Another post about baking ;-) and this is going to be a very honest one. I risk being misunderstood and seen as a freak. Actually being seen as freaky doesn't bother me ;-) but being misunderstood does.
But, you know what? Fuck it!
Confessing my muffin top, my hearing loss and my experimentation with the Brownies ;-) on this blog have been positive experiences for me and with that I say....
Hello, my name is Marnie and I have OCD; obsessive-compulsive disorder.
There, I've said it.
Actually that wasn't too difficult as a few of my friends already know this about me, though some do not. I've also met many people with OCD, attended an OCD conference and have volunteered for OCD organizations. I don't have shame in having this thorn in my side.
I have often chosen not to tell people though. This is because after I told a certain friend, she interpreted any quirk I had as a result of OCD instead of just a normal quirk like anyone else would have. I found this highly irritating so I started to not tell people.
But, I've realised that I do feel better about myself when I'm open about it. It makes it lighter to carry. Part of my inspiration to do this post comes from prkl!!!!, who, on previous manifestations of his blog, has been very open about his struggles with bipolary stuff. As well as the more private struggles about the 'weird shit' other friends struggle with.
OCD info, briefly:
OCD is quite common. You probably all know someone who has it (though they may hide it). You may even have it yourself. ;-)
I hesitate putting info about OCD on here because most info about OCD describes all the various manifestations of it. Most people with OCD are bothered by much narrower slices of the OCD pie and, with proper treatment, there is great relief for many people. OCD can fluctuate; when life is good, OCD tends to calm down, when life is shitty, OCD can become a dragon. There's not really 'a cure' but treatment allows a person to manage OCD so that it doesn't manage them.
Treatment of choice is CBT; cognitive-behavioural therapy and, in terms of OCD, it means facing what is feared and learning new ways to manage the anxiety that occurs. It also involves looking objectively at your own thought processes and tweaking ideas and beliefs and learning how to manage stress. It's very similar to the treatment of phobias.
Some? many? people take medications (SSRIs and what not) either on their own or in addition to CBT.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, a sort of mindfulness meditation, which I've blogged about before, is also helpful.
My experience, briefly:
Essentially, I have anxious thoughts about contracting specific germs/illnesses and sometimes I have to check the stove a lot to make sure it's off before I leave my flat (although sometimes I don't at all? weirdly). I can feel the urge to wash my hands a lot. When life is good and my OCD is under control this urge is minimal, if it is even there; when my life is stressy and OCD is not under control, I can wash my hands excessively and feel a lot of anxiety.
I first developed OCD when I was 25ish. I hid it and had no idea what the fuck was happening to me. I thought I was going insane. Then at 27, I had a major time with it. By this time I had learned about OCD but still I did not seek help. At my worst, I did not leave my house for many, many months, depression had set in and I very nearly committed suicide.
Ironically, my fear of germs made me too afraid to take a handful of sleeping pills. I thought: 'what if when I pass-out and die, I fall on the floor and catch germ X off the floor?' The complete bizarre-ness of that thought made me laugh and stirred something good in me. From that point I realised, 'hmmm, maybe I do need some help' (well, duh) and got it.
My doctor prescribed an SSRI and I saw a psychologist who ran me through CBT. CBT was very, very difficult. Imagine making a sandwich on the kitchen floor or a toilet seat and then eating it. Imagine being a germaphobe and doing that. (Oh, the CBT stories I have!) But, it worked and things turned around enormously, even my culinary skills. ;-) I went from being house-bound to venturing off to live in England for a time and stopped taking the SSRI in 2001. To say I was and am proud of myself is an understatement.
Things are not so rosy. I've had a lot of major life stressors packed into a very short span of time; major geographical moves, away from friends, death of my Dad, dumped (twice), family stress, a stupid huge mistake, financial woes, etc. I'm not surprised that my OCD has risen its fucking ugly shitty head. I haven't felt this OCDish in a long, long while. I think I'm having a re-lapse and I hate it.
On the plus side, I understand why this is happening and I am addressing all the crap I've gone through. And I've made an appointment with psychologist who treats OCD (hurry up August 4th). And I do have a solid understanding of OCD and CBT already; I just need it refreshed, a booster shot, a professional kick in the arse. In the meantime, I'm sending this off into blogosphere to lighten the load just a little bit.
I think that's all my warts, confessed... except for the bank robbery. I'll blog about that when I get out of the slammer. ;-)