Thursday, January 31, 2008


Every morning I take six pills. This is sort of fitting as the number I used to do everything in was six. I would touch the door handle six times, check the lock six times etc. There are people who definitely take more, and there are people who take less. To be completely fair only four of them are prescribed.
I have two Fluoxetine (prozac) two wellbutrin (bupropion) and two Ginko biloba suplements.
The prozac is for OCD the wellbutrin is for depression, and the Ginko is for sexual side effects of prozac. It's quite a fun mess.

It's become part of my routine, wake up-eat-take pills, go to whatever I need to go to. I've even gotten in the habit of carrying my pills with me with me everywhere. Sometimes I'll end up someplace other than home, and frankly a day without pills is horrible. It's not so immediate, so three days without pills is a little like being mildly OCD, but one day is still a perceptible difference.
It's just interesting how these are now a part of my life, and unless I somehow find time to do therapy, will always be. (OCD therapy is like having another university course, there's homework and everything)

it just deserves a certain amount of credence. Sure I'm not drinking and smoking to self medicate or anything (I did do that for a while), but I still have to rely on something artificial to keep me sane. It's a little disturbing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Getting used to drugs is too long of a process. I don't want to have to take my medicine for a month before feeling any better. I don't want to have more energy but be just as little desire to do things as when I was too tired to leave bed. I would rather just get better right now. Honestly it would be a lot easier if I just got some physical injury. If I broke my leg, then there would be a clear cut way to deal with it and I would have a general idea of how long it would take me to get better. Same with most medical things, but it's not so with mental illness.
Once you're determined to get help and get things figured out it's still months until you feel any better.
I started getting treatment somewhere around January of last year, and yet here it is a year later and I'm still struggling to get things straight. New problems have arisen and some of the old problems aren't so bad, but I sure as hell am still crazy.
The thing is I'm not even that bad off. I caught the signs early, got early help, had a relatively mild case (at least I think so) if it's this bad for me, then how bad must it be for schizophrenics and manic depressives? How much time is lost to being crazy. Statistically the majority (don't quote me but it's higher than eighty percent) of people will get some sort of mental illness or defect sometime in their lives. you probably know someone with something wrong with them.
Frankly it just sucks.
I still don't really want to tell people that I'm obsessive compulsive, or depressed. I don't know how to explain it.
Depression is fairly common though.
even the common things are hard to admit too.
There's such a stigma, and healing takes such a long time, and while you're healing the entire world is that much harder to deal with.
It's so gradual, getting back to a base level of existence.
I've just about had enough of it, but of course it's likely to keep going, and it's not going to be a short process.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I Hopefully will soon be fixed. Today I got a new prescription from my psychiatrist, and as soon as that kicks in I should be alright. I managed to avoid complete failure in the whole staying in school front, and it seems that I should be able to right my wrongs sooner rather than later. We'll see.

I'll keep ya'll updated.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Rainy days

I have an unusual affinity for rainy days. I love the smell of freshly rained on dirt, and the feel of cold drops hitting my forearms. Davis winters are so perfect for me. I don't have to shovel snow as I had every winter before coming to Davis. I don't have the obligatory two power outages that winter always would bring. I just have water coming down from the sky and making the world spring up green around me.
There are other pluses of course, Like not feeling guilty for staying inside all day and reading. The extra time for homework is also nice, because you aren't wasting a sunny day on homework.
I think that some of my love for rain comes from my interest in plants. I adore plants. There is something very nice about the way a plant lives. I like the things that everyone else likes about plants, like food and flowers and scents, but I like the little things too. I like the little tendrils that vine plants send out to hold on to their surroundings. I like the way that plants lean towards the light. I like the way that their inner workings are structured, the phloem and xylem, the meristem and the endodermis.
So rain has a lot for me to love. I also love the relation my mind always makes with Ireland when rain begins to pour down. I'm enough Irish to say that I'm Irish, and I like the culture (what I know of it) enough that I'd seriously consider living there. There's just something that feels very like home when I see a field of green and rain siphoning out of the sky in sheets.
Today with the rain falling down more than it had been during any other part of the school year I felt very at home. I came to campus with no umbrella and no jacket and walked from my class to the MU holding a copy of the Aggie above my head. The sound of rain hitting the branches above me calmed my mind down.
I saw a girl walking with no covering, smiling to herself as if the world were absolutely perfect. She had her head phones on and on every surface of her face the smile was spread. This was a kindred spirit, unless she had just been proposed too, or just aced a test, she was indeed a kindred spirit. There is nothing as refreshing as walking about in the rain.
It washes everything down, including us. I never understood the symbolism behind having rain coincide with depression in film. The rain is refreshing. Maybe you don't agree, but if you just give it a chance and cherish the beautiful drops of water, the spinning polar molecules of an Oxygen and two Hydrogen atoms, perhaps rainy days will bring a full face smile to you too.

a typical day

When I walk down the paths and streets of our city I watch people. I know this isn't unique. Moments of simple bliss taken from the nearly imperceptible flow of people are common, at least if there's any justice in this world. All mind's fill with ideas of the nature of classmates, coworkers and passersby. All minds collect stories, long and short, false and true. All minds make up tall tales to accompany the odd observations which slide before our eyes.
Some of us make slightly more ridiculous stories. There's no harm in this, it is from this tendency which fiction is born. Even fewer of us believe, if only for the fevered moments in which the thrall of fear and anxiety takes us, the myths we construct.
Many of the things in our world provide potential for death and destruction. Think of fire alarms. The shiny red handle so tempting; screaming to be pulled. If I pull it, what happens? Death. People rush out of their seats, running about as if the world were to end. The slower among us, as if we were in a sped up nature film, are picked off, and gradually are trampled by the remainder of the herd.
Just as in nature and in the world at large this destruction and mayhem has a pattern. it is only the weak who are destroyed, who are trampled. Today those who are weak are wearing white shoes. They are wearing the colours red and green. They are easily labelled for anyone to see.
When, not if but when, that fire alarm is triggered by some menacing person these people will die. I am that menace. I am seated next to the fire alarm, and when I feel the power arching through my fingers, when I feel the urge to reach for the lever, I will strike a death blow on the unsuspecting weak.
I don't pull the alarm, and no chaos ensues, but as I leave the room I touch my left shoulder to my left ear six times, and wait for a S.W.A.T. team to speed around the corner in pursuit of the mass killer, me.
That is how life is for me. This is not a bad day, but a normal one. I am not haunted by the fear of killing because I've done it I am haunted for a more perverse biochemical reason.
This is OCD.
OCD is exactly as it sounds Obsessive and Compulsive. I Obsess over things, particularly things which no one else would give a second thought to, and I Compulsively do things. It's a very straightforward name for a very ordered disorder. I could bore you with the DSM IV-TR definition of OCD or the biochemical screw ups that help to cause it. All you absolutely need to know is that my brain doesn't produce enough serotonin, which is the same thing all those clinically depressed people out there don't have enough of. For that reason I take the same stuff they do, just in a higher dose (and some unfortunate individuals take a much higher dose). (and some unfortunate individuals have both OCD and Depression, I happen to be one of them)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

How OCD Wasted A Year of My Life

I suppose an update is in order. I've a lot to explain, so I'll likely separate this into multiple posts.
Though I doubt anyone is reading this, I do think someone may in the future. I've been away from writing for two reasons and two reasons only. (or one if you want to be over simplistic)
Over the first year and first quarter of my second year at UC Davis, I've been suffering from OCD and depression. It's been "interesting"

I've had troubles in my academics, in my life in the outside world, and in simply existing. I'm not one to blame everything bad that happens on some external source, however I can't help but feel that my failures have not been my fault.

The story starts with my turn from simple tics and habits to full on rituals.
I'm not able to tell when the change truly was, as I've had obsessive compulsive tendencies my entire life, but somewhere in the fall quarter 2007 I went crazy.
Six is my number, I do many things in sixes. I do fewer things now that I'm medicated, but the medication only lessens the urges, it doesn't manage to quell them.
I had a number of rituals, but for expediency I will refrain from listing them all. The most common, and most marked rituals were these: I would touch my left shoulder to my left ear in some multiple of six (very hard to hide), I would turn in a clockwise circle for some multiple of six times, and I would lick car tires while walking past them.

These were only the most notable visible acts which I indulged in during my first year here at Davis. more troubling were the thoughts that filled my head.
every day, for what seemed like many hours (time goes much more slowly when you are afraid) I would see vivid mental images of my girlfriend's death.
I can call up many a scenario, and nearly everything in this world has some potential as an instrument of death.
The most prominent visions were those of Julie being hanged, of Julie being burnt at the stake, and of me slamming Julie's head against the corner of a table.

Of course these images were distressing. It felt like I spent more time in the foetal position during that year than I had as a foetus.

It took me until winter quarter to finally get some help (this after a first quarter of a D in chemistry and an F in maths)
I went to the campus counselling centre and made an appointment. I spoke to a rather nice psychologist, sitting in what was normally her chair so as to avoid having my back to the door.
She referred me to a psychiatrist and a specialist in OCD.
The whole process went interestingly enough.

I was unwilling to drive for my first five or so meetings with the OCD psychologist. I took the bus to Sacramento and rode my bike the other two miles to her office. I would come about an hour early, but I did that with everything. I would miss a class instead of showing up late. Tardiness was something I avoided at all costs.
I did this until the meds I got from my psychiatrist kicked in a little and the overwhelming feeling that I was going to kill someone with my car left me long enough for the drive to Sacramento.

I kept on with the drugs, gradually upping them to my current dose (which it turns out is still too, low. However that is for another time) And eventually I began to succede in some classes. Throughout my First year I got at least one A every quarter. This didn't significantly raise my grades enough to keep me out of academic probation, but somehow I managed to avoid complete dismissal.

Summer came and I went back to working at camp in Tahoe. It was good as my girlfriend was working with me (she had been in Boston the entire year). I stopped going to my psychologist because it was too much work. While one is working and studying and living it is too much to try to work out ones issues.
Psychotherapy for OCD is different than for other disorders. It is technically called CBT cognitive behavioural therapy. The essential basis to this treatment is that the person must do that which they are afraid of until they are desensitised. This means spending those hours you used to spend trying to avoid thinking about horrible things, intentionally thinking about those horrible things.

I had some minor problems over the summer, usually spurred by a lack of medication (it took much more effort to renew prescriptions away from my psychiatrist) but overall the summer was much much better than the school year, and I began to believe I was getting better, maybe at a standard that I could live with.

I went back to school and started working on two classes which I had done poorly on while unmedicated. In this whole plan I didn't intend to spend every day of the week lying in my bed with the curtains drawn.
I would come home from class, and the first things I would do would be to strip, and hop in bed.
I didn't shower, I didn't do the laundry, and I most certainly didn't do homework.

I slept, or sometimes cried.

No longer were my bouts of crying fully explained by horrible images, now they just came.
I just felt unbeleivable sadness about things that shouldn't have bothered me nearly that much. I swear that I slept more hours of the day than I was awake.
I don't fully know where my quarter went, but for some odd reason I didn't think to question my depression untill the end of the quarter.
I've still yet to make my new appointment with my psychiatrist.
I left that first partially medicated quarter with an F, a D and a C. the first time I have not gotten at least one A.
Today I got an email saying that without some serious hoop jumping I would be dismissed from the university.
I had expected this, but I am not looking forward to talking to all of these functionaries, telling them about my insanity, with papers and medical records to prove.

I'm guessing that this is one of three (four if I'm being pessimistic) things they would accept as reasons to not dismiss someone.
1. serious mental illness
2. Serious physical illness
3 Serious family problem
4. (pessimistic) large contribution to the university by a rich parent, some sort of legacy deal.

I'm sure they'll let me stay, if they don't I'll be fighting it to the end.
I still would rather have been sane this whole time.

In fact, if it were between finishing college and staying sane I would chose sanity.