Battling Your Obsessions When You Have Huntington’s Disease.

Having ADD like symptoms is grieving enough when you are trying to make it through the day.  But then add obsessive compulsive behavior on top of that.  It’s a wonder I can hold a job for more than a few months.  It’s a wonder that I can even get out of bed each day.   There are many things about Huntington’s Disease that are horrible but this seems to be the one that often surprises me and catches me off guard.  This symptom is the one that happens that I actually can objectively say “Oh yeah, Kenzie-Girl has some issues.”

About 10 years ago, I didn’t have a clue that Huntington’s Disease was in my family.  I was pregnant with my first child and had a pretty good career and home life.  However, close to the end of my pregnancy I started ruminating about someone with whom I was close with.  Ok so it may be common in your life to have one or two “secret crushes” even though you may be in a fairly happy marriage.  But this was more than a simple secret crush.  It became a living breathing nightmare that kept me from living my life.  I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t even go more than an hour or two without thinking about this person.  What I had was a horrible case of a severe obsession that would last me a total of 6 years.

6 years.

Outwardly, one wouldn’t guess that I had any issues at all.  I was very happy and excited with my new baby.  I shared my “weird feelings” with my sister and some girlfriends.  Remembering one day, I actually asked one of my friends “Do you think I might have post-partum depression after having the baby?”  She said that she thought I should seek help from a therapist.  I did.  My husband didn’t understand how the normally “happy Mackenzie” could possibly have depression.  He was just at a loss for words.  After a few weeks of seeing the therapist, I decided to stop the sessions.  I felt that my therapist had more issues than I did…but I did come to one conclusion….I had to tell my husband what was going on.

We’ll, get to that in a bit.

I had developed other sub-obsessions surrounding the main obsession.  I was working out all the time, and running to get skinny.  This actually helped me loose about 100 pounds however the goal was not for my personal health but it was to possibly receive approval from my target.  I dyed my hair.  I had plastic surgery.  I developed a pattern of flirting with men that reminded me of this person.  I created ways in which I could “accidentally rendezvous” with him.  I found myself doing things that you only hear about in movies…barring actually spying or going to his house…but it didn’t matter.  What I was doing took me away from my family.  Even if I was with them physically, I was still mentally in a bad place.

I was also struggling with my feelings for my husband.  The more I placed my obsession “on a pedestal”, the more I added fuel to the fire, and the more I felt unhappy with my marriage.  I had no remorse over what I was doing.  I just knew that it was wrong …just because.  I felt guiltless.  I blatantly told my husband one evening that I had an obsession with someone and I didn’t know if I loved him anymore.  It was horrible but I was at a point where I needed to just release these feelings.  There was a point in my life where I can remember that every day I loved my husband more and more.  That feeling was gone somehow and I was so confused.

Wayne was heart-broken but he reacted in a surprising way.  He told me he knew I was having problems and that he would do whatever it took to help me through them.  He loved me and he said that he would stay by my side as I worked things out.  I couldn’t believe it.  Looking back at the situation (and all the other terrible situations I have put him through) he should have just left my ass.  Thank God he didn’t.

As time progressed, my determination and hard work made an impact.  My “secret obsession” actually started to have feelings for me.  Then I found myself in a dreadfully weird place….I actually didn’t want a relationship with him.  What I wanted was for him to fall for me.  That’s it.  I wanted his approval.

The problem with obsessions are that they just don’t magically go away.  It takes time to get over whatever you are obsessing about.  Sometimes they are replaced with other obsessions.  Sometimes your mind just gets so exhausted that you just can’t think of any other scenarios to obsess about.  You essentially just get bored of them.

I knew that one day this obsession would end but I never knew that it would take so damn long or that the reason why I was having this obsession would be the Hell that would devour my life in other ways.  It would create new problems, new obsessions, new nightmares….living with Huntington’s Disease would take me to darker places than I would have never even imagined.  What happens in my head is not the “Real Mackenzie”.  What happens in my head gets placed there by something terribly dreadful.

I have been taking anti-depressants and Ritalin to help me stay focused. I pray that they work for as long as I need them to…still waiting for the HD treatment that will take these issues away.

The most embarrassing part of this story today it that I have to admit that I still have mild obsessions.

But…I have learned how to live with them.  I have learned how to draw them in so that they don’t affect my family and my job.  I have learned how to cope and how to forgive myself.  I ask for forgiveness from those I have hurt.

Sometimes, I even use my obsessions in good ways…I call them “extreme passions”.  I use these passions by bettering my career by obsessing over important projects….they help me stay motivated to work out and stay healthy….I put together fabulous charity events and work over 30 hours a week for HDSA…there are so many ways that I can focus my “screwed up” energy in a positive way.  Lately, I find that I have taken on too much though.  I’m older and my body can’t handle the stress I put it under.  So now I have to back down….but the obsessions stay and they make me feel like I am a failure if I don’t participate.  I am still struggling with this.

Now there are times when I wonder if I have gone too far.  But I rely on my close friends and family to help me stay real.  The most important piece of the puzzle?  Tell someone you trust what you are going through.  Tell them everything.  It’s embarrassing but you’ll find that you’ll have an enormous amount of stress relief.  They can also help you stay accountable for your actions.  Obsessions if contained and managed in a healthy way will be less harmful.  Don’t let them get out of hand and most importantly, work with a doctor to help get you on the right track.

I would love to hear from my peers on how they manage their obsessions…..please email me at mackenz76@aol.com or post to this site.

“Remember that there is strength in numbers.  Those of us that stick together and share, will fare better than those of us that hide and live in denial.”

All my best,

Mackenzie

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