Hello friends! I feel like, besides the one book release post I did last week, I haven’t posted in forever. Life got in the way, for both good and bad reasons. I’m really bad at keeping myself to a schedule as it is, and then when life starts to get busy or I start to get anxious it feels like everything falls to the way side. I think that’s what happened.
And it’s what I want to talk about today.
May is Mental Health Awareness month. It’s a month dedicated to getting rid of the stigma around mental illness, to highlight how it can be as debilitating as regular illness, and how important it is to recognize it and get help when you need it.
I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when I was very young. I think I was in 6th grade, but it may have been even younger. My fears ranged from not waking up if I feel asleep and whether I could make our car crash just by imagining it in my head.
My family didn’t recognize it for what I was. No one in my family had been diagnosed with a mental disorder before. My dad used to come into my room at night and tell me it was normal, that he’d had similar fears when he was my age. But as nice as it was to know that I was thinking things similar to my dad, it didn’t stop the fear. I couldn’t move past it.
It didn’t matter that I would get in trouble at night for not going to sleep. No amount of punishment could keep me in bed. My parents thought I was acting out. But I literally would weigh the cost of getting out of bed with what would get taken away and the fear won every time.
It wasn’t until I told my mom that I had a thought that I wanted to kill myself that she took me to a psychologist.
I was very vocal about my thoughts. I’m lucky in that my compulsions in the very beginning made me vocal. Otherwise, who knows when I would have finally gotten help?
Since then, my OCD has shifted. It’s grown and shrunk as I’ve gotten older. I’ve had periods where it seems non existent, and I’ve had periods like right now, where the fear is overwhelming. My obsessions consume me. If I don’t check myself, or ask someone if they have the same fear, if I don’t do the ONE THING OCD wants me to do right then, the world will end. And I don’t want the world to end.
I’ve gotten to the point where I can recognize when I need help. If I can’t handle myself, I go talk to someone. I work with a psychiatrist about upping my medication, and I work really hard to render the thought(s) unrealistic. I get myself to the point where the thought holds no power, and then I don’t need to do the compulsion.
Sometimes it works quickly, other times it doesn’t. It depends on where I am in my life. Am I stressed? Are things changing? Do I feel lonely? All of that can contribute.
Also, am I eating healthy? Am I exercising? Am I hanging out with friends?
I have to take care of myself. Even if that doesn’t always work, it’s a good way to feel some sort of control. If I’m eating healthy, if I’m moving, if I’m living my life instead of hiding in my room, I can at least try to combat the thoughts. And if that doesn’t work, then I can get help.
So that’s where I’ve been. I got really overwhelmed with a huge drop in control over my OCD. I didn’t want to leave my house. Work couldn’t even distract me fro the horrible thoughts. It took me a while to realize I needed help this time, but I finally did. I’m taking more medication, talking to the best therapist in the world, and I’m letting my family help.
I think I’m ready to post more. I think I’m ready to start living again.
So I’ll leave you with a poem I wrote for this month. I was inspired by my last session with my therapist. I’m having a lot of issues with self assurance lately, and she told me to start building a “vase” confidence inside myself. So that’s what I’m doing.
Have you ever felt the weight of your emotions? Not their perceived weight, but their actual weight?
Negative emotions are sinister and wispy. A cloud that looks heavy simply because it’s filled with water. The thoughts float around in your head and in your heart and feel all encompassing. Like rain so dense you fear you’ll drown. But with the flick or your hand or a windshield or a ray of sun they’ll disintegrate into the air.
Positive emotions are heavier. They’re grounded and strong, made up of the stuff of dreams. Like the sun, which seems far off and distant. But more powerful than anything. Positive thoughts can reach over long distances, can warm you with even the weakest of rays. They can overpower you until you feel you’ll burst from the energy of it.
Positive emotions can evaporate negative ones.
Think of yourself as a vase. A big, beautiful antique that’s withstood the test of time. Now begin to build it. Start with the base. Make it strong, steady. Then build it up with curves that are flexible. Let it open to the heavens and all possibilities.
Now fill it with your life. All of the positives and negatives. Think of everything negative as rain. It sinks down to the bottom and leaks out of the tiniest crack in the corner. It soaks your vase but doesn’t stay. Think of everything positive as the sun. Shine your happiness on top of your sadness. Let it warm you, dry you. Allow yourself to absorb the moisture but don’t let it drown you.
This is what it means to heal.