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, January 28, 2014

Your Child Is Dying

You're in a stark, fluorescent lit hallway. It's the middle of the night. You wait. For anything, even just a bit of news. "Something, just tell me something!" Seconds feel like an eternity and you think your heart might explode from the anguish. Finally, you see the doctor walk slowly toward you down the long corridor. You hold your breath in anticipation. Her face is grim. "I'm so sorry, but your child is dying."

What would you do? If the doctor said to you, "If you do a, b, and c, your child has a good chance of recovery," would you do it? What if a, b, or c were really difficult to do? Or very expensive? Or time consuming and maybe even painful? Would you still do it? Would you claw, fight, and scrape your way to make it happen? Would you spend hours researching the best treatments? What if the doctor said that doing these things would only offer a slim chance of recovery? Would you do it anyway?

Perhaps it's not your child, but it's your wife or husband. Would you still do anything to save his or her life?

Could it be that a person in your life isn't dying from a physical illness, but maybe their life is being destroyed by a mental illness? What will you do to help? It doesn't always have to be a physical illness to make someone feel completely dead inside. So, what will you do?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Acceptance: Part Deux

Since my last post, I've given a lot of thought to the whole idea of acceptance. In fact, it's been going round and round my mind. I started to think about the definitition of acceptance. It sounds great to say, "Oh, sure - I accept my illness." But then, I was wondering, what exactly is acceptance? There are probably a lot of dictionary and textbook answers for it, but for me, acceptance equals agreement with reality. Meaning, I acknowledge the truth of my situation.

Acceptance doesn't mean that I give up, and that I think it may never improve. But I don't waste my mental energies refusing to see what is right before me, right now, at this very moment. It means that I don't live in the past when maybe things were better, and I don't live in the future where I desperately hope that everything will be perfect. Because, let's face it, things in the past may not have really been all that great, and there is nothing that guarantees that the future will be perfect. It's so easy to idealize the past or wax poetic about the future, because it's a great distraction for (or way to avoid) my present circumstances. Oh, and that pesky little thing called uncertainty? Oh yes, it certainly makes itself known when I truthfully accept what is going on here and now. Acceptance guarantees that I have to deal with the uncertainty.

So, what this means for me, is that I realistically acknowledge that today, I have a certain level of OCD, GAD, CSP, and depression. I should fight all of these things with as much effort as I can muster, but in the meantime, they are there and they can't stop me from pursuing what is important in life at this very moment. Yep, true acceptance. Ah, sweet freedom and peace for today!

What does acceptance look like for you and your circumstances?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Accepting What Is

Acceptance. Blah, blah, blah. I heard that word a lot through my treatment for OCD. Honestly, it really didn't mean all that much to me. I had a very simple (and uninformed) understanding of what acceptance is and so it seemed pretty meaningless. That is, until I actually went through it. I've discovered that acceptance is absolutely crucial to healing and recovery - of any type of difficulty. It doesn't have to be an anxiety disorder.

Most of us will face something painful in our lives. Whether it's the loss of a dream, or a job, our health, or worst of all, someone we love. I've come to believe that learning true acceptance of one's circumstances is the foundation to being able to move on with life. Oh, but it's so hard! It takes time, and effort, like anything worth doing. For me, it is an intentional act, not just something that happens. I had a terrible time accepting the chronic nature of my illness. Now I realize, it just is. I can fight it, but it's a complete waste of my time and energy. I've got too many other important things to do these days!

An online friend of mine recently linked to an excellent article by Frederick Penzel, Ph.D., entitled Acceptance and OCD. It is not an easy read, in that there are some hard truths about the reality of life. But I do believe there is a LOT of wisdom in this article, and following Dr. Penzel's advice can ultimately lead to much freedom from pain.

Even if you do not suffer from OCD, but you struggle with any type of emotional pain, I suggest that you read the article and substitute your issue every time the letters OCD appear. It won't fit perfectly, but I believe there is still enough there to help most everyone. Personally, I plan to print it out and carry it with me.

Here's to real recovery. Yours and mine.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ending Stigma (Or At Least Trying To!)

I was visiting a store's online website today, when I noticed that they referred to another store as an "OCD refuge." And they meant it in a joking way. Sigh. Lots of times I just ignore it and go on, but today, I decided to address the issue. Below is the email I sent to them, with the name of the store blocked out. Yep, one person, one situation at a time. We sure have our work cut out for us!

UPDATE: I just received an email response from the company.

Hello Monique. Thank you so much for taking the time to email us and our sincere apologies as our intention was not to offend anyone. We really appreciate you pointing this out to us and I will have our team update the description ASAP, though it may take a day or two to upload to our site. Have a wonderful day.

Wow!! There are some really decent people in the world. Sometimes people just need a little education.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Obsessions: The Worst Part Of OCD

My bloggy friend, Jackie Lee Sommers, wrote an awesome blog post that really connected with me. There is nothing like another person with OCD who truly understands what is so often misunderstood. Even by ourselves. The Dreadful O of OCD. You're right, Jackie - if it doesn't hurt, it's not OCD.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Another New Year

The beautiful thing about a new hour, a new day, a new week, or a new year is that we continually get fresh opportunities to grow. As long as we have breath on this earth, then each moment is another chance. The neat thing is that we don't have to make big changes to grow. Just little changes, here and there. Put all those little changes and baby steps together, and the next thing you know, you are much further along than you ever thought possible. The best part is that we get to help each other do this.

Wishing you a healthy and peaceful 2014, filled with tiny baby steps of growth!