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Panic about the kittens

August 7, 2015

I have never had pets.

We now have two kittens.

I can’t breathe.

I love them so much. The first day I left them, I was shaky and tearful all day. I was petrified. I had visions of what could go wrong. I was certain that one would get hurt, the other would get stuck. So scared that a glass would be knocked over, and I would come home to blood, and death. I couldn’t breathe. I almost left work, multiple times. I cried when I finally got home from work and saw that they were okay. I thought they’d be dead. I worried that by thinking they’d be dead, they would be. My fault my fault my fault.

And now, a few days later, I can leave them without crying. But in every moment, I panic. What if I accidentally let them out while I was leaving? What if I go back and check to make sure they’re there, and THAT’S when they get out? What if when I close the bathroom door I close it on them? What if they jump up to get onto my dresser and fall and hurt themselves? What if I’m not feeding them enough? Are they starving? Am I a horrible caretaker? Am I so awful that I’m starving my kittens? What if I’m giving them too much food? Are they eating drinking sleeping peeing pooping enough? HOW DO I KNOW??? Why did she just meow? Is she hurt scared sick sad content bored? Why did he hiss at her? Is it friendly, is it rough, is she afraid, is he scared? Am I putting them in harm’s way by putting them with each other? Do they even like each other? They’re not from the same litter. What was I thinking? I can’t do this I can’t do this I can’t do this. Are they sick? Are they okay? How do I ever cook with them around? What if they jump onto the stove? They’ll get burned they’ll get hurt they’ll die it’ll be my fault. Spinning thoughts but REAL FEARS AND WORRIES.

Most nights this week I had to get out of the house. A walk, a yoga class, just out. I trust my husband to take care of them but I don’t always trust myself. I can’t breathe when I’m around them and can’t breathe when I’m not.

And yet I love them.

My husband said, “I have all of those fears, too. I’m terrified. So I can’t even imagine what it feels like for you, it must be so magnified.”

Yup.

Look, call it OCD, call it anxiety, call it first-time-pet-owners. I don’t care what it’s called or why it’s happening.

But I can’t breathe. And I love my kittens. And I’m terrified. And I’m better. And I’m panicky. And I need to figure out how those can all co-exist and balance each other out.

And somehow I’m back here

August 23, 2014

It’s been years since I’ve written on this blog. Consequently, I’m fairly positive that nobody reads it anymore. And that’s okay. I don’t need anyone to read this. I really don’t. I just need a place to release my head before I explode. I don’t want to write it in a journal, I don’t want to type it in a word document. I don’t want it anywhere where my fiance or anyone could find it and tie it to me. I just want it out, but I want it private. And this is the only space I have.

I am struggling. OCD has reared its head, probably the strongest that it has in over a year. Oh, I’ve had anxiety, panic, tough times. But this is really really fucking hard. And scary.

Thoughts and beliefs I haven’t had in years are back. I am afraid, I am panicking, I’m not sleeping well, I’m needing to take some meds to get through the day, I’m crying, I’m yelling, I’m arguing. I feel crazy. And that’s possibly the worst part.

I have spent a lot of time this summer with a new friend, a coworker that I have gotten extremely close to. Because we share a lot of the trauma memories. We have a lot of the same past experiences. I’ve never had anyone in my life who gets it the way she does. So we’ve spent a lot of the summer talking. It started as me listening to her, because she had never, in 40 years, spoken honestly and candidly about the horrors she endured. But it ended with me sharing, too. And now it’s a dialogue. And things are coming up for me that I haven’t really thought about in years. I was naive. I thought I was past it, over it. But I guess I wasn’t. I guess I dealt with it years ago when I needed to, but I now need to deal with it again. I told her things that I have never told a single soul, used specific words and phrases that I have never written, let alone said.

And it’s been so helpful and wonderful. And also very anxiety-provoking. And as I should know by now (blah stupid compassion nope not now) when anxiety rears its head, it’s a perfect time for OCD to swoop in without me realizing it. And grab hold before I even realize its presence.

My thoughts and fears right now are mostly in the “realistic” category. That is, I’m not worrying (today) about being a racist, or a murderer. I’m only slightly worrying about being a sexual deviant. I’m more spinning, tangling, obsessing about my fiance leaving me. About my new friend leaving me. I told her about OCD, I was candid about my thoughts and spins. And she assured me she doesn’t think I’m crazy. And I do believe her. But I also don’t. And I’m also scared. Because even though it was years ago, so many fucking people have said that they would be there and then they weren’t, and I’m afraid. I’m afraid she thinks I’m a burden. I’m afraid my fiance is going to decide I’m not worth it. I’ve spun to him, cried to him, I cried so hard Thursday night to him, after such a shitty day, that I was dry-heaving. He told me to breathe, he hugged me. But all the while I just thought, This is reinforcing to him how crazy I am. I wanted to self-harm that night. I haven’t done that in years. I didn’t do it. But I wanted to. I really felt crazy.

I want to check, to text every single friend I have and apologize for being a burden, apologize for reaching out too much and talking too much. I want to ask them over and over again if they’re upset with me, and never stop asking because when I stop asking, the fear just grows back. I want to get down on my knees and beg my fiance to not leave. Beg my friends to not leave. Tell them over and over again that I’m not crazy. Although just by saying that, they will think I’m crazy. I can’t win.

I’m struggling with sex. It is hard for me to even write that. It’s been in my brain for a while, knowing it, but I haven’t spoken about it. Because if I speak about it, what if it means that I don’t love my fiance? That there’s something wrong with me, that I’m a lesbian, that I’m attracted to someone else, that my traumatic experiences fucked me up more than I realized? That he would deserve better, that he should leave? So I’ve ignored it, pretended it’s fine. But with everything going on, I need to talk about it. I need to. But I don’t think I have anyone I can talk to about it. Well, that’s not true. But I can’t talk about it to those people without worrying they’re going to think those same thoughts. So I either hold it in and explode or talk and then spin and spin and explode.

I felt crazy driving today. I was afraid of hitting something.

I’ve had the urge to check the apartment locks a million times.

I really am trying. I am I am I am. I’m stretching and going to yoga and talking with my friend when I can and coloring and sleeping. I’m trying to be gentle with myself and trying to breathe.

But I’m still scared, I’m still tangled, I’m still spinny, I’m still terrified.

October 29, 2012

It’s really unfortunate that no matter how hard I try, I’m not a good enough daughter, friend, girlfriend.

This morning.

August 10, 2012

I feel like a failure. In every sense of the word. Bad girlfriend, friend, professional, daughter, the list goes on.

My permeability is so high right now — everyone’s thoughts and emotions are seeping right into me, no matter how hard I try to block them out. I am a tornado of every thought and feeling of those around me.

I am checking checking checking everything and spinning and worrying. I know I’m doing it. I don’t remember how to stop.

Now.

August 7, 2012
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I am not in my core. I’m so up in my head. I don’t have time to work on getting back down. I’m afraid to
reach out. I don’t know why. I’m a failure for not finding time. For not reaching out. For everything.

To the readers.

May 24, 2012
tags:

I’ve been looking at the search terms that have brought readers to this blog, and “Harm OCD” is a front-runner. It makes me think that so many of you out there are terrified, just as I always was, that you might harm someone you love, or a stranger, intentionally or unintentionally. It makes me wonder — what are you hoping to find when you type in that search term? Did you find it here? Were you looking for others who understood? Reassurance that you’re not crazy? Support and therapy?

I guess I’m just wondering — what could this blog do for you? We don’t blog every day, or even every week, but sometimes, at least for me, that’s because our current situations are status quo. I’m not so great at remembering to blog about past experiences or things that you, the readers, might be going through.

Is there anything in particular you want to know? Any questions you have? Any fears you want to voice? Tell us….we’re listening.

This Second

April 13, 2012

Ok, so I meant to be writing more often on how I’m navigating my way out of this hole.  The quick update is that I haven’t skipped a meal since I went to therapy on that Friday (now 2 weeks ago).  I’ve had a few close calls, but my healthy voice has won every time.  For a few days I was still quite restrictive during meals, leaving myself feeling hungry at the end of each one.  Last Thursday, Amelia came over.  I confessed to her that I was still hungry all day.  I asked for her support to add more to my lunch.  Spending that time with her and having her specific food support really helped me to stop revelling in that hungry feeling.    I have not yet added in regular snacks.  I’ll get there.

Today was one of those close calls with lunch time.   The time pressure of grocery shopping, taking care of my kids and being on time for my (therapy!) appointment, was such a trigger.  I just sort of didn’t have lunch before my appointment.  I was starving and was so tempted to just say screw it:  I’m not eating.  But!  I didn’t give in.  Did you hear me, eating disorder?  I listened to myself, not you. 

I’ve been thinking some today about how powerful the present moment can be.  Bringing my mind to this second – this very second – makes everything that feels so complicated, so very simple.  I have this feeling and image of “coming back down.”  It is as if my brain is a storm of thoughts and worries.  And when I feel like this, that is where I live.  And every once in a while, I am reminded that is not my home.  I remember that I can stop looking around up in my brain.  I can stop wondering “what this thought means”, and “what if this”, and “who am I really”, and “why can’t I just”.  I literally envision my head pulling down, breaking its trance with my brain, and calmly looking straight ahead.  I feel the calm of my core and the simplicity of just this second. 

 

The last month

April 13, 2012

I know I need to write. I know that once I do write, I tend to feel even a little bit lighter. But I’m not sure what to say. Nothing is really wrong, per se. Which sometimes makes me feel like I shouldn’t write at all.

Over the past month, I have been undergoing a medication change. It has been hell. The physical side effects of tapering off a medication I’ve been taking for years, and onto a new one, were less than pleasant. But the side effects in my brain – of not having enough medication in my system during this process – felt unbearable. OCD is generally treated with higher dosages of medications. That means that the tapering down of Med 1 and the slow increase of Med 2 takes a long time. And in the middle, I’m not getting that high, therapeutic dosage. 

My brain needs medication to work properly. I am okay with that. So many of my friends hate being on medication, or don’t want to be on it, or refuse to be on it. It doesn’t phase me in the slightest. I need it to be okay, and that’s okay with me. That being said, it’s been incredibly frustrating the past month where I’m doing everything “right,” yet I feel like shit solely because of a lack of medication. I said, multiple times, “It’s just not fair! It’s not my fault!” Not that it’s ever my fault if I’m having a hard time, but it was so frustrating, just knowing I had to wait it out.

I vacillate between depression and anxiety. I used to think those were two separate diagnoses – and for many people, they are. For me, they’re just two points on the same continuum: the OCD continuum. When the thoughts/fears/spins/worries/obsessions/compulsions become too much, and take over my brain and my being, I become highly anxious – butterflies in my stomach, heart racing, on the verge of panic attack, etc. Or, I become depressed – shutting down, cloud of doom, pit in my stomach. But it’s all one in the same, really.

The end of last week and last weekend, I gave in. I voiced what was going on in my head to the two people who would understand and/or know what to do and say. I allowed myself to be hugged and nurtured and coddled. I gave up being in charge and allowed my boyfriend  to truly take care of me. I told him when I was feeling anxious, when my heart was racing, when I had a scary thought, when I needed a hug. He encouraged me and supported me. He’s really the best. I don’t give in like that often – really just give up control for that many days. And you know what? It was really really nice. And it helped so much. I’ve been thinking about what exactly was so helpful and a lot of it just comes down to the fact that for those few days, I stopped fighting it. I stopped fighting where I was at, and just let myself be in it. Without judging myself, or hating myself, or wishing I wasn’t in it. I rode it through and let others help me stay afloat.

The trouble is, it’s now a week later. I have returned to work and classes and writing reports and studying and I’ve had to continue on with my life. But that doesn’t mean I’m all better. Yes, I think the new meds are starting to kick in. No, I don’t feel like I’m totally drowning anymore. But I’m still anxious. My brain is still a little too busy. I’m still a little too afraid. And a little too spinny. But I feel like my “being-nurtured-time” is done. I used it up last week and last weekend and now I have to move on and be strong. I know in my core that everyone deserves constant love and support and that I have a right to ask for anything I need. But what do I say – “No, it’s not an emergency, but my brain is a little spinny, and no, I’m not sure what you could do to help, and yes, it’s much better than last week but I just wanted you to know…?” How do I SHOW that although it’s not where it was last week, it’s still a little tough? Should I even show it? Do I have a right to show it? Or is it being needy?

First Steps

April 6, 2012

What I’ve had to do between that Friday night and now is basically take one meal at a time.  The first few days, I really did not want to eat.  I basically had to because my husband (who from now on I’ll call Paul) now knew what was going on.  At one point on Saturday, he fell asleep in our family room from about mid morning until lunch time.  Suddenly I faced either waking him up to help me or muddle through lunch time on my own.  I chose the latter, as the former is not only hard but would add to the accountability I would face.  So, I made lunch for the kids and got the youngest down for a nap.  Now it was 12:30 and Paul was still snoozing away.  I was so angry that he had left me on my own.  Did my rational mind know that he too needs his rest?  That he needs self-care too?  That I’m a grown woman who needs to care for herself?  Yes, yes, and yes.  But right then, did I want him to hold my hand through every second of the day?  YES!  I quietly retreated to our bedroom and climbed under the covers, hoping they would shield me from myself.  My eating disordered voice told me that I could relax in the comfort that I would get to skip lunch.  About a half hour later, Paul came into the room and immediately apologized.  He knew that it was not good timing for me to be alone.   He knew that I was not feeling capable of self-care on my own.  He helped me pick something for my lunch and brought it to me in bed.  Then, while the youngest napped, so did I.  Sweet, sweet rest.  My brain was still muddled and my heart was still heavy.  But maybe, just maybe, ever so slightly lighter.

Here’s the Deal

April 5, 2012

I have a history of an eating disorder.  I was diagnosed, treated, and worked like a dog to call myself recovered.   I think the only way I could have let myself work as hard as I did was to believe that I would never be back there again.  So I believed that.  I preached that.  And then I found out it just doesn’t work that way.  It is no wonder that my black and white mind found comfort in believing it.

Some periods of relapse have been more intense than others.  Sometimes, my eating disordered thoughts snake their way into my mind and it goes no further than that.  That is not what happened this time.

For a few months now, I have been feeling dissatisfaction with my body.  Well, that’s doesn’t really capture it.  Occasionally I have felt ok, reminding myself that my loose stomach muscles and sagging breasts are a badge of honor.   I carried and nursed 3 children, after all.   Other times, I felt dissatisfaction.  Especially when I decided that other moms don’t look this way.   But more and more, I was feeling a disgust.  A deep self-loathing that would come to me at night, while trying to fall asleep.    Thoughts of restriction would occur to me.  But mostly, I just tuned out and if I did anything, I actually tended to overeat.  I felt out of control and feared what would become of my body.

Two weeks ago, my negative body image was particularly strong while I was sitting at my weekly therapist appointment.  It was a Friday.  The next day we had a party at my house.  I felt strong when I walked past the chips.  Sometimes I ate them, but other times, my body shivered with excitement at my strength to restrict.  I felt downright victorious when I did not eat a cupcake or a slice of cake at my daughter’s party.  I didn’t even want a cupcake!  I had made them, served them, watched other people eat them, and still I did not even WANT one.  I was one powerful woman.  Ha.

The next few days followed with me eating each meal, but less than I wanted.  I felt hungry most of the day.  This felt good.  I knew that I only had a week to reverse any damage that my previous months of overeating had done.  Why only a week?  Because I’m just not that good at being defiant.  Once I had my next Friday appointment, I knew my therapist would find a way to make the healthy thoughts start to filter through.  Once the people in my life know what I’m doing, I am just not good at saying, “No, I won’t eat.”  I’m too afraid I’ll make them worry, or hurt them, or even anger them.  (Isn’t that the same thinking that leads me down this road?  It is a curse and a blessing I guess.)  So, I had a week to keep this private.  I didn’t tell my husband.   Thursday came and the pressure of the self-imposed deadline was weighing heavy. I ate my breakfast.  Lunch time came.  Lunch time went.  I fed my kids, but not myself.  I was so hungry, especially since I had already been restricting.  I started to think about dinner.  I knew that my husband was working late.  The plan started to formulate.  I wasn’t sure I could last, but I knew that my Friday appointment would wreck my weight loss plan. The plan was I would not eat another thing on Thursday, and then Friday I would eat normally.   Dinner time came.  Dinner time went.  I fed my kids, but not myself.  I climbed into bed before my husband even came home.  This way, I didn’t have to experience my hunger and I didn’t trust myself to lie to my husband about what was for dinner:  Nothing.

I woke up in the middle of the night feeling nauseaus.   I thought, if I can just escape to sleep again, I will not feel this.  So, I did.  Friday morning, I ate a mostly normal breakfast.  I had a little less cereal than usual.  Then, I thought, It wasn’t as hard to not eat on Thursday as I thought it would be.  No lunch would feel so good.  And so, that’s how it went.  I drove to my Friday therapy appointment.  By the time I sat in her office, I was shaking.  I was sure that the pain in my head couldn’t get worse.  I was so nauseaus, I thought I was going to vomit.

She spent the first 20 minutes talking me into a supervised snack.  It was so hard to break my streak of not eating.  I had worked so hard to get to this point.  If I caved now, what was it all for?  On the other hand, if I didn’t eat now, how would I drive home?   So I ate.  Slowly.  Tentatively.

My husband came home early and held my hand, physically and emotionally that weekend.  At one point I flipped through some earlier journal entries.  I came across some from almost 3 years ago.  I went through a rough patch in 2009 that I remember as mostly being about feeling anxious and depressed, and that maybe some eating issues were there for some of it.  I was stunned to find that entries about eating went on for a year.  One year. It scared me.  I don’t have that kind of time to give to such an unworthy cause.

Still, after reading those entries, almost every part of me wanted to continue my quest for thinness.  When I was eating I was doing it because my husband and therapist were monitoring my meals.  But it was one of the first healthy thoughts I had in this freight train of a week.

In the next few posts, I want to write about what happens after that.   I don’t want this to be another year long struggle.  I want to get back to me, to my core, quicker.  I can do it.