Friday, March 27, 2015

My Success Story

A friend from a long time ago and I reconnected about a year ago. She recently asked me if I could give her a link to this blog. I hesitated at first because you know how sometimes people look at you differently when they know your obsessions and compulsions. I’m still thinking about it. In preparing to make the decision, I opened this blog and started reading posts all the way back to the beginning.

Wow, was I ever taken aback. I have made so much progress in the last five years, it’s unreal. I don’t even remember some of those obsessions. The compulsions, yes, but not the obsessions. Alligators, really? Bone cancer? The Clint losing on the Apprentice was a big one. I remember it because I drove Janya absolutely nuts about it.

And all of the dark drawings and memes. I must have had some really bad days. I am so happy with my improvement. I’m like a totally new person now. Why? What changed? Here are some possibilities:

1. Coming out as a lesbian.

This is probably the biggest "cause" of my OCD symptoms. No one understands the stress of keeping a secret so long. No, I take that back. It wasn’t the secret. I kept other secrets for years. Yes, they ate at me and contributed to stress, unhappiness and probably my OCD. But not allowing yourself on the outside to be who you are on the inside, wearing a mask for the majority of your life, that’s the worst. Your family, your friends, your co-workers, all think you are someone else. And when they finally find out, they have to make a decision about whether or not it matters. It usually does.

While coming out created a lot of pain, hurt and stress in all areas of my spiritual and physical life, the ultimate release and being loved and accepted finally for who I actually am was such a relief. I lost many people and opportunities in my life, but I was introduced to so many more wonderful people and possibilities. I officially came out in 2008, but as you can see, it has been a long journey. It’s now 2015, and I’m still not "cured", but things are usually manageable.

2. My job

I worked here from 2009-2011 and liked the position, but not having had health insurance and the financial stress it caused when I went almost bankrupt from two back-to-back surgeries in one month just about did me in. I ditched my cell phone number, moved and pretty much looked over my shoulder for a few years due to creditors. When my boss kept putting off helping me with health insurance, I moved on and went back to teaching where I got spring break, holidays and summers off. But what I had forgotten was that when I teach, I give about 150%. I’m not a spring chicken after all and I didn’t need to impress anyone to further my career. I didn’t have to spend ever weekend up at school or every single weekday evening making materials and working my ass off. But I did it anyway because that’s what I do when I teach; I give it more than my all. Yes, I had health insurance, but my health was deteriorating because I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I developed psoriasis, an unusual cataract in my eye, my cholesterol went up and I was prescribed something to help me sleep. I did this for two years.

When I saw that things were not going to change, my boss asked me to come back with the understanding that he would pay almost half of my insurance premium, so here I am. I miss the kids but not the stress. I miss the extra days off and the sunshine. But I have insurance, I sometimes get to work from home and I pretty much know what to expect when I wake up every morning and no more 7:15 meetings!

3. Unity

Unity has literally saved me. If I had been brought up in New Thought, goodness knows how many fewer people I would have hurt and disappointed. Being given the choice about what to think and being accepted for it, there is so much power in that. Who knows what kind of career I would have chosen and how successful I would have been. But you can’t look back; it does no good. I don’t have to blame anyone, or myself, or God anymore for what life has brought me. I can give thanks for every day and experience as a gift. I am a spiritual being having a human experience, not a human being having a spiritual experience. There’s a difference and it has given me great relief. I have made friends who love me for who I am, not for what they think or want me to be. I don’t have to be like them or agree with them. We are each on our own spiritual journey and we support each other in that.

4. My family

I came out of the other side of divorce full of guilt and regret and some anger. Most of that has subsided. I think my ex now has a girlfriend; I am so happy for him. My daughters both talk to me and spend time with me. They are both in serious and happy relationships. I get to see my parents and my grandmother. My partner and I have grown in our relationship. I think I still hold some resentment in the fact that we should have never been apart in the first place, but then I wouldn’t have my kids, so I would never wish that. I lost contact with the majority of my friends, but that is starting to change. Some have Facebook friended me, even though I can tell they don’t approve. They’re not being rude or making judgmental comments. The ones who probably wouldn’t be able to hold their tongues have declined my friend requests, so I’m probably better off.

4. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

I was on medication for OCD for a number of years but no longer am. CBT really helped me with the compulsions. I have a top-rated therapist for that. I don’t think there is anything I could say or do that would surprise her; she’s probably seen or heard it all. She doesn’t really have to give me choices anymore on how to work it; she’s just there in case I have any questions. She also reminds me of things I’ve forgotten. When she first met me in about 2006, I was a total wreck, scared and suicidal. I feel like one of her biggest success stories.

I hope this post gives others hope that there is definitely a light at the end of their tunnels. Starting a journal or a blog like this one could be very telling one day when one looks back at the entries. I know I was amazed and it gives me great hope for my future. There is no going back to that misery. Things will only get better from now on.



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It Could Be Worse

Lately, I have had a few "mini" panic attacks. I'm really proud of myself for working my way through them before they escalated. I've done this by saying to myself, "It could be worse," and imagining how much worse it could be.

A FB friend of mine recently shared her fear of getting on an airplane. My response to her would be to think of how much worse it could be. Instead of being on a large, commercial jet, you could be in a four-seater, equipped with a parachute, flying through a thunderstorm.

This way of thinking has really helped me the past couple of weeks and has saved me tons of embarrassment in public places or in front of the people I love. Try it youself sometime and let me know if it worked for you.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

God Bless, Ms. Evelyn

Her name is "Ms. Evelyn" to her Whataburger customers and she will never know how important she was to me. Have you ever seen the movie "As Good As It Gets"? Melvin, a man with contamination OCD, among other rituals, goes to the same cafe for breakfast every morning. Carol, his waitress, is there every day, dutifully serving him his meals and putting up with his endless quirks and general creepiness. One day, Carol doesn't show up for work, and Melvin freaks out. It is the routine that Carol provides that keeps Melvin calm, like medicine to his soul. Evelyn is my Carol. There haev been other fast food window attendants in the past that I have missed after a while, but Evelyn is different. Maybe it's because she's a nice person. maybe it's because it's hard to find good customer service these days. Maybe it's because she reminds me of one of my best friends who will no longer acknowledge my existence.

I purposefully drive to this particular Whataburger on my way to work every day because of her service. I am never late because of her excellent work ethic and quick thinking. She takes her job VERY seriouslly but still manages to keep her sense of humor. She keeps the line moving no matter what. You can tell her co-workers are equally in awe as to how she does what she does, and she does it with a smile.

Evelyn is an extremely hard worker. She probably earns a little over minimum wage, if that much. She acts like she's being paid big bucks to be your best friend from the first day she waits on you. When you drive up to her Whataburger order box early in themorning, you hear, "Good morning. Welcome to Whataburger, home of the something something chicken sandwich. My name is Ms. Evelyn. How may I take your order?" For time's sake, you want to interrupt her greeting and just get to the order-taking part, but you don't because she says it with such pride and conviction. After you order, she says, "Drive to the window, beautiful, sweetie, handsome," or whatever name she feels appropriate.

When you get to the window, she appears to have five hands. Takes your money, is making your change, is taking someone else's order and somehow pouring your drink and drying of the cup for any spillage. She God bless you, calling you the name above that she has decided on, talks to your dogs, laughs, God blesses you AGAIN and tells you to have a WONDERFUL day, with stress on the "wonderful."

When Evelyn is not at the window, the line of cars comes to a dead stop. Many times I've just driven off after waiting awhile. It's obvious Evelyn isn't at work that day, so what's the point? Totally throws off my routine and gets my day off to a bad start. Several times I have gone on the Whataburger website to give her positive feedback at her request because "someone has it in for me and gave me a bad review." Several times I've given her a dollar tip or told her to keep the change to let her know what she does is appreciated.

It's routine like this that is both good and bad for my OCD. On one hand, it's predictable, so there's very little chance of a panic attack on my way to work, my day starts off "normally", I should say. On the other hand, it's routines like this that I get into that contribute to me falling apart when the routine is interrupted. So I guess I should have seen it as a step forward when Evelyn whispered to me out the window a couple of weeks ago, "I put in my two-week notice." "Hey, I can handle this," I thought. I told her I was happy for herand her new job, where she might be able to move up the ladder one day.

I got in the car today with my two dogs and asked them, "Ready to say goodbye to Ms. Evelyn?" I don't know which day is her last day, but I know it's coming up. Today will be my last trip to that Whataburger for awhile until I get into a new routine. When we got up to the window, I told her that my dogs and I had come to tell her goodbye and wish her good luck. I gave her my $2.32 and then put a $20 bill in her hand. "This is for keeping me on time to work everyday." She started crying, held the money over her heart and mouthed, "Thank you. God bless you." Callie yawned and I drove off.

Thank you and God bless you, too, Ms. Evelyn

(Footnote: Be kind. You never know how your kindness affects others.)