Andrew

Brannigan_APositiveFromANegative_Andrew

Andrew
Northern Ontario
OCD, Depression, Anxiety

 


 

My name is Andrew.
I deal with O.C.D., anxiety, and depression.

I started noticing it mostly when I was in Grade Eight, around there. I went to a psychologist for about a year, once every two weeks, and we went through behavioural therapy. I also take Prozac and there’s lots of breathing exercises, which I do when I start to feel anxious.

If I was talking to somebody I could never keep eye contact. Never ever keep eye contact. I look off into the distance and I’d line up two points of something, like let’s say the corner of a table and the corner of the T.V. And then I have to move my head and cross those two points. And so line the two points up and then I’d look from another angle and then I’d line the two points and then look back and line the two points up in my vision and I do that with literally everything and I don’t know why I would do it but I just have to do it over and over and over again. I’d be moving my head all over the place when I was talking to people and I couldn’t have normal conversations with people because I’d be doing that thing where I’d line up two points in the distance. Now being on the medication, I can talk to people, look them in the eye and it also helps me just be myself. All Prozac is, is it stabilizes your serotonin levels, I think. So, it’s not making me somebody who up I’m not, it’s just regulating my serotonin levels and making me be able to be myself.

When I was a lot younger, maybe about ten or even when I was like six or seven, I went through phases where I couldn’t eat. Just something my mind was telling me I couldn’t eat because I was going to choke on food. So I’d starve myself because I wouldn’t be able to eat because I’d try to eat and then I’d wouldn’t to be able to swallow because I’d think I was going to choke on it. And then throughout hockey, I’d always get nervous when I was younger, maybe eleven or twelve, I’d get sick before hockey games because I’d be nervous. I thought I had stomach problems. So I got tested for stomach problems and all that. They all came back, and I was perfectly fine.

Then once I started skate boarding in Grade Eight, my life turned around. My social life got better, I wasn’t having as bad anxiety, my obsessiveness all turned towards skate boarding. I was able to think clearly and have fun and do whatever. But then slowly after about two or three years of skateboarding, around Grade Ten, my obsessive thoughts started coming back and the same thing where I would be nervous and would get sick would come back. I wouldn’t be able to go to school anymore so I had to come up with something new. What helped me there was, and I got very depressed during that time period and I couldn’t leave my bed and then I started flying model airplanes or building model airplanes which was a hobby I had when I was a lot younger then I picked it up again. Then all my interest went to that and that kept my mind busy. I was able to live more my normal life. And then around the same time I started taking my medication, talking to my psychologist and everything turned around from there. I also started getting into fishing around the same time and that, fishing, and then took over.

Then the summer before first year university came around, I decided to quit the meds because I was going out and partying a lot. I wanted to be able to drink more without worrying about mixing it with my medication. So I quit the medication and then within the month of quitting the medication, all my obsessive thoughts came back. My anxiety came back. I couldn’t, wasn’t able to, do anything. Throughout the first three/four months of university, it was a struggle every day. I didn’t want to leave my bed or do anything. I still skateboarded occasionally but I just wasn’t all there. Then I started the meds again halfway through my first year of university and within about a month, or month and a half, everything turned around. My social life got better; I was hanging with people more and feeling better. I’ve been on the meds ever since then and still seeing my psychologist occasionally, two or three times a year, just to check up. And things have been going amazing ever since.

My object is my skateboard because my skateboard has had the biggest influence on my life. That’s where all of my, most of my, friends have came from is from skateboarding and all my life, like my friends I’ve known since before high school, are from skateboarding. And even though I don’t do it much anymore, it brings back so many memories and stuff. Starting to skateboard was the first point where I noticed all my rituals, O.C.D. Rituals, were still there but my anxiety and my depression got better because I was able to enjoy life so much more when I started skateboarding, just when I started before high school. And then after that, there are the model airplanes, which I’ve been in and out of. But then fishing has now taken over and that’s what I’ve been doing for the past three/ four years. So I make fishing lures and all that. My fly tying desk, where I make flies or fishing lures or whatever you want to call them, that’s my safe space because it’s something that I’m passionate about, fly fishing. I cannot actually be fishing and I can still have something to do with it and enjoy it. While you’re making a fishing lure, you’re thinking about where you’re going to use it, when you’re going to use it. You’re thinking about how to make it properly and you can zone everything else out and just focus on what you’re doing. And it helps keep the bad thoughts, or anxious thoughts, away.

Suzy

Brannigan_APoisitveFromANegative_Suzy

Suzy
British Columbia
Dissociative Identity Disorder, Depression, PTSD, Anxiety

 


 

My name is Suzanne.
I deal with dissociative identity disorder, depression, complex P.T.S.D., and anxiety.

I was correctly diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder in May of 2003, but I’ve been dealing with it all my life, as well as the depression, anxiety, and complex P.T.S.D. So yeah, all my life.

D.I.D. is created in early childhood usually before the age of seven and it’s a result of overwhelming circumstances, in my case it was severe neglect and abuse, and it can also happen if a young child has had multiple surgeries or medical procedures. It also happens with kids, young kids, which have grown up in refugee camps and live in a civil war area. What it basically is is the child has nowhere to go when the overwhelmed circumstances happen. So what I did was, if the perpetrator came into the room, me the typical Suzy that you see here, would kind of go into the background and I created this persona that would deal with the event in the situation and they would hold all the memories and everything of that event. When the event was over and the perpetrator was gone, that persona would kind of go back into my subconscious and the apparent normal self, me, would come out just kind of carry on and try to carry on the best I could.

Beforehand my disassociation was my coping. Whenever life got too bad I would dissociate. In D.I.D. you create at a young age these personas to deal with stuff and so I would just kind of basically check out of life and another persona would come and deal with life. But then I would have no memory of what I had done. I’d have people come up to me on the street talk to me and they know who I am but I have no flipping idea who the hell they are because I don’t remember talking to them. Being aware when I need to pull out of things, I’m fairly busy and fairly active, but being aware when I know when things are getting too much and there’s personal stuff that I need to work on. Being able to be in an environment and the activities that I do, that I can say I need to back off, I’m going to stop for a couple weeks but I’ll be back. Like my dragon boat team, I’ve been dragon boating for ten years, and I’ve been in the hospital. I called the psychiatric unit in the hospital the St Joseph Spa and Treatment Centre and I’ve been there many times. But each time I come out, the dragon boat team, I still got a seat. So there’s nothing, I’m not going to lose any seat or anything like that.

When I was in the psych unit one time on my birthday – the hospital is up on the hill – they paddled during practice, they paddled underneath to sing me Happy Birthday. I remember sitting outside and my nurse came up to me and said what are you doing, you know conversation sitting at the picnic table. I said “Oh waiting for my dragon boat team to sing Happy Birthday.” Well she couldn’t see the dragon boat team because the hospital is on the cliff. So she’s looking at me like thinking is Suzy hallucinating again, what is she talking about? I said no, no it’s dragon boat practice and the team did paddle by, we couldn’t see them but we could hear them and they were singing Happy Birthday. They’ve been there from the very beginning and they have been an awesome phenomenal support system all in their own way.

I guess mainly knowing what I need to do, lots of self care, lots of knowing what my limitations are. For years I have, while I still have years of blank memories. I don’t remember Christmases, birthdays, any major events. Grade One, Two, Three, Four, I remember little snippets of it. I went to college for two years when I was thirty; I can pull up little bits of memory of that but not a whole. I don’t have access to those memories. I’ve obviously got them because I’m the one that was doing everything. But being able to pull up those memories, whether I’ll ever be able to, I don’t know.

I’ve got three/four, maybe five, major personas. One is Stanley. Stanley was created when I was six years old. I had an older brother who was one of my protectors, and when he was sixteen he joined the army, so I no longer have the protector when crap happened. I created Stanley and Stanley’s job was to find really small places for me to hide in when stuff happened.

I would like to get out more and be able to do more public speaking, talk to more students, talk to more classrooms. Actually I would love to do a conference, a mental health conference. But because I don’t have the PhD and all the letters behind my name, it’s kind of hard to get into it. But it will come. Whatever’s meant to come, will come. I never thought I’d be talking to youth and at risk groups and stuff like that. I never thought I would ever be doing that but that’s what I want to do. So I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. I have done presentations, given talks to nursing staff or nursing students from the college. I’ve also done talks with a couple at risk youth groups and then the girl’s group at the local transition society here. And then this last June, I went back to my old school, my old high school and presented to three psychology classes there. That was a little surreal. Each class is a bit different but yes; I just go in there and talk about the D.I.D. and what it really is and what it isn’t. I discuss how it’s affected my life and talk about the depression and the complex P.T.S.D., mental health in general and why we need to start talking about it. What’s really interesting is once I start talking about mental health issues, other people start opening up and it just blows my mind. Could be teachers, it could be people I sing with, could be people in the dragon boat team, people I golf with. Because mental health touches everybody, whether you have it or family member have it, you know somebody who’s got it, so it touches everybody. It’s very interesting that people come up to me and talk to me about their issues or their struggles with it.