This Memorial Day weekend, I took my girls to Sea World…all by myself. You would think my OCD brain would have been on fire with anxiety. Surprisingly, I was okay. It wasn’t as stressful as I thought it would be; plus, I wasn’t the only brave (insane) parent who decided to bring their kids to a crowded amusement park all by themselves. Sure, I was a bit anxious (who wouldn’t be), but having fun and making memories with my kids was way more important than getting stuck on a worrying-spree. I tell ya, my OCD brain didn’t know how to handle that, and thus, I got the weirdest, most ridiculous, silliest OCD episode EVER, about whale poo!
Allowing OCD Thoughts & Feelings To Just Flow
I rarely “suffer” from OCD anymore. I have OCD, so what I mean is that the intrusive thoughts and feelings from my OCD rarely ever cause me emotional “distress” anymore.
For me, my OCD is just there. OCD is just something my brain does and I have accepted the fact that there is nothing I can do about the wiring of my OCD brain; however, I do have full-control on how I respond to my OCD.
Being able to recognize when my brain is “OCD-ing,” gives me better control over how I respond to OCD and thus, reduces the emotional distress caused by my OCD. With lots (LOTS) of cognitive practice, I have learned how to let my OCD thoughts go, laugh at them even, and do my very best to move on with my life. Of course, there are some OCD thoughts and feelings that are more difficult to let go than others, but in the back of my mind, I understand all my OCD episodes are triggered by real sources of anxiety, in which my OCD brain misinterprets, and holds on to by strong emotions. In this particular case, I recognize the real source of my anxiety to be my kids. I was anxious about the crowds and worried about how my kids were going to do at the park. Understanding the real source of anxiety also gives me control over my OCD.
Allowing OCD thoughts and feelings to just flow, is an interesting experience. It is almost like watching a suspenseful action-adventure movie, where you are on the edge of your seat, with your heart-pumping with adrenaline, excited for the next scene, but you have no worries at all, because that is totally not you in the movie being chased by bad guys or something (simply not your problem-kind of feeling). When I am aware of an OCD episode, my OCD thoughts and feelings kind of just play in the background. It’s really quite an interesting experience.
A Biologist’s Busted Dream
I love the ocean! In high-school, I studied Marine Biology and I was set on becoming a Marine biologist; sadly, there just isn’t much marine life in a hot, dusty, and dry desert. I did have the opportunity to learn to scuba-dive in a swimming pool, but I never finished my certification due to having Asthma. My marine biology dream bubble was kind of busted by my physician who is a retired Navy physician. He kindly explained to me that divers with Asthma are at high risk of collapsing their lungs due to the high pressures underwater. Unfortunately, asthmatics often suffer from the “Bends” aka “decompression sickness,” more often than non-asthmatics. So, the closest I am going to get to deep-sea marine life is in an Aquarium.
Please Don’t Blackfish Me
How dare I bring my kids to Sea World, haven’t I ever seen Blackfish?
Yes, I have! “Blackfish” is a very heart-breaking, eye-opening, documentary about the Sea World Amusement Parks and their alleged mistreatment of their Killer Whales (Orcas). And, yes, I am very angry at Sea World!
Honestly, I find it extremely inhumane to keep not only one, but several massively large marine creatures in a large swimming pool. It is especially wrong, considering that each Sea-World park has a man-made lake for their water-skiing / boat shows that is 1000 times bigger than their Orca habitats. Seriously, I would expect the Orca and dolphin habitats to be as big or even bigger as their man-made lake. Basically, I just think captive Orca and dolphins deserve acreage in their tanks not square-feet.
So, why take my kids to Sea World? Well, for the experience and to also learn about ocean conservation. Sea World, I must give them that, has a decent ocean conservation program. Although they teach the public about how to protect marine life in the wild, their undesirable captivity program (animals in the park) kind of makes me want to protect marine life even more in the wild; especially, if it could result in keeping animals in the wild instead of having to end up in captivity for rehabilitation or even for entertainment purposes. Just a thought.
To be honest, I had no intention on dragging my kids to any Sea World shows. When I was a kid, the trainers swam with the Orcas, in which was super fun to watch; however, due to tragic incidents where Orcas have attacked and drown trainers, trainers no longer swim with the Orca (highly understandably). Unfortunately, the Orcas rarely do anything during the shows anymore. Spoiler Alert: The entire show is sitting in front of a large tank listening to trainers recite Orca facts. The Orca jump out of the water maybe once or twice during the entire show and at the end, they splash the audience.
OCD-ing About Whale Poo
My oldest was intent on seeing a whale, so, of course, I was going to make sure she saw a whale (mommy reflex). BTW, Orcas are not technically whales, so I should have taken her to see the Beluga Whale instead, but that is a debate for when she is much older. I have learned to never argue with a preschooler!
When we arrived in the Orca stadium, my youngest dragged us all the way to the bottom (Splash Zone) to watch the Orca circle the tank. They circled around the tank like sharks. Although sad, they were still magnificent creatures to look at. Anyway, as one swam by us, it pooped. It was super gross!
We watched the entire show and at the end, we got splashed by 3 large Orca’s! OMG, it was a lot of water! A lot of cold, super salty, and in the back of my mind, poopie water! My OCD brain was totally focused on the whale we saw poop in the water before the show. That was just one Orca…there were 3 Orca’s in that tank! That means, there were 3 large pooping Orca’s in that tank, splashing their toilet water all over us!
Before I saw the Orca poop in the water, my brain was content with the ignorant idea that Orca just don’t poop where they swim. It’s just something I never really thought about before. It didn’t ruin my day or anything, but the thought did linger in the back of my mind all the way home.
I thought about our drenched clothes, covered in Orca toilet water, have now contaminated the car seats. Then, when we got home, we all went to bed without showers, because it was late and we were all exhausted! I had a lingering thought that now our beds were contaminated with whale poo too!
I did have the compulsive need to wash everything as soon as possible, but, I didn’t, I was too tired to worry about whale poo. We had to just live with it and surprisingly to my OCD brain, we survived without having to scrub everything clean. Although we all took showers the next day, the clothes are still in the dirty laundry waiting for their turn to get washed. The car seats need to be washed too, but not because I fear they are contaminated with whale poo, but mostly because they smell extremely salty. 3.5% salinity, to be exact. Wow, I actually remember something from high-school. 🙂
So, that was my weirdest, most ridiculous, silliest OCD episode EVER! If anything, it has taught me to think twice before sitting in the Splash Zone ever again. 🙂
Do you have any weird OCD stories, please feel free to share with us!