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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Hope Comes in a Quiet Whisper

So as part of the OCD conference attendees were asked to be an advocate for OCD. To tell people there is hope for those with OCD. Everyone who wanted to could be filmed saying “There is hope for those with OCD” and something else if they wished.

I thought long and hard about this. I wanted to say something meaningful. I wanted to help others. Of course I totally blew my session in front of the camera just b/c I became so nervous about the whole ordeal. But one of my sentences Jeff Bell said was beautiful and asked me to repeat it for the camera.

“Hope Comes in a Quiet Whisper.”

Honestly I have no idea how I came up with this. But it is completely and utterly true. I was just thinking of what I would write if I wrote my own Memoir and that sentence would be the title (and perhaps will be the title if I ever decide to write one…which I am actually contemplating).

This is what I wrote when I was first trying to decide what I would say to those who felt hopeless from OCD. It is basically a very summarized memoir (some of it comes straight from this blog..just in case why you are wondering a part or 2 sounds familiar):

Hope comes in a quiet whisper, a whisper that if you are courageous enough can change your life.

I’m 22 years old, and have had OCD since I was at least 8 years old. I didn’t know though that I had a disorder until September 2011, when I was just a few months from turning 22.

From around the age of 8, I remember having obsessive thoughts of contamination (contaminating both myself and others), thoughts that if I didn’t do or say certain things that I and who ever my thoughts were aimed at were going to hell, thoughts that if I didn’t do certain things in places that made me feel uncomfortable that I was going to die, thoughts that I was a bad person, and that, no matter what, I would never be good enough. Of course these obsessions were partnered with elaborate rituals (such as writing ‘I Love God’, ‘I Love Jesus’ on the shower wall with my finger, touching my nose to ensure that I was breathing and not dying, avoiding certain situations, petting my dogs in the exact right pattern, etc).

When I was young I tried to speak to my parents once or twice about it, but I was too afraid that they would institutionalize me or try to perform an exorcism. I truly believed I was demon possessed. I can’t express to you how torturous these thoughts were to an eight year old. I was convinced that my parents would no longer love me if I let them see what I believed was the ‘true me.’

I don’t think I can say that I went into remission. But as the years went on I found ways to cope. One way was even hiding it from myself. I would have OCD difficulties but would make myself forget them right after they happened. I didn’t want to acknowledge it.

My illusion that I was ok held pretty well throughout middle school and high school. The stresses of college though ripped my illusion fiercely apart. In addition to all that I outlined above, I went into a spiral of morbid obsessions and perfectionism. I honestly don’t know how I survived my undergraduate career. The thoughts debilitated me, but I was able to keep it hidden. I thought it was only a matter of time before someone would notice and institutionalize me. My compulsion though for my morbid obsessions was avoidance, so it was easy to hide: I just simply refused to let people touch me, because I was afraid that I would do something to them. Living a life in academia also made it easy to hide perfectionism, because who doesn’t want to be perfect to get into the best programs? All of this only got worse when I entered graduate school. Especially morbid obsessions, perfectionism, a high sense of responsibility to all of those that I came in contact with, and contamination issues.

I can’t describe to you though the constant pain I was in. I wasn’t dying a little everyday. All of me was dying everyday only to be cursed to be reincarnated into the same person the next day and the next.

I was in a silent prison screaming. It was all I could hear, but no one could hear me. One day though I heard something that was not characteristic of my constant scream. It was a whisper that broke through. A whisper of hope.

At this point in my life I no longer cared about myself. I didn’t believe that I deserved to ever be happy, feel comfortable, feel wanted, or feel loved. But because I had a high sense of responsibility for all those around me I knew I wanted to help others. Before OCD hit me in undergrad, I was enthusiastic about community service. All I ever did was want to make other’s lives better, whether or not someone knew it was me making their lives better.

So my whisper of hope disguised itself as a whisper of a memory, this idea that I could make other’s lives better. If I truly was a horrible person, I wanted to spend the rest of my life (if I could leave my house) counteracting it.

After one particularly bad OCD episode in which I had convinced myself that both my roommate and I were going to die from the chemical residue of the cleaning supplies I used to decontaminated our bathroom (I needed TONS of reassurance from my roommate and my parents that you can’t die from cleaning products), I finally sought for a therapist.

I knew something was wrong with me, and a therapist would know whether there was something mentally wrong with me or if I needed to be locked up as a psychopath.

This is when my hope extended and transformed into my therapist. He gave me hope. He explained to me that I had something called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and that in fact I was NOT an evil person. He didn’t judge me.

I still had a hard time believing this hope. But this hope was there. Waiting patiently for me. A little louder than a whisper now that I heard a trained professional tell me it was going to be ok. My hope then continued to transform into my parents, who continued to love me even after I told them all of my ‘horrible’ secrets. Like a blooming flower, my hope opened wider to encompass a few select friends who offered me support. Hope then manifested in the form of humor. Humor that kept me laughing at myself and my crazy compulsions.

Finally, my hope grew to embrace me. I now began to believe in me. I finally believed that the OCD was not me and I could be the beautiful person I always wanted to be.

Hope manifests itself in so many ways. It will transform and materialize in the ways you most need it. You just have to be brave enough to first listen for that hint of a whisper.

There is hope for those with OCD.

…..

I’ll write about the conference tonight! I promise!

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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OCD Conference Day 1 Part 1

So today… well it was amazing.

I learned SO much.

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed though with all the information that was thrown at me.

I know I should feel the very opposite of lonely right now. Considering I spent a day with people who understood my suffering and I could easily connect with. I even had one person thank me for talking in a session about how I had to learn how to not be the world’s condom. He thought it was a great way to bring humor to our serious issue with feeling responsible for everyone in terms of social scrupulosity.

For some reason though… I am feeling very lonely…and sad… and I kinda just want to curl up in a ball and cry (though crying for me is rare so I will probably just fall asleep). Perhaps these are my symptoms from being overwhelmed. I don’t know.

I did learn a lot of stuff today… so I promise before the night is over I will write about the wonderful things I learned. :).

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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OCD conference

OCD Conference is in 3 days! Leaving for Chicago on Thursday! I’m actually excited about this opportunity. I’ve already outlined all the sessions that I’m going to and I really feel that it is going to help me! Particularly the one on OCD and Perfectionism… b/c this is a major problem I struggle with in school… especially now heading into my PhD program.

I hope I learn lots of useful things! I may blog about what I’ve learned each day afterwards. Maybe it will be useful to those who aren’t able to attend!

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Mental Illnesses vs Evil…and Tragedy

So I know I already posted today… and like 5 minutes ago… but I seriously think of so many things at one time I really don’t know how my brain doesn’t combust lol.

But anyways… I really don’t know how to talk about what I want to talk about, especially since the topic is something that has happened so recently.

My heart is torn for the people of Aurora, CO. The lives lost and the amount of people injured is devastating. Acts of heroism happened during this tragedy as well… people helping others and taking bullets for others. It is hard to think about the fact that life can be taken away so suddenly. All they were doing was going to see one of the most anticipated movies of the season and their lives ended in terror. I can’t imagine what that moment must have been like for them and all those affected.

I wish I could go help all the victims…

My question though… is what would drive a person to do something like this? They have yet to determine his motive in all this. It was obviously extremely premeditated. It seems like he knew his whole plan.. and he knew that he would devastate lives. What grabs my attention about this individual though is that he called himself the “Joker.” They think that he may have taken on the persona of the Joker from the Batman movies. To be honest I’ve never seen any of the batman movies…they just aren’t my taste in movies…but I know the very basic ideas of it all.

What would drive someone to believe that they were like the Joker?

I have a friend who has DID. One of her personalities she named the “Joker.” To be honest I don’t know much about DID either. (Really I don’t know much about anything and really need to do more research now that I have my computer back.) But when she was in this persona or any other it was like she was a completely different person. She never did anything wrong… she was just different. She told me that when she was in her Joker persona that she was not her normal self, but rougher and more forceful than she normally was.

Now the guy responsible for the Aurora tragedy had been planning this for a long time… so I’m not sure if he could have something like DID, because I don’t think (but I really have no clue) you are stuck in that persona for that long of a period.

But really… what if he really did/does have a mental disorder that led him to this?

I guess what I am asking and thinking about is… everyone in our society who does an evil act (not counting terrorists groups)… do they really have mental illnesses? Or are they evil? Or perhaps both? Where is the line? What could make someone do that?

Again.. I really don’t know how to word this… but before I knew what OCD was and that I had OCD… I really thought I was evil. Who would have thoughts like I did that wasn’t an evil person? Of course I fought the thoughts with all of my strength… and I NEVER acted on any of them… they actually say that is what defines an OCD person with harm obsessions… someone who would never act on their thoughts because their compulsions are there to attempt to make the thoughts stop and they spend all their time doing those compulsions.

But what if someone wasn’t as strong as I was? What if someone gave into the thoughts? And they enter into psychosis? Is giving in to the thoughts and entering a psychotic state what makes a person evil? But are all evil people really victims of mental illnesses? And victims to society since there is such a stigma to mental illnesses?

I’m NOT TRYING TO JUSTIFY this man’s actions in any way. It was WRONG. It is one of the greatest tragedies ever. But I’m just trying to understand how someone could do that? To take so many lives… so many innocent victims. Could this have been prevented if he had been more educated about mental illness? (That is if he has one.. but I still don’t understand the difference between psychosis and evil…)

What if he was a victim to mental illness? I mean aren’t there women out there who had PDD and ended up killing their children because of it? An absolutely evil act… but one caused by a mental illness/disorder.

Is that why mental illnesses/disorders are so stigmatized? I just always thought there was a stigma out there b/c I didn’t want people to think I was “crazy”… but one of the ways you can define crazy (according to my MacBook Pro dictionary) is “mentally deranged, esp. as manifested in a wild or aggressive way.” So I guess I never thought about the fact that one of the stigmas could be because people thought people who had mental illnesses were crazy and could cause harm to others. But are they justified in their thinking? If it happens in one case… such as this one? That is if they prove he has a mental disorder.

If he doesn’t have a mental disorder… is he just pure evil? But I have a hard time accepting the fact that someone would want to be evil. Maybe that is just my naivety.

I really don’t know. I’m pretty sure that I’ve just been rambling. But if anyone can understand my thoughts and help me straighten things out… I would really appreciate it.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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I have my computer back!

Yay! I’m so excited! I have my computer back up and running! Long story really short I’ve been computerless for a week! It is sad how dependent I am on this technology. lol. I’m so glad to have it back!

But in other news…. I’m bored…

Normally people would think this as well “boring” and who cares if you are “bored.”

But you know what?? I’m ecstatic that I am BORED. I’ve been using this summer to recharge from the past year. I really feared that I wasn’t ever going to recharge… because we all know that I am ALWAYS tired and I’m constantly battling OCD. I’m still tired and battling mild OCD… but I’m BORED. The idea of sitting down and reading books for fun for the rest of my life or playing video games or just sitting around doing nothing no longer excites me.

I’m ready for life to begin again.

I am honestly surprised at myself. I’m ready to try life again.

This couldn’t happen at a better time. I leave for my new place of residence at the end of next week and my PhD program starts in a month.

Maybe I can still make something happen with my life. I feel ready… finally… I’m still not sure if my path in academia is right… but I feel ready to face that situation and my life once again.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Friendships

So one of my best friends (I’ll call her Sarah) is getting married in less than 9 hours. I am doing last minute wedding things while the Bride gets her beauty sleep.

I’m currently working on my toast for the reception… and it has made me think a lot about our friendship and my friendships with my other best and close friends.

I’ve realized that I have no idea what any of their favorite colors are, the first boy or girl they kissed, their favorite music band, or even what foods they love and hate.

But knowing things like that are material.

I’ve known Sarah for 6 years. I knew her favorite color was purple, but no idea it was tied with red. I had no idea (until I asked her) that her first kiss was with a boy named Kyle or that she had a huge thing still for the Backstreet boys. I knew that she loved dark chocolate… but I had no idea that one of her all time favorite foods was graham crackers.

But the thing is I KNOW Sarah. I know how to make her laugh. I know how to calm her down when she is upset. I know how to have an amazing time with her. I know all about her family drama and how much it effects her. I know her body language and what she is trying to convey to me that she has a hard time conveying in words, such as how hurt she is by recent drama with her family right before the wedding.

I know how her mind works. I know the kind and gentle hearted person that she is. I know she will always get me into trouble…but will be right there getting me out as well.

Does it make me a bad person that I didn’t know all those materialistic things about her? Or my other friends? I don’t know.

I think it is more important to just be able to feel safe, loved, and trusted by your friends. I think you can KNOW someone without having to know who their first kiss was with or their favorite color.

Maybe I am wrong?

But I do know I love her to death and I am so happy she has met someone to spend the rest of her life with. 🙂

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Ruminations….

There are several topics on my mind tonight…topics that I would love responses too.

(1) What exactly is forgiveness? I watched the Courages tonight with my mother. It was a good Christian movie with many good story lines. A difficulty though I was having with the movie was how often the word “forgive” was thrown out there. “I forgive you.” Three such powerful words… that people just seem to throw out there without really knowing what the meaning is… thinking about it… I don’t think I really know what the meaning is either.

According to my dictionary on my computer: to forgive means to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake.

So if I say “I forgive my mother for not caring for me in a way a mother should when I was younger.”

Ok… so I’m not angry… It is the past… I’ve let it go… I’m not resentful… this is the way life is now, so I must move on. But does this mean I have to trust my mother? Is trust tied to forgiveness? I love my mother… but does forgiveness mean I have to like her?

If I have truly forgiven someone (like my mother)… what does it all entail? I’m not angry or resentful.. but does that mean that I have to try to forge a meaningful relationship with my mother (which I actually have but sometimes its harder to forge it than others)? Am I not allowed to give up?

If a husband and wife divorce one another… and it was for pretty mutual reasons… and they forgive one another for it not working out…. are they allowed to just step out of each other’s lives? Are they allowed to stop caring? Or does forgiveness entail continuous work and continuously caring for that person you have forgiven? Is perhaps forgiveness a climax of a story? and the resolution and conclusion still have to come after it? Or is forgiveness the end? Or more so… perhaps forgiveness is the beginning of a story… such as when one is “born again” in Christian terms… you are forgiven and your life starts anew from then.

Does that make sense? I’m just confused… I guess I really just don’t understand the concept of forgiveness.

God has forgiven us of our sins because His Son died for us. He continues on a relationship with us. But does he trust us again in terms of not making the same mistake twice? What all does forgiveness entail? Does He care for us in the exact same way He cared for us before the sin?

Forgiveness does not mean forgetfulness.

I’ve not delved at all into the literature of the Bible in terms of this question… so I really don’t know… which brings me to my second point tonight…

(2) I honesty don’t know when the last time I prayed was.

This is bad… it has gotten to the point… that to be honest… I ask someone else to pray for our meals, so that I don’t have too…

I’m not completely sure why…

I guess it has to do with “Why God are you putting me through this (in terms of my OCD)?”

I realize I’m being like a spoiled little kid “You haven’t answered my prayers, so I’m going to give you the silent treatment.” –really though this only hurts me.

I mean… don’t get me wrong… I’m doing TONS better OCD wise… but what if that is just a mask? What if “having OCD” is a mask? What if the moment that I open up the Bible I’m struck down with what a horrible person I am. As I mentioned elsewhere… it really isn’t an obsessional thought… but more of an underlying haunting idea… or perhaps that is just a different type of obsessional thought?

So really… I think it’s an OCD compulsion of avoidance…

or maybe I’m just making excuses…

I don’t know.

My worst obsessional thought is that I’m not a good person. That I am in fact evil. By avoiding reading my Bible and praying… I don’t really have to think about good vs evil… I just have to think about getting through each day… being responsible for my actions… and only doing things that are morally right.

Whether it is an OCD compulsion or not… it would be a lie to say that I’m not avoiding God. B/c I am. There is no doubt. I don’t want too. I just don’t know how to stop…

And now I’m freaking out that I’ve said something blasphemous and that God will never forgive me. Urg.

How I wish God would speak to me in a way that I could truly without a doubt understand.

I need His comfort.

But if He has forgiven me (for my stupid OCD thoughts)… exactly what does that mean?

I really just need to open up my Bible and read…

my Bible is sitting right next to me… but I have yet to do so…

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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