042. Trade-offs: OCD vs. Depression

This entry contains descriptions of my specific mental health problems and the coping strategies of my day to day life, specifically my struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Sometimes people find other people’s experiences with mental illness and OCD helpful to their own healing process, sometimes they don’t. Some people with OCD trigger their own obsessions by reading about other people’s obsessions. If you are someone who don’t find these things helpful, then please skip this entry and go on to the next one.

I am literally just sitting on my couch, crying.

I’m doing my best to take care of my physical health today, because I know my mental health is out the window. Actually, some of my physical health is out the window too. So…

I took a shower and used the salt scrub I made myself to make myself “feel extra clean”. This is something that I struggle with, alot. I have many days when I get out of the shower, after scrubbing myself with soap and very hot water, and I still feel somehow “dirty”. When I was at my worst, the dark OCD days right after my mental breakdown, I was unable to ever feel clean. I would get out of the shower, and immediately have this sensation like someone was pouring oil on my head. It would seem to flow down my body, contaminating everything. Sometimes my father would come home from work to see me curled in a ball on the floor of the bathroom, crying.

The scrub and the hot water aren’t good for my skin. Neither was the scented lotion I put on after. But both made me feel better. So, even though I’ve struggled mentally with my skin not being “good”… not even tone, always too dry, acne-prone… I routinely trade my physical health for temporarily better emotional health.

This frequently comes back to bite me, since a large part of my self-image struggle (when I can recognize who I am in the mirror at all, see previous entries) is that my skin is constantly red, flaky, uneven. I’m quite skilled at using makeup to cover that on my face, but lately I rarely have the energy or willpower to do so. Half of my face is covered by a mask anyway, and it’s annoying to constantly get makeup on the inside of my reusable, washable masks.

I’m making myself herbal tea to drink because water grosses me out when my mental health takes a nosedive. This is part of my very real OCD that rears its nasty head when I don’t have enough mental bandwidth to filter it out the false thoughts that enter my brain. I’ve learned to fight it in my daily life, but when things get bad, I don’t have enough energy to fight it. So, I find ways to bypass it or work around it. This is not helpful to my overall struggle to prevent OCD from controlling my entire life. It is, however, helpful to the struggle to prevent depression from taking over my whole life. Sometimes I have to make these no-win trade-offs to keep myself going.

The water-aversion has been part of my daily struggle for over a decade. Pre-pandemic, actually, pre-baby, I had a much better handle on reversing those thought patterns in my head. I was able to drink water fairly well. I was even able to swim in crystal clear swimming pools for short periods of time. (Moving water, like showers, seem to not trigger the same problems, but sinks of soaking dishes and swimming in lakes are still close to waking nightmares for me.) However, when I’m also actively trying to circumvent intrusive, anxiety-ridden thoughts about Bear’s health, pandemic fears, and many other things, water becomes my worst enemy.

I have gotten dehydrated so many times in recent years, I’ve lost count. It’s so common that anytime I feel less than stellar physically, Lev tells me to go drink more liquids. If that doesn’t solve the problem, then we move on to other possibilities. Liquids usually are the issue, though.

So, when things get really bad, I drink flavored seltzer or watered down herbal tea. I know that letting an obsession have control gives it greater control in the future. I just don’t have the energy to deal with it sometimes. I give OCD this inch, knowing it’s going to cost me later when the disease comes back for another mile. I don’t have an alternative. This is my life.

I have to eat, too, so I made the lowest effort food I could think of: rice. In my teen years, I lived around so many people who were of asian or pacific islander descent that I can practically make rice in my sleep. White rice, plus butter and soy sauce is my ultimate comfort food. Easy, tasty. Not so great for you, really, if that’s all you’re having. Pure starch plus pure fat with a side of salt. Yum. Another trade-off. Bad food or no food? I’m choosing to eat.

Read more: Intro | Smoke Dragon: Ever Clearer | People in my life

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April 7, 2021

I hope you’re feeling better now. I’m getting an aversion to water, but I find adding salt and lemon juice helps.  Makes it less…water-y.

April 8, 2021

@soldis Today is a pretty good day. I might try the salt and lemon trick to see if it works for me. Thanks for the tip.