How To Cope With Having A Bad Day

unnamed-2
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.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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.

5339196

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”

No photo description available.

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

Unknown

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?

CoolClips_vc024017
coolclips.com

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 10 Personal Work Rules To Reduce Work Stress (Office Jobs)

My career before kids, I was a paper-pusher in office administration, usually working directly under the big boss.  I loved it, but every week was the same chaotic cycle.  Mondays, were dreadful.  Tuesday’s required more coffee.  Wednesday’s were bliss.  Thursday’s, ran on pixie dust and genie wishes.  And, Friday’s were absolutely carefree.  Even though that seems a little crazy, it was normal for the industry; however, I was able to handle massive amounts of work, ridiculous requests, hostile phone calls, and meet unreasonable deadlines on a daily basis without losing my mind.14460862-Doodle-style-inbox-image-with-a-huge-pile-of-documents-to-be-processed-indicating-business-work-or-s-Stock-Vector

Sure, time management and organization played a huge part in dealing with heavy work loads, but I believe personal work rules are important to maintaining good mental health.

Over the years, to cope with work stress, I created personal rules for myself at work.  It is okay to have personal work rules, so long as they do not get you fired.  Here are my 10 rules I followed to keep me stress free and sane at work:

#1. Don’t be afraid of getting fired!  It’s okay!  

Sometimes we get stressed out, because we fear we might get fired; especially, if we are struggling to push through so much overwhelming work.  Employer expectations can be intimidating; however, they often put out unrealistic expectations to purposely create fear to drive productivity.

A good employer knows that working too hard is bad for your health, both physically and mentally.   In many cases, employers don’t really pay attention to their strict productivity policies, unless someone is purposely falling behind in their work or disrupting the work environment.   If, in good faith you are doing your best to keep up on work flow, you are generally not at risk for the pink slip.  You might be bombarded with intimidating productivity memos,  but, if these memos are not directed at you personally, it generally isn’t something to worry about.

And if you are wondering; yes, I’ve been let go once.  The big boss called me into their office, told me that my position no longer exists, handed me a sturdy cardboard box (that was kind of them), told me to pack up my things and then, had my best friend / co-worker escort me to my car.  It was a nightmare, because I was young, in college, with no savings.  But, I survived unemployment; later realizing had I never been let go, I probably would have missed the opportunites that led me into a successful career in office management.  So, I have learned to never worry about being fired, because when one door slams shut on your face, another little door can open up with bigger opportunities.   It’s difficult, emotional, and also straining on the bank account when unemployed, but it’s not the end of the world.

#2. Never work on a Friday unless absolutely necessary. 

You will rarely, if ever, see me scrambling around to finish work on a Friday.  Whatever didn’t get finish during this week, automatically, gets moved to Monday to be next week’s problem.  Of course, there are some things that pop up on a Friday that need to be completed immediately before going home, but by moving unfinished business to next week, I can focus on those pesky unexpected Friday tasks that need to be done by the end of the day without feeling overwhelmed with endless work.

#3. Bend the rules, just a little and dress comfortably

I’ve always had a tendency of bending the rules; mostly in regards to dress code.  I am a semi-causal kind of gal!  I am not going to sit 8 hours in 5X5 cubicle wearing a 3 piece suit and heels, that is just ridiculous!  I will certainly come into the office wearing what is expected, but you bet there is going to be a comfy sweater, gloves, and a pair of comfortable sneakers or maybe slippers waiting for me at my desk.  Usually, throughout the day I slip into my uncomfortable heels to walk around the office, but then I slip back into my slippers when I am at my desk (nobody knows, if they do, they don’t care).

At one company, they compromised with sneakers around the office so long as I didn’t wear them to meet with clients or in front of the owner who was quite the fashionista!

Dressing comfortably, in my opinion, keeps me productive.  It’s really difficult to focus on work if your feet hurt from uncomfortable formal shoes or you are freezing, because they outlawed comfortable casual sweaters forcing you to bend your arms in a snug suit jacket.  Poor men, I don’t know how they can work wearing a tie strangled around their neck all day!

It is okay to bend rules, just be sure you bend the right rules at a reasonable angle so that you don’t cross boundaries that could result in serious disciplinary action; like walking in with pajama’s and rollers in your hair!  That might be bending the rules a little too far, unless its Pajama Day.

#4. Game Plan Monday’s

The first thing I would do every Monday is make a weekly game plan (prioritize my work).  This involves some nifty time management and organizational skills; however,  by the time Thursday rolls around,  I am sitting with my feet kicked up on my desk, daydreaming about Pina Colada’s and warm toes in the sand, while the rest of the office is running around like chicken’s with their heads cut off.  My point is, following a good game plan for personal work flow, generally gives you free time to slow down, relax, and work at a pace that is stress-free and still productive.  Work smarter, not harder!

#5 Eat outside 

If I had it my way, I would work outside.  Just drag my desk into the court yard and enjoy a beautiful day.  Being stuck indoors everyday could bring on depression or, at the very least, an unproductive bad mood.  I made a rule for myself to eat lunch outside as often as possible, to get a little Vitamin D and fresh air.  I am not a smoker, but I will certainly pretend to be one, if it allows me to get outside for a minute.

#6  Always Keep Something In Your Inbox

I used to think having an empty inbox would grant me some extra downtime, but I learned the hard way, an empty inbox just makes you a prime target for more work, and usually tedious time-consuming work that nobody else wants to do in the department.  I was once assigned to an entire week of staple removal duty to help transition paper records to electronic records.  Sure, sounds like a vacation, until you get back to your desk and discover you are behind in last weeks work.  So, if you want to keep your work load lighter and flowing smoother to reduce stress, always keep something in your inbox!

#7 Smile, Smile, and Smile some more

Every workplace has one!  That annoying, make you sick to your stomach, overly positive, super optimistic, sparkly co-worker.  That is not me.

But, if there is one thing to learn from these sparkly work nymphs, is how powerful and magically transforming a smile can be against the stressful evils one may encounter in the workplace.

I used to work for a particular real estate industry (I shall not name, but pretty sure you can guess) that had to deal with upset, hostile, sometimes violent (I can remember a stapler flying across the lobby) type of people.  Personally, I do not do well with confrontation, especially, when I become distracted by the steam coming out of both ears of an upset client, like on those old Warner Brother cartoons.  Very stressful!  Like you might have a mental breakdown in the middle of the office floor, stressful!  And, I’ve seen it happen too! 

However, I learned that a smile is miraculously powerful in calming down upset, angry, and difficult people.  Face to face, a welcoming smile, calm voice, and a listening ear can diffuse almost any crazy.  It catches upset, angry, people off guard, because they generally pounce into the office screaming for attention, because they feel as if their voice is not being heard.  But, I learned if I approach them with a warm, gentle smile, they have no other choice but to start over in a semi-friendlier civil manner, because the issue they are angry about has nothing to do with me personally and they know it.  Of course, they are still angry, but they become much better to deal with, reducing everyone’s stress levels.

Even more impressive, is the power of a smile when talking on the phone to an angry person.  Smiling while talking on the phone keeps your tone warm, soft, and positive.  As long as you smile, remain calm, courteous, and are willing to listen, you can quickly defuse a hostile conversation to better resolve issues.

I made it a personal rule to smile, because it is good for everyone.  It reduces stress and has the potential to change a negative situation.  You don’t have to be a sparkly work nymph, but it doesn’t hurt to smile every so often.

#8 Offer to help another co-worker during your downtime

Sometimes work can be slow, forcing us to finish everything in our inbox and staring blankly at the clock until 5pm.  Although this may feel like a great break, I often become stressed over feeling guilty for not doing any work at all.  Employers don’t want to see their employees sitting around picking their noses.  To reduce this stress, it is best to offer help to others who may be backed up with their own work.  This way, you are busy working (being productive), you are helping a fellow co-worker (taking an initiative), you don’t get assigned work you don’t want (like staple removing) and furthermore, working on something that you are not responsible for is absolutely stress-free!

#9 Take frequent breaks 

To reduce stress at work, I take frequent breaks.  I don’t disappear from my desk every 15 minutes or for long periods of time.   I simply take a moment to close my eyes, breathe, and stretch my arms and legs at my desk.  I will take on any opportunity to walk around the office (maybe things need to go to the mailroom).  Take a soda, coffee, smoke break and go outside for some fresh air.  There are many opportunities throughout the day for mini-breaks and not all breaks require leaving one’s desk.

Unless you are a cyborg with the capability to work non-stop from 9-5, let your work go for a minute!  No job is worth breaking your back or getting sick over.  Your work will still be waiting for you when you come back.

#10 Change out of your work clothes before going home

I refuse to bring my work home with me and to be sure of it, I always kept a change of clothes at my desk.  Once the clock hit 4:55pm, I would be in the bathroom changing out of my work clothes into my normal comfortable casual clothes (t-shirt, jeans, and flip flops).  I also leave my name tag in my desk drawer or locker.  I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager working at my first job.

Going home in casual clothes reduces a lot of work stress for me.  It allows me to mentally leave work behind when I go home.  Also, walking out of the office wearing casual clothes gives me the feeling of freedom as I don’t have to go home right away to change out of my work clothes.  I can go anywhere!

Creating Personal Work Rules

In the beginning, I had no personal work rules.  I followed every workplace policy as strictly as they were written and found myself a miserable mess.  I eventually realized that workplace policies are just a set of flexible guidelines to ensure workplace order.  Policies dictating workflow are often written with the goal to increase productivity without taking in consideration of an employee’s mental health.  I respect company policies; however, my own health comes first, thus why I decided to create personal work rules for myself to protect my own mental health.

Do you have any personal work rules to help reduce work stress? 

 

A Mother’s Mental Health

mother-and-child-photo-png-17I am retired.  Well, at least that is what my aunt calls moms, like me, who have transitioned from being a career working woman to a stay-at-home mom.  My aunt can be so cute sometimes; but I am obviously not financially retired nor do I want to be.  I actually miss working 9-5 as a paper-pusher.  I enjoy busy schedules, terrible bosses, gossiping lunch hours, and impossible deadlines.  In short, I like working for the “man,” because at the end of each day, I can walk away from it all without a care in the world left on my shoulders!

As a stay-at-home mom, that is an entirely different story!  At home, I am the “man,” my own frantic boss,  losing hair on a daily basis, working a 24-7 hour schedule, with no vacation time, putting out fires (not real ones) in every direction, constant rocket-science problem solving, budgeting, planning, delegating, and training.  I often imagine this is what it is like running your own business in real life, except with less hazardous waste materials (diapers and snot tissues) and time outs.

I LOVE being a mom and I am entirely grateful for the opportunity to stay home with my kids!  I wouldn’t trade this life for the world, but it sure is one hell of a job being a mom.  Whether I was working a 9-5 job or staying at home, the job responsibilities are still the same.  Being a mom, in general, is one tough job.  Like any job, it can wear you down and take a toll on your mental health.

A Much Needed Mommy Break

Last night, I had one of those moments where I needed a break from being a mom.  I just wanted a couple hours of “me-time.”  Well, a couple of hours of Will Smith time, watching a tv series he was hosting for National Geographic with NASA called, One Strange Rock.  Zoning into a movie or tv series is an effective way for me to relieve stress.  Distracting my busy mind with something, less worrisome.  Although, I am not sure how watching a series that talked about different ways our Sun can destroy our planet to be less worrisome, but apparently, it didn’t bothered me very much.  Probably, because I don’t have “Prepare for Earth’s Doom” listed as my top 3 things to worry about today.

A Tough Mommy Week 

Last week was a tough “Mommy week,” as our youngest was admitted into the hospital for a couple of days on oxygen therapy to assist in fighting off the common cold virus.  We came home this weekend, mentally exhausted with our bodies aching from having slept a couple days on uncomfortable fold-out chairs beside our toddler’s bed in the hospital.  We continued her breathing treatments every 4 hours at home and she is now back to her hyper, happy, normal self.  🙂   As for me, I am absolutely worn out, both physically and mentally!

Last week, I held myself together pretty well.  Mostly,  because it’s not our first rodeo with hospitals.  Our oldest, born a micro-preemie, spent the first 3 months of her life in the NICU, followed by 6 more months on oxygen at home, frequent visits to doctors and specialists, and a couple of years of 3 different types of therapy.  Today, she is a healthy, angry, extremely tiny, super sassy, smart-ass, fire-pistol of a pre-schooler who may one day take over the Universe!

However, this hospital adventure was with our youngest who has never had any medical problems until now.  Fortunately, our experiences with our oldest allowed us to recognize a breathing problem before it became a medical emergency.  But none of that means it wasn’t emotional, stressful, or worrisome.  Having Asthma myself, I know exactly what it feels like working extra hard to breathe; I can feel it in my own muscles as I watched our toddler wheeze and pull in hard from her chest, ribs, and back.  It brought me to tears, because there was nothing I could do to make it stop and the ER, I had brought her to, hit her with all they got with their respiratory arsenal.  Although she wasn’t showing signs of distress, she continued to work too hard to breathe.  Muscles do eventually fatique out putting her at risk of collasping her lungs, so we were transferred to the hospital for breathing assistance while she overcame the worst of her cold.  In the end, they concluded she may have asthma which complicated her cold.  With that, I quickly put the blame on myself, for genetically giving her asthma.

My Personal Space Bubble Has Been Invaded 

Last night, even though our toddler is feeling much better, I had a lot on my mind.  All the emotions I kept back last week finally hit me.  In addition, to whatever else was on my list of things to worry about.  I could handle a little over-thinking, but the straw that broke the camels back (or camels mental capacity) last night, was when I was beginning to feel a little claustrophobic in my own personal space bubble.  My personal space bubble hasn’t been kid free in over two weeks.  I love my kids very much, but they have this constant need to always be touching me, hanging on me, sitting on me, or getting right up in my face even if there is a perfectly good other parent (father) sitting across the room.  I usually don’t mind the affection, but sometimes, it can become a little overwhelming, especially, when you just want to use the bathroom alone without supervision.  My kids seem to be glued to me, especially, our youngest, who seems to be super-glued to me with Gorilla glue.  I can’t pry her off.  She is like a little monkey that just won’t let go!  You can’t even put things between us; not a chair, a stuff animal, or a pillow.  I tried to pry her off with a ruler last night, but the gap between us is too tight!

I obviously wasn’t going to get the mental break that I wanted; a dark, quiet room, with just me and Will Smith talking about the end of life on our planet.

A Mother’s Mental Health Can Be Resilient

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that a mother’s mental health can be resilient.  I can juggle a lot of mental crap, before my brain finally gives in and says, “Dude, go lock yourself in the bathroom for 5 minutes to recharge!”   Sometimes I need more than 5 minutes; on my most overwhelming days, I could settle with just a couple of hours of alone time.  But, it has to be uninterrupted alone time without having to worry about my kids.  So, I get my best mental rest when they are asleep or at grandma’s house; both, in which seem very rare.  I rarely get uninterrupted mental breaks, which tells me just how dang resilient my brain must be, especially, when you feel like you are about to fall apart and your toddler thinks blowing bubbles with her nose is super hilarious!  I would think at that point, my eye would start to twitch or something, but it doesn’t, I just smile, hug my little monkey, and appreciate this time together.  Perhaps, enjoying all these small moments together is what keeps me from having a mommy mental break down.  🙂 ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Pure “O” Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

It has been years since I thought about my OCD brain (6 years to be fact).  Pure “O” Obsessive Compulsive Disorder once tortured me every day, several times a day, ruining my relationships, social life, daily living, and ultimately, my happiness.  Today, I realized, that I didn’t cure my OCD, but instead, I cured the suffering my OCD was causing me.  I will always have an OCD brain, but it no longer controls me or my happiness.  In fact, I have learned to embrace some of my OCD tendencies, the good ones, to better live a happier, healthier, life.  The point is, I am in control of my OCD brain.

Unknown

“Pure “O” OCD is, honestly, a mental torture of obsessive intrusive thoughts, running through the mind on repeat, like a broken record.  It is often triggered by anxiety and causes extreme distress (at least for me it did).  Rarely, does it involve compulsive behaviors (like washing hands, counting, or straightening things).  It is claimed to be a “less severe” form of OCD, but personally, I would have given anything to have had compulsive behaviors, for that it is the compulsive behaviors that satisfy the obsessive thoughts, ending the suffering.  This alternate thought processing illness was ruining my life. Previous Blog: My Fascination With The Brain: Pure “O” OCD

Where to Begin…

The road to my so-called recovery from Pure “O” OCD is a complicated one and like I said, I didn’t cure my OCD, I pretty much simply “accepted” it.  In my case, acceptance is not a word that means defeat.  Oh no, I pretty much knocked my bullying OCD’s butt straight of it’s high pedestal.  But I am not going to lie, it was not easy and it took a great amount of work, dedication, effort, and some monumental amount of mental strength to confront and overcome my OCD habits.

The therapist who diagnosed me told me that my OCD will “NEVER” go away, yet it could be “manageable.”  When I asked what “manageable” meant; I was told it just means “fewer episodes.”  I didn’t want fewer episodes, I wanted NO episodes!  My episodes at the time would last from hours to days causing much emotional distress.  I couldn’t accept the thought of being OCD FOREVER!  Fortunately, at the time, I was a Biology major with tons of research resources at my finger tips!  So, of course, I immersed myself into a lot of books in search of some solutions…

Forget the Overall Wiring, Lets Tackle Those Frayed Wires Instead

In the beginning, all I could do was wish for my OCD brain to stop.  Deep scary depression set in and I felt as if my world was crumbling into insanity.  But, I woke up one day with a new attitude and a mantra of, “Na, Na, Na, Na, I can’t hear you!” to my OCD brain.  Unfortunately, that alone wasn’t very effective.

From there, I began my research guided by my therapist.  Turns out a therapist can only provide you tools for success and emotional support during your own mental health journey.  They cannot provide answers, solutions, or cures, just a list of books.  Kind of reminds me of Gandalf from Lord of the Rings Trilogy; I mean come on, he totally could have just flown Frodo to Mount Doom making it a short quick journey.  Anyways, I guess you can think of my OCD as the “one” ring and it is my own journey and destiny to carry it to Mordor to destroy it…Yes, I am a nerd.

Of course, like all epic journeys, there were set backs as my entire journey consisted nothing more than trial and error.  Everyone experiences OCD differently, thus not everything I read or was advised to me effectively worked for me.  So, then I realized I had to pick apart all the so-called effective techniques and tailor it to my own specific quirky OCD brain.  What I discovered was that some of the techniques that worked just a little bit, had the potential of working better in combination with other techniques.

Furthermore, I realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere focusing on the OCD brain itself (mix-match wiring).  Interesting fact though: OCD is due to faulty wiring in the body’s Fight or Flight Response System; a crazy fascinating function that I would love to talk about, but I will refrain from being a total science nerd right now.  The important thing is that I found it much more effective to focus primarily on my OCD episodes (frayed wiring) instead of the overall wiring of my OCD brain, by asking myself the following questions:

  • What triggers them?
  • How do I often respond to them?
  • How can I respond differently?
  • Why is this causing me so much stress and anxiety?

It became clear to me, that all my OCD episodes had something in common; they all caused me extreme “suffering” that largely impacted my overall happiness and personally, nobody messes with my happy.  Strangely, I decided to look into a little Buddhist philosophy to learn more about this thing referred to as “suffering.”  To be honest, I didn’t convert to Buddhism nor have I successfully achieved Nirvana; however, I was certainly enlightened.

In short, “I don’t care how silly, ridiculous, or unorthodox a method may be; if it works, it works!

15 Effective Tools (Methods) Used To Defeat OCD  

Everyone’s journey is different; however, the tools are pretty much the same for everyone; you just have to learn which ones to use and how to effectively use them.  There is no point in dwelling on the story about my own journey.  Spoil alert: It was long, emotional, and had many Mt. Everest sized mountains to climb.  But, what I can offer, is more information about the tools I found most helpful and effective against my OCD brain.

#1 The strong desire and will to change…

Change, in general, is tough.  Changing physical habits are tougher.  But, changing thinking habits is almost damn near impossible.  The heart may be foolish, but I tell ya, the mind is as stubborn as a mule.  Yet, when you become committed to making a change, the obstacles standing in your way become much more easier to overcome.  Unfortunately, change doesn’t happen over night nor was Rome built in a day (an expression I didn’t quite understand until my journey with OCD).

Basically, “If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to get it.

#2 A new positive attitude

You must remain positive.  That is a pretty tough request to fill when your mind is bombarded with unpleasant negative intrusive thoughts; but a single positive thought can have enough potential to get a little motivated momentum going to help you out of your OCD funk.  A positive attitude is also important to drive your desire to change your thinking habits and kick OCD in the butt.

#3 A sense of humor

My OCD brain thinks it’s funny, at least, that is what I had to tell myself.  Instead of telling my brain,“Na, Na, Na, Na, I can’t hear you!”, I would often tell my OCD brain, “Okay, I am listening…What ridiculous thoughts do you have for me today,” and then simply laugh it off.   I eventually learned I couldn’t read too much into my OCD, otherwise, my OCD would get the best of me and ruin my entire day.

The deep thought of “what does this all mean” should be left to the experts and if the experts aren’t concerned about it, then why should I be?

#4 OCD Brain as a separate Entity

The best thing I ever did, was take the advice of my therapist and think of my OCD brain as a separate entity.  Whenever I would start an OCD episode, I would recognize it and tell myself, “Oh, its just my quirky OCD brain.”  At first, I felt silly, but after awhile, it became very effective.  By thinking of my OCD brain as a separate entity, I was able to separate the “real” me from my OCD brain; in which made me feel so much better.  It also allowed me to better sort out my emotions and pay more attention to my OCD episodes to better recognize my triggers and irrational thoughts.

#5 Stop Responding To The OCD Bully

OCD is a bully.  A big fat nasty bully!  Seriously, if you think about it, it bully’s you with intrusive unwanted thoughts making you feel like a bad person and you are not a bad person.  If it makes you feel any better, OCD experts say, the more good you are as a person the worse the OCD.  So, technically, if your OCD is causing you super extreme suffering, you’re likely to be a really good person who couldn’t even imagine harming a fly!

Learning how to effectively deal with bully’s, in general, gave me a better understanding on how to better respond to my OCD.  I learned to accept whatever my OCD threw at me and I refused to respond, usually by distracting my brain with something else.  Kind of like how you get a toddler to stop a huge temper-tantrum!  The very few compulsive behaviors I had, I would just refuse to do them.  Honestly, it was the most difficult agonizing thing I have ever had to do, but after awhile, it got easier.

#6 Journaling OCD Episodes

Whenever I would have a bad OCD episode that I couldn’t shake, I would journal it.  I would write down my entire experience and all my irrational thoughts and feelings.  Then I would re-read it aloud over and over again.  The more I read it, the more ridiculous it sound and the better I felt.  This was very effective with OCD episodes dealing with extreme doubt and irrational “What if” scenarios.  It was also a great way to recognize common triggers and come up with better ways to respond to those triggers.

#7 Don’t ignore all triggers

The reason it is important to recognize triggers, is not to avoid them, but to accept them and learn to better respond to them.  If I were to avoid every little trigger, I would be a very boring person who wouldn’t be able to enjoy all the things I love to do.  Don’t get me wrong though, there are some triggers I still ignore like the plague such as violent dramatic tv shows and the local news.

#8 Making Accommodations

There is nothing wrong with making a few life-style changes.  The very last thing you want to do is to give into your OCD and you certainly do not want to avoid triggers, however, you can certainly trick your OCD brain by making a few accommodations to possible triggers.  You aren’t entirely avoiding triggers, but more or less, making better accommodations so that these triggers have a less OCD effect.

For example, cleaning supplies in the house triggers major OCD episodes for me.  For years, I refused to buy any cleaning supplies, because of my OCD.  Totally ICKY, right!  Anyways, I eventually realized that I could “trick” my OCD brain by using natural environmentally safe cleaning products instead of those harsh bleach chemicals.  Turns out, scientifically, too much cleaning is bad for your health anyways; that is how we’ve created super bugs (bacterial resistance); also, there are good bacterial bugs out there that you don’t want to destroy.  Anyways, I guess by providing my OCD brain with a little scientific evidence that my OCD brain cannot twist around on me is my way of tricking the brain.  I am still having to face my OCD fears (triggers) with cleaning chemicals, but I don’t have to use harsh harmful chemicals (in which is better for me and better for the environment).  Also, more importantly, having choices means I am in control, not my OCD brain.

A conquering OCD moment:  

I keep all the cleaning supplies out of the house by storing them in the garage, because chemicals inside the house make me nervous and often trigger OCD episodes.  However, over time, I have become comfortable with keeping some cleaning products inside the house; but put up in places I know the kids cannot get them.

I’ve also started to use bleach products again.  My husband’s toilet would make any OCD brain back down from an OCD episode.  It’s as if my OCD brain looked at my husband’s toilet and quickly agreed to a compromise with bleach products; telling me, “Dude, okay, you win, I’ll even let you use radioactive chemicals on that toilet!”  Yeah, my OCD brain is a coward and wants nothing to do with cleaning my husband’s toilet.  The fact that I can now comfortably use cleaning chemicals without any OCD episodes and actually keep some in the house is a HUGE step in overcoming my OCD.

#9 Give Your Brain a Break 

I distract my OCD brain with some of my favorite hobbies and activities.  The most effective distraction is zoning into a good movie, book, or game.  I will not lie; Angry Birds (game app) is like a mental reset button for my brain!  Sometimes we just have to step back from reality for awhile to allow our brain to rest, recharge, and reset (I guess it is like grounding yourself).

#10 Acceptance

Acceptance doesn’t always mean defeat.  I learned to accept that my brain is wired differently and does quirky things.  Accepting OCD, allows me to focus more on how to better respond to my OCD brain.  Before acceptance, I was angry that my brain turned all OCD on me and was causing me so much emotional suffering and pain.  That anger made it very difficult for me to begin to understand how the OCD brain works and how I could live life with it.  What is it that they say? “If you can’t beat them, join them!

#11 CBT Techniques, Mindfulness, and Stress Management 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques are a combination of mindfulness and acceptance, but specifically for changing thinking habits, such as overcoming black and white thinking, catastrophic thinking, and other emotions and thoughts.

Since OCD is often caused by anxiety, stress management skills are essential to keeping OCD triggers at bay and preventing OCD episodes from occurring in the first place.  It isn’t 100% effective in preventing all OCD episodes, for that some OCD triggers can be stubborn and unpredictable; but stress management can certainly lessen the effects of OCD episodes.  Basically, instead of your OCD making you feel like a terrible person, you come out of your OCD episode feeling more like a normal person who just had a crappy experience, thinking to yourself, “Well, that sucked.”

#12 Having Faith 

A big part of overcoming OCD, is taking a huge leap of faith, not so much as a religious faith, although that doesn’t hurt either, but more specifically, holding a strong belief that “all is going to be okay regardless of the feared outcome.”  This especially, helps with overcoming “what if” scenarios and compulsion behaviors, like, the thought of wondering if you left the stove on, even though you hadn’t use the stove all day.  You just have to learn to trust in faith that all will be okay when you go home later and that you don’t need to drive all the way back home right now to check on the stove.  I use to wear a bracelet with the word, “Faith” on it to remind me to trust myself and not my OCD doubts.

#13 Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About It (Emotional Support)

In my opinion, emotional support is extremely important in overcoming mental health challenges.  Some Pure “O” OCD episodes may be embarrassing to share with others, as those without OCD may think of our thoughts as ridiculous, silly, and irrational.  Believe me, I’ve lost lots of friends over my OCD, because they thought of me as a “whackadoodle.”  Totally their loss though, because I am pretty awesome despite my OCD brain.

Although therapists, in my opinion, are useless when it comes to providing valuable answers, they do provide great emotional support.  They listen, understand, and rarely judge.  However, personally, I prefer “free” emotional support.  In that case, it is best to find a person (friend or family member) who is willing to learn and better understand your Pure “O” OCD.  When you are experiencing an episode, you can lean on this person for emotional support; someone you can talk to without feeling judged and who can offer reassurance that all is well in the world of chaos.  Be careful though, because constant verbal reassurance from other people can create a “crutch” that doesn’t really help you overcome OCD in the long run.   Been there, and totally done that.

#14 Do Not Let OCD Define You! 

OCD wants you to believe you are someone you are not.  It wants to control your emotions and plant seeds of doubt to make you feel like a bad person.  It wants you to shout to the world, “I AM OCD!”  It wants you to feel defeated and broken.

OCD does not define me anymore.  You will never hear me say, “I am OCD.”  Instead, I often explain, if need to, that I am an awesome person who just so happens to have an OCD quirky brain.

I wasn’t always this confident, in fact, in the beginning of my mental health journey with Pure “O” OCD, I had low self-esteem, no opinionated voice, and toxic people were consistently telling me “who” I was as a person.  In the beginning, I didn’t know who I truly was as an individual, forcing me to venture off onto a side path of self-discovery.  I had to learn that I am not what other people say nor am I my OCD brain.  I am my own individual, independent, unique person with flaws, quirks, and talents.  I refuse to let anyone or anything else define me.

#15 Breathe and Smile

Lastly, breathe…then smile.  Even in the midst of chaos, always smile.  🙂