OCD or Tourette Syndrome?

Some of my OCD compulsions have confused me for years.  Usually, people with OCD have an obsessional fear that causes them to do a compulsion to alleviate the anxiety they are experiencing because of the fear.  Some of my compulsions fit that description.  For example, I have to set my alarm clock a certain way over and over again before I go to bed because I’m worried I will set it wrong and I won’t wake up at the right time.  I might miss work, classes, etc.  However, some of my compulsions do not fit this description.  For example, I repeat words over and over and over again, all day, every day.  I’m not repeating the words to make some obsession I have go away.  I just know that I have to do it.  I have to repeat the words until they feel “right.”  If I don’t, then I experience anxiety.  I can hold off the repeating for a little while, but eventually I just have to give in.

 I thought I figured out the answer… The doctors I have seen in the past used to tell my parents and I that I just had a very high level of anxiety all the time.  I thought that repeating the words brought that anxiety level down to a more manageable level  But then, I discovered this.  It describes the difference between OCD and some related disorders, including Tourette Syndrome.  Tourette Syndrome would explain the reason why I repeat words.  If they were tics instead of compulsions, they would make a lot more sense.  (Or at least, as much sense as repeating words over and over can make!)  I’ve spoken to my counselor and the psychiatric nurse practitioner I saw a little over a week ago about it, and they think it makes sense, too. Some of my symptoms fit OCD, and some fit Tourette Syndrome.  There is something called Tourettic OCD, which may explain my combination of symptoms.  Tourette Syndrome and OCD are treated somewhat differently, so if we can determine exactly what I’m dealing with, it might help me figure out better ways to combat my symptoms.  

I asked the psychiatric nurse practitioner if he thought my symptoms fit Tourette Syndrome better, and he said that it was Tourette’s, but that it seemed more complicated than that.  He explained that if it was just Tourette’s, some of the medications I have been on in the past should have helped my symptoms, and they didn’t.  He wants me to get a neurological exam (CAT Scan, MRI, EEG, etc.) to determine exactly what I’m dealing with.  I don’t know if that’s something I’m going to do yet, but at least it’s an option.  Hopefully this summer, when I don’t have to focus on school, I can spend some time trying to figure out exactly what things I do are tics and what are compulsions, so that I can treat them the right way.  :)

A Poem About OCD

Life is uncertain.

Not everything can be controlled.

Most people accept this uncertainty, this lack of control, as part of life.

But for the OCD sufferer, life can be controlled.

So they construct a bubble around themselves,

To control as much of their life as they possibly can.

They think that by having control of anything and everything,

They can protect themselves from all danger, all hurt, all pain, all fear, all anxiety.

But the bubble also keeps out love, joy, spontaneity, laughter.

The bubble keeps out people, prevents relationships…

And the bubble can do nothing to keep out the hurt inside the person.

Now Choose Life…

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.  For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” –Deuteronomy 30:19-20

 

I remember the cold tile of the hospital floor; the salty taste of the tears that cut trenches down my cheeks during my every waking moment; the pale blue of the gowns they gave us to wear when we couldn’t be trusted to stay safe wearing our own clothing; the looks of pity and the ignorance of the staff… their commands to quit overreacting and their dismissing of our pain.

I remember the locks on every door that led to the outside word; the giant fence that surrounded the balcony to prevent us from jumping to our deaths; the feelings of entrapment; the fear that came from knowing I had no way to escape – this place…or my own tormented mind.

I remember the rigid routine, how our meals came at a specific time each day; how they called all of us up to the little window – similar to a movie ticket window, minus the joy – to receive our medications.  And I remember how the medications were powerful enough to numb all feeling and quiet fits, but never enough to fix the hurt that had built a home inside our hearts.

I remember the dull ache that welled from deep inside my soul and ate away at my desire to survive.  I remember the decision I made to quit – to quit getting up each morning, to quit smiling, to quit pretending the life I had was worth the effort.

I remember the pain I caused my loved ones, and what it felt like to become a lost cause, a diagnosis, a patient, another name on another doctor’s list – everything but a hurting child.  I remember feeling like a hindrance instead of a valuable member of society – a victim of depression.

And I remember the decision I made to allow God to break the iron chains that had kept me bound for so many years.  I remember finally realizing that I had to choose – to make the muscles in my face curve up instead of down; to laugh instead of sob; to pray instead of ignore God; to get up when everything in me said to stay in bed, hidden from the outside world.

I remember choosing to replace my nightmares with dreams; choosing to listen to the truth coming from voices I trusted instead of listening to the lies coming straight from the pit of hell.

I remember choosing to depend on God’s strength instead of my own.  I remember choosing to live.

And I will never forget the precious gift that is freedom in Christ.

 

Finding Peace and Meeting God on the Field of Dreams

I took a walk on the Field of Dreams tonight.  The weather was absolutely amazing!  (After a little while, the wind picked up and I noticed the clouds were dark.  I felt a few drops of rain, and decided to cut the walk short.  I didn’t want to get caught in a thunderstorm!)

I spent much of my walk praying to God.  I find that spending time on my own quiets my mind and relaxes my body.  Even the tics and compulsions let up a little bit when I go on walks on my own.

I took a few photos while I was out there.  (I am NOT a photographer, and I do not have a smart phone or a good camera, so my photos are pretty poor quality.  But I wanted to capture my time of peace, so that I could go back to it when things got chaotic again.)

God is so good to have provided me with some time to get away.  I am thankful. :)

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I think this is part of the Genessee River…you should have heard the birds chirping and the rushing of the water! It sounded like Spring! :)

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I love this tree!

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“Lord, I need you. Oh, I need you! Every hour I need you. My one defense my righteousness. Oh, God, how I need you!” (Matt Maher, Lord, I Need You)

As I walked, I began to sing Matt Maher’s song, “Lord, I Need You.”  It echoed what I felt in my heart.  Click here to listen to it on YouTube.  (I actually don’t know who originally sang this song.  When I searched it, Chris Tomlin’s name also came up.)

I hope you all spend some time with God on your own today! It’s well worth it.  :)

Love Always,

Carly

Knowing When to Let Go

This post is dedicated to my lacrosse team.  Let’s go, HCWLAX!!!

My mom has always said I’m never happy unless I’m going 90 MPH with my hair on fire, and for the most part, she’s right. However, with my OCD symptoms being as intense as they have been, and with depression threatening to take hold, I’ve realized that my crazy-busy lifestyle is hurting me more than helping me.  I started falling behind in my schoolwork, and became overwhelmed.  I started to dread lacrosse practice because my body and mind were so tired from the OCD symptoms that I didn’t think I could make it through 2 hours of practice.  I knew I wouldn’t have the energy to complete my assignments by the time practice ended.  I started becoming so nervous before lacrosse games that I thought I was going to throw up.  I wasn’t playing well in games because I simply couldn’t focus…my nerves and the list of things I had to do when the game or practice was over were getting in the way. 

My Coach suggested that maybe I should take a break from lacrosse.  I, of course, said no!  I made a commitment to my team, and they depended on me as their goalie to be at every practice and every game.  But the truth was, even when I was there in body, I wasn’t there in mind and spirit.  As much as physical activity has helped me in the past, being a part of the lacrosse team this year was causing me to become extremely overwhelmed and stressed.  

After a particularly rough game on Friday, Coach told me to think things through over the weekend and talk to her on Monday.  I met with her Monday before practice, and even when I left the meeting, I wasn’t planning on quitting lacrosse.  I simply asked Coach to give me a one-day break from practice.  Later, though, I realized that I would have to miss practice on Tuesday because of class, and we had a game on Wednesday, and I probably shouldn’t miss the two practices right before a game.  I asked Coach if I could still have the day off, and she told me I had to be either all in or all out.  She told me to not think about what anyone else needed or wanted from me and to just think about what I needed and wanted.  She was totally fine with me stepping down from lacrosse if it would help me succeed academically and if it would improve my mental health.  She had ideas on who to put in goal to replace me, so I didn’t need to worry about leaving my team without a goalie.  She supported me 100%.  In the end, I decided that I needed to stop playing lacrosse. I would get sick and start doing really poorly in school if I didn’t.  I broke down crying as I made the decision (and no, I was not in the privacy of my room…this conversation with Coach was taking place on the phone in the hallway of one of the buildings where classes are held.  Talk about embarrassing!)  The tears were a mixture of tears of sadness and tears of relief.  I didn’t have to play lacrosse anymore.  Freedom from that obligation lifted a weight off my shoulders, a weight I didn’t realize was so heavy until it was gone.

I don’t like quitting things, especially when quitting means I’m letting down people who depend on me.  I don’t like quitting because of my OCD or depression…it’s like, by quitting, I’m allowing them to win.  I don’t want to give the OCD and depression any control.  But the truth is, they have only won a small battle.  Ultimately, by stepping back from lacrosse, I will win the war.  

Not playing lacrosse means I have a chance at staying healthy.  Not playing lacrosse means I can take care of my mind and body.  Not playing lacrosse means I can spend more time with God.  Not playing lacrosse means I can put more effort into my academics.

Learning to let go is hard.  This is one of the hardest (and best) decisions I have ever made.  I am grateful for my teammates, who have stuck by me through all of this.  I’m grateful for Coach, who put my health and well-being ahead of lacrosse.  I’m grateful that I still get to be a part of the team in a small way.  I’m still team chaplain, so I can continue to help our team grow spiritually.  I am still going to attend most of the games (though not the practices.)  My role will no longer be as player, but as servant.  I can be there to help Coach set up pregame warm-up drills.  I can encourage my teammates on the field.  I can lift up those who are on the bench.  I can fill water-bottles and pick up Hammer Gel wrappers at half-time.  The stress of playing will no longer be on my shoulders.  I can now enjoy being a part of this team, instead of it causing a ridiculous amount of stress and anxiety.

 

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I am so blessed by these girls…my teammates!!

 

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This is Evlyn and Me…Evlyn is my Gospel Girl.  She’s such an encouragement to me!  Love you, Ev!!

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Another of Ev and me having a little fun! (And Nicole soaking up the sunshine in the background.)

One Choice At A Time

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”  

- Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Depression is a funny thing.  Sometimes it disappears for months at a time, and I think (naively) that at last it is finally gone for good. Eventually, though, it once again rears its ugly head, and I’m forced to contemplate living an entire lifetime divided into periods of joy and periods of despair.  My obsessive-compulsive disorder has significantly worsened these past few weeks, and it’s taken its toll on my body, mind, and spirit.  Of course, the ridiculously long-lasting winter we’ve been experiencing certainly doesn’t help anything. Needless to say, I’m once again battling the depression I had hoped would never again return.

If you know anything about depression, you know that even the smallest of tasks seem too difficult to tackle..things like completing homework assignments on time and lasting through 2-hour lacrosse practices; even doing a load of laundry or getting up out of bed to face another day can seem impossible.  

Colors are dulled.  Sounds are muffled.  Laughter is hollow.  Smiles are rare.

And yet, I choose life.

During my high school years, when my depression was so chronic and severe that it landed me in the hospital on multiple occasions, the verses from Deuteronomy (see above) were what I clung to.  (It’s funny…I actually only knew verse 19, and it wasn’t quite recently that I read verse 20 and realized that by choosing God, I was choosing life!) Each thing I did then, and each thing I do now, was (is) a choice.  I can choose to ignore my alarm clock and sleep through my classes, or I can choose to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and attend them.  I can choose not to go to lacrosse practice, or I can choose to ignore the exhaustion and push myself to give my team the best I have to offer.  I can choose not to do any of my homework, or I can choose to set small goals, completing my assignments (or, as it were, portions of assignments) one at a time.

I told a friend tonight that I was pretty much out of clothes because they were all in the hamper, but I couldn’t seem to muster up the effort it would take to walk the clothes down to the basement where the laundry room is.  She encouraged me to make doing my laundry my goal for the night.  Guess what?  My laundry is now in the dryer.  Even better, I did a little bit more work on an assignment that I’ve had trouble getting focused on, and I feel more confident that I can complete it within the week.  I’m even listening to Celine Dion’s Las Vegas show as I’m writing this to improve my mood.  (If you know me, you know how much I love Celine.  For me, not listening to Celine is a big indicator that all is not well.  And you can laugh at this…I give you permission! :P)  I also went on a walk, which was super refreshing!  It was chilly and there was snow on the ground, but the fact that it was slushy gave me hope that warm weather is just around the corner!  I even saw some geese…they’re returning to the area in anticipation of Spring!  I listened to the service from my home church this morning, and I read a little bit of a great book by Francine Rivers called Redeeming Love.  I even cleaned my room!

Beating depression is about choosing life.  (If you’re reading this and you’re dealing with depression, don’t think I’m discounting the pain – emotional and physical – that you’re experiencing.  Don’t think I don’t understand the level of exhaustion you feel.  Don’t think I can’t empathize with you, because I can and I do.  I’ve been there.  I am there.  I know how you feel, and I still say it’s a choice.)  Now, don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not saying it’s easy.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use antidepressants.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ask for help or seek out counseling.  I have done (am doing) those things.  But when it comes down to it, the people that beat the depression are the ones who decide that life is worth living.  The ones who choose to live are the ones that make it.  If you don’t want to get better, you won’t.

God is a major part of my life, as I’m sure you well know.  Without Him, I wouldn’t have survived my first bout of serious depression.  Without Him, I won’t survive this one.  The Lord is my life.  When we overcome tough challenges, it’s easy to be proud of our accomplishments and to attribute our success to our own inner strength and determination.  I’m certainly guilty of doing that.  But every time I’m tempted to do it again, I’m reminded that God is the one who has given me strength and determination.  God is the one who has put people in my life that have encouraged me and helped me in my struggle.  God has provided for me.  God has blessed me.  God has loved me.  God has never left me.  God has been a constant in my life since before I was born.  If I’m going to survive life on this earth – with all its hurts, trials, injustices, pain, and evils – I’m going to have to rely on God to keep me sane, to give me courage to keep going in the face of depression, to overcome obstacles, to beat temptation, to look for good when evil is staring me right in the face.

Ironically, I was asked just last week by a youth pastor at my church to speak about my struggle with depression and how God has helped me through it to the students at my home church this summer. This request comes at an odd time, since I never would have chosen to share about my struggle with depression and how I overcame it before I actually overcame it!  But I’m certainly not about to deny God a chance to work through me just because I’m not ready.  I trust that God will give me the courage I need and the words to speak when the time comes.  Please be praying for me, friends.  This is an opportunity I’ve waited for and one that I am excited about, but I’m nervous and scared at the same time.  I’m not the greatest public speaker, and it’s even harder to share about something so personal.

If you take nothing else from this post, remember this:  Choose God.  Choose life.  Choose to do it (whatever it may be) even when you don’t think you can.  God can and will sustain you.  Lean on Him.  Trust in Him.  Ask for help.  Never give up.

Also, enjoy this music video of Celine Dion singing I’m Alive!!  

Love Always,

Carly

P.S. I think I’ve already posted about these verses in Deuteronomy before.  If I have, forgive me.  They’re just so good!

Epic Fail

It finally happened.  The unthinkable…  The unimaginable…  The impossible…

I failed a test.

I didn’t just get a B, or a C.  I failed.  As in, didn’t pass.  Picture a big fat F on the front of my test.  (I’m screaming inside right now…ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!)

Now, you may be wondering how this could have happened.  It’s not like the test was in chemistry or physics or something impossible! It was Drugs and Behavior, although I’ll admit that the tests for that course are pretty tough.  There’s no multiple choice or matching – only short answer, fill-in-the-blank, and essay.  Basically, you have to know the information, or you’re toast.  I did not.  But there were a few factors that contributed to my failure.  

1. My OCD the past few weeks (mainly last week) intensified dramatically, making it extremely hard to focus and get work done. (You need to know that I hate using my OCD as an excuse.  To me, it’s not a good enough reason for failure at anything.  However, it was a strong factor – maybe the main factor – in the grade I got on this test.  Some things cannot be helped, and the fact that I have OCD and that it sometimes affects my schoolwork is one of them.)

2. I lost motivation to do schoolwork. 

3. I procrastinated on studying, and when I did study, I focused too much on the less important things (i.e. definitions instead of possible essay questions).

4. I was sleep-deprived (because I stayed up late studying).  

Except for Factor #1, all of them were in my control, and I made poor decisions.  

Remember that post not too long ago about giving myself permission to get a B or even a C in a class?  God must have read it and took it a little too seriously :P  I spoke with my professor directly after, because I knew I had done poorly, and he thinks I can still get a B in the course, despite this poor test grade.  So, my new goal is a B.  I cannot mathematically get an A in the course, so a B is the next best thing.  

A friend reminded me yesterday of this verse: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not human masters.” -Colossians 3:23

This includes schoolwork.  The whole reason I’m in college is to pursue a career path I believe God has placed me on in order to serve Him by helping others.  So, while everyone should do their best with whatever talents they have (whether they are in academics, art, music, athletics, or basket-weaving!) it’s also important to keep in mind that the work they do is for the Lord, and the talents they have are from the Lord.  I may be a good student, but only because God gave me my intellect.  I honor Him by using my talents to the best of my ability, but my identity does not lie in these talents.  My identity is in Christ.  I’m not perfect.  Sometimes things get in the way of schoolwork that I can’t control, and sometimes I make poor choices that lead to poor grades.  Regardless of whether I ace or fail a test, God is still God.  I’m not in control of my life…God is.  I’m reminded of this song by Heather Williams.  Enjoy!

I’m running late for practice, so I’m going to sign off and post this now without editing it thoroughly.  This was a quick little post that’s may not be helpful to you in any way, but writing is cathartic and I had to talk about my horrible day.  On the bright side, I got about $250 back for my tax refund today! :)  #it’sthelittlethings

<3 Carly

 

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