Nikki's daily journal

My journal

Thoughts, musings, silliness and honesty about the reality of living with mental health issues.          From someone who struggles every day!
Be warned that posts may contain swearing and discuss things that may cause triggers.              Please make sure that you exercise caution and take appropriate self-care.
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Today is February 23rd! What happened to this month? It feels like it has just disappeared in a fog of trying to stay afloat alongside CBT and trying to build a business. How am I? I'm OK. CBT is still exhausting but is getting very practical, I now have experiments to do to challenge some of my rituals and have made some progress in understanding where the root of my OCD lies. 
It's a hard truth to swallow but my OCD is rooted in an over developed sense of responsibility - I feel responsible for just about everything that ever happened to me or to anyone I have ever cared about. Now, taking responsibility for me and my actions is a good and positive thing, but when I start to feel resonsible for things and people that I have absolutely no control over, that becomes a problem. 

In therapy, I worked out that the start of my sense of responsibility comes from being extremely young and being burdened with responsibility that was never mine and that began before I was born. Even in the womb, I was overly responsible, but not by choice. This led to a sense of being somehow wrong, that I still carry now. It's terrifying to think that I was literally born responsible for things that were not mine, things imposed by a grieving, sad and desperate mother who missed her middle child and was not quite ready for me to be anything other than him. I understand what it feels like to lose a child and I guess back in 1970, things were very different so I want to be as compassionate as I can be. But, growing up feeling like I was constantly not quite right, like I was not acceptable, like I was a disappointment, it's no wonder me and my mum didn't really get on.

I'm not suggesting that my mum gave me OCD, no, my brain did that. But at the very core of my issues is this sense of over responsibility for everything, which I have always had - because being responsible, showing that I am a responsible person, taking responsibility for things, being a 'good girl' was how I thought I would get love. I was so wrong! 

This week I had my second intensive therapy session, which is a kind of high level cognitive behavioural therapy. I learned some stuff about how my OCD brain actually works and how thoughts, beliefs, feelings and behaviours are connected. My therapist clearly knows what he is on about and seems to understand that self-care is also important. 

But, I tell you what... I am finding this therapy completely exhausting! All I can do for the rest of the day is very simple, keep myself occupied type things, like watching Netflix or colouring, I don't have the energy to do anything more complex. I have relentless compulsions that are like having toothache in your brain, they don't go away no matter what I do. So I end up having to tap or repeat words or scratch my hands. When I go to bed, I do sleep, which is great. But I sometimes have quite disturbing dreams that have come out of therapy. So I wake up tired. And I'm basically low on physical and emotional energy for about 24 hours. All of this means that if I have therapy on a Monday afternoon, I am then only able to do the bare minimum of anything until Wednesday.

This is not helpful when trying to get a business off the ground! But it also gets in the way of normal every day things like cooking a decent meal for dinner, or sweeping the kitchen floor, or even having a shower. I don't have the energy, so I do what is vital and can't wait. But this makes me very frustrated, after all this therapy is meant to help me learn to live with OCD, not drain me of every bit of energy I have. 

The thing is, intensive CBT is bloody hard work! It requires me to not just talk to my therapist, but also to be willing to use real life examples of my own brain's making to learn the tools I need to help me in future. Then to take those tools and try them out between sessions, journalling my progress and feeding back how it went at the next session. It feels like a lot because it is a lot. I guess the clue is in the name... it is... intense! 

There are days living with OCD and agoraphobia that are awful and then there are days like today.
Today, I went out with Matt for a walk to the local shops, although I didn't go in the shop, I did go off for a little wander out in the trees nearby while Matt ran his errands. Yes there was some tapping, touching and flapping going on and quite a lot of word repeating while I was outside, but I win for three reasons:
  1. I went out.
  2. I managed to contain my 'getting ready to go outside' ritual to the bare minimum using a technique I learned in therapy.
  3. When we got home, I deliberately took my right shoe off first, when my return ritual is the left one first. OCD had a little tantrum about that, I REALLY wanted to put my shoes back on and do it 'properly', but I resisted that in spite of the tantrum in my brain that made making my daily cup of coffee difficult.
I have had my coffee and OCD has calmed down to a sort of background noise level leaving me feeling slightly frazzled, but good because today I WON!

Today was not a great day, OCD-wise. I had non stop compulsive behaviours from start to finish and I have no idea why. Just lots of 'this will be easier if I tap now' type thoughts and a huge amount of repetitions. ALL BLOODY DAY!

So any plans I may have had to be a human being today had to be dropped as I entered the zone of coping and managing symptoms.  So keep my busy, playgames on my phone, crochet, no not enough concentration for crochet, so lets find some old stuff to pull back so I can recycle the yarn. Cooking is good, I narrate and repeat a lot but at least I can eat. 

Matt was, of course, brilliantly supportive. I was very frustrated! I don't know why I have random days like this one. They make no sense. But then, I guess that's why it's called a disorder.

15th January 2021
I'm Tired!

Today I am tired. I really struggled to get out of bed this morning, finally managing to surface around 10am, not great for a work day. I don't know why I'm tired, I just woke up that way, today being Friday might have something to do with it, possibly, I didn't sleep very well. Anyway I'm tired and that just makes everything so much harder to manage. The less energy I have the harder it is to manage my obsessive thoughts and complusive behaviours, the anxiety that causes them or the fear of leaving the house that is the result of them. Bugger! Tired day equals hard day!

So, being a fairly sensible person, I look to see what I might be able to put off until Monday, then give myself permission to focus on the vital tasks today. I have one coaching appointment scheduled and two admin tasks to do (one of which is this journal entry). These things I can manage to do, while giving myself time and space for drinking coffee and trying not to act on my compulsions the rest of the time. There will be watching Scandal, some colouring and possibly some crochet. There will definitely be coffee, biscuits and copious amounts of tea as well as the regular meals. And there will be an early night in the hope that tomorrow is less difficult.