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When a ‘Little Blip’ of Anxiety Was Actually an OCD Thought I Was Feeding

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. To find help, visit the International OCD Foundation’s website.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction, the following post could be triggering. You can contact SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

Lately, I’ve had this feeling.

It’s like something is stuck. This unsettling heavy sticky sensation in my chest. Anxiety.

But why? Work is intense but I’ve got it under control. The holiday season is always hectic but it’s not that either. Something has been amiss for a few weeks now at least, before the Christmas rush started.

I first noticed after my doctor gave me a benzodiazepine as a “just in case” for the Christmas period because it’s a day full of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) triggers and ripe for triggering panic attacks. This little blip, something had been set in motion.

Over the next few days, I found myself thinking about the pills. At first, it was only when I was really really stressed, so I didn’t pay much attention; it seemed logical. But then I found myself thinking about it when I was less stressed. Or when I just wanted to wind down.

Then Christmas Day came, and everyone else was drinking alcohol. I don’t like drinking anymore because it makes me too depressed, and messes with my medications. For the last two years, I haven’t had a problem with other people drinking around me. But this time I did because that little blip was back, telling me that I wanted it.

I’ll admit at that point I got a bit worried. I’ve had some minor substance abuse issues in the past and I know it’s a slippery slope. So I shoved that little blip to the back of my mind and tried to forget about it.

The blip didn’t like that, and the blip kept coming back. Each time a little bigger, a little pushier, a little more persistent. And each time I kept shoving it back and got on with my life.

Then I started to notice things were falling apart. I was having pain flare-ups, napping more, struggling to get up in the morning, feeling the physical effects of anxiety building up. And then I started fixating, ruminating and getting depressed. Somethings not right. But what was it? I took a step back to look at what was going on in my life, but everything seemed to be fine. Except for that little blip. Then today, it hit me.

Intrusive thought.

That not-so-little blip that has been nagging at me for weeks, growing stronger every time I tried to shove it down and forget about it. It’s an intrusive thought and I’ve been feeding it. Obsessing about it. Creating mental compulsions around it. Constantly checking my state of being to see if I’ve turned into an addict without having taken anything. Reassuring myself that I didn’t really want to take the pills or drink even if my brain was screaming otherwise. Getting more and more distressed, bringing me to where I am now:

Tight chest. Clenched jaw. Tingling hands. Tension headache. Depressed. Anxious. Feeling like the world is about to crumble around me.

But feeling hopeful because now I know what I’m dealing with, I can do something about it, confront it head-on, drag it out into the daylight and see it for what it is: my OCD brain messing with me, not the sudden slide into addiction that I feared it was.

Getty Images photo via fizkes

Originally published: January 14, 2021
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