Have Some Humble Pie

I prayed a few weeks ago that God would make me humble. It’s working.

I am in that phase of your mid-20’s when you find yourself making comparisons left and right as you try to measure whether you are making any progress at this being a grown-up deal. They are just little things, but the little things that get underneath your skin in just the right ways. Read More »

Mindfulness Music: Love Does

A song on the radio that always helps me be mindful. Brandon Heath has such a beautiful voice. And lyrics that give hope are always worth cherishing ūüôā

In particular, it keeps me motivated when I am feeling drained and just want to call in sick to my volunteer shifts.  I recently had to say good-bye to a patient I was visiting as a volunteer in an elderly care facility. It was my last day as a volunteer and I wanted to make it special, but I was feeling rushed, trying to get from work and get to her in time for visiting hours, stopping at stores in between to collect the items I needed for her favorite treat. My good intentions were gone as I rushed. It was a task that needed to be done. An inconvenience. My OCD was pretty bad and I just wanted to stay home.

I had to stop and remind myself why I was doing this; I wanted to show someone a little love. I knew she was hungry for companionship. I knew that she all she wanted was to eat this special dessert with a friend. People in care homes spend all day in their little rooms, in their beds, with no one but people paid to care for them and maybe a roommate who can’t talk back to them for their daily companions. ¬†I had to remember that the little things I manage to do are significant to someone, so it’s important that I tell my OCD to back off so I can do this small thing. This song helps me remember that it’s important to keep doing the small things. More than that, ¬†I need stay in the moment and keep love in my intentions. As it says in 2 Corinthians 9:7 ” Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

 

Love Does by Brandon Heath

Wandering/Blubbering In the Wilderness

Don’t quote me on this, but I vaguely remember many a bible story and study about the Israelite people, newly freed from bondage in Egypt, only to wander in the wild desert for 40 years. God was purposely withholding from the people the “promised land”. ¬†They wandered aimlessly in circles to their death, paying for their grumbling, ingratitude, and lack of faith…or something like that. They are freed from slavery in the face of impossible odds, then complain about the food on their trek to freedom. They turn from giving God their thanks to inventing more convenient deities. They even choose to run from the promised land at some point, overcome by fear of the work they might have to do to claim it. ¬†Oh, look .¬†About.com has outlined this story, which can be found in the book of Numbers, since I’m pretty sure I got some of that out of order.

The point is, for some reason, my moping about today ended in my thinking of that old story. I’ve been having a rough summer, as I’ve written before, and for no good reason. My checking is at an ALL TIME HIGH and I waste hours each day. I have not been fighting it very well and often feel like just giving in. In addition, I feel like I am rotting inside and am very hard to please, and I’ve got no good reason. It reminds me a bit of something I went through in college, a year when I suddenly often found myself crying on the bathroom floor with no good reason. It was the same then as it is now: I have lots of reasons to be happy with my life, so why am I so often so unhappy?¬† Actually, there may be some reason: ¬†I do know that the year I was crying like that on the floor until someone had to come get me, I was beginning to do my OCD rituals. I cringe when I remember the mess I was on that bathroom floor; my poor ex had to mop me up and probably thought he had a nutjob for a girlfriend. ¬†I don’t understand why I did not catch it at the time, that maybe this was when the changes in my brain were first happening. I’d never checked like that before, and had never been that anxious. But something happened in me that summer, and I just sank into it and ignored it until it became what it is today.

So is there something to this pattern? My feeling overwhelmed by the anxiety until I end up blubbering with no known trigger? Don’t get me wrong; I’m trying to have a sense of humor about my behaviors and my OCD, because I need to lighten the load, but I in no way am saying “blubbering” and “no good reason” as a way to demean or misrepresent the very real impact of an anxiety disorder. I know what’s up. I have a very real problem, one with behavioral and biochemical roots and reasons, like any other health problem. My health problem does not make me break out in a rash or mess with my blood sugar (not directly and not yet anyway), but instead my brain is constantly sounding the alarm, be it a loud siren or a never ending buzz. But the noise and the anxiety is neverending, and that constant feeling in my body, that constant thought process in my brain which results in actions that disrupt my life daily, it drains the batteries and leaves me feeling pretty hopeless.

Anyway, back to my thoughts about my current wilderness: I am here and I can’t undo it. I am back where I once was, breaking out in sobs for “no good reason” and letting anxiety wreck my life and my spirit. ¬†I am human, and I will find myself in my desert again, but if there is anything I retained from that Sunday school lesson, it is these two things: 1) I need to remember God is here to help me but 2) I really need to help myself too, as much as I can, and not make destructive choices that will keep me wandering until the years tick by. I can’t be afraid of the hard work it’s going to take to get to my promised land.

Time to sleep, so I can try again tomorrow.

Mindfulness Moment: Going Where My Trust Is Without Borders

I’ve heard and read a lot of folks with OCD talk about how they feel that, at it the core of this disorder for many sufferers, we have a maladaptive and atypical inability to deal with uncertainty¬†(here are links to 3 posts about it for further reading: by Jeff Bell, Dr. Steven Seay, and Annabella Hagen – LCSW RPT-S).¬†¬†The problem with OCD, I’ve noticed, is that in avoiding all possible threats to certainty, you pretty much avoid living life at all.

It’s very sneaky, the way obeying my need for certainty can slowly overtake my life. I realized at first, that I would avoid driving near the bike lane and the lane next to the sidewalk. Then I resolved to avoid driving during times when kids walk to school. OK, how about I avoid driving in the dark unless I¬†absolutely¬†must? And let’s ¬†try to avoid evening commuter traffic too. ¬†I’ll avoid parking garages, driveways, and compact parking while I’m at it. Actually, let’s also park as far away from people as possible. And let’s only do right turns on green. And don’t go down that street where you had an OCD episode. I realized today that if I always obeyed all my “rules” in order to optimize certainty that I won’t accidentally hurt someone with my car, I would leave very few hours in the day when I would be able to drive.

Tonight, my friend asked me to go the movies. I knew that if I said yes, I’d end up driving home in the dark. Hmmmm. That would increase the possibility of not seeing a pedestrian when I drive! That’s a huge OCD trigger for me, one that could turn my 30 minute drive home into a 60 minute one as my brain spins in it’s own web of imaginary tragedy. ¬†A little voice inside me told me life would just be easier if I said no to the movie and comfortably drove home with the sun in the sky. Just be comfy! Just do what is easy! Why risk being triggered?

The good news is, I am getting better and better at dealing with being triggered! I decided to go the movies tonight. I drove home in the dark. I had obsessions and compulsions. I checked (a few times too many). BUT I didn’t let my need for certainty prune away at my social life. I want friends. ¬†I want to go to the grocery store at night. I have to go to class in the morning and drive home ¬†from class in the dark. I’m not back to my old driving yet, but I can start with this. ¬†What can I say? Uncertainty is uncomfortable, but I have faith that I can deal with the uncertainty that abounds on this earth, no matter what my OCD makes me feel in the moment.

Speaking of uncertainty and hope, there is a BEAUTIFUL song by Hillsong UNITED called Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), which I have fallen in love with because singing it is an informal mindfulness moment for me which gives me courage.   When I sing it, I forget what makes me anxious and I feel nothing but overhwhelming hope.

In particular, I feel courage in these lyrics:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith would be made stronger, by the presence of my Savior

– Oceans by Hillsong UNITED

Wow. To ask God to take me where my trust is without borders? Where feet may fail? Nothing makes my OCD more upset than the thought of that :). I think I should strive to go there.

Here’s the song and lyric video for Oceans. Very soothing. I hope you enjoy it!