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!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Facebook Boundaries: To Friend Or Not To Friend?

This post is an ERP that I'm doing as part of my therapy homework. Yes, I have to address "The Facebook Issue." Which for the average person, might be nothing more than a blip on the radar, but for me, it is an issue. A people pleasing issue. A hyper-responsibility, fear of hurting other people's feelings issue. A "if I don't 'friend' someone, I'm a bad Christian" issue. A "they won't like me if I say no" issue.

Boundaries were completely non-existent for me. Though I tried to be careful to never step over anyone else's boundaries, I didn't know how to protect my own, and I allowed them to be trampled on at times. And I resented it. But, I was too fearful to do anything about it. Or if I did get angry enough about it, I would still be afraid to respond for fear of being disliked, or a "bad" Christian, or even worse, I would respond, but I would react to the person in ways that I would regret later.

Many years ago, I read just the first couple of chapters of a book that literally changed my life. It is titled, (shocker!) Boundaries. I highly recommend it. Well, at least the first few chapters that I read! The great thing is that it was written by Christians, so I felt a bit more comforted that I was not being unChrist-like by setting boundaries.

Though this book was very helpful, it has still been difficult to hold tight to my own boundaries. This has been especially difficult in the area of Facebook lately. When I first joined Facebook, I decided that it would be a place for me to share things with my family and my actual, in-person friends. I thought that decision through carefully, and at the time, I felt like it was a good decision. To be honest, I still do.

I've met SO many wonderful people through this blog and through a private Facebook support group, and I've been "friended" a whole lot recently. And though I've wavered back and forth, I've decided to stick with my original plan of keeping my circle to family and personal friends. But, oh, has that been hard! So often, when I've been friended, I've thought, "Oh, but this person seems so lovely, and I would really like to get to know them in their own personal life, and well, maybe they'll think I'm a snob if I say no, etc." I think you get the thought process here . . .

My wonderful psychologist has challenged me to stay true to my initial goal of Facebook. She agrees with me that it's a healthy boundary, and she recognizes that it's healthy for me to have to, gulp, say no to people. It may be healthy, but that doesn't make it easy. But, like any other ERP I've had to undertake to get my life back, it does get easier with practice.

So here goes.

I care so very deeply for all of you, my fellow bloggers and readers. Truly, I really, really do. And I love the online relationships I have formed. And they surely are real relationships to me. But I'm going to have to keep my Facebook account to my family and in-person friends. I really hope you understand. Hugs. Monique

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Gift Of Being Kind To Yourself, Part Two

Though I started this blog with the intent of helping others, a really pleasant by-product is how writing about my experiences of living with OCD have been helpful for me as well. In particular, while composing Part One of this post, I began to realize that I was starting to slip back into old patterns of speaking harshly to myself. And when my friend C asked if I could give some examples of speaking nicely to myself, I realized that it was an opportunity to do some good 'ole cognitive restructuring.

1. "I'm a filthy, disgusting, pig." Yes, I've said this to myself. More times than I can possibly remember. I have Contamination OCD. I often think that dirt/germs = bad/gross/unloveable. So if I don't keep my house as neat and clean as I think it should be, I think that it is a reflection on me personally, and that no one would want to be around me if they knew my house wasn't up to certain standards. So when I catch myself saying these types of things in my mind, I stop and say, "No, the state of your house has nothing to do with your value as a human being. Do you think other people have more or less value based on the state of their home? Of course not. What makes you any different?"

2. "I'm such a(n) idiot/stupid/dummy." Whenever I make a silly mistake, my first reaction is to say this kind of thing. Sometimes, I'm not even really serious when I say this stuff. I'm almost kind of joking. But you know what? Even jokingly referring to myself this way is unhealthy. When I catch myself saying these things, I stop, and rephrase it. "No, you are not _______. It was an oversight. It was human. Nothing more, nothing less."

3. "You're so arrogant. Who do you think you are?" Because of my experience with a severe anxiety disorder, and my level of recovery, and the fact that I am so open about it (because I genuinely want to help others), I get asked a lot of questions, by a lot of people. So I try very hard to share my truly honest opinions about what helped me and what I think constitutes good treatment. Of course, I'm no expert, and I always clearly state that, but people still seem interested in hearing about my own experiences, and my resulting opinions. And I'm so incredibly happy to help. But my Hyper-Responsibility OCD often kicks in and tells me that I'm giving bad information. And that I'm an arrogant fool for thinking that anything I have to say is legit. And the Scrupulosity OCD in me tells me that I'm not being humble enough, and because I don't read my Bible nearly enough (and I really don't - that's not Scrup talking) and I don't pray enough, so who am I to be saying anything? I'm clearly not leaning upon God enough to lead me in speaking to others. What arrogance! This is a time when heaping guilt upon myself is not helpful. I think it's better to say, "Well yes, I do need to increase Bible reading and praying. And I need to make a plan to do that. But I also trust that God is so much bigger than me, and that He can still do good things in these circumstances in spite of me. And the past is the past."

4. "You're a lazy slob." Yep, I stay in bed a lot. I procrastinate. A lot. Am I lazy? A lot of times I think so. But then I remember how I was before anxiety and depression really got hold of me. And I realize that depression is a beast that can hold you down. And I also realize that procrastination is probably just another word for avoidance, anxiety style. So I remind myself that I can't possibly keep up with others who don't have anxiety and depression. I try to say, "You are human and you are battling significant issues that maybe those around you are not. Comparison is deadly. Instead, you should try to focus on what will get you healthier for the future. Again, the past is the past."

In case you want more food for thought on the subject, I found a really cool post about speaking nicely to yourself that you may be interested in, just to get a little bit of a different viewpoint on the matter. My only critique on that post is that in my opinion, we shouldn't even think these things about ourselves.

Lastly, here's an important point. Let's say that everything mean that I said to myself was actually true. Does saying those things to myself actually help anything? Would it help me be more humble, or less lazy, or less stupid? Absolutely not! It would just keep me mired in the mud of self-loathing. As far as I know, a person enveloped in self-loathing is usually unable to move forward. So, whether I think I deserve it or not, I consider speaking to myself in a harsh or mean manner to be totally unacceptable because it is needlessly cruel, and frankly, unproductive. Give it a try to speak nicely to yourself. What have you got to lose?