Doing it All Alone

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I have realized many times that I can’t fight this battle all by myself, yet time and time again I find myself falling back into the pattern of shutting myself off and isolating myself as a coping technique. A part of me justifies this by holding the idea or belief that I am protecting others from me, and that this is my problem or issue and it should only be a burden on my own shoulders. And this causes me to not reach out and to ask for help, assistance or support.

I want to see myself as strong and capable and able to handle myself in any situation, and I also developed the belief that no one can really help me or do anything for me that I can’t do for myself. But circumstances in my life have made me realize that sometimes you can’t do it all alone, and that sometimes you can be surprised with just how beneficial reaching out and sharing can be. Unfortunately I took the route of learning this the hard way, through consequence rather than having taken more preventative measures when I saw things were getting tough.

I had reached a breaking point with the anxiety that I had been building up and suppressing for quite a long time. I had been feeling very overwhelmed and powerless with certain situations in my life, with things not moving fast enough, or financial situations where I didn’t see an immediate solution. Also, with a course I had been taking, I was working 7 days a week, with many obligations and responsibilities in between. This caused an accumulation of reactions which increasingly became overwhelming.

During this time, whenever I found myself alone, instead of taking that time to support myself, I would lose control and fall into OCD behaviour. It’s that repeating program that takes over and mutes out that part of me that is fighting for healing, allowing instead for the destructive part of me do the coping and the processing. Finally, one day a severe migraine broke me physically, forcing me to stop for real, and this ended up giving me the chance to see that it was time to stop suppressing and putting up walls around me like a fortress, and I allowed myself to go through an emotional breakdown as well.

After such an episode I felt much better, but alone. I closed myself in my room and told myself I would tough it out and everything would be better tomorrow. But, before this all took place I had just listened to an interview about this exact topic, also titled “Doing it All Alone” (you can listen to it for free: https://eqafe.com/p/doing-it-all-alone). I decided to take the advice from the being that had been going through similar experiences, and I came out of my room and talked to my parents. I’ve been hiding OCD for so long that talking about it with people in my world is still a bit foreign and uncomfortable for me. But I was able to express myself and speak about the anxiety and the lack of control I feel with OCD. We talked about the circumstances surrounding me reaching my breaking point, and discussed some immediate steps I could take to take care of myself. We also discussed some long-term options which I will be taking steps toward exploring as well.

After talking for some time, my migraine dissipated completely. I felt like I had support around me, and my parents expressed being grateful about having a better understanding about what it is I am going through. This was not the outcome I had expected when I imagined or anticipated talking about it. In my mind I thought it would be hard and uncomfortable and make matters worse, but in reality, it felt life-saving. I know that this doesn’t mean that everything will be easy from here on out, this is obviously a process that needs to be walked from moment to moment. It will take time before I become more and more comfortable allowing myself to be vulnerable in front of others, and to learn to identify when I can handle things on my own, and when it is best to ask for support.

The moral of the story is that we cannot trust that things will turn out exactly the way we imagine them, especially not when we are in an emotional reaction or heightened anxiety. It is important to sometimes come out of one’s own mind and cross-reference things with others in order to get a clearer perspective on oneself and one’s own situation. Talking to others and seeking support can introduce new options, open up alternatives or solutions that one may not have thought of alone, especially not from the limited perspective created by anxiety.

Doing some things alone is cool, it can be very empowering and build confidence and strength of character, but so can asking for support. With practice, it has become easier to do this, and to correctly identify which path is more appropriate to take in the moment.

 

 

Defining the Sensation That Causes Me to Compulsively Pick My Skin – What’s the Plan?

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Are we even aware of what it is we are thinking or feeling the moment we are so compelled that we start picking our own skin? I seem to think that in the past, before I knew this was a disorder and before I knew it wasn’t normal and that it is actually quite harmful, I don’t recall being aware of what was going on inside of me the moments before I would begin to pick. With the process of self-forgiveness I’ve been able to slow down a little bit, and actually have a look at the feelings I experience within myself the moments where I feel like it’s time to ‘pick or die’.

Of these internal emotional energetic experiences, one stands out in particular. It moves in and takes over quite regularly, and the last time it was intense was today, on my way home from work. It was an overwhelming sense and presence of fear. It was a dizzying uncertainty within which I felt a lack of control. Within this experience, as I was walking home, I knew that if I didn’t do something about it, I would end up getting home to an empty house, finding a mirror, finding some tweezers, and picking in an attempt to make this feeling go away, to ‘ground myself’, and make myself feel better.

The reason why I knew this is because this is the pattern I have become familiar with: I get the feeling, I ignore it and suppress it, and then I act out skin-picking compulsions in order to regain a sense of comfort, focus, and closeness with myself. Because I realized that in these moments, it’s hard to admit, but I don’t like myself very much. I don’t like what I’ve accepted and allowed myself to be and become; I feel alien and awkward, and like all my bad qualities are exaggerated. I feel like I’d rather disappear and not exist except for in the small safe bubble that is created when I pick.

However, I am now continuing to walk a process of no longer accepting or allowing old habits and patterns to control me. I am slowly scripting out new patterns and moving myself as my own self-directive principle, moment to moment, no matter what my internal experience and no matter how I’m feeling. This is the goal, and this is how I took a step today to achieve it:

First I did some self-forgiveness out loud, yes, right in the middle of the street as I was walking, because self-forgiveness can immediately ease the overwhelm experienced in these moments. It actually creates a beneficial closeness, self-acceptance and self-intimacy in these moments that is a cool transition from the detrimental closeness created by skin-picking (detrimental – like being in an abusive relationship of dependency).

Have you ever tried forgiving yourself? Try saying the words out loud and see how it feels, it can be intense… or it can be nothing, depending on our mind-state at the moment you are doing it. When you do it you have to mean it, and I meant it today because I was scared. I was walking into a suffocating trap (an empty apartment) and I knew I had to do something, so my self-forgiveness went something like this:

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to fear going home to an empty house.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to become overcome and overwhelmed by this feeling of absolute fear and dizzying uncertainty and I forgive myself for accepting and allowing overwhelming fear and dizzying uncertainty to exist within and as me.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to fear not giving myself a plan or a strategy to use to direct myself in these moments where I need it most, moments where I am in fear and uncertainty.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to not be there for myself to arm myself with preventative measures when I know I need them most.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to abandon myself and abdicate myself, my ‘Who I Am’ to this disorder, within the belief that subconscious submission to the disorder will somehow ‘work’ and make me feel better, instead of seeing, realizing and understanding that if I continue to submit, I will simply cycle and loop back into the same position, but worse because I will have hurt myself and caused visible damage, and I will have let myself down again.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to not trust myself that I will be able to control myself when I get home into an empty house.

I forgive myself for NOT accepting and allowing myself to think, believe or perceive that I will be able to direct myself when I get home to an empty house without first preparing myself with a plan or blueprint for how I will go about spending that time between getting home from work and going to bed.

I forgive myself for NOT accepting myself unconditionally, even when I am feeling like self-judgment and self-hate are who I am.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to judge myself

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to hate myself

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to ignore and not realize that if I push myself to go home and NOT pick, I will feel SO much self-empowerment and control, and I will create self-love, self-worth and self-intimacy, which are the things I have been depriving myself of through the use and act of skin-picking.

After speaking to myself in this way, the OCD/dermatillomania feeling subsided enough so that I was able to think more clearly. I gave myself a step-by-step plan for when I got home:

Put away my things, take a shower, put on comfy clothes, make tea, make a snack, watch a video, write a journal entry, prepare food and clothes for the next day, go to bed (each step can be broken down into mini-steps for me to focus on when the urge to pick becomes ‘loud’ and distracting).

So instead of accepting and allowing myself to subconsciously feed the fear and uncertainty I was feeling, I occupied my mind with the practical concept of making a plan that I could then live out. This is like using the mind as a practical tool, instead as a generator of overwhelming energetic reactions. This is empowering. When I would start to feel the bad feeling creeping in again, I would push and direct myself to think of the little details of my plan: what kind of tea would I make exactly; what would I prepare for a snack, what will I put on, how will I feel in those clothes. I even began to feel comforted thinking about the nice things I would be doing instead of picking my skin and re-generating the aweful feelings that come with and after a skin-picking session.

So did it work? I only picked a little bit before the shower, but I stopped myself, then I started, then I stopped myself again, turned off the lights, and got in the shower.

The main point or realization within this blog and within this experience I had today is that taking preventative measures can be HUGE when you see you are walking into a difficult situation. The self-awareness and self-discipline it takes to know when, how and why to do this, and then to move and shift your mind into this new way of thinking (instead of falling into the usual patterns), AND THEN moving yourself physically to live out the plan you’ve made for yourself, can be difficult and may not be achieved right away.

Then again- maybe it IS possible, one never really knows. I am certainly not there yet, but I am taking notes and I am practicing. For me it is a step by step labour of self-love, because taking preventative measures is actual self-love made real, tangible and visible.

The feeling I get when I see these things through is indescribable – thus far short lived- but I have seen glimpses, and it’s like breathing for the first time after enduring suffocation.

So to recap:

Look into self when you start feeling like you’re going to pick. Try to define in words   what it is you see and what it is you are feeling.

Do self-forgiveness on that which you have clarified for yourself as your internal experience, in order to clear the mind for practical use.

Make a step-by-step plan for what you are going to do INSTEAD of picking.

Keep focused and the details of the plan and get specific, get VERY specific if you have to. You know how specific and detailed you get when picking? Channel that into plan-making instead.

LIVE the plan.

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