Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The End of the Job Hunt

My job spreadsheet.
As some of you may remember from a few posts ago, I was on the job hunt. Well, not anymore.  Triumph:  This girl got a job.

For someone who has anxiety, the waiting game was murder.  I created a job spreadsheet to keep track of my progress, and looking at it now is pretty interesting.  Let's consider the numbers:

21 - Jobs applied to between August 17 and August 30.
13 - Jobs that just ignored me.
5 - Flat out rejection emails.
2 - Jobs with false hope.  One of the jobs they gave me a phone interview and then called me in for an interview.  Before we could schedule it, they filled the position.  The other job they told me to wait for a telephone interview "sometime next week" (already putting me on edge for days) and then I found out from the recruiter they had made an error and were already at the offer stage with someone else and wouldn't be calling.  
1 - Job success.  

My advice to anyone with anxiety looking for a job is to remember that it's a numbers game.  People would tell me that, and it's 100% true.  You can't take rejections personally and you have to stay tough and keep putting yourself out there.  It's easy to start obsessing over waiting to hear back, but it's a frivolous exercise.  Instead of freaking out over applications that are pending, focus your energy on putting out more applications. 

For the one job offer that I received, I went through a four step process: phone interview, writing sample, in person interview, and finally a project.  That being said, this company was very quick to get back to me at every stage. They are a recruiting firm, so they have a real understanding of the job search process and are compassionate toward candidates.  I even told them that I had OCD during my interview and they were super accepting about it.  I love that I was able to be myself in the interview.  It seems like I have found an extremely nurturing environment to grow my career.  

So now, onto new anxieties... anxieties such as: How do I know if I'll be any good?  How can I be sure I'll like it?  Are my coworkers going to like me?  Is my boss going to like me?  How long will it take me to "get it"?

Better to focus on the excitement and positive possibilities than drown in the negative ones.  Like most things, it's important to remember that only time will tell.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

nOCD - An App to Tap

We live in the tech age, so why not use that technology for good?

The nOCD app is doing just that:  They're helping OCD patients effectively go through Exposure Response Prevention therapy.

Now you may be asking, what exactly is Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy?  Well... it's basically the gold standard for OCD treatment and it works just like the title indicates.  You expose yourself to a trigger for your symptoms (one of your obsessions) and then you prevent your normal compulsive response.  

Quick simple example:  If you are obsessively afraid of the germs from touching the floor, maybe the therapist recommends that you touch the floor and then stop yourself from washing your hands and just continue with your day.  

Sound easy?  Well, when your anxiety level is through the roof, stopping yourself from performing a compulsion is anything but.  

This is where nOCD swoops in to help.  It's an easily accessible phone app that can help you with your exposures whenever and wherever you are.  You click on "On-the-Go" help and enter your obsessions and compulsions in real time.  They collect data that can be helpful in discovering things like when you're the most vulnerable to an episode and how intense your episodes are.  

The app also lets you schedule ERP sessions for yourself if you need.  It gives you "Response Prevention Practice" by helping you learn to live with uncertainty.   They even provide distraction if that's what you need, and will send you over to Facebook, Snapchat, or Youtube to help you get out of your own head.

Why do I love this app?

1.  It was created by OCD patients and OCD experts.  It was obviously created with the understanding of what it's really like to live with the disorder, not just theoretical mumbo-jumbo.

2.  It's free for subscribers.  They are helping you without draining your wallet.

3.  You can use it with your therapist.  Since a lot of ERP is done outside of the therapy session, this app can really help show your therapist how your sessions are going.

4.  The creators are just incredibly nice.  After speaking with Stephen Smith, one of the cofounders, and Gagan Bhambra, who works on the app's blog and with social media, I can honestly say that these seem like honest-to-goodness helpful people.  

The app is still evolving, and in about a month a huge update is scheduled to come out.  I can't wait to see how this app grows! For more information, you can visit their website: http://www.treatmyocd.com/ or check out their blog at: https://treatmyocdblog.com/

This app is a definite triumph in the advancement of OCD treatment.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Psycho Psychiatrists

Chilling in the pool during my trauma-free childhood.

Tragedy: All men may have been created equal, but all mental health professionals definitely were not.

Yesterday, I saw a new psychiatrist.  I thought this would be an easy transition... give her my OCD backstory, explain the medications I'm on, let her know I'm doing pretty well working with my therapist about once a month.  Easy peasy.


Instead, the woman I saw described my medication as "toxic."  She suggested that I do intensive psychotherapy instead, twice a week.  TWICE A WEEK! As my dad asked, "What is this? Hollywood?"  This remark made me feel a little better, like Marilyn Monroe.

This woman was also obsessed with my past.  It was like a run in with Freud.   She wanted to know details and memories from when I was very little, even asking me to do research to see how my mom's pregnancy was and how I acted as a baby.  It was clear she thought there must be some trigger for the anxiety from my childhood. 

This is far from the case.  My childhood was awesome: Nothing bad happened.  I am not repressing something.  I am not hiding something.  I'm seriously just lucky.

That's the thing about OCD that many people don't seem to grasp: It's genetic and chemical.  Situations may trigger it in some people, but nobody had to do anything wrong; there didn't have to be a trigger.  It's not like PTSD... some people even call OCD a brain disorder instead of a mental disorder.

The psychiatrist also just didn't seem to understand some of my OCD symptoms when I described them to her.  Now, I get that this was our first meeting... but I'm pretty textbook.  I felt like I was dealing with someone who didn't have a good grasp of the problem.

This is the big issue with finding a psychiatrist.  To rephrase Forrest Gump: "Psychiatrists are like a box of chocolates: you never know what you're going to get."  They all have different views and different training.  Some of them hate medication, some are pill pushers... some are more Freudian, others lean toward more modern theories. Some you would trust with your life, others you wouldn't want to trust with your lunch.

My advice to OCD friends out there looking for a psychiatrist is to find a specialist if you can.  Also, follow your heart.  Find treatment that you can feel good about.  Just because someone has an M.D. doesn't mean that they know everything.  You are the best expert on you, so find somebody compatible who can support your recovery.