Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Gaslighting and OCD

Not a gaslight.
So I was recently reading about the fascinating psychological phenomenon of gaslighting.  For those who aren't familiar, it's a horrifying form of abuse. defines gaslighting as: "to cause (a person) to doubt his or her sanity through the use of psychological manipulation." As Louis de Canonville further explains, it "is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victim’s an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment."

Now, gaslighting anyone would be reprehensible. But I started thinking about the tragedy of how easily a person with OCD could be manipulated.  

As I've talked about before, OCD means facing self-doubt regularly.  We can have trouble trusting our memory, especially surrounding our worst fears and obsessions.  This causes some of us to seek reassurance from others (even if this is ultimately an unhealthy compulsion). What would happen if our partner, family member, or friend was reinforcing those doubts?
The result would be terrifying.  When you actually have a condition that causes you to question your sanity, the last thing you need is someone playing this up. 
I've been lucky enough never to face this.  I imagine that as someone with OCD, you would immediately spiral downward.  Especially if you were unaware that this potential form of abuse existed, if would be so easy to fall into it... to become completely reliant on this other person to define what was really going on. The person could totally manipulate you however he or she pleased.

David Wolfe recommends, "If you feel like you’re being gaslighted in a relationship, it’s important to seek help."  I agree 100%.  
If you even have the slightest concern that this could be happening, talk to someone about it. Don't face this alone.

References/Interesting Articles:

"Are You Being Gaslighted?" by Robin Stern, PhD.
- "10 Things I've Learned About Gaslighting As An Abuse Tactic" by Shea Emma Fett
-"10 Signs You Are a Victim of Gaslighting" by David Wolfe
- "The Effects of Gaslighting in Narcissistic Victim Syndrome" by Christine Louis de Canonville

(Also... for anyone who was hoping this was really about physical gaslights, check out my uncle's site:

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What Candy Crush Taught Me About Living With Anxiety

Mom indulging in a favorite pastime.
Candy Crush Saga.  Most of us have played it at least once.  For many, it has eaten up hours if not days of our lives.  (I'm currently on Level 375... For perspective, my mom is on or above Level 1752.)

It might seem like a frivolous time suck, but I've gained some real knowledge from my Candy Crush experience.  As a girl with OCD, I've discovered that Candy Crush offers more than just a distraction... It has actually taught me some key lessons on how to live with anxiety.  

Hear me out:

Lesson #1: Sometimes you need a little help.

There are levels that I've only gotten through because of a booster of some sort.  Such is life.  When you have anxiety and you feel overwhelmed or unable to move past the thoughts in your head, it's easy to feel like a failure.  At those times it's important to remember that it's okay to need a boost occasionally. A boost in life can be many things, from social support to therapy to prescribed medication. Whatever help you need, it is alright to seek it out.

Lesson #2:  Give it 5 tries, then take a break.

After you lose 5 Candy Crush lives, it takes time to recharge before they let you play again. Though many people find this annoying, it is actually a great strategy to take when something is bothering you and making you feel anxious. If you've given it multiple attempts and are still facing failure, take some time off. Rejuvenate.  It's perfectly acceptable.  Then, you can get back to it refreshed and ready to face the challenge.  (Don't just listen to me, check out this article I found on an OCD page from the Harvard Business Review, "Resilience is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure".)

Lesson #3:  Sometimes things are hard that aren't supposed to be.

Candy Crush tells you when you are facing a "hard level."  But sometimes it's the so-called easy levels that wind up being the most challenging.  The truth is that we all have different journeys and sometimes we will find that something is difficult without warning.  You can't let it get you down, you have to keep fighting. 

Lesson #4:  Things don't always fall into place.

You have to learn to accept that sometimes it isn't your fault, the right combinations just didn't materialize.  That's something you have to live with in your daily life.  Don't allow yourself to get caught up in possible alternate scenarios and blame yourself for fate.

Lesson #5: I can do anything I set my mind to.

I've often been at Candy Crush levels that I have deemed impossible.  Multiple times, I have decided never to play EVER AGAIN because it would be pointless to try and continue.  But every single time, I have been drawn back in and eventually beat the so-called unbeatable level.  Candy Crush has shown me that as much as I worry, nothing is impossible.

Did King create Candy Crush, with an entire magical world that held parallels to our own, to help make me a better, stronger person who was more capable of handling the anxieties of life?  Probably not.  But sometimes you find life lessons in the strangest of places.  If it took a social media game to help me find some zen, I'll take it.  Candy Crush triumph.