Making Some Changes, Too

Song: “Act Naturally” by Buck Owens

Mood: 6.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

It’s been a while since my last post. I’m not sure why I’m not writing more often – there always seems to be stuff going on.

Whether it’s the increase in prazosin, changing my nighttime routine a bit, or any other factor, my nightmares seem to have backed off somewhat. I’m still getting them but not every night again, and on the nights when I have them, I don’t get them one after another after another. Hopefully I don’t regret saying this, but I don’t seem to be having the nightmare with the capsized boat anymore, either. Maybe the other two will disappear over time, too…

Some of my OCD issues have been flaring up again lately, mainly around the garage and front doors – to the point where J has been noticing. It could be related to everything that’s been going on, but when it gets to the point where J notices, it’s very important for me that I do something about it. So Dr C and I have been talking about it and she has me doing ERP on them again. ERP helps me a lot but it’s not very pleasant to do. The idea is that exposing yourself to what bothers you and forcing yourself to not give in to the compulsion will cause your anxiety to rise, but if you hang on and wait it out, the anxiety should drop after a while. Ideally, the anxiety over time curve should look something like this:

Typical ERP GraphAnd as far as the garage door goes, it follows that pretty well (this has four trials on it in different colours):

ERP Graph - Garage DoorBut the front door is a different matter. For the better part of two weeks, my charts looked like this:

ERP Graph - Front DoorI know that from your perspective this is just a little graph drawn by a stranger on the internet, but to me it represents hours I’ve spent forcing myself to feel like someone’s tightening a strap around my chest and I’m grinding my teeth down to stumps. Anyone who says “well, just think about something else” or “don’t worry about it” or “deal with it” may be well-intentioned, but they have no idea what it’s actually like to deal with this kind of thing… and I hope they never do.

The good news is that my worries about the garage door have dropped back to a very manageable level, and the front door is finally getting there now, too. It’s frustrating that I’ve had go back and work on several things now, but Dr C says that anxiety and OCD are like playing whack-a-mole. It’s taking less time to “re-ERP” things now than it did at the start, which is good, too. I should probably also try to be more proactive about these things and catch them before they’re at the point where they’re bothering me and/or other people notice.

Another thing Dr C has me working on is the little patrol I do inside the house before I finally go to bed. I take pictures of a bunch of things in a particular order, and sometimes just knowing that I’ve taken the picture helps me when I wake up worrying in the middle of the night. But it’s not a healthy habit and is likely feeding and/or is part of my OCD behaviour now. So she has given me the homework to not take a picture of one thing during my wander around the house. I’ve started with the stove and so far it’s going very well. Of course I picked something easier to start with but if I’m successful I should be able to build on that with something a little more difficult, then something more difficult again, and so on. If this works out, it’ll save a lot of wear and tear on the SD card in my phone!

With the uncertainty surrounding J’s job (or, more like the certainty now that it’s going away), other things that I’m worried about, and the recent frustration and stress that it’s caused, I decided to bow out of volunteering at the church down the street. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been at the building in the last six months, nevermind the volunteering. While I like the idea of helping people, I’ve accomplished next to nothing there and the effort and worry isn’t worth it anymore. I left the door open in the event things change, but I don’t think I’ll be going back.

Let’s see… what else is going on. Oh, the blood pressure thing, right. That’s actually kind of a funny story. Funny? Maybe not “funny” but probably chuckle-worthy. So my GP had me stop taking one of my BP medications and it immediately made a difference in how tired I was during the day. I still have to “finish rebooting” as FA says, but after that I’m alert and don’t immediately fall asleep when I sit down. But then my BP went up… and up… and up. And that’s when I figured it out.

Remember Zombie Mark? The guy who’d eat cake or chocolate syrup at night and then fall asleep on the couch? Well, we fixed that problem by taking my nighttime medication just before I went to bed, instead of at a fixed time in the evening. Well… making that change ended up moving my nighttime and morning medications to anywhere from eight to six hours apart, instead of the twelve that they’re supposed to be. So I was accidentally stacking my medications, almost all of which are known to have the side effect (or main effect) of lowering blood pressure. Anyway, I called my GPs office back and said to the nurse, “you’re either gonna laugh or yell at me”. She was very pleasant about the whole thing and by the end of the day I’d changed my nighttime medication schedule back to the way it was and was back on the medication I’d been taken off (albeit at a lower dose).

Zombie Mark has made a couple of appearances since (most notably to eat an entire bag of chocolate chips and then fall asleep on the couch), but another thing Dr C has been working with me on is getting my bedtime set to a more reasonable hour. It’s working, too… slowly but surely.

Because her office is closing, J has to do a lot of inventorying. Because of the social distancing policies and that it’s easier to do that stuff when people aren’t bothering you every thirty seconds, she went into work last Sunday for about five hours. I tagged along and sat at her desk and puttered with my phone and a computer I brought while she scurried around with a pen and paper. I was glad when we finally got home, but it wasn’t too bad.

I’m also still working on keeping myself occupied at home. Now that I’m not fighting to stay awake all afternoon it’s a lot easier to concentrate and I’m accomplishing stuff again, which is really quite nice. I’m also fascinated and entertained by the rabbits that stop in our yard to relax during the afternoon. I know they’re basically pests, but they can sure be cute.

Bunny stretched out and relaxed in back yardSo if you stop by and there’s no answer at the door, I may be in the back yard watching the bunnies.

Stay safe.

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