Sunday, 8 January 2012

Annus horribilis - A retrospective look at 2011

I write from a personal point of view as this is after all a personal blog, and from my personal point of view 2011 was not a year that I will remember fondly.

Or will I.

You see, my first impression when beginning this blog post was that of utter distaste when looking back at a year that has brought me some of the worst mental torment that I have ever experienced. I shudder to recollect even the smallest hint of the anxiety I suffered at certain points last year and the darkest places that I visited during these times.

As a consequence of these emotions I could quite easily wipe the entire year's existence from my memory. And I would have no regrets at all.

But hindsight is a wonderful thing, they say, and now, as I look back with a sense of detachment, I can see some examples of wonder.

In March of last year I had an aching sensation in my neck that lasted for a number of weeks. I was sure it was because I was spending a lot of my time hunched over my computer screen but gradually, over time, my thought began to fixate on it and my thoughts grew more and more negative. I was probably not aware of it even happening at the time but after a while I did get agitated enough to look it up on the internet.

Bad decision.

The internet is a bad resource to use for research when it comes to subjects matters relating to personal health and wellbeing. I have absolutely no medical training or understanding whatsoever and, when confronted by some of the things that I read, I had no resource to make a rational judgement. I only had the statements and articles that related accounts of fear and, subsequently, a stimulus for personal paranoia that I carry with me to this very day, albeit, in a somewhat diluted form now. But it has still taken me months to get this far.

But on a more positive note, that day in March enabled me to set off a chain of events that I am now truly grateful for:

  • I have finally been diagnosed as suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, something that I have been aware of for many years but have never had the courage to face;
  • I believe that I am also suffering from hypochondria which is intricately related to my obsessive compulsive disorder;
  • I am now due to undergo cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling to help me tackle the conditions and to also face the origins of my main anxieties;
  •  I have grown closer than ever to my family as they have offered me love, support and compassion that I honestly do not have the ability to express in words;
  • I value my relationship more now than I ever thought possible. Not that I ever undervalued it but my experiences have highlighted what a special person it is who I get to call my own;
  •  I travelled to Rome for a number of days which is a city that I have always wanted to explore and the memories I gained will be carried with me for the rest of my life.

I think it should be said that my family and relationships have always been important to me and that I have been lucky enough to live my entire life surrounded by love. But, unfortunately it is easy to take those wonderful things for granted, to assume that your love returned is obvious enough for all to see. A positive side effect to suffering from OCD is that it has forced me to re-evaluate my life and to seek the reassurances of those I love, and, as a result, I have realised that I haven't always been as obvious in my affections as I should have been.

I have come to realise that I honestly could not have gotten through the year without them.

The Queen famously called 1992 her 'annus horribilis' (horrible year or year of horrors) after Windsor Castle was badly damaged from a fire and some tabloid articles were negatively focussed on the personal lives of her children.

I, too, could call 2011 my 'annus horribilis' for the OCD related intrusive thoughts that I have had to endure and the resulting anxiety, fear and distress, but, for all of this year's negativity, I feel that I have become a better, more loving person, certainly to those whose opinion I hold dear.

I would never wish to experience another year like the one just gone, indeed I would not wish it on anyone, but the lessons and experiences that I have gained will help to guide me with the strength and resolve to live my life as best and as positively as I can in the future.

That can't be a bad thing.


Tina said...

A truly lovely post. You drew so much wisdom and beauty out of painful experiences, and isn't that the best any of us can do? I'm so glad you got diagnosed and are on your way to getting treatment. And I'm so glad you have the blessings of loving relationships, which is really what it's all about. Good to hear from you again! Happy 2012!

71ยบ & Sunny said...

It's so true - terrible times can help us grow and learn things about ourselves. Not that I'm volunteering to go through some terrible times! You're very insightful about your experiences. That should really serve you well in treatment. Best wishes on a happier and healthier 2012!

Anonymous said...

What you experienced in 2011 led you to your upcoming treatment in 2012, so that's a great thing! I hope this is a wonderful year for you, surrounded by those you love.

Karin said...

I agree with Tina, Sunny & Ocd talk and hope that this year will bring you lots of positive memories and happiness!

OCD Anonymous said...

Tina - Thank you for your comment.

You are very true when you say that we must make the best of our experiences and carry on with that added wisdom.

Sunny - Thank you for your comment too.

I hope that it does help me to express myself in treatment as I really want to communicate what I have been feeling so the therapist knows how to approach my situation.

ocdtalk - Thank you for your comment too.

Even though the bad times were harsh, I am very appreciative for them leading me on the road to a better psychological place.

Karin - Thank you so much for your kind words and taking the time out to leave me a comment - I really do appreciate it.

To all - I just want to reply and wish all of you the very best happiness and good fortune for 2012 - May it be a year full of joy!

Elizabeth said...

This is a beautiful post, truly beautiful.

You inspire me the way you have shifted your focus to the positive outcomes of some terrible times.

I have to stay away from the Internet and all medical books (I work in an academic library) whenever my health anxiety flares up.

I hope you blog more,

OCD Anonymous said...

Elizabeth - Thank you so much for your comment :) It truly means a great deal to me when people take the time to write supportive and encouraging messages.

I have to apologies that I haven't been regular with my blog posts for the past couple of months. I have finally started my course of therapy so much of my time and energy has been aimed at focusing on that but I will indeed write a new blog entry in a couple of days time about my progress.

Best wishes to you and with thanks once again - OCD Anonymous