11 February 2015

More needles!

I'm now going full time to an OCD treatment place as an outpatient. There's lots to discuss there, but first I want to deal with a more prickly topic.

More than one qualified official suggested that I try acupuncture. More needles, that's just what I need, right? Well, the whole idea is to get better and if some extra poking makes me better, it can't hurt too much to give it a shot. Except, in this case, it literally could.

There is an acupuncture and massage business in the same building as the treatment facility, so it's set up for psych patients to easily get acupuncture and massage. 

I wandered over during lunch to ask about acupuncture, and the nice lady swore up and down that it doesn't hurt. Of course, I believed every word and immediately signed up for a series of treatments. Or maybe I asked if she could try just one needle on me to see what it felt like. Apparently that's an unusual request, but she thought it was reasonable.

She showed me how each needle comes individually wrapped and then stuck one in the webbing between my left thumb and index finger. I was shocked at how it was like a slight pinch, but nothing painful. I was even more shocked when she mentioned that the webbing is one of the most sensitive areas that they stick. If I could handle that, I could handle a real session, right?

Today was that real session. And I was very nervous. First we went over the standard paperwork, such as when was your last period (almost two years ago) and do you have any numbness or tingling (hello left arm). Then it was time for the main event.

I stripped to my bra and panties and laid down on the table, with only a towel for warmth. The first needle went in my forehead, followed by one in the sternum. Then came the webbing between my fingers and somewhere near my toes. I couldn't quite pinpoint the exact spots, but everything was going fine.

The next two needles went in the tops of my shoulders. Those hurt, the left significantly more than the right. The lady said this was normal for people with high levels of stress and tense backs. Yippee.

She turned on a space heater and left me to relax for thirty minutes. With some help from the sleep-inducing anti-anxiety meds, I fell asleep quite quickly, despite my fear of rolling over and poking myself to death. Apparently this is a good thing, according to the lady.

After she removed the needles and I got dressed (a very important order of operations), she rubbed my left shoulder, where it was still hurting. It was really weird as I could feel slight palpitations, another side effect that she declared normal.

Of course, acupuncture requires multiple sessions to see results. Nothing in life with sharp pointy things can be easy. I think I'll keep trying it and see what happens. The worst that happens is I get very expensive naps.

04 February 2015

When medicine goes wrong

Medicine for OCD is basically a fun game of guess and check. Some drugs did absolutely nothing for me (I'm looking at you Effexor), while others turned me into a narcoleptic. Matt left me alone in a restaurant for two minutes and returned to me passed out on the table, my hand still on my phone. Some of the other exciting side effects included the inability to pee in the morning and my left eye twitching to the point where I couldn't see straight.

Now you may think that isn't so bad, it is just one drug to figure out. But you would be wrong. So very wrong. Besides SSRIs, such as the Lexapro I currently take every morning, there are also anti-anxiety pills for when I get particularly, well, anxious. I used to take Ativan, until that stopped working. Now I take a metric buttload of Klonopin every day.

With all of that medicine, it'd be nice if I was a functioning human being. But that's not the case, or I wouldn't be mentioning it now, would I? Dr. Psychiatrist tried a few other drugs, like Risperidone, but nothing worked nearly as well as the twitchy Abilify. So for fun and giggles, I went back on Abilify. I expected it to end poorly, but the eye twitching didn't return. At the same time, the same dose that previously made me act more normal wasn't nearly as effective. Now I'm on a higher dose than ever and we'll see what happens.

03 February 2015

A brief history of OCD time

Since I was a wee lass, I've exhibited classic symptoms of OCD. I even washed my hands thousands of times per day, until my mom forcefully broke me of that habit. I still wash my hands more than a normal person, but at least my hands aren't cracked and bleeding anymore.

In school, I would rewrite my notes over and over again until they were perfect. In retrospect, it wasn't quite a waste of hours of my life since it helped me memorize, but still not exactly a good thing.

Physical books still cause me problems. You'll never catch me breaking a spine or dog-earring a page. In college, I tried highlighting important passages and writing notes in the margins, but let's just say that didn't end well.

Clearly there was something wrong with me, and I was sent to various therapists in middle and high school, but it wasn't until college that I was finally diagnosed with OCD.

The lovely doctors in training at Columbia's student psychological services department were nice enough, except they all wanted to put me on various medicines. I, on the other hand, was dead set against it. I just had to be the weird one who didn't want to experiment with mind altering drugs in college. So I stuck with just therapy for awhile. It didn't work.

By grad school my OCD was worse, forcing me to cave on my D.A.R.E. ways. OCD meds are basically just really high doses of SSRIs, which basically increase the amount of serotonin in the brain and are most commonly used for depression. I've tried pretty much all of them at one point or another. Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and all of their friends have had their chances.

Next up: when medicine goes wrong.