Mental Illness, OCD

What I Wish People Knew About OCD

OCD week 2017.JPG

It is officially OCD Awareness Week! Yay! To celebrate, I want to address some misconceptions, useful facts, and where you can go if you want to learn more about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Education is key to ending the mental health stigma!

  1. First and foremost, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not a “quirk” everyone has. You can not be sooo OCD. It is a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). One of the main requirements for the disorder is the cause of clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  2. OCD is considered a chronic condition with a low rate of spontaneous remission. When you suffer from OCD, it is something you often have to fight repeatedly. There is no shame in falling backward or relapsing. In fact, treatment is often two steps forward one step back, and that’s okay!
  3. Although OCD is often chronic, treatment can still be very successful! 70% of patients with OCD will benefit from either medicine or cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Patients who respond to medicine usually show a 40 to 60% reduction in OCD symptoms, while those who respond to CBT often report a 60 to 80% reduction in OCD symptoms.
  4. Triggers related to washing and cleanliness only make up a small part of the OCD population. Obsessions can range from unwanted sexual thoughts, religious thoughts, harming others, and much more.
  5. Research suggests that genes play a partial role in the development of OCD as well as communication problems in the frontal lobe of the brain. The thoughts and emotions one feels when suffering from OCD are valid and very real. They are not exaggerations or made up.
  6.  Treatment is not easy. Treatment often involves facing your biggest fears and sitting with the storm of anxiety that fills up each nook and cranny of your body. For me, OCD treatment was the hardest thing I’ve ever faced. It included endless tears, panic attacks, and a brain that did not want to change its ways. It was exhausting and emotional but once you learn you have control, it is absolutely empowering.
  7. OCD is the worst and best thing that has ever happened to me. I’ve experienced so much pain, but have gained an endless amount of strength, knowledge, and friendship. I have received support, understanding, and acceptance. I am a part of an amazing community.
  8. If you want to learn more about #OCDWeek click here! If you would like to learn more about OCD click here!

~ Stay Chipper Friends ~


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College, Mental Illness, OCD, Tourette Syndrome

Being Drafted Into the Mental Health War

I am going to take you back in time. We are in the Fall of 2007.  My parents only child has been very sick now for four years. She was diagnosed with Severe Tourette Syndrome in third grade. She has been on over 50 different medications. None of them easing the terror of the nights that are spent twitching and convulsing in bed. My mother would stay by her side all night as the tics were released, doing her best to sing soft calming melodies through the tears she held back. Just last year, 6th grade, my parents only child was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She couldn’t leave the house without a panic attack. She hasn’t brushed her hair in over a month, she hasn’t showered in over two. The doctors try new medications, desperately trying to save the flame in this young girl that seems to be slowly burning out. 7th grade. She is experiencing new and scary thoughts. She doesn’t like them. The thoughts tell her she has to kill herself, but she doesn’t want to. She tells my parents and they move into action without her knowing. They secretly lock up the medication. They secretly hide the knives. They secretly tie a string to her door that leads into their bedroom with a bell on the end. This notifies them each time she opens her door to leave her room. She didn’t want to kill herself, but she felt she had to. The thoughts were so strong one night. She didn’t want to do it. She still saw so much hope in life. She loved her parents and her friends. She ran into my mother’s bedroom crying to tell her the thoughts were loud in her head and my parents took her to the ER. This young girl of 13 years old did not feel safe. She felt she had to die.

Just last year, 6th grade, my parents only child was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She couldn’t leave the house without a panic attack. She hasn’t brushed her hair in over a month, she hasn’t showered in over two. The doctors try new medications, desperately trying to save the flame in this young girl that seems to be slowly burning out. 7th grade. She is experiencing new and scary thoughts. She doesn’t like them. The thoughts tell her she has to kill herself, but she doesn’t want to. She tells my parents and they move into action without her knowing. They secretly lock up the medication. They secretly hide the knives. They secretly tie a string to her door that leads into their bedroom with a bell on the end. This notifies them each time she opens her door to leave her room. She didn’t want to kill herself, but she felt she had to. The thoughts were so strong one night. She didn’t want to do it. She still saw so much hope in life. She loved her parents and her friends. She ran into my mother’s bedroom crying to tell her the thoughts were loud in her head and my parents took her to the ER. This young girl of 13 years old did not feel safe. She felt she had to die.

The thoughts were so strong one night. She didn’t want to do it. She still saw so much hope in life. She loved her parents and her friends. She ran into my mother’s bedroom crying to tell her the thoughts were loud in her head and my parents took her to the ER. This young girl of 13 years old did not feel safe. She felt she had to die.

In the end, she was admitted into a residential program for 14 days and it was discovered that Prozac was the culprit to these suicidal thoughts.  This journey, however, was only the beginning.

It is crazy to look back upon my memories. To see such dark times. Times that do not even seem real. It is as if a film playing in my head and not real life memories. To think that now I am in my first year of my Master’s program, fighting the stigma of chronic OCD. Showing the world that there is hope, there is a life worth living, and there is a future for them. The fight is hard. It is a test created in a way that makes you nearly destined to fail. But if you put every ounce of strength you have into this war called Mental Illness, you can win it. Time and time again you will be enlisted in this mental health army, drafted into battle. Choose to fight, choose to learn, choose to make friends and be an advocate for your life and others affected, choose to win.

victory

 

~ Stay Chipper Friends ~


I love emails! Send me one here chipperchelseakay@gmail.com

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College, Mental Illness, OCD

In Old New York

It is crazy to think I have been living in Brooklyn for almost a month now.  I have just fallen in love. I love the people – who are not the rude New Yorkers you hear about on TV. I love the beauty of the buildings. I never thought of buildings as art until I was looking across the East River at the Manhattan skyline in awe or walking down a treelined street with brownstones on each side. I love the electricity in the air. How it makes you feel alive. I love how one moment I can be in Downtown Brooklyn and then after walking a few blocks, I’m in Cobble Hill, a historic neighborhood

21686441_10212350970843890_4074793432274276620_nwhere the electricity seems to have disappeared.  Replaced by the sounds of children playing and the sights of young parents pushing strollers. I love how I can take a 20-minute train to Manhatten and feel like I have endless opportunities. But most of all, I love how I can do all of this, experience all of this, and feel all of this, and be making strides in my goal to help others. Not only do I get to live here in New York City, but I am here getting my Masters. I feel so light, so free. OCD doesn’t feel near. I know he still lingers in my brain. He waits. He’ll wait a  month or so until he decides it’s time to come out of hibernation. But for now, I am free to be the best version of me I can be. I’m not weighed down or limited by my brains imbalances. And that right there is all I want. I am going to enjoy this feeling for as long as I can. I’m going to make the most of my time down here. I am so thankful I have been given this chance.

~ Stay Chipper Friends ~


I love emails! Send me one here chipperchelseakay@gmail.com

Follow me on Twitter @chipperchelseak

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I’ve decided to start live streaming some of my adventures here

Mental Illness, OCD, Tourette Syndrome

Now Is Not Enough

Mortality is a topic that recently popped into my mind very late at night. I am someone who has always suffered in the present. OCD, Anxiety, you name it. Looking towards a better future is my way of coping with my struggles.

“Tomorrow will be a better day”

“When I’m a psychologist I can help others like myself”

“One day I will reach my dreams”

…I focus on the future. My dreams push me forward each day and give me purpose. Yet they are all based in the future…and that future is not a guarantee. There is a possibility that I may not live to reach those dreams. The one thing I am guaranteed is today, and that is not enough for me to be happy. Each day I dream about the office I will have, how it will look, and the people I will help as they sit beside me fighting their mental illness. Yes, I appreciate each day. The beauty of the world around me. The way laughter fills my entire body with golden happiness. How it feels to be loved by friends and family. The wet kisses of my puppies. The sunset that repeats it’s glorious masterpiece each night. Is it wrong that these beautiful moments aren’t enough for me? If I happened to die today, my life would be very much incomplete. Is that because I’m young? Just some late night thoughts and realizations I thought worthy of a blog post.

~Stay Chipper Friends~


I love emails! Send me one here chipperchelseakay@gmail.com

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Mental Illness, OCD

This Story Is Getting Old

For a while now, I have been on the schedule of showering once every three to five days. Showering continues to be a struggle due to my OCD. The process of showering is a chore for me. Having to undress, get all wet, wash my hair and put conditioner in it, dry off, brush my now tangled hair. It’s a pain and OCD know’s that. He tries to protect me from doing such a chore. But, I’m tired of feeling dirty. Of having to coat my greasy hair with powder to make it look cleaner. Of spraying myself with perfume in case I smell. On Monday I decided enough was enough. I decided I will shower every night. It only took until Wednesday for OCD to decide he doesn’t like this new idea. The feeling of dread settled in my stomach like a lead weight. Anxiety trickled through my veins making it feel like an electric current. My heart tingled and fear seeped into my body spreading slowly through my limbs like a molten lava. My body refuses to leave the couch, and if I try, all of these feelings and emotions intensify. It makes me so angry. One more emotion to add to the storm inside me. I force myself to stand up in a swift motion and the storm inside roars making my tears leave their ducts and stream down my face.

I hate the feeling of anxiety. It feels like a mix of fear and static has settled into my stomach and over top my heart. I push through however and walk upstairs to the bathroom. I quickly undress and stand there looking in the mirror. I want to just jump in the shower, but I can’t. Now I have to look at my face. Look at any blemishes I have. Look at my arms and the freckles I have. It is as if my brain is doing anything it can to keep me out of the shower and distracted. If I try to look away, anxiety intensifies once again. The anger boils inside me making me finally jerk away from the mirror, place the shower mat on the floor, tug the curtain to the side, put the water on, and step into the shower. The storm starts to slip away and I’m left washing my salty tears away. I finish my shower with a heavy heart knowing I have to take another shower tomorrow. This feeling of dread gets old real fast. Anxiety gets old real fast. OCD gets old real fast…and I don’t even have my biggest trigger to worry about yet…school.

To add a positive to my negative mood, I know it will get easier. The more you fight the feeling, the easier it is the next time you do it. For showering, it may take a few weeks for it to feel easier, but in the end, it will.

~ Stay Chipper Friends ~


I love emails! Send me one here chipperchelseakay@gmail.com

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Mental Illness, OCD, Tourette Syndrome

Best Advice Coming Out of Treatment

I have always been one for fresh starts. My go-to saying was, “this week is a new week, I’m starting over.” By doing this, I seemed to expect everything to be better. I expected smooth sailing. When the time came that I would fall back into my unhealthy habits, I would become disappointed in myself, in my circumstances, and in life. My lovely therapist and treatment team I’ve had over the years has given me a new mindset to use when I want to “start over.” Below I’ve listed what they have said and put my own spin on it with the ladder technique.

  • Create a destination. (Mine is overall mental health that I can live with more easily)
  • Remember that no matter how many setbacks you have, you will neve fall further than before. Each setback teaches you about yourself and your illness.
  • Look at treatment as climbing a ladder to your destination.
  • Realize that treatment is most of the time two steps forward one step back. Some days it may be two steps forward two steps back, or even two steps forward three steps back. My favorite days, however, are the three steps forward one step back. After a while, you may see more of those days. But it is important to realize that the steps backward are going to make an appearance and it is natural in treatment. Realizing this helps with that disappointment that sets in when having a fallback.
  • Evaluate each week how far along you are on your ladder. Remember that you can never start back at the beginning as you have learned more through the journey than you did at the start of it. There is no rush to get better. It is a slow process. Take time to appreciate the little victories.

 

I wish you the best of luck on your recovery.

 

~ Stay Chipper Friends ~


 

I love emails! Send me one here chipperchelseakay@gmail.com

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College, Mental Illness, OCD, Tourette Syndrome

Pomp and Circumstance

There is exactly one month until I graduate from College! It is an unthinkable accomplishment if you look back on my early teenage years. A time where graduating middle school didn’t seem like a possibility. A time where I had to live day by day. A time where I had to push the thoughts of helping others away and worry about myself making it to the next day.  As someone who has ALWAYS worried about others, it was hard for me to concentrate on myself. When my Tourette Syndrome was at it’s worst, I would spend hours upon hours at night convulsing and twitching. I looked as though I was possessed by a demon…I felt like it too. Although it was miserable for me, I remember crying, imagining another young boy or girl doing the same thing at the exact same time. It crushed my heart and made the experience of suffering from an illness even worse. It is one thing to suffer by yourself, and another to know hundreds of thousands of others are barely managing it as well. Research shows that 86% of Tourette sufferers have a comorbid illness. Not only are the majority being squished, pulled, tightened, and yanked by their brain, but 63% suffer from ADHD, 49% from Anxiety, 47% have a learning disability, 34% are on the Autism spectrum, and more than 1/3 suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (Feel free to check out the other statistics Here) Ever since I was diagnosed in 3rd grade, I wanted to do something to help. It wouldn’t be until 8th-grade when I learned specifically how I wanted to help.

After receiving treatment at UPENN’s Center for Treatment and Study of Anxiety, I knew I wanted to be just like my doctors. That dream pushes me forward every day. Now, as I’m just over a month away from graduating, I realize how close I am to that goal. I am SO close and I want it SO badly. I’ve always known I would reach it one day, but it never felt truly real. I couldn’t imagine it becoming a reality. I have trained myself to live in the moment. The choices I make all lead towards that dream, but I didn’t allow myself to think about me actually reaching that goal. The times that I did, I was immediately overwhelmed by the thoughts that I could never reach it. I mean honestly, if you think about it, a girl like me who would have a panic attack at the mention of school one day receiving a bachelor’s degree. Attending the one thing that tortured my mind every day for four years. On top of that, going on to graduate school, receiving a Masters and then a Psy.D (Doctorates in Psychology), having an office and being healthy enough to actually help others instead of myself. It just wasn’t realistic…yet it was the ONLY thing I wanted to do with my life. I had to do it. The only option was to succeed. Here I am, already accepted into a graduate school and one month away from walking down the isle in my cap and gown led by the sound of bagpipes marching in front of me. Do you hear that? That’s me checking off a few more things on my checklist to success with Pomp and Circumstance playing in the background.  Listen to it here 😉

 

Success Check List.png

~ Stay Chipper Friends ~


I love emails! Send me one here chipperchelseakay@gmail.com

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