Obsessive anxiety thinking, or, what the hell is wrong with me?

Have you ever had the feeling that you've only recently become aware of certain things about yourself, that you are pretty sure that you were already aware of them?

I'm sure there's some sort of Scandinavian word for it, like hygge or something like that, for this feeling.

Like, when you realize you're crazy, but somehow you already knew you were? And yet this knowledge blindsides you anyway.

That's kind of happening right now.

Somehow, I functioned with this very same mind for years, unmedicated. And for some reason, it's unspooling on me, like a yarn ball that you leave alone in a basket and suddenly it's a tangled mess. Or maybe the better analogy is winding a bobbin. You're going along, moving thoughts from the big thread to the smaller bobbins, and suddenly it becomes a unspooled mess.

It's 4am. I've been up since 3. Forgive me if these analogies are terrible.

Did you know that I thought I was being followed by the FBI/CIA for years? Later part of high school and early part of college. I was looking at CIA librarian jobs, and suddenly, I was paranoid they were checking me out. Making sure I was good spy material. I'd always watch my six, and monitor my rearview mirror for cars that were following me, and when they changed out to avoid being caught, I was smarter than that and realized that was exactly what they were doing, changing the guard.

It took a long time, then one day I stopped thinking that. It just, stopped.

Unlike my fear of stepping on cracks. I had to purposefully step on cracks to break myself of that fear when I was a teenager. Mom turned out fine. I wasn't going to hell.

Oh yeah. There's the kind of obsessive religious thinking. It saved me for a while, but then became my nemesis. I'd try to imagine, so hard, that Jesus or Mary were sitting at the foot of my bed after one of the terrible days, and I could sob in their arms, like they were trusted family members. But despite my best effort, I could not hallucinate.

Mostly, it was sin and Lent.

There's that pop can story. I've told it many times as an example. Did you know that if you put the recycling in the container and a pop can jumps out and you don't put it back, you technically did not do the recycling and were then committing a mortal sin because your father told you to take it out? I was so depressed, had no energy to pick up that damn pop can. I stared at it for what seemed like ages, trying to figure out whether I should spend the energy picking it up or if it was worth incurring his wrath and the wrath of God, and then I'd have to go to confession again, but I'd have to figure out how to sneakily go to confession (which is impossible in my household), because I firmly believed in the "praying in secret" tip Jesus had. Plus if I told them I wanted to go, I'd get an interrogation from dad and then start thinking the sky is green and the grass is blue.

Same with Lent. I'd set a resolution. Like reading the Bible before bed. Or praying the rosary. I'd be up so late doing schoolwork, and just about to crawl into bed exhausted emotionally and mentally and realize, fuck, I forgot to do the lenten resolution. Except saying fuck was a sin because Dad said not to even though he said it all the time. And goddammit, Holly. So I'd get out of bed and pray by the nightlight, tensed up, ready to jump into bed if Mom heard a noise and checked on me. I had this fear of hell for failing that I just stopped trying to do anything for Lent. No resolutions for the New Year either. Nothing.

I had obsessions, it seems. Anxiety-induced obsessions, for sure. I knew that. And yet it seemed so brand new, so weird, when I realized just how crazy I was recently, when explaining my symptoms to my psychiatrist over the phone, trying desperately to put the words to what I was experiencing, because he could only help as well as he could figure out what's going on with me.

My obsessions now involve self injury. I mean, I've had some form of it for years. I'd pick at pimples and cut them with cuticle scissors, sanitized with toner, and try to gouge out the blackheads with the same scissors, leaving my face a minefield of pimples in various states of agony. I'd always pick at my skin. And somehow nobody noticed until my now-mother in law did, and asked me to stop. I think I must have been 20. I started in my early teens. Did my own parents ever notice?

I also would run through scenarios. There was a news story about a bridge being broken but you didn't notice it because of the curvature of the road so people kept plunging to a watery depth and they didn't get out in time and there was a carseat floating facedown in the river. I'd research and run through procedures endlessly in my mind about how to get myself and all of my four siblings who were in their own carseats out in time to save their lives.

Now, I run through scenarios of how to protect my daughter if the bus careened off the road or crashed and how I could keep her from flying out of my arms or cushion her landing with myself, even if I broke my arms or legs or back. Almost every single fucking time I ride the bus. Driving in a car is no better. Last time I drove, I got fatigued with worry as the days went on, certain that just one slip-up would lead to our deaths.

And I would think about ways to give myself a reason to feel so bad. It's like when your parents say, "stop crying, or I'll give you a reason to cry," except taken to extremes. Stop feeling so anxious/bad/depressed, or I'll give you a reason. The pieces of stone that fell from some of the late 1800s houses and are laying in their yards? How could I throw it on my feet or smash it into my leg? What if I slipped on the unshoveled sidewalks and broke my leg? I'm too cheap to get an ambulance to the hospital, and it's only like 5 blocks away, so I could drag myself there.

Thursday, I had this intense desire to jump from a semi-high point. Like a second story balcony. Enough to hurt, but never to kill. I'm not suicidal, at least that much. You've never realized just how many opportunities there are to take that option on the walk from daycare to work until you think about it. SO many stairs. So many balconies. So many concrete landings, perfect for some good injuries. I was freaking scared when I got to work in one piece.

And this mental illness bout--I mean, I've had it for years and years, but this particular bout keeps dragging on as we try different doses of meds to figure out what will work. And it's wearing me out. It's wearing my husband out. And I do not want my daughter to see me battle it like this. I'm so done.

I have been recommended DBT to deal with this. Sometimes I feel so crazy like I should be hospitalized, but I'm the primary breadwinner and insurance holder and the daycare is in my work neighborhood, so um, yeah, I need to keep working.

There are different reasons I've wondered why my mind is unspooling now, after being so good at pretending to be normal for years--but that's fodder for another post later.

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