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!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

But You Were Able To Do It Before

Can I complain a little? To make it sound better, I'll call it "venting" rather than complaining, ok?

I've made progress with fighting my OCD. A lot of progress. I still have OCD though. I suspect I always will, and I'm ok with that, believe it or not. Well, most of the time, I'm ok with that. Because I've come a long way in my recovery, and depression is not the large ball and chain in my life that it used to be, I think people around me forget that I still live with a mental illness. I don't forget though. I never can forget because it won't let me. I suspect a lot of you can relate to this too. Forgetting isn't an option for us, try as we might.

Recently, someone challenged me to do something that I had been able to do in the past. However, on this particular day, I just couldn't really do it. "But you were able to do it before." Ugh. Yes, I know but that doesn't mean that I can always do it. Some days I have the strength to do it, and some days it's just easier to do it. Other days, well, not so much. I don't think I should use this as an excuse to not try. I know I should always still try to fight the compulsions. Sometimes, though, it's just harder than at other times.

I know this person meant no harm in what they said. I'm sure my behaviors and thought patterns are confusing to anyone who doesn't have OCD. They're confusing to me! I'm not upset with this person. I get it. Just another day in the world of OCD land.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Living With Me And My OCD: A Documentary

Anytime OCD gets talked about in the media, I'm always excited about the opportunity for more people to learn about the disorder. I'm even more excited when I know that the subject matter will be treated with intelligence and sensitivity.

Living With Me and My OCD is a documentary being made by Claire Watkinson, of the UK. Claire is also an OCD sufferer - which is why I'm just sure this documentary will be filled with honest stories of those who live with and triumph over this illness on a daily basis.

Like any project of this nature, a lot of funding is required to bring it to life. I've chosen to partner with Claire to help make this documentary a reality. You can be a part of this too. Claire is using a crowd funding campaign to raise the necessary funds. Even a small donation can go a long way. In fact, you can give as little as 3 British Pounds Sterling (equal to roughly 4.56 U.S. dollars) to receive a yellow "Living With Me and My OCD" wristband. There are 7 days left in this crowd funding campaign, and if you feel led to join, you may do so at this link: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/living-with-me-and-my-ocd.
Proudly wearing my yellow wristband!

It's so exciting to be a small part of this amazing project. I have such a desire to make a difference in the world of OCD, and to join with others who feel the same way is an incredible opportunity to do just that: make a difference.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thoughts On The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation's OCD Webinar

I had the opportunity to listen to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation's free webinar on OCD last Tuesday (5/14). It was an excellent talk presented by Helen Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D. It was an introductory speech about OCD and the gold standard of treatment. Once again, I was reminded of the importance of CBT/ERP in battling this affliction. Dr. Simpson also discussed the use of SSRI's in fighting OCD.

Because it was of an introductory nature, I will not repeat everything here as a lot of this information can be found on this blog, and at the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) website.

There were a few notable things however, that I wanted to share with you. First, interestingly, Dr. Simpson mentioned that even though there are 3 categories of OCD - mild, moderate, and severe - most people who have OCD are in the moderate or severe category. Meaning, that apparently, if you get OCD, it's usually pretty bad. She also mentioned that the median age of onset is 19. And lastly, OCD is twice as common as schizophrenia in the general public. Her point? That when you put all these facts together, there are a LOT of people suffering severely, starting from a young age. This is why it is so important to get solid information and good treatment to as many people as possible.

The other thing that stuck out to me about Dr. Simpson's speech, was the promising advances in the research into OCD. According to Dr. Simpson, there is still a lot of work to be done, however, progress is being made. She cited one experiment involving one of her junior faculty members (I'm sorry - I did not get her colleague's name). This young researcher was actually able to duplicate OCD symptoms in a mouse by shining a specialized light on the part of the brain that is usually involved in OCD. After performing this experiment, the mouse began excessively grooming itself, even when the light was no longer being used on the brain. When the researcher gave the mouse an SSRI, the grooming behaviors stopped. It seems as if science is getting closer and closer to unlocking the secrets of OCD.

This webinar was top notch and rivals anything that I've heard at the IOCDF's annual conference. If this represents the quality of all the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation's monthly webinars, I would highly recommend them to anyone. The best part? You can now watch the webinar for yourself as it has been uploaded to the Foundation website. If any of you get a chance to watch it, I would be really interested to hear your comments. Enjoy!

FYI: If you would like to "attend" future webinars, this can be done through your computer or through your phone. I previously thought a smart phone was required to do this, but I believe you can simply use a regular phone to attend if you choose not to use your computer. Of course, you would not be able to see any of the slide presentations without a smart phone or computer, but I think attending any future webinars this way would still have a lot of informational value.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It Was A Fun Exposure

I went for my makeover on Friday. It did end up being fun, but it definitely was an exposure. Shortly after arriving for my makeover, the cosmetologist had me sit and wait for her while she gathered up the necessary cosmetics. I soon realized that she was grabbing all the makeup "testers" that were sitting on the counters in front of each item. Meaning, these were items that any customer could touch and sample for themselves - eye shadow, blush, face powder, eye liner [though she sanitized the eye liner with a special liquid] - you get the idea. I'm fairly certain that there are plenty of people that touch these items with their bare hands. Many times, I've seen young school girls in these stores playing around with makeup. So . . . that was not a fun discovery. But you know what? It's ok. I let her do the makeover and I was just fine. In fact, she did a "night-time" party look and I rather liked it. Could I catch something from this makeover? Yep, I sure could. Am I going to worry about it? No. I am making a firm decision to let this go and live with the uncertainty. Sometimes I can do this, and sometimes I can't. Right now, I can, so I will.

Ah, life sure is a lot more fun when I refuse to let OCD dictate to me.

Hi there!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

I've recently become aware of an organization called the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and I wanted to pass this along to all of you. I've only just become aware of this group, so I am not too familiar with them, and I cannot make a recommendation one way or the other about the quality of their material. I am, however, looking forward to learning more about this institution.

Apparently, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is a non-profit group from New York that raises money and then uses those funds to award grants to researchers studying mental illness and its treatment. I love that!

Also, on the second Tuesday of each month, they present a free (and open to the public) webinar dealing with different mental illness issues. In particular, tomorrow's webinar is entitled, "OCD & Anxiety: Symptoms, Treatment, & How to Cope." The talk will be given by Helen Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic & OCD Research Program, New York State Psychiatric Institute. The best part is that you don't even need a computer to take part in the webinar, as it is also available by phone. You can register for the webinar here: http://bbrfoundation.org/meet-the-scientist-webinar-may-2013.

Lastly, the Foundation also produces a weekly e-newsletter discussing mental health issues and you may sign up to receive it here: https://app.e2ma.net/app/view:Join/signupId:1416819/acctId:1407720.

I will be "attending" the webinar tomorrow and I look forward to sharing what I've learned with you. If you also attend, I would love to hear what you think about it as well.

UPDATE: I've just signed up to attend the webinar through telephone as I will not be near a computer tomorrow afternoon. Apparently, a requirement to participate is either a smart phone or a tablet.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Fun Exposure?

A fun exposure? Yep. Well, sort of. I have a frequent customer account with a large makeup retailer. I was recently offered a free makeover by this retailer. My first thought was that it seemed like a fun idea. Of course, my next thought was of an OCD nature. I know they use clean or new makeup applicators to apply the makeup. However, I also know that some makeup techs will "double-dip" the clean applicator back into the eyeshadow or blush, etc., thereby contaminating the makeup.

I asked Jim what I should do about this. His response? "Well, I think most people would get the makeover and not even think twice about it. I think you should do it; it would be a good exposure." So, I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon for my free makeover. I'm looking forward to it, but I have some anticipatory anxiety about it too. If a previous makeup artist has double-dipped into any of the makeup (and it probably has happened), then there is a chance I could get someone else's germs. I especially worry about getting any type of eye infection. Even worse than getting sick, I worry that I will get contaminated and that I will become dirty and "gross." What does it mean if I am dirty or gross? That I'm filthy and unloveable and that no one would want to be near me.

I think this is only a 30 or a 40 on my SUDS scale, but if I let myself think about it too much, it could climb. I'm making the conscious decision to go to the appointment anyway. I will also have to make an effort to not reassure myself tomorrow by doing mental compulsions during the makeover. Telling myself that I probably won't get sick, or that I won't get germs, or trying to convince myself of the odds that I will be ok and not get dirty, are just mental compulsions that only serve to temporarily bring my anxiety down. I need to accept that I could get sick or dirty, and that even if I do, I will figure out a way to survive it. I must learn to live with the uncertainty. It's the only real way to battle anxiety.

Who would have thought that even playing around with cosmetics could be a challenge? OCD sure is crazy, isn't it?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

And It Looks Just Like A Little Harmless Magazine

Ok, I admit it. I like to read celebrity gossip magazines. But don't tell anyone. I love the fancy dresses and jewelry, the "who's dating who," and the "she wore what?!" type of stuff.

I received my latest issue in the mail yesterday. I had to get some work done on my car, so I decided to bring the magazine with me to the dealership. I figured when I was done with it that I could leave it there for someone else to read later. It seemed less wasteful than just reading it once and then putting it in the recycling bin. Funny enough, even this act was an OCD trigger for me.

First, I always worry that something private of mine has found its way in between the pages. More than once, I have found that another piece of mail has slipped into magazine pages. So of course, before I passed the magazine on, I tore off my address label and flipped through it in its entirety just to double check that nothing was hiding in there. Ah, gotta love checking compulsions.

Second, and more frightening to me, was the possibility that the magazine might hurt someone. Yes, believe it or not, I do worry about that. Questions like, "What if my hands weren't clean enough when I touched it?" or "What if I have some kind of illness or disease?" go through my mind a lot. Even worse, I was eating soup while reading the magazine and I spilled some on the corner of several of the pages. I was really anxious that someone might have some type of food allergy and get an anaphylactic reaction if they touched the magazine. I had to talk myself out of that foolishness. Well, at least I think (hope!) it was OCD foolishness. So I dried the pages as best as I could, and tossed the magazine onto the dealership coffee table. Take that, OCD!