Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Today is Luke's Birthday!

Can you believe that it is Luke’s birthday? He’s not 30 yet, but let’s just say he gets closer everyday to needing that annual visit to the proctologist. I think it’s about dang time too. Why do we always have to be the one hosting dinner parties in our private parts? “Come on in everybody! Check out what’s going on in my uterus. I’ve redecorated since the last time you were here. Or maybe you didn’t notice because you were busy using medieval torture tools down there.” But I digress…Luke’s birthday.

I thought we could celebrate this occasion with a look back at some of the ways Luke and I have celebrated his birthday over the past several years.

14th-OK technically I wasn’t at this birthday party, but I heard it was awesome. Teenage boys, 89er’s baseball and Celebration Station. I am fairly positive that all I missed was nauseating surges of hormone, and Teenage Idiot Syndrome (TIS) which is characterized by seemingly normal children behaving like complete idiots when in groups of 3 or more. For example: 1994, Falls Creek, Luke Cavett dips both hands into his bowl of chili, smears it all over his face and arms, and walks up to two giggling 14 year old girls (as BFF, Angela watches and eye rolls). He then says “Hi! I’m Luke. Oh no, do I have something on my face?” (He dabs the corners of his mouth with a napkin) “There. Did I get it all? How embarrassing.” He then makes an icee date with both girls later on. Summary: Not entirely sorry I missed that birthday party. Also, 14 year old girls are weird.

16th-The big day came and Luke passed his drivers test! Of course, the first stop (after the DMV) was to come to my house and pick me up! We were ready for a night of TIS and crazy antics. He washed the little ’89 Nissan Sentra aka “Slothmobile” (do NOT ask) and off we went. I should tell you now that the Slothmobile had one of the back seats that fold out allowing you direct access to the trunk. This will be an important detail in a minute. Windows down, DC Talk in the tape deck; first stop: his girlfriend’s house. Yes, she and I were actually friends at the time so it was all good. However, in the BFF v. girlfriend face-off, I lost shotgun. I will give Luke props for that good call. He had his priorities straight. Or at least his 16 year old hormones did. Anyhow, back seat I went, and I didn’t want to miss any of the action so I sat right in the center naturally. The car sitting still in the road directly in front of us was a total surprise. Now most folks would have just swerved easily around it using the handy lane right next to us, but not Luke “Fred Flintstone” Cavett. He slammed his foot on the brake hard enough to cause all of the dirty car wash water, which had filled up his non water-tight trunk, to slosh in a violent tsunami through that space in the center of the back seat that allows you easy access to the trunk. So now, not only do I have whiplash and am quite possibly deaf from the squeal of rubber on the road, I am also soaking wet. With dirty, soapy water. His girlfriend thought that was hilarious. Yeah, well I showed her. I married her boyfriend. That’s in your face.

19th-18 was a pretty boring year for us, so I decided to make up for it with a huge surprise party the next year. I started planning months in advance and realized quickly that between college and work, the only day we could schedule the party was about 3 weeks before his birthday. I managed to invite all of our friends, including everyone we worked with which was a challenge since we worked at the same place and everyone wanted off on the same night for the party. Somehow, he never found out. So the night of the big party I told him I would come over to his house and we would go to a movie. This kid was determined to make this as hard as possible for me. I practically had to slip a roofie into his drink to keep him away from where we were not supposed to be yet. (Side note: I hope that is how you spell roofie. I’ve never had to spell it before and spell check apparently frowns on mentioning date rape drugs in your writing. I didn’t actually use a roofie, so quit being such a goody-two-shoes spell check) He kept trying to change plans! When I got to his house, the poor kid had actually picked out a movie he really wanted to see and was all excited about so then I felt like a complete jerk. I told him I needed to stop by my mom’s first (because 75 of our friends were waiting on us). As we drove through the neighborhood he must have pointed out 10 cars and said “Hey, that looks just like so-and-so’s car. How weird that a car that looks just like theirs is here?” So then I felt like even more of a jerk because he honestly was just that clueless. It was almost sad. Like 90% funny, 10% sad. We finally get to the door and he is still jabbering about how excited he is for this movie that isn’t going to happen then “Surprise!” and he looks at me for about 30 whole seconds with this blank stare and says…”It’s not my birthday.” Well, you’re welcome!

26th-By 26, we were married, parents, and pretty much getting old. For year 22 we had a little party that we aren’t really proud of, and still causes Luke to wretch a little when he sees certain beverages if you get what I’m sayin’. Actually demo songs on the keyboard, celery, puppies, and bathroom rugs give him flashbacks too. We were young and stupid. Not proud of it. Moving on. Back to 26; I decided to have a little dinner party at a restaurant downtown. I am old so I forgot that it was *dum dum dum*…Prom night. That means TIS in fancy clothes. You know how there always has to be that kid in the top hat with the cane, and the one in the blue leisure suit straight out of Stayin’ Alive and all of their giggly girlfriends with way too much make-up, way too much skin, and really low self esteem? Those kids sat right next to us. They did not disappoint either. One of the boys was plastered and puked all over his date. I was in the bathroom when 3 girls were all trying to convince the 4th girl that nobody would notice that she had human juices all over her chest and she smelled like a hobo. “It like totally blends in. You like can’t even see it unless you’re really looking.” Which everyone will be looking because she hoisted her boobs up to her chin for exactly that purpose. Then we got to witness top hat and leisure suit literally carrying Captain Spews-so-much outside, all while assuring everyone in the restaurant that he was fine. “He’s just totally pumped about Prom and he just needed some air. He just totally had too much DP in the limo. He’s diabetic. It messed up his insulator levels.” All this by 7:30pm. It was awesome. Better than a movie.

29th- We have big plans this year. We are headed to St. Louis to see our favorite third most popular folk parody band from New Zealand, Flight of the Conchords. They rock my face clean off. If you are currently saying “Who? From Where? Why aren’t they the second most popular?” then it’s time for you to hit up youtube.

Happy Birthday Luke! I love you!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Some stuff I read today

“It’s unbelievable what people suffer in private, and to all outward appearances they’re functioning.”
-Joseph Ciarrocchi; Head of the Pastoral Counseling Depart at Loyola College in Maryland’s Columbia Graduate Center and author of “The Doubting Disease

“Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Princess of Sticky Town

I put honey on chicken nuggets! You might not think that this is a big deal, but trust me; this is a VERY big deal. They weren’t my chicken nuggets, but I actually opened the package with my bare hands.

Seriously, can I tell you how much I hate being sticky? I hate it. A lot. Honestly, I won’t even put syrup on my kids’ pancakes. If someone else gives them syrup, I physically must look away. You remember how I’m crazy, right? It’s like, if I were ever captured by ninjas or pirates or something, and they wanted to hold me captive, all they would need to do is cover the bars of the cell with honey. I wouldn’t even think about touching them. Then later if they wanted to torture me, they would all sit around and rub jelly and honey on their hands in front of me. Then if they wanted to actually kill me, they would make me touch their hands and then make me go sit in my sticky cell with no wet wipes. Seriously, that would drive me over the edge.

So after my victorious honey pouring moment, I came home all excited and told Luke that not only did I allow honey on the nuggets, but I opened the package myself. He was like “So, what”. And then he says “Hey, if you’re like the Princess of Sticky Town now, let’s go get ice cream and we can let the kids make ice cream cones at home tonight."

What?

Are you flipping crazy? I opened a honey packet. I didn’t just become Aunt Jamima. I am so not ready for actual ice cream cones dripping all over little hands and then touching my furniture, and leaving drips on my floor…I just got a little lightheaded just now. Baby steps. Today a honey packet; tomorrow, maybe a piece of candy or something.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I have so much free time now! I might start a new hobby like interpretive dance or dressing spiders in costumes

I’ve been doing a lot of research over the last several months. I am reading everything I can find about OCD, anxiety, panic, and agoraphobia. I want to know as much as possible from as many different sources as I can find. I’ve read everything from secular medical journals to Christian counseling articles to personal blogs to message boards. Honestly, having a real diagnosis is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It’s like “Holy Cow! This medical article was written 15 years ago and it is describing ME!” It is liberating to know that folks had OCD way before me and I am not the first one. I have a name to my crazy. It is reassuring to know that it isn’t all in my head. Well…technically it is all my head, but you know what I mean.

I have noticed in all my researching that personal stories of dealing with OCD and anxiety are hard to come by. Oh there are loads of blogs that talk about OCD in a cute little funny way, but very few who really talk about it. Just for the record, I would like to point out that I find OCD to be very funny now that I am medicated, but then again I find humor in lots of inappropriate situations, like 3 legged dogs, or when people fall down, or when someone gets startled and then they curse. Anyway, the blogs that are out there do have one thing in common. They all mention how time consuming it is or was to hide their OCD.

Now that I am getting better, I am starting to realize just how much effort I was spending every day to cover up the OCD and anxiety. When I first decided to get help, my therapist told me that I should tell as many people as possible about the disorders. I thought she was nuts. Why would I want to undo the façade that I had spent literally years carefully developing? Only a few people had ever seen my real face. I had developed a highly refined ability to lie at a moments notice in order to avoid going places, or staying places, or doing certain things. The guilt that accompanies deception is heavy. I was like a stealth ninja with my ability to keep my crazy in my head and wait until backs were turned to let the crazy come out and play. And if someone did see me acting weird, I had an arsenal of excuses. I am very convincing. Newsflash: I get paid money to perform. If you think that I never fooled you then I was better at this than I thought.

But now…

It’s out there. I will catch myself every now and then in an excuse or a lie. Old habits die hard. But having it out there; whoa. Suddenly, my mind has a weight lifted. I have free time. Deception was a full-time gig. When I’m laughing now; I’m really laughing. If I need help doing something or if I need to do something a certain way that doesn’t make sense to other people, I don’t need to lie about it. The weight of guilt is gone. I am slowly becoming able to separate my thoughts from OCD’s thoughts. I am slowly separating my thoughts from anxiety’s thoughts. I want other people to be able to speak up too. Especially, those of us in the body of Christ. I think we can be more effective when we are real. God uses imperfect people, so I am going to quit trying so hard to be perfect for everyone else.

And I promise, good or bad, I won’t lie to you anymore.

Friday, April 24, 2009

This is how I see it in my head

OK, so big news. In less than one week Luke and I will be on our way to see Flight of the Conchords! Seriously, we will be seeing them live and in person! I am such a huge FoTC fan that I have been counting down the days to this concert for about 6 months. During that time I have entertained several scenarios about various things that will happen during the concert. I would like to share the one that I think is the most plausible. It goes a little something like this:

Luke and Angela arrive at the FoTC concert several hours early, due to an obsession about being late to events. Angela counts all of the seats on the row and is careful to leave an even number of seats to her left side (4 seats is ideal). The concert begins

Luke: I love Flight of the Conchords!
Angela: Me too! They are awesome!
Bret & Jemaine: It’s Business time! Thank you! We are Flight of the Conchords…wait could you bring the house lights up please. You, there.
Angela: Who, me?
Bret & Jemaine: Yes, you. The exceptionally tall woman with the beautiful hair. You are the most beautiful girl in the room. We’ve noticed you from up here on the stage.
Angela: Wow, really? I mean y’all are big famous comedian/actor/parody folk singers. What can I do for you?
Bret & Jemaine: We want you to join us onstage and possibly even on tour. We were thinking that possibly you could marry both of us and we could all travel the world. Also, we really enjoy listening to your accent.
Luke: Hey guys, I’m as much of a Conchords fan as the next person, but this is a little out of line.
Bret & Jemaine: Hush up you! We are famous and can do anything we want!
Luke: Fine! Then we will settle this the old-fashioned way. With a cage match!

The lights suddenly go back out and a spotlight shines on the cage now dropping from the ceiling. “Welcome to the Jungle” is now loudly playing as Luke rips off his shirt to reveal a rock hard body and full back tattoo.

Bret & Jemaine: Wait, this is our show! We challenge you to…a sheep sheering competition.
Luke: Oh crap! I can’t sheer a sheep. I guess I must concede.
Angela: Hold on guys. While I appreciate the awesome invitation of marriage and touring which does not surprise me at all, I am already married to Luke. And he is awesome.
Luke: Yeah I am!
Bret & Jemaine: Ah, we are heartbroken, but simply want you to be happy. We wish you all the best with Luke, if that’s what you’re into.

At the point the concert resumes, although both Conchords are now noticeably less enthusiastic. Angela and Luke continue on with their lives and learn to live with the ever present offers of marriage from celebrities. It’s a burden they must bear.

I really think that it’s going to go down like this, right? I’m not sure if it’s going to be a cage match or a dance off. I’ll let you know.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thankful Thursday

What a week! I feel like I have been on a mental health roller coaster this week. Ups and downs, highs and lows. I’m looking forward to a good long stretch of middle ground somewhere soon. I think that this is all part of CBT. It’s stressful, but good for me. So I am thankful for lots of things this week, but I like to narrow them to 4 (because 4 is a “good” number remember!). Here are a few things God has blessed me with this week:

1. Grocery Stores
What?! Grocery stores? I know, right! But I was thinking this week as I was at the grocery store for the 2nd time how lucky it is to have all this food right on the corner. In the interest of keeping it real, I should point out that Luke visited the store more often this week than I did. Anyway, it is such a blessing that we have the money to pay for food. I was trying to decide between about 400 varieties of cereal when I realized that God hasn’t just provided for my needs, He’s provided for my wants also. So many people live without this luxury, so I don’t want to take that for granted.

2. The Entire Bible – on my phone!
What?! The whole thing?! On the phone?! You bet. Right there on my iPhone I can see every English translation of the Bible, not to mention about 100 other languages and translations. There are places in this world where people would do anything to get their hands on a Bible, and I carry it all around in my pocket. That is intense.

3. Awesome Ladies
Praise God for awesome women to talk to and learn from. We had a great time this week letting all of our kids play while we ate pie and drank coffee. Aren’t we all-American? It is such a blessing to be able to share experiences, faith, laughs, and dessert with such cool people.

4. Jack Black on Yo Gabba Gabba
That episode has been cracking me up ever since we DVR’d it. If you haven’t seen it, Jack Black and mini-bike land in Gabba Gabba land and sing and dance with DJ Lance and the crew. It is awesome. We have been dancing and singing everyday. It is so much that I can’t even stand it. You should check it out. Or come on over to my house. We’ll probably have it on.

So that is my list for this week. What’s on your list?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Can I really do it?

I have really been making progress with my OCD and whatnot. The intrusive thoughts, which used to dictate my life, have scaled back to a fairly manageable number. I think management it the name of the game. Like I’ve said before, I don’t know if God has it in His will to take it all away with a snap. I know that He CAN take it all away. I have faith the He is ABLE to heal; I just don’t know if that’s His plan. And I’m OK with that. I am learning how to manage the disorder. Hopefully, I am even learning how to manage with grace and joy.

In one week, I will face another major test in learning to manage the disorder. I have a major problem driving. Agoraphobia keeps me close to home and out of the driver’s seat most of the time. I have experienced panic attacks while driving. Next week, I will attempt a drive on the highway. My safe person (Luke) will be with me, and coaching me. It will be a new experience for both of us.

Whether or not I complete the drive is not what is important. I will attempt it, and I will be happy with whatever happens. Even small steps are victories. OCD will challenge me, GAD will scare me, agoraphobia will find lots of reasons not to go, but God will be with me.

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you ‘Do not be afraid. I will help you.’” Isaiah 41:13

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ghost in the Machine

My mom called me today to ask a question about her Bluetooth. I don’t know the first thing about a Bluetooth. Apparently, when you call her phone while she’s in her car, it rings right there through the car audio. She can just talk and drive. I think that this might be a bad idea. Not a bad idea for everyone. Just a bad idea for her.

You see, my mother has no inner monologue. Everything she thinks just comes right out of her mouth. She also has an insatiable curiosity for all things technical, but her interest outweighs her ability.

A few years ago, after months of searching, she finally bought a new car. It was a monstrous GMC Yukon. Because no self respecting tiny blonde woman in the Southwest should be without her enormous SUV. I have one too! Anyhow, she took the car out alone for the first time and immediately became fascinated with the vast array of buttons, knobs, and lights. So she did what any normal person would do: she just began indiscriminatingly pushing buttons.

One of those little buttons had a little blue star on it, and when she pushed it she heard, “Hello, OnStar.” Of course, having no inner monologue she was like, “Hey, that’s cool. I wonder what that thing is.” To which the car was like, “Heellllooo, OnStar. Can I help you with something?” To which she was like, “OK, now I want to turn this thing off but I don’t know how to do it. Where is a button to turn this thing off? Hmmmmm?” At which point the car was like, “Mrs. McBride, I’m a real person. Just continue to speak outloud into the car.” Which is the point when my mom goes:

“Aaaaaaggggghhhhhhh! The car is talking to me!” and she promptly proceeded to nearly drive right off the road in an apparent attempt to exorcise the car demon.

This is why if I were her, I would rethink the Bluetooth. I love you, Mom!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Interview with my Safe Person

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with my best friend of nearly 17 years and ask him some questions. He also happens to be my husband. These are his stats followed by his answers.

Luke Cavett is a distinguished American gentleman and avid connoisseur of all things bacon. He has the remarkable ability to cross only one eye at a time, sometimes without being aware that he is actually doing it. His astonishing physique has recently undergone drastic physical changes with the loss of nearly 45 pounds. This transformation was done whilst still maintaining an enthusiastic relationship with bacon which is both extraordinary and somewhat illogical. His manliness causes women to swoon, men to pound their chests in a jealous fit, and children to cry, although that could be because one of his legs is noticeably shorter than the other and children find that sort of thing unsettling. He claims to have a hatred of cats, but frankly most observers find this to be an out and out lie, as he has been observed making “kissy faces” and talking in a “girly little man voice” to the furry little things. Mr. Cavett is an exceptional craftsman in the art of “being a smart mouth” and will probably be nominated for some sort of lifetime achievement award in that arena just as soon as a “smart mouth” award is made available.

Me: Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today.
Luke: You are welcome. I would like to state for the record however that I had very little choice in the matter, as you are my wife and it is in my best interest not to get you all riled up.

Me: Touché. Let’s get started. When did you first suspect that I had anxiety disorder or OCD?
Luke: I can’t even pinpoint a time. You’ve always been this way. You would call me while you were on the road in hysterics, or I would have to argue with you not to go back home to check the candles. I didn’t realize it was actually a problem, I just thought it was a bunch of weird stuff that you did. It really became a problem when you couldn’t even say the word “cruise” months in advance of our vacation.

Me: What did my diagnosis mean to you? Was it surprising?
Luke: It was a relief. Then I knew you weren’t so dang weird. It was something that you needed treatment for and could get help with. I was kind of helpless when it was something I couldn’t fix, or help. I was and wasn’t surprised. I was surprised at all of the disorders in the diagnosis, but the more I thought about it, I realized how much it made sense.

Me: You are my “safe person”. Can you explain what a “safe person” is?
Luke: People with agoraphobia have trouble going places and doing things that are unfamiliar. If they have their safe person with them, it makes it much easier because it feels more like home.

Me: What does being my “Safe Person” require of you?
Luke: Being very patient. I have to do a lot of things like grocery shopping, errands etc. Either I go alone or take you with me, but usually it’s just easier to go alone. I must promptly return all of your phone calls during the day to help you avoid a meltdown.

Me: Do you sometimes find my OCD amusing?
Luke: Most of the time. Like you walking outside and checking the grill knobs, or you freaking out that lady on the airplane. When she asked if you were going to touch her; that was awesome. Cursing while praying is always funny.

Me: OK Technically I didn’t come up with this question, but it is worth asking. Check out Chuck Klosterman for the full book. Here goes: Your best friend is taking a nap on the floor of your living room. Suddenly, you are faced with a bizarre existential problem: This friend is going to die unless you kick them (as hard as you can) in the rib cage. If you don’t kick them while they slumber, they will never wake up. However, you can never explain this to your friend; if you later inform them that you did this to save their life, they will also die from that. So you have to kick a sleeping friend in the ribs, and you can’t tell them why. Since you cannot tell your friend the truth, what excuse will you fabricate to explain this (seemingly inexplicable) attack?
Luke: This question is easier for guys than for girls because the only answer we need is “because I felt like it”. Guy code says they must accept this answer. Just know that the friend will retaliate and it will be swift and much more severe.

Me: How do you feel when I am having a panic/anxiety attack?
Luke: Before the diagnosis, there were times when I was annoyed. I didn’t understand why you could freak out so much about normal things. I thought you were just overreacting and you could just cut it out. But now that I know there is a reason, I feel a little more protective. It’s good to know that there is a reason, even though it is hard to see you going through it. I know there is still work to do.

Me: What differences have you noticed since I started treatment?
Luke: Well, you are making me do interviews for your blog. That’s one major difference. You are much more relaxed these days.
Me: Why do you think that is?
Luke: Because you don’t have to hide anymore, and you can get help through treatment. Also, the drugs.

Me: Does the idea of living with this forever scare you?
Luke: A little bit. I would like to think that you can be treated and fixed. I’m not scared enough to run away.

Me: Are you afraid to tell people about my OCD because of the stigma attached to it?
Luke: It’s helpful to tell people. Plus, it gives me really funny stories to tell.

Me: Here’s another from Chuck Klosterman. Let us assume you met a rudimentary magician. Let us assume he can do five simple tricks--he can pull a rabbit out of his hat, he can make a coin disappear, he can turn the ace of spades into the Joker card, and two others in a similar vein. These are his only tricks and he can't learn any more; he can only do these five. HOWEVER, it turns out he's doing these five tricks with real magic. It's not an illusion; he can actually conjure the bunny out of the ether and he can move the coin through space. He's legitimately magical, but extremely limited in scope and influence. Would this person be more impressive than Albert Einstein?
Luke: Absolutely. Einstein is kind of crazy but nobody really gets that theory of relativity. But come on, who doesn’t want to have access to a rabbit at all times?

Me: Any final advice for people who live with someone who has OCD and anxiety disorder?
Luke: Be patient! The things they are doing are not their fault and they have little to no control over them. Do your best to help them not feel ashamed about the disorder. That’s all I got. After all I only have a few months of “official experience”

Me: Thank you for your time today sir. And best of luck with your aspirations to open an all bacon eatery.
Luke: And best of luck to you in your aspirations to not get commited to the nut house.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Don’t Know When I’ll Be Back Again: Pt. 2

That is not entirely true. I knew exactly when I was going to be back again. Within weeks of that eventful plane ride to and from Vegas, we were booked to fly to Miami for a vacation. I had about 10 months to get myself mentally prepared. My first thought was that there was no way on God’s green earth that I was ever getting in a plane again. In fact, me and God’s green earth are quite fond of one another and I didn’t see any reason to become airborne again. I’m not a bird or a pterodactyl.

After several months of getting crazier and crazier over this thing, I finally decided it was time for a medical intervention. Actually, my dear husband, my friend Bulls-eye (so named for her love of Target and remarkable ability to always tell you the exact truth on things even if you don’t want to hear it), and her husband Tiger (so named for his love of all things Auburn, and more importantly for the AWESOME dance he and my husband do when playing Tiger Woods golf on Wii) all staged an intervention. It went like this:

Them: Girl, you done gone crazy. (I’m paraphrasing here)
Me: Shut up. Nuh-uh
Them: Oh yeah? Airplane.
Me: OK OK OK OK OK OK OK OK
Them: See
Me: That doesn’t mean anything. I do that all the time. I just like to agree with people.
Them: Well how about this one? Highway driving.
Me: *involuntary head jerking and fist clenching* 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Me: Yeah, OK. Whatever. I’m crazy. I hear ‘ya.

Thus began the journey. It was a few more weeks before I was finally diagnosed for the first time in my life. I have OCD? I have GAD? I have agoraphobia? You mean, some people can leave their house without touching the oven knobs 100 times? That does make a lot of sense. So, what now? Well for starters, Cognitive Behavior Therapy. That’s where they teach me all kinds of ways to be normal. I’m getting pretty good at it. Well, I’m alright at it. I’ve never been much of a student. After that…the meds. Whoa. Meds.

Skip ahead a few months, and the day has arrived to get back on the plane. This time things were different. For one, I had a better idea of what to expect. Two, Luke had a better idea of what to expect. Three, meds.

The counting and touching started in the terminal just like last time. I had a whole arsenal of tricks in my crazy bag just itching to come out. That’s my cue. Out come my pills. I spent some time doing that deep breathing all these shrinks are so fond of. I was able to walk all by myself to my seat on the plane! Of course, I was counting, clearing thoughts and repeating the whole way. Those intrusive thoughts aren’t going to clear themselves, you know. Engines fire up, and away we go. This time the conversation went a little something like this:

Luke: You should probably warn this lady next to you what is about to happen.
Me: *eyes clenched shut tightly, left hand rapidly touching* OK OK OK OK
Excuse me ma’am. I have OCD and agoraphobia among other things and flying is hard for me. You might hear and see me touching, counting, and repeating, but this is how I cope.
Luke: Ma’am you’re about to see something real special.
Me: *smacking Luke with my right hand because my left hand has things to touch*
Passenger: Is she going to touch me?! Do I need to hold her down or anything?

OCD (in my head): touch touch touch...touch........touch...yawn
GAD (in my head): Why did we do this again?! We already tempted fate once! We’re going down! We’re all going…
Agoraphobia (in my head): We’re going to what?
GAD: What?
Agoraphobia: You were talking. You stopped in the middle of a sentence.
GAD: No I didn’t.
Agoraphobia: Yes you did. I heard you.
GAD: Nuh-uh.
Agoraphobia: Wait. Maybe you weren’t talking. Were you talking? Wait, haven’t we been on one of these things before?
OCD: 1 2 eleveteen threve…purple
Xanex: Sssshhhhhhhhhhhh. Hey, look at this everyone.
OCD, GAD, Agoraphobia: Ooooooooooooooo.
GAD: That’s so pretty.
OCD: Ooooooookay!
Agoraphobia: What day is this?

Luke: Hey, we’re there.
Me: What? Where?
Luke: We flew. On an airplane.
Me: OK, I thought I dreamed that. Hey why am I holding Doritos?
Luke: You bought those at the airport before we left. Then you yelled at me because you thought I ate them. Then I showed you that I didn’t eat them, and you’ve been protecting them ever since.
Me: Oh. Sorry I apparently yelled at you. Well, I don’t really want them. Do you want them now?

So, we made it. Vacation was a great success and another one is in the works soon. Everyday with OCD is an adventure. I am just trying to enjoy the ride.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane Part 1

I thought I would give you a little back story. It has been almost one whole year since Luke and I took our first big vacation. We honestly had never been anywhere as a married couple. We got married when we were just a couple of young, poor college kids, so we didn’t take a honeymoon. Finally, 6 years after we were married, we were ready for Las Vegas!

I knew that I would probably be nervous on the plane. I hadn’t really traveled in the past decade and I had not been on a plane for 14 years. I could barely even remember the plane rides of the past. The big day arrives and I was WAY more nervous than I expected. Remember that this was before I started treatment for all my crazy. I wasn’t even diagnosed until a few months after this, so I wasn’t even sure what was happening to me.

So, there in the terminal I start with the touching. Just a little, not enough to alarm anyone. It was, however, enough to drive Luke crazy. He gave me some benadryl and told me politely to knock it off. Time to board. Now my heart is beating like I just ran a race. I am pretty sure at this point that I might actually be having a heart attack.

“Are we OK? Are we OK? Are we OK? Are we OK?”

Just imagine that happening about…204 times. Luke forcibly drags me to my seat. At this point I am alternating between repeating phrases, seriously considering passing out, or faking passing out as an excuse to get off the plane. But, I was there, I was buckled, and Lord have mercy on us all, I am gonna do this thing. OK. Deep breaths. I can do this. No problem.

Then the engines fire up.

That is about the time that all hell broke lose as far as I was concerned. I was fairly convinced that the pilots were all in on some evil plot to scare the life out of me. Surely that is not the actual noise a plane makes. It sounds like someone is crushing a VW while simultaneously launching the space shuttle. I immediately tried to bolt out of my seat so that the massive fireball which was surely shooting up the aisle would not get me. Then I realized that I was already buckled, so I looked slightly like a dog at the end of the leash when I jerked back down into my seat. This, of course, amused my dear husband, so I took time out of my sheer terror to smack him around a little.

When we began the agonizing taxi down the runway, I’m pretty sure I might have blacked out. Or maybe I was flailing around so much that I knocked out the portly gentleman holding me hostage in my seat with only his sheer size as a weapon. I remember somebody getting knocked out. I’m just sure of it. My compulsion to repeat phrases has by now degenerated into simply “OK OK OK OK OK OK OK OK OK OK” I was attracting quite the alarmed stares from my fellow passengers. Except double wide. He wasn’t moving for anybody.

I’d like to give you a run down of the internal and external dialogue that was happening right about the time we took off. I need to preface this conversation with a small confession. When I panic; I mean really really panic…I curse. I mean really really curse. Like a sailor on shore leave. Also I pray out loud. So the combination can be very disconcerting. But God loves me. So this is how the conversation went down.

Me (out loud): OK OK OK OK OK *&#! @ $ #!^ OK OK OK OK

OCD (in my head): OK OK OK OK touch touch touch touch touch 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 OK OK OK OK OK OK OK this is awesome! Touch touch touch touch

GAD (in my head): We’re going down! The wing is on fire! We are trapped in here! I think the guy next to me has actually died from a clogged artery! He shouldn’t have eaten all that trans-fat! It’s very very bad for you!

Agoraphobia (in my head): I told you we never should have come. We should have just stayed home like I always say. What do I always say? I say we should stay home, but NOOOOOO nobody listens to me.

Me (out loud again): OK OK OK OK Dear Lord Jesus please keep us safe $#!&. I am so sorry I just cursed while praying God. ^$&#^! Holy**% Sorry God. $&#^! Again, very sorry.

OCD (in my head): shut up agoraphobia, this is awesome. OK OK OK OK OK touch touch touch touch touch touch 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. You’re such a girl

GAD (in my head): Is nobody listening to me?! Abort mission! Get out! Can that guy not handle the responsibility of the emergency exits or something?! Why is he just sitting there!? He should have moved when they asked if he could handle the responsibility of the emergency row! Safety is not a joke people!

Agoraphobia (in my head): I told you so. We should be at home where we belong. I am missing Dr. Phil. Maybe next time you’ll listen. Oh no, wait no you won’t, because we will all be dead. You guys ruin everything.

Me (outloud): $*** #!*$ Sorry God! OK OK OK OK OK OK OK OK

Flight attendant: Is she OK?

Luke: Yeah, she’s like this all the time. It’s cool. Hey, can I get a Diet Coke. Awesome.

So the long and the short of it is that we did in fact get to Vegas unscathed despite this little episode lasting for the entire 2 hour flight. We had a blast in Vegas that week and I will tell you about it soon. The other side of this coin is that I did in fact get on a plane again. That is Part 2. To be continued…

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Because I'm worth it

Yesterday I was in a super hurry to get out the door to pick Grace up from school. I headed through the door to the laundry room to get to the garage. Only one problem; the door wasn’t open. I thought that the light was just turned off, but really the door was closed. Securely. I walked into the door full steam ahead. I wrenched my knee cap something awful. It’s all sore today. This is the same knee that is still sporting a bruise from my little tumble in the parking lot.

Yesterday in the evening, a little girl came to my door because she had kicked her ball over the fence. I turned around to head out back and get her ball. I my haste, I slammed my hand into the decorative side table. Little bronze leaves plowed right into my hand. Instant bruises. I’m starting to feel like an old lady. I’m so delicate.

I felt like all of this abuse deserved a little pick-me-up. So I had Taco Bell for lunch today. I feel SO much better!

Thankful Thursday

It is that time again. I’m not gonna lie. Ever since I started this blog, OCD has been all kinds of crazy trying to make me quit. But this is the day the Lord has made and we will rejoice today so here we go. I am thankful today for:

1) Engagement
My little baby step-sister got engaged this week! OK, she’s not really little and she’s not really a baby. She is all grown up and we are super excited for the two of them. Earlier this week she told us that her wedding day was set for the same day as OU/TX ’09. My dear husband quickly set her straight. That kind of behavior is not tolerated. She even went to OU for cryin’ out loud! I am happy to report that the wedding date has now been moved to November. Congratulations!

2) Newlywed Sunday School
Continuing on in the theme of new marriages; I am so thankful for our Newlywed program at church. Luke and I have had the wonderful opportunity to teach this group for over a year now. There is nothing like hanging out with newlyweds to make you feel all sappy and romantic. I am so thankful for a church that has a heart for pro-actively protecting, building, respecting, and cultivating marriages. Marriage isn’t easy, especially in our current culture, but I love being a part of changing the way we view our marriages. Thanks be to God!

3) Aromatherapy
I love, love, love things that smell good. I lost some of my sense of smell a few years back in one of my facial reconstructions. But I can still enjoy really delicious scent. This week I enjoyed a house FULL of lilies (thanks Luke!), lavender bubble bath, eucalyptus/spearmint massage, cookies, and hazelnut (decaf) coffee among other things. I have always loved good smells. Especially when my man smells really good. Funny story: I love to rest my head right in the soft spot of my man’s shoulder. When he used to travel for months at a time, I bought a spare deodorant exactly like his. At night I put the deodorant all over my pillow and then put the pillow case back on. Then I would sleep on the pillow. I just realized what a weirdo I am. Good thing he has already married me. No going back now.

4) Bookstores
Luke and I have discovered a mutual love of all things books. He’s gotten all academic on me and started reading these hoity-toity smarty pants “classics”. It’s not the Luke I grew up with, but whatever. Seriously though, we can spend hours there and have done exactly that several times lately. Good coffee, some cheesecake, quiet atmosphere, good conversation, and fascinating people watching. We like to try and guess which section people are headed for. This week we correctly identified sci-fi fiction guy and teen vampire romance novel lady. I also picked up a great book about Generalized Anxiety Disorder with agoraphobia, and a Charlaine Harris book. I’m currently working through the Harper Connelly mysteries until the new Sookie Stackhouse book comes out.

Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter

This is my favorite time of the year. This is the time to celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promise. I know and believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross, rose again, and is the Lord of my crazy life. I know and believe in the promise of His return. What a day to rejoice.

But Easter weekend started off rough for me this year. I felt it happening a few days before. I was rapidly slipping into an OCD whirlwind. By Saturday night, I was in full-blown check, touch, repeat mode. I couldn’t seem to make it stop. It’s very frustrating. I couldn’t shake the weight of that irrational dread. So I checked. And I checked. And I checked. And I unplugged. And I touched. And I counted. And I repeated. And checked some more.

Sunday morning brought with it more of the same. Everyone got up and dressed, excited for the Easter services. I was keeping OCD in check (pun intended). I made it all the way to the second service before it happened. I was sitting in the choir loft and my toes started to tingle. I knew there was no going back. I had a panic attack. Right there in front of God and everybody. Spinning, can’t breathe, tingling hands and feet, crying, and a powerful urge to run for my life.

I’m happy to say that I didn’t run for my life. I told myself to put a lid on it and did some of that deep breathing all those doctors keep telling me to do. Wouldn’t you know it; it worked. And it’s a good thing it did, because God had something to tell me during the next song we sang.

“It is done, the price has been paid. It is done, provision’s been made”
“We don’t need to suffer, Jesus suffered instead”

OK, God. I hear You. I am thinking too short term. I am WAY too involved with how things are going for me in this instant. I don’t have the capacity to think outside the confines of time like you do God, but I will try as hard as I can to wrap my brain around forever. Forever that I get to spend with You because the price has been paid. Forever with you because you made provision for me through the cross.

OK, God. I hear You. Yeah OCD and anxiety are tough, but that is nothing compared to what it should have been for me. You have spared me from Hell. I don’t have to suffer for all of eternity, because Jesus suffered instead of me even though really I don’t deserve that.

Whoa.

What a day to rejoice and be glad in. OCD and all.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Random Medical Terminology

I’ve noticed something interesting lately. People use medical terminology in their everyday language. A LOT. Specifically, people use mental health terminology. And even more specifically, they use the term “totally OCD”. For example:

“I am totally OCD about cleaning my kitchen”
“You are so OCD about your shoes.”
“Leave me alone you bi-polar psycho!”

Not that I am at all offended that real disorders have become part of the vernacular. I actually think its humorous most of the time. Especially if its true. But I can’t help but notice that other ailments are not getting the same recognition. That’s not fair. There are so many great diseases and conditions to chose from! So I thought it would be a good idea to introduce some new phrases into the lexicon to remedy this situation. I thought up a few to get us started.

“That cake is so good. It’s making me all Type 2”
“I didn’t total the car, I only did a little body damage. Don’t get all lactose intolerant”
“Oprah gives my brain the gout”
“I’m all IBS over work this week.”
“That story you just told me was so boring that I got mono.”
“This rain is totally overactive bladder. It came out of nowhere.”
“My stupid broken pencil! It’s all osteoperocial.”
“The sound of your voice is giving me the chicken pox”

Any others?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Oops, I did it again

This time it was Sonic. I was driving my car (as per my assignment for CBT) and suddenly I found myself in the parking lot at Sonic. I don’t think I meant to go to Sonic. I just ended up there.

So, I did what any logical person would do. I ordered a Route 44 Dr. Pepper. It was Happy Hour.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I can't take you anywhere

How do I explain Generalized Anxiety Disorder? I have lived with it for a long time, but it is still challenging to put into words. Look at it like this: OCD is the jock boyfriend in the backseat of the car. Everything is black and white, motivated by really powerful urges that are often muddled by chemical imbalances. OCD, like the teenage boy, believes that if you do something often enough then you can change the outcome of the scenario.

GAD is like the emotional, clingy, nagging girlfriend. With GAD, everything gets blown way out of proportion. Not normal worrying, but extreme, unrelenting, bone crushing worry. Fears, worries, and everyday situations are grossly exaggerated to the worst possible catastrophic outcome and replayed over and over and over and over again in your mind. There is almost never a reprieve from the anxiety. Even sleep offers no relief. In fact, sometimes sleeping is worse than being awake. Your body physically manifests the intensity of these exaggerations 24 hours a day. Imagine an gnawing pain in your stomach 24 hours a day, headaches, and sore muscles. Sleep is interrupted countless times each night. GAD makes it difficult to make decisions, hold conversations, and generally difficult to relax even a little bit.

Sometimes the GAD leads to full blown attacks. Imagine standing in Taco Bell and trying to decide which burrito you want. Hmmm…Burrito Supreme or Chili Cheese? Suddenly, you can’t breathe, the room is spinning, your heart is pounding so loud you are sure that is going to burst, and you are convinced that if you don’t run for your life, you will ACTUALLY die. The feeling of impending doom suddenly becomes so overwhelming that nothing else matters. Imagine being sound asleep and waking suddenly with the feeling that you have just run several miles. Heart racing, ears ringing, chest tight, and it takes several minutes to even figure out where you are. Sometimes it can take hours to calm down.

All this crazy GAD stress can lead (and has in my case) to agoraphobia. I like to think of agoraphobia as the little sister your mom and dad make tag along on the date with you. You can’t really take her anywhere and she is just there to make sure OCD/GAD doesn’t get too crazy. What I mean is that, with all the touching, checking, repeating, worrying, and panicking, it becomes easier to just avoid new places that might stress me out. Or places where people are going to be in general. Or anywhere that involves me driving on the highway. Who wants to be the nut freaking out at the grocery store, or the post office, or in the driver’s seat? Not me. So I just don’t go alone. Or I just don’t go at all.

Until now. Look out agoraphobia. I am coming for you. Or maybe you could just swing by my place, and I will get you there.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thankful Thursday

It is my first ever Thankful Thursday! One of my favorite verses is Psalm 118:24 that says “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it” That means that EVERY day is a day to be joyful, not just the good days. There is always something to be thankful for. Thankful Thursday is all about just that. This might bear a slight resemblance to Gratitude Friday, but I am not copying. You see mine is on Thursday, so…totally different.

Today, among other things, I am thankful for:
1) Insurance
In the past 7 years, having great medical insurance has helped us pay for multiple surgeries, medications, and treatments that we could never have afforded otherwise. We are so fortunate to be able to simply call a well-qualified doctor or walk right into a pharmacy. So many people live without access to these things. Thanks be to God for providing for us!

2) Burritos
I’m a simple girl. Beans, cheese, onions, sour cream. Awesome. I could eat bean burritos every day of my life forever. If you were previously unaware of my deep emotional involvement with Taco Bell, then you have not been paying attention.

3) the Internet
I love being able to keep in touch with people all over the country instantly! My friends and family are spread out over hundreds of miles, but we can all hang out in real time thanks to Facebook, email, and blogging. I can find information about anything at anytime. I have access to Bible study tools and great study resources. I can dominate in all kinds of online games. I can send pictures and videos of all our important events in seconds. Thanks Internet!

4) Luke
Don’t roll your eyes at me. You knew this was coming. Luke will probably be on my list several times in the weeks to come. Deal with it. He is always entertaining, genuine, fair, intelligent, nerdy, friendly, sarcastic, dedicated, handsome, Christian, and unique. Thanks be to God for such an awesome best friend! 17 years and counting.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mmmm Lemonade...



Wow! Only a few weeks of blogging and I already get nominated for an award. Thanks! Check out this “Lemons to Lemonade” award passed on to me by my dear friend and real life and in the blog world. She inspires, provokes deeper thought, offers unmatched honest opinions, encourages, and is a constant source of entertainment. Get to know her at “Our Life”. Gratitude Fridays are the highlight of my week. Look for my own version called “Thankful Thursday” coming soon. Like…on Thursday.

Part of the reason for this blog is to encourage people to stop fighting their battles in secret. People with GAD/OCD have a tendency to use up a lot of our energy pretending that we are just like everyone else. I have decided that I don’t want to do that anymore. I will not be ashamed of my behavior or thought process. This is a disorder and not something that I do on purpose. I am not doing anything wrong.

I feel like this run and hide pattern is compounded by the fact that I am a Christian. Stay with me here. What I mean is, GAD/OCD fills me with doubt and fear. I feel guilty and ashamed of that doubt and fear because I should be able to cast all my cares on the Lord. It is a complex cycle. I know and believe what the Bible tells me in Philippians 4:6 about anxiety. I know that I am to cast all my cares on the Lord, but my disorder creates chaos in my mind that is hard to control. Does this mean I don’t have enough faith? Does this mean I have not prayed hard enough? Does this mean I am sinning because of my excessive worrying and obsessing over bad situations? Does this mean I don’t believe what the Bible is telling me? Of course not!!

I truly believe that if God wanted to cure me instantly and never have me feel another twinge of anxiety, He CAN do it. Just like if He wanted to heal my face (another story, another day), He CAN do it at any moment. It is not for me to question why He chooses not to. My job is to continue to be faithful even when my disorders are hijacking my thoughts. God knows what my heart is. My job is to stay faithful. My job is to be thankful for all of the things I have been blessed with. My job is to hold fast to joy in my heart, even when there is chaos in my head. My job is to speak out about the condition, so that whether I am cured or live with this forever, God receives the glory. My job is to remember that even difficult days are ones that He made, so I will rejoice and be glad in them.

I am sure that He has this whole thing under control. He doesn’t need any do-overs.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Gracefulness

Let me set this up for you. Brand new jeans, special ordered extra tall because I can’t buy pants in a regular store. My favorite blue heels. Lily in my right arm. Full Route 44 Dr. Pepper in my hand.

I am walking into church on Sunday night. The wind is blowing somewhere between 40 and 440 mph. It went something like this: Left, Right, Left, Right, Left, Right, Ground.

I hit the ground like a football player taking a knee. After my knee hits the concrete, the rest of my body spills forward onto the pavement. Why should my knee have all the fun? I call out to Luke running along in front of me but he can’t hear me over the howling wind.

The result of this little display of nimbleness was a bruised and scraped knee, torn jeans, spilled purse, and a HUGE gouge out of my shoe. Lily landed square on her bottom and was completely unfazed. The good news: My sonic drink was completely unharmed. Not one drop lost.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Like a Magnet

I was driving home yesterday when the strangest thing happened. I found myself in line at the Taco Bell drive-thru. I had no intention of going to the Taco Bell drive-thru. My car just kind of went there. It was like a magnet drawing me in.

Maybe it’s time to admit that I really do have a Taco Bell problem. It is the tastiest problem ever.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

That is NOT my tummy!

Recently Luke and I had the chance to go on a great 7 day cruise to the Caribbean courtesy of his fabulous parents. Thanks again! Initially, it was really tough for me to get excited about this. Putting an agoraphobic girl on a plane, then a boat, then in the middle of the ocean, and then leaving the country sounded like a formula for disaster. However, great therapy and supportive traveling companions made it a really fun trip! I did manage to count every single stair on the ship, but whatever. The craziest part of the whole trip was one of my visits to the spa.

On the 4th day we were on board, we pulled into a port and everyone else got off the ship to explore the island. Luke decided to take an ATV tour of the island. Since no amount of money could get me on one of those things, I decided to stay behind on the empty ship and take advantage of the great sales going on in the spa that day. I had already been to the spa once earlier that week with Luke’s help, so I was feeling really brave about going alone. I had breakfast alone on the deck which was a huge boost to my confidence, because that kind of thing is difficult for me. After breakfast I headed up to the spa.

I decided that since I was feeling so bold, I would jump right in and get a full body exfoliation. I generally don’t like to be touched, and I really get uncomfortable getting undressed in a spa. Earlier that week, I only had reflexology, but that had gone really well as far as controlling my anxiety, so full body exfoliation here I come. I knew that I would be disrobing, but hey they keep you covered in all the right places, and this is a chance to face my anxiety head on.

My therapist came to get me from the waiting area, and if I had blinked I would have missed her. She was about the tiniest little woman I have ever seen. Side by side we must have looked like Gulliver and one of the Lilliputians. I knew that she was from Indonesia from her nametag. We walked back to the room, where she handed me little paper panties and a sheet. Here’s a clue: When handed little paper panties and a sheet anywhere other than your OB/GYN’s office, leave right away.

Paper panties on, sheet fully covering me, we begin our exfoliation. This involves a paste made of sea salt and oil rubbed onto your skin to remove dead skin cells. It’s normally a little rough; however, she was exfoliating as though I had been exposed to some kind of biological or chemical weapon, and my life depending on removing the top 4 layers of my skin. At this point, I still have my sheet while she exfoliated my arms and legs and neck.
Then she says to me, “I would like to exfoliate your tummy. May I expose your tummy?” OK, my mind runs through a few quick scenarios and I decide on my answer.
“Sure” I said. The next few things happened so fast.

As soon as the words left my mouth, she whisked off the sheet. There I was in nothing but my paper panties. As I was still processing the fact that my sheet was gone, she began to exfoliate my tummy. Apparently, Indonesian massage therapists use “tummy” as a code word for ENTIRE chest. Every inch. All of it.

That was the last part of the exfoliation, so she left while I washed all the sea salt off. I got dressed and got out of there. I did have unbelievable soft skin. If I can handle getting felt up by an Indonesian woman, I can handle anything.

This brought an entirely new definition to “exposure” therapy.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Are You Like Monk?

I had so many questions at first and there will be many, many more as I continue to learn how to live with these challenges. Here are a few of the common questions with answers from me. Remember that I have a music degree, not an MD. Also remember that I am a completely irreverent smart-aleck. My GAD & OCD are so deeply entwined that they are like two teenagers in the backseat of the car steaming up the windows. (I mean I heard once that the windows steam up. It’s not like I ever tested that theory myself…) Let’s just see if we can pry those two crazy kids apart and start with OCD. We can tackle GAD later.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
My experience with OCD has been that I develop obsessions about certain situations. Usually I obsess that something terrible may happen, or has already happened, or I am going to accidentally make something terrible happen. I don’t mean something terrible like not getting a burrito, I mean really terrible. It is pervasive and distracting and generally not fun. This of course causes some hard-core anxiety which is where the compulsions come in. I feel like if I do certain things, or actively think certain thoughts, or say certain words, then I can keep the horrible thing(s) from happening. Smart, attractive, rational me knows that this is ridiculous and that “good” thoughts, words and actions are not going to manipulate the time-space continuum. However, OCD, attractive, irrational me is stronger and louder. This obsession/compulsion cycle ebbs ad flows in its intensity, but it is pretty much a never ending cycle.

Why can’t you just quit doing those things?
This whole cycle is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain and incorrect thought processes (or so all the smarty pants doctors tell me). Sometimes not performing the compulsion feels like a mild irritation that I can ignore if I try hard enough. Some days the need to perform the compulsion is so strong that you could not pay me enough money to not do it. You gotta remember that irrational OCD me is telling me that if I don’t do the thing, then the terrible thing will happen. Darn her for being so persuasive!

You can’t have OCD because you don’t wash you hands a lot.
OK, really this is more of a statement, but I have heard this said of the OCD. Everybody’s obsessions and compulsions are different. Sometimes very different. I am not bothered with contamination obsessions, so I don’t feel the urge to clean everything. I am more of a touch things, count things, arrange things, check things person. I also do something I refer to as clearing which involves thought balancing and takes up a great deal of my time. When I get really stressed I also repeat words. That could freak you out the first time you hear me do it. So don’t freak out OK!

Why haven't I noticed these things?
You most likely have noticed, but I have convinced you otherwise. I, along with fellow OCDers, have developed a really good system of hiding, lying (to avoid stressful situations), laughing it off, and generally exercising a constant vigilance to make sure that no one sees me acting like a weirdo. I might not go somewhere with you, or I may suddenly leave, or maybe I just wait until you are not looking. It may take me a lot longer to get ready to go somewhere, because of the checking. A lot of what I do is inside my head, with counting and good and bad thought balancing and word repetition. A good deal of the checking and touching happens at night. Now that the cat is out of the bag, I feel much more relaxed. Hiding and worrying about being caught all the time can really take a lot out of your energy! Thanks for letting me come out of hiding!

Can you get better?
I am learning how to control the thought process and redirect the irrational behavior. My theory is that if God wants to take this away with the snap of His fingers, then He will. If He doesn’t, then I will do my best to learn the lessons He has for me and keep a joyful attitude. After all, this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!
Fire away if you have any questions I haven’t answered. I would love to hear from you! To be fair, I have never seen an episode of Monk, so I really don’t know the similarity.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I am supposed to drive as part of my learning process. Not everywhere, especially not highways, but around town. This is to help me get comfortable going places and eventually work up to driving long distances.

Today, I was proudly driving Luke and the girls to lunch. We were cruising along with me confidently behind the wheel, when I saw the cop lurking in the bushes. I glanced down at my speedometer and realized that I was going 12 miles over the speed limit. Of course, I promptly slammed on the brakes. Apparently, this makes you look guiltier according to Luke. FYI: Luke was making fun of my shirt at the exact moment I was speeding. I blame him for getting me all riled up.

So there are the lights and I pull over. The girls are both asking me why I stopped so I told them that even grown-ups get in trouble for not following the rules. I always look for teachable moments. When the officer came to my window, Lily announced to him that her momma was in trouble. Thanks, Lily.

He asked me why I locked up the breaks so hard, and I swear he was laughing a little bit. Luke was laughing a lot. The officer told me that I shouldn't slam on the brakes like that. It makes you look guiltier. OK, I get it. He takes all my info and goes back to his car to write me up. Now both of my children and my husband are all laughing at me and saying that I was in trouble and needed a time out. Very funny guys.

He comes back and has me sign…a written warning. Whew! In your face, Luke. Thank you ever so kindly Mr. Moore Police Officer.

I made Luke drive us home.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How do you spell that?

There is a good chance that you have met someone like me before. You may have realized it right away or maybe you never even knew. You might be just like me. You might be really good at hiding the challenge that we have been given or maybe everybody knows. No, I am not talking about being exceptionally tall or my absolutely incurable addiction to burritos (although we probably will get there soon). I am talking about people with anxiety disorder.

I wanted to get this right out in the open right away. I really hope to use this blog to understand myself better, help others around me to understand anxiety better, and connect with people who may still be fighting this battle all alone because it is really hard to admit something is different.

To be exact, I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder with agoraphobia, panic disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. How do you spell that: GAD w/ OCD. I am a walking acronym. If those were degrees, I would be a doctor. When I started this journey, all I knew was what I had read online. I felt like I was the only one in the world who understood what all of those letters felt like. Finding out that I am not the only one has been liberating. GAD w/OCD is real people. Agoraphobia is real people.

Whew, now the elephant is out of the corner and is stomping clearly around the room. Watch your toes.