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i0cdf.org presents an international effort to raise awareness for OCD and related disorders. OCD Awareness Week is October 8-14, 2017. We made a video to help raise awareness and fight the stigma. Please vote for our short video, Mr Certain Strikes Out, Vol. 1. Our video was picked as one of the finalists! 🙂 The winner will be announced on Friday, October 20th. (please make sure your volume is up at the 1 minute mark!!)
To vote, please go to iocdf.org and scroll down to #OCDweek Program and Events. There you can click on: 2017 #OCDweek Video Contest Finalists. We appreciate it, and so does Mr Certain…..I think??
Going home can mean different things to different people. Some of us are lucky enough to call someplace home. We have shelter, electricity, food, and more than anything, we have love. Obviously not everyone is blessed to have a place to go. With all the weather we have had, we see the destruction of the hurricanes and how this has left many people without a home to go to. Puerto Rico was hit very hard and left a lot of people with just the clothes on their back. We continue to see people coming together to help each other out trying to rebuild their place of residence, businesses, communities, etc. Often this is the silver lining in these devastating situations.
There are countless people in our world who are considered homeless. In the U.S., we may see people in a “tent city” or living under a bridge. I worked with the homeless population for many years as a mental health professional. Some of the most “real” conversations I have ever had were with individuals who were living on the “streets.” We see how faith in a higher power or faith in a community can bring people together. Some people may call a shelter their home. We have seen shelters become a place of refuge for many. We continue to see the strength of the human spirit, and that is a beautiful thing. We often hear that our home is where our heart is. This might be a beautiful home, a tiny apartment, a street corner, or that safe place that we have wanted to return to for years. It’s different for everyone. It’s important to keep in mind that our hearts and thoughts go with us everywhere. Even after we are faced with a brutal life situation, not all hope is lost. Some people may appear to have a home that is a “safe place.” We know that this is not always the case. We often have no idea what happens when someone goes home. Not everyone lives in a safe or peaceful home. It may not be the safe or warm situation that we assume it is. Let us do our best to not judge others from the outside looking in.
A few days ago, 58 people were killed in a senseless massacre in Las Vegas. Our heart breaks for those families who had their “home” turned upside down because of a despicable act. We don’t have the words, there is no magic panacea for these situations. We often hear people say that when their loved ones leave the earth that they have gone “home.” The thought of being reunited with loved ones in an afterlife can give us a sense of comfort and strength to take that next step while we are still here on earth. As we know, life will knock us to our knees, again and again. Let’s keep getting up, one day at a time. Regardless of what we call home, let’s continue to take care of ourselves and each other. We are stronger when we work together.
“Made it to the moon but we can’t make it home. Maybe home is where the heart is given up, to the one.” They Stood Up For Love, the band, +Live+
We have all been asked to pay for something that we may or may not have received or even asked for. Sometimes this can cause us great suffering. Sometimes we “pay” for mistakes we have made. Sometimes we “pay” for others mistakes and this can also cause pain We have all messed up and have been faced with the situation to either own what we did or we may try and ignore what happened. This could be for many different reasons, fear, shame, guilt, or maybe some people have difficulty admitting a mistake. I’m sure very few of us have ever run into someone that has a difficult time apologizing. 🙂 Maybe we all struggle with this at times. Maybe we “pay” emotionally over and over for stuff we didn’t do. Emotional struggles can cloud these situations, OCD especially.
It’s common for someone with OCD to apologize or feel the need to confess to others. Often the person has not done anything wrong but the OCD bully wants to get paid, paid with more compulsions and rituals. The apologies, confessions, and undeserving guilt just continue to feed the OCD monster. These apologies and confessions can become nothing more than just another ritual to feed the OCD. The OCD bully survives on us “paying” with compulsions and rituals. Have we not suffered enough? We all have suffered at some point in our lives, some more than others. It’s obviously not a competition and I encourage others to take care of their emotional health and to be a support for others who may be suffering. Living with OCD can cause great suffering, I am speaking from many years experience. We often wake up and go to bed giving the OCD what it wants. It can be relentless and doesn’t deserve our time and energy. Let us remember that we didn’t ask for OCD, the bully doesn’t care, it will still try to knock you to your knees. I encourage you to take care of yourself and to do your best to not let this coward run your life. It’s robbed us of precious time, it wants to get paid, daily. It’s so easy to get on that compulsion train, and we know slowing down a train takes work. Working with a therapist who specializes in OCD can be a huge help.
You and I have made mistakes, but no amount of guilt, rituals, obsessions, fear, or anger will change anything in the past. We can own it, apologize if needed, and try to move on with our lives. OCD tells us a pack of lies, daily, and it’s easy to get tripped up and to feel as if we did something wrong. The good news is that we can learn to live, to truly live our lives, when we face the bully head on. The bully will try to get it’s weak little hands on us. It thinks it can take up residence in our mind and control our waking moments. It wants to us to pay the fees of rituals and compulsions so that we can feel “okay” or “just right.” OCD can be heartbreaking and exhausting, for the person suffering, as well as their loved ones who are involved. When the bully shows up, let’s continue to remind it that we have “ALREADY PAID.” Let’s continue to let it go broke and starve by not giving it what it wants, our time and energy. Please hang in there.
I’ve already paid. – Joan Baez
This has been a tough few weeks for many because of the hurricanes, the earthquakes, and their aftermath. For the most part, we see people coming together to help out those affected. Our hearts are heavy with the loss of life and utter devastation that this has caused for so many. This week also marks the 16th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. It is often difficult to come up with the right words when someone is in the grip of a crisis or devastation. Certain dates obviously mean different things to different people. Let us be mindful of certain anniversaries. Sometimes the loss of a loved one can continue to hit us hard because of certain dates on the calendar, anniversaries, birthdays, the day someone passes away, etc. Just one more reminder that walking beside others while they are going through hell can be very comforting. Let’s keep it simple. We see that truly being there for others, when possible, is a great place to start. Sometimes we may not be able to help someone in person due to geographical reasons. We can obviously still be there for each other for love and support it just may not be in person. The smart phone has opened up many avenues for this kind of thing. No one has all the answers or the exact right words to stay. We know that depression can rear it’s ugly head in “everyday life” and when something really big happens it can seem insurmountable. Sometimes we may have a dark cloud over our heads. This dark cloud can get smaller and smaller if we engage in a support system and take care of ourselves, mentally and physically. Keep on pushing forward, one moment at a time. If ever you are thinking of harming yourself, please, please reach out and talk to someone.
Like an eagle cuts through the air,
No time for fear,
Faith in his wings takes him there. – We Walk in the Dream, from the band, +Live+
I recently went to the movies and saw the new version of: IT. This is the horror movie that is based on the book by Stephen King. In the story a scary clown wreaks havoc on a town. There are times in the movie when some of the characters face the clown, and other fears, head on. The scary clown and frightening situations lose some of their scare factor when they decide to face their fears. Our emotional struggles are often similar. The movie is obviously fiction and I know first hand that this is easier said than done!! But if we continue to avoid or be afraid of the struggles in our lives then they can continue to torment us. Let’s continue to do our best to embrace our fears so that we can move forward and attempt to enjoy our lives.
We all fall short and make our share of mistakes. We are going to make mistakes and we are going to “screw up.” This could be minor mistakes or these could be major mess ups. OCD, depression, anxiety, etc, can seem like more that enough to deal with on a daily basis. Sometimes emotional struggles can increase our guilt about a situation. We may make a mistake and then punish ourselves for days or weeks. Sometimes we really do screw up and it’s better if we own that. We can give an apology if needed. We can try to improve the situation. We can attempt to do better next time. If we are a person of faith, we might pray about the situation. There is nothing we can do obviously to change anything in the past. The 12 step community talks about the concept of living amends. Guilt gives us something to do, but just like overanalyzing or rumination, it usually gets us nowhere. If we have guilt about a situation, let’s get busy continuing to live our lives and do something constructive about our guilt. These may be apologies, amends if possible, truly trying to do better the next time. Sometimes apologies aren’t possible or even helpful depending on if it will cause more harm than good. Let us remember that we are not doing ourselves or anyone else any favors by sitting around simmering in a sea of guilt. We start from where we are, today, trying to do better. Forgiving ourselves can be very difficult but it’s often crucial for our overall mental health. Emotional struggles will also at times put guilt on our minds that doesn’t need to be there, when we have truly not done anything wrong. This is important to be mindful of and to notice when these kind of thoughts or feelings pop up. With OCD and with life, we will never be completely “certain”. I know first hand how difficult this can be when we think we may have said something, “offensive”, or hurt someone’s feelings, etc. OCD can come up with an unlimited list of examples of how we have inflicted harm. When treating OCD, uncertainty is where we want to hang out. Life is uncertain and the irrational OCD bully asks for certainty. It’s best to continue to use our OCD tool box, ERP techniques, ACT techniques, etc, when the OCD or Certainty Police show up. Talking with a therapist can be helpful in these situations.
Let’s try to keep getting back up when life knocks us down, and it will. Whether it’s guilt, fear, anger, anxiety, sadness, or physical pain. Let’s keep moving forward and do something constructive about these struggles. These things are gonna try to occupy us anyway, therefore we have many opportunities to continue to meet them head on. Just like “screwing up” or making mistakes, if we own it and do what we can to make the situation better, we then can have a smoother path so we can live our lives in spite of the struggles.
“It ain’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. – Rocky Balboa
I recently watched a powerful film. The name of the film is, Wind River. The film stars Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. It was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. The film takes place in Wyoming. It deals with the harsh reality of missing Native American women and the lack of information available when these women go missing. Renner and Olsen team up to work on a crime. I don’t want to give away any other big details in case you see the film.
Throughout the film, the topic of grief and acceptance are woven into the characters and their situations. There are two scenes where Renner is talking with a friend and doing a great job of being there for his buddy when he needs him most. They discuss the gut wrenching aspects of grief. In one of the scenes, the friend asks Renner if he could sit with him while the friend sat with his own sadness and grief. Renner’s character basically said: “I’m not going anywhere.” They were true friends and both shared incomprehensible loss. Taylor Sheridan has a real knack for showing a genuine bond between some of the characters in his films.
As we know, when we are in the storms of life, we want to know that we have people “that aren’t going anywhere.” Meaning a support person, someone walking next to us through the battle fields of life. Friends, family, neighbors, a therapist, a pastor, etc. It’s nice to know we have a sidekick that can be there for us. Some people have their faith and this is always with them. Even our loved ones that have passed will always be present in our hearts and memories, even if they are not physically next to us, their spirit and love can always remain. We have to lean into that pain and that sometimes seems impossible to face. Knowing that you don’t have to do it all alone can be a huge comfort. I encourage others to reach out if they don’t yet already have a support system. There is help and support out there, keep pushing forward, there is HOPE.
The film I mentioned was one that my brother in law, Tyler, would have appreciated. We lost Tyler in January of this year to bone cancer. He was a true wingman for me and I tried to do the same for him. I wished numerous times during the movie that he was sitting down watching it with me. That loss and grief often hits us like ten tons of bricks. I have to lean into that reality, everyday, that he is no longer here. By accepting the reality, I can remember the awesome times we had. I could see Tyler saying: “I’m not going anywhere.” That was the kind of person he was. In a sense, he was watching the movie with me and his spirit hasn’t gone anywhere. We will lose loved ones and it will hurt like hell. Let’s do our best to accept it so that we can start to heal. Let’s help each other walk through the storms, just like we are seeing currently in Texas. People reaching out and helping each other live through these literal storms of Hurricane Harvey. Inside the healing from a loss of a loved one is where we can find and sit with the memories, the laughter, the love, and all the other incredible things that person shared with us on earth. We want to get in the face of our difficulties like OCD, depression, bipolar disorder, impulsive behavior, crippling aniexty, grief etc. By facing these situations head on, we have the opportunity to see the calm of the storms.
I’m sure we have all been asked to press and hold down a power button to reset something. A phone, a modem, a computer, etc. Sometimes this is a quick fix and can often make our next move more of an easy task. The important phone call, email, or working on a paper that was due yesterday. Whatever the situation, turning things off for a cool down period can be a great idea. Our bodies and minds are no different. It can be helpful to “reset” ourselves. Unfortunately this doesn’t always equate to going back to “factory settings” or getting our waist size back that we had at 18. 🙂 However, truly slowing down and attempting to be mindful of where we are can be a great tool. Literally stopping and seeing where we are and what we are doing. We can count 3 things we see around us in that moment, e.g.-a desk, a printer, a tree, etc. We can count three things we hear in that moment. These tools can be good for restarting, regardless of what situation we are in. Simple reminders to slow down our train of thought. Sometimes we get on that stress train and find ourselves stuck. A lot of us, we wake up, we play “wack a mole” for 18 hours, take a six hour nap, then get up and do it all over again. We see the cliche’ signs or phrases everywhere telling us to “stop and smell the roses” or to “live laugh and love.” These are so commonplace they can eventually just become background noise. We see them, but we may not take that moment to look around, to truly see what’s going on around us. “Who and what are my priorities??” “What do I want my time on this earth to look like?” We may be having a day, a month, or a year from hell. But if we take some moments, again and again, and restart, we can start to have more mindful and purposeful moments. Our lives are a bunch of moments stacked on each other. I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to this. We may have all these incredible blessings knocking us over the head, but for some reason we keep paying attention to the things that can set us back. Obviously it’s very easy to get stuck in that rut. Whether that is doing rituals trying to please OCD, looking for quick fixes, or just staying stuck in that emotional storm. These things are loud and they are good at getting our attention. Just because something is loud and is waving bright lights of negativity in our face, that doesn’t mean they deserve our attention. Depression, OCD, anxiety, chronic pain, and all their other roommates, they love to be the center of attention. It’s human nature to go there first, to try to deal or “fix” these situations We all do it. We can notice these things, we can try to do what we can, but we don’t have to give them all of our waking moments. We can try to do first things first. We can make a written list and filter through all the things we feel like we “have” to do. If we follow our values and try to stay in today, our journey through everyday life can be a more peaceful one.
Let’s push and hold down our own power button. If someone is trying to “push our buttons,” let’s push our own power button, let’s reset that situation and let them worry about their own buttons.:) Let’s begin again, time and time again. Let’s hug our loved ones and friends, a handshake will also do. 🙂 Play with the dog, pet the cat, if the cat will let you. Let’s call or send a text to that person that could really use a pick me up. Whatever we value in life, let’s go after it. I’m just using people and animals as an example, I know a lot of us can identify with these species. Regardless of how strong that monster in our mind is or how damn dark that path may seem, WE STILL HAVE SOME SAY SO ABOUT OUR LIVES. Let us not forget. Let’s love and be kind and gentle to that one person who we know really needs it……..OURSELVES. Yes, there are times we need to “check” ourselves and hold ourselves accountable, but if we just continue to beat ourselves up emotionally, we are gonna stay stuck. As the great saying goes: “Guilt is like a rocking chair, it gives us something to do, but won’t get us anywhere.” We can often do our part and forgive others but may be struggling with forgiving ourselves. Let’s keep moving forward. Let’s check in with our compass of values and decide what we want to be about and where we are headed. Our minds will continue to turn and the emotional demons will try to get our attention, time and time again. That’s okay, keep restarting, press and hold that power button, give yourself a break, truly. Let’s try to rest easier, enjoy our moments, and truly give ourselves a break. Let’s try it together, one day at a time. Hang in there.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill
OCD and other emotional struggles can often seem like hell on earth. Let’s keep pushing forward, no matter how tough it’s been, let’s keep pushing forward. Let’s do our best to make the present and our future a better situation for ourselves.