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, June 27, 2013

I Did Want To Get Better (Sort Of)

Janet, over at ocdtalk, recently wrote a great post that got me thinking about my own recovery. It's true, there were times that I did not want to get better from OCD. It's also true that I obsessed about suicide because I was so tormented by OCD. So which was it? Did I want to get better or not? Yes, I did want to get better (mostly). I can't say 100% yes, because that would not have been true. I did want to rid myself of the pain, but I did not want to rid myself of the perceived benefits of OCD.
A poem I wrote in my 12th
grade Creative Writing Class.

I think it's safe to say that most people who know me would refer to me as being a bit quirky. Frankly, I kinda like that. Also, no one would mistake me for Ansel Adams, Monet, or Celine Dionne, but I like to think of myself as an artist. I enjoy singing, acting, and various other creative endeavors. As an OCD sufferer, I was under the mistaken notion that recovery from OCD would cause me to lose the part that made me unique or was responsible for any artistic leaning I had.

I did not need to be concerned! In fact, I am so much freer to be my true self now. I'm certainly at the height of my creative abilities (which really isn't saying all that much - but for me it is forward progress). I no longer feel the constant weight and burden of unrelenting anxiety. I can put my energies towards living and creating, rather than towards just trying to ward off the next potential (imagined) catastrophe.

Yes, my personality has changed a bit, but I think in a good way. I am much more positive and hopeful overall. I realize that I have a lot more choices in life than I thought I did. I'm making more decisions based on rational thought and not in fear. In essence, I'm more "me." And though I'm most definitely far from perfect and I sure have a long way to go in my journey with Christ, would it be terribly prideful to say that (for probably the first time in my life ever) I think I'm ok with who I'm becoming? Meaning, that I don't hate myself anymore. Meaning, that I believe God created me a certain way, and with His help through CBT/ERP and medication, He's helping me to find the "me" He intended. The flawed, imperfect, stumbling, bumbling, believer that is seeking to follow God with all her heart while simultaneously trying to enjoy the good gifts that surround her on this earth.

If you are afraid that recovery from OCD will strip you of your uniqueness, please don't be. There's so much more of you just waiting to come out!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ugh. That Old Fear Of Fire Again.

Jim and I went to my in-laws house on Sunday afternoon to wish my father-in-law a Happy Father's Day. While there, my mother-in-law accidentally pushed a couple of napkins next to a lit candle. It was a tea light, so the candle was very small and the flame was low to the table. Well, that sure got the OCD humming.

Because I've gotten so much better, these panicky moments are mostly unusual for me now. It was definitely strange to be feeling like that again. I started obsessing about it immediately, though I tried to let it go. When no one was looking (including Jim!), I grabbed the napkins and held them under the kitchen faucet to get them wet. Of course, with the way that OCD works, that did not feel like enough. I was not convinced that the napkins were really soaked. When my in-laws left the room, I quickly whispered to Jim about the situation, and asked him what I should do. "Nothing." Somehow, I just knew that was going to be his answer. Meanwhile, I'm thinking to myself, "Hello? These are your parents. Don't you even care about their safety?"

I threw the napkins out in the bathroom garbage, but continued to worry about them. I asked Jim if he would toss some water on them the next time he went to the restroom. Being the good non-enabler that he is, he refused. Grrrrr. So I finally took my cup of soda (there was a little left) and I went into the bathroom and poured it in to the garbage and onto the napkins. Then I started to worry about the soda causing a fire, because I've read that sugar is very flammable. Oh the terrible tangled webs that OCD weaves.

Don't ask me how, but at some point I did manage to sort of forget about the napkin thing. We left, and although I secretly wondered if I would hear about their house burning down the next morning, I was able to put it behind me for the most part. That feels really kind of cruel to me that I was able to let it go. What kind of loving person does that? (I know, I know - that is just OCD talking to me through cognitive distortions, but still . . .)

Jim just happened to talk to his parents last night. So I guess that means they are alive and well and that their house is still standing. No thanks to me, though.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Depression In Children And Adolescents

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is holding another webinar on Tuesday, June 11th. The subject is depression in kids and teens, and it is being given by Karen Dineen Wagner, M.D., Ph.D. I enjoyed the last webinar sponsored by the BBRF, and I thought that maybe some of you might like to "attend" this next one and perhaps learn some helpful information. If you would like to register for this one hour long webinar, please visit bbrfoundation.org/webinar. Happy webinar-ing!

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Great Treatment For Depression

Helping someone else. Oh, believe me, I know, when depressed it is so incredibly difficult to even get out of the house, never mind trying to do something for someone else. However, I have found volunteering, serving, whatever you want to call it, to be one of the best treatments for my depression.

There is just something about thinking about someone else for a while that makes my pain feel less. Many years ago, I had an unpleasant confrontation with someone. I walked away feeling extremely hurt and second guessing whether I had behaved in a truly loving and kind manner. I was so upset that I spent days in bed after that. I literally could not get out of bed because I was so overcome with pain, frustration, guilt . . . you name it. I could not function at all. I realize now that I was in a complete anxious and depressive meltdown. Was it an overreaction to the situation? Probably, but living with depression and an anxiety disorder will certainly contribute to overreactions.

Several days later (while I was still in bed) the phone rang. It was a friend of mine who was calling me because she was very upset about something. I can't even remember the reason for her call. I do remember that I spent the better part of an hour talking to her and trying to minister to her. By the end of the conversation, I think she felt better, and strangely enough, so did I. I was actually able to get out of bed that afternoon and work my way back to a normal schedule.

I learned a great lesson from that episode. Thinking about others is the best way to help me stop thinking about my own struggles. I have found tremendous fulfillment by volunteering on several teams at my church. Just yesterday, someone thanked me for serving at church. My answer? "Well, it really feels selfish because I get so much out of it." It doesn't feel like work to me. Obviously, my main reason for serving at church is to serve God, but there are also many personal benefits. It forces me to get out of the house. In addition, I get an incredible sense of accomplishment, I get to think about what others need, I get to feel like I'm contributing to society, and like I'm making an eternal difference in the lives of others. I also get to meet many new wonderful people and lastly, I get the chance to experience what it's like to be part of a team that is striving for something bigger beyond ourselves.

As a Christ follower, obviously, I think that churches are a great place to volunteer. But there are tons of places that need help. For example, nursing homes can always use someone to visit their patients, libraries often need people willing to read to kids, Habitat for Humanity can use people with building skills, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters always needs people with a heart for kids. For some people, organized volunteering is not their thing, but hanging out with elderly neighbors or mowing their lawn is.

I just wanted to pass on something that has made a tremendous difference in my life. Especially in my emotional life. Maybe it might help you too. Blessings!