This week I share about a significant birthday, a leather notebook cover, and a new psychiatrist.
These weekly updates are an ongoing series in which I share what it is like to live with OCD in an effort to reduce the stigma around mental health, particularly in the workplace.
This week’s version of something hard is not so much one that has been difficult. Instead, it is hard to believe.
My oldest daughter is turning sixteen.
I know it’s cliché, but it seems like just yesterday she was two, shrugging at our small fish tank, saying, “Fishy go?” She has always loved animals. Around that same age, she would walk up to dogs that towered above her and pet their muzzle.
It’s been a delight, and a challenge to watch her grow up. As an oldest child myself, I know that she has a rough time of it occasionally as we are learning how to be parents.
One of the real challenges for me over the past couple years, since learning about mental health, is seeing the effects that my OCD have had on her. I was often, and still am at times, hard on her. I have unrealistic expectations as the rules in my mind about the “right” way to do things apply to loved ones as well as myself.
In some ways, I am also lucky. I think that all parents go through phases where they have inappropriate expectations of what a child can do or be. But because mine are pathological, I am becoming more aware of them and working directly to address them.
I hope that she knows and feels that she is loved just the way she is, without having to earn it or achieve her way to it. I hope she has tools and skills that will equip her to deal with the mental health challenges that she will inevitably have, as we all do.
And I hope that I can continue to forgive myself. It’s important to not judge myself by what I know now. As we learn more, we can do better. Hopefully this will help me be a better father for my other six children.
As I wrote about a few days ago, I love leather. With a passion. I was enamored by the real leather covers for the menus at a restaurant.
Additionally, I commented in my update last week about how much I love to write, particularly by hand in a notebook.
This week I combined those two loves. I ordered a leather notebook cover, it was made by hand, and arrived at my house all within a few days.
I am so excited to use this. To touch it. To hold it. To break it in.
Real leather is a good material for my OCD, because it is meant to get scratched or stained. That all adds to the patina. But I have a hard time with something that I love getting damaged. I need to sit in the distress of it not looking pristine. We’ll see how I do.
As I mentioned in last week’s update, I met with a new psychiatrist this week. Even though I tried to lower my expectations and not get too worked up about it, there was plenty of anxiety this week leading up to it.
When I met with her, I was impressed. She took a full hour with me, which I have never had with a psychiatrist before. We went over my intake information, and she asked questions to understand things better.
I had taken in my list of ups and downs over the past nine months to show her. She went over that, and asked what being up looks like for me. She asked what being down looks like. She asked what my panic attacks are like.
I felt seen.
When she discussed changes to my medication, she vacillated on what to do next. She was clear on where she wanted to get me, but decided to take it slow so that we know which change is doing what.
It is a little scary to be back in the chemical experimentation phase, and not know how my body will react to the various changes we are about to make. But after this appointment, I feel a much higher confidence that she will know what to do to help guide me through it.
My mood is up this week, and it feels good. Wherever you might be, and however your mood might be, I hope you can find joy and compassion, both for yourself and for others.
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