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?

They say, “time heals everything”, but I’m still waiting…

Exhaustion. Fatigue. The result of prolonged anxiety. I’ve definitely been in a rut since returning from Hawaii. Work has been busy, now that Spring is here my yard is in need of an overhaul and Hallmark holidays are coming up that I dread. One in particular – Father’s Day. 

A reminder of my non-existent relationship with my Father. A reminder of the resentment I hold. A reminder of how much I wish things could be different. Usually for these holidays we spend time with my in-laws since my Mom and Step Dad live out of town. Lately spending time with anyone but my Husband or leaving the house in general is a real drag. Perhaps another sign that I need to make some changes in my life.

Other things on my mind: my cat still has a growth on her head, need to call the vet tomorrow. Feeling guilty for asking to work remote tomorrow despite the fact my boss(s) said it was ok. Stressed about the volume of work that I need to do. Need to finish removing shrubs from my gardens. Need to pick out new shrubs and order mulch. I understand a lot of this is “first world problems” or to some people not really problems at all but when you have generalized anxiety disorder all of these “to-dos” are overwhelming. I also really need to lose weight and stop eating my feelings. 

I’ve been thinking about writing a novel. I like to write – it distracts me from my self and is a good outlet for me creatively. After weeks of thinking about the storyline of my book I had a dream Saturday night that wrote my book for me. I tend to like twisted books and movies and always pictured myself writing a twisted novel or a self help book for others struggling with my mental disorders. Looks like someone else made the decision for me. Now to find time to write…

Hope everyone has a great week! 

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˜”.

It doesn’t matter where you’re going, it’s who you have beside you.

Almost a week out from our 12 hour flight to Hawaii, my favorite place on earth. I cannot wait. I wish I was in a position to never return to my reality here at home. When I say that I mean my job; day to day as I know it, relationships I have with certain people that drain my energy. Since I was little I always looked forward to going on vacations – any excuse to run away from difficult situations and my anxiety. 

That’s what I usually do. Situations that make me anxious drain my energy and the only way I recharge is when I escape. Otherwise the life gets sucked out of me and I feel like I’m drowning slowly and everyone is just standing around watching me screaming for help but not hearing me. Reaching for a hand but they turn a blind eye. The life drains out of my eyes and no one notices. 

My husband and I went to see Logan this morning at the movies. I try to avoid the movies at all costs because sitting still and being overstimulated for hours gives me more torture than pleasure (thanks GAD) but every so often I make an exception and suffer through it for a movie my husband really wants to see that I do too. For those of you who have seen it, Logan dies saving his daughter Laura. While Logan is taking his last breaths the two share an emotional moment where he pretty much tells her that he cares about her despite not showing her much love and emotion throughout the movie, even after finding out she is his daughter. So why am I telling you this? As the lights came on I realized I was sobbing. Yes, it was sad when Logan died but I think sub consciously I was thinking about my own relationship with my Dad. My Dad has a wall up with me, and visa versa. We don’t show emotion to eachother. We don’t interact like a father and daughter typically do. He doesn’t even really acknowledge me. Seeing Logan finally let his guard down with Laura made me so happy. How would she have felt living the rest of her life if he didn’t let her how he cared about her? Would she have regrets? Would she feel alone? They say actions speak louder than words; and I agree, but sometimes, especially when it isn’t obvious how one feels through action, words are necessary too.

Ok that was deep. Anyway, I have a busy week ahead at work as I prepare to be out of the office for almost 2 weeks. I have no back up so whatever I don’t finish will be waiting for me when I return. And that burden will be weighing on me the entire time I’m gone. Yay. 

Did I mention I can’t wait to get away? Oh and that I’m terrified of flying? That my anxiety is ruining my life? Well I am, it is. But I’ll get through it. Always do somehow some way. 

Oh and 4/9 is our 5 year wedding anniversary. Staying at the place we were married in Hawaii. ❀️

My cat has a growth on her ear and I’m afraid it’s something bad. This cat was there for me when no one else was. Send good thoughts her way that it’s nothing bad please! 😻

Have a great week. πŸ™…πŸ‘™πŸ¬πŸ πŸŒΊπŸŒ΄β˜€οΈπŸŒŠ

Sunday Blues

Sunday nights. Where anxiety takes over. Physically, I feel like crap. Mentally, I’m preparing for a crazy week at work. New management is making my work life difficult at the moment. A blizzard is on its way. 3 weeks until we leave for Hawaii. A normal person would be excited. All I can think about is what may go wrong. I feel like I have a cold, again. Daylight savings time kicked in and we lost an hour today. 

I’m trying really hard to be positive. On a positive note I went shopping at the outlet mall and went to Target at 1pm on a Saturday. You’re probably thinking – so what? For me that’s huge. I’ve avoided going out in public during peak times for years. I also went to Lowes and BJs today during peak time. Whhhaaaaatttt! 

Anyway, essential oils are helping me sleep better. Lavender, peppermint and lemongrass are my go to for the diffuser. If I’m having extra bad insomnia frankincense knocks me out but I feel kind of hung over them next day. 

I’m debating writing a book of poetry. Does anyone even read poetry anymore? I find writing so calming and I love poems. Maybe a novel would be better? πŸ€”

Time to give hubby a haircut. Sorry this post is so random.

Have a great week. πŸ™ƒ

“It’s time.”

“Ok, that’s it. I think it’s time that you see a Therapist…”. When he said the words my chest tightened and my eyes welled up with tears. How did I get to this point?

As my husband said those words to me I was disinfecting his phone as soon as he walked in the door. When I heard him pull into the garage I turned the water on in the kitchen sink so that it was warm when he walked into the house so that he could wash his hands right away before touching anything. I was sanitizing all of the door handles. I was sanitizing the kitchen faucet. I even sanitized the coffee cup that he brought into the house from a local coffee shop.

Truth is, I’ve been thinking the same thing lately. I realized that my OCD was getting worse when I started taking alternative routes to and from the ladies room at work so that I could wash my hands one extra time before getting back to my desk. I sanitize my hands after I touch anything. I had even gone as far as to sanitize the button and zipper on my pants because the thought of touching the stall door in the bathroom at work to lock it and then using the ladies room horrified me.

“You’re going to get sick, there’s no avoiding it.” “Hand sanitizer isn’t effective you know.” “You can’t live your life in fear like this.” Listen. To say things like that to someone who doesn’t have OCD and GAD it may be effective. You may be able to reason with them. There is no reasoning with me. If a study came out tomorrow that indicated that hand sanitizer didn’t kill germs I would still continue to use it.

This has affected my life in more ways that I could imagine. I avoid public places unless I absolutely need to go. I avoid children (not a kid person anyway but besides that they carry a host of germs). I avoid shaking hands if possible. I don’t touch door handles.I fear going out to eat because more than likely the kitchen in a restaurant is not up to my standards of cleanliness. When I look at things I can visualize the living organisms on them. I know this isn’t normal.

I’ve been to therapists before. Talking about my issues makes me really emotional because I feel unworthy, crazy, depressed, like I have no control over my thoughts and actions. Confronting the fact that you have mental health issues is never easy. Therapists have taught me anxiety coping mechanisms. They have also prescribed me drugs that have made my condition worse. I do not want to be medicated at this point and the thought of opening up about it is dreadful.

That night I had a major meltdown. I sobbed so hard I was hyperventilating. I didn’t feel worthy of love – although I know my husband is just trying to help, I understand his frustration. I couldn’t imagine being him in this situation. So I need to figure out what to do about it.

There are so many things going on in my life right now that are making me so anxious. There was a reorganization at work which has resulted in a lack of role clarity for me and a change in senior management which means more changes to come. I have a doctor’s appointment next week that I’m dreading during work hours. I have a coworker that isn’t speaking to me for reasons I do not know. I’m 20 lbs heavier than I would like to be and despite eating healthy and working out my weight isn’t budging. I have to somehow make it through a 12 hour flight (24 hours total) when I’ve become petrified of flying. I have to seal my countertops. I have to have some of the landscaping in front of my house re-done because large bushes and trees have died as a result of last years drought. My cats haven’t been to the vet in years and one of them has been peeing outside of the litter  box and the other has gained a substantial amount of weight and I think he may have diabetes (he gets diet food, I don’t know what else to do). My relationship with my Father is stressful. I fear the direction in which the country I live in is going – our President is a hot mess TV personality and doesn’t have a clue of what he is doing. The floors in my house need to be re-done. My bedroom needs to be painted. I need to sit through a 3 hour hair appointment and not freak out. I have to get blood work done every few months for a thyroid problem I have developed.

A normal person would read that and think it could be a lot worse. I agree. They may be thinking that’s not so bad – I do that all the time. So do I, but it keeps me up at night. It gives me high blood pressure. It gives me migraines. It depletes me of energy. It makes me tremble. It makes me cry. It makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me eat my feelings. Makes me unable to breathe. Makes me absolutely exhausted. 

Just needed to vent. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. 


 

Toodles 2016

2016 was a rough year. An anxious year. I struggled though most of it but managed to get by. I started a new job. I visited Cape Cod and Key West. We remodeled our master bathroom. I paid off my beauty school student loans (tough paying these, especially since I haven’t been doing hair for about 7 years). I survived getting blood work done (major anxious moment – I passed out last time). I lost a Grandma. Donald Trump was elected president (insane in my opinion).  I was sent to NYC for my first offsite work seminar (which was a nightmare). I hosted my parents for a week over the holidays and didn’t have a total breakdown (just partial). I survived several panic attacks over the past 365 days.

I’ve decided that 2017 will be the year of me. I’m going to start taking care of myself. Worrying more about myself. Not being as hard on myself. Making choices for my happiness. Doing things for me. I have GAD, depression and OCD. There is nothing that I can do to change that so why should I beat myself up over it? I’m tired of making excuses for my anxiety. It’s something I live with and struggle with everyday. Although I fight it to be a productive member of society I have limitations. This is not a choice. I do not take medication for it (nothing wrong with taking meds – I did for years). I’m not going to feel guilty for saying “no” if I don’t want to do something. I don’t think this is selfish. My anxious mind spends so much time worrying about others. Worrying about what they will think if I do certain things. If I don’t do certain things. Worrying about things I can’t control. We all have a duty to worry about ourselves because if we don’t, who will? This year I’m going to do my best to let go. If you don’t understand my mental illnesses and think I’m making excuses – educate yourself. 

This year I’m going to Hawaii (aka one of my favorite places on earth) for the 3rd time. I would love to live there but I’ve been unsuccessful in finding a job (why would they hire someone from NY?) so I’ll just have to retire there. I’m hoping my job turns around. The company is stable (unlike the last bank that I worked for) but the culture is horrible and my job duties have changed 3 times in the past 6 months so now I’m not really even doing what I wanted to do/was hired to do. I hope to have the floors in my house re-done (since I ruined them) and I hope to take many long weekend trips! Most of all, I’m going to try and stay as positive as possible despite all of the negativity in this world. Wish me luck!