HOPE IS THE ONLY THING THAT KEEPS ME ALIVE!
Ever woken up wishing you had not? I do not mean because you fancy another half-hour or so in bed, I mean because your whole being is CRIPPLED with anxiety and fear? Fear about confronting the day ahead because you are worried how you are going to get through it without panicking? Fear that everything you see or touch is going to be CONTAMINATED? Frightened to put your nose near anything because you worry it will smell of that smell that you most fear? You ever woken up thinking, I cannot take much more of this…….I WILL NOT TAKE MUCH MORE OF THIS?
I have had ALL OF THESE FEELINGS in the past few weeks and it is due to suffering from a mental health problem. Only if you have had these feelings too, will you then truly understand the amount of mental torment and anguish that I have been going through. Two weeks ago I almost gave up on life. I was feeling totally fed up with the continual setbacks and wanted out. My life does not feel like much of a life at the moment, it just feels like an existence. This latest OCD flare-up feels like the worst one ever. Opening up to family and friends helped, so too did blogging to the entire world about how wretched I was feeling. ONE THING kept me going most of all though…………….and that thing undoubtedly was believing in HOPE! HOPE that my life life will not always be like this. HOPE that my physical and mental health issues will improve in the near future. HOPE that I will get that brilliant career that I have never stopped dreaming about. I HOPE one day to finally meet somebody and fall in love. HOPE has been such a fundamental part of my life for so long!
I never considered myself clever enough to be able to go to university, so was overjoyed when I got the good enough grades to go. The idea of graduating and having letters after my name seemed like this wonderful dream to me. I wanted a brilliant career too and thought getting a degree could only enhance the chances of this happening. Living away from home though was going to a challenge. Firstly, I was diagnosed a type one diabetic when I was seventeen. Secondly, around the same time I had been medically diagnosed as suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It revolves around the idea of contamination. At that time dog dirt was my number one phobia. I have since been told by mental healthcare professionals that I have a very usual form of OCD. My last Psychologist told me how most sufferers with contamination issues, worry that they might catch something from the things they deem to be contaminated. They worry germs may do some harm to their family members or themselves. Mine has never been like this. My OCD revolves around me needing to feel ‘uncontaminated’ in order to achieve piece of mind(equilibrium). I cannot function or mentally cope if I feel I am contaminated.
The first year living away at university was tough at times. I seemed to have picked the only city that either had dog dirt or horse muck on every street that I walked on . I coped though because of my dream and HOPE of graduating. I had a reason to fight the OCD. Then at the start of my second year I received some utterly devastating news. My Father had suddenly died aged only sixty-six. My Mum, big sister and I were all in complete shock and as you can imagine we were totally devastated. I tried to act like the big man and be strong for Mum. I went back to University the day after the funeral and said I would be fine. I was far from fine though. I could not even say his name without bursting into tears. Only after I saw a bereavement counsellor belonging to my university did I then start to grieve. I made a promise to Dad that I was now going to graduate for him!
Things did not go according to plan however. Soon after redoing my second year for the second time, I became extremely unwell. I had developed a really sore abdomen and it hurt whenever I passed water. Furthermore, I was needing to urinate every five minutes, something was clearly wrong. It resulted in me dropping out of university again whilst I tried to get a correct diagnosis. I ended up having two investigations for prostate cancer but luckily it turned out not be that. Eventually I was diagnosed with a condition called chronic bacterial prostatitis(prostate infection) It had given me an irritable bladder for life I was further told. I felt utterly devastated that this health issue had stopped me carrying on with my degree. However, the only thing that kept me going during this time was again, believing in HOPE. Hope that one day I would go back to complete my studies. I was not going to let this illness beat me.
The problem I had was that every time I went back to re-start my studies, I ended up getting a prostate infection back again. I ended up having drop out a further two times due to such an infection making me very ill again and thus getting very behind with my studies. . I dropped out a further year due struggling badly with a hernia. My Mum could see how much it was destroying me, having to drop out time and time again. She asked me if I should call it a day regarding trying to get this degree. I was adamant I could pass though, adamant that it would happen as long as I could get this prostate condition stabilized. I am pleased to say that after a lot of blood, sweat and many tears I finally did achieve my HOPE and dream of graduating. I could not have got through those dark times without believing in HOPE. Hope one day that I would make my late Dad proud, hope that one day I would achieve my ultimate goal!
My story does not have a ‘then lived happily ever after’ line to it sadly. My life and career goals have been halted by yet more health issues. Soon after graduating I was diagnosed with a serious lifelong lower back problem called spondylolisthesis. They found there is also nerve compression there thus giving me continual sciatica down my left leg. The old prostate infections have left me with a chronic pelvic pain. I had sinus surgery as well as having my gallbladder removed. Things were progressing nicely with the pelvic physio until my gallstones appeared.
I was not right after my gallbladder operation. I wasted a year having test after test to try and find out why my lower right ribs hurt so much. Disaster struck when upon going to be local doctors for a blood test, I unknowingly sat in seat with vomit on it. Thing is though, I did not know this at the time and so spread this smell all over my clothes and Mother’s house. I just could not cope and could not get rid of the smell. It made me completely withdraw from life. I now have this constant irrational fear that I might smell, sit or see vomit everywhere I go or in every mode of transport that I travel in. I am no more than a quarter of the person I used to be.
I was making tiny steps forward when I got dropped another bombshell. My recent swollen lower legs were confirmed as being a condition called lymphoedema . Another lifelong health problem that I now have for the rest of my days. My desperate opening paragraph relates to depression over this, as well as being able to smell vomit in the house again from that original traumatic incident. I thought I was over the worst of it three years ago yet here I was feeling everywhere was contaminated again.
I nearly gave up a few weeks ago, I just could not see a way out of this mess. It just seemed like one setback too many. I am a fighter as you can see but there seemed little fight in me at this time. Nevertheless, believing in the extraordinary power of HOPE is what got me through this nightmare.
I will never stop HOPING for my dreams to come true. I have been through so much that I cannot let the bad stuff that has happened to me now win. HOPE is why I am still fighting, it is a necessary ever present force in my life. Life without HOPE would be meaningless to me. HOPE IS THE ONLY THING THAT KEEPS ME ALIVE!
NB -UPDATE- About three months after writing this I now do not feel quite as bad as I did. Up to yesterday, things were going really well. I had got some fight back in me. I had started wanting to be somebody again, wanting get a live again and fight the OCD. I started dieting in the last four weeks, doing core exercises and so already I look better than I did. I have started going on long walks in a further bid to look fitter. I am pleased to say this walking and core stuff has really helped my lymphoedema and pelvic pain so feeling really pleased about this. I have been referred to the hospital for my help regarding my mental issues and plan to go and see a therapist about my lymphoedema soon.
All was going well until I had a major flare-up with my OCD last night, it’s an horrendous 10/10 panic attack one. Slowly regrouping but it is a major body blow to me because I was making positive steps forwards. I need to regroup quickly and not go into my shell again….but it’s going to be very hard.
Yesterday, I found out that this piece of writing had unfortunately not won the competition. Nevertheless, got some lovely feedback this morning via an email about it from a person at Penguin Publishing. As this piece of writing is a very raw, emotional piece that I put my heart and soul into, reading such lovely feedback was brilliant and meant an awful lot.
I decided to publish this entry this week because this week it is OCD AWARENESS WEEK. I hope you found it an interesting read.