DEAD END ROAD

We know that OCD rituals are often done in our head. It’s still a compulsion or a ritual whether we are doing a mental ritual, or something outward like: excessive hand washing, checking the stove, turning off light switches a certain way, etc. OCD can be pure torment, I know this first hand. The good news is that Exposure and Response Prevention can help put the OCD behind us. With mental rituals we can, and often do,”perform” these in a split second. It’s automatic at times and can be very frustrating to try and conquer. We want to remember that we aren’t trying to stop our thoughts, this doesn’t work, we just want them to fall in the background like that song playing at a restaurant that we aren’t even paying attention to.

OCD often involves rumination and this is another dead end road. Rumination is when we get hyper focused on our negative thinking. We start to overanalyze what is going on in our brain and in our life. “Why is this happening, what’s causing this? Is this actually OCD? What’s going to happen? Do I need to respond differently this time?” It’s exhausting and can be gut wrenching. Then all we have is a big bag of nothing to show for it, it gets us nowhere. Rumination is the road to nowhere. I have many decades experience in this area. If rumination was a stomach exercise, I would have really nice abs. 🙂 In honor of OCD Awareness Week, through the International OCD Foundation, let’s notice when we start to ruminate and remind ourselves that this is only adding to our OCD stress, anxiety, depression, etc. I know that it is easier said than done, however with practice, we can gain some traction in the other direction, which is where we want to go. Hang in there.

Jeremy Rudd

“The Road to Nowhere leads to me.”   “Road to Nowhere” -Ozzy Osbourne

Falling Forward

 

It has become cliche to say: “never give up.” These cliches stick around for a reason. There is obviously a lot of knowledge and simplicity involved in a cliche. When we are dealing with emotional struggles, internal demons, chronic pain, OCD, grief, etc., a simple and practical reminder can be a real blessing.

If we keep leaning into people and activities that we care about, regardless of what negative things are occupying our brain, we are doing our best to create a life we want. We will fall. Sometimes we will just bruise our patella, and other times the fall could hurt even worse. Broken bones, broken relationships, or maybe broken hearts. We want to keep moving forward, as much as we can, no matter what. Sometimes it will hurt like hell, there is no doubt about that. But if we keep moving forward, going after a life we value, when we fall, we fall in a direction we care about. It’s better to try to enjoy our lives than to isolate from what and who we care about. This sounds incredibly obvious, but as we know with depression and anxiety, this is such an easy trap to fall into. Staying home or avoidance of a situation may feel better in the short term, however we know what often comes after we do this. Guilt, shame, regret, and all of their other pain in the neck relatives. Just like with OCD, we let the fear or “off” feeling be there and respond differently by not doing the rituals and compulsions. If we face a situation in grief, or if we finally start going back to exercising, the uncomfortable part will be present, but we can see it lessen more and more if we keep pushing ahead and not avoiding. We build on this momentum and we start to fall and snowball in a direction we care about, forward.

Let’s do our best not to let the text message that was not returned ruin our day. Enjoy our day as much as possible, regardless of what we have going on, this is our best option. Let’s try to enjoy the moment regardless of how many likes we get on some social media platform. We often see with OCD, impulsive behaviors, trying to be certain, etc., it’s never enough, ever. We need to find our area of the gray where we can move forward, and live, in spite of all our demons. Things are rarely black and white. Most of life is uncertain and in the gray. I promise, this is really good news. Let’s keep falling forward and leaning on each other in the process. Talk with you soon.

Jeremy Rudd

“I had better keep…… rolling on.” Israel Nash- “Rolling On”

It Takes Our Time

Whether we are dealing with OCD or some other emotional struggle, it often robs us of our time on earth that we cannot get back. That sucks, period. We have seen that by accepting this fact, we now have a better shot at doing something about it. If we continue to deny this, or talk about unfair it is, we rob ourselves of more time by not accepting it and trying to work through it. There is no doubt that life is not fair. We see countless examples of this all over the world. If we are battling OCD, working through grief, or dealing with a difficult situation at work, these are all examples of struggles that are taking up our time. We may complain about them, try to fix them with rituals, or maybe they completely drain us where we leave little time to actually enjoy our lives. We are only human and this is where these paths often lead us. I’m not suggesting that any of this stuff is easy, far from it. My point is that it’s taking up our time and energy anyway, so let’s use that same time and energy to work through it as much as we can.

In OCD therapy, we use Exposure and Response Prevention to battle the obsessions and compulsions. This takes work, just like grief and a difficult work situation, for example. Often times there may be nothing we can do to change it, it may be a situation that is completely out of our hands. However if we are still struggling with these things, spending all our time wishing it were different, or getting angry because things aren’t different, then we probably have some work to do. Again, its already taken up residence in our brain. It’s trying to sign a 10 year lease!!! Lets do the work to process through it so we can take our OWN time and give ourselves a better chance to enjoy what we value in life; friends, family, faith, career, hobbies, etc. In the OCD community, we see that obsessions and rituals can take up hours of our day. OCD didn’t take off for the 4th of July like a lot of Americans did. It doesn’t give a damn what holiday is on the calendar, it’s full time job is to make us miserable. It’s gonna try to be there anyway, so let’s use that time to lean into exposures and uncertainty, this is where the freedom is. It’s not like living with OCD is nothing but rainbows and ice cream, it’s already time consuming and difficult. Even if we try to feel “safe” or “just right” by doing rituals, it’s still a Huge struggle, and this only feeds this overfed monster even more. Yes, ERP is difficult, but your brain is already on the OCD channel, let it stay there and let’s lean into a life filled with exposures and uncertainty so we have a better chance of enjoying our time instead of continuing to be robbed by the demon.

No matter what we are faced with in this life, let’s try to do what we can to work through it if possible so that we give ourselves every chance to enjoy what time we do have. Please hang in there. Talk with you soon.

Jeremy Rudd

Behind Us

Often the only way around is through. Often this is also much easier said than done. Reminding ourselves of this timeless outlook can help us on our journey. The situation we are in can feel like flames raging inside our minds and bodies. We often see that the stuff we worried about, or that felt like hell in the moment, can eventually fade into the background. OCD symptoms are a great example. We want to keep going after a life that we value and learn to live with being uncertain. We can be confident about a situation, but we can never be 100 % certain that things will go as we planned. Sometimes we didn’t have a choice in the matter. It could be something awful that we had no control over that we experienced in life. Even in some of the most unspeakable tragedies, if someone is able to, facing the emotions head on can be a great place to start the healing process. Most of the time when we are facing what we fear, things end up being okay, but we know this isn’t reality all of the time. Whether that is a difficult conversation or learning to drive. We hope for the best but want to be willing to live with the results regardless of what happens. Freedom lies in the gray area. Peace of mind from obsessions and compulsions lives in the world of uncertainty. Again and again.

My website address is GETBEHINDMEOCD. I also have this tattooed on my arm. It’s something I’m very passionate about. Once I accept the moment for what it is, no matter how uncertain the outcome is, the better off I am. The better of we are. No matter how dark our thoughts are, or how our experience feels, if we accept the moment and keep going after things that we care about, we can see OCD or other tough life events lose strength in trying to dominate our time on earth. We start to gain ground and take back our lives that these demons have tried to rob us of. Let the hamster wheel of our brain turn without trying to fix it, it’s trying to take up our time anyway, let it burn itself out. We know that wishing, pushing, or trying to analyze it away usually doesn’t work. The more we accept what’s going on in the moment, and keep moving in a forward direction, we can start to notice this stuff in our rearview mirror. It’s not always an easy experience. It can however be a more peaceful and clearer journey if we stop the internal struggle and let a lot of this stuff fade into the background.

Jeremy Rudd

Saw things, clearer, clearer, once you, were in my, rear view mirror. I gather speed, from you f&*#ing with me. Once and for all, I’m far away. I hardly believe, finally the shades, are raised……” Pearl Jam, “Rearview Mirror”

A Book By it’s Cover

Let’t try not to judge a book by the cover. The same goes with assuming that we know what someone is thinking or what they are going through. We may assume that someone is ticked off at the world or we may assume that this person has very few worries going on and wonder what they would have to complain about. The truth is, obviously, we don’t always know what someone is going through. Someone could literally be dying on the inside but their outside may portray snocones, puppies and rainbows. Depression, OCD, and other emotional struggles, can all have this sort of thing in common. People can become experts at living a facade. It becomes a survival skill, it becomes a mask we wear in public, for numerous reasons. Someone can be living on the streets or could be driving a new car, the truth is, we often have no clue what exactly is going on in their brain and in their world. We can save ourselves and others a lot of heartache by not trying to read someone’s mind or assume we know what their situation looks like. We are all guilty of this, it’s human nature. We can increase our stress levels pretty easily if we go around trying to read someone else’s mind. I am a big believer in checking in with others to see how things are going. It doesn’t have to turn into a therapy session. Just a simple hello and asking someone how things are going in their world will often suffice. “Social” media can be a great tool for reaching out; however we know that this can also be filled with negativity, just like a lot of things in our world. There are often many sides to things and it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole online. Online bullying certainly comes to mind and it’s a huge issue. When dealing with OCD, we may seek reassurance or do online research on a topic until we are blue in the face. Maybe checking to see if someone is upset with us, or if someone liked our post on “social” media. We may have the bump on our leg diagnosed 12 times over by the end of the day, all by looking online for medical “answers” that we think are going to make us feel better. If we struggle with obsessions and compulsions, we want to be mindful of these situations where we can find ourselves going down a dark hole, obsessing and ritualizing, only to find ourselves more stressed out than when we started. As we know, we don’t have to be diagnosed with OCD to see how these obsessions and rumination can be very counterproductive. Coming back to the present moment, and remembering to live a life we value, is always a great place to start. Over and over again. Hang in there.

Jeremy Rudd

“Your feelings are too real. Let them spew, a fall from grace would do us good today.” – “Hold Me Up”, lyrics by +Live+

Take it With you

This is a picture of my handless clock in my office. We don’t want to wait until all of our emotional stress or problems are resolved or gone before we truly start to live our lives. As we know, there will never be a perfect situation where we can “finally” start to live our lives in a direction we care about. It will always be something. We can start now. We want to take the demons and stress with us, and live a life we care about in spite of these negative experiences. We can’t wish it away or perform enough rituals to make it just disappear. It’s not that we want the demons and stress to hang out with us, they just beat us down. Let them be there though, fight them by not fighting them, and they can fade into the background where they belong. If we continue to avoid them or try fix everything or make it just right, we are often very disappointed that these things just get bigger the more we try to rid ourselves of our struggles. We see this over and over in OCD, with the endless and senseless rituals. Some things can be resolved, some can’t. Lets do what we can with what we have, demons and all, and lean into a life that we care about.

Jeremy Rudd

Keep Fighting

The demons are really heavy in our hearts and minds some days. The good news is these emotional “demons” are in our head. Yes, there will be extremely difficult aspects of our lives. We all know this difficult truth. We will often have the urge to kick the demons in the teeth. These struggles can knock us to the floor and take the wind out of our sails. We continue to “fight” OCD by responding differently to its ridiculous demands. Attempting to stay in the moment, using exposure to face our fears, and then responding differently without rituals and compulsions, is how we continue to gain freedom from this heavyweight fight in our mind.

Jeremy Rudd

It’s a good day to Embrace

 

Sometimes letting go of the struggle can be a very therapeutic tool. There is an old saying about “hitting rock bottom once we stop digging.” There is a lot of truth in this. If we Embrace the negativity instead of trying to avoid it, it can be a form of acceptance and can be very helpful for our emotional health. We want to keep moving forward, one hour at a time. Moving forward doesn’t have to mean fighting against or trying to stop or hide from irrational thoughts.  With OCD we see that we “fight” the demon or irrational thoughts by not responding. We can let the villains come along for the road trip, but we will not be sharing our trail mix and beef jerky along the way. Let’s Embrace the villains and realize that they will continue to starve off the less we feed them our time and energy.

“I have been guilty of kicking myself in the teeth.” -Jerry Cantrell, Alice in Chains