My Life With OCD nOCD

My Life With OCD nOCD

BOBdownload

Let me first begin with stating that my website, is not about OCD. My hopes that if I can get my message out there I can help someone else out.

When you have OCD you don’t have many quiet moments in your head. For me, OCD is often like a song playing over and over in a loop. Only the song isn’t a happy pop song.

Story of A Girl

Well…sometimes it is. But, I’ll get to that later.

The thoughts aren’t about me doing bad things, but they’re never pleasant. Most obsessions are based on deep fears — “What if I or someone I love gets sick?” — or basically the worst things one can think of, like blasphemy, racism, suicide, murder, rape, contamination, animal abuse, politics, torture … and the thoughts are often things I can never control.

Here is something that people with OCD can tell you-you are usually NOT a neat freak! Some of you might remember the show Monk, about a private eye whose OCD makes him a brilliant detective. I never felt as if I was being represented when watching the show because – COMPULSIONS DIFFER!

Monk

OCD doesn’t necessarily mean you’re neat and particular. Those of you into reality shows: Have you ever seen that show Hoarders? Hoarding is often a symptom of OCD. Compulsions vary. Sometimes they correspond to fears, like washing your hands because you’re scared of contamination. Sometimes there’s no real logic behind them, like when you have to jump over a line on the floor because otherwise everybody you know will die horribly and it will be all your fault. Or, like Hannah Horvath from Girls describing herself having to masterbate 8 times a night to starve off diseases of the mind and body.

Andy from Parks and Rec is my Celeb Crush

Many don’t have physical compulsions at all, instead suffering from “purely obsessional” OCD, where all they have are obsessions. And some people with diagnosed OCD even obsessively doubt the fact that they have OCD. How’s that for a mindfuck?

OCD, at heart, is an anxiety disorder.

People who suffer from OCD know that there is something wrong with them. One of the many differences between OCDers and people who are just “quirky” — besides a role on a major sitcom — is shame. Let’s be clear: If you regularly check your pockets to confirm that you’ve still got your car keys, or if you prefer your sandwiches with the crust cut off, or if you only eat red Starbursts, you’re not suffering from OCD. Those are just quirks, and also the pink Starburst is obviously the best. People like quirks when they’re cute, fun, and harmless. When they involve licking light switches or hitting yourself over the head with your shoe, people just think you’re “crazy.”

But you’ll believe it of yourself as well. You’ll be standing in your bathroom at three in the morning, scrubbing your pocket change because you’ve been awake for hours wondering if it could contaminate your clothes and make you a danger to the people around you, and you’ll be unable to stop, but you’ll know that what you’re doing is crazy.

OCD is “ego dystonic,” which means “out of sync with your ideal self. OCDers don’t even get any joy out of their compulsions. You don’t want to make sure the door is locked 25 times in one night, you have to. It makes you feel better. It makes you feel so good! It’s a relief from the constant thoughts in your brain. But, the relief is only temporary.

Sadly, it’s rarely just OCD. For example, I am also diagnosed with panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression. Panic attacks, Tourette syndrome, hypochondria, body dysmorphic disorder, and eating disorders are all so-called OCD sister disorders. Meaning, they are all on the same spectrum. They’re diagnoses in their own right that exist on their own but also hang around in the background while OCD messes with your mind.

OCD also often coexists with depression. This is partly because of chemicals and genetics, and also because constant obsessing and feeling forced to keep everything you’ve ever owned to the point of isolation can be pretty fucking depressing. Studies show that having OCD from an early age tends to make you more susceptible to depression because it wears on you so much.

Dr. Anne Marie Albano, clinical site director of New York-Presbyterian’s Youth Anxiety Center, and a leading voice in child anxiety research, has found that the condition often takes root around age four, and can bloom into depression by high school, leading to substance abuse and even suicide. The clearest path to treating it is to “remove the stigma around anxiety with parents,” she says. Instead of hiding the problem, explore treatment—the most successful of which she has found to be “a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.”

Which brings me to my own story of OCD. I mentioned in an earlier blog that it was at age four that my parents realized that there may not be something right with me. I talked about my generalized anxiety issues, but it is only until now that I am telling my journey of OCD. My Mom died when I was 14, and that was when my OCD became extremely debilitating.

I am the baby of the family. I have three older brothers, all eleven and ten years older than me. It’s Brent, (the oldest,) and then Dirk and Kirk, (the twins,). Because my Dad was sick too when my mom passed, social services came in the night she died and told my family that my oldest brother Brent would have to be my guardian or I would be handed over to the state.

Brent became my guardian, and ensued was a whirl-wind of change. He was only twenty-four years old, and he was not mature enough to be a guardian to a teenage girl who had just lost her mom. He didn’t know that he was supposed to take me to my psychiatrist that I had been seeing since I was eight years old.

So, something I loved to do was the alphabet in sign language. I would be in school and I would have my hand near my side and I would do sign language. And it felt so good. If I were stressed I would tug on my ear 4 times and then slap my side with my right hand, and then I would do the alphabet in sign language. I would do the alphabet walking down the halls, I would do the alphabet in gym class, I would do the alphabet in class while I was supposed to be writing notes. My hand felt like it was going to fall off. My grades were starting to be effected. I was always a straight A student, and at the time I came home with all F’s. Oh, and kids are super cruel anyways, they are extra cruel when you are doing things that are bringing attention to yourself.

At night time the song, “Story of a Girl,” would play over and over in my head. One night I became so desperate for sleep that I started tugging on my ears. I tugged on my ears so hard they started to tear and bleed, and I put a cotton ball in my ears. The school counselor finally stepped in. And when she did she threatened my brother that she was going to call social services. My brother got me back into my normal doctor, and I got back on my meds. I also started talking to a grief counselor.

While my anxiety and OCD was not cured, and it was definitely not the last time I hurt myself or someone else, I was able to sleep better. And I was getting better grades. OCD is treatable.

There have been better years than others. The year I miscarried the twins I didn’t leave the house for a year.

Recently my OCD was becoming really uncontrollable again. There was a lot of changes going on in my life, and I would get stuck on words in conversation. For example, I just started a new position at work. My team was in training and we were reading out loud and my boss got to me and I started my sentence and said, “The attorney stated stated stated stated…” I went on as if nothing had happened, but you could tell there was a confusion in the room. I left the room and went to the bathroom, and cried in embarrassment. No one likes being the New Girl, but when you feel like you are different or there is something wrong with you go home and you feel ashamed. And like you are worthless.

The good news is that OCD and its tag-along disorders are treatable. There are all kinds of medications and therapies that can help alleviate symptoms. And since the spectrum disorders are linked, one treatment can sometimes cover all symptoms. OCD is not something that can be cured, but it can be controlled.

More recently a site reached out to me that is called nOCD. nOCD is an app that was created by someone who suffers from OCD themselves. The founder, Stephen Smith, (a total cutie BTDUBS,) is on a mission to help people with OCD and to take the shame away from the disorder. nOCD is a fully customizable app which incorporates clinically proven OCD treatment techniques (we are not creating a revolutionary new therapy, instead, we are revolutionizing the DELIVERY of an existing form of therapy – ERP – which we already know to be highly effective for OCD).

Here is a link which provides an overview of Exposure and Response Prevention, the type of therapy which is incorporated into nOCD.

nOCD provides real-time tracking of a wide range of metrics, including time spent doing ERP exercises, anxiety levels during exercises and during general use of the app, location/time of day of OCD episodes, and much more. All your personal information is stored on a HIPPA compliant secure server.

nOCD allows you to export this objective data directly to your therapist if you choose to do so. This was something I was extremely impressed by. When I see my doctor, it was problematic since self-reporting is subjective and OCD patients commonly doubt some of the most basic things about themselves or about whatever they are doing. In addition mOCD has a large community on social media @treatmyOCD. I caught myself in the middle of a trigger last week, and the community was so supportive.

nOCD is available for FREE on the App Store (Android version coming soon!). nOCD is determined to bring high-quality, affordable treatment to anyone who needs it.

To download, please click on this link:

nOCD

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Dear Lucas Aristotle/ Dear Dad

Dear Lucas Aristotle/ Dear Dad

​Dear Lucas Aristotle Hagan,
This is a picture of me and your Grandad Dennis D. Knight on my wedding Day to your Father, Trenton.
Dennis Knight was my best friend in the entire world,  and he would have been so happy to see you. He would have spoiled you SO much!
Dad was great with kids! He spoiled your cousin Brayden. Every morning he would wake him up and make him eggs and ketchup. It’s disgusting to think about, lol, but your cousin loved it.
And your other cousin Madi…when she was a baby…she had a room that had a theme of ivy all over it. Dad took a table that he found on the side of the road, and he completely refurbished in to treasure. He took ivy wallpaper and put it on the top of the table. He just wanted a place for his granddaughter to sit and play.
He loved his Grandkids SO much! I wonder the sweet things he would have done for you.
Every morning when I was a little girl in 6th grade, he’d wake me up at 5 am and make me hot chocolate.  He would add milk and whip cream and he would make it extra fat! Lol! We would talk about my day and what was going on in school, and then, he would drive me 45 minutes out of district. Because it was a better school than the one in my area.
He would pick me up and we would talk and talk and talk some more! He would have pizza flavored combos and apple juice. Lol, he really loved to spoil us with food!

Like, there was this one time a boy broke up with me in middle school,  and Poppy walked 30 minutes to Walmart and got me Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and a Dawson’s Creek poster to hang in my room! 😂😂😂
He was the best Dad in the world- next to your Dad, of course! My promise to you is you will always have awesome memories like that with your Dad. And of my Dad. Because he would have worshipped the ground you walked on!

Love Always,

Mommy
Dear Dad,
It’s now been close to 6 years since you have been gone. The last year was a total whirl wind of emotions. I adopted a baby.  He is so precious he makes my heart feel like it’s going to explode with joy at times.

And then…Donald Trump was elected President! I went through a range of emotions to say the very least. I kept wanting to talk to you SO bad! I was angry and then angrier! I kept wanting to pick up the phone and ask you for advice. It was aweful! And I knew how sad and disappointed you would have been. And then I remember what you told me when I was 16. “The world can’t be changed in one night, baby steps.” So, I knew that I couldn’t change the situation, but I could be the strong a stubborn Young Woman you raised me to be. I protested. I went to Washington,  I marched, I sang. I helped organize rallies. He is under investigation now, and I really am hoping this goes somewhere.

Trenton is good. He is the happiest he has ever been. You always said he would make a great Father, and you were right. He still seems to not really know what he wants to do with his life. He still loves politics, but, maybe he can just be a great Dad like you were.

And, Abby is pregnant! Still haven’t seen Madi or Abby in a while but I saw a picture the other day and she looks breathe taking!

I got a new job within the bank…still haven’t been published again. I know it’s going to happen, but, I really hope more than anything that you are proud of the young woman I turned out to be. I will always love you no matter what. Thank you for always making me feel like I was somebody. Thank you for always loving me.
With Love Your Daughter,

Mae Hagan

PS Tell Stella I Love her so much!

My Life With Generalized Anxiety/ OCD

My Life With Generalized Anxiety/ OCD

IMG_1370This is the story of the first time I had a panic attack. If you know someone with generalized. read. A panic attack can feel like you’re dying. Paralyzed with fear. You could also be lying awake at night for hours at a time knowing damn well you have to be up in a few hours when the baby wakes up. It’s a real condition, and the people suffering from it are often deeply riddled with fears, and patterns, and THEIR BRAINS THINK FASTER THAN THE AVERAGE PERSON. So much so, that if they aren’t doing enough of their routines or practicing in self care they could really spiral in to a deep depression.

I have Generalized Anxiety. One of my earliest memories is I’m five years old and my mom is driving up to a block buster and handing me a VHS Tape and asking me to run it in for her. And I sat there with the VHS in my hand and I said to her, “What if they won’t take it from me? Because I’m too little?” And she says, “They’ll take it from you. You just have to run in there and drop it in a slot!” And I say, “Okay, Mommy!” And I go to grab the door knob and I get scared again. “What if someone tries to abduct me??” At this point my Mom is like, “Just give me the damn tape! I’ll run it in myself!”

When I look back on it I think that’s really weird that I am so afraid. That I am so new to this world but there is something in my head telling me to be frightened. And it’s a very irrational fear.

So, fast forward  three years later and I have my very first panic attack. My mom and dad had me on the swim team and I was at a swim meet of all places. And the gun goes off and I jump in the water and take off–but half way down the lane I forget how to breathe. Which sounds crazy because, how does someone forget how to breathe? My mom notices that I’m going under water and she jumps in the pool after me.  And so does the life guard, and my coach. They pull me out of the water and my mom is patting me on my back and crying really hard. She screams, “What the hell was THAT?”

After everything boiled over that night my mom was kind of confused as to what to do. This was a time when people in middle class families didn’t really know anything about generalized anxiety issues.  Looking back on it now, my Dad definitely had generalized anxiety issues. If someone knocked on the door he would hide in the bedroom. We were threatened with a beating if we answered the door and told anyone he was home. My Dad wasn’t in to drugs, and he didn’t owe anyone money. So, why was he so afraid to answer the door? What was he afraid was going to be on the other side?

So, my Mom and my Coach get together the next day to talk about what happened. My mom asked my swim coach if he had ever seen anything like this before.  “No,” he says shaking his head, and he continues, ” There was a kid in my college dorm that would get overly worked up a lot. Kind of like Mae does. But, he never quit breathing.” I sat there listening to them as they continued talking about me as if I wasn’t in the room. My sleeping patterns, what I had been eating, did I cry a lot when I was a newborn? My mom tells him that I never sleep, I am extremely meticulous about what I eat, and yes, I was a very colicky baby.

Coach says he would feel more comfortable if I see a doctor before I swim again. My mom understands and she gets me in to see Dr. Barnard. So, we are about to go up to Dr. Barnard’s office. Dr. Barnard was a family doctor, and he saw my grandparents, my parents, and my brothers. I had heard a lot of stories about Dr. Barnard. His wife and daughter had died in a car wreck a few years ago. My Dad tells me he looks like Santa. He has a long grey beard, and he drives a 67 Chevy with a Cubs logo on the back. My Mom and I go up to his office and I say to my Mom, “Do you think Dr. Barnard is sad about his wife and daughter?” My moms eyes widen and she puts her hand around my mouth. “You can’t say anything about that to him! Do you understand?” I shook my head yes, but really I don’t understand! If it were me I would be really sad that my Wife AND my daughter died in a car crash! I would want someone to comfort me! I mean even doctor’s need to be comforted!

 So, we are seeing Dr, Barnard, and the doctor tells my Mom that I had a Panic Attack. He asked my Mom if anything has changed significantly in our home. My Mom says no, and I say, “Yes it has!” My mom starts to laugh it off and I say, “YES! IT! HAS!” Dr. Barnard starts to chuckle like he’s an uncomfortable Santa, and I say, “My brother Kirk ran away 3 months ago! Everyone has been yelling and mad at each other! And it’s all Kirk’s fault!”

Dr. Barnard looks at my Mom with sympathetic eyes. “Kirk ran away?” My mom starts to break down crying and she nods her head yes.

Dr. Barnard has me go to the waiting room and I hear them talking. My mom is crying, and Dr. Barnard is comforting her. My mom comes out of the office with a prescription, and Dr. Barnard motions for me to come back in to the office. I go back there and Dr. Barnard hands me a paper bag. “Some people are more high strung than others. And, that’s okay. They often go on to accomplish great things. But, when there patterns are thrown off, and their normal every routines change, they can feel like something is off. I sent your Mom home with a very low dose nerve pill for you. Only take it if you feel like you are having a hard time breathing. Also, when you start having a hard time breathing, pick up this bag and blow in to it.” Dr. Barnard shows me how to do it, and I start to panic while I’m breathing in to the bag. “Dr. Barnard! It’s making it worse!” I start to cry.  Dr. Barnard says calmly and slowly, “Look at me- look at what I’m doing…” I start to blow in to the bag with the same rhythm that Dr, Barnard is using. The same rhythm I have when I’m swimming. “I get it, Dr. Barnard! I get it!” Dr. Barnard gives me a high five!

My Mom and I leave and I can tell I’ve upset my Mom. She isn’t speaking to me. I’m trying to show her the cool trick with the bag and she isn’t saying anything. We sit in the car and my Mom starts to cry. She says, “Do you think I’m a bad Mom?” I shake my head no. “No! You’re a great Mom!” She says through muffled tears, “Then why did your brother run away? Why are you having panic attacks?” I shrug my shoulders, “I think I’ve always had panic attacks, Mom. I don’t think it’s you. I think there is something wrong with me. But, maybe it doesn’t have to be something wrong. Maybe it can be like a super power.” She starts to laugh and we go home.

This was not the first time I would have a major panic attack. My brother Kirk eventually came home about a year later, but he came home with a huge surprise. Dr. Barnard was my doctor until I was 21 years old. When I was 21 the DEA raided Dr. Barnard’s offices, and Dr. Barnard lost his practice. And my Mom- well-that story doesn’t have a happy ending. But, those are all stories for another day.

ISO My Tribe 

ISO My Tribe 

I want to tell you all a little bit of my story tonight. Just the beginning part. My Grandma was my best friend and she raised me until I was 9. She was this amazing woman, and she was incredibly beautiful. And she would tell my Dad incredibly sweet things about me like, “The best thing you ever did in this life was make this baby. ” And she was a character! She did tarot and astrology and spells. And she told my Dad, “She is going to be a walking contradiction. People are going to love her and hate her at the same time. She will eventually rub off on to her harshest critics.” 

Okay, so, I had a dream in Feb 1995 that my Grandma came to me in my sleep and she pointed to her birthdate on an old wooden calendar we would put together every month.  She told me that she was going to die on her birthday. 

I woke up screaming. My Grandma comes to my bed. She holds me. 

March 2nd, 1995 I am actually with my Mom and Dad. Its my Grandma’s birthday. I call my Grandpa and tell him I want to bring Grandma her birthday present. He tells me I can’t come over.  He says Grandma has had a stroke, and an ambulance has taken her to the hospital.  

She passes a few hours later. 

My Grandpa sends me to live with my Mom and Dad. 

My mom dies when I am 14. Very tragically, and this is another story in itself. 

My Dad is sick, and social services comes in the night she passes and tells my Dad that because he is sick, I have to be signed over in to my oldest brothers guardianship. And if he doesn’t I have to be signed over to Foster Care. (Also, this is why I still don’t trust social services to this day! Lol) 

SO, we moved around a lot the next few years. And, because of thid it was hard for me to find my tribe. Especially with my weight issues I just always felt like I didn’t belong. And, I was very self destructive and would sabotage any relationship with anyone that tried getting close with me. And this continued for well in to my adult life. I still have to stop myself from time to time. 

I guess I wanted to write this post for all of the other people out there like me.  I know I’m not the only one that has felt alone before-but when you know me- you know you don’t have to feel this way.  You will always have your tribe with me. And we will be one badass tribe.