Archives for OCD
Phew. What a week. In the past seven days, I've managed to destroy my to-do list (in a good way). What I mean is this: I've completed so many little (and big) tasks that had been clogging up the pages of my brightly-colored At-A-Glance daily organizer. I love crossing stuff off. I've finished grading final presentations and final papers for the marketing course that I taught this semester at a local college. I've hacked together a syllabus for one of the two communication courses I'll be teaching in January. I survived a pre-op appointment with an ear-nose-throat doctor (more on that later!), hosted my in-laws for an overnight visit, and fought two very difficult panic attacks with my awesome husband at my side. Oh, and I also made fudge. Yes, fudge -- delicious chocolate peanut butter fudge. Mmmm. Needless to say, it's been a busy week. With that said, I'm going to share someone else's content today. I'm always on the lookout for people who share their mental health stories both openly and eloquently. Salome Tibebu is one of those people. She recently spoke about her OCD at a TEDx event in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. In the video below, she talks openly about her childhood compulsions, including the need to eat a very specific number of similarly-colored M & M's in a row:
"But you don't look sick." Yeah. I've heard that one before. Have you? There's migraine. Fibromyalgia. Lupus. The pain and autoimmune problems aren't immediately visible. Within the mental health spectrum, there's panic disorder. There's depression. There's bipolar disorder, PTSD, and OCD. It's not easy for others to visually see our suffering. But just because an illness isn't showing doesn't mean it's not legitimate! THIS STUFF IS FOR REAL When I have a bad migraine, the only overt evidence of my suffering is the pair of sunglasses I'm probably wearing indoors. Also, I tend to walk very lightly on my tiptoes in a futile attempt to suppress the gnawing, throbbing, and stabbing pain on the right side of my skull. But a big pair of sunglasses coupled with a delicate walk? I look more like some cross between a drunk ballerina and a celebrity-in-hiding. I don't look like I'm suffering. It's the same thing with panic: if I have an attack in the middle of the grocery store, there's no good visual indicator that I'm suffering. Sure, I'll probably abandon my cart and walk quickly toward the exit -- but how does that make me different than any other woman who has forgotten her wallet in the car?
(This is the twelfth post in a series called “Anxiety Society,” in which I interview everyday anxiety suffers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods, and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.) Last week, we met "Jemima," a woman living in Brooklyn who has been dealing with various forms of anxiety since childhood. As a teenager, she was diagnosed with OCD and has discovered that her anxiety manifests differently now as an adult. Her main triggers are interpersonal conflicts and romantic relationships. Our last interview left off with Jemima describing her anxiety as "relationship-induced": Relationship-induced? Can you go into detail on what you mean by that? I hate to say it, but I think the biggest anxiety trigger for me is men. The first time I was hit with anxiety that prevented me from functioning, it was my first serious relationship. I knew that my boyfriend made me anxious, but was able to convince myself it was just something I had to work through to enjoy the relationship.
(This is the eleventh post in a series called “Anxiety Society,” in which I interview everyday anxiety suffers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods, and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.) In my last post, we met Jemima Puddleduck -- not the duck from the Beatrix Potter story, but a woman in her late-twenties (who enjoys creatively quirky pseudonyms) who lives in Brooklyn and deals with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. She was officially diagnosed with OCD when she was a teenager. We left off last time talking about the rituals she performed before bed each night during her childhood years. (To catch up, you can check out the first part of the interview here.) Our conversation continues below. Now, you're an adult. How's the OCD these days? The OCD is pretty much totally under control. I may double- or triple-check that the toaster is unplugged and the door is locked before I leave my apartment in the morning, but it's nothing that gets in the way of living my life, just safety precautions. There are small things... like alphabetizing my CD collection or organizing my bookshelves according to genre, but I think that has more to do with personal preference regarding organization. I don't completely lose my mind if something is out of place...but I do have to fix it!
(This is the tenth post in a series called “Anxiety Society,” in which I interview everyday anxiety suffers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.) Meet Jemima Puddleduck. If that name sounds silly, know this: even anxiety sufferers can have a sense of humor when it comes to creating a pseudonym for a blog interview! And, if that name sounds familiar, know this: the original Jemima Puddleduck was brought to life by Beatrix Potter, famed author of children's books. Not everyone is comfortable with sharing their real name on the internet. I respect that decision -- especially when the information they provide can help others to better cope with mental illness. I feel that it's better to share anonymously instead of not sharing at all. Jemima is in her late twenties and works in television production. She describes herself as a "lover of anything with a beating heart," but quickly notes that bears are the sole exception to this rule. Jemima also loves running, playing trivia games, and blogging about dating and relationships. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.