Keep Arriving

Let us keep showing up. Let’s try to keep pushing ahead even though your brain may still be focusing on the previous chapter of your life. We want to accept the experience we are having, it’s much easier to manage this way, even though it often doesn’t feel like that in the moment. Arriving to the next day of school, the next day of work, or just arriving and being in the next moment, now. Our brain may tell us that it feels “off”, or maybe “not right”or the next task may feel flat out impossible without doing a particular compulsion or avoiding something.

Accepting the next 2 seconds, just the way it is, without avoidance or seeking change, that Is exposure. We want to remind ourselves that no matter where we have been, what we have thought about, what we have touched, the mistakes we may or may not have made, we can still begin again in this moment. It doesn’t fix tomorrows math test. It doesn’t turn tomorrows doctor’s appointment into thoughts of puppies and rainbows. However trying to stay in today, and concentrating on what we do have control over, this a helpful way to manage this thing called life. Whether we are 12 or 92, dealing with what’s in front of us today, in these moments, gives us a heck of a lot better chance of actually enjoying and being productive with the time we have.

Give a bearhug to the unknown. Ask uncertainty to be your friend. No matter how smooth, rough, or “okay” today is, we still have a chance to make part of our life what we want it to be. Even if that’s just for the next 5 minutes. Let us begin again, in the next moment, for the first time.

Did you hear about the person who went back in time and made a different decision so that they could make the “right” decision? Me either….

Shake hands with the struggles, try to lean into what works, and try to be mindful of what doesn’t work for you. Stick with your gameplan. Exposure and Response Prevention is a great example of part of a gameplan. Try to enjoy your life.

Jeremy Rudd

Spending Our Time

Let us be intentional with our time. We want to lean into the unknown, on purpose. It’s already unknown, and this is a good thing. We want to remember that we live with uncertainty everyday, and that this is good news, this is where our true respite is when dealing with OCD and anxiety. Try to take advantage of the time we have; for family, spirituality, exposure exercises, work, physical exercise, giving, loving, etc. Basically the areas and people that line up with how You want to spend your time. When we look back, we probably won’t regret giving that family member that extra hug, doing something kind for someone, or maybe reaching out to a person you care about that you would like to reconnect with.

I could write 93 extremely looooong blogs about our friend REGRET! I have given countless months and years trying to satisfy this cloud of darkness, trying to “fix” the “problems.” These jagged edges of OCD and anxiety can make us feel that we need to “do it just right” in the moment, whether that is trying to be in the present, doing exposures, or feeling as if we have to give the monster what it wants. With OCD, we know that truly being in the moment, and truly accepting what’s on our mind, that IS exposure. I know personally that this monster has so many damn layers and that it can often feel as if our skin is going to crawl forever. We can accept that this moment may suck, however this too will probably pass, it usually does. Notice the demon has showed up, accept that it’s there for this moment, and then gently pull your attention back to doing something you care about. Your significant other, family, friends, music, creativity, etc. Put your thoughts on paper or canvas, draw what this waste of space looks and feels like. It can be a helpful technique to realize that even though this darkness feels as if it’s made a permanent residence in our brain, we can remind these urges and fears that they will no longer be a tenant. We will be breaking the lease. We decide who gets to stay, again, we decide. They took up residence without our invitation. We can accept that they rented a space in our brain, but again, we’ve already paid, we will be choosing what gets to move into this space.

We can let this stuff come along for the ride that is our life. But let us just let them be, without giving into the demands; whether that’s rumination, rituals, or avoidance. Notice the thought, urge, or feeling, and come back to areas you care about, 3 seconds at a time. This stuff can fade into the background where it belongs, remember it feeds on our time and attention. We are not defined as a person by the OCD or anxiety, however it’s something difficult that we Are experiencing. You are stronger than you think. You are truly stronger than you think. It’s my job to be the annoying therapist and repeat things that I think can be helpful. Doing Exposure and Response Prevention with a therapist that specializes in OCD treatment is a great place to start.

Jeremy Rudd

“I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does.” The Smiths, How Soon is Now

Rest Easy, Mary Jo.

My grandmother passed today at the age of 101. She was an incredible person who was an amazing influence for those that knew her. She was old school and had incredible strength to push ahead, one hour at a time. She didn’t have a social media account and she kept moving forward in the areas that she valued. She knew the dirt roads and used a clothes line for a dryer.

At her 100th birthday party last year, someone asked her, what was the key to making it to a 100? She replied, “Trusting in the Lord and staying out of other people’s business!” It was a classic line, one of thousands. She had a game plan to get things done, it was just a given. She was loyal and had a sense of humor. Hearing her laugh was one of the best natural antidepressants ever. She knew what worked for her. I always respected this.

She would always have some extra goodness to pass along when we would depart. Whether that was an extra hug, kiss on the cheek, or a reminder that we are loved, and to “come back and see me.” She recently gave me a hug and kiss on the cheek while sitting in her wheel chair. At her age, the “last time” was always a realistic possibility. I will never forget that last hug.

We are blessed to have people in our life that we can be with and their love and loyalty is Never in question. My grandmother was this way, through and through. Mary Jo, we look forward to laughing with you again on the other side. We love you dearly and thank you for being the real deal, for 101 years.

Jeremy Rudd

Once I’m back to my place, I’ll find it at my own pace. The back roads treat me like kin. – Israel Nash, Rolling On

Remember, you forgot.

These difficult situations that we are faced with dealing with OCD, they can seem like an extremely HUGE deal in the moment. With OCD, these shrapnels of extreme discomfort can be hitting our brain constantly, images, urges, intrusive thoughts, wanting us to fix something, avoid something, or maybe to get it “just right.” We want to keep enjoying our lives as much as possible. We can have confidence that things usually end up okay, but we obviously never know “for sure.” There are thousands of areas that our OCD doesn’t focus on, we still swim out daily into these gray areas of life, we are still stepping out in faith, and hoping for the best.

We want to live our lives as ongoing exposure. We show our brain and body that we can push forward without chasing after this thing that we will never catch. This too usually passes. It doesn’t mean it won’t be trying to torment 4 seconds later, however we want to remind ourselves that we “forgot” about countless situations that felt like our life depended on it in that moment. This too will probably pass. We know that more peace is found when we face it head on.

If OCD were a football field, it would try to hold us in the end zones. It’s wanting us to review or ruminate on the past, and then often urging us to fix or prevent bad things in the future. If our life is the game, and it’s played on the field, then we are better off on the field attempting to embrace the present with all its bumps and bruises, over and over. No matter how dark, difficult, or unfair it may be, we do ourselves a huge disservice if we continue to let this demon pin us down in the end zones. On this field of life, we deserve to play if we choose, just as others do.

If we can remind ourselves that no matter how genuine, or real, or “different”, this current situation feels, we have had thousands of other situations that tried to make us feel the same Damn way. If I can let the flames be there, even if it’s just for 3 seconds, without rituals or avoidance, it’s something. It’s in the right direction. Let’s take that 3 seconds and build on it. Let’s turn that into decades of living our life while this monster fades into the background. Remember, countless times, we have forgot. Spend time in areas that you care about. Let us try to show ourselves and others kindness, 20 minutes at a time. 🙂

Jeremy Rudd

“For our salvation is for everyone.” Judas Priest – Rising from Ruins

Facing the fire

OCD, and other emotional struggles, can make us feel that our brain has been consumed with flames. This burning feeling can be felt throughout our body. We know that these emotional struggles can lead to physically feeling the pain that our brain is trying to serve up. As we know, that feeling can be pure torment and is sometimes hard to describe. When the anxiety is high, I explain it as an intravenous mixture of splinters and fire ants. Anxiety and doubt add fuel to this burning sensation that can make us feel as if we are crawling in our skin. When dealing with these struggles, we want to remember what works, and what doesn’t work. When it comes to managing these symptoms, we know that avoidance, and performing rituals, keeps us in the pain.

If Doctor Darkness shows up with a flame thrower of obsessions for me to “fix”, I know that if I face it head on, sitting with the fire, it can lead to more light. Pushing forward by attempting to enjoy our life, this shows the demons that we won’t be joining their circus. We can notice that they are inviting our brain into the chaos. We can just notice that invitation, but then we can refuse to go to the Circus on Ritual Road.

Take note of your fears and avoidances. Try to go right at it, use a fear hierarchy to help guide you. A therapist trained in Exposure and Response Prevention can be very helpful. If we start sitting with the uncertainty, facing it head on, our lack of ritual responses and avoidance, can put out the flames.

Jeremy Rudd

Defined by you

Don’t let the emotional demons define you. You may be a person that wrestles with emotional difficulties, some more than others. The good news is that we are in this together. It often doesn’t feel this way, I truly get it. But let us lean forward and try to add good to our lives and the world, support each other through the roadblocks and detours of life. Our emotional demons don’t define us. We can choose to fight OCD by not fighting it. It’s a surrender that helps us keep moving ahead. Surrender doesn’t mean we stop, the surrender means that we stop feeling like we have to respond to the thoughts, urges, or images that pop in our head. Let’s do what we can to enjoy our lives.

Jeremy Rudd

“Burnt to the core, but not broken.” +Live+, Run to the Water

Spring Break?

Spring break means different things to different people. For some it’s a week off of school. For others it may be some vacation on a ski slope or maybe on a beach somewhere. For some it may mean nothing changes in their life, work, school or life may look the same. For some it may not feel like a “break” at all. Some may spend their time in the spring financially broke, just as they did last season. With the spring season around the corner, we get hit with comments about spring break and springing forward, and depending on where you live, maybe a positive change in weather. Let us try and be grateful for what we have for today. Let us remember those that are no longer with us and try to show kindness towards those that we still can.

Life gives us these many waves of emotions that have us experiencing everything from laughter to immense emotional pain. It is a reality that a lot of people experience incredible amounts of physical and mental pain. Let us be kind to ourselves and others as we navigate the aspects of physical pain as well as navigating this war zone in our mind. I feel spring, as well as any other day on the calendar, is a great time to “break” a habit or destructive behavior. With OCD, we know that breaking up the behavior of rituals is what often helps us find more peace. We know that some of our destructive habits only lead us into more pain and darkness, this cycle is often extremely hard to break. Let us lean on others who can help guide us through these trees of confusion, because they themselves have lived in the “forest.” Death, trauma, drama, gossip, layoffs, broken promises, destruction, mental and physical illness, the list is endless. We may have seen enough darkness for 10 lifetimes. But let us try to look these demons dead in the eyes, lets try and do what we can to process through them. On this chaotic journey we call life, we often step out in faith and embrace the dark so that we can see the light again. Let’s spring forward and “break” up the behaviors that keep us stuck. Hang in there.

Jeremy Rudd

“HELPING OTHERS OBSESS LESS”

Good Enough??

We often try to get it “just right.” Our brain often says it’s all or nothing, clean or dirty, broken or fixed. We want to be mindful of the gray areas. We know this is crucial for peace from OCD and anxiety. This is where living is located. The more time we spend in the gray, the more time we get to actually live our lives in areas we care about. What will we do with our time we have left? Let this be exciting and embrace the unknown. I’m not trying to sound like science fiction. 🙂 This unknown, this uncertain mystery, it doesn’t have be a dreadful thing that we avoid. Just as an upcoming situation in life can seem really difficult, it can also end up being a really positive thing. We don’t know yet, and that’s a good thing. We may want to improve in many areas of our lives, moving towards values and goals are often a good GPS for us. We also want to remember that “good enough” is something we will want to accept over and over in our thought patterns when dealing with OCD. OCD can try to muck up these situations on a regular basis. Getting it “just right”, or “perfect”……. it will never be enough. We are only telling our brain to expect the same thing next time, and the next time will also fall short.

Compulsions are the proof that we can expect more of the same. Let the demons fall short, let’s break the cyclical patterns, let that situation be “good enough.” Whether this was sending an email or apologizing to a loved one. If we are seeing the typical OCD pattern, let our choices be “good enough.” We are not dodging responsibility or moving away from what we value, we just want to be aware of this never satisfied critic on our shoulder. The critic isn’t interested in good enough and gray. Watch the critic fade away as we move towards uncertainty and what we care about.

Jeremy Rudd

“I don’t have to pretend, She doesn’t expect it from me.” Sarah McLachlan, Good Enough

Tears and Smiles on a Birthday

We are often reminded of how short life is. We are constantly hearing cliches and basic wisdom that we may take for granted because it’s so damn easy to get caught up in the chaos of our planet. When the emotional demons are using a blow torch on our brain, some days it feels impossible to keep going. Moving forward, one moment at a time, in the area of people and activities we care about, can be a very helpful, and realistic, way to go about this journey. These practices can be a way to “keep it simple” on the days where it hurts like hell to even breathe. We may feel like we are truly stuck and that there is no light in sight. We often have to embrace this darkness so that we can begin to see more light. No matter what the emotional demons are trying to tell us to do; more compulsions, negative impulses, or maybe an avoidance that ends up making things worse, let’s do our best to keep pushing forward, truly attempting to keep pushing forward. Let’s do what we can to add our positive influence to this world while we are still here. I feel that we deserve to enjoy what we can, have we not suffered long enough?!

My brother in law passed away 2 years ago from a brutal battle with cancer. Today is his 43rd birthday. Just wanted to give a shout out to a truly great human being, Tyler McGuire. Regardless of his circumstance, he kept pushing forward. His influence on my life helps me daily as a therapist attempting to help others. We often have So much positive impact on other people in our life and we may not even realize it. Tyler is a good example of this. His spirit and values continue to be spread in a positive way in the world. We miss you dearly, BIL. Life will never be the same without you here on earth. We look forward to seeing you on the other side. Thanks for being you. Thanks for spreading endless amounts of love, laughter and goodness in those short 41 years. Veritas.

Jeremy Rudd

“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”- Charles Dickens

Under New Management

 

Let us do our best to seize the day and enjoy what we can even though the emotional demons often try to build a campsite in our brain. Cliches remind of us how we only have this moment and that tomorrow is not promised to us. Emotional stress would often lead me to thinking that “it’s too late” to pursue goals or too late to tell that person how much you mean to them. In a way, I had to tell my brain that now is better than never. This seems like an obvious, but we can often add anxiety and regret to a situation that already was filled with anxiety and regret. Fuel to the fire. It took me several years, but I finally “Learned” that I would never get it all figured out in this lifetime. Of course I knew that there is always more to learn, but the Obsessive Compulsive Manager in my brain constantly tried to fix or figure out what I was thinking or faced with. I eventually told my brain that it was “under new management” and that I was gonna have to be okay with not fixing this stuff. Most of this garbage didn’t need to be fixed anyway, it just felt that way. Exposure Response Prevention became a helpful tool.

As Dr. Phil says: “life is managed, not cured.” The emotional demons that we wrestle with obviously fall under this category. Often we look for the all or nothing answer. Either we have this stuff beat or we don’t. Either we are getting better or getting worse. Again, a lot of the relief is in the gray areas. We can make huge strides in life, then a tough moment or difficult day happens, and it feels like we ran a 5k in the wrong direction. Let’s give ourselves a break and a reminder of the strength it takes to live with this exhausting circus in our head.

I was walking my dog recently and came across a snake that had already passed away. I have often told my friends and family that I would rather play patty cake with a grizzly bear than hold a non-poisinous snake. Even though I know this is irrational, my brain tells me otherwise. I have a true fear of snakes. I reminded myself that this stuff is “managed” and sometimes the snake will try to rear it’s head. I knew from experience that further exposure was needed.  My exposure in the moment was to walk near the snake and purposely spend some extra time looking at it’s lifeless body. Just like OCD, we can often know the things in our mind are irrational, but feeling like we have to perform another compulsion, or use avoidance, this is an extremely powerful feeling. Telling myself that the snake was not alive, using logic, that wasn’t going to be enough in that moment. My brain acted like the snake had asked to take a nap in my hand. The anxiety was still there, so I purposely spent more time looking at the snake. It was difficult, but doable. It’s not always easy, but we are often way stronger than we realize. Letting ourselves experience this uncomfortable feeling, and “learning” that we can tolerate this, it’s all part of it. I guess it’s part of being “under new management. ” 🙂

Jeremy Rudd

“It’s the rattlesnake I fear.” Live, Rattlesnake