Weed and OCD

Wait wait wait….before you start getting the wrong idea, read me first and read till the end.

Let me start by saying I never ever do anything I am not convinced of. I am a big opponent of smoking (cigarettes and others that are consumed in a habitual manner), alcohol, and hard drugs. I have never smoked nor drank nor done drugs in my entire life. To this day I refuse to drink alcohol for the sole reason that I am not convinced, even with pressure from my closest friends. I have also cut carbonated beverages from my life. I don’t drink coffee, and hate energy drinks.

I didn’t decide to try weed because I was at a low place in my life. Oh no no no! I made it a point and a mission that I would never take the short way out, not because I’m a very strong person, but because I never wanted to numb or ease the pain with unnatural ways. I would always rather wait on the pain and agony rather than take a shortcut. Probably it’s because I’m programmed that way, or because I’m a perfectionist (not your usual positive connotation of the word). I’m not sure. All I know is that in my lowest of lows, I would never take that road. I am not judging anyone who goes into alcohol or drugs, because honestly I don’t know what they are passing through, and my pain may be a drop in the bucket compared to theirs.
Now let’s get on to the juicy part of this blog.

I was with a couple of friends and I alluded to my intention to meet Mary Jane. They said Weed love it if you Joint us next week. They were very Blunt. It took me a Spliff second of thought to decide, and I said: “That’s a Dope idea. I like the way you guys Roll!” (trending now in your mind, HASHtag weed puns. Why do I do this? Because I Can…nabis). OK OK OK….No more weed puns. I won’t Pot another one….That one slipped by mistake. My bad.

Anywho, the first time I ever tried to smoke up was on a Friday night back in October of last year. Ironically I started this blog the Sunday after, but that was a total coincidence and had nothing to do with weed. The first time, I had Hash. It was my first time, and I had no expectations whatsoever. Up to that point I had never smoked or inhaled smoke. I didn’t have my smoking cherry popped yet. On that fateful night, I was taught how to inhale. How to take a puff in. I was warned that the first time is a bit tricky, and will cause a tickling feeling in my throat. They really downplayed the effects of a person’s first inhalation ever. I took in the first puff. I inhaled inward as I normally do – per the advice of my friends. I coughed out two lungs and one spleen. I have never had a coughing feeling so intense. It wasn’t just a tickling feeling in my throat, God damn it, it was as if I had swallowed a porcupine. Dear lord I coughed a lot. I tried to “human up” (don’t want to say “man up” because some may find it sexist *looks at feminists*) and tried not to cough. Needless to say that didn’t work well for me.

However by night’s end I can’t say I was as high as my friends, because they were laughing at the paint on the wall. It didn’t take much to amuse them. I, on the other hand…well all I felt was a sense of calming down. I didn’t want to talk as much as I would on a regular day. And I was less fidgety and my brain wasn’t burning oil without having a thought to think of (in normal days, my brain acts as if it is thinking of something, but not a single thought or obsession is present. I just can’t turn it down and relax). So basically hash made me cool down physically and mentally.

But wait, there’s more. My first time, I dabbled with Hash. I was a bit critical on it having to be mixed with tobacco, as I wholeheartedly dislike it. As I was issuing my grievance with tobacco, I was told that weed, however, doesn’t need to be mixed with tobacco (it’s mixed with just a tad so it would burn, but it’s almost undetectable).

So on an overnight trip in the mountains with a few friends, one of them happened to have some Weed on hand. I was asked to tag along, and tag along I did. I took a few puffs, but this time, well needless to say, no coughing episodes occurred. I was a semi-pro at inhaling (not said with pride). A few puffs in, it hit me. I realized that weed gives the brain a fuzzy feeling hard for one not to notice. It’s a nice feeling. I felt calm. I felt a different feeling than what I have experienced before.After a while, I retreated back to my room. I found out that it was easier for me to read. I wasn’t losing focus and keep going backwards to read things I felt I didn’t concentrate on. In usual life activities as well as reading, I was no longer looking backwards (with OCD, you tend to look back at almost every action and evaluate, even if for just a split second before you discard it, but the intrusive thoughts are always there even if not causing anxiety or obsessions). For that period of time I felt weird. It was really new to me not to get intrusive thoughts, at least in several aspects I usually get them in. I was even trying to think backwards and try to trigger something but it wouldn’t happen. All I was focused on was the very second I am in. With every moment I felt like I left the passing one to the past and never went back and never gave it a second thought. For me that was probably the weirdest, strangest, and to a certain extent scariest experience. I say scariest because I have never lived outside my thoughts; I have managed to break the connection to severe anxiety and obsession, but never without intrusive thoughts bombarding my mind without a trigger.

However, here comes the disclaimer. I did all that before I knew there was a risk of developing paranoia, hallucinations, depression, or even psychotic episodes. The risk may be low or high (no pun intended), but there’s a risk nevertheless. It all depends on a person’s inclination and whether or not they may have a tendency or predisposition to develop such severe ramifications.

I would only encourage using weed and its derivatives under supervision (if that is even a thing) of a doctor or a psychologist or a Jamaican.

It would also help if there exists any possibility of studying a person’s inclination and tendency to develop harmful, long term,  life-lasting problems. I have to this day never heard of any of these aforementioned suggestions, but one never knows what is and isn’t present in this world and what science may be capable of.

On this High note, all is left to say is…..

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

A Tsunami of Emotions: How We Feel TENfold

I’m talking from my point of view as well as that of a few very close friends of mine (with OCD and depression), who I have come to realize, share this intensity in feeling.

One might ask, how could you, you mentally disordered person, know what is going on in other people’s minds and how they feel and to what degree? To that question, a very simple answer: “Simply talking to them you nincompoop.” Talking to others is a great way to compare abstract things such as emotions. I am not able to gauge feelings in a quantitative fashion, but by conversing with others I get a sense of the enlargement of thought and emotions we pass through that may lead to anxiety, obsession, and even depression.

I have come to realize that as I have witnessed first hand – by talking or seeing – how others may react to similar events as the ones I went or am going through. I see how they go on with their lives and daily routines. Also, after passing through the event, and having it become a thing in my past,  I reevaluate the array of emotions I felt and the roller coaster of feelings I went through. This reevaluation helps me look at that specific period from a more emotionally-detached (to a certain extent) place. I’m not saying I feel nothing when I recall past events, but their impact on my life is just something that happened already and has no ramifications on current occurrences. That makes it easier for me to look at them and evaluate my past emotional state.

I have realized that I tend to blow shit out of proportion. No, No! You don’t fathom how much feelings I put into silly stuff – granted they weren’t apparently silly at first.  For me any event that happens that I perceive to be a negative, kills me on the inside. I have recently come across some of these events, but first let me state that the intensity this time was on par with at least two other intense moments of emotions; the highest, worst ones I have ever had the pleasure of going through. In these few cases I took feeling to a whole new level. A whole new world. A new frantic point of view. No one to calm us down or tell us what to do. Or say we’re only feeling. If you didn’t get the aforementioned reference, then Ala-just-ddin was for nothing….absolutely nothing.

I feel that I’m in a box, a box of darkness. I feel that everything around me is dark and grey and everything pulls me down. I fight not to think. I am the guy standing behind a door pushing on it to stay closed as a flood of thoughts wants to come through. Every now and again I’d slip a bit and lose footing, and a thought would seep through. Consciously I go back to fighting and pushing on the freakin’ door. I tend to want to sit alone, but that kills me. I try to go out and be around others but that doesn’t help as well. The feelings only intensify and follow wherever you go as a black cloud hanging above one’s head. Everything seems to pull you down, and you feel like screaming, “but the words won’t come out, he’s choking how, everybody’s joking now” as the great angry rapper Eminem said in his epic masterpiece of the year 2001. I reach a point where I feel that I want to get out of my body. As if the pain inside is too big for my body to contain. This is the worst feeling of all. This is the highest summit of pain I have ever reached.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

That Damn Unconscious!

My psychiatrist has opened my eyes to this topic. It happened when I was doing my routine checkup with him. We started with the usual questions about where my life is at and what’s changed since the last saw each other – no, we’re not dating. He asked about the obsessions. I complained that I still get some that annoy me, but in general they have lessened in number and intensity. He asked about my work, social life, family, and future. I was satisfied and totally not worried on all aspects of life. I had nothing bothering me or causing any worry. When I say nothing I mean not a thing. I was working, going out, on good terms with la familia, and had set plans for my future. Still I was getting obsessions and panic attacks. I would get a panic attack out of nowhere. I start feeling my heart beat rapidly, my breath becomes heavy, my brain starts working as if it’s thinking but no thoughts are present, just the process. It’s a very annoying and paralyzing feeling. I wasn’t having a panic attack over something I was consciously thinking of. Nothing was causing me discomfort in life. That’s when my psychaycay said that the trigger was probably my unconscious.

He once told me that the obsessions are just manifestations. They are red flags. They pop up in order to let the person know that something is of annoyance to him or her. Just like fever signaling the presence of bacteria or a virus in the body. But the difference is that there’s no specific symptom that leads to a specific diagnosis. It’s a bit too general; you get a panic attack, then something unconsciously is bothering the heck out of you (in case the attack wasn’t triggered by something conscious).

At first I took it at face value and didn’t think of it that much. However I was convinced of what he said after I went through what’s to follow. Recently I have been experiencing passing obsessions, by which I mean that I do get a thought, but it quickly goes away without leaving any anxiety behind. A few weeks back, I went to a retreat in the mountain side of this country. It was a two day thing and I had to sleep outside the comfort of my humble house. There, at the retreat, I got several sticky obsessions that triggered anxiety. But when I came back home to Beirut, they faded away, and I started thinking of how silly they were. I told my psychiatrist about this and he explained the situation. My unconscious was unfamiliar with its surroundings. That caused my uncomfortable brain to start going crazy, and its way of telling me was through obsessions, as it has no other way of communicating peacefully with me. It’s as if I am in a relationship with a girl, I come home to find mad at me, and I have to decipher the underlying reasons.

So in short, if you feel everything is going well in life, but you’re still getting obsessions and/or panic attacks, then I have got some bad news for you. Okay, it’s not so bad, it’s just that you need to put more effort (read money) and go see someone who deals with the unconscious side of a brain that has communication issues.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

Know your Thoughts!

The way I like to live life is by putting things into categories. I believe in absolutes, black or white, yes or no. This made me, at several times, just take a step back from everything – inside and outside my head – and think of how to categorize the thoughts I have been getting.

I have started off with the following two categories; intrusive and non-intrusive. Intrusive thoughts are thoughts that come out of nowhere. They are involuntary. They just pop in your head. Usually unpleasant and hard to get rid off, many times, they turn into obsessions. Such thoughts don’t need any trigger (You see a red car, you think of a red car. That thought had a trigger. But if you were just sitting looking at the sea and suddenly an image of a car pops up in your mind, that wasn’t triggered). Usually intrusive thoughts tend to vary in intensity, as some may be easily dismissed while others can’t, and may evolve to obsessions. That being said, it’s easy to define the non-intrusive thoughts as thoughts we have control over; control over starting and ending them.

The second category I classified was the obsessive thoughts and non-obsessive thoughts. Differentiating between them is pretty simple: an idea that gets stuck in your brain for a period of time and you can’t but think of. When you try to get rid of it, like a boomerang, it’ll come back. And many times it comes back bigger and more intensified. Simply put, an obsession is a thought one can’t simply discard. On the other hand, non-obsessive thoughts are normal thoughts that come and go with ease and are simple for one to control.

The third category has to do with the types of feelings the thoughts trigger. I am focusing mainly on anxiety and the feeling of panic and impending doom one gets. I have split them into two; positive and negative thoughts. The words Positive and Negative aren’t adjectives of the thoughts; they don’t describe the thought and its content. Simply put, a positive thought leads to positive (good) feelings, while negative thoughts lead to negative (bad) feelings. I have come to the realization that a negative thought is any thought that triggers a negative feeling (mainly felt in the chest area) given that this thought is irrational. AND if one already knows he has OCD and/or anxiety related disorders, then any thought that triggers anxiety and panic is usually irrational disregarding how rational it seems, and that is due to the prevailing condition. In the moment, the thought could (and many times will) sound logical and rational, but if one tries to take a step back and look at it objectively, it would seem totally irrational.

I have discovered that the following sequence occurs; intrusive, then obsessive, then negative feelings.
This has allowed me to manage and get things a bit more under control. When you know, it becomes a bit easier. It’s better to battle something you are aware of.

So long story short, any thought that seems to come out of nowhere, linger in the mind for a period of time, and then cause unpleasant and distressing feelings is usually a thought that should be fought and the only way to fight it is by consciously disregarding it (time and time again, as it will start creeping in, that’s why I say consciously disregard it) and letting the negative feelings take their course without acting upon them. It’s just something that will pass. Although the feeling during this aforementioned process is excruciating, it’s the only way to improve life as with time the thoughts’ effects will decrease drastically (and I mean DRASTICALLY).

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

Punny Poem

In early 2009 I was accepted at HEC in Lausanne, Switzerland. Lausanne is in the French canton and it is grand. It has a lovely lake and green land.

I have been always hesitant to go to France or any other French speaking place, but I said “screw it, I have nothing TOULOUSE”. At that point I was accepted in several other places, so I had options from which to choose.

I set my mind on that university in the land of the Swiss, but in later days I regretted that wish.

Although I don’t have any fascination with cars, but little did I know that my situation would ESCALADE. On that topic, I have a lot of statements that need to be made.

On the outside, I always maintained the smiles, but on the inside, from comfort I was miles.

I was also feeling sad,gloomy, and grey. I hated my life every single freaking day.

My mind was plagued by obsession. The whole process pushed me into depression.

I couldn’t get out of it on my own, for how can one heal if the illness is not known?

OCD dominated me as to obsessions I was a target and a prey. They whipped me around like I was Anna and they were Christian Grey.

Just like when it comes to the topic of bondage sex, my hands were tied, and it never made sense.

Thoughts were coming out of the blue, the point of origin of which I hadn’t a clue.

When you are indulged in obsessions and similar shit, not even your Japanese friend can TOKYO out of it.

I remember always keeping the laptop turned on with something playing until dawn. I did that because otherwise I would be overwhelmed with thoughts and breakdown.

I needed something louder than the thoughts to focus on, and anything with sound was helpful when I was alone.

But one day, the laptop died on me, and the effects I definitely could see.

Now my fear was real, and that night was one of the worst I’d feel.

I started to cry and weep and I completely broke down . Tears ran down my cheek and in them I did drown.

I don’t know if it had to do with hormones, but I am pretty sure I sounded like how a whore moans.

I reached a point where I would always cry, powder came out my eyes as the canal of tears was completely dry.

I remember starting to think of many an event. And I could feel my chest buckle under blocks of emotional cement.

Thoughts of events that were years old, started bombarding me and I started shivering as if I were cold.

Silly things like past occasions or even a game of monopoly would cause me more sadness, anxiety, and worry.

I used to obsess and over-think, the more I did, the deeper I would sink.

I was losing my mind clearly, and just like the time I lost my pet gazelle, I was going to miss it DEERly.

Although at times I lost all hope, I never wanted to end my pain and use a rope.

That was one of many severe meltdowns and mental episodes, which  I will talk about in later blog posts.

I will also talk more about and elaborate on this, or what I like to call “Meltdown in the Land of the Swiss”.

I just wanted to write my experience in a punny poem, as these two are some of my favorite obsessions and I love’em.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

See Them Before They Go Away

Today, February the 16th, my paternal grandmother died. I can’t feel but guilt. I am incapable of feeling sadness as I am happy for her, because she was in a lot of agony for too long. However I cannot kick that feeling of guilt. And as I am writing this, that feeling is causing me to tear up.

Why am I feeling guilty? I know the answer to that. I haven’t seen her or visited her in quite some time. It’s not that I didn’t love her. I loved her. She was an amazing person. However, the problem is within me. More like, the problem is me.

Regardless of wherever I am going, as soon as I know or even think about going out, I get anxious. Any sort of going out gives me anxiety. Its levels differ from day to day, but nevertheless, it is present. I get a bad, sinking feeling in my chest. It could be described as a cross between fear and nervousness. There is no reason whatsoever for me to get that. I am not scared of the outside. I don’t fear people. Au contraire, I love being outside and I adore people. But I cannot help the feeling I get. In such cases, I would think about how much I rather be on my own, in my comfort zone.

Every time I thought of going to my grandma’s, I would get struck by anxiety. The thing is that I am not forced to go. It is something I want to do. That’s why when anxiety hits, I don’t feel obliged to leave home, because it has nothing to do with work, necessity, sickness, or having to meet someone I have an appointment with. What I am trying to say in so many words is that in some occasions when I feel obliged to go out – because going out in these cases is necessary for me to maintain life and living – I would push through the pain and tolerate the meanness of the anxiety. Many times I also start getting obsessions before going out or while I am out. I don’t know why it happens, but it does.

Whenever I thought of going out and visiting her, anxiety would strike, and I say “Not today. Today I can’t. I’ll go soon for sure.” That’s the biggest lie I tell myself “I’ll definitely do it later.” So I end up not going. “Soon” comes and I push it to another “soon”. I kept on doing that until she died. And now I hate and blame myself.

What I want to make clear is that these feelings are crap. They are total bullshit and tricks played on us by us. Just don’t trust everything you feel. Sometimes conscious and rational thinking will cause much more discomfort, but it will give better results to you in the long run (when you start getting used to disregard anxiety), and to everyone around you, all the time.
If you want to go out and the idea seems right, don’t let anything physical or abstract stand in your way. Time will never go back, and you will end up with sorrow and regret.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

Do I Wish I Didn’t Have Issues

The answer to that question is complicated. If it were a yes/no answer, it would have been such a short post.
My experience with OCD and depression has been tough so far to say the least. Most people who have gone through exam periods will know what worrying and anxiety feels like. So it is not that hard to fathom what anxiety disorders are about. The only difference is that the former example’s anxiety is rational and justified, while the latter’s isn’t and stays with the sufferer for a longer periods of time.

I am grateful I do have OCD. As weird as that sounds, it’s perfectly normal to me. If I were given the choice to live without the aforementioned issues, I really really doubt my answer would be yes. In all honesty I don’t know how to live without them. They are an integral part of me. They have become something I am used to and accustomed to feeling. I think they made me suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. However, this is not the main reason. There is another reason which is not going to sound logical but it is really how I feel.

The relatively illogical reason is as follows. I always thought that because I have OCD, there is someone out there who doesn’t suffer from it because I took on the part of having the illness. I keep thinking that it’s okay I am feeling depressed because I took that burden of someone else. I also feel like if it had to happen, I’m happy it happened to me, that is because I know me. I don’t have to worry about someone else. I tend to worry and feel guilty when I know someone has an illness or is passing through tough times. I’m not saying this so I could be called a gentle and kind soul, or a very caring person. I don’t care about these labels. It is just how I truly feel, and I felt this should be said.

I know me better than I know any other person. And I feel that I can handle what I am passing through. I think that everyone (to a certain extent) feels he can do or control things better than others. I have decided long ago that I wasn’t going to quit. I have passed through periods of utter despair where I truly believed that nothing will be better and I was in a very dark place. There was times when I lost the will to live. I just wanted my existence to cease. But that promise I kind of made to myself kept me going. Anyone who has had experience with severe depression will tell you that at any given time, suicide is a thought. Even if you wouldn’t do it, the thought is there and it is pretty normal to have it. However it wasn’t something I would do it to myself or to anyone around me. As hard as it was I kept myself from doing it. I don’t know why but I did. I can’t think of a single reason, because in such types you care about nothing and no one; not even yourself.

That’s just how I feel, and how I reason things. Call me weird, unorthodox, abnormal; I am all these things and that is pretty normal to me.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

The Day I Hit on a Girl !!!!

The following is based on true events. That’s how things happened. I was going to see a person in an office, both of which shall remain unnamed. I knocked on the door with three of my fingers (or was it two? Or did I ring the bell?). A girl’s voice told me to “come in”. I came in. I asked her about said person, she told me said “said person” wasn’t there. I was a bit annoyed because that meant my job was going to be delayed. I told her I will see said “said “said person”” on the day of the event. Thanked her and left. As all that happened I was having a thought in my mind. I was thinking “this girl is kinda cute”. She had nice eyes and that’s the first thing I look at. As I was in the elevator and then leaving the building, I started thinking that I will never see this dudette again in my life. There was no way I could get to know her better in a social outing so I said to myself “Why don’t I ask her out?”.

So basically I had a feeling of “I have nothing to lose” mixed with “Let me not regret not doing it later” topped with a little bit of anxiety sprinkles. I have had several of these thoughts before, but not feeling comfortable enough and having an anchor of anxiety pushing me down, made me never dare do such things. The feeling would be so intense that I didn’t feel I could live with myself afterwards because of all the anxiety, thoughts, and scenarios I would make up and obsess about afterwards. To make that uncomfortable feeling clearer to you lovely humans, consider the following: The weather outside is frightful, and the bed is so delightful, and then you feel like you have to go, Oh no Oh no Oh no. That uncomfortable peeing sensation is the uncomfortable feeling, while staying in bed is the comfortable one. But these days I am all about conquering those feelings. So I decided what I was going to do.

I picked up my balls and reentered the building (don’t get me wrong, I had two basketballs with me, they dropped on the floor, and I had to pick them up). I pressed the elevator button with my right hand index finger (or was it thumb? Or did I take the stairs?). I went there and was a few meters from the door. This time I had no pretext to knock on the door. I had nothing to start with. It was just one thing I wanted to ask, and it had nothing to do with anything. I went forward then backward, and my heart started pounding. I said “Screw it I’m doing this (in Arabic, in my mind)”.I knocked on the door. At that point I could feel my teeth sweating. She said “enter”. I entered and said “I know this may sound weird, but do you want to go out sometime maybe drinks or dinner?”. She said “No, sorry”. I said “Your loss, I’m half Nigerian. My nickname in high school was Raja the Tripod”. Okay, Okay, I didn’t say that, I said it’s okay and left.

This was probably one of the proudest moments of my life. Believe me with someone with anxiety and obsessions, this is huge. It doesn’t matter that she said no. She might find me ugly. She might be afraid of strangers. She might have a boyfriend. Or the thought I always go to when I get rejected, she’s probably a lesbian.

So what is to be learnt from this experience can be summed up in the following sentence. Ok I lied, it’s in the sentence after this. Whenever you feel that irrational uncomfortable feeling, just go on and do. The only way to break fears and uncomfortable situations is to do the thing that causes them in the first place. So if you feel like you’re uncomfortable doing something that you rationally know might be – or is- good for you, just know you’re on the right track and go do it. That’s the only way we break our fears and get out of our shells.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.