Training wheels.

I have a letter from a psychiatrist stating that I am mentally stable. I laughed when I opened it, then hurtled down the stairs, waved it at my mum, and burst into tears in the kitchen.

I also have a letter for the same psychiatrist confirming a formal diagnosis of OCD. I’d been chasing one of those for years. I really wanted to be firmly stamped with that label, with the notion that maybe if I knew for sure what it was then I could stop it. Turns out it’s just three words on a sheet of paper, folded haphazardly by an assistant, and promptly lost upon receipt. The diagnosis just meant they recommended a medication that left me so nauseated I didn’t sleep for three days.

So. I have an anticlimactic diagnosis (and a few bonus ones), but I am mentally stable, and I have been completely unmedicated for three months. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an anxious mess, but I’m a functional anxious mess who goes to work every day, answers messages occasionally, and finds joy in little things.

I’m writing this today following a few days of shaking and nausea and the odd bit of crying. Someone at work was ill and a friend was ill and I accidentally read an entire book in the garden today and my brain’s trying to convince me that I have sun stroke. I still have a long way to go. But six months ago even, this would have broken me.

 

Summer never looked so dark.

There’s a weird sort of restlessness that accompanies despair. It’s always at my lowest that I feel I have the most energy, and I refer to those times as my dangerous moods because complete, inconsolable misery in conjunction with a sudden burst of energy lands me in a very dangerous frame of mind where just about anything is possible.

I have spent the past few weeks drifting in and out of despair. Little Miss Relapse is still in full force and I’m genuinely worried this time. I have surrendered the keys to my mechanical steed, I have not been offended when my mum locks the car doors when I’m inside, and I have an appointment with my doctor next week.

 

Really struggling at the moment.

Right. Update time!

I am still alive – we’re off to a good start – and barely hallucinating, I have acquired a job that actually pays me (I have no idea what I’m doing but it’s fiiiiiine…), I’ve gone out and done things and met people, and I have bought a pretty dress for no reason. I still have virtually no attention span but I’m coping with that well.

That’s life in a nutshell.

I’m doing well. I’ve been doing okay for a while, but I am finally doing well. I am good. I’m pretty great, actually! …says the person who is having to re-type most words due to shaking like a leaf on a windy day. But today’s shaky is caffeine related and not medication related OR brain related so it’s hardly even relevant!

So yeah.

I am doing really well, and it only took four months! 😀

Upbeat titles are difficult.

The real world is treating me surprisingly well, I am pleased to say! I’m now working in a small office – there’s only four of us – on six hour days, correcting every spreadsheet they’ve ever made. Little steps. They’re lovely people and they like me lots!

I have told them that I have a history of silly-brain-itis (not actual inflammation of the silly brain, just a nice sounding phrase) but I have told them nothing more. I haven’t told them that I cannot ‘phones’, I have not asked them not to discuss illness, I have not told them I don’t like people. So for a little while I am actually playing the part of ‘well-adjusted, functional human’ quite well, even though I am a walking purple.

I am really, really enjoying dressing office-y. And startling people with the transition from mass of Kevlar and boots to dainty thing in a skirt and heels every morning. I did try taking the bus, but that turned out to be the most traumatic part of the day, so motorbike it is…while the weather stays co-operative anyway.

So yeah.
The real world is being nice.
Apart from last night’s spontaneous panic attack at three in the morning. Very odd sensation to wake up to, and not one I hope to repeat any time soon.

Denial

I am on a mission of re-integration. Desperate to work again, I have been liaising with someone henceforth to be known as ‘Trevor the life coach’, who has been psyching me up and is helping me adjust back into the real world a little bit at a time. For some reason I’ve avoided working with agencies set up specifically to help people with the problems that I have until now; completely daft idea born of stubbornness and generally being a daft individual.

Denial is my go-to state of mind in times of adversity, and thus having a complicated brain is definitely worthy of denial. I do talk about it, I do tell people I have limitations, but the “it’s all in my head” mind set is somehow still lingering, trying to convince me that I can just stop this silliness whenever I like. It is this little voice somewhere inside the tangle of thoughts whizzing about my head that results in me taking completely inappropriate jobs and trying to run before I can even stand up.

It’s not even just the brain things that I try to deny until they go away; there is an extensive list of foods that my body cannot digest and that make me ill, and yet I still use them regularly and just suffer through the consequences. This is more understandable though; please imagine that one day you were told that you could never eat milk products, onions, tomatoes, garlic, fruit, and so, so many other things ever again. Now think for a moment: what on Earth can you eat?

I think it is a similar story with the anxiety problems, though; I have difficulties going outside, being inside, eating, being with people, being alone….what on Earth can I do? I can deny it. I can tell myself that it is all just a bit of attention-seeking, I defy my limitations, and I do daft things that set me back further. It makes it easier to live with.

But right now I’m not after easy. So I am not eating things I can’t eat, and I am working with people who teach people how to live with uncooperative brains.

It’s not all doom and gloom, apparently.

I have started to change things. My god did I need to change things.

I am breaking rules a little at a time. I am proving that I can talk to people and they won’t hate me for disappearing for ages, I am proving that I can survive a short bus ride, and I am proving that I have some sort of value as a human being. I have started to look for actual grown up jobs that don’t revolve around a till (and some that actually put some use to that very expensive bit of paper I received from Uni) and yesterday I actually made a plan for this time next year. The fact that this time next year even exists in my wildest dreams is a magnificent prospect and I plan to take full advantage of it.

…not that my dreams have been particularly wild. Mainly socks and rain. They are getting more interesting again now though thankfully; dreams of making a cup of tea or changing a light bulb are things of the past it would seem. My vision is pretty much back to normal, too which came as a great relief – climbing a moving staircase at a train station was not fun, the road in front of me curling up (very similar to a scene in Inception) was not fun, and seeing different colours out of each eye was unlikely to ever prove helpful in any way.

And now I have an overwhelming desire to closely investigate the cocktail cabinet in celebration of having a really, really productive week!

And here’s my three happy things for today:
1. Socks.
2. Watching my mother and the dog napping in odd positions
3. Ordering vast quantities of books

Exposure.

Sometimes running away isn’t running away. Sometimes it can be acceptance that a situation was not healthy and sometimes it is wise to remove oneself before it becomes downright toxic.

I have moved back to my mum’s house. It’s been a long time coming. The final straw was realising that my fear of contamination was being spread to other people. This was absolutely not okay. I refuse to let it spread to other people. Humans need to experience germs, and the ones who can’t expose themselves need intermediate people who aren’t so careful. We need people to tell us to shut up when we ask if they’ve washed their hands since entering the room, or if anyone sneezed near them at work that day, or how many times they washed and rinsed that plate before using it. There’s a part of me that’s screaming as I write this because I would love to live in a little germless bubble for ever, but it is a fact that I need to drill into my head. I keep finding ways to further shrink my world and it is becoming unbearable.

So. I am at my mum’s. With people and dogs and chickens and “fridge experiments” and mud and dust. And I needed this.

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