Sea Monsters and West Highland Terrors


“You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle.” – Julian Seifter

Good morning, lovelies!

It is no longer Monday, which means that today cannot possibly be as trying as my migraine filled, assignments due, so-much-reading-for-class Monday. No migraine today, which is a good sign that things are already looking up. Cicero woke me this morning by standing on my face, followed by Mika screeching in my ear. Such a sweet sound . . . except not at all. The other cats were waiting at my door, and my personal sea creature (the axolotl) was practically dancing in his aquarium for food. But I digress. I am not just rambling on about mornings and animals, by the way. I do have a point to make. And that point concerns how incredibly helpful animals are when I am struggling with my OCD/anxiety/panic disorder adventure. (I think adventure sounds better than disaster, and I try to keep a positive spin on things.)

Just a little insight for new readers: I am diagnosed with OCD, panic disorder, and severe generalized anxiety disorder. I have been dealing with them my entire life, though I didn’t know what the OCD was until it became so severe that I gave up on life for a while. I also had to take a break from college for a while too, but more about that later. Anyway, I battle with these disorders daily, as even medication and therapy haven’t managed to control them completely, and I’ve learned quite a few tricks and coping skills to help me get on with life. I am not my diagnoses by any means, I am much more, but I do share in hopes of spreading awareness and understanding of the disorders, OCD in particular. It isn’t all about hand washing and cleanliness, folks. If I can help someone else along the way by sharing, that would be awesome too. 🙂

Now, onward with what I was actually talking about.

Now that we’ve hit October, which is my favorite month, grad school assignments have started to collide and grow. That’s always the way of it; big assignments show up all at once and are inevitably due too soon and on the same day. If you add in the lack of specific instructions on how to complete said assignments, you’ve created a perfect storm for me. For those of you new to the many excitements of obsessive compulsive disorder, uncertainty is the absolute quickest way to make me flare up. Unfortunate, because life by definition is uncertain. If I let myself think about it, I would get nothing done at all.

I like to think of OCD as a giant squid-like sea monster, with many tentacles, pincers, a surprisingly high intelligence level, and a mischievous little desire to cause trouble. Anything the OCD squid can latch onto . . . you can bet he does, and pulls me in. Recently, the main trigger for me has been that I don’t know how exactly to do these assignments, so the squid likes to tell me that I must certainly be doing them wrong. And then the anxiety kicks in and brings along the panic attacks . . . and I have a recipe for hopelessness, getting nothing done, and feeling even worse about myself. Nasty spiral, and quick.

The trick is to outsmart the squid before it ever gets started. If you let it get one tentacle on you, more will follow and the trickier it becomes to get out of its less than kind embrace. I must admit that I let it get a little too cozy yesterday, which led to the lack of work and the migraine that kept me out of class. Which is where my animals come in. Somehow, they know when something isn’t right. Mika gets snuggly, Parker hangs out nearby but not too close, and Sidney becomes a faithful lump of cat who keeps out of the way, but watches. And Cicero—Cicero becomes a demanding trouble maker. That means that I have to do something to stop him, usually take him outside, which effectively allows me to begin the process of disentangling myself from the squid-monster. I’ve found that a change in atmosphere is one definite way to help me realize that I’ve slipped into OCD land. The slip is very difficult to catch until it’s gotten very bad (and I mean crying, sobbing, obsessive ritualizing bad), but my creatures help me catch it earlier. Basically, my animal companions help me get out of my head which lets me regain control of the sea monster and plop him back into the aquarium at the back of my head. (I’ll explain more about the reasoning behind my sea monster, aquarium, etc method of viewing my OCD in another post, by the way. It’s actually very helpful to me to see it as a separate entity that can be controlled.)

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The West Highland Terror, Cicero

After I walked Cicero, I went through my daily ritual of cleaning creature enclosures and feeding the ones who needed food. Andromeda (citrus bearded dragon) had ruined her terrarium again because that’s what she likes to do, and Teacup’s (leopard gecko) was just as neat as ever. He’s a dear, really, compared to the others. By the time I was finished there, I had mostly gotten over my OCD-induced academic despair, took a bath, and worked on homework. A successful end to my day, despite the miserable hours spent in the claw tipped tentacles of the squid. Again, I try to see the positive. Anyway, just a little insight on one way I deal with the delightful mental illness that is part of my life. If you have questions about the OCD/anxiety disorders, please feel free to send them. Or about anything else! Thanks, dears. Enjoy your Tuesday!

Kelsey 

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Pumpkins, Chameleons, and Andrew Lang

Pumpkin month has officinally arrived and normally I would have spent the weekend at festivals celebrating the beginning of my favorite time of year. Unfortunately, my professors had other ideas so I’ve been reading through the copious works of one Mr. Andrew Lang instead. With my trusty fluffy and scaled companions, of course. Lang was an interesting human, in that he brought fairy tales and anthropology and the supernatural together, and in that he somehow managed to publish an astounding amount of work during his life. If I had that kind of motivation, I might be done with my research now.

Who am I kidding? Research is never ending, I think.

If you’re interested, Lang is responsible for editing the Fairy Books (I’m currently reading The Blue Fairy Book), and the artwork done for said books by H. J. Ford is absolutely stunning. Definitely work a quick Pinterest search if you have time (or you can just look at my Andrew Lang board), and if not, here’s one from the creative commons: The Princess Imprisoned in the Summerhouse for “The Green Fairy Book.” Pretty, no? There are so many more of them that I spent ages just looking them up.

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Aside from looking at pictures, I do have a new friend to help with the research. She’s actually my cousin’s, but she’s come to live with me for a while. Or permanently. I’m not entirely certain yet. She’s a lovely veiled chameleon, not quite a year yet, and lacking a name. We’ve gone outside to bask in the sun a few times already, and she’s warming up to me. Chameleons usually don’t like to be handled, but she seems agreeable enough. Possibly because her owner before my cousin rescued her did a lot of that? Not certain. Anyway, she’s terribly in need of a name, so I’ve added that to my list of things to do . . . the ever growing one.

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Miss Namless Chameleon

I am pleased to announce that Kamali, the leopard gecko who has been staying with me, found his forever home and is being showered with love by his new mom! That’s about all I have time for now, lovelies. Do look up Andrew Lang and let me know what you think, hm? Impressive amount of work, isn’t it?

“You can cover a great deal of country in books.” – Andrew Lang 

Image attribution: By H.J. Ford and Andrew Lang – http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Hlg0SppUSc8/S_-vpuz37-I/AAAAAAAAAWE/WrQUukn1CNM/s1600/HJFordgreen.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30365333