Improving….For A While

I seem to be getting better with the medication and ERP quicker than I thought I would. It appears to me that when the issues with touching door handles was addressed and started to be resolved that the other compulsions seemed to just fall over. I am not sure why, or if it is just that I am tackling the touching things issue that has made everything fall over, or if the medication is kicking in and they just dont seem to have the same hold on me they used to.

Looking back at it all, the OCD seems to be more like stage props, than the real thing. They kinda look real but give them a bit of a shove and they fall over. OCD is like this being, this other entity inside your brain that can convince you to react to something completely nonfactual, that has no reason, no real truth, no substance as if it has more substance, is more real, and more factual than anything else around you. Its kinda like looking at a hologram of something, and having that thing right next to the hologram and believing that the hologram is the real thing and the real thing is a hologram.

This is where the frustration at OCD comes in for me. It is so deceitful, so manipulative and so relentless in its attack on what you know is the truth, until you are more convinced that its truth, is the truth, and your body starts to act in accordance to its truth, rather than what you know deep within yourself is the actual truth. There is a reality that is perceived by the person experiencing OCD for the most part, the sufferer is completely aware that the OCD thoughts, obsessions and compulsions are completely unfounded however, this does not hinder OCD in its fight for control, and that is exactly what it is, a fight for control.

As the sufferer fights for control, we start with compulsions, these seem to limit the power of OCD over us. My big compulsion is cleaning. Looking back at my personal struggles with OCD and I can clearly see that it is in direct correlation to contamination fears, to being contaminated, along with contaiminating others with both germs etc and my own thoughts as stated earlier. Even though my house, hands, car, desk, what ever may be clean, spotless to the naked eye OCD would tell me that it wasnt clean. It would tell me that it was full of filth, contaminated and disgusting. Even if I had just washed it 20 times I would still be plagued by thoughts of its uncleanness. So next you are cleaning stuff around it, or anything that might come in contact with it, or anything you may come in contact with, which could then come in contact with it. The cycle continues, it grows, it becomes overwhelming but it still becomes more and more powerful. The real killer deception of OCD is that it lets us think the compulsions help limit it’s power over us, that we still have control over the OCD. Thing is the compulsions are part of the OCD attack wave. OCD is a 2 part disorder, the first part is Obsession, what we think, It is an attack on our reasoning, our perception of the world around us and on our ability to determine what we believe and what we dont and to act or react accordingly.

The second part is much less aggressive in its approach, I dont mean aggressive in the sense it is not forceful but more so less direct, it is more passive aggressive in its approach, more subtle. We think we are controlling the OCD but in fact the OCD is just causing compulsions, and in doing so it is fulfilling its goal. The goal being to take control of both mind and body. To infiltrate as many aspects of our being as possible to totally control the sufferer to the point that OCD is the only part of us and our life which has any meaning.

OCD is like a parasite of our minds. It attaches itself to us, gorging itself on our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, our very being. As it consumes more and more we become less and less. And that is a feeling that does permeate through the sufferer, well at least it did me. OCD seemed to be more me, than I was. My life, everything was consumed by it. I made arrangements, and plans around my OCD, which thinking about it is a compulsion of sorts as well, because I was so afraid of triggering my OCD, I made sure I was had time to do the things I was compelled to do. I think this is part of what leads to the depression which is so common amongst OCD sufferers, losing ones identity only to be replaced with this parasite is very overwhelming, and depressing. We lose what makes us, us, we lose our freedom, and so much more.

After a while of undergoing treatment and regularly seeing my psycologist, things are really starting to improve. I am able to touch door handles, not wear an extra t-shirt under my shirt, and the list of things I wasn’t able to do before I am now able to handle. It is quite freeing and is making things for me much more bearable. I know that I have been pushing hard with the exposure therapy, forcing myself to do it, doing it on pretty much anything that my OCD has issues with. I don’t like my OCD, I want it gone, I know what the treatment is for OCD and this is how I fight it, despite how much it causes me anxiety and irritates me this is the method to fight it, so this is what I do. Now before I go saying it is all me, and exposure to my triggers is what is working so well, its not. I am convinced that I would not have even the slightest chance of getting better without the medication, and discussing things with my psychologist. As much as I don’t want to be on the medication for ever, at this stage I don’t see myself coming off it. And don’t miss understand, it is not all wonderful, easy and simple as I just stopped it. Its hard, it’s a fight, I don’t always win, but eventually I will win. I think though, that the most freeing, wonderful thing that I no longer deal with as often is the evil thoughts, the thoughts of killing people with swords etc. For me it seems this was a major barrier, almost like the gate keeper of my OCD. The seroqual kind of nullifies the opportunity for me to have these thoughts. For the most part they were strongest at night as I was trying to go to sleep. I always struggled to fall asleep, going over all the conversations of the day, analysing them, and having these awful thoughts. Since taking seroqual, I go to bed, and I fall asleep. No more crappy thoughts. Well that’s not completely true, I have them every now and then, probably like most people. But they are fleeting thoughts, they are kinda like, I have to pick up milk on the way home, u think that, and 2 seconds later your on the next thought. For most people this doesn’t sound anything amazing but this is life changing for me. For the past, I don’t know how many years I have been tormented by these thoughts, unable to stop them, unable to control them, only by my compulsions have I been able to mitigate the anxiety they caused. To be set free from these thoughts, unless you have experienced it every night for years on end, there is nothing I can say to explain the level of relief I feel.

Whilst the compulsions are time consuming, and tiring the worst component for me has been the thoughts. Which I suppose is why OCD sufferers use compulsions, they help mitigate the thoughts. They are terrible things. The loss of control of ones mind, what we think about, how we think about, what we give our attention too, it is nothing short than fucking herendous. You know, contsantly that you are not in complete control any more. You know that you are sharing your mind with a condition which wants it all. Its like two waring nations, both wanting the same piece of land. One takes a foot hold here one takes a foot hold there. The compulsions are kind of like border patrol. The Obsessions steps over the line, compulsions rock in to put it back in its place. Everytime the Obsession – Compulsion battle happens a little more land goes to the OCD. The suffer can tell, on some level that this is happening, and more and more relies on compulsions to maintain, retain and claw back their mind. As much as OCD wants control, so does the suffer, maybe more so. The compulsions give the illusion of control, but are actually reenforcing the over all problem. It really is a bastard of an illness.
It had been a while since I had made any notes, or written anything to do with this book. Life moved on like it does, I work, I sleep, I do normal day to day stuff and repeat. Though without the same level of Obsessions and Compulsions I used to have, which is awesome. But its not all sunshine and lolliepops, if it was, I suppose that the book would be over. First of all, for sometime I have been stuck on the thoughts about finding myself. I have been stuck with a quandry, can I really know who I am, be me, whilst I am on the medications, am I really me without the obsessions and the compulsions. Whilst I dont want the obsessions and compulsions to return, can I be me, whilst I am taking medication to treat them. Is OCD less of a disorder, and illness, but apart of a persons make up which makes them, well them.

The medications, whilst assisting to control and treat the OCD have some side affects which I am not, really not a fan of. I have lost some of the edge I used to have, Im not as quick thinking, things, thoughts dont corrolate like they used to. It is much harder for me to think through a problem, or a thought process than it once was. I feel kind of like a lesser version of myself, what I was good at. I am still better than most with some of the things I excel at, but not to the same level that I used to be. I have given it some time for my mind to aclimatise its self to the medictions etc but still its not like I was before. Maybe OCD, for me at least comes with that bonus, the obsessions causing me to continually repeat things in my brain, looking for the holes, the gaps. Examining every little thing. I dont want the obsessions, I dont want the compulsions, but it seems there were aspects to it which were very benifitial. I wish there was some form of medication, or cocktail of medications, which let me have the parts of the disorder which benifited me, and left the other crap out of it. Like being organised, I used to be redicously organised, I knew when bills were due, before I received them, I knew what happened when. There were few suprises in life. Now, I forget I have even received bills, I have to have reminders for appointments, on top of having them in my diary because I forget about them. I have to set a reminder to organise leave for appointments. Even with writing in my books, after the seroqual has kicked in, which I take around 6:30 every night, I cant write any more cause I cant keep a thought process, or series of thoughts in my head for more than a sentance or two, most the time I spend re-reading what I have written because I cant remember. I could take the seroqual later at night, but if I do that I dont wake up early enough to get ready and go to work. Again, I have to balance aspects of life between 2 opposing forces, the need for my medication and the desire to have a life.

I lose track of time easily as well, not like day to day, but what to me feels like a week or two ago is months. I dont know what I have done with my time, I dont get as much done with it as I used to. I havent been to see my GP or Psycologist for a while. I recently went and saw my GP, thinking it had been a few weeks, turns out it was over 3 months since I had seen him. Which means, as I needed to see him to get a review of my case, so I could continue to see my Psycologist for longer than that. I have made an appointment to see her, but thats a few weeks ago, so there is going to be like a 4/5 month gap between appointments. Eventhough, it doesnt feel like I havent seen her for maybe a month.

The length of time without seeing my treating professionals is not a good thing. I mean I have been better, but without the discussions and continuing to have treatment more than my medications it has been rather easy to fall back into the trap of hiding compulsions, thoughts etc. Im on medication, therefore Im ok, and the bad days are just the bad days. As I say things are not as bad as they used to be, but I am having more bad days than good, I have similar thoughts, but not as vivid as they used to be. I am not as anxious as often, and when I do start to become anxious it doesnt end up being a panic attack. Though there have been a few occasions where I have been shaking and all sweaty again. I still get very frustrated, I get annoyed, and have far less patience for people and their shit. Im struggling with the thoughts, I keep going to thoughts of killing myself, it would be easier but its not something I actually want to do. I like life, I do enjoy aspects of it. I like to learn, I find some aspects so very interesting, in short I don’t actually want to die. The thoughts of killing myself can be attributed to either OCD intrusive thoughts or Depression, not actually a desire to do so. Something I have been contemplating is the difference between why say, again, Cancer is viewed the way it is, and mental illness is view the way it is. Cancer does impact the life of the sufferer in a massive, devestating way, but so does mental illness, in my case OCD and Depression. OCD and Depression arent always as visable as Cancer, though for some, and for a long time Cancer isnt either, eventually cases to become quite obvious but I know a few people who have had cancer, and unless they told me I would never have known. So what is the main difference? I can only conclude that when someone says Cancer we all, myself included think death. She/He has cancer, so they must be facing death. Its not always the case, though. When you think mental illness, you think “Oh their just fucked in the head.” It doesnt carry the same intensity as physical illnesses and injuries. I have noticed this myself, people who know I have a physical disability, and learn what that disability is are sympathetic, they feel bad for me, because I am in pain, pretty much constantly. Though tell that person I have Depression, or OCD or both, completely different reaction. Sometimes, they might understand a bit but more often than not I get, what like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, or what is that, or what cant you do, what do you do. OCD in the general populace seems to me to be to insight more curiosity, and/or a point of entertainment. Before I get into the failings of the representation of OCD in the media, Ill try and stay on track with the difference between OCD/Depression and Cancer.

As I said Cancer we think death, the same cant be said for OCD/Depression. Now I am not going to say that OCD is terminal, or even could be. But Depression can and does lead to suicide. But we dont consider Depression as a potentially terminal illness, and this is because suicide in relation to depression, or mental illnesses is still considered a choice. Whilst I have obviously not committed suicide, if I hadnt gotten treatment, and maintained treatment, the possibility that it may have occured is most certainly there. Depression, not the sads on, but real, full on, in your face depression changes the way you view everything, it can make a person who seems to be happy and content with everything in the world, still go to a place where suicide doesnt just seem appealing, but appropriate, the best option, for themselves and even for those around us. It can twist, manipulate and distort everything you have, dont have, are, see and hear. It can make you feel isolated even when you are loved, it can make you feel hopeless, full of dispair, a burden to friends, family, society. If a person feels like this constantly, the thought of suicide isnt far away. and yes whilst committing suicide is a choice, when you perceive things around you incorrectly, and unable function mentally and physically your decision is based on faulty thoughts, and comprehensions, and it is for this reason, I would believe that Depression can be terminal, and should be treated as such. Im not saying doctors dont, or do already, but the hard truth is society still doesnt fully grasp the corrollation between depression and suicide, and that suicide can be the result of depression and that this is not a weakness on the part of the sufferer. It is a tragic, and sad potential outcome of Depression. Depression is not a sign of weakness, something to be overcome by will power, just think happy thoughts etc. This may be true for some people, it may be applicable to someone who is going through a sad patch, or has the blues, or is down because of an event, or what-have-you. The depression I am talking about is like the feeling you would have if your entire family died, you lost your job, your house burnt down, your bank accounts were hit by fraud and you had no money left, and no access to funds, everything went to hell in a hand basket, and this happened over, and over and over again. Every day, that feeling, that understanding of your life as if all those things happened just moments ago, repeat over and over. You feel bound by this, weighed down, unable to escape from this and that feeling continues daily, for weeks, months and years on end.

For those suffering depression like the above, or really any form of depression, let me say very, very clearly. Suicide is not the answer, and never will be. Seek treatment, just like someone with Cancer would or any other illness would. Treatment, by the appropriate professionals has a higher rate of managing, reversing or mitigating the issues than not being treated any way you look at it. If you are sad over something, you might just need to talk it over, and thats fine, you might need medication, you might need to speak with a Psychiatrist, or Psycologist, you might need a combination of all them. It DOES NOT make you weak. It DOES NOT make you less of a person, or what ever. This is how, currently, Depression is treated. It might not be easy, it might not be quick but it is all we have at the moment, and far, far better than living life, not feeling like it is worth doing so, or miserable. The same can be said for any mental health issue, but here I just wanted to highlight depression very clearly. I know numerous people who have been diagnosed with depression, and either didnt do anything about it, or started to and then stopped. They may not have committed suicide or anything like this, but life would be much, much better if they were able to get the right treatment.

One of the worst things about treatment for mental illnesses currently is, other than actually getting access to it, is that it is a bit of a guessing game. It can take a long time to get into see someone to work though the issues, but as many of you may know there are a huge number of different medications to treat mental illnesses. Unlike physical illnesses, where there is generally one or two types of medication which is used to treat the ailment, or sub-type, there is a huge, massive number of types of medication for mental illness. Here is a list of the catagorise or anti-depressants which can be used to treat depression, and other mental health issues;
Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
Reversible Inhibitors of Monoamine Oxidase (RIMAs)
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
Noradrenaline-serotonin specific antidepressants (NaSSAs)
Noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (NARIs)

This list doesnt cover all catagorises of medications for mental health issues but is to show that there is a shit load of options for a phycisian to chose from. Within each group of medication, there are different medications available. So for instance, SSRI’s can be further broken down into the following types of SSRI’s
Fluoxetine
Citalopram
Fluvoxamine
Paroxetine
Sertraline

I have been rather fortunate, that I have been reasonably successful with the medications I have been prescribed. They have lowered my levels of depression and anxiety etc, certainly havent cured them, but have made them far more tolerable. However, you may find that it takes a few different attempts to find the medication which works for you. The reason for this is simple, pharmacutical companies, researchers, doctors etc do not know why they work, they have no or at least very little evidence to show what goes wrong in your brain to cause depression or OCD or what ever, and without clear evidence to show the reason for the problem, understanding what needs to be corrected limits the ability to do so. This is not to say that the medications dont work, quite the contry, its just we dont seem to know why. There might be theories why, for example the levels of chemicals in your brain affects your state of mind, and the medications rectify this. But, there is no test to find out what the levels of chemicals are within your brain, there is no evidence to show what they should be, or how they should move within the brain, etc. There is evidence to show that for a high proportion of the population that the medications work to assist in the treatment of mental issues, but there is more evidence to show that they work better when combined with other treatments like therapy.

Just to give you some evidence that what I am saying is true, here is an exert from http://www.Pristiq.com
How does PRISTIQ work?

Depression is a serious medical condition that can hold you back from what you enjoy. And while no one knows for certain what causes it, experts believe that depression results when certain chemicals in the brain are out of balance. These chemicals, called neurotransmitters, relay messages from one brain cell to another.
The good news is that depression can be treated.
PRISTIQ is thought to work by affecting the levels of two of these brain chemicals, serotonin and norepinephrine – both thought to play a role in depression. If depression is holding you back from what you enjoy, PRISTIQ may help. Ask your health care professional if PRISTIQ may be right for you.

The makers of Pristiq clearly state that there is no definative answer to what causes depression, and that they do not really understand why Pristiq works (PRISTIQ is thought to work). Clearly, there should be more research, more funding, more what ever to find out the cause of depression, and mental illnesses in general are, so we can make more effective treatments for those who suffer from them. Whilst I dont take Pristiq any more, it was very benifitial for a long time, and while I am highlighting something that is made publicly available and this may cause you to have a poor view of Pristiq, it shouldnt taint your view of the medication. If your medical professional suggests that it may be benifitial for you, then it might be. The statement made regarding Pristiq can be, and likely is made by pretty much every anti-depressant on the market today. It is unfortunate, and something far more than what is being done now should be done about it, but for us now, this is the best we have and I am sincerely thankful for the work makers of Pristiq, Arropax etc put in to make medications which can help available, and while they work on finding the answers to why mental illness occurs, and what is the actual answer to them, they still have made something that helps. I know my life would be very different without them. If companies continued to remain focused on what is the reason for the illnesses, and made a treatment/cure for the actual problem and didnt release something that at least helps deals with the symptoms, and continued to improve medications to help with the symptoms, the number of suicides, the costs to society, etc would be massive. So, even though the medications can add up, and be rather costly over time, I do very much appreciate what they have made, as it has helped me.

On to the topic of the portrail of mental (some) illnesses in the media. There are aspects to some illnesses, both mental and physical which can be viewed as funny, entertaining ect. Being completely honest some of the compulsions can be funny, Tourette’s Syndrom can be funny, there are many mental illnesses which can be extremly funny, and more so in certain circumstances. There are a number of issues, which have a more physical manisfestation which can be funny to, especially in the right circumstances. Down’s Syndrom can be funny, certain mental retardations can be funny. I know that what I have said will sound contraversal, but its probably not the first thing I have said which would sound contraversal, I know that it may sound like I am being insensitive, disrespectful etc towards people with these conditions. Im not. I feel for them, I dont think they should be made light of, nor their condition. But, this is no different to my belief towards mental health issues, though there are shows around, whilst they might not directly state a character has OCD, or what have you, you can clearly see they are using aspects of the illness to get a laugh. I very much enjoy some of those shows, I find them funny. I can laugh at them, and at myself. But what I feel is missing, is the miss-representation of the illness. The shows are designed to make people laugh, and while some aspects of OCD are hilarious, it is a very, small, tiny and almost insignificant portion of the illness, and I can guarentee the suffer does not find it funny at all. I am not saying take the show off the air, please dont I like it too, but you cant have outrage over making fun of the symptoms or affects of Down’s Syndrom, or what ever and not have some level of outrage when a show makes fun of OCD, particullarily when the show promotes the misconceptions of OCD. We know, why, what etc around Down’s Syndrom, if aspects of it were made light of in a show, we might laugh, but we would also have a reasonable understanding of the illness in general. However, most people dont know much, if anything about OCD, and what they know is mainly about the compulsions, not what causes them. As I have stated before (I think) the compulsions are apart of the illness, but they are more so an outward expression of an internal issue. Much like someone with Down’s Syndrom you can generally tell that they have the illness due to their physical appearance. The physical appearance is part of their illness, but not their actual illness. To portray OCD only by the compulsions does not only promote and reiterate the mis-conceptions in public regarding the illness, it is neglegant and an insult to the sufferers of OCD. Again im not saying that we cant laugh at what we find as funny, I have no issue with laughing at the outward expressions of the illness. But, people may be less inclined to laugh at someone with OCD, when they actually understand the illness, and what happens unseen.

Stereotypes are part of humanity, we all do it, it seems to me to be logical, and acceptable that we combine people based on different things, ie race, religion, disability, career etc. It seems to me to be a natural thing, but when you group people together, and apply a stereotype to that group, you make incorrect assesments of most people in that group. Most stereotypes do not apply to most people within the group, and if you actually want to know the individual, a stereotype is not an appropriate basis. I fall into this myself, assumptions which are incorrect. Recently, I went to a petrol station, where a young lady who physically looked to be of Asian decent was the attendant. When I went to make my payment etc, I fully anticipated to have the coolating accent, which was not there, in fact her accent was non-existant. If I was speaking to her on the phone, I would never have anticipated that she appeared to be of Asian decent. Mental health issues have stereotypes, like some I have already spoken about, ‘All mental health sufferers are violent’, ‘all mental health sufferers are unstable/unhinged’, etc. Different mental health issues have their own subset of stereotypes, ‘All OCD sufferers are clean freaks’, ‘All OCD sufferers do things multiple times’ etc. Whilst there are OCD suffers who clean as a result of the disorder, and there are OCD sufferers who will repeat things over and over again, not all are clean freaks, some in fact horde, or are compulsivly messy, some have certain patterns if followed only happen once at a time. When stereotypes are promoted in the media or what have you, mis-conceptions arise, people assume the wrong things, highlight the little things and minimise that which is the real issue.

I find it very hard to say that we should not make light of, to laugh at, or be entertained by stereotypical behaviours of different groups, because some of these things are funny, and I can say dont do it with OCD, because it would be hypocritical of me as I laugh at other stereotypes etc. I honestly dont think, in general terms, there is anything overtly wrong with it. But, you cant apply stereotypes to individuals, nor can should you re-inforce a stereotype, at the expense of understanding the real issues. Unfortunately, it happens, I notice it with OCD, and more so over the past few years, there seems to be an attitude of OCD being the in thing, which its not, cause I am in no way ‘cool’, im not in the ‘in crowd.’ If it were the in thing, then I would have to be the most popular person on earth. I hate hearing, as I have said before, “I have a bit of OCD”, or “Im a bit of a clean freak, must have a bit of OCD too.” You can be someone who likes to have things clean, organised etc, without having OCD. You can prefer certain things over other things and not have OCD. OCD always starts in the brain, it always starts with thoughts which are disturbing, unwanted, etc. The compulsions are always about minimising, or mitigating the thoughts. This is what OCD is, you cant have a bit of OCD, you cant be kinda OCD. You either have it or you dont. If you have it, you should get treatment, or atleast discuss treatment with your GP, if you dont have it, dont say, dont think, dont anything that you do, trust me on this, you dont want it. Not that I think you can give yourself OCD by saying you have it, but dont even tempt it.

 

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