My bloggy friend, Abigail, wrote a beautifully descriptive post about what it's like to live with the horrible, anxiety-fueled racing thoughts that often accompany OCD. I felt like she was describing me when the OCD was really bad. Imagine living like that with horrible fears swirling through your mind every day while trying to pretend in front of others that nothing is going on. Welcome to the world of OCD.
Why "71º & Sunny?"
I consider 71º to be the perfect temperature. Not too cold and not too hot. I also love perfect sunny days. The vast majority of days are not 71º & Sunny and yet, all days were created by God's hand and they are still gifts, even if they don't fit my ridiculous definition of perfection. My struggle with OCD has at times imprisoned me in an impossible attempt to achieve perfection. I'm now learning to love all kinds of days that don't even come close to 71º & Sunny.
Please leave me a comment below. I really want to know what you are thinking!
Monday, September 30, 2013
Monday, September 23, 2013
"Evangelical, fundamentalist, or born-again Christians (48 percent) agree prayer and Scripture study alone can overcome mental illness. Only 27 percent of other Americans agree." (Emphasis mine.) Ed Stetzer, the president of LifeWay Research, which is the company that conducted this study, shared this disturbing information in an article he wrote for Christianity Today on September 17, 2013.
Big 'ole sigh. These statistics shocked even me.
Please, please hear me. I am a firm believer in God, the power of prayer, and the healing balm of the Bible. I believe that ALL failing of the human body is a spiritual issue, whether it be physical or emotional. I also believe that though God is able to instantaneously heal anything He so chooses to, it seems that very often He allows human interventions to play a part in physical and emotional healing.
When sharing about my struggles with anxiety, I have in the past (but not in my present church family-thank goodness!), heard, "Read your Bible more, pray more, etc. . ." I've never heard that when sharing about a physical issue. Never.
My recent diagnosis of anemia is a perfect example. I told several friends and ministry co-workers about it. Not one of them said anything to me about my failure to pray enough or read my Bible enough. In fact, I heard things like, "Oh, I hope the doctor can figure out your fatigue issues, or, I hope the iron pills work, etc." I heard offers of prayer for me, but nothing was said about my possible "spiritual failings" as the cause of my troubles. Ironically, I eat a pretty crummy diet, so in reality, I should definitely take part of the blame for my physical issues.
So . . . why does society view an illness of the brain so much differently than an illness of the body? One type of illness engenders compassion and sympathy; the other, scorn.
I love what Stetzer says in the article. "Medicine is not the answer to everything, and we live in an overmedicated world, but we need to treat character problems like character problems-and illnesses like illness." Amen to that.
Here is my anemia recovery plan: I'm going to pray about my anemia, I will read Bible verses that pertain to physical suffering in order to receive comfort (and wisdom) from my Lord, AND I will *try* to eat a healthier diet, take my iron pills, and proceed with any follow up treatment recommended by my family physician. Sounds like a pretty well rounded treatment plan to me.
Mental illness is not a character flaw. It's time we stop treating it as such.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Saturday, September 7, 2013
A huge thank you to all of you who left really lovely supportive comments on my last post. Your kindness was (and is) much appreciated.
I continue to feel beyond exhausted, and yet, solid sleep eludes me. Just writing this post took some effort. I did, however, take your comments to heart, and I got some blood work done a few days ago. My doctor called me yesterday and said that the winner is: (drum roll) . . . low iron in my blood! It never occurred to me that this could be the problem. After hearing my test results, I did a bit of research on anemia, and apparently extreme fatigue is one of the main symptoms. Fatigue and Restless Leg Syndrome (this prevents me from sleeping well) are my worst symptoms. Apparently, low blood iron levels can also contribute to Restless Leg. My doctor told me to start taking iron supplements, and that is exactly what I shall do. I'm really hoping this will take care of my lack of energy.
I guess I'm not depressed after all. I've struggled with psychological issues for so long that I just always make the assumption that that is the cause for any physical symptoms I might have. In fact, I really was wondering if I was just lazy, and if that was why I was sleeping all the time. It feels really good to know that there is a physical cause for my symptoms and that it's not just in my head!
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
So . . . as it says in my title, I'm not too sure what is going on right now. Well, for the last few months, actually. I have absolutely no energy. Zero. None. I'm finding it incredibly difficult to crawl out of bed, and when I do, all I can think about is going back to bed. I'm still going to all the meetings and rehearsals and things that I'm obligated to at church, but that is it. Jim and I recently had a "staycation," you know, a vacation where you don't really go anywhere. We did take some day trips, but even that was hard. I would have just preferred to stay home.
The strange thing is that I don't feel sad. If you asked me if I was depressed, I would say no. However, at my routine quarterly appointment with my psychiatrist a few weeks ago, I was told that my symptoms certainly seem depressive in nature. Reluctantly, I would have to agree. This is awful and embarrassing to admit, but there are days when I have no outside obligations, and I don't even bother to eat because I don't have the energy to go downstairs and fix something for myself.
Again, I don't feel sad or depressed. I'm definitely not telling you this because I want you to feel bad for me or anything like that. I'm not suffering. Believe me, I've been in despair before, and this surely isn't it. But, I also know this is not normal or healthy. So I agreed to add an anti-depressant to my SSRI at my psychiatrist's suggestion. Well, actually, first he suggested a lower dose of my SSRI, but I'm scared to do that for fear of increasing OCD symptoms. So the anti-depressant is the next step. I should know in the next week or so if it is working. I have not seen any improvement yet, but I'm hoping and praying it works. Ugh. I REALLY hate adding medication. While I'm (obviously) not against meds, you could not exactly call me pro-meds either, for a lot of reasons. But, it is what it is.
What really bugs me about this is that there is absolutely no outside reason for feeling this way. My marriage is really good, my adult child is doing well. I have loving friends and family. A roof over my head and food in my refrigerator. I guess that's just the chemical nature of depression isn't it? It appears for no (apparent) rhyme or reason.
Part of me soooooo desperately wants to paint a complete, happy ending for you. However, a bigger part of me wants to give you the truth. The messy, complicated, bitter-sweet truth. And yes, while there is bitter, like what I'm dealing with right now, there is a lot of sweet too. I am NOT hopeless. Oh, I have gone through so much worse than this before! I know I will get through this too.