Obsessive-Compulsive Script Flipped

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This is where I find myself, often…bringing it back or taking it all back. Longing to simplify. I overcomplicate things in my life on all levels; personally, professionally, mentally, physically, for the sake of… – vision? – success? I continue to add more things on my proverbial plate until I am overwhelmed and stuffed so full of “things” that I truly cannot see the forest for the trees. In my life I have always been black and white; everything has to be done to the max or not at all and finding the gray…well that is simply a color in my wardrobe. Examples of this character trait or flaw is in everything I do. Reading, ah yes I love reading. But when I place a goal to read one book a week, it makes reading unenjoyable, it becomes the task as it is defined. Eating, ah yes I LOVE eating. But when I calculate every single calorie I eat, I am miserable. What is it that makes a person want for more than is humanly possible? What is it that makes obsession and compulsivity choose the same brain?

The compulsion to do more feeds the obsession to do it all and perfectly. This combination is as fruitful as eating ice cream and working out; the two simply do not go together. To find order in an obsessive-compulsive brain you have to flip the script on those thoughts that drive the disorder to find order. You use the compulsive thoughts to serve as energy or drive and the obsession to create order and routine. To do this you must first simplify by quickly defining all that is black and/or white and putting them in that gray space that gives room for everything. In this gray world everything has a place, and there is a place for everything.

I think it is worth defining it scientifically first to understand what this “OCD” truly is, and then taking it apart to give respect to what it is not.

ObsessiveCompulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions)​ 

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/

“OCD” is a term that is regularly described along with “ADD” and “Type A” by people that are self-gratifying a place of perfectionism. It is overused in today’s society as a quasi-compliment when the reality of these disorders is exactly that; “dis-order” or the lack of order. My first opinions formed on the use of these disorders as a self-diagnosis of perfection was when my child was diagnosed with ADHD. It was not a compliment by any stretch of the imagination and flipped our families calm on its head. ADHD in my middle-child showed itself in an inability to turn off those secondary sounds that the rest of us simply do not hear nor acknowledge. For them the cacophony of life was like being at a county fair 24/7. Sirens, voices, clicks, wind…it mattered not how loud or minute, the sounds would take over all focus and leave my child in a panic. For this reason you will never, never hear me define myself by such diagnosis. Instead the acknowledgement of “like” symptoms are worthy without owning the diagnosis of something much more serious.

What I am familiar with is a brain that is overactive. A brain that has a strong desire to learn, to forge new paths, and to lead. A brain that rarely quiets. A blessing and a curse on every given day. I wake with the strongest resolve to take on the day and make a difference and go to bed exhausted by the defeat of the day that simply does not beat to the same drum. This is where simplifying and meeting yourself where you are is the best option or treatment if one were needed.

I have done this so many times before and yet isn’t that the obsessive side of this illness, that we do it again and again and again? Yes. I think and think and think of the same things all day, every day, 100 times a day. The difference in what I experience is that it is still within my control. The pursuit of simple is what calms it all down and gives order. Here is how I exercise simplicity in my life with the hopes that you can deploy it in yours:

  • Write it all down – put it all on paper, every single thing that is taking thought. List it!
  • Schedule it – to start to remove it from the list you have to find a place for it in the day. Put it in your schedule and not just on your To Do list.
  • Finish it – to be able to let it go and move on! There is nothing better for resolve then to truly finish something.

These three things are powerful when put to use. The reality is that those that are obsessive-compulsive will sit and contemplate each of these three things for days, week, even years on end and never get to doing. I know, I have, and I still do. This is where we flip the script and take the best traits of obsession; adherence to rules and order and compulsion; heightened creativity to resolve to solve for the very thing that leaves us disordered and unresolved.

Today do it. Write it all down, or find the list that you have previously written. Decide on the one thing that you are going to do and do it to completion. Cross it off the list with the boldest red pen you can find and get on to the next. The simply act of doing that one thing will lift the weight of the overall load and get you one-step closer to resolve.

I conclude with the proof that I am taking my own advice. As I sat to write today I realized that there were 25 blog entries that had been started and never finished. In concluding on this piece I have completed three today. Three that will not be waiting for me tomorrow. Three pages that had the weight of thirty that leave room for new blogs tomorrow.

Script flipped, living life as I live it – L.

Unresolved Midyear?

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Who’s to say what is right for you? I am learning that all of these lessons we learn along the way are simply ingredients to a classic recipe that we bake to represent our lives. The brands that work for us. The regimens that give us wellness. The jobs that bring satisfaction and reward. The friends that give as much as they take. Respect for our wants, likes, and dislikes is a way to define our lives.

With so many “rules for life” on the shelves and in our ears it is important to remember that what works for us is simply that “about us”. All of those “rules”, recommendations and regimes are not a “one size fits all” and it is our attention to pay to bring with us what works and leave the rest.

As relative as the choice is the time in making those decisions. Time is inevitably what we cannot get back. Time is ticking and wasted in every “second” thought. When you know what works, work it. Don’t contemplate it. Don’t do “it” again and again and again to simply return to the place where you knew it all along. Don’t let others’ contemplation of the “thing” you have already resolved to pressure you into re-contemplation. It steals away the time you should be practicing what you know or learning something entirely new.

Equally important is before starting something new make sure you have gotten everything out of the current effort with full resolve. We start new when the current path is taking too long or seems too hard, knowing that we will have to return to it. That path now looms over us as unfinished business taking the joy away from the new venture, path, or effort. Resolve it, don’t return to it.

What are your mid-year resolutions? Are you resolving to finish your New Years Resolutions? What is the unfinished business and what has already been deemed as “resolved”? Define it and allow those decisions that need to be made to be given the focus deserved by saving time on all that has already been decided. Resolve to leave resolved the decisions already made; that is true respect of your time.

Life as I resolve it — L.

Addiction…my bitch

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Sitting here listening to Red Table Talk, “Kelly Osbourne Comes Clean” episode, and “wow” what a great reminder of the power of addiction. There are so many great quotes that I could not help but share and re-numerate on the hold it has had in my life through her story.

In my life I have known addiction, personally, intimately, and compassionately. I come from a long line of drinkers, fairly stated more honestly, alcoholics. I was never going to be a drinker because I hated everything about it in my young life and still to this day the smell of beer takes me to a place that turns my stomach. However, my drug of choice was food and in that addiction, I managed to reach 274 pounds with more co-morbidities than I could count on two hands.

Addiction in my opinion, is a personality trait. Many people have addictive personalities that never spin out of control and the trait instead serves as direction and drive. For others, and what you hear most when the word “addiction” is used, the trail of destruction it leaves in its path ruins lives, theirs, and everyone around them. I can relate to both.

I love that the first thing Kelly Osbourne notes is that she “…made it all the way through the pandemic…” without alcohol, which speaks to survival. Daily survival without the addiction, rearing its ugly head, feels like success. This feeling breeds a sense of confidence that “…you are normal, and you are going to prove to everyone that you can do this…” thing that you have avoided, you are cured. You tell yourself one drink can’t hurt anything and then one becomes two, three, TEN. The lie that we tell ourselves that we can have one drink, one bite, or one of anything that we are addicted to, leads to a spiral down the rabbit hole of self-harm and hatred. You sober up and come to grips with your reality “I did it again” and “Now I have to start over” which then leads to “Well since I have already fallen “off the wagon” I might as well _______________ (fill in the blank).” “Normal” is not a thing for anyone with addiction relative to the substance that addicts them. The new “normal” is the process of avoidance of all that has control over you and in building a resolve that can never waver.

Kelly noted that she “let go of her tools” of those things that help her “stay clean every day”. This is always where it starts. We fool ourselves into believing something is more important. It takes work to work the tools that keep it all together every single day for the rest of your life. Staying in control of your addiction is paramount to your survival. It is knowing this that becomes your number one responsibility, to protect the place where self-care lives as your FIRST priority and put all else second.

Kelly notes that some of her “insane thinking” included the idea of getting “pregnant because then she would have to stop drinking”. It is where self-care is absent that we search for the “reason” to stop. That is when we are not reason enough. In my life I remember the same fucked up thinking where a diagnosis of diabetes or high blood pressure would now be the “reason” I would give myself to get serious about my food addiction because the threat of death would set me straight; until the drama of it all would wear off and I would live to eat again. It wasn’t enough to stop for myself or my family; it had to be life-threatening. It had to be dramatic. Addicts live in the drama. It is always life or death until it is death-defying.

Kelly notes “I make everything more difficult.” Yes, WE do. Nothing can be done without it being painful or wrought with effort. Addicts are people-pleasers trying to solve for everyone around them and as Kelly noted she “Drained herself (through helping others) and left nothing for herself.” It is through failed attempts to solve for everyone and everything around you that you finally realize and are forced to answer the question of “How are you going to help someone else when you are all messed up?” Addicts are addicted to everything and codependency is where we find our value. Tell me I am enough, tell me how much you love me, validate me for I am not worthy without your judgment.

The climb out of addiction is hard. “You have to get honest with someone” that can understand the power of addiction and is able to handle your vulnerability. The second part of that statement is profound because as Kelly stated “I tell too much truth” and “You cannot have a conversation with someone that understands…if they are not an alcoholic (or addict)”. I have experienced this so many times with those around me that would simply solve for me by telling me to “Just stop”. JUST stop eating. JUST stop thinking. JUST stop worrying. JUST stop doing. If it were only JUST that easy.

In true addictive personalities, there is no such thing as stopping. You don’t stop. You can’t stop. You learn to use tools to control, manage and live on the positive side of addiction. You also learn to be uncomfortable in the addiction as it is always there, looming in the background, pushing you to do the thing that feels right at the moment. And when we give in, after the instant gratification of that moment passes we are left stripped of our self-worth and confidence leaving us asking, “Am I good enough for help?” and doubting our strength because of the realization that “I have done this again.”

This interview was revealing. It was also a great reminder that addiction is “…so much more than not using.” If you are reading this you are not alone and if you are not addicted put this blog in your toolbox to serve as a resource for those addicted in your life.

I conclude with the final quote in the interview. The best gift you can give yourself is “The gift of giving yourself a chance.”

Life as I live it — L.

Another Day…to Contemplate

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Yea, this picture, this is exactly what it feels like to be in my head on any given day. Contemplation over every single thing. Every single person. Every thought and emotion contemplated over and over and over again. Start…no stop. Do…no just be…still. My mind goes one million miles an hour from the minute I wake (before my eyes are even open) until the moment I drift off to sleep (only possible through medication). Obsessive? Compulsive? Manic? Depression? What does it really matter what you call it except that this is “Me”.

Interesting that I called this blog “Always Starting…The Art of Never Giving Up”. Initially, I wore this as a badge of honor; like a warrior in battle. Profound words indeed as I realize that the warrior in battle is only defined by how he leaves the fight; alive or dead. Success could be defined either way, if alive he won and persevered or maybe is alive as a prisoner of the war. If dead it could mean he was courageous in his fight or shot in the back while running away. Perspective. It is truly all we have; your perspective and mine.

I have learned through my life of therapy that you must respect everything that has helped you survive for without “it” who’s to say how it all would have ended. Addiction, compulsion, obsession, or whatever your tool, are survival mechanisms. Most are not sustainable in their original form but through adjustment can create incredible resources. Addiction in its most evil form can kill or harm however when redirected towards good can bring about major life change. Compulsion and obsession are also spontaneous and perfectionists in different forms. Perspective changes the judgment. If I say that “She is compulsive” it brings about a negative connotation however if I reframe it that “She is spontaneous” we reimagine someone free and liberated living a rich existence. Ha…perspective…what a lie.

By now you are reading and wondering, “Where is she going, as we are a mile down a rabbit hole and not sure if I am inspired or concerned?”. I am trying to realign my “resources” to stop the contemplation that threatens my sanity; and everyone around me. I am trying to figure out how to tame a “monkey mind” that is brilliant and yet all over the place. I am fighting deadlines and expectations as defined by me, myself, and I. I am wondering where you, the reader, fit into all of this or if you do. I post my writing and my activity to inspire…hmmm…or is it to get credit or yield criticism.

This is what contemplation looks like and where all other “diagnosis” exists. Call it what you will, or don’t. Understand it as you know it, or don’t. As one could guess I am not a “stick your head in the sand” kind of person; compulsive, obsessive, and contemplative people do not stick their heads in the sand. They do quite the opposite, they build 15 sandcastles and contemplate how many more to build; ultimately not needing one, let alone 15 sandcastles.

What is the purpose of today’s blog? Rant? Statement? I don’t really know. It is what was top of mind. It is where I am going to find an outlet. Contemplating the next thing I will write, the next thing I will do today or won’t. Contemplation.

Life as contemplate it — L.

Dress Rehearsal to 50 with only six months more to practice before my debut!

Don’t see it, don’t hear it, don’t speak it…it is what you know…just be.

Time to stop the guesswork

Run don’t run, eat don’t eat, work don’t work, sit don’t sit…it’s insanity! Everything we are supposed to do, we aren’t. Everyone we are supposed to be, we shouldn’t. Where is the line and who decides when you cross over? What I know is that when I run I am a better version of me. What I know is when I don’t obsess over what I eat, I eat less and better. What I know is when I put boundaries around work, I have more expertise. What I know is that I can’t sit…I just don’t know how.

Six months before my 50th birthday and I am finally realizing that the first 49.5 years were the dress rehearsal for what will be the best days of my life. I have spent 49.5 years learning how other people do “it” and then trying “it” on for size. Well I finally know what works for me and now I need to do “it” and move on to the greatest performance of my life, my 50’s.

I know what styles fit my body best and it is not likely that after 50 years this will change. I know what foods work in my system best, as no one has a system like mine. I know how to do my job best for the company that is the perfect fit for me. I know what I know and for those things there should be no more decisions. Let knowing be the decision allowing more time for those mysteries that remain.

Figuring out the last act

What I believe lies in front of me, in the next six months is to figure out the rest. Those things that I have not found the fit. The monkey brain that cannot slow down, cannot stop thinking, cannot relent that is what is left to figure out. Even for that I know the course to take yet continue to stumble as it takes over. The noise, the never ending cacophony of what I should be doing all the time is the next frontier. Do I meditate, do I use oils, do I listen to spa music all day, do I watch tv, read, walk, sleep…RIGHT down the RABBIT HOLE I go!!!

I know what I know. We all do. It is just a matter of putting it all in its place. I control the mind, it does not control me. I control the reaction regardless of what plays out in front of me. Just like the brands I choose to buy, the people I surround myself with, the life I have created…I ultimately have control of this monkey mind and that is the mantra, the final act I will rehearse for the sake of sanity.

Putting it in place is the easy part. Playing it out is where the rubber meets the road. Easy to do when the day is yours to decide. Hard-as-heck when the pressures of life have their way with you.

Life as I live it – L.

Raw Thoughts on Space and the Doing of Being…

To be or not to be…there is so much to do.

Space is Mine when Time Permits

As I have been enjoying the holiday for the last two days I have not worked at all and because we are in quarantine time is immense. There is time to do everything and anything; as long as I am home. As the past three days have gone I feel the tension and stress of my world lifting. I magically have time to do things I simply don’t have time for normally. I have read three books in the last week, watched a number of Netflix series and spent an enormous amount of time sitting on my back porch. It has been bliss.

I have also been spending time thinking about my writing and why I am not doing more of it. My words have not dried up, I have simply not taken the time to put them on paper. Where is my commitment to this gift that allows me to put things on paper that I don’t even realize I am thinking? As it happens when I get stressed the first thing to go out of balance are those things I love the most like hobbies and self-care. Ironically I realize how badly I need those things when I am stressed more than when I am not. It is those things that help balance me out, that take down the intensity within and allow space to breathe. While time permits I am finding my chill-factor surprising with today being the pinnacle as I decided to do literally nothing. I have read, I have walked, watched football, read some more and napped. Wow. …and then I feel guilty like I should be doing something. Why?

Trapped between Being and Doing

I explore this idea of doing and being productive with my therapist often as my self-worth is wrapped up in the doing. I struggle to simply “be”. I am still exploring the concepts of “being” and “doing” so I don’t have the answers but I am sure they lie somewhere in the balance that is otherwise lacking in my “normal” life. The fact is I like how “being” feels. Being seems to be where gratitude lives. When you are being you are not wanting more of anything. To be is to be one with what you have, who you are and where you exist. I want to want to BE.

The oxymoron here is that in order to be I do more to get myself to a point where I can be. Wait…what the hell? I guess that is truly the definition of an oxymoron and why I don’t have the time to DO the things I want to do or to simply BE because I am always doing things to get to the next state of being. Forget oxymoron it is simply moronic!

I conclude by being honest with myself and knowing that I am a doer and even in that statement it is flawed because I don’t get to do the things I want often enough. If time is mine to decide then why can’t I decide when, where and how I will “do” my life outside of a holiday weekend? I know the reality is that I can, I always decide even when I decide an unbalanced approach that turns me into someone I don’t want to “be”. The blessing of today is there is space to pontificate these states of contrast. The blessing tomorrow will only exist if I continue to pontificate on a new future; one where doing and being live together in a peaceful existence.

Life as I live it – L.

Balanced…a lesson in boundaries and freedom of choice

I watched a TED Talk featuring Nigel Marsh on “How to make work-life balance work” and thought it was worth sharing as it inspired so many of my own thoughts and opinions on the topic.

Never has there been a time in our world where work and life have collided as millions of us are working from “home”. Gone are the days of punching in and out at the office as the office is now where we wake, where we eat our meals, where we live. It is fair to say that if you didn’t have balance before you are lacking it now…immensely.

As a leader I have preached work-life balance to my team and have worked hard to find it. I absolutely practice what I preach although not perfect I know the foundational points of the TED Talk are true and so I share them and my exponential thoughts on each with you.

  • If you don’t design your life someone else will design it for you and you may not like their idea of balance. #word
  • Never put the quality of your life into the hands of a commercial corporation. (It is not your companies responsibility to provide you balance. It is their responsibility to find the best candidate for the job to get it done efficiently.)
  • We have to be responsible for setting the boundaries we want in our life. #word
  • You have to elongate the time frame beyond a day; approach balance in a balanced way.
  • The small things matter.
  • The smallest investment in the right places can radically transform the quality of your relationships and life.

Six transformational statements, profound. This is what it is really all about. I have succeeded at some of the six and are learning how to solve where I have failed. The point is that I practice, I take a run at each of these on a daily basis.

The responsibility of having freedom is the act of choosing. Then why do we choose and then begrudge that choice? As if we can’t make yet another decision to change courses?

You decide, ultimately. If you don’t want to work in an office, don’t. If you don’t want to work weekends, don’t. If you don’t want to “drink the kool-aid”, don’t. Find what works for you. Don’t begrudge others that DO just because you don’t. You make everyone miserable when you DO what you DON’T want to…you decide for YOU.

It is YOUR life, YOUR journey, make sure you are getting more out of it then it is getting out of you. I give this career advice often. I believe that if you go about work, career or truly any task with this mindset everyone wins. If you are getting out of it what serves you best, you will serve the job better. If you are a slave to the job or task, nothing is achieved. You lose and so does the benefactor.

Last but not least is the idea of balance in your day, week, month…life. Decide what you want it to look like and then execute that vision. Understand that every day will not look the same and allow time to find the equilibrium. Sometimes in attempting to balance we realize that we have to remove from one side or another as all that we want is simply not possible. Again this is where choice is your responsibility. Right-side your ship to allow for smooth sailing.

I am reminded frequently by the wise duo that I call “The Aunts” that we all have the same 24 hours in a day; how we spend it is ours to decide. You will ALWAYS have the time however what you choose to do with it…well that is your responsibility. Own it.

Life as I balance it – L.

Even Concrete Cracks

This was the reality check I was given as I found myself in a puddle of tears. “Even concrete cracks” is the resolve to understanding why even the strongest of the strong humans crack. In this case it was me, cracked wide open. While the release is necessary the reality causes as much reeling as the pressure rising to its boiling point within. We easily forget this when we are at that boiling point which tends to be our weakest moments.

My crack started to form as I was rounding two weeks post-op and still dealing with daily pain. The key to managing pain is to find a baseline that you can tolerate however it is in that tolerance that you wear out. When you are in active pain, it too is exhausting, however with a remedy it is resolved. When you are managing a “pain baseline” the tolerance requires a managed effort. This is effort that requires energy from stores that are depleted. At this point it goes beyond the physical and begins to overwhelm you mentally making everything bigger than it is and the entire environment becomes overwhelming. It is in these moments that you hope you are surrounded by “your village”. I was. I am.

Healing may be the biggest effort I make in my lifetime. This physical healing has unfortunately become familiar to me however regardless of how many times I repeat the process it does not get easier. I am healing faster this time, but I am no less exhausted and emotionally spent. I knew what was coming and how to make the best of it and that preparation may have been my secret weapon. I can only imagine where I would be right now if I had not prepped. My village tells me how much worse it could be…that does not help. My village tells me how well I am doing…that does not help. What helps? Sometimes just crying it out or screaming irrationally; any outlet as for all the input there has to be a release. Where is that written in the textbooks? Where is that in the hospital discharge notes? It needs to be states somewhere, “when it all gets to be too much just scream!” Ha, yes that is a prescription worth noting.

…and that is all I have to say about that.

Life as I live it – L.