Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It’s worth saying again and again: You can get relief from OCD

If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder or think that you do, there’s something that I want you to know: you can get better. There are treatments available. You can get relief.
I’ve said that before. I hope it’s a belief that permeates my blog.
But it’s worth saying again. And again. As many times as it takes to make sure you know, deep down: you can get better.
Earlier this week, I wrote a post describing a day with OCD and other anxiety. The day I wrote about was stressful and full of anxiety, but it wasn’t the worst day I’ve ever had.
I started to think about those of you who have worse days than that quite often. And I felt compelled to write this post.
Before I got any treatment, before I even told anyone about my symptoms, OCD had come to rule my life.
I was in my 20s when I first got treatment for OCD.
Before then, I spent hours at a time scrubbing my bathroom over and over.
I checked my stove until the early morning hours to make sure it was turned off.
I couldn’t read a book because of reading OCD, which made life as a student very difficult.
Every time I walked anywhere outside, I slowed myself down by checking every stick and stone that looked like it might harm someone else.
I prayed compulsively for God’s forgiveness and worried about my eternal salvation.
My hands were dark red and incredibly dry from excessive hand washing.
My life was hell. I had no hope that I would get better. I didn’t want to live.
But a friend encouraged me to see a therapist by revealing to me that she was in therapy.
I started seeing a therapist who I learned to trust. She referred me to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with OCD and depression and started me on medication.
Through the years after that, I also learned new ways of dealing with OCD and my thoughts and actions by reading and researching OCD, from cognitive behavior therapy, from exposure and response prevention, by reaching out to others with OCD, from writing about OCD, from meditation and from learning more about myself.
I am better today, so much better than I was when I was first diagnosed more than 20 years ago. And I have hope that I will continue to get better and learn to live a life at peace with OCD.
Here are some resources to help you learn more about OCD and the treatments available:

Here are two books that especially helped me:
Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior. By Jeffrey M. Schwartz, MD, with Beverly Beyette.
Freedom from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Personalized Recovery Program for Living with Uncertainty. By Jonathan Grayson, Ph.D.

Remember that you are not alone.
I encourage you to reach out and get help if you haven’t. I encourage you to keep on fighting to get better.
I encourage you to get some relief.

What are some things we can all do to encourage others who have mental illnesses?

Monday, January 28, 2013

A sample of a day with OCD and other anxiety

Some days are easier than others when it comes to OCD. Here’s a description of a recent day and the OCD and other anxiety that I brought along with me:

I woke up thinking about the newsletter.
It was Saturday morning, and I hadn’t done any work on the United Methodist Women district newsletter yet. It was due Monday, so I’d have to do the whole thing that day and the next.
But I also had to go to the chamber dinner that night. I had to figure out something to wear. I had to take notes to write the story about the awards given out. One more story to do Monday.
And I hadn’t even started the book for Sunday school discussion class. Weren’t they on chapter two?
All this before getting out of bed.

I spent a few minutes with Chase. He was a little restless but finally settled down on my lap. While I sat, I thought about the little pieces of lint I could see on the rug. I didn’t want him to possibly eat the lint and have more stomach problems.
When I got up, I picked up lint. And I checked his stool under the window, made sure it was set just so on the little table so it won’t fall off. I checked it every time I went into the room.

While Larry took a shower, I read a bit in a book about nutrition. I suspect a variety of things affect my irritable bowel syndrome, including anxiety. But I’m ready to make some changes in my eating habits.
It would be a lot easier if I started preparing more food at home. That means cooking.
I read over the sample menus in the book. I looked for things that I could buy readymade in the store. I looked for ways to get out of cooking, out of the anxiety of using the stove and cleaning up afterwards.

In the shower, I fought against the urge to open and close the soap bottle more than once. I struggled with the anxiety of not being sure I had closed it properly. I told myself, “I’ll just have to live with it.” But the voice inside my head wasn’t very strong.
I used the razor in the shower. Then I had to put it back in the medicine cabinet, out of reach of curious cats. I placed it on the shelf, stared at it, trying to memorize the look of it on the shelf. Finally, I closed the cabinet door.

After lunch, I worked on the newsletter all afternoon. Over and over, I shuffled through my pile of papers, the documents that had to go into the newsletter. I was so afraid I’d forget to include something.
I copied and pasted, formatted, and checked. Checked to make sure I had copied the whole document. Checked to make sure I had formatted it correctly. Checked to make sure I typed names, phone numbers and emails correctly. Checked and checked.

We were late getting ready for the chamber dinner. I picked out some clothes, tried on a jacket I hadn’t worn before. I asked Larry over and over, does this look OK?
I put on makeup. My lips were chapped. I stuck a tube of lip balm in my pocket, even though I had one in my purse, too. I obsessed over talking to people at the dinner with chapped lips.

I took notes at the chamber dinner, trying to capture what the speakers said so I’d have accurate information for the story I had to write. I worried that I would get something wrong. I worried that I wouldn’t have enough for a story. I’ve done this for over three years, but still, I worried about it.
My newspaper won the business of the year award. So I had to walk up in front of the crowd and stand with my co-workers. Did my clothes look OK? Was my hair flat? Were my lips chapped?

Back home, I hopped back on the computer to finish the first draft of the newsletter. I finished it, but I continued to scroll up and down, reviewing the pages over and over. Was it pretty enough? Was it accurate? Would it be OK?

Does anxiety ever seem to follow you around?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Feeling overwhelmed

Ann of The Beat OCD Blog recently wrote a great post about worry called “My Brain Has Been Busy!” It resonated with me because I’ve been dealing with my own worries, the anxious thoughts piling up. In short, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed.
These are some of the things going on in my life right now:

*At work, deadlines are looming for a special section in the newspaper and for a monthly publication that we produce.
*It’s time to start my volunteer gig of putting together the quarterly newsletter for a church group. I need to have it done by Monday.
*The heater on my car doesn’t seem to be working right.
*I have to attend a chamber dinner Saturday for the newspaper, and I don’t have anything I think is suitable to wear.
*I’m working on ideas for a small business on the side (more about that in a later post).

No catastrophic illness here, no problem that can’t be fixed. I have control over some aspects of these situations, no control over other parts. I recognize that. I know that worry does no good.
Still, I’ve been worrying.
I don’t doubt that the worsening of depression plays a part in the increase in worry. It seems like life is handing me too much right now, but if I wasn’t also dealing with depression, I’d probably be able to handle it better.
But worry is also a habit of mine. I have the habit of not being able to let go of tension until all deadlines are met, all need-to-do tasks are done.
Having OCD helped me to develop this habit. Before I got any treatment for the disorder, obsessions and compulsions ruled my life. I couldn’t completely relax as long as something needed to be checked, cleaned or made safe. And something needed to be done a good portion of my time.
I kept the habit of worry even after my OCD improved.
I know there’s hope, though. There are ways to deal with feeling overwhelmed.
I’ve learned that when I pay attention to something besides my worried thoughts, I’m able to tackle the situations that are leading to the worry.
I have found that taking action helps.
For example, I made sure I made the necessary phone calls and conducted or set up the necessary interviews in plenty of time to finish my work before the deadlines arrive.
Another example: when I met with church group members about the newsletter, I asked specific questions to find out exactly what I needed to do.
I have also found that taking breaks to relax in the midst of worrisome tasks helps. Taking the time to watch a TV show with my husband or to hold one of my cats takes my mind off what I need to do.
It’s OK to relax before everything is done. What a wonderful thought.
Feeling overwhelmed is just going to have to be one of those feelings I let go of.

How do you cope when life’s demands seem overwhelming?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

OCD and small appliances

Do you unplug your coffeemaker after you use it? Do you unplug your toaster once you’re done with it? What about your electric can opener—do you unplug it when it’s not in use?
I do all of those things.
And now I’m wondering if by doing so I’m giving in to OCD compulsions or just being careful.
Why am I wondering about this?
Larry has been drinking more coffee lately. We have a coffeemaker that heats up the water in the reservoir when the unit is plugged in and turned on. It’s a single-cup unit.
Larry tends to leave the unit turned on in case I want some coffee later.
I’ve been coming behind him and turning it off and unplugging it unless I want some coffee right away.
He’s fine with turning it off, but he sees no problem with leaving it plugged in between uses.
Then the other day at work, one of my co-workers brought in an extra single-cup coffeemaker just like mine. He doesn’t use it at home, so he’s sharing it with us at work.
I overheard a discussion among a few co-workers about whether or not to leave the unit on. One woman said she kept her home coffeemaker on. Another said he’d feel better with it turned off.
So I’ve been wondering.
I know this isn’t a big issue for most people.

But when OCD gets mixed up in a situation, it can seem like a big deal.

I think of small appliances that heat up as potential fire hazards, and I take the extra precaution of keeping them unplugged.
I know I think as much about this as I do because of OCD. Thinking like this probably doesn’t help my energy level.
With checking OCD, I check behind myself, sometimes multiple times, to make sure I’ve unplugged the coffeemaker. I even sometimes stare at the outlet to “make sure” it’s not plugged in.
Same goes for the toaster and the electric can opener.
I’ve always seen my actions as cautious but not overly so. OCD interferes and can cause a problem, but I have felt like the ultimate goal—unplugging the appliance—was necessary.
But I’m not even consistent. There are some things that I leave plugged in, like my bedside radio, most of my lamps and the microwave.
This is a time when I’d really like to view things from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have OCD. I don’t think it’s safe to leave things like coffeemakers turned on (I’m telling myself that’s not the OCD talking, but I could be fooling myself).
I’d like to know if I need to continue unplugging items or, more importantly, do I need to check after my husband and unplug items that he may have left plugged in?

What do you do in your home?

Monday, January 21, 2013

OCD, depression and being tired

I hate being tired. And I’m tired a lot.
Some of it may be caused by the medications I’m on. But some of it seems to have hung around me for a good part of my life.
I remember my mother saying something like the following more than once: “Tina’s never had a lot of stamina.”
Even when I was a little girl, I would get so tired when I went shopping with my mother. I’d follow her around the stores and look for places to sit to rest my aching legs.
When I was ready to go to sleep, I had no problem going to bed, no matter what was going on. Another thing my mother used to say was something like, “If the president of the United States was visiting, and Tina wanted to go to bed, it wouldn’t stop her.”
I can work long hours when I need to. During graduate school, especially, I pulled a lot of all-nighters. I can get by on less than optimal sleep for a while. But I pay for it in lethargy and tiredness.
I suspect that much of my tiredness is related to depression and OCD and other anxiety. My doctor has told me that anxiety can make the sufferer tired. A hallmark of my depression is fatigue. And certainly being on near-constant lookout for dangers when my OCD is on high can be exhausting.
My tiredness is very frustrating. I think of all I haven’t accomplished because I was too busy resting. I think of all I’d like to accomplish. Other people seem to accomplish so much. Why can’t I?
Exercise would help, if I would just do it. I’m still having trouble on that front, and I have no good excuse.
But even when I was exercising regularly, I wasn’t an energetic go-getter.
Fatigue is something that I want to “let go” of this year. I am ready to start taking actions that will help me.
Exercising and eating better are on my list.

What suggestions do you have for fighting fatigue?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Snow and hope

As I write this, it’s snowing outside, and I love it.
We haven’t had significant snow yet this winter, and I’ve been yearning for it. I love watching the snow as it falls, especially as it falls in the dark, as it is now.
I’m taking pleasure in the beauty of nature. I’m finally able to feel something besides the deadness that has been inside of me.
I was able to see both my therapist and my psychiatrist this week, and it was such a relief. It has been weeks since I’ve been able to match my schedule up with theirs.
I was able to talk about how low I’ve been, about what might be causing this downslide.
My therapist said it was probably a combination of the recent change in medication and an upsetting encounter I had in December that left me feeling helpless.
My psychiatrist increased the dosage of the medication that I’m still on. I was relieved not to have to start on a different one because I’ve tolerated the one I’m on quite well.
The increase in dosage hasn’t had time to work yet, but I’m feeling a bit better just from seeing my medical team and from all the little things I’ve been doing to help the depression.
I’m thinking more clearly. Though much of my thinking is still negative, I’m catching myself more quickly and trying to set my mind on more positive things.
And sometimes it’s just a matter of distracting myself with a book or a conversation or action.
Tonight it has been the snow.
As soon as it really started to pour, my husband suggested going out to eat. He loves to drive in the snow.
So we climbed into his truck and drove to our favorite restaurant. After eating, we walked back out into the falling snow.
I stood in the parking lot and looked straight up. A million snowflakes fell out of the dark straight towards me. I let them land on my face and chill it before I straightened up and walked to the truck.

What has given you joy lately?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting for an OCD rescue

The other night I was folding some laundry leftover from the weekend.
More laundry was in the washer and dryer. Larry had started washing cat blankets and beds, and I followed him with a load of clothes.
As I folded the laundry, I thought that the last of the kitty laundry was dry. It was time to empty the dryer and fill it with a new load, the clothes.
So I started to ask Larry to empty the dryer for me.
After all, that way I could avoid having to clean the dryer filter “good enough.” I wouldn’t have to worry about stray pieces of lint floating around and causing a fire. I wouldn’t have to worry about finding the dryer sheet hidden in the laundry, just waiting to ride upstairs in the laundry basket, ready for the cats to pounce on and eat and get sick from.
Yes, those are some of the things I worry about when it comes to laundry. And there are even more things I worry about when doing laundry.
But the other night, as I was folding laundry, it hit me.
I needed to take the kitty laundry out of the dryer myself.

I needed to stop waiting to be rescued.
I needed to stop depending on Larry to do the tasks that I didn’t want to do because of OCD. I needed to stop avoiding what I was afraid of.

I went downstairs and took care of the laundry myself.
I’m still avoiding certain tasks and situations because of OCD. And I’ve been expecting Larry to do some of those tasks and take care of some of those situations.
For example, I leave several cat care duties to Larry because of my OCD.
I don’t like to change the water in their bowls because if I have to wash the bowls first, then I’ll worry about getting all of the soap residue off before I fill it up with cold water for drinking. And I will have to check over and over to make sure it’s cold water and not hot water that I leave in the bowl.
I avoid washing the cat food bowls for similar reasons: I might not rinse them well enough and soap residue might make the cats sick.
I don’t clean the litter boxes because it’s just too messy and sometimes hard to look at.
Yes, OCD is a strange disorder.
I’m depending on Larry to carry a chunk of my OCD load for me. That’s not fair to him. And it’s not fair to me in that I won’t get better in those areas if I don’t try to push through the anxiety related to them.
I’m going to have to study my routines to find other things that I’m relying on Larry to take care of because of OCD. And I’m going to have to start helping with those tasks.
And stop expecting an OCD rescue.

Have you ever leaned too much on someone else to carry the load because of OCD, depression or some other issue?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Things that can help depression

All is not lost when I’m going through a period of deepening depression. Sometimes it seems like it is, especially during the worst moments of hopelessness. But if I lift my head long enough, I can see that there are things that I can do for myself to feel better.
And if you’ve ever been depressed, you’ll know that feeling even a little bit better can be a great relief.
I’m looking forward to seeing my therapist this week and my psychiatrist this week or next. In the meantime, here are some nonmedical things that have offered me some relief within the last few weeks:

*Spending time with my husband. Being with my husband, who is patient and kind and loving, lifts me up on even the worst days. Larry knows I’m not doing well, but he tries to draw me into conversation and make me laugh.
Even just being near Larry, knowing that he’s in the next room, makes me feel less alone. We spend a lot of time together on weekends. During the week, when our schedules allow, lunch with Larry breaks up my workday in a wonderful way.

*Spending time with my cats. Being in nature is good for my hurting spirit. I can’t seem to muster the energy or motivation to spend a lot of time outside, but I have nature in my house in the form of two furry creatures, Sam and Chase.
Focusing on them and their needs—for food, water, treats, warm places to sleep and lots of attention—takes me out of myself at least temporarily.
And their purrs and the sweet nudges they give me with their heads are balm to my heart.

*Reading books. I’m glad the reading OCD has receded because reading has been a big relief for me. I’m currently reading a mystery/thriller, which helps me to get out of myself and enter a different world for a while, and a nonfiction book that is teaching me a lot about the spirit.

*Reading blogs. Reading about the journeys that others are taking helps me know I’m not alone, gives me ideas for what I might do and just reminds me of all the good people out there striving to live life the best ways they can.

*Taking time to breathe. I tend to feel overwhelmed, especially when I’m at work. I find that stopping for just a minute or two and listening to my breath puts me in a better frame of mind.

There are other nonmedical things that I know help with depression that I haven’t been doing. For example, exercise can offer relief from depression. And it doesn’t have to be a workout at the gym. It can be a walk.
Being around other people and focusing on them or a shared activity can also be helpful.
I haven’t been exercising, and I’ve been staying at home most of the time when I’m not at work.
This is a case where I know about things that would help me feel better, but I don’t have the energy or inclination to do them. That needs to change, I know.
In the meantime, I will continue my activities that I’ve been doing. And I'll continue to have hope that things will get better.

What helps you when you’re feeling depressed, low or in a negative mood?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Depression and lingering stigma

I’m in another period of deepening depression. There’s nothing pretty or poetic to say about it. It is just there.
It wasn’t totally unexpected when the lows came back around. I made a change in medication last month. My psychiatrist took me off of one of the prescriptions I was on because he thought it was causing the intense restlessness that was plaguing me, and he told me that another change might be necessary.
But I wanted to wait a little while and see how I did on just the one medication I’m still taking. I wanted to see if just the one would suffice.
I am grateful that the restlessness abated. My whole level of anxiety, including the anxiety of OCD, has been better lately.
However, the rough energy of the restlessness has been replaced by now-familiar depression.
I’ve had a difficult time getting through my daily duties, and, worst of all, I’ve had the unrelenting hopelessness that marks depression for me.
I wake up and have no enthusiasm or desire to face the day. I cry in the shower as I get ready for work, cry on the way to work, and spend my workdays wanting to scream.
This return of depression, like always, has me thinking about its causes.
Is it related to current situations in my life? Is it chemical? Is it related to the change in medication? Is it related to the season? Is it a combination of all of the above?
I’ve analyzed it, thought and thought about it, obsessed over it in ways that I suspect are related to OCD.
But no matter what is causing it, the big question for me really has been, when should I call the doctor? When is it bad enough to call the doctor?

Because no matter how many times I’ve gone through these bouts of depression, I still doubt myself. I still tell myself that I should be able to deal with this depression on my own, without a doctor’s help. After all, I’m already on an antidepressant. After all, I should be able to rise above it, snap out of it.
Yes, I sometimes buy into the stigma about depression.

I surprised myself when I realized what I was doing. How could I still cling to the myths about depression? How could I still give credence to the beliefs that those of us with mental illnesses should just be quiet about it, get over it, have a positive attitude, be happy already?
How could I fail to see right away that I needed help?
The stigma surrounding mental illness can be subtle, and it can affect how even those of us with mental illnesses treat ourselves.

If you had the same symptoms, I would have advised you to get professional help. I would have assured you that help is available. That treatment can help. That there’s no shame in asking for help.

I told myself a different story.
That story broke into pieces when I finally found the answer to that question of when is it bad enough. I reached my limit. I knew—yes, indeed, I need to see my doctor.
I originally had an appointment to see him again at the end of December, but I rescheduled the appointment for later in January because of work.
On Tuesday I called my doctor’s office to see if he had any openings this week. I was told that he was out of the office until next Tuesday.
So I must wait.
And I’ll be OK to wait. I’ll do what I can to manage this depression. But I won’t deny any longer that I need a professional’s help.

Have you ever found yourself believing the myths about mental illnesses? Have you ever denied to yourself that you needed help from others?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reading OCD does a disappearing act

I’m reading again.
That may sound like a small thing, but it’s huge for me.
I periodically have a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder called reading OCD.
I wrote about reading OCD in this post. Basically, this form of OCD makes me obsess over whether or not I’ve “really” read a passage in a book or magazine and whether or not I’ve understood what I’ve read.
The compulsion, then, is to reread passages over and over until it feels “right.”
This makes reading laborious and sometimes unbearable. I find myself avoiding reading. It’s just not worth the effort.
Reading OCD first affected me when I was in the seventh grade. It made doing schoolwork a nightmare. I had a hard time finishing assignments because I took so much time to read the work.
Reading OCD followed me periodically through school and in the years after. I’ve gone through periods when I’ve zipped through books with no problem, not even thinking about reading.
Then I’ve had periods when I couldn’t finish one book for weeks at a time, and I’ve stopped trying.
My efforts to resolve this OCD ritual have had mixed results. I normally try to discipline myself not to go back and reread, no matter how badly I want to. Sometimes this works. Sometimes I end up unable to focus on what I’m reading because of the anxiety.
I have no explanation for why this form of OCD, or for that matter, any form of OCD, can wax and wane. I don’t know why I go into periods of not being able to read. I don’t know why those periods will end without warning.
I do have some suspicions. I think that the more anxious I am generally, and the more other OCD symptoms are flaring, the more the reading OCD acts up.
I went through such a period this past fall. For some weeks, I didn’t pick up a book for serious reading because of the pain of trying to keep myself from rereading.
I think part of the reason was because a medication I was on was ramping up my anxiety. I wrote about a change in medication that I made shortly before the holiday season began. With that change, my general anxiety level has dropped.
Maybe that’s why I was able to read and finish a book over Christmas. Then shortly after Christmas, I picked up a book that I had received as a gift and started reading. And read and read. I read it in about two days, then picked up another book and finished that in a few days. Considering that I had to go to work during that time, I was thrilled.
The reading is good now, and I’m thankful for it. I hope it lasts.
I hope the next time reading OCD strikes, I’ll be more successful at my attempts to derail it.
And what am I reading? I just finished A Wanted Man, by Lee Child and Flash and Bones, by Kathy Reichs. Now I’m reading a nonfiction book that I’ll probably review here.

Are you a reader? What kinds of books do you read? If you’re on Goodreads, you can find me under

Monday, January 7, 2013

Checking OCD and not waiting for the reassuring click

Let me explain what the reassuring click is.
When I take a shower, I use liquid soap and shampoo, both in bottles that make a snapping sound when the top is pushed back to the closed position.
I depend on that snapping sound to tell me that the bottle is properly closed.
Because if it’s not properly closed, then one of the cats might be able to open the soap or shampoo bottle and lick the soap or shampoo.
Never mind the fact that neither cat has ever shown an interest in doing such a thing. Never mind the fact that Sam doesn’t get in the shower. Never mind that Chase doesn’t have free rein of the house unless he’s supervised.
The OCD mind just cares that it could happen.
Different bottles make different sounds when they’re being closed. Some snaps are a loud clunk. Some are more of a faint tap.
The OCD mind particularly doesn’t like the faint taps. The loud clunks are more reassuring. But even the loud clunks have their problems. Because the OCD mind can find reasons to doubt even those.
The result is that I spend time in the shower opening and closing each bottle I use several times until the resulting snapping sound is “right.” That elusive “rightness” that only the OCD mind can recognize.
I’ve described my shower routine before in a post about OCD and slowness. I have gotten a little faster in my routine since I started focusing more on exposure and response prevention, but I still had rituals, including the bottle-closing ritual.
So I decided that I was going to address that particular ritual.
I decided that I was going to have to live with closing each bottle just once, no matter what sound was made when I closed the bottles.
“I’m just going to have to live with it” would become my mantra in the shower.
So I tried it. And it worked.
I liked having the decision already made that I would close each bottle one time only. I would not allow myself to open and close it repeatedly until I liked the sound it made.
Of course, that means that I have to tolerate the anxiety of not knowing for sure if the bottles are properly closed.
But I am finding that the anxiety actually fades pretty quickly as I focus on finishing my shower, drying my hair, getting dressed, etc.
Now I’m wondering if it would be helpful to apply this “I’m just going to have to live with it” mantra to other OCD rituals.

What are some of the things you tell yourself as you strive to make changes in your life?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Vision board for fighting my OCD

I created a vision board for inspiration in my ongoing efforts to improve my obsessive-compulsive disorder.
I got the idea from Lisa at Two Bears Farm. She created a wonderful board when she was trying to get back into shape after the birth of her twins.
I already had some corkboards, so I used one of them. I covered it with scrap paper and then began taping up words and photos that inspire me.
I didn’t allow myself to be a perfectionist about it. There are uneven edges to the design.
I included photos of my husband and cats and photos representing things that I want to do with my time instead of spending it on obsessions and compulsions.
I also included copies of my fear hierarchies so I can see at a glance what I intend to tackle.
I set it up in the bedroom and look at it mostly in the morning as I’m getting ready for my day. I like having a visual reminder of what I’m working on.
However, I have discovered that the more I look at it, the more it tends to fade into the background—kind of like the chair that’s always there that you don’t notice anymore.
So I will need to add and change things as I go along, to keep it fresh.
What I have is a board to remind me that I’m on a journey to win over OCD, to live with it on my terms.

Have you ever made something like a vision board? Do you have any suggestions on how to make it more effective?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Letting go of emotions that feed my OCD and depression

As I wrote about in my last post, I have made “letting go” the theme to guide my goals in 2013.
I have some heavy, serious emotions to deal with and to try to let go of: anger, sadness, resentment, despair, even hate.
I don’t like to admit having these feelings and emotions, but they are there, sometimes lying underneath the day-to-day feelings, sometimes rising to the surface.
I have found myself lying down at night, unable to go to sleep because of the thoughts running through my head, ruminations and obsessions that make those negative emotions rise to the surface and feed my anxiety, OCD and depression.
I want to be free. I want to be light and free of the tears that come when I contemplate all the junk inside me.
In a recent guest post linked to from her blog, Shirley Hershey Showalter wrote about two verses from the Bible to help guide her through 2013. In a comment, I told her how she had inspired me to find words to help me in my theme of letting go. And she offered this link to a beautiful poem by Mary Oliver.
Inspired by Shirley, I will take Oliver’s poem with me through the year.
In addition, I will take my favorite prayer, which, to me, is all about letting go of what we don’t need to hold us back, and taking on and passing on what is important: peace, pardon, faith, hope, light, joy and, most important, love. That is the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I’m not looking forward to the work that will be involved in letting go of these emotions and of bad habits that I’ve taken on through the years. But letting go will surely help me with my mental health issues, and with that, my whole life.

  What are you trying to let go of?