Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Being on Medication for OCD & Weeping : Part 6

weeping willow

It was April of 2002, and finally, I was on medication for my OCD. I was at the point I never imagined I could be at. My OCD had demanded that I know I wouldn't be a different person, unalterably changed, or plagued with side effects, and somehow I had persisted and taken the antidepressant anyway, and tolerated the achy jaw, and after a few weeks, my jaw felt better, and I was in a routine of taking a blue pill at breakfast. My perfectionism guaranteed that I took it every single day. And again, anticlimatic as it was, I still felt like myself, and didn't have any other physical symptoms.

I was in the thick of dealing with some very painful memories with Molly, my therapist, and the medication did settle the anxiety long enough for me to actually face the pain, grieve and come out the other side over the course of the next couple years. I suspect the antidepressant was indeed helping my depression lift, and allowing me some room to grow. OCD is often intertwined with whatever else is going on in our lives, an is often comorbid with despression. As much as I advocate for Exposure Therapy for OCD, that doesn't mean everything else will be solved by it, and these other issues can make the OCD worse or treatment harder to do.

For me, just about any strong emotion would trigger my obsessing. I was scared of feelings, and before I could let myself experience them, my OCD was all over it, analyzing and debating and getting me stuck in the middle of the pain, which is what I had been trying to avoid in the first place. The low dose of a SSRI allowed me to go deeper into the pain, which on the face of it hardly sounds like a reward for taking it! But I had become numbed with fleeing from anything sad, and then overwhelmed by a compulsive desire to "solve it all now" by ruminating on every sad thing, and the medication seemed to make it possible to let the pain ebb and flow, and let in the possibility of joy as well.

While in the midst of this waking up to feelings and to my own life, the obsessing about SSRI's took on a new form. I started obsessing about the long term effects of being on medication. My health anxiety was still operating in the background. It wasn't a roar, more like a dull hum. Molly wasn't treating my health anxiety. We had enough going on with just my depression and grief, and she didn't really understand the extent of my obsessive thinking. I'd been that way for so long, it seemed an intrinsic part of me, and unchangeable. I feel extremely grateful that Molly persevered with me and all the painful history I brought with me, my distrust of just about anyone's love, my fear of being worthless and abandoned. This gratitude coexists with anger that she wasn't competent to deal with OCD as well. The ability to let these two feelings be there at the same time was hard won.

Related Posts:
Part 1: OCD and Medication Decisions
Part 2: Starting Medication while Struggling
Part 3: The Limits of Research in Medication Decisions
Part 4: My First Prescription for SSRI's
Part 5: Feeling it in the Jaw: Side Effects of Medication
Part 7: Wanting to Get off my Medication
Part 7.5: Built on Sinking Sand: OCD and Health Anxiety
Talking to OCD: The Hazards of Talk Therapy

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