Day 26: How is your day-to-day life effected by your mental illness(es)?
This may end up being pretty long so I’ll sum up here – Everything is impacted by my OCD. Everything.
When I wake up in the morning, my mind goes immediately to the day ahead and what I need to do. I check the weather so I can choose the proper clothes and make sure I have an umbrella/jacket/boots/etc. I get up, take a shower in a certain order, dry off in a certain order, and get dressed. I struggle to choose clothes because I feel like people will judge me/make fun of me/perceive that I am imperfect/unprofessional by my clothing choice. I do my hair and makeup (I’ve gotten better about this!). As I walk out the door for work, I do my checks: Closet door closed? Everything picked up off the floor? Straightener unplugged? Lights off? Dog has food and water? Badge, notebook, phone charger, phone, sunglasses, jacket? As I pull out of the driveway, watch to make sure the garage door closes completely. Usually I ride to work with my husband because we work near each other. He drives most days because driving gives me anxiety. I usually try to play on my phone, read my email, etc so that I don’t have to pay attention to what is going on around me. I get to work and the rituals begin. I sit down, start my computer, read my email, go downstairs and get breakfast from the cafeteria. Come back upstairs, update my tools and start my day. My job is very ritualized so that probably doesn’t help either. I hate lunch because of the anxiety it gives me. I covered this in my food related triggers post. I worry about what others think of me at work and if they find me unprofessional/unintelligent/etc. I ride home with my husband, again paying more attention to my phone because of the anxiety that being on the road gives me. I get home, check the mail, let the dog out, watch him to make sure he doesn’t run out in the road. My husband cooks dinner, usually after a long battle over what to eat because I hate eating. After dinner, I usually watch TV, work on my blog, work on my computer, play with the dog, etc. I go to bed. I used to have to hard time going to sleep at night. I’ve been much better about it the last 6 months. I used to just lie there and if I did fall asleep, I woke up several times a night. I was perpetually exhausted. Now, I fall asleep pretty quickly and stay asleep most nights – a definite improvement. I have weird dreams sometimes, but that is mostly because I took my medication too late at night. So that’s a typical day for me. But the thing is, most of that is what you can see. Literally 24/7, my brain doesn’t stop. It’s a constant string of thoughts/planning/worst case scenarios/fears/rituals/anxiety/worries/processing/solving problems that don’t exist/defining “perfection” and “just right” to a ridiculous standard/analyzing every move, every word, every detail to try to figure out what others think of me. I spend the vast majority of my day analyzing things that are nonessential, unimportant, and sometimes complete nonsense. My brain never shuts off – I never get a break. I’m learning how to go easier on myself, to quit beating myself up so much. I am my own worst enemy and my own worst critic. I don’t love myself, and I certainly don’t respect myself. But I’m learning. I learning how to be an advocate for myself, instead of an aggressor. I’m learning to separate myself from my OCD instead of pretending it doesn’t exist. I’m learning how to love myself for my talents and for my flaws. I’m learning to accept that “perfect” is an opinion, not a destination. I’m learning that failure is not fatal (as Sir Winston Churchill said). I’m learning that as long as I do my best, I will be okay. But one thing I’ve already learned so far? I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for. I have been through so much in the last 9 months, and when I think back to what my life was like just 9 short months ago, it seems like forever ago. It seems like someone else’s life, someone else’s story. But I changed my story, and it was the best decision I ever made. Thanks for reading.