How Viruses Work: Show Concern, Not Fear

This post is an OPINION.  Although the author tries to provide content based on facts, every reader is strongly encouraged  to do their own research.  The author is not an expert.         


On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic.

I am staring at the world in disbelief, as everyone races to stockpile hand-sanitizer, wash their hands excessively, cover themselves in gloves and masks, as well as distant themselves socially.  It’s as if the entire world has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder!

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Hi Brains!!  How are you holding up?  Hope all is well!  

As a person with OCD, who has asthma, with children with asthma….
I am extremely concern, but not technically afraid.  Which is strange…

Generally, my OCD contamination fears would be kicking in about right now, but for the moment, I am okay.  Maybe, it’s the mom in me, overriding my OCD brain.  For that mom’s have a super-power of not showing fear in times of crisis.   Perhaps it’s knowing a bit of biology and having an understanding about how viruses work that ease my OCD brain, allowing me to reassure others that the world will be okay.

To be honest, I am more afraid of people irrationally panicking than I am of the actual virus.

Why Is The Public In A Panic

It is unsettling to a person with an OCD brain, to see those (normal brains) who we rely on for reassurance, go into panic mode.

In my opinion, the public is in a panic, because we are being told facts that are difficult to understand without a medical or science degree.  Scientists are notorious for not explaining things in layman’s terms (simple, to the point, easy to understand terms).

Unfortunately, the experts don’t have to time to explain it and the media doesn’t have time to understand it – they just report the facts.  And facts and statistics without further explanation can be scary and often times misunderstood, potentially, creating panic and fear.

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

-Albert Einstein

Show Concern, Not Fear

I totally agree with the experts, that we should show concern, not fear. In my opinion, based on personal experiences battling OCD contamination fears, is that knowledge is a strong foundation for reassurance.  

Unfortunately, the media seems to be pushing statistical facts, without providing further information, onto a society who lacks general knowledge of viruses.  I mean, it’s not like everyone took high-school biology.  In fact, most of our knowledge about viruses come from apocalyptic movies that deal with zombies or spy movies.  Last night, I watched Hobbs & Shaw (Fast & Furious) movie, which was entirely about saving the world from a deadly virus that, Ryan Reynolds, so elegantly put it, “melts your insides.”

So, in effort to reduce fear, I want to share with you what I know about viruses.  Of course, I am not an expert and I do encourage you to do your own research.

Our Bodies Got An Impressive Defense System

There is no doubt that COVID-19 is a serious and “potentially” dangerous disease and like any other virus, we should still take necessary precautions to stay healthy.  

Not to worsen fears, but did you know that viruses are the most abundant microbes on the planet (like billions of them) and that there is an estimate of 320,000 viruses that can infect mammals (that includes us humans)?

If that is true, why are we not constantly sick?
Well, although my microbiology is a bit rusty,  the simple answer is that the human body is AMAZING!

Although some viruses spread much easier than others, it still takes a lot of work for viruses to make healthy individuals sick, especially, if we take precautions like practicing good hygiene, washing our hands, and keeping ourselves distant from sick people.  In the event, we do get sick, symptoms are generally mild, even if we feel absolutely horrible, which is all thanks to our bad-ass immune system!!

Many people think when the body gets sick, it just gave up and the immune system is compromised, but that is FAR from the truth.  In fact, all viruses have the potential to do some pretty nasty harm, but it is our amazing immune system that often has the ability to ensure symptoms are not as bad as they could be…

Keep in mind, that a completely new virus could catch our immune system off guard and hit us hard; thus why, it is still very important to take necessary precautions to stay healthy.

What Is A Virus:  Extremely Short Basic General Version

The following is my understanding regarding viruses based on biology classes taken many-many moons ago…okay, throw in an extra moon or two in there for good measure. 

Viruses are non-living things, meaning, they cannot live or reproduce (spread) on their own.

Viruses need to infect the cells of living organisms (such as us) to survive.  This is because, living cells are metabolic power-houses that constantly produce cells within the body.  Our body is made up of trillions upon trillions of cells which are constantly making new cells to replace old cells.  It’s absolutely fascinating!

If a virus cannot get inside a living organism, they slowly die or basically become “inactive.”  Scientists use the word “inactive” instead of “dead,” because viruses are non-living things and only living things can technically die.  I know, scientists are so technical.

So, viruses pretty much lay around all day waiting for a host (us) to pick it up and IF and only IF (because the body has lots of different defense mechanisms) they do get inside, they must then face an army of fierce defenders called, white blood cells.  Good luck! 

White-blood cells (among other things) play a major role in our immune system, for that they attack and destroy foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria.  Unfortunately, not all first attacks are successful, for that a virus may overwhelm our immune system and become successful in attaching to our cells.  Once they attach to our cells, they assume full control of the cell and start to make copies of themselves (reproduce and spread)- which then, makes us sick.

However, even then, it is short lived (duration of illness), as the body has many other defense mechanisms in place to help fight against a virus attack.  Such a cool defense mechanism is a fever, where the body purposely heats up in attempt to fry the suckers (the virus).  That essentially, levels the playing field, eliminating enough of the virus, for the white-blood cells to finish off the job.  This is when we start to feel better.

 

Antibodies & Vaccines

Now, although we are feeling amazing, getting back to work, and enjoying life again, our body isn’t finished yet with the virus- no way!  

Our body then, produces antibodies, which are like little battle ships that lay and wait for the next attack from the same virus.

Antibodies contain specific indentification information (like a warrant poster) that helps them quickly identify and destroy the virus in the event it comes back.

It is my understanding that antibodies become the first line of defense against an old enemy (a previous virus), where they fight off the virus while the calvary (white blood cells) make their way to the battle field.  This is why, symptoms are generally less severe the second go around with a virus.  The more times a virus attacks the more antibodies are produced to prevent future infection- eventually producing immunity.  Essentially, this is how vaccines work.

Vaccines contain a tiny bit of “inactive” or super-duper weak viruses that signals the body to create antibodies to help boost the immune system.  If your body has ever encountered the virus before, additional antibodies from the vaccine, generally do a good job at preventing having the illness again.  However, if your body encounters the virus for the first time after getting a vaccine, you may still get sick, but the symptoms will always be less severe than it would be without antibodies (vaccines).

Because many people do not understand how antibodies produced by vaccines work, they often refuse to get a flu vaccine, because they have heard of people still getting sick despite being vaccinated.

To them, they believe vaccines don’t work.  However, those who do get sick after being vaccinated, may have never been infected with the virus before, so they don’t have the extra antibodies from a previous encounter to join ranks with the antibodies produced from the vaccine.  Also, not all antibodies stick around forever either.  Some vaccines offer a life-time immunity whereas others are just good for about +/- 10 years.

In short, it takes a lot for a virus to get us down.  In fact, our body does all the hard work.  It is our job to take the necessary (don’t go crazy) precautions to avoid getting sick.

COVID-19

Now, that we know a little bit about viruses in general, lets talk about COVID-19…..

First, COVID-19 is not a zombie apocalypse virus.  According to the CDC, which by the way, I believe to be the most accurate source of information regarding all kinds of viruses, states COVID-19 is a “respiratory virus” that may (not always) cause pneumonia, similar to the flu.  Ugh, the yucky flu!

Viruses often mutate into different versions of itself, producing different “strains,” in effort to survive.  Not all mutations are successful for that some mutations are weaker than others, but occasionally, they may mutate into a strain that has the potential to pack a powerful punch (such as COVID-19).

COVID-19 is 1 of 7 different strains of the virus called, “coronavirus.”

Although 4 strains of the coronavirus are nothing more than a common-cold (which everyone is expected to get at some point during their lifetime), it also has 3 other nastier versions of itself: MERS, SARS, and now COVID-19, which is a version of the first SARS outbreak.  These nastier versions (mutations/strains) of the coronavirus, cause severe respiratory issues; thus, it is important to try to stop the spread of them.

It is my understanding and opinion, that COVID-19 is extremely serious, because it poses a large health risk to those who have weak immune systems and/or underlying conditions that may cause complications.   The word “complication,” generally means, “making symptoms worse.”   The more severe that symptoms become, the more difficult it is for the body to fight off the virus.

Those who are generally healthy, may experience (if any) mild symptoms similar to the flu.

COVID-19 GAME PLAN

How do we stop the spread of a virus (whether it be COVID-19 or any other virus)?   Well, we quarantine, practice social distancing, and practice good hygiene.

The general idea is to not spread the virus to others.  The virus that is left hanging around on surfaces and people’s hands, are either washed away, disinfected, or left alone long enough to become “inactive,” and thus, not able to reproduce and spread.  However, that is quite a challenge for large populations.  I mean, Life still moves on.    

So, really the ultimate goal is to SLOW down the spread of the virus so that hospitals are not overwhelmed and become short of supplies.  This will make our health care system better manageable and reduce the mortality rate, until an effective and safe vaccine becomes available.

"Flattening the Curve for COVID-19"

Also, because COVID-19 is a virus that quickly and easily spreads, there is a good change that herd immunity will take effect and pretty much wipe out the virus out.

When a large portion of the population becomes immune, the virus has a less chance of survival.  Herd immunity is what often protects our elderly, our children, and those who may have trouble fighting off a virus.  Herd immunity also plays a major role in eliminating viruses – such as smallpox.

 

So, That’s My 2 Cents 

I am not sure if explaining the basics of viruses was helpful, but I do wish everyone the best of health, including your mental health!

If you are experiencing OCD contamination fears over COVID-19…BREATHE, learn the facts, and if you don’t understand something, ask questions.  Knowledge is extremely helpful when dealing with OCD fears.

Stay informed, follow health guidelines, and practice good hygiene 🙂 


  

 

 

 

My OCD Is Just A Thing

So…how is my OCD holding up with all this stress in my life??     

It’s flipping the monkey’s out!  But, it’s just my quirky brain being…quirky.

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By Ginny (Nature Photography) 

Anxiety triggers my OCD, so I tend to experience more OCD episodes when I am stressed and anxious; especially, if I am not practicing stress management.  Stress management helps me prevent annoying OCD episodes from occurring; however, when an OCD episode does occur, it is the practice of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques that allows me to easily breeze right through them without emotionally falling apart.


Emotionally Numb To My OCD 

My OCD bully brain no longer bothers me.  Personally, my OCD (Pure “O” OCD) is just a thing that happens…

My OCD is comparable to hiccups.  They come and go, and there is nothing I can do about it.

I can’t really explain it.
Although I am not emotionally attached to my intrusive thoughts, intrusive thoughts still flood my brain and get stuck on repeat due to the faulty wiring of my brain (OCD).   I still have moments of “what if?”   I still feel the strong emotions.  I still have irrational OCD fears.  BUT, the difference, is that I am 100% self-aware that my thoughts and feelings are OCD.

I often, nonchalantly, tell my friends and family when I am currently experiencing an OCD episode.  I am rarely ever embarrassed anymore.  I also do not ask for reassurance from anyone,  because I can now recognize and acknowledge that my own thoughts are irrational and/or silly.  I know who I am as a person.  I also know I am a person with a quirky OCD brain.

More importantly, I no longer dwell on the question, “Why am I having these kinds of thoughts.

I think it’s the “why” that causes so much emotional suffering, because “why” questions our own character, making us feel like a bad person (when we aren’t), and it fuels self-doubt.

Control Anxiety, Control OCD

In my opinion, stress & anxiety are the root cause of OCD episodes.  I practice a mix of Stress Management and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques to keep my OCD under control.

First, I had to learn to accept I have an OCD brain.  Because the truth is, there is nothing we can do about how our brains are wired (well, not yet).

Also, it is important to understand that our intrusive thoughts do not define us.  When we realize our OCD has nothing to do with us, we can begin to release the emotional ties we have with those lingering intrusive thoughts.

Thoughts are meaningless without action. 

Sometimes, intrusive thoughts can be so overbearing, we may have difficulty recognizing that those intrusive thoughts are OCD related.  So, it’s important to identify and understand the triggers to our OCD episodes (everyone is different).  The reason for this, is not avoidance, but acceptance.  Acceptance is a big part of stress-management and we must accept that nobody, not even normal brains, can control their own thoughts. 

Recognizing triggers is a start to self-awareness, that gives us the power to make a choice.  The power to be in control of our OCD.   Either we avoid something that we know is going to trigger our OCD (which kind of limits our happiness) OR we accept our OCD is going to be triggered and we work through our OCD episode (if it occurs) fully aware of our thoughts and feelings.  Being  self-aware with “Hey, it’s just my quirky brain being OCD,” reduces our emotional attachments to intrusive thoughts and allows us to move on with our lives.

It is important to note, that everyone experiences OCD differently.  Some are fully aware when they experience OCD episodes, they know all their triggers, they know everything there is to know about their own OCD, yet they are still emotionally suffering from their intrusive thoughts and feelings.

In my opinion, I believe emotional suffering continues, because we end up asking ourselves the wrong questions.  It’s analyzing our thoughts and emotions to death that fuel our OCD.

Before I understood the relationship between my OCD and anxiety, I was asking myself all the wrong questions.  Those questions led to more questions and eventually, I found myself dwelling deeper and deeper on my OCD thoughts and feelings, until I was completely consumed by self-doubt and thinking I was going insane.

I eventually learned, if the questions I am asking myself over and over are leading me in an endless circle of doubt, perhaps, I am just asking myself the wrong questions….

Questions That Are Perhaps Fueling OCD

  1. Why am I having these kinds of thoughts?
  2. Does this make me a terrible person?
  3. What if?
  4. Where are these fears coming from?
  5. Are these thoughts real?

Perhaps Questions To Ask Instead

  1. What am I anxious about?  (Think about everything going on in your Life)
  2. What are the facts?
  3. Are these thoughts rational?
  4. What triggered my anxiety?  (A change, even a slight change in something new)
  5. Is this something I can control?

Everyone’s OCD is different, so, this may be helpful or may not be helpful.  My point is, when you’re not getting the results you want, it’s probably time to change up tactics.

If you find yourself walking in circles, STOP, and point your feet in a different direction; then start walking again-perhaps you’ll go somewhere new for a change.

You Got This!!

There was a time in my life, I thought I would never be happy.  I struggled to imagine how anyone could ever get over such horrendous thoughts and feelings.  There was a time in my life, I thought I was going insane.

Today, I am glad I took a stand against my OCD bully brain!  It’s wasn’t easy.  I am not cured of OCD, but I did manage to overcome the emotional suffering of my OCD.   Hope does exist.  It is possible, to live happily with OCD.  It just takes a lot of work, understanding, and some OCD bully brain ass-kicking!

To everyone who has OCD, you got this!!

 

 

 

When The Universe Has Plans

Hi Brains!  

It has been a super rocky new year!  So rocky, I tripped, fell, rolled down hill, into quick sand, but I haven’t sunk yet.

Shape 25

The Dim Brighter Side

I am always the first to recognize a brighter side, a new perspective that provides hope to something better.  At the moment, the brighter side is pretty dim.

My husband is being bombarded by some crazy Life challenges that strangely have nothing to do with him directly, yet are impacting our family in big ways.  The worst part, all we can do is just ride it out and hope for the best.

Life happens, but strangely not all at once; so the Universe is totally up to something.  Major change is coming and we just don’t know what to expect…it’s scary!  However, just because the brighter side is a bit dim, doesn’t mean it’s completely blacked out.

I Cried, Laughed, Cried, and Laughed Again

It’s been an emotional roller-coaster!  I am on this endless cycle of crying and laughing.  My emotions are all over the place.  Just when we are feeling better about everything, something else unexpected happens.   It’s crazy!!  

I got so deeply depressed about everything going on, I forgot about all the things that make me happy.  I forgot about blogging, my Netflix binge watching, and even the small things that make me smile, regardless of the tough times.

It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to worry.  It’s okay to get overwhelmed by the “what-if’s, the worst case scenario’s, and self-doubt.”  It’s when we don’t do anything about the way we feel that becomes a problem and it’s just another problem to add to the rest of our problems.

Depression is no joke!  It can be extremely difficult to escape from depression.  I feel as if the entire world is crumbling around me.  Fortunately, after awhile, I have realized the world is not ending (not yet).

The brighter side, although dim, has provided me with enough strength to be the solid rock my family needs me to be during these strange stressful times.  Life happens and change is inevitable, but no matter what, at the end of the day, we always learn to adapt!

Breathe.  Accept what you cannot control.  Be grateful for all that you have.  Be kind to others and love yourself.  

How do you overcome overwhelming emotions in situations you can’t control? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No New Year’s Resolutions For Me!

Happy New Year Everyone!!  I hope everyone had a good 2019.

I am walking into the new year without a single New Year’s Resolution!  Seriously!  I’ve decided to try something new…

Of course I want to lose weight, stop a few bad habits (like fast food and Energy Drinks), and become a better me, blah, blah, blah… but this year, I am not writing those down as a New Year’s Resolution.

No New-Year’s Resolution Jar for me this year!  Usually, at the end of every-year, I write down all my wants, dreams, goals, and stuff on individual pieces of paper and store them in a jar, and then, at the end of the next year, I open the jar to see all that I have accomplished or not accomplished.  Surprisingly, it’s not always disappointing, as I do end up accomplishing something.

But this year is different, I mean, major goals like that are a bit too much to carry with you into a new year.  Who wants all that weight…I want to float into the new year feeling good, not weighed down by a list of “must-do’s.”

So, I am keeping it light and simple.

Striving to become a better person than I was yesterday” is something I try to practice daily – a year long thing that will be the only goal-like thing I continue to carry with me into the new year.

The best part, is that 3 months from now, I don’t have to wake up to disappointment that I failed to complete (or even start) a New Year’s Resolution.  Instead, I am changing bad habits one day at a time, at my own pace, and little by little.  It’s the art of breaking up large goals into smaller, much more realistic, achievable goals.

This year…make goals, but don’t pressure yourself into making them into a “must-do” New Year’s Resolution that must be completed this year (because that’s the heavy expectation of a New Year’s Resolution, making a change right now, this year).  That’s not realistic, so just be you and work on your goals at your own pace- you’ll get there, even if, you don’t get there today, tomorrow, or next year, you will eventually get there!

If you want to eat healthier, don’t just give up unhealthy foods cold-turkey.  Pace yourself.  Slowly transition into healthier eating.  I know, because I’ve been trying to give up fast food for years, but today, I am little better than yesterday and that is what counts!

If you want to lose weight, learn to walk before you run.  Believe me, jumping into running after years of barely walking is painful (I’ve done that too).  Make a step-goal and then, when your body is up to it, do a little more each day.

That’s the problem with New Year Resolutions, we often feel like we have to start a whole new habit immediately and then, when it doesn’t take hold, because it’s a lot of work, we feel like failures and give up.

Not this year!  Walk into the new year with a positive attitude, no heavy New Year Resolutions weighing you down, just reasonable goals that you hope to accomplish by the end of the year – not tomorrow.  Pace yourself and do a little more than you did yesterday and you will get there.  If you fall back 5 paces, it’s okay, it just means you over did it, and start over.  Listen to you, not what others say you have to do.  This is your year!

So, here’s to brand new amazing year!  Follow your dreams, work on some goals, and just be yourself!  ❤

 

Making Mistakes Are Okay

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It’s okay to make mistakes.  

I think, people, everyday, everywhere, are often too hard on themselves for making mistakes.  We often find ourselves striving for perfection, with very little room for acceptable error.  In my opinion, perfection is an unachievable standard designed to create emotional suffering.

My Take On Perfection 

Perfection is an illusion, because nothing in the natural world is flawless.  You might see symmetry and order all around you, (half the time, it’s your brain filling in gaps to help you make sense of things), but look a little closer, and you will notice slight variations that make everything unique and different- not 100% perfect.

Perfection can be difficult to obtain, not only because it is an illusion, but also because perfection is nothing more than a matter of opinion.  My idea of perfection is probably different from your idea of perfection.  Unfortunately, differences in opinions, can lead to criticism, and I think that is why striving for perfection can be so destructive.

My OCD Brain – The Perfectionist 

My OCD brain is a perfectionist, but I am not.

I don’t have a need to strive for perfection; mostly, because I accept chaos, I don’t believe in perfection, and I enjoy being an odd-ball.  But, my Fight or Flight Response System seems to gauge danger based on the assumption of perfection.  One slight difference from the so-called norm and my Fight or Flight Response System’s alarm is sounding off, triggering anxiety, and forcing my OCD brain to respond the only way it knows how- with OCD.

Of course, my OCD is a bully and it tries to use perfection against me to create self-doubt.  I make one tiny mistake and my OCD brain is all over it!  It just won’t let it go; especially, if other people address and criticize my mistakes- my OCD is all over that!  I end up dwelling on my mistakes.  Of course, I naturally feel bad whenever I make a mistake, but my OCD brain will try to make me feel as if I am the worst person on the planet.   From there, I begin to doubt myself.  “I am not good enough.  I always make mistakes.  I can’t do anything right, etc. etc.”  And, sure enough, that can lead to catastrophic thinking: “If I try, I will fail, and something bad might happen if I fail.”  A destructive thinking cycle.

Mistakes Are Okay, Everyone Makes Them

Everyone makes mistakes!  The wisest of all wise minds have made mistakes.  The greatest of all great minds have made mistakes.  Making mistakes are crucial to learning!   Also, it’s kind of a human thing to do.

Image result for einstein mistakes quote

Although some mistakes come with consequences, one of the many reasons many of us don’t like making mistakes, they are also important in teaching us life lessons to help us grow and become better versions of ourselves.  Don’t be mistaken though, for that mistakes can lead to wonderful discoveries!  Have you ever heard of silly putty! 

10 Ways to overcome our emotions after making a mistake

  1. Own your mistakes.  Acknowledge, apologize, and accept, that you made a mistake and if the mistake can be fixed, do your best to fix it.
  2. Forgive yourself!
  3. Learn from your mistakes.  Every mistake is a lesson to be learned.
  4. Understand that everyone makes mistakes- you’re not alone!
  5. Accept that nobody is perfect, even those who may criticize you for your mistakes- they’ve made mistakes too. 
  6. Mistakes are bad decisions due to poor judgement or lack of knowledge, usually not because of purposeful evil intentions.
  7. Mistakes do not define failure.   Allow your mistakes to encourage you to strive for success.   “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, again!”
  8. Laugh about it!  We all make silly embarrassing mistakes time from time.  The best thing to do, is just to laugh them off and move on.
  9. Accept that not all mistakes can be forgiven or fixed – that’s just Life.
  10. Good people make mistakes too!

Mistakes Are Forgivable

In my opinion, mistakes are forgivable, just not everyone has the ability to forgive.

Forgiveness can be difficult, especially, when the heart strings are pulled too tight.  Emotions make forgiveness tough for everyone.  But, the most important part, is forgiving yourself for your own mistakes.

Forgiving yourself first, may open the door for others to follow and express forgiveness too.  However, in order to forgive yourself, you must accept that others may not forgive you.  It’s tough to forgive yourself, especially, if those who are not willing to forgive, are making you feel bad for the mistakes you have made.

If you made a mistake that caused emotional pain to another, acknowledge and apologize for your mistake(s), understand their point of view, offer to correct your mistake(s), accept the consequences, and forgive yourself.

Forgiving yourself allows you to move on, when others can’t.  If the other person cannot forgive you for making a mistake, even after you have apologized and fixed (or tried to fix) your mistake, the problem is out of your hands.  Sometimes we end up dwelling on our own mistakes, because other people don’t (or can’t) let go.

Forgive But You Do Not Have To Forget

The inability to forgive, creates grudges and I am not a fan of grudges.  Personally, I just don’t have the time and energy to hold onto a grudge.  I am a type of person who forgives and forgets.

I forgive myself for making mistakes and I forgive others who make mistakes.   Mistakes just happen and thus, to me, I don’t think mistakes are a big deal.  I mean, of course some mistakes can be major problems, but I strongly believe with a little teamwork, all honest mistakes can be fixed.  Like, instead of criticizing someone for making an honest mistake, why not just try to help them (work together) to fix their mistake?  Makes it much easier for everyone to move on without holding onto a grudge.

But, again, there are some people who are just forever- grudge holders.  There is nothing you can do or say to make up for your mistakes.  And, you know what, that is totally fine!  

Grudge-holders are hanging onto emotions attached to past actions.  This is something they need to work out on their own.  I once advised a friend of mine (who openly acknowledges being a “Major Grudge Holder”), that it is completely okay to never forget, but for the sake of their own emotions, they should at least forgive.

What is Forgiveness- Greater Good Magazine 

The act of forgiveness is for you, not the person asking for forgiveness.  In my opinion, forgiveness doesn’t mean the actions of others are okay.  Forgiveness is, more or less, accepting that such unfortunate actions had occurred, allowing you to move past your own emotions (anger, hurt, embarrassment, or whatever).  However, you certainly do not have to forget.

Smile, Breathe, and Dust Yourself Off

The next time you make an honest mistake- smile, breathe, and dust yourself off.  Everything is going to be okay!  Everyone makes mistakes!  It’s all part of being human!

Check out this interesting link below about conquering fears by making mistakes on purpose!

Why You Should Make Mistakes On Purpose – Psychology Today

 

Do you think forgiveness is easy or difficult?  Why?

 

 

 

I’ve Had Better Monday’s

Okay, so it’s not Monday, but nonetheless, I’ve had better days when life feels chaotic….

My youngest is sick again.  We, as an entire family, have been stuck on a vicious cycle of being sick since September.  This week, it’s my husband and our youngest who are coughing like crazy.  My husband thinks he has allergies, yet sounds like he is coughing up a lung (or two).  Our youngest, has bronchiolitis (for adults, they call it bronchitis).  Unfortunately, her asthma is making it difficult for her to breathe.  She’s already been hospitalized twice this year due to her asthma messing with her colds (or her colds messing with her asthma).  Either way, as a mom, it scares me whenever she gets sick.  The slightest wheeze, I am on her like a hawk monitoring her breathing.  The other day, she was prescribed some heavy artillery asthma meds; in which, we hope will keep her from having to go to the hospital.

I’m A Lazy Cook.  We’ve been indulging in many nights (mornings and afternoons too) in deliciously expensive addicting fast food.  Ever since the dishwasher caught on fire, no fault of my own this time (the calcium build-up was burning), I haven’t been in the mood to cook again.   I’ve lost all motivation.   I am just tired of wasting food from the grocery store. Today, is my shopping day and I am just frustrated trying to come up with a satisfying meal-plan.  It seems as if I’m constantly buying food – but, where does it all go?   

A “Soon” Deadline  Maybe, it’s just me, but I don’t like unknown deadlines; mostly, because I am a procrastinator (I openly and honestly admit).  I do my best work during the last “crunching” hour.  However, the project I am tasked with right now, is going to take me a couple of days to complete.   I’ve gotten most of it together, but some of the things left, require a lot of typing (yay, me) and a few other things are time-sensitive that require to be processed closer to the deadline (not a procrastination thing); yet, the so-called deadline is in limbo.  People just keep telling me, “soon.”   What does “soon” mean?!

I Just Cleaned My House  At some point, in between 7pm last night and 6am this morning, our house looks as if it exploded!  I remember cleaning it yesterday, but this morning, I cannot figure out what happened; however, my bets are on the 2 year old.   I mean, that would explain the donkey on the kitchen counter (a bouncy seat toy).  Generally, no big deal, but family is supposed to be visiting tonight!

Lost Glasses In The Room of Doom  Our oldest wears glasses and this morning, she lost them.  She lost them in her room.  Her room looks like the Temple of Doom, booby-trapped with a minefield of toys, stuffed animals, books, and pesky legos!  The rule is that she cleans her room every night, so that I do not break my neck trying to get to her bed to wake her up every morning for school- and of course, cleanliness is a good habit too.   Most nights we are on it, but last night, we had family movie night; in which, we all fell asleep afterwards.  But, had I known her room was going to swallow her glasses whole this morning, we would have cleaned it.  So- finding lost glasses is on my list today.   

Halloween Is Still Here  On my to-do list is to take down the Halloween decorations (outside).  BUT it is soooooo cold today!!!   Maybe…we’ll try again tomorrow.  I read somewhere, that putting up Christmas decorations early can make a person happier (well, probably not so much the neighbors).   I thought about it, but again, my OCD doesn’t like decorations in the house.  I can clutter the outside of our house until my hearts content; but inside, it must be subtle with a warm, inviting, decor flow.

Ugh….Christmas, I haven’t even thought about my Christmas to-do list!!  

A Laundry List Of To-Do’s, But It’s FRIDAY  Although I have a long to-do list, those are just a few things that are stuck on my mind.  In fact, it’s not really that bad.  I feel better just talking about it, plus, it’s Friday!  How can a Friday act like a Monday anyway – it can’t, it’s against the rules of whatever rules govern the days of the week (no such thing, btw).  I mean, you know, every day of the week is something:  Mondays are terrible, Tuesday is for tacos, Wednesday is hump-day,  Thursday is catch up day, Friday is happy, Saturday is fun, and Sunday is relaxing.  So, Friday’s are just not allowed to be like Monday’s.  But, every day, can certainly be Taco Tuesday! 🙂

Thanks for enduring my rambling nonsense today.  I wish everyone a Happy Friday and hope everyone has a great weekend!!

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To Delete Or Not To Delete Irrational OCD Fears

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The most difficult thing with OCD, is resisting the urge to follow through with a compulsive behavior.  It is so emotionally painful, that the need to obtain immediate relief from the emotional torture is too much, and you are forced to just give in.

But, the remarkable sensation that courses through my body when I finally do take a leap of faith and fully resist my OCD bully brain – is undeniably amazing.

At first, it stings, a lot, like getting a massive emotional shot to the heart, but then it gradually feels better, to the point, it doesn’t hurt anymore.  It’s as if the fear was worse than the actual experience.  Once released from the agonizing grip of OCD, clarity sets in, and the mind is at ease again.  I believe that remembering such an experience, helps develop self-confidence, and the more confidence you build, the easier, over time, it is to overcome your OCD bully brain!

The Dreaded OCD Crutch

Earlier this year, we bought a vehicle dash camera for the family car.  Surprisingly, not for the purpose of my OCD, but more so, for my husband to use on his long drives into the city.  Anyway, I knew when I bought it, I feared I would back-track on all my progress overcoming my irrational OCD fears about driving.

In my opinion, a dash camera is an OCD crutch used as reassurance for the OCD brain, allowing one to calm their anxiety while driving and later check to make sure all, in fact, was well.  Overall, it’s a bad habit that doesn’t benefit anyone suffering from OCD.  It makes OCD worse, because you lose all confidence in yourself.  Confidence in which your OCD bully brain doesn’t want you to have- because self-confidence is power against the OCD bully brain.

My OCD Itch 

For a long time, I managed to keep the dash camera nicely tucked away in its cozy case in the glove box, going on with my business without an OCD care in the world.  But, I guess you can say, I eventually got the OCD itch….

I really didn’t start using the dash camera for my OCD, until I began driving my kiddo back and forth to school.  There is just so much anxiety having to drive through a school parking lot surrounded by kids, teachers, parents and pets (oh yes, pets- who brings their pets to school?).

Kids on bikes scare me the most, because they are the most unpredictable.  They tend to pop out of no-where, as if they just came through an unexpected worm-hole!  Teachers stomp through the parking lot as if they are invincible to cars.  And, then there are some parents recklessly driving through the parking lot with places to go, people to see, and jobs to get to on time.  So, it’s quite understandable that my quirky Fight or Flight Response System is on high alert, sounding off a constant emergency alarm!

So, like any rational person with an irrational OCD brain, I began using the dash camera.

A Destructive Decision

At some point, my sneaky OCD bully brain convinced me that I should probably use the dash camera as a “precautionary” measure against “crazy in-a-hurry drivers” who don’t know how to drive.  IT WAS A LIE!   My OCD bully brain wanted to strip away self-confidence and replace it with self-doubt!  That’s it’s evil plan!

Using the dash camera on a daily basis was a destructive decision against the war effort on OCD.  After a few days, I started to become dependent on the dash camera.  No matter where I went, whether it was driving a few miles to the school or just around the corner to check the mail, I needed it!  

Without the dash camera, I find myself circling parking lots to reassure myself everyone is safe.  I will waste gas to double back to reassure myself that I didn’t cause a wreck or something.  But, the worst, in which I finally realized I had a problem, is when I began lying to my family, about the need to go somewhere when there really wasn’t a need to go anywhere- I just wanted reassurance.  Or, lying to my husband, after getting back from the grocery store, that it took me longer to get home, because “the car sounded funny and I just wanted to drive around to make sure it wasn’t anything serious;” when in fact, I was just doubling back to ease my OCD brain.

I shouldn’t have to lie.  My husband knows I have OCD.  But, after overcoming so many OCD fears, I am a bit embarrassed when I regress like this; even though, it is okay to take a few steps back sometimes.   I am not perfect.

When All Confidence Is Lost

What is certain, is that I must knick this in the butt as soon as I can, because once all my self-confidence is lost, my OCD bully brain wins.  Self-confidence is extremely important in overcoming my OCD fears.

When all self-confidence is lost, extreme self-doubt will attempt to distort reality-it’s scary and emotionally exhausting.  It doesn’t matter what anybody says, the OCD bully brain takes hold and does a remarkable job of convincing you that you are terrible person.  Self-doubt can be so powerful, nothing is reassuring, not even real footage on a dash camera.  You eventually begin to question your sanity, as you dwell over and over on what it was that might or might not have happened.   Not knowing for sure, increases all the emotions inside, building anxiety, and causing overwhelming emotional suffering.

My first two years with OCD was like this and I NEVER EVER want to have such an experience like that EVER again!

Difficulties Letting Go 

The memory card for the dash camera is completely full and yet, this weekend, I was unable to delete it, in fear, something of great importance was on it.  “What-if” thinking set in.  What if something bad happens, if I delete it?  

Of course, I can just let it be, for that new videos will eventually override the old videos, but that often corrupts the memory card and memory cards are expensive- at least this one was; I later learned that I totally overpaid for it.  The memory card (SD card) for the dash camera, cost me about $30, and is the size of my thumb nail (and I have tiny thumbs)!   That’s crazy!

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Massive Dose Of Exposure Therapy Today

This weekend, I made an executive decision against my OCD bully brain, that I was going to limit the use of the dash camera.  The initial plan was to stop using the dash camera every time I drive somewhere; unless, it is somewhere, where I should probably use it, like trips to the school, because, that’s rationally reasonable, considering all the crazy traffic.  Also, I planned to completely resist the urge to do any checking, when I do use the dash camera.  Well, that plan backfired on me this morning- because I had no dash camera to use!

This weekend, like every other weekend, I had brought the dash camera inside the house to re-format the SD card (delete files) to start fresh for a new week.  I failed miserably of course, due to my OCD fears.  However, this morning, rushing out the door to get my kiddo to school, I forgot about it and I didn’t have time to go back inside and search for it- because it wasn’t where it was suppose to be (figures, right?).  So, I had to drive my kiddo to school without the comforting reassurance of a dash camera.

I was super anxious at first, but I reminded myself to breathe (deep breaths) and reassure myself everything is going to be okay.  Then, one by one, practice the 5 most important things I have learned so far about overcoming my OCD.

  1. Self-Confidence: I reminded myself that I am a good driver and a good person.
  2. Acceptance:  I must accept the situation of not having a dash camera and also, make the best of it with a positive attitude.
  3. Faith:  I must believe in myself.  Also, there is always a reason as to why things happen.  The Universe doesn’t want me to use the dash camera; obviously, otherwise, I would have had time to find it.  The Universe is helping me overcome my OCD fears.
  4. Stress-Management:  Breathe.  Deep Breaths.  There is nothing to be anxious about, for that I am familiar with the road and the usual traffic.
  5. Mindfulness:  When the brain goes on auto-pilot while driving, we sometimes forget what happens between Point A and Point B of our trip.  Sometimes, not remembering our drive (even though there was nothing significant to remember) can trigger an OCD episode.  Today, I knew I had to be 100% in the moment with my driving, so that I didn’t later question my driving.  Every time the mind began to drift, I redirected my full attention to my driving.

 

When I got back home….I was okay!  I had no need or urge to double back to make sure the world was still okay.   I also found the dash camera and finally deleted the files to start a new week.

In the future, I still intend to use the dash camera, but only if I am driving to places with a lot of traffic.  I also plan to resist the urge for reassurance with the dash camera (no compulsive checking).  It will take time and practice, but I am confident in myself, that I got this!!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hairy Blob Monster From The Drain

Today, I decided to deep clean the kitchen, well, okay…the entire house.

If I clean the kitchen, I gotta clean the living room, and if I clean two rooms, I gotta clean all the rooms.  AND, the worst room in the house, the room I always dread cleaning the most, is my husband’s bathroom!  He’s just gross!

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Tackling my husband’s bathroom requires a hazmat suit and all the harsh chemicals my OCD doesn’t allow me to use.  My OCD is so bad, I can’t even keep any harsh chemicals (toilet cleaner, multipurpose cleaner, or even floor cleaner) inside the house, with the fear, someone will get hurt.

I hate OCD. 

However, I have no problem keeping other types of cleaning products in the house, such as disinfectant wipes, glass cleaner, and environmentally-safe (to the sewer monsters) dishwasher soap.  But, it’s taken me years to allow those inside the house.  I do not like them, but they do not bother me as much as the harsher products.  Silly, I know, but it is a work in progress; one day, I hope to not be bothered by any cleaning products in the house- like a normal person.

MY OCD EPISODE 

Today, I managed to deep clean my house, with harsh chemicals, without having an OCD episode.  Unfortunately, the chemicals, it seems were the least of my problems.  IT WAS THE HAIRY BLOB MONSTER IN THE SHOWER that triggered an OCD episode!

My husband is hairy, well, except for his head.  He is slightly (to be nice) balding, however, I do not think the hair on his head is technically falling out.  From my perspective, it just seems as if its relocating to other parts of his body…to fall out.  This, is a problem for the shower drain.

I love my husband. 

Anyway, I decided today, since I am already in deep cleaning mode, I would unclog the showers.  Generally, some vinegar and baking soda does the trick, because for the most part, it’s just shampoo and body-wash clogging the drains.  Plus, who doesn’t like watching vinegar and baking soda react!

Unfortunately, my husband’s shower drain was being stubborn.  I went to the store and got this handy little stick thing (because I do not like chemicals) to try to unclog the drain.  Now, if you have never bought one of these, you are totally missing out on all the fun!

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Simply, it’s a stick, with ridges, that you shove (takes a bit of work) into your drain, and with all your might (with two hands), pull out the most gross, nastiest, hair ball in the world!!!

The coolest thing, is that it works!  The downside, is if you have OCD…  The gunky gross hairball touched me! 

Gloves couldn’t save me, for that it touched the exposed portion of my arm!  My OCD bully brain had convinced me that no matter how much soap I used, no matter what type of soap I used, or how hard I scrubbed my arms, we were all going to get super sick and it was going to be my fault!

It also touched my sweater, that I threw into the dirty hamper, that my kids later knocked over on to the floor….oh mymy world was upside down!  Now, I had to disinfect the floor!

Irrational intrusive thoughts flooded my brain like crazy!

Stopping Intrusive Thoughts

Fortunately, my intrusive thoughts were interrupted by a phone call.   Earlier today, we dropped the car off for an oil change and it was ready for pick up.

Distraction can be an effective way to stop intrusive thoughts.  The drive to the car shop, cleared my mind, and acted like a reset button.  Just like dealing with a bully, sometimes, you just have to walk away.

When we came back home, I was fine.  I even managed to unclog the other shower without my OCD bully brain getting in the way (exposure therapy).

If this would have happened a few years ago, I can tell you…our shower drains would not be hair-free.  I would have broken down in tears.  I would have thrown away my sweater.  I would have scrubbed my hands and arms until they bled.  I would have disinfected the monkeys out of the floor where the dirty laundry touched.  I would have stopped using the shower all together.  And, I would have dwelled and dwelled and dwelled on my thoughts until I felt as if my heart were about to burst.

As silly as this story is, for some, the emotional fears stirred up by OCD can be super real.  It takes a lot of work to overcome the OCD bully brain, but with practice, I promise, it does get better!

 

      

 

 

 

 

 

Sick…Again, It’s Kind of Getting Frustrating

We are sick again…and, it’s starting to get a bit frustrating.  

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We’ve been off and on sick since September!  We’ve probably only had about a couple of days in between viruses where we all feel pretty dang good; but then, someone gets a fever and the cycle starts all over again.  Welcome to parenthood.

You’d think after 30+ years, my immune system has encountered most of the virus strains out there and thus, should have a pretty tough defense against cold viruses by now.  Apparently not.  Viruses are constantly evolving and are always creating new challenges even for the toughest immune systems.  Thanks Evolution!  

Had our kiddo gone to daycare or preschool prior to Kindergarten, we probably wouldn’t be sick as often.  One of the benefits of daycare and preschool, is that your kiddos are introduced to all the nasty viruses before starting Kindergarten.  Therefore when Kindergarten starts, the immune system is fully ready to defend against most common kid viruses and they will likely not miss any significant amount of class time.  Because my kiddo never did preschool or daycare, her immune system wasn’t prepared for all the nasty bugs out there and we’ve missed quite a bit of school, because of it.

Although I love being a stay-at-home mom and teaching my kids all the things preschools teach, I do regret not getting my kiddo out & about enough to strengthen her immune system before starting school.  The upside though, my youngest is catching everything my oldest brings home and hopefully, by the time she is ready to start school, we probably will not be as sick as often (at least, that is what I hope).

Unfortunately, this is a ride we just have to ride out for awhile.  It’s frustrating.  Nobody likes to be sick and being sick on and off, months at a time, really sucks.  When will it end!

My friends have suggested my family try Elderberry supplements.   I am not really into supplements, but I am willing to try anything.  But, that’s me.  When it comes to my kiddos….I am strictly, by the pediatric book kind-of-gal.  So, I am a bit hesitant.  However, several of my friends swear by the stuff, claiming it has kept their kids sick-free all year.

What do you think?  Are supplements healthy?  Is it worth a try?  

Well, today is Friday.  I love Friday’s!  Doesn’t matter if you are working 9-5 or you stay at home all day, Friday’s are for everyone!

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope you all have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

National Bullying Prevention Month: Bullies Need Hugs Too

“Bullying is not acceptable, is not exactly the statement I believe is going to prevent bullying.  In my opinion, the best prevention tool is teaching today’s youth, not only appropriate behavior but also appropriate coping skills to maintain appropriate behavior.

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In my opinion, (and, it’s really just an opinion) bullying behavior is often times nothing more than an individual struggling to cope with an unfortunate situation or struggling to express themselves. Sure, there are a few genuine bad kiddo’s in the world, no fault of their own,  who need serious mental help; but for the most part, bullying behavior is a natural (yet, inappropriate) response us humans do when we simply don’t know what to do with our crazy emotions.

There are a zillion reasons as to why an individual may express bullying behavior and below is just to name a few:

  • Struggling to appropriately express emotions (for example: the boy who picks on the girl he likes or vice versa)
  • Feeling neglected or unwanted at home due to lack of needed attention (busy parents, chaotic households, new baby, sick family member, etc)
  • Being physically or emotionally abused
  • Being forced to grow up too fast
  • General stress
  • Change
  • Difficulty coping with constantly feuding parents
  • Parental separation
  • Simply having a bad day
  • Low self-esteem issues or depression
  • Personality Disorder
  • Other undiagnosed mental-health disorder, including anxiety or anger-issues
  • Strict parenting styles that restrict freedom of self-expression or speech
  • Someone else is bullying them

Bullies are often victims themselves, taking their emotions out on others to make themselves feel better in effort to cope with their own problem(s).  In my opinion, provide bullies with better coping skills to help them tackle whatever situation is triggering their behavior and you might be able to prevent further bullying.  Teach these coping skills in school to both parents and students, and you might be able to prevent bullying altogether.

The Wrong Direction With Bullying

Sadly, it seems as if society’s solution to the bullying epidemic is to shame bullies, severely discipline their behavior, place hefty fines on their parents, or whatever other counter-productive measures society thinks is best to prevent bullying.  But, I say…that’s wrong.  Bullies are often victims that need hugs too.

According to the New York Times article, “Your Child Bullied Someone? That’ll Cost You $313” , a town in Wisconsin are ready to place hefty fines on parents whose child is a bully.  The idea is to get parents involved in changing their child’s bad behavior…but, sometimes, the discipline applied by parents may contribute to further bad behavior.  I mean, not every parent who is fined hundreds of dollars is going to have a calm reasonable discussion with their child about their behavior.  In fact, some parents (especially, those tight on money in the first place) are more likely to have unintentional terrible discussions about how such behavior has negatively impacted household finances; in which the child ends up feeling worse (triggering more bully behavior) for that they now feel it is their fault their family has money problems.  Sure, the bully behavior is addressed, but not resolved.  And, what if its the parents, themselves, who are the root cause of their child’s bullying behavior– how does a fine resolve that?

Disciplining the behavior without resolving the root cause of the behavior, often makes matters worse- for everyone.

A Better Direction With Bullying 

There is way more to bullying than just behavioral issues.  Many bullies are going through some pretty heavy stuff that they just don’t know how to handle themselves.  They don’t know how to talk about it, solve it, or make it better.  They bully others for attention and often times, negative attention is better than no attention at all.  They may bully to feel in control, because they lack control somewhere else.  I truly believe there is a reason behind every bullying behavior.

Talking, listening, and understanding is vital to stopping bully behaviors.  Once the situation becomes clear, you are able to provide an individual with the appropriate tools and/or resources to become a better person and stop bullying.

Victims and those of authority, have different responsibilities when it comes to dealing with bullies:

  • Bully victims must tell someone when they are being bullied and make an effort to walk away from that bully.
  • Someone of authority (parent, teacher, guardian, etc), must then address the inappropriate behavior as well as, take the time to make an effort to figure out what is causing the behavior in the first place and take the necessary steps to help the individual resolve it.

In my opinion, bullies need help and if everyone walks away, nothing is going to change.

Helping Bullies Stop Bullying

The internet is full of articles on how to cope with “being” bullied, but there is little to no information on how to help a bully.  So, from experience, well, some experience, as a parent who had to deal with a child who bullied others to cope with being bullied, this is what I suggest trying to do to help….

  • #1 Give them a hug, because if they are expressing bullying behavior, they got some  heavy stuff they are trying to figure out.
  • Set aside some one-on-one time with your child and LISTEN to them.  Sometimes, listening is all they need.
  • Be understanding,  respectful, and supportive to their situation.   Your child’s problems may sound like nothing to you, but they may feel monumental to your child.
  • It is important to help bullies learn how to effectively communicate and express their feelings.
  • Let them know that it is okay to feel sad, angry, or confused, and encourage them to talk about those feelings.
  • If your child will not talk to you, it’s okay.  They are human.  You can give them a little encouraging nudge, but don’t be pushy.
  • Trust is everything.
  • Whether or not your child is willing to talk about their problems, it is still important to address their bullying behavior.  Let them know that their behavior, regardless the reason behind it, is not acceptable and discuss reasonable consequences if such behavior continues.
  • Reassure them that they are not bad people, just people who are making bad decisions.
  • Teach them appropriate coping skills for dealing with anxiety and stress.
  • Teach them alternative behavior to bullying.
  • Try to resolve issues that are triggering the bullying behavior (it might be something that is out of their control and need your help with).
  • Leave the victim out of it.  Most of the time, the victim has nothing to do with the root cause of the issue.  If they are part of the root cause, resolve the issues separately- keeping bully and victim apart for awhile, until each of them learn to work together to resolve their differences.
  • If your child will not talk to you, observe their world- Are they stressed?  Are there significant changes?
  • If bullying behavior is getting worse, seek counseling.

I Am Not Choosing Sides, I Am Choosing BOTH Sides

Nobody deserves to be a victim of bullying and nobody (bully or victim) deserve to struggle with their own problems alone.  Bullying behavior is not acceptable and it is our duty, as adults, to help today’s youth learn how to better cope with things that may trigger bully behavior.  Bullying prevention starts with us (not the kiddo’s), for that it is the lessons, tools, and skills that we choose to provide to our children that are going to make the biggest impact against bullying behavior.