There are experiences that move my mind in a new directions,shifting something that can't quite get pinned down. I can't help but want to hold onto the feeling, praying the welcome change sticks tightly into the hole in the dam holding back my onslaught of fear and anxiety.
It started with pasta. Now, body image and food are really big for me, and I've been "no carb" for far too long. I convinced myself pasta was off limits, bad, and that it meant failure. To fight this, I wanted push myself, with the help of friends, simply to eat it. Last night I ate linguine with shrimp for the first time in two years. All day I knew I was going to the chic pasta restaurant, and I kept pushing down the thoughts of obsession. It was a fight, but I did it. I made it to the meal. Once there, my friends were so interesting, the conversation so lively, the decor so beautiful and finally, the truffled shrimp pasta so delicious that my anxiety was drowned out by the experience of life.
I forgot why I was so nervous, so fearful, ... of life.
I know I can't turn off the rules, the worry, the rituals. Not in one night. But I can change the perspective slowly. What was a challenge, should be a treat. And it was a treat. The challenge comes in making all my scary moments like that great pasta dinner.
I have to realize- why do I have all these rules and standards of perfection? All they do is make living and loving that much harder, if not impossible. After all, I don't think I'm alive to sit alone, safe and surrounded by controlled perfection. I'm alive to make connections and feel emotion, good or bad.
It sounds easy and simple, but after 23 years of anxiety, rules and a big dosage of self-loathing, my brain is conditions to descend into that dark corner of control.
Well, I've seen what its light in the sunlight of a life free of rules. That sunny emotion is always fading behind clouds of fear, and it's right now it's hard work to make it stay. But now I know- I don't want to slip back into the shadows
It's time once again for a round up of the best links relating to OCPD, anxiety and skills for coping!
Maia writes about when obsession with appearance take a turn into absurdity. Cosmetic Pathology posted at You've Been Blogged!.
Carol Soloman talks about night eating, which is a way a lot of people cope with stress. I know I have tons of food issues....read about how she copes at Night Eating And Anxiety posted at Night Eating
And, best for last, a great site called Brainmenu . I love how this site uses mindfulness to work though anxiety! One of the best post is An experience of mindful awareness.
I know I'm a perfectionist, as does anyone who watches me get ready in the morning as I go through several outfits. But I also hold people to a high standard, which they, like myself, so often fail to meet. This leads to constant surges of annoyance.
Why is the checkout lady so slow? Why is the cabbie going up 6th ave? How can my boss be so dense? Can the girl next to me chew with her mouth closed?... and so on.
I feel like the more I let other peoples imperfections make me irritated, the harder I am on myself, and the less joyful I am overall. Obviously some things will always grate on me. But can I learn to focus on the good in people, those little moments that can come out of nowhere to make me smile.
Example : A guy waiting on line next to me opens a soda and spills it all over, splashing my shoes. I can get upset and glare and complain (this is my 1st impulse) or I can see how funny it is, and try to make a joke to make light of his embarrassing situation. I choose the 2nd option. And guess what? I had to step out of line for a sec and he saved my spot with a smile. I cultivated positivity in myself and in him, all my not judging him so harshly.
So next time I'm mad at a bank teller taking forever, I"ll try to smile at her and ask how her day is going. Just to push though my irritation, to connect.
Just a smile. Even if I'm seething. Maybe it will make their day, and mine.
I know if nothing else it will make my own internal demons of judgment quiet down, at least until the next time someone takes the last parking spot. But hey, its all a practice!
I have phone phobia. It’s not that phones themselves scare me. I don’t avoid blocks with pay phones, or refuse to enter a Verizon store. I love my iphone, and fill it with apps and games. But still, I call it phone phobia in my mind because that’s what it feels like. I hate to make calls.
Friends are hardest, but doctors, plumbers, job stuff… all of it provokes a deep anxiety. I have to psych myself up to hit that green button on my touch screen every time. I force myself to call, but only after I count to five, gathering my courage.
The fear is two fold : I feel that no one ever wants to talk to me, and that I will say the ‘wrong” thing.
No, I’ve never had a traumatic phone moment, or any real reason to be so insecure. But I still am. Always have been. Even calling my mom is slightly nerve wracking, but she is by far the easiest. I know she always wants (needs?) to hear from me, and that no matter what I say she will still love me. My dad is another story.
But friends? That’s tricky. I have trouble reaching out because I replay my words and actions from the last time together, obsessing over my social skills. Did I smile too much? Should I ask two days or three days before the event if they can go? Is that too desperate, and should I just text the day of? But then its impersonal…
It goes on. Until, I bite my lip, count to five, and force myself to press the “call button”
Then I pray I get voicemail.
At least if they call me back, it’s a buffer. I know they want to talk then.
I think the best way to cope with this is to push though the fear, and tell myself how irrational it is. Who cares if they don’t want to hear from me, or if I seem desperate? I should focus my esteem my own self , and know that the person on the other end of the line has no right to judge me. I can’t wrap up my self esteem in every interaction. It gives away all my power and confidence! And that is not the kind of person I want to be.
I have to stop being afraid of failing and getting wrapped up in what others think so I can live a more social life. Because if I play it safe and don’t make those calls that are scary, I won’t ever get past the dial tone to the voice at the other end.
I love to listen to music, especially at night while I curl up with some tea and my Kindle to read. Currently I'm reading "Evolve Your Brain" by Dr. Joe Dispenza - Highly recommended!
I tune into ambient online radio, and last night I found myself searching for the perfect song. I kept changing stations, getting irritated at my failure to find relaxing music. Then my headphones started to wonk out. They got tinny and thin sounding, the cheap chords beginning to fail. Frustrated, I pulled them out and started to search for my better ones, so I can get that "perfect" sound.
Rummaging though my bag angrily, I had to stop myself. I saw how ironic it was to obsesses about music and moments that should be meditative!
The headphones I was using were only giving me a certain range of pitches, a certain frequency and quality of sound. That poor range made the song sound bad, that was a fact. I sat back and thought about this.
How often do I take in my life experiences, like trying to relax with music, at a low frequency? Is my mind's chord only giving a thin range of sound? Do I only see what is wrong, or what isn't perfect? How can I hear the full song?
How can I expand my perception, my own range, to accept and include life? Being mindful, accepting the moment in all its imperfection is a start. I focused not on what what "wrong" or needed fixing, but how it was. I relaxed, and came back to my breath. Each experience, be it reading or music or simply sitting, can seems so different if we pay attention and notice all its tiny nuanced bits.
Like the low and complex noises are heard in a song once the frequency changes, my night got a bit deeper. Who knows, the song of my experience might sound totally different as I switch to brand new pair of headphones.
As I wrote about in my last post, I had dental work done that left me in some pain. I live far away from my Dad, and don't really visit, so I write my Dad emails, letting him know updates on my life.
The last one mentioned how I got two teeth out, and how it hurts etc... along with news about my life.
I got a email back that didn't mention the teeth at all, didn't offer hopes of healing, or really respond to anything I wrote. It just was a update on his new wife and step-son. And their cat.
I was hurt and confused. Did he read it at all? Does he care? Am I overreacting?
Maybe. But what I took away, besides a bit of hurt feelings, is that I can't expect a "perfect" reaction from others. People take things in differently, and respond back in all kinds of ways. I can't let others disappointing reactions taint whole relationships, or get me too far down.
It's not that I am unlovable, or crazy, or that my Dad is a bad person. My OCPD mind wants to take it to an extreme, totally cutting off my Dad from my life to deal with my disappointment.
But, you know, life doesn't have to be all or nothing. People, myself included, don't fit neatly into the "perfect" or the "failure" categories. It's a lot more grey. So I feel a little hurt, in both my heart and my teeth, but accept that my Dad isn't perfect in his response. But he doesn't get lumped into the "failure" pile, far from where his imperfection can hurt me.
I'll email him again soon, and keep connected to him, despite little pinpricks of sadness that can bring.
Yesterday I got my wisdom teeth pulled (yes I kept them). I was dreading it, but the constant pain in my gums the past month let me know it was time.
I was sitting in the doctors office and was so nervous. I was chewing gum like it was my last piece in this lifetime, knowing I wouldn't get any of my beloved breath freshner for at least a week. Time ticked by as I waited for the doctor. Nerves building. I started to primp. I pulled out my mirror, started to look at make-up. Then, the doctor emerged, saw my primping and smiled.
God, now I look like a vain nutjob. Well he saw I'm on Zoloft on my chart...
I found it super hard to relax, and they had to crank the gas. But they came out!Now, post-op, I find myself obsessing about recovering without getting dry socket or other issues. I googled every combination of words to find the most information on recovery. I am stockpiling lowfat yogurt. I am reading about homeopathic remedies.
Maybe my obsession, my OCPD, can actually help me in this case! As long as I don't stress out, I think I'm just (over) prepared. It's like brushing teeth is great, but for someone with OCD, stopping before it harms your gums is key! A quick meditation, along with a painkiller for the throbbing teeth, is there to relax me if I take it too far.
I found this post on eating disorder recovery and wisdom teeth in my google quest, and it deals with obsessing about food and face swelling after getting teeth yanked. It's very positive, and full of advice on how to keep from losing weight and deal with body image while your mouth hurts. It's good to know I'm not along in coping with medical and physiological issues intersecting!
Yesterday I felt the cloud. I've felt it before when I "messed up" or when I couldn't get what I wanted. My workout was interrupted. I ate too much pasta. I can't check a mirror. My outfit is terrible...
All these bring on a cloud of negativity that makes my whole life look dark and grey. But I never realized just how wide the cloud spreads. It's not just that one moment of "failure" to be perfect.
My whole projected future starts to feel terribly overwhelming.
After eating mexican food last night, and feeling it wasn't "right" or "perfect" the cloud came. The whole night looked like crap. I was pissed. I didn't want to meet my boyfriend. And thinking about work the next day seemed terrible. And the rest of the weekend? One big blog of anxiety inducing tasks I would fail at.
I had to take a step back. Before dinner, I was excited for the weekend. But now? Just depressed and angry. I had to recognize my fear and anger over one "out of control" moment was tainting everything. There was nothing logical.
Realizing this didn't make my emotions switch in an instant. But it gave me power to recognize the powerful effect of my "failure cloud" on my mood, and then my behavior. I had to watch myself all night that I didn't snap, and I tried to cultivate positivity.
It took work, but when I woke up today the cloud was gone, and I was able to take control of my emotions back.
First something a bit light...
Then we have a poem for anyone dealing with phobia or fear..
That's is!. Want to share your own posts? Submit your blog article to the next edition of Fighting Obsession carnival using our carnival submission form . Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.