October sees the return of OCD Awareness Week mid-way through.
However, this is no longer enough.
OCD UK have launched their brand new campaign, OCDtober,
which sees the whole month;
“dedicated to raising awareness and challenging our own OCD. To change perceptions and to generate momentum to help us further work towards our recovery.”
To be honest, I started writing this a few days ago, before I knew of OCDtober.
However, in light of the campaign, I’m now hoping to write 2-3 blogs this month that give an insight into a few different ways that living with OCD has impacted my life – in the last few years especially.
I truly do hope my words are able to make a different, shed some light, help someone – even just one other person – even just a little bit.
Awareness HAS to be raised.
People seriously must understand.
There is so much to OCD beyond the preconceived misconceptions.
It is not just about being clean!
So very frequently, I get sudden flash backs to various days or even specific events during my past, that I honestly get quite emotional over – but, I can’t say that any are happy tears for sure.
Although none of these unexpected memories are pleasant, part of me does find them helpful, as I see it as a reminder of all that has been – and in such a very short time.
And they all stem back to, OCD!
Whist some come as a result of an external factor – such as an object or even a simple smell or ‘trigger word’ – most are completely the work of my own rather fuddled mind.
I must say, the incredibly bad ‘patterns’ occurred in late 2017 and throughout 2018 – the latter being the most damaging year of my life.
As I’ve touched on before;
With the passing of my Nanny, as well as the pressures of my Final Major Project, everything became too overwhelming and the daily battles with my mental health spiralled out of control.
During this relatively short period – the end of January to the beginning of May – although they allowed my to complete my Degree work, I was sectioned for the first time.
Although it truly felt like a lifetime, after a short admission as an inpatient, I continued working with the Dietitian (I’ll call her, Joan) I had been given.
Now, I’ve never spoken about the following things before – only to my parents – but, as time has passed I truly do feel I need to and… can!
For a long time, I’ve had bouts of constipation and diarrhoea, as an obvious result of my diet.
During the time working with Joan, along with increasing calories and such, this issue was also very much considered.
The early steps I was taking did help a little, but I continued experiencing longer periods of constipation.
As a result, Joan gave her blessing to me taking a laxative – to which of the recommendations, I chose Dulcolax Pico Liquid!
Whilst this did resolve my imediate discomfort on a few occasions, it turned out to be the start of yet another extremely detrimental path – but, with much quicker consequences.
* PLEASE, please don’t get me wrong – I WAS NOT taking laxatives as a means to loose weight as, firstly this wasn’t my goal and secondly, I know that using such products doesn’t actually make you loose weight anyway!!
I was simply taking it to ease digestive issues – which then developed… *
As a result of many aspects, such as;
Joan abruptly leaving me, weekly visits to the doctors for weigh-inns and blood tests, the emotional time I had so recently been through, as well as the constant threat of being sectioned again, I made a very bad decision.
Still struggling with my diet and subsequent digestive problems, I started taking Dulcolax more frequently.
With my OCD kicking in, this became several times on a daily basis for – I can only guess – the best part of 2 months.
Every morning I’d take a swig, straight out the bottle.
But then it developed.
It became before every meal.
Every time I went in my room.
Each time I did, it was more and more sips.
First, just one, then, 3…
17, 23, 27…
The voice was never satisfied!
Never being apart from my Mum for longer than a few minuets (as she does, understandably, get concerned as to my safety) used to make excuses to just ‘pop off for a few minutes’ during which I’d rush to the nearest Boots, Chemist, Pharmacy, Supermarket… anywhere I could, to get more 100ml bottles of laxative.
I’d become addicted.
Hiding them in my cupboard, I always kept the empties, just incase they were found. The amount it added up to was, on reflection, very frightening.
During this time, one night I didn’t feel at all well (beyond the usual) to which I went into my Mum’s room at around 11.30pm.
Well, everyone needs their Mum when their poorly.
Suddenly desperate for the loo, I went into her en-suit.
I sat down, but as I tried,
Everything started spinning.
Everything went white.
My vision completely went.
The next thing I know, I was aware I could hear.
All that filled my ears was a terrifying screaming.
Loud and echoing in my head.
Genuinely like something from a horror movie.
I realised my Dad was holding me incredibly tight.
I recognised the screaming,
It was, Me!
Although still blind during this whole time, I was lead over to the bed and put in the recovery portion.
My brother had woken up and come in.
I heard the words of my family;
What had happened. Phone an ambulance. Ellie, can you hear me. What’s taking them so long. Should I walk down to the gate and wait. Is she okay…
As I lay there, I don’t recall speaking, but I think my vision was returning.
When the paramedics arrived I heard more chatter.
One was lifting my eye-lids up, saying I was conscious and my eyes were ‘open’.
I could hear – I just don’t know why I didn’t physically open my lids before?
Tiredness? Disbelief? Avoidance? Embarrassment? Just, ‘couldn’t’
Perhaps the ambulance wouldn’t have been called if I had?
So many questions – thoughts – all the damn time!!
I called out to Mum and she came over.
I kept asking where Lana was. Is she okay? Wheres Lana?
Frighted and in tears, with my lids flickering from open to shut, I quietly said “Dulcolax – It’s in my cupboard”
I knew I had to admit it.
I don’t believe Mum found the bottle, but at least she was able to tell the Paramedics.
It turned out I had a seizure.
Mum said I went completely ridged,
My eyes completly rolled upwards.
After a long night, followed by an even longer morning in A&E, I discharged myself just before mid-day.
I wasn’t hanging around for a second opinion as to why my body reacted.
I wasn’t going to take up a bed, that someone would genuinely need.
Why should I?
It was my own foolish mistake.
It’s safe to say all the bottles – full, half drank and empty – were all cleared from my room – by my Mum AND myself!
Speaking with Mum about this period of time, – in addition to even more gaunt features and skin discolouration – she said she had recognised how my mood had reduced dramatically.
We looked at the side-effects, to which this – amounts many others – was definitely listed.
* Interestingly, upon looking further and on the official Dulcolax website, it states that it is not addictive. However not only do my own experiences prove otherwise but, it IS highly recognised!
Amongst many others, I came across an article that has always stuck with me as I feel a truly connection with the account.
If/when you have time, I’d appreciate you having a search yourself, in addition to taking a look at the aforementioned article, here, please. *
I’m afraid I honestly don’t recall the order of events in the months following this/prior to my 2nd/3rd sectioning and subsequent admission to The Priory.
* I had constipation during my first week as an impatient which, upon the nurse prescribing a laxative, triggered me trying to get Dulcolax – nope, I had to use Fybogel, I believe! *
Although, happier memories (for once) – it is exactly 1 year today that my Mum, Lana and myself, all shot off last minuiet for a few days away in Cornwall.
I needed a fresh start, to which I hoped, thought and so desperately believed that with the beginning of a new month – with new daily activities, environment, focus and such – would be just the perfect solution.
The 3 days we spent exploring truly was absolutely wonderful but, upon returning, everything was just the same!
(I’ve touched on this further in a previous blog, so please do take a read if you’d like to know more.)
Following my discharge from The Priory at the very end of 2018, all was well for a couple of months.
However, as my diet changed – as I essentially began relapsing – I started experiencing constipation again.
Again, I’m sorry – the series of events that proceeded are rather jumbled together but…
I spoke to my Mum first and with her blessing, I tried Senna tablets (as I liked the thought of taking a medication that is all natural), which did have ‘positive results’
However, it didn’t work, so – again with Mum’s knowledge – I ended up taking a different type of Dulcolax Laxative, as we recalled the effects the other had on me before.
Within the next few days, I I quickly returned to the Dulcolax Pico Liquid, in addition to Senna tablets!
* PLEASE, please remember – I WAS NOT taking laxatives as a means to loose weight – it became the only thing I felt I could control! *
I was back to sneaking around to get my ‘fix’, even daring to put a packet of tablets in whilst shopping with Mum – as we checkout seperatly.
Yet, on that occasion, I was acting so strangely with the receipt (as she took it for some reason) I panicked and fessed up!
Given all that had gone before, the results I had experienced, the risks I know knew were involved, gone through withdrawal symptoms from stopping ‘cold-turkey’, having been sectioned and taken away from home…
Regardless, it continued on a little while longer.
The 100ml bottles were becoming less available to get hold of, so I kept returning to our local pharmacy, where – unsurprisingly – the staff began looking at me very suspiciously.
* Mum also knew something was up, as she commented a few times about my mood changing – in addition to actually asking me outright if/what I’d taken… to which, I regrettably lied! *
During this time, I managed to get a 500ml bottle from Boots, so at atleast I was ‘set’ for a little while.
* Writing this, it truly feels like I’m recounting someone else experiences. *
Again, panicking, I told my Mum and proudly agreed to tip it away in front of her – but, regrettably, not before taking a massive swig!
I knew it had got extremely bad when I tried to order 2 bottles off-line!
and this is when it stopped!
Not only was I forcing my body to do something unnaturally but, as a result of excessive use, it wasn’t even being effective any longer.
On top of – and due to – excessive use – there was the high risk of my body becoming dependant on laxatives.
not to mention;
* me having a seizure – again.
* my OCD taking over and my addiction becoming severe – again.
* my body losing nutrients – again.
* my anxiety increasing – again.
* my emotional state scattered – again.
Consciously Clean – An holistic approach to life.
This does NOT mean;
Lying! (not only to my Mum but, essentially to myself as well!)
Please, don’t think bad of me.
It’s honestly not an excuse but, it’s genuinely not ME!
Whilst I’m still battling greatly with many other aspects of my Mental Health, I truly am very proud of myself for over coming this.
* It turns out one needs to seek professional help in coming off a laxative (or any) addiction, as it should be done slowly!
Well, I think you all know by now I truly am an all or nothing kinda girl! *
I can speak about it with my Mum, telling her little bits here and there and even pointing out the various places I purchased it – to which I only told her about the online order a few days ago.
I can (and do) have a few Senna tablets in my medicine cupboard incase I genuinely need one, but, I’m delighted I don’t feel any compulsions to as,
I DON’T WANT TO!
I can go to a chemist without anxiety and the compulsion to buy a bottle as,
I DON’T WANT TO!
It’s the 1st of October – already!
I truly am hoping that this time, a year on and with all that has happened (yet again) within such a very short (but very very long) 12 months, it WILL be a fresh start!
I seriously don’t want to forget the memories – as I truly do believe they are helpful, not just to myself, but hopefully to others too – however, I’m determined… adamant, that my past experiences with laxative abuse will stay exactly where they are.
In the past!
I’m so proud to say that I’m now a member of OCD UK and have contacted them with regards to how else I can contribute to creating further awareness about this deliberating and detrimental illness.
I know it’s a lot to ask but, if you would consider joining me, OCD UK and all those who suffer with OCD for OCDtober, it honestly would mean so very much to me – and i’ve no doubt, countless others too!
To find out more, please visit OCD UK here.
Until next time, I’ll leave you with this thought;
“It’s estimated three quarters of a million people living with and affected by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in the UK.”