The year of 2016 was a challenge for all. Within four months alone, the world had to say goodbye to 82 celebrities who were much loved; Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, David Bowie, Ronnie Corbett and Prince being a select few of them.
Political death seemed to follow and the whole world seemed to lose their minds – Voting Brexit, Trump being voted president of the United States, and more Tories coming to power in England. The Snoopers Charter coming into play (Bye, bye privacy). Never mind politics in Northern Ireland, which is in a constant state of disarray.
That’s only a quick summary of things which happened in 2016, and I’ve deliberately left some things out because the world is still recovering from certain events which have happened. Also because the list of things which happened in 2016 would be too long to mention in one post.
Alongside the world events, there were peoples personal events. Some which followed on from 2015.
In September of 2015, I went to my GP and broke down in her office. I told her I couldn’t do it anymore, and if I had to spend another minute in my head and suffering in silence, I was going to go insane. I repeated that I couldn’t do it anymore; that I didn’t know what to do to make it stop.
I got a letter in December of 2015 that I would be referred to a doctor. One who could help, starting in a few weeks of that month.
This letter which brought hope was soon dampened by other news. On the 23rd of December of 2015, I came home from work and received the news; Mummy had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
It was the worst ending to 2015, and the worst start to the New Year. I don’t think I can quite talk about it in depth yet.
With world events. With so much death, disaster, war and attacks in the first few months of 2016, along with this news, 2016 seemed to become the shitter of life.
It was a bastard year, it would be great if we could just all delete it.
The end of December 2015 saw the beginning of my treatment, although I only had two appointments before the New Year began.
2016 saw the beginning of CBT officially. Wasn’t that fun? CBT meant going to the hospital and staring sickly people in the face and trying to stop the thoughts that doing so would spread harm and devastation to my family and friends. CBT meant understanding the extent that the OCD brain lies to, or overcautions, you.
CBT meant understanding that my current lifestyle was failing me. That I had to put on weight and record my weight weekly. It meant trying to find a good sleeping pattern (Still a struggle). It meant facing my demons face-to-face and trying not to run or hide.
This treatment included weeks of silence and hiding the truth so he wouldn’t lock me up – then eventually spilling everything and confessing to what had been going on. Of course he knew I was holding things back. Most people in the same position do.
One of the funniest times during this treatment included standing in front of the sink, in my house with my doctor, after turning it once, and saying ‘Fuck off, you bastard’ to it, and swearing at the thoughts that followed, screamed ‘Again, again. Again!’ in my head. Imagine telling a sink to fuck off, or your own mind.
We always tried to turn the exposure therapy into jokes, it helped lighten the situation and made facing the compulsions, thoughts and fears a lot easier. Especially when you were allowed to swear like a sailor.
Despite the jokes and laughter, it was tough. I struggled. I thought I was getting nowhere. I went home and sat around until it was bedtime. I forgot to eat, got quite behind on my university work, hurt once in a while. I lay in bed and waited for sleep to take me, and avoided the world quite often. Sometimes I still do avoid the world, just to take a few days to myself. It helps when feeling overwhelmed.
My doctor checked with me on everything. Every week, he asked if I had put on weight, if I was eating three meals a day. How often I slept that week. How I was feeling. If I gave into compulsions that week. How the week went. How bad the intrusive thoughts and OCD were.
To be honest, it felt quite nice to be worried about. To have someone concerned and wanting to be supportive. I have a friend who does the same, a handful actually. I also have others who didn’t understand and told me to talk to them when I was no longer being selfish and avoiding them.
I don’t blame them, they never knew about this struggle, they took personally what they did not understand or did not want to get involved in.
I spent a year under going this treatment – or there abouts. I finished a few weeks ago there, although I am still on the books as my doctor informed me that relapse is common, and that I should not be ashamed to need to ask for help again. To give him a call anytime.
Resisting the urge to follow through compulsions is torturous. Especially with a disorder like OCD. The intrusive thoughts are the true torture about it all. There are times that you want to scream. Times you want to hurt yourself as a distraction. The mind constantly going and never resting unless you’re unconscious.
It’s been a very rough year, and going to radiotherapy, when I wasn’t in university, to support my Mummy was extra rough. Alongside dealing with social pressures, university pressures and work pressures. 2016 felt like one of despair.
However, it also felt like one of recovery.
For the first time in years, I felt like my chest had a beat again. I actually felt happy about things – I could go to the shops and feel a sense of excitement when I bought myself a treat. Instead of feeling totally numb.
Hell, I even felt enough motivation and awareness of being alive, instead of on auto-pilot. That I could muster enough passion to write a blog. The courage to post it instead of keeping it private.
Yes, perhaps it’s foolish to publish ones innermost thoughts and expose oneself, but, I’ve had a few people say that it’s helped them reflect. It’s helped them to open up, even if it’s only to me. I’ve found out that I’m not alone. I’ve received support, and given it. I’ve found out how common it is to struggle, that it’s not just me – but others around me. It’s been quite an eye opener. It’s also helped for some to understand that I am not pushing them away on purpose, but trying to recover myself.
I also received the news this week that my Mother had gone for a check up scan, and everything seemed to return normal. Everything was normal, no cancer.
It’s the only Christmas present I wanted, and it’s the one I got.
Therefore, while 2016 has been a year of world, and inner battle. Of hardship. Of harm, of tears and hopelessness. It has also been one of recovery, of understanding, and openness. I’m only hoping that 2017 improves from there. That it is a calm year after the chaos which we endured this year.
Which means: goodbye to 2016, and hello to a, hopefully, better year in 2017. Pray that it’s a good year. I pray that it’s brilliant for you all too.