This week’s battle with & tiny victory over OCD

I realise I’ve neglected Twitter and my blog over the past week or so. Part of this has been because I’ve had family staying but the bulk of it is to do with my OCD.

Last Thursday I went to the dentist and was told I needed one of my wisdom teeth out. This was a big blow – not because I particularly need it, but because of the repercussions. I had to have 2 wisdom teeth out at hospital once and it was not a very nice experience at all and there was a threat of having to go in again. This sent my anxiety levels soaring. I also have a major issue with sterile conditions – ie I have major doubts. Even going to the dentist had stressed me out so much that I had already increased my medication to prepare for the onslaught of bad thoughts & obsessions.

Having the family over generally helped – they kept me distracted most of the time. Saturday wasn’t brilliant – everything the kids did added to my spiral as I mentioned in my last post. My pills make me more sleepy so I was trying to make sure I went to bed on time (ie by 12.30) and I was having a few lie ins. I know everyone else was thinking I was being lazy but I didn’t care – I knew I needed that sleep.

Tuesday and the day of the dentist came. I’d never been to this dentist before. In fact I hadn’t been to Thursday’s dentist before either, but his wife who has left to have a baby. But my Mum goes to him and is a nervous wreck at dentists and rates him highly. I don’t hate dentists as such. In fact as a child I loved going and never minded if I needed treatment or even extractions. It was the experience in the hospital and my OCD worries about cleanliness that have made me hate going so much. I admit I was better than usual. I didn’t shake in the chair as much as I was expecting and was told that was likely to be the adrenalin in the anaesthetic. I was comforted by the fact I could hear packets being opened before tools were used. I’m always in a quandry do I try and ignore things in the belief ignorance is bliss, or do I try and see everything to remove as much doubt as possible?

But with OCD there is always doubt. And there is this time. I carried on taking my full dose of medication rather than the half dose that I’m normally on. My pills help me stop thinking. I think that’s the point – they stop the bad thoughts and generally the limited time I’ve been on the full dose has helped. However, the amount of thinking space that’s been taken up by trying to not think about the bad things, plus the amount that has been quietened by my OCD medications, plus the strong painkillers I’m on because of my tooth – hasn’t left much space for much else! That’s why I’ve been so quiet. I haven’t had room in my brain to think about good blog subjects or to keep up on Twitter.

I’ve now reduced my medication again and although there is always a few days lag time (depending on how long I’ve been on full dose for) I feel like I’m waking up again. So, hopefully I should be a little bit more present in the weeks coming.

I don’t know whether it was because of the increase in OCD medication or just trying to copy what my friends do and be more relaxed in the house I share with my friend, but yesterday we had a group of friends over. It was a happy occasion – celebrating one of my friends going off on maternity leave. Unlike the last time we had a party at the house I didn’t freak out this time. It may have been that it was more confined and there was less of them – plus I knew everyone there, but I coped so much better. I didn’t mind they were sitting on the part of the sofa I normally sit on, I didn’t mind they had their handbags on the chairs, I didn’t mind them having their shoes on and I didn’t mind eating the crisps from the bowls the packets had been in. The only time I really had a ‘moment’ was when a friend put one of my cookbooks on the floor. As I’m loaning it out to my housemate I’m sure similar things will happen again and again, but as long as I don’t see it, it doesn’t bother me so much. It was only a small victory but a victory none the less. The week that started with quite major OCD issues ended up with me having a small triumph over it!

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Keeping it from the kids

I’ve had a week off work as holiday. It’s been marvellous – lots of Olympics and a few lie ins. We’ve had family staying too. My sister and her 3 boys. They’re great kids really and my sister has some similar ‘rules’ that I do. ie the children have to take their shoes off when they come into the house and wash their hands.

However, the boys, being boys & children, don’t always do what they’re told. They forget to wash their hands, they crawl all over the floor where their shoes have been – they set off my OCD. When we’re out they’re often picking up things I wouldn’t, again they touch floors in shops, collect random things from paths in woods, lie all over various things we come across on day trips – be it chairs, tables, shop displays, country house furniture. All the time red alert lights are flashing in my mind as I desperately resist the urge to shout at them not to do it. Sometimes I can’t help it. Sometimes it’s more valid than others – there are some things they shouldn’t touch when we’re out, but not for the reasons my mind is screaming. So, somethings I can get away with. But I can’t get away with everything. This means my stress levels sore & I don’t cope with my OCD very well when I’m stressed – it’s a negative spiral.

Being 6, 6 & 10 the boys don’t understand about OCD. They know there are a few things ‘Aunty’ doesn’t like, but although educating youngsters about mental health is important, I don’t want to force too much onto their brains just yet. The oldest in particular is already showing some signs of obsessive behaviour – he likes to wash his hands a lot – so I don’t want to make things worse. I’m hoping this is just a phase and he’ll grow out of it. He doesn’t seem to be exhibiting any of the instrusive or bad thoughts yet so I don’t want to give him ideas.

One of them is currently counting coins on the floor. I hate handling all kinds of money – I just see it as covered in germs. It is stressing me out considerably. Most of the coins probably haven’t been out of the house for several weeks but that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t help much that he’s counting it in amongst the shoes – one of my other real hates.

The only way I can really handle things is to take myself out of the situation completely. I feel quite antisocial sometimes, or like I’m sherking my responsibility of looking after the kids – but at times it’s that or me shouting at the kids over something no one else has an issue about, or having a complete meltdown myself. At the moment I’m already struggling a little bit, and have decided to up by medication slightly for a few days – because I’ve got to have a tooth out at the dentists in a few days (I’m highly worried and anxious over the cleanliness of the instruments) – so I’m trying to get back onto an even keel. Sadly the boys right now aren’t helping. I have taken myself off to my own room and am trying to distract and calm myself.

It’s so difficult trying not to display too many OCD behaviours in front of children. We don’t know if it’s genetic or learned or even a combination. Whichever it is, I think they’re a bit young to be exposed to it at the moment, I don’t want them picking up by bad behaviour (and they do copy me quite a bit) and it’s not their fault they’re doing things I don’t like. There’s nothing wrong with most of what they do, and if there is, they get into trouble. I hate losing my temper with them because of the OCD but I do find myself doing that from time to time.

Have you had a similar situation when you’ve tried to keep your OCD (or other mental health issue) from young children? How have you coped?