My New Roommate (& How He’s With Helping My OCD)

We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.
― 14th Dalai Lama

A couple of months ago, I moved in with my boyfriend. That next milestone in a relationship is a scary one! The last time I did that, the situation ended up exacerbating my anxiety disorder (at the time I did not know what I had). This time however, is a very different story. I was diagnosed at the time that my current partner came into the picture, and from the very start, he has been supportive, comforting, and when the situation calls for it, tough on me for my own good (he often refuses to reassure me in my Pure O moments). I never imagined, however, how much living with someone in a healthy living situation could give me the extra boost I needed in my struggle with OCD.Read More »

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 . 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.

Your Brain on Mindfulness

I have a had a few weeks of epic fails in the mindfulness department (blog posts to come involving toasters, sporks, driving,  and a door knob I’ve jiggled so much it came off the other day). I think perhaps, I just don’t understand how important it is.  In spite of my words, I think if I am honest with myself, I just don’t believe it will really rewire my brain. I needed some inspiration, so I decided to do a quick Google search on mindfulness and the brain to see what’s floating in the world out there.

A few things first:

1) I don’t  consider googling to be the best thing to do when one wants to know an answer regarding health, and especially mental health. When it comes to critical decisions, I believe in consulting experts (meaning they study the domain in which you have a question and are up on the current research), medical professionals, and in consulting peer-reviewed academic journals. Bloggers are not held accountable for posting false information; licensed medical professionals can lose their careers and be fined out the yin-yang for giving you bad information.

2) Of course, not all studies are made equal. If you are able, you can supplement your conversations with a trusted health professional with your own perusing of well designed research studies and meta-analysis, but as always, read with caution.

3) Googling can be really helpful in finding information if you make sure the sources are trustworthy, and lucky for those of us who are struggling with OCD, trustworthy researchers are making their info public and are even packaging things for the average, google-loving, consumer of information who really doesn’t want to read a whole research article.

SO! Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D writes for the Huffington Post and has posted a very motivating blurb about the exciting directions mindfulness and neuroscience is taking. His article is a short and sweet summary of what mindfulness might be able to do for the brain and he even has a short mindfulness video exercise posted at the the end of the article! Sweet! Best of all, if you click on the links for each of the super motivating newsbits he shares about the neuroscience of mindfulness and how it may rewire us, you will be directed to a PDF of the original research article he cites so you can see for yourself. Now that’s refreshing.

Check it out!  => How Mindfulness Rewires the Brain by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D