September 4, 2019: I have gained a lot of insight into myself over the last few years, but one area that has stymied me completely is getting a handle on my anxiety; namely, my OCD. Like my autism, it’s always been there, and I’ve grown used to its yoke. But as I made my way through high school, I saw it take command of every facet of my waking hours.
There is literally no part of my day that I haven’t ritualized. I need to make my bed the same way every morning, or else it’s not right. Things must be placed in the correct spots before I can go upstairs and start my bedtime routine. Nothing makes me as happy or miserable as completing an urge. I begin to feel like time stands still when I am caught up in a routine.
The thing is, I know how miserable I am making everyone around me due to my rituals. It feels like I have kept some portion of my true self captive as I finish a needed activity. I arguably am my worst enemy. I had a few visits with a psychologist, and tried a few of her suggestions, but when your entire day is governed by OCD, where do you start?
For that reason, I wanted to explore medication. Tomorrow I am meeting with a psychiatrist for a second time to get approved for Prozac. My hope is to return to this essay in a few weeks to share how I am feeling after starting meds. Please let me feel some relief.
October 20, 2019: It’s been 46 days since I started taking Prozac. I wish I could say that a miracle has taken place, but it hasn’t been a smooth road. It has been a time of many good days, but in that time, there have been some pretty rough days when I felt more anxiety than I thought was humanly possible. I am even taking a break from Trader Joe’s because I had a really bad shift where I was unable to calm down my anxiety, and lost it when a customer took a box of cereal from the shelf right after I had organized it. I grabbed it out of her hands, and put it back on the shelf. Obviously, this was not a good situation, and my manager was very concerned about my ability to do my work. So I asked if I could take a break so I could focus on my anxiety. I’m very grateful that they let me do this instead of firing me, which I’m sure would happen in most other grocery stores.
Right now, my focus is on getting my OCD under control. I am getting more sleep than ever before, eating more often, and taking my medicine at the same time every day. I started going to the track with my personal support worker, and the first time, I ran for an hour straight! I was so sore, but my mind was calmer than ever before. Luckily, I am taking a PE course at PCC [Portland Community College], and am learning more about being active.
My mom is helping me by getting on board with my OCD treatment by advocating with whoever needs to know about what I’m dealing with. I think she gets it – when shit was happening at work, she was pretty upset with the situation, but most of all with the way society is ableist at its core. I was so amazed when she apologized to me for my having to constantly perform under the expectation of being neurotypical in my behavior at work. “I can’t even begin to understand how stressful that must be for you to have performance reviews that rate you on meeting normalcy.” I was feeling pretty awful about what had happened, but that shift in her perspective was inspired by learning from people like me. It wasn’t always that way, and I feel that this perspective-taking is the main undercurrent to treating my anxiety. I hope that a future blog topic will be all about how my OCD is much better.