Why "71º & Sunny?"

I consider 71º to be the perfect temperature. Not too cold and not too hot. I also love perfect sunny days. The vast majority of days are not 71º & Sunny and yet, all days were created by God's hand and they are still gifts, even if they don't fit my ridiculous definition of perfection. My struggle with OCD has at times imprisoned me in an impossible attempt to achieve perfection. I'm now learning to love all kinds of days that don't even come close to 71º & Sunny.

Please leave me a comment below. I really want to know what you are thinking!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thoughts That Hurt

My previous post spoke of some success I had with riding a bike for the first time in many years. I forced myself to push forward, even though I was very fearful. I felt really good about that. However, in spite of that accomplishment, I was still plagued by many obsessions. These thoughts ran the gamut from just downright silly, to quite frightening. I'm sure the following does not cover every obsession I experienced that day. These are just the ones that I recall.

First, I hate getting sweaty. I always feel so filthy and uncomfortable. I was definitely anxious about sitting down on my car's cloth seats afterwards for fear of contaminating them. Additionally, I was petrified of hurting someone with my bike. I recently heard about an elderly woman in the Boston area who suffered a fractured pelvis due to being hit by a bicyclist. I certainly didn't want to be responsible for that type of an injury.

After I fell and injured my leg, I was also mildly worried about getting MRSA. There is an unfortunate Georgia college student who is now currently fighting for her life, even in spite of having had one leg, one foot, and both of her hands amputated to stop the infection. She was infected with the MRSA bacteria after getting a large gash on her leg. I have to admit, I've been occasionally checking my knee for signs of infection. I was also concerned about the blood dripping down my leg from my injury. I took off my sock and sneaker in order to rinse the blood off of my knee, but then I was concerned about putting my sock and sneaker back on, because I thought they would become contaminated. It was hard for me to put my sneakers on even today, one week later.

I had one last obsession that was quite upsetting. I considered not writing about it all. It's just really hard to admit, because I feel like it makes me look so weird and strange. Frankly, it's humiliating. I know, though, that many others with OCD probably struggle with these types of obsessions as well, so I feel in my heart it is better to share this.

While biking, I was wearing a special little skirt that came with a pair of bike shorts to wear underneath. We were riding at a pretty fast speed at times, and the wind would lift up my skirt. I wasn't concerned about it, though, because I knew I had the special bike shorts on underneath. However, when I got home, I realized that the bike shorts were quite a bit more see-through than I had previously thought. I was horrified. I immediately felt guilty and ashamed. Then the obsessions began. "Oh, no, I'm going to be arrested for indecent exposure! Everybody at church is going to find out and hate me. I'll never be able to show my face in public again. I should have made sure my skirt stayed down. What is wrong with me? I'm such an idiot. I did a really bad thing. I'm a bad person." Over and over again, these thoughts kept repeating in panicky, rapid-fire sequence. I cannot begin to tell you how real these thoughts felt. As recently as a few days ago, I was still unsure if I would be arrested or not. I was so disturbed by this that I immediately started compulsively asking my husband if I would indeed be taken to jail.

Me: Do you think I'll be arrested?
Husband: No.
Me: Are you sure?
Husband: Yes, I'm sure.
Me: Really, are you really sure? I mean, it could happen, right?
Husband: No!

Of course, this was not enough reassurance, so I next called my mom.

Me: Do you think I'll be arrested?
Mom: No!
Me: I don't know . . . are you sure?
Mom: I said, no! Now don't ask me again, because I'm not going to answer you. This is reassurance and I'm not doing it.

I got off of the phone, and to tell you the truth, the reassurance didn't really help all that much. Often times, it doesn't. The only thing that helps is time. Time to cry. Time to get adjusted to the high level of anxiety. Time to see that nothing really is going to happen. Time to let my brain adjust to the thought and realize that it probably is a stupid thought. Time to pray, and to ask the Lord to help me. "Please God, just one more time, save me!"

OCD is hard. Even when you "do" all the right actions and (mostly) fight the compulsions, it's still painful. Moreover, this pain is secret and hidden. Other people would never be able to recognize that all of this was going through my head. I can carry on a complete conversation with someone while these obsessions swirl around my brain. Sigh. I often wonder how much private pain goes on in the lives of those around me.


  1. So true! So much of what we experience is invisible - but SO real. I've wondered, too, what things everyone else who seems "normal" is fighting while living their normal lives.

    I am so sorry you're still dealing with the anxiety of the bike ride. I hope it passes soon and you are able to feel some relief.


    1. Thank you Shana, I actually feel much better. The passage of time always tends to do its thing and the anxiety mostly goes away. I'm pretty much over it now.

      It is crazy how real it seems though. In fact, I hate that, because it makes it hard to trust yourself about other stuff.

      Thanks for the hugs, I'm sending one back to you!

  2. Sunny, I'm glad you talked about the obsessions you had--we all have them, and a lot of people will feel better knowing they're not the only ones.

    It's frustrating, I know, to know you've gotten so much better with the OCD and then be hit with such pain. You're right--going through the OCD anxiety, even when we "do" the right things, is just plain painful.

    I hope your knee is feeling better, and that you're feeling better with the anxiety too! :-)

    1. Thanks, Tina! Yes, both my knee and anxiety level are much better.

      One of the most comforting things for me was when I found out that others struggled with the exact same types of strange thoughts as me. I really want others who may feel alone that they are not the only ones in the world who fight this stuff. I also want to explain to non-sufferers about the relentless mental attacks we deal with all the time. Education is key to better treatment and more compassion.

      Thanks for your support as always!

  3. Thank you for sharing, Sunny. It really helps a lot in my understanding OCD. Your last paragraph makes me think of my son. He is living with us now as he job hunts and he seems to be doing great....but I guess you never really know what someone is thinking(or obsessing)about.

    1. I appreciate your encouragement, Janet, thank you. Your comment is one of the reasons for writing this specific post. Your son may very well be doing great - I definitely don't want to give you any doubts about that! It's just that so many people understand very little about OCD and I wanted to demonstrate a common day in OCD land. And I happen to be doing very well compared to how ill I used to be, and yet the thoughts can still come. Thankfully, there are a lot less of the obsessive thoughts these days though.

  4. In 1965, the Chicago Tribune published these words attributed to Ian MacLaren, perhaps quoting a Plato quotation :
    Most of us are acutely aware of our own struggles and we are preoccupied with our own problems. We sympathize with ourselves because we see our own difficulties so clearly. But Ian MacLaren noted wisely, “Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.”
    I think it's true, many people around us are going through "private pain".
    I do like your honesty Sunny..we all have those, what I call glitch days. I am glad that for the most part you are doing well.

    1. Great quote, Krystal Lynn! I love that. I really do fear that I am preoccupied with my own problems. As a Christ follower, that's the last thing I'm supposed to be doing. But, each day is another opportunity, isn't it?

      Thanks for your supportive comment.

  5. I love your blog, it is as if there is someone else in the world who completely understands what you are going through. Although at the same time it makes me sad-I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. But we are fighters and we will get through this.
    My battle has been a long 14 years, and I haven't got as good medical connections as you seem to have. There isn't much help here, and it's either a long waiting game or alot of money!
    I really related to your talk to god 'just one more time' the amount of times i've prayed, desperately seeking relief. Time is the only healer though..not that I count god out. He must have alot to do with me still sticking through this.
    Anyway, great blog, keep strong-I've just started one I'm not sure if it will link you but it's called ocdmummyhoodandme on blogger. Take care, Annie Rose

    1. Hi Annie Rose. Thanks so much for your kind comment. I also believe that God has a lot to do with my sticking through OCD and everything it brings with it.

      I am very blessed, living in New England. There are some excellent CBT therapists in this area. I'm so sorry that is not the case in your area. It bothers me so much when I hear that from fellow sufferers.

      Thank you for sharing your blog link. I'm looking forward to reading about your experiences. I hope you keep strong as well.