Dark heavy intrusive thought clouds can be overwhelming, but clearer skies are on their way. Like all massive storms, intrusive thought storms seem to last forever. They can be scary, especially, when the storm intensifies with emotion causing more anxiety.
Whenever a storm threatens a perfectly good day, one can either seek shelter and wait it out in comfort or learn to dance happily in the rain.
It is completely up to you, how you choose to respond to your intrusive thoughts! ❤
Because OCD is an anxiety disorder, I thought stress would play a much bigger role in my OCD. Interestingly though, stress does not affect my OCD brain at all. I respond to stress much differently than I do to anxiety. For me, anxiety affects my mental state (causing OCD episodes) whereas stress affects my physical body (causing tummy aches). It’s strange, I know; especially, when anxiety and stress are pretty similar in nature.
My Unpleasant Vertigo Experience
The other day, I had a terrifying experience with vertigo due to stress. I had difficulty detecting my surroundings. The room was not just spinning in one direction, but in all directions like a free-falling space capsule plumenting towards an alien surface through uneven gravity. Lying down was even worse, as it felt like I was on a tiny gondola in the middle of an ocean during a turbulent thunderstorm storm. I also couldn’t detect the edge of my bed, thus making it dangerous to go to sleep without surrounding myself with a bunch of pillows to ensure I didn’t end up on the floor during the night. The reason our bodies don’t fall off the bed while sleeping, is because our vestibular senses are aware of the ground at all times. When our vestibular senses go out of whack, like due to vertigo, the body has difficulty detecting where the ground is and BAM!, you end up face to face with the floor! Also, while I was going through this, not a single OCD thought stirred; I am guessing my OCD brain was too busy trying to fix it’s internal compass. It was a crazy, absolutely no fun, experience that I hope I never have to experience again!
My husband and I are certain it was due to stress as we are currently experiencing an extremely tighter than usual financial situation (it’s happens). Apparently, Life’s funky lemon tree unexpectedly decided to drop all its funky lemons on top of us, all at once, and we just didn’t have enough baskets to catch them all. It’s truly nothing we can’t handle, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful.
Stress vs. Anxiety
Although stress and anxiety seem to cause the same symptoms, there is a difference between them, for that they differ in “origin.” Anxiety is generally caused by unplesant internal thoughts and ideas, whereas stress is generally caused by unpleasant external situations. Furthermore, anxiety can lead to stress and stress can lead to anxiety.
When I think of the word stress, I think of physics, where a physical force is placed upon an object causing the object to bend or lean; with too much stress, the object is likely to break, fall over, or collapse. I believe the same for mental stress. External situations such as being in a financial rut, overwhelmed with a heavy workload, or being late due to heavy traffic; can create a mental force that has the potential to cause stress on the body. When we internalize these external situations with “stinking thinking,” that is when stress turns into anxiety (worry). Then, vice versa, whereas chronic anxiety due to “stinking thinking” has the potential to cause stress, physical effects on the body. In short, stress and anxiety can intermingle with one another causing havoc on the mind, body, and soul.
Okay, I am not at all satisfied with that explanation; so I would love to hear your thoughts regarding the differences between stress and anxiety?
Acceptance Is Important In Coping With Stress
Despite having an anxiety disorder, I tend to cope with stress a lot better than I do anxiety. Throw me into a bull-pen with a dozen angry bulls and I am as cool as a cucumber, using rational thinking to defuse a stressful situation. However, I will be completely honest, I absolutely struggle to cope with stress caused by situations I have no control over; especially, situations that I cannot resolved right then and there. Although I can make the best of a stressful situation, I often fail to accept that I am “stuck” in a stressful situation where there is nothing that “I” can personally do about it, not now nor perhaps even later. Sometimes there are stressful situations that just can’t be resolved and it’s something I must let go or just ride it out til the end (off into the sunset I suppose).
There are lots of things I can do to reduce stress, but in the end, I think the most efficient tool in my stress-management tool box is the art of acceptance. “Woosah!” (Bad Boys II movie reference)
Guided Meditation To Defuse Stress
I am feeling much better today, all because of THE HONEST GUYS! The Honest Guys is a Youtube channel that provides meditation and relaxation videos. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their guided meditations! The CALM app I have is good, but these guys are even better and is a must share! I feel grounded again! I am smiling again! I am energetic again! I am no longer stressed out! Thank you Honest Guys!
No affiliated links here, I promise!
Above is the video I’ve been playing to help myself get to sleep at night. Lately for me, stress has been interrupting my sleep schedule and I find it very difficult to overcome stress when I’m tired and not thinking straight. I also think stress and fatigue contributed to my little episode of vertigo.
Of course, meditations videos don’t work for everyone. I totally suck at medtiation and I don’t like dry guided meditations without sounds of things I am suppose to imagine. However, these videos include visual images with sounds that relate to the visual images to improve the guided meditation experience.
Anyway, whether you are looking for new meditation videos or need to try something new to help relax, I totally recommend THE HONEST GUYS Youtube channel.
How do you cope with stress? Leave a comment below, I look forward to hearing from you!
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
I let OCD triggers happen. Avoiding them is often futile.
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.
I then allow the OCD thoughts and feelings to linger like a stinky breeze on trash day.
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.
I hold my confidence. I know I am smarter than my OCD bully brain.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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….
“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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Being a stay-at-home-mom, with no consistent Monday thru Friday work schedule, my days tend to blend together; but today, I am so HAPPY it’s Friday! I seriously had a tough week!
When Life gives you lemons, make lemonade….When Life gives you funky lemons, get creative and make funky lemonade!
Life’s Funky Lemons
When weeks, days, or even hours are tough, good mental health plays a vital role in keeping a person moving forward; especially, when Life dumps a truck load of “funky” lemons in your way.
Ever heard of the expression, “When Life gives you lemons, make lemonade?” An encouraging phrase often used to encourage others to make the best of an unfortunate or unpleasant situation. Well, for me, I am often “gifted” with Life’s “funky” lemons; bruised, irregular, slightly discolored, even sometimes, smelly lemons. Funky lemons are not just difficult, unpleasant situations, but more like challenging, unique, odd-ball situations that completely differ from the average normal lemon (difficult or unpleasant situation). Simply, funky lemons require a little extra work.
It’s okay to encounter funky Life lemons, the funkier the better… Funky Life lemons can make life interesting, entertaining, meaningful, and more often than not, teach extremely valuable lessons that usually become beneficial for later in life. However, funky Life lemons can be frustrating and emotionally exhausting too. You can’t exactly make sweet lemonade with funky lemons, but with a lot of hard work, you can make something out of it. You just have to think outside the box, have an open mind, and get creative when facing a challenging odd-ball situation. Even the funkiest of lemons can be turned around into something better.
Tossing Funky Lemons Back
The best thing about Life’s funky lemons is that you can sometimes toss them back. For me, I have a tendency of stumbling across funky lemons (all the time); but I have eventually learned that I can’t save the world from all of Life’s funky lemons. If Life gives you the opportunity to walk away from a difficult situation, especially, a situation that has nothing to do with you, do it! I think a lot of us feel obligated to save the World and sometimes the World just doesn’t want to be saved (at least not yet). Although Life does give us lemons, we sometimes have the choice to toss the funky ones back and keep the ones we know we can use to make lemonade.
Sense of Humor
Funky lemons require a good sense of humor. I think a good sense of humor while coping with a challenging situation not only encourages us to make the best of a bad situation, but also opens the mind up to other possibilities (ideas) to overcome challenging situations. Not all funky lemons are bad, some have purpose, and I strongly believe a negative mind keeps us focused on the bad side of a funky lemon; instead of discovering the good side (perhaps a different side) in which allows us to better overcome and understand a challenging situation.
All this talk of lemons and lemonade is making me thirsty. If I didn’t make any sense, just know, the next time Life gives you lemons (even funky ones), remain positive and make the best darn-good lemonade ever! Breathe, laugh, and take one funky lemon at a time.
Happy Friday and wishing everyone a great weekend!
Last week, I went to the doctor for a refill on my asthma inhaler and walked away, not only with a refill prescription for my inhaler but also an unexpected weight-loss treatment plan.
My doctor kindly informed me that I am “roughly” 20lbs overweight. According to my BMI (Body Mass Index), I am one notch away from being “obese!” My so-called “targeted” weight is 123lbs, but technically, for my height, my weight should be between 92 -110lbs! Man, I haven’t been 110lbs since my early college days!
Well, that all sounds dandy, until you take in account of my body type: A top heavy, petite little thing who might pass as 5ft tall on a bad frizzy hair day in heels. Basically, I am super short and all the extra pounds are stored in my chest. It makes swim-suit shopping a nightmare!
Anyways, its difficult to wrap my head around the word “obese” when I can still crawl through the doggie door when I am locked out of the house, wear Junior size clothing, and my 7 year old step-daughter wears the same size rings as me. So, obese is just a tad bit extreme, but I get it!
I admit, I am a bit… “puffy.” I wear the extra pounds well, but I am beginning to notice the weight in my face now. After having my second kiddo, I had to move up a pant size in juniors. Although it was just one size, it was just as emotionally devastating as the time I discovered my first couple of strains of grey hair before turning 30! It’s just another adult milestone, I guess.
I Am Beautiful, But My Health Is Ugly
One thing that bothers me about being “overweight,” is how often I am told how beautiful I am. I know I am beautiful! I am gorgeous! But, people are missing the point…I am truly doctor certified over-weight. Doesn’t anybody care? Or does the concern come after the weight-related health issues arrive? A little encouraging support to nip this overweight thing before it gets out of control would be much appreciated!
At this very moment, my self-esteem is not crushed by weight-gain. In fact, I am not really worried about being beautiful or not, I more worried about my overall-health. My health is absolutely ugly! My health is what needs a major make-over and an episode of “What Not To Wear” can’t help me!
Walking 5 Miles
I am out of shape! The most I can walk in one workout is 3.0 miles; in which, is totally not bad, but supposedly it can be better. While walking, I realized that I begin sweating before reaching the sidewalk, everything rubs together, and forget running, because my chest is not the only thing that unpleasantly “jiggles.”
My goal is not only to walk 5 miles a day, but also exceed 10,000 steps a day. It’s a big goal for this Netflix couch potato, but I am confident, with the warmer weather coming and a new pair of walking shoes I can do it! (Yeah, I blew out my old pair of walking shoes last week).
1300 Calories A Day, ARE YOU INSANE!
My weight-loss treatment plan has me on a low-calorie diet in which I am not to exceed 1300 calories a day. Honestly, 1300 calories is just my morning coffee (sarcasm, but also semi-serious).
I actually maintain a pretty healthy diet for that I really enjoy the flavors of Mediterranean style dishes. I love cooking with olive oil, rarely eat red meat, and like veggies more than fruit. BUT, I totally know where all the extra calories are coming from….I drink lots of soda, drown my coffee in creamer, stuff all my food in delicious bread, and hide chocolate in the freezer. Those are my kryptonite foods stretching out my waist band.
The Game Plan Is Simple
The game plan is simple: Nix the junk food and bread, get a couple of miles in walking, do some strength training by lifting a weight or two, and keep my calorie intake under 1300 calories a day. Easy peasy, right?
Well, not exactly. Today, I ate 4 granola bars in one sitting (that is 400 calories) and drank who-knows how many sodas today. Let’s not even mention the half of baguette (bread loaf), I ate yesterday. I am so embarrassed, but I don’t regret it! None of it! It was delicious!
Tomorrow I will do better, I promise. I just have to “do” it! I can’t plan it. I can’t pencil it in anywhere. I just have to get off my squishy butt and do it!
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All this time, I have been blabbing about my OCD. How totally selfish….so, lets talk about Asperger’s!
As I have mentioned before, my husband has Asperger’s. His Asperger’s, to me, is just something that makes him unique. I love that his brain processes information differently than my own; however, it seems to be a bit glitchy when it comes to parenting. So much so, that parenting is the only thing we ever bicker about; or more accurately, that I ever bicker about…
I “get” my husband’s brain. I studied biology and psychology; plus, I am extremely opened minded to the fact that everyone is different and I strongly believe that everyone, regardless how quirky they might be, still deserve love and respect. So, for the most part, my husband’s so-called “odd” social behaviors doesn’t bother me; but I am beginning to see how his Asperger’s is affecting our children.
Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!
My husband simply does not exist. He is here, but not; and David Copperfield has nothing to do with it! I think the biggest problem is that, my husband doesn’t acknowledge when spoken to; something I had to get used to. When prompt to provide a response, you can certainly tell that his brain is searching for a “script,” a go-to, catch-all phrase that works for any kind of situation. His usual response, for everything, is either “neat-o” or “oh-goodness.” If the subject is not about him or something he is an “expert” at (areas in which he can confidently express himself), the tone is off and sometimes emotionless, making him sound rude, disrespectful, or a bit harsh. Not knowing how to appropriately and quickly respond, the brain becomes anxious, and the tongue does its best to interpret and translate. So, my husband never means to sound rude, disrespectful, or harsh; it’s just rolls off the tongue that way.
I am sure there is more to it, but I am guessing, this is one of the biggest reasons as to why our kids prefer to come to me, instead of their dad, even when he is standing two feet away from me. They either feel their dad ignores them or their feelings get hurt, by his not-so compassionate responses. Communication may not seem to be my husband’s forte, but he sure does know how to make the kids laugh!
Parenting Requires Social-Skills
Although, we are both biological parents, I am “the” parent. I often struggle with this concept, because I personally believe parenting should be a joint responsibility; however, my husband’s Asperger’s makes it difficult to parent together. As I have mentioned in prior posts, our joint efforts resulted in a “good” cop / “bad” cop parenting style. It was confusing for everyone and we decided it was best that I just take lead for now on. It isn’t that my husband doesn’t care or is lazy about parenting, he just doesn’t have that communication-bonding ability with the kids. Parenting requires social-skills; something I am beginning to learn more about in this new book I started to read this month, called, “Out of Mind-Out of Sight,” by Kathy J. Marshack, Ph. D.
I am really enjoying this book, for that it has all that I like about a book: scientific-based facts, personal experiences, and great humor. There is nothing dull about the way this book is written, making it much more relatable and easier to retain important concepts that will help me better understand and work with my husband during our parenting adventures.
Cognitive and Emotional Empathy
What have I learned so far? Well, lots of things, really. But one thing that truly sticks in my brain is the difference between Cognitive Empathy and Emotional Empathy. Although better explained by Kathy J. Marshack, I think I got the gist of it.
Empathy is complex; however, Marshack explains there are two types of empathy. Cognitive Empathy, to my understanding, is when the brain assesses a situation factually, instead of emotionally. Emotional Empathy is looking at a situation with emotions. Those who do not have Asperger’s Syndrome, respond to situations with both Cognitive and Emotional Empathy; whereas, those with Asperger’s Syndrome, generally, only express one type of empathy at a time (not both at the same time).
Say, my kid comes to me with scrapes on their knees from falling down at the park. They are crying and their knees are bleeding and require medical assistance. I respond by expressing my concern for their emotions and provide comfort by expressing my understanding that scraped knees totally suck; and then attend to the scrape. My entire response consisted of both cognitive and emotional empathy.
However, my husband would respond completely differently, whereas he would not be as comforting and skip straight to the fact that it “just” needs a band-aid. He is responding with Cognitive Empathy, where he recognizes the facts of the situation (scrape on knee), but not the emotional situation (kid being upset). Or, he may respond with Emotional Empathy instead, where he may respond extremely emotionally and irrationally by dramatically swooping the child up into his arms, rushing them to the band-aid box, and making a dramatic scene, in which only scares the child.
But, like I said, Marshack explains it way better by sharing a personal, yet relatable, story from one of her clients; in which I strongly encourage you to read about in her book.
After I have finished the entire book (still have a couple chapters left to go), I will be posting an update on this review at the end of the month. Maybe great changes will come or at the very least, I have gained, yet another perspective to share with you about mental health.
Have You Read A Good Book Lately?
I love to read when I am not busy being a mom. If you have any book recommendations regarding Asperger’s Syndrome, Parenting, or Mental-Health in general, let me know! I’d love to check them out! 🙂