I started seeing a new counselor recently, because I was getting fed up with not feeling like I’ve made any progress. Even though I have made progress, it doesn’t really feel like it, especially because I’ve been battling frequent suicidal thoughts again.

For a while, it was down to where it might pop into my head in the form of a Pure-O (OCD) intrusive thought, maybe once or twice a week, but I could brush it off with the simplest, even unintentional, of distractions. However, over the past month or so, it has gradually returned to the point of, almost daily, obsession.

There wasn’t any one specific trigger, but maybe a few small things happening in a short time span. I started feeling worthless again. Like a failure at everything. A waste of space. I began to spend hours thinking about it — and trying not to think about, which makes you think about it even more. For the first time, I actually started to become afraid a may act upon my thoughts. It’s never gotten to the point where I actually thought I might act upon them before. It usually just remains frequent obsession, but my anxiety would take over and give me all sorts of reasons not to actually try. Maybe my anxiety is getting better…? That’s scary.

Since I first met my new counselor a few weeks ago, it’s gotten a little less frequent. Not that we’ve actually talked about it. We’re still in the getting to know each other phase. But I think there was something reassuring about the fact that someone new was legitimizing my struggles. I think things had just gotten a little stale, and I needed a refreshing perspective.

That’s not too say my suicidal thoughts and feelings of worthlessness are gone, but I’ve managed to have a few days of peace, at least in that regard. The anxiety and depression are still alive and kicking. The social thoughts are a whole other beast.

Taking about this when I’m still kind of in the midst of it is really difficult. I don’t tend to do that. It’s easier to talk about it after its passed. Partially because I just don’t have the energy. I think I’m also afraid of letting anyone see truly hope much pain I’m in while in in it. Especially when I don’t feel there’s any good reason for it. And that’s basically depression in a nutshell.

Anyway, the reason I am talking about this right now is because it’s relevant to something else I wanted to talk about.

So, part of how I ended up seeing this counselor was because at my last doctor’s appointment, he asked when I was next seeing my social worker (who is part of the mental health team at my doctor’s clinic) and I mentioned that he’d been making it about 6 weeks between appointments. He asked if I was OK with that and I finally said what I’d been procrastinating saying for a while. I wanted something more regular, because I feel like I’m not dealing with things that well. Whether it was with my social worker or someone else didn’t matter, although I was beginning to feel he wasn’t equipped to provide the insight I needed. So my doctor offered to refer me to some psychologists/therapists/etc. to get a new perspective.

A few days ago, I had my second appointment. He’s still on the big lists of questions to sort of figure out what we need to work on. I don’t remember what I said or what he had asked me, but while we were getting into the anxiety questions, he suddenly said, “I wonder if you might have ADD.”

He picked up his phone (apparently he only came prepared to cover anxiety and depression) and said we were going to do the short list of questions to see if we should do the longer, more detailed one.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve done a lot of reading about mental illnesses. In doing so, it helps me sort of understand my mind a little better. It also makes it hard not to self-diagnose. The good thing is, my anxiety kind of prevents me from actually believing my self-diagnoses, until someone else actually legitimizes it. My short also prevents me from specifically bringing it up.

I’d been wondering, for several months now, if I may have ADD but it has never come up before.

So, it was about 20 questions, and to get a result of maybe having ADD, you had to answer ‘yes’ or ‘sometimes’ to I think not than half of them. Not including my sometimes, I was already up to about 15 or 16. I think I only said no to 1 or 2.

It’s not an official diagnosis yet, but he said he’s not ready to rule it out.

He also said that if I do have ADD, it may actually be there main issue that my anxiety stems from, which would explain why my anxiety hasn’t really gotten better. By only treating one of the symptoms, you’re not actually solving the problem. So even if my anxiety gets better, or goes away completely, it will probably keep coming back. If the main problem is ADD, and we treat that, it could potentially solve everything else.

I thought it was quite interesting and makes a lot of sense. We’ll see how it goes when we get into the detailed, 70 question version of the ADD stuff.


Anxiety & ADD Tip

Fidget toys are incredible! I’ve tried a few because I have a lot of nervous energy, so I’m always fidgety, but now knowing I might also have ADD, it makes even more sense. For smaller, more subtle fidgeting, I love these and these! I had heard of these first though, but never knew where to buy then till a few weeks ago. This one is my favourite. I absolutely love them!

This week is mental health week, and as devastating as things are in the news in Canada right now, it almost seems appropriate for this topic to come up.


Many people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder find that watching the news triggers their anxiety. Generally, I don’t find news to bother me too much. I mean, I can hear a story about some product I use or have used or food I’ve purchased that has a recall or some controversy of some kind and that can get me thinking obsessively about whether or not I’m going to be affected by it in any way.

For the most part, I’m pretty good at pushing those thoughts away with logic.

However, when it does bother me, it’s usually because I have some kind of connection to some part of the story.

News

Right now, Fort McMurray is all over the news because of raging wildfires causing the entire city to be evacuated.

As some of you may know, I lived in Alberta for several years. I lived in northern Alberta for four and a half years during high school. Fort Mac is about a 7.5 hours drive northeast of where I lived. It’s only that long because you have to go south a ways to get there. There’s not much going on up in that part of the province. Everything is far away.

I only ever went to Fort Mac one time, on a band trip in grade 11. We left early to go to Edmonton because there was nothing to do after we finished playing at the festival. So, I don’t have much to say about it as a city, but being a well known city in a province I called home for 14 years, I have a bit of an emotional connection to it. To any city in the province, really. I also know a few people, clients from my former employer, from the public school division in Fort McMurray.

Fear & Anxiety

If it had been anything else, it probably wouldn’t have bothered me as much but because it’s a fire, it upsets me a fair bit.

I have a very intense fear of fire. I don’t want to say it’s an irrational fear – because, you know, it’s fire, it can be very dangerous and unpredictable, so it isn’t completely irrational – but the severity of it is right up there and may almost qualify it as irrational.

There probably isn’t any actual logical reason why I’m afraid of fire. I have a very similar fear of lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, and sharp objects that can cut off limbs. I have a hard time even being near the gas fireplace in my parents’ house. Even when it’s not turned on. Seeing anything about house fires, forest fires, wildfires, etc. on the news or online scares me.

Intrusive Thoughts

In addition to the “simple” fear of fire, seeing images of things like what is happening in Fort McMurray right now, triggers very vivid, intrusive thoughts.

I used to brush it off as simply having a vivid imagination. That was before I understood what intrusive thoughts were. I don’t even need to be looking at an image of a fire to see, in my head, it raging through a bunch of dry trees and engulfing an entire neighbourhood.

Images on TV shows and movies of people being trapped in fire burning houses and being burned alive have probably contributed significantly to the images I see in my head when I don’t want to.

But that’s the key with intrusive thoughts, they’re unwanted. They are intrusive because they seemingly come out of nowhere. I have kind of figured out what can trigger many of my reoccurring intrusive thoughts, but in most cases it’s everyday things. I can’t avoid these triggers. It’s impossible.

I’ve been living with these intrusive thoughts for so long, that I’ve sort of gotten used to them, but that doesn’t make them any less intense or less unsettling. It’s just something I have to deal with on a daily basis.

Why You Need to Stop Saying You’re “So OCD”

“Saying ‘I’m so OCD’ has become a fun fad almost, but OCD is one of the top ten debilitating disorders that causes an unimaginable amount of stress and interference. Saying you have OCD because you love to clean completely invalidates someone’s experiences.”

COMPLETELY INVALIDATES SOMEONE’S EXPERIENCES!!!!!!!

It may have taken me 26 years to understand why my brain works the way it does, why the thoughts I have even exist at all – even a year and a half later, I’m still trying to figure out all out – but it only takes one small, naïve comment to make me feel like I’m completely broken and a worthless piece of shit. And I already do that well enough on my own without anyone else’s help.

I get it. Trust me. I was guilty of using this phrase on occasion several years ago. The only way we can learn is by spreading the word.

All the time, you hear people say things like that they are “so OCD” because they are picky about things being super organized and tidy. That is not what OCD is. That can be one symptom of OCD, but it definitely doesn’t need to be present for someone to have OCD.

One of the other more commonly known symptoms of OCD is fear of contamination, leaving to the compulsion to watch one’s hands a lot and/or avoid touching certain things. This is something I struggle with. It’s always been minor, but I’ve noticed it getting increasingly worse over the past couple years.

But again, that is only one symptom of OCD.

OCD is much more complicated than most people realize.

Take a look at this article (or at least the video): Pure OCD: When logic is overthrown by nightmare-like thoughts

I can’t remember how I found IntrusiveThoughts.org but that’s the reason I came across the article.

** Trigger Warning: Suicide, self harm, violence **Continue reading