Getting Help

Along with the change in medication, I also started to see a Psychologist, the one that was recommended by the support group. The first couple of appointments were primarily about the Psychologist getting to know me, doing some standardised assessments, talking about some of the intrusive thoughts, and compulsions etc. Basically, it was a time where the Psychologist was pretty much sizing up the situation, and me to an extent.

During the first couple of sessions, unknown to me, the Psychologist was extremely concerned about my mental state, how much of a danger I was to myself. By the time I started seeing the Psychologist, whilst I was taking anti-depressants and seroqual, I was still extremely depressed, I was miserable, I hated life, there nothing that I saw as worthwhile, in my life, or within myself.

By the time I managed to get the help I needed, I was pretty close to absolute rock bottom. I thought of killing myself all the time, it was a thought so common it was like my heart beating. But, what is probably scarier, looking back, is it wasn’t just thoughts, there would be urges, almost like a little push in the back, to drive my car as fast as possible into a tree, or off a cliff. Even whilst I had the thoughts, and the urges, and they were so constant, I didn’t want to kill myself. I wanted it all over, I didn’t want to deal with the anxiety, the thoughts, the…the fucking everything. I couldn’t cope anymore, and really what was the point? So why didn’t I actually do it? Why didn’t I kill myself? I couldn’t do that to my family, I couldn’t put them through that pain. The other thing that kept me going, was deep down I knew there was some hope, some small glimmer that things could improve. I think, despite the person, the situation, the anything, the everything, so long as there is that glimmer of hope, a person will rise to pretty much any fight, will preserver regardless of the odds, so long as there is a glimmer, no matter how small.

At the time the Psychologist didn’t obviously didn’t voice her concerns to me, though she did talk about the thoughts etc. She did ask if I had plans, or if I thought that I would actually do it, which I replied to saying “No”. This was true, but I have wondered since that time what would have happened if I had said “Yes”. Im not sure on legalities etc are in Australia regarding at what point a person is deemed such a significant risk to themselves that there is intervention by the authorities. But, whilst what I said was true, depending on when I was asked I think it might not have been true, though I probably would still have said “No”, purely because I didn’t want to be forced into an institution. Good news though is that I obviously was stable enough not to kill myself.

The first couple of sessions really didn’t do a huge amount for me, I left them feeling maybe slightly better having someone who could appreciate what I was going through, but that feeling didn’t last long, it, in the long run didn’t make me any better. I kept going to see her, because while I wasn’t getting much initially I figured there must be something to the whole Psychology thing, and I wasn’t getting anywhere on my own. Before I started to do something significant about getting help I had made a decision that regardless of what that help ended up being that I would give it a decent go. So, 2 sessions and a few weeks of medication really wasn’t giving it a decent go.

My doctor did change my medication dosages trying to get the right balance, or dose to treat my symptoms. OCD is an illness, it does have a cause, but it is not known yet. So, treating the symptoms is the best they can do currently. At the time I started to see the Psychologist I was taking 40mg or Arropax, by the second appointment I had started taking the Seroqual. When you are first prescribed these types of medications they generally start you on a reasonably low dose. Say 10mg for Arropax, and 25mg for seroqual. With the seroqual I did start on 25mg, but I moved up to 75mg over the course of about 2 months. With the Arropax I started on 20mg, and was taking 40mg within about 6 weeks.

As I have said previously I am not a huge fan of some of the side affects of the medications, I have to admit that without them my life, might be over or would be in a significantly worse condition than it currently is. I am also aware that over the years to come, there will be changes to my medications, there might be improvements, a better drug will be released. I might not get the same benefits from the medications I use now, as I did, and therefore a new, or different medication will be prescribed. I don’t see that I will ever stop taking medications, especially in the near future.

However, as I said I started to see a Psychologist who was to help me manage the OCD, through therapy. There are many different therapy options available to treat OCD, but the one chosen, and from what I know one of the most successful therapies is Exposure Response Prevention Therapy, or ERP. Basically ERP Therapy is, exposing the patient to what causes their anxiety, on purpose, then sitting with them, talking with them, going through relaxation techniques and waiting while they calm down, hopefully. To be honest, it seemed like the stupidest thing on earth to me, kinda like deliberately infecting someone with malaria to cure malaria. But none the less, it does help apparently and I have also made a decision that what I am asked to do by my psychologist I will do my utmost to do. I want to get some control back over my life, and the only way seems to be to do what a professional instructs. However, this does not make it an any more appealing treatment.

Prior to my first session of ERP, despite having met with the Psychologist a few times already, I was freaking out. I had taken the day off work, as I couldn’t handle that and doing ERP. The Psychologist had explained what the session would entail, to an extent. Not so much what I would be touching but what the concept was, and the process we would do. I was terrified of what we might do, what was going to happen. Not just on the day, but for days leading up to the session. Despite all the fear, the anxiety, the absolute terror of it all, I still went. Out of 10, when I arrived I was already sitting at about a 4, not too bad but when you know what a 10 is, 4 is not a pleasant feeling. What’s quite amazing about it is, even though I originally wrote about this months ago, just thinking about it again, still makes me somewhat anxious, and feel quite awkward, for a lack of a better word. It’s amazing how profound of an affect OCD, and the treatment for OCD can have on you.

When I arrived for the first session of ERP, my Psychologist brought me into her office, and I sat down in the chair, with her sitting in the chair opposite me. We talked about how things were going, how I was feeling at the time, knowing what was coming up, how I was feeling. Then, it was to the reason I was there, actually doing ERP. As we got up to start, I could feel the anxiety building, slowly at first. The Psychologist asked me to follow her, and touch what she touched. Just the fact I knew she had touched it first made it difficult, knowing hundreds before her, freaked me out, knowing that people would touch what I had touched after, that fucked with my head more ways than I thought possible. Anyhow, I started to follow her, initially she touched her door handle to her office, I followed suit. Prior to that, I hadnt touched a door handle for years, at least without covering my hands with my shirt sleeves or something similar.

From there, she placed her hand against the wall as we walked to the waiting room, and I did the same. It was like smearing shit down the hallway. She then touched another door handle as we entered into the waiting room, following her, I touched the door handle. Walking into the waiting room, she placed her hands over the magazines, touched the lid of the bin, the arms of the waiting room chairs and lastly the door handle of the entry. I some how managed to follow her, and do the same things. Through out this time, my anxiety level went from slowly rising, to warp 9 in a fucking hurry.

I made my way back down to her office, along with my Psychologist, we both sat back down. I was at this point sitting at about a 9 out of 10, its hard to tell what I would say a 10 is, I mean 10 out of 10 is hitting the absolute limit of what you can handle. I would figure that a 10 is what it is like when I have a sever panic attack, when I cant move, almost like I am catatonic with terror. Still aware of what is going on, but fear grips so hard that its like your mind goes, “Dude, this is some serious shit, Im out of here until things settle the fuck down.” Though, im not sure if there is a level of anxiety above this, there might be, maybe I havent hit a 10 before. But given what its like with only what I can assume is a 10, I really don’t want to have to find out what is beyond what I know.

By the time I sat down, I was shaking, I couldn’t sit even remotely still, I was shifting constantly in my seat, not able to get comfortable. I held my hands out in front of me, as far away from my body as I could, but still resting on my legs but without my hands actually touching my legs, or anything else. I was sweating heavily, my heart was trying to find a rapid exit from my chest, and was feeling quite nauseous. The feeling of disgust, like I had been swimming in the shit of 1000 people, who had eaten the shit of 10000 people for the past month, while washing my hair with the piss, of 100 drunks, who also liked asparagus. That might seem somewhat excessive, but its really an understatement, but I couldn’t think of anything as remotely disgusting as the way I felt and while this isnt anything like how disgusting I felt, it’s the best I could think of.

The feeling of disgust, was overwhelming, the feeling of filth being all over me spread over my body. It felt as if there were millions of tiny creatures crawling up my arms, finding their way to my chest, up my neck, down my sternum, to my stomach, over my legs, and all over my head. My head was racing, it wanted to leave my body behind, it wanted out. It was intense having all these feelings racing around all at the same time. I thought for sure that I was going to have a full on Panic Attack, any second, while sitting in the office of my Psychiatrist, right there, I was going to completely melt down, and lose it all together.

While this was all going on the Psychologist started to talk to me, discussing what I was thinking, feeling, then doing some relaxation techniques to bring the level of anxiety down. Then discussing what had happened, how I was feeling again, as we spoke the anxiety levels rose again. The thoughts, feelings etc start to impose themselves upon me again. I would go from a 9 down to a 5 up to a 7 back down again to a 4, back up to a 9, down again to a 5. My anxiety levels were all over the place.

We continued talking, not always about what we had done, but other things as well. Normal stuff, what was going at work etc. I found it hard to remain focused on what we were discussing, my mind darted all over the place, what the Psychologist was talking about, to trying to reply, to my thoughts, to my feelings, replying, thoughts, wait what the fuck did she say. I didn’t want to talk, to discuss thoughts, feelings, the weather, what ever. I wanted to wash my hands, at the very least. I wanted to run away, go back home, hide, something. As time progressed I no longer wanted to wash my hands, I wanted to have a shower, I needed to have a shower. I needed to scrub myself. As the session started to wind up, we were talking about things, and working on my being calmer. As I left the session I was probably around a 3 or a 4 out of 10.

When I got into the car, I started to be quite agitated again. I was touching things in the car and spreading the contamination further. It was harder to maintain a level of relaxation while away from any of the distractions that were in the office with the Psychologist. Driving home, the thoughts started to creep in again, stronger than they had been. I managed to maintain myself but my mind continued to become consumed with thoughts of contamination, my body being covered in shit, and filthy. Fortunately the drive from my Psychologist’s office to my place is a short one, around 5 – 10 minutes. As I got closer to home, closer to relief the feeling became stronger, more overwhelming. Even though the trip was a short one, it felt like it was taking forever. Its kind of like having to crap, the head, just the tip of the crap is starting to poke itself out, and you can feel that any minute now, a new car seat is going to be needed as soon as possible, along with a complete detailing of the inside of your car. As you get closer to home, closer to relief the feeling becomes more intense, your starting to be sure you can hold on just a few seconds longer, you can make it into the drive way, so long as the slow ass driver in front of you turns down a side street, or pulls over to answer his phone. You feel like you this is the first shit in your entire life, like you have been holding on to this one for ever. You get onto your street, only a few more seconds until you hear the sweet ‘plop’ sound. Into your drive way, clenching your butt cheeks as close together as possible, like someone is trying to put a hot poker up your arse, and you need to keep them out. You do this walk, run, but clench, waddle to your door, try and find the right key, fumbling all of them around in your hands, trying not to drop them, because you know if they hit the floor, and you have to bend over, new pants will be needed, and if any one is watching, you’ll need a new place as well. Finally, the right key, into the lock, first try, second try, finally it slides in, your through the door, and you slam it shut behind you, your belt is loosened and you have unbuckled your pants, before you have even made it into the toilet. Pants are down, undies are down, you swing around, arse to the seat, just in time. Sweet, relief. A feeling that you made it, you held it in, and now let the shit land where it may, but its in the bowl, not your pants. A moment of absolute, undeniable serenity.

This is the kind of feeling I had as I approached my place. The gates were closed, so I hurried out of my car and opened them, parked my car in my car park, grabbed my bag, raced over and re-locked the gates, and raced up the stairs to my flat. I unlocked my door, I dropped my bag, and started to take my clothing off. I didn’t even stop to turn on the lights, barely able to see where I was going, my threw my clothing off to the floor, naked by the time I was in my bathroom, I turned on my shower, stepped inside my shower, not bothering to ensure that it wasn’t too hot or cold, and started to wash my hands, and body. Washing turned to scrubbing, the warm water turned to hot. I started scrubbing myself, the same feeling of relief or serenity like when you get to the toilet in time. But it was short lived, I continued to scrub, time and time again, the feeling of relief hit me like waves, but like waves the relief was short lived. I kept scrubbing until I felt somewhat clean(ish) but enough that I could get out of the shower. I felt calmer, less anxious and more at peace but still funky, still a little off. I made my tea, and shortly after I went to bed, completely exhausted by all the events of the evening.

People that are not afflicted with OCD would find all this very difficult to relate to I would imagine. This is why I am using some of the analogies I am. The difference between my analogies and reality is that you only experience the whole, desperate to shit thing once every now and then, its rare. For the most part you know you need to crap, and you make sure you can get to a toilet while still quite comfortable.

For people who suffer from OCD, or any anxiety disorder, this is a constant, continually reoccurring event(s). While I felt somewhat better, and was able to go to bed, but there is still a huge element of anxiety, I was exhausted, and questioning what the fuck I was doing by doing this ERP crazy crap. Feeling like this isnt new, it’s a feeling that is as a part of me as breathing. Despite taking the medications, which help me remain calmer and more sedate, the feelings are still there, I still get extremely anxious. You can only imagine what I was like before I started taking the medications.

It wasn’t uncommon for me to have panic attacks. Some rather severe ones but often they were mild, short lived but still very unnerving and terrifying. For those who have never had a panic attack and don’t understand what they are like, the best description is like the one given in the definitions chapter, imagine being in the corner of a room, with no door, no windows and a very low ceiling. You have no apparent means of escape, the walls, ceiling and floor are 10 foot thick reinforced concrete, and you have left your jack hammer in your other pants. Now imagine in the other corner is hyena, which hasn’t eaten for weeks, has been getting poked and prodded with a stun gun, pointy sticks and called names like tinkerbell, and daisy. Now imagine that Tinkerbell is on a chain which has been attached to the wall using a very unsecure looking bolt, and that with every rush that little Tinkerbell makes at you, that bolt creeps ever so slightly further from its place in the concrete.

Whilst this is a good analogy for what having a panic attack is like, it actually sounds more appealing than actually experiencing a panic attack. The panic attacks that I experience can last for minutes, but more often they would last for hours. I have actually been taken to hospital, attached to a heart monitor, had xrays, and all sorts of other tests to make sure I wasn’t having a heart attack or something life threatening. Panic attacks may start in the mind, but they can certainly cause physical symptoms. They can come on very abruptly, you can be sitting watching TV one moment, and then in the next gripped by fear so terrifying that you cant move, you cant breath, and you no longer feel like you are actually really there anymore. Or they can be less abrupt, you start to feel like you are short of breath, your heart starts to race, you shake a little, giving you an indication that a panic attack is on the way, and try as you might, it will run its course, it will likely get worse and worse over a short time.

One of the things that can be unbelievably frustrating with panic attacks is that, it can be triggered by anything. Like finances, or an advert on TV, or well anything or even nothing, almost like for the sake of it. When you realise your having a panic attack there is a ridiculously irritating cycle that often starts to occur. You start to panic because you are panicking. The cycle goes, “Oh shit, oh shit, fucking hell, shit im freaking out, im freaking out, its ok, calm down, its ok, fuck, fuck, im cant calm down, im dying, fuck me, shit, fuck, calm down, calm down, I cant calm down, im not calming down, Im going to die, and so on until the panic attack decided its had enough and stops. Its not always the way of it, but when it happens like this, it really, really pisses me off. When there is a reason for panicking it is easier to accept it, there is a reason, the panic attack is over the top, and an unjustifiable reaction, but there is a reason. When there is no reason, or at least one that can be identified, that just fucks me off.

Along with the OCD I also have Depression. It appears to me from my experience that OCD and Depression seems to go hand in hand. Which given the affects of OCD on a person it really isn’t that surprising. But that’s not to say that you cant have one without the other, it just seems to me that if you have OCD, then depression is not far away. Though this being said, depending on the theme of the OCD you experience or are experiencing when you are examined depression may appear more pronounced than OCD. This is one reason why being assessed by the right medical professionals for OCD and/or depression, or any other mental health issue is, and must be an absolute necessity. While I am kinda on the topic, please do not say you have a mental health issue such as depression or OCD without being appropriately assessed. Other than making you sound like an ass, it belittles the illness and those who suffer from it. I will go into this more later on, but let me tell you, I have not met a sufferer, health care professional, or anyone remotely connected to a sufferer of OCD and understands the disorder who doesn’t cringe when they hear someone say, “I think I have a BIT of OCD,” or “Im a little OCD with this or that” or similar. You dont get a litte bit of OCD, kinda like you dont get a little bit of an amputation. You have OCD or you dont, again like you either have a part of you amputated or you dont. When I hear someone say anything like this, I really feel like giving them a BIT of a smack around the head. Please dont say this, to anyone.

The knowledge many people have about OCD is often very limited, if they know anything at all, and what is known is generally what is seen in the context of television shows etc which concentrate mainly on the outward symptoms or components of the illness. OCD is much more complex than people understand. People will sometimes see the outward expression of the illness, cleaning, hand washing, repetitive actions, tapping or unusual behaviours. This is only the tip of the iceberg in respect to OCD, however it is often the most time consuming and debilitating component of OCD. However, the component often not understood or known about OCD is what causes the compulsions. This part being the Obsessions, and this is where the name of the illness also describes the illness, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The particular obsession or obsessions can be pretty much anything. Some things like contamination, loss, fear of someone dying or being injured including the sufferer are common. For me there I have a number of obsessions, which for now I wont go into. The obsessions cause the sufferer to become or feel very anxious, and distressed by the obsessions. To alleviate the anxiety and distress the sufferer feels they may carry out different compulsions, either directly associated to the obsessions causing the anxiety or indirectly associated to them. For example a person who has a contamination obsession, washing their hands may be the compulsion, or avoiding contact with other people where possible or all together or their compulsion may be to tap a certain number of times, or in a certain sequence so as to protect themselves from contamination. From the view point of a non-sufferer this would seem not to compute, tapping to protect from contamination, is tapping some new kind of anti-bacterial? Or are you kidding, the person doesn’t have OCD they are just insane. From the view point of a sufferer, I would have thought the same thing prior to being diagnosed, in fact I did, about myself. I thought I was insane, and started to investigate where I could go to be locked up, away from society, I didn’t feel that I should be allowed in normal society, I felt that I had lost my mind or was losing my mind. Most OCD sufferers are aware that the compulsions or rituals they carry out are illogical. However, what they cant deny is that they work, more or less. I say more or less because as OCD is left untreated the compulsions often become more complex or elaborate and as such become more time consuming and debilitating. But the anxiety is lessened and more tolerable if they carry out the rituals and compulsions. The compulsions and rituals are much like drugs, if you break your leg you take pain killers to make the pain tolerable or go away. Think about the anxiety an OCD sufferer suffers like pain, and the compulsions like a pain killer. The more pain you are in the more or stronger pain killers you need, and you need them more often. For example, the guy with a broken leg needs something like Panadine forte, however, the doctor determines to fix the broken leg they need to perform surgery, after surgery the pain is obviously worse so the guy needs morphine, because there is a different level of pain being experienced. It is like this with OCD, as the obsessions gain more and more power and cause more and more anxiety, the compulsions and rituals need to be “stronger” to counteract the power of the Obsessions.

Despite the changes in attitude towards mental illnesses in society, there is still a great deal of non-acceptance, fear and negativity towards mental illnesses of all kinds. Not by all but by many. The social convention now is to be more accepting of it, but when I talk to people you can see in their eyes the old attitudes rearing up. Personally I am not bothered by peoples feelings towards me, in fact the way people react to me telling about this probably works in my favour. I am not a huge fan of people in general, I would much rather be alone, and the attitude of fear and mistrust that is directed towards people with known mental illness works for me because people tend to avoid me as a result, or when they are around you are more cautious about what they say and do because they dont want to “set you off”. This is probably part of the reason why I am happy to tell people about it. People who don’t shy away from me as a result, tend to over compensate and as a result I am left to my own devices, my own way of doing things, at work and at home.

What really bother me about the attitude is that socially mental illness is swept under the carpet, hidden from the general population. For me finding help was a struggle, searching online for a support group, trying to find a good doctor, and mental health professionals was difficult, and when I did hey were underfunded, and under appreciated. The building that my support group meets in is a converted shed, which is significantly dilapidated. Looking at the office from the outside you would think I was walking into a building from the 1940’s, partly because the house was built then, and this is a government funded group. The feeling walking into this building is very depressing. There is little understanding of the human brain, how it works, why some people suffer mental illness and even to a point why the medications prescribed actually work. Like anything that humanity doesn’t understand fully, fear prevails. Much like ancient societies where they prayed to the old Gods for mercy, and made sacrifices to them to please them, or when during plagues and outbreaks occur and this is punishment from the Gods etc. If mental illness was given the same level of appreciation in medical and governmental realms I am sure much greater strides could be made. But, unlike say, cancer, mental illness causes fear in the mass population, fear of the person, while cancer instigates sympathy. As much as you might try to rationalise it in your head and convince yourself that I am wrong, how often do you see fund raisers for schizophrenia research, or mental illness in general? You know a great big poster with someone in a padded cell? Cancer has yet to be cured, and I am not saying we should try and stop looking for one. But we believe there is a cure, we can do something about it. But someone with a mental illness, bring in the guys in white suits, carrying straight jackets. The obviously isnt just about OCD etc, but mental health in general and the perception people have of it. Why try and cure something that can be swept under the carpet? If the person can function in society, cool, but keep it on the down low. If they cant, lock them up, no one will really notice, and no one really does. The person hasnt got any idea whats going on, so why does it matter? That to me is a really piss poor response from a so called “Civilised” society. But I suppose, better than casting them outside of the city walls like the old days…. oh wait, at least they get medication and carers I suppose.

I have been told countless times that this is all in my head. Here’s a big shock, I FUCKING KNOW. But so is most things that happen in everyone’s life. You get an itchy foot, its in your head, you hurt yourself, the pain is in your head (that’s why pain killers work), your sad, this is in your head. Saying mental illness is all in the head is the dumbest, most ignorant, pointless and naive thing a person can say, especially if they think this will resolve anything for the sufferer. Our brains control everything in our bodies, our heart beat, our breathing, our kidneys working to filter blood, everything. Everything is all in our heads, the difference is when we are in pain, we can say our leg hurts, this makes more sense to people than, the receptors in my brain are firing in such a way to signify an injury in my lower extermity. Despite that actually being the case. Your leg doesnt actually feel pain, your brain interprets the signal from you leg saying it is injured into pain, so you are conciously aware. With mental illnesses, it starts and ends in your head. The “pain” originates in your brain, something is wrong, so your brain interprets this into something that is recognised conciously.

If people change their perception towards mental illness and realise mental illness is not so different to “normal illness” great strides could be made in the field and better, more effective treatments could be discovered. Most treatments prescribed have numerous side affects, not only medications but therapies etc. I am not saying a golden bullet that solves it all will be found, but better treatments. People would not feel so ashamed of mental illness and try to hide if from family, friends and co-workers. With OCD if sufferers didn’t feel like they had to hide it, and themselves they would most likely seek help earlier, feel less depressed and hopeless. I am quite open to talking about my OCD with co-workers, family and friends, but there is still much of the illness I would not tell them, in fact some of my symptoms I have not told anyone other than my doctor and Psychologist, and even then there are things I have yet to tell anyone. Most people who see me on a daily basis have never noticed my compulsions, and are shocked when they find out I have OCD, and Depression. I have learnt to hide many of the compulsions, hide when I notice that I am getting overly anxious and close to a panic attack. When I am around people I am constantly paying attention to my mind and my body, making sure I hide the anxiety, hide what is happening inside from those on the outside. When I told one of my co-workers, who I had worked closely with for around 2 years that I had been diagnosed with depression she was shocked. She knew I had OCD, but would never have guessed the severity of my condition or that I was depressed. The mask I wore was so entrenched that someone I worked along side of 40 hours a week could not tell that I was depressed. She actually thought the complete opposite, that I was relatively happy and easy going.

The truth is, pretty much every day I thought about killing myself. How I could do it so it looked like an accident, so my parents would not be burdened by the knowledge that their son committed suicide. Initially, when I started seeing my psychologist she was extremely concerned about my well being and that I may be a significant threat to myself. When she asked if I thought of committing suicide I said yes. She asked if I would do it, I said no, and this was the truth. I wouldn’t kill myself because I couldn’t do it to my parents and sister. However, I did clarify my statement that I wouldn’t kill myself by saying, I wouldn’t be upset if it was all over, but I wouldn’t do it to myself. I wanted out, I couldn’t cope anymore and I felt like there was no other option other to perceiver until my inevitable death. It is a hard thing to describe, the desire for it to all be over, which on one hand the only way for it to be over that you can see is to die, but a desire to continue living as well just without the shit. Everyone at one point or another probably thinks about committing suicide, but daily, hourly having a struggle between continuing on a path that you view as eternal misery, or eternal nothingness. Sometimes the nothing, or the unknown, even our understanding of Hell sounds like a better option. Please note that I am not saying suicide is the best course of action, it is the level of helplessness I felt at the time.

Since changing my medication, and starting with the Seroqual, I think about killing myself less often. I still do every now and then but not as constantly as I did. I still struggle to cope daily. Day to day life is filled with battles, things most people take for granted can consume hours of my life. Your out of milk, you go and buy a couple of litres. Me I have to decide wether I can make myself walk out of the front door and go to the supermarket or petrol station and buy a couple of litres. Can I handle walking into a shop filled with people today. Can I bring myself to say hello to the checkout person. Can I make myself pick up a shopping basket. Can I touch the door handle of my car. Will I be able to do all this and come home, or is it too much for me today. Now imagine how I am about going to work, or to another persons house. I have to plan for things like this days in advance. I have to be fully prepared daily to go to work, sometimes it can be a significant struggle for me to get out the front door to go to work. I know everyone can be like this, particularly on Monday’s but for me its not because I don’t want to go to work, or Im lazy. But, the anxiety of being around people for 8 & 1/2 hours, the what ifs, what if they touch me, bump me, or I have to open a door. What about home, what if I left the oven on, what if the heater is still on, what if I get broken into. Can I even drive to work, what if someone follows me, what if I cause an accident. It is a constant battle against myself to do pretty much anything. It is easier with medication, but the fight is still on. More often than not each day is a balancing act until I get to the weekend when I can hide myself away in my flat. Ill go to work today, and see the psychologist tonight then ill go home, out of milk, ill have black coffee the next day and pick up milk on the way home from work. Seeing my parents today, ill go to work, see my folks but tomorrow night ill go straight home after work. I am constantly weighing up the costs of each and every activity. This leads to me being very isolate, which I do like, but it also makes day to day activities very difficult. It is time consuming, exhuasting, batte, which seems to have no end. Most people get up and do their daily activities with minimal thoughts other than the activity itself, and it might be hard to relate to what I am saying, but when every activity has percieved concequences, percieved dangers, you try and minimise the risk any way you can think of, avoidance, routines, rituals, what ever. They dont even have to make sense so long as the fear, the anxiety is gone, or at the very least minimised. The costs to your health, social and economic circumstances can be staggering, and can tend to reinforce the original issue

It is nothing unusual for me to spend hundreds on cleaning products, my electricity costs are huge, $2500 per year is about the average. For a person living on their own, in a small 2 bedroom flat this is massive. In comparison my family spend around $1000 per year. I work full time, but I do tend to go through all my sick leave quite quickly so once that is gone, I am no longer paid, and have less money to pay for everything. I am constantly struggling financially to make ends meet, but it s not like I don’t get paid well, I am on reasonable money for a person my age. I get a bonus at work, I pay my parents back some of the money I owe them. Medication and medical costs add up as well. Currently I see my doctor fortnightly, so there is the cost of that, and the 1 and 1/2 hour round trip to see him. Then I have the medication to help with the disorder, and the anti-nausea medication, which I need because of the other medications. Currently my psychologist has no gap for me to pay, but I only get so many government subsidised visits per year to see her, so eventually I will have to pay for that. Now I am also going to see a Psychiatrist for an evaluation which will take a few sessions so I will have to pay for that. Not to mention if I do get sick like everyone else I have these costs on top of the others. I have private health care cover, but this doesn’t cover any of the gaps, and generally speaking Im better off going via the government schemes because these are cheaper, even if I see the same doctor as a private patient I still have a gap like non-private patients, only difference is I am more likely to get in sooner as a private patient than a public patient. That being said, yesterday I made my appointment to see the Psychiatrist it is in about 3 months. It makes me wonder how many people commit suicide in Australia whilst waiting to see a mental health professional. The costs, they add up and can be significant. The financial situation then has the awesome side affect of causing its own levels of anxiety. You end up in a rock and a hard place situation. I ‘need’ the cleaning products, but I also need to eat, sadly the cleaning products often out weigh the need to eat, or at lease eat properly.


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