Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Real Doubt

Artsy, introspective photo. :-P
I quit my new job.  Just 7 days under my belt and I quit.

And I quit because of doubt.

Now, I've mentioned before that self-doubt is a major part of OCD.  I can doubt things that other people easily dismiss.  For example, when I was obsessively worried about stealing, I would doubt whether I paid for an item at the store.  When I was obsessively worried about driving, I would doubt whether I ran over a squirrel.

Doubt can eat you alive.

But here's the thing.  OCD doubt is different than real doubt.  If you learn to really examine your feelings and be introspective about it, you can learn to discover which doubts are legitimate.  For example, sometimes you actually do forget to lock the house or you do leave the curling iron on and it isn't an OCD check, it's a real check.  Learning this difference between feelings of OCD doubt and feelings of real doubt can help you fight the OCD kind.

The triumph to my quitting is that it wasn't OCD related.  It was a doubt to the core, a feeling that what I was doing wasn't right for me and that I should take a different path.  

Now, I'm working on starting up my own tutoring business.  I'm thinking about finally publishing my memoir (Eugh! Please ignore how pretentious that sounds). I'm taking my career into my own hands and not letting OCD stop me. I'm still sorting through doubts, but I know I'm getting better at it.

I hope that others fighting can learn to do the same.  Don't be deceived by doubt.  Keep going and learning and sorting.  You can do this!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Gus - A Dog in Therapy

A calm Gus in session.
On Friday of last week, I went to therapy with my dog, Gus.  I do not mean that I took him to my therapy session, I mean that I went to his.

Now, some of you may remember that my dog is a complicated person...  I've written about Gus's anxiety before.  He's a unique snowflake and like the rest of us has personal battles within himself.

You'll be glad to know that he is still doing well on his anti-anxiety medication prescribed by the behavioral specialist.  He is also currently working through therapy. (You know what they say: Often a mix of drugs and therapy can be the most effective treatment regimen!)  

I had never actually been to a therapy session with him until Friday.  He always just went with my mom and dad.  But last week I went along too, to see what it all was about.  
What would I discover about the depths of the Gus?

What I learned is that effective dog therapy for anxiety is a lot like effective cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD. They're teaching him behavior modification and hoping to decrease his anxiety, which is one of the same goals that my therapist has for me.  Yes, my therapist and I get more into the "cognitive" aspect, but a lot of it is the same: Change your behavior to change your story.

The therapist also talked about Gus's worries, which squeezed my heart because I totally understand being consumed by worry.  She said that she used to see the tension in his face.  I could totally relate to that "worry face"... my mom can always tell when I'm having OCD concerns just from looking at me. 

But now the therapist says she is seeing less worry and tension on his face. He's improving!  It's nice to know that the therapist sees a positive change in Gus.  I know he will continue on his path to "Good Boy."  He's already the best.

So today's post is dedicated to Gus's triumph.  I love that my handsome, sweet, nerdy fluffhead is winning the battle against his inner demons.  May we all be that successful.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Not Just a Lock: In Honor of OCD Awareness Week

It's never just a lock.
So, as some of you may know, it is the IOCDF's OCD Awareness Week!

For those of you who are unfamiliar, IOCDF stands for International OCD Foundation.  They offer great resources and support for OCD sufferers, family and friends.  Feel free to check them out.

So, with #OCDWeek in full swing, I was left to wonder: What is it that I really want people to be aware of?  I write about OCD on a regular basis, but what is one key point that I want to press for this, the week of awareness.

I've decided on this:  It's not just a lock.

You have to look beyond the surface.

To take the literal example:  Let's look at people with OCD who are afraid that they left the door unlocked and check... and check and check.  For them, it isn't a question of a careless mistake.  They are worried about what could happen if that door really was left unlocked: Plagued by worries of their house being broken into, or their dog being stolen, or some other horrible vision, their anxiety rises up to an unbearable level. They do their compulsions and checks to kill that anxiety and reach a feeling of "okay".  They often don't see the odds; they see the catastrophe.  It's not just about the lock: It's their whole sense of security

There is real pain and suffering here.

And the lock example is just one that can be explained in a paragraph.  From intrusive thoughts, to constant self-doubt, to compulsions that don't always make sense to others, OCD can be much more insidious and the connections much more complicated.  

So learning to stop those compulsions and live with that anxiety, it's hard.  The therapy is work.  And trying to get help when there's so much stigma and misunderstanding out there?  That's courage.

So please take this week seriously and raise that awareness so more people take OCD for the serious disorder that it truly is.  The more we choose a path of understanding as opposed to fear, the more we will triumph going forward.