Forward

We see the pain in our world. Treating others how we would want to be treated seems to go a long way.

We all have things that we are dealing with, some more than others. Then the Covid situation may have added countless layers to the anxiety and familiar rumbling in our minds. A lot of us have done enough thinking for 7 lifetimes. We seem to “waste” less time feeding the emotional demons if we continue to push ahead in areas we care about. Of course this is way easier said than done with our current situation. So much of these areas have gone digital. Faith, family, work, school, therapy, friends, etc. Our skin may crawl in social situations, and our skin can crawl at home. We know we take our brain with us, and the familiar pull in our brain doesn’t care what time of day it is or what environment we are in. We know the familiar patterns. I am grateful that even in times of darkness, I am still able to remind the people in my life that I care about them and that I care about how they are doing. The physical and emotional pain I feel can be hard to describe at times, however I can still try to give my wife a compliment. Something this “small” may not feel like an easy thing to do when times are tough, but it’s doable.

Grateful to be able to listen to music that has helped me through the darkest parts of this journey. Grateful for movies or laughter that I can revisit. Grateful for this phone/computer thing in my pocket. Eventhough I would like to throw it off a cliff some days, it helps me connect with people and areas that I care about. Always keeping in mind those that may not have these options. Food, water, shelter, doctor visits, clean clothes, technology, etc. Remembering that countless individuals in our world may not have friends, family, or a place to call their own. Trying to be mindful that we never truly know what someone is dealing with.

As a person with OCD, as well as a therapist who specializes in OCD treatment, I know that embracing uncertainty is my best chance of being able to enjoy this life. I learned a long time ago that assuming, and thinking I could be mind reader, it was a dead end road. I try to keep this in mind as I continue and try to help others in their journey.

Some of us have been on the trail of managing our emotional health for years. We know with OCD, the quicker we embrace the gray areas and refrain from the rituals, the better chance we have for more peace of mind. The OCD, depression, anxiety, impulses, these things may already be taking up our time. Our time is our life. We can be in a really difficult spot and still do something meaningful with our time. This could be for 5 seconds or 5 hours. It all counts. We know we aren’t going to “cure” our life, we just try to manage it. Eventhough the mental health monsters are throwing things our way, this is still a day of our life. Doing something is better than doing nothing, attempting to not get stuck just feeding the OCD. Is there something I can do to make my situation better? Is there something I can do to help others? Obviously this is another chance to be mindful of what we want to stand for in this life. Maybe we work from home, maybe we FaceTime with Grandpa on Wednesdays, maybe we “smile” at others through a mask. In my opinion, we don’t regret the extra kindness that we pass on to others and ourselves. We want to keep pushing forward. We want to remind the monster in our brain that we are in charge. We are the one driving the racecar that is our life. Thoughts, images, urges, cravings, these things exist, but so do we. How we respond matters. We Can make changes to continue to manage our life, no matter how small these changes seem. We have done it before, we can do it again. It may not always look the same, however our goal can be the same. To keep living our lives in a valued direction and reminding ourselves of the strength that we have. TRULY, think what you have done in life that took real strength and guts, maybe no one else even knows about it, that’s ok. But you know about it! Use this as motivation to keep moving forward. Let us push ahead and try to show ourselves and others kindness on this journey.

Jeremy Rudd

Hope in the Now

Forgive me for the overly obvious statement. We are stronger when working together. Whether that is fighting the demons of emotional pain or fighting this virus, they go hand in hand. We know how crucial our mental health is in this battle. Please take care of yourself as much as possible and let us be mindful of how far love and kindness can take us on this super challenging journey.

Jeremy Rudd

“I am overcome.” Overcome- +Live+

AVOID DANCE??

The research tells us that purposely facing what we fear can be very beneficial. On purpose, we seek out these fears, and we respond differently. Thoughts, situations, images, or urges. If we head towards these without avoidance, we continue to teach our brain that we can handle the discomfort.

We know this tennis match in our brain makes it difficult to make decisions at times. Maybe I prefer a get together of 8 people versus 88? Maybe you would rather stay home and watch a movie versus going to a crowded restaurant? Maybe you don’t have any real interest of being on social media for more than 10 minutes a day? Am I avoiding out of fear, or is this really not your interest? Doing our best to find the balance as we accept that we will never get it perfect. This tormenting dance of push and pull. Should I do this? Should I have said that? I made the “wrong” choice! The obvious is, we will Never know if we made the “perfect” decision. Sometimes the situations we avoid cause us stress and worry and so we avoid them in the first place. We all probably know that feeling of crawling in our skin, until we leave early, escape out the back door, then to have that rush of relief pass over us. Is this a situation we care about? Even if we don’t enjoy what we are doing, is it a part of life that we really can’t avoid? Does avoiding it just make things 10 times worse? We know the rituals and avoidance are only temporary relief. We can expect the same thing next time as long as we stay in this avoidance dance. We don’t have a manual that will tell us the perfect choices to make at all times. We want to look at our values and goals and try to see how avoidance may be interfering with these. This could be brushing our teeth or applying for a job. We want to notice if avoidance makes the next situation worse, and what will we be doing to go after what we want in life. Exposure treatment, time with family and friends, school, work, creativity, etc.

It has been my experience, that the less ping pong I play in my brain, the less time I focus on whether I made the right decision or not. I will never know for sure if all my decisions are correct, and neither will you, embracing this reality can help lessen the struggle.

Let’s try to challenge ourselves, let us attempt to be kind to ourselves and others on this journey, as we try to “avoid” the decision dance.

“But it’s not my kind of scene” -My Kind of Scene, Powderfinger

In Memory

Just wanted to give a shout out to my brother in law, Tyler. We lost him to cancer 3 years ago today. We consider ourselves extremely blessed to have had a person like you in our lives. Passionate, loyal, consistent. An awesome son, brother, husband, father, a true friend.

Brother, we miss you and your goodness on this planet. I will always be in debt to you for your friendship and the blessing that you have been to our families. Your strength and spirit continues to shine here on earth and it always will. When the darkness of OCD or depression tries to rear it’s ugly head, I try to remember the Countless helpful words that you passed on to me. Your strength that you showed us all, it helps me to keep fighting the good fight.

Most all of us in life can know that feeling, when another step forward can seem damn near impossible. We know that having a support system can be crucial in this journey. Tyler was a Huge support for me and his memory helps me to keep moving ahead as I try to help others. We love you, BIL. We look forward to seeing you again. Veritas.

Jeremy Rudd

Appreciation

This is a common time of the year that people get together with family and friends, to eat, shop, fellowship, etc. One of my favorite things about this time of year is that people actually meet up in person. In this “social” media world we live in, Actually meeting with people in person is a great thing, in my opinion. Exchanging hugs and shaking hands, being able to talk with others, in person, can be a beautiful thing.

Obviously not everyone has the ability to be in person with their loved ones. Whether it’s too much Geographical distance, finances may not allow it, or maybe there is a conflict that has happened that hinders people getting together. As we know, not everyone has a place to go or call home. Some may call a shelter, or under a bridge, their home. Let us be thankful and appreciate what we do have and show genuine kindness to others.

We know that mental health struggles, chronic pain, medical conditions, these rarely take “time off.” OCD doesn’t give a damn what time of the year it is. If it can, it often involves itself in making your experience miserable, we know it will try regardless of what the calendar reads. The good news is that it seems to try less when we continue to lean into our fears and choose to not do the rituals.

We can also keep in mind that someone can be surrounded by friends and family and still feel like they are on fire on the inside. We know that depression, anxiety, OCD, as well as other related struggles, these experiences can be down right brutal to deal with. We may be able to keep the “facade” going in public, however let’s remind ourselves that we can choose to do something about the war in our head. Let’s lean on each other and ask for help if needed. Let us keep leaning into challenging ourselves, to keep the monster managed, as we enjoy our days as much as possible. Keep pushing forward.

Jeremy Rudd

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