Friday, March 29, 2013

Random 5 Friday: I remember a lot of things

I’m linking up with Nancy’s A Rural Journal for Random 5 Friday. Today I’m sharing five random facts about my childhood.

1. I am the youngest of three children. I have two older brothers. Though my immediate family was small, I have a large extended family. My father was the sixth of nine children, my mother the third of ten. Their parents also had large families. So I have many first cousins, first cousins once removed, second cousins, and on and on.

2. I grew up on a farm in central Virginia. When I was very small, we had beef cows, milk cows, pigs and chickens. I remember my mother making butter, gathering eggs and pasteurizing the milk in a small pasteurizer on the kitchen counter. I also remember the milk tasting like green onions if the cows had eaten the wild plants.

3. I didn’t learn to ride a bicycle until I was about 8 years old. My father was a rural mail carrier, and he bought a blue bike from one of his mail customers. He brought it home and called me out on the front porch to look at it. The next day, my second oldest brother taught me how to ride it.

4. I loved jewelry even as a child. In the baby picture above, I’m wearing a cross necklace and a baby ring. I still have both pieces of jewelry. I was allowed to get my ears pierced right before my twelfth birthday. I had it done at a local department store. The piecing was free if you bought the 14 karat gold earrings, which were eight dollars.

5. I was a bookworm as a child (still am). I especially loved mysteries and devoured Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books. I loved going to the public library in Rustburg, the small village and county seat about six miles from the farm. Sometimes when my mother had her hair done in Rustburg, my brother and I were allowed to walk to the library from the beauty shop, and she would pick us up when she was finished.

Thank you for joining me on my walk down memory lane! If you’d like to join the Random 5 Friday link, go to A Rural Journal.

Please share one fact about your childhood in the comments section. I would love to read about you!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Getting around on my extra paws

Despondent. I admit that’s how I felt on Monday afternoon. I felt despondent.
I went to see my orthopedic doctor for a recheck of my broken foot. After looking at the new X-rays, he told me he saw “the beginnings of healing,” but I would have to stay on the crutches for at least three more weeks.
After the three weeks, he will check it again. If it’s still moving in a positive direction, if it’s no longer hurting when I put weight on it, and if the tenderness is gone, I’ll be able to just wear the orthopedic boot and walk on that, with no crutches.
If it doesn’t heal in three months, then he will do surgery on it.
He reminded me that a Jones fracture takes a long time to heal because it’s located in a part of the foot that doesn’t have a good blood supply, and tendons run over the fractured area.
And he cautioned me to stay on the crutches and not put weight on my foot except in the shower, where I could put weight on the heel.

OK, not horrible news. The bone is healing. I don’t need surgery now. I don’t have to do anything different at this point except be more vigilant about staying on the crutches.

So why the despondency? The doctor’s visit didn’t meet my expectations, and I came face to face with my nemesis, uncertainty.

I expected to be told Monday that the bone was almost healed. I had no proof that it was, but it didn’t hurt nearly as much as it did before, and I reasoned that it must be well on the way to complete union.
What I got was a reminder that this is going to be a long process. I’m going to have to be patient with it.
And I also expected to be told Monday whether or not I would need surgery. This was a misunderstanding on my part. Even the doctor is uncertain about the need for surgery.
But it still bothered me that I won’t know for a number of weeks whether or not, after all the travels on crutches and all the hours in the boot, I still might need surgery.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I don’t naturally do well with uncertainty.
Uncertainty feeds my OCD and generalized anxiety. Uncertainty leaves me open to unlimited anxiety about what the future brings.

So I felt despondent. But I soon pulled myself together. Larry reminded me that the foot is healing. And I remembered that times like this are good practice for living with uncertainty.
I’ve decided to make friends with The Monster Boot. It’s a support system. It allows me to move around even with a tender, broken bone.
As for the crutches, I have a new attitude there, too. Larry told our cats that my crutches were “Mama’s extra paws.” I like that: extra paws.
The Monster Boot and I will be getting around on the extra paws.

Do your expectations about the way things should be ever result in disappointment? How do you handle the disappointment?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Adapting in the world of OCD and depression

Several years ago, during a bad time with my depression, my family doctor told me I would probably always have low times and have to have my medications tweaked. But he said I could learn to adapt to having to do this, adapt to the way I was.
I’ve been thinking about adapting a lot lately. I’ve had to make a lot of adaptations in my daily life because of a change, namely a broken bone in my foot.
A broken foot is not a tragic circumstance. There are so many people who are suffering so much worse than me.
But any change in the life of someone with OCD and depression can cause anxiety. 
Three weeks ago, I wrote about having anxiety over my broken foot. I had worries about how I would handle the OCD and other anxiety associated with a change in my daily life.
But I would adapt, I wrote.
And I have adapted. I have made adjustments in my schedule, in how I do things, in order to accommodate the orthopedic boot I must wear and the crutches I’m supposed to use.

Here are a few of the changes I’ve had to make to adapt to having a broken foot:

I had to learn to navigate the world using crutches.

 It hurt at first. My upper arms got incredibly sore from using the crutches. But I kept telling myself that I had to keep using them to let my body get used to them. And it did.

The purse I was carrying was just too heavy for me to try to tote along with crutches.

Of course, the purse would not have been so heavy if I didn’t stuff so much into it!
 I switched to this purse, which was a little easier to carry on my shoulder.

And if it falls from my shoulder while I’m using my crutches, it’s not too heavy on my arm.

I used to drive every day. I drove myself to work and to all my work-related appointments.
I haven’t driven for three weeks. Larry has driven me everywhere I needed to go.
He’s an excellent driver and has been incredibly helpful and patient. But it’s hard to give up the “control” of getting myself from one place to another.
More than once I’ve stood up at work and gotten my things together, forgetting for a short time that I couldn’t just walk out the door to my car and drive home. I had to wait for my ride.

My contamination OCD bothered me a little. I was anxious about keeping the boot clean. But I started thinking of my boot as just another shoe. Whatever my shoe on my left foot could touch, so could the boot on my right foot. That thinking helped.
So did good old exposures. I had to walk some places, like public bathrooms, where I didn’t really want to with my boot. I forced myself to do it, and soon enough the anxiety waned.

 I have an appointment with my orthopedic doctor this afternoon to check to see if the bone is healing.
I may need surgery. Hopefully, I won’t.
But no matter what the doctor determines today, I know that I can adapt to what comes next.
Adapting has taught me some things: gratitude, patience and confidence.

*I am grateful that the adaptations I’ve had to make are temporary. My foot will heal. I will reach the point where I won’t be on crutches and I won’t need to wear an orthopedic boot.
*I’ve learned to take some things slower. I have to go up and down steps very slowly, one step at a time. It takes me longer to get from point A to point B. That’s OK. Life doesn’t fall apart if I’m not rushing from one place to the next.
*I’ve learned to have confidence in my ability to handle changes. If I have to make more adaptations, I can do it. I’ve done it before. I can do it again.

What have you learned from having to adapt to changes in life?

Friday, March 22, 2013

5 facts to know about OCD

I have obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, as it’s commonly called. Some of my goals with this blog are to educate people about OCD and to be an advocate for others with OCD.
There are a lot of misconceptions about OCD in popular culture. I’m linking up with Nancy’s A Rural Journal again for Random 5 Friday. I thought I’d use my 5 random facts to go back to the basics about OCD.

1. OCD is an anxiety disorder. It is a mental illness. OCD causes intense, debilitating anxiety that can affect every aspect of a sufferer’s life.

For me, OCD changed the way I interacted with others, dictated what I did and did not do with my life, and caused me so much distress, I at one time contemplated suicide.

2. According to the website of the International OCD Foundation, 2 million to 3 million adults and about 500,000 children and teenagers in the United States have OCD.

I started having symptoms of OCD when I was a little girl. I was probably around 7 or 8 years old when I started my counting compulsions. I was around 11 or 12 years old when I started having symptoms of religious OCD and reading OCD. My symptoms were at their worst when I was in my mid-twenties, before I was diagnosed and started treatment at age 26.

3. OCD includes obsessions, or uncontrolled thoughts about specific things. The obsessions cause intense anxiety. Some obsessions that I’ve had center around harm to others, safety, religion, morality and contamination.

One example of an obsession that I suffered from for years was that I was completely responsible for the safety of my family.

Others with OCD may have different obsessions. For example, not everyone with OCD obsesses about contamination.

4. OCD also includes compulsions, which are actions taken to try to get rid of the anxiety caused by the obsessions. Some compulsions I’ve done include cleaning, checking, rereading texts, counting and praying.

For example, years ago, I compulsively prayed, believing that if I didn’t pray in a certain way and perfectly, harm would come to my family. I could spend hours praying the same prayer over and over, trying to get it “right.” I couldn’t define “right.” It only felt “right” when the anxiety receded for a while.

Compulsions may get rid of the anxiety, but it’s always temporary. The obsessions and anxiety come back. So OCD sufferers repeat the compulsions over and over and over, trying to rid themselves of the anxiety.

5. OCD is treatable. Medication and therapy can be very helpful to those suffering from OCD. Exposure and response prevention therapy is especially helpful.

I take medication and also do ERP, and I have come so far since the days when OCD controlled most of my life.

It’s important for people suffering from OCD to get treatment. Help is available, and sufferers can get better. I am living proof of that.

A good source for information about OCD is the International OCD Foundation.

If you’d like to share your own Random 5, link up with Nancy’s blog.

Is there a subject that you’d like the public to know more about, or that you believe is not treated fairly in popular culture?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Anxiety, depression and a way to live with the river of thoughts

The Staunton River, running along the edge of Altavista, Virginia.

How sly they can be. How quietly they slip amongst the other thoughts, seeming to fit in at first. It’s only after they’ve taken a foothold that you realize what they are: the negative thoughts. The old, familiar negative thoughts.

I’m stupid. I’m useless. I’m a waste of time. I can’t do anything right.

They are the kind of thoughts that used to run through my mind with abandon. I thought they were normal. I thought they were true.

Everybody hates me. God hates me. I hate myself.

Even after therapy, medication for the OCD and depression, self-help books, getting older, meditation, prayer, faith—all the things that have helped me through the years—it’s still possible for me to get caught up in negative thinking. The kind of thinking that makes me feel hopeless and helpless and depressed.

I’m a failure. Things will never get better.

What all the treatment has done for me, though, is to help me recognize what I’m doing and stop it.
What I’ve learned helps me to talk back to the thoughts, to engage new, more positive thoughts. It helps me to realize that a thought is just a thought.
Just because I think it doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because I think it doesn’t mean that I wanted to think it. Just because I think it doesn’t mean it’s any more important than any other thought floating down that river.
I learned that water imagery from my therapist.
He showed me a photograph of a river with a bridge arching over it. He told me to imagine that the river was the flow of my thoughts. I was to imagine that I was on the bridge, looking down on the river, on the thoughts.

In the same way, I could distance myself from my thoughts and observe them: the words, the feelings, the images.
I didn’t have to engage with them.
I didn’t have to believe them.
I could just observe them, from afar, from high up on the bridge.

Just because I think it doesn’t mean it’s true.

What do you do when negative thoughts creep in?

Monday, March 18, 2013

OCD and the loss of dreams

The building at Bowling Green State University where I took many classes and taught many classes.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, a debilitating anxiety disorder, can take a lot away from us. It can take time, money, peace of mind, self-esteem. And dreams.

The dream
When I was a senior in college, I began to worry about what I would do once I graduated.
I wanted to be a writer or a social worker. Those were my two interests. The desire to write had been with me since I was a child. The desire to be a social worker was ignited during one of several sociology classes I took in college.
Basically, I wanted to write, and I wanted to save the world. With a degree in English.
During my last semester, one of my professors talked with me about my future and suggested that I go to graduate school. I could teach and become a professor and write important literary papers and books.
I liked the idea, and I liked the thought of having a definite place to go after graduation from college.
So I applied and got accepted into Bowling Green State University in Ohio. They gave me a graduate assistantship, which meant they paid my tuition and gave me a stipend in exchange for teaching while I worked on my master’s degree in English.
I took classes and taught classes for two years, writing a thesis during my last semester (which is a story in itself that I will have to tell you one day). And I finished. I got my M.A. in English.
The next step, if I hoped to become a college professor, was to get a Ph.D. I chose to stay at BGSU for my doctoral work.
For the next two or so years, I took classes, put together a doctoral committee, chose a genre and time period to focus on, created a reading list for my doctoral exams, studied for my exams, took my written and oral exams, chose a dissertation topic, did preliminary research, put together a proposal for my dissertation, and gave a public presentation of that proposal.
I passed everything and ended up being in ABD status: All But Dissertation.
In other words, all I had left to do before receiving my doctorate was to write my dissertation. As my dissertation chair told me, “All you have left to do is to write a very long paper.”
One more step. One more task.

What I haven’t told you yet is how OCD was a part of those years that I worked so hard.
I had reading OCD, which grew worse as I moved into the doctoral program. There were many books on my reading list that I was never able to finish because of OCD.
I had OCD about my writing, which made me obsessed with the possibility of plagiarizing, making it difficult for me to research and to then write a coherent paper.
I had contamination OCD, which made me clean my bathroom for hours, vacuum my apartment repeatedly, wipe down my kitchen counters. I spent literally hours doing these compulsions.
I had checking OCD. For example, I could spend huge chunks of time checking the stove in my apartment, making sure it was off, even if I hadn’t used it.
I had hit-and-run OCD. I drove the streets of Bowling Green looking for bodies that I imagined could be there.

The loss
The OCD affected my performance in graduate school from the beginning, but it got worse as time went by. It became especially difficult to cope as I faced what seemed to be the monumental task of writing a dissertation in spite of not being able to properly read, research and write.
Even though I started medication treatment during my third year in my doctoral program, it didn’t help enough, or help in time, for me to finish the dissertation by the time my fellowship ran out.
I moved back to Virginia, with vague hopes of finishing my dissertation there. But the OCD, though drastically improved, still fed into my academic work.
I never finished my dissertation. I never finished my Ph.D.

The vow
It may sound strange, but I don’t wish I was a college professor. The writing I wanted to do had nothing to do with the study of contemporary fiction. I don’t miss teaching.
I don’t believe I wasted the time leading up to the dissertation because education is never wasted.
I don’t dwell on it like I used to. I don’t know that my life would have been better or more productive with a Ph.D.
What I do regret, though, is not finishing a goal after coming so close.
I regret the fact that OCD was so strong then that it affected me reaching my goal, my dream.
But with all my tools to fight OCD that I’ve gained through treatment, with all my intent to live a full life, I won’t let OCD take away any more dreams.

What ways have you protected your dreams and reached your goals?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Random 5 Friday

Today I’m linking up with Nancy’s A Rural Journal for Random 5 Friday, “where you share 5 random facts about you, your day, your pets, your kids, whatever!”
Here are my Random 5 facts:

1. My cats call my orthopedic boot “The Monster Boot” because it’s so big and, when I’m not using my crutches, it makes me sound like a monster as I walk through the house: thump, thump, thump. It’s quite loud to their tender kitty ears!
2. My town’s high school boys basketball team won the Group A, Division 1 state title in Virginia. The girls team was the state runner-up in its division. Go, Colonels and Lady Colonels!
3. I’ve been seeing daffodils around town, including in our yard (see photo). I see an especially pretty set of the yellow flowers every morning on the way to work: a lone bunch sticking out of an otherwise still dormant bank of grass. No photo of those to show you.
4. I’m reading Bones Are Forever, by Kathy Reichs. It’s another one of her great mysteries. I enjoy her main character, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. And Brennan has a pet cat, Birdie. Our Chase Bird got his middle name from him.
5. My husband has driven me to and from work every day since I had to start wearing The Monster Boot. He has also driven me to things I had to cover for work, including a government meeting and a court hearing. He’s my partner in every sense of the word. And he’s a big reason that, despite my having OCD and depression, my life is good.

Link up at Nancy’s blog and share your own Random 5 if you’d like!

And in the comment section, please share one random fact about yourself.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Not hiding what OCD looks like

I remember turning my car’s fuel cap a few times. I remember my husband looking at me and shaking his head and saying, “Don’t do that.”
Later, he gave me a different perspective on what I’d done.

We had driven our vehicles—his truck and my car—to the gas station together about a month ago so he could pump my gas for me after he pumped his own.
I’m capable of pumping my own gas, but if he’s with me, he’ll do it for me. It’s a sweet thing for him to do.
He had to move his truck out of the way of another customer before the tank in my car was full, so I finished up the job.
Larry walked up as I was putting the fuel cap back into place.
I heard it click. But one click didn’t seem to be enough. So I turned it some more. Then some more.
I liked hearing those clicks because they seemed to tell me that the cap was properly closed.

Once we got to a restaurant to eat lunch, Larry said, “You need to control your OCD with the cap, because if you break the seal, it will have to be replaced.”
Larry said once I heard that one click, the cap was sealed.
“How do you know it was OCD making me do that?” I asked.
I wanted to know what he had noticed.
He then gave me a description of what I’d been doing. I turned the cap, yes. Then I stopped and looked at it. Then I turned it again. Then I stopped and looked at it. Then I turned it again.
Yep, obvious signs (in me) of checking OCD.
And I had no idea that I had done anything that anyone else would notice. I thought I was keeping my checking to myself.

At first, I was horrified.
Of course, Larry probably noticed because he knows me so well, knows my OCD so well. And he wasn’t concerned about me showing my OCD as much as he was concerned about me breaking the fuel cap seal.
But I had examined the fuel cap in public, where others could see me. Did anyone else see me?
The incident got me thinking. I’ve always thought that I hid my OCD from others so well. I certainly try to be careful to not let anyone witness my compulsions, or rituals: my staring at lamps, my fiddling with things like water faucets and light switches, my habit of picking up pieces of lint from carpets.
In fact, I try not to do the compulsions in the first place. That’s my goal.
But if I do perform a compulsion, and if others notice, what am I so afraid of? That they’ll think I’m weird? That they’ll think less of me?
Do I really care? I’m not sure.
If they care about me, they’ll ignore my compulsions or ask me about them. If they ask me about them, it’s an opportunity to educate others about OCD.
And if they don’t care about me, why do I care what they think of me?
I don’t want to make a spectacle of myself. But in reality, that’s not likely.
Perhaps I’ve spent too much time worrying about people seeing my OCD. Instead of thinking of ways to hide my OCD, maybe I would do well to focus more on getting better.

If you have OCD, how hard do you work at trying to hide your compulsions from others? Whether you have OCD or not, how would you like to react if a friend performed an OCD compulsion in front of you?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Anxiety and slowing down

Sam enjoys slowing down a bit by lying in her new bed.

It’s possible to find a lesson in any situation, and the situation with my broken foot is providing plenty of lessons. One of them is the importance of slowing down.

There are 14 steps up the front of my office building. There’s a ramp in back, but it’s a long one, and it takes me seemingly forever to go up it using crutches. I’ve got my protective, giant boot on. So I’m taking the steps.
The steps seem too narrow to properly use the crutches, so I hold on to the railing and start up. My husband comes behind me, carrying my purse, camera bag and crutches.
“Take one step at a time,” he says. “That way, you’re not putting all your weight on your bad foot.”
Oh, one step at a time. One step at a time? That will take forever.
But I do it. Good foot up, bad foot up. Next step: good foot up, bad foot up. All the way to the top.


I sit watching TV in the den with Larry. Commercial time. I get up and check something on the computer.
Back to the den. I watch the show. Then I think about a soda.
I get up again and hobble into the kitchen.
Back to the den. Commercial time. I get up and go to the bedroom and put on my sweatpants.
Back to the den.


I’m showered, dressed and booted. I sit in the recliner, foot up, to wait for Larry to finish getting ready to go out to lunch.
I lean back. I lean forward, looking for the newspaper.
No, I’ll just sit here.
I lean back.
I lean forward, reaching for the TV remote.
No, I’ll just sit here.
I’ll sit here and breathe. And listen to the tick of the clock.


I’m not a high-energy person. But I do tend to walk fast. In fact, I hate moving slowly. I feel like I’m wasting time.
Being in a boot and on crutches has slowed me way down. I can’t run up the steps. I can’t hurry down the hall. It’s a big change.
And one thing I didn’t realize about myself was how much I moved around. I may be at home watching something on TV, but I’m up at every commercial, sometimes before the commercial, going into other parts of the house, doing this, doing that.
Even when I’m sitting reading, I get up often to get something to drink, see what’s going on in the rest of the house, get on the computer or do some other activity.
Just sitting is hard for me. I think anxiety plays into that.
But it’s become more necessary to be still. If I move around, I need to use the crutches. And if I don’t make time for the crutches, I’m putting more pressure on the healing bone.
So I’m staying in one place for longer periods of time. I’m still moving around, but I’m trying to be OK with sitting for a little while without having to get up.

And that sums up what I’m doing: trying to be OK with being slower.

There are good things about being slower:

*I’m relaxing a bit more.
*I’m able to stay in the moment longer.
*My attention feels less scattered.

Do you ever feel the need to slow down your life? What benefits have you experienced from slowing down?

Friday, March 8, 2013

A bit of memoir: Walk everywhere, eat according to plan

This is a bit of memoir about a time when I probably had a type of eating disorder, or was moving towards developing one, though I’ve never discussed it with a doctor.
I don’t know whether or not the eating habits I developed were related to my OCD. According to an article on the website of the International OCD Foundation, eating disorders and OCD are separate disorders, but they have things in common.
Thankfully, after this particular time period passed, I never had the problem again.
But when I remember this time, I remember it almost as a warning to myself.
Walk, walk, walk. Walk fast, keep walking. Walk, walk, walk. No buses. No cars. Just walk. Walk, walk, walk.
Walk off those calories. Walk off what I eat. Walk off those calories.
Eat according to plan. Eat according to plan. Eat according to plan.

That was my mantra for the first semester of my second year in college. Walk everywhere. And eat according to plan.
Things were not going well.
I had moved out of my first suite and into another suite with three new women. While they were nice and we got along, it was a change, and I wasn’t handling change very well.
I wasn’t handling anything very well. I walked around in a fog, unhappy and hopeless. I was afraid of everyone and everything. I went to class, I did my homework. And not much else.
But I did walk everywhere, and I did eat according to plan.

I had been to the doctor’s office the previous summer and my mother had found out that I had gained 10 pounds during my first year of college. She expressed how she felt about it—“I knew you had gained weight”—telling me that if I didn’t watch it, I would gain more.
I wasn’t overweight, but I decided to lose weight and get back down to my starting college weight, which was really underweight.

I started out by counting calories. I knew the calorie counts of all the foods I ate, and I ate pretty much the same things day after day, at the same time of the day, day after day.
I wrote down everything I ate and the calories and constantly added them up during the day. And I felt particularly successful if I could keep the calorie count low.

I lived in campus housing away from where the classrooms were. I could have taken a campus bus to class. But I didn’t want to be on a crowded bus. And I wanted to walk the calories off.
So I walked to class every day, and went early so I could avoid walking through the bigger crowds of other students.
I remember every morning at around 10 a.m. I had a break between classes and sat in one of the wide windows in the classroom building and ate a cereal bar. I knew the calorie count, of course, and that would get me through until I could make it back to the apartment to eat lunch.
Because I avoided the lunchrooms on campus. I avoided being around other people except in class.

I lost weight. I got back down to my starting-college weight, and maybe even a little lower. I was definitely underweight. And tired. So tired.
But I felt triumphant, too, that I could lose the weight, that I could control what I ate and how much I moved.
The feelings of hopelessness and despair, the desire to be alone, the fear of being around others: I know for certain that I was depressed and anxious. I didn’t seek help for those things. Instead, I walked everywhere, and ate according to plan.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mental illness in pop culture: “Silver Linings Playbook”

Larry and I recently went to see the movie “Silver Linings Playbook.” I had heard that the movie dealt with mental illness, and I was anxious to see how it was portrayed.
In the movie, Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a man newly released from a mental treatment hospital where he has been a patient for eight months.
Pat had undiagnosed bipolar disorder when he arrived home from work one day to find his wife, Nikki, in the shower with another man. Pat beat the man almost to death, and as part of a plea agreement, he entered the mental hospital.
At the time of his release, Pat resists taking his medication, and he insists that having a positive attitude, getting in shape and becoming a different person will win back his wife and his old life.
This doesn’t seem too likely because Nikki has a restraining order against him, and Pat is allowed no contact with her.
Meanwhile, Pat’s father, played by Robert De Niro, has lost his job and his pension and is bookmaking in order to make enough money to start a restaurant. He is consumed by the Philadelphia Eagles and how well they perform. He’s insistent that Pat being back home is going to bring him good luck with the games.
Pat meets a friend’s sister-in-law, Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence. Tiffany is a recent widow. She hints at suffering from depression before her husband died, and after he died, she chose some very self-destructive behaviors.
Pat and Tiffany begin a friendship. Both are broken in their own way, and they understand each other in ways that others don’t. But they have their moments, such as when Tiffany senses that Pat thinks she’s “crazier” than he is.
Eventually, Pat asks Tiffany to give Nikki a letter from him, and Tiffany agrees to do it provided Pat participates in a dance competition with her.
I won’t give away any more of the plot. But we see Pat and Tiffany both make changes in their lives, and they come to understand themselves and their families better.
I thought the movie portrayed the hardships of mental illness very well. We see the confusion, worry and helplessness Pat’s family experiences as they learn to live with their son again.
We see the pain that Pat has as he faces his friends and acquaintances after having spent time in a mental hospital.
I don’t have bipolar disorder and I’m certainly not an expert. But I was impressed with Cooper’s portrayal of a man who seems captive to his emotions, who can’t seem to stay focused.
I especially liked how the movie portrayed the changes in Pat. He begins to take his medication, without fanfare, but with commitment. He goes to therapy. He exercises. He practices dancing, which he admits helps his focus and his discipline.
We see him improve over the course of the movie, and it’s due to all of those things as well as the relationships that he forges with family and friends.
The only quibble I had about the movie’s portrayal of mental illness was the way OCD was handled. Twice, Pat refers to his father’s superstitions and rituals about football games as “OCD.” I don’t know if De Niro’s character had OCD or not—it’s hard to tell. But those rituals were front and center in a lot of the storyline, and his problem seemed glossed over in the plot.
I recommend “Silver Linings Playbook” as a good movie in its own right, and a realistic portrayal of a person suffering from a mental illness.

Have you seen “Silver Linings Playbook”? If so, what did you think of the way it portrayed mental illness? If not, how do you think pop culture in general portrays mental illness? What needs to be improved?

Update on the foot
Thank you for all the kind wishes, thoughts and prayers that you sent my way for the healing of my foot!
I saw the orthopedic doctor on Monday. He told me that the break started out as a stress fracture but is now something called a Jones fracture.
He said it’s going to take a long time to heal because it’s in an area of the foot that doesn’t have a good blood supply, and one of the ligaments in the foot pulls across the fractured area.
Sometimes this type of fracture doesn’t heal, and surgery has to be performed to insert a screw.
For the next three weeks I need to continue wearing the boot and I need to keep weight off of it as much as I can. I’m struggling to use crutches. It’s exhausting to get around on those things!
I go back to see him in three weeks, and he’s hoping to see some new bone growth.
Let’s hope I won’t need surgery!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Anxiety and a broken foot

I took a step forward in taking care of my physical health, and I ended up wearing a new boot.
In my last post, I wrote about the need I had to take care of my physical health. One of the problems I’d been experiencing was ongoing pain in my right foot.
I finally called my family doctor’s office Friday. They are in a temporary office location while a new facility is being built, so they are without on-site x-ray services. They suggested I go to a related practice that sees walk-in patients.
I went there Sunday and after they did x-rays, they told me that I had fractured the fifth metatarsal in my foot. They think it’s a stress fracture.
They outfitted me with a boot to keep the foot immobilized and will call me, probably today, with a referral to an orthopedic doctor.
As I sat in the exam room at the doctor’s office, waiting for them to finish all the paperwork, I could feel anxiety start building up. I admit that I let the anxiety take over for a while.

*It’s not safe to drive while wearing the boot. I drive fairly often for my job. I don’t want Larry to have to drive me everywhere I need to go for work. If I drive, I have to take the boot off. Will that hurt my foot more? How can I balance out the driving?
*How will I keep the boot clean? I thought immediately of the public bathroom at work. The floor doesn’t always look clean. How will I deal with that?
*What if I have to have a cast? How will I manage showering?
*The weather forecasters are calling for rain, sleet and snow on Wednesday. If I have my orthopedic doctor’s appointment on Wednesday, will I be able to get there?
*I did some Internet research on foot fractures. The need for surgery seems very unlikely. But what if I do need it? How will I work that out with my job?

Of course, these worries are based on fear of the unknown, fear of what might happen, on what ifs.
When I managed to push off the anxiety long enough to really think about my fears, I realized that I was worrying about things that might not happen.
If they did happen, I would adapt. I’ve adapted before. I can do it again.

*The orthopedic doctor can advise me on driving. I’ll work it out.
*Many years ago, I had bunion surgery and had to wear a light boot. I wore it everywhere I needed to, even in public places. I adapted.
*Several years ago, I had to wear a bandage on my hand for weeks to protect a bad cut. I had to cover it to take a shower. I adapted.
*I can reschedule a doctor’s appointment if that’s necessary. I’ve done it before.
*The orthopedic doctor will know what needs to be done to help the foot heal. I’ll adapt to the treatment he or she recommends.

I’m looking forward to healing and getting back to normal. If I have to adapt along the way, then that’s what I’ll do.

When have you had to adapt to changing circumstances? How did you manage to do it?

Friday, March 1, 2013

More on values: Taking care of physical health

Do you ever feel like you’re falling apart? Not mentally, but physically? In small ways, but ways that affect how you feel each day?
I’m feeling like that. And I’m also thinking about values.

First, the falling apart part:
*My right foot is hurting. For weeks—actually, months—it’s been hurting on the side of the foot. I don’t remember injuring it. I just noticed it hurting when I was walking at the Y before Christmas.
I figured it would just get better. Then it got a little worse, and I thought I might have a stress fracture, which I’ve had before.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I twisted the foot sideways as I was trying to move fast while wearing clogs, and since then, I’ve been in a lot of pain.
*My allergies have been kicking up lately. My eyes itch, I alternate between being stopped up and having a runny nose. My sinuses get tight. The dry winter air doesn’t help.
*I’ve had some bouts of trouble with irritable bowel syndrome.
*I’ve started with a bad cough.

Nothing life threatening, nothing serious. But enough wrong that I feel run down.
I haven’t been able to walk for exercise because of my foot. I’ve been sleeping more (too much) and lying around too much. I’ve been accomplishing less.

But I have some confessions:
*I still haven’t gone to the doctor about my foot. I keep thinking it will feel better “soon.” But soon has come and gone. It probably needs a doctor’s exam.
*I haven’t been eating the best of diets. I eat foods that know will have a good chance of bothering my digestive system and my energy level.
*I haven’t been diligent about using my long-acting asthma inhaler.

I’ve made vows before to take better care of myself. I have set goals that I never accomplished. But I’m not trying to go on a guilt trip in public by telling you these things. I’m leading up to my point about values.
I’ve been thinking about my values and how I use my time. I even wrote a post about it called “What do happy people do?”
There’s a connection between my feeling of physically falling apart and my values.

When I don’t properly take care of my physical health, I don’t feel like doing the things and giving my full attention to the things that matter the most to me.
Feeling as good as possible physically will help me give myself more fully to that which is most important.

And these are the things that matter the most to me:
*My husband
*My cats
*My relationship with God

I don’t need to have reasons to exercise like, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to be fit enough to run a 5K.” Those reasons are great, and it’s helpful to set goals.
But all the reason I really need to exercise is to know that it will help me feel physically (and mentally) better and I’ll be better able to pay attention to what matters the most.
Likewise, I don’t need to have a reason like, “I want to lose weight” to eat better. All the reason I need to eat better is to, again, know that it will help me feel more like paying attention to what matters the most.
And the same for tending to any injuries and illnesses.

I now have my reason—my value—for taking better care of myself physically. All I need to do is follow through.

What are your reasons for taking good care of yourself physically? What’s your method for following through?