OCD…..It’s Just The Begining

So, you now know a bit about me. Well, you know a bit about my life so far. So why am I writing a book about mental illnesses?

When I was injured at work, I spent a month being treated at a Pain Clinic in Adelaide. Every day I would attend the pain clinic, we would go through a range of treatments, Physiotherapy, Psychotherapy, Medical treatment, and behavioural therapy amongst others. While I was at the pain clinic, the head doctor there suggested at one point that I may have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However, nothing was done about it at the time. I was attending the clinic as a work cover patient, and I was being treated for Chronic Pain. So it is quite understandable that, other than making an observation, nothing more was done. Given the injury I had sustained and that I was in chronic pain (and still am) I was being treated for Depression as well. So to an extent I was on medication used to treat OCD anyhow.

This was the first time I had every really heard of OCD as well, and given that other than being a kind of off the cuff comment, I didn’t think much of it. Also, I kinda had bigger problems to deal with. So once I had been through treatment and my case was pretty much no longer requiring, or at least going to get much more treatment, there was no more contact with the doctor, and I returned to the care of my GP. I continued to take the anti-depressants for a while, along with the pain medication I was on. However, I eventually stopped taking anti-depressants, and as my pain became more manageable I no longer required the pain killers as much. To this day, I still require pain killers to assist in managing the pain, however I am not on them continuously. I only take them when the pain is greater than normal. Despite having gone through treatment for Chronic Pain, this does not alleviate the pain, it teaches you to manage pain. As a result of the injury, I live in some level of pain constantly. But because of what I learnt at the pain clinic, I can manage the pain.

It wasn’t until around 4 years later, when I was about 28 that a formal diagnosis of OCD was made. However, this wasn’t until about a year of going to doctor, after doctor trying to work out why I was having digestive issues. For about a year or so I was unable to eat normally. I would either throw up what I ate, or would have severe diarrhoea. I was in almost continuous discomfort. I felt unwell all the time, nauseous regardless of what I ate. I eventually discovered that I could stomach Tuna Mornay with little discomfort, and it didn’t come screaming out one end or another. In the end, the doctors decided that I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). While doctors can diagnose IBS based solely on symptoms, however, it is normally not diagnosed unless other potential issues are excluded, making IBS a diagnosis of exclusion. So when they diagnosed me with IBS, what they were saying is, “no idea really what is causing your issues, here we will call it IBS, we might not know what it is or why you have it but look its got a funky cool name.”

However, at no point was there any consideration that my symptoms could have anything to do with my mental status. I never mentioned any of the mental issues I was experienced, because I was afraid, and embarrassed. I didn’t believe that I should have thoughts like I did, and I didn’t want any one to know I was having them. Gives you an indication of how a person with Mental Health issues feels about people finding out about them, when you consider I was happier to discuss my bowel movements, etc with my doctors, and not my mental health issues.

One day I was at work, I had been having panic attacks, but I was able to hide them, as they built I would immediately run off to the toilet, and there I would stay until the panic attack dissipated. Most of the time the attacks I had at work didn’t last for too long, while they could still be very intense. Sometimes I would come out of the bathroom, quite sweaty. I would clean myself up as much as possible, and go back to work. I often worried that people would think I was in the toilet playing with myself, funny thing, I preferred them to think that’s what I was doing other than what was actually happening. Though, I pretty much hoped no one thought anything, though it is an unfortunate fact that people do make judgements regarding others, often without all the facts, and therefore make incorrect judgements. Anyhow, so the panic attacks were happening pretty regularly, often having multiple panic attacks every day. When I would go to bed, it was the worst. I would have panic attacks that lasted hours. I had been having them for years, though I never said anything to anyone.

When I was in my early 20’s I would have panic attacks where I was unable to move, I was aware of what was going on, but not really there, I felt massive weight on my chest, as if someone, or something was sitting on it, and I struggled to breath. At the time I didn’t realise that what was happening was a panic attack, I thought that I was under a demonic attack. That a demon from hell, had been sent to kill me. Some of you are probably thinking that I was suffering delusions. Whilst it is a possibility, consider I grew up in a Christian household, a Pentecostal household, where belief in the Spiritual World was normal. Where it is possible for Demonic and Angelic beings to influence, and act within our realm. So, whilst it may appear that my determination of a Demonic attack might seem more on the delusional side, I had evidence to suggest other wise. During these attacks I would pray, I would attempt to “cast out” the demon. Whilst I was terrified, feeling like I was going to die, having something to identify as the reason for how I felt, gave me something to “Fight”. I had these types of Panic Attacks for years, though sometimes I would have them for a few weeks, then nothing major, and then back again. Even though I thought it was due to demonic forces, I still didn’t talk to anyone about it, I didn’t tell my parents, or my pastor. I actually think, writing it in here is the first time I have mentioned it in any format, verbal or otherwise. I didn’t say anything for a few reasons;
Why would I think I was so special to be attacked by demons
What would people say if I was to tell them
I needed to prove that I could rely on God to protect me
It was a challenge to my faith and I had to rise above it

So back to work, I was at work one day, and out of no where I had a panic attack, which didn’t really have to much build up, I went from ok, to holy shit I am about to die, in a matter of seconds. I had no chance to hide, so people around me saw me, shaking, sweating, the lot. I managed to pull myself together and get to the bathroom eventually, not after scaring a few staff. I calmed myself somewhat, went to my team leader, and said I was going to the doctors.

I went and saw my GP, it was a walk in clinic so I didn’t need to make an appointment. I sat and waited for my name to be called, still shaking, still sweating, only just controlling myself. My name was called, I walked into the doctors office, sat down, still shaking uncontrollably, sweat pouring off my face. My heart felt as if it would soon exit from my chest, and land on the doctors desk. My doctor turned to me, and went to say, “what seems to be the problem?” but before he finished the sentence he looked at me and stopped. He took his stethoscope and placed it on my chest. He asked some questions, and we talked for a while. Eventually, he said I was having panic attacks and that he thought I had OCD. I told him about what was said when I was at the Pain Clinic, and we talked about that a bit. He prescribed me a drug called Pristiq, and referred me to a Psychiatrist. By the time I had left his office, I had pretty much calmed down.

When I was talking to my doctor, we discussed my home life, work, etc. I admitted to my doctor, that I would be up till between 2 and 4am most days, generally cleaning, reciting all the conversations I had, had during the day. Checking for not realising that I had offended, or said something I shouldn’t. Organising my finances, checking every receipt, making sure they were recorded, and stored properly. There was so many things I had to do every night, everything had to be in the right place, everything had to “feel” right.

While you may ask yourself, “Why on earth, if you were having so many issues, didn’t you tell your doctor, or at least your parents, someone?” It’s not as easy as that. Knowing what I do now, I would have acted differently and I would have spoken to someone many years earlier. But at the time, I thought I was going insane, and I mean literally insane. I had investigated mental institutions where I could commit myself. I was sure, I was losing my mind, I was no longer in control of it, that was for certain. I didn’t speak to anyone because I was terrified. I didn’t understand what was going on, I didn’t have any control over my mind, nor my actions anymore. I didn’t feel that I had any other option but to clean, etc. I felt better when I did. I was calmer, I could go to bed if my flat was perfect. I couldn’t if it wasn’t.

If I told someone what was going on, I thought for sure I would be committed. While I was investigating institutions to commit myself, it was still my choice if I went. But if someone like a doctor found out, then that choice would be taken away from me. Worse still, if I told someone they would think I was lying, or I was exaggerating my circumstances. So what was the point in saying anything, if no one believed me. Then, they would think I was delusional. I would either be committed, locked away as a danger to the public or ignored.

With all the compulsions, and obsessive thoughts I was constantly exhausted. My place was clean, all my bills were paid, accounted for and I knew where every cent went, I was constantly cautious of what I said, how I acted. People around me would never ever know how fucked up I really was. If I seemed to be ok, then people would think that’s what I was, OK. People thought I was funny, open, happy etc. Its pretty easy to convince people to assume you are one way when your not.

I have spent years watching people, how they acted, and reacted. What they talked about, how they talked about it. What their body language was like, what it said, how they moved. Everything about how someone “normal” looked, and spoke with others. Using this information, I was able to mimic them. Not always, particularly when meeting people for the first time and in large crowds. I have always disliked being in large crowds, I prefer small groups or one on one. I don’t like not being able to observe, everyone at once, or know who is around me, what kind of people are around, how I should act around people. In large groups, it is hard to determine how I should act, depending on the grouping I should act a certain way, and if there are multiple groups or groups over lap how do I act.

Most people, particularly as they get to know one another, tend to share life experiences, and feelings etc. For me, I am not a fan of anyone knowing anything about my feelings, my emotions. So, how do you avoid peoples questions about why you never talk about how you feel. Especially when you are in relationships etc. Well, you talk about how you felt, way back when. You talk about past experiences, thoughts and feelings etc, no one knows how you feel now, there is no need to discuss these things. People believe or atleast assume you are open, if they discuss their situations etc, listen, acknowledge, etc. For the most part I consider what they are saying as an equation. What’s the problem, what are the factors, what are the variables, so what is the likely answer? Don’t give it to them, ask them questions around these things, and eventually they will get to the answer on their own. The whole time thinking that you gave them great advise. For the most part you haven’t actually given them any advise, you just listened and questioned. Most of the time, when I was like this, it was more interesting to find out how and why people thought the way they did. Emotionally, if they were likely to cry etc avoid them. I’d wait until that side of things had been dealt with. I have no idea how to deal with someone who is crying etc.

I also tend to be quite sarcastic. It is said, that sarcasm is the lowest form of humour. It might well be, but 99% of the population will laugh at sarcasm. People see you as a funny person, happy go lucky and relaxed. If I can keep the conversation on funny shit, the people I am talking to feel engaged, they are receiving what they feel they to “need” get out of the conversation/relationship.

While it can be rather easy, and most people will view this as dishonest, or manipulative it works. I will seem ok, the person will feel ok, and both parties feel that they are getting what they need out of the relationship. Whilst it is manipulative, the big secret is that people don’t need, or in some cases want what they think they do, the reality is that so long as people feel that they have gotten what they desire, they are satisfied. What actually happened, or was said doesn’t matter so long as they think or feel that what has transpired is what they desired. And whilst you may all be appalled by this, we all, each and everyone of us do this. The difference between you and I is I recognise that I do it, others either don’t realise, or convince themselves that they don’t do it. The benefit of this is that you don’t feel guilty for doing it, you don’t feel like it is wrong.

We call this, wearing a mask. We all wear masks at one time or another. When we are at work, we wear a mask that allows us to succeed at what we do. We may not swear, we may not shout, we may do what we are asked to do, and then some. But under our breath, we might call our bosses arseholes, or hate the company we work for. But, they get a staff member who does their job well, and you get paid. End of the day, both parties feel that they have gotten what they desire from the relationship. On a side note, this is where social media is fucking up the whole thing. Bosses are realising that they aren’t really getting what they feel they should, and staff are losing their place to vent.

While we all wear masks at one time or another, most do not wear them all the time. With your family, with your partner, with close friends etc, you can be the “real” you. I have always strived to wear a mask of what I believe the other(s) in the relationship expect, or demand of me to be like. It isnt so much that I am trying to please them, I am trying to avoid the inevitable, “Ben, we need to talk” conversation. When they tell me that they don’t like how I interact with them, or they are concerned about me etc.

I was like this for the majority of my life, when I interacted with people I tried to be what I thought they wanted. It is very, very exhausting. Constantly, watching how other people are acting, or reacting, not just what they say, but how they say it, the tone, the body language, eye movements etc. But not only theirs, but my own. Am I showing the correct body language to encourage the sub-conscious thoughts that I care for them, or about the situations. I don’t get these subtle clues, unless I am paying attention. Most people hear and see the sub-conscious “discussion” without even realising it. People hear the tone in a persons voice and “know” how they feel, or with what inflection they mean to say what they are saying. I generally don’t get these things. I have to pay attention to every slight, or I miss it. This led to me going over conversations and interactions, to make sure that the person wasn’t actually mad with me, or might have meant something else by what they were saying.

While I did not really like that I did these things, it was needed to keep myself safe. It was needed to keep people at a certain distance, without them feeling like they were at that distance. I wanted to seem “normal”, I wanted to appear that everything was ok. I didn’t want the questions of “Why don’t you have any friends?” “You don’t seem happy, is everything ok?” the prying questions into how I feel now, why im one way not the other, why I don’t fit in. I didn’t want my parents to think that they had done something wrong in how they raised me, or that they some how fucked me up for life.

My parents are great parents and always have been. They did a fantastic job in raising my sister and I. We never went without, we always knew we were loved, and cared for. Despite the challenges in their own lives, their own circumstances, they did a fantastic job, better than I can imagine anyone else in their shoes would have done, and they are even still married to one another. Neither my Dad’s or my Mums home lives were ideal by any stretch of the imagination, though not as bad as others. When they first got together, and moved out with one another (primarily because they weren’t given any other choice) it was tough. They lived in a tent for a while, but eventually things turned around. Dad had a good job, Mum was a stay at home Mum. Then, Dad decided that we should all move to the country. They didn’t have much by the time we moved to Lameroo, we actually moved our stuff using a garbage truck (not the compactor type). Eventually, through a lot of work, and by sacrificing a lot they purchased a house. Both my parents worked, and worked hard. Doing what ever jobs they were able to get their hands on. Mum cleaned the school, worked picking potatoes or onions, what ever. Dad, worked in a engineering firm. He was away a lot through out the year, generally away more often than he was at home. When he was at home, he did the yard work, went to church meetings etc. He also renovated the house they had bought. In the end, most, and I really mean most of the house went to the dump, and dad replaced it. Walls, ceiling, roof, garden, cement you name it, most of it was pulled out, down, up and replaced.

There were other challenges too, my Mum is an extremely strong person, but she missed her friends, she found moving so far away from everyone very hard. I don’t know the whole story, I don’t know when she started to take them, but she was on anti-depressants. Back then, some of the medications used to treat depression, were a little less advanced than what we have now, and unfortunately she became reliant on them, which was not uncommon. When I was in Year 7 (I think it was) she was admitted to a Christian Rehabilitation Farm. Initially, we were not allowed to go and see her, but over time this changed and Dad took us to see her when we were allowed. I don’t remember how long she was in there, but eventually she came home.

So as I say, given all the shit that my parents went through, I cant ever remember feeling unloved, uncared for, or anything like that. My parents weren’t abusive, they weren’t nasty, they weren’t horrible people or anything. I cant say they were perfect, but they were fantastic, wonderful, caring and loving parents, and still are.

So, if at 24 a doctor said he thought I might have OCD, and before that I was having regular panic attacks, etc how did they not notice something was amiss. Well that would be my own fault more than anything else. I was always reserved, I never told them, and given what happened at school its pretty easy to understand that there would be nothing unusual about how I was reacting to the situation, and anything that seemed out of the ordinary could easily be attributed to that. Being quite, preferring solitude, etc easy to associate to having no friends, and apparently no one liking me.

So the night that I saw my GP, I started taking Pristiq, it took a little while, as these medications can, but once it kicked in the difference was amazing. It helped immensely, I started to be calmer, the supposed IBS subsided, and I started eating a wider variety of meals. I went to the Psychiatrist that I was referred to, and saw him a couple of times, however I didn’t continue. He confirmed the diagnosis of OCD, and then said, “Well, stop it”. At the time, I really took issue to this, I was like “Whoa, what the fuck. The great and mighty Psychiatrist’s big key to treating OCD is to Stop It. Holy Shit, I wish I had thought of that. If only I had just stopped years ago I could have saved all the money I had spent on appointments, medications etc to treat the side affects and all I had to do is Stop It. What the fuck was I thinking?” In retrospect I understand now better what he was saying, but at the time his approach was not helpful for my situation. I continued to see him a couple of times, trying to work with him, however after seeing him a couple of times, he went on a month of leave, and getting in to see him after he returned was going to be another few weeks. I wasnt really inclined towards continuing to be treated by him, and the Pristiq was helping to manage my OCD so I never made another appointment to see him. I continued to see my GP, he continued to prescribe me Pristiq, it was sufficent to keep me at work and reasonably content. I told the GP that I no longer was seeing the Psychiatrist, that I didnt feel it was assisting me and the Pristiq was sufficient. Again, looking back a dumb move. Whilst the Pristiq did mitigate many of the symptoms of OCD, and allowed me to feel more in control again, I wasnt actually getting better, nor was I managing my OCD I was really only hiding it again, but using medication to do it.

For the following 18 months or so I continued to just take the Pristiq, and I dealt with the compulsions etc as best I could. I figured, that I was better than I was, and obviously Psychiatrists were not going to be any help. Eventually, I started cleaning excessively again, I was unable to touch people, or have them touch me, I was becoming increasingly paranoid that people were following me in their cars, or that I had hit someone while driving. If a police car, or ambulance went in the direction I had just come from I was sure it was because I had caused an accident, or hit someone. Often I had to turn around and go back where I just came from to make sure I wasn’t the cause of anything. I was sure that the police were only minutes from coming after me. Often I would be at home, and I would be terrified that the police were going to raid my place and arrest me for something. I was having panic attack again.

The worst thing that would occur would be that when I went to bed, I was nightly terrorised by extremely violent intrusive thoughts. The thoughts/images were so vivid it was like being there, doing the acts. It felt as if I could feel the blood splatter over my face, arms, and hands. There was a sense that I could smell the blood, I could sense the fear in the victim. The thoughts/images were of me chopping people up with swords, stabbing them with knives, hacking limbs off their body. It was extremely disturbing, and I found absolutely no pleasure in the thoughts. The people had no faces, nor did they seem to have a gender, not that I could tell anyhow. They people were different shapes, sizes, but none had faces, its hard to describe they had a head, no hair, eyes, mouths, noses or ears. Whilst they were human, they had no identifiable characteristics. This for some reason always, and still does somewhat, concerned me, almost more than the thoughts/images themselves. I mean, the idea of killing someone, isnt pleasant, but there is something truly disturbing about going around killing people, who you don’t even know. Not that its better to kill someone you do know, but at least you could think that maybe they had done something to you that had sub-consciously pissed you off. But when its random, strangers, people you have no idea who they are, that’s something entirely different.

The thoughts left me feeling, disgusting, evil, dirty, filthy, and worried. Worried that I might actually do it, or that somewhere deep inside this is who I really was. A Psychotic, manic, who would one day just snap and go on a murderous rampage, killing anyone I came in contact with. Even though I hated the thoughts, I didn’t want them, I like them, or what they were about. Nothing about them felt good. But I started to convince myself that I was really going insane this time. It wasn’t me that was thinking these things, it was this evil thing within me, this part of me that I had pushed down deep within me, that was lurking just below the surface, just waiting for the opportunity to jump out and take over.

I didn’t want people to touch me, or me to touch them because if they did I would pass on, or I would infect them with this evil, I would always wear 2 shirts just to make sure if someone bumped into me, I was protected. Things had to be clean, so that people would not know how dirty I was inside. I would wash my clothing every day, this way the crap that was eking out of me could be washed away. I would scrub myself when I showered to try and wash away this evilness, and the feeling of blood over me.

I felt like everything around me was falling apart. My mind was breaking down, I was terrified that I was going to lose my job, a job I was good at, kept me entertained, somewhere I felt I could make a career. I continuously thought about killing myself, it wasn’t that I wanted to die, or I wanted to actually kill myself. But at the same time I wanted out. I would not have been upset at that time if I was killed, or died from something outside of my control, because at least then my family wouldn’t think it was there fault I killed myself. Not that it would have been, but I know that they would have either blamed themselves or blamed themselves for not noticing and doing something about it. Even if I left a note, which for some reason I never thought of at the time, saying that it had nothing to do with them, I knew this wouldn’t matter.

I continued to worsen and no, initially I never said anything about this to anyone. Partly because, I was able to hide it all again, there was no “OMG Ben has lost it again”, at work like last time. There was no one who could tell that I was getting worse. So I stuck my head in the sand and carried on like nothing had changed. I didn’t say anything to my doctor, I was terrified that he would just say, “Well, we sent you to a Psychiatrist, and you stopped going, to bad,” or I would be put into a straight jacket straight away, and the men in the white pyjamas would come and put me into a padded cell.

Eventually, it became to unbearable and I went to see a GP, mine was unavailable so I saw a different one. I thought that maybe he could put me onto a different medication. I was sure that just upping the dose wasn’t the way to go. I didn’t think that Pristiq was the right answer anymore. So I went and spoke to this doctor, told him some of what was going on, and he just upped my dose of Pristiq, which was what I was worried he would do, and as expected, it did a huge, fuck all.

During this time my Dad became unwell, my sister had just had surgery, and my mum was about to have surgery. My Dad’s illness left him pretty much unable to function in any capacity. Mentally, he just shut down. Normal activites like showering, eating, etc just didnt happen. My sister and mum had to continually monitor him, to make sure he didnt just wonder off, or do something stupid. I was going to see them pretty much every night after work. Spending as much of my weekends up with them, looking after Dad while my Sister and Mum took a break. It was one of the most disturbing things to witness, seeing my Father who, has always been a very stable person to become so undone.

During all this my OCD skyrocketed. My routine was all out of wack, I wasn’t sleeping, I spent most of my time trying to do my rituals, but despite actually doing them I wasn’t doing them when I should, so they weren’t working as well, which meant it took longer, or I just had to do them over and over again. It was at this time when I did actually see my GP, his thoughts were that the current situation was short term and as a result of what was going on in my family life and this was why he only upped my medications.

Dad eventually got back on track again, was able to go back to work. But I didn’t feel any better. I continued to spiral faster and faster out of control. When I did sleep it was only for short periods of time, I kept waking up, and then galling back asleep, I was lucky to get 3 – 4 hours sleep a night. I managed to get through the day, I was miserable, but I got to get through the day. I tried to give the higher dose of Pristiq a chance, but it didn’t help. I was on a rapidly descending slippery slope into a pit, and couldn’t see any way out.

I briefly spoke to my Mum about it. Its not easy to discuss this with anyone, especially family. Mum suggested that I see the same doctor who they saw, he was also the GP who treated my Dad. Unfortunately, his treating rooms were up where they lived, which is a significant distance away, but I decided that given how well he looked after my Dad I would go and speak to him, and see what his thoughts were. Worst case scenario I was in no worse position.

Around this time, I had been looking into support groups in the local area for OCD. Its not typically something I would actually want to do, but I was starting to get desperate, and they might know some way to minimise things. I found a
out about a Anxiety and Depression support organisation based in Adelaide. The organisation ran a support group, but one of their main focuses was on getting sufferers in touch with the right help. I got in touch with this organisation prior to seeing the doctor my family had recommended, which was rather fortunate because they recommended a wonderful Clinical Psychologist.

When I eventually went and saw this doctor, he immediately changed my medication from Pristiq to Aropax and put me on a low does of Seroquel, and referred me to the Clinical Psychologist recommended by the support organisation. The change in medication was not the most pleasant experience, but very worth while, it improved my situation significantly. Pristiq has a horrible side affect if you forget to take a dosage, it feels as if you are walking on uneven flooring, which is continuously changing. You feel dizzy when you move, lose focus on everything. Thankfully, when I changed from Pristiq to Aropax these side affects were not terrible, or long lasting. Seroquel however, was rather difficult to get used to. In the dose I was taking it is has a primarily sedative effect however is generally used as an anti-psychotic. The sedative effect of Seroqual, was great in some respects, it allowed me to finally have a good nights sleep. I would go to bed, and just go to sleep, which I think may have been the first time in my life that this had actually happened, well you know except when I was a baby. Being able to sleep through out the night was awesome, but waking up in the morning, completely different story. Ive never loved waking up in the morning, Im not sure anyone really does like it, unless they are some kind of weird, freakish, morning person. When I woke up in the morning I was drowsy, groggy, I felt like I had been out on the piss all night. Fortunately, this didn’t go on forever, eventually it got better. I found if I took them before 7pm the next day I woke up feeling more normal. But because I take them so early, I now tend to go to bed earlier, because, well im fucked. By about 8 – 8:30 my mind starts to slow down, I struggle to concentrate on anything, after a short time even going to the toilet is a challenge. Mind you, even though im no longer so bad in the morning, and its not until late at night that I really struggle, I am not like I used to be. I don’t seem to “get” things as quickly as I used to, thoughts don’t seem to “gel” like they did. I have always been a rather intelligent person, love maths, physics, computers etc. I have no formal education other than a certificate in Administration, from when I worked at a School on a traineeship. All my knowledge about computers, building them, building laptops, writing VBA, scripts, and the like, I have taught myself. Now, now it is different. Now, whilst I still know how to do these things, and I can still work shit out etc. I don’t feel like my brain is as zippy, as quick as it used to be. It pisses me off, its very frustrating. However, it is slowly improving, im assuming my body is becoming acclimatised to the medications.

There has been another change in my life, one which has had some interesting side affects. Earlier in this chapter I spoke about masks, and how often, and how many I wear, or should I say wore. Around the same time that I started taking Pristiq the masks started to go the way of the dinosaur. It was a bit before I actually started taking them, in between leaving Church, but before I started on the Pristiq. Before I got help for my OCD, I was struggling for some time regarding wearing masks, feeling like a fake. Its part of the reason I left Church, the other part being that I couldn’t handle all the people, all the time, it was too draining. So leaving Church, not having people around me to worry if they would pry in etc, I stopped wearing masks as much. At work I still wore one, but it was harder to wear them than it used to be. Even more so when I stared taking Pristiq. Its not that I started letting people in, or anything insane like that. But them being on the outside, at arms distance, and them knowing about it, doesn’t really concern me any more. If they were to pry, avoid, side step, don’t deliberately go out my way to hurt them, or offend, but I don’t sit trying to work out the best way, or the most appropriate fashion to talk to them. I try not to be like this at work, for obvious reasons, it would not bode well for me, but I don’t always win this. Sometimes my mouth moves faster than my brain judges what I am going to say, and I forget that other people are watching what I am doing, and that my thoughts, and feelings are often expressed in body language. Leads to some poor interactions, and some difficulties with my job.

I am often in meetings, and also interacting with other team members. It is a development area of mine, to deal with occupational interactions better. I can do it to some extent, but if there are lots of meetings, one after the other, etc, or if I am tired I get worn out by the interactions, and I tend to slip up. It is not that I am nasty, or abusive or anything like that. I am blunt, I forget about the other persons feelings, and that they might get upset by something I say, even though I do not mean to upset them. In meetings my body language show how disinterested I am in the meeting, or the topic. I forget to say “hello”, “how was your weekend”, etc. I really have to concentrate and remind myself that if I don’t do these things people will be offended, or at the least confused when I start talking about an issue or what have you without saying hello, or some other form of socially acceptable greeting, along with some small talk.

Whilst I used to wear a mask and do all these things etc, I have never understood why these things needed to be done, said etc. There are awards given at work called POP awards, I used to, in one of my old teams, get in trouble for not putting someone forward for them, or at the least saying that someone did well, or what ever. I have received a number of these for helping teams etc. Whilst its nice I suppose, and I don’t want to take any shine off people getting them, but why give them out willy nilly to people who have done their job. They get paid, there is the reward. If someone does something amazing, you know improves the way we work, makes something easier, sure they should get something for that. I understand that people need, or at least want to be recognised. I don’t care if people think I have done an amazing job or not. Im not perturbed if I get recognition, publically. I do like getting a bonus, or a financial reward, for stuff. I don’t care so much about what people think, I do care what they do. I like to get more money for what I am doing, it makes life easier. The costs of living, especially with medications etc that need to be paid for. Getting the highest pay rise I can works for me. Doing a good job, going above the requirements, leads to bonus’s and pay rises. So it is important that I do better at my interactions etc. It is about the only thing that there is ever any feedback about. I mean sure there are things which I might not do awesomely well, but in general it is an area of development that I get the most feedback about. While I don’t take offence, nor does it make me feel bad, or any such thing it is something I want to improve, because if I can improve in this, it makes what I do easier, makes people feel more at ease etc which then improves my chances of getting a bonus, and/or pay rise.

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