“Wash your hands”, “did you touch that?”, “here use this hand sanitizer”. What is life like when you’re married and you have generalized anxiety disorder and OCD? Horrible.

My husband gets frustrated. I get it, I do too. I would too if I was living with someone paranoid; directing me to wash my hands after touching certain door handles (although they’ve already been sanitized), touching my wallet or my phone (also already sanitized). 

I was a child that grew up outside playing in the mud. Showering was done but not because I necessarily wanted to. Touching everything. Eating everything. Not thinking about germs. I’ve always struggled with generalized anxiety disorder but not OCD. Until about 4 years ago. Every time I left the house and came back or touched the door handles going into the house I’d have to wash my hands. I’d always wash my hands before cooking which was normal for me but back then I could do it and then touch the tv remote, my phone etc. As time progressed I started over analyzing the things I touched after I washed my hands and determining that those needed to be sanitized. Now I find myself sanitizing my car at the end of every week after getting gas. Door handles in the house that are used when we go in and out. Faucets. Phones. Coffee cups that come in from the outside. Remote controls. The garage door opener/closer. Even the recliner handles.

How did it get to this point? I used to never even think about this stuff. What is wrong with me? I have a theory. 

I think sanitizing is an outlet for my anxiety. What I mean by that is I used to get debilitating panic attacks for years. I still get them now and then but as my OCD routines have gotten worse my panic attacks have gotten better. The generalized anxiety is always there but the full blown take me to the ER panic attacks have subsided. Is this a possible? I have no idea – but the coincidence is odd. 

The OCD makes it challenging to live. Leaving the house is a chore knowing that I have to come home and do my routine every time I do. Spending the night at other places besides my home (hotel rooms, relative’s houses, etc.) is horrifying. Airplanes make me want to gag. I love traveling, but this makes it so much harder. I stock up on hand sanitizer and use it constantly while flying. I’m probably a few flights away from bringing wipes and sanitizing the area that we sit in (I already bring them for hotel rooms we stay in).

My husband has become very understanding and supportive of me having GAD over the years; mostly thanks to therapy. But he has a hard time with the OCD. I can’t say I blame him. I’m not sure I could be married to someone like this if I was on the other side. “Just stop doing it – what’s so hard about that?!” Dude – you have no idea. Funny thing is he acts like I like living this way. I feel like I’m trapped in a mind telling me to do things that I cannot control. Telling me we’re going to get violently ill if I don’t sanitize. Giving me horrible anxiety until I go through my routines. Not the life I want to live either. 

So where do we go from here? The OCD gets progressively worse as time goes on. Would I trade it for the panic attacks I used to get? If I don’t sanitize it will give me panic attacks. What’s worse? 

If you don’t suffer with any of these mental illnesses I can only imagine what you’re thinking: this chick is crazy. But hear me out. I have a college degree. A full time job that pays well. I own a home. I have pets. A husband. I pay taxes. I’m fortunate to be able to contribute to society in some way. If you look at me on the outside you may never know how bad I’m struggling inside. Most people that find out I struggle with this look at me wide eyed; saying they could never tell. I walk amongst everyone else with a smile although inside I feel like I’m being gutted. I’ve learned to live with this and it hasn’t been easy. You never know what someone is going through. 

As for my husband, I feel so much guilt. We’ve been married 5 years; together 12. My mental illness has progressed steadily over those 12 years, mostly since we’ve been married. Is it fair for us to be together? For him to have to put up with my antics. This isn’t what he signed up for – or is it? If it were him how would I react? There are so many things going through my mind right now. He’s started to give me a hard time about it and is borderline becoming unsupportive. “In 10 years you won’t be able to work or leave the house at this rate”. Maybe he’s right. My heart breaks every time I’m forced to think about the reality of the situation. This sucks. Anyone else going through this and if so, how do you cope?


Self reflection.

Well, Hawaii was amazing as usual. Lots of hikes, volcano views, waterfalls, beaches and awesome weather. Celebrated 5 years of marriage to my husband and ate way too much. I also had some realizations. 

1. Vacations are necessary. Always. For someone who struggles with mental health issues, getting a break from the daily grind and going somewhere where I don’t have to worry about doing anything is the only thing that eases my mind a little. I find that I do less worrying and more reflecting and I think that’s important. 

2. Dreams are good to have but they need to be realistic. Since the first time I went to Hawaii in 2012 I’ve wanted to live there. I’ve applied for jobs there and we have gone back for vacations but the reality is that it’s an expensive place to live and I can’t move there without a job. That said, a realistic goal may be to retire there and continue to go on vacations there every few years. I just need to come to terms with that.

3. You are not a bad person if you let go of people that hurt your soul. This one is complicated. Let’s just say that I have a Father that doesn’t really want me in his life but pretends to others like he does thus making me look like the bad guy despite the fact that he never talks to me. I’ve tried for years to get his approval, his love, shit even his acknowledgement to no avail. I’ve spent a lot of time and tears dwelling on this relationship. One night while in Hawaii I found myself laying awake in bed, listening to the waves and reminiscing on the past and the present state of things with my Father. That was when I decided it was time to just let go. Breaks my heart but it is what it is and I’m walking away knowing that I gave an honest effort. 

4. Finding your passion and making it your job is a must. I’m dreading returning to my job as a compliance officer at a regional bank. I’m not passionate about being a compliance officer working in banking. I don’t look forward to going to work everyday; in fact, I dread it. I have so many anxious sleepless nights and moments of frustration during the work day that it consumes me. But what am I passionate about? Nothing that will allow me to make similar money and continue to live the lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed to. Good news is I make an honest living doing something I’m not ashamed of. Bad news is I have no sense of fullfilment. I hope one day it comes to me.

5. My body and mind has changed a lot in the past 5 years, and that is ok. We were married in Hawaii in 2012 and went back to he same resort we were married at for our anniversary. In 2012 my new hubby and I went out to dinner at a nice waterfront restaurant and the waiter took a picture of us. I thought it would be fun to take an identical picture at this restaurant 5 years later, until I saw the picture afterwards and compared them. What did I see? Well my husband is still very handsome. The scenery is still beautiful. But when I looked at myself I felt sad. In the 2012 picture I was thinner, had way less anxiety, looked more attractive and overall my happiness was visible in my face. 2017 me was heavier in the face, had bags under her eyes, looked exhausted, and although the happiness was still visible in my face at that time I lost my spark. After reflecting some more, I’ve been through a lot in the past 5 years. Too much to share in this posting. 2012 me was in her early 20s, still getting a grip on adulthood and making immature decisions (like running away to Hawaii and eloping with my boyfriend of 7 years when we had no money). 2017 me is established, responsible, and more mature. And I have the emotional scares to prove it. My mental state is different. I don’t look bad in the 2017 photo. It’s just who I am now. And In another 5 years I will look even more different. I need to be ok with that. 

6. Facing your fears is necessary, even when your anxiety tells you there is no way you can do something. Listen. I have GAD, OCD and depression. I live in a constant state of fear. Fear of flying, fear of driving, even fear of being at work. But in order to live I need to face those fears every single day. I’ve been to Hawaii 3 times now. I live in NY. It’s anywhere from a 12-14 hour flight not including layovers. For someone who hates flying, being in the air that long and having to take 3 flights to get somewhere is the worst. I drive myself absolutely crazy the entire month leading up to a trip where I have to fly. But no matter how much I hate it I push myself because if I didn’t I wouldn’t have the memories. The experiences. I wouldn’t be living. Honestly most of the time I surprise myself when I fly. Yes, I have panic attacks pretty much constantly but at the end I’m amazed by how strong I can be when I’m really determined. And for that, I am proud of myself.

Now I just need to adjust to being in the eastern time zone again and get the sleep I need to be productive on my first day back in the office on Monday. If only I could keep this anxiety at bay…πŸ˜”.

Sometimes, the fear won’t go away so you have to do it afraid.Β 

Sunday anxiety is the worst. Tomorrow brings a lot of work stress, some dental work and a contractor coming over to do the countertop for our vanity in the master bathroom. All of these things give me horrible anxiety. Particularly the dentist. Oh and my husband is begging me to book our 5 year wedding anniversary trip. Where does he want to go? Hawaii. Yep a 12 hour flight away from where we live.

I want to go on this trip so bad. We both work hard, we’ve been through a lot in the past almost 5 years that we’ve been married and Hawaii is where I belong (or so I say and feel). But all I can think about are the horrible things that could happen. There have been so many stories lately about flights experiencing bad turbulence, engines blowing up, computers going down and long delays. 

I have bad panic attacks on flights normally when nothing goes wrong. If something like this happened, I would be done. I may even die. Do I let the fear of the flight keep me from enjoying a nice trip? If you ask me today, the answer is yes. And I’m so mad. I’m mad that I’m letting this disorder run my life. But right now today I’m not feeling strong enough to make the reservations and buy the tickets. I’m not feeling strong enough to know that I can keep it together for 12 hours of flying, medicated or not. I’m not feeling strong enough to book the trip today even though we will not be going until April 2017. So I will wait another few days until I’m feeling stronger, then revisit it then. 

As of now, I have to get through this anxiety and get the dental work done in the morning. Then get to work and try to keep it together until the contractor is gone from my house. Then I will fall apart. These things sound so easy and basic but they drain the life out of me as I contemplate the worst possible scenarios occurring during each event. 

I wish I could shut the anxiety off. I wish I could be “normal”. I wish I had more flexibility at my job. I wish I felt better physically. I wish we lived in a world where there was no hate. Today is the 15th anniversary of 9/11/01. Each year I get more and more emotional when I think about what happened that day. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older and more understanding or if it’s my anxiety making me paranoid that an attack like that could very well happen again. Anywhere. At any time. 

Just need to take things one day at a time. Until next time…β€οΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ’™

This is my fight…post, take back my life…post, prove I’m alright…post?Β 

I made it. I panicked all week over this. I lost sleep over this. I over thought it. 

I flew alone. I made it to my parent’s house. And now I’m panicking about the flight home in 4 days. 

Having agoraphobia is hard. Really hard. There are days I can’t get myself to leave the house, run errands, go to the office, even go outside and work in my garden. I continue to challenge myself and not let this get the best of me. Although it is really hard and torturous, the way you feel after you’ve completed a task you were petrified of is so rewarding. Gratifying. Empowering. I flew from NY to GA by myself yesterday. Although just a 2 hour flight, it felt like 5 hours. I was panicking the entire time. I didn’t sleep at all the night before worrying about the flight and this trip. Being alone without my husband, the only person I feel shielded around because not many know I have this debilitating issue, is hard when I’m pushing myself out. I had no one to coach me through the attacks, through the flight, through the hour car ride to get to my parent’s house afterwards. But I did it. When the plane landed I began to tear up. What a relief. My entire body began to slowly relax and I actually enjoyed myself last night chatting with my mom. 

This morning I hurt. Every muscle. My body hurts. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. As I blink my eyes ache telling me to go back to bed but my brain is saying “wake up and think! you should probably get out of bed you lazy house guest”. Stupid brain is running on 5 hours of sleep in 48 hours. How does it have the fuel to keep going?! I’m going to need a Starbucks to get through the day…

Needless to say the moral of this story is that you can. When it gets hard and you feel like giving up you have to push yourself. Book that flight, go to that dinner, attend that meeting. We may have to struggle through it but the reward you feel after knowing that just this one time you didn’t let the anxiety get the best of you is so gratifying (although you may get a pounding headache, feel dizzy, fatigued, tired, etc.). I swear if anxiety was a person I would beat the crap out of it and kill it! (I mean that in the least craziest way possible.) Have a great day everyone and enjoy the long weekend! πŸ˜πŸ’›


It’s OK to be happy with a calm life

It’s 5am on a Sunday morning. This weekend has gone the way most of my weekends do these days – run the required errands, sometimes do a little shopping and return to my safe place. It is the middle of a long, cold, snowy winter after all. I’ve had manageable anxiety my entire life up until 2.5 years ago when I had my first serious anxiety attack. I thought I was dying. I couldn’t catch my breath, broke out in a sweat, had chest pain, felt sick to my stomach and was so dizzy I could barely walk. My husband took me to the ER. We were both terrified. Since that day, I’ve lived my life in fear that I will have another attack like that but in public. More specifically, at work or in a store. I spend my nights thinking about how I’m going to get through these situations, which is why I’ve been up all night. My husband and I have been together for 10 years and married for 3. 3 years ago we decided that we were going to forego a traditional wedding and spend the money on our dream wedding and dream vacation. We got married on the Big Island of  Hawaii and fell in love with it. Not just because everyday looks like a page out of a travel magazine, but the culture was amazing and the energy I felt when I was there was unbelievable. The way of life is minimalist. There is an emphasis on truly just being happy. The scenery is so natural and untouched it’s remarkable. I feel most at peace when I’m in nature. Sitting by a waterfall in the middle of a tropical forest or watching the sunset from the beach does wonders for someone with a mind like me. I’ll never forget the way that island made me feel. We also visited Oahu, which is just as beautiful but more commercialized. Pearl Harbor was emotional and seeing real surfers on the North Shore was cool (I’m from Buffalo, NY ok?). The city of Honolulu is one of the cleanest cities I’ve ever seen. Not to mention beautiful (only in Hawaii can brick and mortar buildings with a few palm trees be considered beautiful to me). The moral of this story is that we are going back to the islands (this time Kauai and Maui) in 8 days and I’ve been up all night stressing about the flight. More specifically, having an anxiety attack on the flight. 12 hours in the air (5 of which are spent over the Pacific Ocean), 14 total hours of travel. Last time we went I was anxious but survived, even despite the severe turbulence that almost made me get sick on the plane. That was also before I had the worst anxiety attack of my life, which occurred about 10 months after we returned. I’ve flown all my life. I’ve done this flight once I know I can do it again. As a precaution, my doctor prescribed me a few Xanax to take if needed (if it gets to the point I start to embarrass my husband…who is a saint for putting up with my antics) but my goal is to not take them. I hate taking meds but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. And that is OK. I can do this. I just need to stop watching the news – every night there’s a flight horror story about a plane that disappeared over the ocean, a plane that went down, severe turbulence, a man having a heart attack….anyway, I digress. What is going to happen will happen regardless of how much I worry about it. If I were going anywhere else, I would not be willing to fly for 12 hours. It’s what’s on the other side that makes this worth it. The feeling of relief I’ll have once I get there after making it through will make it worth it. I can’t let my anxiety dictate my life and the only way you can do that is by pushing your boundaries.For someone who leads a calm life, a trip like this is a big deal. The point I wanted to make here is that it’s ok to not have much going on in your life if it makes you happy. I’m happy with the quiet simple life I’ve come to have since my life changed a couple years ago. I don’t feel a void when I see or hear about others who spent their weekend partying it up with a big group of people. That’s never been my scene anyway but as an introvert with an extrovert husband I often found myself in those situations, which I never minded just didn’t prefer. I need to stop worrying about this trip and start getting excited for what’s to come. 8 days!!