Archive for the ‘anxiety’ Category

Perfect Body

I’m feeling kind of lousy tonight, so I thought I’d write something and see if I can sleep afterwards. Damn heat.

So, one of the things that doesn’t really get mentioned with OCD is what I, in my head, call bodily compulsions or tics.
You may or may not know that OCD is quite strongly linked to Tourette’s syndrome – in fact, it’s comorbid, which means OCD often occurs in people with Tourette’s, and folks with OCD can experience tics.
The trouble is knowing what’s compulsions and what are actual tics.

As far as my own experience goes, I think I have both.
The bodily compulsion I’m struggligh with at the moment is one where I feel like I have to engage my lower abdominal muscles until it feels ‘just right’. This isn’t simple (if it sounded so) – it inevtably involves a lot of pushing and flexing of muscles until, for a few seconds, I feel like some insubstantial equilibrium has been satisfied. The argh inducing thing about this compulsion is that it occurs a hundredfold more when I’m walking. Walking is pretty much my favourite exercise, but I feel like I have to do it perfectly – to move in such a way that I’m getting a good workout and strengthening myself and building stamina at the same time. This is all so intertwined that I don’t really know how to explain it. The short version is that before I was diagnosed, my first term away from home at university, I developed an eating disorder without realising, which was accompanied by what I believe is called exercise bulimia. Which means I obsessed about exercising as well as restricting my food, and pushed myself physically to the point where I was convinced I was going to faint most of the time I walked anywhere. I also probably got anaemic and my periods stopped for 2 years! Fun times, kids! So, the upshot of that part of my life (and, probably, my obsessive brain in general) is that I can’t exercise without becoming all obsessed and unhealthy about it.

Where was I? Yeah, bodily compulsions. Interestingly, a friend with OCD similar to mine texted me recently to say her physical compulsions were driving her crazy. I reassured her – I’ve been there, it’s horrible. I spend so much time when I’m walking trying to suck in my stomach the perfect amount that I worry I’ll cause myself damage (health anxiety there, hmm). However, probably the most hellish body compulsion I’ve had is my breathing/reading tic. I don’t remember when it started, but since sometime in my teens I’ve had a strange tic that means I expel air through my nose in short bursts until – you guessed it – it feels right. I feel like a wierd snuffling pig when I do this, it’s….not attractive. At some point in the last 5 years this morphed and joined itself to a tic that occurs when I read. Now, I get stuck on certain words that I perceive I haven’t pronounced correctly in my head, or with the right intonation, or with enough characterisation, and at the same time I’m going over and over this word or phrase, I’m doing my wierd breathing. This seriously gets so bad I hyperventilate. I feel so dizzy I can’t keep reading (trust me, I know how ludicrous this sounds).
The truly sucky part of this is that I *love* reading. I’ve read voraciously since I was a child, and it used to happen so easily – whole words would just appear in my head, it was effortless. Now, it’s a chore to read, and I am apprehensive to read fiction, which is where the tic gets worst since there’s so much speech that has to be pronouced and ‘acted’ just right in my head. I think this is one of the things into which I most resent OCD’s intrusion. It was so much a part of me. I’m trying to get that back, and right now reading a book in a fortnight feels impressive to me, which believe it or not is better than the last couple of years have been.

As far as true tics go, I think I have a blinking one where I squeeze my eyes shut or blink hard/ too much for no reason. People have noticed this, which is really quite embarrassing.

Well, that’s it for now. I suspect I’ll go into the story of my eating disorder another time. Hopefully this post will do its small part in making information about bodily compulsions more available. This is just my experience, I know at least 2 other women with similar or identical tics. It’s all part of the package, don’t worry, potential OCD reader!


Read Full Post »

Beyond Panic

I’m in the final 9 days of my final year of my degree. Just typing that is terrifying.

I have 3.5 thousand words to write for thursday evening and only scattered notes so far to show for it.

I have a final year project due on the 29th for which I’ve done little since January.

I am beyond panic. I can’t believe this is possible, but I’ve actually come out the other side of  panic and landed in numbness, where I *know* how important all this is, but I can’t think about it, or feel the terrible urgency as immediately as I should, like some wierd self-preservation thing my mind has in place for horribly overwhelming situations. I’m through the looking glass here! I have to escape the chessboard defences of my own mind in order to shake myself awake, or some other convoluted metaphor I can’t quite be bothered to follow through.

So, yeah. Panic, but not. Intensity, but somehow not. Terrifying, but strangely calm. Wake up, damnit!

At the beginning of this month I kind of had the right idea. Back then I was so anxious I couldn’t sleep unless I spent a really long time thinking about different ways of working out fractions (I am terrible at maths despite my grandfather being a mathematician, so this takes me ages). Back then whenever I closed my eyes I felt like I needed to find a 24-hour trepanning specialist to release the head pressure.
Now, though, I sleep to much. I take long lie-ins and feel tired during the day.
What the hell is wrong with me?

Like many of us with mental health stuff going on, I’ve failed a lot in the past at things which my peers seem to achieve as a matter of course. I won’t say effortlessly, but…yeah, actually, it seems pretty easy for them to finish degrees, and move out of home, and all that rite-of-passage stuff.
For me, up until at least 2007, my OCD has obstructed a great many of the things I’ve tried to do. I’ve dropped out of uni not once but twice (pre diagnosis), and I’m on the fourth year of this three year course.
Yet I’m still unbalanced. I’m still – and I hate to use the word so close to a deadline – failing. Handing in work late. Missing deadlines altogether. Failing to keep to schedules. But I don’t have the excuse of undiagnosed anxiety disorders this year. I’m on medication, and it’s helping. I’ve been seeing my psychologist for nearly 3 years.

I’m so scared of failing now that, apparently, I can’t even process the whole idea anymore.
I really like to think that we aren’t defined by our failures – that we can learn from mistakes and keep striving towards our goals – but that seems to apply to other people in my thinking, not me.

So, sorry for pouring all this angst onto you, I hope you are all well, and coping.
I’d love to hear from other people at uni/ studying, compare experiences, and maybe once this 9 days is over, compile some information/advice that other ‘mentally interesting’ (with thanks to Seaneen Molloy http://thesecretlifeofamanicdepressive.wordpress.com/ who’se blog is awesome) at uni could use to help them get through these hard bits.

Wish me luck 🙂

Read Full Post »

Where do I begin, I have so many things swirling around inside my head….Start at the beginning.

Firstly, I would like to apologise for having not posting on here for ages. I wrote a post on my own blog today about yesterday and how it impacted on me. But the self-doubts creep in and eat away at me. Yesterday made me powerless. I had to give my own statement of events regarding one of the G20 protests on the 2nd April to the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) and the experience made me feel powerless, vulnerable and exposed.

The feeling of powerlessness was palpable along with a sense of injustice (I attended Workers’ Memorial Day demo after my appointment with the IPCC) which increased listening to people at the rally talk emotionally of a death of a family/friend needlessly in the workplace, due to shoddy health and safety, cuts and sheer negligence. And then the uphill struggle of finding out the truth of why they died.

I sat there and found myself crying. And then I felt stupid because how could I feel upset, upset about my own circumstances, coupled with listening to testimonies of injustice and powerlessness. Brave people. Yet I chastised myself for allowing myself to get upset….about me and about the morning. I felt selfish.

This lies at the heart of my own lack of self-esteem and insecurities I don’t believe I am worth it, I don’t believe I can get upset over me. I minimise my own distress. I amount to little.

There, I said it. I was brought up to believe that others were important, and that I was less important, and that I didn’t have a right to feel depressed, upset or anything. I was constantly told by my parents I wasn’t worth much, and I believed it. I grew up believing everyone else was better, more important and worth so much more than me. If you had to get to heart of my anxiety and depression it is the sense of worthlessness. I amount to nothing.

And yesterday I was overwhelmed by anxiety yet I felt I didn’t deserve to feel upset and again, I find myself comparing others awful experiences in life so therefore I had no right to be consumed by this feeling of vulnerability and powerlessness.

Today I still felt emotionally exposed, I ran for a couple of miles on the treadmill at the gym hoping that would fight the demons inside my head, the endorphin chemical hit dissolving these insecurities, self-doubts andworthlessness. It didn’t. I found myself sobbing in the toilets, feeling so desperate and despondent. The ever prisoner in my own mind searching for an escape.

I kept thinking I can’t be the only person who thinks this about themselves, and yeah, I know I am not. I have met people who mirror similar beliefs about themselves, rather like me, they find it hard to take compliments, see the positives and so on. It is easier to believe the negative. And I can’t see myself in a positive way, people may like me, tell me they like, but it just bounces off my head, it rarely penetrates my psyche. I walk around with a false, disjointed and fractured view of myself, that’s what I have been told but to me it is my reality, it my own ‘truth’.

And I reflect these ‘truths’ to other people, because if I believe it others must do. QED. I have a damaged self-awareness. I assume that other people are better, more intelligent, lovable and likeable than me. My parents did well in drumming that into as it took so many years to realise this as on an unconscious level I had accepted this interpretation. I feel awkward and uncomfortable when people are complimentary and say positive things, that may seem surreal to a lot of people but I do.

When I have experienced rejection, I blame myself and believe it must have been me. It is always me. And that they will find people who are better, lovable, nicer and worthier than me. I can never compete. Again, this pushes me back to childhood, feeling unloved, miserable and invisible. I could never compete.

I know I am not the only person who walks around thinking this about themself. There is so much alienation, isolation and atomisation, people damaged by life and the sheer destructiveness of it all. I sometimes find it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and in the human collective spirit.

The reason I am writing this is escaping from the inescapable (that’s how it feels like), making that dramatic leap where I can kinda maybe like and value myself and rid these distopian and damaging views of myself. Years of counselling scratched the surface. For me, just writing ‘maybe kinda like myself’ is alien and unsettling.

It is easier to believe these things and scarier to pursue an alternative, a more positive approach to my own self. Years of unraveling and healing cruel, inhuman and heartless conditioning.

I know people like me but how do I start to even grapple with idea of liking myself? In others words, how do other people cope?

Sorry if I have gone on…

Read Full Post »

Long time no writing from me – sorry! Anyway, I wanted to write a little about something that has affected me for as long as I can remember – basically as long as I’ve been depressed, which is as far back as I can recall, and that’s food addiction.

It manifests itself in me feeling desperate to eat food at times when I feel trapped, stressed, bored, ugly, lonely or sad.

I am only really beginning to start analysing myself and how I deal with my problem. I’ve gone through one major hurdle in that now I find myself knowing, as I eat, that I am doing this for a reason – to help me cope with the feelings – and I acknowledge that I am hurting myself by doing it, but also in the short term that I am helping myself and that it is a less damaging way, perhaps, to deal with feelings than some others.

Despite this, however, it makes me unhappy; I’ve always felt too big for my natural body, as if I’m wearing a fat suit made of my anxiety and addiction all the time. I know I need to start taking time out to deal with issues whenever I feel desperate for food. I know I need to start planning my weekly diet a bit better so I’ve got fruit and veg to plough through if it gets bad, as at least that will be nourishing for me as opposed to damaging.

I want to start writing about my addiction, because I find examining it through putting it down in words helps to break up the opacity of it – a lot of the time I feel as if I’m lost whenever I do it – as if I can’t pinpoint what it is that’s making me so upset.  Sometimes low levels of stress causes me to just casually overeat. Sometimes high levels of stress causes me to properly binge. But I would say I overeat most days of the week, some more than others.

It’s not going to be an easy thing to examine, but I feel that I want to start talking about it more. Any other women out there with a similar issue? Write to me in the comments!

Read Full Post »

A Very Telling Dream

Last night I had a dream where I was cutting my own hair, with bathroom scissors. I cut off one side, then grabbed a handful of the other and cut below my closed fist, but the scissors cut my wrist too. I was worried in my dream, panicked about what I had accidentally done. But I couldn’t feel any pain. The wound knit up almost immediately, but it niggled in the back of my dream-mind until I woke up.

It took me until after midday to work out what the dream meant. It was obvious really – whenever I’m desperate, anxious and possibly despairing in a quiet sort of way, I think about cutting my hair. On impulse, cutting it short, fist length from my scalp, just to see what it would look like (though I don’t actually have more than a short bob now anyway).
I don’t know why this should be my reaction to feeling my anxious brain is spinning out of control. But I have always suspected – and this dream confirmed my suspicions – that it’s sort of an impulse to self harm. To do something damaging to myself.
I’ve never done it. But I do pick at any raised bumps or follicles on my arms, and I do pull out my hair (fancy name: trichotillomania).

I was kind of impressed that my subconscious could make that connection so clear for me.

Read Full Post »

As you are undoubtedly perceptive enough to realise from the title, I’ve been wasting time. Not doing what I should be doing. Both here on the group blog (sorry, group blog) and in real life, where I live in my carbon/ water body.

Fellow students will know that it’s been deadline and exam time at universities. Actually, my university fulfills its manifesto of ineptness by having deadlines at unpredictable times from november to late jan, and has 3 full weeks of exam time this month. As a devoted procrastinator I’m not complaining about the lack of teaching, but it’s still somewhat lacklustre.

So, I’ve had some deadlines to meet, and an exam. Two of the deadlines out of 3 I met, leaving them perilously close to the last minute (yesterday I managed to write slightly over 3000 words from 2-10pm). This is a dreadful habit, and I wish dearly that I could find some way of motivating myself so that I would faithfully and steadily work on assignments, little bits at a time, until I reach the deadlines without feeling like my heads about to explode.

Here’s my pattern:
I leave reading and research work during the semester ever so slightly late, though I have the best of intentions to catch up with it soon, honest!
I don’t, preferring to read feminist blogs online, watch Dexter and reassure myself that whatever catching up I need to do is still achievable.
I make a comprehensive timetable detailing deadlines and assigning subjects to days.
I fail to follow said timetable.
Time rolls round to about a month before the deadline (often less), and by this time I am too anxious to even *look* at my task description. Every time I sign into the student portal online, I feel physically sick. I rarely have enough nerve to press the link that will show me my task specifications.
I tell my psychologist that I can’t cope. He tells me to use TIC/TOC methods as we discussed (task interfering cognitions versus task oriented cognitions).
I further reassure myself that I have time, really I do, and perhaps I can just start really early tomorrow and work rilly rilly hard every day till the deadline and I’ll be fine.
I avoid going anywhere near anything that reminds me of my work for the next week.
Finally, FINALLY, a day or two, maybe even a week, before the deadline, I manage to sit through the itchy, nervous, sick-with-fear, mind freeze task of looking at my coursework documentation. Sometimes I can’t read it all in one go. Sometimes I have to print it out without looking at it because I’m so afraid to look at the actual words.
I lose myself in spiralling panic – there’s so much to do! I’ll never get it done in time, why WHY do I keep doing this to myself? Occasionally, this is as far as I’ll get – my fear gets the better of me and I hate the thought of all the mental effort and anguish it’s going to take to produce a piece of work that’s not completely awful this close to the deadline. I take the cowards way out and decide to resubmit when the time comes.
When I’m feeling braver, though, I push through the anxiety and start to try to get anything done that will somewhat meet the brief and get me a passing grade. Pushing through the anxiety is incredibly hard; every minute or so at first, I’ll get the powerful, nagging urge to get up and do *anything* other than what I’m doing. I’ll feel too sick to continue, or wander around aimlessly, or lie with the dog. If it gets really bad, I’ll start to feel as if I’m going to faint imminently; my neck feels tight and horrible, like blood isn’t getting to my brain, my skin feels tingly and every time I sit down and assume the position for keyboard work it gets lots worse.

So, in retrospect I’m proud of myself for getting 2 assignments out of 3 in. The third, I admit, overwhelmed me. My psychologist is helping me get mitigating circumstances for it.

Anyone got any tips for studying well for the new term?

Read Full Post »

7 days

I’ve taken a full weeks worth of pills now.

I’m finding it hard to know what are side effects and what would have been happening anyway. Which is positive, because it means I’m not getting that many side effects, and those I am getting aren’t that bad.

But for anyone interested, I’ve been having some trouble getting to sleep at night which seems to be accompanied by a feeling of tension and pressure behind the eyes and forehead. I also don’t stay asleep for that long; I’ve been waking up at 1.30, 3.30, 5.30 etc.. and each time it feels like I’ve been asleep for aaages, and surely it must be almost morning by now, but then it turns out to be just a couple of hours after I fell asleep in the first place.
I’ve been getting anxious *as* I fall asleep, but hey, that happens to me anyway. Mostly I solve that by leaving the TV on a sleep timer so I’m not just staring in to the darkness getting more and more freaked out, and hallucinating geometric spirals (not a side effect, that frequently happens).

Luckily, I haven’t *had* to take any clonazepam yet, though I feel that doing so would probably make sleeping easier.

Apart from that, I’ve been planning my final year project for uni and my course of action is becoming clearer and feels more together, which is very exciting. I’m making software to help anxiety sufferers – can’t say any more than that at the moment. This is kind of what I want to do in life…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »