Up, Down, Up, Down, …

I guess that’s the way of this messed-up world. What goes up, must come crashing down; this seems to apply to my mental health too.

I feel overwhelmed. Someone came over to check the fusebox; just a standard check. I didn’t know, because I never went out to check my post in order to see the letter telling me about it! Oh, and by the way, missing an appointment, even one made without my knowledge, now constitutes a fine. Yay.

When the doorbell rang, I froze; panicked. I was going to ignore it like I’ve done before, but I could hear what sounded like a van outside the block of flats. The van was running and its radio could be heard. I thought maybe I best at least see who it was.

When I got to the living room window to peek through the curtains, that’s when I saw, as expected, a van, with the branding of what is essentially my landlord. I panicked further, now realising I actually might have to do the unthinkable.

Go outside and interact with a stranger.

I didn’t exactly leap at the chance to stumble through impersonal, weather chats, all while trying to muffle the screams of panic within. If I were going to leap anywhere, it would be far away! Unfortunately, I’m not on the ground floor, so I’d have to leap out of the window; not my thing.

I finally, somewhat frantically, got dressed into something halfway decent, “bottoms”, as they call them, and some random clean t-shirt. I feel almost naked without jeans on. I don’t go out without wearing jeans. Shorts, for example, are absolutely out of the question. I don’t know why. Perhaps it was the prudish, eccentric nature of my oh-so-wonderful mother who screwed with my brain as a kid.

I hesitated some more, wondering if I could just — not — go see whether it was for me, which was highly likely to be the case. Decided I had to “man up”, as they say.

I opened the front door then quickly went down the stairs, hoping nobody would see me. I opened the main door to the relentless, unforgiving world outside, then walked towards the van, the size of which I felt grew exponentially. The stress of the impending doom interaction and expectation bubbling away under the surface of social protocol.

After all that stress, the friendly chap was in for 5 minutes checking the fusebox; that’s it. Now I’m trying to unwind, because I’m all stressed. Printing these words out on the screen somehow helps. Maybe I can just pretend it’s a stupid story I’m writing and not actually the stupid stupidity of my stupidly stupid morning.

Funnily enough, I then get a text from my dad right after this happened, asking if I’d like to go to the town he’s in, to visit him. What do you suppose I thought to that?

‘Hell no!’

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I Don’t Like Halloween

I ignore trick or treaters. I’ve not been where I’m currently living long enough to see any, but I’m sure I will soon! Luckily I’m in an apartment block, but I’m sure that brings its own problems as there are some kids in the building. I’ll just ignore them though; pretend like I’m out if it gets particularly dodgy over here.

The very term “trick of treat” gets my back up, as I interpret it as a threat. I feel like there are better, less potentially oppressive ways to celebrate Halloween. Why is this still encouraged?

I’m more against kids and parents that kick up a fuss if they don’t get their candy, maybe even being abusive or damaging property, as though we’re somehow obligated to go to the shops to buy them candy purely because of the time of the year. It reminds me of bullies at school prowling the corridors for kids’ lunch money.

I have a very, very strong dislike of people trying to manipulate me, or pushing a sense of obligation onto me. I especially don’t like those who assume I should do something out of some arbitrary reason, then pretty it up as a threat, even if that threat is just social disapproval because I didn’t do what they wanted me to do. I guess I’m just different like that.

I suppose at some point I had a crappy experience which gave me these very strong core beliefs. In any case, I’m not against people having fun, provided it’s not at the expense of others, so I hope y’all have a good time on Halloween; for me, however, it’s yet another source of stress, so I’ll be hiding away like the stubborn fucker I am.

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It’s Time to Get Help (Again)

I’ve gotten a fair bit of support over the last few years, going to OCD support groups, taking Propranolol, getting assessed for therapy, getting CBT, living in supported housing for approximately 2 years, and getting generic E-Mail support from a local organisation.

I’ve come a long way, but recent troubles have knocked me sideways, shaking some other issues well and truly loose. My anxiety has at times been horrendous with debilitating bouts of dread. Some old OCD issues are taking center stage as well.

I need help.

A while ago, my general practitioner offered me an SSRI for my anxiety. I can’t remember the name, but supposedly it would have helped. Alongside battling the anxiety, the medication should help with my OCD and recently resurfaced depression. Bonus.

I’m going to get in touch with the organisation that got me the aforementioned CBT for my OCD, and this time I’m going to opt for group therapy. I think this could be a huge step in the right direction for me, provided I can actually get to the sessions.

I’ve also just been reminded of something else: there’s a local support group for people with mental health problems. I tried going there before, to their more public meeting, but nobody showed up and I kinda lost momentum after that; it was incredibly difficult!

My dad says he’ll go with me, so perhaps that’ll happen soon. I just need to stick at it and actually go. I have a tendency of bailing when these things come around. I guess after all that supported housing stuff ended, I kinda slowed down where the support is concerned.

If things with my love life are gonna work, given how complicated and stressful it has been and will be, I seriously need the extra support. I don’t think I can cope with it otherwise, as the past has shown.

God, I hope this works.

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Confrontation Sucks

One of the hardest things I’ve found with living with someone, is when you’re pissed off with something, in particular, that they’ve done. If you have anxiety issues, constantly second-guess yourself, and so struggle to confront people, how in the hell are you meant to deal with these situations?

When someone encroaches in on your space, uses or takes something of yours, or makes too much noise late at night, how exactly do you go about telling them to sort their shit out?

I have this mindset that people should think like me; it’s unhealthy, I know. Not everybody gives a damn about those around them, is courteous, or thoughtful. There are some who just don’t give a single hairy monkey about you or me.

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Mind the Supported Housing #7

I finally saw my support worker today; first time since a little before Christmas. I made it super clear that I wanted out of this supported housing malarky; it’s great ‘n’ all, but I’m just done now! I want to get this show on the road—I’m ready to go forward.

The woman broke protocol and did a health and safety check on her own. Ordinarily, there should be 2 people for safety reasons. I suppose they finally realise I’m not a nut-job and that she’s perfectly safe. Even so, protocol is set in place for a reason. I may not be a psychopath, but what about the next guy?

I told my support worker about my recent romantic interest and asked her for some information regarding the law with someone coming in from abroad and visiting as well as later living here with me; she took a note of that and said she’d chase that information up for me. She thought it was sweet and seemed quite optimistic, even mentioning us getting married one day in the not-too-distant future; I was quite surprised at that! Everyone seems so unrealistically optimistic.

I let my support worker know that lately my mood has been declining at night, despite waking up and being quite chipper. She asked if it’s perhaps because I’m not as busy at night, but I said I’m more busy at night.

Conversely, I talk to RB (what I’ll call my romantic interest, as it were) at night, so maybe I’m not keeping all that busy. I guess that leaves my mind open to think crap; could be an issue? Perhaps I need to be more mindful of my needing space to keep my mind busy and distracted.

I’ve got some paperwork regarding the two Mind courses I’ll be attending soon. I’m nervous but excited. One is for coping with strong emotions, and the other is for coping with anxiety; could be interesting. Might be a chance to meet some people and perhaps make a friend or two.

My support worker told me she’s trying to sort out an interview with someone to ascertain what kind of place would be suitable for me, then I’ll simply need to wait for a place to come up! After that, things get hectic for a while. Things may well be finally moving ahead into the great unknown.

I’m feeling stronger and more confident, despite the wobbly moments I’ve been having, which, if I’m honest, are mostly regarding RB and us. Although we’re not openly declaring that we’re in a relationship, there are plenty of aspects to it that fit such a label to an absolute T, and as such, it can be stressful.

A friend I haven’t seen in person for a long time would like to meet up in my town and hang out, so that could be fun. We get along well, but communication can be difficult at times, so patience and understanding is worthwhile; he’s very aware of this, which makes it easier.

I’m starting to feel good, for however long that’ll last.

Last night was difficult. I was pissed off, stressed, and depressed, but I went on my exercise bike for 30 minutes and it pretty much all went away. The bath thereafter was very nice and the evening spent chatting to RB was lovely, despite the several interruptions.

I just hope I get out of Mind’s embrace soon, so I can start my life as an even more independent man. Watch out world! I’m coming for you.

Part 8 can be found via this link!

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Stop over-thinking!

Why is it so hard for some people to have a clear thought without it forking out towards undesired territories?

I’m used to meticulously thinking things through because of OCD, and this has been the way since I was a kid; I ruminate a lot as per the compulsion. Unfortunately, this means that I struggle a lot to just have a straight-up thought that doesn’t lead to something depressing, distressing, and/or aggravating.

“Stop worrying so much” – if only it were that simple.

Association. We might think of red and then be led to danger or passion. I think most of our thoughts work like this, as our brains are often assessing and problem-solving, but some of us, like me, can’t help but to get carried away. I give things meaning that I shouldn’t, and pursue thoughts best left well alone.

Think of OCD-style over-thinking like the Internet: there are links littered everywhere, but most people simply click those that apply to them at that given moment. Myself, however, I like to click every link I come across, being led to all sorts of bleak places until my browser history makes even the most morbidly curious person blush.

Genital enlargement? Sure, I’ll click that. Disturbing videos? Right on, bring it. Articles about death, disease, and misery? Yes please! Strange analgoy, but welcome to my brain; it’s volatile.

One such example, is when I’ve been in relationships in which I would have an obsession with the question of whether I really loved her. This lead to my ruminating over the question, ultimately leading to the what if, which in this case, is what if I didn’t?

There are a great many what ifs I’ve asked myself over the years.

What if I’m [thing]?
What if I did [thing]?
What if I didn’t do [thing]?
What if I were capable of doing [thing]?
What if they [thing]?

It’s a muddled bundle of gibberish I know I shouldn’t entertain, but they’re at the forefront of my mind and it takes so much energy to get them to fuck right off. There’s the thing: you shouldn’t fight these thoughts. I’m told I should accept them and move on, and I know that makes sense—giving the thoughts so much attention serves to perpetuate the obsession—but it’s something that takes a lot of work.

Although over-thinking can be a perfectly normal-person thing to experience, it’s something people with certain forms of OCD might experience very, very frequently. Intrusive thoughts come to mind—excuse the pun.

It’s frustrating, though. When you’re close to someone, then you’re suddenly hit with a thought, however ridiculous or unlikely, it stresses you out. What if you’re so close to the person that you’re used to being honest and open, then they query you; do you tell them what you’re thinking when they enquire as to why you’re so anxious or distracted?

What if your thoughts could be a catalyst for your partner’s insecurities? Is your purposefully holding back information from him or her an immoral, deceptive act? Are you lying to them? Maybe you’re lying to yourself.

So many questions and no answers, so you ponder some more; still left fumbling in the dark without a nice bright solution.

Thank you Mental Health and Invisible Illness Resources for sharing this.

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OCD, Anxiety, and Intrusive Thoughts – A Brief Overview

You have a thought, as we all do, and it’s nothing in particular, just a thought that perhaps your brain insists on having, which could probably be linked to a mechanism of survival; self-preservation. Most people have these thoughts and just ignore them, particularly those that don’t apply because, for example, they’re irrational. Unfortunately, some of us pin rather a lot of meaning onto these random thoughts, such as myself. A trigger typically comes in the form of the 5 standard senses, such as smell, sight, or sound. For example, you hear a sound that reminds you of a horrible event in your life or challenges a core belief, your anxiety is triggered, adrenalin is released, and so you act on or flee from it, as per the fight or flight response.

If you want a personal example of the mechanics of OCD at work, check out this popular entry titled Health Anxiety is a Relentless Bitch, where I go on to explain a rather unpleasant evening thanks to my health anxiety being triggered. Health anxiety works in a similar way to OCD, because you have a trigger or obsession and its compulsion.

In the case of an intrusive thought, it triggers anxiety, at which point it becomes a thing, essentially jumping from the background to the foreground. One such response of an intrusive thought, is what we call ruminating, which would be the compulsion, but there are also other common ways to act, such as to compulsively clean.

Something called magical thinking can apply here, if you feel something bad will happen if you don’t do something; in this case, you would have the obsession, such as fearing someone you care about will die. Something triggers the obsession, such as hearing about a death, your response is to then compulsively begin an action (be it mental, such as rumination, or physical, such as cleaning) just in-case something bad happens to the person.

I suppose, with OCD in mind, you could also call avoidance a compulsion, so if your response is to flee, such as to actively avoid something triggering, you could probably refer to that as a compulsive response to an obsession or trigger.

I should probably point out that OCD is far more than just washing your hands thoroughly, and in-fact, many people with OCD don’t even have this need to wash their hands repeatedly, as the media would lead you to believe. It actually really, really annoys me when people think someone with OCD is always super clean and washes their hands excessively. You might as well assume everyone in a wheelchair has no legs—there are surely many reasons why someone might end up in a wheelchair, such as a spinal injury.

Let’s assume you have OCD. I would tell myself and anyone else with this disorder, that OCD, or indeed intrusive thoughts, is like a dog at your dinner table pining for scraps. Eventually, if you continue to give the dog zero attention in such a situation, it will give up and wonder off, finally learning that you just don’t care to feed it at the dinner table. However, if you give the dog food, you’ll only prompt it to come over and nag you the next time, and the next time, and the next time, until you’ve got no food left.

If you really think you might have OCD, I would speak to your doctor about it and see if you can be referred to a psychiatrist who should be able to diagnose you. OCD and anxiety are commonly linked, so if you’ve been written off as just having anxiety problems, consider that there could be more going on which you’ve yet to uncover. Finding more answers means finding more ways to get help, which ultimately results in a better quality of life.

The topic of OCD, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts is quite vast, so, without spending countless hours on this entry, boring you with walls of text, I thought it best to stick with a brief overview. However, if you have any questions, please feel free to place them in the comment section below, or contact me via TwT’s E-Mail address found here, or send me a private message via TwT’s Twitter page.

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Every successful real-life interaction is an achievement for me…

Why? Because social anxiety, that’s why!

I reached this point a long time ago, the point at which I congratulate myself for speaking to someone, for appearing confident, for having a laugh with strangers, and so on. I probably seem strange when I tell someone, like my dad, a number of times that I spoke to someone and said or did this and that. I may share these mundane tidbits because it matters to me.

Normal people—whatever normal is—probably won’t get this whole thing about being proud of stupidly-simple things that many take for granted. There are people out there that do the unthinkable and come back home in one piece, whereas I, a lowly nobody trying to be a somebody, feel fantastic if I do as I just did.

I’ve just come back from the chip shop. Two portions of onion rings and a chili burger with vegetables in it, just in-case you were wondering, and it was bloody fantastic. I behaved confidently, I was friendly, and I believe I was well-received. The guys there, and indeed the woman who also works there, probably see me as just a ‘normal’ person, albeit a quirky person. Such limited social success I owe to my dad, the very same guy who seems to know every person, in every place.

The thing is, despite how I acted, inside I was anxious. I was anxious about the other guys in the shop. I was worried about what I was going to say and whether I would say it right. I was worried about how I looked, whether I stood properly. I was worried that I didn’t have enough money on me because that would result in an incredibly awkward situation whereby I wouldn’t be able to pay for the food. How did I deal with my anxiety? Well, I paced, … I paced a lot. I didn’t pace like I was mulling over the idea of world domination, I just, you know, paced! I also distracted myself with the posters on the wall, because after all, for what else are they there? You’re meant to look at the bloody things. The pacing was for two reasons, really: 1) I burned some of the energy that was building up as a result of the anxiety, and 2) I would have possibly looked a bit strange just stood in one spot the entire time, stiff like a brick.

I have a flatmate, or roommate if you’re American, and he’s a jolly splendid old fellow—I don’t know, I typed American and suddenly felt the need to flex my British muscles, old boy. The thing is, this guy has his own issues as well, but I still feel a success when I have a good conversation with him, especially even a laugh!

Laughter is important to me. I’ve always been a jokey sort of guy, thanks largely to my dad’s crazy sense of humor. I’m one of those people who makes jokes at inappropriate times, and when I don’t, I’m crunching on my tongue and laughing in my mind as I try to stop myself from sharing my crazy mind with the world. If only I had all the crazy thoughts written down somewhere!

It matters to me if I talk to you. If we have a laugh, I take that home and I’ll smile about it, because you know what? I earned that social interaction.

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