So it's been a few weeks since my last entry, and I think most of the physical insanity of Paxil withdrawal is now behind me. Whew.
The bad news is, ALL of the mental and emotional insanity is front and center. I described it to my doctor like this: It's as though almost every era of my OCD has come back to me, in full force, and I experience each one at different points throughout the day. What's gone, for the most part, is the OCD of my childhood: the ritual counting, tapping, stepping into rooms a certain way, and a certain number of times, the obsessive thoughts about needing to inform my family somehow that it was MY thoughts that caused my great aunt to die...this is the era that appears to finally be gone. And thank god, because walking around with shit like that in my head as a first grader was nearly unbearable.
But present are the rest of the "eras of OCD" - and they're not much prettier. I'm writing this down today not because I want sympathy or pats on the back. I'm writing it down because maybe I can show this to the people in my life who have no way of understanding what the hell is wrong with me at any given moment, and who are almost forced to think, "you're being ridiculous." Of course I'm being ridiculous - OCD is possibly the most absurd mental illness there is. It defies logic 100% of the time, and without proper chemical intervention, even the most intelligent, sensitive human being is almost incapable of fighting back against his or her own brain.
For example, I KNOW what I'm doing when I'm sobbing uncontrollably while drying my hair. I KNOW that I'm not literally the most disgusting human being to ever walk the face of the earth (and I know that it wouldn't matter even if I were). I KNOW what it is when I look at myself and think, "you are fooling the world when you dry your hair and put on makeup and turn yourself into a barely-presentable human being, and you should leave the house right now, as you are, so the world will know you are an ugly sham of a person." I know what this is...but without the brain chemistry tweak I spoke of in my last entry, I can't fight it.
"Can't" is a poor word, I know that. The last thing I want to do is come across as some asshole martyr. I know I have a wonderful life, and that there are people on this earth who truly suffer. It's Veterans' Day today, and I know those men and women have sacrificed in ways I cannot imagine. But OCD doesn't give a shit about any of that, and that's why I'm writing. I'm writing because regardless of how keenly aware I am that my "problems" are a speck of dust on the surface of the earth, there's something in my brain that won't allow me to balance what matters and what does not.
I said there was a silver lining, a GOOD reason why I'm off the meds wagon right now. I'm going to have a baby. And I want nothing more than to start enjoying that feeling and that knowledge - I'm clinging to the idea that one morning I'm going to wake up and feel like a human being so that I can appreciate what's happening in this body I so love to loathe. But I'm not there yet.
I'm writing because I don't know how to make sense of this for some of the people in my life. I don't know how to convey the fact that in the morning, I'm sick because I'm pregnant, but also because I'm filled with dread over things I can't possibly explain; because I'm being revisited by anxieties I thought were "cured" long ago; because the OCD of my 20s is back in full, unstoppable force. I don't know how to convey the fact that in the evening, I'm nauseous not just for hormonal, pregnant reasons, but because the OCD of my 30s is strangling me; because I'm paralyzed by the deluge of thoughts that someone I love is going to die and I can't prevent it, or that something horrible is going to happen and I'll have no way of making it stop.
How do I possibly put all of this into terms that would make even a little sense to someone else?
My doctor said that if she were smart, she'd write a book about pregnant women and OCD. I told her, you read all the time about pregnant women and depression...but there's very little out there about pregnant women with OCD who, almost 100% of the time, have no choice but to stop taking their trusty meds and ride out the storm. And storm is the wrong word. It's a fucking volcano, and it feels unstoppable. The anxiety is bad enough - but there's another layer of anxiety that comes from the inability to explain what in the holy hell is wrong with you. I don't just have crying jags because I've got extra hormones running around - I'll cry because the earth is being removed from under my feet and I don't know what the hell to do about it. How do I explain that to someone?
How do I explain that I'm not just being vain when I look at myself and wish I could break everything in a 10 foot radius (most especially the mirror)? It's not because I'm getting fat that I hate myself. It's because I AM THE MOST DISGUSTING THING TO EVER HAVE LIVED. Well, according to my brain at the current moment. Explaining that to someone is impossible. So I write.
My doctor has seen this many times, and although I don't wish this upon anyone, it's a relief to hear those words. She said, "I know it's not happening to me, so maybe it seems easy for me to say this but...we're GOING to get you through this." I believe her. I have to remind myself of this many times a day, but I do believe her.
She also said something with which I could probably sum up everything I've just written: "The worst part of this is believing you've been cured of something, only to find that you have not, and that it's all right in front of your face again, worse than ever." She's very right. On top of the insane hormonal changes of the first 3 months of pregnancy, there's an enormous beast making things infinitely worse. My OCD was very well managed for a good 10 years - to the point where I felt, "I don't really have a problem with this anymore." But take the meds away, and add a pregnancy, and wow...I have a HUGE problem on my hands. That is a terrifying feeling, and it's devastating to come to terms with the fact that the OCD brain is one that's always going to need a little tweaking. It's humiliating to admit that I NEED that little pill every day, just as it's a relief to know there IS a little pill that helps so much.
I've lost my train of thought, but my hope is that I can print this out when I'm at a loss for words to explain myself...which is more often than I'd like at the moment. This will get better, and I'll be myself again eventually; I do know that, and it's what's propelling me forward when nothing else will do the trick.