Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Organization is Not OCD -guest author with personal experience

Organization is Not OCD

I think I was ten the first time I heard about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I remember hearing about the disorder in clinical, definitive terms. Obsessive compulsive disorder is defined as an anxiety disorder that plagues people with unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, and sensations, the obsessions, that end up fueling the compulsions. In the mind of those affected, the compulsions are the solution to the obsessions, but in the end they just drive them further. As I sat listening in class I turned to the bored looks on my classmates’ faces waiting to see the lightbulb for someone else. As the teacher continued to list things I had been unable to explain for years of my life already I wanted to see another student who felt the same way, but I didn’t. So I kept it locked in, continuing with my quiet and consuming thoughts, reserving myself to something I would have to hide indefinitely. It was about two years later that I started to see counsellor who confirmed for me what I had feared and didn’t entirely understand.

My OCD started a small and unusual way as a child, but I can still remember it being there. Since before I can remember I was certain I was going to die before I was eighteen years old. It would consume me, I would lay in bed at night thinking about what it would be like to die in a car accident or just never wake up. I sat with this “fact” in my mind for years, obsessed with the idea that I would die before I was eighteen. But this was only the beginning.

As I got older my OCD developed in more concrete and patterned ways.  Some days I would have to sit perfectly symmetrical because is something touched me on one side of my body I needed an identical touch on the opposite side of my body. I liked the tops of my dressers and desks to be completely clear and anything that was set on them at perfectly right angles. Sometimes I even hated the way words came out of my mouth. Even now, some days I’ll get stuck on word or phrase and I’ll have to say it over and over until it sounds perfect. (Here’s the secret, it never sounds perfect.) My list could go on and on.

All of my compulsions that come from my obsessions, though, are not “predictably” OCD. I don’t obsessively wash my hands and I’m not a germaphobe. When I was a child/teenager I was not particularly clean, so while my dresser and desk tops had a system, I could have clothes all over my floor and not be phased. I wasn’t flipping light switches. My whole life wasn’t perfectly organized in color coated tabs. That is how most people see OCD. It’s impossible to have a conversation about organization without someone claiming, “They’re sooo OCD.” Alphabetization and order do not equate to OCD, though.

Let me be clear, some people’s compulsions do manifest in this sort of way, but the difference is easy to see. Being a little irritated because something isn’t perfectly alphabetized or liking things a certain way is fine. Outside of my OCD I like things a certain way, I prefer things alphabetized and generally organized, but these are distinct from my compulsions. Because people perpetuate this idea that OCD is just a small frustration with how you prefer things, people with an actual problem are viewed as a joke or overreacting. To be completely clear, though, it isn’t overreacting that has me terrorized because I can’t get a word or phrase to sound how I want it to. It didn’t feel like a joke sitting in a stall in a bathroom in high school trying to get myself to feel symmetrical and trying to continue that feeling as I had to carry things through crowded halls. The fear and frustration that held me as I tried to get my dresser tops just right. Moving things a centimeter and sometimes breaking things or throwing them out all together if I couldn’t get it right. I’ve bruised my hands because I wasn’t sitting in the right spot. I’ve bitten the inside of my mouth until I bled as I was shaking because people wouldn’t take these compulsions seriously. I spent innumerable hours of my life fearing my looming death as I got closer and closer to my eighteenth birthday.

I’ve spent years of my life learning to self regulate my OCD, after years in counseling. I still distinctly have OCD and I spend a lot of my energy managing and hiding it. I have, over the years, not only come to fear my OCD but the reactions of people to my OCD. Most people go one of two ways when they find out about my OCD. I can generally see when people are uncertain of my stability and aren’t sure how to handle me. Or, and this is the far more common scenario, they assume I like things super organized or am picky and claim to be “super OCD” too, talking about how they like their kids’ toys organized.

I implore anyone reading this to reconsider how they use the term “OCD”, because this is a serious disorder. My situation, too, is much more manageable OCD. This disorder sends many people to need help and completely debilitate their life. It can ravage their minds and bodies. In the end comparing a preference towards organization to a disorder which can completely isolate someone to the point that they feel they have no control over their own minds, bodies, and habits is hugely trivializing towards people who actually suffer.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (2015, November 18). Retrieved August 23, 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/obsessive-compulsive-disorder

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Power of Perspective

Some times you get the gift of spending time with a person who changes your perspective on life events. I have a wonderful aunt who lives in Oregon. In my life I have not gotten much time with her but thanks to my husband working for Delta we could fly to her for free. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get to know her more and see a part of the world I haven't seen yet. Fortunately she welcomed me and my two boys with open arms.

Flying stand-by demands a certain amount of flexibility. We were suppose to land 1 hr from my aunt's house. Instead we got booted off that flight and landed 4 hrs away in Portland Oregon. Did this stress my Aunt out? No, her and her partner were excited about the different things we could explore and see up there. This change of plans and added inconvenience was no apparent problem to them. They just turned it into an adventure.

The entire week with them included responses like this. I was so excited to see sea lions and they had a solid plan to show me sea lions up close. Well, turned out sea lions don't hang out there in the end of June. No sea lions. Did this bum my aunt and her partner out? Nope. Just means a new fun plan to them!

They are living evidence that our perspective is so powerful.

Going to Portland could have ended the trip if they had not see the silver lining. Every wrong turn, turned into a new exciting exploration. My kids and I got to see Mount Hood and climb to the near top! It was amazing and I will never forget it. We went on to see the coast, sand dunes, gorges, and more. They always were looking at the silver lining and turning disappointing situations into new adventures.

I hope to live my life more like them. I hope you do too because joy can be found in this way of living!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Take a deep breath, swallow your pride, forget about fair and say sorry.

I am just going to be honest. My husband and I got in a big fight tonight. I was condescending, and rude. Marriage is messy. People are broken, and damaged. People are soo mean to each other at times.

There is no one on this earth that I love more than my husband. Yet no one on this earth have I treated as poorly.  I don't want to lose the man that I love so much. He has helped me get to were I am today. We have had 10 happy years of marriage. I have shared so many laughs with him, and cried with him in my darkest moments. I cannot let a fight steal our depth. I need to suck it up and say sorry.

Let quit pretending the people we respect are perfect. No one is. I surely am not. That is the key in marriage. We need to accept that we will screw up and own it. Say sorry. Put your pride behind you.  I don't care what they did. Just say sorry. Win the relationship not the argument.

Win the relationship not the argument. 

So often we are so in the moment that we forget we are talking to the person who means more to us than anything. Take a deep breath, swallow your pride, forget about fair and say sorry. Win the relationship. No one is perfect.  

A relationship will grow if there is acceptance, growth and humility. It will die if it is based on pride, and selfishness. We have to be able to let go of what our spouse did wrong.


We need to get so good at forgiveness. Lets face it. We will screw up. It's a two way street. If you both get good at forgiving there is so much room for growth. My mother in law once said to me, "I hope to get sweeter with each passing year." I hope this is true for me too.

If I own my stuff and truly work on it, each year I should be a better wife. I should be more patient, kind and forgiving. I want to be that person but I wont get there if I am stuck in the moment. I need to take a step back and say I want to win the relationship not the argument. I want to be a silly old couple in love but I wont get there unless I am willing to look at myself and take ownership.

Today look at yourself. Quick blaming your spouse. What can you do to improve your marriage? Win the relationship not the argument. Be that silly old couple someday that inspires people.
We can do this.

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