July Break Starting Early: Be Back In August

Hi Brains!

Oh my gosh, I cannot even begin to tell you…

The Universe was certainly clearing my plate for something BIG!

On top of everything going on (as mentioned in my last post), we’re just going to throw in a tonsillectomy!  Yup, getting my tonsils removed!   Talk about ANXIETY!

I have so much anxiety right now, my OCD Brain totally abandoned me!  Seriously.  Like, it threw itself off it’s high-pedestal and told me, “Good Luck,” and sat it’s fat OCD butt in the corner.  Still there, waiting to squeeze in an OCD thought when it can.

Ugh.  I am not looking forward to a tonsillectomy.   I am told that due to my age, it is going to be a rough recovery.  I am told there are two different kinds of people, some that sleep the first week of recovery, because the pain is so unbearable and some that just chill in bed with Netflix and popsicles with pain that is described as “uncomfortable,” not entirely “unbearable.”

I am worried about pain.  I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around the fact that I am going into surgery without pain to wake up in tremendous pain.  How does one mentally prepare for that!

I also, don’t do well with mouth pain (who does?).  I can lower the level of pain I am in with meditation (learned it from my mom), so long as that pain is no-where near my head.  But, I am a HUGE baby when it comes to sore-throats.  I hate sore-throats so much, I put them at the top of the list with kidney stones!  LOL

Anyway, I am not happy that I have to get this done, just before my step-kids are scheduled to visit for summer break.  The first week of visitation, my husband is on his own, because I will still be recovering from my surgery.

I bet every wife out there can relate and understand the terror of leaving their husbands in charge of the household for a week!  LOL.  I am joking, my husband will do fine.

Anyway, I know it is not the end of the world.  I truly believe all this crazy chaos is setting us up for a new beginning.  Almost, in every bad situation, things always get worse or more difficult, before it gets better.  I am still optimistic.

It is sometimes difficult to be positive in chaotic situations, but positivity brings life to hope and hope encourages us to move forward.  My mom said something to me the other day, that if you are going to fall and if you’re going to fall hard, always make sure you fall forward – not backwards.” ❤

This has been a tough year for everyone.  I do hope things get better for everyone.

July is always a busy month for me, so I am probably not going to be able to post again until August.  I wish everyone a happy, healthy, relaxing summer!

IMG-0785
Hope everyone has a great, safe, fun summer!

 

I

The Universe Has A Good Sense Of Humor

 

The Universe [Almighty] definitely has a good sense of humor…

coffee

I ordered this coffee mug for Mother’s Day, which reads, “Chaos Coordinator Fueled By Caffeine.”  I think it’s great!  Anyway, this coffee mug has quite the story and I feel the need to share it…

Now, when it first arrived last week, I was too disappointed to realize just how funny Life can be sometimes.

So, the story actually begins with the wrong package.
According to its tracking status, my coffee mug was “delivered.”  Fed Ex, UPS, and Amazon delivery guys/gals do not knock anymore, to avoid face to face contact.  Totally understandable; however, the  picture they provided me as “proof of delivery,” showed a massive package at my front door.  Massive!

I opened up my door and sure enough, a huge box was there – it could have held 10 coffee mugs.  It was heavy too.  Well, I was expecting other packages and I just barely glanced at the address sticker.  So, I opened it.  TOTALLY NOT MY PACKAGE.

I looked at the address label and it is addressed to my neighbor with no name.  So, to avoid face to face contact, I thought I would drop it off at our community club house and let them sort it out.  Well, I forgot, the clubhouse was closed!

Ugh, I couldn’t just leave it at my neighbors door, because it was opened and I had no tape to reseal it.  I had to knock on my neighbors door and hope someone was home.

Fortunately, someone was home.  Through a crack in the door, I passed off their package to them and of course apologized for opening it.  They were super nice, but goodness, their door slams loudly.  LOL

So, obviously, my coffee mug was delivered to someone else.  I contacted customer service who told me to call back, if I hadn’t received it after 48 hours.    Okay.

Well, later that day, I got a very loud aggressive knock on the door.  It was so loud, that I immediately thought, BIGFOOT!  Of course, I am joking.  But, still, I decided I should probably wait for whoever that was to leave, before opening my door.  LOL

After a bit, I opened the front door to find a tiny smooshed box (perfect size for a coffee mug) on top of my door mat.  Honestly, I didn’t expect to ever get it.  So, I am totally grateful that someone found my box and left it at my door, even though it looks like it had one heck of a crazy journey getting here.

I picked up the box and you can hear shattered glass.

My coffee mug was busted.  Actually, the mug itself was pretty much intact, except for the handle; the handle was completely shattered in tiny pieces.  Unfortunately, I can’t use it without a handle, because there is a tiny hole in the ceramic where the handle is busted (it’s a leaky coffee mug), so it downgraded from a coffee mug to a fancy pencil holder.

mug 2

I was going to return it, but it just doesn’t seem worth it.  It was very disappointing.  I sat it on my desk, filled it with pens and pencils, and moved on with life.

However, yesterday, I glanced over at it and just started laughing!

The broken handle on this coffee mug that reads, “Chaos Coordinator Fueld By Caffeine,” truly represents CHAOS!  

I LOVE IT!!  I will never part with it!  

It will be a constant reminder that not only does the Universe [Almighty] have a good sense of humor, but also that when things seem broken or busted, they can still have purpose and serve a very important function.  🙂  ❤

 

 

 

Allergies Kicking My Butt: Just Venting

It rained and so my nose drains… 

Every time it rains, my allergies start to kick my butt.  I get no relief from allergy medicine; doesn’t even matter the brand anymore.  None of it works.  If the allergy medicine (Allegra) is working today, I’d totally wouldn’t want to know what it would be like without it working, because my nose is pretty stuffed up!

I’m so miserable when I can’t breathe out of my nose (who is?) or when my nose runs faster than a water faucet.  But, I think the worst part of having allergies, is feeling tired and you can’t sleep, because you can’t breathe out your nose.

Sometimes, if I am lucky, I can lay on my side and all of the congestion will drain to the other side.  It’s actually a pretty cool sensation; reminds me of pouring liquid from one cup into another cup.  But, sometimes there is a delayed transition when both sides are super congested and you can’t even swallow your own spit without your ears popping!

Although pretty gross, it is entertaining for a while and also a great way to practice mindfulness!  LOL

So far, the only relief I can get is temporary; generally, by eating spicy foods, taking a hot shower (which no mom has time for), a hot compress across the bridge of my nose to open up the sinuses, salt water (saline) up my nose, pinching the bridge of my nose like those interesting snoring-reducing nasal strips, or believe it or not, pressing my tongue up against the roof of my mouth works wonders too.  I don’t know the science behind that one, but hey, whatever works, right!?

Seasonal Allergies are new to me.  
I was raised in the desert with concrete, dirt, cacti, rocks, and more dirt.  I am not used to living in a place with trees, flowers, grass, shrubs, and rain.  The closest thing we ever got to rain in the desert was water misting off a water fountain on a windy day.  Okay sure, it occasionally rained-rained, but like maybe 5 minutes, a few times a year.  By the time you got outside to enjoy it, everything was dry again-thus, we never got any mold.

Ugh, where I live now, it’s a constant cycle of different allergens.  It’s either a stupid tree blooming, a windy day knocking pollen all around, a landscaper cutting grass, a dirty a/c filter needing changing, or mold after a long rain-storm.  It’s awesome (total sarcasm there).

Even our pet bunny triggers allergies after I clean its cage.  I found that I don’t suffer from allergies as much if we stick with paper bedding $$$, rather than the usual aspen-type bedding.  And, our poor bunny, has to naw on tiny compact hay blocks, instead of loose bits of hay, because of my allergies.  Oh boy, am I allergic to hay!

So, allergies.  Yup.  Super fun.  Do you know any home-remedies for allergy relief?  Leave us a comment. 🙂

I guess I am just a mess.  Anyway, thanks for letting me vent.  🙂   I hope everyone is having a good week!

Acceptance & Awareness: Coping With Stress During A Pandemic

I will be honest…last week, I totally fell apart!

I feel like I went through the Five Stages of Grief denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  

I am not sure if anyone else has experienced this lately; if so, please feel free to share with us your thoughts and opinions too.

My downward spiral of emotions began when the media started reporting different facts regarding the CoVid-19 pandemic, causing great panic and fear in everyone.

As a scientist at heart <3, I question the world around me, not only to gain better understanding, but also to better accept the unknown.  However, when information is incorrect or contradicting, it is difficult to make an accurate assessment to build a solid game plan.  As human beings, if we cannot accurately assess a serious situation, our Fight or Flight Response System kicks into high gear, creating panic and fear.

Of course, with the help of my OCD brain, my rational questions turned into stinking thinking, which not only created panic and fear, but also a physical pain in my ribs due to the build up of stress caused by panic and fear.  In short, I had a really really bad panic attack!

Denial
My emotions started with denial.  With all the confusing, contradicting, false information circulating around, I started to think, perhaps things are not as bad as it seems.  Then our community got serious, with shut-downs and testing.

Anger
Then, I got super angry.  Angry, that I am high-risk for complications due to my asthma.  Angry, that my family might lose me.  Angry, that I never finished my Biology degree to be one of the scientists who can help cure this awful disease.  Angry, that the world may change forever for my girls.  Angry, about so much stuff.  

Bargaining & Depression
After the anger subsided, I began a stage known as bargaining…where the “what if” thinking really started to get me down.  Mostly, I became overly concerned about the welfare of my kids…in which, I can’t even bring myself to talk about without the waterworks starting up again.  I started organizing my affairs and gathering information my family would need, in the event, I get really sick.

This was the stage, where I began to feel the pain in my ribs.  The part where depression kicked in and I cried a lot.

Acceptance
Today, I am feeling much better, except for my ribs; they feel like they were beaten by a baseball bat.  But, my heart-rate is down, I am calm, cool, collected, and ready to take on the world again.

I am currently working on acceptance and I think acceptance is very important when having to cope with stress; especially, a lot of stress.

I have accepted that the situation going on today is out of my control.
However, I can certainly control how I respond to this situation.
I can respond by…

1) Keeping myself informed and up-to-date
2) Doing my best to practice good hygiene and taking the necessary precautions to prevent illness and help flatten the curve to help others.
3) Worrying only when it is time to worry.
4) Having hope and never giving up on hope.
5) Continuing to enjoy Life with a grateful heart and a positive mind. 


Practicing Awareness
With everything going on in the world right now, it is super easy to forget about the present moment.  For many of us, we are wasting the present moment by dwelling on the past as we worry about the future.  But, in the grand-scheme of things, the present is all that really matters.  Even when the world is not tumbling into chaos, enjoying the present is far more important than our past and future.

Don’t get me wrong, our future is important too.  However, focusing on the present allows us to pave the way for a better future, a more enjoyable future, rather than a future spent on regretting the past.  I am not sure if that makes any sense, but basically, I am just saying, make good decisions and fantastic memories now, so that you end up having an amazing life later.

Also, practicing awareness for the present moment, gives us a break from all the chaos around us.  It has the potential to reduce panic and fear.  Being aware of the present moment, reminds you that at this very moment in time, you are okay.   Focusing on the present moment, removes a vast majority of fears and anxiety; especially, those associated with time and space.  It can eliminate fears and anxiety regarding the past and future (time).  It can also eliminate fears and anxiety caused by situations that are in your life, such as work, school, home, etc (space).  Self-awareness allows you to block out everything else and only focus on yourself…your existence.  This allows you to reprioritize your thoughts, worries, and emotions.  It also allows you to heal and recharge from overwhelming emotions.   A mental break.

Thank You To All The Amazing Brains 
I just wanted to take a moment to thank all the amazing brains out there taking the time to check out my blog, reading my posts, and posting comments.  You guys are awesome!  We will get through this together.  I wish everyone the best of physical and mental health!  Positive vibes too ❤

 

 

 

Getting To Sleep With A Chatter-Box Brain

Sometimes I lie in bed, anxiously waiting for my brain to shut up.  My brain goes on and on with random thoughts; chatting away excitedly, all while I just sit there, silently  watching the minutes pass by on the clock.  My brain often times doesn’t get the hint that I want to go to sleep.

I have an arsenal of sleep techniques, which include taking a warm bath, reading the words most boring books, playing audio-books & sleep stories, watching “Moving Art” on Netflix, and/or listening to white-noise apps.  In worst case scenarios, possibly taking Melatonin.  But, for me, the most effective way to get to sleep has been guided mediations.

Guided mediation is like a sleep-story, but instead of just listening to the narrator tell you a story, you focus on the narrator as he/she guides you into relaxation.  Basically, helping you obtain self-awareness.  Sometimes is a visual guide (like relaxing on a beach) or a basic guide to breathing and relaxing the body.  The entire point is to calm your busy brain and relax the body.

I may have shared this before, but I tell ya, I love these guys!  The Honest Guys, on YouTube.  They have amazing guided mediation videos and if you aren’t much of a visual person, just the sounds alone are peaceful enough to induce relaxation.

Below is one of my favorite videos I listen to that help me go to sleep.  I love it for several reasons:

  1. It’s a short video, only 30 minutes, but for whatever reason, I am out like a light before it’s over!
  2. The deep breathing exercise, in this particular video, is different than some of their other videos.   Instead of just taking in a few deep breaths, this video guides you along a breathing technique called “4-7-8 breathing,” in which, studies have shown to help the nervous system relax.
  3. This video also guides you through your noisy brain, by helping you return to the present moment, rather than floating off into the future or dwelling behind in the past.I have noticed that if I truly focus on listening to the guided mediation, my noisy brain does fade away into the background.
  4. The guide (Rick Clarke) speaks with a slow, whispered deep voice.  It is the whispering of his voice that seems to produce a feeling of relaxation, which is an interesting phenomenon, known as ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response).  This is actually a new trend that is supposedly therapeutic for those with depression, insomnia, and anxiety.Even the popular App, Calm, has ASMR “sleep” stories, in which their sleep stories are narrated with a whisper.  For me, I personally prefer listening to Calm’s Sleep Stories narrated by Matthew McConaughey. 🙂
  5. The sounds are of really good quality and thus, I totally recommend a pair of headphones.  The sounds are perfectly balanced and serene.  The music is calming and the nature sounds are not distorted, too loud, or fake.I mean, to me,  there are some videos (and apps) out there where ocean waves just sound like tv static.   It’s terrible!

However, I have learned, that for this guided meditation to be most effective, you must put forth some effort, especially, if you have a really chatty brain, in listening to the guided mediation and doing the breathing exercises – otherwise, it’s no different than having a radio station playing in the background.

Last night, my brain was super chatty and I kept wandering away from the guided meditation.  So, I re-started the guided mediation with the full intent to focus on the sounds of the meditation and without even realizing it, my brain shut up (or faded in the background) and I eventually fell asleep.

If you suffer from insomnia or anxiety, please give this a try.  I know it may not work for everyone, but it never hurts to try, especially, if nothing else seems to help.  Please have an open mind and hope you enjoy.  ❤

Oh, another thing… The Honest Guys are so cool, they have visual guided mediations that are Lord of the Rings themed!

Change Is Not Without Challenges: Stay-At-Home Orders

How has your daily life changed since the coronavirus pandemic?

It is my understanding that the entire United States is under “Stay-At-Home” Orders (restrictions may vary state-to-state), where the only places open are those that are “essential” and “necessary,” like the grocery store, pharmacy, doctors, and a couple of restaurants that offer “drive-thru” only.

Where I live, we can still go outside, drive around, but social gatherings of 10 people or more are not allowed and we must keep a distance of 6 feet or more away from each other.  I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what 6 feet looks like; however, I gather it would be the length of my daughter X2.  In my opinion, that isn’t much, for that not everyone sneezes the same.  I’ve seen some gross sneezes in my lifetime! 

Life At Home
As a stay-at-home mom/housewife, my life hasn’t changed very much.  I mean, I still wake up every morning, enjoy a cup of coffee on the patio, read the horrifying news and check emails & stuff.  Then, I embark on my daily mommy/housewife duties.  The significant change to my daily life, is that my husband is working from home now, my Kindergartner has online schooling, and I must cook every night.  Yay me!

Our Place Is Too Small For Messes
We live in a very small space, in which, is more difficult to keep clean now that the entire family is constantly home.

Generally, I deep clean on Sunday and the rest of the week just requires a bit of tidying up, because it’s really just me and a pre-schooler hanging out all day.  But now, our place is a constant disaster zone!

Everyone is bored.  Projects come out, every toy imaginable comes out, and food crumbs everywhere.  Every couple of hours, we have to stop, pick-up, vacuum, and then resume.  Not fun.  Of course, that’s all part of adjusting to change and eventually, we’ll get into a better routine.

Online Schooling Is New
How does a Kindergartner do online schooling?  Well, we (including the teachers) are about to find out!

Last night, I was sent the schedule for daily lessons.  It’s a bit overwhelming.  I felt like I was in college all over again!   Good thing, I am not the one who has to do all this school work, but I can tell you, it sure is going to take a huge amount of work to convince a Kindergartner to do all this school work!

Creative Cooking
Due to people excessively hoarding food at the grocery store, we are pretty much limited on what to cook every night.  It’s always an interesting surprise!

Mostly, I try to do casseroles, so that I can stretch a meal for a couple of days.  Unfortunately, there is only so many casseroles you can throw together with just a few ingredients.

My husband went shopping yesterday and he brought home ground “chuck.”  I am not exactly sure what to do with ground chuck.   Is it like ground beef?  Is it even beef at all?

Although cooking is an adventure, I absolutely, hate doing dishes!  Everyday there are piles of dirty dishes and everyday I have to clean those piles of dishes, so that I can cook again the next day.  For me, dishes are the most dreadful part of my day!   

OCD Moments
My OCD isn’t going crazy.
I really thought I would be a super clean freak, but instead I am pretty 
comfortable in my own home.  However, every so often, I do disinfect our entry-way.  I wash the jackets hanging up, disinfect the floor and doorknobs, spray the shoes too, and then, spray the air with disinfectant just as an extra precaution.  It makes me feel better.  

So far, my largest OCD quirk has been the shoes.  I have this irrational fear that viruses and bacteria hitch rides on shoes and it drives me crazy whenever family forgets to kick off their shoes at the front door when they come home.  They are great at washing their hands as soon as we get home, but they are always so eager to play in water, they forget to take off their shoes.   And for some reason, our youngest doesn’t want to take off her shoes at all.  I couldn’t even get her to relinquish her shoes at bed-time the other day.  So, sometimes, even when OCD is at it’s worse, you still have to pick your battles with a pre-schooler.  At that point, you either wipe the shoes off with a wet cloth or suck it up and face your OCD fears (exposure therapy).

This Is The First Week
Anyway, this is our first week together!  There will be challenges here and there as we try to adjust to this new way of living.  It’s going to be interesting!   It’s going to be an adventure! 

I hope everyone is well and I wish everyone the best of physical and mental health!

How are you holding up?  Are you stuck at home too?   How is your OCD doing?  

 

 

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!

Screen Shot 2019-10-26 at 11.00.03 PM

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.

IMG_0391
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!  ❤