This blog isn’t perfect, and my life (right now, or ever) isn’t either. I have started this blog as an emotional outlet, or as a creative curation of my jumbled feelings and thoughts. Mainly, I’m writing this to help other young people who are in shitty mental or physical situations, with no courage to tell anyone, or no idea what the hell is going on with their body. Perhaps I can help someone have courage, or give someone a diagnosis. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting on diagnoses too.
Ever since I was about 11, I have been incredibly anxious. Did I ever tell anyone? No. Not until it was far too much to function. I developed a little-known form of OCD called Pure OCD, which revolves around obsessive thoughts and compulsions associated with taboos.
After taking medication, reading about others who conquered the condition, and having extensive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, I recovered from what I thought was the roughest patch of my life. But, the horizon didn’t stay bright for long.
The summer of last year I broke out in a rash called perioral dermatitis, which is an itchy pustular rash that spreads around the mouth and down the neck. I looked absolutely hideous and it destroyed my self-confidence. Luckily, all I needed was a special gel and it cleared it up. I did ditch all my makeup and products for hypoallergenic ones, just to be sure. I then started to experience various illnesses and ailments, which became a kind of health OCD. This included all sorts. From electric shocks to my head, and tingling in my legs, all of which I thought was a result of the invented MS I thought I had, but which turned out to be a result of severe anxiety. The next track was, to my dismay, to go back on the medication I had so courageously stopped.
Suddenly, I started to feel like I was wetting myself, right after I peed. I went on holiday thinking it was probably anxiety and the medication would sort it, but it seemed to get worse rapidly. After swimming in the sea, I had no control and wet myself without even realising. As a 19 year old healthy female, you can understand my terror. It kept happening, I kept wetting myself without even having the urge. I truly thought my body was shutting down, and that MS must be the answer. This obviously heightened my already prevalent anxiety, leaving me in seriously depressed despair. The wetting myself uncontrollably stopped, but the dribbling after I peed continued. I started asking for help from GPs, who kept telling me it was just “stress incontinence” or “overactive bladder”, both of which my symptoms didn’t quite match.
As someone with a history of OCD, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I researched extensively and exhaustively for hours on end, searching for the answer to my newfound problems (and obsession). MS, it could be, but something was telling me that that was a figure of my imagination. Something that did come up continuously was a condition called a ‘Urethral Diverticulum’, which matched my symptoms pretty perfectly. It turns out, after months of anguish over it, that that is probably what I do have, according to a urologist I have finally seen. Upon a horrifically exposed examination — a clinical version of a gynaecologist exam with a nurse holding my hand like I was about to give birth, heightening my already burgeoning anxiety — he found a “fullness under the urethra”. This little devil could be the cause of all my troubles, and can be surgically removed. Apparently its prevalence is increasing, as it was previously thought to be quite rare, more and more people are showing the symptoms. If you dribble after you pee, it burns and you keep being treated for endless UTIs that you don’t have, this could be something to look into.
Unfortunately for me, this was not the end of my troubles. After moving into my new house at University, and living there for about a month. I developed a very itchy rash that spread from the corner of my eye onto my cheek. Not only was it itchy, but boy did it burn. It flushed like a beet, and kept spreading and getting worse. Thinking it was the previous rash I had, I anxiously applied the ointment I had as safe supply in fear of getting my previous rash again. However, the more I applied, the worse it got. It didn’t seem to make a difference, certainly not a good one. The doctors kept telling me it was ‘Slapped Cheek Syndrome’, a virus mainly children get, but I must’ve caught it. For some reason, that just didn’t cut it for me. I covered the rash with makeup, which, I think, made it exceedingly worse, and went back to the doctor the next day saying I felt like the rash was pushing up on my eye. She, again, reiterated what the other doc had said, and sent me home. It wasn’t until the next day, when I woke up and half my face was completely swollen and burning hot, that I knew something was really wrong.
I went to A&E, where they just gave me antibiotics for a throat infection, but because the label said they were used for skin infections too, I thought they might help. The swelling was going down and I think I was more scared than I ever have been in my life. When your face gets disfigured, shit really goes down. You get a very traumatic perception of life. Yellow crust started to develop on my face, and when I went to the GP again they said they thought it was ‘Impetigo’, a bacterial infection that usually only children get. Again, I was horrified that I’d be getting all these supposedly kid-oriented conditions. Was I the real life Benjamin Button case, or was I severely frail? I was 19 and healthy so I wouldn’t like to think so. They gave me a cream to put on the rash (if you can call it that), and sent me on my way. With the cream, the crusts and pus started to fade away, leaving a bright red base on my once perfectly clear face. I always thought I was blessed with such good skin, what a myth that was.
After finishing up with the course of cream, my face was no longer repulsive, but it was fiery red, and flushed with a fury in the evenings. No doctor could explain this to me, and haven’t been able to since. It flushed on that side when I’m hot, or when I drink alcohol, or sometimes randomly. A month and a half later, I felt the itching in the corner of my eye again, and to my greatest horror, it seemed like the rash was sneaking up again. I went to the GP in a panic, who prescribed me with antibiotics and cream. The rash never got to the extent as the first time, but it was still pretty ugly. Again, the flushing still persisted. And I got the rash again a month after that. That takes me to present times.