OCD & Depression

The day I was diagnosed with OCD, I was also diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression.  I told my therapist that I agreed that all seemed plausible, but that the depression was a bit off.  I explained that if I had any symptoms of depression, they were only there because I have severe OCD.  That’s not the only time I have been diagnosed with depression, and each time, I reject it.

I had these seizure-like episodes as a teenager.  For years, a few times a week, I’d get dizzy, fall over and go into convulsions.  Joints locked, including my jaw and when I came out of it, I was exhausted and done for the day.  Doctors didn’t know what it was, though drug use and stress were the two common suspects.  It wasn’t in my head, and I took offense to being told I was stressed.  

Since then, I have not taken kindly to being told that stress is causing any of my problems and I associated depression with stress, and thus rejected that as well.  Why I don’t reject it now is because I have started to learn what it really means. 

I have Dysthmia which I think of as rain cloud.  It’s a mild form of chronic depression that feels like a little gloom all the time.  I do get happy, it’s just that those moments are rare and I am very aware of when they end.  It’s hard for me to stay happy because I know it won’t last and I get antsy for the crash.  This triggers major depressive episodes for me where everything feels like work and I lose sight of things.  I sleep and sleep and sleep, lose my appetite because I can’t feel my body’s physiological reminder to eat, get flooded with old cravings to binge and cut and get so hazy in the storm cloud, I can’t see the way out.  These episodes get triggered once in a while and when I come out of them, I feel like a completely different person.  

The reason I am posting this is because I misunderstood and rejected depression so much, that I hoped in sharing a bit of my story I could help clear up that for anyone else struggling with it.  

Some important things to know about depression:

  1. Depression and sadness are different
  2. Depression is not weakness or cynicism
  3. Depression feeds off of isolation
  4. Depression, anxiety, joy, etc…all are temporary
  5. Like OCD, depression may be a part of your story, but it is not who you are

Lastly, have a plan.  If you find yourself caught in a rainstorm, it’s easier to handle if you already know what to do, because when the storm hits, it’s easy to forget what to do.  It takes practice to create habits.  When I get into a depressive episode, I journal.  I remind myself to eat and that it won’t last forever.  Exercise is on my list, but it’s not yet my go to. Working on it.

Sometimes, mental illness makes it feel like we just can’t catch a break, but we just have to take things one day at a time.  And most important, be kind to yourself.  When depressed, do not team up with the bully in your head.  

Stay strong my friends.  

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OCD – Loneliness

OCD has been referred to as the “disease of doubt” and I think most of us understand on a visceral level why.  Our obsessive thoughts feel shameful to talk about and our compulsive behavior can range from annoying to humiliating. Before we even know what’s going on, we know that it’s irrational.  We hide, lie, escape and do anything we can to get our minds to calm down.  This can create a very lonely environment.  Really, it comes down to the fact that so much of the time we feel like no one understands because we wish we didn’t.

I feel lonely a lot.  I am not one to call a friend when I need to talk, and although I’m extroverted in a lot of ways, I find it hard to make an effort to be social because making connections is still very scary.  Though, feeling lonely is unpleasant and I def. do not like it, I believe I am not alone.  

Writing on this blog, I have discovered a community where we can share, support each other, and remind ourselves that although it may feel like it, we are not truly alone.  We understand each other, and we share the same goal of wanting our lives to improve.  They will 🙂

We may not feel normal, and we may try to keep our secrets hidden, but we are not alone.  We need to remember that, because it is when we suffer alone that we truly suffer.

 

OCD TEDx Talk

I am really excited to announce that I will be speaking for a TEDx talk!  I will be telling my story with OCD and sharing a lot of the lessons that have come with the journey.  I will keep you all posted and of course, if anyone has any ideas or things they would like me to include, let me know 🙂