If you’re reading this portion of my blog, just a bit background about this section – This is a place where, in no particular order, I put in positive (and negative) progressions, or breakthroughs, in my progress with OCD/Anxiety/Social Anxiety. It is a bit different than the first page, as most of the below was after months of therapy and SSRIs, so it’s not written quite so emotionally raw.
Hilarious OCD Music Video. Must watch
Excellent OCD Story and Interview:
“If you have an obsessive but irrational fear, it would probably be pretty difficult for anyone to talk you out of it. Because irrational fears, by definition, aren’t rational, which is one of the reasons having ocd is such a nightmare.”
“…95 percent of people, when you ask them, have intrusive thoughts. … A very common one is when you’re waiting for the train …you hear it start to come, some people get an urge to jump in front of the train. Some people get an urge to jump from a high place, from a bridge or a high window. Some people get an urge just to attack people in the street or when you are in a very quiet place like a church or a library. Some people get a really strange urge to shout out a swear word. Those thoughts are everywhere and in most people they pass, but the reaction to them is usually, “Woah, where did that come from?” In OCD, what happens is that they tend to, for some reason, we treat them more seriously than other people.
So for example, the intrusive thought about stepping in front of a train, someone might have that thought and they’re not suicidal at all and most people would [have the thought and think], “Well, that’s a bit strange. Here’s the train. I’ll get on it and go to work.” Some people, they might think, “Well, maybe I am suicidal, or maybe I do want to jump.” And so what they do is, when the train comes, they just take a step back, they change their behavior because of the thought, and that’s the slippery slope because very soon, rather than take one step back you’ll take two steps back….”
“…There is also a sense that there are particular parts of the brain, which can’t be turned off in OCD. There’s a very deep part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which holds patterns for instinctive behaviors — “run away,” or “fight or flight” — and those can be activated and then usually have an alert and then you have the “all clear…”
The Interview with David Adam is below:
“Just Right OCD” Howard Hughes.
The “Just Right OCD” I refer to is when he is speaking “Show me the blueprints”. That is a need to repeat a line over and over until it just “feels right”. I’ve not done that exact thing but that portion is extremely relatable to me.
Other parts are classic OCD. Symmetry, Counting, Germs, etc.
Finally. A Reading.
I recorded this in my work studio (we do a podcast) and is a reading of my article a few post down called “Finally”. I thought I would put out an audio version because I felt the need to express it, verbally. Here it is (click the audio player bar below):
Also note: This is pretty early in my therapies, so not everything is probably not exactly accurate. I do have a very loving family but some of what I say may be the OCD.
I had difficulty looking people in the eyes for quite some time. I could do it but not for all that long before I’d get nervous (Social Anxiety tied into OCD). I can think of maybe 1 person in my life, pre-diagnosis, that I was able to, for any length of time without anxiety, to look at them in the eyes for more than a few seconds. Of course I’ve come a long way in the last year and I don’t have nearly that nervousness I shouldered for the greater part of 3 or 4 decades.
My mom was selling my dad’s truck (he can’t drive anymore). A few months ago I expressed interest in it. I had first dibs. I was going to buy it and sell my new-ish car just to catch up on bills and such. My nephew also wanted the truck but I had asked first. I was able to (OCD) kick the can decision-wise as only I can. However….a few days before the deadline my mom imposed…I knew the answer.
My nephew is a car nut. Has been for years and since he was a small child. So, when my dad first got the truck he promised his 7-year old grandson (my nephew) that he would get the truck it was really an important gesture to my nephew.
Fast forward to today. I’m looking to buy the truck. My brain is going back and forth on whether to buy it or not, over and over. But a few days before “decision time” I knew the answer. You see, I woke up one morning and thought over something my sister said, and that was that my nephew really wanted to truck for sentimental reasons and I felt in my heart that I knew what should be done. Yes, it was down to the wire and when I was called up to make a decision I said – “Let _____ have it. It means a lot to him.” And you know what? I feel good about the choice. It feels….right. That’s a lot of progress for me. Was it perfect? No, it wasn’t. I had anxiety about the choice and for the time I was wrestling with the choice I had some low-level depression because I had to make a decision and that is not easy for me. But I did it!
As an epilogue – My nephew’s girlfriend texted family members saying that nephew was sooooo happy to have the truck because it was “his grandpa’s truck”. I felt happy too. 1. that I had made a choice and 2. That it was the right one because it made my nephew so very happy.
Creighton TEDx – Victoria’s 3-Point Punch
Great job to Victoria Sardella at this year’s TEDx at Creighton! Victoria is one of 2 founders of a local OCD Support Group, which I frequently attend. This is her story about her struggles with OCD and the methods she incorporates to mitigate it’s effects. She is good people.
Bio: “Victoria Sardella is a psychology and social work double major at Creighton. She is an executive member of Active Minds, a nonprofit organization that works to reduce the stigma of mental illness on college campuses throughout the country.”
I Own It
There was a time, not too long ago that I wouldn’t share much about who I am. Trying my damnedest to avoid so as not to get judged harshly (Those Social Anxieties and all). I’d probably change the subject with a, misdirection, a goof, a dodge or just flat out – lie. Today though? I don’t really care as much…but in a good way. If you ask, I’ll probably answer. It’s not easy having to admit all this OCD stuff about me, it’s hard work but it’s rather important for me to do it. And if others can learn from my path, even better.
This is a public blog and although my name isn’t part of it, my story is something I’ve shared with quite a few people outside of here and face-to-face. If someone has a question, I’ll answer it. I won’t hide. Not anymore. Although I have long-term plans to find a way to help others, at this point, I’m not broadcasting it over Social Media as I do work but I will not shy away from it or stick my head in the sand and dodge it anymore. I am who I am, warts and all.
I own it.
The Never Ending Flowchart of OCD Indecision!
This is a slight bit tongue-in-cheek, but there is a lot of truth in this. I owe the below graphic to a good buddy of mine who mentally conceptualized just what OCD is after many a long conversation about it. So, I worked up the graphic based on his observations. We laughed over this concept quite a bit.
So, In the first box of OCD thoughts you can add whatever Obsession you want – “Is the front door locked?”, “Are my hands clean”, “Are my pets safe?, “Is this partner ‘The One’?” “Which car should I buy?”, etc. etc. etc…….
The below story was originally posted on another health site
Also note: This is pretty early in my therapies, so not everything is probably not exactly accurate. I do have a very loving family but some of what I say may be the OCD.
I finally said it.
For 40-some years I’ve dealt with (recently diagnosed) OCD/Rumination and rocketing Social Anxiety occurring at times when confronted with difficult, and not so difficult subjects, choices, or emotional situations. Many times debates, arguments, decisions and personal discussions typically rendered me unable to carry on a normal level of conversation as my Anxiety would thunder into orbit. Big or small I overthought everything and I’d do absolutely anything to avoid that horribly exaggerated spiraling up feeling I’d get. Pathological decision avoidance (common in OCD) and all the negative stuff that arises from that (delaying, lying, etc.), obsession over solving the most minor of details and, of course, showing the typical anxious outward physical repetitive patterns and behaviors (symmetrical tracing, even-numbers, etc.) associated with OCD, were all employed to try and calm myself down or avoid uncertainty.
The last year a lot has changed. It was a combo of Escitalopram, therapy, group, and being painted into such an emotional corner that I felt I was forced through a tiny hole, not unlike a Play-Do Fun Factory and coming out the other side. So…same substance but a slightly different shape, a bit of scraping off residue to leave behind and my stepping up, being honest with myself, and more importantly – taking ownership. It’s been very difficult. I’m not perfect, never will be and there is always room for more work. However, for the first time in my life I feel more relaxed, normal, laid back and emotionally mature, for what it’s worth.
How does this all fit in and what’s the point? In my family, telling each other that we love one another is very difficult. And the thought of saying it, for quite some years, filled me with overwhelming Anxiety. I ruminated over things, as only sufferers can relate to, and worried (“what if I say it and they leave me hanging without a reply, because dammit, I’ll be crushed as it’s happened before…“). Thinking it over…and over…and over again and again (if you truly have diagnosed OCD, you know what I mean otherwise, frankly, you don’t).
My dad and I don’t have the closest relationship but I suppose it’s not unusual for people of his generation to be that way. He learned from his family.
Right now, he is in the hospital undergoing brain surgery to remove debris left behind after getting his cancerous lesion zapped by radiation some time ago. The pieces and parts need to be removed so he quits having seizures as the result of edema around the tumor that presses on surrounding areas of the brain. Also, it’s to be sure as much of the bad parts are removed as possible . His left side has been affected in a big way. He should be fine but complications can arise and if they nick the wrong area, it could fuck him up, a lot.
Dad waited until his father was on his deathbed before he said the words. I didn’t want to wait. Last night, as I was leaving the room, I shook his hand, looked him straight in the eyes and, for the first time, with no anxiousness…and no fear…I said – “I love you dad”. He looked straight back at me and said – “I love you too”.
I left the room, with my sister, my eyes tearing up and I think his were too. I felt strangely elated, despite his poor condition. It was a big moment in our life. It was something momentous and something I needed to do…correction – we needed to do….and I did it without any hint of anxiety or fear. It is a defining point in our relationship.
If my dad passes on today or in the next year, I can feel safe in the knowledge that I didn’t lose him, without saying I loved him and avoiding the carrying on in life with the heavy weight of regret.
It’s never too late to say I Love You.
Of Dogs and Cars
I made a funny (and totally relatable) connection with a person in my group. She is looking to get a dog and she’ll research, research, research, research, research about a breed or two of dogs, or even individual rescue possibilities to the point of getting down to minutiae and then unable to make a decision about it. We all were laughing because most of us suffer from similar things. Hell, I’m the same way with cars, relationships, or just planning the weekend (getting better though)! It’s funny to see how OCD manifests itself similarly but differently with other individuals. 😀
Ironed Dollar Bills? Ladies, this Fella has it going on!
Got some laughs when I told the group therapy people that I used to iron my dollar bills before a date to impress them (this was when I was in my teens and early 20’s). One girl laughed and, quite kiddingly I might add, said – “Ohhhhhh, I would have totally noticed.” Hilarious. We are a weird detail-obsessed sort.
OCD, for me, has direct ties to my Social Anxiety and can be tough as fuck to deal with but also hilarious when looked at from the outside. I’d also be so anxious in anticipation of the date that I’d park a block or so away because I’d show up 20 minutes early. Oh, and I also would iron my jeans beforehand because everything had to be perfect, lest I get judged by my date, negatively.
If you have a need for a nice stack of smooth bills to impress a date? Hit me up. I can make them crisp, like new and fresh off the press.
It Ties in Together!
My Social Anxiety and OCD walk arm in arm together. An annoying couple. What I’ve recently pieced together is what I used to call “Vanity”, is actually – Social Anxiety. I obsess about how other people view and judge me on not just a personality level but also on a physical/surface view. But, this isn’t just about me but also who I’m with. Just to be clear, I don’t hang out with shallow people on any level. I have a lot of friends and to a tee they are the brain-y, dork-y types that are really wonderful people and very accomplished.
A couple of weeks ago I went to an amusement park on a date. I grabbed two hats. Why? Because one was a nice, somewhat stylish cabbie hat that looks good on me. The other? An acid washed, school logo emblazoned, terra-cotta colored baseball cap that…horrors…didn’t look good with my shorts and shirt combo but if it gets lost who cares. The fear? That people will look at me and laugh at the guy with the mismatching clothes and snicker. “He looks like some dude who has just given up and looks like a tourist-y middle-aged guy”. Odd to worry about that, huh? Or, how about that I won’t wear shorts even if the earth’s surface is scorched raw and rivers run with molten rock by a recent expansion of the sun going “Red Giant” while in the depths of Northern Hemisphere summer heat……because people will notice my…..skinny legs. That’s some serious OCD-style rumination shit right there.
Well, I went to the park. Wore the baseball cap and donned shorts for an entire warm weekend. I’m getting better at the Social Anxiety, slowly but surely. Sometimes my “vanity” might seem shallow but it’s merely something that is really just supercharged with overwhelming anxiety and worry.
What’s sort of funny, in retrospect, is people would probably be more apt to wonder “why the fuck is that guy wearing jeans and it’s 103 degrees outside?”
Funny how that works, huh?
Did you know that Babies Kick Ass?
I used to refuse to hold babies. Used to make me nervous and anxious as hell even at my age (childless though). My niece had her 4th child recently. I’ll be damned if I didn’t immediately ask my brother-in-law if I could hold his grandson and without any hesitation. It was so cool. I immediately wanted to do it again. Who would have thunk it? 2 years ago…no way. Babies are great and kick ass.
Seams in the Sidewalk
I have avoided seams in the sidewalk or parking lots. I will stutter my steps to avoid seams (and cracks to a lesser extent) and if I step on one, I will alter my step to have the other foot touch a seam, in the same spot, to “balance it out”. Also, there is an overpowering need to “feel” the seam through my shoe, if I feel it a certain way through the other shoe. I need to feel it balanced out. I am able to conceal it fairly well, but a good friend of mine, when I was in college, noted that I was purposely avoiding seams. I probably just said nothing or denied it because it’s kind of odd to admit and OCD wasn’t all that well known. Yes, I’m getting much, much better at it and I can keep going on if I won’t step on the seam but that compulsion is still there, just under the surface, especially when I’m stressed. It’s always lurking.
Breaking Up is Hard to do!…Unless you do it for me.
In the past I always had difficulty in breaking off relationships. I shoulder, anxiously, the burden of other’s happiness and feel riddled with guilt a lot of times. For me, connect that obsessive thinking into Social Anxiety and I’ll, naturally, start obsessively worrying that people will be mad at me (Years ago a co-worker remarked that “you just want everyone to like you”). Most people can just rip off a band-aid but I’ve worked on the hope others would do it for me instead. Seems like a simple solution but OCD-minded people at times are completed self-absorbed with not hurting others (spreading germs to family or strangers, worrying if you said the wrong thing or talking honestly and leaving themselves opened to being judge etc. etc.) Am I better? Yes and no. With low level relationships (coworkers, people in stores, businesses) I am much, much better than I was just a year ago. Assertiveness is much easier for me now, for the first time ever, which has been a much welcomed relief.