My brain is on summer break! Be back soon!
Wishing everyone a fabulous summer! Have fun and stay safe!
Happy Summer Everyone!
My brain is on summer break! Be back soon!
Wishing everyone a fabulous summer! Have fun and stay safe!
Happy Summer Everyone!
I am a late night grocery shopper, because shopping at the grocery store during the day, by myself, is a nightmare with anxiety!
I am not the only one who experiences shopping anxiety; my husband won’t even get out of the car unless the entire family goes inside the store with him. If he does go into the store by himself, in which is rare, he comes out looking white as a ghost, hair frazzled on end, and heart pounding, as if he had to battle an army of orcs inside the grocery store just to get a gallon a milk. Unfortunately, he doesn’t even make it to the dairy section; as that would be like having to venture towards the back of the grocery store into Narnia. Instead, he comes back with an 8oz carton of milk from the check out line! You know, I am not judging, because it happens to us all!
My anxiety triggers OCD, thus why I absolutely hate shopping during the day. I can deal with a little anxiety, but once it triggers an OCD episode, I am done! I too, walk out of the grocery store white as a ghost, hair frazzled on end, and heart pounding, worried about the most irrational horrific things in the world about a gallon of milk. So, to save myself from emotional distress, I prefer to shop at night, where there is no crowd, the night stockers often sing and dance while the speakers play rock & roll, instead of the usually sappy music that is required to play during the day, and the check out clerks are much happier! It’s an entirely different atmosphere after the sun goes down.
Again, I can largely relate to my husband’s experience inside the grocery store. Although I enjoy shopping late at night, every so often I have to run to the store for one or two things before dinner time. Unfortunately, 5pm at the grocery store is always crazy! It is crowded with all sorts of different shoppers, from the old complaining about the cost of inflation to the young trying to buy alcohol. There are those holding up lines over expired coupons, writing checks, or just simply talking about their day to a clerk who doesn’t really care. The worst though, are the people who just got off work and are trying to rush through the grocery store like football line-backers. They are hungry, rude, and in a hurry! Personally, I don’t blame them, because they just want to get home like the rest of us.
Every so often, I treat myself to a mud mask (scares the monkey’s out of my kids). MUD MONSTER! Anyway, I enjoy it, also my skin comes out smooth, fresh, and less “old and tired” looking.
I’ve tried all different kinds of mud-masks and my two favorite are charcoal and dead-sea mineral mud masks. The charcoal masks are great for cleaning out pores and the dead-sea mineral masks are great for making skin feel soft, plus reduces dark circles and redness. So, I try to do a dead-sea mineral mask once a week (if I am lucky) and the weeks I look absolutely dreadful, I do a charcoal mask, since that’s more heavy duty than a dead-sea mineral mask. Although I am not really into the girly-girl things, I do enjoy mud-masks.
I went to the store recently and stocked up on mud masks, but I didn’t realize, I stocked up on the wrong kind of mud mask. I remember I bought them when I was making a milk run to the grocery store when the grocery store was super busy. I had anxiety. I remember two girls talking loudly about their business and it made me nervous, so I quickly grab the mud masks. I saw “dead-sea…” but I did not comprehend the rest of it, “dead-seaweed,” SEA-WEED! What! I bought a couple of mud-masks with seaweed instead of my usual dead-sea mineral mud masks.
I am cool. I am hip. I can try smearing sea-weed all over my face, why not?
I tried it! Although the experience is not very pleasant as sea-weed certainly smells, it sure did make my skin look pretty! I am not opposed to doing it again, but probably not something I am willing to do all the time.
So, shopping with anxiety isn’t always terrible. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t try new things if I weren’t rushing through a grocery store with anxiety and picking up the wrong stuff every so often. Sure, sometimes I am forced to exchange items, like the time I needed butter and quickly picked up a block of cream-cheese instead. For the record, that was not entirely my fault, for that the grocery store had moved the butter section!
My point is, that anxiety is not always terrible. Sometimes good unexpected things can come out of it. If you go to the grocery store for lemons and come back with limes, I guess make limeade instead!
How do you cope with shopping anxiety?
I started listening to a 7-day Stress Management series provided by the Calm App (iOS). The narrator said something quite enlightening; something along the lines that “us humans are not yet ready to take on the stresses of the 21st century.”
Stress is normal everyday life now; however, our Fight or Flight Response System is a little behind on the times. There is just too much going on for our Fight or Flight Response System to process, thus, our bodies are thrown into constant high alert making us feel stressed all the time. Practicing mindfulness and changing our thinking habits allow our Fight or Flight Response System more time to re-evaluate and accurately process the world around us to ensure our bodies appropriately respond to the right stressors.
Stressors are everywhere. From the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we rack out asleep in our beds at night. I don’t know about anyone else, but my alarm clock is my first everyday stressor. After avoiding the snooze button, my alarm clock turns into a thirty minute count-down where I am having to rush everyone to get ready for the day. Drag my husband out of bed and push him into the shower, so he can wake up enough to get his butt to work. Argue with a two year old about which cereal she wants but never eats. Coax my preschooler to join the rest of us as she whines about it being too cold to get out of bed, even though the house is comfortably warm. Lastly, after everyone is ready to go, with just a few minutes left on the clock, I have to get ready! Every morning is chaotic and I have the power to change it! Just by changing up my morning routine and focus on better time management, I can eliminate my everyday morning stressors.
What is your first stressor of everyday?
Life is full of funky lemons and we can’t always control what funky lemons are given to us. We can try to make lemonade, but all we get is funky lemonade. Simply, we are often forced to cope with stressful situations that are out of our control.
Life is full of uncontrollable stressors, like traffic. Traffic becomes stressful when it causes us to be late for work or somewhere else that is really important. OR, like getting laid off; it’s just something that happens and even the best employees get laid off sometimes. Another uncontrollable stressor, is being a scheduled speaker with a nasty mustard stain on a favorite white blouse just before the start of a board meeting and no jacket to cover it up. Or life’s worst funky lemon, for me, is finding my textbook all chewed up just before an open-book exam! We encounter uncontrollable stressors everyday, but it’s how we respond to these stressors that make or break us.
Always try to make the best of every stressful situation! For instance, if you are stuck in traffic and running late for work, loosen your tie, roll down your window, turn up the radio and sing your heart out! Despite being chewed out by your boss for five minutes, your job is still gonna be there. Don’t let a little traffic ruin your entire day.
Overcoming the stress of getting laid off, is all about changing your attitude. Sure, money will be tight, but when a door closes another one opens. That sounds cheesy, a little cliche, but it’s so true!
That mustard stain…I say wear it proud! It may be embarrassing at first, but everyone will understand, because you are human! You can also get creative by covering it with a sticker, snag a scarf, or if possible, tuck it in. Often times, because offices are cold, someone with a sweater will likely allow you to borrow theirs while you speak to the board of directors.
And, for the chewed up text-book…well, good luck!
Sometimes we can’t make the best of a stressful situation. There are some serious uncontrollable stressors out there that just cannot be resolved with a little creativity and a positive attitude. When forced to endure an uncontrollable stressful situation that cannot be resolved, we must find other ways to better cope with stress.
Really big uncontrollable stressors is a job for our Fight or Flight Response System. Although we cannot do anything physically productive to eliminate a big uncontrollable stressor in our life, we do have the ability to take small relaxing breaks to help our bodies cope with stress.
This includes practicing mindfulness and acceptance, meditating, reading, taking a walk, exercise, having a spa day, or distracting yourself with something fun while the body does its thing (you know releasing those feel-good chemicals to reduce stress). So, even if we cannot eliminate the stressor, we can help our bodies cope with the stress the stressor is causing us.
Whatever type of stressors are in your life, always remember to stop, breathe, and smile.
Do you have any effective coping skills for major stressors in your life? Share with us, so we can try them too.
There were times when I was bombarded by dark heavy intrusive-thought clouds. I used to think that focusing on the intrusive thoughts themselves would make the intrusive thoughts go away. I always dwelled on one specific question: “Why am I thinking such horrific thoughts?!” Unfortunately, that question only opened a flood gate of other disturbing irrational thoughts that would only intensify my anxiety and emotions even more, ultimately resulting in hours or even days of extreme emotional suffering.
Turns out, I just wasn’t asking myself the “right” questions?
What Are Intrusive Thoughts?
Intrusive thoughts can be nuisance little buggers. They are unpleasant thoughts, mental images, or ideas that involuntarily pop up in the mind. Everyone experiences intrusive thoughts, it’s not just an OCD thing.
See, the brain is constantly scanning and processing information, thus why some junk information may end up in the processing line with thoughts that actually matter. For the most part, our brain does a pretty good job at pushing intrusive thoughts through without us taking notice. However, we tend to dwell on thoughts that are attached to emotions; so if an intrusive thought just so happens to pass through our mind at the right time, like during a period of anxiety, we might accidentally lock onto that intrusive thought by attaching an emotion to it.
Generally, intrusive thoughts don’t linger around for very long and cause little to no emotional distress, because the fight or flight response system quickly realizes these intrusive thoughts are harmless and doesn’t require an emotional response; thus, releasing the emotional attachment allowing the intrusive thought to drift away from the mind.
However, for me, my faulty fight or flight response system doesn’t exactly know what to do with an intrusive thought and keeps me emotionally attached to my intrusive thought until it can be processed appropriately. Almost like, when a customer service representative encounters a questionable problem, but has to wait until their manager comes back to lunch to resolve it. Yet, with OCD, instead of waiting for the manager of my faulty fight or flight response system, I get the moody on-call supervisor (my OCD) to try to handle it for me, in which, we all know just makes matters worse causing emotional distress. I wonder if I can sue my OCD for emotional distress?
Imagine you are stuck running in a loop and there is a toll booth. If you ask the right questions at the toll booth, you are free to leave the loop. If you ask the wrong questions, you continue running in an endless loop, dwelling more and more on your intrusive thoughts. Also, think of the loop as a dirt-road track, because the more you go round and round in your loop, the deeper the track gets from continuous tread from your shoes. Overcoming intrusive thoughts is a bit like that…at least for me it is.
I learned that the more I dwell on trying to analyze my intrusive thoughts, the more my anxiety and emotions intensify, leading to self-doubt. Once self-doubt kicks in, that is it! My OCD bully has nailed me in the gonads and I am just left to wait it out until my OCD episode ends on it’s own. This is because self-doubt is much more difficult to overcome than the emotions attached to intrusive thoughts. Self-doubt makes the intrusive thoughts personal and without cognitive practice, self-doubt is emotionally painful.
When intrusive thoughts become stuck, you just can’t not think about them….
It’s all about changing tactics. If you do the same thing over and over again to try to solve a problem, you always get the same results. Usually, if you change your point of view, you discover a new way to tackle your problem to gain different results. So, if dwelling on the same questions is making anxiety worse, why not try asking different questions? Here are some examples:
Try to think outside the box! Ask questions that are constructive and positive to help lead you away from intrusive thoughts. And, always remember to take a deep breath!
There is always more than one way to release yourself from your anchored thoughts, you just need to find which way works for you. The OCD bully brain wants to take advantage of intrusive thoughts to make you feel like a bad person. Don’t let it! You may not be able to control your thoughts, but you can for sure control how you respond to your thoughts.
Sometimes when it rains, it pours.
Dark heavy intrusive thought clouds can be overwhelming, but clearer skies are on their way. Like all massive storms, intrusive thought storms seem to last forever. They can be scary, especially, when the storm intensifies with emotion causing more anxiety.
Whenever a storm threatens a perfectly good day, one can either seek shelter and wait it out in comfort or learn to dance happily in the rain.
It is completely up to you, how you choose to respond to your intrusive thoughts! ❤
Because OCD is an anxiety disorder, I thought stress would play a much bigger role in my OCD. Interestingly though, stress does not affect my OCD brain at all. I respond to stress much differently than I do to anxiety. For me, anxiety affects my mental state (causing OCD episodes) whereas stress affects my physical body (causing tummy aches). It’s strange, I know; especially, when anxiety and stress are pretty similar in nature.
The other day, I had a terrifying experience with vertigo due to stress. I had difficulty detecting my surroundings. The room was not just spinning in one direction, but in all directions like a free-falling space capsule plumenting towards an alien surface through uneven gravity. Lying down was even worse, as it felt like I was on a tiny gondola in the middle of an ocean during a turbulent thunderstorm storm. I also couldn’t detect the edge of my bed, thus making it dangerous to go to sleep without surrounding myself with a bunch of pillows to ensure I didn’t end up on the floor during the night. The reason our bodies don’t fall off the bed while sleeping, is because our vestibular senses are aware of the ground at all times. When our vestibular senses go out of whack, like due to vertigo, the body has difficulty detecting where the ground is and BAM!, you end up face to face with the floor! Also, while I was going through this, not a single OCD thought stirred; I am guessing my OCD brain was too busy trying to fix it’s internal compass. My husband and I are convinced it was stress-related. It was a crazy, absolutely no fun, experience that I hope I never have to experience again!
Although stress and anxiety seem to cause the same symptoms, there is a difference between them, for that they differ in “origin.” Anxiety is generally caused by unplesant internal thoughts and ideas, whereas stress is generally caused by unpleasant external situations. Furthermore, anxiety can lead to stress and stress can lead to anxiety.
When I think of the word stress, I think of physics, where a physical force is placed upon an object causing the object to bend or lean; with too much stress, the object is likely to break, fall over, or collapse. I believe the same for mental stress. External situations such as being in a financial rut, overwhelmed with a heavy workload, or being late due to heavy traffic; can create a mental force that has the potential to cause stress on the body. When we internalize these external situations with “stinking thinking,” that is when stress turns into anxiety (worry). Then, vice versa, whereas chronic anxiety due to “stinking thinking” has the potential to cause stress, physical effects on the body. In short, stress and anxiety can intermingle with one another causing havoc on the mind, body, and soul.
Okay, I am not at all satisfied with that explanation; so I would love to hear your thoughts regarding the differences between stress and anxiety?
Despite having an anxiety disorder, I tend to cope with stress a lot better than I do anxiety. Throw me into a bull-pen with a dozen angry bulls and I am as cool as a cucumber, using rational thinking to defuse a stressful situation. However, I will be completely honest, I absolutely struggle to cope with stress caused by situations I have no control over; especially, situations that I cannot resolved right then and there. Although I can make the best of a stressful situation, I often fail to accept that I am “stuck” in a stressful situation where there is nothing that “I” can personally do about it, not now nor perhaps even later. Sometimes there are stressful situations that just can’t be resolved and it’s something I must let go or just ride it out til the end (off into the sunset I suppose).
There are lots of things I can do to reduce stress, but in the end, I think the most efficient tool in my stress-management tool box is the art of acceptance. “Woosah!” (Bad Boys II movie reference)
I am feeling much better today, all because of THE HONEST GUYS! The Honest Guys is a Youtube channel that provides meditation and relaxation videos. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their guided meditations! The CALM app I have is good, but these guys are even better and is a must share! I feel grounded again! I am smiling again! I am energetic again! I am no longer stressed out! Thank you Honest Guys!
No affiliated links here, I promise!
Above is the video I’ve been playing to help myself get to sleep at night. Lately for me, stress has been interrupting my sleep schedule and I find it very difficult to overcome stress when I’m tired and not thinking straight. I also think stress and fatigue contributed to my little episode of vertigo.
Of course, meditations videos don’t work for everyone. I totally suck at medtiation and I don’t like dry guided meditations without sounds of things I am suppose to imagine. However, these videos include visual images with sounds that relate to the visual images to improve the guided meditation experience.
Anyway, whether you are looking for new meditation videos or need to try something new to help relax, I totally recommend THE HONEST GUYS Youtube channel.
This week Julie Krupp of Enhanced Perspective, a blog that I find uplifting, inspiring, and positive for the heart, mind, and soul, shared with me a link to her Sunshine Blogger Award Nomination post. To my total surprise, Speak To The Brain is among the many other amazing blogs she has chosen as her list of nominees!
A HUGE Thank You to Julie Krupp- Enhanced Perspective , not only for this awesome nomination, but also for being one of the fantastic brains that reads my blog.
I am totally excited to receive a nomination; however, to be a bit honest, I had no idea what the Sunshine Blogger Award was all about until I did a little research (stuff I do best). It turns out, it’s pretty cool and sounds like a lot of fun:
The Sunshine Blogger award is given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community.
The rules are:
1. What is the best present you ever received?
2. What are three small sources of joy for you?
3. Where is the last place you traveled and why?
4. Where is your dream vacation?
5. What did you want to be when you were little?
6. When did you feel that what you said or what you did really resonated with your soul?
7. What are you afraid of or what fear have you overcome?
8. What is one of your favorite books?
9. What is your favorite type of cuisine?
10. What is one of your favorite songs?
11. What is one of your favorite movies?
Okay, I don’t have exactly 11 nominees, but these are great reads. I enjoy following them. Each one of them has a spark of positivity and creativity. This list of bloggers often brighten my day, as it is a mix of everything I enjoy from creative photography and art to positive mental health and psychology.
What good is a blog about overcoming the suffering of OCD, if there is no straight-to-the-point information about overcoming the suffering of OCD?
Available now, in the menu to the right, is a new tab: Overcoming OCD: A Theory.
This page contains a personal theory of mine about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and thoughts on how I believe one can overcome the suffering of OCD.
Please feel free to check it out. Comments always welcome.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!