Archive for the ‘I am ill… I am broken…’ Category

Almost Aced The Anxiety Test…

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Met again with my therapist yesterday and we got a chance to tally and discuss my results on the anxiety and depression tests. According to the anxiety test a 31 to 50 indicates a severe case of anxiety. I scored a 41. This, coupled with the fact that I’ve felt my anxiety increase over the last few years, has led the therapist to diagnose me with a chronic case of severe depression. On the depression front I scored a 16 which is within the mild range of 11 to 20.

With these lasts tests outta the way it’s pretty clear that my mental health is in tatters. Still having a fully worked up diagnosis is a big relief. I feel like my actions and feelings make sense, in a twisted sort of way, when viewed in light of OCD and my level of anxiety. I’ve found a source for my issues, it’s been named, and now I can actually move forward and try to find ways to manage it. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I even cried on the way over to pick up the Wifey after the appointment. Not because I was sad but because I found a bit of hope that things will get better.

After going over the diagnosis we discussed treatment. The inpatient option was taken off the table first since there is not treatment programs offered for OCD in Colorado. That leaves us with medication, behavioral/cognitive therapy or a mixture of both. I was dead set against simply popping a pill and leaving it at that. The therapist was in agreement with this so she let me decide whether or not to try medication with therapy or therapy alone.

I’ve actually thought about the medicinal stuff quite a bit over the last week so I was ready to pretty much make the decision once the question was posed. Since I feel that there is a physical component that hasn’t responded to coping techniques I’ve learned in the past such as breathing, visualization etc. (learned when finding ways of dealing with IBS) I want to include it in hopes it allows me to tone down the anxiety faster. From there I hope to achieve a baseline which will make the behavioral/cognitive therapy more fruitful.

I’ll touch base with my family physician to discuss the specific drug this week but I’m well aware that it probably won’t have a positive effect until a few weeks after I start taking it.

My homework at the moment is to work on an autogenic exercise to help decrease my overall anxiety and depression levels. At first glance it seems a little hokey but I’m gonna give it a go since I’m unwilling to dismiss anything out of hand that may turn out to make life a bit more positive for me.

So, in short, I’m making progress. One little step at a time.

It’s Official. I have OCD.

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

OCD… I have OCD… Fuck.

We, the psychiatrist and I, worked our way through the checklist. The questions seemed so simple. I answered them, trying to keep my emotions in check, struggling to be honest even though I knew what that would reveal to both of us.

It’s official. I have OCD…

Now what? Apparently there are two forms of treatment, medication or in-patient treatment. Medication is the norm but one I won’t do without continued counseling. For me it’s got to be a tool to give me headroom to develop the tools necessary to live without it. Luckily, the doc and I are on the same page regarding this. The second, in-patient treatment, where the obsessive thoughts are triggered and then you’re not permitted to follow through on the compulsion, has proven successful for some. However, it’s apparently agonizing emotionally. I’ve tried to resist the compulsions, sometimes I’m successful, but the struggle is anything but pleasant. Still, I won’t dismiss the in-patient option simply because I’m afraid of the pain.

I have OCD… How severe? Anything else?

We’re still working on this. We only had an hour after all. But I have homework, worksheets regarding depression and anxiety, exercises to reduce stress. I won’t remain idle. Next time I know we’ll go deeper, explore more hidden issues and possibly find symptoms that the OCD has masked. An anxiety disorder is likely to be found. The Doc suspects it. So do I.

I also won’t hide. I won’t be ashamed.

Having OCD doesn’t decrease my worth as a person. It’s doesn’t mean I’m insane. I know that the obsession is irrational, even as I’m feeling the emotions and the tugs of the compulsions. I may not have the strength to ignore them but that doesn’t mean that I can’t resist, that I can’t fight against them. Others have their own issues, this is mine. But, I won’t let it define me.

I have OCD. It doesn’t have me.

I am ill… I am broken…

Friday, December 30th, 2011

I am ill… I am broken…

This weekend I locked the door of our condo, got into the car and headed down toward to visit the family in Colorado Springs. I distinctly remember shutting the door, opening it again to make sure I turned off all the lights, closing it again and locking the doorknob lock. As soon as the Wifey pulled out onto the main road I started to feel very anxious about the front door. While I did remember locking  the doorknob bolt I couldn’t remember locking the deadbolt. Furthermore, I didn’t ‘feel’ like I had locked the door.

I expressed this feeling to the Wifey. We spoke about whether I remembered locking the door. She said that was enough for her. She trusted that I did it before I left for the car. Her reasoning was sound and I intellectually understood it. But, I couldn’t quite seem to trust my memory and that anxious feeling I had wouldn’t go away. I even found myself questioning whether I had actually shut the door itself. I simply fixated on the issue until we arrived at our destination.

I was able to set it aside for most of the remainder of the day. I let myself get distracted by visiting with family. But, I awoke at 3am the next morning, in the throws of a full on anxiety attack and ready to drive all the way back up to Boulder just to check on the door. The Wifey was able to calm me down enough so that I was able to fitfully get back to sleep.

Later that morning I was got a hold of a friend and he went to the Condo to check the door. It was locked. I was finally able to actually enjoy the rest of the weekend.

I’d like to say that this sorta thing doesn’t happen to me very often. But, as I talked to the Wifey about it I realized, or finally recognized, that that simply isn’t the case. In hindsight I can now see numerous times where similar situations have arisen. For instance, I used to wake up and wonder if I had shut off the laminator at work. I’ve actually gone into work on the weekend to check. Now, I unplug the damn thing before leaving for the day and walk around the area with a mental checklist to make sure I will remember that everything is turned off.

I’ve known for awhile that I have some issues with my mental health. A couple of years ago my doctor thought I might have SAD. She prescribed Vitamin D and light therapy for the winter months. I really felt that this combination helped me get through some tough patches. The Wifey could actually tell if I skipped a dose or hadn’t sat in front of my light. Sadly, I was feeling fine so I stopped taking the Vitamin D sometime in late summer (I think). I didn’t start taking it again as the winter months came on. I thought I was doing ok. I now know I was wrong. I’ve been moody and snippy with the Wifey and friends and I didn’t even realize it.

I’m sorry guys, I didn’t know… I’ve restarted the Vitamin D and light therapy. It’ll take a bit before I find an even keel again but I’m working on it. Please hang in there.

Still, I’m not sure that SAD is actually what has been happening with the anxiety/fixation thing. Granted it might be part of it or somehow feed into it but I don’t think it’s the whole of it. I’ve seen the symptoms before and I’m well aware of what can happen to a person who chooses to repeatedly ignore them or is too afraid to ask for help.

I’ve always feared that there would be a time when I’d manifest the symptoms myself. Perhaps I’ve known for awhile that I was experiencing them and I’ve just been trying to ignore them. I’m actually not sure. Regardless, they seem so damn obvious now.

So next week I’ll be seeing if I can set up an appointment to see a mental health specialist. I’m hoping that they can give me a diagnosis for whatever it is that I’ve ‘got’ and that there is a course of treatment. The prospects terrify the hell outta me. I’m well aware that there is still a social stigma attached to mental illness and even me discussing this in such a public forum may have unforeseen consequences for my career and whatnot. But, I just want to be better and there may come a time when I feel ‘just fine’ when I’m really not. It’s for those times that I write this.

I am ill… I am broken…

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