OCD Pre-Ironman? *New Photos Added*
We drove to Georgia to watch my son participate in Ironman Augusta this past week. I had a revelation over the past six days and I think it may work in my favor. There was a lot which led up to my revelation but it didn't smack me in the face until the past few days or so.
If you've followed my articles on Anxiety Disease, you know I've been very outspoken about it. I was told a year or so ago that I also had OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). I did not want to believe that. I thought my Doctor was just pulling unicorns from the sky when he came up with that diagnoses. I've always been told I have intrusive thoughts but never OCD.
I have a very hard time waking up if I don't get enough sleep and I'm prone to increased panic attacks when I don't get enough sleep as well. So, I worried incessantly prior to leaving for Georgia that I may not be able to get up for my son's early swim portion of the Ironman Competition. I was worrying so much that it was making me feel physically sick, guilty and emotionally drained. You see, obsessive thoughts tend to run through your mind over and over like a 45 rpm record that keeps skipping and replaying the same few lyrics again and again.
A sample of my mind prior to leaving:
- I need to pack... make lists. Ok lists are made but did I forget something?
- Leave a list for the pet sitter... breaking out in a sweat- I don't want to forget anything vital
- Call the pharmacy and make sure I have all of my husband's medications
- Check the weather 10 times a day because it may change (predictions were for high temps and high humidity) which I have a hard time tolerating. Ok, I exaggerated on checking '10 times per day," it was probably more like 2-3 times a day.
- Check the weather every day prior to leaving with hopes it will change. Hot flashes break out from just thinking about being outdoors in 90-degree weather with a humidity factor of 70% or higher. More hot flashes.
- What if I can't get up for the morning swim, my son will be so disappointed. Better yet, I won't forgive myself. That thought raced through my mind until the day of the race (no pun intended).
- Fill gas tank, get cash from our bank account, call the hotel to confirm reservations, clean the house.. don't forget to wash the dog's blankets, don't want my home to smell like a 13-year-old doggie since I have a sitter coming to stay with him. As if she cared, she's a dog lover!
- Stop thinking SO MUCH. Just stop. Nope, my mind was like a hummingbird on crack.
- What if I get sick from the heat during the race because that would be so cool (not) considering the competitors swim, bike and run a total of 70.3 miles and I'm worried about walking around AND sitting during this heat?
- I even worried about the length of the drive and not being closer to home. Yes, I know that sounds silly but the brain is a very strange organ!
- Clean out fridge, and make another list for groceries I want on hand when we return home... oh my!
After all this worrying, here's what transpired:
We made it to Georgia without any incidents. Once we got on the road, a lot of my stress began to leave. I did write a blog about being hyper vigilant when my husband is driving. I realized I feel a lack of control and that's why I can't relax when he drives. Quick cure- I did end up playing on my phone, listened to music, sang and even took a nap. I'm sure my husband was ecstatic when I fell asleep, who could blame him?!
I worried about getting up for the swim portion of the race until the night before. I think I worried so much I wore myself out and fell asleep at 8pm that evening. Dean Owen would be proud to know I slept through the night and I did get up at 6:30 that morning pumped and ready to go. Deb Helfrich also talked me through a lot of my pre-anticipatory anxiety prior to leaving and her words stuck with me as well. Thank you, Deb your words did stay with me. Dean, I'm still working on my late night hours but I do see a light at the end of the tunnel, it may be a long tunnel but I won't give up! Karen Kramer-Women Leaders 2015 picked up on the idea that I may be a bit OCD because she has it too. She's been able to use her OCD as a gift and she's able to make light of it. This is helpful because we all need to find a positive way to deal with our short-comings. We all have shortcomings and they differ but if we can remember that we are imperfect humans, maybe it's easier to accept each other more!
I need to give my husband and son kudos too. They both are aware of my struggles and that I keep pushing forward rather than allowing my illness to stop me from living life. I call what I experience temporary setbacks. My son and husband said, "Hey don't worry about the swim, if you can get up great, if not it's OK and you will have only missed the swim portion." The fact that they didn't guilt me over it and left the decision up to me, made me feel as though a ton of bricks had been lifted. I was able to get up and made it to the swim portion. We found a lovely tree lined street to place our chairs under the shade to watch the runners come by. We were able to high five my son twice during the run portion of the race.
I won't lie, the heat was brutal. I had to keep reminding myself that I could escape to an air conditioned area if needed and to quit being a wuss because the competitors sure weren't complaining and they had it 100 times tougher than I did.
My stupid fears seemed so overwhelming before we arrived, I wasn't sure what I would be capable of doing. Those fears were unnecessary, I just wish my mind would have figured that out before we left for Georgia. That's the fun part of having OCD with anxiety, you just can't turn off a switch and stop the mind from replaying scenes from a bad movie in your brain. However, I found it's great to share your fears with those you trust and you know won't judge you because they can be your best cheerleaders and help to reframe your thought processes without being aware it's happening.
For every obstacle you fear and then greet, I've found it makes you stronger. I have to remind myself I've over come many fears and obstacles in my mind and this pushes me to keep moving forward with less fear. It also helps to remind yourself if you are doing something on behalf of another (my son, who is one of the most important people in my life), his happiness trumped my fears. He would have never shared that he felt slightly disappointed if I didn't show up for the swim but I know he would have been. He was so proud of me and that's sort of bass ackwards, because, on race day, I was SO proud of him!
Above: My son exiting the water after a 1.2 mile swim, Ironman Augusta Georgia!
Within a minute or less of taking this photo, we got to high five Brian as he passed us on his first pass of the run.
My son's team was the Division one winner of Ironman Augusta Ga, Big Sexy Racing- that's the team's name. My son also placed in the top 11-13% overall out of 2700 plus competitors. My son also beat his PR! I'm so happy I was there for the entire race, love trumps fear!
The photo is a bit blurry, but this is my son crossing the Finish line, can we say yay?!! We were proud, he was proud!
The heat whipped us all but we made up for that when the race was over. We all headed to a nice pub and had drinks, good food, met a lot of people and couldn't stop smiling, knowing how much mental and physical endurance it took to complete this race. I saw a woman slump right before the finish line and the Medical Team ran to her, the announcer yelled over the mic to try and allow her to cross the line on her own. If they would have helped her, it would have disqualified her. The woman was only about 1 foot from the finish line and slid on her butt to get over it, she was unable to stand. The Medical Team helped her to the Medical Tent as soon as she crossed. I had tears watching her but I was so happy she did it. Can you imagine her utter disappointment if she wouldn't have been able to cross that last foot of the race?
The day before the race, making sure everything is ready for transition, this put things in perspective- game on! So exciting.
When we can put others needs ahead of our own, it really helps to keep things in perspective. Putting others first and focusing on others in a healthy manner helps to take the focus off of our own issues. I'm very happy that I was able to be a spectator during Ironman Augusta Georgia. My only complaint, I didn't lose an ounce after sweating off what felt like 5 pounds that day *insert snarky smile*.
I want to thank EVERYONE who sent me messages of good luck and good wishes to my son, Brian before his race. I shared them with him and he thanks all of you too!
I want to add beBee is such a positive and inviting community. It's a community of people who really care about others without placing judgment on them. I am proud to be a part of this community. So many of you have helped me to see life through a different lens and I'm so appreciative. I appreciate the friendships I've made on here and I'm learning so much from so many of you. Keep on being yourself, you never know when you may be helping another. So many of your stories not only inspire me but give me pause.