Month: March 2019

Being A Biology Student With Contamination-OCD

As a student passionate about learning Biology, developing Contamination-OCD felt as devastating as a surgeon losing his ability to work with his hands.

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What Is Contamination-OCD

Contamination-OCD is the fear of germs and diseases.

Those experiencing Contamination-OCD often avoid objects, people, and places that they feel might get them sick.  Contamination-OCD can include some of the following compulsive-behaviors:

  • Avoiding touching certain objects handled by other people (like door-knobs, elevator buttons, pens, phones, etc).
  • Avoiding sick people.
  • Avoiding crowded places, bathrooms, or places like hospitals and clinics.
  • Avoiding bodily fluids such as mucus, blood, saliva, urine, etc
  • Avoiding food & beverages prepared by others.
  • Excessive hand-washing.
  • Throwing away things that is thought to be contaminated.
  • Wearing protective gloves and facial masks to avoid germs.
  • Excessive health tests in fear of having contracted a disease.

Well, that is just to name a few; for that individual experiences vary.

My Contamination-OCD Fears About Cleaning Products

Although diagnosed with Pure-O OCD, I occasionally experience a bit of Contamination-OCD with cleaning products, as it falls under my OCD’s common theme: The irrational fear of having harmed others through some form of negligence.

An example of my Contamination-OCD would be the time I kept throwing away sugar.  We used to keep a sugar bowl on the counter to sweeten our tea.  One day, my husband left an open-box of powdered dish detergent on the same counter as the sugar bowl.    Intrusive thoughts flooded my mind that somehow the dish-detergent had gotten into the sugar bowl and I was convinced the sugar bowl was then contaminated with dish-detergent (because both were white and similar in texture).  I always assumed it was best to be safe than sorry and so, I always threw away the sugar whenever my husband forgot to put away the dish-detergent.  Let’s just say, I ended up wasting a lot of sugar, before realizing it was just my OCD brain being OCD.

My Contamination-OCD Fears About Germs & Disease 

However, I did go through a short phase where I was afraid of every known disease in the “Universe.”  It was so bad, that it even made me uncomfortable standing near a moon rock, displayed in a glass case at NASA.  Seriously, You don’t know what unknown terrible alien-brain eating, glass deteriorating, diseases are on the moon!   It was a terrible experience, because I absoultely love science!

Sadly, the worst part, was being a Biology student who was about to begin a semester of lab courses; where not only was I going to be exposed to sheep brains and twitching dead frogs, but also human bodily fluids like urine and blood.  I was also signed up for mandatory volunteer work at a hospital as a transporter (transporting sick people from one department to the other).  I wasn’t sure I could handle it!  But, hey, the things we do for science, right?   

Talk About Effective Exposure Therapy – Lab Class

In the beginning, my science lab classes barely involved any “lab” work at all.  Chemistry 101 was more math than test-tube experiments.  Geology lab was full of rocks.  Physics dealt mostly with physical objects.  Biology; well, Biology in the beginning was a snore.

The first couple of Biology lab classes consisted of long boring lectures with plastic model body parts.  The only thing in my earlier lab classes that totally set off my Contamination-OCD, were the students bringing in their drinks and food into the lab.  All different kinds of lab classes took place in this lab, so who knows what gross dead thing or toxic residue was left on the tables before we came in for a boring lecture.  

However, I remember a very particular and extremely uncomfortable lab session in which we had to work with blood and urine.   At the time, I was completely afraid of bodily fluids. Unfortunately,  I couldn’t ditch one lab assignment, for that lab assignments were a big chunk of our final grade.  Instead, I had to force myself through it…

The first lab assignment was more-so gross than terrible, as it involved testing protein concentrations in urine.  One person from the group had to urinate in a cup and each of us had to test his/her urine.  Although gloves and masks were required, touching someone else’s “pee” is really gross, even without OCD.

The second lab assignment was called ABO blood typing to determine blood type.  It bothered me more than the urine.  It involved us pricking each others fingers to draw blood into a tray where we then had to mix our blood with antibodies to determine our specific blood type.  Really neat stuff, when the OCD brain isn’t being so OCD.  Intrusive thoughts of all the different kinds of blood-transmittable diseases flooded my OCD brain and of course, I was extremely worried about leaving lab class with a disease or tracking diseases home on the bottom of my shoe!

Knowledge Is Power Against the OCD Bully Brain 

My OCD brain took full-advantage of my ignorance about how germs and diseases can affect the body.  I was uncomfortable sharing my drink with someone, holding hands, or even pressing the elevator button (try getting your foot up that high).   However, for me, Contamination-OCD didn’t last very long after I began my studies in Human Anatomy and Physiology.  Learning more about how bacteria and viruses actually work and how our body protects itself against their attacks, largely put my OCD brain at ease; furthermore, the lab classes and volunteer work at the hospital was great exposure therapy.

It is important to understand that germs and diseases do not transmit as easily as they do in the 2002 zombie-horror movie, “28 Days.” (I hate that movie!)   In fact, our bodies have an amazingly strong defense system in which requires extremely specific circumstances and conditions for diseases to “successfully” transmit to a person.

BUT, that doesn’t mean jump straight into surgery without gloves, go days without washing your hands, pet a rabid dog, stand in the mucus spray of someone’s sneeze, or go protection-free on your next date; that just isn’t very smart nor hygienic.  Just because the body is designed with a good defense system, doesn’t mean it is 100% effective.

Keep in mind, that on a microscopic level, our bodies are constantly fighting a war against bacteria and viruses; we just aren’t aware of it.  So, regardless how much we try to protect ourselves, we are always at risk of getting sick; but we can largely reduce the risk of getting sick by following the recommended simple precautions to stay healthy.

My point is, staying healthy doesn’t require extensive protective measures, like lathering up on the antibacterial hand sanitizers, scrubbing your skin raw, or avoiding people who are living with preventable diseases.  In fact, some excessive precautions can be bad for your health, (like scrubbing your skin raw that could lead to bacterial infection), something you were trying to prevent in the first place.   Remember, you are the first line of defense, not the cavalry.

Bacteria and viruses have a negative reputation for being the bad guys when it comes to our health, but not all bacteria and viruses are bad.   Each can play beneficial roles in our health.  Click Here To Read More: sciencemag.org.  Microbiology is such a fascinating field of study!

 

Downside To A Smart OCD Brain…It Thinks Too Much

Unfortuantely, the downside to feeding your OCD brain with factual knowledge, is that the OCD brain thinks too much.   The OCD brain likes to debate and if you are not confident with what you know, your OCD brain is likely to win.  You don’t have to be an expert to convince your OCD brain that you are right; instead feel confident that you know more than your OCD brain.  Your OCD brain knows you are smart, but it doesn’t like the way that makes you feel- feeling good about yourself.  The OCD brain is a bully that wants you to feel bad and doubt yourself.  Don’t let it! 

You Can Beat This!! 

Don’t let OCD take away the things you love.   Contamination-OCD was an obstacle I had to overcome to enjoy what I love~ science!  I hope my experience encourages you to beat your own OCD challenges, especially, if it is getting in the way of something you love or enjoying doing in life.  ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Insomnia From An Insomniac

Given the chance to go to bed early, I would, because I am a natural early bird; however, something is wrong with my body clock. IMG-1002It isn’t broken, but “set back,” due to the insomniacs in the family.  My husband and our preschooler are natural night owls; whereas, our youngest and I, are far from nocturnal- we enjoy sleeping.  Sadly, each of our sleep schedules clashes with the other; making it extremely difficult, for anybody to enjoy a good nights rest.

Bad Habits Winning Over Good Habits

“If you live with a slob, you become a slob….”

In the beginning, my husband had a lot of bad habits (of course, I did too…we’re both human) and it was a constant tug-a-war between his bad habits (being a slob) and my good habits (being organized).  It took a couple of years, but we eventually found a balance.  Although my husband has better habits today, his old ways still kick in every once in awhile when I am not around; for example, his own personal space in the house is a mess (drives me crazy, but its his space).  But, I must admit, his messy lazy habits are extremely stress-free and there was a time when I took up on his bad habits (letting the house go).  I realized what had happened…subconsciously I had gone down the path of least resistance.  It was easier to be lazy and messy, but again, it was also unsanitary, gross, and stinky.  Fortunately, that phase didn’t last very long and “good” habits triumphed over the “bad” habits.   My point is, that it is so easy to pick up on bad habits without even thinking about it.  

Not True Insomnia

I do not have Insomnia; however, I cannot seem to fall asleep any earlier than 1am.

I developed poor sleeping habits by staying up with my insomniac husband. Totally not his fault that I cannot fall asleep at a decent hour anymore.

My husband has true insomnia and cannot go to bed until early in the morning (2am-3am) forcing his body to function on 5 hours of sleep during the work week.  I, however, require 7-8 hours of sleep or I get physically sick.  I have no tolerance for lack of sleep.  So, even though I am not able to fall asleep until 1am, I do manage to get in my 7-8 hours.  The problem with this, is that I sleep in late; something that must change when the kids begin school. Fortunately for me, I can readjust my sleep schedule back to normal; it just takes time. 

Without The Right Conditions, I’m Wide Awake

Falling asleep, when the rest of the family is wide awake, can be challenging; especially, if your own body requires more Z’s.  I have tried, many times, to coax my husband and our preschooler onto a healthier, earlier sleep schedule, but it doesn’t last for very long.

If the conditions are right, (with a dark, quiet, cold room), I have no problem going to sleep, but I cannot go to sleep with two insomniacs roaming around the house.  Our house is tiny, so tiny that if one person is up, we’re all up.

My husband is a late night video gamer; in which, I personally believe doesn’t help with insomnia.  However, without video games to occupy his time stuck wake, he’d just pace back and forth until dawn.  So, I say, game on!

I don’t mind that my husband plays video games, so long as it doesn’t interfere with family life.  Unfortunately, he is a loud video gamer.  Listening from the other room, he sounds like a soldier, loudly barking orders into his headset, as if he were on a noisy turbulent helicopter flying through a massive war attack.  Apparently, video games can be extremely exciting.

I have difficultly sleeping through the excitement; despite him being in another room.

The Defiant Little Night Owl

Our preschooler is a natural night owl (supposedly genetic).  Unlike her father though, she still requires about 10 hours of sleep; otherwise she makes Oscar the Grouch seem quite pleasant.  Anyways, as a parent, I have to get her on an earlier sleep schedule for school and her defiance (as a strong-willed child) is going to require that I start now rather than just a few months before school begins.  May the challenge begin!

Although we’ve always had a consistent bedtime routine (starting at 8pm), the sleep portion of this routine often varies.  So, even though the so-called experts say a consistent bedtime routine is the best way to get kids to go to bed early, doesn’t work for everyone.  It works for our youngest, but not our preschooler as I have discovered there are two things that affect our preschooler’s sleep schedule:

  • Strong-Willed Child
  • Premature Birth

Our preschooler was born 3 months early with a fiery strong-willed defiant personality.  She will not go to bed unless everyone is going to bed.  At first, I thought she was afraid of missing out of something, but later I realized, she just doesn’t think it is “fair” that she has to go to bed while others are still awake (even parents).

Also, being born as early as she was, she has some sensory issues.  At night, even though she is tired, her body is quite restless.  Also, she doesn’t like the feel of sheets or certain types of pajamas.  Even the temperature in the room makes her restless.  Finding solutions has been challenging.

Falling Asleep To Sleep Stories With Calm 

no affiliated links

With a few changes made and a bit of dedication, the kids and I, are generally asleep by 11pm now.  Not the ideal bedtime I want for my kids, but it is much better than going to sleep at 1am.  The biggest change was creating a better sleep environment for everyone.

When it is time for bed, the bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool; not frozen Arctic cold or anything, just comfortably cool.  As for our little night owl, strong-willed children (well, most children) have to feel in control.  She picks out her own pajama’s, chooses her own bedtime books, and turns off her own light.  There are power struggles every so often, but for the most part, it is fine.  The ultimate game changer to getting us to fall asleep earlier, has been ambient noises to drown out my husband’s video-game adventures from the living room.

I discovered an App called Calm.  

Personally, I like free-apps and rarely buy anything more than $1.99; but this one has proven to be worth the pricey subscription; plus, I like listening to Matthew Mcconaughey’s voice.  🙂

The Calm app is a mix of ambient noises, guided meditations, music, and more interestingly,  “Sleep Stories.”  What the heck is a sleep story?

A sleep story is a 15-45 minute audio-book that is narrated by soothing voices like Stephen Fry and Bob Ross (and other voices too).  The stories are quiet, slow paced, and relaxing.  Most stories sound like guided mediations for sleep as you embark on a sleep-story journey.

The best stories are those for kids.  We have yet been able to listen all the way through the Little Mermaid Sleep Story, for that we all fall asleep just before she rescues the prince from the sea.  This is certainly an App to have if you have trouble falling asleep.  My husband, when he is finally ready for sleep, enjoys the sounds of the ocean and he says, it helps him get to sleep faster.

Image result for Calm app
Available online, IOS, and Android

 

Wishing Everyone A Good Night’s Rest

I can’t imagine what it is like living with insomnia, but I do hope the little sleep those with Insomnia do get is at least pleasant and peaceful.

 

Do you use IOS / Android apps to sleep?  Which are your favorite?  Which do you least recommend?  

 

 

 

 

 

Answers Under The Couch: A Book Review

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

 

 

Hardly a coincidence, don’t you think?

Life is funny this way, as little things like this happen to me…a lot.  Coincidence? Perhaps not…

As you may know, I’ve been in paradise putting my minimalistic and organizational super-powers to good use, helping my mother get the ball rolling on finishing an endless list of unfinished projects around the house.  It is an overwhelming, stressful, sandal-strap breaking challenge, but I think I got her started in the right direction.  It’s all about setting goals!

Unfortunately, you can set as many goals as you like, but to achieve those goals requires motivation to accomplish them.  How does one gain motivation, especially, with so many overwhelming goals?  What needs to change?  As usual, the answer to my questions are never too far away and I am not talking about the Internet…

Is It Coincidence…Answers Under The Couch?

My mother taught me a long time ago to “listen to the Universe” or “God,” whomever you prefer, or frankly, whomever speaks the loudest.  My point is, that I strongly believe that the answers we seek can be found within reach from somewhere; you just have to be patient and open-minded, for that these answers can come from very unexpected places.

As I was cleaning, I decided I would clean underneath the couches; a place that probably hasn’t been cleaned in years….

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Surprisingly, it wasn’t that bad.  In fact, the only thing that was under the couch was a book.  A small black book, called, “This Year I Will…,” by M. J. Ryan from 2006.

I Bookdidn’t think anything of it and tossed it in the collection bin of other misplaced books I had found while cleaning the house.  But, without a cover, I was curiously drawn to it.

I like to read before bed, so that night I decided to check out the small book that I found under the couch.  It is a book about accomplishing personal goals….what a coincidence!

Insightful, Helpful, and Encouraging: A Book Review (Affiliated Links

“This Year I Will….,” by M. J. Ryan, was exactly what I needed to read!  It was perfectly relatable to my mother’s current situation.  Furthermore, it even encouraged me to work on my own personal goals (like losing weight).

I like non-fiction self-help books that are mixed with relatable personal stories, suggested techniques to try, and references by “the” experts.  This book has everything that I like!  It talks about the neuroscience behind the habits that prevent us from accomplishing our goals as well as, providing clear, simple, to-the-point changes to overcome those habits.

The Power Of A Positive Mind To Change Bad Habits

The author, M. J. Ryan, references ideas by “organizational consultant, Robert Fritz,” author of “The Path of Least Resistance.”  He strongly believes that motivation is driven by positive, passionate, thoughts and ideas.

For example, the reason I cannot stick to my goal of losing weight, is because there is no positive, passionate, motivation behind it.  I’d like to lose weight to become healthier, but like clockwork every year, I jump into a routine that fizzles out by the end of January.   This is most likely, because I am not positively, passionate about becoming healthier.  Truthfully, I am not.  Not a single cell in body is passionate about becoming healthier, especially, if it means dieting and exercise.  However, according to Fritz, I can motivate my stubborn cells (myself) to accomplish my weight loss goal by thinking of a positive, passionate, motivating end result; such as doing it for my kids.  My kids need me to be healthy and I am super passionate about doing things for my kids.

I am currently day three into an exercise program (walking), meeting my daily step goals.  I am passionate about it!   I made my routine exercise into a game; something in which Ryan talks about, stating that we tend to accomplish things that are fun rather than boring.  So, I am not focused on weight loss (although that is the preferred end-result), but rather on how many steps I am getting per day.  I try to do more steps than the day before (beating yesterday’s step goal).  It keeps me motivated and mildly entertained.   Unfortuantely, I have a long way to go, as yesterday, I blew out a shoe and my flabby fat arms rubbed raw with friction.  Wasn’t a pleasant feeling, but it is totally worth it for my kids!

A Book Worth Finishing : Don’t Think About Donuts

I was quickly motivated to start a workout program just by reading the first 39 pages of “This Year I Will….,” by M. J. Ryan,   Very few books have that effect on me; however, there is just something about this book that I love and trust.  Plus, I am never shy of trying anything new, different, or interesting.

I like this book, because the author is very thorough in backing up ideas with psychological concepts.  Having OCD, I am well aware of the psychological mind game, “Don’t Think About Pink Rabbits,” or in Ryan’s book, “Don’t Think About Donuts.”  The point of this mind game, is that no matter how much you try to not think about something, you are going to think about it anyways.  It demonstrates thinking habits and Ryan ties this in perfectly to support the ideas that habits impact motivation and goals.  No spoil alerts, you just have to read it yourself, but Ryan actually explains, neurologically, why this happens, and it’s fascinating!

I always feel the first couple chapters of a book defines the value of a good book, so far, this book has caught my attention and seems worth finishing.  I am almost finished with this book and I am not yet disappointed.  The book dives much deeper into building goals and ways to stay on track with goals.  Whether this book leads to success, I am not sure; that part is largely up to me as I begin to embark on a daily workout routine to accomplish my own personal health goal.

Finding Positive, Passionate, Motivation For My Mother

Putting new concepts and strategies into practice is always “easier said, than done.”  Interestingly, this book explains why that is, in which is another reason why I recommend reading (or even just glancing at) this book.  As for my mother, I am sure my mother has read this book and I just have to encourage her to think of something passionately positive to motivate her to finish the projects she starts.  Changing thinking habits are challenging, I know (OCD), but it is amazing what one can accomplish with a new positive mind-set!

Have you ever encountered a helpful coincidence?

 

 

 

 

Brain Games: Netflix

I am a huge Netflix fan!  Seriously, I am a person who will spend an entire weekend binge watching a tv series until the very last episode of the very last season. Image result for netflix It is such an unhealthy addiction for me, especially, since it makes me feel like a zombie; shuffling in and out of the darkness every once in awhile for food and responding to family members with short zombie-like grunts.

Fortunately, it is only a seasonal addiction, as I only seem to binge watch tv when the weather outside is super cold.  With Spring just around the corner, I find myself being a little more active enjoying the warm weather, defrosting from a long Winter.

However, every month, my parents call me with a list of  “good” tv series they recommend watching on Netflix.  One of those series is,“Brain Games,” with Jason Silva.  To be honest, the way my parents explained it, I thought it was a game show.  Totally pass!  My entire childhood was spent watching Nickelodeon game shows like “Double Dare,” “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” and “Figure It Out.”  So, yeah, I didn’t even bother; but my parents kept asking me if I had watched “Brain Games” yet.  So, this week, I decided to check it out…

Not A Game Show

Okay, “Brain Games” is pretty interesting!  It is not a game show. Image result for Brain Games Netflix There are no contestants, prizes, nor is the host standing behind a podium with a handful of clueless cards.  Nope, “Brain Games” is seriously all about the brain!

This show talks about the fascinating and mysterious inner-workings of the mind.  It is an entertaining and educational series that is both fascinating and interesting with experiments, experts, and fun.  The best part of this show are the interesting games you can play that demonstrate how the mind works!

Ideomotor Effect Episode (No Spoil Alerts)

My favorite episode, so far, is about the Ideomotor Effect, a psychological phenomenon where our body moves unconsciously.  They demonstrated this phenomenon with the Ouija Board.  Basically, a group of volunteers call upon the dead, in which answer through the Ouija Board.  It was clear as day, until the volunteers were asked to call upon the dead again, but this time all the volunteers were blind folded.  The result, a fuzzy connection between the living and the dead.  Communication was not as clear as it was without the blind folds.

Of course, when they were not blind folded, this could easily mean that someone in the group lied and was actually controlling the wood-piece, called a planchette, across the Ouija board to connect with the dead.  However, when everyone in the group is convinced that they did not push the planchette; how do you explain that?

Interestingly, I’ve actually heard of the the Ideomotor Effect from one of my biology classes.  I am pretty sure it was one of my late night classes and I was half asleep, but I do recall such a term.  But, that is just it.  It is simply a term that rings a bell, but with no distinct sound to remind me what in the heck it means.  Well, the way “Brain Games” explains it, is extremely fascinating.  No spoil alerts here, but simply, the Ouija board is just the mind tricking the brain!  In case, you find their explanation a little too hard to believe, they show you how you can see the Ideomotor Effect with your own hands.  CRAZY! 

Like I said, I am not going to spoil it for you!

Personally, I thought the episode was really fascinating; however, I am still not going anywhere near a Ouija Board!

Don’t Have Netflix!

If you don’t have Netflix, no worries!  This tv-series is quite popular; you can find a bunch of their episodes online with YouTube.

Have you seen Brain Games?  What do you think of the series?  What is your favorite episode?

 

Tossing Out The Overwhelming To-Do-Lists

Last week, I was invited to paradise, but when I arrived, paradise was nowhere to be found; it was buried in chaos!

My mother asked if I could come down and help her with some projects around the house.  Turns out those projects were bigger than the both of us and we ran out of motivation before we could even think where to begin; plus, the weather didn’t help.  When the weather is cold and wet, my mother moves like molasses as her poor joints lock up like a rusty old tin man.  So, instead of working on projects, my mother (being my mother) convinced me to go to her “fun” dentist for a routine check up.  Let’s just say, I came home this weekend with a broken sandal strap and 6 cavities.  It was a rough week.

All my life, I feared getting my first cavity.  So, it wasn’t fun getting the news that I have 6 cavities!  That’s a bit to take in, especially, since I have been cavity free for over 30 years!  Overall, my teeth are in good health and the cavities are “shallow.”  According to my mother’s “fun” dentist, it’s a “no-brainer” to fix.  I’m relieved, because I thought it was going to be rocket-science!  Ugh!

Too Many To-Do’s To Count

IMG-0843Cavities aside, my mother really needs my help!  She is buried in too many overwhelming projects.  My mother is notorious for starting projects and never finishing them; and she knows it.  Unfortunately, it has finally caught up with her; not only is it affecting her happiness, but also her overall health.

My mother is a natural clutter bug whereas I am more of a minimalist (with a few hidden junk drawers).  Our ideas clash sometimes, as she doesn’t understand how I can function without appliances cluttering the countertops, knick-knack “treasures” cluttering the shelves, or even a yard without on single piece of lawn decoration (like the Elvis Flamingo she gave me a few years ago) and simply, I do not understand how she can function in “chaos.”  

Tossing The To-Do List’s

Despite our different ideas, my mother has called upon my minimalistic superpowers to help her get things back in order.

Personally, I don’t like To-Do lists, but for some people, to-do lists are amazing.  I thought for my mom, a to-do list would help her organize her thoughts, but like her bathroom scale, to-do lists are also evil, wicked, mean, and nasty!  So, nix the to-do list idea!

The Light Bulb For A New Game Plan

I was so overwhelmed by my mother’s house that I felt exhausted by the time I got home to my own house.  My husband did a great job keeping up the house while I was gone  (he even made the bed) and the glistening clean countertops were a welcoming sight when I came home.  While cooking dinner that night, the fat moving hamster in my brain turned on a light bulb as bright as the sun!  I realized how I could help my mom with her overwhelming basket of to-do-lists.

Sadly, my mother’s poor health finally sunk in, making me realize she really needs my help.  Before, my mother would asked for my help just for the company.  Now, she really needs my organizational brain to kick into full gear and help prioritize chaos.

I quickly came up with a new game plan to tackle all her projects.  Instead of a basket full of overwhelming to-do lists, we start with a fresh slate and move slowly forward without my mother putting her hand in the project cookie jar.  See, my mother is also notorious for creating large new projects over night.

Her house is chaotic, because unfinished projects are EVERYWHERE, in which is causing her to feel overwhelmed; so, the first order of business is to put away all the projects creating a clean slate.  Then, deep clean her house to make it easier for her to manage on her own.  Then, finally, tackling the projects one at a time, by doing those that serve a functional purpose rather than those that serve a cosmetic purpose.  Basically, fix the leaky sink before painting it a “pretty” new color.

Accomplishing Large Goals With Smaller Goals

It is easier to accomplish a large goal by breaking it down into smaller goals.  The smaller goals encourage motivation to continue working towards the overall large goal.  But, when you have too many large goals, the best way to conquer them is to clear your plate all together and start over with one simple task at a time, focusing mainly on one goal.  It will make things go quicker and much easier.

Wish Us Luck! 

I am heading back, with a new pair of sandals in hand and the motivation to take back paradise from chaos!

How do you tackle your basket of to-do’s? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry, Gone Fishing, Be Back Soon

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If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is to never pass up an opportunity for a mental break!  So….this week, I will be 200 miles away from my computer with my toes in the sand, a warm sun on my face, and maybe toss a few hooks into the water!

This is an unexpected adventure and a great opportunity to relax, breathe, and reset my busy brain!  To be honest, I am not sure if I will be able to do much blogging this week.  I will certainly try, but internet in paradise doesn’t always work.  Perhaps, that is what makes it paradise, a world away from distracting devices.  Believe me, an entire week without Talking Tom notifications would be awesome!  (A kid app on my phone for my kids)

But, before I head off with sandals in hand, I just wanted to take a moment to thank all my readers! IMG-0740This blog recently received a 100 likes!  It may not seem like a big deal, but it is a big deal to me!  It greatly motivates me to continue blogging.  I greatly appreciate the likes, comments, and emails.  I do intend to blog more after my little vacation.  I enjoy connecting with everyone, sharing personal experiences, random thoughts, and interests in mental health and science.  Thank you again for reading my blog!   🙂

Stay strong, breathe, and remember to smile!  I will be back next week….I have some awesome books I am excited to share with you!

 

Coming Soon: Book Reviews 

The Secret To My Clean House Is Not “OCD”

As I write this, I am sitting in chaos.

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Due for fresh flowers

Towering piles of dirty dishes in the sink are conquering new territory over the counter tops.  Trash, lying just mere inches away from the empty trash can, look as if they were too exhausted to complete their journey.  My bathroom floor looks like a game of “Lava” with a trail of clothes leading to an empty hamper.  My living room is an endless mine field of toys, snack wrappers, and half-eaten snacks protecting the entrance to the kids room.  Lastly, my desk is completely covered in a blanket of white crumbled up tissues from a night of horrible allergies.  There is nothing about this scene that says, “OMG, you are so OCD!”  But, oddly, my husband is convinced otherwise!

I clean my house everyday.  Okay, allow me to rephrase that…I “pick up” my house everyday.  95% of the time, our house is pretty much clean, in which is saying something considering we have two little sticky and extremely messy kids.

Personally, I enjoying waking up to a clean house and I enjoy going to bed to a clean house; however, during the day is free game.  There are messes, spills, unexpected discoveries of old food in the couches, and toys in places I would never have thought to look.  My point is, our house looks very much “lived” in during the day,  but this is a side my husband rarely see’s, for that he often comes home to a house that looks as clean and organized as a museum.

Perfection is an Illusion

My husband thinks I am an “OCD clean freak,” because in his eyes, the house is generally always “perfectly” clean.  My OCD has nothing to do with my cleaning habits and surprisingly, my OCD has nothing to do with perfection.  I was raised in a world where everything had to be perfect; perhaps, that is why I despise perfection so much.  I just grew tired of it.  In my opinion, perfection is nothing more than an illusion.  What I may consider as perfect may be different than what another person may consider perfect, thus can create unachievable expectations.  Honestly, that doesn’t seem healthy, so I do not strive for perfection.  Sure, I have my moments when I want something to be “perfect,” but I do not allow the idea of perfection to consume me.  I usually just end up with, “eh, that’s good enough for me,” and move on.

Although I live a somewhat minimalistic lifestyle (except for my kids, they own everything), I do not feel the need to strive for order and cleanliness; instead, I “value” order and cleanliness.  For the most part,  I try to keep my house neat, clean, and organized, but only because it makes life so much easier.

Keeping A Clean House Is Part of Stress Management

If it doesn’t have a purpose or serve a function, out it goes!” is my motto for living a somewhat minimalistic lifestyle.  It has nothing to do with being frugal, environmentally friendly, or OCD; its just makes life easier and reduces stress for everyone.  My husband and I both have anxiety disorders, so I do my best to create a somewhat stress-free environment.

Here are some of my core beliefs about keeping a stress-free environment:

  • Waking up to a clean house is refreshing whereas waking up to a messy, dirty house can immediately impact a persons mood and create anxiety with an overwhelming thought of must-do’s.
  • Everything has a designated place to make it easier to find things and avoid the anxiety of having to look for something, especially in an emergency.
  • Clutter can clutter the mind as well as make excellent hiding places for things we’ve lost.  Plus, clutter is home to annoying little dust-bunnies!
  • Clothes are washed and put away in a timely manner to avoid the anxiety of not having anything to wear for work.
  • Clean dishes encourages a home-cook meal, instead of going out for fast food.
  • Going to bed to a clean house puts the mind at rest for better sleep.

Just A Little Everyday Work

There is no extreme labeling, perfect organization, or even a strict chaotic routine I follow everyday to ensure the house is maintained to create a somewhat stress-free environment.  Living a minimalistic, clutter free house cuts down majority of the work for me and after that I have only four everyday tasks:

  • Laundry (if any)
  • Pick up and vacuum the house before husband comes home
  • Clean kitchen after dinner, take out trash, and do dishes (cheat with a dishwasher)
  • Pick up the house just before bed

But of course, I do deep clean the house once or twice a month, but the rest is just kept up with daily maintenance.  This allows me to feel guilt free when I encounter days where I just don’t feel like doing anything at all and leave the house a mess for a day (because even the messiest of days are not that bad).

OCD plays no role in keeping my house clean.  Well, maybe, if you factor in that I keep my house clean to reduce anxiety, in which greatly helps my OCD, but OCD itself is not the reason my house is clean.  My only actual goal is to pick up the house at the end of everyday before my husband comes home.  Where then, it is my husband’s personal idea of perfection that makes it seem our house is maintained by an “OCD clean freak.”

Can your cleaning habits be mistaken for OCD?  

Thought Tuesday’s: A Personal Opinion To Last Month’s Thoughts

Last month I pondered on a question… I pondered on this question for awhile.  I read a wide range of articles and blogs, even glanced at a few scientific-journals.  None of which provided a clear precise answer to my question posted last month: Why does mental health seem so secondary to physical health?  

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Social-media

So, today, you get an opinion….my opinion.

In my opinion, I think mental health is secondary to physical health for three reasons:

  1. Crappy History
  2. Psychology is Fairly New
  3. Mental Health Stigma

A Little Healthcare History

During the 1800’s, the United States had a poor healthcare system.  Practicing physicians were not licensed, very few were actually formally educated, hospitals were filthy, and medications were nothing more than a dangerous concoction of narcotics and bathroom cleaner.  In fact, dentistry at that time was a little more evolved than the general medical practice.  If you think about it, you gotta have teeth to eat, right?  Anyways, it wasn’t until the early 1900’s, surgeons realized the crazy notion that sterile surgical equipment and better hygiene practices, resulted in better health outcomes for their patients; basically, their patients lived longer.  That was the spark that ignited modern healthcare practices today.  Amazing what washing your hands can do!  Unfortunately, mental healthcare was moving along on its own path…an extremely rough slow path.

What To Do With The Mentally Ill

A little less than 200 years ago, the mentally ill were sent to cruel, immoral asylums where they were locked away and forgotten.  Living conditions were extremely unsanitary and patients were often abused and chained to the wall.  These immoral conditions didn’t begin to improve until the 1830’s and even then, nobody knew what to do with the mentally ill.

When the general-care hospitals were evolving into cleaner facilities and better practices, the immoral asylum practices of isolation and mistreatment of mentally ill patients was eventually deemed unacceptable by society, forcing asylums to improve living conditions and attempt to actually treat the mentally ill; unfortunately, the treatments provided were not scientific.  The behaviors expressed by the mentally ill were largely misunderstood and often considered something evil and unnatural; instead of sick or different.  People often fear what they do not understand. 

Although mental health was a growing concern, there was still very little known about the human mind.  Wilhelm Wundt, the father of psychology, was the first to crack open the mental barrier of the human brain; however, it wouldn’t be for another 50 years before Sigmund Freud developed actual scientific-based treatments for mental health conditions.

Medications to effectively manage mental-health conditions were developed in the mid-1900’s; however, many of them were pretty much bad for ones overall physical health despite their effectiveness on mental health.  During this time, many long-term mental health patients were being deinstitutionalized and forced back into the communities as a moral way to deal with the mentally-ill.  Unfortunately, many still required long-term treatment and care.  It was as if society had good intentions, but still no official game plan to treat the mentally-ill.

Slowly, but surely, mental health clinics, rehabilitation centers, and mental health hospitals were eventually established to effectively treat and morally care for the mentally-ill; however, mental health is still not recognized as importantly as a ticking heart, breathing lungs, and pumping liver.

Recognizing The Connection Between Mind, Body, & Soul

Many different cultures around the world largely accept the important connection between the mind, body, and soul; however, interestingly, such an important concept is not widely practiced in modern day medicine.

When I go for my annual health physical, the only assessment done on my mental health is a 10 question survey asking if I “think” I am depressed.  General physicians do not seem concerned about how depression may affect mood, personal choices (addictions), or that a slight chemical imbalance causing depression might be part of an underlying health disease or illness; instead, their 10 question survey focuses more on suicide prevention.

I found an interesting article last night about mental health history that mentioned the mentally-ill often suffered from underlying diseases rather than true mental health disorders.  A common example is neurosyphilis, in which is a psychotic disorder developed from untreated syphilis.

Today, it is recognized that both mental health practitioners and general health practitioners have to work together to provide quality care to patients with certain mental-health disorders; but I can only imagine this to be a lengthy and expensive process to uncover and treat underlying diseases affecting mental health.  But, before any amount of diagnosing can begin, patients have to feel comfortable enough to seek help in the first place without the fear of being locked up in a padded cell.

Mental Health Stigma

Looking at history, I feel as if the study of psychology is a fairly new science.  From what I gather, society, has just recently (say, last 60 years) begun to really recognize mental-illnesses as health related issues instead of mystifying evil.   Thinking about it, 60 years is not a long time, nor is 200 years since society used to cruelly isolate and mistreat the mentally-ill.  For me, that was only 3 family generations ago, meaning, my grandparents view mental health much differently than I do.

Society probably has mixed views regarding mental health, but those views are nothing compared to the personal views one holds of themself who is struggling to cope with a mental-health disorder.  Nobody wants to be labeled as “abnormal,” “different,” “odd,” or even “broken.”  Nor does anyone, including a general physican, that does not have a psychology degree want to simply imply one may be slightly “broken,“unless a physical bone is protruding out from under the skin.  Personally, I do not even think psychologists and psychiatrists enjoy that part either, despite their fancy degree hanging on their office wall.

My point is, recent negative views on mental health is still lingering and it provides very little encouragement for those in need to seek professional help for mental health disorders.  Furthermore, people trust their general-health practitioners, because doctors have been around much longer than psychologists; and if mental health is not part of “general” health concerns, why worry about it?

The Future of Mental Health

I am optimistic, in that I believe after a few generations, mental health will be considered just as important as physical health.  Through public awareness, further advancement in neuroscience and general pyschology, as well as, positive encouragement, mental health will no longer be second to the heart, lungs, and liver.

Just An Opinion

As I mentioned earlier, this post is a just my personal opinion.  Although I try to formulate opinions based on researched facts, that doesn’t make my opinions right or wrong.  In fact, my opinions are nothing more than random thoughts open for polite discussion.  Please do not take my opinions personal.  You are welcome to disagree, but if you wish to express your disagreement, please do so in a kindly manner for that I personally value and respect different perspectives.  Lastly, please keep in mind that my opinions and the opinions of others have feelings too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faulty Fight or Flight Response System: Hit and Run OCD

“…my Fight or Flight Response System, it is more or less like a very old, overdramatic, senile emergency dispatcher who can’t seem to remember all the facts and misinterprets the danger levels.”

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In the beginningI counted traffic lights, memorized traffic light patterns, and wasted gallons of gas driving back and forth to reassure myself that I had not caused any accidents with my car.  This is how my brain decided to rewire itself after my stressful situation with a faulty blinker on the freeway.  For me, it was the beginning of insanity…

Different Forms of OCD With One Common Theme

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder.  There are many different forms of OCD and not everyone experiences OCD the same.  What is truly fascinating about OCD, is that a person can experience more than one form of OCD; however, each of those forms of OCD all tend to share a common theme.  For me, I have been diagnosed with  Pure “O” Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (no compulsive behaviors); yet, I also experience what is called “Hit & Run” OCD (with compulsive behaviors).  For me, both forms of OCD share a common theme:  The irrational fear of having harmed others through some form of negligence.  Unfortunately, for me, my Pure “O” OCD amplifies my Hit & Run OCD, almost to the point I thought I was going insane.

Hit & Run OCD

Fortunately, there is nothing insane about my membranes, except for a little OCD bully brain.  “Hit & Run” OCD is when the brain responds inappropriately to a stressful situation.  Instead of recognizing and appropriately dealing with the true source of anxiety, the OCD brain twists thoughts and emotions around causing a person to doubt not only their true character but also events associated with their anxiety.

An example of a “Hit & Run” OCD episode would be like an OCD driver driving in an area crowded with pedestrians (like New York City).  It is absolutely normal to feel nervous, because people are unpredictable.  You never know who might run out into the street or step out of a parked car into passing traffic.  It is truly a stressful situation.  The purpose of anxiety is to keep the driver alert, but the driver’s OCD brain, kind of goes on double high alert and begins to misinterpret the situation.  The driver runs over a pot hole that triggers an OCD episode where the driver begins to have irrational fears that he may have ran over a person. The bad case of “what if’s” begin to affect the driver’s self-doubt and then worst case scenarios cross his mind making him feel like a terrible person.  To relieve his fears, compulsion sets in, where he may turn around to check for an accident, check his car for damage, or read the newspaper everyday looking for a report of an accident.  A mix of guilt and paranoia could also set in from extreme anxiety.   He might even think he has gone insane, because the thoughts and emotions feel so real, not only doubting reality, but also his true character.  The driver is a good person, who in reality, would not drive away from a true accident.  Unfortunately,  OCD loves to mess with good-minded people and the driver with OCD endures a long period of extreme emotional suffering.

The good news is that those experiencing “Hit & Run” OCD  or any form of OCD have not gone insane.  OCD is all based on feelings and emotions and as I have been told a million times before, “the truly insane do not feel insanity.”  It’s just a little faulty wiring with our Fight or Flight Response System causing false evidence to appear real.

F. E. A. R. The result of my faulty wiring

I often refer to my OCD episodes as “OCD fears,” because my OCD episodes generally focus on some kind of irrational fear about something.  Thus, my favorite OCD acronym is F.E.A.R., in which cleverly means: “False Evidence Appearing Real.”  At first, I didn’t really understand what it meant, because everything was too real to consider any of it as false.  However, I know now that F.E.A.R. is the result of my faulty wiring in my OCD brain.  So, what is going on with this faulty wiring?

The autonomic nervous system in our body controls all those amazing things our body does without the need of us having to think about it.  This includes breathing (automatic), heart beating (automatic), digestive system (automatic), and hormone regulation (automatic).  This system is broken down into two parts: Sympathetic and Parasympathetic.  The faulty wiring lies within the sympathetic part of our autonomic nervous system; also known as the “Fight or Flight Response System.”

The Fight or Flight Response System is responsible for anxiety.  Anxiety is actually a good thing when it functions properly.  In stressful situations, anxiety tells the body something is up and to be on the look out for danger.  Kind of like a safety alarm system, prompting us to immediately assess the situation.  From there, we are forced to make the decision to either Fight (stay and deal with it) or Flight (run away from it).  Below is a Caveman scenario from college about how our Fight or Flight Response System works: 

My Cave Man Scenario:  A hairy caveman comes out from his den to play with fire; something him and his friends have recently discovered by accident (funny story by the way)…anyways, while walking along the beautiful plains of the Palaeolithic era, he comes across a large saber-tooth tiger sleeping peacefully among the high grass.  The caveman’s sympathetic nervous system is going off!  His heart begins to beat faster, his palms start to sweat, and his body starts to shiver in fear.  His body is screaming DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!

There are only two options: FIGHT or FLIGHT.

This caveman valued his life very much and of course FLIGHT took over.  He quietly took a few steps back, turned, and quickly ran back to his den.  Later, around the community bon-fire with his buddies, he told them about his encounter with a vicious saber-tooth tiger.  Instead of telling them he had ran away;  he told man’s first epic hero story of man vs. beast and man won.  🙂

Faulty Wiring In The Fight Or Flight Response System

OCD is an anxiety disorder, because the OCD brain has faulty wiring in the Fight or Flight Response System.  Stressful situations trigger the Fight or Flight Response System; however, the OCD brain is like a rotten school kid who likes to pull the fire alarm when there is no fire.  The Fight or Flight Response System is wired in such a way that it triggers on false alarms.

For me, stressful situations trigger anxiety, like it should, but my OCD has taken over the Fight or Flight Response Division of my brain and is now, more or less, like a very old, overdramatic, senile emergency dispatcher who can’t seem to remember all the facts and misinterprets the danger levels.  Instead of appropriately responding to a stressful situation with normal Fight or Flight Response protocols, my OCD brain triggers an irrational fear creating self-doubt, extreme guilt and worry; forcing me to deal with F.E.A.R.: false evidence appearing real.

Detective of OCD Related Incidents

Over the years, I have become quite the Sherlock Holmes of OCD related incidents; especially those episodes pertaining to my “Hit & Run” OCD.  To get over a major OCD episode, I have to write it all down.  Basically, take down my own official statement of events.  After recognizing the trigger, I can work on collecting all the false evidence that appears to be real.  Then, logically prove such evidence is indeed false.  I say, my dear Watson would be extremely proud.

Eventually, writing is no longer necessary when one begins to immediately recognize triggers, a powerful tool used to defuse OCD before it can even start.  Today, I experience very little driving anxiety.  In fact, I love to drive!  Pedestrians and other drivers do make me slightly nervous, but that is completely normal.  The important thing is that I do not allow my OCD to make it more than what it really is by being a confident driver.  Also, if I drive with an anxious mind, OCD episodes are prone to happen.  I also know I am good person and I refuse to let my OCD convince me otherwise.

For those suffering from Hit & Run OCD, please remember that you are not crazy or insane and that you are a good person despite how your OCD makes you feel.   ❤