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.

 

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…

 

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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