On a Brighter Note…

The road to self-discovery is never a linear path. There are bumps, traffic jams,  and roadblocks that force you to find another way to where you’re headed to. Huge life changes are frightening, and it causes the mind to create self-doubt (especially an OCD mind). I recently moved from one state to another to pursue my educational goals. In the midst of all these environmental changes, I continue to struggle with my mental illness and my physical illness. Life presents us with struggles to remind us that we’re mere mortal humans and that life will eventually end one day. (I don’t mean to sound somber…a bright note is coming).

The struggle reminds us to appreciate the good days that we have. I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good days I have without suffering from the bad days. I wouldn’t be able to appreciate having the ability to smile without nerve pain in my face if it weren’t for the days that I did suffer from painful facial movement. It’s important to own our struggle and remind ourselves that there’s a brighter day ahead of us if we just keep going. I know what it feels like to feel hopeless, chronically depressed, and morose. As I write this, my pessimistic mind tells me that I will experience all those emotions again one day (maybe sooner than later). And you know what? That’s ok. It’s okay. I’ll be okay, and you’ll be okay. We have to remember that those feelings will not last forever.

I once read that you can’t complete the path to where you’re going to without the help of others. I’m slowly realizing this and embracing this concept.  Help is needed in order to thrive and become your best self. Don’t be afraid to grab the hand that’s offering to help you. You’re not weak, we all need support. I’m slowly learning to view my struggle as a right of passage, not as a burden to myself and my family. Instead of feeling guilty and burdensome, I should feel grateful and loved that I have such an amazing support system. I want to let all those who suffer from OCD know that they shouldn’t be afraid to seek counseling. Preferably, find a therapist who specializes in treating OCD and who understands OCD. You can’t do it on your own. Love yourself enough to heal yourself, and sometimes that means asking for help.

<3,
mharnelle

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Vulnerability

The heavy feeling of a chronic illness is unlike any other. The weight that I place on my loved ones is immense, stressful, unbearable at times. I despise the cards that I’ve been dealt. My mom and dad keep telling me to maintain my faith, “God has a plan for me…”. If God has a plan, why can’t I understand the trials and tribulations that I’m going through? The monsters that live in my head have found a permanent campground and I can’t seem to evict them. I’m moving further and further away from the person that I want to become. I allow my demons to take over because I’m exhausted. I’m tired of fighting them. The more I allow my demons to take over, the more bitter I become. I’m bitter from the suffering, I’m bitter from the pain, I’m bitter from the exhaustion, I’m bitter because I’ve become a burden. Bitterness is an easier emotion to exude versus happiness or optimism. I’ll admit- I’ve allowed my life circumstances to bitter my soul. It’s hard to feel light and optimistic when you feel heavy and burdensome.

I want to be kind, I want to be grateful, I want to show appreciation, but it’s difficult. It’s difficult because I feel undeserving. I want to feel like somehow everything is going to fall into place one day- right now, I feel heavy and burdensome. I feel like the hold that I had that once was my life is comparable to holding sand. Eventually, everything will slip through the finger cracks until there isn’t anything left.  Maybe that’s an initiation we must endure when we’re given the privilege of life…we breakdown and scarify our life slate. Once we reach the bottom of our breakdown we begin repairing and mending those scars. Furthermore, it’s our scars that make us stronger, tougher, more resilient. I think I’ve reached the bottom of my breakdown. My scars are large, fresh, and deep. I can’t repair them on my own. I’ve come to the conclusion that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It does not denounce a lack of strength or control. Vulnerability is scary. Vulnerability is strength.

Chronic Illness

Never ever underestimate the power that chronic illness has on your life. I’ve suffered from what I thought was TMJ but revealed itself to be nerve pain from my wisdom teeth removal 2.5 years ago. This has strained not just my life, but my families, and most importantly my life partners. He’s constantly called upon to support me and console me when I’m in pain, crying from my depressive episodes, and anything and everything in between. 

Living with a chronic illness is terribly isolating- add a mental illness like OCD into the problem and life just doesn’t seem feasible to me. Tonight I lay awake in pain from the rashes that have appeared suddenly on my face and body. This isn’t the first occurrence…therefore I know that I’m in for a long night- or should I say a week or however long they last. I’m miserable and all I can do is sit and let these rashes pass whilst I’m deprived of sleep.

I still mourn the person that I use to be before getting sick. I was active, doing contact sports like Muay Thai, working, and financially independent. My favorite part about my financial independence was my ability to treat those that I love- that is what I miss most. I hate that I can’t show my appreciation in the way that I’m used too. I’m still trying to learn to love the person that I’ve devolved into. I’ve lost my sense of self, to be honest, and I don’t really know what my future looks like. I live with many monsters in my mind and body that I fight every day. There are days that I wish I wasn’t alive anymore because some days I can’t muster the energy to deal with things. The psychological toll that this has on me is exhausting. 

I was just recently prescribed medication that helps with the nerve pain I’ve been having which finally gave me a glimpse of hope. But my body decides that it’s a great time for horrid sleep-depriving rashes. I felt an ounce of my independence come back but watched it diminish as I deal with these rashes. To say I’m depressed is an understatement. I have not one specific word that sums up all the emotions that I feel right now. It’s a challenge staying hopeful when you’ve seen countless physicians and they can’t find an answer to this recurrent rash.

 

Trading My OCD For Something Else

I was inspired to write when I happened to come across a blog called “My OCD Voice”. Morgan, who’s the author, titled a post “I’d Rather Have…Than OCD”. I resonated with this statement so much. In the darkest trenches of my OCD brain, I often wish I had something else other than OCD. I even find myself wishing that I had another form of OCD. I suffer from ruminations and the need for validation and one compulsion that I have is confessing. I have this insurmountable level of morality and my OCD always attacks the most important thing to me. To say it’s exhausting is an understatement.

Some days I wonder what a “normal” person thinks of on a day to day basis. I wonder what it feels like to live a life free of OCD. I wonder how much I would be able to enjoy life without OCD. I wonder how nice it is to actually be present and in the moment as opposed to stuck in my own head. The amount of anxiety that OCD causes me is inexpressible.

Education is vital to living a tolerable life with OCD. I’ve read books, blogs, websites, etc to educate myself on the mental illness and it was through my reading and research that I found the courage to ask for help.

When I started this blog I promised myself to be more self-compassionate. So far, I haven’t been fulfilling that promise. I’ll start small: When a thought arises that causes me distress I will tell myself “It’s just a thought, it does not define who you are. These thoughts are ego-dystonic.”

Mharnelle

Chronic Pain

I’ve suffered from chronic pain for 3 years now. It all started after a wisdom teeth removal of all 4 wisdom teeth 3 years ago. Unknowingly, I clench my jaw at night while I’m sleeping. The surgery exacerbated the clenching and I no longer have cartilage on my both sides of my jaw. Some days are easier than others, while some days require all my energy to wake up, get ready, and walk my dog. Today I’m having one of those really tough days. I don’t have an appetite, I feel really morose, and I don’t have any energy to really do anything.

I reflect and look at my life sometimes and wonder what the rest of my life will look like. I’m only 24 years old and my pain prevents me from doing certain things that I want to do. The pain causes extreme fatigue and drains all of my energy. I look at myself and wonder what types of jobs I’ll be able to hold in the future. I was an administrative assistant/receptionist for 4 years of my life before the onset of my pain and I had to quit because the pain was so debilitating. I recently received an AA in sociology and I’m working on my BA in psychology right now. What will I do with my degree? I’m not entirely sure.

There’s a Buddhist quote that says: “Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.”

When I’m debilitated by pain, my OCD is exacerbated. I sit, I ruminate, and I crawl into a depressive state. This quote helps me to remember that this won’t last forever.

Who Am I?

I want to normalize the discourse of mental illness. Some days are easier than others, whilst some days require me to expend an immense amount of energy to wake up and brush my teeth. O.C.D. is a fucking monster. It’s a monster that knows your deepest fears. It uses its power of your consciousness to believe things that are completely erroneous and against your moral character. It produces ego-dystonic thoughts that scare the living shit out of you.

Dear Myself: starting today I promise to devout time and energy into being kind and compassionate towards you. ❤ Myself

I want to believe that someday I’ll be able to embrace my monsters and make peace with them. They’re a part of who I am, whether I like them or not. They’re never going to be exiled out of my life as they’re manifestations of my thoughts. Thoughts that are produced by my brain which is an internal organ in my body that’s vital to my well-being.

Somedays I sit and try and decipher the positive elements of O.C.D. Have I found any? A few. I contribute my ability to empathize to my OCD brain. I have a deep understanding of pain, and suffering which helps me connect to the outside world when I’m not locked inside my brain. I contribute my over consciousness to my O.C.D. brain. Since I can remember I’ve always been hyper aware and extremely responsible. I would literally cry when I was a child if I forgot my homework…thanks O.C.D. My ability to empathize has made me an overly sensitive person. Sometimes I hate that attribute of myself. Sometimes I’m grateful.

Today I find myself falling in and out of love with myself. The arduous journey to self-love has been anything but easy. Self-compassion is something we all need to practice. The term “Self-Compassion” can be thrown around so thoughtlessly. Self-compassion is learning to love yourself despite your faults. Self-compassion is taking care of your well being (mentally, spiritually, and physically). Self-compassion is speaking with kindness when you speak to yourself. Self-compassion is loving all attributes that make you, you (even the ones you may despise).

It’s easy to write my definition of self-compassion and expel the meaning onto paper (or my laptop). I find it difficult to practice the actual philosophy of self-compassion. Why is it so difficult for me to be self-compassionate?

-Mharnelle