Other Ramblings...

Friday, 28 December 2012


I had a lovely Christmas!  It doesn't usually happen in our house - I've lost count of the number of times we've spent it in A&E with Grandad, or cleaning Grandad's mattress.  It makes me sad that Grandad wasn't here to share Christmas with us this year, but - and does this sound really awful? - that the day was peaceful and fairly unstressful was quite nice for a change.

What isn't so lovely (and, yes, people, here she goes again!) is the constant anxiety around food and eating.  I just can't do it.  I sat looking at my plate during Christmas dinner feeling absolutely overwhelmed by the food I was meant to be eating.  One of the biggest problems I have when it comes to actually trying to make myself eat something is that I'm just not sure what size portion I should allow myself.  I've forgotten what's normal: I can't trust myself not to binge, but I also don't know how much I need to eat to make myself feel full.  I'm terrified of overfeeding myself, but I also can't remember what constitutes normal eating either.  

I really feel like I need someone to teach me how to eat normally.  It's just not something I can do any more.

I feel like I'm losing control on the binge/purge cycle as well.  Before, it was something I was able to be very strict about: I did it at work, and that was that.  I've never binged properly, but only because I'm terrified of eating anything, so my binges tend to consist of two bananas, or a couple of chocolates, rather than the massive eating-everything-in-the-kitchen binges that the media tend to write about.  Now, I find myself needing to purge more and more: after a mince pie on the way home from work; after eating my tea at home; when I've eaten some chocolate with my Granny.  I wanted so badly to purge after having a small tub of ice cream at the theatre this evening, but I think my Mum is too clever for me to get away with it...

I still haven't told them that I've been to the doctors' and been referred for counselling - it's something I'm going to have to do, because I don't want to lie to them the whole way through, but I just can't find the right time to bring it up.  Maybe when Christmas is over?

One last thing: thankyou to everyone who reads my blog - I passed 900 pageviews yesterday!  I know it sounds clichéd, but it does mean so much to me.  

Friday, 21 December 2012

When I Get Better.

Sometimes, I think it would be better if I don't get better.  If you see what I mean?  I don't want to be fat.  I think that constantly.  Constantly. 

But then that's simultaneously the problem and the answer.  I will not get better until I get 'fat' and then learn that I am not fat.

If you see what I mean?!

When I get better, however, there are things that I won't miss.

I won't miss watering down orange juice.  Or milk.

And I won't miss dreading Christmas because Christmas means, almost certainly, eating at every point of every day.

I won't miss having to say no whenever anyone offers me any food.

And I can't wait to have proper hot chocolate again.

What I want most is for the feeling of all encompassing guilt to disappear.  Because eating is what people do.  It's not something that I don't deserve.

The best thing is to get better.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

I love Christmas.  I love giving people presents, and sometimes getting presents myself.  I love the sparkle and the twinkle and the lights and the pretty, glittery things.

But I don't love the food.  I don't love sitting and trying to plan what I'm going to be able to skip or purge or how I'm going to be able to avoid being in places where people are eating.

And I definitely don't love staying up as late as I possibly can so that I don't wake up until lunchtime because it means I don't have to eat breakfast.

This also means that the morning is wasted because I'm either asleep or my blood sugar is too low to do anything other than sit and watch TV.

At the moment, I feel like I'm in perjury because I'm still waiting for my referral to come through, and I feel like I'm slipping further backwards whilst I'm waiting.

So, for Christmas, I would very much like to be normal, please?!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Bacon Sandwich.

I've not had a bad couple of days since my doctors' appointment.

As is always the case with a middle-of-the-night blog post, I'm feeling most anxious about having to go to the supermarket with my Mum tomorrow because I'm expected to eat a whole bacon sandwich to myself.  The plan was - because this is the way my life works at the minute - to restrict like crazy today so that the calories would come off today's 'allowance', but then I ended up being at home for more of today than expected, and I had to eat more food than I'd calculated would be the case.

And so now I'm stressing about a bacon sandwich.  A bacon sandwich.  A bacon sandwich. Doesn't it sound ridiculous?  KateBrain says that, indeed, it does.  Bacon sandwiches are one of KateBrain's favourite things and KateBrain would give anything for a bacon sandwich right now.

Geoff doesn't agree.  He thinks that bacon sandwiches should be on the 'Always Banned' list and he thinks that KateBrain is greedy and doesn't deserve a bacon sandwich.  Ever.

Stupid bacon sandwich.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

What A Day (Grandad).

My family always remind me of the time I said this to my Grandad shortly before my third birthday.  It's one of the memories that I will always enjoy.

Today wasn't as bad as it could have been.  The most important thing is that my sister's operation went well, and she was recovered enough to be discharged this evening (although remarkably later than could have been the case due to a medication problem. The NHS wins again!).  She has, however, spent a good proportion of the evening vomiting into an empty ice cream tub.  It's a good job I'm not emetophobic!

Today was also the day of my doctors' appointment.  It went well.  I think.  My amazing, amazing friend, to whom I owe so, so much (suitably large Christmas present heading her way very soon!), came with me, and was 'there for me' every step of the way, which was an immense comfort.  I've done so many things by myself because there has been no-one else, that it's very odd to have a non-family member who actually seems to care about me.

I managed to tell the doctor about everything and allowed myself to be weighed, although that has really frightened me because I've lost ten pounds in the last fortnight.  She asked me whether I was depressed/suicidal/mood-swingy (I'm not) and then said that she'd refer me for counselling.

Lovely as she was (and she was lovely), she kept telling me that I should 'keep eating'.  As if that's going to happen.  I'm not eating anyway, and so someone telling me that eating healthily isn't going to make me put any weight on isn't going to change that.  She also asked me whether I'd 'tried to get better', which did make me feel a tiny bit like she thought I was a teenager going through a phase.  I'm not.  And also that I'd given up without trying and gone straight for a 'quick fix' (which counselling never is...).  If I could make myself better, I wouldn't have been sitting, petrified, in a doctors' surgery at ten past four on a Tuesday afternoon, would I?

But, yes, today has been considerably better than I had imagined.

Apart from that I've still got a heck of a lot of Christmas shopping to do...

Monday, 10 December 2012

Sometimes, Good Things Happen.

I think that I've written about it before, but my life must sound terribly doomy and gloomy on this blog.

It's really not: when I'm not obsessing about food or my health or my sister's health (or, let's face it, any one of a number of things!), I'm actually quite a happy person.

I'm happy when my boyfriend comes home from University for the holidays and we drink tea in front of a fire in a tearoom only we know about.

I'm happy when my sister and I are at home together.

I'm happy when I'm with my best friend.

I'm happy (mostly!) when I'm at work and at University.

I'm happy when I'm writing.

I'm happy when I walk home from the bus stop and play my music as loud as I like (and sing fairly loudly too!).

And, yes, I'm happy when I get my first two followers (!!!) and when I hit 800 pageviews.  Because then I think that I'm making a little bit of a difference somewhere in the world.

When are you happy?

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Day 0.

This week is going to be big.



Two of the things which I fear the most are scheduled for the same day.  I wish it were Wednesday and I knew the outcome of both.

On Tuesday, my sister will have her tonsils removed.  One of the things Geoff really hates is when sister is ill. And so sister having an operation is likely to send him absolutely wild.  He's not started yet, but I can feel him biding his time.  However, since she's been ill since May - so for seven months - this should be (touch wood) the final hurdle before she starts getting better.  I do wonder whether her illness has played a major part in my health having declined so rapidly of late.

On Tuesday, I will also go and see the doctor about my eating disorder.  This terrifies me.  I know that I need help but I just don't want to admit to anyone else that I've got a problem.  I don't want it to have implications on my degree, or on my family and friends, or on any part of my life.  I don't want to be weighed by anyone else, particularly, and I don't think that I can tell anyone else what I do at work, or what I did in the car park.  I guess that I've got to be brave.  This year, my sister has been braver than I will ever be.  If I can emulate just a little bit of that...

Fingers crossed.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Just Another Boring Blog Post.

It's Friday, 7th December.

That is about the only certain thing in my life right now.  I want to cancel my doctors' appointment.  I don't want to talk to anybody professional about anything at the moment, because I'm finding it difficult to think, let alone explain things to someone I don't know who sees me as a name on a list of tasks to complete.

I love my friends.  I really do.  They are amazing people, and I really don't think that I deserve them, because I'm just a huge burden.  I owe them all so much.  I hope that they realise that I'm grateful, because I really, really am.  I don't know how to tell them quite what it means, and I'm constantly amazed that they still want to spend time with me because I don't think I'd want to be my friend.

I don't really know why I'm writing this, other than I'm sitting in bed in the middle of the night with nothing better to do; no motivation and a lump the size of Australia in my throat for no particular reason.

Nearly everyone else I know has a better reason than me to feel sad and lonely, but I'm the only person who seems to be falling apart at the seams.

I'm sorry.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Ill? Me?

Tonight I made myself vomit in a car park.  In the dark.

Absolute.  Lowpoint.

And my head still says there's nothing wrong with me.

That is all.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Santa Leave Your Sleigh Behind and Other Songs.

You know when you find a portion of your childhood you thought was lost and it brings back all sorts of memories which were really deeply buried?

Well, it being the beginning of Advent, I've dug my Christmas iTunes playlist out, and remembered the lyrics to some songs we used to have on tape (remember those!?) when I was really little.  A quick Google has proven that they a) did once exist and b) still exist on iTunes.  And, so, I'm now spending my Sunday night being all wistful about my childhood.

And, the more I listen, the more I keep thinking about, well, things.  

Was Geoff always inside me?  Even before I started school?  Did the little Kate, complete with scruffy hair and denim dungarees, who used to dance round the living room to Santa Leave Your Sleigh Behind always have the OCD and the eating disorder inside her?  Was it really always lurking, just waiting to come out? 

I guess the answer is that nobody really knows the answer.  It's one of those things which is anecdotal only and also takes into account whether you really believe that the Strep. virus causes the onset of Obsessive/Compulsive type disorders.  

As far as I'm concerned, I was a very anxious child.  As a baby, my Mum always tells me, I was the first child ever to be returned early to its mother from the creche because the staff couldn't settle it.  I was the only child who had to leave playgroup at three because they couldn't last the hour and a half without their mother, and I was the last child in my class to cry all morning, every morning and have to be taken home for lunch every day when I started school.  I think the not-very-technical-term is 'clingy'!

What does puzzle me, though, is that I was the last person you'd ever imagine would become slave to an eating disorder.  I had absolutely no perception of body image at all until I was sixteen-ish and then only because people told me that I had really nice legs (I'm blushing behind my laptop!).  What I wore didn't - and, to a certain extent, still doesn't - bother me.  I never thought that I was fat, but I never thought that I was thin either.  I came to the whole eating disorder game fairly late: where most girls start developing symptoms whilst in their teens, I was nineteen by the time I started developing mine, and also at home by myself for most of every day, since I was on my 'gap year' before starting University, so there wasn't any peer pressure to succumb to.  Yes, I was working, but with a group of entirely middle-aged women who were nothing but entirely supportive.

In my head, I can see the three year old me.  I am dancing around - in slow motion - to Christmas music, wearing a tartan skirt, knitted cardigan and little white tights.  There is my whole life ahead of me: endless possibilities.  

And all I want to do is apologise to that three year old Kate.  I am so sorry, I want to tell her, that we've ended up here.  So sorry that I've wrecked your body by starving it.  So sorry that I've spent years and years and years worrying about things.  I'm so sorry that you were so full of excitement and wonder and awe and now that same brain-space is filled with worry and anxiety and sadness.

But I don't know: maybe that was what was meant for my life?  Maybe nobody could have changed anything?  

Or maybe I'm trying to pass the blame?

Friday, 30 November 2012

Treacle. Through Which I Am Walking.

I want to cancel my doctors' appointment.

It took me all my courage to make the appointment and that seemed like the biggest hurdle overcome - admitting that I need to do something - but, apparently, that was an easy part.  

Now I'm worried that I've made a mistake and there's nothing wrong with me and I'll be wasting the doctors' time.  What if there isn't anything wrong with me?  What if I'm making up all the symptoms, and it's something I'm choosing to do?  What if I could stop it tomorrow if I wanted to?  Do I even want to?  

The questions are going round in my head constantly.  I don't know what to do.

I've made a step, but I haven't got a clue whether it's in the right direction.

And now it's Friday evening, and I'm panicking because I've got to go out for a meal with my seminar group on Monday.  And I don't know what I'm going to eat, because there isn't anything remotely within my 'calorie-range' on the menu.

And, although I am continuing to deny that there is a problem, I have just hidden three-quarters of a bag of crisps and most of the chips I was supposed to be eating for my tea.  I am writing this down, mainly, for myself.  Because things like that are forgotten, or glossed over in my head all too easily and, next time I'm a phone call away from cancelling all the help I've worked so hard to muster up the courage to get, I want the truth to come and hit me in the face.

Because Geoffrey (who is my eating disorder as well as my OCD - very talented man!) is still telling me that there isn't a problem.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Epiphanies in Funny Places.

Today I had an epiphany.  Or, as my friend Bekah would say, an 'eniphany'.

We had a 'party' during our last Spanish seminar of the term this afternoon.  I didn't eat anything, because I can't eat anything in front of most people, and also because I wasn't allowed the calories.  I was expecting to find this very difficult, and for everyone to ask me questions.  They didn't, and the seminar passed without me feeling too panicky.

In the lecture afterwards, I was sitting with my best friend and she mentioned that another friend calorie counts sometimes.  I showed her my list of 'Food That I Can Eat' to illustrate calorie-counting-gone-mad, which runs to about twenty things, and has the calorie count of each listed next to it.  At the bottom of the page is my daily calorie target.

'I'm going to be harsh here,' says she, 'If you carry on eating like this, you're going to die.'.

And that was my epiphany.  I don't want to die, of course I don't.

I'm so fed up (see previous post!) of eating like this, and of being like this.

I need help.  I definitely need help.  I've been in half-denial for long enough and it's time to stop.  I don't want to be the selfish person who makes all the people around her worry about how ill she is, or the one with such forcibly low blood-sugar that she can't have a proper conversation.

So, tomorrow, I'm going to book a doctor's appointment.  And I'm going to be big and brave and, finally, do something about this.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

I Can't Do This.

Or, to give it it's full title: I Can Do This, But I'm Really Fed Up of Doing This.

I am fed up of worrying that what I'm eating has more calories in it than I should be eating.

I am fed up of worrying that I have eaten too much.

I am fed up of worrying about how I am going to get rid of what I have eaten.

I am fed up of being the one who doesn't eat.

I am fed up of people watching me not eat and not commenting.

I am fed up of being too small to fit into some clothes and wishing that I did fit into them.

I am fed up of wishing I fitted into smaller clothes.

I am fed up of drinking bucketfuls so that I don't feel hungry.

I am fed up of thinking about how I can cut out food tomorrow so that I'm not quite so hungry today.

I am fed up of having a flat chest.

I am fed up of worrying that my stomach is not entirely and completely flat.

I am fed up of looking so vain because I look in mirrors all the time.

I am fed up of people not wanting to talk to me about my eating disorder.

I am fed up of being the only one in the world.

I am fed up of looking at other people and thinking that I'm the fatter one.

I am fed up of never, ever being able to have any fun.

I am fed up of worrying that I've got to go out for a meal.

I am fed up of worrying about whether the doctor would think I was too fat if I went and explained to her.

I am fed up.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Today has been a good day.

Geoff doesn't want me to write that because he says that that means that tomorrow will be an awful, horrible day in recompense.

But I don't want Geoff to make me seem really ungrateful, and I would just like to say - to the universe in general - thankyou for making me laugh today, and thankyou for my friends and my family.  Thankyou for giving me the opportunity to do my artwork tonight, it was lovely.

Geoff says that if I cross that out, then I can publish it.

So, thankyou.

If tomorrow's horrible, then at least today has been lovely.

Tomorrow, I am doing weaving at University.  I have chosen the lyrics from one of the hymns we sang at Grandad's funeral as my 'inspiration' piece, which we've got to take in.  I'm using the last two lines of the last verse or Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.  They are absolutely beautiful and they make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.  So I thought I'd finish today with them:

'Sweep through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still stall voice of calm.'

Monday, 19 November 2012


I should be asleep, because it's the middle of the night, but this just came to me, and I wanted to write it down.

Before I start, I know this is an OCD/mental health-y blog, but I don't blame other people for my OCD or for my eating disorder.  I think that everything in my life has contributed equally but I don't think any single factor is solely responsible.

The Secondary school my parents chose for me wasn't the one that all my friends went to.  I had a very, very best friend at Primary school, to whom I'm still very close nearly ten years after we left, and then I had two other close friends.  As a class, we all got on well together and, after seven years of spending time together, we were quite tight-knit.

When I first started the school, I knew one girl vaguely, and my Mum suggested that I might sit with her for the first couple of days.  I knew immediately that this wasn't going to work.  She was in a group of four, and they were very close, and they were also going to show me that.  On the first day, I knew that we weren't going to be 'best' friends because they would form a circle and leave me slightly outside it.  It made me cry, but I didn't really mind because I thought that there would be other girls in my class who I would get along with.

After a week or so, they had made friends with another two girls in the group.  I was still trying to sit with them, because I didn't have anyone else to be with, although it was really very clear at this point that they didn't really want me there.  They would wait until I was trying to tie my shoelace to run away and leave me behind, and they also had a group 'chant' which they used to show me that I was most definitely not welcome.

Anyway, after that spectacularly long preamble, the specific incident I want to talk about happened in an Art lesson in about the third week of term.  It was a Monday afternoon.  I was sitting on a table with the six girls.  I can't remember what we were doing particularly clearly, but I remember that, about halfway through the lesson, I asked to go to the toilet.

When I arrived back in the classroom, I was fortunate enough to see the huge globs of Pritt Stick glue on my chair.  I was perplexed at first: I asked why there was glue on my chair, and whether they had put it there, but they all denied it.  I could tell from their smirking faces that they had, and I knew exactly what had happened, but I was powerless to do anything about it, apart from feel quite glad that I hadn't sat in it (although, perversely, I can remember wishing that I had, because maybe, I thought, then they would have been slightly less frosty towards me.).  At the age of eleven, telling the teacher that someone had put glue on your chair - especially when the culprits are going to vehemently deny that they've done any such thing - is going to get you nowhere apart from ticked off for fussing and wasting the teacher's time.

The bullying continued to get worse.  The pinnacle, I remember, was sitting in a Food Technology lesson and being asked to hand out some workbooks.  When I gave them theirs, they then wiped them on their shirts, insinuating that I was dirty, or that I was passing on some horrific germ.  I can't write any more about that because I don't have the words to describe how upset or embarrassed I was by that.  By this point, I had stopped trying to spend any time with them, or speak to them.  I, naturally, didn't want anything to do with them.

The third incident that I remember is standing in front of one of them in the dinner queue.  She was showing her sister something inside a notebook, at which the sister gave a sharp intake of breath and asked who the subject of the notebook content was about.  Yes, you've guessed it.  'It's her.', she said, and I knew that that meant me.  I never saw the notebook, and I can only imagine what was inside it.

I did, at one point, try and tell my form teacher.  Somehow, and I'm not sure how, the girls found out what I was doing, and told me that I shouldn't tell anyone, 'Because we'll get into lots of trouble and it's mean to make things up.'.  And so I told my teacher that I'd made it up.

Even now, at twenty, I want to run away and hide when I think of any of that period of my life.  And, even now, at twenty, I don't understand it.  I don't understand how a group of girls can be so vitriolic and plain nasty to one person.  I wasn't hurting them.  Why would they hurt me?

And so, Amy, Becky, Lizzie, Dulcie, Melissa, Sophie, if you ever read this, I hope that you realise what you did. I hope that if you ever have children, you teach them how wrong it is to bully.  Nearly ten years later, I still feel the effects of your 'game'.  I still walk into a room and wonder which of the people there will bully me.  I still worry about being visible to other people, and I still wonder whether it was my fault that you felt the need to be so horrible.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Sunny Knows!

I started typing this post out as a reply to Sunny - whose wonderfully insightful blog you can find here - but it got very long, and I found that I was saying things which would perhaps make quite an interesting post (well, as interesting as my posts ever get!).

Sunny's comment said this: "Funny - I just had a conversation with a friend the other day about this kind of thing. This friend has known that I have OCD for about a year. She was asking me if I read something she sent to me online and I said, "No, it would have triggered me." Then she apologized and said that she never thought of that and that she wouldn't send me stuff like that anymore. I told her not to worry about it and not to worry about whether stuff triggers me or not. It's my job to decide what will trigger me or not and it's up to me to take care of myself. I would prefer that other people would treat me normally. Anyway, I know EXACTLY what you are saying."

And, when I read it, a lot of things made a little bit more sense.  We're obviously on the same wavelength!

I've been doing something thinking today and I've come to a semi-conclusion that, if people know about my mental illness(es), then they seem to think that they must assume some sort of responsibility for my wellbeing, which isn't the case at all.  As I said yesterday, I am quite happy to look after myself.  Yes, it's painful sitting with someone who doesn't eat anything when everyone else is having their lunch, but that's got to be my lookout and my decision.  If I choose not to have anything, then I can promise you that I'm burning up inside from the shame, and probably eyeing up your lunch and wishing I could eat it myself, but it's really, honestly, not your responsibility to feel that you've got to coax me into eating something.  I would hate to think that my friends think that if they 'take on' me, they've got to take on a full-time counselling job as well.

The thing is that, unlike a broken ankle, which would require some extra support from friends, a mental illness probably isn't ever going to go away altogether, and so my friendships can't be built on people thinking that they've got to help me and support me every day.  I want people to spend time with me, not with my OCD or my eating disorder.  I also don't want them to think that I'm the 'special' person, because this is me. Yes I'm ill, and some days I'll be having a horrible time and I won't have had anything to eat and I'll be repeating phrases in my head and everything, but I'm used to it.  I've had bad days before and I'll have them again.  I know how to cope with them, and I know how to get on with other parts of my life at the same time.  Also, quite often on these days, it's the fact that my friends make me laugh and are absolutely wonderful people which lifts the fog somewhat.

And that can't happen if they're worrying about me.

I want to thank Sunny for inspiring this post.  If you've not checked out her blog, you really have to because it's a lovely little corner of the internet!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Who Knows?

I never quite know whether to tell people about Geoff/eating disorder things.

Obviously, the people closest to me know because they have to, because otherwise some of the things I do, or the fact that I rarely eat a proper lunch, or my lack of enthusiasm some days appears odd.  I want to be really open and honest, and just accept the fact that both mental illnesses are a part of me, and something which is just another part of my life, but I'm just so bad at telling people.

I think that the problem is that I'm still embarrassed and relatively bad at talking about either.  I find it difficult to explain the strange things I have to do, and it's also challenging to explain the anxiety side of the illness to people, which is really important, otherwise they just think, 'Hmm...OCD.  Yes, I'm quite tidy; we must be the same...', and then assume I'm making a big fuss over nothing.

I told one of my friends about the eating disorder today.  He was very quiet all afternoon, and I really hope I've not lost him to it.  I shouldn't have done, because he's much too lovely for that.  Maybe I'm just imagining it?  I tend to do that as well.

Another thing which I find difficult is that I don't want to be seen as the one who needs extra attention, or the one who has to be treated specially.  What I want to say to my friends is this: I'm the same friend after I've chosen to tell you about my mental state as before, so I don't need treating any differently.  I'm very used to handling myself, and so I don't need help with anything, unless I specifically ask for it.  I just want to be a normal person!

So, really, it comes down to whether to tell people and risk them getting the wrong end of the stick, or thinking that I want a lot of attention, or not telling people and then them thinking that I'm strange, or wondering why I do things.

I don't know.  If anyone does: answers on the back of a postcard, please!!!

Monday, 5 November 2012


I have recently purchased a yellow wristband, in support of Claire Watkinson and her short film Living With Me and My OCD.

It is a nice wristband, and it is bright yellow.  Geoff is rather enjoying being flaunted for all and sundry to see so flamboyantly.  Although he gets quite shy when he thinks people might be looking and makes me put his clothing away.

At first, I wore it simply because I could, but then I thought that I might as well take the opportunity to use it to track my compulsions - or Geoff's behaviour! - and so, I've begun to move it from one wrist to the other every time I perform a ritual.

I'm also really keen to start counting how many times I move it between wrists, because I've got very little idea of how many compulsions I perform every day.

I'm aware that it might turn into a compulsion itself, but I'm just so intrigued that it's a risk I'm willing to take.

I'll keep you posted..!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Dear Grandad.

Dear Grandad,

Mainly what I remember from today is the smell which wasn't your smell.  You smelt of hospitals and cleaning fluid and things which I didn't really want you to smell of.  Probably because it signifies the immense change you've undergone in two short weeks.

I'm sorry you were in pain, and I'm even more sorry that I couldn't understand what you were trying to say to me, especially because I imagine it's one of the last things you're ever going to say to me.  I want so much to have one last conversation with you - for you to know who I am and understand me and tell me something about your mother or about your childhood.  I'm sorry that I've forgotten already quite what it was like to have you as an - almost - fully functioning person who enjoyed eating trifle and listening to Notts County playing football on the radio because you couldn't see the TV well enough.

I would have done more.  Do you know, I wish, wish, wish that I'd taken you for a walk in your wheelchair to get an ice cream.  I promised you, and we never got the chance to do it.  I had three months off in the summer, and it would have been so easy for me - it would have just taken an afternoon - and I never did it.  Even when I passed my driving test and the world was our oyster.  You never realise what you've got until it's being taken away from you.  One day, me and you will go to the park and have an ice cream.  Perhaps, though, it will have to be the part of you which you've given to me and will always be inside me.  The part I got from Dad.

I keep thinking that it'll be the same, but it won't be.  It'll never be the same again.  And I know that this is clichéd  terribly clichéd   But then isn't everything surrounding this really, really horrible bit of life?  Because everyone feels the same feelings when they're facing the abyss; the unknown.  The same despair and the same wishing that they'd been granted one more day with the knowledge of what was so imminent.

Do you know what I'm most sorry about in the world?  That I didn't go to see you on that Wednesday evening because I was too lazy to visit you.  In my defence, I didn't know that you'd fallen so badly and that you were in so much pain and that it wasn't just nasty bruising.  But if I'd just had the - I don't know - if I'd just popped in for ten minutes, maybe I would have been able to get you the help you obviously needed sooner?  Maybe you wouldn't be in the state you're in now?  I'm sorry.  I'm so, so sorry.

I'm going to leave you now.  I don't know, in my head I've got this crazy belief that you know what I'm saying that, somewhere in that mixed up head of yours, this is going in and that, when I'm sitting by the side of your bed, you know what I'm thinking.

I love you, Grandad.

Kate xxx

PS.  Geoff feels the same.  He's been making me fold and re-fold clothes all day for you.  It's his way of showing he cares.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Meet Geoffrey.

So, after my last post, I've decided that I am not 'talking to myself', I am, in fact, talking to my OCD.

And I have also decided that I shall call him - because it is most definitely a him - Geoffrey, or Geoff for short.

I know that this might sound equally mad, and absolutely as though I've gone off my rocker and lost some of the buttons from my cardigan, but I've been thinking about it, and it really seems to help me get my head around what my OCD actually is, and what it means for me.

Because, although Geoff is another part of me, actually he's not in control.  He is simply another 'voice' in my head (not that I am hearing voices in my head...oh, this is so confusing and difficult to explain without making me sound like an absolute mad woman!) which I can choose to listen to, or not choose to listen to (that is the theory, anyway...).  Geoff, I think, will probably always be there now, but I can choose to accept him, and we can rub along together, or I can fight against him, which seems to make him more cantankerous.  It is easier to tell Geoff to 'shut up', though.  Much easier than it is to try and talk to myself.  I can tell other people that I don't want to do what they're telling me to do, and Geoff is just another person.  Why should it be any different for him?

To halt any worrying about the strange British girl who's suddenly started hearing voices in her head, I'd like you to know that I am indeed aware that my OCD isn't another little person inside my head, and I do know that the obsessions/compulsions are part of my brain, but it's just so much easier to think of it as not being part of me.  If I think of it as being part of me, then that makes me really sad because it's like there's something wrong with me when, in fact, I think that my OCD is just another part of me, same as I've got blue eyes and three wisdom teeth.

Geoff and I are off to bed now.  He says that I shouldn't be writing about him on my blog because it might make bad things happen.  I think he should know when he's not wanted...

Friday, 26 October 2012

Stop the World; I Want to Get Off...

Last weekend, I caught myself saying, 'Stop it!' to myself, quite forcefully, because OCD voice just wouldn't shut up.

I can't work out whether this is normal, or whether this is something else I need to be worried about.  I mean, I knew I was going to say it, and I knew that I was talking to myself - albeit the irrational part of me - but is it abnormal?  Is talking to myself outside the normal parameters of OCD? 

I was in the bathroom and I wanted to wash my face but - apparently - this wasn't what was going to happen.  Apparently washing my face was going to have all sorts of terrible consequences.  I just wanted to wash my face.  I was in a rush.  I find it so frustrating that everyone else in the world can just go to the bathroom and do what they want to, but I have to go through a huge rigmarole before I can even get to that point and even something so simple as washing is filled with guilt and doubt and anxiety.

In other news, my Grandfather is in hospital, and more poorly than he's been for a very long time, for no apparent reason.  This worries me, but it's a measured amount so I'm coping.  My little sister has given up University and come home for this year, since her illness proved to be too much to cope with on top of work and living away from home for the first time.  This worries me: my OCD cycle has been based around her for quite some time now, and I was enjoying the freedom of not living with her.  I'm not quite sure I want to go back there, but not quite sure how I can prevent it, or change how I feel around her.  

However, other things have been better this week: there have been times when I have been happy and times when I can honestly say I haven't been noticeably, stomach-churningly, anxious.  Which, I think, is massive progress.  I'm still miles away from where I was at the end of the summer term, but I think I'm going to get back there.  I hope I'm going to get back there.

So I shan't complain (too much!)...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


It is a December day and one hundred - give or take - children are sitting in a warm school hall.  The little ones are sitting closer to the front on their bottoms, whilst the older ones are allowed to sit on long wooden benches.  They have come for a treat; the very littlest are performing their Christmas Nativity play and they older pupils are being allowed to watch in exchange for their good behaviour during the week.  I don't think I mentioned that it is a Friday, but it is.

For my part in this story - and my part in this story is not especially important - it is the day of my younger sister's ninth birthday party, for which she will be going bowling with a small group of friends in the evening.  She will receive a pink plastic castle and I will be very jealous.  Whilst sitting in the hall, the headteacher will congratulate me for sitting quietly.

But this isn't about me.

Next to me sits my best friend.  We have been inseparable - ignoring the odd argument - since we were six years old.

It is darkening outside by the time the little ones have finished their play and we all hurry home to spend the weekend becoming increasingly excited about impending celebrations.  There is a sense of festivity in the air, and everyone knows that the next week will feature little work and lots of Christmas.

Fast forward nine years and I am sitting in a classroom, eating my lunch.  I am training to be a teacher and have just started my second Teaching Placement.  The same afternoon, I have to teach my first lesson with this class, who are the same age as I was in my previous anecdote.  My phone simply won't pick up a signal, whichever way I point it.  I switch it off and switch it back on again and it finally vibrates.

It is a text message from my best friend.

Her Mum has died in the night.

I am not sure how these two strands twist together, but they seem to fit perfectly.  Hand.  Glove.

On that evening, my best friend goes home to her warm, welcoming house.  Home to her Mum and excitement and Christmas.

Nine years later, my best friend no longer has her Mum.  She is alone in the world, without the person who gave her life and who made her life so warm and welcoming and full of excitement.

Perhaps, because I remember the first so clearly as a time when we were both so happy.  She was so happy.  And it is as though that time is yesterday.  And she is still my best friend.  And nothing has changed.

And everything has changed.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

In Which Things Happen.

I'd be more specific, but I can't really be sure...

It started on Monday when I was at work.  Mum texted to tell me that my sister had taken herself to A&E and was on her way home.

By Tuesday morning, aforementioned sister had been admitted into hospital and I was a mess.  Anxious; frightened; terrified.

Fortunately, I have a lovely, lovely friend who looked after me, even when I was throwing up because I was so terrified.  She has meant more to me this week than she'll ever know.  Unless she somehow ends up reading this, in which case she knows who she is...

Sister is now on the mend and possibly heading back to University at some point this week.  I am an anxious mess, possibly because the equilibrium I'd sort of started grasping at after the last horrible week has been knocked from under my feet by sister being so very poorly.

I don't cope with my sister being ill at the best of times - most of my rituals, for about four years now, have been in an attempt to stop her becoming ill.  So when she is ill, coping is about the last thing I'm about to do. I can't be anywhere near her, lest something I do precipitates her getting worse.  Which is difficult, to say the least, because - to the outside world - it looks as though I'm avoiding her because she's ill.  I know that I must look like such a bitch.  I know I must have looked like a horrible, insensitive person to my poorly friend who ended up letting me stay the night on Friday.  I would love to tell her why I just couldn't stay at home one more night, but I can't tell her because then, Irrational Brain says, horrible things will happen.

I'm going through another horrible eating thing again.  I promised myself on Monday night that it was time to change.  'Who wants to be thin?', Rational Brain said. 'Who wants to have thighs with gaps inbetween and not fit into a Topshop Size 8?'.

The answer, of course, is no-one.  But Irrational Brain is, as always, shouting at me.

Sometimes it just really, really sucks.

Friday, 5 October 2012


(As an aside, if this is a post title I've used before, I'm sorry - it's obviously a feeling I experience a lot,  It's also late and checking is something I do far too often for me to do it when it's not absolutely necessary..!)

A lot of my posts are inspired by music and, as in Sesame Street, this blog is brought to you by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's We Go Together

Tonight, something struck me.  I've always been a very nostalgic person, possibly because often I think it's impossible to remember high anxiety levels properly, and so I tend to think that I was less anxious/compulsion-y in the past - something which most probably isn't true - and therefore miss that time of my life like crazy.

Today is Friday, and this evening I was absent-mindedly pondering which set of Friday nights I was most nostalgic about.  And then it suddenly struck me: I can't be nostalgic about anything more than about the last couple of months because I actually can't remember what they felt like.  I'm finding this pretty tricky to explain but, I think, what I mean is that Friday evenings when I was in the Sixth Form (American Senior year, I think - correct me if I'm wrong!?) because I don't remember what they felt like.  I remember what I did, which has always remained pretty much the same, but I don't know what it felt like to have a whole work-free weekend without any pressures other than homework and so I can't wish, wish, wish that I was back there.

A friend (who has proven pretty invaluable in the past week) reminded me - on the theme of nostalgia - that last year wasn't as plain sailing as I remembered it.  The last couple of days have been really difficult because I thought that I really missed the last year of University, but I think I was viewing them through rose-tinted glasses rather too much, and her 'reality check' has proven really useful.  I went to the first seminar of the new academic year today, and it wasn't awful.  There are people I know in the class, and I don't think any of them are going to bite me...They're not my best friends, and they don't have to be my best friends because I've already got lots of friends, thankyou very much, and just because they're not in my class doesn't mean that I can never see them every again.

So today, I'm feeling more positive.

And where does the song come in?  The lyrics 'We'll always be together', which are repeated quite a lot in the chorus made me think about all the times I've not properly anticipated things changing, or have had that wonderful feeling that something isn't going to end.  I think that's nostalgia at its best!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Things Which Are Wrong [Or] Today I Hate Myself.

I want to skip the track on iTunes.  Really badly.  That's the problem with having it on Shuffle; when I get to a track I don't like, I still have to listen to it in its entirety because OCD won't let me change it until it's finished.  It drives me mad.  What's going to happen if I do change the song prematurely?

Well, either nothing or my sister will be horrifically homesick at University; I won't have any friends next year; I'll make horrible mistakes at work and get fired...the list seems endless today.

Today, I guess, has been a bad day.  But that is because I am a jealous person, so I probably don't deserve to have a better day than that, anyway.

My sister is settling down at University, and today she has had a nice day, for probably the first time.  She is doing things by herself and has made new friends.  And I'm stuck here at home.  I wouldn't ever, ever, ever want her to have anything but an amazing time, because I love her to bits and more, but I wish, just sometimes, that it could be me going off to live in a new place and do new adventurous things.

I wish.

I don't want to go back to University.  I don't think I can do it.  It took me so long to get settled and make friends and I'm not sure I can do it again.  I know that I've been so incredibly lucky that there were people who were prepared to put up with me last year; I'm more grateful to them than they realise, I really am.

In case my sister ever happens upon this blog, it's not your fault and it's nothing to do with the way rational brain feels about you - I love you both very much and it makes me feel very happy that I have both of you in my life - I'm just sad that I am me sometimes.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


Evening! Sorry to post so soon after the last blog entry, but I didn't plan the last one - I just felt fairly compelled to write about it...

First of all, thankyou, thankyou, thankyou for actually giving me questions to answer - I know I'm not as popular as the other OCD blogs I follow, simply because I haven't been posting for that long, and I don't really want to share the blog with people in my real life, most of whom are oblivious to my OCD and so I'm so grateful that people have read my post and asked me questions!

1. 71º & Sunny: When did you first discover you had OCD?

I've had OCD, I think, for as long as I can remember: I've always had a sort of 'magical cause and effect' way of thinking about things (for example, I remember performing mental rituals when I was about six years old because I thought it would mean that my next door neighbours sold the horrible van they'd bought...!), but the first time I had any really distressing symptoms, I was ten.

After that, despite years of health obsessions, body checking rituals and fairly severe anxiety, I wasn't diagnosed formally until I was having problems with my school work when I was seventeen, and I 'confessed' to my Mum, who arranged for my to see the doctor.  He was very reluctant to diagnose me and told me that 'he had friends who did things like me' but, by then, I just wanted to start getting better and pushed for a diagnosis.

2. Elizabeth: What types of OCD bother you the most?

This is one I've had to think about long and hard...I guess the type of OCD which bothers me the most is the one which makes me do compulsions which are completely unrelated to anything else.  When I was going through my Health Anxiety OCD phase, checking my body for signs of illness made total sense, as did the avoidance of speaking the names of illnesses.  But avoiding stepping on kerb stones and repeatedly touching wood or repeating phrases three times over makes no sense whatsoever and takes up so much time in my day when I could be doing other, infinitely more productive, things.  

Another contender for top spot is worrying myself sick about things that will never happen, and not having any sense of perspective.  Like getting ridiculous levels of anxiety that my Mum's clothes are contaminated and are going to make my family ill, but not being 'allowed' to tell her so.  I know, rationally, it's ridiculous but it's so difficult to convince my OCD of that.

3. Tina at Bringing Along OCD: What would you like people without OCD to know about the disorder?

Firstly, and this is a wish which I think everyone with OCD has, that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - for a lot of people - is not about continuous hand washing, or tidying up.  And it's not always a fear of germs or disorder which precipitates either of these actions.  I think increasing numbers of people believe that it's something which can be turned on or off on a whim.  If I hear one more person say that they 'wish they had OCD' because they have such a dirty house, I may actually have to hire the Fifth Plinth in Trafalgar Square and tell people exactly what it's really like. 

Another think I think everyone should know is that I'm not mad.  The things I do might look crazy, and sometimes I definitely feel like I've lost the plot, but I am in control of what I'm doing, and I'm definitely not going to hurt anyone.

This seems to have turned into a wordy one; I'm obviously feeling verbose tonight.

For anyone who's made it this far: well done!

My challenge, should you wish to accept it, is to answer the question 'What would you like people without OCD to know about the disorder?' as a blog post.  Tina's made me really curious to hear people's answers!  If you do that, please post a link to your blog in the comments, because I'd love to read them :) 


Something in my head has clicked.

And that makes me feel more 'normal' than I've felt for a long time.  For those of you who can't see the programme - or those of you who have better things to do in your lives than sit around watching Channel 4 documentaries - it's about people who claim to have a Complete Autobiographical Memory, ie. they don't forget things.  Or rather, they do forget things, they just remember a heck of a lot of stuff as well.

I don't have a complete autobiographical memory, but I do have a good memory.  I can often tell people where I was on a certain day or what happened in a certain month in a certain year, or where I was when important world events happened.

For example, during the programme, the interviewer asked Aurelien, The Boy Who Can't Forget, where he was on the 7th July, 2008.  As quickly as he can recall the events which happened to him on that day, I can tell you that it was a Monday: I went swimming and then went into my school to give a birthday card to a girl in my form.  I saw my form teacher and she told me that it was nice to see me, and that she thought it was lovely that I'd remembered the girl's birthday, and then I had lots of worried phonecalls from my Dad, who'd heard me talking about going swimming but hadn't actually thought I'd 'go through with it'.

And, just like all the subjects of the film, I don't know how I do it: it's just there.  

I've always scored sort of averagely on memory tests - my memory of the order of a pack of cards, for example, isn't any better than anyone else's and, although I'm good at remembering phone numbers, I can't remember a series of digits of particularly impressive length, either.  

This hasn't particularly to do with OCD, I don't think, although there is a theory that having an extraordinary Autobiographical Memory is simply an 'OCD-type' obsession with your own life, but I guess it comes under the heading of 'Kate's Mental Health', and I wanted to write something about it, because watching the programme made something suddenly click, and I think I've learnt something about myself tonight.

I've had a quick scout around the internet for online tests, and I wish there was some way of meeting people who had this ability, or finding out whether there is any sort of testing I could undergo, just because it's something I'm really interested in, and it's difficult to test yourself (when trying to conjure up random dates, I simply think of ones which I associate events with...).

Have any of my readers with OCD (or without OCD!) got advanced Autobiographical (or any other sort of- ) Memories?

Friday, 21 September 2012


Tina, who is lovely and supportive and writes very proficiently over on her blog Bringing Along OCD (and is also one of the very first American people who live in America I've ever properly 'spoken' to, I think) recently posted an entry in which she asked her readers to ask her questions about anything.

I don't know how many readers I'm getting, but I think I'd like to do the same.

Post your questions and I'll answer them - I'm open to anything here, being [fairly] anonymous, so just set your comment identity tag to anonymous if you want to ask something mental health related, or more personal.

I look forward to reading your questions!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Ch-ch-ch-changes: Part II.

Dear Sister,

                                Talking to you on Facebook tonight was strange.  It was almost as though I’d never really met you properly; as though we were casual acquaintances.  I think that that was my fault much more than it was yours – these things usually are – but it was the oddest thing.  Not what I’d expected at all.
               What I want to do right now, what I’d give anything to have the chance to do, is to give you a hug.  I can feel your tiny little waist in your jogging bottoms and your Year 11, and then your Year 13, Leavers’ Hoodie in my arms still.  I would give anything, more than anything, for you to be here tonight.  I want to play Evil Baby and swaying so that we can see our reflections in the mirror with you.  I want it to be you and me and me and you.

                I’m listening to a playlist I’ve made for you.  It’s got One Day Like This by Elbow on it.  That’s the first time I’ve bought a piece of music and you’ve really loved it.  I’d forgotten that, but it made me feel proud that something that I liked and that I’d found first was something that you liked too. 
               I thought that when you moved away, I was going to be OK.  I kept telling people that I was going to be really sad and that you are my best friend in all the world ever, but I thought it’d be like that thing where you think you’re going to cry at the end of a sad book, or a sad film, and then the moment comes and you miss it. 
              I’ve got Panda now.  I thought he might smell like you, but he doesn’t although, to be fair, I can’t actually smell anything because I’ve got an attractive blocked nose.  He’s not cuddly like you either. 
             The Military Wives has just come on.  I don’t think you even liked it all that much.  I don’t think you even ever nicked it from me, and you nicked most things which had been released in the last decade!  It reminds me of you being in Year Thirteen though, and watching Gareth on the TV and it being the four of us.  And the lyrics remind me of you. 
           I just wish you’d come home.  I don’t want you to hate University at all.  I want you to love it and be good at it and have lots of friends and look forward to going back after the holidays and put off coming home during termtime because you’re going out with the people in your flat.  But I wish it was the beginning of Year 13 again and you were always at home when I came home and you had work to do and sometimes you were grumpy with me.  I’d give anything to curl up in the armchair and know that you were there on the sofa because you kept squealing.  I’d give anything for you to get really cross with me for staring in public.
          It’s the Jubilee song now.  Sing.  I know it’s your very favourite ever.  I can barely even listen to it because it reminds me so much of everything about you.  Of how royalist you were and how completely unexpected it was.  I’m repeating it for a third time now, as though it might summon you up, bring you home.  I’m in bed now and it makes me cry so hard that I can’t sit still: it forces me into a curled up shape.  I remember you telling me that there is no music which gets close to how much you love this song.  I wish you’d come back and then we’d play it on repeat constantly for as long as you wanted.  It reminds me of your A Levels and how hard you worked and how you made yourself ill because you wanted to do well so badly.  I miss you.
      Parade.  We saw them at the Clothes Show.  I don’t know whether you liked the song because you liked the song, or because it reminded you of the day, but it reminds me of your eighteenth birthday and of that day.

                And Payphone.  Maroon 5.  It was probably the last song we listened to together before you went away.  We were on the way back from Granny’s because we’d been on an adventure and we had the radio on.  I didn’t know you loved it as much as you did.  It reminds me of Jersey this year as well, and being together, just me and you, for a whole week.  I miss it.  I wish, wish, wish that I could turn back time and we could do the whole thing again.  I wish we could do the whole summer again, to be fair.  So badly that it hurts.  It’s been amazing, this summer.  Yeah, there have been bits that I regret, or that I’d rather not do again (and, of course – of course – I would never wish you ill) but it’s been one of the best that I can remember. 
                And now Happy Birthday.  You silly girl!  It was only last week.  I felt as though I was losing you then, but at least I still had your physical presence to hold onto.  I do miss cuddles.  And your advice.  And laughing with you.  All of it, really.  I’m  so, so glad you’ve got Eva because I couldn’t bear to think of you being miserable.  When you rang earlier and said you were going to sit on your bed and eat your salad, it almost broke my heart.  I don’t want you to be by yourself, or being miserable.  I want you to have a cake with me.  I’d happily eat a million calories a day if you were here eating them with me.  I’m sorry for that as well.  So sorry.  I really am.

But here we are.  That’s it. 

Lots of love,

Me xxx


I do not like change.

My OCD does not like change.

Yesterday, my sister left for University.  Unlike me, who chose to live at home whilst studying, but that's an entirely different blog entry, she has moved out of our house and gone to live miles away; perhaps an hour and a half by train.

I've had a year to prepare for this eventuality.  I've even known where she's been headed for about six months.  I've had plenty of time to prepare myself for the goodbyes and spending days without her.  So why is it so difficult to accept that she's gone?

I've not had a brilliant day.  My poor friend has sprained her ankle, and I must have nearly knocked her off her crutches about three times so that I didn't have to walk on the darker blue strips at the sides of the corridors in the hospital.  It's at times like that that I wish I was normal!

I have, however, not cried since this morning.  So I guess that's a start?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

9/11. The Beginning.

Where was I when JFK was assassinated?

Where was I when Elvis Presley was pronounced dead?

Where was I when man first landed on the moon?

I wasn't born.

And so, when, on the 11th September 2001, the caretaker rushed into our classroom to tell all members of staff to go and watch the TV which had been set up in the Library, my world was completely, utterly and absolutely shattered.  Nothing of such importance had happened in my short life.  Nowhere had I been exposed to such pure hatred; such misery.  Although I knew of war, and that sometimes countries 'didn't agree', I had no idea of the magnitude of such events.

I've never been so good at showing my feelings.  I've written before about how easy it is to show the feelings other people want me to feel; to reflect the general mood, but that day I didn't show how devastated I was by the news until my Mother watched me go terribly, terribly pale and asked me whether I was going to faint, at which point I promptly burst into tears.

I remained in a state of anxiety, higher than it had ever been before, for a long, long time.  I remember developing avoidance strategies so that I didn't have to be reminded of how the world was falling apart on the news and I remember saying long, complicated prayers so that my headteacher didn't announce all-out World War whenever he came into my classroom.  I remember feeling safe in the swimming baths because I thought that nobody could break such terrible news in such a noisy place - and, anyway, I could put my head underwater so I didn't have to hear - and I remember wondering whether it was wise to go and play on the street, in case Osama Bin Laden came to blow me to pieces.

This, I think, was my introduction into the world of proper, all encompassing, anxiety.  Although I'd previously experienced it to some extent, never before had it coloured everything I did and everything I knew.

And so my heart goes out to all those families who were touched by the 11th September 2001.  My world was changed only a fraction as much as yours.  And if it's still hurting me now, then I'm pretty sure it's one thousand times worse for you.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Holiday.

It didn't start well.  Surely no-one should spend the morning before a holiday they're supposedly 'excited' about sobbing into their Mother's shoulder?  And definitely surely not when they're twenty?

Well, there I am; defying the norm again.

However, I'm proud to report it wasn't quite the wall-to-wall cry-fest I'd expected.  I'm back and I'm still in one piece. I can also think of at least three occasions where I was genuinely happy and the voice in my head which tells me that I definitely need to be at home now had shut up for a while.  This, in my head at least, is a success.

1. When we played a game called 'Buzzed Out' where you have to describe a word of phrase to other members of your team before the buzzer goes off.  I like words.  I like this game.

2. When we went swimming and the adrenaline was really running and my friends were all there and we were all having a really good time together.

3. When my Mum texted to ask me how I was and she was expecting a reply, I think, telling her how miserable I was and how I couldn't cope and please could she come and fetch me now? and I could reply saying that I wasn't having too bad a time.

I'm not saying I was ecstatic all week, but it was definitely an improvement on the last time I went away, during which I thought of nothing but counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until I could go home.  And I'm too experienced to expect perfect straight away!

Monday, 10 September 2012

I'm Home.

Just a quick post to say thankyou for all the messages of support and advice - it made my holiday more bearable, and there were definitely parts of it where I could say I was enjoying myself, which must be an improvement!

I'll post a longer update when I'm not so tired...

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The opposite of flying.

Time flies when you're having fun.

So what happens when you're not having fun?

It drags like nothing before.  Days turn into weeks and weeks into months.  I'm pretty sure it's actually possible for the clock to tick more slowly if you're miserable.

I'm going on holiday this week.  Obviously, in the heads of normal people, this would not inspire anything other than delight and excited anticipation.  If this blog has taught us anything, it's that I'm far from normal.  And so, predictably, I'm dreading it.

The main problem is that I hate being away from home.  I miss my bed, and I miss my family and I miss my house.  I miss my tidy, predictable compulsions and I miss my 'safe', age-old obsessions.  If worrying that your hair hasn't been cleaned thoroughly enough, or that you might not have made your bed 'right' enough is your biggest intrusive thought then it's plain sailing, yes?

And so here I am, in bed, hoping that - miraculously - in the next twelve hours, I develop a sickness bug (you'll never read that on another OCD blog!) or the whole holiday park is closed or something else happens to prevent me from having to go on holiday.  At this point I'd like to share with you the fact that I am only going on holiday for five days; I come back on Friday, and I will be sharing the week with my closest school friends - people who I've known for years and years.

I know that the trick is to keep busy all the time but, when you're in a house with five other people who like their sleep far too much and demand afternoon naps, this is difficult.  I'd sleep, but it's impossible when there's so much going on in your head.  I've got podcasts on my iPod for when I'm trying to get to sleep and I'm taking my puzzle books, reading books, knitting, sewing and my laptop.  I'm also hoping that my friends will want to go swimming and on other activities a fair amount.

So, I'll see you on Friday evening.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Making Sense. As If.

On Monday, I have to go on holiday with five of my friends.

A normal reaction to this would be excitement.  I know because I'm having to pretend this is how I feel.  Emotionally, I'm not good at much, but I can produce quite a convincing 'I'm excited' conversation...  

Of course, for those of you who've read before, it's quite evident that my reaction is going to be anything but normal.

I am terrified.  And I am not exaggerating.  I would rather go out for a day without being able to make my bed properly, or eat a whole tub of butter than go on holiday on Monday.

This is the part of my OCD that I find most isolating; most embarrassing; most frustrating.  When I go on holiday, I miss my house and I miss my routine and I miss my Mum.  Everyone else I know goes away for the week and doesn't think about any of that stuff, or whether they turned off all the sockets in their room, or whether they've left any incriminating evidence around their room.  When I go on holiday with my family, I find it difficult, but at least they understand and are willing to accommodate my 'quirks'.  It just wouldn't be fair to expect the same from my friends.

Does it ever get easier?

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A Tale of Tail Chasing.

According to The Daily Mail (that highly reputable news source), when dogs chase their tails, they're doing something which is similar to ritualistic behaviour in humans.  The same dogs who are habitual tail-chasers are also more likely to be startled by loud noises and timid in their general behaviour.

Although this is 'fascinating fact' sort of stuff, it does seem to be quite useful in others ways - scientists are able to examine the behaviour of dogs and whether differences in breed, gender, upbringing and diet have an effect on the behaviour the dogs display.  The plan is then to investigate whether this translates into human behaviour, giving researchers an insight into the development and treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in people.

One of the emergent theories is that dogs are more likely to develop anxious, compulsive behaviour if they've  been separated from their mothers early in their lives.  This, for me, makes a lot of sense: I've always found that my OCD is worse when I'm separated from my Mum, and one of my main anxiety triggers is being on holiday away from my home and family.  Although my family can leave me in the house alone and I seem not to have a problem with that.  Maybe with dogs and people it's a lack of routine which triggers obsessions and compulsions in people who are predisposed to anxiety disorders?

On another note, it really annoys me how the Mail lists stepping on the cracks in pavements (or not depending on which way you swing!) as a 'mild symptom'.  Obviously the author's never walked down a road with crazy paving...

Monday, 27 August 2012

I Did It.

I drove to work.  And, and, I didn't swerve onto the other side of the road and kill anyone else.

Because I've got control, and whatever OCD tells me, it's not going to make me do anything.

In theory!


I am driving in the car alone for the first time.

Four weeks ago, I passed my driving test, and I am therefore, legally, considered to be a safe driver and of a standard to be allowed on the road alone.

Why, therefore, is a voice in my head telling me that it'd be all too easy to swerve onto the other side of the road?  My hands are on the wheel, but what if I don't have any control over them?  What if I can't stop myself driving into the path of oncoming cars?

The same voice tells me that the people driving behind me are about to shop me to the police for dangerous driving,  For not being fit to be on the road.  Rationally, as far as I'm aware, I'm doing nothing wrong on a road I've driven down, with my parents by my side, a hundred times before.  Rationally, I know that I'm no worse than anyone else who has just passed their test.

The dilemma is this: do normal first-time drivers worry like this?  Do they want to pull over so that they don't harm the drivers coming towards them?  I know driving alone is supposed to be nerve-wracking, but are these thoughts normal, or are they intrusive?

I think that that's one of the things about being me which I find most difficult: which bits are normal teen angst and which bits are mental illness?  What is normal and what is not?

And what do I do about it?  Do I drive anyway, and hope that I don't do any of the things that my head says I'm going to, or do I never drive again, so that there's no way I can hurt anyone else?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


I've been thinking about CBT for the past couple of days.

Do I want it?  Do I need it?

When I was seventeen, I began a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, after being referred (grudgingly, because apparently 'everyone' has varying degrees of OCD.  My GP has never believed in it.) by my doctor.  At that point, my compulsions were about the same as they'd been since I'd settled down at Secondary School.  Not the worst they've ever been, but definitely present.  I think I was just sick of having to put up with it morning, noon and night.  I was bored.

The CBT itself was disastrous.  My therapist wore a nasty brown cardigan and spent both sessions I attended telling me that I was 'very gifted' (I'm not).  The highlight came when, on asking me how I saw myself, I replied, 'I think I'm quite empathetic.' and she said, 'Never call yourself pathetic; it's just not true.'.

I would have carried on, I think, because there is no other way for me to access CBT and also because she probably would have been able to teach me some techniques but, as is the way of the NHS, they suddenly decided to change the way access to counselling works in England, and my sessions were delayed by a year.  By the time I was re-offered them, I was at a totally different stage in my life; going through a better patch with my OCD and tackling my final school exams, all of which left little time to be tackling compulsions and obsessions and intrusive thoughts.

My OCD, at the moment, is - I think - on a downwards spiral.  For a while, I've been managing to limit myself to mental compulsions, but I had to take the stairs instead of getting in the lift at work and I had to walk back a couple of steps so I could get onto the pavement in the 'right' way this evening.  I'm also developing a nasty intrusive thought about someone stabbing me when I get out of the lift at work, which is probably where the lift avoidance compulsion is coming from.  After a horrific Autumn last year, I really don't want to go there again.

On one hand, I'd really love to go and tackle this thing once and for all.  I'm fed up of it dominating my every thought and being scared of going on holiday in case I can't cope with the change in routine, and feeling like the odd one out amongst my friends because they're all 'normal'.  I'm also ready, I think, to tackle it.  I want to do it.

On the other hand, I'm not sure that I want to go back to the doctor's and talk to anyone about it.  I hate talking about my OCD - writing about it is different somehow - and I don't like talking to people about either my obsessions and my compulsions.  As I mentioned earlier, my doctor is most unsympathetic and doesn't really appear to believe that OCD exists.  I also don't think there's much point being referred back to the same counsellor as before.

So, my question is this: do I go and ask for more CBT?  And, if so, how?

Monday, 20 August 2012

Religion and OCD. My View.

This is in response to this post on The Beat OCD Blog, which is written by a lovely lady called Ann who makes much more sense than I do!

Religion and OCD.  It's something I've thought about a lot, for quite a long time.  I think that the two are intrinsically linked for people with OCD, especially for people who don't have the typical contaminant form of the illness.

When my OCD started, I thought that God was telling me to do things.  I can see you all leaning back from your computers, thinking 'Oh my goodness, she's schizophrenic; she's hearing voices...', but I'm not.  It's quite different.  Actually, the 'voice' which I attributed to God when I was seven was my OCD giving me compulsion orders.  Since I came from a church-attending family, it seemed only natural that God would tell me what to do in order that I was a 'good girl'.

As I grew older, my compulsions became mainly prayer-based.  I developed a number of prayer related compulsions within that as well, including holding my breath for ten seconds after each prayer, and a complicated series of 'Amens' at the end of each prayer, sometimes repeating the word about a hundred times, or until it 'felt right'.

Of course, when I was seven, I didn't know I had OCD.  I didn't know that it wasn't 'God' telling me how to live my life, and it never particularly concerned me.  I thought that every member of our congregation fulfilled the same 'rituals' in their lives.  I was normal.

When I was fifteen, I went through a stage where my OCD got a lot worse very quickly and the praying became, once again, the basis of my compulsions.  I began praying up to a hundred times a day, and I had praying rituals which could last for up to an hour before I would allow myself to sleep at night.  The subject I was praying about - my sister's health - was something which really upset me and so the praying ritual became quite upsetting as well.  I began to believe that God wasn't listening to me and, the more I felt that my compulsive praying was being 'ignored', the more I believed that I had to do it.

Now, I'm still a compulsive prayer, although it's not the main focus of my OCD anymore, and something I tend to turn to when I'm going through a bad patch, or all my other rituals aren't fulfilling whatever I need them to fulfill.  I think that understanding that my need to pray is not something based on religious conviction has helped, and understanding that God wasn't setting me personal challenges any more than anyone else also helped me to begin to stop the compulsions.

So, where does that leave me on the religious front?

Over the last ten years, I've gone from total atheism to seriously considering becoming a vicar, calling at about every degree on the spectrum on my way through, and back again.  I've thought a lot about what my OCD means to my faith, and whether it's wise to allow myself to have faith at all, from a mental health perspective.

At the moment, my belief stands thus: I think that I like the feeling that faith has, but I'm not sure if that's not just my OCD feasting on something which allows me compulsive thinking in mainstream society (ie that I'm allowed to repeat prayers and sing hymns because it makes me a 'better person' and that it is acceptable in non-OCD society).  However, I also think that organised religion is something which promotes an OCD way of thinking; we do good things to please an entity which may or may not exist.  We also repeat the same prayers and eat bread and drink wine in order that we'll gain entry to a paradise upon our deaths.  If we don't fulfil these things, then we'll go to an eternal hell.

Sound familiar?  Obsessively compulsively familiar?

So, for the time being, I'm happy being loosely Christian.  I enjoy going to church occasionally, and I enjoy listening to church music.  I don't want to be sucked into the prayer/sacrament/heaven thing because my brain creates enough of those situations as it is, thankyou very much.

I don't know whether this post makes any sense but thankyou for reading if you got this far!  Perhaps you could comment, or write your own blog about religion and OCD?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Not the Best Day of my Life.

It has been 23.12 forever.  As I type that, it changes to 23.13.  Liar.  I’m not sure how I feel.  Empty, maybe.  Fed up.  I don’t feel how I’m supposed to feel.  Sick.  Today I ran away.  I didn’t mean to run away; I went ice skating and then I just didn’t have the energy to go home.  I stayed out for too long: a salad in McDonalds and a bus ride around Chilwell kept me out just long enough to catch the 7pm bus home but then I walked on and on.  I just couldn’t face opening the door to the age old recriminations.

I’ve had enough.

They say I’m jealous.  I think I’m mad.  My sister is ill.  Again.  My sister is always ill.  Thing is, in my heart of hearts I know she can’t help it, but I can’t have anything to do with her when she’s ill.  It’s not a conscious choice: I wish it were.  It would make things so much simpler.  Thing is, truth be told, I’m horribly frightened of her…you know…of something awful happening to her.  And I don’t want it to be my fault.  If I have nothing to do with her, then that can’t happen.  But I can’t tell anybody that.  They already think I’m mad.

Yes, Elvis; I’m lonesome tonight.

It’s 23.18.  I feel like I’m waiting.  I don’t know what for.  Morning, perhaps?  Or maybe for the time to tick on to midnight?  Or maybe until I’m so sleepy that my eyes will close and I won’t have to lie in the darkness and wonder why I was born as me.  23.20.  I’ve made another two minutes.  Good going.
Sometimes, I feel like shouting, ‘Yes, she might be ill now, but she’ll get better.  And sympathy.  Buckets of sympathy.  And then she’ll get better.’.  I won’t get better.  I was born being me and I’ll continue to be me so long as I live. Nothing will change. In my head, when I picture myself, I see lots and lots of scribbles.  A mess.  Spaghetti tangled on a plate.

There is nothing straightforward about me. 

In three weeks, I’m going on holiday to Center Parcs.  I can’t wait.  But I know that, the moment I get there, I’ll pine for home so badly that it’ll hurt.  I am twenty.  Older than most people are when they move away from home.  I so badly want it to be me who can do exciting and adventurous things in other countries; who can have an amazing year in Halls.

It’ll never be me.  Nothing is ever going to be easy for me.

Tomorrow, she gets her results.  Already, I’ve been accused of wanting her to do badly.  The bad mood, black sheep in the corner, hoping for her failure.  At one time, I would have been fiercely competitive, hoping that I might just get the edge on her.  I couldn’t care less now.  I really honestly couldn’t.  She’s got everything else: the looks; the intelligence; the popularity.  What’s A Level grades on top of that?  She even gets the straightforward illnesses.  Who could compete?

My neck hurts from leaning against my radiator and there is a pile of clean washing on my floor.  I am too tired to move.  There is no point.  Besides, if I were to move, the delicate equilibrium might become unbalanced.  I might have to stop pretending that I. Am. OK. and my world might close in on itself.  You never know.  I can cope in this moment, in this position, but will I be OK with the next?  It’s not worth risking it.

I love her so badly.  So very badly.  I can feel my friends getting annoyed sometimes because I’m talking about something she’s done or said again.  I want to be with her and I want her to include me.  I want to be her best friend and I want to be able to show her off: ‘This is Anna.  She’s my little sister.  Yes, mine.  And there are not others.  It’s just the two of us.  Kate and Anna.  Anna and Kate.’.  She’s everything I’m not.  And I’m everything she doesn’t have to suffer from.

My phone has just vibrated with a text.  I can manage to be cheery, funny Kate at least there.  As long as other people don’t know what’s going on inside, then it’s fine.  Everything’s fine.  Chin up. 1, 2, 3…smile.  Smiling at the ceiling releases endorphins.  Did you know?  As long as you’re busy, you don’t have to think about being miserable.

So, yes, I am jealous.  As jealous as jealous can be.  I wish I were her so badly that I might crumple with it; sucked and slurped into my own bitter core.

Monday, 13 August 2012

In Other News...

Apparently, hoarding is no longer thought to be a symptom of OCD.

It's still thought to be an anxiety problem - something which is undeniable; I've recently been trying to sort through the possessions of a probable hoarder and she is anxious - but, according to the Daily Mail (yes, I know, but it's the first place the article came up on the internet), hoarding is now thought to be a problem with making decisions, and brain scans show that, when faced with making choices about which belongings to keep and which to give the old heave-ho, people with hoarding problems just can't decide.  This, however - in true hoarders - doesn't extend to other people's belongings.

I think I disagree with this.  People with OCD have problems with making decisions, and so we - or maybe it's just me? - let OCD make decisions for us.  I, for one, have got incredibly lazy: I let my OCD tell me when it's the 'right time' to get up, and when it's the 'right time' to stop brushing my teeth.  Some days, my conscious brain has almost stopped making any decisions altogether because OCD-me has taken over.

I imagine that this is how a hoarder feels when faced with the task of getting rid of the rubbish: they don't make a conscious decision based on whether something works, or is useful, or they need it; they just let their hoarding-them take over and make the decision for them.

Maybe hoarding is closer to OCD than scientists have decided?

When Things Don't Add Up.

I think that this blog gives the impression that I live a very miserable life, in which I am hemmed in by OCD.

For the last week, I've been on my summer holidays, and I think that the following is an apt allegory for my life in general.  

The holiday was amazing.  I'd be back in the blink of an eye if I had the option and I'd probably never come home again if I had that option as well.  It wasn't perfect: Dad had a back injury and couldn't really leave the hotel, so that meant we couldn't do everything we'd planned, but the weather was gorgeous and the food was nice (and I was trying very, very hard to eat everything put in front of me and not panic about the consequences).  I can definitely say it was one of - if not the - best week of 2012 so far.  

But, and this is the big but, by the end of the holiday, it was taking me ten minutes to leave my hotel room.  I managed - somehow, in the space of a week (!) - to develop a complicated enough string of compulsions to last me ten whole minutes.  And I think they probably could have begun to take a lot longer, but I ended up being quite firm with myself.

I'm not quite sure where they came from, or why exactly I was doing them, although I do wonder whether they had something to do with the stress of returning to normal life at home, because they got progressively worse as my return-home date got closer.  

However, I've had a good couple of days since I got back, which is relieving, especially because I was pretty bad before we went on holiday, so I guess I can't complain too much!

Updatey thing: Sorry that this ended so shockingly!  In my defence (Your Honour), I'd just returned from my holiday and I hadn't used my brain in over a week!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

An Apology.

I have a mental illness.


And when I read about other people with mental illness - and I'm being really honest here - I feel frightened of them.  Like when you see a drunk person walking towards you in the street and you want to cross over to avoid them.  

And that is something I am really ashamed of.  Because, honestly, I am really no different to any of those people who I see on TV or read about in magazines.  For goodness sake, if anyone found me doing any of my compulsions, or I told them what was really going on in my head when they asked what I was thinking about, they'd think that I were actually crazy.

And I'm not.  Am I?

I'd like to think that I'm not, anyway.  As much as, when I stop and think about it rationally, I'm sure that the people who I'm 'frightened' of aren't any different to me either.  In fact, I wish that I could meet a lot of them, because I don't actually know anyone of my own age who has the same 'issues' as I do.  I wish that I did, because sometimes it'd be nice to talk to someone about what's happening inside my head.  It's very lonely being the only person in the world who can't flick mid-song in case it precipitates the end of the universe.  And who gets an anxious knot in her throat typing that in case it makes it 'come true'.

So I want to say that I'm sorry that I ever watched your Youtube video, or read your blog and thought you were weird.  Because you're not.  

Monday, 30 July 2012


I'd just like to say thankyou to everyone - anyone - who reads this.

It means a lot to see my 'read' counter go up!

Annoying Myself.

I think that quite a lot of people (well, not that many really, because not that many people know about my madness) think that I have OCD 'for fun'.  I think that this is also a fairly widely held view amongst the general public.

That we do weird things, probably for attention, and we'd stop if we wanted to.

I think that my own family, understanding and wonderful as they are, think - deep, deep down - that I could stop if I wanted to.

Any OCD sufferer, however, will tell you that it's really not like that.

Today, I have been annoying myself.  Some days, as with anything, I find it easier to cope with my obsessions/compulsions than others.  And today was not one of those days.  I suppose that the days when my compulsions are more random are more difficult.  Let me explain:

Some days, and these are the better days, I have my 'base compulsions', things that I do all the time.  For example, all mug handles must be pointing West and the milk tops must always point towards the front of the fridge.  That is by no means an exhaustive list, but they're things I build into my day.  Things I've come to expect and plan for.

Other days, and these are not so good days, I compulse about other things as well.  So I'll be walking down the street, and suddenly I won't be able to step on any of the darker areas of pavement; or I'll be trying to make a cup of tea and I'll have to pour the water in first.  On days like this, sometimes it takes me an age to get anything done at all and by the time I get to bed, my head is reeling from the constant struggle to balance 'fulfilling' my compulsions with getting anything done at all.

On really bad days, I compulse about everything.  From the moment I wake up, to the moment I go to bed, OCD fills my head.  I can't do anything without repeating it, or counting, or thinking about what will happen if I don't do it perfectly.  On these days, I want to shout, 'I can't be here.', and run away somewhere else, far away.  Preferably leaving the compulsions and the obsessions, and everything else that goes with it, behind.

Why do I do it?  I don't know.  I think that today it's because I'm going out for the day with some friends tomorrow and I'm anxious about doing something out of the routine.  I really want to have a nice day, but my OCD tells me that unless I complete a ridiculous number of compulsions, I won't be able to enjoy my day, or that really horrible things will happen.

Some days I can cope.  Some days I just want it all to go away.