Me & OCD
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ME...
So, I figured it'd be helpful for me to talk a little bit about who I am and where I came from. I grew up on a small "Indian" (Native American) reservation in Idaho called The Fort Hall Indian Reservation. I am partially Native American and enrolled with the Uintah Band of Utes tribe from Fort Duchesne, Utah.
I had a very normal childhood growing up and couldn't have asked for a better launching pad into the world. I played sports, had plenty of friends, and most of all, I had all the family support I could ask for. After graduating from high school in Pocatello, Idaho, I obtained a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology (BS) from Idaho State University. In 2009, I furthered my education and went on to graduate school in San Diego, CA to complete a Masters degree in Social Work (MSW) and graduate from San Diego State University in 2011; all by age 22. Ever since graduate school, I have been living and working as a professional in San Diego, CA for the last 8 years (although I recently purchased a house back home in Idaho). I have been working in the mental health field providing mental health rehabilitative services to the community helping individuals to better manage their overall mental health and well-being. I'm a strong believer that we all deserve the right to live a quality, meaningful, and fulfilling life.
It may come as a surprise for many of you that have that have known me over the years (or may not), but I have been clinically diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety, Social Phobia (Social Anxiety), and Depression. I have also had issues with Addiction. If I could summarize what it's like to experience these symptoms, it all starts with my OCD which creates a ton of anxiety. Anxiety manifests itself differently in everybody, but some of my core characteristics include over-thinking (future-based), constant worrying (about anything & everything....literally), extreme doubt in myself, inability to relax or concentrate, lack of enjoyment in activities, uncomfortable in my own skin, racing thoughts (over-analyzing anything & everything), and ultimately, when you add all this together, it becomes excruciatingly draining. But that's not even the catch, the more distressed I become, the more my anxiety triggers my mind to race, become hyper-negative, and over-analyze every little thing to the final straw. In other words, the more my stress levels rise, the more severe the other symptoms become.
I currently blog about what it's been like living with these symptoms alone and how I had to overcome it by first transforming my mind. Going through every inch and corner of my mind, I vowed to make an unbreakable promise to myself that I would permanently transform every aspect of my mind in order to allow me to be successful in transforming my life into a life I "choose" to live. Ultimately, I got sick of being pushed around by my various mental health symptoms and letting them dictate how I'm supposed to feel or be. I'll keep it to a couple paragraphs for now, but keep an eye out for my blog.
And I already know what you're thinking, when is he going to get to the washing his hands part...no I do not wash my hands multiple times throughout the day, nor do I jump over cracks on the sidewalk, or lock and unlock the door 10 times before leaving, and I am definitely not simply just a "neat freak." Further, I am not belittling anybody that does experiences these compulsions as they are just as serious as any OCD symptom. Basically, I have all of the same mindsets and components of these type of individuals with OCD. However, the severity of my symptoms manifest more in my mind than they do outwardly in an observable manner. So, most of my compulsions happen mentally or in my head rather than in a physical behavior.
I've reserved the idea that regardless of what happens, what day, what time, or how I feel, it's important I continue to best manage these symptoms so I can focus on my everyday tasks and routines that play important parts to the grand scheme of the greater vision. Over the last couple years, I have literally put blood, sweat, and tears into this struggle madly searching for some kind of balance and/or relief. And struggle is the key word as it is a constant war with various battles always going back and forth. At this juncture in my life, I am finally learning how to be successful maintaining a high level of performance, while still managing and balancing the symptoms brought on by my mental health conditions. Ultimately, after a couple years of some serious self-discovery and struggles with addiction, I finally think I have found the courage on how to best articulate to the world the ups and downs I have had living with these various mental health conditions.
Initially, I had a difficult time trying to describe and explain any aspect of my mind and how it worked without feeling like I would sound crazy. I often found myself trying to down-play the intensity and severity of my over-thinking truly believing that nobody would really understand or believe me. Even if they did, there is absolutely no way for me to describe why I feel the way I feel. There never has been a shortage of damage inflicted upon my psyche as my mind is great at creating negative, pessimistic, and pre-emptively debilitative thought patterns. Say for example, every single public setting/situation where you are actively having a conversation with somebody (you already know) and during the whole entire conversation, you're identifying and analyzing every single person that walks into the store, their clothes, the colors, their walking style, what their facial expressions say, while also thinking about the distinct tone or volume of the person's voice you're still talking to as well as everybody around you. All the while, still attempting to predict their (everybody's) motives (e.g. who, what, why, where, etc.) as well as everybody else's in my immediate vicinity. Yet, I am still listening just well enough to carry on the conversation. Well enough that nobody could ever know that it appeared I wasn't listening. However, a primary component of OCD makes it so I immediately defer to any worse-case scenario, but even further I identify EVERY single worst-case scenario of every situation and circumstance. Leading me to become pre-occupied with these thoughts, I begin wondering about how this person talking to me might become angry or upset with me since it could have appeared that I was not listening or paying attention for those brief moments where I couldn't ignore the mental-chatter in my head.... And it continues from there, non-stop, without a doubt.
Worst-case scenario...without fail, this is how I have lived my entire life, all day, every single day. One of the most prime and key components to having Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Having negative worst-case scenario thoughts in every situation and circumstance imaginable (future, past, or present), yet, all the while, being unable to shake these thoughts or feelings no matter how hard you try. In fact, the harder you try 'NOT' to think about something, oddly enough, the harder you CANNOT stop thinking about it. For example, do me a favor and do your very best to NOT think about a monkey sitting in a tree eating a banana for the next 15 seconds. Think about anything EXCEPT the monkey eating the banana.....but what do you notice? That all of a sudden you can't get this stupid visual of a monkey eating banana out of your head. Acceptance is transcendence.
OCD, particularly, has a large biological component meaning I was born with this condition and obtained most of the genes hereditarily. In general, a specific part of my brain releases more chemicals than it should which causes my mind/brain to be on overdrive all the time.
One interesting component that makes OCD, OCD is that we recognize the craziness of these thoughts, which are largely unwanted and always unwelcome. I am completely able to notice and recognize the absurdity of my excessive, unwanted, repetitive thoughts....that WILL NOT go away. With an emphasis on 'will not', believe me, I've tried. And the problem is because I am aware of these thoughts all the time, I am subject to being paranoid about how much in control I really am and how badly I am "losing the war." However, at the end of the day. One thing people need to know is that my mother never let me be a quitter. NEVER. She loved me like a first born son (which I was), but she also knew how to exhibit "tough love." So now it's instilled in me. I am NOT a quitter. Never have been, never will be. At the beginning of 2014, I became dead set on finding the solution to my mental health concerns. Through self-analysis and self-critiquing so intensely that instead of finding me, I pushed myself too far and I almost lost all of me.
I guess I mean that in more ways than one. I can recall numerous times feeling so caught up with identifying my symptoms and dysfunctional mind that I literally felt like I did not know who I was. Not because of anything I did specifically, but because of how uncomfortable and unhappy I became within myself. You tend to forget what side you're on. I was losing touch with reality. Literally. I lived in my mind until I finally realized the devil was sleeping in my bed, so to speak. I almost lost all interest to the outside world. Of course, when you've been brought to your knees, then is only when the symptoms of OCD truly begin to rear it's ugly head and show you how dangerous it can really be. With the inability to avoid thinking in a worse-case scenario mindset, I became convinced that things really might not ever be okay again. When you lose faith in yourself, your character, your ability, you risk losing EVERYTHING. I flirted with this line one too many times. I became obsessed with how I could ever let myself become so defeated. I was once this successful, educated young man determined and motivated to fulfill my potential. I came face-to-face with myself time and again knowing what it truly feels like when you've lost all hope. It's a very very lonely dark place to be.
I could not find relief no matter what I tried. Aside from self medicating with street drugs, I honestly felt like ending my life would be the only way to end my misery. This is what led to an increased issue with Addiction as I constantly found myself escaping the pain. Ultimately, I ended up at a place where I didn't want to be alive anymore. The constant non-stop pain coupled with the piercing emptiness and unfulfillment everywhere I turned took its toll. It dragged me to the darkest deepest depths of my mind. Earlier. I mentioned that I didn't care to live anymore, but at this point in my life I began contemplating ways I could actually end my life. While I know how dark that sounds, I truly believed I had no other way to escape the hurt I felt so deeply. Every waking second I was being tortured by my own mind. When something is forced upon you for you're entire life, like an imaginary weight bearing down on you heavier and heavier with each step, one can't help to start believing that they will forever, innately, never be enough...and I'd have to say, for me at least, that there are no emptier feelings than that. To sit there and say you wouldn't have done the same, I'd invite you to spend a day in my mind. Then, if you thought it wasn't so bad, I'd invite you to do it for the next 28 years then we'll talk. I can't tell you that my battles and struggles are any better or worse than the next person's, but what I can tell you is that it DEFINITELY has been one hell of a war, battle after battle, and it is by far, BY FAR, the most difficult obstacle I've had to learn to overcome.
Unfortunately, when anxiety is a primary component of how you feel (nervousness, inability to focus, overwhelming feelings as if the walls are closing in) the key is not to attempt to cover up, ignore, or avoid whatever it is that's causing these feelings of anxiety. It seems counterintuitive, but gradually exposing yourself to the triggers will eventually help improve your anxiety surrounding that issue. Ironically, the more I attempt to avoid, mask, or escape anxiety...the more momentum it gathers, the greater the negative impact is has on my emotional well-being and overall confidence. Obviously, this only makes the future barriers and everyday obstacles that much more difficult.
Eventually, by the time it was way too late, I realized that I had ceased all control to these illnesses and the symptoms associated with them. At this point, climbing out of a hole that deep became the most difficult thing I've ever had to do in my entire life. I don't mean that lightly either. I don't say things just to say things. No matter how much I knew what I needed to do and how I needed to do it, it's still a completely different battle to MAKE yourself do them. I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a graduate degree in social work meaning I should be pretty proficient in human behavior and the mind. Not only do I have the education, but I have the professional and lived experiences to along with it, yet nothing could have ever prepared me for these experiences. Dealing with self-doubt is a challenging task, but once it has wrestled you to the ground and hope is torn from the grips of your hands, you're always playing from behind. By that time, I learned how to not believe in myself and it became all I knew....climbing back up appeared to be an undefeatable foe. It was the very first time in my life that I actually doubted my ability to accomplish something this important. The amount of fight required took more than what I thought I was ever capable of...think about that. The amount of fight and strength I thought I had is not even close, not even close at all to the amount of fight I truly gave and strength I possess. However, it's imperative to know that the steps to standing back up do not happen overnight and require a combination of endless perseverance and unwavering hope.
It's a lifelong war. One battle after another dictating the climate of the war. But all in all, I have come a long ways...I can only liken it to the old saying "went to hell and back." Twice. At least. I know it sounds like I am exaggerating, but I don't know how to better articulate the mental hurdles I've had to overcome just to get here. Today. Just to survive and live every day the best I can just like you. Just like everybody else I try to do my best and still strive for my hopes and dreams. I can't let my mind win. I never will. No way, no how. We live to fight another day and there's always a tomorrow. With immeasurable courage, we have to continue pushing forward. Never forget that while the path may not be easy, it will be worth it.
If you have OCD or think you have OCD, I'm offering a FREE consultation for those suffering from the pain of OCD symptoms. Having successfully dealt with OCD and overcoming Addiction, I know exactly how it feels to be dominated by these illnesses, but better yet, I know exactly what it takes to get back in control of your life and to live happily free. I understand what it takes to get out of the grips of OCD and the painful compulsions that can be so time consuming. I became literally "obsessed" with how the mind works and how OCD impacts it. If you would like help, take that first step towards the transformation your life may need. Let me help show you the door for a FREE consultation so you know how to walk through it. One hour all about you, your goals, and how we can achieve them. What ever you believe, you can achieve. I whole-heartedly believe in that. If you believe you will recover, you will. Take this opportunity to challenge yourself and push through your preconceived notions. There are no limits. Perception is reality. If this strikes a nerve in any ounce of you, please PLEASE don't ignore it. Take an hour out of your day. You owe it to yourself. I can teach you that if you can transform your mind, you can absolutely transform your life.
Just enter your first name and email address below and we will schedule a time convenient for both parties. Either way, thank you so much for taking the time to look at my website and what I'm trying to accomplish. I can only hope I had something of value to offer and that you can better transform your life. It all starts and ends with the mind. We achieve what we believe. Keep these thoughts close and you will find confidence and a momentuous energy of abundance to what you deeply desire. Stay focused my friends and never give up :)