Thursday, November 13, 2014

Feeling Better After Feeling Worse

One thing that's really surprised me about my retirement, is that my depression has ramped up. Another one of those surprises that really shouldn't be. One, my depression always hits in the fall, and two, now I just have more time to sit around and think sad thoughts. So there it is.

Today I just sat and cried for awhile, and I found it quite therapeutic. I have a great book on cognitive therapy and anxiety that I'm working my way through. The same author also has a well regarded book on depression. I'll be getting that one next. Blog posts on both to come.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Anxiety Up Close and Personal

Last night I went to a small party at an acquaintance's house. I was so nervous about going, because I just am. But I also was totally aware that if I didn't go, the next event would just seem even scarier.

In the end I had a good time. BUT, when I went to leave, I didn't realize that coats were in the back room, instead of the closet. So, oops, I rummaged around in her coat closet. I convinced myself that somehow I'd knocked something over in there, and something terrible would happen as a result.

I came home and worried for a bit. Then I wrote my worry on a 3x5 card, downward arrow all the way down to the part where she hated me, and I didn't have any friends ever again. And I stuck it next to my computer where it was right in my face. Seriously, after about 10 minutes, my anxiety was nearly gone. I know from past experience that normally that anxiety would have stayed with me at least overnight.

I should no longer be so surprised when cognitive therapy and exposure therapy work really really well, but apparently I am. Here's to more and more happy surprises.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Happy Fall

Hello, I'm back! I did leave my job in early October, and it's been a sort of strange transition. I'm trying to figure out what I want to do with myself now that I'm not working. In the past, whenever I've left a job, I've had a clear plan. No clear plan this time.

I have found that while my OCD is okay, my Generalized Anxiety has ramped up. Considering that it's fall and I'm not on any medication, I should probably be happy with where I've landed, but now I really have time to hunker down with my anxiety workbooks and do the work. So that's at least part of my plan.

Sheesh, I missed blogging the entire month of October. So that will be part of the plan, too. Not skipping entire months of blogging!

Friday, September 26, 2014

More Big Changes

I gave notice at work. Two weeks from today, I will be unemployed! I tried to leave last year, but for a number of reasons, decided the timing wasn't right. I switched to part time, and that was fantastic, but over the last few weeks, I've been dreading work. And even worse, dreading a bunch of upcoming projects. So, it was time. Now I feel like the next two weeks will never pass, but I always feel that way when looking forward to (or hoping to survive past) something in the future, so I know it'll be here soon enough.

I'm not quite sure what I'll do next. I have a bunch of volunteer plans, and I hope to take some classes. I have enough savings to take a significant chunk of time off, which I know is rare and I'm grateful for the flexibility.

One thing I will work on is my anxiety. I'm doing fine, but not as well as I want to. I'll certainly have the time now, so that's no excuse!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Traveling Anxiety Revisited

I decided to plan a trip. It's only been 7 months since my last one, which is nothing by my usual standards. It will be the first trip since I moved to the new apartment. Which apparently has ramped up my anxiety about it. The best thing about planning a trip as an exposure, is that you get to go do fun things! So it does at least balance off the anxiety a bit.

To continue on the theme of my last post, my new housing situation has really brought into clarity how little I do when I'm not working. It's especially noticeable when I compare myself to the busy busy busy culture all around me. I've actually found myself feeling a bit depressed about it. Luckily this is a problem with a fairly easy solution as well. It will require me to work on my social anxiety as well, but I can't really consider that a bad thing.

Hopefully all these exciting, new scary things will give some oomph to my blogging!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Where Has the Month Gone?

I say that at the end of every month, so I should really stop being surprised by now. I'm utterly amazed at how much free time I have these days. Freedom from house repairs and leaving behind a big garden really makes a difference. I've found some volunteer options in my new neighborhood that look promising, so I should fill some of the time up soon. Not that I'm bored, but I am feeling unproductive.

I also plan to up my exposures this fall. I'd hoped to host a Fourth of July party at the new place, but anxiety foiled that idea. Now it's Labor Day weekend, a perfect time for a BBQ. Nope. Work to do on that front!

The date went well, but confusion remains about whether it was actually a date. Hrrmmph.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Made It

The house sale closed on Monday. It was not exactly a fun two weeks, but it was pretty okay, all things considered. A few weeks ago I stopped my medication, not by design, but because for some reason I forgot to take it. This time, my anxiety did not increase. I also think I'm getting better at using cognitive skills and exposure work, which certainly didn't hurt.

So now I have what I think is a date next week. I'm going hiking with a friend, but it doesn't strike me that we'd be going on a hike if it weren't a date. Anyway, I'd like it to be. This is a person who has noted that spending time with me is pleasantly low stress. Now, if we end up in a relationship, I know that I can't pretend to be mellow all the time, just to keep him happy. On the other hand, I'm happier when I'm mellow, too, so I want to really double down on practicing my OCD coping skills. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Can I Make It? I Think I Can, I Think I Can

If all goes well, my house will be sold in just over two weeks. Problem is, during those two weeks some MAJOR repairs are being done in the basement. The good news is that I don't have any choice but to "make it." And that two weeks realistically will fly on by. It's already been more than four since I finished prepping the house for sale.

The bad news is that it could be a fairly stressful two weeks. I feel like I'm actually doing a pretty good job of using healthy techniques for dealing with my anxiety. But it's still there.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Uncomfortable Sigh

A post over on Janet's great ocdtalk blog sent me scanning back through old blog posts. And (not for the first time), I'm reminded about how strong my OCD remains. All those years of dealing with exposures, and yet still spending most of my free time worrying about something.

I'm happy with the progress I've made, sort of, but in realistic terms, I'm still in about the same place I started. So many posts where I'd found the book that was going to change my life. Where I was absolutely determined to beat OCD once and for all. Wash, rinse, repeat (heck, I think I've even posted THAT before).

Monday, July 7, 2014

OCD Around Me

I've posted before about seeing someone out and about with clear OCD. I'm not quite sure why it fascinates me so much. Maybe it's because I go to great lengths to hide my OCD in public, so I think it's interesting when people don't. Are they making a statement, or simply unable to NOT do their compulsions (I think the latter today).

Today I was at the grocery store and not only was a woman in the produce section using a produce bag on her hands so as not to touch the cart handle, she was picking up each piece of produce with a bag, inside out, and them flipping it right-side out onto her selected produce. I guess her own hands were too dirty to touch the produce?

She was also shopping the minute the store opened. I was, too, but only because I was out running another errand and this was the best time to do it. I assume she was trying to minimize the number of people who touched her produce.

It looked so hard. And I can only assume she was kind of embarrassed to know that people probably look at her funny while she's doing this (maybe another reason for the time of day she was shopping).

It makes me grateful for the huge gains I've made on the contamination OCD front. Life is easier, and far less stressful when you can touch stuff!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Time Sure is Weird

While I'm waiting for my house to sell, it feels like time is going so s-l-o-w-l-y, and yet somehow it's been almost a month since my last post. So I guess it's not really slow at all.

I also was just referencing an email that someone had sent me 11 (!) years ago. So, yeah, I guess time is actually flying on by!

The house went on the market last week (oh, and I feel I should add, I did not do either of the projects my OCD wanted me to do before listing it). I got a really great offer mid-week. Strangely, it's almost TOO good an offer. My agent thinks there's a good chance the person will get cold feet and decide they've offered too much (likely true). But either way, it's a sign that the house should sell about where it was listed. I'm very very eager for this all to be done, of course. Some days I do better than others.

Hope everyone's summer is going well, and for those in the U.S., that you're having a great 4th of July.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Working on some tricky stuff

Well, I remain in the "final stages" of getting the house ready. I guess it's a long final stage, ha! I have talked to several real estate agents now, so I'm moving along. The house is mostly empty, but I still need to clean up the garden, and clean clean clean the house itself. That includes 14 windows on the main floor, each of which has a storm window. Hooray! I've always loved the light that those windows bring into the house, but here's the downside!

There are two house projects that my OCD really wants me to do. My sister has told me no, as did the real estate agents. I've convinced myself that if I don't do them, something terrible will happen to the new owner and it will be But I know it's just my attempt to achieve certainty, and that's not possible. I almost always give in to OCD in these situations, and I'm trying really really really REALLY hard not to. So far the message I've sent to my brain is that the only reason disaster is averted is that I do what OCD says. That's not the right message. And in addition, I cannot keep everyone safe. Life happens. Hard work.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Back to Blogging

I've been a very infrequent blogger this spring. I'm going to try to get back to it more regularly.
In classic form, last week I convinced myself the medication wasn't really making much difference, and I stopped taking it. The ramped up anxiety I experienced 4 days later seems to make it clear that it was making a difference. So back on it I go. My side effects have been minor, but I do seem to get more headaches, which I'm not enjoying.

Things in my life are BUSY. I moved to a rental duplex a month ago, and I'm in the final stages of getting my house ready to sell. I'm really enjoying the new place a lot. It's a good location, great space, and I still have a yard for gardening, but I don't have to mow the lawn!

But pretty much, if I'm not at work or sleeping, I'm working on the old house. Hoping to list it June 15th-ish, but that might be optimistic.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Medication May Be Working

It seems I didn't mention it here, but I started up on an SSRI in February, a low-ish dose. I can't quite tell if it's working (oh, now I see I did mention it a few posts ago). Past side effects have included insomnia but this time I'm tired, so so tired. And the dreams: vivid, sometimes disturbing dreams. I was thinking of giving it up, since I don't see a huge effect. But before I did so, I upped this dose a small amount this week. And I think I'm seeing a difference. For the first time in who knows how long, I woke up yesterday feeling excited about a few things this week, including signing the lease on my new apartment. Feeling excited rather than terrified is really really rare for me. Is it the medication? Is it the situation? Can't say for sure. Other aspects of my upcoming move have me terrified. But I'd say there's enough chance that the good feelings are related to the medication that I'm going to stick with it a while longer.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Easter Update

I'm not much of an Easter celebrator, although I do have candy. Mostly I'm wondering if it's okay to run my borrowed weed whacker today, the only non-rainy day in the 10 day forecast.

But on to OCD. It's been a stressful time in my life. After much hemming and hawing, I made the decision to sell my house and live in a rental until I decide if I want to buy another house some day. I've found a great place and will sign a lease that starts next Friday.

Moving is stressful under the best of mental conditions, but of course OCD adds whole new levels of complication. I haven't lived with shared walls for 16 years, so that's scary. Moving vans scare me, selling my house scares me, etc.

I'm moving forward, because despite the fear, I'm super excited at the potential for my life without so much yardwork and house maintenance. The new space is big enough to feel comfortable but small enough that I think I might be able to keep it clean. (especially since I may lose my deposit if I don't!) I'm trying to be ruthless about getting rid of clutter as I pack up my house. I'm a packrat, so I'm not as ruthless as I SHOULD be, but better than ever before.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Actively Working This

I've been pretty active on beating contamination OCD for a while now. I've been simply TERRIBLE at fighting other types of OCD, as well as my general "it's all going to end badly" generalized anxiety.
Today, as often happens, giving into anxiety only made it worse. But I'm attacking that "worse" outcome the right way.

I needed to have a contractor out to give me a bid. He was going to come out next week. But I got nervous, so I actually left work early today and had him come out to the house this afternoon. But while he was here, he had to jump down from a height of about 5 feet, and then of course he commented on his bad knee. Ack! Argh. If only... he'd come next week instead, I'd thought to get out my step ladder, etc., etc. I'm imagining him needing surgery, sabotaging the job as a result, etc. etc.

SO, I wrote up a script. I'm reading it. I'm not letting myself (except for writing this) go to the what if place. Instead I'm facing the anxiety and I'll wait for it to go down.

It's not easy, my brain ruminates in a nearly automatic way. But seriously, enough is enough, it's time to double down, triple down, and do this right.

Monday, March 3, 2014

March Update

How's that for an exciting title! I have been using the CBT workbook, although not as consistently as I should. But I've actually filled out worksheets, which I've never done before. So I'll get there. I did start back up on medication a couple of weeks ago. I can't say I'm seeing any difference at this point, but I'm also on a very very low dose. I'm also not having any side effects, so that's a huge plus.

I'm really enjoying seeing the signs of spring. The plants and the warmer weather do me a ton of good. The spring rains, not so much.

I hope everyone's having a nice early spring. I know a lot of the country has been slammed with snow, so if that's you, I hope you're at least staying warm!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Generalized Anxiety

I just got a great workbook about using CBT for Panic, Generalized Anxiety and Social Anxiety. Now, I'm fully aware that I've touted workbooks in the past as looking great, and then I've never mentioned them again. So I'm a little skeptical myself.

I do hope I use this one, because the anxiety has been rough this winter. I dream of quitting my job or selling my house, but my good friend has reminded me that I'll just find anxiety in the next job or the next house. I tell myself that THIS anxiety is different, worse, than what I'll find elsewhere, but it's not true. I've felt that way about a steady stream of things for years: if I just get through this one, my life will be so much easier. Nope, the next thing comes along, usually immediately.

My friend and I have set up a challenge with each other. We've each got a new workbook, so we've committed to working with them before next weekend. Hopefully I'll have some progress to post about by then.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I Went on a Trip!

Trips are hard. There are hotels. Which may have bedbugs. At the very least, a zillion people have trod the carpet and touched the remote control, and who knows how often they wash the bedspreads.

And I flew on an airplane. In the heart of the cold and flu season. I didn't bring any hand sanitizer with me, and while I was tempted, I never did buy any, either.

Usually I don't really enjoy my vacations. This one, I did. Especially the last day. My feet, which had been hurting from bringing the wrong shoes, suddenly felt fine. The weather, which was forecast to be cloudy, was warm with brilliant sunshine. I looked down and saw a monarch butterfly, for goodness sake. While they're not rare where I was vacationing, I'd never seen one outside of 5th grade science class, so it really just felt like a magical day.

That's some positive conditioning for stretching my comfort zone.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Happy New Year

Well, that was a giant posting gap, wasn't it? Nothing major caused it and nothing major has brought me back.

My OCD is doing its thing. As I have been for a while, I'm pretty good at doing exposures related to health/contamination issues, less good with my general anxiety stuff.

For the last 2 months, everyone around me (it seems!) has been sick with something. I've done a surprisingly good job at not avoiding anyone at these times, and not worrying much after I've spent time around them. Despite this, I still flinch (not visibly I hope!) whenever I hear someone's sick.

I had an interesting experience a little while ago. I'd been waiting a LONG time for a medical appointment. I worried about weather, I worried I'd get sick, I worried the doctor would get sick. And SHE DID. My appointment was canceled a mere hour before the appointment because the doctor got sick. This is one of the few times in my many years of OCD that something I feared actually happened. Were the consequences huge? No, but it was still jarring. I've held the totally irrational belief that my worries actually do help keep trouble away, and this is just more evidence that it isn't true. I was surprised how much that point freaked me out!

Anyway, hope everyone had a good holiday season. I'm not sure I'll be back to frequent posting, but probably won't skip an entire 6 weeks either.