July 22, 2012

Upcoming Conference & Updates

The IOCDF conference starts this Friday.  I leave for Chicago on Thursday afternoon.  I'm really looking forward to it!  Last year was my first conference, and I remember feeling like I was walking around naked - that never before had I been in one room where EVERYONE knew that I had OCD.  Now that I look back on it, that was probably a good experience for me.  This year I am going without a lot of anxiety or shame.  Perhaps that's because I'm feeling so much better.  Not sure.  I'm looking forward to taking in some of the talks, and I'm looking forward to meeting some of my blogging friends, and some of the friends that I met at last year's conference.  I'm looking forward to seeing my therapist, and I'm also looking forward to the Canadian OCD Network meeting that we're having on the Friday at lunch.  I will be busy!  Hopefully by the end of this I'll have some topics to write about.  :o)

Practicing mindfulness and acceptance of the moment continues to be key for me to prevent my OCD from spiraling out of control.  I haven't struggled much with HOCD in the last little while, though I have had the odd spike.  If I can catch it right at the start, watch the thought, not judge it or "react" in any way, it will just pass, and I can maintain my perspective. 

I've struggled a little more with this as it pertains to the ROCD, but even that hasn't been too bad.  I wrote here about my recent experience with a guy I really liked.  That situation has continued off and on for the last few months, and I have learned a lot along the way.  It's not necessary to get into the details of what has taken place - nothing "dangerous" happened - though my feelings did get hurt (but I will survive!).  All I will say is that he is a man with some serious problems, and that I have a lot of compassion for his struggles, because he has a lot more to deal with than I ever will. 

The problem is that this recent experience - liking a man who is "all wrong" - has started me wondering:  Do I fall for the wrong guys?  Do I like the unavailable men?  Is there something wrong with me that makes me like the guys who aren't nice to me? 

These types of questions are ones that can start me obsessing like crazy.  The problem is, there may be a grain of truth to these questions - I don't know.  It's frustrating to me because while I don't want to obsess about these things - we all know that obsessing doesn't help anyone solve any problems - I would like to be able to grow and progress in the way that I approach relationships.  I am certain that due to my horrible relationship with my father, there is a part of me who is "comfortable" with being treated poorly by men.  That being said, I do know that I've done a lot of self-reflection and have grown a lot in that area, which is why I finally saw the truth about this guy and have put up appropriate boundaries. 

You see, this recent guy looked "perfect for me" on paper.  He was a couple of years older than me (check), he volunteered (check), he appeared to be spiritual/self-reflective (check), he had been through "something" so "got it" (check), he was funny (check), we were attracted to each other (check).  The list could go on!!! I really, legitimately thought I had found a good guy.  But, maybe he was too good to be true. 

I guess at the end of the day I will never be able to find out these answers.  Perhaps there isn't "an answer"!  I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and continue to live my life hoping that everyday things become more clear. 

Aside from all of that I am having a fantastic summer and having lots of much-needed fun!  I can't believe the things I am doing now that my mind would have talked me out of six months ago.  Little things, that for most people probably don't seem like a big deal.  Saying "yes" when I am invited to go out with people that I hardly know.  Last night I even went to a Roller Derby Game (Ummmm...can you say lesbians???)!  I'm just saying "yes" and not even thinking about it.  I'm not allowing my mind to talk me out of these things.  For those of us with OCD, the mind can be such an enemy.  The amazing thing is that making a firm committment to living in the moment has a way of dissolving all of that "mind crap"!! 

I hope everyone is doing well.  :o)

July 11, 2012

I didn't think the day would come...... (knock on wood)

So typical of someone with OCD to be superstitious hey?  ;o)

I really didn’t think the day would come.  I have been writing this blog for 1 ½ years.  When I first started writing, and started following some fantastic bloggers such as Exposure Woman, The Beat OCD Blog, and OCD Reflections (to name a few), I remember wondering how, despite their progress battling their OCD, they always seemed to find an interesting topic to write about.  I wondered if I would be able to continue to come up with interesting topics – when/if the eventual day came that OCD wasn’t plaguing me as it was back then.   

As I have written in my last few blog posts, I am doing really well.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had the odd rough day, but I’ve managed to pick myself back up and get back “on track”.  I’m not taking it for granted, and I’m not holding on with too much attachment to feeling good, but I am actually going for almost three weeks without a therapy appointment – that’s GOOD for me!! 

When I reflect on what exactly it is that I think might be helping me cope so well, I would have to narrow it down to the following:

1.       Exercise – I am exercising regularily – and strenuously.  Wow, I remember when I first started getting back into exercising a few months ago – how my mind would try and try to talk me out of going for a run.  (I write about it briefly in this post.)  But part of my new attitude has been to learn to “embrace discomfort” in all areas of my life, and I thought that facing the discomfort of exercising would be MUCH easier than facing the discomfort of the anxiety of OCD!!! I am doing lots of cross-training which helps my back and keeps me from getting injured.  And I am doing yoga – which I am loving for many reasons! 

2.       Attitude – this one sounds simple, but requires lots and lots of work to maintain motivation, but I must continually remind myself to “embrace discomfort”.  I have been sooooo conditioned to avoid any sort of challenge and all of the difficult emotions!  Recognizing when I am in “avoidance mode” has taken a lot of mindfulness. 

3.       Mindfulness and meditation – By far the biggest contributor to my improvement.  I’ve been trying to practice mindfulness for the last few years, and I think I’ve actually become quite good at it (after all, aren’t all people with OCD fantastic at self-reflection????).  However,  I don’t think that I quite made the final connection, and just didn’t take it to that next level.  I  didn’t “get it”.  Reading books on Buddhism has really helped with that.  Maybe I needed the spiritual side of things in order for it all to click with me.  Who knows. 

4.       Feelings “work” – I’m really working at recognizing my feelings – especially the more challenging or negative feelings.  I’m noticing when I’m anxious, sad or angry.  I’m sitting with it.  And I’m learning that these feelings aren’t so bad.  This is also not the easiest – because I’m such an emotional/feeling person – my feelings definitely sometimes overwhelm me and I wonder if I’ll be uncomfortable or in pain forever.  They DO pass though – even if it sometimes does take time. 

I’ve also noticed a few other of my “compulsions” through my new strides with mindfulness.  I’ve noticed that when I experience difficult feelings, I immediately start to analyze WHY I’m feeling that way, and then start to beat myself up for having the feelings!  (Actually, I should give my therapist some credit for noticing this too.)  It’s all in an effort to make the feelings go away.  I seem to have been able to get a real handle on my “figuring out” compulsion too – all thanks to being mindful and being willing to take the risk and experience the anxiety. 

When I sat down to write this post, I really had no idea what I would say.  I hope that I will continue to cope well with my OCD, and I also hope that I will continue to be able to think of useful topics for people who read my blog. 

I am heading to the IOCDF conference in a few weeks and I’m looking forward to meeting some of you!