Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hard Days

Mornings are Hard
The last three days have been hard.  I mean, really hard - especially the mornings.  I'm not sure why mornings are generally harder for me, but they most certainly are.

It might have something to do with having the whole day in front of me and the uncertainty of what will happen - whether or not I'll struggle, events of the day, etc.

Or it could be that being the only person responsible for the kids for the majority of the day while my husband works can also be overwhelming.  Being a stay-at-home mom is exactly what I want to do, but when you throw mental illness in to the mix, things that should be easy just sometimes aren't.

Or it could be that we have chosen not to be a busy family.  Growing up, I stayed compulsively busy (read more about my relationship with time and OCD here) to a fault.  It wasn't healthy.
My husband is the exact opposite; he loves having free time.  So we have chosen to give our kids the experience of growing up without being super involved in lots of outside activities.  We have a good rhythm to our days, but there is not really a whole lot planned.

It's a Bad Day, Not a Bad LifeI'm so discouraged and sad today.  The mental illness feels mammoth at times, and I can't beat it.  No matter how hard I try, it always comes back, which is so incredibly frustrating.  I hate it.  It feels like an intruder making himself comfortable in my life.  Like someone just pushes me out of the way and takes over.  It freezes me.

I am so terrified of going back to the place I was in during the month of November, 2 months after my daughter was born.  Extreme difficulty functioning, feeling paralyzed, intense anxiety and suffering.  Trouble sleeping and lack of appetite.  Diarrhea.  Feeling the need to overcompensate on my responsibilities in order to make sure nothing slips.  Wondering if I need to be hospitalized because I feel so, so bad.  Feeling so low and highly anxious at the same time.  Having intrusive thoughts that shake me to the core.  I don't want to go back there, but I feel myself slipping.  I don't know how to shake it.

When I usually get to this point (there is a pattern), I try so hard to not let myself slip further.  And all of that effort seems to just push me farther down instead of pulling me out.  I worry about worry (see a previous post on that here).  I start worrying that I'm not responding to the obsessive thoughts in the right way and that I'm making the anxiety worse.  And then it does get worse because I'm so focused on it.  That becomes the obsessive thought - I must respond to the obsessive thoughts in the correct way or my OCD will get worse.  And I think the compulsion may be to worry about it and ruminate (a common theme in my brain).

A Strategy
I'm trying to replace the false thoughts in my head with Truth.  One of the strategies that my therapist shared with me years ago was "Catch, Challenge, Change, Choose."  This worked for me this morning, which was good, because the anxiety was sky high.

As I've said before, scrupulosity, or religious OCD, is a big part of what I deal with.  This is so hard, because my faith is at the core of who I am.  It's also scary, because the obsessive thoughts and compulsions cloud my view of God and my relationship with Him.  Everything gets so muddled in my brain, and truths that I've stood on for years suddenly look fuzzy.

Here is how I used this strategy this morning:
Catch (identify the intrusive thought): I had a thought that included using a cuss word with Jesus' Name in response to my 5-year-old being dramatic.  If I don't ask God for forgiveness, I am not right with Him.  There is a barrier between me and God.

Challenge (Truth): I have been reconciled with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He has made me righteous, holy in His sight, without fault, and free from accusation.  I am right with Him.

Change (identify the compulsion): I will not compulsively ask for forgiveness.  God is much more concerned about the condition of my heart than whether or not I said certain words the right way.

Choose (refocus): I choose to believe all of the above, and now it's time to focus on something else.

Bottom Line
I need to be careful not to mistake my OCD thoughts for who God really is.  God doesn't change, no matter what thoughts run through my head.  He is the same God today as he was when I had my recent three-year OCD remission and felt great.

He is good, and He is sovereign.  He sees my suffering and my heartache and how badly I want to be rid of this mental illness.  And He is loving me through it, even when I can't feel it.  He is helping me get my kids dressed and keep the plans we've made, even when simple things that should be easy feel so difficult.  And he knows the tears I'm crying now, even as I write this.  And He's given me responsibilities to fulfill, even when I feel as bad as I did 6 months ago.

How do you keep going when you have bad days?