I tend to joke about the craziness that plagues me. And, really, it is amusing. It makes me think and say random things, it makes my brain run 50 steps ahead – or behind – the actual conversation I’m in, it keeps my house clean and my hands germ free. But sometimes, on bad days, the crazy wins. I try not let those days define me. But recently I saw a Facebook post written by one of my sorority sisters that said, “Then there are those days that the OCD wins.”
And she’s right. There are those days. It’s pretty funny to laugh about my need for things to be in perfect alignment, for all items to be put away in their proper places, for my hands to be so clean that sometimes my knuckles crack and bleed. But there are also days when it’s not so funny.
There are days when anxiety and depression and OCD win. Sometimes singularly. Sometimes they gang up on me and I feel utterly defenseless.
There are days when I am pretty sure that if I walk down the hallway and tap the wall three times with my right hand, I have to turn around and tap the wall three times with my left hand. Because if I don’t, the earth might spin off its axis – and it would be my fault. There are days when the silverware won’t stay in perfect piles in the drawer and it makes me feel like I can’t breathe. There are days when my husband puts uncooked meat on my cookie platter and it brings on a panic attack. Days when he moves his vitamin container to a different spot in the kitchen and I begin crying because I can’t handle it. Days when I have to wash my hands just one more time – just one more time – just one more time – because I’m certain I picked up a flesh eating virus somewhere. Days when anything with the number 6 makes me want to hide. Days when I have to check multiple times that I have, in fact, for sure, absolutely positively, unplugged my flat iron – though I never even turned it on that day. Days when I have to check my alarm clock at least ten times before I’m finally satisfied that it is truly set.
The rational part of my brain knows and understands that this isn’t normal. The OCD in me doesn’t care.
Then there are days when I am certain that everything will go wrong. Everything. Absolutely everything is going to be catastrophically horrible. There are days when nothing specifically causes anxiety, but everything in general does. Days when I cancel dinner plans at the last minute because the thought of group conversation makes me panic. Days when an unexpected knock on the door sends me into a tailspin. Days when answering the phone seems like too much. Days when I’m afraid to speak, for fear of saying something stupid. Days when I’m panicked to introduce an old friend to a new one, because I might accidentally say the wrong name. Days when I can’t make my mind stop running like a hamster on a wheel for even a second. Days when sleep won’t come. Days when fear and anxiety run my mind and clear thoughts can’t break through. Days when conversations are hard because the words I hear don’t have a fighting chance against the thoughts in my head. Days when I’m certain everyone is staring at me, judging me. Days when everyone is standing too closely. Days when I feel like, no matter how deeply I try to breathe, I cannot catch my breath. Days when I feel dizzy with apprehension. Days when I worry that I’m doing everything wrong, that I’m a terrible mother, a terrible wife, a terrible friend. Days when the people around me can’t follow my train of thought, because my mouth can hardly keep up with my brain. Days when I won’t sleep because I’m worried my alarm won’t go off in the morning. Days when the only thing that seems to ward off a full-blown panic attack is tearing paper into tiny pieces.
Again, the rational part of my brain knows and understands that this isn’t normal. I know that disaster is not looming. The anxiety in me doesn’t care. Not at all.
Then there are days, and these are the worst of all, when I don’t have the initiative to get out of bed. There are days when I hate myself. Days when I hate everything about myself. Days when I feel so fat and ugly that I don’t even care to get dressed, because nothing in my closet will fit anyway. Days when I feel worthless. Days when I am certain I am not worthy of my husband’s love. Days when I don’t feel like I deserve the life I have been blessed with. Days when a shower just seems like too much effort. Days when the only reason I resemble a human is because I have to be a mom. There are days when I just simply don’t want to be around anyone, answer my phone, or answer texts. Days when I am certain that I am quite possibly the most disgusting woman to ever live. Days when every step seems like a mile in cement loafers. Days when sadness takes over. Days when I want to cry, but the tears won’t come. Days when everything hurts. Days when it doesn’t even seem worth it to fake a smile. Days when I feel like a zombie, going through the motions of life, but feeling nothing. Days when the lump in my throat just won’t go away. Days when I quit before I even begin. Days when I don’t even have the energy to give in to my OCD. Days when I know I will never – not ever – be good enough. Days when I feel I will never measure up. Days when I don’t think I will amount to anything. Days when I wallow in self-pity. Days when I mentally beat myself up for every calorie I take. Days when a nap is my only goal. Days when joy just seem obtainable. Days when melancholy doesn’t even begin to explain it.
Once more, this isn’t rational thinking, and the balanced part of my brain knows that. But depression doesn’t care. Depression is a lying whore.
Thankfully these days are few now. But these are battles I have been fighting since I was in elementary school. All of the crazy began long before my parents were even acutely aware. I knew the anxiety (although I didn’t have a name for it) wasn’t normal. Even a kid gets that normal is not counting taps on the couch, and feeling anxiety over accidentally stepping on a crack, and knowing that every scary instance on the news – or even in books and movies – was going to happen to my family next, and being terrified of anything less than perfection, and having to hold my breath to feel like I could catch it, and knowing that I was always going to say something regrettable, and never feeling like I fit in anywhere, and being terrified to read aloud despite being an excellent reader, and always feeling awkward in groups, and feeling despondent for no reason, and being afraid to go to sleep, and being afraid of being a disappointment, and not feeling confident in my own skin, and feeling impeccably clumsy, and not ever feeling pretty, and allowing friends to make fun of me relentlessly. No, not normal at all.
Medication is obviously quite helpful. The dosage has been adjusted accordingly over the years. A few times I felt like I was strong enough to go without it, and even though I insisted I was fine, the people around me knew better. Fortunately Mr. B is brave enough to say, “Look, you’re kind of acting crazy. Are you taking your Lexapro or should we talk about upping your dose?” I’m always irritated with him, because obviously it’s his fault I’m nuts. But, after I chill out, I remember he is generally aware enough to know the difference between my normal day-to-day craziness, and my need-to-up-the-happy-pills craziness.And I pray. A lot. Nonsensical prayers, but God knows. Often the only thing I can get out is, "Thy strength Lord," or "Thy peace Lord," or "Thy patience Lord."
I am tremendously blessed to have positive people in my life. People who keep me grounded and love me regardless of my crazy. People who can laugh at the crazy with me. People who enjoy my insane stories. People who help me realize my potential on a daily basis. People who remind me that I am a good mom, I am a good wife, I am a good friend. People who make sure that those rare bad days aren’t as bad as they could be. People who help me make sure the crazy doesn’t always win.
Beat the crazy. Thank you for keeping me In Good Company.