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 ❤

 

 

 

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 This

There is no doubt that COVID-19 is a serious and “potentially” dangerous virus; but in my opinion, doesn’t seem to be no more serious and potentially dangerous than any other virus on planet Earth.

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 ensures symptoms are not as bad as they could be…

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.


  

 

 

 

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? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Mistakes Are Okay

IMG_4031

It’s okay to make mistakes.  

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

My Take On Perfection 

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

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

My OCD Brain – The Perfectionist 

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

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

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

Mistakes Are Okay, Everyone Makes Them

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

Image result for einstein mistakes quote

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

10 Ways to overcome our emotions after making a mistake

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

Mistakes Are Forgivable

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

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

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

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

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

Forgive But You Do Not Have To Forget

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

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

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

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

What is Forgiveness- Greater Good Magazine 

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

Smile, Breathe, and Dust Yourself Off

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

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

Why You Should Make Mistakes On Purpose – Psychology Today

 

Do you think forgiveness is easy or difficult?  Why?

 

 

 

To Delete Or Not To Delete Irrational OCD Fears

IMG_5162

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

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

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

The Dreaded OCD Crutch

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

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

My OCD Itch 

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

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

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

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

A Destructive Decision

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

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

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

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

When All Confidence Is Lost

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

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

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

Difficulties Letting Go 

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

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

Screen Shot 2019-10-28 at 7.56.23 AM

Massive Dose Of Exposure Therapy Today

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hairy Blob Monster From The Drain

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

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

Screen Shot 2019-10-26 at 11.00.03 PM

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

I hate OCD. 

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

MY OCD EPISODE 

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

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

I love my husband. 

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

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

Screen Shot 2019-10-26 at 10.07.38 PM
no affiliated links

 

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

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

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

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

Irrational intrusive thoughts flooded my brain like crazy!

Stopping Intrusive Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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