Holiday Cheer - Holiday Stress and OCPD

The Holidays are a flurry of activity. It can be amazing to be around friend and family, and fill up our time with lots of special seasonal activities.

But, my perfectionist mind often wonders- is this the best of the best? Its my wrapping beautiful? My holiday treats prepared perfectly? My Christmas and New Years plans the best for celebrating? The second guessing  and doubtcan go on and on. I see all the negative outcomes of choices made. Why I did this or that, why certain events play out at they did.

I ponder all the choices leading up to this momment - and its hard for someone with OCPD to truly be accept how things are. Because, after all, it is easy to count a million ways things could be better

I found myself second guessing all my presents in this way. It's not that they are bad- its that they could be better. And feeling like you "could do better" can take the fun out of anything.

So it takes a little shift, maybe in expectations, for someone who hold themseles and others to high standards. Not every gift is great, not every holiday dish is delicious, not every momment of the season is filled with magic.

But thats ok. Because if greatness was a constant, if perfection was the norm, then nothing would feel special!


Watching the Flow - Self Awareness and OCPD

I found this article with a personal story about being diagnosed with OCD. He says he realized this:

"I saw beyond the myth that The Victim Is Unaware of His or Her Own Condition. A childhood flooded with media depictions of the mentally ill had lead me to believe that the afflicted had somehow been robbed of their objectivity, thrown into a dark hall-of-mirrors beyond the realm of rational perspective.

Nonsense. My rational mind remained intact, albeit uncomfortably so. From the lighter corner of my mind, I watched darkness flow in..."

Powerful writing! And also something I have felt. Now, I haven't always been self aware of my own mental state. But now, looking back and realizing how anixious I was so much of the time can be painful.

But you know? At least I can watch the "darkness flow in" now. I know when I start getting obessive, or over-anxious. There is a specific feeling when I can't put down a work task, or step away from the mirrow, or stop fussing with something.

That means, as I watch that darkness flow all around my mind, and I can try get out of the way! Or even put up a dam to stop it.


Seeing the Dust - Cleaning and OCPD

Dust Bunnies. They sound so cute. But as anyone with even a hint of obsessive tendencies knows that cleaning these little suckers can take up a lot of time and mental space. What bothers me the most is how I notice them

Everything looks fine as I walk around my  hard wood floor apartment. But then I get onto the floor for some purpose- most likely to play with my dog and there they are. Armies of dust bunnies, hair, string, and other nastiness are swarming.

Then, one I see it, I can’t UN-SEE them all! My eye inadvertently focuses on all those near-invisible specs. Why is it that I was perfectly happy walking on them before, but once they are noticed, they become an obsession. I have to clean them, fast and furiously, until they are wiped out.

But how I saw the dust bunnies, or did not see them, made me think about how a little change in perspective can change so much. It can show you dirt that otherwise goes unnoticed. Picking up on any flaw often comes after a shift. You notice something, about yourself or another, and, now aware, you have a choice on how to deal with it. Clean up or not, now you know it’s there.

 And remember, once you see those dust balls all over, it’s hard to stop seeing them. That is, until they are all clean.


Tips for a Stress Free Thanksgiving - Thanksgiving without the Anxiety

For many people Thankgiving means family, friends, food- with a good helping of complicated relationships and emotional upheval on the side! No one is immune from the awkward encounter, running into ex's, or buried family drama.

But why spoil a good meal, and a good time, when there are ways to take control of all inner turmoil.

Here are some tips from Oprah (who else?) on having a stress free Thanksgiving!

Be Yourself
Instead of trying to be who you think you "should" be with your family, friends, in-laws or guests, just relax and be yourself! So often we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be a certain way, impress people (even those we know well) or say the things we think others want to hear.

Choose to Focus on the Good Stuff
Make a commitment to focus on the things you like and appreciate about your friends and family members, instead of obsessing about the things that annoy or upset you. We almost always find what we look for in others and situations.

Make It Fun and Easy
Do whatever you can for yourself and those around you to make the planning, food preparation, cleanup and whole Thanksgiving experience as easy, fun and stress-free as possible. This means we keep it light, share the responsibilities, ask others for help and do the things that we enjoy—instead of burdening ourselves and feeling like a victim.

Express Your Appreciation For Others
One of best things we can do for other people (on Thanksgiving, or at any time) is to let them know what we appreciate about them in a genuine way. Acknowledging others is a true win-win, as we always get to keep what we give away when we appreciate them (i.e. the good feelings are shared by us and those we acknowledge). There are many ways we can appreciate people on Thanksgiving, including:

  • Write "I'm thankful for you" cards and give them out on Thanksgiving (or mail them beforehand).
  • Pick someone at the dinner table to acknowledge, and then ask them to "pay it forward" and appreciate someone else in the group. Go around until everyone has been appreciated.
  • Pull people aside on Thanksgiving (or give them a call) and let them know what you appreciate about them specifically and genuinely.

Count Your Blessings
Remember that amid all the commotion, stress and activity of the holiday season, Thanksgiving really is a time for us to reflect on what we're grateful for—in life, about others and especially about ourselves.


Wherever, Whenever- Meditation and OCPD

We live in a hectic world. To my fellow New Yorkers, it seems the dial of chaos in our everyday lives is permanently turned up to 11. For someone who struggles with OCPD and anxiety like myself, this can feel overwhelming at time. Even for the most hardened urbanite, the daily grind can grind you down.

But even when we can't to a spa or sit on a meditation pillow for 30 minutes, we can still center ourselves. The other morning on the train, I was stressed and totally planning my whole day - before it even began. I knew this wouldn't help my mental state, and was a negative way to start the day. So, right there on the subway, I closed my eyes.

Inside, I could focus on my breath. I could come back to myself, and I could see and start to tame my growing hectic anxiety.

We have the tools right inside of us, all the time. We don't need a special retreat- although it always nice - to relax. All we need is our own mental focus.

So next time I'm going out of my head with worry, feeling bombarded by the chaotic world, maybe the key to my mental state is right there, behind my eyelids.


Shame and Illness: Hiding OCPD

The article "Mental Health: The Stigma is Killing Us" from Clutch Online Magazine talks about the shame certain communities can project on various mental illnesses. While I don't really go around thinking of myself as mentally ill, I rarely talk about the medication I"m on, and certainly don't feel comfortable sharing all the details with most people.

A lot of the article deals with the flaws in the treatment of mental health, both in the past and today. Because anxiety is fairly common today, there are lots of options for help. But more serious disorders like schizophrenia often go untreated because the afflicted are scared of the life-changing consequences of treatment.

The article makes the point that we all have mental states that are "Abnormal", and we shouldn't stigmatize anyone who takes the initiative to treat their inner weaknesses.

The author puts it like this:
"In the sense that we lack the knowledge and coping skills to deal with depression, yes, it is a weakness, similar to a skinny guy who is physically weak it comes to the weight room. Some people lack the reps to deal with life’s challenges because not enough time is spent properly discerning symptoms, identifying the root causes and controlling or eliminating the defect."

What do you think? Personally, I like the concept of dealing with mental illnesses not as something definitively scary, but instead a process of growing away from a weakness.


Minding your Manners - Positive Affirmation and OCPD

We know to be polite to other people. When someone hands us a coffee, holds open a door, or shares a good tip. We say “thank you” almost so quickly that we don’t think about it. But anyone on the receiving end of a well placed “thank you” knows the impact those two little words can have.

So when was the last time you showed yourself that courtesy? I’m not saying its healthy or effective to mentally pat yourself on the back constantly. God knows that would breed a very self-congratulatory existence. But for people who tend to err on the side of perfectionism, we are much more likely to berate ourselves for the wrong than thank ourselves for the right.

Example. I am late to work and I get mad at myself, and start playing the “If only…” game. If only I laid out my shoes, if only the train was on time… etc. But when I am on time? Nothing. I don’t think of all those “if only” things that went right that day.

Maybe I should. If positive thoughts create a positive outlook, maybe my inner being could use some appreciation. Being polite can go within as well, because at its core, politeness is all about respect. In this case, respecting ourselves.


When the Concealer Comes Off - Honesty and OCPD

When  I was 14, I fell into some gravel. I wasn't badly hurt, but I did get a nasty scratch on my face. Going to school on Monday, I would have to answer all kinds of questions, and I was super self conscious about how it looked.

So I tried to cover it up. Concealers,  foundation, power- I tried it all. Then I tried to go to class.

Well, it didn't fool anybody. If anything, it looked worse! My mom pulled me aside

"You know, with all that concealer on it, it won't heal"

She was right. It needed to be in the open for the healing to being. Thinking about it, the human mind is the same way. Messy emotions or mental illness. By covering it up, we aren't fooling anyone. It hurts more, lasts longer, and may leave a scar.

Open wounds, mental or physical, are best left without any concealers on it. You may get some looks, some questions. But in the end, its the healing thats important. Because no one wants to be left scarred if they can help it!


A Crowded Party - Listening and OCPD

Last night I went to a party at a art gallery for a new artist opening their work. I met my friend Sarah there who I hadn't seen in about a month because of travel and the general hectic nature of life. The place was packed with people sipping wine and talking loudly while surrounded by neon sculptures -  hardly the place to catch up!

 But as we updated eachother on the drama and events of out lives, we managed to connect and have a fun time looking at art. Sometimes connections unfold in places that are hectic and crowded, and you simply have to make a effort to tune in.

I feel like my inner world can be like that crowded art party- full of noise and beautiful distraction. Instead to straining to hear my friend, I find myself straining to hear my own inner voice. Small and quiet, its easy to miss. The more crazy life gets, the more busy the party, the harder it is to hear. And lets not even talk about when wine is added to the mix!

But I tune in- through medatation, or just breathing and pausing. It may not easy. I sometimes wish my mental state could always be serene as sitting down to a quiet cup of coffee, but i don't get to choose the venue. But we can choose how hard we listen.

So if you want that connection  - and sometimes you would rather mindless drink wine and look at paintings- you can make the choice, no matter how loud the racket of voices are.


Negativity Bias- Positivity and OCPD

A recent article in Huffington Post talks about how the brain is wired  for negativity.
"Scientists believe that your brain has a built in "negativity bias." In other words, as we evolved over millions of years, dodging sticks and chasing carrots, it was a lot more important to notice, react to and remember sticks than it was for carrots."
So we evolved to be worried? Makes sense. Some interesting notes from psychological studies:

  • In a relationship, it typically takes five good interactions to make up for a single bad one.
  • People will work much harder to avoid losing $100 than they will work to gain the same amount of money.
  • Painful experiences are much more memorable than pleasurable ones.

But as many people know, biological disposition doesn't have to be a life sentence! The doctor in the article offered some tips, which mostly come down to one theme: Take time to be in the moment and make a effort to see the positive. Your positivity is like a muscle - you have to work it out to keep it in shape!

You can read all the tips here.


Remembering Why I'm Running - Stress and OCPD

When I feel the mot stressed, like everything I do is wrong, like life itself is spinning out of control, like I will never ever be able to do what I want to do... then I have to put in some effort to stop myself.

That is when I know I am not being true to me. And I am wasting my own energy and life on pure negatively. I am making rules I can't follow, and its just hurting myself.  I may have OCPD, but that doesn't mean I have to act like it.

Life was given to me. No matter what you believe, if you are reading this, you have life to. And no matter what the world or our own mind says, we are not in a race. We are not in some kind of "Life Accomplishment Olympics of Perfection". We are existing. And that means we get a prize just for showing up.

That doesn't make it easy to live inside myself when I feel the most downtrodden by my own perceived failures. But it makes it better to remember the hurdles I'm jumping over aren't real, and I can sit down and stop anytime I want, watching others as they run and jump by, always remembering that I have a choice to run in this rat race or not. And although I love to get my heart rate up, everyone needs to stop on the sidelines for a bit. And that's ok. Because existing is only fun if you stop and catch your breath once and awhile.


The Calm of the Breath - Breathing, Relaxation and OCPD

This weekend, I went out into nature for a yoga festival, where I spent a lot of days relaxing and breathing.

Now that I'm back into my hectic life, I've found one of the best ways to keep some of that serenity going to simply tuning into my breath. No need to close eyes, meditate fully on a cushion. Simly taking a momment for a few deep inhales and exhales can really center my mind.

Sometimes my inner skeptic doesn't want to take the time or the mental effort to simply breathe. But we are doing it anyway, all the time! What harm can come from a few seconds of pause?

Then when I do tune in, and I feel the settling of my monkey mind, I remember. "Ahh yes". This is why I do breathing exercises!

It takes some trust and an open mind, but its the simple everyday things that become habits, that become our daily lives. So cut yourself a break, and give it a try.

Deeply in... slowly out...

For the advanced, here is a exercise from Dr. Weil :

Breath Counting

If you want to get a feel for this challenging work, try your hand at breath counting, a deceptively simple technique much used in Zen practice.

Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight and head inclined slightly forward. Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it. Ideally it will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary.

  • To begin the exercise, count "one" to yourself as you exhale.
  • The next time you exhale, count "two," and so on up to "five."
  • Then begin a new cycle, counting "one" on the next exhalation.
  • Never count higher than "five," and count only when you exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself up to "eight," "12," even "19."

Try to do 10 minutes of this form of meditation.


Human - Being "Good" and OCPD

"In my work with helping persons manage the challenges of  self-esteem I have found it much more difficult to have  persons who are "Good" come to find acceptance in being  "human" than helping those with low self-worth rise up to  the possibilities of self-acceptance. " 
-Steven Phillipson, Ph.D.  
Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy 

Being "Good" - its something we all strive for, to varying  degrees. A lot of people kind of strive to hit the place of  "good enough".

OCPD sufferers, however, don't define "good" the same as  most. To be truely "good" at something, its a elevated idea  of perfection that, in the end, doesn't really happen to  humans here on our messy planet. It might be good to  remember, that accepting the imperfection of being human is what has the power to make us truly happy. 


Fine at Forgetting

Sometimes I forget things. Like writing in this blog. I promised myself to make an entry one a week... and its been at least a month.

It gets really easy to forget what we don't want to remember. Obligations, appoitments - even cold hard facts. I am a expert at forgetting, and it feels just fine.

I am notorious for forgetting to make unplesant dentist appoitments. Which is understandable. But forgetting about bills, medicine, cleaning supplies... these things start to add up if you don't check yourself.

Yes, hauling a giant economy size jug of laundry detergent home insn't fun or glamourous. But you know what is less fun? Having dirty clothes.

So this is me doing some laundry. Because its not so fun to work as something- like a blog- and have it fizzle out.

Yes, taking time out of my day to focus on my many hang ups isn't always awesome, but hopefully, the end product of my writing is a little helpful. And, more importantly, I can help break my bad habit of selective memory!


Small Spills - Fixing Mistakes and OCPD

Ever play the game "pick up sticks"? I vaugly remember it being way more tedius than fun at age 6, and its more of a reference than a joyfull memory.

I ask because I played my own little variation the other night. Except it was with tiny homeopathic medicine balls, and it was at 12:30am on a weeknight.

I was literally about to crawl under the sheets, just taking a my does of supplements to help with my teeth healing. Sleeply reaction time got the best of me and little white balls ended up on the counter and the floor.

I watched them fall, I grabbed a broom. But when I tried to sweep, the ball-shaped pills rolled the opposite direction, then when I tried to sweep the back they scattered even further from their original locations.

So I grabbed a paper towel, ran it under some water, and hoped to press the little suckers into it, trapping them. But when I ran the towel accross the floor, it disiengrated the pills, leaving them in a white smear across the floor.

My efforts were making it worse!

So after cleaning up the white goopy streak, i set about picking up the little balls. All 75. One. by. one.

Well, I decided to make it a momment of zen. Sometimes, when we rush around looking for the best solution, life forces us to keep it simple. And all we can to is pick up what we dropped- very slowly.


Taking Time to Refill - Aromatherapy and OCPD

Running around with friends and family iss great, but I find I only have to much emotional stamina to give. There comes a point where the well of good vibes is dry, and I feel like I'm scraping the bottom to find engery for any more "exciting" actitivies. I need to fill that well back up pronto!

Aromatherapy is using scent to trigger emotions, like relaxation.

Everyone knows how a good perfume can change a date's emotion- but by making a relaxation perfurm you can give your mind a nice treat!

A bath is a awesome way to create at home aromatherapy. Here's a recipe for a stress reducer.

You need esentially oils, found at many natural food stores like Whole Foods, or even some regular grocery stores. You want a scent - like lavender - and a carrier oil such as tea tree or jojaba.

The carrier oil disperces the scent, and has the added bonus of being great for your skin!

To make your bath oil, Add a few drops of your chosen scent to one ounce of the carrier oil. Then add your mix into the running water of a bath, and enjoy.

Great scents to relax are Lavender, chamomile and sandalwood.

For more information on aromatherpy and lots of scent recipes,  check out   http://www.aromaweb.com


The Rush to the Finish Line- Goals and OCPD

At work we often are rushing to complete things on a timetable - and I know I'm not the only one who lives like this!

For me, its easy to get stressed out when I have all the balls in air, all while running to get to that finish line.
But you know.. the race is sometiems the best part!

Even as your legs want to give out and sweat is in your eyes, making it hard to see that ticker tape in the distance, there is a breeze on your face and joy as you overcome each challenging footstep.
When we run toward that goal, do we always enjoy the race? Or do we complain and streess, out of our own bodies and minds, just a zombie of repetative action?

I know I love that sprint to the finish. But I have to put in a bit of thought to really enjoy it.

After I break through that tape, arms high, and my time is tallyed - the race is over.

What then? No more goal to run to, and the driving purpose is gone. Perhaphs changed or replaced. But the fact remains. Every race has a end, that grand finale of a finish line. After all, thats what makes it worth running!


Numbing and its After Effects- Emotions and OCPD

I've never liked the dentist, but some times it seems like the whole thing is a test of endurance.

You have to wait and look at all those nasty looking metal instruments, alone in a room with soft rock playing.

Then, you get hit with the Novocaine. The worst part is- the only way to tell how numb you really are is by drilling. If you feel throbbing, awful pain - well then you arent numb... and you get another stabbing shot!

Numbing my mouth certainly was awful - but how many times have I wished I could numb my feelings?

If I am anxious or upset, wouldn't it be nice to jab some novacne into all those mixed up feelings in my heart?
But I only feel this way when it hurts. Just like the tooth- we only recognize numbness when we drill deep.

Well, you can either take the shot or deal with the pain.

At the dentist, all choice goes out the window. It hurts so much that you pretty much demand as much Novocaine as is possible pumped into your jaw.

Then, you are finished, and you try to say "Thanks for the memories" to the white gloved dental hygienist.

But... your lips are numb. Your jaw is swollen and cannot you feel anything until your neck.

Try to talk, and drool comes out.

Yes, the Novocaine make the drilling dental work bearable. But it doesn't disappear right away. The numbing and swelling contiunes, even when it isn't wanted.

It's tempting to numb any kind of pain. But we forget its not so easy to work it out of the bloodstream. We might miss out on a whole range of feeling, all in out need to numb pain.

So next time you reach for your own personal emotional Novocain, try to remember that it doesn't always wear off when you want it too.

Sometimes, you end up drooling with a locked jaw.


Natural Healing - Antidepressants and the Past

I was talking to my friend the other day about girly things- namely expensive lotions.

Stay with me!

Everyone knows there wasn't "Oil of Olay" 500 years ago- just plain old oil.

People survived but I'm sure they were much, much more dry and wrinkled. Now, we live with so many options to alter everything about our appearance. And we can only imagine what our poor ancestors had to endure when they looked in the mirror. If they had mirrors!

But my friend made a good point. She said becuse everyone had to live without skin care, make-up, etc... no one noticed.

And what more, the standard of beauty was totally different. And maybe - just maybe- the natural skin somehow worked to heal itself.

Well as she was telling me her theory on the natural beauty of ages past, I started to think about the natural state of the brain.

Maybe medication, like antidepressant SSRI's is like those expensive lotions. They make things better, improve us- but the standards we have are created by their use.

We have a name for disorder because we have a product to treat it.

But now, like with lotion, have we allowed ourselves to forget the natural way?

I'm not saying I want to retreat into the forest and go all out nature child. But its intereting to think of the role modern advancements in health and beauty have affected what is "normal".

Maybe in the future, OCPD won't exist, but other disorders will. And maybe in the past, humans were in a kind of mental and physical state we modern people can't understand.

Or maybe our ancestors were simply too busy to worry about all that hunter/gathering to worry about skincare!


Balloon Pop - Test Taking and OCPD

On my way to work I saw some balloons floating above the tight grip of a young girl. She was staring at them transfixed by their fluttering beatuy

"Mommy?" She asked to the woman beside her "When can I pop them?"

Yes ballons are pretty, but some people just want to pop them. The promise of little explosion, knowing they are so delicate - that is part of what makes them so appealing!
Of course, once they are popped the drama is over.

All day yesterday I was worried about a test I had to take in the evening. My mind stroked and pulled the string of my worry, freting a little, feeling adrenelinea nd a tinge of fear. The prospect of failure made the who day a little more edgy - and in a way, more interesting.

That test, or many just the anxiety it produced- was my thought ballon.

I tugged and played with it.I pondered my feelings on failure, saw myself the next day- either happy or disapointed. The lip biting aside, the anxious excitement want managable, if distracting. It wasn't substantial or heavy, and I knew it wouldn't last.

Then, as I finally took the test, I felt that balloon pop.

And it felt good.


That One Stain - Mistakes and OCPD

Do you ever live in regret of the past? Like that mistake is some kind of stain that simply wont come out? I know sometimes when I look back, that stain of a mistake is the first thing I see!

Just one ruin a perfectly good shirt, and become the fixation of the entire outfit.

Once I spilled tomato sauce on ym white blouse. I ran to the bathroom, fixated on getting it out. I doused it with soap and water as quickly as possible.

But guess what? It was pink soap. Now the soap was just adding to the stain.

I rinsed and rinsed, spreading the soap and saucing stain. Finally, that on little stain caused the whole shirt to become a soppy, soapy mess. It even dripped on my pants!

Mistakes are like that stain. Sometimes, the more we try to erase, wash and cover up - the worse we make it. This is especiall true if we rush to "fix" something.

The stain is there. We can't undo it. Carefully, we can more forward, dab it a bit - and use a napkin more carefully!

The past is there too- we can only move into the furture with a little more care, and learn to live with a few stains.

After all, no shirt stays white forever!


Comforatble Obsession – Comfort Zones and OCPD

Sometimes our obsessions can sure feel comforting, a behavior that is as easy to slip into as a old pair of ratty sweatpants.

Anxiety and obsession are the OCPD person’s default , and a way to cope when life, work and relationships feel out of our control. The worry cycle seems like the go-to thoughts!

It’s easy, a habit of worry. It doesn’t require too much deep analysis – and certainly doesn’t mean you have to change yourself.

Like those ratty sweatpants, its comfortable. They don’t look very good – but they are the first thing you see on the floor.

What happens when you wear your most comfortable sweatpants- stains and stretched waist – out on the town? To work? On a date? There is something to be said for making an effort, for wearing those nice pants with heel- even if they hurt a bit.

We can change our obsessive behaviors. I don’t have to wash every dish before bed. Yes, it feels good to do so. But how does this affect my life? If I only wear my “obsessions” as my comfortable pants everywhere, its like wearing ratty sweats everywhere.
Sometimes , you don’t want all your stains showing.

So to function, you have to make a effort not to let obsession and worry dictate your actions in life. The world may let you wear whatever you want, but you owe it to yourself to, when the time is right, put forth the discipline and effort to be your best self.

After all, we get one life. Do you want to spend it in sweatpants?


Just a Blip - Emotional Sonar and OCPD

I feel like I have internal sonar system for when people may not like me. It cuts through the waves of emotion my daily life, pinging and blipping off little inciedents, But its not some high-tech, accurate sonar that can pinpoint a canoe.

My sonar is a broken-down throwback to World War I, when a large trout could be mistaken for a German U-boat.

My "emotional radar" works with about the same accuracy.

I'm always assuming the worst, and thinking people dislike me. Well, maybe some do. And maybe there are some hostil submarines in my waters. But mostly- I fortify my defences for nothing more that a silly fish!

I think I started doing this to avoid getting hurt, programming myself to never get my hopes up. Always being on the lookout for hostile forces keeps me from looking in - or reaching out.
So when I notice a glare, a smirk or a sigh - maybe I'll remember that sometimes my sonar is wrong. And if I set off all the alarms everytime a blip comes up, I'll drive myself crazy running from fish!


Thinking and Shopping on Auto Pilot - OCPD and Obsession

Yesterday, the real heat wave of summer hit the East Coast, and with in a whole new line up of wardrobe options. Summer is the time of sweaty walks to work, followed by evening events with my fiance. Long days and nights with too little sleep.

So I find myself donning cute outfits I haven't seen in a year- dresses, skirts, and tanks. I pack up a purse with as many essentials as I can without throwing out my spine. And I set off for my day.

But it seems no matter how prepared I am or together I look - there is always something missing! I find myself obsessing on that one little missing thing - a safety pin to keep my blouse buttoned, some glue for a flappy part of my purse, body spray, hair spray or breath mints.

And so, obsessing pushes me up from my desk to the drug store or deli. It's like I go on auto pilot just thinking of that one thing- and I end up acting out the obession.

Yes, I can usually live without whatever "thing" I simply must have. But I can't seem to think or work until its taken care of.

There are two things that allow me to be myself again and stop the fixation. The first is simply go get it. Get it, and get on with the day.

But then I make this a habit, and feed into the part of myself that can't get things go.

The second option is to stop the auto pilot from taking over. It takes some repetition, but if I think thought how bad I really need that body spray, I start to realize its just a placeholder. The items take on meaning and push my thoughts around because i let them. Sometimes its like my obsessions just need a place to go.

But I can stop the channel. It's hard, but I can press pause on the auto pilot that drives me to that checkout line at the drug store. Because I really don't think my desk at work can fit any more nail files, safety pins, hair ties, or lotions!


Celebrity and OCPD

Anyone with OCPD is bound to have to explain that no, it's not OCD. It not really germ phobia or anything like that, as anyone who has seen me stretch the 5 second rule to 10 will attest.

But OCD is a lot more photogenic and in a lot of ways more noticeable. After all, our culture is one of perfection, so its not so weird to be a perfectionist control freak in the USA!

So more people hear and see about OCD, on TV shows like "Monk" or as a shorthand for being really freaked out by germs.

Well I was clicking along the web and found a list of celebs with OCD. I'm sure there is a lot of undiagnosed ODPC but whatever- when it comes to speaking out on mental health, any press is good press!

Here's are some of celebrities that have spoken out on their own struggle:

Charlize Theron
Billy Bob Thorton
Alec Baldwin
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Justin Timberlake
Jessica Alba

You can read more here about all the theories on celebrity and OCD...


Tipping on the Tightrope- Finding Fun with OCPD

I've been listening a ton to Janelle Monae and he new album "The Arch Andriod". The first single is "Tightrope" and I'm pretty much permanetly sticking it into my eardrums every chance I get.

Maybe I like it for its funky beat. Or maybe its the litling and energetic vocals. But - I think I can relate to the idea of "tipping on the tightrope".

In the lyrics, Janelle sings that she's "See I'm not walking on it, Not trying to run around it, this ain't no acrobatics". Just tip toeing on her tightrope.

Now, yes I know the songs about a dance. But I feel like we all have our own little tightrope in life. Some try to step around it. Some do jumps over it. Some walk slowly. Some fall off all together. Dancing on it seems like a great way to navigate it.

When I feel like I'm barely balancing on my tightrope of work and life, maybe its time to do a little dance on the tightrope. Bring in some joy. Learn a new baking recipe. Read a funny book. Make a silly kareoke video. Post randomly on crazy conspiracy blogs (Don't judge, we all have our outlets!).

But those little dance moves on the tightrope of life can acutally keep you sane. After all, its when you doubt yourself that the wobbles start, and those wobbles can sink you to the ground pretty face.

Yes, mixing thigs up in life is a challenge, and its can be kind of scary. But what is better - falling off trying to go slow and careful, or falling off while busting a dance move.

To rest my case for mixing up life and dancing though those tightrope walking momment heres the video for "Tightrope". The video takes place in a mental ward, where dancing is a forbidden release. Perfect for someone in love with mental metaphores like me!


The Road and the Trails- Finding a Peaceful Path and OCPD

We all slip up. We start to fall into old habits again despite making a million changes, We build walls and bridges, setting a plan on a map. We hope to stick to the straight and narrow of living right.

But sometimes it seems that all the mental roadways we built with good intentions can seem to keep us walking straight.

I don't know about you, but in my journey, even the best road isn't good enought to always keep me on it. The wilderness just off where the pavement meets the dirt somehow seems more interesting.

I forget how the twigs and rocks hurt. I forget how easy it is to get lost without the clear roadsigns. I forget how dark it can be with no map to guide me.

Negative behaviors are always just off the road. And the tempation to obsess, or focus on the bad stuff, to resort to old coping mechanisms may always be there. Maybe you just want to yell, to cry, to hurt someone. You know its wrong. You should stay on the road. But some part of you knows that, at least that first step, getting off that boring and predictable pavement, feels so good.

So you give in. We all do it. Some religions call it sin, or attachment. But in meditation , when thoughts come at you, the instruction isn't to get mad or beat yourself up. Or to give up because inner peace is lost forever.

The instruction is to "Come back to your breath".

Come back to the road. The trails you make off that planned rought can be fun, wild and painfull. But the test isn't that you stay on the road without fail, perfectly good. No, the test is that you come back.

That is the true jouney. Coming back to yourself, coming back to your breath, coming back to the road - and putting one foot ahead of the other in the best direction.


Washing Away Anxiety- Ritual and OCPD

We all know about the cleansing power of water. From baptism to Olay commercials enticing us to "Wash away our day", there are few symbols that so so universal.

But a new study shows how rituals of washing affect behavior and emotions when we don't even realize it.

I heard about this study on NPR.Done at University of Michigan, it was reported in the Telegraph

The researchers think that the act seems to psychologically draw a line under the decision. Researcher Spike Lee, from the University of Michigan, who led the study, said that washing your hands seemed to remove doubts about whether you had done the right thing.

"Our studies show that washing your hands can symbolically "wipe away" these concerns," he said.

"Once you washed your hands, you seem at ease with your decision and no longer need to do the mental work that makes the chosen alternative look much better than the rejected one."

When I can't seem to let go of work - a bath sure helps! And this study shows its not just me that feels this way.

This made me think of all the behaviors that I do when stressed. These hold symbolic power too- and there for most likely affect how I feel about my past, and the decisions in the future. Like fixing my make up - does that affect how confident I am? Does cleaning my kitchen before bed make me sleep easier- emotionally cleaning up the days stress?
And what about people who live in clutter?

Obviously it opens up a whole range of questions about socialized behavior, motivation, and emotional states. It just confirms what so many already know - that rituals have a real power on our lives, often even if we are not conscious of it.

Now I just hope I won't over-think the cleansing power of my bath too much!


Worry Warp - Anxiety and OCPD

I've noticed something, mostly at work when I have a frantic amount of tasks in a short amount of time. I can get stuck in a "worry warp".

I try to make a task list. My mind starts reeling - not just with the actual tasks but all the emotion. The "hows" of getting it done get wrapped with the "how I feels" about getting it done.

And then, nothing gets done at all!

I feel overwhelmed, and can feel my mind trying to tackle it all at once. I just want to do everything at once, but my brain doesn't cooperate. A little bit of one task then - switch- I have an idea about another then - switch- I've just got to get some water- then swich - I'm back to revising my task list!

And though it all, my mental state is less than calm.

Time passes, but nothing really gets done. I feel like I'm doing a lot, but really im stuck in a worry cycle.

How to escape? I hunker down and get mindful of one task. I pick, and I go with it. No jumping or frantic cramming.

Mental focus is tough, but if I work hard to develop this skill, I can get a lot more done, and - most importantly- feel better while doing it.


Missing the Show - Worry and OCPD

Life is our movie, in a dark and closed theatre. We can't know what other think, or what their reactions are. And the more we worry, the more of our lives are spent missing out.

The person we should be scritinizing for any reaction is the inner self. I try to peer into my own reactions. Why does this both me so much? What am I drawn to? And that kind of inner looking does have a purpose- because I can change it.

So next time you are looking hard or worrying too much about the other movie-goers just know- maybe that mean look just means they hate the smell of popcorn.

And the more you read into every twitch, the siller you will feel when the credits role and you get asked "So, what did you think of the movie.?"


Enjoying the Flavor - Emotional Pain and OCPD

I was checking out the OCD center of Los Angeles blog, and they discussed some great research on the genetic link between physical pain and the pain of social rejection.
"Researchers already knew from previous studies that the gene, called OPRM1, regulates the body’s internal painkillers, known as mu-opioids. In layman’s terms, the presence of this gene variation results in people actually feeling more pain in response to being physically hurt. What is so interesting about the new study is that researchers discovered this same gene variation also appears to regulate the level of distress felt if one is socially hurt."

So the researchers did some tests on people, using an MRI to scan the brain and various levels of physical and emotional pain were inflicted. The findings backed up the genetic information - the same brain centers that lit up during a poke or a prod lit up when the subject was emotionally hurt.

This is interesting to me, because a lot of my worry lies in fear of rejection. So am I experiencing a heightened response to all pain, emotional and otherwise, due to a genetic predisposition?

Well, maybe. My first thought was about how sensitive I am to spicy foods, and how all I feel is pain as a hot pepper hits my tongue. Other who relish some flaming cayenne can't seem to get it.
"It hurts?" they ask in wonder. And I simply don't understand the spicy "flavor" they talk about.

We have genetically different tongues. One tastes a pepper, one feels pain. And no matter how poetic I get, I can't really make they understand, because they can never taste what I taste.

Are emotions like this? Its hard to explain just why I feel so hurt when my work isn't perfect to most people. They don't "get" why is matters so deeply to me. Maybe they just weren't built to feel that kind of pain.

But I do know one thing- pain can be overcome. Tolerances can be built. I made a effort, at the behest of a Indian Buffet loving friend- to build up some chops for curry. So little by little, I ate some spicy. I dealt with the pain, trying to feel it in a different way. And you know, even if I'll never ask for extra Jalapenos, I can tolerate a good Massaman.

If I can train my taste buds, maybe I can train my mental pain genes in the same way. And while I'll never enjoy rejection or emotional pain, I can at least get less afriad of the flavor.


Tanning and Anxiety- UV rays and OCPD

From Medical News Today:

"A new study from the US suggests that some people who frequently use indoor tanning beds may become addicted to the habit and are also more likely to be prone to anxiety, use alcohol and other substances, suggesting that exposure to UV light may lead to behavior patterns typical of substance-related disorders."

Confession time - I used to be a tanner. I wouldn't say I was addicted, but certainly I loved the skin tingling glow that left my skin brown. When I moved to New York, I realized orange skin is not a good look.

So was I unwittingly feeding my obessive tendencies, causing myself anxiety by soaking in some UV rays? I remember feeling totally worried/anxious/insecure if I couldnt get my tanning fix, but that was the same with a lot of things. Maybe tanning was just another way to play out my implus for control. Control my hair, my make up and - my skin tone?

Vanity is a easy way to feel in control, and for OCPD women this can be a problem. Tanning is very vain, and also at some level self destructive. OCPD people tend to think they are "superhuman". Perfectionisim lets us think "Radiation? Won't hurt me! And I'll look like the most sun kissed one in the room!"

So is tanning a symptom of destructive and obsessive vanity, or the cause? Do people who think they are immune to cancer also more likely to drink and smoke, even to the point of excess?

Are self obessed, perfectionist and insecure people more likely to spend more money and time of looks through tanning?

I think yes. I don't think UV rays cause anxiety or substance problems. Both tanning and drinking are about a desire to focus on the external- to escape the self, to distance from others. And also to proclaim "See these toxic behaviors dont hurt me! I laugh at skin cancer and liver cirrosis!"

When I was thinking about the hue of my skin, about a party or about the buzz, about the external- I avoided looking within myself.

And yes, anxiety swirls around when you build up behaviors like walls around part of yourself. Because what happens when those behaviors are taken away? When you have to stop tanning, when you stop drinking. You stop getting your fix of control, your neat little habit with visible results.

So I wouldn't go around thinking UV rays are cooking your grey matter to create a OCPD mind. But if you are a anxious perfectionist like me, its worth taking a look at patterns of behavior, like tanning, that serve an emotional purpose.

Maybe its time for some suncreen instead!


Keeping it Clean- Perfection, Cleaning and OCPD

Part of me loves to clean. Well, thats ot quite right. All of me love the feeling of living in a clean and bright home. Only part of me finds the joy in actually doing it!

But there are time when the focus of OCPD takes over, that perfectionist impuses and I just have to fix that stop right now no matter what.

That happened this morning. How can a refrigerator get a stop on it over night? It doesnt matter. What did matter was that the little bit of windex I used didn't leave a streak free shine on the stainless steal.

One spot turned into a streaky patch. Which turned into re-cleaning tboth doors. Which just left them both streaky.

Which led me to try no less than 3 various cleaners in an attempt at the now impossible streak free shine.

All this before 9am.

Obsessive and Compulsive? Check and Check.

But what stopped me was a momment of persepctive, of pause. "Who is going to see this door today?"

The answer was no one - unless you count me dog. The streaks would sit undisturbed until 7 when I would pull some leftover dinner out of it.

And guess what? The frigdge would get another spot, no doubt about it. And the cycle of spot - streak obsession would start all over.

So this made me realize- clean is nice, but remember it can't ever be perfect: life will just get it dirty again!


Type it out, give pause - Work and OCPD

At my office, we use email and AIM to talk and communicate, and way more dialog goes on in black and white pixles than around the water cooler.

As I was responding to my boss, typing out a message, I re-read whart I wrote. There I was apologizing and justifying my work, being all worried about his feelings toward me, over anxious to please. I used way too many filler words, to try to soften what I meant to say.

I realized all I really needed to say was "Ok, will do".

Less anxiety, less worry, less drama. More clarity? The drama is in my mind, and inside it can be hard to relaize just how many words that story of worry really has.

But typed out it looked silly. It needed to be simplifed, for my boss's benifit and my own.

Now, if one I could edit my thoughts with one click and a tap of the "delete" button!


Relationships and Pain- Getting Hurt with OCPD

Sometimes people hurt us. The people we love, the people we let in. That's the trade off after all. There is a saying : When you invite someone into your home, you risk some muddy footprints.

You can ask your guests to wipe their feet. Maybe sometimes they do. Maybe it's most of the time. Every time, your carpet is unblemished, you heart is safe.

Soon, you stop asking. He knows - She likes me to take off my shoes. It becomes habit. Love and kindness are simply the way of things.

But sometimes it rains. Mud sloshes the streets, and his shoes get dirty. Caked with mud. The world doesn't always keep your home's clean floor in mind and it doesn't discriminate.

He comes in and forgets. He forget, and the shoes stay on, the mud caked and drying all over the floor. Precious kindness is no longer a habit. It was taken for granted.

You can scream and beg him to stop trampling all over. You can cry and ask why he didn't think, this one time, why didn't he stop? Why was this visit the one that ended without kindness, without thought, without the safety of a lovers habit?

You can even ask yourself if he did it on purpose. He knows I am nervous, that my heart is fragile, and yet still..."

But it doesn't matter. The footprints stay there. The mud is drying, and the damage is done.

Apologies don't take them away. Even as you clean you know - they will stain. For years, his footprints will be there, maybe just a dull outline, but they will be. Trampling in a gritty memory on the heart.

Maybe you forgive. Maybe you forget. Maybe you move on But every time it rains, you remember how it felt to have him forget to be kind. You might even put down some mats, some padding, some buffer just in case someone decides to be cruel. You have been hurt and now you understand you can't always count on habits of kindness.

And you never stop asking, everyone now, everyone who comes in, into you home, into your heart, to wipe their feet.

Some habits are not broken.


Finding the Spark- Positivity, Perfection and OCPD

As per usual, I was rushing to work. I wasnt late- yet. But I wanted to make the express train to guerenntee I was at my desk and online by 9:30. Well, I came down the steps just as the expressline pulled away, closed doors and all. The local came trundlying reliably and slowly up to the platform.

Inside I was cursing. But then I took a breath. It was a lot less crowded than the express. And - it was much, much cooler. No cramped sweaty bodies ( It was about 78 degrees here today)

And then a group of men got on. They looked familiar - one old with white hair contrasting his grizzled brown skin, another much younger with a massive rasta hat full of dreadlocks.

The subway singers! They harmonized "This Little Light of Mine" really well, and made me tap my foot all the way to Times Square. I was more thankful for the local than ever and I knew, work could wait that 5 min longer. I gave the a dollar, and kept thinking about the words.

Am I letting my light shine?

Well, sometimes you have to go through a few matches, and take the time to recognize the spark!


Antidepressants and Living Life

Recently, the FAA lifted a ban on commercial airline pilots taking antidepressants. .

I saw this pop up on CNN and my first thought was - I didn't know there was a ban! I never thought that taking a SSRI could influence the ability to fly an aircraft, but for 60 yers the FAA disagreed.

Now, like any illegal substance that people want and need, antidepressants were undoubltbly taken by some pilots. ITs terrible to think they risked their jobs because they felt they needed the medication. I've written about my ambivilance toword all kinds of medication, but for me, taking Zoloft has definently allowed me to worry a bit less, even at the lowest possible dosage. And its not like I tell everyone I know about my mental health, but I do not think it should be such a stigma or secret. It's hard enough facing inner demons without worrying if your boss will find out and fire you.

The CNN article states "The FAA also will begin a six-month amnesty period, during which pilots who use antidepressants can step forward without fear of penalties. The pilots will be grounded until they can demonstrate they have been stable for a year, although those who can prove a history of successful medical treatment should be able to fly "within a few months," the FAA said.

OK so... basically if you come forward you still risk being ostracized and analyzed if you are "Stable". I conceed, depression is rought. But what about other personality traits? Anger? Stress? there are so many that infringe flying ability just as much as "depression".

I think the real problem is that we want pilots to be inhuman and perfect. After all , we put our lives in their hands whenever we fly. But thats not realisitic. They, like everyone else, have struggles. And I hope that when pilots have to choose whether to face those hard places inside themselves or keep quiet to keep flying, they make the right choice.


Cellphone while Driving- Multitasking and Anxiety

From "Think You’re Good at Driving While on Your Cellphone? You May Be Right" in Wired Science:
About one in 40 drivers qualifies as a “supertasker,” able to combine driving and cell phone use without impairing performance of either activity, say psychologists Jason Watson and David Strayer, both of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. These unusual exceptions to the general rule that performance declines when a person does two things at once (SN: 3/13/10, p. 16) may offer insights into the workings of attention and mental control, Watson and Strayer propose in an upcoming Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

Well I guess my article about the anxiety of multi-tasking is proven a bit flawed. I have so say, sometimes my obessive mind can totally focus on all the balls in the air, juggling tasks like crazy.

Yes, it can be efficient to train the mind to "supertask". We only have so many hours here, so better pack in everything you can! At least thats what I tell myself as I run from gym to dog run to work and finally to bed.

But does that lead to a better life? Are we happier if we all train ourselves to "supertask" and get manage to get in 4 more phonecalls before we pull into the driveway?

Or are we just going to miss the scenery out the window?

It's good to have a choice, to be able to supertask when its needed, and still be able to pull back and breathe once and awhile.


Positive momentum - Thinking Away the Negative

Sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in a whirlwind of negativity with my anxious mind. obsessive personality makes it easy to focus on one thing. So if that one thing is negative... well its not good! The coffee spils, my shirt gets stained, I'm late for work, my hair goes flat... it becomes a long slide down.

But what about the slide up? We all know the feeling of "Bad Day" momments compounding. But how often do we feel a upward climb as things keep going right.

Bad days happen with spills. So why does something ultra-great have to happen to have a "Good Day?". It's not just the days we get a raise, or a go out to an amazing dinner that should count as good.

If you look using thankful eyes, all the little awesome things become apparant. And they and slide you right into a Good Day.


Tugging at the Flaws - Perfection and OCPD

The other morning I felt it creep up on me.

It was passover, and i was seeing a lot of family. People I dont see often. I wanted to make a good- no make that great- impression. I had bought a sweater, soft and lacy, to wear to the occasion. I picked out my skirt the night before. I set my alarm for early morning, ready to go.

Then, that morning, i noticed a thread sticking out of my sweater, still unworn. I could have let it go. Maybe they wouldn't notice. But
I would, and I might try to fix it at work, and that could end badly.
Better to fix it now..

Well, the pulled thread left a hole that grew everytime I unbuttoned it. I could have smacked myself. I knew this would happen. I let my obession with perfection unwravel it all.

I had other sweaters, other outfits. I made it work. But I kept thinking how when we pull and tug at that tiny flaw, we can make a gaping hole.

In the end, my family wanted to see me, not a sweater. it was my mind that turned that little stich into a sticking point that thretened to ruin my morning and my whole day.

Sometimes the OCPD person just has to pull the thread, hole or no hole. Because, in my all or nothing thinking, a little fray is as bad as a giant tear.

But I need to be consious, to pause before my blind drive for perfection compels me to "fix" things.

Sometimes, the little flaws arent so bad as the fix.


Wishful worry- Positive Thinking and Obsessive thoughts

We are all guilty of wishful thinking. We day dream that maybe the express train is just around the corner, that the brand new dress on the sale rack will ring up %50 off despite no red tag, that the rain will stop in time for the picnic.

Well those are nice thoughts. But for myself, and others with anxiety, our "wishes" sometimes feel more like worries. Do you "wishful think" about the worst case senerios?

When you get addicted to anxiety, when worry is your default - deep down, when things go bad it feels, like you expected it all along. A fufillment.

It's when that inner, or outer, voice yells; "See! I knew you would mess up! I just knew it!"

If you let the inner critic get in the last word, you fufil your own negative wish. I dont even know most of the time when i "Wish" for things to worry about. I self-sabotage, i cram in one more thing, i keep putting on make up, I tell myself that I jsut *have* to wear the one thing that is dirty and must now be frantically washed before work. I tell myself -"I can't do this, but I have to! I have to but I can't"... and so it goes. Not a good daydream about reality.

In fact, wishful thinking is about deciding reality. You think about it hard enough you make it happen. Maybe you can stop the rain.

If you think about how you "just can't" and then you get that rush of "i told you so!" when it doesnt happen - that is "wishfull worry".

Stop yourself from the get go. No more negative predictions, seeing the world as your enemy. Make the choice to say, even if it all goes sideways, rather than think "See? Proof the world hates you!", commit to trying to think, and belive :"I expected a better outcome, but I can deal with this"

Stopping the "Wishful worry" is a step to being a more positive person, and less of a meanie to your self. remember- worry is addictive, but you can break the habit.


Learning Without Regret- Mistakes and OCPD

We all make mistakes. With obsessive thoughts always lurking, it can be tough not to see these are irreconcialable failure, a telling test of our worth as human beings.

We know that one event can't define us. But if I focus on it too much, it sure can start to feel that why.

The problem is, we can't ignore our mistakes because we feel that "failure" is too painful to even think about.

We have to learn and grown, and this means taking a good hard looks at all the "mess-ups".

So step one is to actually face it. Yes, you did really break that vase, and no you can't lie to yourself about it. But its not helpfull to beat yourself up either, because the harsher you let you inner critic be, the more likely you will avoid fessing up or even thinking about mistakes in the future.

Inner beratement is like a mad teacher. A mistake is a like asking a question in class. If that mad teacher yells at you that your question is stupid and hits you wil a ruler, you stop asking. It hurts too much. But then, you never learn. You just avoid asking, avoid thinking critically about things that you need to face in order to succeed.

Mistakes are full of questions to be asked. What exactly just happened? Why did I do that? What could I have done diferently?


Rest and Relax- Sleep and OCPD

There is always more to do. This truism in felt especially for me around my home, at night, when I start to see all the little dust bunnies I want to attach under dressers and tables. Here I am, its almost midnight, and still I am trying to clean what seems like a whole dust bunny colony.

Thats when I use some big picture perspective. What will matter tomorrow- clean floors or my clarity of mind? As I sit at work, will i be thinking about the dusty floors, or the heavy tired feeling behind my eyes.

Rest wins out. Althought its great to get stuff done, dont lost sight of the most important task of all : taking care of yourself!

The Power of Packing- Disorganized OCPD

This weekend, I went on a whirlwind trip of meetings in the Windy City. It was jam packed with meetings, trade show events, a long brunch and finally an awesome concert. I could not let myself be disorganized!

All this, then taking the red-eye home and going straight into work!

Cramming everything into my life is a lot like over packing a suitcase. Sometimes, you just have take 4 pairs of shoes, and you can only bring a carry on? There are a few ways to do it.

If you stuff everything into the suitcase unfolded, mushing t shirts and gym clothes with dresses and heels, it will overflow. Not only will if not all fit, it will come out all wrinkled and dirty. Whats the point of bringing nice things if they get ruined in the process?

But- if you organize the contents of your "life suitcase", you can fit it in. Not only that, things will go smoother. The dress will be folded and unwrinked, ready for that cocktail hour. It takes time to pack properly- it takes time and effort to organize a busy life. But its worth it.

A little investment in some "life packing skills" can save you a lot of stress later! Remember this next time you want to keep some clutter, not use your planner, not set up a calender or a system for getting ready. Pack your bag carefully, each day, and watch events unfold wrinkle-free!


No Wiggle Room - Goals and OCPD

Sometimes to break a habit, goals have to be very, very clear.. Otherwise its too easy to hedge. "Well, I almost was on time.." I constantly think. "I was less late that last week,,,"

Yes, small steps are good. But this kind of wiggle room keep me from truely feeling like I made a change. And, after all, the goal isn't to be "Almost" anything. Almost responsible, almost accomplished, almost able to hold my head up high.

To go all the way, specific, back and while goal with no room for "almost"

Leave at 9 am. Sharp. No hedge.

But its a challenge to not feel pressure to meet a perfect goal, and to not beat myself up when I don't hit it.

It comes down to context. The "Leave at 9am" or "No buying new clothes this month" or "Respond to emails within 24 hours" are all just little goals, set in place to streamline my life. It not that everything has to be black and white all or nothing.

And if I don't make a goal? If I "almost: make it? I don't justify. Because I don't beat myself up. If I'm not feeling like a total failure for not meeting a goal, its not as tempting to hedge and talk myself into a truth wiggle.

I face it. Yes, I was late. But thats a fact, not a prision sentance to hate myself the rest of the day. All it means it to do better next time.

The "wiggle dance of truth" as I call it, isn't just toxic to my own mental state. I have to fess up when I goal isn't met to everyone. Ending the dance through specific goals, executed with some compassion, means its ok to not make it. But its not ok to convince myself I "kinda" did.

Worst Case- Fear and OCPD

Sometimes we know our fears our irrational. Fear of heights? Yes, I know there is glass in the window. Fear of clowns. No, I've never encounterd a homicidal Bozo.

It's pretty easy to fight through those,

But some seem so big, so real, that we take for granted that they are rational. We have bought into out fearful narrative for so long, we can't see that it might be just as irrational as a fear or mice.

The key is to think throught it.
We act our of fear habits too much, and give them too much power. Try this thought exercise: What is the worst that can happen, if that fear comes true?

For example: I'm scared of my hair looking messy at work. Worst case: my boss thinks I'm messy. So? He treats me with contempt. So what? He fires me... So? I am in the poorhouse.

I mean, is that logical? Do I really think messy hair will lead me to financial ruin? As vain as I sometimes am, I don't even believe that. It's possible he will treat me differently if I constantly look like a slob. But, knowing my boss, even that stinks like a random justification,
The fact is, my "worst case senerio" makes no sense. Once I think it through I have to laugh. And the fear gets less powerfull. I can stop that worry from taking over.

Lets do another common OCPD fear: Cleaning. So I act like I"m afraid to leave dishes in the sink at night. What is the worst case? My fiance sees them the next morning. So? He thinks I'm dirty, or gets mad. So? He leaves me. So? I"m lonely. Another worst case: Mice come into my kitchen to feast on crumbs in the sink, SO? They carry dieases. SO? The bite me or my dog, making us sick.

Wow... see I can go on and on. Its fun, in a twisted way. I mean, if my fiance was the kind of man to yell about dishes or leave me, then I am with the wrong person. And mice would have to be pretty smart and quick to infiltrate my home over on night of dishes.

Now some fears make sense. And even thinking about the worst case of very real fears can help me to feel more prepared. But its the silly ones, the fearful habits I keep acting out, that get dismantled by this little mind game.

Less fears mean less random, meaningless obsessions. Life is too short to waste on fears that make not sense!


The Elephant and the Rider- Change and OCPD

In the book "Switch: How to Change when Change is Hard " the authors talk about two sides in our minds that have to work together if we are going to change. The emotional mind and the analytical mind. A lot of times, the emotional mind is strong but not heading in the right direction. Or, the analytical mind gets all focused on the facts and planning (obsession anyone)?

They use the metaphor of a rider on an elephant- the elephant is the emotion, pulling along the rider and very hard to tame and direct. The rider needs the elephant to move, and the elephant needs the rider to point out where to go, and to show it that mice aren't something to be afraid of!

The book says that motivation (elephant emotion) and direction (rider pulling the reigns) both have to work together. Then, we can change everything from behavior to a corporation.

I see what they mean every time I plan and set a specific goal, then simple drop the ball as my emotions start to falter. Yes, I plan get in touch with a friend I haven't seen in awhile. I can plan all day and night, but when it comes down to picking up the phone, my emotional elephant struggles.

"What if she doesnt want to talk to you? She is busy! You are going to seem desperate..." etc...

Time to reign it in! Getting a handle on emotions is a whole other challenge, but understanding these two sides helps to appeal to others as well as yourself. I can think of how good it would feel to talk to my friend, and prop up my mood thinking about all the great friends i do keep in touch with.

When it comes to helping "direct" other people's elephants, you can't just push emotional buttons or give a dry blueprint for what you want.

Give that emotional elephant a kick, then lay out the road map to drive it down!

For me, getting over "perfection" is part ending the over-analayzing while also not getting paralyzed by fearful. I have to feel positive, and also give myself small specific steps to guide me. Next time I feel that struggle, to fall back on habit or to give in to fear, I know thats when I have a opportunity to practice getting my Elephant and Rider exactly where I want them to go: toword a positive, fufilling life!


Knowing Where The Box Ends -Saying No and OCPD

As I posted about last week, I moved this weekend. So many boxes, bags, cases and tape!

The move was scheduled 9am on Sunday. It was Sat. night. I still have packing to do... but my friend texts me, asking to meet up.

To say I was anxious would be a tremendous understatement. All that day, I was racked this thoughts of how much more I had to do, then the cleaning, the garbage collecting - and oh, dont forget the unpacking once Phase 1 is complete.

I was future projecting like crazy, the my future was covered in cardboard and tape.

So part of me wanted to jump to run and meet my friend. But I stopped. I pictured myself trying to sip wine and have fun. Was this possible tonight? Where would my mind be? What did I really want?

I couldn't feel like I would be fun to be around, not tonight, not when my head was already deep into my task list.

So I declined, and I totally miss her, and kinda wish I went. But you know, I'm pretty proud I was able to "say no" for my own sanity.

I took that night to finish up more packing, and made plans with my friend for next weekend.

Sometimes saying "no" is needed. But its through honestly looking at my own needs that I was able to. Getting wine with a friend isn't a "to do" list item. It's a want to do. So that means knowing what I want, something that can be tricky when compulsion sets in.

I think the more I say "no" or "yes" rather than just "doing" it all, the more the boundaries of my self are formed. Getting to what I want, my walls, my needs, my own self is packed up in a box, ready to move into a future.


Letting the Boxes Pile Up - Moving with OCPD

I am moving, which is a total nightmare situation for anyone with even a hint of anxiety. I've hired movers, but its up to me to pack up everything in my apartment. I started last week, and have felt that I just want it to be done. Over. Taken care of. Controlled.

It's hard to go out, go to yoga, or even go to work when all I can think of is my "to pack" list. I can't really pack everything until the day before, but I've started on what I can. This makes my worry manageable. "Look!" I can tell my task master mind "I've got the whole living room packed! Only the closet to go!"

But then there is the other problem - Living with the boxes.

They are piled all around my place. The walls are bare. It feels cluttered, claustrophobic and messy. I want the boxes out, unpacked in my new place! I try to keep the boxes neat, but there is no disguising the fact that this is a place in transition.

I just have to live with the mess, exist with the box piles. The alternative was to save ALL my packing for the day before, something my "To Do", results driven personality would never tolerate.

So I am living in the mess. Trying to be ok with "unfinished". Calming myself with the impermanence of this "boxy" state. Everything is changing, and this mess is a part of that. Transition is all there really ever is anyway. 2 more days in this space, 2 days of a unresolved mess.

And if I can use this as a opportunity to be OK with things that are cluttered, and messy? I have a whole life to enjoy a little less anxiety.


In the past few posts, I've talked a lot about how I'm trying to control my life, my future and my relationships. No surprise- it doesn't go well!

Life is unpredictable, but there is one thing we can all control. Our reaction.

When my boyfriend drop a plate and breaks it, I can have many reactions all of which give a different emotion. I can be mad that my plate is broken. I can be sad that he feels bad about being clumsy. Or I can be happy that he was even trying to do the dishes in the first place.

I can't stop him from dropping the plate, but I can control my mind- if i make an effort!

We all have "go to" emotional habits, whether its anger, worry or sadness. Sometimes it seems like there is only one way to feel in any circumstance. Other people and our lives "make" us anxious, angry or sad.

Well that's just not true! It's the reaction, and it tricks us if we let it happen unaware.

This isn't to say there isn't a "easy" reaction. But if the easy reaction is harmful or negative, isn't it worth a little self awareness and mental disiciple to try to change our "go to" emotion?

I think so. I would rather pause and watch the plate hit the floor, knowing it will break. Nothing I can do now. What's done is done. Broken or not, I don't have to be anxious, sad or angry. The plate and my boyfriend don't control my mind - I do.

The plate may be in pieces, but my mind doesn't have to be!