Tag Archives: OCD

#12 OCD part 2 – a clarification and education

(Read Mental Health part one)
(Read Mental Health part two)
(Read Mental Health part three)

I wrote a post previously about OCD. Part of the post was to intentionally cause some confusion. So this post is a follow up to shed some light on more of what OCD is. (Read part one HERE)

First, everyone who has OCD has a different experience with it. Some experiences are similar, but there are no two people with exactly the same experience with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

I wrote the previous post as I was coming out of an OCD attack. For me that is when the obsessive thoughts get so strong that my compulsions take over and I have no control over my actions. It is a very scary thing. Not everyone experiences OCD this way. For some people OCD is acting on compulsions to try and ease anxiety. For a while, I figured that I was in a similar boat and kind of pushed away the stories that people told me. I had to have some semblance of control, didn’t I?

I recorded some of my last episode—at the request of my Neurologist—and was shocked to watch my behavior play back later, and immediately follow it up with what was going on in my head. I used to tell someone that I really trusted that I was safe. You don’t need to check on my shower, I have control, I won’t do it. But she would check anyway, adjust the temperature if needed. Sometimes she would turn off the water and calm me down until I was okay enough to rinse and get out. She did the same thing for my hand washing. She would wrestle me away from the sink and hold me until the terror went away; neither of us understanding the full meaning of what we were dealing with. Two people struggling with mental illness taking care of each other and not getting enough outside help… it wasn’t the best idea.

Regardless, I am going to try and help some of you learn about OCD today.

Now, I haven’t had a chance to read a copy of the DSM-V, but  I have been able to read a couple short essays that the DSM website has released, and I do have access to a DSM-IV. According to the information on www.dsm5.org, there are some new disorders added to the “Obsessive-Compulsive and Related disorders” including the previous, it includes: obsessive-compulsive disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, trichotillomania (hair-pulling), hording disorder, and excoriation (Skin-picking). All of these disorders present with anxiety and distress.

For today, I am just going to discuss general OCD. If you would like me to post about other disorders, please comment below or send me a message.

First, if you double check things, if you like to have things lined up just right or it bugs you when a picture frame is tilted. If you worry about getting sick or if you might accidentally hurt someone, or if you have a proper grasp on what is right or wrong. If you wash your hands a couple times or are worried about having clean dishes and floors and counter tops. If you check to make sure that the door is locked and the stove is off. None if this means that you have OCD.

According to http://iocdf.org/about-ocd/, they explain OCD in the following way:

“Imagine that your mind got stuck on a certain thought or image… Then this thought or image got replayed in your mind over and over again no matter what you did… You don’t want these thoughts—it feels like an avalanche…Along with the thoughts come intense feelings of anxiety…

“Anxiety is your brain’s alarm system. When you feel anxious, it feel like you are in danger. Anxiety is an emotion that tells you to respond, react, protect yourself, DO SOMETHING!

“On the one hand, you might recognize that the fear doesn’t make sense, doesn’t seem reasonable, yet it still feels very real, intense, and true…

“Why would your brain lie? Why would you have these feelings if they weren’t true? Feelings don’t like… Do they? Unfortunately, if you have OCD, they do like. If you have OCD, the warning system in your brain is not working correctly. Your brain is telling you that you are in danger when you are not.

“When scientists compare pictures of the brains of groups of people with OCD, they can see that some areas of the brain are different than the brains of people who don’t have OCD. Those tortured with OCD are desperately trying to get away from paralyzing unending anxiety…”

(I am not 100% positive that this quote originated from here, but they do not have a quoted source.)

Obsession (noun): an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind. –Fixation, passion, mania, preoccupation, infatuation, fetish, craze, neurosis, hang-up—

Thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over seemingly out of the individual’s control.

These thoughts are usually paired with anxiety, disgust, fear, etc. The obsessions are time consuming and cause distress. It is more than just a “personality trait” or someone being “anal” about cleaning. It is more than having to have things a certain way because you like it that way and more of having to have it done a certain way and be “just right” because fear and anxiety and panic take over if it is not. This is not being an ass, it is a psychological disorder—It is also not attention seeking, or weakness.

Obsessions: (some not all)

Contamination: Bodily fluids, dirt, environmental, chemicals, germs, disease.

Losing control: harm to oneself, harm to others, violent images in the mind, etc.

Perfectionism: needing to know or remember, evenness, exactness, numbers, etc.

Religious (scrupulosity): Excessive concern with morality, concern with pleasing or offending god.

Unwanted sexual thoughts: unhealthy obsession with violent or disturbing pornography or sexual acts, fear of sexual aggression towards others, etc.

Compulsion (noun): an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one’s conscious wishes. –Urge, impulse, need, desire, pressure, duress, drive, fixation, addiction, temptation—

Repetitive behaviors or thoughts an individual uses in an attempt to neutralize obsessive thoughts or anxiety cause by such thoughts.

These actions are a temporary solution and are used to either stop the anxiety or to try and avoid anxiety provoking situations. Not all compulsions belong in an OCD category because they are not used in the same way. Those with OCD do not want to have to do these things, but they feel as if they have to.

Compulsions: (some not all)

Checking: checking and rechecking homework, housework, or work assignments to make sure there was not a mistake (excessively); over checking body condition; concerned reassurance that one did not harm oneself or others.

Cleaning: Excessive hand washing (or a certain way, or a certain number of times); Excessive grooming (showering, bathing, tooth-brushing, hair brushing, toilet routines, etc.), Repeatedly cleaning/sanitizing household items, etc.

Mental: continuously praying to prevent harm, counting to a specific number, “canceling” or “undoing” actions. Etc.

Repeating: Numbers, movements, rereading, rewriting, up and down.

Also: avoidance, asking for reassurance, and rearranging.

According to WebMD: “OCD is a potentially disabling illness that traps people in endless cycles of repetitive thoughts and behaviors.”

Though the cause of OCD is unknown, there are several factors believed to contribute to the possibility of someone having or developing OCD. It is shown that OCD can be passed on genetically. There is also evidence that untreated Strep viruses can end up causing vulnerability to the development of OCD. Trauma is another factor that can cause OCD. Things that could similarly cause PTSD, can also cause OCD; such as, Abuse, illness, death of a loved one, etc.

I am not the only one living in distress. On http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml I found some quotes from people who shared their experience living with OCD.

“I couldn’t do anything without rituals. They invaded every aspect of my life. Counting really bogged me down. I would wash my hair three times as opposed to once because three was a good luck number and one wasn’t. It took me longer to read because I’d count the lines in a paragraph. When I set my alarm at night, I had to set it to a number that wouldn’t add up to a ‘bad’ number.”

“Getting dressed in the morning was tough, because I had a routine, and if I didn’t follow the routine, I’d get anxious and would have to get dressed again. I always worried that if I didn’t do something, my parents were going to die. I’d have these terrible thoughts of harming my parents. I knew that was completely irrational, but the thoughts triggered more anxiety and more senseless behavior. Because of the time I spent on rituals, I was unable to do a lot of things that were important to me.”

“I knew the rituals didn’t make sense, and I was deeply ashamed of them, but I couldn’t seem to overcome them until I got treatment.”

I was asked recently if I could take some sort of anxiety drug for my OCD “something like an inhaler” to help me come out of an episode. The answer for me is no. Thought medications work for some people. Some cases of OCD respond to antidepressants. But most cases are treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, something that I have not had. –Because my therapist is a trauma therapist and is more focused on trying to help me combat my PTSD—.

OCD is like my own personal demon on my back, constantly breathing in my ear, just waiting to jump in and take control. For some people, their demon is constantly talking, telling them irrational things, making them do irrational actions so that irrational imaginary things won’t happen. I don’t know why I have my OCD demon digging it’s claws into my back. I don’t know what it is that I am trying to avoid.

I know that part of it, the part that NEEDS the scalding water, it thinks that I am dirty and someday I might be able to wash my rapist off of me. It is irrational, but it is not something that I control. My rational mind knows that I am not dirty. My rational mind knows that I am not broken… The part of my demon that need things a certain way… I think that might me control.

When I was little—I’ve had OCD my whole life, it has just evolved as I have grown—I HAD to have my room a mess. I HAD to. I knew were everything was, I slept well, and I was happier. When my father cleaned my room, without fail—and I am not ashamed to admit this—I would wet the bed and had nightmares. This happened through the age of 4 or 5. . . After that, I just couldn’t really sleep and got really sick to my stomach.

One of my things was that I could not start something and not finish it; but not quite as simple as that. I would start a book and I couldn’t sleep until I finished it. I would get sick and anxious and agitated, and I would fidget, and I couldn’t pay attention… It got so bad on a couple different occasions that I was actually throwing up—off and on—until I could finish the book.

There are so many things that I used to do, and honestly, still do. I just won’t admit some of them here. I wish I had more control, but it is going to take me some time to figure out my triggers and find help getting past everything else. Maybe someday I will share more of my life with you all, though I am reluctant to share much of what I have experienced online.

However, if you are one of my close friends and would like to know more, you should know how to get a hold of me. Just ask.

Until next time.

~The Resident Femme~

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#9 Mental Illness – Part 4: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

(Read part one)
(Read part two)
(Read part three)

It’s hard to help people–who just don’t understand mental illness–to grasp what it is like to experience what someone with a mental illness goes through routinely. I am going to share some personal things, not just for those that do not understand mental illness at all, but also for those that I consider my friends. Some of the people that I care a lot about have said some hurtful things to me. Now, I know that they don’t mean them to be hurtful, but to them OCD is a joke of sorts.

I am both hurt and frustrated every time someone tells me “oh, next time your OCD acts up, come over to my house, it really needs to be cleaned.” Seriously? I know they don’t understand, and a lot of the time I will just try to laugh it off but…

Beads of sweat trickle down my spine. My heart races, pounding in my chest. Gotta wash, gotta wash, wash them, wash them, wash them. Dirty, dirty, dirty, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash. My thoughts are racing. I can’t breath. I can’t think. I try to fight the growing insanity. I can feel myself rocking, but I’m not there. I’m trapped in my head, just trying to find an escape from all of this… Do it, do it, do it, now, now, now, wash them, go,wash them, now, wash them.

Tears are flowing and hot water is burning my hands. I don’t remember moving, but I can’t stop now, I have no control. I’m shaking and crying. I am telling myself to stop, please stop. But I cannot. My head feels like it is exploding.

Wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash. Can’t stop. Want to stop. Need to stop. Wash, wash, wash. STOP!

Shaking. Crying. Shaking. Sobbing. Burning. Please. Stop. Please. Crying. Soap. Hot water. More soap. So much soap.

My hands keep foaming now, even when I keep rinsing and rinsing. The soap won’t get out of my skin. The bad won’t get out of my skin. Get out of my skin. Get out of my skin. Get out. Get out. Get out. Leave me alone. Help me. Someone help me. Help me, help me, help me, help me.

It hurts.

I tell myself repeatedly, I don’t need to wash. And my head responds: wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash…. Insanity. I fight. I lose. I fight. I lose. I fight. I lose. I fight. It hurts. I can’t win. Can’t, can’t, can’t. HELP ME!

In the past this is when her arms would wrap around me, pull me away and hold me tightly as I struggled incoherently to try and get back to the insanity. Wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash. Arms tight and loving, rocking, soothing. Come back home. Wash… wash… wash… Soft, warm, safe, home. Clearing, but still there. Anxiety throbbing through me.

It is a struggle to keep control. This isn’t the only type I suffered. But this is the most traumatic, the one that I had the least tangible control over. The last episode I had, I recorded part of it. I watched part of it in tears after and wondered, “why doesn’t anyone help her?” Well, because no one was there to. She had to fight for control. Breaking her mind into pieces to rip herself away from the burning pain. Nausea and fear. I ended up having to call the crisis line for my therapists office. They talked to me calmly for a while. Explained to me that my hand washing was a form of self-harm. NO SHIT! It’s not like I was doing it on purpose. I didn’t have control. I didn’t have any control.

Every time someone jokes about my OCD as a “clean freak” thing, it hurts. Please, please, PLEASE, do not ask me to clean your house under the pretenses of my OCD. OCD is very scary. Having to live through that fear even for a moment feels like hours. It is physically and emotionally draining.

When I complain about my OCD, it is not funny. I am not making a joke. When I am talking to someone else who has OCD, it is a breath so fresh air and the. Someone walks up and jokes about it, making both of us pull back into ourselves and stop connecting. Even then, some people with OCD do not understand Other types of OCD either.

And those of you that do not actually have OCD, but are just anal about things being clean, please top calling yourself OCD. If you don’t have the constant anxiety and fear and obsessive compulsions running through your head. You. Are. Not. And do not have OCD!

I have an intense fear of losing control. I have a fear of loss and a fear of contamination. These are not things that I can easily explain. I cannot clean my bathroom without gloves on. I cannot touch animal waste. I don’t try to, but I avoid situations that I think might put me in a place where I will be around people and have OCD issues. I feel insane and out of control.

I will not go into all the details of my OCD. If you would like to learn more about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder you can visit the following websites:

http://iocdf.org/about-ocd/
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml

I encourage you all to comment and discuss. If you want clarification, I am happy to talk to anyone about anything I have mentioned in this post.

The Resident Femme

(Read OCD Part 2)

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#6: Mental Illness – Part 2: The difference between “Emo” and Depression

(Read part one here)

As a life-long sufferer of dysthymia (chronic minor depression), I have experienced the phenomenon of being referred to as “emo”. My goal today is to explain the difference between “emo” (emotional) and depression.

These two terms are widely different, almost opposite.

Emo: the act of being overly emotional. Using “heightened” emotions as a possible way to find both positive and negative attention. This sort of behavior CAN stem from depression based on certain problems, but is generally just teen angst.

Being “emo”, one is generally fairly /active/. They—those that are considered “emo”—are fairly forward in their actions and behavior. Everything tends to be a melodramatic, over-exaggeration and over the top reactions. Everything is intensely one thing or another and there is never usually an in between. Everything could be considered a tragedy.

I will repeat: teen angst.

Depression, however, is much more complicated. Depressed is not the same as sad, or emotional. Sad is a specific emotion, and depression consists of … duller? emotions; sometimes a lack of proper emotions at all. There is a huge lack of motivation, energy, hope, etc. . . One is trapped in what seems to be an endless cycle of internal pain, confusion, hopelessness, and sometimes fear.

When people who are depressed “react” things are generally less dramatic, but more helpless. They are not fishing for attention, just feeling hopeless and lost. There are few people whom they will feel motivated to talk to, usually they won’t even let people know of their symptoms. These people tend to be quiet, reserved… And accused of being “emo”.

I speak from experience here, though my words may seem distanced. My depression has basically been my whole life. I didn’t really know that there was more than my lack of “normality”. I was diagnosed with Dysthymia February of 2014. I was sitting in the psychiatrist’s office and he asked me when my last happy memory was.  I couldn’t immediately pull up a happy memory. I sat and thought for a long while and still couldn’t really bring anything up.

Now, let me  go off for just a moment, not everyone understands depression. I have been told by several different people to just “get over” my depression. For some people, as I have mentioned in a previous post, depression hits as a “one off” thing. They have a passing down-ness and can get passed it rather quickly. However, every single person deals with life in a different way.

For one thing, our bodies are built differently. Balances of emotions, hormones, life experiences, and more, help to determine how we can handle our lives. So those that don’t understand the overwhelming control that depression takes over its sufferers should not criticize those that are there.

Now, to return to my story: The psychiatrist asked me several other questions and determined that I have dealt with chronic depression since early childhood. Though I didn’t want them, I was prescribed anti-depressants. My first couple days I felt very strange… I felt like something was wrong with me, and this was wrong.

Even now, if I want to remember something happy from my past, I have to think really hard for several minutes, and even then, the memories are short and vague.

In high school I was a little melodramatic, most of us are. However, I kept mostly to myself. I didn’t have many, if any, friends. Either I did not eat lunch or I ate alone. Typically I either sat in my class or reading in the library. I honestly kept to myself a lot of the time. I tended to wear darker colors because it was easier. Fewer decisions and bright colors got you noticed.

I was not, however, an over-the-top attention-seeker, not intentionally.

Taking this to the next step, I also have PTSD. The symptoms of this caused me to sometimes act out in strange ways, these could appear to some to be attention-seeking behavior. These actions were usually reactions to my anxiety, flashbacks, high stress levels, and trying to find ways to make the internal pain go away.

After I was raped, My behavior got more confusing. Brace yourself, this is where I get “crazy” though I am not supposed to use that word… in the raw sense of the word, at the time, it was true.

My logical self didn’t know how to make sense of what had happened to me. My OCD intensified. I was “dirty”, I was “broken”, I was… those were thought of a self-punishing, PTSD-triggered OCD, Dysthymic, scared woman.

I was alone for the first time, living in a freshman dorm, and for a long time I was “that strange girl” (honestly I have been that girl all through my school career, because I didn’t know why I acted the way I did. I own it now and thrive off of my differences.) It took me overly-long to admit to myself that I wasn’t at fault. Sadly I kept my secret for several months more, wondering why no-one liked me, why I wouldn’t make friends.

One night, a hall-mate burst into my room while I was crying and demanded that I talk to her. Bless her heart. I finally had a support. My story flowed out of me through broken memories that couldn’t have made much sense to her, but she pulled me into her arms, held me while sobs racked my small body. She repeated to me again and again that it wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t broken. I wasn’t dirty. I was strong, and beautiful, and confused. It was the first time I had gotten so much out and I had gotten love in response.

She gave few enough details to others in the hall that she considered close friends, just enough for them to understand why I was so “strange” but not enough for anyone to have any ammo to judge me. I honestly don’t know what she told them, but suddenly I had friends. Over the next few days I was approached by different people insisting that if he ever showed up to the school, they would tear him apart.

For the first time in my life I felt accepted, welcomed, protected, by friends. I think I have gone off on a tangent. The point of all of that was to attempt to give you an insight into how I lived with my depression. Understand that even now: I struggle with my depression every day. I have a combination of both therapy and anti-depressants… but that doesn’t make me weak. Even though I am still fighting my depression, I am not a lesser person I am still fighting. I am strong.

The most important thing to understand: depression is an illness and it cannot change overnight. Those with depression need support and love. Do what you can to try and make their day a brighter one by being supportive. KNOW that they may not have a different attitude that day, but know that they felt your love. I know that it’s a tiring process. Trust me: I know. But do not doubt that they are also tired of being depressed. If we could change at the drop of a hat, we would.

If you yourself, or someone that you know, has issues understanding depression or how depression affects others, and this post did not help, I urge you to read or share part 1 of the mental health series. Thank you.

I encourage you to comment: agree or disagree with me. I will try to explain everything in a scientific way if needed.

Thank you.

(Read part three)

The Resident Femme

*Note: I may not be a medical professional, but I have lived with depression my entire life.

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#5 Mental Illness—Part One

This specific post was originally written in June of 2014.

I am just going to come right out and say it: Everyone has issues. Not everyone’s issues are of the same caliber. Some people only deal with mental illness once in a rare while, maybe it’s a wave of depression, a really anxiously lived day, a random moment of insanity. . . But there are those whose lives are controlled by Mental Illness.

Mental Illness Is not an attempt at attention, and some people deal with similar situations in different ways. Some people take the pain inside and it festers. It turns into a black poison that tears their soul apart. THIS DOES NOT MAKE THEM WEAK! This means that they are dealing with this pain again and again every day until they learn how to work past it. This makes them strong.

It may seem hard for some to realize this; however, I read something on my Facebook yesterday that I would like to share with you all.

“I don’t like the phrase ‘A Cry For Help’. I just don’t like how it sounds. When somebody says to me

‘I’m thinking about suicide, I have a plan; I just need a reason not to do it, ‘ the last thing I see is helplessness.

“I think: Your depression has been beating you up for years. It’s called you ugly, and stupid, and pathetic, and a failure, for so long that you’ve forgotten that it’s wrong. You don’t see any good in yourself, and you don’t have any hope.

”But still, here you are; You’ve come over to me, banged on my door, and said: ‘Hey! Staying alive is REALLY HARD right now! Just give me something to fight with! I don’t care if it’s a stick! Give me a stick and I can stay alive!’

“How is that helpless? I think that’s incredible. You’re like a Marine: trapped for years behind enemy lines, your gun has been taken away, you’re out of ammo, you’re malnourished, and you’ve probably caught some kind of jungle virus that’s making you hallucinate giant spiders.

“And you’re still just going: ‘Give me a stick. I’m NOT dying out here!’

“ ‘A cry for help’ Makes it sound like I’m supposed to take pity on you. But you don’t need my pity. This isn’t pathetic. This is the will to survive. This is how humans lived long enough to become the dominant species.

“With NO hope, running on NOTHING, you’re ready to cut through a hundred miles of hostile jungle with nothing but a stick, if that’s what it takes to get to safety.
“All I’m doing is handing out sticks. You’re the one staying alive.”

I read this and cried. It is a very true thing for most people. It is a constant struggle to feel normal while trying to live with the world around you

I personally have PTSD, OCD, Conversion Disorder, and Dysthymia. I have been living with consistent anxiety and depression: pretty much my whole life.

I have finally gotten to the point where I was able to accept that I needed to seek help and my current agreement with my therapist is that I will not currently discuss what has caused my issues. Yet. I can let people know that I have the issues, but it is not healthy for me to tell anyone details as to why or what happened.

What I will say is that I have three major things that happened to cause the PTSD, things that I need to figure out how to work through so that I am no longer afraid of the world around me. I sometimes feel like it has been forever. I honestly had no real idea what happiness was even supposed to feel like. I was started on anti-depressants and I remember telling a friend: “I feel like I am malfunctioning. I am glitching and I need to be sent in for repairs.” I did not feel like how I knew myself to be for so long. I was finally being pulled out of my depression and being put into a healthier mental cycle and it felt WRONG.

It should never feel WRONG to feel enjoyment in your own life.

For a very long time I believed that I did not matter. Everyone and everything came before my needs. Because of this way of thinking, I became very sick. I was in a situation where I was living in pure anxiety for several weeks on end. I could not eat, I could not sleep, I couldn’t take notice in myself or anything around me. I was close to 130lbs and I lost almost 30lbs in 2-4 weeks. I was had already had stomach issues and could hardly keep anything down, and now I wasn’t eating.

My moods got worse and I continued to fall deeper and deeper into both mental and physical illness. It has been almost a year and I am still working on getting my stomach back to the size it was before. I have to forcefully remind myself that I have to eat at least three meals a day. (I have alarms on my phone for crying out loud!)

I do not know how to explain how my life is to people. I need the medication I am on right now to survive. They are keeping me in a place where I can value myself and not let myself be buried deeper and deeper in other people’s crap.
I was told in sixth grade that my only weakness was that I cared too much about others and not enough about myself. She never saw me as a broken human, she always saw me as a whole, beautiful, human being that was helping people so much I was hurting myself. It took me a long time and many people repeating these same words for me to understand what they meant.

My life is helping others, but if I do not take the time for me first, then I will not survive. I will wither away and die—literally.

Mental Illness is not something to be taken lightly. If you know someone who struggles with any at all: (Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, Schizophrenia, Anorexia, or one of many other mental disorders, etc.) Please be a support to them.

It is a mistake to accuse them of acting out for attention. In most cases, people are not trying to get you to see them, they are trying to follow what their brain is telling them to do. They hurt and they are afraid. Offer love and a kind shoulder. Offer healthy activities and just be a friend. I know that when I had the loss of friends around me, life got a lot worse. I had nowhere to turn, and so when I needed people and support the most… I locked myself away.

Now that I have friends in my life, people that are willing to sit and help me through my downs… I find myself still having issues with reaching out. It was impossible for so long that it is hard for me to ask for help now.

To my friends: Please understand that I am not trying to hurt you if I start to push you away. It is a safety mechanism. I am afraid. I know that I am hurting and that I do not want to end up hurting you with the $#!+ that I am going through. Sometimes it’s for the best to insist on being in my life, on MAKING ME get out of the house and distract me from what I have been dwelling on. ASK  me if I am working on my senses—hell you don’t even need to know what it means! Just know that it is important to my mental health right now. Ask me if I am alright and if I need some time to breath. Ask me to be a friend, because even if I am not reaching out for it… I need friends more than I ever knew I did.

This kind of turned into a strange rant about mental health. I hope that this post helps people understand that mental illness is not an act. LOVE THE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE WHO HAVE THESE ISSUES. (Also, do not take possible mean things personally; we learn that to survive, it may be safer to be alone. Usually we do not realize that we are pushing/have pushed people away until it is too late.)

(Read Part 2)

~A Girl on the Edge of the Wild~

AKA
The Resident Femme

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#3: Living a lie

When I got married, I thought that I was going to be happy for many years to come. I didn’t expect to have my marriage removed from record eight months later. My wife and I had been together for over three years. It felt like an eternity and I couldn’t love her any more than I did.

Now… I feel that my situation is somewhat unique, or at least I haven’t heard of anyone else being in this situation. And finally telling the story is really hard. It is almost as hard as it was to finally tell about what really happened when I was raped. But I digress… This isn’t something that I have been able to easily share with just anyone, hell, usually I just lie about the situation all together. I don’t want the pity and I also don’t want the non-understanding judgement.

When I first met my wife, I had no idea that she was so amazing and unique. Our first several months were amazing, we were glued to each others sides as often as we could be. Eventually I found out about her “secret” I never thought it was abnormal at all, I thought it made her more interesting. My wife felt like she was both female and male. Half of each gender. And yet, I still loved her.

As a Lesbian, I don’t know how to love a man. I tried for several years, before coming out, to convince myself that I was straight. I struggled with accepting myself or even the idea that I could be different. I was raised Mormon in Utah. I didn’t even know that it was possible to be different.

My first girlfriend was exciting, new, different, and a wild ride. She is a good person, and I don’t regret the time that we spent together. She is a great friend now, and one of the few people who understand my situation.. Hell, she understood before I did what was really going on.

The first year I spent with my wife was amazing, new relationships generally are. We had adventures and fell deeper and deeper in love with each other. Life was the best that it had been.

Like everyone, we had our bumps. We had arguments and fights, but nothing huge. We shared many experiences and met many friends together. And still, I didn’t see anything amiss. Anything abnormal was brushed aside. And we continued to care for each other.

Several months into year two something strange happened. My wife wasn’t acting like herself. She was very down and nothing I did could cheer her up. I cuddled her in the guest bed–where she had curled herself up–until I got too nauseated and had to go lay in our own bed. (I had been sick). Later–I don’t know how long–She came in and laid behind me. She wrapped her arms around me and kissed my shoulder. She whispered to me: “I love you so much, I just had to hold you.” Something felt wrong. Time seemed to stop for a moment as her arms tightened around me and then released. She sat up and said quietly, “I don’t think we can be together anymore.”

I couldn’t breath. I watched as the woman I loved walked out of our apartment. I didn’t comprehend what had happened at first, and then when I did I panicked. I couldn’t think and I am sure that several people were upset with what happened that night. Most of it, I don’t remember. I was crying in the shower–burning hot water–until it became ice. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think. My cat became worried and also agitated. He couldn’t understand why his mommy was acting so oddly.

Our cat was to be neutered in the morning, and part of me was afraid that she would come while I was sleeping and take him and never come back. I wasn’t thinking rationally, I couldn’t.

When she showed up to get the cat the next day I insisted on going too. I couldn’t really talk, so I made comments about the cat, he was afraid.

I cannot say that I was proud of the behavior that I exhibited when we got home. Some part of me was deliriously desperate. How could I make her stay? I actually tried to use sex to make her change her mind. She took advantage of it, but still wouldn’t tell me why things had happened. We worked out an arrangement of both of us staying in our bed together.. but separate. (we had something separating the bed in half).

I became lost. Now, the details of what happened in the couple of months that we were separated are not pretty, but I am not trying to make myself seem like a better person and I am not trying to make her seem worse in any way. I am just trying to get the truth as I remember it out. I am not the same person that I was, I have grown, and She isn’t the same person either…

Things happened that are kind of blurred together. But, near thanksgiving or Christmas she finally talked to me. She had been feeling apathetic. She had not been experiencing any emotion at all and didn’t know if she ever would again. So she had broken up with me so that I could eventually find someone that would give me the love that I deserved. A few days later she came to me crying and said that she wanted to try to make things work. She felt something, but she didn’t know what yet… No promises.

For a long time I forgot this time, my mind blocked it out and it was like it had never happened, we were together again. Nothing else mattered.

Life seemed to return to normal. We lived, mostly happily, together with our cat. And I still didn’t notice anything strange going on.

I started a new job in the new year and was excited to be helping again with life… And then I didn’t know what was happening. I woke up one morning in pain, I couldn’t breath, I thought maybe I had to use the toilet, but collapsed on my way to the bathroom. I lay on the floor crying. My wife helped me back into bed and tried to help me throughout the day.

The second day wasn’t as simple. The pain had not gone away. I was hurting in my abdomen and I was starting to get scared. It hurt so bad that I was throwing up. My wife got frustrated and accused me of pretending to be sick so that I wouldn’t have to go to work. This behavior was strange, but I didn’t notice. I was in too much pain to care what she was saying. Eventually I begged to be taken to the hospital.

The doctor ran blood tests, urine tests, imaging… My wife had to go and help some friends while I was waiting for results. I told her that I would be fine waiting. I was a cupcake (*note: they had pushed my morphine too fast and I was high), and everything was good for a while. Until I heard the doctor talking to someone out in the hallway in hushed tones. “growth…more tests…centimeters….”

Now, I am going to tell you now that during this time of my life panic came easily. I had a hard time keeping up with rational thought. I was young and had lived a life that was not a great environment for emotional growth… So I immediately thought I had cancer. I didn’t tell her. I held my phone in shaky hands for a long time, but I didn’t text her, I didn’t call her. I couldn’t do it.

She got back just in time for the doctor to come in and tell us that he was going to order more tests–confirming that he was, in fact, talking about me in the hall. I made a passing remark to my significant other and pretended, unsuccessfully, that it didn’t bother me. I was going in for a pelvic (vaginal) ultrasound.

My wife stopped thinking that I was faking it. She held my hand and gave me words of love and support. We waited for a long time for the doctor to come back and talk to us. It wasn’t cancer, but it wasn’t relieving. Cysts. I had large ovarian cysts on both the inside and outside of my ovaries. They believed that one (or several) had burst and caused the pain. I was given a prescription for narcotics and sent home.

Because of the missed work days from being home sick and hospital trips, I was fired from my job. My wife was upset and insisted that I find another job. I started work a month later as a retail representative. I enjoyed it. It got me out of the house and driving around new areas getting good work done. I could schedule several jobs in the week and get decent pay. It was fantastic.

I did this job until a family emergency came up at the end of that September. I had to put my job on hold and fly from Virginia out to Utah with little notice. My savings went to the trip. I had to be there for my family.

Now, before I went my wife had agree’d that I should go. It was an emergency after all. But, after I was there she was mad at me. I didn’t understand how she could go from understanding one minute to infuriated the next. Again, I ignored what was going on and put it up to just being loneliness because I was gone.

But things didn’t really get back to normal. While I was gone she had skipped work. The apartment was a wreck. And she was not acting like herself. Every little thing started to become a fight. Strange things started to happen. One day she started yelling at me about dishes and I couldn’t take it any more. I had too much stress on me. So I let my OCD take over. I tuned her out and started to count and organize cards.

Eventually she stopped yelling and was loading the dishwasher, but I didn’t know. I was hyper-focused. She went to do something else and came back to talk to me. But I couldn’t hear her, I was still in the cards. And then she was poking me in the arm, again and again like a child. I was still frustrated and hurt when I turned to her, fixed her with a glare and asked what she wanted.

She was confused. She didn’t know why I was upset, she didn’t remember fighting, she didn’t remember doing the dishes, she was just confused. To her, I was being strange because everything was fine to her. I started to worry.

Then she started to have blackouts. They would happen all the time and usually she wouldn’t believe what happened during them. Sometimes they were like she was gone, and for a while we thought that she had something called “Absence Seizures”. But then she would do things and not remember any of it. She would tap her hands in the air, talk to herself, get aggressive…

Then the hallucinations came. She would tell me about the man that watched her from the end of the bed, and the seagulls that were in our bathroom. She couldn’t remember when we had sex or that she would get violent. One night I had to pin her down and cried as she told me about the people in the walls that were coming for her. But she never remembered or believed me… So I stopped telling her.

I didn’t know what was happening and I didn’t know what to do. I tried to talk to her about hospitals a couple times and she would get angry. I started to get scared, but I told no one. I didn’t tell me when she would black out and start to choke me during sex. I didn’t tell her when she threw me against the wall. I didn’t tell her when she talked about pealing my skin off. Those things weren’t important.

Everything in my life was put on the back burner because taking care of her was priority. One night everything changed. She was gone. I saw insanity staring out at me from behind her eyes. The look was so intense. She pinned me to the bed and laughed(she was much stronger than me, especially during episodes). She told me that nothing mattered anymore. That money meant nothing. She tried to convince me that we should run away to Florida, buy a last-minute cruise ticket and have the time of our lives. Then she grinned and I shook in fear. “And then,” She said “When we get back, I’ll kill you.” Her nails dug into my wrists. “And then I will kill myself. It will be so fun.”

I fought. I got an arm away and struggled to reach my phone. It was taken by her and thrown across the room. I rolled and curled into a ball over my tablet and shakily wrote out the email that changed my life forever. I told the one person that I trusted 100% what had just happened. I couldn’t censor, I was too scared. I cried as my wife tried to turn me over. When I finished the email, I shoved my tablet under the pillow and turned back over and just wrapped my arms around her, begging her to come back to me.

When she came to she didn’t know why I was crying. When I tried to tell her she wouldn’t listen. I MUST have been making it up. She turned her eyes away when I showed her the marks on my wrists. “But I’d never hurt you.”

Within all of that, we got married. We had traveled up to DC and made it official in March 2013. By May things had gotten scary and only one person knew. I got a few emails from my friend asking me why I was in such a dangerous situation, to get out while I could… But I didn’t know how. I NEEDED to take care of my wife.

And I didn’t know that I could ask for help.

My wife attempted suicide July 6th, 2013. My life was a living hell. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I was living in pure anxiety. There was no control and I was scared about what was happening. I should have known, I should have done something more, I should have saved her, I should have…, I should have…, I should have…

To me, it was all my fault. I should have seen the schizophrenia and done something more. I knew it was there, didn’t I?

Everything went down hill from there. She was convinced that I was abusive and left me to go back to parents that didn’t love her. Her female half had long since died and she had decided that it was time to transition into a man. HIS parents disowned him. They said that their child was dead, which wasn’t true. Their child was still there, but their daughter was gone.

Over the years that I spent with him/her I watched the woman I loved slowly disappear. It didn’t register directly of course. Yeah, I guess I noticed that I was more unhappy and that we had more fights… She had become aggressive and abusive, but I didn’t see it clearly.

I ignored all of that. Some part of me had known that something was wrong. That she wasn’t there and that I had to take care of her. Maybe some part of me thought that I could bring the woman that I loved with everything I was back.

I pushed myself very hard. Everything was put on the back burner except taking care of her and trying to make her happy. I got very sick and as time went on, I got sicker… And still, I struggled to help her find her stability.

I didn’t realize how afraid I was of this person that I no longer knew until the day I sent the email. I didn’t realize until then that the woman I loved was gone completely. Forever. The woman that I loved, was dead. And my heart, soul, and sanity were shattered by a very, very sick man. All that was left of the shell of my love was the half that I didn’t know how to love.

And this is so hard because the physical body still exists, but the person does not.

And to some people I come across as ignorant because all people see is the facade. The frustration that I had with the male part of this equation. In the end, wife became a man.

I am left with the confusing feelings of morning the loss of a friend and lover–because my wife really is dead, she will never be back. And having to deal with the male half still existing, the body of my love still walks in this world and it hurts, and it’s confusing. I don’t love who the body is, but the person that was in it.

And still, people aren’t going to understand what I mean. I fully support the transition and hope that my ex can find happiness. I really truly do. but they are different people, my wife and this man that is now there.

It has been a year and a half and I still miss my wife. When things were good, she was amazing. I just hope that with all of this people can understand that what I am going through isn’t a “break up” but a mourning.

I will probably never stop missing her. I will never fully heal from the loss. But I have moved past the point where I struggle and fight with the confusion. I know that she is gone. Just… Please try not to judge me when I get emotional about it. My situation is not mundane. It’s complicated… and I can’t keep living a lie.

~Luna

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