Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (specifically Somatic OCD) and General Anxiety Disorder…
My doctor says I have these. I take medication for them. Without those pills, what lies behind these freckles is a whole lot of messy, weepy, people-pleasing, number-counting, breath-holding CRAY.
This diagnosis is fairly recent so I’m actually not super familiar with these terms as it is. And I’m really not very good at pretending that I know things when I don’t. So I’m not going to hide the fact that I’m basically an infant when it comes to mental disorders.
(( That’s right. I said it. MENTAL DISORDER. And here you thought I was totally normal ))
As abnormal as it might be, this wasn’t the end of the road for me. In fact, it was incredibly helpful. As scary as the diagnosis was for me and as embarrassing as it was for me to actually admit that my doctor could maybe sort of be right…
…I’m so, so thankful.
There is a name for the weirdness that goes on in my world and for that I am RELIEVED.
This won’t be a super long post. I really just want to share with you this other side of myself, the crazy girl. The weird one that rarely comes out anymore because adulthood has a way of squashing the quirkiness in each of us.
(( Don’t worry, I’m totally cleared to still raise children, be near open flame and cook food. Crazy? Probably. Incapable of normalcy? Nope. Danger to society? Not really. ))
I’m Allison…but like…the weirder, quieter, thinkier Allison that not many people actually know. When I was a kid, it was more obvious – my weirdness. I wasn’t aware of how different I was, kids were kids were kids were kids. I ate macaroni and cheese. I enjoyed the Saturday morning lineup of cartoons and hurried home after school to catch my favorite tv show before homework had to be done and chores needed to be checked.
I got up and went to church with my family on Sundays and youth group on Wednesdays and generally just lived a normal kid life. My parents loved me and worked hard and did their best. My sister and I bickered and fought until our early twenties and my brother and I still don’t mesh very well.
But behind the scenes, behind the normalcy, was where my issues were. I have breathing problems. For most of my life, I’ve only inhaled or exhaled based on a variety of things in my environment in the moment I became conscious of my breathing.
Example : In the car, for any amount of time, I would inhale ONLY when we passed a telephone pole.
I would inhale and then slowly exhale until the next telephone pole. Sometimes, depending on how fast or slow we were traveling, I would be panting. Other times I remember holding my breath for so long I would nearly puke.
AND I WOULD STILL not inhale until I had seen one last telephone pole.
Telephone poles in the car, constantly controlling my breathing, afraid that if I stopped controlling my lungs that they would somehow just stop working. These episodes would come about randomly – sometimes it was in a store or at school – only inhaling as I passed a person with a blue shirt, exhaling on red.
ONLY blue and ONLY red.
No cheating, no speeding up or slowing down according to my own comfort. If I couldn’t do it, I didn’t deserve to breathe.
(( A little extreme, I know. ))
It’s been less and less as I’ve gotten older. For awhile I used to think that if I inhaled while looking at someone, it meant they were a good person. If I exhaled, I basically tagged them with a ticket straight to hell. I walked around feeling incredibly guilty because again, no cheating.
No speeding up or slowing down according to my own comfort.
Either the person was good or they were meant to suffer in the burning lakes of fire in the depths of hell. And my breathing would determine that. It was a heavy burden to bear. Life was stressful!
Besides breathing, I counted. Always to 13. Always.
Touching my pointer finger to the top of my thumb and then dragging my thumb across the nails of my four fingers only to have it slide back across and then start again. Without repeating the pinky or thumb, the count always landed on 13.
I still do this, for no real reason other than it’s comfortable. If I’m feeling uneasy or impatient, I find myself counting with my fingers. Up to thirteen and then starting over…again and again…and again.
Ok, that feels a little heavy, handing so much personal information into your hands…
Let me give you (( and me )) a break here and explain why I’m even bothering sharing this with you. It’s a little awkward, right? Who really wants to know any of this stuff about someone unless they are looking for marriage prospects or sperm donors?
My husband didn’t actually know the extent of my crazy until after we had vowed our forevers to each other.
Anyway, this is my why…this is my reason for even bringing up this topic of mental health – specifically my own.
Not too long ago, an acquaintance of mine heard me mention my headache due to switching medications. When they heard the name of the medication leave my lips, they stopped me.
“Those drugs are fake, you know. They were created to trick people into paying for pills they don’t actually need. Here…”
…she turned to look through her oversized purse and then handed me a card she had plucked from a random pocket.
“…this is the girl I get all of my oils from. She can make anything you need. Trust me, I had post-partum and I tried the meds and I quit them cold-turkey. Obviously they weren’t actually doing anything because I had no issues quitting them.”
I stared at her, thinking about the words cold-turkey and why people even say that.
“Oh, thanks but I don’t think that’s for me. I…”
I barely got anything out before she interrupted.
“Girl, you’re poisoning yourself. Your body knows how to make a baby, birth a baby and heal from a baby. If you tell yourself that while you relax with this ((some combination of oils she showed me in a pamphlet)) I swear you’ll feel 100% in no time.”
Now, if she had been talking to me in a text or online my immediate response to that would be…
I still haven’t found an appropriate way to say that in person. Other than to just say, “Barf” right to someone’s face. But then there’s the tone and the facial expressions and I am positive I couldn’t pull it off in a serious manner.
So instead, I simply took the card and made a point of leaving it on the table at the coffee shop. I mean, even if I did want to try out the oils…doesn’t everyone and their Auntie have an Oils Lady??
It’s called loyalty, girl.
Anyway, the thing that bothered me about this was that she looked at me and she saw NORMAL with a little bit of sadness. So she assumed that a bit of smell-goods and nice vibes would fix my sadness and I’d be back to NORMAL.
Sometimes it can be that simple.
Sometimes people are normal with a side of sadness. Sometimes smell-goods and a smile will snap someone out of their suffering. But in my experience (( not that I’m rating anyone’s suffering, because no person’s suffering could be compared to anyone else’s )) if someone is truly in a state of tragic, depressing, life-altering sadness – well, unfortunately it’s gonna take a bit more than pamphlet of oils.
AND MAYBE NOT.
(( and that’s ok! ))
But maybe so.
(( and that’s ok, too! ))
This girl meant well. She has a friend and she and her friend have benefited greatly from the oils and I know that they really do help people. I respect holistic medicine. I appreciate it and have utilized holistic methods and practitioners at times in my life. But sometimes that’s just not enough. Sometimes we have to make decisions for ourselves and our own health and TAKE MEDICATIONS. And sometimes it’s for life.
And THAT’S OK.
In this world we live in, we are incredibly wealthy. Wealthy financially, wealthy healthfully and wealthy in technology. Because of this, we have access to medications and magic pills and talented doctors.
For me, my special brand of crazy requires a special cocktail of little magic pills. They calm the analyzing, over-thinking, finger-counting, exhausting breather that I have been known to be. The medications I take give me peace, they even out my moods and help me not only survive my day-to-day but actually thrive. They have eased the debilitating symptoms of post-partum depression. They have silenced the obsessive thoughts constantly scrolling through my head. Counting isn’t necessary anymore. Breathing is normal and involuntary and I’m not dead. MY LUNGS WORK!
There is more to my weirdness. I have other quirks and bits of crazy. My mind is a tad looney-toons, a bit messy. But I think I’ll save that for another time. For now I just want to do my part in making mental health a topic that we TALK ABOUT. I want to put it out there that maybe none of us are actually normal. Maybe there are more people like me, kids like me, individual weirdos staring out of windows, turning blue because they are too stubborn to break their self-imposed rules.
And maybe if we start talking about it, start bringing our weirdness to light, maybe we could start to heal. Maybe we would see joy returning to marriages or kindness to the playgrounds or encouragement returned to the lost.
Maybe if we make mental health just another thing that that needs to be cared for, maintained and checked regularly…and maybe if taking steps to TREAT any oddities or illnesses or disorders or super-psycho-murderous-real-crazy tendencies…maybe if those efforts weren’t looked at with shame…
…maybe…JUST MAYBE…there would be fewer super-psycho-murderous-real-crazy people.
#orsomethinglikethat #mycrazylooksnormal #sodoesyours
Talk about it.
Share your crazy…and maybe you’ll find that your crazy is actually sort of…
Cheers – Allison.