What is holding me back?

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?

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OCD is something you have not something you are!

It really irritates me when people say,”I’m OCD!” The sentence doesn’t even make sense like I have said before. You are basically saying, “I am Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.” You can’t be a disorder! So I wrote that on a post on Facebook. Someone agreed and said they didn’t like it when people think a disability is part of someone’s personality. This is why it gets to me so much. OCD is not who I am . It isn’t a part of my personality. It is a disorder that I have. That’s all. A fellow sufferer said that it’s part of their personality as they feel so alien to themselves when they are off their meds. Well again that just proves it’s not part of your personality. If you can’t recognise yourself when you are off meds that it’s not who you are!

Rant over!

‘You’re just OCD…’

This sentence annoys me so much. OCD is something you have not something you are! You can’t be OCD. Would someone say the same with a broken leg, ‘you’re just a broken leg!’ What about diabetes? ‘You’re just diabetes!’ Not of course not. That doesn’t make sense. What people are actually saying is, ‘you’re just obsessive compulsive disorder!’ See, that doesn’t make sense either! 

I got the below off the Facebook page End the Stigma. #endthestigma

Trying to conceive!

Trying to conceive (TTC) is an emets nightmare. Or at least a recovering emets nightmare. Not because of the fear that I might get morning sickness. It surprises me but since completing Thrive that doesn’t faze me that much. Today I felt a bit sick and I just told myself to get on with things and I did. Just like a non-emet would. Not it isn’t the feeling but that is the nightmare but the fact that you can’t control anything about it! Not when it happens, not what gender your baby will be, not what effects your hormones are going to have on you. Nothing!

Suddenly I feel like my body is being controlled by my hormones. Yes this is true but I mean like I have no control over anything! My face is covered in spots and it feels like I can’t do anything about it. Obviously I could if I wanted to. I could take the contraceptive pill which would clear my skin right up but I have chosen to come off it so I can have a baby. But that hasn’t happened yet and it has been nine months so far! Yet something else that I can’t control. My husband and I can only do so much (if you know what I mean!) and even that doesn’t guarantee anything. There is something stupid like a 25% chance each month and it decreases with age. I will be 31 soon! I just fail to see how this month or the next will be any different from the nine that have already gone before. What will make those different? I get that it is all down to being in the right time at the right place and the boys and girl growing into a baby but with all the talk about luck and mumbo jumbo of homeopathy around, it is easy to feel down about it without that blanket. I can feel my internal locus of control wavering as I try to understand why it hasn’t happened yet and how I can ‘make’ it happen this month. Once again I searching for a way to control the uncontrollable. Sound familiar? That is exactly what Emet is all about. Trying to control every aspect of your life because the one thing you really want can’t be controlled. I am trying to protect myself from failure and stress by doing everything I can to avoid that which only makes me more stressed which in turn doesn’t help me get pregnant! With an external locus of control and a high desire for control you feel the need to control every single aspect of your life as you try to get control of things that you believe you can’t. I hope that makes sense! Take for example germs on a door handle. My black and white thinking tells me there is definitely germs on the door handle to the library because the public use it. They will all be bad germs and will definitely transfer to my hand when I touch it and I will get sick. I can tell myself that some of the germs on the door handle may be good bacteria but that won’t make me believe it. I can tell myself that there may not be any bad bacteria on the door handle but that won’t make me believe it. I can tell myself that those germs may not transfer to my hand but I won’t believe it. I can tell myself that even if those germs are there and do transfer to my hand, it doesn’t mean I won’t get sick but it still won’t make me believe it. That is black and white thinking and is a particularly bad way of thinking when you have a strong desire for control.

When it comes to trying for a baby I just think that I would have been pregnant by now if I was going to be. There is nothing I can do to change the outcome. The positive mental attitude isn’t there and I struggle to remember that having that will have an impact on whether or not we do conceive. Everyone tells you that it is when you stop thinking about it and relax that it happens and I 100% believe that. If I could just tell my desire for control this and it would make life a lot easier! Lol

Anyway that is a quick rant about trying to conceive when you are an emet or recovering emet. Or a control freak as I have been calling myself! Maybe that isn’t the right terms as freak has many bad connotations to it. I need to think of another term. I wouldn’t call myself an emet anymore as this isn’t about being sick and never was. I wouldn’t say I have OCD either really as the not touching the door handle is all about control. I guess it doesn’t need a label (again another Emet trait, trying to tie everything up in a nice little bow!), but I must stop using the word freak!

A letter to my teenage self

Dear Jen

The first thing I should say to you is don’t worry. Worrying really isn’t worth it and I promise you everything is going to be ok.

I know you are having a hard time at the moment dealing with the anxieties of growing up and being in the real world but you will find your place. You don’t need to worry about getting sick and you don’t have to try and control everything around you. Some things can’t be controlled and that is just part of life. You will be able to cope when those things happen. Believe in yourself. Trust your own judgement. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you. You don’t need them to say that you are a good person to know it. You don’t need their approval to be who you want to be. Stop pretending to be someone else and be yourself.

There is no use attempting to be perfect. No one is perfect and it is an impossible task. You don’t need to spend hours on your hair, hours in the bathroom or hours writing a letter. Just do what makes you happy.

The people you think are your friends right now are not your friends. I know you get along with them now but when you start being your true self you will realise that they aren’t the sort of people you want to associate with. Your parents gave you your two best friends, your wonderful sisters. You may argue now but when you are older you will realise that they are two of the most important people in your life and will be there through thick and thin. Don’t argue with your parents. They are doing everything they can for you and you can tell them anything. Trust them.

Don’t worry about being alone. When you are 20 you will meet the sweetest guy ever and will go on to marry him and want his children. He will become your partner, your best friend and the person you trust most in the world. All those other boys are just frogs. Enjoy your time with them but know that the best is yet to come.

Don’t let your anxieties stop you from doing what you want. I am 30 and regret that I have missed out on things as I have been too afraid to do them. I was afraid to go to university  or out clubbing as I didn’t want to be near people being drunk and therefore sick. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have let the silly worry get in my way. You will be able to cope with anything that is thrown your way just like I know now that I will be able to cope with having children. Whilst I am on that subject, you should admit to yourself that you do want children. Don’t let the worry of them being sick stop you from admitting that.

Stand up for yourself. Don’t let people push you around. You are strong willed but spend your whole life wanting to please other people. Sometimes you have to be selfish. You are the most important person in your life. If you don’t look after yourself, then you will be the one to suffer. Speak up. Let your thoughts be heard.

So remember, stop worrying, love yourself, trust yourself and be yourself.

With lots of love

30 year old me x

The House of Hypochondriacs

I saw the advert for this Channel 4 programme a week ago and didn’t really think anything bad about it and decided to watch it. Last night it was on and I was extremely disappointed in it. It portrayed people with heath anxiety or HA (the term hypochondriac is a bit derogatory I believe) as a burden on the health care system and basically just a nuisance. Rather than highlighting the condition to people who don’t suffer it, it just led to people bashing them and calling them ‘selfish’ on social media. Dr Christian said that these people ‘visit the GP when they are well’. How dare he say that. They aren’t well, they just aren’t physically ill. People will mental illness should be treated exactly the same as someone with a physical illness.

It was also to my surprise that there was an Emetophobia sufferer on there. Ok so I can see how they said Emetophobia was similar to  HA in that it is a fear of getting ill – just a specific illness, but other than that, it isn’t the same at all. If anything it is more like OCD than HA. The Emetophobia sufferer never went to the doctor’s even if she was ill due to a fear of catching something that would make her sick. She had lots of rituals to stop herself catching something (like using gloves to open packing. (I still take something from the back of the shelf to make sure it hasn’t been touched)) and clearly spent her life doing these compulsions to stop the obsessions. I know this for a fact as that is what I was like. I was diagnosed with OCD before the word even recognised Emetophobia.

I had to stop looking at social media as the comments I saw were awful. One suggested that the Emetophobic lady should see what the factories were like that her food came when it was shown that she used gloves to open the packaging. What is that meant to achieve? Do they think that it is a laughing matter and that seeing that will make her better? I guess they think she was just being stupid. In an age where mental health charities are working hard to get rid of the stigma of mental illness, this belittling programme just put the fight back a few years by making it something to be laughed at – even the music that accompanied the show had a comical tone to it.

Someone on No More Panic asked why someone with OCD (or Emetophobia as she actually had) would be on the same programme as those with HA. That is a very good question. That would be like putting on a programme all about recovering from heart attacks and then adding a person who suffers with acid reflux disease. They both cause chest pain but they aren’t the same thing! This was just bad researching by the programme makers. They read that Emetophobia was about a fear of vomiting and put two and two together and assumed it was the same as HA.

Speaking of acid reflux, that was another small part of the show that really got to me. They suggested that people also go to the GP to ‘waste’ their time on simple things like acid reflux and constipation and that they should just see the pharmacist about that. I have suffered with gastroesophagus reflux disease (GORD) for 10 years and I also have IBS. These are another two disorders that have charities etc. trying to get people to understand better and to take away the stigma that it is ‘all in their head’ but this programme once again took away the work that they have been doing. Of course you should go to the GP with acid reflux or constipation! They could be a sign of something serious going on from a hiatus hernia, stomach ulcer, bowel obstruction to cancer.

This programme by channel 4, along with other similar titles like Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners, just adds to the stigma that people like me have to face each day. It is programmes like this that make me want to fight to get these real illnesses taken seriously and for sufferers to be given the same respect as those with physical illnesses.