I finally managed an appointment with my doctor this morning. Strangely, my vicious OCD attack seems to have leveled off a bit more quickly this time around – the worst of it lasted only a week or two (although it felt like forever). Don't mistake me – I do still spend some time during the day freaking out over my most fearsome thoughts, but on the whole I'm feeling a little better each day. Still, I know that if left unchecked, this cycle will continue as it has for the past seven years. Everything will be fine for a few months, then suddenly one morning I'll wake up and be curled up in fear, trying to shut out the horrifying thoughts my brain is screaming at me. So today I decided to do something different.
My doctor had a med student with her – the clinic I go to is also a teaching hospital, so this happens somewhat frequently. I can't say I'm a huge fan of it – it's hard enough baring myself (either physically or emotionally) in front of one stranger without having to add another into the mix, but I suppose it's the only way they'll learn. And hell, maybe seeing one person suffering with OCD will make this particular student able to recognize it that much sooner if a patient presents with it once she's practicing as a full-fledged MD. I didn't get into the details of what I was going through, but I did explain to the doctor that I was having a rough time of it lately, and I used key phrases like "frightening thoughts" and "obsessing" to get my point across. She suggested that we try Zoloft again, and said that it's good for combating OCD. This was pretty much exactly what I wanted. I also mentioned that in the past, my OCD has gone in cycles – I never before understood why my "madness" came and went the way it did. If I were truly "crazy," wouldn't it be with me all the time? But on the other hand, how could anyone sane be having the sort of thoughts I was having? She confirmed what I've suspected for some time now, that OCD can come and go in waves, and can lie dormant for a while before suddenly jumping up and rearing its ugly head. For me, it's been the same cycle for about the past seven years – I'll have a spike in symptoms, go to a doctor and start on therapy. After a few months (sometimes less), I'm feeling like myself again, and I stop the meds and quit seeing the therapist. Everything's fine for several months, then the cycle begins again.
A second-grader could tell you that whatever I've been doing until now has not worked. Until now, I've been resistant to staying on meds because I thought it would somehow make me "damaged" if I were on them all the time. It's actually kind of laughable, because I've spent so much time already trying to convince myself that I was crazy. I'm at a point now where I need to accept who I am, what I'm struggling with, and what tools I need to overcome it. I'm finally starting to feel okay with the idea that my head just doesn't work the same way as other people's. It's not that I need pills to be happy, as I once thought, but even if that were the case, it seems stupid to deny myself happiness (or at the very least, peace of mind) when it is so readily available to me, just because it comes in the form of a prescription. Without it, I'm fine most of the time, but when those attacks come, I've got nothing to defend myself with, and even if I do start up on the meds right away, it's still going to take several weeks before it starts to work. For all these reasons, I've been thinking about this for a while now, and I think that staying on the meds full-time is the only way to prevent the "spikes" from coming back. Thankfully, my doctor said that it's not likely I'll end up growing accustomed to it, in that I'll need my dose increased more and more over time.
The other half of my problem is that I've given up on therapy several times in the past. Part of the reason was because once the worst part of the OCD attack had passed, I just didn't feel like talking anymore. Also, I don't think I was ever fully 100% honest with a therapist in my life. I still hadn't gotten over the shame of my strange thoughts, especially the harmful ones. I had a very strong fear that they'd slap me in a straitjacket then and there if I ever divulged everything. After talking to others who have the same sort of thoughts, I realize it's not necessarily the mark of madness I feared it was. If I want to get through this, I'm going to have to open myself up completely and pour all my neuroses on the table and let someone help me sort them out. There's also the element of CBT to consider. I've never tried it before, and I know it doesn't work for everyone, but I want to give it a shot. The way I see it, my brain has faulty programming. I have thought patterns that don't work the way they should. I'm really hopeful that if someone were to help "re-train" my brain on how to work properly, I could get myself through this thing.
Throughout my life, I have been very, very critical of myself. However, rather than looking at my faults constructively, I push myself to a level of self-pity where all I can do is sit and think, "Ho-hum, woe is me, there's mothing I can do about it. At a time where I'm really trying to be honest with myself while still giving myself credit for a few things, I'm trying to approach everything with the attitude of trying to improve on my flaws while still giving myself a break once in a while. With all that in mind, I'm going to stick with the Zoloft this time, and I'm going to try to find a therapist near me who specializes in CBT.
Funny, the blog doesn't offer the option of "hopeful" as a mood. But really, there's no better word for what I'm feeling right now.