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!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Beautiful Things

OCD is an ugly, ugly mental illness. It's horrible and painful for everyone who has it, and for everyone who loves someone who has it. Thankfully, God is in the business of taking ugly things and making them beautiful. The level of recovery I am enjoying since receiving CBT/ERP and being put on the proper medication is nothing short of beautiful. I am so grateful that my Heavenly Father provided this wonderful treatment for me. During church services yesterday, we sang the song "Beautiful Things" by Gungor. It is one of my all time favorite worship songs, because I feel that it describes my life in Christ. The best part? This beautiful redemption is offered to every person walking on this planet.

Beautiful things. God created you. You are a beautiful thing.

Beautiful Things video

Friday, July 12, 2013

Big To-Do Bout Nuthin

"Oh boy, do I feel silly," I thought to myself yesterday.

The plumber came. The plumber left. And it happened almost as quickly as it took you to read those last two sentences. Really. He showed up, talked to me through my screen door, and went to my back yard to work on a pipe coming out of the house. Less than ten minutes later, he came back to my screen door, told me he was done, and drove away. He never even came into the house! Alrighty then.

The best part is that Jim offered to stay at the house with me while the plumber was supposed to be there, and I told him not to and that I would be alright. I really did want him to stay with me. It was so tempting, but I knew it would be healthier for me if he didn't.

On another note, I had a little OCD win with my garage door yesterday. I always worry that I will drive away and accidentally leave the door up, and then children will come into our garage and get hurt on tools, etc. Well, when I drove away yesterday, for the life of me I could not remember if I put the door down. Oh how I wanted to drive back to check! I forced myself to keep driving anyway. You know what? A few minutes later, I forgot all about it and I didn't think about it again until I returned home many hours later. Yep, fighting OCD really is possible. One step at a time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Anticipatory A-A-A-Anxiety

I've definitely got some anticipatory anxiety brewing right now. Unfortunately, a plumber has to come to my home tomorrow morning to do some work. I believe he (or she!) will probably need to go into the unfinished part of my basement. You know, the mousy part. And then the plumber will probably touch numerous things throughout my house spreading that awful contamination. Agh!!!

I've been thinking all week how I was going to handle this horrible episode. I can ask my husband to come home from work and be here when the plumber is here. I can ask my mom to come and sit with me during the appointment. I can take some extra medication to help me through it. I can cancel the appointment and avoid the whole thing (but not really - the work must get done). I can do any combination of the previous things. Or . . . I can do nothing and just let the plumber come and do his or her business. I can sit with the terrible fear, experience it, and teach my badly behaving body and mind who is really boss. And let me tell you, it's NOT going to be the OCD. I'm choosing the last option, though it's really scary.

One thing I've learned about anxiety is that if you can get through it, your body will adjust to it, and over time (and through many exposures) your body will react less and less to it. Of course, it's the anticipatory anxiety that forever taunts me. I'm always convinced that it is going to be so much worse than it really is. Generally (especially the more you do ERP), the exposure tends to be easier than expected.

So what am I afraid of? The unknown. I don't know what will really happen tomorrow. And I'm just gonna have to live with that.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Thirteen Years

Thirteen years. That's how long I waited to start Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) after I was first officially diagnosed with OCD. Thirteen years. Not weeks, or months, but years. I was that deathly afraid of CBT/ERP. I think you could call that the mother of all anticipatory anxiety.

Around the time I was diagnosed, in 1996, I did some research online about the proper treatment for OCD. After reading about ERP, I convinced myself that I could never do it. That I could never touch that contaminated item, or that I could never drive over that bump without doubling back to check for an injured pedestrian left languishing on the road. I once heard Dr. Michael Jenike say that most OCD patients wait until their life is unbearable before they seek out CBT/ERP because they are so frightened of it. That is certainly my experience. So I did what I tend to do when I'm scared of something: I avoided treatment. I truly regret that. My family and I continued to suffer needlessly for an additional thirteen years because of my fear.

Would I be completely OCD free now if I had received the right kind of treatment earlier? I doubt it. However, I do think my family and I would have suffered a lot less, and perhaps I would be further along in my recovery than I am now. Sigh. It is what it is. But I would love to encourage you to seek treatment earlier rather than later. It will not be easy. I will not sugar-coat it for you. You will probably have to work harder at this than at anything else you've ever worked on in your life. The first few months of my treatment were brutal, probably in large part because I waited so long. Today though, oh life is so incredibly sweet! Yes, I still live with some of the symptoms, but finally, I am actually living. The difficult treatment was absolutely, without a doubt, totally worth the level of freedom I have today.

From what I understand, OCD generally does not get better on its own. Rather, it tends to worsen without good treatment. Please, if you are thinking about seeking CBT/ERP, then I urge you to do it. There is help available. I KNOW it seems impossible, but it's truly not. You can do it. You are a lot stronger than you think. Hey, you're surviving life with OCD aren't you? That's proof enough of how strong you are.