The Good Things about OCD

For a change, let’s talk about the good things that come with mental illness that may not shine through often, but make us unique.  YES!  I swear they exist, and sometimes those qualities are the very reasons that keep us out of treatment, because we don’t want to lose them.  The key (easier said than done) is to aim for healthy and let go of the not -so-great stuff so each day we can try to be a better version of who we are.

Here goes:

  1. Intense Emotion: Sometimes, and often it all just feels “too much!”, but then other times, isn’t it pretty cool to feel something so strong just like it was new?  I can get so excited over simple things just as I can get anxious over seemingly nothing, but when I have those joyful moments, it’s fun.
  2. Empathy: This skill is special.  It hurts, but when we learn to manage the double-edge sword, then it can be amazing for us and those close to us to feel a sense of understanding.
  3. Passion: “Overwhelmed” is a great way to describe it when emotions are on a roll, but the good news is we don’t have to look far for passion.
  4. Creativity: Finding our own ways to work within our brains to treat our conditions requires true creativity.  I also love to make art and see art.
  5. Insight & Awareness: We get really good at feeling the ground shake well before the invasion because we have experienced it so many times before.  We have real insight into some heavy emotions because of our painful pasts.
  6. Intelligence: Yep, there are studies that demonstrate a link between higher intelligence and mental illness.
  7. Compassion:  This was not a given for me, but once I practiced, I developed a skill I now use all the time in a positive way.  Showing compassion to myself, other people, animals and the earth is special.
  8. Obsessive thinking/Analysis: Mostly awful, but I think that sometimes the reason I can follow through with a task and not lose interest for a long long time is because of my tendency to latch on to an idea.
  9. Persistence:  We have a lot of practice at not giving up!
  10. Impulsivity: This one can be dangerous, but when it is harnessed, then impulsivity can become adventure!

Stay strong!

Borderline

I started this blog as a way to figure out OCD and beat it.  I wanted to connect and help others share in a collective voice so we could feel a little less alone.  That is still my priority, which is why I took so long to write this because so much has changed and I didn’t know how to take it.  Here goes.

A year ago, I gave a TED talk which was amazing!  I left the stage to be treated by a psychologist from Harvard.  She said that she didn’t think I had OCD.  Ugh…..WHAT??

No, she thought I had OCD, but another more umbrella style diagnosis to account for the symptoms that never went away.  It’s true, I never ended my talk with “happily ever after” but that was never the point.  My OCD cleared up, but my self-harm, fear of rejection, lack of sense of self, intolerance of intimacy, and substance abuse were just as bad as ever.  After a lengthy talk she referred me to a therapist in town for a full evaluation, and for the third time, I got diagnosed with something just as stigmatizing as OCD…

Borderline Personality Disorder.

Except it made sense this time.  Not good.  I had seen enough movies to know how everyone saw the “psycho borderline girl”. How could I tell anyone?  Who would ever date me?  How can I write my blog now?

So, I completed a year of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and I feel ready share it.  And although it was a surprise, it made too much sense, just the way OCD made sense when I was diagnosed.  I am a whole lot of diagnoses, but a lot else too.  But the truth is that I have come a long way, and after getting the right treatment, I feel better.

My OCD is mostly asymptomatic, self-harm is not in the picture, fear of rejection is in a healthy perspecitve, and intimacy is now comfortable.  That’s right! 🙂

I love this blog because I still strive to nurture a space where people with OCD and anxiety can participate in a voice, and feel a little less lonely.  I have some topics I am eager to discuss like POCD and maybe even Borderline, and happy to make a video about anything anyone else wants.

Stay tuned, but more importantly, stay strong 🙂

 

 

Feeling like a Burden

My brain is a burden to me so how could it not be a burden to those closest?  People tell me to call them when I’m struggling, and even I have said that we don’t need to suffer alone, but picking up that phone seems impossible.  The idea of letting people IN when I’m trying to get OUT terrifies me; like a tsunami, we should all be running the other way.

It’s been one of those weeks where it’s pouring and I’m waiting for the locusts.  I felt alone, pummeled and emotionally exhausted, but I am one to downplay things, and brush them off, so I have been dealing with it mostly alone.

So, then.

One of my best friends said “people who love you feel worse when they know you are hurting and you don’t let them help”.  I flashed back to the beginning of when I was first married and how much I hated when my (ex)husband shut down emotionally and kicked me out.  So angry and quiet, and I was left to wonder what was wrong, helpless.  I certainly don’t want to make anyone feel locked out.

So while I want to run away, maybe others are not as afraid of my brain as I am.

How “Should” Messes Everything Up

We say “should” all the time, but rarely at the appropriate time.  “Should” indicates responsibility in usually a critical way, and with anxiety disorders and depression, this occurs a lot.

“My life shouldn’t be like this.”

This statement hurts because what it really means is that life and who I am are not ok as they are.  I know OCD doesn’t feel ok, but hear me out. It’s that “I’m wrong and that if I made a different choice or acted another way, than everything would be as it should“.  “Should” makes us feel like we messed up, and what’s worse, if we truly have no or little control, then we are beating ourselves up for a crime we didn’t commit.

When I said this, my therapist asked me how my life should be.  Through the tears, I explained how I never thought I’d be this person.  He asked when I made the choice to get OCD, and I said it wasn’t my choice, and he said “exactly.”  He explained how “Should” was a trap.  Who decides what should and should’t be?  It’s when we feel like things should be a certain way, that we fall into it.

Next time you say “should”, think if it’s really appropriate.  It hurt less to say “I want my life to be different.” because this stems from a real emotion, and begs the question, “how can I improve my emotional state?”

Language can really cause us emotional downs, and here’s another:

“I don’t deserve to be happy”

“Deserve” means you have done something worthy enough to receive something else like happiness, for example.  O no.  I’t’s impossible for a psychologist to talk me out of this one.  They always respond to with “but, everyone deserves to be happy.”  Instinctively I know this is not true.  Evil people don’t deserve happiness, while kind people do, right?  What about people who go through insane trauma; did they not deserve happiness?

In short, no, I don’t deserve to be happy, nor do I deserve to be unhappy.

Wait!

The truth is that sometimes I will feel happy and sometimes I won’t, but that doesn’t reflect who I am.  Most of us strive to be descent people and happiness is not a reward system. Happiness is an emotion that stops by sometimes, and though I feel like it’s unfair that I feel anxious more than I want, it doesn’t mean that I deserve to be unhappy and I shouldn’t believe that it does? 😉