Good therapists are worth their weight in gold

•June 13, 2015 • Leave a Comment

My post title isn’t a knock on any therapist out there who is on the heavier side.  I’m solely addressing the personality of therapists.  In this post, I’m referring to my first one, Dr. G.

I’m very well aware that I got lucky with my first therapist.  Especially the hoops I had to jump through to get in touch with her, through no fault of her own.

I called my ob-gyn’s office, asking for a therapist.  They ask if I’m depressed, I say no, I’m anxious/scared/fearful all the time.  They give me a number and a name.  I call that number and find out the person’s moved.  Luckily they had the new number.  So I call, and try to leave a message.  I think I ended up leaving two messages.  She (the name was kind of unisex) calls me back and we make an appointment.  I don’t really know what to expect, but I feel better just for having talked with her and knowing I’m going to meet her.

Things only got better, in regards to her therapy.

On my way to my first appointment I get lost and end up being late.  I’m guessing the fact that I went overrides my lateness, cuz my therapist doesn’t seem to care.  Right off the bat, I get a great vibe from her.  Warm, gentle, caring, I instantly liked her.  Because I’m late, the little questionnaire that the insurance company makes you fill out gets saved for later.  I tell her what’s been going on, and we have a great session.  She also had a great sense of humor.  The questionnaire asks, among other things, if the patient is getting enough sleep.  I struggle for an answer when she quips (I’m paraphrasing), “No, new parent,” which made me laugh.

I leave her office with a follow-up appointment.  My meetings with her are weekly, and I feel good after each meeting.  She doesn’t want me on medication just yet.  First she wants to see if relaxation techniques will work (hindsight being 20/20, she would have put me on medication, but I’ll get into that later).  And they do work, a bit.  I can do one or two at my desk without anyone knowing.  Others I can simply head to the bathroom.

I’m immensely grateful she was my therapist while I lived in FL.  She was/is a terrific therapist.

Be well.


Art & Anxiety/OCD

•May 30, 2015 • Leave a Comment

This happened many, many weeks ago.  I think it might have been later last year (2014).  On a work errand I passed by a large space that was under construction, or at the very least was stripped down to the concrete and ductwork, etc.  On the back wall was some graffiti art (best way I can describe it).  It took up the whole back wall, which seemed to be brick.

From what I could see it was a large steampunk/industrial four-legged creature standing in water, almost like a boat dock.  No matter how hard I tried (I want to try again), I couldn’t find/see the creature’s head.

So why should you care?  Well, as I said, the space seemed to be under construction, even though the windows weren’t covered.  I don’t know if the art on the wall is going to be covered up, if it’s part of the plan, but even if I’d been allowed to go in and view the art, I wouldn’t have, for a bunch of reasons.  I’d fear for my physical safety, being in a construction environment, plus my anxiety and OCD would be roaring and screaming at me to turn tail and run.

I was, however, good with getting right up against the glass (almost) to try to get the best picture possible of the art.  The window glare was definitely annoying, but the glass also offered protection (both literal as well as telling myself that there was a physical barrier that could not bend metal) from the not so pretty insides.

Maybe I wouldn’t be that bad, I doubt I’ll ever know.  So I’ll have to make do with viewing the art through a window, and hope they don’t cover it up after the space is fixed up.

Never say never

•May 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Even after we moved back to Long Island, I still said never.  I’ll never be able to have a job related to construction in any way.  I’ll never be okay with certain things, no matter how much progress I make in getting better.  I may never be okay with stuff being stored in the crawl space.  Lots of stuff like that.

Well, I have definitely learned to stop saying never.  Highly unlikely, not sure, maybe; yes, I say all those things.  Just not ‘never’.  Now I had a good reason for saying never (yes, I did, and yes it was a good reason).  I thought it was true.  I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be okay.  Did I hope to be one day, fully recovered, able to withstand my triggers (or at least understand them)?  Yup, of course I did.  But at the time I felt that saying “never” was true.

As time has gone by, I have gotten better.  I’ve been able to do things now that I would have, and probably did, say never to, things that I thought were out of my reach.  I’ve driven on roads that at one point were “contaminated,” hell I’ve walked by my triggers almost without noticing, and been okay.  That, in turn, has given me a little more confidence, to do other things.
So while it’s highly unlikely that I will ever work in the construction business (perhaps green construction, but I think that’s my limit – see, I said ‘think’ there), I have in fact had several situations, temp jobs, etc., where I’ve been in the vicinity of my triggers and not panicked.  Was I blase about it?  Hell, no, but I didn’t run from the room screaming, crying, or doing anything else that other people would deem padded-cell worthy, not knowing my particular brand of brain muck.  On such jobs I could see one of my triggers; and yes, my heart beat faster, my stomach/chest got tight, I felt my limbs stiffen up a little.  I was, however, able to get on with my day.  Did I go in that room again?  No, thankfully I did not have a reason to go in there during my time at this job.

There are also things being stored in the crawl space.  I followed a suggestion of packing the items in bags and then into a storage crate, therefore 2 layers of protection from the evil stuff (although it’s more the air, than the surface since it doesn’t actually touch it, but I digress).  Now, when that stuff comes out, I’ll want to have it cleaned, for a variety of reasons.  One, at the moment, yes, I still need to be able to tell my emotional brain that the stuff is in fact safe.  Also, and better for my family, it’ll have been in storage, so cleaning and freshening up clothes that have been in storage is not a bad idea, in general.

One HUGE sign of my progress is my job.  I work in NYC.  Anyone who has been there for any length of time knows there’s always construction going on somewhere.  Stuff gets finished, new stuff gets started, etc.  Now before this, I wouldn’t have been able to do this job, not with all the construction around.  Even though there’s walls, and scaffolding to keep both the construction workers (I hope) and regular people safe, it’s still construction.  And, yes, I have instances where I see my triggers, but the fact that I’m writing this proves that I’m okay.  Do I go up and touch my triggers?  No, no, and no.  I am however, able to walk past them, sometimes giving them a wide berth, and go on with my day.

What’s my point?  Truly, never say never.  However (wait, what?), IF you are even THINKING suicidal thoughts (i.e. I can never live a normal life again, I’ll never get better, etc.), please, please, PLEASE call 911 and get help.  Call your doctor, therapist, psychologist, a friend or family member, someone to talk to about what you’re feeling.  One of my dear aunts was able to calm me down during a HUGE panic attack/nervous breakdown.  I was still thinking negative thoughts, but my husband was on the way to make sure nothing bad happened.  So please, get help.

And never say never.

Be well.

Have Wipes, Will Clean (even when you think it’s not necessary)

•May 2, 2015 • Leave a Comment

So I’ve been very neglectful of this blog and I really hope you can forgive me.  I didn’t really want to be a postpartum depression hero or anything, but I wanted to get my story out there, because there are still so few.  More of them in the blog world to be certain, but VERY few in the published world.  And I’m not knocking the celebrities that have written about their experience.  They’re people, deep down bare bones, they are people, and not immune to this lovely (yes that’s sarcasm) life-changing mental illness called postpartum depression/anxiety/OCD/psychosis.

I just ALSO want regular people.  And I just happen to be one of those regular people.  And I just got smacked in the head with something I’ve known for a long time on this blog, I can SCHEDULE stuff!  Now, as I said, I’ve known about this for awhile, but it didn’t really click until today.  Hip hip hoo-f*cking-ray!  So I’ll try to post more often by scheduling stuff in advance.  I promise to do my bestest 🙂  I’m going to aim for two posts a month, basically every two weeks.  If I’ve got a lot in the pipeline, then I’ll try to do more per month.  You can also always ask questions in the comments or by e-mailing me.

Now on to the business at hand.  I think most if not all OCD people carry wipes, and sanitizer, and maybe other on-the-spot cleaning stuff.  I am no different.  To this day (coming up on 5 1/2 years postpartum, when does it stop being postpartum?, another blog post, sorry, tangent) I still carry hand sanitizer and wipes.  I used to say that being a mom gave me permission to carry both and use them whenever I felt the need.  Well, I still do, feel the need that is, just not as often.  And I use the wipes for other things (mostly art stuff, like the little heart in the top left corner here)


This here is a photo of my wipes on my lap while sitting in my car (bottom left corner is my shirt, so I’m facing the top right corner).  I was getting gas for my car.  Now someone told me a long time ago that she did carry wipes in her car for after she got gas.  Prior to getting sick, I filled my tank up on more than one occasion, and even topped off my oil (in older cars), so I was no stranger to the most likely myriad of dirt, etc. on the pump handle, etc.  After I got sick, forget it.  I could get gas, when necessary (and in fact it was because I could not find full-service stations in FL), so I would get a wipe ready.  I’d swipe my card, pump my gas, and then clean my hands and my credit card (and it’s always worked, so the wipe never hurt it).

IMG_2352That is a Nightmare Before Christmas bag I got at Hot Topic several years ago (the other side is Jack’s face), along with some other things peeking out.  It’s sitting on my front passenger seat, taken just after the previous photo.  Very important, however, is the package of wipes.  One package can last me awhile, since as I said, I don’t use them as often as I used to, or I’ve been using them for art stuff.  But I still always carry a package of wipes and a bottle of hand sanitizer.  They have come in handy many times over.

Be well.

Personal Milestones – Basement Floor

•September 13, 2014 • 1 Comment


(Don’t mind the one sock business, it’s just protecting my toes while they heal)

So here’s the quick deal with the basement floor in my in-laws house.  Originally, it was split in half, half unfinished concrete or whatever, half carpet.  The half carpet area was a play area for hubby and sister-in-law when they were younger.  Life went on, they moved out, needs changed, and my in-laws decided to put wood flooring on half of the carpet area.

Now from the time hubby and I moved in the second time (back in 2010), I refused to go down the basement AT ALL without shoes/slippers, yes, even on the wood/carpet.  Anxiety and OCD rearing its ugly head.  Now, fast forward to (photo date).  I’ve gotten a small space to myself for crafting.  For no real “reason”, I walked down to the basement (my space is on the wood flooring section) in my bare feet.  Huzzah!

It’s the little things.  Many people who don’t “get” anxiety or OCD, or who would deny or minimize the effects it can have on a person and their life in general, would and probably will say “OK, so what?  What’s the big deal?”  And that’s just it.  When you’ve been struggling with something big like this (mental illness, in general), and steps forward, no matter how small, are incredible.  And I’ve often found myself thinking, “Why didn’t I do this earlier?”  Answer: apparently I wasn’t ready, until now.



It’s okay to feel bad

•August 12, 2014 • 1 Comment

Even if you don’t want to.

Some of you may know I have two blogs.  One for my art and one for my battle with postpartum anxiety/OCD.  I’m considering combining them.  For right now I’d like to share an art journal spread that started out as something very different, but sums up how I felt and still feel at times.  It’s okay to feel bad, depressed, angtry, afraid, or any other negative emotion when you’re battling a postpartum mood disorder.  If you need to, call someone.  If you’re negative thoughts are spiraling down and you’re considering harming yourself (the news of Robin Williams’ passing by apparent suicide has brought the topics of both depression and suicide  to everyone’s minds), please call 911.  Do not suffer alone.

“I don’t want to be afraid.”


If you’re interested in how I made this, please visit my other blog: my ScrapMuse is…

Be well

Be honest and ask for help

•July 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I asked for help.

Many women suffering from postpartum depression or a related illness are afraid to ask for help.  And I get it, because even though I asked for help, I still kept my illness hidden from some people.  And I didn’t “look” sick, so why would anyone pay attention to me any more than they usually do.  Since we don’t “look” sick, we have to ask for help.  Sometimes we may get it without asking, oftentimes not.

I was told I was strong because I admitted that I had postpartum depression and willingly sought help.  I always knew about postpartum depression, at least that it existed and some mothers got it.  I was quite ignorant about the immensity of postpartum health as a whole.  I did worry I would develop it after I had a baby, but I was horribly unprepared.  I also say that my symptoms of postpartum anxiety and OCD caught me by surprise both by slowing emerging and hitting my fast and hard.  Time itself took on a different perspective or dimension.  I know something was wrong, and that I needed help.

I certainly encountered roadblocks.  When I called my ob-gyn to get a therapist referral, the nurse did ask if I was depressed.  I said no, I’m just anxious and scared all the time.  I got the name and number of a therapist.  The therapist wasn’t at that number anymore, but I got a new number.  I left a message, and thankfully the therapist called me back.  My therapist was incredible, and I know I was lucky.  Sometimes you have to go through a few to find a person you connect with.  If I hadn’t called my gyn’s office, I wouldn’t have found my therapist.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help and get the right help.

My hubby knew something was wrong, and also that he wasn’t equipped to give me the help I needed.  He never blamed me, and was very supportive.  He saw me at my worst and come June, we’ll be celebrating 9 years of marriage and 15 years since we met, along with a beautiful little boy who is smart, funny, and adorable.

Geographically speaking, I had very little of my family near me, and no one from hubby’s side.  I did, however, have the support of the family that was there, and also saw what had happened to me.  Early on, the best help I got was from my husband and my therapist.  One last thing, and I can’t stress this enough, KNOW YOUR MEDICAL HISTORY.  This means knowing the physical and mental health history on both sides of your family.  My therapist told my husband when I was in the hospital after my breakdown, that had she known there was a history of mental health issues on both sides of my family, she would have put me on medication much sooner.  Many families don’t like to talk about it, or have the mentality of “we didn’t talk about it back then.”  No excuses, it is imperative to know if you’re at higher risk.

Be well.

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