Siiiggghhhh….

“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?

Mental Health Awareness

Is it me or does life seem crazy lately? Is life crazy or is the world crazy? Are we all going mad?

This is a wild time to be alive. I wonder if people said that 30 years ago? 50 years? I’ve been thinking a lot this weekend. Thinking about the current state of the world, thinking about how much I need a new job, thinking about my generation and thinking about Chris Cornell’s suicide. 

Chris’s wife made a statement indicating that she thought his suicide was brought on by the anxiety medication he had been taking. Apparently Chris, like many of us, suffered with anxiety and depression. People who don’t suffer may think “why would someone who has it all want to take his own life?”. Chris Cornell was the frontman of a few successful bands, he had a wife, children, and probably everything he’s ever wanted. So why would he take his life?

Anxiety and depression do not discriminate. You can have it all and be surrounded with so much love and yet you still feel hollow, like something is missing. So what do you do? Hide it from those you love that love you. Put your smile on everyday and keep on going. You don’t want to let anyone down. You don’t want to let yourself down. You don’t want these horrible mental illnesses to get the best of you. So maybe you take medication.

As someone who has taken anti anxiety and depression meds, I can tell you they didn’t do much for me in terms of relieving me from anxiety or depression. Instead I received the side effects: upset stomach, weight loss, increased energy. Luckily, I didn’t get the suicidal thoughts or tendencies side effect. Perhaps Chris Cornell did. It’s a side effect of almost all of those medications, afterall.

People think that those who commit suicide are copping out – they’re not strong. They have no will power. If you have lived with anxiety or depression it is horrible. There’s no escaping it. Its like walking around with a plastic bag over your head, unable to breath but through a tiny pin hole in the bag. Your self worth tanks. You feel helpless and hopeless. You feel like a failure. The thought of not feeling the anxiety and depression that breaks you down everyday is euphoric. Some people get relief through medication, yoga, mediatation, therapy. Others suffer no matter what they try. I know how that feels because I have yet to find what works for me.

While I’ve never debated suicide, I’ve thought about what it would feel like to not have to be tortured by this everyday. If Chris’s medication is responsible for his suicide, how horrible that the very thing that he took to try and be better ended his life? What can we do different? I think we need to start with one thing: ending the stigma around mental illness.

Millions of people suffer with mental illness world wide. Many of us live among you everyday. We work, we own homes, we have families. We suffer in silence because we are afraid of being judged. We don’t want to be told what we can’t do. We don’t want to be treated differently. 

I may have OCD, GAD and depression and I may be a productive member of society but what if I couldn’t be? What if my mental illnesses didn’t allow me to walk among the people who didn’t have a mental illness and go undetected? Maybe I won’t always be able to.

If you are suffering in silence please talk to someone. There is help out there. You can do it without anyone knowing. You are worth it. The world needs you.

Let’s end the stigma ✊️.

Hello? It’s me, anxiety.

Is there anything worse than when your anxiety decides to rear its ugly head when you’re in a place or situation you can’t escape? Like when you’re at work or when you’re out to dinner for a family member on a holiday. You do your best to stay cool calm and collected but on the inside you’re feeling like your insides are running a marathon. You’re sweating. Trembling. Nauseous. Dizzy. You’re brain is thinking of all the absolute worst scenarios (i.e. Death, throwing up, passing out, etc). You feel as though you have absolutely no control over your mind or body and all you want to do is run away from everything and everyone.

I feel like this every single day at one point (on a good day) or multiple times a day. It’s absolutely exhausting. Annoying. Depressing. Since I can’t sleep, I’ve been reflecting on what has become my normal. I’ve become accustomed to having these episodes at work and maintaining my happy face so no one knows what is going on. When all I want to do is run in my boss’s office and say “I’m having bad anxiety today I have to go” (and not have her look at me like a freak – in a perfect world) I put my head down and grin and bare it as is work through these attacks. 

I get my hair done every 8 or so weeks. It takes about 2.5 hours and trust me when I say it is one of the slowest 2.5 hours in life. I have horrible anxiety there every single time. The only thing that keeps Me going back is the fact that a. I don’t want to look like a hot mess and b. I tell myself that I’ve survived before. Last week I almost didn’t survive. I ended up leaving the salon with wet hair because I thought I was going to pass out. My hair stylist looked at me like I had 6 heads when I said “it’s ok you don’t have to dry it” and slowly stood up from her chair. That told me a few things. Not only does she have no idea I have anxiety but in the 8 years she’s been doing my hair she has never once noticed the struggle I’ve had while sitting in her chair for 2.5 hours. I must be a great actress, because I’ve had some bad attacks. She was really worried about me because she has never seen me do that. I paid, got into my car and sobbed. Why am I so ashamed to have generalized anxiety disorder? Because of the stigma. Because for once I’d love to be able to genuinely enjoy myself somewhere. I just want to be “normal” and not tortured with this.

I ended up texting her later on that night to apologize for my sudden departure from her chair. I ended up telling her that it was a long day at work and I thought my blood sugar was getting a little low. I was hungry, but why didn’t I tell her the truth? I’m ashamed, that’s why. I don’t want her to be scared to do my hair in the future. If I can go back…I have PTSD from that debacle.

I’ve read a few articles this week from celebrities like Kristen Bell and Chris Evans speaking out about their struggles with anxiety and depression. Funny how common these mental illnesses are but no one talks about it and we’ve all become so good at hiding it. I don’t think a celebrity speaking out will end the stigma but it’s a step in the right direction.

This weekend is Mother’s Day, which means packed restaurants and public places. A dream for someone with GAD. Not. I have 3 Moms, my real Mom lives out of state, my step Mom and my Mother in law. Luckily that means I only have to make it through 2 family visits, which are bound to be painful for me. Not necessarily because of who they are but because my disorder has decided to perminantly take over my body and mind this week, leaving me with no energy, exhausted and with a short fuse. 

Time to put on my happy face….😄

Another perspective…

This week an old friend and a person related to someone in my family commuted suicide. Both of them suffered  from mental illness. 

My heart hurts. I’ve been there. When the anxiety is debilitating. Can’t leave the house. Physically feel like shit. Disappointing those you love. No end in sight. When you’re suffering in the peak of a panic attack and you feel like you can’t live this way for another minute. Another second. You would do anything to end the suffering. The pain. 

Then a few minutes goes by. Your chest begins to loosen. Your breathing begins to slow. You can’t hear your heart pounding in your ears anymore. Your vision begins to steady. Your stomach settles down. Things are starting to look up, right?

For now. Here’s the thing about having a legitimate mental illness: the suffering doesn’t end. There will be another panic attack. Another episode of depression. That’s guaranteed. 

My guess is that these individuals ended it during the peak of an anxious moment, a panic attack or episode of depression. Before they gave it time to get better. I can’t say I agree with it, but I do understand it. And it makes my heart hurt. 

What makes my heart hurt even more is that no one knew the extent of their suffering. On the outside they had lots of friends, were successful, seemed to be living the life they wanted with a smile. Why didn’t anyone have any idea? Because of the stigma around mental illness. They didn’t want to be labeled. Didn’t want to be judged. Didn’t want to burden anyone else with their issues. These were great people and because our society is so quick to judge we are without these people. And many others.

I am one of those people. On the outside I look like I have it all. I take care of myself, I have a great job, a wonderful husband and everything I want. Most people don’t know that I dread mornings. Why? Because I have to fight to make it through another day. Hide the debilitating anxiety. Maintain the facade. My close family knows that I struggle, but how much easier would my life be if I could decline a meeting because I’m too anxious? Work from home because I’m having a bad anxiety day? Cut myself some slack and not clean the house, go grocery shopping and do laundry each Saturday because Sunday is too late in the weekend? But I don’t want to be judged. I don’t want to be treated like an invalid. 

Why can’t I tell you that I suffer from GAD, OCD and depression and have you treat me like I don’t belong in the looney bin?

I am a functional, contributing member of society. Don’t judge me. 

END THE STIGMA.  

RIP Joey and Scott. 💔

 

Hold on to me…cause I’m a little unsteady.

It’s getting closer to me finding out my fate with my company after the merger goes through. The head of the department I work in at the bank that is taking us over will be in the office tomorrow. 

All of this is giving me such bad anxiety. My weekend has been full of high blood pressure, dizzy spells and nausea. It’s sad that I can’t even enjoy my time away from work due to the stress work is putting on my mind.

Good news is that I survived several long in person meetings last week that I was freaking out about. I had to excuse myself only once to get some air – which I was mortified to do – until I came back and realized these people could care less. Luckily there were several people in the meeting with me.

My husband has been dying to see the movie Deadpool. Movies give me anxiety too of course – being trapped in a seated position for a couple hours is torture – but I told him I’d go with him if went to the earliest showing they had. So we’re going at 10:45am. And I’m going to give it everything I have to sit there with him the entire time and actually try and enjoy myself. After all, he let me pick the seats and everything. And it’s the least I can do after what he’s put up with the past few weeks with me, not to mention his own issues. Panic attacks, turning down plans, he had foot surgery…I suck. 

It’s currently 6am and I’ve been rolling around in bed since 3am. Anxiety drains me both physically and mentally and it doesn’t even allow me to rest when I’m exhausted beyond words. Anxiety is a bitch and I hate her. 

I’m going on vacation in April, which I’m excited and anxious about due to the flights but if I can do 24 hours of flying in 2 weeks I can do 6 hours in 1 week. My mom and grandma are hijacking part of our trip and are staying at our resort. It won’t be that bad but my mom tends to make my hyper so I won’t be able to relax as much as I had hoped. The week before we go my step dad announced that he’s coming up to stay with me for a week. 

Are these people serious!? I’m an medicated anxious wreck right now that’s anxious about everything and they want to come stay with me and hijack my vacation around the time I hope to be starting a new job. I’m going to need a vacation from the month of April. STRESS.

I’ll get through it. Always do somehow. Today I’m thankful for my husband, my rock. Who could easily be giving me a hard time about my anxiety levels lately and my family taking over our lives in April. But he’s not. He’s telling me we will get though it. It will be good to see them since I only see my parents annually. I’m stronger than I think I am. That I’m the strongest person he knows. I don’t know how he does it with me…I really don’t. 😍