Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Another Box of Crazy for You

Perhaps I have been remiss in not sharing this little secret earlier. It’s just that I have been really focusing on all the other nutty things that I can and can’t do and this is one of those things that is still kind of hard to admit to the normal public. I know that there are other people who have the same hang-up and they have blogged about it and talked about it and whatnot. I’ve actually had this on my list of “things to write about” at the number one spot for about 6 months. It has been recently that this little secret of mine seems to be causing trouble for people around me. So I might as well share…I have an insane phobia of talking on the phone.

This isn’t one of those oh-so-funny-little-quirky-character-trait things. This is a real problem with being on the phone. I truly struggle with making phone calls, receiving phone calls, having extended conversation on the phone, returning voicemail, and basically any phone related correspondence. I don’t know when it started. It’s just something that I always remember. I avoid calling people. I avoid calling businesses. I avoid answering my phone. It is a huge thorn in my side.

So what is it about the phone that gives me the jeebs? The last two years of therapy have helped me understand that it is, in fact, OCD related. Who knew, right? I thought I was just a weirdo. When it is time to place a phone call for any reason I immediately begin to obsess over several things; am I wasting their time? Am I going to say something stupid? Are they going to hate me because I am stupid? Are they annoyed that I called? Do I sound like an idiot? Did I call the right number? What if I make them mad? What if I offend them? What if they hate me? What if I’m a bad person? Of course, to all you normal folk this seems absolutely absurd. But to us OCD folk, this is a fact of life. This is basically the crux of obsession and compulsion.

The internet and email have been total enablers for me. So pretty much I blame Al Gore. I love the safety of email. I can think about my words and check and double check (and triple check and quadruple check and on) my content before it just comes tumbling out of my head in a storm of idiotic nutbag. Yes, it is irrational and yes it is absurd but my mind doesn’t work like yours. This is also why I blog. I don’t trust myself live and in person. I pretty much dissolve into a stream of “awesome” and “righteous” and “wicked” and "totally" and cursing when I am left to engage in spontaneous conversation. This is why I blog. I am safer here. I can check the words and use the thesaurus and share things with you without having to witness your actual reaction (which in my head is always that you hate me for being an idiot). In fact, this blog will be read and re-read and checked multiple times before you ever see it.

Avoiding the phone is no easy task my friends. I call places during lunch or after hours so that I can leave a message. I scour the internet for email addresses. I never answer my phone. I leave my email address when leaving messages. I sometimes even lie and pretend that I tried to call. I have endless tricks. I When I had my nervous breakdown in the winter of 2008, I finally realized that I needed professional help. I googled and researched and checked out all kinds of places nearby my house (because I wasn’t able to drive very far). When I finally picked out the best (read: closest) facility, it was time to call and make an appointment. I picked up the phone. I hung it up. I picked it up again. I hung it up. I stared at the phone. I created 400 things that needed to be done immediately before I had time to pick up the phone and make an appointment. This went on for weeks. Finally, my dear husband came to my rescue and called for me. And they told him that I had to call personally. Well, frick on a stick. I stared at the phone some more. I felt sick. I busied myself in other things. I let another week go by. Finally, one afternoon I dialed the number, stared at it for a while and then just hit send. When the receptionist answered, she put me on hold for about 20 minutes. So in my head I’m all “Oh crap. She hates me. I bothered them. I shouldn’t have bothered them. I’m an idiot.” Then when she came back, she told me that they were very busy, took my name and number and promised to call me back to schedule and appointment. Then she never called back. I waited for a week. This pretty much confirmed for me that I should never use the phone. Because even crazy doctors don’t want to talk to me. So my dear husband called and politely explained that his lunatic wife had been obsessing over the situation for an entire week and would they please make me an appointment. They made the appointment.

So there it is then. I hate the phone. I’m scared of the phone. I avoid the phone like (insert clever simile here: skinny girls avoid carbs, fat kids avoid gym class, Lindsey Lohan avoids sobriety, whatever). And that is why I am writing it instead of calling you and telling you about it. So now you know.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

It’s working! He is considering writing a post for us! Keep encouraging (or “using your guilt on me” as he calls it.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Maybe I'll start calling it Not-Wallow-In-My-Own-Crap Thursday. It's kind of catchy.

Well bless the name of all that is good and holy it is Thankful Thursday again.

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve been a total bummer all week. I’ve had triggers and set backs and I’ve been trying to yank myself out of a hole since last week. But that is neither here nor there because today is Thankful Thursday and not wallow-in-my-own-mud-hole-full-of-crappy-situations-beyond-my-control Thursday. So…

A) I am turning into the crappiest agoraphobic ever. In that I have been able, just this week, to pick up my kids from their visit to granddad and grandma Marie’s, take them to the dinosaur museum, and to the pool. Not all in the same day of course. I’m not that psycho. But all of these things required preplanning, effort, control, ritual, and not one anti-anxiety (aside from the norm). I put panic in its place. One day at a time.

B) I always seem to be giving a shout out to my man on Thankful Thursday but honestly, I am usually very much thankful for him. You would think that, what with my mountain of previously unfathomable accomplishments, I would be in a good mood and proud of myself and all that nonsense. But it isn’t always so in the mind of the crazies. I had a particularly hard set back recently and he has literally been right beside me the entire time saying exactly the right thing at exactly the right time and not saying anything at all when the time is exactly right for nothing to be said. He’s getting to be a pretty freaking good safe person. I keep encouraging him to write a post for the blog about his experience being the anchor in a whole sea of what-the-frick but he’s a little hesitant. Maybe some encouragement, everyone…?

C) We are home! I never stop being thankful for this home. Not just our house. But our real live home. The indoor plants were dead and the outdoor plants had grown into a rainforest, there is now laundry everywhere and dishes all over the counter but I could not be happier to have a home and to be back safely!

D) I got to see Baby AK! Evans’, you guys made probably the cutest kid on the planet (in second place because my kids are tied for first plus I was a pretty darn cute baby myself). Thanks for the listening, the understanding, the napping, the dinner, the golf, and the clean and safe bathroom. Also (and this is part of the same bullet point because I don’t want an odd number of things) I am so glad to welcome new readers and blog friends. I love to hear from you and get to know you so feel free to comment or email me anytime!

FYI: I’m still dragging around my sore banged up bathroom shoulder. I am so cool.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's a gift really

I really like to dress up. So dress up night on the cruise is always fun for me. I started off the evening with a manicure in the spa. I had a lovely technician who came from Jamaica and I know that because of the outrageous accent (as well as it being on her nametag). Now I don’t know a lot of Jamaican people so I don’t know if this is a common trait amongst this particular people group or if I just got lucky, but her inflection included no variation whatsoever between a statement and a question. It was like “You use muscle relaxers.” So all was all, “Um…well OK, no I don’t…I mean I take lots of pills but they are like, totally legal I promise…and I don’t have anything with me or whatever if that’s what you mean…it’s all on the up and up…no law breaking here!” This was when she jammed a bamboo rod under my fingernail. I thought I was being interrogated. Turns out that is just part of the thing. So then she was all “No, you use this muscle relaxer. You buy it here and take it home and use it. It’s very warm on the muscles. Here I’ll let you try it.” And with that she produced a handful of blue gel and swiftly thrust her hand down my shirt to “relax my muscles.” Let’s see…how to describe the effect of the gel…Oh I know. It lit my freaking back on fire. I think she put Napalm on my back. My muscles were so relaxed that they were melting. I didn’t buy any. I figure the next time I want to relax I’ll just have Luke slam me over and over with a heated up meat cleaver.

So after surviving “Extreme Manicure” I made it into my beautiful dress and fabulously high heels. Yes, everyone on the ship, I realize that I am very tall. Yes, I realize that my earrings are very big. Yes, I am aware that my heels are also very high. I actually had this said to me one night: “Hey you! With the big earrings! (To his wife) Hey honey, it’s her! The one with the big earrings that I was telling you about!” So…I’ve got that going for me.

Keep in mind that although many other fellow passengers were enjoying adult beverages well into the evening, I was not in any way impaired (except, perhaps, by my own gracefulness). I headed to the bathroom, carefully touching the handle with the correct spot on my hand. As I have used the bathroom several times in my life, I didn’t take any extra precautions on this particular run. From a seated position (because, you know…bathroom) one of my heels slipped or was kicked out from under me or something that I can’t quite pinpoint because it all happened so fast. This threw off the weight distribution of my body thereby flinging me into the side wall of the stall so hard that I actually heard my shoulder crack. Not like broken or anything, but this sort of snapping-a-rubber-band sound. And it hurt. And then I had to finish up all the bathroom things with a gimp arm.

So there it is. I was hurt. Twice. While sitting.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Away we go...again

Here are a few things from the beginning of the vacation. I'll fill you in on the shoulder story tomorrow.

We are about to go on vacation. Again. I know I know…it’s like “how many freaking vacations can these kids go on. I’m starting to not believe all this agoraphobia nonsense.” Well, it’s true which makes this third cruise in as little as 18 months so monumental. I have progressed from being unable to utter the word or type any manifestations of the word or look at pictures of ships to actually looking forward to the journey.

Not to say that I am without trepidation. Because I am most definitely not. These few days prior to leaving for any vacation are always really challenging for me. I have had episodic yet very strong urges to count and repeat and touch. I have that feeling like my body has been plugged into an electrical current. I have nightmares and stress and general fatigue from all the energy it takes to be as nutty as I am.

It’s kind of like this…when we were about to take the first cruise (which also involved flying and I am NOT doing that again anytime soon. One phobia at a time please) it felt so out of control. It was all very soul crushing, lung squeezing, urine inducing terror. It was how I imagine you would feel if pushed off the edge of a cliff. It would be this intense moment of panic and horror and cursing. Only this time, I feel like I am on the cliff of my own free will. I am cliff diving. On purpose. And it is still terrifying and not 100% predictable but still intended to be fun. I will probably still curse a little because that’s how I handle panic (And yes Jesus is aware of it and yes He and I are still on close speaking terms. It’s just how I personally manifest and eliminate the emotion. It’s all very therapeutic and scientific really.)

So onward and upward. To the cliff I go and hopefully I can stay relatively un-medicated and urine free.

It was quite the spectacle to get me out of the door on vacation day. I checked my locks and checked them again and again and again and still it went like this

OCD: Are you sure it’s locked?

Me: Yes, I’m sure. I’m looking right at it.

OCD: But really? Are you sure? You better touch it to make sure.

Me: OK. *touch touch touch touch count count count count* OK. There. Done.

OCD: Nope. I don’t think so.

Me: But I know I did it. I even counted it.

OCD: But what if you didn’t and the house is not locked and bad things happen to your stuff and its your fault?

Me: *touch touch touch touch count count count count* OK.

OCD: Nope. Again.

This happened at every lock, the oven, the lights, things that plug in etc. But the good news is that I never took any extra meds and we did make it out of the house. Mission accomplished.

Monday, June 21, 2010

We're back. But I'm tired. So I'll tell you about it later.

We are back!

And there is so much to share. I actually kept running notes for myself this time during the whole trip. I'm becoming quite skilled at compulsion/obsession management. Or perhaps I am quite skilled at taking my pills on time. Either way...I injured my shoulder in a bathroom stall. That was awesome. And not one drop of alcohol was involved in the bathroom stall shoulder incident. That actually makes it worse.

But I am exhausted and still somewhat dizzy from the seasickness and my DVR overflows. So I shall be posting tomorrow after I sleep for the next 20 hours.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


It is Thankful Thursday. It also happens to be my 200th post. I feel like there is some poetic symbolism in there somewhere. I’m just not smart enough to eloquently define it. I think that this classifies as a “milestone”. At least for me anyway. This is because A) I never really stick to anything (aside from the unshakeable mental illness. I’ve stuck to that pretty well.) I’m a fairly chronic starter and stopper. I tend to get really amped about certain things and go balls to the wall and then kind of peter out. B) I fully recall sharing with Bulls-Eye one evening approximately 2-3 years ago that I didn’t understand blogs and I would never ever have one because “why would I want my crap out there for everybody to read. I’m not that interesting and I’m not self centered enough to think that I am.” OK. Turns out that I am self-centered enough to think that. You are welcome.

So on this 200th edition of “So Now You Know” I would like to express my thankfulness to those of you who have helped me improve upon my stick-to-itiveness. Not only in accountability to keep sharing but in helping me stay true to myself. Thanks for helping (often forcibly) me let the OCD cat out of the bag. Thanks for helping raise awareness for the disorder and its struggles. Also thanks for helping raise awareness regarding my various body parts including but not limited to my colon, my kidneys, my vagina, my stomach, and my boobs. Again, you are all very welcome. Thanks for allowing me to carry on endlessly about inane subject matter especially when that includes poop. Thank you for being non-judgmental (mostly) when I shared my propensity to curse during panic attacks and even more than once while praying. But that was purely unintentional.

Thanks for sticking around while I waxed philosophical and opened up my head about my chats with Jesus. Thank you for expanding my mind, my heart, my tolerance, my endurance, and my all around well being. Thank you talking back and making me laugh (however unintentionally).

In return I shall continue to work it out day by day. Some good, some bad, some boring, and many of sheer insanity. I will continue to make you feel better about yourself by injuring myself, crashing my car into things, putting my foot in my mouth, and attempting to become ever twistier in my Yoga practice. You will be the first to know the next time my boobs are touched (which really happens to me a lot), I am inadvertently nude in front of large groups of people (also happens to me an inordinate amount of times), or when I finally snap and crack someone’s skull for asking me exactly how tall I am and if I played basketball. FYI: I didn’t.

Looking forward to posts 201 and so on…

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Yeah yeah yeah. I've not been up to much. I blame netflix.

Oh now seriously. What excuse could there possibly be for this egregious lack of posting? I have no excuses. Possibly I have become a boring person. Or possibly I have become too controversial. (Did you know that I'm "controversial" now?! It's awesome!) But I am a rather boring controversial person. Hence...(yep, hence) no posting. So here are a few updates:

1) We went to the pool today. The public one. It was a...challenge. It was...full of persons who may benefit from a one piece swimsuit instead of a two piece.

2) Student recital is this week! This is my favorite part of the whole year. Of course my students are all worked up into fits of nervousness but they are going to be great. And we are doing a set of Beatles tunes so...extra awesome.

3)Another vacation is on the horizon. If I could take you back approximately 18 months...I couldn't say words relating to the vacation. Now I can go on them. Mostly unmedicated (not counting daily meds because I would be a NUTBAG without those.)

4) So far this summer my tan is fierce. Except for that I haven't been able to tan on my back because of the new ink. So I've worked up a pretty righteous tan line running vertically down my side. Jealous?

OK, for real...if anyone is still even reading my blog anymore due to my sorry and just plain lazy inactivity, drop me a note and let me know. All your support keeps me going. And don't worry...I've still got some stories to tell.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thankful Thursday!! (In my head I'm saying it in a "Captain Caveman" voice)

OK. Thankful Thursday coming in just under the wire. Let’s see…things I am thankful for:

A) I love that it is summer and that I can tan all the time. Yeah just hush. I know it’s all bad for me and whatever but I love it and it makes me happy. And tan.

B) Super cute dresses and shoes that go with my tan are also on the list of my favorite things this week. I realize that that seems highly superficial and frivolous (and doesn’t it freak you out when it’s actually grammatically correct to write “that” twice in a row?). But honestly I love cute shoes and dresses even more when I realize how lucky I am to have things that are superficial and frivolous. (And that I have had access to education which makes me aware of obnoxious grammatical syntax).

C) Free thinking and having my own opinion even when other people disagree.

D) Fabulously fulfilling yet wonderfully amiable discussion with people of differing opinions. I live for that kind of thing.

E) Prison Break on Netflix. I know this show has already come and gone like 4 years ago or something but we totally just now got into it. And mother of all frick if that isn’t one beautiful man on that show. But apparently I have a type because Luke is all “Of course you think he is hot. He’s all tatted and dark and broody and has pretty eyes.” Wow. What does it say about me when my husband can accurately describe men I am attracted to?

F) My therapist. God love her.

G) Black nail polish. And I realize that I have returned to the shallow frivolity of un-necessities but holy crap do I love black nail polish. I feel like it pretty much personifies me. Or at least my hands.

H) And finally…I am thankful for all the dear people who still love me even though this bullet point exists for the express purpose of having 8 points. And thank you Jesus for bringing them to me.

Oh VH1...must you really?

Yeah it’s Thursday and probably I’ll get around to composing a moving and poignant post being thankful for birds and air and beauty and the boundless insignificance of my place in the world juxtaposed with my very unique and indelible position in it. But not right now. Right now I would like to tell some people to suck it.

Suck it people who produce shows about OCD. Not helpful shows, but exploitative shows. Shows that reduce us to our compulsions and put us in a fish bowl and try to make us normal in 60 minutes or less. Don’t get me wrong…there are plenty of helpful resources on TV, on-line, and what-not, but unfortunately this is the kind of crap that the majority of people see and from which develop their base-line knowledge of OCD. This is the kind of crap that kept me from getting diagnosed for so long, because I didn’t wash my hands 100 times a day and I didn’t fear germs. I had no concept of the broad spectrum of OCD and that I fit right into it.

So far, the OCD warriors that I’ve met aren’t anything like these people. Sure, I know the ones who have deep-rooted contamination issues, but I also know the ones who count, touch, repeat, worry, organize, pray, add, subtract, avoid, open, close, mentally clear, deny, lie, scratch, struggle, try, hurt and start all over again. The ones I know have been this way for a long time even if diagnosis has been recent. The ones I know work hard everyday to maintain, to be productive, and to defeat stereotypes. Stereotypes such as all-I-have-to-do-is-lick-the-bottom-of-my-shoe-and-voila-I’m-cured-and-let’s-all-go-eat-off-the-toilet.

Not to impugn those of you who have benefited from intense exposure therapy. I’m just saying that I’m pretty happy with myself for maintaining a reasonable amount of obsession vs. compulsion and I’ve accepted (mostly) that this is probably a lifetime challenge for me. OCD gauntlet thrown and accepted. I am happy that I have found (for now) the correct diagnosis and medication and the helpful coping mechanisms and the support of a public forum and the courage to talk about it openly. Shows like these make it seem like a “cure” is only a few bizarre extremes away and then we can forget all about our little brush with weird.

So I’m not going to be licking any trash cans anytime soon unless there is money involved or you double dog dare me or something awesome like that. I’m just going to be here. With OCD. Having good days and not so good days and days in between. I’m not going to be all cured in a week. I’m just going to be here. Happy to share with you if you really want to know what OCD is all about. And if you still feel the need to be entertained by someone with a mental illness, just hang around for a while longer and surely I’ll be talking to one of my body parts or gluing appendages to my head sometime soon.