Friday, February 22, 2013

life | anxiety + ocd

This post is a hard one to write. I've been mentally "writing" it for ages, but I just could never find the words. I've deleted many drafts and rewritten many sentences. I've let it sit in my drafts for ages.  I wasn't sure for a while if I even wanted to talk about all of this stuff that so many of the people in my life don't even know about. Why I chose to write about things I haven't even told to my friends, to strangers on the internet, I don't know. But I guess this blog is a diary of sorts, and I want to be real. I feel like so many people hide behind the screen making it seem like their life is all fun and happy when in reality it's not. I don't want to be one of those people. That's why today I want to talk about my mental disorders and life with them. I'm not doing this for pity, I'm not doing this for attention, I'm not insane. I'm not doing this because of any of those things, but I'm doing this because I hope that my story can help others because other's stories have helped me. Even if I make just one person feel like they're not alone, that will be a success.

At around age six or seven I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety (GAD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). For those of you who don't know what either of those mean I found some definitions online:
"Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by chronic feelings of excessive worry and anxiety without a specific cause. Individuals with generalized anxiety disorder often feel on edge, tense, and jittery. Someone with generalized anxiety disorder may worry about minor things, daily events, or the future. These feelings are accompanied by physical complaints such as elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, muscle tension, sweating, and shaking."
"Obsessive compulsive disorder is characterized by persistent, intrusive, and senseless thoughts (obsessions) or compulsions to perform repetitive behaviors that interfere with normal functioning."

I can't remember a time without anxiety. As sad as that sounds it's true. GAD is just anxiety about everything. OCD is more specific, my OCD revolves around a specific phobia of throwing up (emetphopia). To me throwing up is the worst thing that could ever happen to me and in my mind it seems completely justifiable to do anything that will prevent me from throwing up. 

I'm not going to sugar coat it, GAD and OCD suck. I have constant anxiety throughout the day and I get horrible stomachaches and headaches because of it. There are days that I don't want to get out of bed because I am so exhausted from all the worry. There are times where I will stay home instead of hanging out with friends because I have a bad stomach ache. It's all in my head, but it's all so real. That's the thing about mental disorders, it's in your head so most of the time others just can't understand.

No, I can't "snap out of it". I can't "become less OCD". I can't just "calm down". It's not that easy. I know I will be "made fun of for the rest of my life if I stay this way".  I sometimes wish that people could get inside my mind and realize that I did not choose to be this way, that I'm not having a panic attack to get attention. I don't get any joy from this, actually when I'm having a panic attack I'd rather just be left alone and not told to "stop freaking out", newsflash: you're not helping. Mental disorders are real, they're not made up, my stomachaches and headaches and fear aren't any less real than if they weren't anxiety induced.

I guess I've learned over the years how to deal with all this. More or less. I mean I'm better than when I was 7. I'll always be learning how to handle all the anxiety as it manifests itself in different ways as I get older. There will always be bad days. There might even be bad weeks or months. But I will never let my anxiety stop me from doing what I love. I'd rather be constantly scared and anxious while doing things and living life than be constantly scared and anxious while doing nothing. That's the hardest and most important decision that I've had to make. But I've learned that  the fear is worth it, and I don't regret a single thing.

Okay I'm posting this before I second guess myself and delete all of this.

6 lovely comments:

Casey Auch said...

Consider this a success. This post is so real, thank you.

SomeoneLikeYou said...

This post was so beautiful, Claire. As strange as it may sound, I am just so proud of you (and it's weird for a stranger to be proud of you I'm sure). I Because I know how hard it is to write about, and admit, and to show people this vulnerable side.

Thank you for this. Really. I've kind of been stuck on what to write about lately but this was so beautifully done and got my mind thinking to write something raw again. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Claire said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I have OCD as well, and I know how much it sucks. People don't understand. They think you can control it, but you can't. Thank you for being so real and open about your life!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I completely understand what you go through- I have GAD and ADD. It really does suck but it's good to know that we're not alone.

Penny and Polaroids said...

Love you blog! ..X

nancy @ adore to adorn said...

Thank you for sharing such a personal detail about yourself. And for letting your readers know how much it "sucks." You're so brave and it's so admirable.