From Hiding and Feeling Unwanted to Living and Expressing Fully

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Any kind of mental disorder is still taboo in our society, unfortunately, and the result is that those that need to speak up and reach out most end up being those that hide and isolate most. Having a mental disorder myself, OCD, dermatillomania – a self-harm disorder, I know from first hand experience what it is to be alone with intense emotional baggage and how big and overwhelming it can become within the experience of isolation. I stand here now as an individual that has begun to take self-responsibility for my own personal healing and correcting, and would like to share about learning how to come out of the hiding and isolation of OCD, to emerge from hiding within self into Life and living.

Not understanding what is going on within self, not knowing how to manage it, and feeling like it is coming from anywhere but self had, especially as a young child, created a world and reality that seemed cruel and harsh. My inner experience felt like a sort of inward spiral, a self-perpetuating black hole that sucked me into isolation and hiding. Within this, one of the most prominent experiences for me was feeling I needed care, and needed people that I trusted to come in to my world and connect with me on a deep level to assist and support me to navigate my experiences, and to find a way to bring me out, and to see and realize another way to live and experience life.

This continued on into adulthood and influenced how I felt about my innate value and worth, as I had over time taken it personally that no one could see what I was going through. It’s ironic that in hiding and isolating myself within and as the disorder, and presenting a fake front as my ‘social self’, I was sending out the message that I am fine and don’t need anyone, while the reality was one where all I really wanted was to be saved.

What I didn’t realize until recently was the fact that everything I longed for from others, where I wanted others to reach out to me, to pull me through, to help me, to save me, to make me feel good, to make me feel loved and wanted – all of it was only there because I had never learned how to give it to myself or how to be that for myself. Even when I realized that that is what I had to do, I still had to walk a process of making it real, of really doing it for me.

What I had not been shown, seen or realized as a child was my responsibility to reach out and ask, to invite others in, to show and reveal what it was that I was experiencing. I felt alone in an unfriendly place. I felt abandoned and left to fend for myself. Without learning how to take self-responsibility and unknowingly leaving my needs unanswered in the hands of others, the lack of understanding felt as though I must be doing something wrong, or that there was something innately undeserving about me. Instead of learning how to take self-responsibility, I learned to punish myself through self-harm. I learned to carry a burden of guilt, shame, anxiety and frustration as atonement for unnamed sins I did not understand.

The point that is missed here, and the point that we don’t teach children is this point of self-responsibility within the understanding that no one can change they way you live, the way you experience yourself, the hundreds of little decisions and choices made throughout the day regarding the kind of person you will be towards yourself and others. The truth is that yes – there is medication and drugs that can influence and change the internal experience, but without the understanding and with no life skill development or support teaching us how to manage ourselves and our internal realities, all we are creating is the continuous dependency on factors outside of ourselves to make us feel ‘right’ – all the while, perpetuating low-self esteem, diminished self-worth, self-damning depression, and a lost people looking to everything but themselves to save them.

Through walking a process of self-forgiveness to ease the burden I had been carrying, and to better see what my needs were and also, how to create an independence within my life, I was better able to see how to assist and support myself to walk out of hiding and out of isolation. What I began to do and what I am still working on is how to clearly define and express my needs to others in my world instead of waiting for them to notice or figure them out for me.

There are many things I can do for and by myself as well, in terms of moving myself to do the things I know will support me. Within and as the disorder I have in my life at the moment, I am always walking a fine line between being sucked inward towards hiding and isolation, and battling feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem. I have many opportunities throughout the day, moments of choice and decision where I can pick myself up and get myself out and moving instead of staying in (both physically in my house or my room, and emotionally as not speaking up and speaking out). Or if I stay in, to do it in such a way where it is a decision made in awareness, where I have a plan or a structure for myself so that I don’t fall into self-harm and self-sabotage.

For me it starts first with what I can give myself, doing writing and self-forgiveness to investigate my mind and the issues I face, and script out a better way to be, like a blueprint to guide me as I move throughout the day. And then pushing myself to participate in self-supportive activities such as yoga, small gatherings and game nights with friends, or simply going out for coffee with a good book. Anything to pull me out of my mind and into this physical reality where I can see that I am ‘normal’, I’m okay, I can do this.

It has been a process, that is for sure, and one that continues and will continue for as long as I live. But as tough a pill it was to swallow at first, it is only without understanding that taking care of oneself seems like ‘the hard way’. What I have lived and learned is that in stepping up and being there for me, I have eased the burden and actually received from myself and others that which I need to live a better and more fulfilling life.

Some self-forgiveness and self-commitments to consider:

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to look to others to show me my value and my self-worth, instead of seeing and realizing that I have in fact not been showing it to myself, living it for myself, and strengthening it within myself.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to make decisions throughout my day that tend to cater to my subtle expressions of giving up on myself and calling it ‘relaxing’,  giving in to my addictions and calling it ‘treating myself’ or ‘spoiling myself’, and not living my self-worth and calling it ‘giving myself a break’ – and then wonder why I react to and feel hurt when others do not consider me, instead of seeing and realizing that all that is being mirrored to myself is the ways in which I already do not consider what is best for me in my living actions.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to make it someone else’s responsibility to show me my value and worth instead of seeing and realizing that only I can live that as an actual self-creation point, it is not something that can simply be shown to me or experienced as a feeling or emotion, but rather something that I must live for and as myself in many moments and decisions throughout the day in order to give to myself and make it a real, substantial, untouchable, unwavering point of myself that is here within and as me.

I commit myself to stand in awareness in moments of decision throughout the day, where I see which choice/decision/path will contribute to my self-creation as self-value and self-worth, and which will lead to the creation of self-diminishment, self-limitation and self-compromise, and I commit myself to stand as the self trust that I will, in those moments, push myself to chose what is best for myself.

I commit myself to take self-responsibility for my own self-consideration and self-regard, until I see the evidence in my world that I am in fact standing as that for me by seeing that I no longer react and feel hurt when I think and perceive that others are not considering and regarding me.

I commit myself to stand up for myself, and speak up for myself when and as I see that I am being treated less-than I would accept/allow myself to treat another – not in and from an emotional reactive state, but from and as that point of self-regard, self-consideration, self-value and self-worth.

 

Mental/Physical Balance

Mental physical balance

I am continuing from my last blog post  where I am working on an application of developing myself from a starting point of creation (creating a New Me!), while at the same time, letting go of OCD. Obviously, self-change and self-creation are not as easy as writing a list and sticking to it. The process of making new habits and breaking old ones requires time, dedication, persistence, perseverance and patience, among other qualities (these are just the ones that have come up for me most in my experience).  What I have found is that there must be a balance here. A balance meaning, balancing between the physical doing, and then also walking through the mind/mental elements.

 

It has been about three weeks that I have been working on incorporating these new elements into my life, and my first report is that it is a lot tougher than I thought it would be! I have managed to integrate a few of points to certain degrees. It is like having planted seeds which I am now nurturing to grow, and the seeds are sprouting and growing at different speeds. The good news is that all of them have ‘germinated’ so to speak – meaning, I have given attention to all of the points, and I see potential in each one to develop, and some have already begun!

 

One of the things I noticed is that it is tough to remember all these new things I want to incorporate into myself and my life, when I already have quite a busy schedule. Whenever I confront this point of not having time, I think of a quote I hear that says “saying you don’t have enough time is like saying you don’t care”. It’s true because I ALWAYS find time for OCD/derma, so if I have time for that multiple times a day, I then also have time to give to my own self-creation. So, time is no excuse, this CAN be done.

 

Another mind/mental aspect that has been making this application difficult is the resistances I feel in relation to doing these things. I will prepare a moment for myself to, for example write or to work out. When the time comes, it s like hitting a wall, everything of me does NOT want to do it, and all of me would prefer to go into OCD/derma instead. In this moment, I have sometimes fallen (for which I forgive myself), and sometimes stood and moved me (yay!).

 

When I have moved myself into the direction of my choice, it has never been as bad or as hard as I thought it would be. It has rather in fact always been a huge beneficial support and an empowering self-movement and self-direction. In fact, I often end up feeling a sense of relief and lightness within me, almost as if it took more energy to maintain the resistance to maintain the internal battle than to just pick myself up and move to do it.

 

Self-Creation: Who Will I Be?

The title of this post is an amazing question, because I get to answer it and decide 100% for myself, and that is so empowering! This is not the first time, however, that I have put myself into action to change. One of the biggest realizations I have had is that grandiose sweeping changes rarely last and are not so easy to sustain. Maybe sometimes, but for the following application, I will take it slow, step-by-step.

Below is a chart which is based on the application described in my previous blog. It is the basic ground-work for who and how I would like to be and become. It is, in my view, a ‘healthy’ (as in: normal, constructive, beneficial to myself and my living, self-expansive)  foundation to set for myself as that which I would like to birth as me:

Work on Developing

Exercise

Writing

Maintaining a clean environment

Find a Hobby

Reading

Preparing my Day the night before

Vlogging

Down time

 

Self-Expression

How To

Excercise: Starting with three times a week. Twice doing strength/muscular in my room with youtube videos, and then one jog/long walk on the weekends. Taking a different bus after work so I get a 20 minute walk home .Take stairs in metro.

Writing: Every night post in daily self-forgiveness. Three times a week, one of the following: blog about realizations or sf. Personal sf that is deeper/not public..

Maintaining a clean environment: Create a place for everything. Put things back in their place once done. Do laundry weekly, vacuum weekly. Weekend organizing. Get rid of stuff I don’t use/need. Take responsibility to do after dinner clean up for my mom. Keep my stuff in my room, not in the public spaces.

Find a hobby: when I have spare time I would like to do something creative/artistic. My mom has an art studio at home I can use. I would like to do bead work or stained glass or collage. I would spend quality time with my mom and relate to her through art. I would enjoy it. I would need to buy some supplies but she has all the tools. Arrange to go with her to art store next time she goes.

Reading: On the bus to and from work is when I have time to myself to read a book for pleasure. Prevents me from going into the mind and becoming stressed about the day ahead, or by other passengers.

Preparing my day: Before I go to bed, go into the kitchen and prepare my lunch, the coffee machine. Get clothes ready for the next day. Shower at night, not in the morning.

Vlogging: One French vlog a month. Do regular hangouts discussing topics of self-introspection and self-expansion. One process vlog a month.

Downtime: At least once a week bubble baths, once a week movie.

Self-expression:

Through writing, vlogging and blogging.

With my parents over dinner.

Nightly chats with my partner.

At work.

Do not speak in reaction, practice self-honest expression, breathe through desire for attention. Speak what comes up within me as points or realizations.

Practice how to: Listen. Breathe. Be Natural. Calm. Comfortable.

Write out points to work through fears in relation to communicating. Practice listening, breathing through reactions while talking on the phone or in person. Note points that come up after chatting. Push self-honesty. Listen.

 

Letting Go of OCD While Birthing A New Me

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Sometimes I don’t even try to stop OCD because deep down I like it in some ways and am very attached to it. But then the consequences become too great and I come to a point of wanting to stop again. Common sense dictates though, that no matter what my feeling or emotional relationship to OCD is, I must push myself to end it because it is destructive in my life.

 

The main way I have been trying to stop OCD for a long time has been to ‘just stop’. When that obviously didn’t work, I tried to ‘replace’ it. Meaning, I would garner all my will power and avoid triggering situations and do other things instead of OCD. This made sense to me and seemed really good and right. The problem is that I would always reach a certain point and then fall again, each and every single time, for years.

 

It happened again recently, and I did some searching online and found an interview recording (called ‘Addiction Replacement‘, and part two, ‘Creating Balance While Changing Yourself‘) containing advice for just such a situation that made A LOT of sense. It suggested that within the word ‘replace’, there contained some suppression, some avoidance and some running away as a starting point. In a way, I was trying to ignore the problem and do everything I could to replace the problem, but within this, it is obvious that the problem is still at the center of everything I was doing. I mean, if you think about it, when has “ignoring the problem” ever worked? It is a classic mistake and avoidance/suppression technique.

 

In the recording, there was a suggestion of a slight re-alignment to this application, which at once assists and supports me to let go of OCD, while at the same time, bringing forth something new. This is more a process of letting go and creation, rather than a process of replacement. It seems like a small difference, but the implications are HUGE.

 

So I am still going to look at the activities I had been wanting in my life instead of OCD, which includes exercise (creates discipline, increases self-image, decreases self-judgment), writing (self-forgiveness/re-defining words/sharing realizations etc… which helps with vocabulary building, self-expression and finding my voice), keeping my environment tidy (lessens anxiety, creates structure and discipline), finding a hobby (for enjoyment and self-expansion), reading (rest and relaxation or informing myself), preparing for my day the night before (instead of rushing/stressing in the morning), vlogging (I find it helps with self-expression, walking through fears and resistances and so: self-acceptance), and down time (resting/relaxation, like bubble baths or movies). The goal here is to strengthen my strengths, and develop my ‘weaknesses’ (aka “strengths in the making”).

 

The important thing to realize that this is not about chasing these activities in a way that is ‘running away’ from OCD, but to instead focus on creation and to focus on self, while at the same time working with the OCD. It was explained to be like a see-saw, where you place yourself squarely in the middle of the two ends: letting go of OCD, and creating a new me.

Within this understanding, you can see that if the focus is only on letting go of OCD and not CREATING me, OCD remains because I am the same and thus will recreate the same. If the focus is on only creating me and not walking through OCD, I am supressing OCD and thus, OCD remains. The balance is where I am equally letting go of OCD, and creating me at the same time.

 

I will continue in my next blog with a practical exercise.

 

In this Moment – I Changed (Planting the Seeds of Change)

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I just read a blog I had written in 2013, and I was struck at how much I have changed since then. It’s funny how we can forget how much we have changed over time because it tends to happen quite slowly, and it’s cool to blog and document progress because it produces moments like these. Here is the blog, and at the end I will give an update on how I am doing now:

“I’ve noticed that while on my way to work, regardless of what time it is, I will become anxious about getting to there on time. I have been late to work SO MANY times because of OCD and skin-picking, because I would become trapped within a skin picking session up till the last minute, and then I would have to hurriedly apply make-up to look ‘normal’ again for work. Throughout this entire play-out I would be building and generating anxiety until I was tightly wound up; and this would be the starting point of my day.

This has happened so many times over the years that I find, even when I am not late I  will automatically go into this anxiety before work as a habit because it’s what I’m so used to. It’s become all that I know. I feel as though, if I do not go through these motions I will not be able to get to work at all, because in the past, it has been the anxiety of getting to work that has broken me out of the skin-picking possession and got me moving towards actually getting out the door. So now there exists the belief that without the anxiety, I cannot move myself, and I won’t get to work.

 

Continuing with this common sequence: after I would get myself out the door and off to work, I would be in a really unpleasant state. I would get to work, and would probably have an air about me, or a presence about me that others may react to. Whether I did or not, I can never be sure, but what is certain, is the fact that because I felt so anxious already, and because I would also feel insecure due to the fact that my picture presentation was covered in flaws, and because I created and manifested the anger at myself, the fear, the self-loathing caused by picking, I would reflect it back to myself off of my coworkers.

 

For example: one day as I arrived to work, and as I was walking by a couple co-workers I said “good morning”. One of them looked at me and replied, but the other one just looked at me and turned away and began talking again. As I continued walking to put my coat away I remember this having given me a really bad feeling, I felt like they disliked me, did not want me there, and painfully endured my presence.

 

So, the interesting thing about this is that these thoughts or emotions can only be experienced by me if I created them already- somewhere in my life I accepted and allowed myself to feel these ways about myself, ways which are now activated within and through certain situations. So, within self-honesty I can see, realize and understand that I in fact painfully endure my own presence at times, especially within and as OCD. I dislike myself when I participate in the self-abusive habits that I participate in. I in fact don’t want to be me when I feel the way I do after I have had a pick session, for example.

 

I thought about this that day, and I tried something new to see if they were in fact feeling this way about me, or if I was simply creating it all in my mind. I walked back over there and asked how they were doing, and the other one ignored me again. So I pushed through the fear, self-consciousness and anger, looked straight at her and asked if something was wrong. This seemed to surprise her or catch her off guard, she sort of snapped out of it and apologized. She actually reached out and touched my arm, and participated in a very warm and welcoming interaction.

 

As it turned out, she was dealing with an extremely stressful situation within one of her work-cases, and she was trying to figure it out with the other co-worker. She was just completely wrapped up in it, and had probably worked herself up into a state where she was so self-involved in her own situation that she was not concerned or aware of the impression she was giving off to others- which is the exact same way that I become. So when I pushed it a little by asking her if anything was wrong, I learned it had nothing to do with me at all. I had just been taking everything personally, and consequently feeding my own cycles of self-loathing, insecurity and lack of self-acceptance.
Within the state of mind I enter into within and through the disorder of OCD, I become even more prone to these self-experiences, by taking so many things throughout my day personally because I set myself up to already feel this way: so a glance, a comment, my own internal conversations, etc…  using all of this to accept and allow myself to feel terrible; creating and manifesting an absolutely dreadful internal experience, and then getting home to abuse myself within OCD as a release and escape from it, only to start the whole cycle over again- waking up the next morning and not wanting to face the day ahead. Reluctant to get out of bed, and feeling fatigued on my drive to work because of this absolute reluctance and the anxiety that I create for myself—I mean, is this living? Or is this simply enduring the day? Within and through OCD, I create a life which that I can’t endure and which I would rather escape, but I see now that with a little awareness, I can stop a LOT of the experiences by pushing through the situations I create for myself, simply by using common sense and pushing through a small wall of emotion.”

That is the end of the older blog, and it has been a few years since then…

So how am I doing now?

 

Well, in the mornings, I have a routine that does not include OCD or skin picking. If I slip, it is very minimal, I can get out of it and move on to the next point quite easily or fluidly. I am more aware.

 

When I look at how I arrive at work now I can see that it puts me in a good mood (sometimes a little distracting as I enjoy my co-workers so much that I have to pull myself away and focus on working). I do say hello to everyone, even at times going around to people that sit further away to make a connection and ‘check-in’. I really like this and the dynamic it creates between us.

 

I laugh a lot with my co-workers and generally have a pretty good time, even spending time together outside of work (and have gone on two vacations with co-workers). I would say the relationships I have at work are worthwhile, deeper that I have been used to, but have a light, easy-going feel to them. I am so glad I walked this point, and it is cool to see one of the first moments of correction where it started years ago.

 

So what am I reflecting to myself now within my experience around others? I would say a lot more self-acceptance and self-appreciation. It is to the point where I am now pushing more self-expression, to express me and get to know myself as who I am when I am not constantly judging me and looking at my flaws.

 

This is how the process works, one moment at a time, which accumulates into many moments and then just becomes a way of living. This is how we can create a life worth living for ourselves. Not just with getting along well at work, but within realizing that we are the creators of our own lives, starting with the small, and working to the great. My one condition is that the life I create will be one where I value, respect and honour all Life in my living application, and live according to principle, such as giving as I would like to receive, and doing what’s best for everyone, not just me.

 

5 Golden Rules of Picking

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My Skin-Picking Rules and Regulations

I understand that these rules are set by me, for me, for where I am at right now. I realize I cannot continue the way I am going, and must take steps and make steps so that I can, step-by-step, create a new way of life and living.

These are the things I commit to for me, my healing and well-being:

I commit myself to follow these rules and regulations until they are integrated and ingrained habits within my life and living.

I commit myself to monitor my progress, and when and as I see that I have successfully ingrained these habits, I will change and update them to further progress in managing skin-picking.

RULES and REGULATIONS

  1. Before all picking sessions I must wash my hands and sterilize my tools as well as the skin I am about to pick. After the session I must clean the touched area.
    1. If there is moisture and it is wet, I wash the area, I apply a clay mask, rinse and leave it.
    2. If it is dry, I leave it, but if it is red and dry I may apply antibacterial cream or All-Heal cream.

 

  1. I may only pick twice a day, once in the morning, and once at night.
    1. If I miss one of these timeframes, I may not make it up later, it is considered missed and the moment has passed and I must wait for the next timeframe.
    2. In the morning means after I wake up, and before I get ready for my day.
    3. At night means after I have prepared myself for bed (brushed teeth, used toilet, put pj’s on, prepared my room and bed for sleeping).
    4. I may not push back the times due to picking. Once I make the decision that it is time to prepare for the day or time to go to bed, then I must move myself to do so despite where I am at with picking, I must let it go.

 

  1. During allotted picking times, I first start by taking a breath, slowing down, and observing what I am about to do. I maintain this awareness throughout the session by every now and then pulling away, taking a breath and grounding myself.
    1. If I see myself losing awareness and going into the possessed mode where I do real damage, I stop, and I breathe, I stop working on the damaged area nd move to only pluck hairs from my legs without touching the skin.

 

  1. I may only pop or squeeze when there is a visible white head, and only pluck a hair when it is long enough for the tweezers to grab without damaging the skin.

 

  1. After a session I must bring myself back to self-love, self-care and self-acceptance by taking actual actions to prepare myself for the day or for sleep.

 

 

OCD and the Buddy System – How it Feels When it Works

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This post continues from my last blog. In this series I am walking through a successful use of the ‘Buddy-System’ to assist and support with stopping OCD.

From my last post:

“For me, on this occasion, the buddy-system worked. Instead of falling into the OCD action of picking my skin before going to meet a group of people, I reached out to my friend who is a life coach, and together we found the source of why I felt the compulsion in that moment. Once I was able to find the source (read the first blog to see what it was), and I did some forgiveness on having created the source for myself, I was able to walk out of my house without having to go through the ‘usual routine’. This is quite a drastic contrast compared to what I am used to in these situations, and I want to talk a bit about that.”
What happened was that I had someone to be accountable to, and together we had found the source of the compulsion in that particular moment, which was fear of judgment from the people I was about to go meet. In doing some self-forgiveness on that point, within the realization that it was actually projected self-judgment, I saw that I was in fact the cause and the source. This means that I had the power to let it go and diffuse the situation. Whenever I believe that it is ‘them’, and ‘the others out there’ that are responsible for making me feel bad and judged, I leave myself completely powerless to change it or do anything about my internal experience. It then feels like I am walking into a minefield, where I can have explosive reactions at any moment.

 

One of the commonalities my friend and I discovered about what triggers my OCD, is that it is often when I feel like I can’t direct the situation I am about to walk in to. I fear the worst and then feel powerless to change it.

 

It’s like walking in to a self-created ‘doomed’ situation. I have also seen that this often causes the situation to be ‘doomed’, because it then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I know that people with derma can relate to this, because we do it every time we go into a picking session: we create the problems we fear, which is having blemished skin, thus exposing our disorder, and the fact that there is ‘something wrong’, being judged for it and not being able to hide it.

 

So, I had to make the choice and decide, armed with all of this information and empowerment, that I was going to leave my house without picking. I had diffused the source of the OCD by taking self-responsibility for the reactions in the form of judgments that I had been having and fearing, which had been causing me to want to pick. I decided this was in fact projected self-judgment and I forgave myself for doing it, and embraced myself as I was/am, flaws and all. I also decided that I could direct the situation I was about to walk into. I was going to direct it by keeping myself in check, and not accepting and allowing my mind to go back into fear of judgment, and I would instead take events as they came.

 

I had to focus on what needed to be done to get out of the house, versus what I was being pulled into doing. I needed to get dressed, brush my hair, check myself in the mirror to see if everything was in order, make sure everything in my house was ok for me to leave, collect the things I needed to bring with me, and that was it. The interesting part of this experience was that such a simple thing as ‘getting ready to leave’, felt like walking through quicksand. It was fascinating. I literally had to put one foot in front of the other to keep moving because I felt like I was being sucked in to the OCD.

It was actually a physical sensation of being difficult to move, it was extremely uncomfortable and it just felt wrong. It was like my mind was saying ‘nooooo, stop moving forward, you’re forgetting something, everything will fall apart, you need to slow down, stop moving yourself, go to the mirror instead….” And so on like this. I mean, not the actual words, but the physical experience. It felt like it might feel if you were to turn on the hot water in your bath, turn on the oven and the hair dryer, and then start to leave your house. Imagine the feeling of opening the front door to go out… everything in your body and mind would be saying ‘no, you have to go back and turn of the water… stop, turn around and go turn off the appliances.’ Except, these are rational, practical considerations. I’m just making the comparison to explain how it feels when you take a stand and make the decision to not go into OCD.

 

The unfortunate truth is that stopping, and creating a new path is not pleasant, at all. In the moment, it does not feel empowering, it is not graceful, and it is not an easy moment. It Is hard, it feels terrible and wrong, and it is very humbling to see the power of the disorder and how it has come to control the mind and body on so many levels. BUT, and I say this with absolute certainty: IT IS WORTH IT!!!

No pain , no gain, as they say. In this instance, this was the truth. It was incredibly difficult to leave the house without having participated in my ‘ritual’. But when I went out, I interacted with people more openly, felt at ease within myself, and like I could express a confident and stable part of me. It was as if having gone through the quicksand to leave my house actually strengthened me. And so, I got to know me a little bit more, I got to enjoy me, and I got to be more me than what I am used to – which is hiding me, drawing attention away from me, trying to disappear, feeling completely self-conscious.

It is amazing how different our self-experience can be if we give ourselves a little push out the door. But we have to decide to do this, to take a stand and a stance and gather the strength. Self-understanding, and understanding what is going on in one’s mind and why, is an incredible support to be able to do this. And that is what I experienced in that moment, and it felt like I was more fully living.

 

The Buddy-System, Does it Work (part two)

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Continuing from my last blog, where I tried the ‘buddy system’ to prevent myself from falling into what I call an ‘OCD possession’. Read the blog HERE for context.

For me, on this occasion, the buddy-system worked: Instead of falling into the OCD action of picking my skin before going to meet a group of people, I reached out to my friend who is a life coach, and together we found the source of why I felt the compulsion in that moment. Once I was able to find the source (read the first blog to see what it was), and I did some forgiveness on having created the source for myself, I was able to walk out of my house without having to go through the ‘usual routine’. This is quite a drastic contrast compared to what I am used to in these situations, and I want to talk a bit about that.

The ‘usual routine’ would be to work myself up into a state where I feel the only solution, relief, or way out is to fall into the compulsion aspect of OCD. This would be the actual ‘acting out’ of the disorder. The way my OCD expresses itself in these situations is skin-picking. So instead of going through the very normal process of getting dressed, making sure I look presentable, and then walking out the front door, I would instead be unconsciously having repetitive thoughts, and feeling unable to think clearly, focus or re-direct myself. This causes an internal environment that is chaotic, tense and uncomfortable, filled with fear, anxiety and stress. This internal environment is one which I have simply never developed the skills to cope with.

In my life, OCD has developed ‘naturally’ since childhood as a coping mechanism, due to genetics, past experiences, and actions performed in unawareness on my part.

What happens is I will go up to the mirror and obsessively examine my skin. This takes my mind off of the intensity of the internal environment. In this mental state, any small imperfection seems to me to be a huge flaw that I think everyone will look at, and is the mistakenly perceived source of my unbearable internal discomfort.

Within this, I feel that instead of seeing me, everyone would see only flaws and blemishes. So, in a seemingly uncontrollable mental-state, I would go about removing all the perceived marks and spots.

The consequence of all this, which is the play-out that I experience on a daily basis, is that due to all the time it takes to go into OCD (which, once in the possession, can be a very long time and  beyond my control to stop), plus the time it takes to carefully apply makeup to try to be presentable, leaves no time to actually get ready and do all the normal things one would do to prepare to leave the house.

To be continued in the next blog…

 

There Is No Reset Button

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OCD is exhausting. Dermatillomania is damaging. Sometimes at night I fall into an OCD possession and after some time I am able to tell myself “just go to bed, Kim.” And I go to bed. I wake up the next day and it’s as if I am another person; someone who is not inflicted with uncontrollable compulsions. That’s not to say that the damage isn’t there. It’s there to varying degrees depending on how much self-control I was able to exert the night before. But I wake up mostly feeling lighter, not yet burdened with the day’s baggage. This morning, however, I woke up feeling as if nothing had changed from the night before. It was as if everything had just been placed on pause only to  resume again exactly as is was once the sun came up again.

 

I felt horribly dreadful and completely flattened because I didn’t get my ‘reset’ of a good night’s sleep. I don’t know why this happened, all I know is that I didn’t get my ‘get out of jail free card’. So I decided to do some self-forgiveness on it to see how I could turn this self-defeating situation into a self-empowering lesson for me to learn from. I sat down and opened my computer and began to write:

 

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to depend on the feeling of starting over with each new day, wherein in the morning I will feel fresh and new as if the previous day’s event hadn’t occurred, within this, forgetting the seriousness or gravity of the disorder I’m facing, by intentionally ignoring or ‘forgetting’ what I go through each and every day.

 

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to feel doom and gloom when I don’t wake up feeling refreshed, as if a reset button hadn’t been pressed, because I placed the responsibility on my physical body to absorb the previous day’s activities, and to heal the damage I had done, and within this:

 

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to place the responsibility upon my physical body to deal with the consequences of what I do due to the disorder I have, instead of taking the responsibility upon myself with the utmost seriousness and gravity, wherein I am able to do everything within my power to assist and support myself to manage this disorder.

 

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to do the bare minimum to manage this disorder, and to hide and cover up the fact that at most times, it is not under control, and to try to hide it from myself, suppress it and sweep it under the rug, thus creating a situation of denial within which I am only undermining myself by preventing myself from doing absolutely everything I can to assist and support myself to walk in this life with and through this disorder.

 

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to feel overwhelmed, diminished and powerless when I do not wake up feeling refreshed and ‘new’, but instead feel as if the previous day’s struggle and load were here with me immediately upon waking up, and within this:

 

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to not want to face the struggle and the weight I have created and carry due to the manifestation of this disorder and all the outflows and consequences it causes.

 

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to not know how to deal with and manage this disorder, and to within this ‘not-knowing’ fall into a default-mode program instead of actually standing up and facing it through exploration and investigation, and actively seeking and searching for a solution for and as myself.

 

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to fall into what is comfortable and feels ‘right’, instead of using a practical outlook wherein I would asses my behavior and look and the consequences and outflows, and then make a reality-based assessment of whether or not what I am doing is actually assisting and supporting me to live to my utmost potential. Within this:

 

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to act based on what feels ‘right’, even though it is blatantly obvious that it is destructive and damaging to myself in every way.

 

When and as I see I am ignoring the gravity and seriousness of my disorder by hiding from it and ignoring it, I stop, and I breathe. I bring myself back to self-movement by bringing the disorder Here, in front of me, in order to remind myself that I have a task to do and a process to walk that involves moment to moment application, and within looking at the disorder Here, in the present moment, I decide how to best proceed in such a way that I am dealing with, and NOT ignoring, that which I have created and must now undue and replace with the creation of myself as Life, equal and one Here.

 

I commit myself to realize and understand that this disorder is not greater than me, by walking with it and through it step by step until it’s done.

 

I commit myself to face myself within that which I have created as OCD/dermatillomania.

 

I commit myself to stop hiding from OCD and sweeping it under the rug and doing the bare minimum in order to live and survive.

 

I commit myself to do everything within my power to manage and overcome OCD/dermatillomania.

 

Anxiety Series – Dermatillomania: Anxiety Dimension Solution (part five)

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My life had become ruled by anxiety. I had even developed an anxiety disorder called dermatillomania. This blog is focused on ‘picking apart’ and dismantling this disorder, instead of doing so to my skin. I am doing this so that I can restructure and put myself back together in a way that I can accept, because I cannot to continue to accept this disorder in my life.

In my last blog series I walked the process of deconstructing anxiety reactions to see what exactly causes them and how one can firstly, direct oneself to walk through them in a way where one won’t feed into and perpetuate them; and secondly, avoid triggering them at all. I have proven to myself too many times already, that I can’t simply stop my compulsive skin picking and other OCD tendencies. I am now working on making the internal and external changes necessary to create the environment in which change will be possible.

For practicality, in my last blogs, I listed five examples of every-day situations that trigger anxiety in my own life. As a side note, in doing this, I actually got to know myself and who I am within the anxiety, and how I can handle its onset. The process I have walked in my last few blogs has been a very interesting, and I have been successfully practicing what I’ve taught myself for several weeks now (in terms of preventing or walking through the anxiety where it would have normally taken over). I’ve observed quite a significant change in my experience of anxiety, as well as the frequency of anxiety attacks. The biggest difference has been at my job, where my overall stress level had been reduced. I highly suggest checking out my other blogs in this anxiety series in order to apply the same process in your own life.

Here is where I left off in my last blog: “The best solution is to keep practicing being able to recognize the moment anxiety first starts, because that is where it can be stopped. The goal is to prevent the reactions from taking place at all. This requires a slowing down within self, and a self-awareness perhaps not previously developed. I will work on these aspects over the next weeks, by studying my examples of ‘anxiety-triggering situations’ I wrote about in my last blog. I will ‘study’ them by walking through them one by one, doing self-forgiveness on all the points so that I reveal to myself any hidden self-sabotage and to see what exactly is going on that leads me to create an anxiety reaction within myself.”

I have been going to the gym for the past year or so. What I noticed at first was minimal to no upper-body strength. After a year of working out with weights, swimming and boxing, I have noticed visible musculature and a slight but noticeable increase in strength. It has been awesome to see something develop from virtually nothing. The muscles were not there before, and now they are. It’s as simple as that: they are new, I created them. When they are tiny and not very strong, even the lightest weights make me tremble with effort after a couple of reps. But I know that if I simply continue to apply myself they will inevitably grow. I am mentioning this because it’s the same with developing self-awareness. I personally develop self-awareness through self-forgiveness, because it is very effective at peeling back the layers of the mind to reveal what is under the anxiety, what is causing it, what thoughts are creating it, and what reaction to those thoughts are fueling it. It is like seeing the ‘worst’ of yourself while in a gentle and supportive embrace.

Warning: I’m about to go into some self-forgiveness statements. They may seem repetitive and detailed… but I continue to apply it because, like the muscles, self-forgiveness has assisted me to develop self-awareness where once there was none. I am becoming able to, in the moment of reaction, identify where the reaction came from, why it came up, and how to walk myself out of it. I’m not always successful, and sometimes I’m too late, but like my muscles, I know that if I keep practicing and applying myself, I will become more effective and will eventually be able to let go of the anxiety point once and for all, because it will no longer be an issue in my life.

Here is the first example of where anxiety is often triggered in my life:

Example 1) Anxiety + Overwhelming-ness

            My first example is in relation to food preparation. It starts when I begin to think about organizing meals and food for the next day or couple of days, or as I begin cooking. It’s a simple task that I think I could actually enjoy, if I didn’t become bombarded with thoughts that become overwhelming.”

I will let you know in advance that in the below self-forgiveness, I revealed to myself that I held an old belief that a ‘good woman’ is defined by her ability to cook. I had no idea I held this belief, nor any idea of the pressure I placed on myself due to it. I also found out that I compare myself to all the women who have ever impressed me with their cooking abilities; women that had been cooking all their lives – an unfair comparison as I had only learned later in life, and I therefore lacked much practice and practical experience. I found this very interesting, and I can see how the anxiety blows my reactions to it out of proportion. I also found out a lot of simple, practical things I can change, like not taking on too much, organizing myself before I begin to cook, keeping a clean workspace, as well as making a plan ahead of time and sticking to it.

Read the self-forgiveness on the example below to see how I found this out, and what I plan to do to instead cook for the simple enjoyment of it, no pressure, no judgment, just my hands working with food in gratefulness of the sustenance being provided. After the self-forgiveness, read on to see how this is related to the perpetuation of dermatillomania.

Self-forgiveness:

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to become anxious when I start to cook.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing starting to prepare food to be a trigger point existent within and as me.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to become anxious.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing anxiety and anxiety attacks to exist within and as me.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to want to rush the process of cooking food to ‘get it over with’.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to, within this ‘rushed’ energy, begin to cook immediately and figure it out as I go, instead of taking a moment before I’ve started to plan how I will be proceeding.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to try and attempt to cook something when I haven’t left myself enough time, instead of seeing what I have frozen or if there is anything around that is quick to prepare.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to not consider cooking when I plan my time, viewing it as something I can quickly get over with in a rush, instead of seeing, realizing and understanding that food preparation takes time, and quite a lot of planning before-hand,

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to think, believe or perceive that organizing daily food preparation into my life is difficult and impossible, instead of seeing that every time I push myself to do it, I learn a little, and become more effective and organized over time.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to take out all the ingredients and try to start everything at once in the aim of saving time and going faster, without realizing that I create a messy and chaotic environment, reflecting my messy and chaotic mind when I follow through with this pattern of becoming rushed and then trying to do everything all at once and as fast as possible.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to spend more time thinking about the outcome of my labour than time spent planning it in the first place.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to create an expectation about what others will think when they taste the food I prepare, and to, within this, develop a desire for positive feedback, in order to obtain validation that I believe I require, because of the idea that ‘a good woman knows how to cook.’

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to base any part of my value and worth as a female upon my ability to cook food, or my lack thereof.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to think, believe or perceive that a ‘good woman’ can cook well, and to think about all the women I know who can cook well, and make things I cannot make,  thus placing pressure on myself to prove that I am a ‘good woman’ too, by trying and attempting to make amazing things when I don’t yet have the know-how, which is setting myself up for failure.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to set myself up for failure and then judge myself as having ‘failed as a woman’ when I inevitably make a mistake.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to distract myself away from the actual cooking by thinking about the potential positive and negative reactions to my food – thus preoccupying my mind and not focusing on what I’m doing, distracting myself with the thoughts instead of realizing that it only takes one wrong ingredient or one wrong move to ruin a meal.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to, within the desire to avoid a negative reaction, begin feeling upset and defeated when one part of the meal or another doesn’t turn out as I had imagined, creating pressure, blame and self –defeat when I’ve let something cook too long, or when I’ve made a mistake.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to build up anxious energy while I am cooking, wherein pressure is place on the reaction to my cooking, and I end up taking the reaction personally, whether good or bad, because I had built up energy which now needs to be released in a feeling (good) or emotional (bad) experience by which I would then define myself.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to define myself by my feelings and emotions.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to place pressure on to the reaction of others to my cooking, due to me having participating in thoughts, feelings, emotions and imaginations within and throughout the cooking process.

When and as I see that I am about to cook, I stop, and I breathe. I bring myself out of my mind and back into my physical body in the present moment, here, by giving myself a moment to organize, check for ingredients, plan the process and proceed one step at a time.

When and as I see that I am starting to go into a rushed and chaotic experience while cooking, I stop, and I breathe. I bring myself back to the pace of the physical, slow and steady, by taking a step back to look at my environment, ensuring I do not have too many items out or too many things going on at the same time, tidying where necessary, and assessing the most efficient way to proceed based on the requirements of what I have going on.

When and as I see that I am going into the ‘pleasing’ character while cooking, I stop, and I breathe. I bring myself into the lightness of the moment by taking off the pressure of cooking from the starting point of pleasing, and replacing it with the starting point of cooking for the mere fact that I enjoy cooking, experimenting with food, and learning from my mistakes.

When and as I see that I am searching for validation through cooking well, I stop, and I breathe.  I bring myself back to self-worth by reminding myself that my value is not in my ability to cook, but in the time and care that I invest in myself, creating my self-value, by, for example, cooking within and as self-enjoyment, open-minded learning, self-evolution within organization and pre-planning, thus creating myself as someone that can cook well because I have walked a process of trial and error, planning and organization, and practice over time.

I commit myself to learn to simply enjoy cooking, in all its aspects and everything it entails.

I commit myself to embrace myself within the mistakes I make, and to learn from them.

I commit myself to put in the time to plan and organize meals, to cook around discounts at the grocery store, and to cook for my health/body, allowing for pleasure as well.

I commit myself to cook for fun, because it’s a necessity, so I might as well have fun doing it!

This above example relates to dermatillomania, because the condition is not necessarily a complete focus on the skin. It is a symptom of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is created throughout the day and carried around within the mind and body, It builds up and from time to time, reaches a tipping point where it needs to be released. Often when I get anxious it feels like a discomfort within me, and it becomes very uncomfortable like an itch that, when left unscratched, becomes the overwhelming focus and then an obsession and compulsion until the energy is released and dissipated. I rarely look at what throughout the day created the anxiety, things of varying degrees that I didn’t face in the moment, but instead suppressed.

Usually when I do take the time to investigate, I find self-defeating thoughts which make me feel bad, lonely, isolated, hopeless etc…  which are soothed either by the endorphins released by the pain of picking or the complete focus on the skin and it’s imperfections, rather than the thoughts that are creating the pain and discomfort.

All of these thoughts are connected to energies expressed as feelings and emotions, which we then believe is who we are, but it’s not true. We have the choice to turn any self-defeating situation into a moment of self-empowerment. The thoughts that pop into our heads are just robotic programs that we’ve programmed into and as ourselves over a lifetime of believing ourselves to be the energies (feeling and emotions) we are able to create in our minds. We simply need to invest the time and care into ourselves to re-program how we think and act and do. This is effective, I have already proven it to myself. Like going to the gym – it’s just a matter of time before the results become real, visible and measurable!