it veers it is flat, right? “Hang on, wait, it is veering a little. I am gonna pull over.” I do it. It still looks the same. I start to giggle.

He’s says, “What?” I confess, it is my OCD. I know it is. I can’t help it. I know it isn’t flat but I must check. I convince myself through talking to him that all is well. Go to class, have a great time and head back out to garage after class and……………………………REPEAT!

The good news is for me this is good. When I am super stressed and overwhelmed it is all center around germs, illness and my fear of catching “it” to the point I am convinced that myself and my family will die from “it”.

So give me my flat tire. I will take it any day!

The other side.

“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems”
Epictetus

So as I begin emerging into the regular world I laugh at all the comments I get. From, “Where have you been?” to “Are you doing better?” And I know they mean well and that shows they care. I imagine any new job is an adjustment. But with me be an OCD suffer I find myself resisting change and when I am in the midst of it I am all out miserable. I think sometimes that resisting people mistake my actual feelings or belief. They see panic disguised at being grumpy. They see me being overwhelmed as unhappy. They see me falling off the face of the earth as not caring. None of these I actually am.

It is just my OCD. Though I consider myself in the best phase of my OCD, meaning fully managed, OCD is no different than any other anxiety disorder. It ebbs and flows with the tides. It can be triggered by something as little as someone puking by me or me hearing, to the gigantic life changes that seem to happen from time to time.

When I am in a good phase I always feel so foolish and selfish for how wrapped up in the moment I get. Which is why the mantra “Live in the moment” strikes up my anxiety. Too often my OCD forces me to live in the moment to be real with the situation. In the last three months that is all I have done. I survived moment to moment. No different than any other mom transitioning to a new high demanding job.

I just never want it to be mistook for unhappiness, ungratefulness or anger. I am all of those things yes. But I am that at my OCD. Not my new job, not my changing life or not the people around me. I never even realize how bad it was until I am passed it and I hear those comments.

It is funny because I have been hearing it so much lately how happy I am or how I seem ummmm well tipsy. And I get it. Those things tell me just how anxiety ridden I was. Even my students told me yesterday that in the last few weeks they have watched me let my guard down. Have fun and just do my thing.

Anxiety is a bitch. And I have chosen to deal with my anxiety without meds. Sure I know those few months might have been a bit easier if I gave into the pharmaceutical America. But whenever I have been on meds there are sacrifices I made that I am just not willing to make. And more importantly, I suspect I have lived with undiagnosed OCD for many years, but I have seen been diagnosed and treated. A successful treatment that tells me there is always an end. Eventually Mommy Rhetoric wins.

I don’t discount that meds work for me. They do. I just have to weigh their need in my life. Right now, a job change I just think not so much. I survived. And you know why? Cause I have an awesome support system. I have an awesome guy who never wavered in our decision for me to take this job and reach my goal and my dream. I have an amazing group of friends who constantly supported me an uplifted me as I may have been biting off their faces, I have the most beautiful and caring daughters who show me every day why I do this and why I get to the other side. And all of my new friends….it just does not get better. I know this.

That doesn’t mean I don’t slide back from time to time. But I know that with those slides often come huge slides forward and at the end of the OCD anxiety ridden time there is sunshine and light. Because there always is. I have survived some pretty crappy things that my OCD made just that much worse. But in the end, my life, my family, and my friends are in tact.

It feels a little weird to end this here, but that is where it ends. I know there will be more tomorrows with OCD, but I also know….I will survive.

The Party I Didn’t Make.

“During the five years I’ve been in practice. I sometimes picture these unfortunates as men and women being pecked to death by predatory birds. The birds are invisible – at least until a psychiatrist who is good, or lucky, or both, sprays them with his version of Luminol and shines the right light on them – but they are nevertheless very real. The wonder is that so many OCDs manage to live productive lives, just the same. They work, they eat (often not enough or too much, it’s true), they go to movies, they make love to their girlfriends and boyfriends, their wives and husbands . . . and all the time those birds are there, clinging to them and pecking away little bits of flesh.”
Stephen King, Just After Sunset

It had been forever since OCD won. But it did that day. I woke up hopeful and free, so I knew if any day it could happen that was the day. My guy says, “Hey, you should go.” My usual answer creeps in as it always does. “No, I can’t.” But I wanted to so badly. It has been years since I had seen my family and they were all in town. I so badly wanted to see them, hug them, hold them in my arms. Show them for once OCD won’t win despite them never even realizing it is a battle I faced every day at even the contemplation of seeing them.

The new faces, they are unsafe. The different environment, contaminated somehow by the unknown. I plowed through it. I nudged myself pass the crazy thoughts of “what if”. I was determined to not let it win. It was easy. I had my friends texting, I had my guy pushing me. I had things to do. I had to get ready.

Then I was in the car, ALONE. The very worst place for me to be. It began bubbling to the surface. I swallowed it whole. “Damn you, OCD! You won’t win. I want this!” I did what I do when I am with my family. I set goals. If I just make it to that stop light if I still want to turn around, I can. I passed the stop light. If you make it to the train tracks, you can keep moving. I made it. Then the guy in front of me hit his breaks. It broke me then.

I made it exactly another few miles into a high school parking lot. My phone was silent. I had checked it approximately 106 times and I knew. That stupid OCD was winning. I texted my guy, “This stupid OCD. I just can’t do it.” He texts quickly back, “Yes, you can. Ignore it.” I couldn’t bare to tell him I had already stopped moving forward. I waited. I hoped it would pass.

“Where are you? Just think you are a little over your drive to work. It isn’t far at all. Just make it half way.” I think, boy he is all too familiar with the tricks I play in my head to get even just an inch further when it threatens to take over. I slowly text back, “It is too late. I parked.”

It was quiet for a few minutes, the radio playing, “Somebody I Used to Know”. The girl part of the song slides in saying, “Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over…” Oh how I could relate. Yet again this damn OCD is pulling me away. Isolating me. Then it comes, “Don’t let it win!”

I text back, “I just did.” By then I was on my way home. No one gets it. It is embarrassing to admit that something like this rules my head. The idea of the unknown and the what ifs. They don’t keep others cars at home. Somehow they manage pass them or hurdle over them. Me, I don’t. I can’t. They win.

What happens next is deep regret, foolish feelings, sadness for normalcy to just get into car and drive like a normal person. A trip that is 2 hours to not feel like the trip of a lifetime. It has been years since my journey took me any further than my old backyard. Others might not realize that. But I do. At 18 I was eager to travel and see the world. At 35, I am scared of looking out in my backyard sometimes.

How do I not let OCD win when it convinces me my phone will die, I will be lost and and alone on the side of road and no one will care. And what if? I know I will survive. But there are deeper issues in that moment that I cannot even begin to touch. Too deep for a public blog. And I wonder why when I know the logical answers, but in OCD logic doesn’t prevail. I have had it long enough to know that!

The joy of having my girls is they can help me shut it out by doing what kids do. But what happens when they are not there? Like they weren’t there Saturday. I have to face these demons and I have to find ways to live a normal life. So I can say, “I went there, I did this.” So that I don’t miss those important moments, those moments to hold my family close. To live in those moments when OCD doesn’t win. They do happen, sometimes I just get lost.

Wanna know what makes my OCD legit?

365.198-This here picture is proof. See those spaghetti noodles? I made chicken with Alfredo sauce over spaghetti noodles. I could not convince myself it was not contaminated. The reason it was contaminated? Well I convinced myself it was opened by someone at the store. I tried to get over it, I just couldn’t. Into the garbage it went. Thank goodness for lean cuisine Alfredo cause I just cut up our chicken and put it in there and the girls still loved it anyway!

Just Write: What a kick off!

The start of summer break has been everything and more than I could have possibly expected. I will proclaim one thing here right now. I hate very few things in life but: I HATE TRANSITION. I don’t naturally do transition all that well anyway thanks to my beloved best friend OCD. But just when I cruise along in life good a transition comes and my #2 struggles. I mean struggles translated into makes it difficult for the rest of us that live with her. She doesn’t mean to and in the times she isn’t melting down she is so regretful and feels just awful. But man, it is hard.

She goes from zero to all out raging, mad, loud, screamy, hard to please, not really a toddler but acting toddler like in seconds. And I try and be the good mom and practice what the therapist tell us. I do. We all do. But when it is directed at you (and usually it is at me because I am her person) you just want a break.

She looks to me for ques on mood. If I am quiet and not bubbly happy she is mad she can’t fix it. It sets her off. If I am angry she gets angry because I am angry. If I am happy she seems to change that too. And while I try and keep a mediocre and mellow mood all the time to counter this. Rarely, do I ever do mediocre and mellow.

And if I could just get in her head and tell her, “Girl, take a break” and she would go take her 15-20 minute break our lives would be much more peaceful. Instead, what happens we say, “#2 you need a break. Why don’t you go play piano or write in your journal.” We get all out war. We don’t love her. We hate her. Why are we so mean to her? We love her sisters more. If we would just go away her life would be better. All of this yelled in our face with spit, high octaves and all the frustration a 7 year old can muster.

And while I can tell you I have thick skin and that stuff doesn’t get to me, IT DOES. I hate it. I know she doesn’t feel that way. But I wonder, what if she does? What if we have ruined her life? What if we aren’t handling these meltdowns right? The hardest part is teaching her consequences of saying these things. Because there are consequences in the real world. Some parents would spank their kids. We don’t. Some may even say that is why she is like this. I don’t buy it.

What happens in her world is…it changed. She can’t handle that. It is an absolute sensory overload. The warm humid air overloads her senses. A loud TV overloads her senses. A strong smell of BBQ can do it too. Can you imagine living in a world like that? I try. I would be miserable.

I just wonder if I could be a better mom by helping her to find words for what her head is telling her. To communicate I don’t like it when it is hot. I don’t like that smell seems so simple. So why can’t I figure it out?

The good news is “this too shall pass” applies. In a few weeks, the transition will have been made and life will find some peace….Until the next transition.

This too shall pass…

It was Sunday afternoon, my guy really wanted to run. He suffers from TMJ and finds that running eases the stress then therefore eases his TMJ and it is a cycle and when he misses he can tell. He says, “But, it is Mother’s Day.” I shush him. No really, it is okay. I am just gonna try and get #3 to take a nap I say. Thinking to myself she has been good today really I don’t see a problem.

He is not anymore than out the door she looks at me with this devilish smile. I say, “#3 time to lay down. I think Momma wants a nap too.” She violently shakes her head with her hand in the air screeching, “I not want you in bed with me.” I plead to just cuddle her. Hoping for a brief moment I can have the tiny girl who used to adore me and could not fall asleep without my hand cupped around her.

I ask again and it apparently irritates her. Her screams get loud, she throws herself on the floor, arched back, irritation that I even exist in the world. I feel perplexed on what to even do. I tell her, “Okay well, you need to lay down” and I head down our hall. I get to the end and see a comfy couch to rest my tired head on and as I go to land I feel something at my back.

It is my precious #3 kicking me at my shins and ankles. I turn around calmly and ask her to stop. She doesn’t. I can see quite quickly where this is headed. We are in yet another battle of the wills that rules the roost around her lately.

It starts out calm. I suggest she stop. She doesn’t. I get more firm. She doesn’t care. I physically pull her from me with all my might. She still thrashes. I hear “meanest mommy” and I become more irritated and exhausted. (Side-note: I don’t allow my children to talk to me like this. Unfortunately, sometimes when #2 is the heat of one of her meltdowns these words fly. I know they aren’t truly meant as I am told by the therapist numerous times but clearly #3 hears her sister talk like this.) She is following by example.

At this point I reach my own boiling point and honestly would like to return the favor. But as with most of the mom moments that no one dear utters I press it back. I can feel my brink coming ever so closely. I tell her, “I am done #3. Momma is getting angry.” I figure telling her the word for what she is feeling will maybe help this stage she is in.

I have done this two other times and I know this stage all too well. Their brains and vocabulary on the cusp of just blossoming in ways that we cannot even begin to comprehend. The newness it is overwhelming to them, they lash out.  I always teach them, “Find your words” at this stage. A teachable moment I suppose but if I teach this lesson as much as it happens it is likely what I would be doing 90% of my day.

I didn’t have it in me that day though. Her fits as of late are solely centered on me. She is unreasonable and chaotic and I don’t do either well. Thank you dear OCD. I would love to say the conclusion was a happy hugging nap together on a warm sunlight filled bed. But that is too TV for me, I guess.

Instead, I pick up the remote. Find her favorite episode of Dora the Explorer and thankfully it catches her attention enough to draw her away from her current frustration. I collapse in bed beside her eventually and the two of us slow our breathing till eventually we fall asleep.

I hear in the distance my #1 and #2 fighting over if they should wake me to ask me some superficial question that they both know will not go over well if they do. They reason and eventually decide, it is best to wait. I slide again into a sleep. Eventually I awake to my guy snoring in the living room. Apparently, he made it home safely from his run.

I peek over and in the bed next to me lay a nest of curls covering a tiny and innocent face that only an hour or so early shouted, “meanest mommy.” I see her slowly trying to wake. I watch as her eyelashes brush her face and she slowly shares these charcoal bluish gray eyes only to have them taken again by heaviness. I cuddle closer. So does she. The next few minutes maybe hours are these moments of closeness and in the sea of sleep, fluttering eyes she reaches out her hand and places her tiny fingers on my cheek tenderly and says, “Momma, you de best Mom ever.”

And I remember again why I am here. To be her mom. To be their mom. Even though it isn’t always easy.

Repost for Break’s Sake: And the record plays on and on and on…

I am so close to finalizing my draft for my class and then I will put the icing on my proverbial cake of Spring semester 2012. It was a good one and one I finally felt in control of. Last summer was hard. Things were uncertain. My life had a lot of uncertainties. The funny thing is I know now it really didn’t. Now looking forward to this summer I know THERE ARE UNCERTAINTIES. My whole life is basically uncertain….except for my family. (: But you know what I feel the most in control I ever have….It is a good OCD time.

_________Repost from October 11th, 2011_______

I felt all day yesterday the depression sneaking up on me again. It comes in a large wave. I fight it. I try and pretend it isn’t there. I put on my “happy” face for my friends and family. Then I go to the bathroom and puke. Yesterday my throat burned and as I swallowed and I swallowed hard I felt that burning move into my stomach. I sat down trying to give it up to God, to anyone. Just to someone. I ask myself, “Why?” Why now?

And there is never an answer. I felt as I grew more and more anxious and I tried to remember the wonderful weekend we had. The beautiful weather and focus on the memories made. Then I sit on the couch and hold my 2 year old daughter and I grab onto her for dear life. I kiss her forehead and thank God for her. Thank God for her sisters. Depression sucks. It steals me from them.

Eventually the panic sets in and I convince myself I am a horrible mother and wife and the list goes on and on. I feel embarrassed even typing this out so you ask why do you? Because I know these posts help others. I hear it. I do it because it helps me.

The weight of these things sit solely on my shoulders and I fight that damn darkness and my own inability to truly control any of it. I get so wrapped up in the darkness that I can’t barely see past it. I know that when there is light I am able to look at triggers and things that made the world seem so dark and hopefully react.

When you are in this frame of mind it is hard to imagine any other, but this blog is proof that tomorrow I will be okay and if not tomorrow the next day. That is why I write. I write it out because how does a writer deal with things? They write.

My worries are numerous, my OCD creates anxiety which in turn creates depression because I feel like I can’t be normal. The record just keeps playing on and on and on and on…..

10000 is a huge freaking number….

My big announcement you may ask is what? Is it that I am almost done with my freaking novel of a paper for my class? Nope. Is it that I am pregnant? Double nope and in fact, impossible. Is it that I am quitting every thing in my life and moving to a rain forest and never working again in this world? Nope and nope!

Today I hit 10,000 views  since January! How awesome is that? I am super proud of that despite maybe making you feel abandoned here in the last few days courtesy the paper above…it is sucking my creative writing life out of me! We did this together you know because with out an audience I would give up and just write a regular pen and paper journal. But that just isn’t me.

But CRAP 10,000 views is amazing. Last year when I sat out to make the goal of a successful blog I had to determine what it was in my terms. I didn’t want to go around signing all these blogs I could give two hoots about just to get hit up by their hitters. That is how the blogosphere works usually. I didn’t want to do a product review of some anonymous thing nor did I want oddly placed ads. I wanted to have readers who come here cause they wanted to.

What has brought most of my readers here outside of my social networks is OCD. I am ever grateful for that community and I hope and pray everyday I show you that can you live life with OCD. I promise to continue trying to share what living with OCD is like. It isn’t always hell. Sometimes it is kind of fun!

Thanks for reading my faithful readers, now please come out of the woodwork. Some of you I know, but some of you I see you checking in regularly but no comments. Say hello!

 

I once was a mess.

And I will be the first to admit at times I still am. But there was a time that leaving my house was so hard. I always knew growing up that I had “something”. Maybe it didn’t manifest itself fully enough for me to recognize it or for those around me. But it did exist. I can remember in my deepest darkest moments feeling lost and always wishing and wondering why I couldn’t just be “normal” like the other guy.

But the moment I realized it is a story worth repeating to those of you that have followed me from blog to blog and one worth repeating for my newer readers. But more importantly for those that find the courage to type into google “OCD” or “OCD symptoms”. I never was that brave until I had been diagnosed despite being pretty certain I did have it.

So let me simply set the stage: I had horrible food poisoning that took a year almost at recovery, I had a pregnancy loss, a hard move, and I had a baby and while this was over a span of years it caused what my therapist labeled post traumatic stress disorder. Or simply put I had quite a few HUGE things happen that I had no control over how they ended up. Therefore, the PSTD caused my always there OCD to go into over drive. I began believing the way I could control my world was by hand-washing, being clean and label people/places and things “safe” and “not safe” and proceed accordingly.

But to get to that point even to ask for help I had an epiphany. Or as Oprah calls it an “ah-ha” moment. Or as I label it, “the moment I realized this OCD was controlling my life.” I took my #1 out to lunch for her 4th birthday. She wanted Wendy’s. So we went. Before going in I poured some antibacterial on her hands for the 3rd or 4th time.  I had taught her this special way so that no part of her hand was missed.

We head inside and we order her lunch. A kids meal hamburger and fries. I touched the money, never “safe”, so therefore everyone in my presence had to wash.  We  head to our table. I proceed to sanitize the table with the antibacterial soap and for safety sake I had her wash again.  I meticulously laid out napkins so that none of her food would have to touch any part of the dirty table. And yes we washed again. She starts to eat and is just so excited to eat lunch with her mom for her birthday. But her mom…me…I have my eye on the crowd, “Are they coughing?” “Are they covering their mouths?” “Do they look sick?” I was miserable and so not in this special moment with her.

One woman starts hacking. I remember feeling extremely tense by this. #1 is clumsy and some fries fall off the napkins I have placed. I kind of fuss at her for being clumsy. The woman continues to cough and not cover her mouth. #1 picks up on my tension and gets fidgety. She loses more fries off to the side. I became irritated. I picked up her lunch and threw it away and made her leave. But not without me letting the coughing woman know what I think. I totally yelled at someone for  having an uncontrollable cough.

In my car, we have this mirror that attaches to the rear view mirror. So you can move it to see kiddos. I watched my daughter’s face as we drove home. She was devastated. She had the sad and silent cry. But not me. I had the huge ugly cry. I came home that day and told my guy I needed help and I called the doctor. Within a week I had an appointment at my doctor and within two I was in therapy.

That was just the moment I had had enough and decided to take my life back. But it is hard one to think about because that little girl she is almost 11 now and I still feel that sadness in the car that my OCD put on her. That I put on her.  I am not proud of how I acted. But I am proud of what I have become.

I live a very decent and normal life now. So if you found your way here because you are seeking out the answers and the help I am here to tell you. Take your life back. You can live a normal life with OCD. You just have to be brave enough to admit you have it.

I do have words.

Or at least I did a year ago…“In the Midst” which I will kindly repost below. But not without a WOW!! It is weird seeing those dark moments when I am totally not in them. In fact, my OCD really has only revealed it self at the most random times. Bowling last week. I had this constant need and urge to “wash” “wash” “wash”. It felt dirty, unsafe and well icky. But it was the first time I had been in there since it had reopen. I just had gotten word on my grandpa.  It has been a long time since I have been in one of those OCD moments. Thankfully, I have gotten so much better at keeping my OCD in check with trying to help my #2 navigate her social world. My OCD world truly is on the back burner. But like most OCD sufferers I am sure I will eat those words. One insecure moment, unknown environment, unexplained stress of normal life is all it takes. For now…I am in the midst of pure living where I am in control not OCD. It is blissful to be honest. 

______________

The dark moments don’t happen as often. I never know when they are coming and I usually do okay without my meds. When one hits and it is bad I feel able to cope. Not today though. Today was bad. It was a perfect storm. The family was all gone on vacation a week ago, they came home and things never stopped. I remained going 160 mph between parenting, teaching and doing my own homework. I could feel it brewing. I was communicating my worries to my guy and talking it through as best I could with anyone who would listen. Then what was chaos on the outside turned into chaos on the inside. # 2 was bullied at school and the school’s response mediocre at best. # 2 ends up puking in the morning and I have plans that I need to accomplish for the day. I am cuddling # 3 during naptime and what do I see. LICE. My world begins to spin.

The chaos takes hold. The chaos that is my OCD brain. It starts off in a mania. I rush and rush and rush. I sanitize everything and I count. 106 that magical number. Wipe the counter down 106 times. Convincing myself that I didn’t just clean said counter and wipe it down 106 more times. Get the lice shampoo, and by four different bottles. Buy new blankets and pillows for everyone. My imagination goes with crazy thoughts of having to burn my house down. You laugh. This is my reality. Turns out…# 3 is the only one with the lice. However, the cleaning went bad I couldn’t stop and got over board. Hands are bleeding, the girls recognize this for what it is. An OCD induced panic attack. I text my guy, “Be home soon, please. I need a break.”

We are almost 6 years in from my official OCD diagnosis and he knows what this means. I am desperate and in a dark place. Suicide thoughts sometimes because of the way OCD tricks my brain when it comes to my kids. I was there today. It has been a long time, but I sat on the bathroom floor and cried myself to sleep. I imagined horrible thoughts. I went dark places and I let OCD win for just an hour.

I lay there covered in my own tears and my guy sneaks his head in asking me if he can help. We have been down this road and he knows I just gotta work through it. #3 becomes worried and starts crying, “Momma. Momma.” She gets a glimpse of my messed up face and my puffy eyes and I see it across her face. The same face I have seen from my other two. A scared face. A face that carries with it a realization that Momma has something wrong. I hate that they have to feel insecure about me ever. The older two know I suffer from OCD but they each had the same look I saw from her. A little bit of their innocent world chipped away.

But it is just what I needed to snap out of it. I cleaned up my tears, blew my nose and came out and gave #3 a huge hug. I am not better and I won’t be tomorrow but it will get easier. It always does I am just in the midst of it.