My Weirdest OCD Ever: Whale Poo

This Memorial Day weekend, I took my girls to Sea World…all by myself.  You would think my OCD brain would have been on fire with anxiety.  Surprisingly, I was okay.  It wasn’t as stressful as I thought it would be; plus, I wasn’t the only brave (insane) parent who decided to bring their kids to a crowded amusement park all by themselves.  Sure, I was a bit anxious (who wouldn’t be), but having fun and making memories with my kids was way more important than getting stuck on a worrying-spree.  I tell ya, my OCD brain didn’t know how to handle that, and thus, I got the weirdest, most ridiculous, silliest OCD episode EVER, about whale poo!

Allowing OCD Thoughts & Feelings To Just Flow

I rarely “suffer” from OCD anymore.  I have OCD, so what I mean is that the intrusive thoughts and feelings from my OCD rarely ever cause me emotional “distress” anymore.

For me, my OCD is just there.  OCD is just something my brain does and I have accepted the fact that there is nothing I can do about the wiring of my OCD brain; however, I do have full-control on how I respond to my OCD.

Being able to recognize when my brain is “OCD-ing,” gives me better control over how I respond to OCD and thus, reduces the emotional distress caused by my OCD.  With lots (LOTS) of cognitive practice, I have learned how to let my OCD thoughts go, laugh at them even, and do my very best to move on with my life.  Of course, there are some OCD thoughts and feelings that are more difficult to let go than others, but in the back of my mind, I understand all my OCD episodes are triggered by real sources of anxiety, in which my OCD brain misinterprets, and holds on to by strong emotions.  In this particular case, I recognize the real source of my anxiety to be my kids.  I was anxious about the crowds and worried about how my kids were going to do at the park.  Understanding the real source of anxiety also gives me control over my OCD.

Allowing OCD thoughts and feelings to just flow, is an interesting experience.  It is almost like watching a suspenseful action-adventure movie, where you are on the edge of your seat, with your heart-pumping with adrenaline, excited for the next scene, but you have no worries at all, because that is totally not you in the movie being chased by bad guys or something (simply not your problem-kind of feeling).  When I am aware of an OCD episode, my OCD thoughts and feelings kind of just play in the background.  It’s really quite an interesting experience.

A Biologist’s Busted Dream

I love the ocean!  In high-school, I studied Marine Biology and I was set on becoming a Marine biologist; sadly, there just isn’t much marine life in a hot, dusty, and dry desert.  I did have the opportunity to learn to scuba-dive in a swimming pool, but I never finished my certification due to having Asthma.  My marine biology dream bubble was kind of busted by my physician who is a retired Navy physician.  He kindly explained to me that divers with Asthma are at high risk of collapsing their lungs due to the high pressures underwater.  Unfortunately, asthmatics often suffer from the “Bends” aka “decompression sickness,” more often than non-asthmatics.   So, the closest I am going to get to deep-sea marine life is in an Aquarium.

 

Please Don’t Blackfish Me

Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 11.36.28 AM

How dare I bring my kids to Sea World, haven’t I ever seen Blackfish? 

Yes, I have!  “Blackfish” is a very heart-breaking, eye-opening,  documentary about the Sea World Amusement Parks and their alleged mistreatment of their Killer Whales (Orcas).  And, yes, I am very angry at Sea World!

Honestly, I find it extremely inhumane to keep not only one, but several massively large  marine creatures in a large swimming pool.  It is especially wrong, considering that each Sea-World park has a man-made lake for their water-skiing / boat shows that is 1000 times bigger than their Orca habitats.  Seriously, I would expect the Orca and dolphin habitats to be as big or even bigger as their man-made lake.  Basically, I just think captive Orca and dolphins deserve acreage in their tanks not square-feet.

So, why take my kids to Sea World?  Well, for the experience and to also learn about ocean conservation.  Sea World, I must give them that, has a decent ocean conservation program.  Although they teach the public about how to protect marine life in the wild, their undesirable captivity program (animals in the park) kind of makes me want to protect marine life even more in the wild; especially, if it could result in keeping animals in the wild instead of having to end up in captivity for rehabilitation or even for entertainment purposes.   Just a thought.

To be honest, I had no intention on dragging my kids to any Sea World shows.  When I was a kid, the trainers swam with the Orcas, in which was super fun to watch; however, due to tragic incidents where Orcas have attacked and drown trainers, trainers no longer swim with the Orca (highly understandably).  Unfortunately, the Orcas rarely do anything during the shows anymore.  Spoiler Alert: The entire show is sitting in front of a large tank listening to trainers recite Orca facts.  The Orca jump out of the water maybe once or twice during the entire show and at the end, they splash the audience.

OCD-ing About Whale Poo

My oldest was intent on seeing a whale, so, of course, I was going to make sure she saw a whale (mommy reflex).  BTW, Orcas are not technically whales, so I should have taken her to see the Beluga Whale instead, but that is a debate for when she is much older. I have learned to never argue with a preschooler!

When we arrived in the Orca stadium, my youngest dragged us all the way to the bottom (Splash Zone) to watch the Orca circle the tank.  They circled around the tank like sharks.  Although sad, they were still magnificent creatures to look at.  Anyway, as one swam by us, it pooped.  It was super gross!

We watched the entire show and at the end, we got splashed by 3 large Orca’s!  OMG, it was a lot of water!  A lot of cold, super salty, and in the back of my mind, poopie water!    My OCD brain was totally focused on the whale we saw poop in the water before the show.  That was just one Orca…there were 3 Orca’s in that tank!  That means, there were 3 large pooping Orca’s in that tank, splashing their toilet water all over us!

Before I saw the Orca poop in the water, my brain was content with the ignorant idea that Orca just don’t poop where they swim.  It’s just something I never really thought about before.  It didn’t ruin my day or anything, but the thought did linger in the back of my mind all the way home.

I thought about our drenched clothes, covered in Orca toilet water, have now contaminated the car seats.  Then, when we got home, we all went to bed without showers, because it was late and we were all exhausted!  I had a lingering thought that now our beds were contaminated with whale poo too!

I did have the compulsive need to wash everything as soon as possible, but, I didn’t, I was too tired to worry about whale poo.  We had to just live with it and surprisingly to my OCD brain, we survived without having to scrub everything clean.  Although we all took showers the next day, the clothes are still in the dirty laundry waiting for their turn to get washed.  The car seats need to be washed too, but not because I fear they are contaminated with whale poo, but mostly because they smell extremely salty.  3.5% salinity, to be exact.  Wow, I actually remember something from high-school. 🙂

So, that was my weirdest, most ridiculous, silliest OCD episode EVER!  If anything, it has taught me to think twice before sitting in the Splash Zone ever again.  🙂

Do you have any weird OCD stories, please feel free to share with us!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Pardon The Mess: A Blog Makeover

Shape 5
Making a few amazing changes to my blog

Hi Brains!

Around 4am this morning, I had an epiphany.  Apparently, a large glass of caffeinated ice-tea will certainly wake up the brain cells and get the hamster wheel going in my brain…

Anyway, with a lot of thought, A LOT of thought, I decided it was best for my blog (and for me, to become a better blogger) that I try to focus on just 1 simple mental health topic for my blog.  With much consideration, I have ultimately decided to focus more on OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder); instead of trying to write about every mental health experience I personally encounter everyday.

Although I plan to provide more content about OCD, I will still continue to sprinkle my blog (every so often) with content about my husband’s fascinating Asperger’s brain, the mental health challenges of being a busy mom, a parent of a micro-preemie, and a step-parent, as well as, discussing other fascinating mental-health experiences; however, just not quite as often as I would like nor perhaps how often my amazing readers expected…sorry.

BUT, I shall certainly continue to do my very best to provide positive encouragement to all of those who have embarked on their own mental-health journey, regardless what mental health journey they are on.  Everyone’s mental health matters!

Thank you Brains!

An enormous THANK YOU to all the amazing brains who have read, commented, and shared my blog!  An even greater THANK YOU to all those following my blog!

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend!

 

 

 

 

Quality Healthcare Does Matter: Update on my mom

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 10.57.01 AM
Illustration by Ginny

As a former biology student with no accomplished doctoral degree, I understand I am not a doctor.  I am just a nerd whose “Miss-Know-It-All” opinions should be kept to herself; but there have been some moments, in a doctors office, when one of my unkempt bushy eyebrows slowly rise above the other, transforming my facial expression into a questioning look, thinking to myself, “I bet this person averaged a C+ in med-school.

My Expectations For Quality Healthcare 

I do trust doctors.  I, just like so many other people on this planet, have to have faith that doctors knows what they are doing.  After all, our health is totally in their hands; well, some of it at least, for that we do carry a good portion of self-responsibility when it comes to keeping our own bodies healthy.

However, when our bodies do fall ill, we have to trust that our doctor will accurately diagnose our health problem(s) by looking at an array of crazy different symptoms, which often mimic a zillion-and-one other health problems.  We have to trust that they will perform the appropriate tests to come to a single accurate diagnosis.  We also have to trust that they will provide us with an effective treatment plan.  Quality healthcare isn’t just about accuracy, but also about communication, positive attitudes, and compassion.

Although I have high-standards (I admit) for healthcare, I am not expecting perfection. Seriously, I understand the job can be extremely stressful.  I volunteered once at a hospital; a bag of pee (urine) exploded on me and I now have a whole new appreciation for those working in the medical field, especially nurses.  Healthcare providers endure long hours, in a fast-pace, better-know-your-stuff, demanding, type of work environment with angry, ill, not always the most pleasant kind of patients.  It totally makes it difficult to provide astounding quality care when you are having to work under those types of conditions.

In my opinion,  I believe it’s the dedicated healthcare providers, who aren’t just there for a paycheck, that provide the best quality of care to patients.  Even the sour apples (moody healthcare providers) who are just, understandably, burnt out, can often times still provide quality healthcare to their patients.

Unfortunately, there are some healthcare providers (hopefully not a lot them) who seem to treat patients as if they are just an inconvenient problem sliding through a ticket queue, expressing little to no compassion, with the intent to just collect a paycheck.  Have you ever encountered a healthcare provider like that?  Not quite the comforting experience you want when you feel like crap, right?  

Then again, there are healthcare providers who absolutely try to do their very best to provide quality healthcare, yet unfortunately, mistakes still do happen, because lets be honest, nobody is perfect…

Dangers of Healthcare Mistakes 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am worried about my mom.   I am worried about her health and I am also worry that she is not receiving the best quality of healthcare.

As a short recap, my mom has been really sick.  She felt as if her health had been declining; feeling weaker and weaker everyday.  Everyone is afraid of the ugly “C” word; however, according to my mom, doctors now think it might just be her Diabetes causing all the issues.

Well, I guess after being told it might be her Diabetes on the fritz, she made an executive decision on her own (not doctor approved) to stop her insulin injections (a potentially dangerous decision that should never be made without doctor approval).  However, my mom is now telling us that she feels so much better since nixing the insulin.

Personally, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps she was experiencing an overdose of insulin; in which is also SUPER dangerous!   So, yeah, my hair is a bit frizzled in anger, because let me share with you the events that lead up to my mom’s (reckless, yet probably life-saving) decision to stop insulin injections…

Earlier this year, my mom’s doctor started her on insulin.   However, the physician assistant (P.A.) poorly demonstrated how to properly administer the injections, insisting that the protective cap, covering the needle on the injector pen, is not to be removed.  My mom says she was a bit confused, because she couldn’t understand how the injection was going to work without removing the cap from the needle; however, the physician assistant continued to insist the cap is not to be removed, otherwise she would not get the needed dose amount, because it will leak without the cap.  So, my mom did as instructed (despite the massive bruising it was causing- horrible, I saw it).  Anyway, turns out, the first 2-3 months of starting insulin injections, my mom was not getting any insulin at all!

I wonder if the physician assistant, perhaps (giving them the benefit of the doubt), thought the protective cap was more like a protective “guard” in which the injection needle protrudes through the guard once the injector is pressed into the body (some do that).  Unfortunately, the physician assistant’s mistake may have possibly done some damage, for that the doctor later increased the dosage of insulin due to the fact there was little to no change in blood sugars.  Nobody ever questioned whether or not the injections were being administered properly.

At this point, not realizing she is not getting insulin from the insulin injector, my mom decided to work harder to try to maintain her blood sugars on her own by changing up her diet.  In her mind, perhaps the insulin was actually working, but her diet was making it difficult for the insulin to do its job.  So, she gained control of her blood sugars, but she was under the impression it was the insulin injections (not her diet).

Then, one day, the local pharmacist recognized there was a problem with the way my mom was administering her insulin injections.  The pharmacist informed my mom that the brand of insulin injectors she was using does require the protective cap to be removed to properly administer insulin into the body.  My mom was shocked, embarrassed, and furious (who wouldn’t be)!

Ever since my mom started taking insulin (actually getting insulin from her injector pen), she has been getting sicker and sicker.  Instead of investigating the root problem, her doctors were only treating the symptoms.  It was only about a week ago, my mom had this realization that her health problems had started shortly after learning how to properly administer insulin with the insulin injector.  Therefore, she wondered if maybe her health problems have something to do with the insulin.  The only way to find out, she figured, is to stop the insulin injections all together and see what happens (Again, not something you should do without doctor approval-ever).

Because my mom is not a doctor, she didn’t know that injecting insulin into her body when she had her blood sugars under control could be potentially dangerous.  If the blood sugars are under control without the need for additional insulin, adding more insulin into the body could cause severe health issues.  This could be (I am not a doctor, either) the reason she has been so sick, especially, if the earlier increased insulin dose was not lowered after realizing the injector was not administering insulin at all.  Furthermore, it is also equally dangerous to stop insulin all together without the approval and oversight of a doctor; for that, insulin, at a lower dosage, may still be needed.

A Potentially Dangerous Situation That Could Have Been Avoided

Had the physician assistant properly demonstrated how to appropriately administer insulin with that specific type of insulin injector, months of feeling ill could have been prevented.  How many other patients are going without insulin due to this one tiny misinformed mistake?  Also, the fault doesn’t entirely rest on the shoulders of the PA, but also the doctor who authorized an increase in insulin without questioning whether or not the patient was properly administering their insulin in the first place.  Furthermore, in the grand scheme of all things going on with my mom’s health, I can understand why it took so long to figure this out.  Unfortunately, I still fear the extra insulin could have caused further damage to her health.

All we can do now, is to move forward.  According to my mom, her blood sugars are still a bit “wonky,” but I think that is a expected, especially, after months of chaos with different doses of insulin.  Fortunately, my mom has finally agreed to change doctors!  (YAY!!)  She has only been off insulin for a week and has an appointment soon with her new doctor, so it’s not like she is going to go months without insulin leaving her Diabetes unchecked or anything.  She just wanted to give it a try, to see if she feels better without it and fortunately for her, she does feel better!  Again, it was a reckless, yet probably life-saving decision to make without a doctor’s approval.

Not Over Yet…Waiting For Test Results

Well, that is one hurdle we barely managed to leap over; however, we are still waiting back on a lot more tests before determining my mom’s overall health status.  One day at a time, right?  But for right now, I am just so glad that my mom is feeling much better.  You can hear it in her voice again!  ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mindful Walking: Taking It All In

I used to think mindful walking meant “watching” your step.  Like, the delicate art of dodging sneaky fixed-light poles, jumping over Grand Canyon size pot holes, avoiding embarrassing trips over large cracks in the sidewalk, and trying not to invade personal space bubbles of others walking around you, including getting tangled up with animal friends on long leashes.  Makes sense, right?  Walking in general, kind of requires some level of mindfulness.  How much more mindful should we be? 

Well…walking mindfully, is so much more than just watching your step and being aware of your surroundings (calm down secret Ninja).  Mindful walking is enjoying your surroundings, feeling the moment, and engaging in all your senses.  Although it sounds complicated, like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time, I assure you, it’s actually very easy.

Walking Like A Zombie

We don’t have to actively think about moving our feet to walk, (left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot), we kind of just do it automatically.  Sometimes to the point, we can end up at the refrigerator without even realizing it, browsing mindlessly into an open refrigerator not even sure if we have a hungry tummy.  Our feet take us on all sorts of trips, but rarely do we remember any part of the trip.  Seriously, walking in the parking lot from your car to the grocery store; do you ever remember specifics to your surroundings?

When our bodies are in this normal automatic (zombie) mode, our Fight or Flight Response System is directing our senses, not us, mostly because we are too busy thinking about other things.  I know while I am walking to the grocery store from my car, the only thing on my mind is a shopping list.  This is why we rarely remember any specifics from point A to point B, such as how many people were in the parking lot, particular smells, the color of parked cars, a penny on the ground, or any trees or flowers in the parking lot; well, unless you parked next to a tree, then of course, you have to remember that tree.

My point is, we do see all of these things, but we rarely pay attention to any of it, unless it sparks an interest, like a unique rainbow colored car with unicorn horns or things that pose a danger to us, like a vehicle backing out of a parking space in front of us or the smell of gasoline.  We are semi-aware of our surroundings; but our Fight or Flight Response System is doing majority of the work when we don’t walk mindfully, because its mission is to keep us safe while our mind focuses on other things (like a shopping list).

Mindful Walking 101 

The next time you go for a walk, even a short trip to the refrigerator, try to practice mindful walking. Shape 3

To start, you have to get your feet moving in a desired direction, then once you are on your way, bring full-attention to your body then extend your senses outward to the world.  Taking in each moment of every step as you walk from point A to point B.  Bringing your full attention to one simple task, such as walking, is extremely calming and sometimes enlightening.

Focusing On The Breath

On longer walks, like a good exercise around the block, always start with your breath.  Focus on your breath by paying close attention to its sound; notice your chest moving in and out as your breathe.  Can you feel your muscles working?  Once you get a good, calm, breathing rhythm, move your attention to your feet.

Feet to Head Mental Scan

As you walk, you want to take notice to how your feet feel against the ground.  Are you a light stepper or a heavy stepper?  Are you walking fast or slow?  Try to notice the heel -toe movement in walking.  Can you feel any muscles working?

After your feet, pay full-attention to each body area, working your way up to your head.  Move upward from your feet to your thighs, then to your hips (do they sway side to side as you walk, mine do).  Then focus on your back, how is your posture as you walk?  Wiggle your arms and fingers, focus on the sensations there.  Finally, move up to your head where you will begin to extend your senses outward.

Using Senses To Discover A New World

When you engage in all your senses while walking, the world around you becomes more vivid, clearer, and sometimes even more beautiful.  That is because you begin to notice things you never noticed before.

Try to bring your full attention to each of your senses.

  • What do you smell?  Is it good or bad?  Does it spark any memories?
  • What do you see?  Look for flowers and trees.  Pay attention to building architecture.  Notice textures and colors.
  • What do you hear?  Birds chirping?  Dogs barking?  Kids screaming? Construction?  How does it make you feel?
  • Focus on taste.  Morning coffee? Toothpaste?  Unique unpleasant after-taste?  Is it slightly raining?  No shame in taking a taste of rain like a kid, enjoy it!
  • Focus on touch.  Touch everything, but be mindful of boundaries.  Touch flowers, dirt, the bricks of a house.  What does it feel like?  Take your shoes off while walking along a beach (avoid rocks).

The point is to activate all your senses while still being mindful of your surroundings to remain safe from danger.  You can enjoy your walk so much more, by taking in every moment of your journey.  This is truly the art of being mindful.

Gratitude Is The Result Of Being Mindful 

Focusing on your breath and doing a toe to head body scan brings your body to a state of relaxation.  However, engaging all your senses can bring a sense of gratitude.  As you focus on your senses, you begin to appreciate all the new discoveries.  Gratitude often leads to happiness and happiness is always a good thing.  🙂

What are your thoughts on mindful walking?

 

 

 

 

 

The Power Of Self Confidence: No More OCD Crutches

The OCD brain loves to devour self-confidence; so much so, that it can leave one drooling with self-doubt.

In my opinion, I believe self-doubt to be the ultimate objective of an Obsessive-Compulsive bully brain.  Self-doubt can cloud judgement, distort reality, and make us feel weak, insecure, and sometimes questioning our sanity.  The OCD bully brain feels pretty good about kicking our self-esteem in the gonads, leaving us to feel like, well, totally not in control and less like our wonderful selves.  Once you begin to doubt yourself, game over, the OCD bully brain has won!

Cannot Beat OCD With Crutches

Unfortuantely, you cannot defeat an OCD bully brain with crutches.  You might be able to wave them around like a dork, swinging at your OCD like crazy, but eventually, you’ll lose your balance and fall hard on your butt.  Crutches are not good at fighting back against OCD.

An OCD crutch is something we can lean on to help us bounce back quickly from a bad OCD thought, feeling, and/or compulsive behavior.

  • It can be a person who can reassure us verbally that all is okay in the world, instead of working through our OCD episodes ourselves, convincing ourselves all is okay in the world.
  • It can be a dash-camera used to rewind and check back on an anxious drive, instead of compulsively wasting time and gas to drive back to redo the drive over again.
  • It can be checking a security camera to make sure the stove is in fact turned off, instead of having the compulsive need to drive all the way back home to check the stove.
  • It can be wearing gloves 24-7 to ease the mind from having to worry about germs.
  • It could also be using medication that was meant to be short-term while learning how to cope with OCD, yet it eventually became a long-term solution instead, because it was easier.

OCD crutches are things that typically accommodate our OCD needs, making it easier and faster to move on with life without having to really work through our OCD problems.  They come in all different varieties, it just largely depends on how you use them and for how long.

Although OCD crutches help us better cope with our OCD, they are not very effective against overcoming the emotional suffering of OCD.  OCD crutches, by themselves,  just makes us feel a little less “OCD.

Having an OCD crutch isn’t terrible though.  In fact, it is a step forward towards overcoming the emotional suffering of OCD.  They are great to use as a short-term solution, easing your mind long enough to develop and practice a better, more effective, long-term game plan in conquering OCD; such as allowing yourself to focus on practicing CBT techniques, anxiety and stress management, recognizing and understanding OCD triggers, and working on a bit of mindfulness- all things required to overcome emotional suffering of OCD.

Taking A Leap Of Faith Away From OCD

To truly free yourself from the emotional suffering caused by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you must first drop the crutches and take a leap of faith into uncertainty.

Think of the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusades, where Indiana Jones ends up at the temple of the “The Treasury” in Petra, Jordan, seeking out the Holy Grail.

Remember the scene where Indiana Jones must take a leap of faith across a bottomless pit to save his father. (Clip of this scene is below)  He really has to just dive right in and take a step into thin air (uncertainty), in which to his surprise, after minor heart failure over the fear of the unknown, realizes there is in fact a solid “invisible” bridge across the bottomless pit.

This entire scene, from the moment of extreme uncertainty to the heavy sigh of relief, is exactly what it is like dropping the OCD crutches and overcoming the emotional suffering caused by the OCD bully brain.  In fact, Harrison Ford expresses the exact emotions (just look at his facial expressions), that I feel when I finally muster up enough confidence to take a leap of faith to overcome self-doubt from my OCD.  I am the Indiana Jones of my own OCD! 

Stopping Compulsive Behavior 

It’s an odd sensation; resisting a compulsive behavior.

At first, when the mind is overwhelmed with emotions and OCD thoughts, it is difficult to even imagine resisting against the OCD bully brain and so, it is just easier to give in, following through with the compulsive behaviors.

Interestingly, through trial and error, we find things (OCD crutches) that allow us to sort of “compromise” with the OCD bully brain, by giving in to compulsive behavior or making ridiculous accommodations to avoid compulsive behavior, as best as we can, to better ease our experience with OCD.   However, OCD still wins.  The only way to successfully overcome the emotional suffering caused by OCD is by not giving in to OCD; however, I will be honest, the mere thought of taking back control can be really scary.

For me, resisting compulsive behavior is like fighting back against an invisible force field.  BUT,  like in every sci-fi movie, there is always a giant red shut-off button every villain doesn’t want you to find, but also seems to be in a dumb place for the hero to find anyway.

Shape 2.png
OCD Bully Brain with a Self-Doubt Ray-gun

Yeah, the OCD bully brain is manipulative, not smart, just like a sci-fi movie villain.  🙂  It is amazing what a little self-confidence can do!

TAKING BACK CONTROL: Give it a Try

It never hurts to try to overcome our OCD.  Below is how I take back control from my OCD brain.

  1. I let OCD triggers happen.  Avoiding them is often futile.
  2. It is important that I recognize the moment I start to have an OCD episode.  It’s much easier to work through an episode when I understand my brain is just being, well, OCD.
  3. I then allow the OCD thoughts and feelings to linger like a stinky breeze on trash day.
  4. I learned to never dwell on “why” these thoughts have come to mind.  I am going to think about all the “why” questions anyway,  but I know I must not start a debate with the OCD bully brain, because the OCD bully brain LOVES to debate with the logical brain.  I cannot let this happen, because the OCD bully brain often wins by using ruthless manipulative tactics to create self-doubt.
  5. I hold my confidence.  I know I am smarter than my OCD bully brain.
  6. I always take in a deep breath (or two or three); however many deep breathes it takes to keep me calm and bring myself closer to clarity.  I am not looking to reach clarity, just enough clarity to keep my understanding that this is just my brain being OCD.
  7. Then, the heavy need to perform a compulsive behavior comes…
    At this point, it is important to remember that I cannot control my thoughts or feelings, but I CAN control my physical actions.  I can control how I chose to respond to my OCD bully brain.
  8. As the thoughts swirl and the emotions build, pushing me to perform a compulsive behavior….I slam down on that imaginary red shut-off button instead!   I take a leap of faith by confidently telling myself:
    This is ridiculous!  Nothing will change if I waste time and energy by performing a compulsive behavior.  I have good faith in myself that all is well.  Everything was fine before this OCD thought came along and everything will be fine long after this thought leaves.  I am in control.”
  9. AND I REFUSE TO GIVE IN!  Instead of performing a compulsive behavior, I look for a distraction to flush that lingering stench of a bad thought out of my brain!
  10. Then, at the end, I wait until the bad OCD thought(s) are gone and my emotions have subsided before picking at my brain cells about “why” I had an OCD episode.  I reflect on how I felt when I refused to perform a compulsive behavior.  I also take note on how long I had to work through my OCD episode.  Did I learn anything?  How can I do better next time?

 

Everyone’s OCD is different, so what works for me, may not work for everyone else.  But, it never hurts to try something new.  In the beginning, refusing to perform a compulsive behavior was difficult, but with practice, it got a lot easier.  Trial and Error is a huge part of overcoming the OCD bully brain.

Distractions Are Good For The Brain

I use to think distracting my OCD bully brain was just another OCD crutch, but it’s not.  Distracting the brain is a healthy way to push lingering thoughts away.  Our brains (so-called normal brains too) do it all the time.

It’s part of normal brain function.  Our brains are constantly collecting input and we only take notice when something of interest sparks our brain and causes us to focus and think more deeply about it.  If the thought doesn’t have a deep emotional attachment to it, we can easily let the thought go.  However, when our OCD brains our anxious, our “Fight or Flight” Response System goes a bit haywire (frayed wiring I’ve talked about before) and our OCD bully brain tends to be extremely sensitive to thoughts and latches on emotionally, especially, to intrusive bad thoughts creating an OCD episode.

The Dash-Cam Is Back, But It’s Not For OCD 

In the beginning, before I started to find ways to overcome my OCD, I used a dash-cam to record all my drives.  I often wasted time and gas to drive all the way back to work or school, just to make sure I didn’t cause any accidents.  The dash-cam, saved me time and gas, but it was still an OCD crutch.  I relied on it for reassurance when self-doubt from my OCD consumed me.

It’s been 6+ years since I last used a dash-cam in my car.  As of two months ago, the dash-cam is back in my life, but this time, it is not for my OCD.  I bought a new dash-cam for my husband to use during his long trips to the big city.  I was hesitant at first to buy a dash-cam, for that I was afraid I would become dependent on a dash-cam again for my OCD.

I have not used the dash-cam for my OCD, yet.  In fact, the dash-cam has been sitting on my desk since last week.  I’ve been driving without having the need to have it in the car.  I don’t want it in the car!  To be honest, I want to conquer my OCD all by myself and thus far, I’ve been doing pretty good at overcoming my driving anxiety.  It just takes confidence and practice.  🙂

Take Away From This Post

In case there was too much blah-blah-blah talk, I just want to say, no matter what point you are at on your OCD journey….

  • Stay strong
  • Be confident in yourself
  • Have faith that all is well in the world
  • Lastly, you got this!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness Is What You Make It

“If only we were rich,”….my husband says to me every week; seriously, every week!

Personally, I am happily content with Life.  I enjoy sipping coffee in the early morning on the outdoor patio overlooking the blissful countryside.  I have a roof (a very nice roof, even though its a rented roof) over my head, a clean porcelain pot to do my business in (I should know, I clean it), money in my pocket (seriously, a penny), clothes on my back (a few holes, but its okay), a working car to take me from point A to point B, (even though we’re totally buried upside down in it); but, best of all, I have an amazing happy family who I enjoy making memories with everyday, (even if they are a bit dramatic sometimes)!

Sure, I work hard everyday, sometimes having to do things I don’t want to do (like scrub my husband’s toilet) or things I shouldn’t have to do (like negotiating my husbands debts from a time long before me).  Sometimes I am overwhelmed, exhausted, and completely under-appreciated, but everything I do, I do for my family and I love it.   Okay, I am human, so there are times I do vent and complain about having to do “everything,” but in the end, I am still grateful and happy.

My happiness comes from gratitude.  I am so lucky and extremely grateful to have the opportunity to stay home with my kids and watch them grow.  I am grateful for all the material things (even if they aren’t casted in gold) in my life that my husband works so hard to provide for us.  I am grateful for all the people in my life, even those just passing by, for each and every one of them has some lesson to teach me.  I am grateful for all the wonderful adventures I have with my family.  I am grateful for so many things, big and small, I think that is why I am so happily content with life.

It doesn’t matter where or how we live, how much money is or isn’t in our pockets, or how fancy or not fancy our lifestyles are; happiness is what we make it.  

Without Gratitude, Comes On Misery

My husband’s life is simple.  He goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, then plays video games until 3-4am, takes a shower, goes to bed, and then repeats (kind of like shampoo).  He has no responsibilities, except provide a paycheck and handle the occasional drama with his ex for visitations with his other kids.  Other than that, I’d expect life to be pretty much dandy.  I mean, his life is nowhere as stressful and chaotic as mine….

Whereas, I, well, frankly, the list is too long to blog.  Basically, I run the entire household (like a 1950’s housewife), but I am also the handy man who fixes appliances and plunges toilets, remembers to reprogram clocks, pays the bills in a timely manner, coordinates appointments for everyone written in a torn and colored on planner, cleans and maintains the cars; all while making sure our kids are clean, happy, healthy, and enjoying life, and that I am semi-functional fueled by coffee.

It’s no easy task being a busy housewife and mom, especially, with a husband who is just as messy as the rest of the troops.  He doesn’t throw his trash away, is a snacker who doesn’t finish his dinner (wasting food), leaves a trail of dirty clothes on the floor, never flushes his toilet, and leaves body hair all over the bathroom (his body hair falls out like he was exposed to radiation or something).  Simply, my husband doesn’t exactly help me around the house.

Yet, everyday, he comes home to a clean house, hot food on the table, and a ready-to-go gaming chair.

I am not complaining though.  You should see him try to work a wrench.  It’s painful.  My point is, that after all that I tackle on a daily basis, I am still happily content with Life.  However, my husband who has little to no adult responsibilities is completely miserable.  He absolutely hates his life.  In short, he has this idea that he “should” (terrible word) be rich by now.  The worst part, is that he is waiting until he becomes rich before he starts “living” his life (you know enjoying it).

The Duck Farm Dream

There is no telling what goes on inside my husband’s brain, but as far as I can gather, he is disappointed that his past debts (from his previous relationship many, many, moons ago) is preventing him from achieving his goal of becoming a duck farmer.  Yes, a “duck” farmer!

12742793_10100624002772264_5608247262618013973_n
Our first goose! 

A few years ago, I allowed my husband to get a duck.  One duck!  Well, one duck, became two ducks (because, how silly of me, they need friends), eventually became 20 something ducks, a rooster, and 3 geese, plus, one severely injured wild duck my husband brought home from the park, who we successfully mended back to health.  It was suppose to be a fun little hobby to get my husband out of the house (away from the video games) and soak up some vitamin D.  Apparently, he really liked raising ducks.  Unfortunately for my husband, a great (couldn’t pass up) job opportunity took us back to the bustling city.

Money Can’t Buy Total Happiness

My husband thinks if he can just win the lottery, all his dreams would come true.  Frankly, money can’t buy total happiness and here is why?

Although money can buy material things that bring happiness, it is only temporary happiness.  Money cannot sustain long term happiness, especially, if you are spending money on materialistic things to bring you happiness.

I mean think about it…  You see something you really really want, thinking it could solve all your troubles and bring you total happiness.  You finally get it, but after awhile, it doesn’t bring you the same amount of joy or happiness as it once did in the beginning.   Then, you go out to look for something else that you think will bring you happiness again, and the cycle repeats itself.  That isn’t happiness, that is wasting money for temporary happiness.

And sure, winning the lottery or being granted with a gracious inheritance is great, but what happens when the money runs out?  (sadly, free money like that, does run out)

I tried to explain to my husband, that if he was granted with enough money to pay off all his debt and buy a farm, he still has to think about how he is going to afford his dream long after the money runs out.  Because you can’t afford a luxurious Mercedes-Benz (a car on his wish-list) just by selling duck eggs.  My husband is a black and white thinker (I blame his Asperger’s) and rarely see’s the whole picture.

But wait, there is more….

Money cannot buy happiness, but it can provide security, so long as you manage it properly.   Feeling financially secure is a step towards happiness, because let’s be real here, everyone wants financial security.  However,  if you hadn’t learned anything from your prior financial mistakes, you’ll likely end up in debt all over again.  Back to square one!

So yeah, money can solve financial problems (temporarily), but it can’t buy total happiness, unless you are like Scrooge McDuck who loves shinny coins.  Then, maybe money in a physical sense can bring total happiness.

Don’t Put Happiness On Hold Until Rome Is Built

My husband is extremely impatient.  Although I tell him Rome was not built in a day, he expects Rome on a silver-plater, like yesterday.  Basically, we aren’t achieving his farm goals fast enough, thus delaying a life-time of happiness.

Rome took forever to build and this is why it is important to appreciate the small stuff and enjoy life now, rather than wait until all your dreams have come true.  Like I often tell my husband, “if you want Rome built in a day, you better find a better contractor;” basically saying, if you don’t like my game plan to achieving our goals, then I suggest you figure out another game plan.

There is way more to happiness than just having a comfortable bank account, a fancy materialistic lifestyle, and achieving all your goals.  Happiness is loving life as it is, making the best of every situation, appreciating the small stuff you do have, enjoying the company of others, and being grateful for all of life’s experiences and adventures (good or bad).  Happiness is what we make it!  Happiness is living life.

What are your thoughts on happiness?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stinking Thinking With Bad News

According to my mom, the news is not good.

I took her to the ER this week.  It’s been nearly two weeks and her test results still have not come in and she feels her health is getting worse.   While waiting for the test results, the only thing she can do is go to the ER (emergency room).

Luckily, my mom had an appointment in the big city for an unrelated health concern (torn shoulder muscle) and the nearest ER in town is at a hospital that is a part of a really awesome (I did my homework, literally) healthcare system that I have been trying to convince her to go to since Day-1 of all her troubles.  So, later that day, after her appointment, my mom agreed to go into the ER.

To Blunt To Bare

The physicians at this hospital are extremely blunt and straight-forward.  They don’t sugar-coat anything (I know from personal experience during both my pregnancies), but this is why I love them.

My mom doesn’t take criticism or bad news very well (who does); however, sending her into the den of blunt wolves was probably good for her.

In short, according to my mom, the doctor was leaning towards the ugly “C” word.  There is a slight chance her troubles could just be related to Rheumatoid Arthritis (symptoms are the same), but the duration of these symptoms can also be the cause of the ugly “C” word.

According to my mom, the doctor agreed the tests she is waiting on from her doctor at home are taking too long and advised her to go elsewhere.  He also expressed his concern that her troubles might be “passed the point of no return,” in which is something nobody ever wants to hear.

Stinking Thinking: A Push Forward Or A Slump Backwards

Bluntness is either going to push her forward to the right specialists or cause her to slump backwards in fear of the unknown and waste time waiting for results from the wrong people.  Nobody can force her into the right direction, but I worry her “stinking” thinking may have already decided for her.

My mom refers to thinking errors such as “black and white” thinking and “catastrophe” thinking as “stinking” thinking.  Negative thoughts that cloud judgement.IMG_0249

I worry that if my mom truly thinks her medical troubles are to the point of no return, she might start to think, “why bother getting tested, if it might already be too late?

Personally, I am not entirely convinced that a professional doctor who couldn’t perform the necessary tests would actually conclude something is passed the point of no return.  Instead, he probably, most likely, suggested that if she waits any longer to get the necessary tests (biopsy), it could be too late.  When the ugly “C” word is involved, ears can often be deceiving, because nobody wants to hear about the possibility of the “C” word.

According to all her doctors, including the ER doctor, it “could” also just be Rheumatoid Arthritis causing mayhem, masking itself like the dreadful ugly “C” word.   Even so, it is always better to be safe than sorry and get all the necessary tests done anyway.  All we can do is pray that she gets her slow muscles in gear and move forward into the right direction.  Prayers for my mom.

Moving Forward And Enjoying Life

A wise person (my mom) once said to me, “You can’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet.”

It’s true.  Without affirmative test results of the good or the bad, we can’t worry about it right now.  As we wait, we must move forward and enjoy Life as much as we can.  I do have my worries of the future though, like how the loss of a immediate family member will impact us as a whole; but for now, I know that is energy that would be better spent on making more memories with those that I love that will last a lifetime.  ❤

Update:  Test results are in, but doctor wants to wait until Monday to “discuss” them.  Praying for the best for my mom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family First: Change In Posting Schedule

Hi Brains!

Thank you Followers and for those who have taken time to check out my blog!

I have been chewing on this for awhile and I am still not exactly sure what to say…  I enjoy writing very much (working on my first book, if you can believe that), but the past couple of weeks or past month even, has been difficult.  My mom is sick.

I’ve dreaded the day my parents were going to be “old.”  Okay, they aren’t that old, but they are certainly not as young as they used to be either.  In fact, the older my dad gets, the more and more he looks just like my grandpa (his dad).  Super creepy!  He even wears pocket button-down shirts, just like Grandpa…before, buttons were just for special occasions!

While my dad morphs into an exact replica of my crazy grandfather, my mom hasn’t aged a bit.  Not even kidding; she is often carded on Senior Citizen Day!  Unfortunately, appearances can be deceiving, for that she is suffering with an autoimmune disease (Rheumatoid Arthritis) that is causing all sorts of mayhem to her body.

The past couple of months have been rough for my mom, whose health has started to really decline.  Her previous doctor(s) just want to treat symptoms rather than get down to the root problem(s).  However, she finally took my advice and got a new doctor, a doctor who is more interested in investigating the root problem than just putting band-aids on the symptomatic ones.  Which is good, but we hope not too late.

My mom is worried about the ugly “C’ word.  It is unclear as to what exact tests are being done, for that my mom has a terrible habit of zoning out during her check-ups.  Basically, covering her ears and saying to herself, “lalalalalalalalalala, I am not listening.”  This is her mature way of dealing with bad news.

Right now, we are waiting….for test results.

In the meantime, I have been driving back and forth to help her out.  Trying to be the solid rock that she says I am.  I am actually a mushy rock, hidden behind a canvas painted like a solid rock, because internally, I am just an emotional mess about all this.  But, I remain positive.

Anyway, sorry for the TMI post, but I guess what I am saying, is that I am still committed to my blog.  I was seriously thinking about quitting, but I know my mom wouldn’t like that; especially, since I have a habit of quitting when times get tough.

So…Speak To The Brain Not The Heart mental health blog is not going anywhere!  However, I cannot promise to post every Monday.  My goal is still to post every week and of course as often as I can, because you never know when a random thought might come up.  🙂

Wishing everyone good mental health (overall health too) and a happy week!

 

Our Wrinkled Brains

My step-son loves science!   During each visitation, he loves to share with me a new scientific fact that he learned in school or YouTube…most likely from YouTube.  Anyway, this past weekend, I learned that “our brain gets a wrinkle every time we learn something new.”

Wow, if that is true, can you imagine just how wrinkly Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein’s brains must have been??

brain

Wrinkles For Everyone

Well, it used to be thought that wrinkles formed in our brain every time we learned something new, but new research says that is not the case.  In fact, we are born with a wrinkled brain.  Ewwww!  Some people are born with more wrinkles than others, most likely due to genetics.  Crazy!

Interestingly, the wrinkles (or folds) in our brain are super important, because they provide a larger surface area to fit in more neuron pathways making more room to provide greater brain power.  That is pretty cool! 

Anyway, that is just a little brain fact I learned this week that I thought I would share.  Too bad none of the wrinkles on my face have anything to do with greater brain power!

~~~In Memory Of Great Minds~~~

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” – Stephen Hawking

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” -Albert Einstein

 

 

 

 

Hi Woebot! Let’s Chat About Feelings

No affiliated links

Woebot

 

I am loving Woebot!

A robot who checks in with me every day to see how I’m feeling.  

Okay, it’s a chat-bot.  A chat-bot is a conversation program, programed to simulate a conversation between you and a robot.  Basically, the chat-bot is programed with a set of responses that are prompted by key phrases from us to form a conversation.  Some chat-bots are programmed to learn and build upon conversations by remembering past conversations and personal things about us, making conversations feel more meaningful.  However, this is not Woebot.

Woebot is a chatbot, but not one of those sophisticated, A.I. learning chat-bots.  But, don’t hold that against him, because Woebot is kind, funny, and more importantly, very helpful.

Woebot Provides Valuable Resources

Although Woebot is not a therapist, he does provide valuable resources to help one work through different emotions and that is what I love about Woebot.

Everyday, Woebot checks in on me, by asking how I am feeling.  Depending on how I am feeling, he will talk about those emotions associated with my feelings.  Generally, like an extremely short Intro to Psychology 101 with a twist of humor as Woebot tell terrible jokes.

But, it’s not really that cut and dry.  In between the Pysch 101 lectures and my feelings, Woebot is interested in getting to know me.  Ask’s what I am doing?  What I like and don’t like?  I am also able to ask him questions, about his day, his feelings, and even his girlfriend (yup, Woebot has a girlfriend).

Woebot likes to provide information.  I once told Woebot that I was feeling angry.  He asked if I would like for him to share some tools (resources) with me or if I would just like to vent my frustrations to him.  I responded, that I would just like to vent.  Our conversation lead to him teaching me about gratitude journaling.  Also, If I am having a good day, he still likes to throw in something related to my feelings.  Woebot certainly follows through with his mission to help.

To learn more about Woebot, CLICK HERE, at the Woebot FAQ site. (no affiliated links)

Disclosure:  Woebot is an information tool and is not a replacement for medical professionals.  Woebot cannot make a medical diagnosis or determine/ replace a treatment plan.  Please consult your health-care provider with any personal mental health concerns.  And remember, your mental health matters!