Screwing up

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  

Jeremy Rudd

“I’m not going anywhere.”

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.   

 

Jeremy Rudd 

“Press and hold the power button”

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.

Jeremy Rudd    

Keep going

“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. 

Jeremy Rudd

 

FIRES AND LIARS

FIRES-

We have probably heard the saying, “I’m just putting out fires today.” It’s often not meant in a literal sense, unlike a firefighter. We may hear someone say this in a busy work situation. This usually means that we are paying attention to urgent matters and not our daily tasks. This reminds me of OCD and other emotional struggles. We have lives to live and our emotional struggle shows up and wants all our time and attention. OCD can feel like an empty slot machine, we keep feeding this thing over and over with no reward to be had. We feed it by giving it our energy, time and attention. This could be with senseless rituals and compulsions or we could be trying to feed an addictive behavior. It’s never enough. We are usually left defeated, frustrated and exhausted. We keep “putting out fires” instead of living the life we want. Obviously there will be times when we do need to “put out fires” or deal with the urgent things in our lives. The example I am using here is related to spending our time on negative things; compulsions, rituals, destructive behaviors, etc. We know we can’t stop our flow of thoughts, but we can choose what we do with them. We can “put out fires” all day long related to our OCD. This monster might expect one ritual or compulsion after another. We do this so we can feel “okay” about a situation. We can learn to put out these so called “fires” by doing nothing. We can let the thoughts, images and impulses be there and not give into the demands. Easier said than done, but it’s possible! We can let this stuff be present and do our best not to respond. These fires will eventually burn out on their own. With ERP therapy we see that we can purposely face the fire, not try to “put it out” with rituals, and see the thing burn out on its own. Our anxiety will eventually come down on it’s own. That can seem impossible in the grip of OCD, panic or anxiety. If we stick with what we fear and experience this, the anxiety can be less and less. Having a therapist to work with who is trained in ERP can be very helpful.

LIARS-

OCD lies. It tells you complete garbage and expects you to take it as fact. It might try to make you out to be this awful person. “You just had a thought about your relative, wow, You hope they burn in Hell! Or “If you count to 7 in your head, 4 times in a row, then blink 9 times slowly, I will let your family live.” BULLS%*T!!!!!!!!

OCD lies and its goal is to trip us up and to make us miserable. We don’t have to let it. OCD lives on negative energy and stays alive by getting attention through rituals and compulsions. It’s not worth our time, we have a life to enjoy. When we are in the grip of OCD, nothing can seem further from the truth. We may feel like this OCD is our master and we must agree to all it’s demands. We beat our heads against the wall trying to “fight” this LIAR by doing rituals or compulsions. The more we “fight” the OCD by doing senseless rituals, the worse it gets. We truly “fight” it by letting go of the compulsions and rituals. OCD is a bully, it doesn’t fight fair. OCD is not the first or the last LIAR or bully we will meet. We can meet with OCD, or a liar, or a traumatic experience. These can be part of us, but they don’t have to run our lives. As hard as that may seem, they don’t have to run our lives. Just like the “passengers on a bus” metaphor used in ACT therapy. These monsters and liars can ride on our bus, but they are not driving the damn thing, we are!! This bus is us. It’s our lives, our thoughts, our experiences. The monsters and LIARS can come along for the ride. We can notice they are in the background and not give them the time of day or negative attention they seek. We start to care less and less who is on the bus, and this is really good news!! This can free us up to drive that bus in a direction that we want, in a positive direction.

In OCD treatment, we might even see a technique used where a person is asked to agree with the obsessive thoughts, to actually surrender to the thought, “ok, I’m an awful person, of course I am.” We can notice the thought, even agree with it, but we’re not trying to fix it by doing compulsions, that’s the difference. The goal is to live with uncertainty. We know OCD lies but then again we have to live with some uncertainty, because life is uncertain. ” I”m not really sure if I said something offensive in the store earlier, I don’t think I did, but I might have. Oh well, I’m going to go enjoy dinner with my wife.” It’s similar to agreeing with negative criticism you might receive. It may be true, it may not be, but the sooner we receive it or “accept” it, the quicker it usually fades away. 

Hang in there, we can do this! 

Jeremy Rudd

Writing it down

I had this tattooed on my arm several years ago. It has always been my dream to open my own counseling practice and specialize in OCD. This is now my domain name for my counseling website, getbehindmeocd.com. This has been a daily reminder for me to continue to go after my dream. My dream has been to help others battle OCD. I’m not suggesting we should tattoo our dream on our body, 🙂 ,I’m just sharing something that I did on my journey. Like most people, I have made countless to do lists in my life. These can be helpful especially when our brain gets on overflow and we just end up chasing butterflies. It can be something as basic as texting a friend back or starting the dishwasher. With OCD, our lives often feel as if they are spinning out of control. I feel that when we write down a to do list, some goals, and some areas in life that we value, we have some good starting blocks to go for what we want in life. When our brain goes into overdrive, it’s easy to forget what we are actually wanting to do with our time, especially when performing useless compulsions. These compulsions take up waaaaaaaaaaay too much of our time, and I don’t think any of us want that !!!!! I am a big believer in doing one thing at a time. I still struggle with this at times. Attempting to concentrate on one thing at a time can be difficult for all of us. People with OCD and Anxiety symptoms can have extremely active brains. Writing down a to do list or a goal may seem like a very basic idea. It is basic, and it can work. As we know, no amount of compulsions, rituals, or ruminating, will “fix” this OCD stuff. Knowing this, let’s try to lean into these obsessions on purpose and do our best to stop the compulsions. This is not easy, but it’s doable. As I have suggested before, it helps to find a therapist that specializes in OCD and is trained in ERP therapy. Just like ACT therapy suggests, going after what we value in life means less time spent on our obsessions, compulsions, addictions, anxieties, etc. Whether we value being a good employee or value playing golf well, having a set of values on paper can help us re-focus when our brain feels as if it’s melting from stress. We need to keep checking in with these values, dreams, and goals for them to be helpful. Just like exercise, we can think about exercise all day, but until we start doing it, it won’t have much positive effect. Our daily tasks can often become just another compulsion for us if we are dealing with OCD. We need to me mindful of how we are using our to do lists, journaling, values that we write down, etc. It’s okay to have some areas of focus and some measurable goals that we are paying attention to. We just want to be careful not to let these become just another compulsion or a ritual. Talking with your therapist or a loved one for accountability can be a helpful tool. Our therapist or loved one can encourage us and assist in keeping us on track. We want to continue to try and stay away from or cut down the compulsions, seeking reassurance, performing mental rituals, etc. So let’s write some ideas, goals and interests down. Let’s write down what we would like our life to look like a year from now. Start small, one step at a time. Please don’t berate yourself if this is a difficult activity, because it can be. Remember, you didn’t ask for this, but you can do something about it. We have one life, let’s do our best to enjoy the one we have. Hang in there, talk with you soon.

 

Jeremy Rudd  

OCD is not…………..

OCD is not……… just washing your hands a lot and liking things to be symetrical. The treatment options and knowledge of OCD continues to grow. This is good news, however as I have said before, we still have a long way to go with overall mental health treatment, knowledge and support. Stigma and lack of knowledge in this area continue to be something we have to work at. It’s very refreshing to see what other colleagues in the OCD community have shared about what is “OCD’ and what isn’t. OCD can be pure torment and has negatively effected countless lives. OCD goes much further than what we see on TV or in movies. There are now more and more good articles, audio, and video available that attempt to drive this point home. As I have explained in an earlier blog, OCD is much more than someone liking an organized closet, or “having” to arrange their silverware a certain way. Cleanliness and symmetry can certainly be a huge part of OCD but it often goes much further than this.

In society we will often hear someone say, “she’s so OCD” when referring to a person that may have a certain ritual they do or a quirky habit they have. It could be a person that always has a clean car, “don’t bring your coffee in her car, she’s way “OCD” about someone spilling it” A lot of times what society may call “OCD” in these situations is probably not true OCD. Sometimes when “OCD” is thrown around so casually, it can be an unintended slam to someone who may be suffering with it.

Again, many people have a certain habit, maybe a certain obsession, or a particular ritual they may do at times. This could be a “good luck” touch they give to a kitchen table before they leave home or they may have a “lucky” or “unlucky” number they pay extra attention to. Most of these situations listed don’t usually interfere with everyday functioning. A person without OCD may do these things on occasion and go about their day. A person with OCD may get stuck in the shower for 5 hours, or may have to touch a “good luck” object 47 times before they can “go about their day.” The obsessions and compulsions often quickly pick up on something else right after the person has got their hands just “clean” enough, or felt “just right” after touching the good luck object 47 times. During this same OCD situation they may have also also felt like they had to start over 12 times in the process of getting to 47, so it’s “just right”, ughhhhhhhhhh. Exhausting.

With OCD, it’s never enough. No amount of reassurance, or obsessions, or compulsions, or ruminating, or asking, or checking will ever be good enough for this monster!! OCD is always thirsty for more and we will never quench it’s thirst, regardless of us trying to with countless compulsions and rituals. Unfortunately OCD can manifest itself in many ways. The good news is that most experts agree that the goal of treamtent is the same. STOPPING THE COMPULSIONS AND LIVING WITH UNCERTAINTY!! I promise, this is good news !!!! We can have the urges, thoughts, feelings, sensations, obsessions, disturbing images, etc. What we do when this stuff pops up is the key. Most people may have a troubling or disturbing thought or image pop in their head from time to time. Most notice it and just move on. With OCD, we have “sticky brains”, we often get stuck on something where someone else may have a similar thought or image and their brain doesn’t stay there. We obsess, we do compulsions and rituals, we ask questions, we seek reassurance, we count, we check, we try to “fix” what is bothering us and making us anxious. Most of the time we are just left exhausted and floored with torment. The quicker we face the OCD by not giving into its useless demands, the quicker that damn monster floats into the background. We have a life to live and we don’t want OCD pushing us around. Our compulsions and rituals may be hidden from others. For example, we may not have symptoms of excessive hand washing or checking the stove 10 times. Others may notice us doing these compulsions because they can be seen out in the open. Our rituals and compulsions can be something we do in private or they may be “all in our head” so to speak. If we try to “fix” a situation with a ritualistic prayer in our minds, or sing a certain song silently, or count in our heads,  or ruminate, etc, then all we are doing is continuing to feed the monster. The term “Pure O” has been said over the years, suggesting that someone just has the “obsession” part of OCD. They may be suffering in silence. Eventhough our OCD symptoms may only show up in our head, we are still probably feeding the OCD by performing mental rituals. The good news is, there are treatments and strategies that work. It can be helpful to find a therapist in your area that specializes in OCD.

I have had OCD for over 30 years. I have been a mental health professional for over 17 years and have dedicated my counseling practice to battling OCD. I have been guilty in the past of using “OCD” to describe a situation or something that I am doing. I know all too well that it’s often not accurate for what I am trying to explain when I use the letters “OCD.” Especially when I am talking to someone who doesn’t know that I have OCD. There are many jokes, memes, t-shirts, bumperstickers, etc that poke fun at OCD. There has been controversy over this. I feel that it’s often said with no ill intent, however our words and what we write can certainly have a huge impact on others. Especially when someone doesn’t realize the torment and sadness that often is present with OCD. OCD is not a joke, it can be a living hell. I know the hell personally. I have a true passion to help others battle this demon. I bring this up to “confess” that I have used “OCD” inaccurately in conversations and I feel that we can ALL do better as a society when discussing mental health and being mindful of the words we use. As someone with OCD and as a Licensed Therapist, I have used humor at times to help myself and others. I always try to be mindful of what someone is dealing with and respect how they feel as far as what is funny and what’s not. It’s the old adage of laughing with someone and not at them. I feel that laughter is key for our overall mental health. I know it has been for mine.

Jeremy Rudd

 

Gratitude Adjustment

Most all of us can find things to be grateful for. When we are in the storms of emotional or physical struggles, it’s easy to let this slip by. A lot of us are guilty of forgetting what we do have going for us,  friends, family, shelter, a heartbeat, etc. It’s helpful to slow down and be more aware of this. It can be a healthy reminder for our mental health. We can start with the basic idea of making a gratitude list. This could give us something to check in with when our thoughts or situation tries to lead us down a dark path.

Jeremy Rudd

“I’m a lucky man
To count on both hands
The ones I love.
Some folks just have one
Yeah others they got none.”  

-Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam, “Just Breathe”

Checking in with yourself and others

We have probably all heard the phrase: “laughter is the best medicine.” There is a lot of truth in this. Studies show that laughter reduces our stress response. When we laugh our muscles contract and this increases our oxygen and blood flow. We have probably all felt our bodies feel less tense after a good laugh. We release endorphins in our body when we laugh, and this can lead to feeling a relief, mentally and physically. Studies show that even when we force it, or use “fake laughter”, it has a positive effect on us. All of us might have done our share of this. 🙂 When dealing with OCD, or any other emotional struggle, it’s good to see that humor can be good medicine. When we feel as if our world is crashing down, often the last thing we may feel like doing is laughing or smiling. Kinda like the “diet and exercise” situation. We often know what good a healthy food choice and a trip to the gym can do for us. Knowing it and doing it are two different things. We may randomly hear, see, or think of something funny. This can be helpful for our overall mood and often happens to us on a regular basis. In the midst of an emotional struggle, unfortunately this can happen less and less. A common symptom of depression is anhedonia. Anhedonia is the loss of interest in pleasurable activities. What we usually find pleasurable or funny may not have the same effect on us when we are in the middle of an emotional storm. It doesn’t mean that this has left us permanently, they are more or less just put on hold. I bring this up so that we can try to be more mindful of what we enjoy and what has worked for us previously. By worked I mean, the people, places, books, movies, music, exercise, situations, etc, that have brought us joy. Being mindful of what we enjoy and value is important. It becomes our compass that can help direct us where we want to go. It seems like a simple concept, and it is. We see once again that we may have to “force” ourselves to be involved in what has worked in the past and to be open to what might work going forward, e.g- ERP, ACT therapy, etc. By paying attention in the moment, and tuning into what we enjoy, this can get us back on the path we want to travel. The C in ACT therapy stands for commitment. We become mindful of our situation and use acceptance of what we are experiencing. Then we commit to a direction we value, and this is great news. We don’t have to put our lives on hold any longer. Our lives will never be perfect or “just right” Whether that is our obsessions, our addictive behaviors, our bank accounts, our jobs, our weight, etc. Lets pick up our “stuff” and get busy living. In ACT therapy they ask: “what do you want to do with your time on this planet?” I have read this sentence over a hundred times and it still hits me like a ton of bricks. It’s powerful and its reality. We are only given so much time!  Making a list of our interests can be helpful. Keeping this near or maybe in our phone is a good tool to have. Why would we need to know what we are interested in? That seems pretty basic, right? When the grasp and cycle of OCD, depression, or another struggle has us focused on the negative junk, a moment of “noticing” or mindfulness can help us bounce back on track. It can be as basic as following our breath then moving in a direction we value. It’s not always easy, but it’s basic and doable.  Noticing that we are breathing, in and out, noticing what that literally feels like physically, this is an example of being mindful. There are countless ways to be mindful. Whether we are using a technique in Exposure and Response Prevention, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, or battling a destructive habit, pausing and checking in with our thoughts and actions can be very helpful. Obsessions, compulsions, impulsive behavior, anxiety, panic, the grip of depression, these can all can feel like a never ending train ride into darkness. The good news is that we can check in with our thoughts and actions, we can notice and not respond to them, just notice. We know that we can’t stop our thoughts but we CAN change how we respond to them. The main goal of OCD treatment is to stop the compulsions or rituals and to live in uncertainty. We might have very “dark” thoughts, our brain might tell us to perform rituals or compulsions to make it “okay.” Just noticing or looking at the thoughts or images, and letting them just be, will put us closer to freedom. By giving into the rituals, we continue to put fuel into that damn OCD train. We learn that purposely putting ourselves into scary situations, and not responding to the ridiculous demands of OCD, that this will then have less and less power over us. We can notice the train, but we don’t have to ride. Even if we are on the train, we can still notice these thoughts, images or impulses, they are going to be there reagrdless, but again, we don’t have to respond. ACT therapy suggests noticing our thoughts, using acceptance, and moving in a direction we value. A value is something we want to stand for in life. Being a “loving Mom” or being a “good listener”, these are examples of values. We try to “reach” goals. With values, we move towards them, we move in a direction what we care about. We try to reach goals, goals are measurable. “I want to lose ten pounds over the next 30 days” is a goal. We might value having more freedom from OCD. This value might look like participating in ERP.  Another example of a value is: “spending time with my grandson.” An example of a goal is: “I will meet with my therapist weekly over the next month to participate in treatment.” And hopefully participating in OCD treatment would lead to less time spent on useless rituals and more time to “spend with my grandson.”

It’s cliche to say that we have to start somewhere, but it’s true. We obviously can only start from where we are now, the past is done. If we need some laughter, let’s lean into what makes us laugh. Let’s lean into what we enjoy, whether it’s healthy relationships, exercise, funny movies, etc. Lets “force” or commit ourselves to jump back into pleasurable situations or things that we enjoy. It’s so easy to get lost in this emotional sea of darkness and doubt. Checking in with ourselves and using reminders can help us get back on track. Being mindful and leaning into what we enjoy may be difficult at times, but it’s crucial for our emotional health if we have left this in the past. Let’s remember that we really don’t have overall health without our mental health.

We might lean into an exposure in OCD treatment. We might lean back into a relationship with a loved one that has fizzled out. We might lean into going to the movies with a friend, even though we don’t feel like it. We might find ourselves pleasantly surprised once we get there and the movie starts. We might be glad that we forced ourselves to go out. We might see that 15 minutes into a workout, “man, this feels good, I’m glad I went ahead and did this.” ACT therapy suggests taking all our “stuff” with us and moving in a direction we value. The obsessions, compulsions, thoughts, impulses, sadness, etc, can all come along for the ride, they are probably going to be with us anyway.  As hard as that can seem to swallow, that’s okay, one moment at a time.  Once again, we can notice the negative stuff and then go about our day, we can let that junk float into the background. We don’t have to give into the demands. “I see you, OCD. Thanks for checking in, but I’m going out with friends anyway.” The less we give the OCD bully what it wants the less we will hear from him. OCD will split hairs and over analyze and “what if’ a situation to death! Whether it’s OCD, depression, or some other emotional struggle, let’s notice that it’s there, try to accept it, and then do our best to go enjoy our lives. It’s not easy, but it’s possible, it’s truly possible. Hang in there.

“If you think I’ll sit around while you chip away my brain, listen I ain’t foolin’ and you’d better think again.” – Rob Halford, Judas Priest, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”

 

Discussing Suicide

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, each year, over 44,000 people die from suicide. It’s said that the number is even higher and is often underreported due to stigma and that some deaths that are ruled as “accidental” could have actually been a suicide. May is mental health month. We have made great strides in mental health treatment options, support, discussions, etc, however we still have a long way to go. Unfortunately, we see still see that there is often a stigma attached to mental health. Our society places a lot of emphasis on our physical health, for obvious reasons, but we need to keep in mind that we don’t have overall health without our mental health. The topic of suicide has been talked about in the news more recently partly due to the popular Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why, as well as the death of musician, Chris Cornell. This show has been discussed at schools and has brought up some controversy. I have long been a fan of Cornell’s music. If there is any silver lining here, it could be that his death has opened more discussions regarding mental health, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc. As a society, we have often felt that talking about suicide causes someone to be more likely to commit suicide. The research shows different. Talking to someone about your suicidal thoughts and reaching out to others for support can save lives. I have worked on a suicide hotline and have personally seen the positive impact it can have on a community. Someone can seem to “have it all together” on the outside and may be crawling in their skin on the inside. I feel it’s always better to err on the side of caution in these situations. If you are concerned about a friend, family member, or classmate, it’s okay to ask someone how they are doing. When we are struggling with our emotional health, our mood can be all over the place. This can be confusing and exhausting. Bipolar disorder, along with other emotional struggles, can look like different things to different people. What we may assume looks like “happy” or “alive and full of energy” may not be what’s really going on inside. Sometimes it’s obvious that someone may be feeling depressed. They might be tearful, isolating, not returning calls or texts, etc. On the other hand, people who are are experiencing depression can also be experts at masking their symptoms.  What we often assume is a person who we think “have no reason to be depressed”, could really be struggling. Smart phones and social media has opened a lot of doors in our society. We now have more options to reach out these days if we are struggling with an emotional issue. Often we see that something positive can also have a negative side. Bullying in schools has been happening for decades. The end of a school day might be a relief for some students being able to return home. With the almost constant access a lot of young people have to social media, the bullying or negativity could still be just a click away. Once again, our “communication” as a society becoming more and more instant can certainly be a positive. Suicide hotlines have been around for many years, and now with our evolving technology, we have many outlets available to reach out. There are now countless websites, chat rooms, blogs, etc, that are geared towards behavioral health. Let’s use this to our advantage. Let’s talk more about how we are doing emotionally, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Find someone you feel that you can trust and please remember that it’s okay to ask each other how we are doing. Most all of us may say, “hows it going?”, or “how are you?”, just in everyday conversation and not really expect a response. Let us remember that it’s okay to take that question further if needed. If you are ever having any thoughts of suicide, please, please, reach out and ask for some support. LET’S WORK TOGETHER TO HELP STOP THE STIGMA!!

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

“I’m looking California and feeling Minnesota.” – “Outshined”, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden

Rest easy, Cornell.

Jeremy Rudd