Awareness, Mental Health Blogs, Personal Blogs

What It’s Like To Be With Someone Who Has OCD/ What it’s Like To Be With Someone Who Doesn’t!

It’s no secret that I have OCD nor am I ashamed of it or embarrassed. I actually have, over time, loved having OCD. Why? You may ask; It gives me some peace of mind when I am able to get things done such as the ironing, having a clean washed sofa or a freshly cleaned floor. It gives me real satisfaction emotionally. When people use the phrase “I’m bored of waiting it’s like watching paint dry”, I literally could sit and stare at a freshly painted wall and have so much peace and happiness. It’s not something easily explained but it feels great looking at something that’s so fresh and clean.

One thing I do wonder however, is what it is like being in a relationship with someone who has OCD. I have never discussed this with my partner before. I sit here on the sofa whilst he is gaming and I am watching The Notebook on Netflix and away to ask him what it is like for him. Hopefully it’s not all bad answers!

“How do you find it with me having OCD?”

“Honestly, it doesn’t really bother me. Sometimes it can be frustrating when I help to do things when I’m over e.g hanging out the washing- you like it a certain way and I always forget and you take it all down and hang it all up again.”

“Or when I do the dishes in the sink and you hate dishes being done in the sink and like them done in a basin so I have to take them all out and put them in a basin otherwise you get really unwell.”

“But really it isn’t so bad. The house always looks so clean and tidy except when you are more ill some days and infections, the Crohn’s Flare or fatigue makes it hard for you to even walk, but even then it’s never bad.”

I think I’m quite glad that my partner isn’t too badly affected by my OCD however being with someone who doesn’t have OCD can be extremely difficult for me;

I have to do things a certain way and in routine. Certain days for certain things. If I’m unable to do things I get extremely stressed or if I’m really unwell the littlest of mess will aggravate me and I get really moody and stressy!! I find it infuriating with myself that because things have to be done a certain way that when my partner does help me that if it isn’t done my way then I have to feel the need to correct him and re do it. I get annoyed at myself.

Sometimes I have had panic attacks because my anxiety kicks in from the OCD and the days I feel like I’ve failed to do even the simplest of tasks. Many days I get so caught up in cleaning that I make myself unwell for days because I try to get as much done as I can to the point where I’m crawling and crippled by pain- baring in mind that even doing a load of washing and then taking it out or hanging it up causes me extreme pain.

I always make sure to de weed the garden when it needs done and I do my best to make my garden pretty so if I need air from being sick or feeling sick that is relaxing and helps me calm down. But again my OCD makes me seriously ill and unable to cope with the pain I have most days that even finding a cigarette tab in my garden sends me into a fluster. At the moment I am constantly finding them littered in my garden and I spent 30 minutes just picking them all up a few days ago resulting in me not being able to cope with the pain and I’ve lost sleep. Over the past few days I’ve had around 11 hours of sleep possibly even less, meaning each day is a real struggle with pain being intensified by fatigue which then brings on sickness.

When I do have panic/anxiety attacks triggered by OCD or not I have extreme insomnia that can last for days sometimes weeks. So it is a vicious circle if it isn’t a good spell of OCD. I think that, really, the best thing is knowing other people who have OCD. So many of us mostly suffer from the mental health condition but I also believe that it brings great joy to people’s lives too. It’s a love hate condition and I found that accepting it and dealing with it each day was a much better option for me rather than continuing antidepressants. Due to suffering from anxiety and depression over the years, I have been on many and the only time I have benefited from them was when I was in a bad depression which led me to self harm. I’ve been free of that dark place for just little over a year now too which I think OCD has helped me out of on top of the treatment.

If I could sum up OCD I would say it’s taking the good from a bad situation and taking the bad from a good situation- there are always going to be pro’s and con’s. You can’t always garuntee it to be a good day but you can try to deal with as best as you can.

Awareness, Chronic Illness Blogs, Mental Health Blogs, Personal Blogs

IBD – Pregnancy/Termination

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Hey everyone! The past few months as people know have been pretty difficult for me as i have been battling with my Crohn’s Disease, Bechets Disease, Ileostomy Blockages, Arthritis, Sciatica and then obviously with pain and anxiety. About 3 weeks ago i found out after going to A+E with terrible pain (after finding out a few days before that i have a hernia), that i was pregnant. They thought it was an Ectopic Pregnancy and i was told to make my way to Aberdeen Maternity Hospital for an internal Ultra Sound Scan, blood tests and examination. I arrived around 11pm at night and then returned home around 5am after they confirmed it was not an Ectopic Pregnancy and i was in fact 6 weeks. They also confirmed that i was very ill with my Crohn’s Disease etc and we debated whether i was well enough to continue the pregnancy. I spoke to my GP and then i also spoke to a Gynaecologist who works at Aberdeen Health Village and we all decided that i was too poorly to continue as i was in so much pain, losing weight and being very sick and that continuing could be very risky for me as i have miscarried 3 times before hand and the risks to the baby and myself. Obviously it’s something i discussed with my partner first and then we both discussed it with my mum and she also felt that my health was to come first and that it was important to make the right decision.

Now obviously many know that my consultant and surgeon both told me i would never be able to get pregnant so this came as quite a shock for me mostly. My care has been terrible to say the least but that’s for another day as i would really like to help other women who may be in the situation i was in or who have been told they cannot get pregnant, before i go into that i would like to explain the procedure in case it is something that you may opt for one day for either the same reasons or simply because pregnancy isn’t for you. There are many choices that they give you in a booklet for Termination and it’s important to read them all before seeing a nurse or midwife etc, so that you can ask any questions when you see them and discuss the options with them to make sure it’s the best one for you. I chose the last option which is Surgical Termination;

Dilatation and evacuation (D&E)

Used from around 15 weeks of pregnancy. It involves inserting special instruments called forceps through the cervix and into the womb to remove the pregnancy.

The cervix is gently dilated for several hours or up to a day before the surgery to allow the forceps to be inserted.

D&E is carried out with conscious sedation or general anaesthetic. It normally takes about 10 to 20 minutes and you might be able to go home the same day.

I arrived for my appointment time to the ward at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary at 11:00am where i was admitted and asked the normal questions about allergies, alcohol intake, smoker or non smoker (happy to say i’ve been stopped smoking for almost 3 weeks now!) and about your next of kin. I was given a gown, some pain killers, an anti sickness melt and then the tablets that soften your womb for the operation which i had to put under my tongue. They had no horrible taste and looked like two little pentagon shaped white tablets so nothing big or scary or fowl tasting, if you suffer from sickness from bad tastes (which is reassuring for you.) The tablet takes about 20 minutes to work and whether you bleed straight away, hours later or not at all is all person dependant. For me, i didn’t bleed until between 2-5pm in the afternoon, i passed a little when i went to pass urine but only a little. The doctor then came to see me who was doing the procedure before the Anaesthetist just to confirm i was still giving my consent and that my own surgeon also wanted to come down and do some examinations and surgery if required and if i was also ok to give my consent to that too, in which i said yes and signed the form. She also explained to my mum and partner what happens in the procedure, how long it takes and the recovery and what to expect afterwards. We also decided for me to have the implant put into my arm to prevent this happening again. I have to say we really appreciated talking with her and i cannot thank her enough for being so kind and looking after me. The Anesthetist came to see me not long afterwards and she too was lovely, and continued to use the plan i had made with the pre op assessment nurse back in April for my original surgery with my surgeon, which was to kick start me to sleep with the gas before popping a cannula in to put through the General Anaesthetic.

At 5pm just before i was taken to theatre (after being wrapped up in a heated blanket as i was really cold all day and my veins weren’t coming up at all!), i went to the toilet as they asked me if i needed to go before hand and i started to pass large blood clots and bled on the floor and pretty much everywhere, but it wasn’t any more sore than a heavy period. In Theatre, the Anaesthetist popped me to sleep by the mask and got a cannula in my right wrist, which wasn’t sore at all when i woke up with it! She described my veins as “like a babies veins, so incredibly tiny!” which i expected as they have been getting worse over time with the Vasculitis (Bechet’s.) When i woke up in recovery, i was given 4 different types of antisickness through IV, pain killers and fluids which was great as i was really dehydrated from being sick the two days previous and being NBM all day. The nurses were great and explained everything to me as soon as was ‘with it’ and that the termination was successful however my surgeon had done two other surgeries in the time i was asleep and that the wound i have, had been flushed out, scraped, examined with forceps and refashioned and the same with my fistula which in his words was “absolutely huge” and he couldn’t manage to fit a seton stitch in there (A seton is a piece of surgical thread that is left in the fistula for several weeks to keep it open. This allows it to drain and helps it heal. Loose setons allow fistulas to drain, but don’t cure them.) I had a big dressing in my wound which was extremely painful i couldn’t move from the trolley to my bed, they used a slide sheet and i had to get help to the toilet. When i sat on the toilet i just passed lots of blood which was horrible and quite painful from my lady parts, but this time i did have some pelvic pain a bit worse than periods which faded after a while.

I was offered something to eat and drink but i wasn’t hungry at all so i had a cup of tea which the nurse made PERFECT, which if anyone knows me is a rare statement from me! lol. Another more senior nurse came to see me and said that my surgeon was supposed to come and speak to me about everything and the future plan but all she knew was that the fistula needed another operation at some point. He didn’t show which i expected to happen late on a friday evening, instead another surgical professional came to see me and had said that she would get day staff on Saturday morning to make sure a letter is sent to my GP for future plan and popped onto my discharge letter that if i required more pain relief that they were to give me an injection at my local (due to complications i can’t have oral strong pain relief!)

So the point of me writing about this journey i have went through?;

I want to help other women out there who have been told they cannot have children from a health professional, without having a Fertility Test first to confirm this. As if it is only told to you or someone you know verbally then it is a simple state of opinion and not fact! If you also suffer from irregular periods, that also doesn’t mean that you can’t get pregnant so please be aware of this too! This journey has been very traumatic for me and my anxiety has been terrible and physically it’s made me very, very ill. If you are reading this and you have been told you cannot get pregnant PLEASE ask for a fertility test to be 100% on this before having any physical contact with someone without contraception. I also strongly recommend that you talk to someone about a preventative if you don’t want to get pregnant or if you haven’t had a fertility test to stand by being told verbally that it isn’t possible. Talking to a GP or your nearest Sexual Health Clinic (which you can search your nearest one by clicking the link) will really help you know which one is best for you. The only option i had was the implant due to medical problems, which may be different for you! I would also like to state that any information used via links in this blog is directly from the NHS website only, which is here if you need help with searching anything medical.

I really hope this can help someone from ever getting into the situation i was in and also to help people understand the importance between fact and fiction.

-Alannah.

Awareness, Chronic Illness Blogs, Mental Health Blogs

Serotonin Levels Linked to Mental Health and Fibromyalgia?

I’ve been doing a lot of research on chemicals in the brain whilst I can’t sleep tonight/this morning and have discovered that many of us with Fibromyalgia and OCD/Anxiety can suffer from Serotonin Defiency. It sounds daft as obviously that’s known to link with a drug known as MDMA (which is very dangerous.)
Serotonin is a chemical that your body produces that’s needed for your nerve cells and brain to function normally. Severe cases report fever and seizures and can be fatal if not treated in time.

So it does seem to play a part especially in absorption issues, mental health and obsessive compulsions, insomnia, cravings for sweet and starchy foods, irritability/loss of the feeling of joy and hormone issues/imbalances. Many also experience migraines that can last a few days.

It’s best to get these levels up naturally just by doing what comes natural to you like walking or being in the sunlight more (if you aren’t on any medication such as Humira or Azothioprine/Mecaptipurine.) Diet wise having eggs, cheese, nuts, Turkey and salmon can help too but do bare in mind if you are lactose intolerant that the dairy part may not work for you, the same as fish allergies like myself! Lastly de-stressing plays a rather large factor and is pretty important.

When you think about it, not much is needed to keep these chemicals balanced. However it may not be as easy if you have hormone issues etc. From what I know best is that balanced serotonin levels keep you calm, happy and at peace and as someone who suffers from anxiety and having many of the symptoms it’s definitely something I will be talking to my health care team about.

I am never one of these people to deny or hide my past from people and I definitely think that due to bad lifestyle choices when I was younger, they may have contributed to it. Recreational drugs really are no laughing matter! It is becoming more and more dangerous with levels being the highest since 1990 and deaths from this is happening more often.

So if you suffer from any of the above or have made poor life style choices, have a think and see if this can benefit you (which I hope it can) and if you notice any difference then you know you made a good choice!

Awareness, Mental Health Blogs

OCD- It isn’t Just What You See On TV!

I want to talk about a mental health condition that affects many people, ill or healthy. Along side many sufferers Anxiety Disorder likes to keep the OCD company, which is fab right? I mean, it must be great to have a lovely clean home and have everything neat and perfect? WRONG.

So what is OCD?

OCD is the short-term for Obsessive compulsive disorder; it causes unwanted thoughts of obsession that you don’t want and the urge to do things over (which is different for each person.) It causes stress when there is simply a dirty cup on the table or a few dishes on the counter.  However no matter how much cleaning that your urges get you to do, the relief is only temporary from it and you constantly look for other things to clean or look better. You also have fears that never leave you… that everything will hurt you or you will hurt someone or something. You live in fear that things have germs and are contaminated which makes you feel dirty. It also makes things look different and certain things must be facing a certain way when to everyone else it looks fine. It also makes sufferers wash their hands more than needed, hoarding, constantly asking for reassurance and avoiding certain places, people, foods, smells and conversations that can cause obsessive thoughts to clean or get rid of germs.

How do you develop OCD? 

People can develop OCD from family history/events, if someone else in the family has it- it is passed through genes, if they have been abused or bullied, been neglected, if they have high standards, have moderate anxiety and if they are independent.

There are also links to OCD such as Depression, Eating Disorders, Hoarding Disorder and Anxiety Disorders.

For me it’s all about routine each day and every week. So i plan times and days when i will clean certain things and certain rooms, the days when i wash my hair and when i strip and wash my bed and anything i can think of to make them ‘cleaner‘ even though they are already clean. Each day  wake up and i have to do certain things so my routine isn’t broken. When my routine gets broken i am stressed and i panic, which friggin sucks! I also shower the dogs once a week on the same day and wash all their bedding, toys and blankets. I also feel extremely uncomfortable with odd numbers on the volume bar on my tv and radio channels etc (pretty weird huh?)

I asked friends and family who are affected, how OCD affects them to see how different it is for each person. These are the answers:

Person1:

My OCD get’s much worse on days where I am in pain with my back (which is most days), as i also suffer from Degenerative Disc Disease, Fibromyalgia, severe Anxiety Disorder and Depression. Every morning when I wake up, I start my day with struggling to get out of bed due to my back condition which then triggers my thoughts of mess and everything not being in order and i become anxious before the day has even begun. For me my OCD affects my obsession to hoard things or I simply can’t throw away certain things. I obsess over books which for example i may read over and over again. Food that’s kept in the cupboard has to be facing all the same way, which can cause me to be stressed and dampens my day so to speak.

Person 2:

My OCD drives me fucking insane. The thoughts of the worst case scenario are constantly there in my mind and the habits of checking everything in case it goes wrong. By insane, I mean that it just comes out in pure anger and stress when the triggers are that constant and my mind won’t stop…You know full well you have checked the window and the locks 74,0000 times but the overwhelming obsessions and urges make me check again and again in case something bad happens. It’s fucking exhausting.

Person3:

My experience with OCD was around 25 years ago. It was completely exhausting due to doing everything over and over so many times that it took over my life. Firstly, it started with turning the lights on and off many times before I’d leave them alone. Any slight click that sounded different would have me doing it over and over again. It was the same with locking the door.. pushing and pulling over and over checking it was locked which often led me to missing my bus. Doing the washing was a nightmare, if I dropped a sock when taking the clothes out of the machine I’d put the whole load back in again and I ended up taking hours of that day to do a couple of loads! Cooking took forever too,  I was paranoid about food hygiene. Many times I’ve thrown away a whole chicken because after putting it in the oven I panicked in case I hadn’t defrosted it enough or was still raw. In my head I thought I was going to do something that would harm my family but I have no idea why it started. The OCD lingered for around two years before it slowly eased and although I still worry about light switches and locking the doors I would say I no longer suffer from OCD.

Person 4:

My son suffers from OCD and it affects him bad at the moment. At first he used to do things a couple of times a day such as switching a light on and off, washing his hands, showering and making sure the volume number on the TV wasn’t on an odd number. He counts quite frequently with certain things when doing daily activities and if he doesn’t do the certain number of things, he then ends up with really bad abdominal pain. If he is going out the house he puts approximately 10 socks out on bed and he feels them to decide which he wants to wear.

Person 5:

I find my OCD is different in many ways.. First thing I HAVE to do is go toilet, sort out my Ileostomy and brush my teeth/use mouth wash and blow my nose every morning. I find I get extremely irritable if i see dust, little bits of fluff or hair on the floor, it may even be one bit but that’ll make me want to hoover the entire house using the nozzle to go around the edges. I then go around hoovering everything I can see, sofas ( as they’re fabric) then i polish everything in sight, bleach the bathroom and downstairs toilet multiple times a day along with the kitchen. After me and my husband have a shower/bath. i then clean the bathroom and even hoover, so no little bits of fluff from our dirty clothes go anywhere and when i get clothes out of the washing machine to the tumble dryer, i find myself hoovering just in case those little bits of fluff go anywhere… If this doesn’t happen..Say i wake up and my routine is off, i can’t focus. I feel sick, hot. I find myself getting angry, frustrated. I feel like my life is a mess. I start to doubt silly situations like, why am i bothering… I find cleaning helps me cope with my days. I’ve never really spoke about my OCD. People normally come over and say ” Oh how lovely and clean you are” but unfortunately there is more to it. No one ever see’s the mental stress on myself and others. My husband gets really confused and angry at the fact he can NOT quite understand how me being in a clean environment helps me the amount it does. We tend to argue a lot about it. It’s a good and bad thing really. It’s good because clean things in life are lovely but the bad side is… it controls me. I sometimes wish I never was like this. When i have visitors, i start to worry that they can notice me worrying about the crumbs they’re going to get somewhere or knowing that i can’t wait for them to leave, just so i can clean. Don’t get me wrong i love having people over but i also dread it. I also have one standing Anxiety/ PTSD due to other illnesses (I won’t go into them) but it doesn’t help this situation in regards to being OCD. I even have other OCD people say to me ” My gosh your OCD is really bad” I never really thought I had OCD until it started causing problems with me and my husband and the realisation of others telling me constantly that I should go and see someone to talk about this. I find if i wake up and I’m a bit down, worrying more so than normal then i HAVE to clean.. it’s essential! Once I’ve cleaned the whole house like i do everyday, i don’t just stop there.. I’m constantly asking my husband what he’s up to, so i know if he’s making a mess… Or I’m checking every room constantly to see if there is anything else i can try to scrub. My OCD has been quite extreme lately. Me and my husband have moved into quite a big house 4 months ago and I’ve had so many panic attacks because when I clean to me it doesn’t look any different, that’s because it needs decorating but then decorating is hard for me as paint goes EVERYWHERE!! When it comes to going out I become even more anxious because i worry if there’s any dirt, hair, fluff on me or if i smell nice, whilst checking if the doors locked about 100 times, going in and out to check if everything is off and locked properly. I’m extremely terrified of catching any bugs, so therefor i take my own drinks everywhere, my own anti – bacterial gel for my hands. If none of this is done in some sort of order that i do it in, i get ridiculously bad-tempered, worried. I say things i shouldn’t ever say and think things i know i definitely shouldn’t. Sometimes I have crying fits. Another issue i have with being OCD is that whenever my husband offers to do something around the house, I’ll be very hesitant about it but I think, no he wants to be a real man around the house and do things.. This never ends well as because I’ll go to whatever he just tried to do and re do it but it offends him. My intention is never to hurt anyone’s feelings but I don’t feel satisfied until I’ve done something myself, because in my head it’s only done properly if I do it. He always says to me ” I can never be as thorough as you and I’m sorry”

Person 6:

I’ve had OCD for a while now. It started with intrusive thoughts for me. I have obsessions with cleaning and compulsive skin picking which is also known as dermatillomania (caused by OCD). My son has it as well. He is just 11 and has rituals. He has to check all the doors to make sure they are closed. He says certain phrases and if I don’t answer him correctly, we have to say it again till it is correct. Could take 10 times sometimes. He overly washes his hands. He has sooo many rituals. It is very stressful.

From speaking to these people, it is important to realise that OCD isn’t just what you see on TV where we all clean our homes 5/6 times a day or paint things on a daily basis etc.. Just like we are all human yet we are all completely different to one another on the outside and the inside.  It can be difficult not only for the person who suffers, but for the people close. It’s hard for others who don’t suffer to know how to support the person affected and at times can be very frustrating. I’m hoping that by reading this blog it helps someone to help someone else. Relationships can have tension from time to time and if you love someone who suffers from any mental illness or if you suffer please, please remember that help is available and it is out there. I bet you are asking “Well where and how can I get the help I/they need?” Going to your GP and explaining what has been happening and they can refer you to a psychologist, where they will offer therapy services or medication.

For any more information click here  through the NHS.