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!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

One Minute In Time

One minute. That is all it takes. Then your life is completely different. There is a before, and then there is an after, where nothing is ever the same. Have you ever had something happen that was so life altering that you have a before and an after? I have. The fact that life can be completely normal one minute, and totally upside down the next, has viciously fueled my OCD. I have spent hours upon hours trying to control everything around me to prevent another "after" from ever happening again.

Often, I will read in the news about terrible car accidents in which people die or are seriously injured. At times, these accidents occur even when the driver has done nothing wrong. They are just true accidents. Whenever I hear of these incidents, I can't help but feel immense pain and anguish for the drivers. Certainly, they (and of course, their passengers and their families) have entered a time of "after." Often, just reading about these stories will cause a spike in my anxiety level.

Why do I connect so much with these drivers? I guess you could say that I project my own feelings onto the drivers that I read about. Even though I've never actually been involved in an accident like that, I have at times convinced myself that I have caused such an accident, and I've experienced the guilt of having done so. That's how illogical Hit and Run OCD is. I've felt the guilt for no reason based in reality.

These days, when I hear about these types of sad stories, I realize I need to think differently about them. Rather than letting these events send me into an OCD frenzy, I think I can instead use them to learn a few things.

First, it is impossible to prevent all the incidents that can catapult me into a life of "after." Oh, I can send myself into an obsessive compulsive craze trying to prevent them, but that is useless. I absolutely have to accept that I cannot control everything. Uncertainty is simply a part of living. There is no way around that fact. I may very well cause a terrible car accident someday. Then again, I may not. I desperately hope I do not, but beyond being a careful and attentive driver, there is not much else I can do to prevent something like that from happening. (When I refer to careful and attentive, I mean in a healthy, non-compulsive way.)

Second, I also have to accept that good things happen all the time too. It is just a real struggle for me to focus on good things and I have to work at it constantly. I shouldn't always assume that a horrible thing will happen.

Third, the realization that these types of painful events occur should encourage me to appreciate this moment. I may never again have an "after" type of event in my life. If I spend my whole life obsessing and planning and thinking about something that never happens, it will have been for nothing. Even if an "after" event does happen to me again, I still would have wasted much time in unsuccessfully trying to prevent it. In either case, it's a losing proposition. 

I need to focus on this day, right now, instead of on something that may never occur.  Really, what other choice do I have?

15 comments:

  1. I keep telling my OCD that uncertainty is a part of living...maybe one day it will believe me.

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    1. Ha ha ha - yes Elizabeth, it does take time for the OCD to "believe" us. That's partly why uncertainty is such a common theme to my posts. Half the time, I'm really writing it to remind myself! I don't know what anyone else's experience in therapy was, but I can tell you that a LOT of it for me was repetition, repetition, repetition. Sometimes, I would finally get what my psychologist was saying by the 50th time she repeated it. Hang in there!

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  2. A wise post, Sunny. I love how you remind us that good things happen all the time, too.

    I've had some "after" experiences" and I would like to avoid ever having any more. But I know trials will come and I will have to deal with them the best I can.

    Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Tina. It's really weird that our brains remember the bad stuff much more often than remembering the good stuff, isn't it? But I guess the good stuff doesn't always generate the same types of intense emotions that bad stuff does.

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  3. oh my! Your obsessional thoughts about driving are just like my own! When my OCD was bad every day I got home after driving... I would watch the news to see if there was any Hit and Runs that I may have been the cause for. I was sooo terrified of accidentally hitting someone or getting in an accident even though I have never been in an accident in my life! It got to the point that I couldn't drive anymore... my OCD is MUCH better and I've gone from severe to mild thanks to therapy... but I still haven't drive in 2 years because I'm too scared that the one time I get behind the wheel I will be the cause of an accident. I've even described it in a comical way in my own blog (http://thetragiccomedyorthecomedictragedy.wordpress.com/?s=driving)!

    But you are totally right.. must think about what you and your OCD can learn from these situations

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  4. Sunny, I've been reading through many of your posts this evening... and never have I met someone I can relate to SO MUCH in terms of OCD. I seriously have all the exact same problems that you do! From the Harm Obsessions, Hit and Run OCD, Contamination OCD, Hyper-responsiblity, and how to balance the fact that I have OCD with my Christian Beliefs...I believe that Jesus is my Lord and Savior with all my heart... but I will not lie that it has been very difficult for me to keep the faith.. but I will never stop trying... Thank you so much for blogging! I can't believe I just now found your blog! I don't feel as alone anymore!

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    1. Aw, I'm so glad you've found this helpful! That is one of the main reasons I finally decided to start writing last fall. There is just so much comfort in finding out that all these thoughts in your head are not really you, but just your illness! I am constantly surprised at how typical OCD thoughts usually are. They just seem so weird and "out there," that when you find out they are common - well, it's kind of mind blowing.

      It has been very hard for me at times to continue to follow Jesus as well. I know though, that God sees the whole picture and I do not. I've also decided that I would rather accept His comfort and help, than fight Him just because I'm angry that I have this illness. Living with OCD sure is less painful with Him by my side!

      Referring to your previous comment above, yes, I too would often go home and check all the online news to see if I caused an accident. Just yesterday, I seriously contemplated checking the news, but I stopped myself. I'm glad I did. It does get easier to resist the compulsions over time.

      I'm so glad you found me too! I've already taken a quick peek at your blog and I'm looking forward to reading through and getting to know you better.

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  5. The whole "one minute" and your whole life can change has been on my mind alot lately. It scares me because I have been there in that minute, but also think about it when I am surrounded by beauty and having a great day because I want to be present and enjoy every moment of it. Great post.

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    1. Krystal Lynn - thank you! You just turned my thoughts completely around. You are right - one minute and my life can change for the better! I always think - one minute and my life can fall apart. Ugh. Negative thoughts. It's so easy for me to go there.

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  6. Sunny, thank you so much for this post. I feel like I have lived in fear of the "after" moment since I was a little girl. I have often wondered why the bad feels so much "heavier" than the good - the good is just as real, just as life-changing. I am hoping that the practice of mindfulness will help me allow the good to be "weighty."

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    1. You're welcome! I know what you mean - waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. Yes, the good CAN be just as life changing. But you're right, it just doesn't feel as "weighty." That's a really good way of putting it.

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  7. You know, Sunny, I fret about things too. Cancer is a big one for me, because I lost so many people to that disease (including both parents). When I had my physical last week, I asked my doctor (yet again) what I could do to avoid cancer, and she told me (again) that I'm doing what I can - I just have to hope for the best. I interpret that as, "We have to leave it in God's hands - the good and the bad."

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    1. Jean, no wonder you fear cancer so much - it has taken a lot from you. I think whenever someone has had a terrible experience with something, it sort of makes them sensitized to anything about it in the future.

      I truly agree with you that we do have to leave both the good and bad in God's hands. It is not easy though, that's for sure.

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  8. Even without OCD, I can relate to the "before" and "after" as I have had several of these events in my life. It's hard not to wonder when/if they will happen again. I do consciously try to focus on the here and now, and the good, but sometimes my mind just does what it wants!

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    1. Janet, if there's one thing I have finally learned, it's that you don't have to have an anxiety disorder to struggle with some anxiety! I think all of us have some struggles with our minds just doing what they want. I think it's especially hard if we've had some difficult and painful past events. But you are right, we need to stay here in the present. Living in the past does us absolutely no good.

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