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

 

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”