My Journey To Recovery

A day in the life of OCD

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Today I thought I'd do a 'day in the life' blog post, discussing how my OCD effects simple day-to-day tasks such as going food shopping. 

Yesterday I went food shopping, and the last time I left the house prior to this was twelve days ago. So, as you can imagine this made leaving the house even more difficult than usual. As I've not done it in so long, the fear of doing it builds up in my head as by avoiding leaving the house I've become 'out of practice' at leaving the house, so becomes an increasingly daunting task. 

Usually, I set myself the goal of going food shopping once a week, at times when I've been feeling extremely brave I've even managed to go twice in a week! However, there is a reason I've not left the house in twelve days, so first I need to briefly explain the reason behind this. 

On Friday 8th June after coming home from doing a food shop my mums uncle unexpectedly came around and as we've asked family not to visit temporarily due to my current mental health state of mind and wellbeing this came as a huge shock!! We ignored the front door and then he decided to come down the side entry of the house, opening the gate and letting himself into the back garden. Myself and my mum stood completely out of his sight as he then proceeded to knock on the pattio door. 

This is a HUGE problem for me as a lot of my contamination fears are to do with the side entry of the house, the gate and the garden! I then began to have panic attacks as the gate he had touched was contaminated and he'd then knocked on the pattio door and I didn't know what else he's touched as he left. I then started panicking that he'd spread the contamination from the garden to the front of the house and I'd now be too afraid to leave the house or have any doors or windows open for a week!! 

My mum had to the de-contaminate the front door, shower and clean the bathroom to enable my partner to come home from work as I didn't want the contamination to spread throughout the house by people touching the front door. 

However, even after all the was done I was still afraid that the atmosphere outside was contaminated as my mums uncle had gone into the back garden and then walked back to the front of the house. - if you don't suffer from OCD you're probably reading this thinking I'm slightly 'crazy' but I'm not, that's just how OCD effects your mind and what you believe to be true! - 

I then lived on very little dinner for two days as my mum has planned to go buy some fresh vegetables the following day but wasn't able to due to my contamination fears. Two days later, I finally felt comfortable with her going to get some. However, I was still scared to eat the food, but forced myself to anyway. Although my mum had left the house and was fine I will still scared the front door and atmosphere outside was contaminated... So in total I spent twelve days avoiding leaving the house! 

I had originally planned to go food shopping again a week after the incident on Friday 15th, but then I changed my mind and decided I'd go on Monday 18th but that didn't happen either, however yesterday Wednesday 20th I managed to muster up the courage to go! 

In the lead up to going and on the days I changed my mind about going food shopping I felt incredibly anxious, so much so that between Friday and Tuesday I'd not really eaten much as the stress was making me feel too sick to eat.

For me going out is always a lengthy process. The bathroom has to be cleaned then I have to wait an hour before I can use it and if I'm going shopping I have to have 3 showers so it always takes me hours to get ready! 

I got up at 10:30am and began my ritual of getting ready. Whilst getting ready and having a million different thoughts racing through my mind. I accidentally touched my dressing room door handle without washing my hands - now my dressing room door handle is contaminated - so I just had to accept what had happened although I was completely freaking out internally about it, and continued to get ready. 

My next big hurdle was going into the kitchen in my 'shopping clothes' because something happened a couple of days ago that now makes me think that the kitchen is contaminated, I took a deep breath and took a step into the kitchen and then at around 2:20pm I was finally ready to leave the house! 

Going out of the front door was hard!! - I began to have flash backs of being a young teen when I suffered badly from agoraphobia, I walked up to the open front door and immediately stepped back and walked away in fear! I then took a deep breath and went for it, I'd made it outside!! I then quickly walked down my drive way and out onto the street. 

Being outside felt extremely overwhelming; I didn't notice the sun shining of my face or the fresh air I could breath in, all I was focused on was being quick! The sooner I get to the supermarket, the sooner I can get home again! Is all that was going through my mind! 

Thankfully when I arrived at the supermarket there wasn't many people shopping in there it was relatively quiet which put my mind at ease! The less people, the less I have to worry about anyone bumping into me. Being as I was on foot and could only carry so much at once, I knew I'd have to make two journeys there and back to get everything I needed. 

Dude to still being scared of my front door I had to make sure I didn't overfill my shopping bag as I would need to be able to get back into the house without myself or the shopping bag touching any part of the front door. 

Once I'd payed for my first lot of shopping I took a relatively steady walk back home. When I arrived home my mum opened the front door and I waited a few moments to gather myself then held my shopping bag against my body and kept my arms and elbows tucked in and quickly walked through the door and placed my shopping back down in the kitchen.

I then repeated the same process all over again, going back to the supermarket, getting more shopping and walking home. However, on the way home the second time, I did begin to notice how hot it was outside. I even took a moment to have a few deep breaths of the fresh air. Before I knew it, it was time to go through the front door again and once again I repeated the same process, bag to body, elbows tucked in and quickly went through the front door and walked into the kitchen.

I then went upstairs to change out off my shopping clothes, putting them in my dirty laundry pile, despite now seeing them as contaminated - which is something I never normally do - and then wash my hands. Once I'd got changed and washed my hands I was able to put away my shopping and once all my shopping had been put away I washed my hands again so that I would be able to eat some dinner. 

By the time I'd eaten my dinner and had got into bed it was around 11pm. I still felt incredibly anxious and exhausted from an incredibly long day, I then lay in bed taking some deep breaths until I finally fell asleep. 


Mental Health Awareness

The effects of living with OCD!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

If like me, you suffer from contamination OCD you will know that the cost of our OCD runs far deeper than the psychological or emotional effects, it can also be crippling both physically and financially.

My OCD effects all activities of daily living, and these are things that cannot be avoided, such as; sleeping, keeping clean - showering, food, drink, medication, washing - doing laundry, and shopping.

I always feel like I'm caught between two worlds, the 'contaminated' one and the 'non contaminated' one. Imagine standing in your own home and being too afraid to touch or use any of your possessions either because you fear that they are contaminated or because you're frightened of contaminating them. 

For me simple daily tasks can become a tremendous task which causes me a considerable anout of distress. When it's not taking me hours to complete these tasks, I'm sat worrying about carrying out the tasks. Both of which exhaust me both physically and mentally! Sometime I even avoid or delay carrying out tasks however this only make my anxiety worse and exuberates my OCD as then I feel the sense of added pressure to carry out the tasks - for example leaving it until I have no clean flannels before doing any laundry, this then adds a lot of pressure in making sure it's done correctly and nothing goes wrong. 

Below I have listed some of the effects my OCD has on me as I try to navigate myself though living my life on a daily basis; 

Intrusive thoughts - often my intrusive thoughs directly link to the source of what caused the 'contamination' but other times it can be nothing to do with the contamination - by that I mean I start to preview other things as 'contaminated' even when they haven't been near the source of the things which I know to be contaminated or cross contaminated.. However, these thoughs prevent me from continuing with a task that I was trying to complete and it causes me a great amount of distress which then results in me having to start the tasks all over agian. 

Plan meticulously - everything I do has to be planned meticulously in order to get through the day. If anything disrupts my plans or schedule it completely fazes me and I end up feeling overwhelmed and end up having to repeate things. 

Keeping clean - due to my contamination OCD I struggle to keep both myself and my home enviroment clean. I started off with a nice clean and tidy home, however as my OCD has got worse the act of cleaning began to come too much for my OCD to handle and as a result of that things have slipped and I now live in an enviroment that by most people's standards is far from clean and tidy. 

Ruin everything - I tend to ruin everything by washing it too much and I cannot afford to replace it because of other costs that mount up. 

Cooking and eating - I have gotten to the point where preparing and cooking food has become too much for me because of my contamination fears I can no longer touch anything in the kitchen and I will not eat anything that's been cooked in the microwave or the oven. Sometimes I have even ended up leaving my food because a pea has fell off my fork, bounced on the work surface and landed back on to my plate. 

Fear of using public toilets  - I don't like using public toilets when I'm out. Sometimes j go to great lengths to avoid having to use them, frequently by not drinking. I even find using the toilet at my own home difficult because of contamination from other family members using the toilet, so again I limit the amounts of drinks I have and only use the toilet at persific points through out the day. Obviously, something wich isn't healthy! 

Bedtime rituals - I have a very persific way in which I get ready to go to bed and if I cannot do my ritual that I become extremely distressed and end up carrying out compulsions. This can be very time consuming and can take me anything from 30min's to an hour and a half to be able to get into bed!

Not allowing people to come into my home - this not only prevents me from socialising but also prevents repairs and mantinence to be carried out. This is due to my continuation fears and not wanting anyone to bring anymore contaminants into my home and also I don't what them spreading the contamination which already exists in my home. 

Hoarding - this isn't something I do through choice, it's just that I've gotten into such an intense fear of spreading contamination through my home I end up accumulating piled of contaminated items and non contaminated items and fearoving anything! 

Leaving the house- so something wich is  really difficult for me because in order to get ready to leave the house I spend hours making sure I'm not contaminated and then once I've left the house, I feel contaminated. And then once I return home, I then again have to 'decontaminate' myself - which can sometimes include disgusting my clothes, showering and putting on another set of clothes. 

Shopping - this can sometimes be one of my worst fears, as there's so much to take into consideration. First I have to manage getting out of the house which is always a lengthy process, and can be extremely distressing. Then I have to deal with what i preview to be dirty trollys, people bumping into me, handling items I know that others have handled, making sure packaging it intact on the items im purchasing, just to name a few.

Accessing treatment - if you've been following my blog you will know that this was something I found extremist difficult to do as I had persific needs that needed to be met in order to have therapy - I can't attend a venue for therapy and so I had to seek out a therapist who would agree to have consultations with my via Skype. 

Socialising - this is something which im currently unable to do, as I can't have anyone come into my house and the only time I really leave the house is to go food shopping it's something in which I simply cannot do. This can also have a d'ĂȘtre tal effect on my health and wellbeing as im unable to mix with other people it has a knock on effect with my OCD, the less im able to do it the more I become afraid of doing it. This makes me feel increasingly isolated and lonely. 

Hobbies/intrests ect - hobbies and intrests are something in which I no longer have due to my contamination issues. Even simple things like going for a walk, going to the cinema, theater or being with family are all off limits because of my OCD.

My Journey To Recovery

My OCD is being made worse by my family! - UPDATE!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

This morning I felt hopeless and trapped and filled with alot if anxiety and dread as to what was going to go wrong next, in terms of my mum doing this that hinder my OCD recovery as apposed to helping me in the recovery process.

Thankfully, on Tuesday's afternoons I speak to my therapist, and today I was able to express to her everything I had said in my earlier blogpost and expand more on how it makes me feel. Since  talking things through with her I feel I'm now able to expand more on what I was trying to say on my blog earlier today, so I although I don't usually do this, I've decided to write an update to go alongside my earlier post...

Basically, I'm beginning to feel that in my current living situation I will never overcome any of my OCD. As soon as I'm starting to make any progress and begin challenging myself, my mum does something which then totally sends me completely off course and I'm right back at square one... I then again begin to make progress and I'm halfway back to where I was before the first incident happend, and then she does something else. I then end up even further back than I was the after first incident occurred. 

I'm forever taking three steps forward, two steps back, two step forward, three steps back and this is majorly effecting me as everytime something happens and the 'contamination is spread' to more parts of the house my OCD gets worse, it gets stronger. I obsess more, I begin carrying out new compulsions and safety behaviours and it's becoming increasingly unhealthy and increasingly dangerous. I know if things continue as they currently are that I will end up being admitted into hospital. 

Being as I feel no where in my house is 'safe' now I've become a prisoner in my own home. My therapist also expressed her great concern and worry about my wellbeing as she also believed that im not in the right environment in order to overcome my OCD. 

I then went on telling her that im considering moving out of my mums house and buying a house with my partner, which is something we were planning on doing at the end of next year anyway, however with everything that's going on at home and the effect it's having on me, I've come to the realisation that I can't live here anymore so we're starting proceeding in approaching a  mortgage advisor in order to get the ball rolling in finding a home of our own. Somewhere that will be clean and safe and somewhere I can begin to heal and recover from my OCD. 

While this may not be the best decision for everyone who suffers from OCD, this is the right decision for me. I already know that immediately just from moving house some of my compulsions will become less. However, I'm also fully aware that moving house will not solve my problems and it will not 'fix' my OCD, it will still be extreamily challenging, and I'll still have a lot of things to work on,  but in my current environment these are changes that I'm unable to make. It's determental to my health and wellbeing that I make a change sooner rather than later! 

Having this conversation with my therapist today made me feel a little more hopful, it was nice to hear my therapist singing from the same hymn sheet - she completely agreed with me and she knows I have the strength and determination to beat my OCD and living in an enviroment in which I'm able to thrive in is vital in that! 

My Journey To Recovery

My OCD is being made worse by my family!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I'm not even sure where to begin with today's post, I'm having a particularly rough time at the moment. My mental health is deteriorating more and more each day and this is also having a huge impact on me emotionally and physically. 

Having OCD definitely sucks, and  if there isn't already enough to deal with in life, getting well is hard work too! All of this is more than enough to be on my plate, however my family create further problems for me. 

Sure, they think they are 'helping' but a lot of the time their not, they end up doing things wich only further adds to my contamination fears and it turn it makes my obsessions worse, causes me to avoid more things and then I end up carrying out even more compulsions to 'right' the 'wrongs' they have done! 

Don't get me wrong, not everybody's family ends up adding to the problem, but it does happen, and sadly it's happening to me...

So today I just want to talk about this a little and explain the different ways in which it is effecting me, maybe if your going through a similar situation to me you'll feel less alone reading this... If you're going through it too, maybe in turn you can help me feel less alone by reaching out to me! 

My first real issue is that my mum in particular keeps on purposely doing things that she knows will cause me a lot of distress, for example touching contaminated things and then touching other things immediately after, or moving a contaminated object into a 'clean' place. This only exuberates my obsessions as I then begin to start thinking that no where in my house is safe and I pick up more bad habits of hand washing, showering, cleaning and avoiding. Which is really hindering my recovery, I'm finding it hard to focus on doing things to help me recover when my mum is continually adding to the amount of things my OCD fixates on and obsesses over. 

If all that isn't stressful enough I then go through the motions of carrying out rituals and compulsions so much that I end up spacing out whilst doing so. I can't remember thing; for example if I'm showering, I don't remember washing my face or hair or if I even washed my hands before touching my flannels before getting into the shower, and once again this makes matters worse as because I can't remember doing things, I begin panicking that I've done things wrong and then I have to start all over again, to calm myself down! 

All of this is becoming very exhausting and I feel like I'm hitting my head agaist a brick wall most of the time. It's impacting me emotionally as it's making me angry, frustrated and ultimately more depressed. Physically it's making me look exhausted and pale, I'm not sleeping or eating properly due to all the stress! 

It's not just what my mum does, it's also what she says and how she treats me whilst trying to overcome my OCD. 

I feel like I'm constantly being watched like a hawk, and she's just waiting for me to stress out over something she has done and then goes on to accuse me of not trying to get well again. She always focuses on the negatives and ignores the positives. As an OCD sufferer I already sometimes have a tendency to think in all-or-nothing, black-and-white way as its part of the disorder, without people adding to that. 

I don't think my mum realises that to overcome OCD is a difficult chore, and it isn’t always easy to keep my morale up. It can really get me down, and this kind of negative focus is all too often making me feel worse and love giving up, because I begin to believe that I will never succeed. 

Although my mum is contributing to most of my distress, it's not just her. It's also other family members that don't care because they don't understand OCD. 

Recently, my mums uncle came around unexpectedly after being asked politely not to visit the house as currently im ill and im not able to cope with people coming to the house. To make matters worse he wasn't satisfied with just knocking on the door, he then had to go down the side entrance of the house, opening the gate and then going into the back garden and knocked on the pattio door... Waited a few moments and then left again. This caused me ALOT of distress as I have HUGE contamination fears regarding the side entrance and back garden and so my then hours had to be spent cleaning the front door and showering and cleaning the house as the front door had been touched when contaminated ect.. 

The following day my mum called to explain to him what distress it had caused me and again reminded him for the time being not to visit as im extreamily ill and he didn't care, his reply was 'there's no logical reason why I can't come and visit. I will not be dictated to by a child, I will visit and do as I please' needless to say this just made me feel evn more hopeless and worthless, no one cares that their actions are causing me great amounts of distress and they won't even respect my wisheses. I was also angry at being referred to as a 'child' as im most deffinently not a child, I'm a twenty-seven year old woman who is really struggling with her mental health! 


Loosing my grandparents changed my life - part two

Monday, June 18, 2018

After my grandad passed and his funeral was over, I felt completly lost and just stopped caring about things - having been an anxious all my life something just seemed to click/change and I didn't care about anything anymore. For the first time in my life I began to feel 'free'. I then began underage drinking and smoking. 

During this time I also had a lot of BIG changes happening at home! As my Nan and Grandad used to live out in the countryside with only 2 other houses on their road, she decided that she would be too isolated and lonely living in the cottage they had spent 10 years lovingly restoring  from from dereliction and only lived in for around 8 years in total. 

This came quite a shock to everyone and it was rally hard putting the cottage on sale. My Nana and Mum then decided to buy a property together and in December 2005, we all moved in together. Three different generations of women all under one roof! 

It took along time for us all to get used to living together, home life wasn't great to begin with. My Nana and Mum both had very different ideas of parenting and although I used to see my grandparents regularly thoughout the week, they'd never been around when me and my sister were having petty squabbles or arguing over the bathroom in a morning when getting ready for school or being cheeky to my mum... So it caused ALOT of arguments!!! 

Due to this I tended to isolate myself from my family as best I could and when I wasn't at school, I was out socialising or secretly getting drunk at a friends house. 'Diane's having a sleep over tonight, I'm going with Nikki' I'd tell my mum... It wasn't a complete lie, I was going to sleep over at Diane's house, but the reason for that was to get wasted on cider and/or vodka! 

I continued to do that right up until I left school May 2007. Then over the summer holidays before starting collage I finally began to calm down, I stopped drinking after a horrible drunken experience, I began to quit smoking and stopped hanging around with the school friends I used to smoke and drink with. By this point family life at home had also begun to settle down and we (me, my sister, my mum and my nana) were finally managing to successfully live together without the constant arguments.

Life then continued, I passed most my GCSE's - with the exception of english, maths and ICT, and in September 2007 I began collage. I completed my first year and as time went on my anxiety began to rear its ugly head again. (you can read more about this in my mental health stories) 

In December 2012, after a few weeks of being ill and run down my Nana was rushed into hospital and placed in intensive care. A routine blood test had found that her kidneys weren't functioning and as a result were failing. 

I remember the day exactly... My mum had text me whilst I was at collage telling me that the doctor had called with my nan's blood test results and they were sending her an ambulance out as the blood tests had shown that her kidneys were failing. I immediately packed my bag and left college for the day and rushed to get home. I just made it in time to go in the ambulance to the hospital with my Nana and my Mum. 

My Nan was then placed in intensive care and was hooked up to a drip and they did lots of test's. Around 5 days later, we received the bad news.. My Nan's kidneys wee failing as a result of her having Cancer - Multiple Myloma which is a canver of the plasma cells - a type of white blood cell that's normally responsible for producing antibodies and the abnormal protines that the cancer makes is responsible for causing kidney failure. 

We were all shocked by the news, my Nana even more so as it was the same type of cancer that her mum had. 

My nan then went through a round of chemotherapy which went really well and after 6 moths of treatment her cancer had gone away and her kidney function had dramatically improved.

She stayed in remission for a year and then her cancer came back, so they started chemotherapy treatment again, which was also successful... However, three months later the cancer had returned again, this time it was a lot more aggressive and she spent a lot of time in and out of hospital for one thing or another and this time she wasn't responding well to the chemotherapy, it was then that I began having an horrible gut feeling that something wasn't right. 

This time my nan was being sick all the time and she was really unwell - I knew/know cancer treatments like chemotherapy can make people really sick and poorly, but to me this felt different, something in my gut was telling me something was seriously wrong!

As someone who suffers from Emetophonia I found it exter amulet difficult living white someone who was constantly being sick. I'd close the door to the through lounge and then I'd sit on the front room with that door closed also, with the tv on and sometimes I could still hear her being sick, so I'd also wear some in ear headphone and listen to music or watch YouTube in my phone to try and further drown out the sound! And as time went on her sickness got worse. 

One morning I woke up to strange voices and I shouted downstairs to my mum, who told me not to worry, but the parmesics are here because my nan had fell over in the bathroom and cracked the back of her head open, she was then rushed into hospital. She didn't come home again after that. 

Three days after she was admitted into the hospital we were told that my nan only had three days to live, as her kidneys were failing again, they'd be unable to give her any more cancer treatment and her cancer was now untreatable as it had also spread into her abdomen.

I still remember my mum coming home from the hospital and breaking the news to me in tears... But I had a feeling this day would be coming as I had noticed the steady deterioration in my nana's health over the course of her third round of chemotherapy.

The three days passed and my nana was still here, my nan was still terminal and dying but she was outliving the doctors expectations, she spent six weeks in hospital in total before she passed away. The whole entirety of those six weeks we were constantly worrying of today would be the day. 

I remember crying to my mum as my nana was deteriorating more and more each day 'I just wish she'd go to sleep and not wake up, it's not that I want her to die I just want her to be out of pain and I don't want her sitting just waiting to die' 

Then the day finally arrived in March 2014, my mum had just come home for an hour from the hospital to get some dinner and take the dog out for a walk, and she tolde that my nan was really bad and her breathing was getting shallow, so she might spend the night at the hospital and with that, she then left the house to walk the dog. 

It was then the house phone rang and I immediately had this awful gut feeling 'that's the hospital calling to say my nan has died' I said to my parner crying 'I can't answer the phone!' I then tried to call my mum and I couldn't get hold of her. When she eventually got back from walking the dog I told her and she said that my uncle had called her and my nan doesn't have long. 

Sadly; when my mum and uncle arrived at the hospital my nan had already passed away. We were all devastated but we had already done most of our grieving in the six week lead up to her passing away as we were expecting it and had the time to prepare for it happening, so although we cried because she had died we were also crying tears of relief that she was no longer suffering. 

When a grandparent passes they take a part of you: big or small. When you were younger you planned out life with them. You shared your dreams with them, your insecurities, your childish ways and most of all you shared your love. 

They, in turn, taught you lessons about life, helped you realise those dreams, and never let you go without being told you were loved every single time they saw you. They are the suppliers of happiness, security, and laughs. Friends come and go, but your family stays with you forever.

Facing the reality of death is the only way to accept it and move on. Moving on doesn't mean forgetting, it means understnding. I was lucky enough to have these amazing people to guide me through my younger years, teaching me vital lessons. 

The reminders will never go away but that’s a good thing, You don’t want to forget the things that made your loved ones who they were, then they’d really be gone. Soon the reminders will become less painful and you might even find yourself smiling at them. This is super important, don’t allow grief to cast a shadow over every single memory you have of them. Allow yourself to laugh and smile at the good times. 

It all depends on your personal beliefs for how you feel about this next bit, I believe that my grandparents are both now in a better place, free of pain, happy as can be. Reunited with friends and family gone before them, who all are looking down on my family and I. See the thing is, those we lose never really leave us, whether it’s in some above place or simply through memory and impact, they live on.

I still don’t really know what advice to give people who have been through something similar to me. Everybody grieves differently, and death comes in different shapes and sizes. But what I do know is that sometimes it all feels too much, it feels impossible that you’ll ever be able to get on with your life. You don’t think you’ll ever be okay. The pain of missing them is too much, you don’t want to accept it. But I promise that it does get easier, hold on to and cherish your memories dearly. Live your life for them as well as yourself from now on, do them the honour of making the most of your time here. They live through you now.