Books and how they can quite your mind, even if only for a short time

I am a hopeless romantic. I mean my favorite movies are Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version) and A Walk to remember for goodness sake. So whenever I need to escape from my own reality, especially when those negative thoughts fill my mind, I like to read. I am a huge fan of movies too, and would normally prefer to binge watch them all day, but being an accountant has really put a toll on my eyes; so, any escape from a screen/monitor helps. Thus,  instead of making myself busy with errands, work, or even the gym, I read. Its kind of ironic because when I was a kid you couldn’t pay me to pick up a book. I hated it. I had an issue with comprehension when I was younger and so anytime I read it felt like a job. There was nothing about it I enjoyed. Ohhh how the times have changed. All I want to do is read now. Not just any book though, I only read those hopeless romantic type novels. You know, the ones with a certain thrill to them. I couldn’t get into the notebook, though. I couldn’t find anything exciting about it. I need those books that keep you on your toes. Those books, that you can’t put down even though you have been reading for hours and its now 3 a.m. but you cant help yourself. You need to know what happens next. Those books where although the language used might sound corny to others but brings you back to when you had your first crush and all you felt were butterflies whenever you saw him/her. These are the type of books I love. These are the ones I have become absolutely obsessed with. They are the ones that help me escape from my own reality, the ones that help silence my mind. Some of my favorites are “Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas”,  “Beautiful Disaster”, the “Upside Down” series (this is especially good because the main character suffers from OCD), “Some Boys”, “Come Back to Me”, and of course the “Fifty Shades” series. There are tons more but these ones stood out to me the most and the ones I tend to re-read over and over again.

I am not sure how it is for others but when I am reading these types of novels I become transfixed. The book becomes alive to me. I can see who each character is. How they look, how they dress,& how they talk.  I can see exactly what each character is seeing in each scene described. Now, logically I know this is mainly due to the writer’s style and their ability to captivate their readers; but I also like to believe that this also happens because of the type of person you are. What you are using or taking from that book. For example, I myself become a whole other person when i am reading. And so, whenever I read a good novel, especially one that has just the right ending that I need, I am smiling for days. Its like a high for me because its the only moment where I can truly quite the noise and destruction I feel inside my head. Its the only time I feel completely relaxed. The only time I am completely myself. Its a feeling of normalcy that I long for throughout each and every day. Thanks for listening, and if anyone has any good reads out there please let me know.

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“It’s like having mental hiccups. Mostly, we can function despite the ‘hiccups,’ but we’re exhausted attempting to carry on as if they didn’t exist.” — Sheila Cavanaugh

I came across this quote today and felt the urge to share it. For those of you that have read my earlier post, you just learned that I suffer from OCD. I shared with you my story and will continue to write to you, whoever you are, with the hopes to spread awareness out there and maybe help someone, along with myself, in the process. Having OCD and anxiety is mentally exhausting and lately that’s all I have been feeling. I have ZERO energy. I am tired everyday, to the point where staying up at work has become difficult. At first I thought I was coming down with something or that maybe I was lacking in some vitamin. Thus, I went to my doctors office this pass weekend and expressed how I have been feeling. I hoped he would find something, suggest anything, or run some type of test because I am 26 years old and feel as if I am 90. I want to be able to stay out past 10 o’clock at night with out feeling lightheaded or go to work and get through a whole day without having to fight urges to keep my eyes open. He gave me a physical exam and told me that he does not think I need any blood work or that there is anything wrong with me. He told me I am 26 and should not worry so much and that all this fatigue and low energy is all due to my OCD. I was disappointed because I couldn’t understand how my OCD could cause me this much exhaustion. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.When I got home I went through an array of emotions. Looking back its as if I went through the 5 stages of grief: 1. Denial; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; & 5. Acceptance. Although, I am not quite sure I am completely passed the depression stage. Nonetheless, coming across this quote today reminded me that having OCD and anxiety IS in fact exhausting and will take time unfortunately. I just hope I can take little steps here and here in order to get some sort of tinge of energy back so that I can get through the rest of this week. Till next time.

For OCD and Anxiety Suffers out there, know that you are not alone. Here is my story, please tell me yours.

August 28th 2015, was the day my doctor diagnosed me with OCD and anxiety. I came to him after a number of tests and exams were taken and everything kept coming back normal. But I knew something was wrong. Two years before I was diagnosed, I started having bad headaches. These headaches would last all day and sometimes all week. At first, I thought it was due to my new job because I was working 10 hour shifts staring at a computer all day so I thought my eyes were the problem. I got my eyes checked, got glasses for the computer, but nothing changed. Instead it got worse. Anytime I would get a headache, I would become extremely dizzy, to the point where I could not even lift my head. It got so bad to where I had ended up in the hospital. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just come home from work and my headache was excruciatingly painful. Any sound that I heard felt like nails on a chalk board and sent vibrations through my whole body. I was nauseous and extremely lightheaded. My sister suggested that I take an Excedrin for the headache. However, about 30 mins after taking that my lightheadedness turned into what seemed like life threatening dizziness. I tried walking to my bed but the floors felt as if they were slanted downward, the walks were teeter totting back and forth, and next thing I knew I was on the floor. I remember small amounts of darkness. I was in an out. I crawled to my phone to call my sister for help. I remember crying to her and begging her to come over to help. My whole body was shaking. I was doing whatever I could to hold my head hoping that everything would just stop. I was rushed to the hospital that night. After 4 days, I was back home and being treated for vertigo caused by migraines.  However, when I came home after those 4 days in the hospital, I have never been the same since. What I experienced, what my body and mind went through those 4 days was by far the most terrifying days of my life. I would not wish what happened to me on my worst enemy. From then on, I had grown fearful of getting dizzy to the point where I stopped going out, I couldn’t concentrate at work, and I didn’t want to leave my house. All this fear and stress however, created symptoms of lightheadedness and more headaches. I was stressed beyond belief at this point. Not only was I dealing with a lot of personal stress at home and at work, but I was also dealing with this sickness, this fear. I became depressed, because it felt like this would be my new life and that I would never be okay again. My sisters told me not to give up and to try going back to doctors to see if there was anything else that could be happening. But after two years filled with rotating doctors, numerous exams, and about 15 different tests, in which all results came out normal, I felt defeated. So I went back to my original doctor, who has known me since I was little, and broke down crying in the exam room. I told him everything from the very beginning. I told him the symptoms I was feeling was not made up or in my head, that if someone were to cut your wrist the pain that you would feel is as real as the symptoms that I have been feeling.

My doctor sat down with me, my mom, and my sister and told me he thinks he knows why I am still getting dizzy and still having these headaches. He told me that I have an anxiety and OCD disorder. I told him I know I have OCD as I had suffered with a small form of it my whole life, but that there was no way my OCD was doing this. I got angry. I felt as if he thought I was making everything up. But he quickly told me that because I never really treated my OCD over the years it had gotten worse. He told me because I went through a traumatic event as well as dealing with a number of other stress factors in my life that my OCD and my anxiety had grown stronger, grown out of control. He told me the mind is a very powerful thing and that I am feeling ill because my mind is making me feel ill. He told me I had lost control of my own mind. It took me a few weeks of trying to understand exactly what my doctor had told me. I went through phases of denial, and phases of which all I did was research and reading books about other people’s experience with OCD and anxiety and I started noticing similarities: depression, excessive worry and extreme tension, the constant feeling that nothing is ever right, and repeated unwanted thoughts. Once I came around to the idea that this could be my problem after all, I agreed to starting therapy and starting medicine for my OCD. After a few weeks, my headaches and dizziness subsided. I was able to sleep at night, and I started noticing more and more these routine tendencies I was doing in which I never knew I was even doing them in the past. Things were becoming clearer, and I was starting to finally become awake. However, the more and more I became aware of things that I had done or had thought of because of my OCD the more I became anxious. My doctor had prescribed me an anxiety medicine only to be used when needed, but I was too afraid to take them which is funny because my therapist had told me that people who are afraid to take anxiety medicine are actually the ones that need them. I think over the past year in which I was diagnosed, I had taken four of the anxiety meds. Not that I didn’t need them more often, but my fear of taking them was still too great so I tried teas, vitamins, and yoga instead.

As time passed, I became fully awake to my illness. I felt better physically. However, emotionally I still have a long way to go and unfortunately, life doesn’t stop just because you’re going through something hard. No quite the opposite in fact. My life became harder to deal with & more complicated during this last year or so. Not only was I struggling with my OCD and anxiety, I had started a new job, I got engaged,  I had lost my grandfather,  and I had lost my Aunt, whom I was extremely close with.  Like I said, life doesn’t stop or slow down for anything. Thankfully, I have had the support of my sisters and the love of my life to lean on. I don’t think I could have taken the strides I have taken this past year without them. Although my parents are there for me as well, they are also old school and were raised in a time where things like OCD and anxiety was unheard of. Thus, they do not really understand what I am going through all the time. My mother would tell me to snap out of it and my father would say just be happy don’t let things get to you. I would in turn become angry because if it was that simply trust me I wouldn’t be in therapy or be taking meds or would have spent almost 4 years now feeling the way I have been feeling. But seeing them upset after my outbursts just made me feel guilty and well, that just fueled my OCD even more. I learned, however, the more I trusted and opened up to my family and my now husband about how my mind works, thinks, reacts, the more I felt understood and actually was able to lean on them more for help then I normally would ever do. I am stronger today then I was 4 years ago because of that. I have good days and bad days; however, every day is a day in which I literally have to work on controlling my OCD and anxiety. Sometimes I lose that battle, but as my mother said I am stubborn and refuse to give up, which brings me to today. So here I am writing to you because one of the things I have learned through all this is that writing is a way for me to spill out everything in my head. Putting it out on paper somehow silences the negative thoughts or what I call the devil inside my head. Through writing I am able to calm myself down. I am able to breathe again; at least for now.