Thanksgiving – OCD and Holiday Survival/Enjoyment

I am a bit teary-eyed, but better at nipping my emotional tailspins in the bud and just as I was starting to get anxious about what could be the source of my “I’m lost” feeling, I remembered that Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  Sometimes, we get depressed, anxious or our OCD acts up and we don’t know why.  It’s ok, not to know why.  Sometimes it is as simple as we are 

  • hungry
  • tired
  • lonely
  • sick

(I’ll come back to these) and sometimes, it’s something that subconsciously bothers us like the holidays.  There’s a lot to be excited for like family, tradition and food, but it can also be the cause of some undo stress.  I’m a little uneasy because although I’m super excited to cook with my family on the day, I also get a little unsettled when my routine is moved around.  Not too mention I’m sick with a cold right now.  So, rather than over analyze my emotions at this moment, I am going to accept that most likely the cause of my discomfort is that I am sick and that my routine is a little off.  

Now, back to that list.  Isn’t it amazing how we can be extremely upset and crying at night and feel so much better in the morning?  Truly, sometimes sleep, talking to a friend, or eating can alleviate some anxiety.  Keep that in mind and take the holidays in stride.  Enjoy this Thanksgiving as much as you can, and try to let go of the rest 🙂 Also, check out my video on getting through the holidays unscathed!

Shame and OCD

OCD can make us feel self-conscious, embarrassed, depressed, confused, sad, angry and ashamed.  For as long as I can remember, I have felt so much anger toward myself. Anger for thinking my thoughts and for being this OCD girl.  I felt unworthy of the happiness that other people kept saying we all deserved.  I still do sometimes.  I’d say “maybe some people deserve happiness, but I don’t!”

At some point, I started to believe that I didn’t do anything wrong to bring this OCD burden on myself, but I still couldn’t shake the idea that for some reason, I deserved it and I continued to feel so much shame.

The difference between guilt and shame can be most simply distinguished as (guilt-)“I did something bad” vs. (shame-)“I am bad”.  I felt so guilty for having my obsessive thoughts and so ashamed for who I was.  Ashamed to be this girl with this fucked up brain.  And because of this shame, being vulnerable was something I really tried to avoid.  If I couldn’t accept who I was, how could anyone else?

MY OCD symptoms have diminished by a whole lot, but the shame is still there.  A therapist suggested I watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o

It’s TEDTalk on vulnerability by Brene Brown, a researcher who studies shame.  Watch it!  I have seen this now a few times and there are some powerful messages there. 

Letting go of shame is so important.  We need to give ourselves a break and a chance to feel vulnerable.  It’s with vulnerability that we give others a chance to see who we are.  Wait!  Trust me, it’s not without great hesitation that I write this.  Feeling vulnerable is super scary, but learning to accept ourselves is so important. 

Just because we have OCD does not mean we are bad people.  I know, I know, I can say that, but believing it is another thing.  I guess I need to start believing some of this stuff 🙂 

Like in this image that my good friend, Drew Renaud, made.  🙂

Image

WAIT!!! A Letter of Compassion

I wrote a letter to myself. A letter to read when I get the urge to cut. Sometimes when we are desperate, sad and panicked, it’s easy to forget what we have learned to combat our OCD or other mental ailment. I wanted to share this letter.

WAIT!!!

Before you cut, remember you will feel better in the morning. Remember that although it would feel good right now, it won’t help you to feel better later.

This is the small part of you talking, asking to be heard. Asking for a chance. The small part that doesn’t want anymore scars, that wonders and hopes for a better life.

Remember that you want to move forward. That you want to wear swimsuits without fear.

Remember that this path is hard, but one you have never really tried, and it’s worth a shot to see if life will improve.

Remember to not feel ashamed of your past, to let it go and to experience the moment.

The biggest gift you can give yourself right now is a chance. Even if you think you don’t deserve it right now, give yourself a real chance because you deserve to try it. A chance at love, beautiful friendships, an fulfilling career, and pushing yourself. Give yourself a chance to heal.

WAIT!!!

Yes, the cravings are near unbearable, but teach yourself to live in the unpleasant present so you can be what you are meant to be…a healer, a lover, a fighter, a writer and a strong woman.

Why I Can’t Fall In Love

We all seem to refer to OCD as a separate entity; one that is part of us, but held as far away from us as possible.  It’s unlikeable, unpleasant, challenging and uncomfortable to say the very, very least.  I called this OCD-part of me my “evil brain”.  I learned that science had backed this connection I made of OCD/brain when study after study found the serotonin link; telling us that OCD was in fact a problem with chemicals in the brain.

Chemicals!

I am deeply afraid of chemicals.  I use vinegar to clean instead of harsh chemicals, I eat organically to avoid artificial whatever, and avoid pharmaceuticals if at all possible.  And, yes, I am a hypocrite.  A girl afraid of advil, but alcohol and painkillers…no problem!

But, the hypocrisy has a rational basis, because what I think I’m really afraid of is the uncontrollable chemical responses.  The anxiety that comes from the obsessive thoughts that pop in my head, the shame from the compulsive behavior that I didn’t notice start to become pattern, the hypochondria induced panic from the bad reaction to an antibiotic, and the unfamiliar uncertainty of love.

It struck me today like lightning punching through a dark ocean.  Those of you who have read my blog know that I am divorced.  It was a tough time, but the hard part was recreating a life, not so much the loss of a love, because the truth is I never loved him.  He was my best friend, which is why I married him.  Until him, all of my relationships had been incredibly short lived.  We’re talking three months tops.  It seemed odd to me that I had such short relationships in my past, yet a seven year long relationship with my ex.  It was not odd though because he was just as emotionally distant as I was.  Sex was almost always without affection or romance and I was always drunk.  Every other person I had a slept with, I did not care about.  I preferred it that way because emotions really scare me.  Why wouldn’t they?  After all, anxiety is the main emotion I had experienced so trusting myself was not an option.
 Letting myself be vulnerable, open, to fall in love, was not an option.

love tattoo

So, back to today.  My OCD has been under serious control from about a year and my first crush happened today.  At first, I felt elated and all the flowery things that come with a crush, but this feeling was followed by uncertainty and panic.  Of course, I know that feelings of uncertainty are normal, but as someone with OCD for most of my life, the tolerance to uncertainty and lack of control is not very good.  This low tolerance makes me defensive and I try to get rid of the feelings.  I try so hard to get rid of the feelings that create any sense of vulnerability and so far I have been successful.  The price I pay is that I have never been in real love before.

Fear really is a powerful thing and so much of my life has been utterly ruled by it.  I do hope to let go of that fear and fall in love someday.  If my inability to get close to someone is based on this fear like I believe it is, then my prescription for love will be to continue practicing acceptance, to be honest with myself and others and most importantly…..baby steps!