Friday, July 30, 2010

my journey with OCD

Ok... so this post has been a long time coming. As you know, most of the time on this blog, I discuss a few topics: art, fashion, photography, and a few tidbits from my everyday life. Well I have been wondering if I should blog about this particular topic and I finally resolved to wait awhile before talking about it. I think I'm finally ready to blog it out. :) So, I don't OFTEN blog super personal things because

a) this blog is public,
b) no one wants to continually read my trials and tribulations,
and c) i like to blog only about what I'm passionate about.


So after much debate, I shall share! The life of Elaine took a different turn in May. I know many of you may remember the situation with the job I got at Old Navy: I had NO desire to work there, I was mad, paranoid, and had SOOOOO much related anxiety about the job. After going through cycles of constant paranoia, crying, and off-the-charts anxiety, my family and I decided it was a deeper problem than just new job jitters. I attended the training session and left crying, cried all night out of paranoia and worry, and called to decline the position the next day.

That week was the WORST week of my life I'm pretty sure. Imagine that you have nightmares about every day things ALL DAY LONG. Being frantic and paranoid to tears every half hour... not good. So I went to see my doctor.


I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder after 4 minutes of explaining my symptoms. This was NOT a big shock to my family, because I've always had several tendencies of this disorder, but having someone say it out loud was a very different feeling. Since the diagnosis, I've had to keep a stress journal, regularly see a therapist, and have my new medication adjusted several times. When my first round of OCD medications weren't working, I sunk into a seriously bad depression. If you noticed that I haven't posted anything physically crafty in awhile, it's because I've been battling intervals of depression since May. During this, I don't feel like doing things that usually make me happy, I don't feel like doing much of anything but staring at the ceiling.


But once they got my medication under control and at a good level, I've been SO much happier, motivated, and less anxious about every day things. Some of the things I suffered from before were:

*believing that my thought were somehow connected to events. for example: if I said my car would crash out loud, I thought it truly would happen. The only way to combat this impending doom was to ritualize over it and repeat things in my head in worry.

*sickening compulsivity regarding things like: locking doors, setting my alarm, saving documents, packing, etc. I would check a door 5 or 6 times before I was convinced that it was locked. it might have taken me 1/2 an hour to convince myself that a document was saved on my computer.

*COUNTING. SOOOOO much counting. Things like: tapping my toothbrush on the sink, putting on deodorant, drinks froma drinking fountain, touching certain things... the list goes on and on.

*escalated anxiety about everyday things like: worrying if I have cavities, planning for my death, separation anxiety, spending, and more.

*Feeling trapped, lost, and overly panicked in an unorganized or unplanned situation like a bookstore or thrift store


I felt truly enslaved to my own thoughts, daily rituals, and worries. I later found out that I was having a HIGHLY unhealthy amount of panic attacks. But now that my brain chemicals are under control, my symptoms have greatly diminished. Things take a lot less time, less stress, and less worrying to complete. My temper hardly exists anymore and I feel like my life has taken a turn for the better. It's hard for me to remember what my mind was like before, but I like feeling ok about what's going on in my life. :) I'm so glad that I've gotten to a point where I feel fantastic, new and motivated and that I'm able to blog about it now!

I don't know if you know anyone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask! I know this was long and potentially boring or uninteresting, but it feels really good to share this! I'm glad I finally did!


P.S. Here's a funny little OCD video about how Howie Mandel and his own disorder. :)


Jamie said...

I'm proud of you! I think it's great that you're sharing this! Not only will you feel better, but you'll help somebody else. No doubt about it. Somebody will come across this blog post and know that they aren't alone. You're awesome! Thanks for sharing this so we can all be more educated! xo

Emily Mae said...

I've been reading your blog for awhile, and I've always been very inspired by pretty much every thing you post, but this, whether that surprises you or not, is probably one of the most inspiring things I've ever seen here. It takes a lot to tell everyone about something like you did, especially when it seems like most blogs try to keep the personal stuff out. So I just wanted to say that I'm really impressed by your bravery and the fact that you would reveal something like this to a bunch of virtual strangers.

I'm also glad that you seem to already be coping and getting better, and I wish you luck in the future. :D

The Daily Fashionista said...

Thanks for sharing this. It's hard to come to terms with the idea that maybe your brain is working against you, rather than with you. I have my fair share panic attacks and anxiety and have to use medication to keep my sanity. It was rooted in the stress I put on myself. I work with money all day long and that in itself is enough to send me over the edge. I hate those feelings and some days are better than others, but it is difficult.

amy lapi said...

you're so brave and beautiful. i'm really glad you chose to post about this. i don't know what it's like to be in your shoes, but i do know the perspective of the therapist-- i'm a therapist who treats people with ocd (among other things) and it's a very difficult/debilitating process.. i'm proud of you E.

eef said...

hey, I have OCD too! I used to be much much worse than I am now. I washed my hands excessively, brushed my teeth for hours, and counted everything--to 100. And you know if you get interrupted you have to start over again...

Anyhow, I grew out of the worst of it. Don't know if that's possible for most people. I still have weird ticks, but I've learned to deal with them.

You are very brave to talk about this! I am happy that things seem to be getting under control for you. Stay strong!

Mollie said...

I commend you for putting your neck out for this. I thought you were inspiring before... But this takes it to a whole new level. You are a strong, brave, beautiful, creative young woman who, I think, could and SHOULD be an inspiration to many many women out there. Trials and tribulations are something you don't see very often in this creative world we are in... I read blogs all the time and wonder, "geeze... How can these people be so happy and perfect all the time and STILL be sane enough and have enough time to do all of these cute crafty things? " And to be honest, it makes me breath a sigh of relief to know that you are a real person. :) I am so glad to hear that you are conquering this battle and continuing to live your life to the fullest. You truly seem like an amazing gal... Keep it up and keep staying true to yourself :)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story here, Elaine. It is a disorder that is sadly still very taboo but it needs to be addressed. One of my closest friends has battled this disorder for 15 years and at times it has been very taxing on our friendship but having battled anorexia through 15 years myself and having suffered from severe depression too I understood her more than most people did and we've stuck by each other.

So congratulations on your strength not only to do the work needed to battled your disorder but also on having the strength and courage to share.