How To Cope With Having A Bad Day

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Marshall to the rescue!

Today, I woke up with the feeling that today is going to be a bad day.  I knew something bad was going to happen, but like most of my so-called morning premonitions, I didn’t know what.

My gut feeling is usually right about something, but it is generally clouded by emotion that makes it difficult to trust.  When my gut feeling and emotions collide with my OCD brain, that catastrophic thinking begins to take full affect and I just want to bunker down in my bed and hide from what “might” be a bad day.

Response is EVERYTHING!

What makes a bad day?  Usually a series of unfortunate events or one single unpleasant event that just puts a person in a bad / negative mood all day.  It may be other things, but personally, that is how I define my bad days.

Bad things unfortuantely happen.  I like to think of it as the Universe’s way of balancing itself.  The good news though, is that we don’t have to let ourselves be affected by it.  It is all in how we respond to things that affect our overall day.

This morning, I woke up expecting something bad was going to happen.  Could it be something catastrophic or just something as little as stepping in gum?   There is no way of telling; so I just have to go with the flow and cope with whatever might happen.

Response is everything!  How we choose to respond to situations, determines how that situation is going to affect our mood for the rest of the day.  One little thing can be the catalyst for bigger things that can just make the day suck.

Creating A Bad Day

I strongly believe that we create our own bad days.  I say this, because I rarely experience a bad day.  I do have bad days, lots of them, but I respond differently to them.

It is so easy to create a bad day.  Generally, it starts with something stressful we are going through in life, something we might not even know is stressing us out.  Maybe being exhausted from working two jobs, family problems, a sucky job with a horrible boss, finances are tight, or maybe, heck, all the above.  Stress can trigger bad days.  Often times, I don’t realize just how stressed out I am until I take it out of someone or something; and that is the starting catalyst to a bad day.

Have you ever woke up feeling good and looking forward to a great day, but later, you come home exhausted after having the worst day of your life?   Yeah, me too.  My bad work days used to begin with something simple.

Like having to wear something ridiculous, because I ran out of clothes before laundry day.  An embarrassing run in my pantyhose that I don’t realize until I get to work.  Coffee machine is not working.  A dork cuts me off in the parking lot.  My boss leaves me a mysterious angry-sounding message on my voicemail.  All these little things can trigger a bad day; however, if you respond to them in a positive way, your day will likely get better.

Tackling A Bad Day

I start with acceptance.  (If you haven’t noticed, I am all about the art of acceptance.)  That is because acceptance is a powerful tool, as long as you don’t think of it as being defeated.  Instead, think of acceptance as being the bigger person and moving on.

When my day starts out crappy, I accept it.  I often say to myself, “So, this is how it is going to be..  Well, okay then!   I guess 1 bad day out 364 good days is just inevitable.” Because it’s true!  Looking at my life, I rarely experience a bad day, but I know balance requires me to experience a couple bad days here and there.

However, I can tell you that streaks of bad days mean something is absolutely wrong and  something in life must be immediately addressed and resolved.  Or wear black socks, my family believes wearing black socks is the key to ending all bad days.  Does it work?  I don’t know, I haven’t tried it yet.  But, I do know it never hurts to try, especially, if you are already having a bad day.

For the little things, we can leave the black socks in the sock drawer.  The important thing is to react positive to bad things.  For example, let’s talk about those bad things that used to trigger a bad work day for me and how to look on the bright side.

  • The ridiculous wardrobe:  Look, I am not alone in the world procrastinating laundry day.  I am also not much of a fashionista, so my wardrobe is kind of limited.  But I do own a few things in my closet that I hate to wear and only wear if necessary.  BUT, I have to remember, at one time I must have liked it; otherwise, I wouldn’t have bought it.  Also, its just one day I have to wear it and I will do laundry as soon as I get home after work (Lesson learned!).  I can always cover it up by wearing a jacket or sweater (luckily every office I ever worked in feels like the Arctic).  Furthermore, this may be a little over optimistic, but maybe I will set a new trend in the fashion world.   It’s just for 8 hours.  I will be fine.
  • Embarrassing run in pantyhose:  A former boss of mine once told me not to sweat the small stuff while tossing a small bottle of clear nail polish at me.  Clear nail polish stops pantyhose runs from getting worse.  She advised me that if pantyhose were part of my wardrobe, it would be wise to keep a bottle of clear nail polish in my purse.  I obviously did one better and never wore dresses to the office again, but it’s still solid advice to pass on to others.  Anyways, the point is, women get it.  If you have a run in her pantyhose, don’t worry.  If you address it to your boss, they will most likely allow you to make a quick run to the store or just let you bend the dress code for a day and ditch the panty hose for a couple of hours (especially, if it happens towards the end of the day).  There is no need to get upset over the things you cannot control and others will often understand.
  • Coffee Machine isn’t working:  Nothing more ruins my day than a day without coffee!  These are the days I focus more on the clock rather than my work; counting down to lunch time when I can get coffee.  But, this distraction can cause me to make mistakes in my work or fall behind, creating a bad day for myself.  So, best to let it go.  Get a soda from the vending machine or grab something on break (if allowed).  It isn’t the end of the world and you may find, you are just as strong without it.
  • Road Rage:  I do not understand drivers who cut people off and then flip them off, as if the person they cut off were in the wrong.  Blows my mind.  I can let it go, because I can quickly recognize that person is obviously having a worse day than me.  But, I know some people who would take that personally.  They wouldn’t be upset that a 1 ton vehicle cut them off, but more so that the driver of that vehicle flipped them off.  This is how one creates a bad day, because I know some people who would just dwell on this incident all day, causing them to make mistakes and experience an overall bad day for themselves.  It’s best to just let it go.  Of course, drivers shouldn’t cut off other drivers or flip off people they truly do not know, but this is how bad days spread.  By reacting to another’s person’s bad day, can cause you to have a bad day too.
  • Angry Voicemails:  It’s one thing to receive a voicemail from an angry client who is upset at the world, but one from your boss is the worst!  But don’t sweat the small stuff, remember?  I learned along time ago, bosses are stressed.  Every single one of them, no exceptions.  Some might lead you to think they are not stressed, but I guarantee they are just handling stress in a different way.  I have worked with a few bosses/supervisors who were just quiet when they were experiencing a stressful day, but I have also had the pleasure (sarcasm) of working with bosses/supervisors who just tore the heads off of anyone who were within several feet of them.  I cannot tell you how many times I have received an angry vauge voicemail from a boss.  I walk into their office wondering if I am going to get fired or something, but turns out my boss was just upset over something that had nothing to do with me.  If I had taken their rude voicemail personally, it would have ruined my entire day.  Instead, its just another person having a bad day and if I react negatively to their bad day, I will end up having a bad day too.

Quick Recap

  1. Bad days are contagious.   Some people with bad days want other people to have bad days too.  They want others to feel the way they feel to make themselves feel better.  But, there are those who don’t know their bad day is affecting others.
  2. Don’t take it personal:  Do not take it personal when you walk into a person’s bad day.  Be kind, understanding, and let it go as soon as you move on.
  3. Accept bad days:  Sometimes bad days are inevitable and bad things happen.  It is like a natural balance of things, so it is best to not respond to things we cannot control.
  4. It is okay to feel:  It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or frustrated; just don’t let it ruin an entire day.  Learn to let go of the little things and try not to dwell too much on the big things.
  5. Look on the bright side:  I am a strong believer that there is a bright side to everything; it just requires a bit of creative thinking.

Bad Things Can Teach Good Lessons

unnamed-3We can’t prevent all bad things from happening, but we can certainly prevent ourselves from having a bad day by better responding to bad things that do happen.

This morning, my youngest got onto the counter, grabbed her sister’s morning drink and poured it out onto the counter.  No big deal, right?

Well, unfortunately, it is very upsetting for several different reasons:

  1. It is wasteful.  Even if Marshall, the Paw Patrol toy had a good time, it is still wasteful.   
  2. It was a Pedisure Gain and Grow milk-drink for my oldest who needs the extra calories and nutrients.
  3. Pedisure is not cheap, a 6 pack costs nearly $12.  That is $2 per 8oz bottle.  Totally not cheap at all. 
  4. A septic tank smells better than dried Pedisure milk.  So gross!

So, how does that saying go?  “Don’t cry over spilled milk.”  Exactly!  Sure, it’s an expensive waste.  Sure, I probably could have done something to prevent it.  But, it happened and it is now done and over with.  I refuse to let this small thing ruin my entire day by putting me in a bad mood.

This means that I have to let it go by calmly recognizing that such an incident sucks.  I will not get upset, otherwise my girls will get upset and that might put them in a bad mood all day too, creating a bad day for everyone!

Instead, I explain to them that it is a waste and have them both clean it up.  This way, if they spill anything again, they will continue to tell me about it, because they will not be afraid of getting into trouble.  If I yell at them and clean it up myself, it might teach my kids to lie about messes and expect me to clean up their own messes.  If I blame them, they will think it is okay to blame others.  Remaining calm teaches them to remain calm, admit when they are wrong, and take self-responsibility.  In short, there are good lessons that can come out of bad things that happen.

Take Control Of Your Bad Day

Remember that you can prevent a bad day from happening by better responding to the bad things that happen during the day.  It isn’t always going to be easy.  Bad days are inevitable, but it’s up to you on how that bad day affects you.  Also, you can always wear a pair of black socks to help fight against a bad day or two.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My First Major OCD Episode In 6 Years

It has been 2,190 DAYS (six years) since the last time I suffered from a major emotional OCD episode.  Unfortunately, that ended about a week ago.  As of today, it has only been 4 DAYS since my last major emotional OCD episode.

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My OCD Brain Fighting Against My Logical Brain

Over a week ago, I had a major OCD episode; one in which I couldn’t shake from my brain for at least an entire week.  My OCD brain was preventing me from blogging about OCD in fear something catastrophic would happen if I did; but I realized the catastrophic fear is just a  thinking error triggered by the real emotion of embarrassment.  So, after overcoming the embarrassing fact that I had a major OCD episode, my first one in years, I can semi-comfortably blog again.  I am no longer embarrassed over it, just relieved it is over.  This experience was slightly different from any other experience I have ever had with major OCD episodes.  In fact, it felt like a mental war going on in my head between my OCD brain and my logical brain.

Usually, it is just a war between my emotions and my OCD brain, but this time, my “logical” brain was not going to have it.  Six years ago, my logical brain was confused, insecure, and well, just not very helpful against an OCD bully.  However, this time, I was completely confident with my logic.  Instead of a constant period of emotional suffering, it was an on and off period of emotional suffering.  It was a bizarre mental tug-a-war experience that lasted an entire week, all because I knew exactly what was going on in my OCD brain.

My Kids Are OCD’s Kryptonite 

I can tell you exactly why my OCD struck me so hard when it did; it is because I didn’t have my kids distracting my brain and I was in an anxious mood.

Ever since I became a mom, I have been, essentially, OCD-free.  I still have an OCD brain, but I rarely have any OCD episodes, and when I do, they are extremely minor little episodes that don’t bother me at all.  Last week was the first time in years, that an OCD episode not only lasted forever but also had caused me severe emotional suffering.  In short, it was an OCD episode that totally messed with my happy.

Although my kids help keep my OCD at bay, I don’t usually have any OCD episodes when they are away visiting family.  I am not entirely dependent on them as I do a pretty good job controlling my OCD on my own, but I guess when they are gone, it is like having an extra defense shield down against OCD.  Thus, without being entirely mindful of my anxiety, OCD episodes are more likely to occur.

Overcoming My OCD 

Thinking about last week, I strongly believe the mental tug-a-war I experienced with my major OCD episode was me fighting back against my OCD.  The bizarre part of it all, was that I wasn’t even trying to stop my OCD brain; my logical brain just automatically took over.  My OCD brain tried to get me to doubt myself, but it didn’t work.  To me, I feel as if that was a sign that I might actually be overcoming OCD after all.  Unfortunately, catastrophic thinking still got the best of me; but in the end, I know I had successfully won that OCD battle!

Encouraging Others To Overcome OCD

The emotional suffering I felt last week deeply reminded me of the suffering I constantly endured my first couple of years with OCD and how it greatly motivated me to find a way to conquer my OCD.  I may not be able to cure my OCD, but I can certainly overcome the suffering it causes me.   I strongly believe if I can do it, others can do it too!

I hope my blog encourages others to overcome their OCD or at the very least, bring comfort to those suffering from OCD.  I have seen the ugly side of OCD and have stood in many OCD shoes.  Perhaps not an exact fit in shoe, for that everyone experiences OCD differently, but an enough fit to understand how badly OCD can affect a person’s life and overall happiness.

May the path to OCD-freedom lie just around the corner.  ❤

 

 

 

Communication With A Partner With Asperger’s

Social media can be bombarded with a lot of negativity, but every now and then, an unexpectedly gem of wisdom appears out of nowhere.

Scrolling through my social media feeds, I came across this post about relationships.  It made me think a lot about being married to a man with Asperger’s.

“The man can’t see the snake biting his wife, and the woman can’t see the boulder on her husbands back, the moral of the story here is that sometimes a man can’t see the pain his wife is suffering from and women can’t understand the pressure men feel on a day to day basis, within couples we need to learn to understand each other more and communicate better so we can seek out the problems and turn weaknesses into strengths”

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My Stereotypical Thoughts

My first thoughts were stereotypical.  I immediately thought to myself, “Well, the man isn’t going to say anything about the boulder, in fear his wife would think him too weak.   And, the woman isn’t going to say anything about the snake, in fear the man would let go and abandoned her.”   Although my personal perspective was geared mostly towards trust in a relationship, I can understand how this relates to communication and I think it is brilliant!

My Asperger’s Relationship

This is a great depiction of our relationship!  My husband’s Asperger’s cannot see the pain I am suffering from all the overwhelming work I do everyday, the emotions that surge through me, and the OCD experiences I encounter; nor do I understand the pressure he is feeling with Asperger’s, anxiety, and being the bread-winner of our family.

Communication: The Two Way Street 

Communication goes both ways in a relationship; however, in an Asperger’s relationship, the non-Asperger’s partner (I refuse to use the word “neuro-typical”) may feel like communication only goes one way through a brick wall.  Thus, it is important to achieve effective communication by better understanding each other.

Nobody should be expected to do more work than the other when it comes to communication.  Instead, each other should learn where the lines of communication are disrupted and patch them up together.

My husband cannot pick up on my emotions or social cue’s nor am I able to read his mind.  He is terrible at verbally expressing the thoughts in his head.  He gets upset when he later finds out he missed out on something due to his lack of communication.  This often leads to a frustrating blame game where I should have channeled my inner Miss Cleo to read his mind.

Understanding this is the line of disruption in our communication, I have learned to better verbally express my emotions, rather than expect him to pick up on my “I am upset” face.  My husband has learned to better verbally communicate his thoughts to make sure he doesn’t miss out on any opportunities that may have required earlier communication; however, this is not without a little help from me.

The Non-Asperger’s Partner Must Put In More Work 

Not everything should be expected to be “even steven’s” in a relationship, especially communication; that is just not realistic for any relationship.  Also, such a high unrealistic expectation can create frustration and disappointment.  However, nobody should be left doing all the work either.  There must be a semi-balance that works for everyone.  In a working system, the scale of balance is suppose to shift back and forth to maintain stability.

In my opinion, in an Asperger’s relationship, the partner with Asperger’s should not be the one who is expected to learn how to better communicate with their non-Asperger’s partner.  I strongly believe, it should be the other way around.  The non-Asperger’s partner is the one who must learn to better communicate with their Asperger’s partner.

Whoa! What! Wait a minute, WHY?  

Well, simply, because the non-Asperger’s partner has better communication skills.

Communication is teamwork.  The non-Asperger’s partner is the “leader” in this teamwork of communication, because they have better communication skills.  It still takes two to communicate, but the non-Asperger’s partner must take the lead in communication.

Using A Sludge-Hammer To Break Through Brick Walls

Taking the lead in communication is not being the one who does all the talking nor is it manipulatively leading the other person in a conversation.  Taking the lead in communication is all about encouraging expressive-communication.  Encouraging expressive-communication is a way of throwing out positive verbal cues that inform the other person (Asperger’s partner) that they need to express a verbal response.

Now, everyone’s Asperger’s is different, but for me, encouraging expressive-communication is an effective way to better communicate with my husband.  Asking “direct” questions, in my opinion, is the best way to encourage expressive-communication.  To do it without being pushy, is to incorporate questions into a casual conversation with a soft, calm, casual tone.  It is also important to not be judgmental when trying to encourage expressive-communication.  Nobody wants to express thoughts, if their responses are always harshly judged; so, a little reassurance that expression is welcomed helps a bit too.  My husband’s responses are often toneless, making it difficult to judge his emotions or even the context of his responses.  However, I have learned to never accuse him of not caring, instead, I remain calm and continue to ask simple direct questions until I receive clarification.

Most of the time, my husband and I communicate like normal people with very few communication issues; each putting in equal amounts of effort into a conversation. However, there are days when I feel as if I am talking to a brick wall and I have to put in a little extra work to better communicate with him.   To be honest, I don’t think that is strictly an Asperger’s thing, but more of relationship thing in general.  Like I said before, the scale of balance is suppose to shift back and forth to maintain stability.  

Everyone experiences Asperger’s differently, let me know your thoughts.  

  1. From an Asperger’s perspective, what is expected of a person without Asperger’s when it comes to providing effective communication with one another?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Let Your Mental Health Disorder Stop You From Achieving Greatness: U.S. President’s

Behind every historical event, I am pretty sure there was that one man (or woman) who expressed an irrational idea and had at least one close acquaintance ask, “Have you gone absolutely mad?

In my opinion, I cannot imagine our country, or any country for that matter, having been formed from sound, rational, minds.  Mental health not only impacts the lives of an individual, but can also impact the lives of those around them.  Thus, it is understandable to expect our world leaders to have a sound, clear, state of mind when in the position of running an entire country; but do they?  I mean, running an entire country is stressful work and after all, they are just as human as us.  Turns out, an interesting study conducted in 2006 by Jonathan Davidson from Duke University Medical Center and his team of researchers discovered that nearly half of our U.S. Presidents had a mental health disorder.

president-free-clipart-1-2Today, the United States celebrates President’s Day, in honor of all the U.S. President’s and of course the 287th birthday of the first U. S. President, George Washington.  I came across this article from Psychology Today called, Study: Half of All Presidents Suffered from Mental Illness, by Guy Winch Ph.D. in 2016, talking about Jonathan Davidson’s 2006 study.  I found it very interesting, but more importantly, absolutely motivating to those suffering from mental health disorders today!

According to Guy Winch Ph. D., Davidson and his team studied the first 37 Presidents and discovered that nearly half of them displayed some sort of mental health disorder.  Interestingly, the study concluded that 27% of these U.S. Presidents were suffering a mental health disorder while in office.  Nearly a quarter of those with a mental health disorder, suffered depression.  Other disorders included a variety of different anxiety disorders, bi-polar disorder, and even alcohol abuse (Winch Ph. D.).

Positive Motivation

Living with Pure “O” Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I have had my doubts about achieving greatness with a mental health disorder.  There have been many times I was convinced that my OCD was going to keep me from doing the things that I love!  Today, I learned that the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, suffered from Depression!  A great man who played a key role in abolishing slavery in the United States had to deal with the stress of the Civil War and Depression!  Now, that is inspirational!

According to Winch Ph. D., Davidson’s study revealed that 8% of the Presidents with mental health disorders suffered from a variety of different anxiety disorders.  Having an anxiety disorder myself (OCD), I now feel like skies the limit!  If past U.S. Presidents can take on the stressful work of running a country while coping with their own mental health problems, then the only thing holding me back from doing amazing things is me, not my OCD.

To me, this study reveals that not all mental health disorders are as debilitating as they are often made out to be.  Yes, mental health disorders can have debilitating effects, but I believe this study on U.S. Presidents with mental health disorders proves that an individual has more power than they think over their mental health disorder.  I am confident these great men had struggles, but perhaps those struggles with mental health contributed to their road to greatness.

Anyone with a mental health disorder has the potential to achieve greatness!  Whether it is conquering the world or just getting up in the morning to go to work.  Mental health disorders are everywhere and it isn’t a bad thing.  Having a brain slightly wired differently, may be challenging, but I believe it can lead to some amazing things.

Happy President’s Day! 

 

Citations

Davidson, J. R., Connor, K. M., & Swartz, M. (2019, February 18). Mental illness in U.S. Presidents between 1776 and 1974: A review of biographical sources. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.pubfacts.com/detail/16462555/Mental-illness-in-US-Presidents-between-1776-and-1974-a-review-of-biographical-sources

Winch Ph. D., G. (2016, February 2). Study: Half of All Presidents Suffered from Mental    Illness. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201602/study-half-all-presidents-suffered-mental-illness

Happy Valentine’s Day

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Today is the day that emotions have a free-pass to run wild in the streets, declaring their everlasting love for someone special or seeking revenge for a broken heart. 

Today, the heart rules!  No matter how your day turns out, just be sure to treat your own heart with a lot of love and kindness (chocolate too).  ❤

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

 

 

Thought Tuesdays: Why is Mental Health Secondary to Physical Health?

I couldn’t sleep last night.  Around 3 o’clock in the morning, I was as wide awake as our old annoying broken rooster we used to have, who seemed to have been set on a different time zone by always crowing long before the crack of dawn.   My thoughts were racing.  I couldn’t sleep, because I was worried.  

A slight intrusive thought about my own health crept into my OCD brain last night; a direct result from doing late night genealogy research.  Genealogy (study of family lineage and history) is one of my favorite hobbies, but sometimes my imagination can take me too far back into the past forcing me to ponder the future.  Fortunately, I was able to ease away from the negative thoughts by distracting my thoughts with something else: mental health.  

thoughtI wondered to myself, “Would I be so worried about my physical health, if I had better mental health?”  Of course, this question still had some relation to my worries, but the worrying subsided into curiosity…

I recognize that mental health significantly impacts our physical health.  It is a shame that mental health does not play a bigger role in general medicine.  You would think an annual visit to the psychologist would be routine maintenance for maintaining overall good health!

I mean, we are already expected to see our primary doctor for annual physicals that include checking on our lungs and heart, as well as, a blood test to check for metabolical anomalies that may reveal an underlying disease.  Us women,  have to make a yearly pilgrimage to the gynecologist.  When we reach a certain age, we have to squeeze in an annual colonoscopy to our list of things to do during retirement.  Let’s also not forget, the greedy dentist who wants to see our teeth every 6 months!  So, why not check up on the tiresome noggin too; after all, it is just as important!

Why does mental health seem so secondary to physical health?  Is mental health not really as important as physical health?  Is there no correlation between the two?  I am going to ponder about this for awhile and get back to you, but in the mean time, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts!  Please post your thoughts in the comment section below, thank you! 🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big OCD Question…Is OCD Genetic?

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Genetics are funny.  Probably so, because it wasn’t my strongest topic in Biology.  I remember trying to predict genetic traits using a square chart diagram, called a Punnett square.  It felt like rocket-science, but without the cool rockets.  Turns out, I am a terrible psychic when it comes to genetics; however, I do find genetics absolutely fascinating; especially when it comes to mental health.

Is OCD genetic?

What wonderful ancestor do I have to thank for passing down this unpleasant mental health disorder called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?  I’d like to go back in time and give them a lovely piece of my OCD mind!

Unfortunately, geneticists can’t answer that question, at least, not yet.  It appears they’ve  only just begun to explore the surface of genetics affecting mental health.  OCD does have a genetic component as they have supposedly discovered a couple of genes causing OCD mayhem.  However, the inheritance pattern of OCD is unknown, as OCD genes, like many other kinds of genes, seem to be largely influenced by environmental factors too.

Basically, not everyone carrying OCD genes will experience OCD.  There is a chance those genes will be activated at birth with symptoms gradually appearing throughout childhood into early adolescence.  Or, some OCD genes may lay dormant until triggered by some sort of trauma or some other environmental factor.  It is really difficult to say, who will get OCD and when it may occur in ones life.

Dormant Genes Waiting It’s Turn To Express Their Wrath 

Genes are fascinating, because not all the genes in our DNA master code book (genetic genome) are entirely expressed (activated/turned on/ used) all at once.  Obviously, we do have a lot of genes activated at birth, like those for basic human anatomy and physiology, touched with traits that make us unique and give us some resemblance of our parents.

But we also have genes that remain dormant.  For the body to function properly, our cells have the incredible ability to turn certain types of genes on and off, and they do so on a regular basis.  We don’t notice when new genes kick on and off, because they are primarily genes that are important to the body’s function to maintain homeostasis (balance).  So, no, your cells aren’t going to switch your eye color on ya; although, that would be kind of cool!

We also have some genes that will never be activated at all, because we are just “carriers.”  Basically,  we carry the gene to the next generation (our kids).  Depending on who we “mate” with and other biological factors; if the right conditions to activate a specific gene are met, then the gene will be expressed in one of our kids.  It’s complicated probability process can make it difficult to predict whether your kids will get certain genetic traits, diseases, and disorders.

But wait, there is more, we also have some genes that just lay dormant, patiently waiting for their chance to express their wrath, in which are generally activated by trauma.  Any kind of trauma (emotional or physical) has the potential to trigger gene activation.

My OCD was triggered by trauma, I am sure of it!

I am not a geneticist or a psychologist, nor any kind of expert for that matter; I am just a geeky science nerd pondering the inner-workings of my OCD brain…

Looking back, I am not aware of having any childhood OCD tendencies.  If I did, they weren’t worth remembering.  I do know for sure that I was in my mid-twenties, when I first began to experience true horrific OCD episodes with severe emotional suffering.  It felt as if my OCD was turned on like a light-switch.  I just woke up one day with an entirely different brain, with negative thinking patterns, bombarded with irrational and intrusive thoughts, and an overwhelming sense of self-doubt.  I thought I was going insane!

Of course, my therapist tried to pick my brain apart to figure out how my OCD suddenly came about, but we couldn’t figure it out.  I think my therapist was fascinated by the sudden onset of my OCD, especially, since I had been OCD-free my entire life, or at least I was pretty confident that I’d been living an OCD-free life.  According to my therapist, back then, it was unusual; not unheard of, but unusual to experience a sudden onset of OCD.  Today, it doesn’t seem so unusual.

My personal theory on what may have triggered my OCD…

Today, I am convinced a very traumatic, intensely stressful, scary moment on the free-way woke up my slumbering OCD genes.  I was driving home on the free-way one day after work, when I had to slow down to stop for a tiny fender-bender in my lane (far left lane).  Usually, no big deal, because you just turn on your blinker and impatiently wait for a break in traffic in the next lane to move around the accident.  Unfortunately, that day, my blinker was not working!

I was unable to signal to the other drivers in the next lane that I wanted to get around the accident.  Because I was stopped so close behind the fender-bender, without my blinker, one could easily think I was part of the fender-bender and had no intentions of moving around it.  It was rush hour and traffic in all the lanes were busily moving fast.  I had but one choice, or at least what my brain calculated to be the best choice, to cut in front of traffic!

I waited for a good size break in traffic, but let’s face it, when you are sweating bullets on the verge of a major panic attack, your judgement starts to become a bit cloudy.  I can still vividly remember the sound of a loud angry car horn as I quickly and recklessly cut in front of moving traffic in the next lane to get around the tiny fender-bender.  Fortunately, I didn’t cause a wreck, but I was shaken up like one of James Bond’s classic martini’s.

I am almost certain that was the moment that triggered my OCD, because my first noticeable episodes of my OCD were irrational fears about driving.

Future of Mental Health and Genetics

Anyways, that is just a personal theory of mine.  Who knows how or why I got OCD, just lucky I guess (total sarcasm).  Anyways, genetics in mental health is exciting.  Not just for OCD, but for other mental health disorders too.  I am curious to see what genetics will do for mental health.