I don't normally do this--as I see my blog as my own little corner of my own little space. (I don't usually advertise my posts on Twitter or elsewhere--though I'm grateful for those who follow my blog. If I thought this blog got a lot of hits I might watch what I say a little more.) So, normally, I don't post warnings on content, but I will this time.
*Warning--this post contains content religious in nature and if that offends you in any way--well, first, it's odd that you're here, but anyway... this isn't the post you're looking for--move along. I won't apologize for my religious or spiritual nature, but I also don't want contention or to offend anyone.*
*Consider yourself warned*
I haven't been secretive about my recent OCD struggles, but I don't think anyone without OCD can really understand the nature of OCD and how difficult it is. I've now been off meds for an entire year, and it hasn't been a good thing. It's been a hard year. Unfortunately, the meds have nasty side effects. Severe memory loss. Elevated blood pressure. Elevated heart rate. Sweating. Palpitations. Muscle spasms. Muscle memory problems (I forget how to make my muscles move the way I want them to.) Dry mouth to the point my lips crack and the roof of my mouth peels and bleeds. Sometimes, my throat is so sore that it swells and I think I'm choking to death. Sexual side effects. Headaches. Insomnia. Drowsiness. Mood swings. Appetite loss. Weight gain. Nausea. Stomach pain. Dizzy spells. Hallucinations. Vision aberrations. I talk in my sleep... all night... when I can sleep. And these are the meds that I can take because they don't make me suicidal as some of the meds did. I have three different meds that have to be taken three times a day at exact times (so I carry them with me everywhere and have alarms set.) It's hell. The meds are hell. They control me rather than the other way around. They rule everything I do. I can't leave home without them--can't miss a dose--can't skip meals.
So, going back on meds... isn't a decision I leap into. It's not going to be fun. I knew it was an inevitability. I knew I wouldn't be able to be off them forever. I'll need to ramp up my dosage over the course of a month or two months. I'll need to go see my doctor and probably see him regularly again for the first few months. I hate hospitals. I hate doctor's offices. It's expensive. The meds are expensive. The month of ramping up back onto them--will be awful. The side effects as my brain fights the intrusion will make me wish I wasn't going back on them... maybe even wish I was in the middle of a nightmare that I could wake up from. It'll be that bad.
On the other hand, there's my OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can take many forms and have varied symptoms. Mine is considered severe. On the outside, if I didn't talk about it, you wouldn't know. My symptoms aren't obvious. One of my most severe symptoms never steps outside my head in fact. The dark thoughts... the dark and crazy thoughts that make me think I'm evil and violent and dark. It's all in my head. The darkness gets thicker and thicker and harder to ignore... until I reach a point where I feel too dark to even be in church anymore. I feel too dark to be around people. I want to crawl into a corner and let the darkness have me--if it wants inside so much--just take me already.
You were probably wondering when I was going to bring up religion.
I woke up this morning and my first thought was: "You need to talk to your bishop about this." For those unfamiliar with the LDS/Mormon church we have an unpaid clergy... in fact, we're all unpaid and volunteer. Our tithes and offerings go to support the meetinghouses and welfare programs and support administration needs, but the actual clergy and offices are unpaid. So, a Mormon bishop makes nothing for watching over and worrying over 500+ souls. So, my next thought was: "The bishop is too busy." I got ready for church and the feeling persisted until there was nearly a shout in my head, saying, "Wendy... talk to the bishop about your OCD." I shouted back, "No, he'll think I'm a freak... and I don't want to waste his time." I went to church and the prompting in my head continued... and I pushed it back... and in the clutter of my crowded mind, I thought it would go away.
There are three hour-long blocks in a typical Sunday church meeting time. During the second and third hours I'm the secretary in the children's organization and help out in there. During the second hour, we were practicing a program, and I discovered there was no trash can in the room. I went out into the hall to throw away some trash and passed the bishop. He said, "How are you?" and I mumbled something noncommittal under my breath... here was my chance, but I couldn't take it. I just couldn't. I didn't deserve it anymore... the darkness had won. I just couldn't. The shouting voice in my head said, "Oh for crying out loud, Wendy!" but I ignored it. When I turned from the trash can, he was watching me with a perplexed look and said, "I feel like we need to talk. For some reason, I think we need to talk. Do you have a minute to talk?"
So, we went into his office and I told him... I told him everything. I told him about the OCD and how awful it is but how the meds are their own version of hell too. I told him all the stress we're going through. How T seems to rage from one moment to the next. How we can't seem to have two running cars at any given time. How I don't even feel like I belong in the chapel anymore because I have such darkness in my head. I told him that I feel like this will be the rest of my life... this need to be medicated in order to be acceptable. I told him I'm a better person when I'm medicated and how much that hurts. We ended up talking for over an hour about it. He offered a few solutions to things, but mostly he just listened.
I've often wished we had confessionals in our church--so you could go tell someone these things. Sometimes the need to confess is so strong. And there is a cathartic feeling that comes from not carrying the burden of the secrets of your soul by yourself.
At the end, he asked if he could offer a prayer for me, and I agreed. And in the loud chaos of my mind there was the quiet clarity of his voice as he prayed for enough peace within me to make the decision I'll need to. For the first time in a long time, my mind is quiet again. I can't tell you how rare this is right now or how good it feels to not feel the crowd yelling in my head. I don't feel dark inside. I don't feel evil--just like he told me I wasn't.
Our bishop is an amazing man. I can't imagine the burden he must carry after days where people dump the emotional baggage that I just dropped on him. I'm just one person and there are a lot of members in our ward...
I never told him that I'd felt like I should talk to him all morning, but I couldn't bring myself to intrude on his busy schedule. He told me that he'd felt a strong prompting to talk to me when he saw me.
I don't really know how to classify this blog post. It's about OCD. It's a little about my family. It's about being LDS/Mormon. I don't even know why I'm mentioning it--other than maybe I still need that catharsis of unburdening myself after such an emotional experience.
My Mormon.org profile went live this week. For those not LDS, our church has been very vocal about what we believe and who we are. You've probably seen the "I'm a Mormon" ads on the internet and on tv. We were asked to fill out a profile so that others could find kindred spirits and see we're more and less than we're made out to be. I filled out my profile, and it was awaiting approval for quite a while. Then... because the world is a small one after all, someone I know from Twitter contacted me to let me know he'd reviewed my profile and it was "live." If you're curious, here's mine: http://mormon.org/me/6J6T/Wendy/ You can go check it out and see that we're not all freaks. (To find the non-freaks, you'll want to click on one of the profiles on the side, of course.)
Since this post is religious in nature--and I warned you--I'll delete comments that are negative in any way. I doubt I'll have a problem with that, but I get weird spammy moments on here, and it wouldn't surprise me if this post nets a few.
Thanks for reading.