I'm always thinking about how books, movies, and events apply to people suffering from OCD and related disorders, anxiety or depression. Which means that I'm also thinking about how they apply to me. Because yes, along with being an OCD therapist at Cornerstone Family Services, I also have OCD.
OCD can influence your life in subtle (and not so subtle) ways that can affect how you view the world, how you approach treatment, how you manage your recovery, and how you function in relationships with others and the world around you. Often when I'm reading books or watching movies or videos, even ones that have nothing to do with OCD, I have moments of epiphany where I say, "Aha! That applies to people who have OCD!" In my Aha! Moments blog posts, I use my own experience with OCD to explain these epiphanies and how I apply them to my own recovery.
Have you ever had a moment where you've just had enough? One where you think you just cannot stand by one more minute without saying, "No more! This is not okay!"? I had that moment on Saturday. I was attending the annual conference of The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors in St. Louis, heading to another wonderfully information-packed session, when I received this text from my mom: "Just sent you an email response I sent to the editor of [major women's magazine] regarding finding the phrase "be a little OCD" in the latest issue. Here it is, in bold print, no less." I stopped dead in my tracks. "You've GOT to be kidding me," I said out loud, to no one in particular. In utter disbelief that a well-respected, mainstream magazine could be so uninformed, I stared at the photo of the glossy page, mouth agape. Beginning to walk to my session again, I said aloud, not caring that I was still talking to myself, "That's it. I've had it. I'm writing that blog post that I've been meaning to write for more than a year. Because I can't stand seeing these uneducated phrases about OCD popping up everywhere [...]
On Monday, as I was boarding a flight from Baltimore to Atlanta, I asked the flight attendant standing by the cockpit door for some water. She handed me a can (yes, a can of water....I guess they were out of bottles...), and then the co-pilot, who was also greeting passengers as they boarded, looked at me and commanded, "Wait!" I stopped while she dug into one of the little cabinets, pulled out a straw and handed it to me. "You'll want to use this," she said. "You definitely don't want to put your mouth directly on that can." That was the sign I needed that it was time to write this Aha! Moment about one of my new favorite books, Stopping the Noise in Your Head, by my friend Reid Wilson, Ph.D. This book is all about recognizing the "noise in your head" and the paradoxical power of doing the opposite of what it tells you to do. This holds true, by the way, even if the noise (i.e. "that can of water is dirty!") is validated by a co-pilot of a plane flying me to Atlanta. She may know a lot about flying, but she doesn't know that as someone with a long [...]
When you have OCD and/or anxiety, your life can be dominated by attempts to attain the BIG Cs: CONTROL and CERTAINTY. The lessons of this book, The Five Things We Cannot Change...and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them, fit very nicely (pardon the pun) with the goal of exposure therapy for OCD and anxiety: to learn to live in a world of uncertainty and be happy anyway. So, I wanted to share the five things with you and give you an example of how I am using them this weekend. Yesterday, I was hanging out in the living room, waiting for the plumber to arrive to fix a leak in my kitchen sink, when I noticed how hot it was. I checked the thermostat, and it read 79 degrees. After an hour of so of messing around with vents, turning the A/C on and off, staring at the outside A/C unit (telepathically asking it to please turn on) and wishing the plumber were also an HVAC guy, I realized my air conditioner was broken. And hey, I live in Hot-lanta, so this is somewhat problematic. But sitting on my coffee table in the living room was The Five Things We Cannot Change. As I waited [...]