My Experience with Therapy and Medication [CC]

Hey guys, how’s it going? From Sunday October 13th until Saturday October 19th is OCD Awareness Week. In honour of that,
all week I will be posting OCD-related videos. I’m not sure what order these are
going to be going in so I’m gonna leave the playlist link down below so you can
see all of them. But today’s video is going to be my own personal story with
OCD, therapy, and medication. I do wanna mention first that the
beginning of this is very intertwined with my depression. I’m not gonna go
in to specifics, but if that’s something that is in any way triggering for you,
just be warned. I’ll leave the time down below of where I’m done talking about
depression and I’m only talking about OCD, so if that is something that you
don’t want to listen to but you still wanna hear the rest of the explanation,
then you can click that and skip this part. But let’s just get straight into it, shall we? So, when I was younger I struggled a lot
with depression. I still struggle a lot with it. I have gotten quite a lot better
in the last handful of years. But that was my… my main mental illness [laughs].
So I never really realized how anxious I was. Because depression just numbs you a
lot, and I was so deep in my depression that I wasn’t aware of any of my other
emotions. So I didn’t clue in I had anxiety. Like, I thought that I was a
bit of a skittish person and maybe a little bit superstitious, but that’s –
that’s really all I thought. So when I was probably in my very early 20s, my
depression finally got bad enough that I went to my doctor about it. And I got onto
some medications, antidepressants. She also made me an intake appointment
at the mental health clinic. And I – I wasn’t ready to get help at that time.
After I starting my medication I felt very on-again-off-again with my
depression. Like, I had some good days and I had some bad days. Which is very very
normal. But I didn’t want… I didn’t want therapy because I didn’t want to – in my
mind waste somebody’s time. Because I was
having some good days. And I kinda got stuck in the mindset of like, “Ok well
what if one of my therapy appointments happens to fall on one of my good days?
And then I’m just wasting the therapist’s time, and that’s time that somebody else could
be getting help.” And long story short, I wasn’t ready to get help yet. And that’s – that’s a thing I think a lot of people go
through. And it sucks, because as soon as you think you need help you should try
to get help. But I did not take that advice. So for a couple years I was just
taking my antidepressants. I was feeling better than I had, but I still wasn’t – I
wasn’t in a great place. Around that same time, I started getting really anxious.
And I actually thought that it was a side effect of my antidepressants.
Because obviously medication can affect you in a bunch of different ways. I’ve
had some very bad reactions to medications, which I’ll talk about as I
get there. But worsening of other disorders can be a side effect of
certain medications. So I thought that the side effect and my antidepressants
was that it was giving me some anxiety. And I didn’t mention it to my doctor
because I didn’t want her to take me off of my antidepressants. Because I don’t
adjust well to medication, it just takes my body a while
longer than usual to get used to new medications. And when I first went on
these medications, it… it got significantly significantly worse for a
month before it even started to get better. And it was, at that time, the worst
that my depression had ever been. Like, I had to have a friend stay over with me
most nights because I wasn’t safe to be left alone. So I didn’t wanna go
through that again, so I didn’t want to tell my doctor. I was like, “You know what,
I’m just feeling a little nervous every now and then. I can deal with that.
It’s fine.” It wasn’t fine. And eventually that grew and grew and grew and then I
kinda slowly accepted the fact that ok, I guess I just have anxiety now. Not
realizing I’ve always had anxiety, and now that I’m in a clearer mind set and
can look back on things, I’ve always been a very anxious person. [laughs]
It didn’t come out of nowhere, I just was so busy with other things didn’t realize
that’s what it was. Anyway, eventually because of circumstances and a bunch of
other factors, I started to get really bad again with my depression. And there was just – there was a lot of other stuff going on,
and sometimes when you’re on a certain
medication for too long it just starts being a little bit less effective. And I
think it was just a combination of those two things and a huge stress in my life
that I don’t really wanna talk about right now. I got – I got really really
depressed. And when I’m depressed I stop taking my medication. Which is stupid, I
know. I’m aware. And I I try to be more aware of it, I try to be better. But at
that time I just – I didn’t care. So I wasn’t taking my medication as often as I
should, so it obviously wasn’t working as well as it should, and everything just
got really really really bad. I’m not gonna go into specifics but I ended up
in the hospital. And while I was there I was talking to the hospital psychologist.
And, you know, we were just – we were talking about things and he was asking a lot of
questions about the rest of my mental health. Obviously he knew I
had depression, that’s why I was there and it was in my chart and everything.
But he was just, you know, doing another mental health
overview. And he was asking about anxiety and I said, “Yeah, you know, I’ve been
anxious a lot lately,” and, you know, answered that. And I told him that I have a lot of
paranoia problems. Because I – I get very paranoid very easily. And I also
mentioned about my House Check. Which… If I’ve already posted the video about my
specific rituals, I’ve mentioned this already. If not, basically any time I was
at home and the thought just popped in my head that somebody might be in my
house, whether that was like there was a sound, or it just popped into my head, or
I woke up in the middle of the night. I would have to do what I called my House Check.
And basically I had to start from one end of the house and walk a very
specific path and check everything in a very specific way to be sure as I
possibly could that there was nobody hiding in my house. If something
interrupted me while I was doing that, like if one of the cats walked in front
of me and I had to walk around them, or like it just didn’t – didn’t feel right, then
I’d have to start over again. If I had to start over again a second time, I would
just leave the house. I n the middle of the night. And just walk around town
until I calm down. And it wasn’t safe. I would just – I wouldn’t even change into
proper clothes, I would just throw on my shoes, I would get my phone and my glasses, and I would just walk around town in the
middle the night for sometimes hours at a time. And it was really inconvenient.
And there was a lot of times where I’d be dead tired and I would know I needed
to sleep, but I just had to walk around town for an hour or so first. And I
brought this up to the doctor and the way I explained it was that sometimes it
just it – just gets stuck in my head and, you know, I had to do this. And he kinda
looked at me, and looking back it was really obvious what he was asking.
But he was like, “Do you ever have any other sorta like obsessions or like
compulsions that you have to do?” And I was like, “Hmmm. Nope, no I don’t think so.”
[laughs] And he was like, “Ok, there’s never any other like obsessive thoughts they get stuck
in your head, or anything else that you have to do to relieve your anxiety?”
I’m like, “Nope, nothing abnormal.” Which, if you watch my video explaining all of my
OCD rituals, you’ll know that… that’s bull. [laughs] But at that time I didn’t realize that
that’s what it was, and I thought that I was just a superstitious or just, you
know, skittish person. I didn’t put two and two together and realize that
that’s OCD. Because I realized that he was basically asking me if I had OCD, and
I knew that I didn’t so I was just saying no. And he obviously didn’t
believe me. He asked some other more general questions that was really
just confirming his suspicions but that I was a completely oblivious of. So
anyway, I left the hospital and I had to make an appointment with my my doctor.
And obviously the hospital psychologist wrote a letter to my doctor explaining
what we talked about and what he thought. And I talked a little bit about
it with my doctor, and she made me another intake appointment at the mental
health clinic. And she put me on some medication at that time. And this is
where it gets kinda fuzzy. I think that first medication I was on for about a
month or so? There was some sort of side effect with it, there’s some reason why we
stopped it And then in the meantime I went to my intake appointment and I live
in Canada so there is access to free mental health services, but the wait list
is fairly long if you want the free services. The wait list I was on was
about ten months until I finally got an actual therapist. There was also – I had access to the crisis line and everything, and I
could be bumped ahead on the list if I was, like, in a very dangerous situation.
But we were trying to control it with medication. So it was about a ten month
wait. And then after that we switched to another medication. The second one, I just
had a very bad reaction to. It caused me horrible horrible memory loss. And I’m
not saying like I was absent-minded or I was forgetful. Certain problems with
memory, focus, attention isn’t abnormal when it comes to trying a new
medication. Because, you know, it’s messing with your brain chemistry. You’re
gonna have some minor side effects and they usually clear up pretty quickly. But
this one was intense memory loss. Like, I can’t remember… probably almost a year.
Like, it’s just gone from my head. And even at the time, my long-term
memory was affected, my short-term memory. There was a couple times I forgot
where I lived. I’ve lived pretty much in the same town
my entire life, and there was one time that I was on my way home and I couldn’t
even tell you what city I lived in. Like, I couldn’t remember my address, I
couldn’t remember what house looked like. Luckily my dad was driving me home
from work that day cuz it was raining or something, so he pulled in the
driveway and I was just thinking like, “Really hoping that my key fits in this
door because this place is not familiar.” And it was- it was terrifying. If I
would have had to walk home on my own, I wouldn’t have made it home. Looking
back it’s almost funny, but it wasn’t at the time. I would be in
the middle of doing dishes at my job at the time. And I’d be standing there with
my big yellow gloves on, standing in front of the sink filled
with dishes, the water was running, I’d be holding the sponge and the dish. And
I’s have no idea what I was doing. I would stand there for like
five, ten full minutes trying to figure out what I was just doing. Even though
I can see that I’m doing dishes, but I just I couldn’t – I couldn’t get it. My
co-workers – side note, my co-workers and my boss at that job
were the most amazing and understanding people. Because I was really open
with my boss about what was going on, because I couldn’t do my job properly.
And she was so understanding and really patient with me. And my coworker that I
always worked with [laughs] I kinda felt bad for her, because basically I would just be
wandering around, picking something up, working on it for two
seconds, and then setting it down in the wrong spot, and then wandering away.
And then starting something else, doing it for two seconds, setting it down in the
wrong spot, and wandering away. And she would just basically spend her
shift following behind me and finishing up what I was doing. Like
putting things away. [laughs] It’s – it’s kinda funny to look back on, but
it really wasn’t funny at the time. I really couldn’t do the most basic things. So this is at the pottery studio by the way. If someone was picking up their
piece, there’s on the bottom of their receipt is what they actually bought and at
the top of the receipt is the order number. So we’d have to look for the
piece and the order number. So I’d be like, “Ok, I’m looking for this type of
mug.” And then I’d look for it and then I’m like, “Oh wait, what type of mug was it?” I’d
have to look again. “Ok, this type of mug. And it would be under this number. Wait,
what type of mug? This type of mug. Ok. Wait, what number? This number. Ok.”
And it would take me so so long. I couldn’t – I couldn’t do anything. It – it
was so bad. I had to have somebody basically babysitting me at all times.
This was also the best and worst time for my mental health, because basically I
only was aware of that exact moment in time. So if I was feeling happy, life was
amazing! Because that’s all I knew was this exact moment of happiness, and
everything was perfect. But if I was having a bad day and I was feeling down
or depressed, since all that existed was that moment, I had zero memory of ever
feeling happy. I only remembered feeling this terrible, like I couldn’t even think
back and think of a half memory because I had no functioning memory, it was
it was so bad. And by the way, the reason I was on the medication for so long is
because I kept forgetting to tell my doctor about it. Eventually the
person that was bringing me to my doctor’s appointments, they were asking
me like, “Why you still on that medication?” I was like, “Hmmm. I dunno.”
And they were like, “Well did you tell your doctor?” And I’m like, “Umm… I dunno.”
So eventually they wrote it down. And they were like, “Ok, when you go in there,
give this note to your doctor. Just hold it out in front of you and make sure
your doctor gets this note.” And then they finally did. And then my doctor’s like,
“Oh, so how is everything going?” I was like, “Everything’s going great! Oh!
[robotically] I have no memory.” [laughs] Because I can’t actually remember it, I more just remember, like – because I was
writing some things down and I’ve gone back and read them or I’ve had
friends tell me things that I’ve said or things that I’ve done. So it’s
almost like a story, it’s not something that happened to me. So I kinda
remember it like it’s a cartoon. So I can laugh at it. But in reality it’s – it’s
frigin terrifying. I finally told my doctor about my memory problems,
and I don’t think I quite conveyed how serious it was. I think I just explained
like, “Hey I’m having a lot of memory problems.” So she – before she took me off
the medication, she wanted to make sure that that’s what it was. So she sent me
to the hospital to get blood work and some tests done, just to make
sure Because at this point my anxiety was feeling a lot better.
Apparently. So they tell me. [laughs] So because I had had some bad reactions in the past,
she was kind of hesitant to take me off of that medication. And also I didn’t
have a therapist yet, so she didn’t want to go around tweaking my meds too much.
And eventually those tests came back, they found out that ok, yeah, it is this
medication that’s destroying your memory. So she switched me to something else.
And I still…like, most of that year is a blank. And I’ve lost so much
long-term memory, like there are so many things that are just blank or I just – I
can’t remember properly. And I’m still having some memory issues. It’s nowhere
near as bad, I’m more just more absent-minded than I used to be. But it
was – it was horrible. It was very very horrible. [laughs] So then I was on another kind
of medication that I stayed on for about four months, I think? But during those
four months is when I finally got my therapist. I’m gonna be honest: I hated
therapy at first. I thought it was stupid, I thought it was a waste of time, I [sigh]
Around that time I was getting really angry at myself because I was struggling
so much and… I dunno, I just – I wasn’t handling things very well, and I just –
I just was really mad at myself, and I was really impatient with everything. And at
first I didn’t like my therapist. I thought that the questions she was asking
me were dumb, I thought that, you know [sigh] Which I think is a thing that a lot
of people go through. And if you’re feeling that way, if you’re feeling discouraged,
just stick it out for a little while. And if after a while you still don’t
think that it’s working, talk to your doctor, talk to your
therapist, tell them what’s not working and why. And they’ll be able to help you.
There were so many times I was gonna quit therapy, but the person that
was bringing me to my appointments, they knew that I had to go. And they were
like, “Ok well I’m not gonna let you not go until your therapist says that you
don’t have to go. If you have a real valid reason, we’ll work it out then, but
if not you’re not gonna just quit this.” I’m really glad because I definitely
would have quit if it wasn’t for them. Therapy started off slow but eventually
it started to become helpful. We tackled my depression first, because that was the
thing that was putting me in danger. So we went through all that, I learned a lot
of things, different coping mechanisms, and we really worked on that. We also
worked on sleep a lot. Because I’ve always had insomnia, even when
I was really young I’ve never been able to sleep properly. And that in
itself causes a ton of other things. So we focused on that a lot. And then we
kinda just gradually worked up to the OCD. What helped me in therapy was
treating it like school. If I treated it like a doctor’s visit and like working
on myself, I got angry and I would on some level resist it. If I treated it
like school and like homework and stuff, I’m a Ravenclaw. And I was always a
really good student, I was just – I’m dedicated to learning. So having it
in that mindset really helped me, and my therapist caught on to that very quickly
that when she presented things in that way, as like a “we’re not talking about you
right now, but in general this is how anxiety works.” [laughs]
And kinda presenting it that way was really really helpful for me. One of the
first things she did that was so helpful is she basically printed off this
there’s a big medical research paper about the physical and
biological reason of why we have anxiety. And that helped me so much. Because now
it wasn’t just me being, you know, a wimpy little scaredy-cat. This doesn’t
mean that I’m not smart enough to know I’m not in danger. My panic mechanism is
just broken and keeps randomly firing for no good reason.
And she kinda really just slowly transitioned the anxiety stuff into OCD
stuff. And I think she – she was very smart, smarter than I gave her credit for in
the beginning, I’ll be honest. And it was just a very gradual process that
slowly got me comfortable with the idea that, “Ok, she’s right, she knows what
she’s talking about. This does make sense. Ok.” And like I said, the best thing that
I learned in therapy was just how to be aware of my thoughts and basically to
just – not necessarily question all of my thoughts, but just… when I have a thought
pop into my head that is making me feel anxious, or I’m just putting a lot of
weight on, being able to tell ok, is this my own thought? Is this a conscious,
valid logical, thought? Or is this something that popped into my head? Is
this an intrusive thought? Is this OCD? And those habits and just
being able to get into that mindset of being aware of my thoughts and which
thoughts are mine and which thoughts are my anxiety, my depression, my OCD, really
has helped me in so many other times. Like in September when I just had a
really really frigin bad month, and I would get these thoughts popping into my
head that were either unsafe or other – like, my OCD thoughts coming back. Instead
of just immediately being like, “Well it’s in my head so obviously it’s true.” I would
be able to, you know, kinda stop and think for a second like, “Ok. Why am I
thinking this? Am I really thinking this? Does this make sense?” And then react
accordingly. If you’ve never experienced this, the best way I can describe it is
it’s like when you know that you only got an hour of sleep last night. And then
you’re just short-tempered all day. You’re just mindful of, “Ok, I’m feeling really mad right now. But I know that I’m not
actually mad at this person, or this situation. I know that this is because
I’m tired.” And things like that. It’s – it’s a very similar thing, it’s like
“This is how I’m feeling right now, this is what I’m thinking right now. But I
know that this isn’t really me thinking or feeling this, this is This talking. This
is my tiredness, my hunger, my PMS talking. I’m not – I’m not actually mad at…
this person that took my parking spot. I’m just cranky.” It’s a similar mindset
to that. And that has helped me so frigin much. And also at the same time
as this, I switched to a new medication that is really really helping me. It is a
very noticeable difference. Like, within a month of taking it I could feel my
natural panic levels being so much lower. My daily anxiety that I didn’t even
realize, and it’s like I said in my first video, there isn’t a medication for OCD.
For the most part it’s just anxiety medication that helps you feel calm
enough to use the techniques and things you learn in therapy to feel calm enough
to basically get over it on your own. So fast forward to now. I have to take an
antidepressant every day and a couple anxiety meds every day. Just as my daily
medication to be able to keep me at a functional state. And I practice my
techniques and little tips and tricks that I’ve learned through therapy to
stay healthy, caught up. I don’t have to go to weekly therapy anymore, but of
course I’m still on file, I’m still listed as a patient under my therapist.
So if I ever do start to slip and can’t handle it on my own, I can reach out to
her, she can book me in, I can go back to having regular meetings with
her. But I don’t need to attend regular meetings with her, because I am trusted
enough to be on my own. So that is my complete mental health medical history.
I hope you guys enjoyed this video. If you did, please click the Like button to let
me know. I’m gonna be posting OCD-related videos this whole week, so don’t forget
to subscribe so you can catch them all. And also all of the regular videos
I post every Wednesday and Sunday, usually reading or writing related.
If there’s any specific questions you guys had about this or anything else about
OCD, then let me know down below or feel free to DM me on Twitter if you’re not
comfortable asking in the comments. I’m probably gonna do with Q&A for
my final video of the week, but even if I don’t, I’ll still answer your question. But that is all I have today,
so thank you guys so much for watching. I hope to see you guys next time,
and until then: Have a great day, bye!