I’m lacking faith in myself. That’s the issue. I don’t believe I can live without doing those safety seeking behaviours. I don’t believe I can cope with the anxiety and uncomfortable feelings. I don’t believe I can lose weight and get fit. I don’t believe I will ever have a baby as I don’t believe I will fall pregnant. I don’t believe I know what I’m doing at work. This is not thriving like I should be. I don’t know why I can’t get over this last bit. I guess it’s because every time I try to stop the safety seeking behaviours I feel so uncomfortable that I quite straight away or I don’t even get as far as not washing my hands etc. What is holding me back? Laziness?
I wrote this in December but it didn’t post… grrr
It is this time of year when I can feel my anxiety starting to creep its way up on me.
Those stupid adverts don’t help either where they say about germs being spread on doorknobs etc.
With stomach ache at this time of year anyway I can’t help but keep wondering if I have the bug as well even though I know it is my IBS and the worry making it happen! I think I can control my desire for control by knowing that eating healthy and washing my hands before eat is going to give me a strong immune system but also that this is something that I can’t control but I will have the strength to deal with it if it happens. Anticaptory anxiety is much worse than the actual thing anyway. But I can’t help having the thoughts that I have avoided it for so long because I antibac my hands etc.
I think it is quite normal to think that every twitch etc. in your stomach is a bug when you know it is going round. Charlene told me that as her daughter has been sick, every time she gets a feeling in her stomach she stops and thinks ‘uh oh’. But then it goes and she gets on with things. She doesn’t sit there worrying that it might happen and what she can do to stop it. That is the difference.
If I am sick I can cope. There is no point trying to control the uncontrollable.
So you are thinking, what’s the big deal? All you did was give your niece a kiss. But what if I told you that for the past week she has been throwing up in the mornings for no reason? Again, you might say what’s the big deal but for me it was. It didn’t cross my mind that she has been being sick. I didn’t worry about catching something. I just let her give me a kiss (which to a one year old is basically just putting her open mouth on my face!).
I’ll admit that the thought that she had been sick crossed my mind after but I just dismissed it like someone else would and thought, ‘well if it get it, I get it. I’ll cope.’ That was such a big deal to me!
Yesterday was a real test to see if I am thriving or not. During the day I didn’t think I was thriving but looking back on it I think I did very well.
My DH was going out with my BIL to the cinema. It was the day after my DH’s birthday and he was really looking forward to it. That morning my BIL called and told my DH that my SIL had been sick all night and had the stomach flu (which doesn’t exist as the flu is influenza and is a respiratory illness – she had a stomach bug!) and so my SIL wasn’t coming out for the meal in the evening. My DH said he therefore didn’t really want to go so that we both didn’t catch it but my BIL wanted to get out of the house so they went. I didn’t really know how to deal with this information. As an emetophobe I would have gone absolutely crazy and demanded that my DH didn’t go out and risk bringing the dreaded stomach bug into my home. But Thrive would tell me that I could be sitting next to someone on the bus who’s wife or kids had a stomach bug and not even know it. My desire for control was just going crazy. As I said I knew that I could be next to someone on the bus and not know it but in this case I knew that there was a chance my BIL could be ill or carrying the illness and so I wanted to control my risk to it. But I knew I shouldn’t give into the little desire for control birdie that sits on my shoulder.
I put my DH in a really awkward place. Because I was struggling to control my desire for control and struggling not to go back to the habitual emetophobic habits, I was just withdrawn and quiet all day. I felt the easiest thing to do was sleep because then I didn’t have to work out what to do. I really wanted my DH to make the decision himself not to go as he didn’t want to get sick either but he wanted to see the film. I told myself that I will have to tolerate feeling uncomfortable as I didn’t have control of the situation and that we would handle it if we got sick.
Then in the evening my BIL came out for the meal and felt quite sick himself but he takes some strong medication. I think I handled it quite well actually. I had a mini freakout when my DH said he was coming because again this was something that I couldn’t control. My DH kept asking me what I wanted him to do to resolve the situation but there wasn’t anything except demanding that his brother didn’t come and that would be rude and unfair. The only other option was for me to not go but I wasn’t missing out on his birthday meal. I knew it was just that birdie again telling me that I had to do something so I put a sock in its mouth and went anyway. My BIL even came to our flat briefly after and I didn’t freak out at all. Ok so I had a few anxiety moments but only for a few seconds and I told myself that I was creating them so I could stop.
I really need to be working on my black and white thinking as well. In my eyes my BIL was carrying the illness and/or would definitely get ill himself. But that isn’t the case. I need to learn to see the grey areas but I am really struggling with that part of Thrive. I just need to continue to work on it. I was about to write that I didn’t obsess about the situation as I didn’t worry that I was going to be sick but actually I did obsess. I obsessed about how to get control of the situation when I should have told myself that obsessing does not resolve the issue because it was something that couldn’t be resolved as I said above.
It is in the back of my head now though that we have 72 hours to see if either of us gets sick. I shouldn’t really be having those sorts of thoughts I don’t think but then I am not sitting here worrying about it or avoiding food etc. That is what I would have done before. I would have started eating safe food and washing more to make sure I didn’t get ill. Maybe it is normal to think in your head about those 72 hours? Or am I just kidding myself? Us emetophobes loves a statistic!
So I may not be thriving 100% yet but I definitely have the framework of the tools in place to handle these situations and I am sure that if I devote my time to doing the exercises etc. more, I will be thriving 100%.
Imagine being afraid to eat, afraid it will make you sick.
Imagine feeling trapped, trapped in your own mind.
Trapped in a body that scares you to death.
Imagine being afraid of every little feeling,
Be it hunger or pain, they scare you the same.
There is no escape.
Imagine being afraid when you burp, afraid to use the loo.
Imagine losing lots of weight through lack of appetite.
But you’re told your aren’t anorexic, you’re too fat for that.
Imagine being afraid of digestion, afraid of what food might do.
Every meal brings a panic attack, you feel shakey and weak.
But still you don’t eat, you can’t relax.
There is no escape.
Imagine just wanting to sleep, to sleep to escape.
But you can’t sleep anymore, you’re too wide awake.
Imagine spending every day in pure fear.
Nowhere is safe, you can’t calm down.
Imagine being afraid to poo, afraid it will make you sick.
Indigestion scares you, acid reflux and IBS too.
There is no escape.
Imagine feeling sick from nerves, when that’s the thing you fear.
Each day is a struggle, your eyes being to tear.
Imagine you’re afraid of life, but no one understands.
‘I hate being sick too’, you hear them say.
If only that’s all it was.
Imagine being agoraphobic, social phobic with low self-esteem.
That is Emetophobia, no word of a lie.
There is no escape.
Today I found out that my dad has a tumour on his pituitary gland. It’s benign but he is going to have to have an operation to remove it or it could cause him to go blind. I’m scared for him but also feel very sad as they now can’t go on their holiday in 6 weeks as he might not have had the surgery by then. When he told me and my sisters I just sat there quietly. Didn’t cry or anything whilst my sisters asked questions. I wanted to show emotions but I just shut down when these sorts of things happen. I just want to be left in my own world. I hugged him and text him after apologising for being quiet etc and he said he knows how I react to things and knows I love him. But I wish I could show my emotions. That is what has caused my OCD in the first place. I used OCD as a way of showing them. So as soon as I got home this poem came into my head. I thought I’d share it. It’s my first draft so needs work!!
I don’t know how to show emotions
But I really do care
It might look like I’m hard as hell
But they really are there
I show them in a different way, see
I hide them from your view
They cause me to do strange things
I’d rather not do
Contaminated is how I feel
Covered from head to toe
To scrub away the world for me
It’s harder than you know
I’m not one to kiss and cuddle
It’s what I cannot do
You will never see me crying
At least not in front of you
Instead, my hands, I scrub and scrub
Until they’re red and raw
My eyes, they flick, from side to side
A tick, hope no one saw
But trust me when I tell you this
You’re my dad, I love you so
I’ll be more open, I’ll try my best
My love for you, I’ll try to show
So I have been discharged from my CBT for my OCD as I have done really well. I have got rid of over 50% of my compulsion list and I am learning that I can live with anxiety. There are still a lot of things to work through but even my therapist admitted at the end of my sessions that when she saw the long list she never thought I would be able to get rid of any of them! I think a lot of them were just habits and no longer had anxiety attached to them. Some I have found myself slipping back into but I am going to do my best to make sure that I don’t make that a permanent thing.
I feel a lot more free now but I have to be careful that I don’t let it get a hold of me again. My plan is to continue to work through the list at home and remind myself how far I have come. After around 6 months my therapist said to go back to my GP and asked to be referred again for my low self-esteem. By then I will also know how I am getting on with my OCD therapy.
So about the mini miracle! Today I walked past sick on the pavement and I didn’t overreact too much. I did my compulsion to clean my airways but I think I remained calm. I only did it once and got my husband to check my shoes and kind of positioned one of them over a patch of nearly dry water on the ground. So to most people this will sound like an overreaction but it wasn’t for me. Before it would have been complete meltdown for me. I did put my clothes in the wash but I had planned to do that anyway. Now the task is to put my shoes back on tomorrow and try not to be bothered by the thought that they are contaminated with sick. It’s not me, it’s my OCD!