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.

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.

The Angst that is Anxiety…

I like so many others are dealing in anxiety daily. It creates an angst that makes you want to run but what exactly is stirring inside of you and where you want to run cannot be identified. It is a whir of nervous energy that unlike excitement breeds a feeling of doom. It feels like the world is going to crash down around you. Angst as it is defined is…

…which is exactly as I have described. So now that we know the feeling, what do we do about it. What I find is that while I KNOW what to do when the anxiety hits I rarely do what I know. I instead sit in it which compounds until the point that it can make you feel like shutting down. It is for this reason that today I bring you the “list” that you can turn to when you feel that angst and in doing this I am serving myself as well as this list I need to be reminded to turn to as well.

Here are some of the things that I know work:

  • Don’t predict the future! You have no idea what is coming and cannot control it so focus on what you can control. Prophesizing what might happen does not serve anyone.
  • Don’t “sit in it”! This is about moving on from the thing that is causing the anxiety. In our case at this time and place that equates to getting stuck in front of the news that is reporting 24 hours a day the doom and the gloom that is paralyzing us! Limit the information stream.
  • Create routines. We are a species that thrives in routine. Where we have routines we have resolve. This is what is causing the most anxiety at this time is that everything that we know is upside down. We are no longer following a routine that we know so well we sometimes do it without thinking. We have to think about everything right now because nothing is routine. The most mundane of routines like going to the store or leaving the house requires thought. Create a new routine and follow it.
  • Get moving. Exercise solves anxiety in a HUGE way. Take a walk, turn on music and dance, do yoga, or just do anything that gets your body moving which helps your mind process. Personally I have to push myself to start but once I am in motion, I feel better almost immediately.
  • Call a friend. As we find ourselves isolated reaching out and talking to others creates a fellowship that reminds us that we are not alone. Even better is to utilize technology and have a video call so you can see the smile on the faces of those that you cherish.
  • Create your own peace. Turn on music, practice breathing exercises, sit in nature (even if that is in your backyard); create peace around you. Meditation can create that peace and there are numerous resources online to use if you are unsure how to meditate on your own.

Like everything in our lives anxiety comes down to a lack of control or indecision. We cannot control everything around us and ultimately that is affecting us. We have to identify what we CAN control and exercise our ability to DECIDE. You decide what you will do and ultimately you can ease the angst. You may not be able to totally remove the anxiety but relieving it is a start. Do what you can by first identifying the feeling and then deciding to do something.

We are in this together as a globe! Never have we been reminded how equal we all are as in this moment as titles, roles and identities will not remove us from this reality. Coming together and realizing that we are more alike than we are different is the resolution we have always needed. Embrace who we are…

…one nation under God indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Life as I live it…anxious – L.

Mood Swing Anyone?

Who am I? Sometimes this is a question I ask my many personalities. Scary, right? You just thought, “Did she just say that?”. Yes, I did!

I am in awe of the many moods we swing in and out of in any given day, week, HOUR, second…ha-ha. My moods sometimes catch me off-guard where I am wondering why in the heck I am in such a bad mood or why I am happy. Crazy it might seem but I realize that I am not my mood and my ability to dis-identify with a mood gives me perspective. However, this is not always the case.

Last night I was very anxious going to bed. I could not get something off my mind in anticipation and I awoke with the same feeling. Within an hour of getting to work my mind shifted dramatically to a happier state which led the way to a GREAT day. The anticipation alone caused the anxiety and if I was truly able to dis-identify it would not have consumed me. The reality of this is far greater than a mood, it is a state-of-being for a moment or moments in time and if we are not cognoscente of that we can and do make decisions based on that moment.

One of the ways I attempt to find perspective when anxiety, anticipation or worry get the best of me is to ask myself the question, “Will this matter in five years/minutes/days?” The answer regardless of the time frame assigned is usually “NO!” Admittedly the time frames has to be shorter; asking myself if something will matter in five years is too far of a time for me to consider in a world I navigate at 80 mph. While I would like to believe everything can be solved by this “reality check” it simply cannot. It is when the “no” is not the simply answer that I have to consider my next tactic.

The inability to see the “temporary” in any situation is that which feeds mental illness and its effects. When you are in such a dark place that you cannot see a tomorrow, another way, options, you cannot make decisions. Forget about the decisions’ relevance; right or wrong…you simply cannot make any decision. The paralysis of mental illness traps you in a state that feels isolating and the longer you stay in that self-isolation the more amplified the darkness. Yes, this is the core of suicide. By the time someone makes that decision, the decision to “end it all” they are so far beyond help that they likely could not be reached had someone been standing right in front of them. (Yea, I know that got deep…fast. Tough.)

This is WHY it is so important that you are in tune with your emotions, moods and states of being. If you are reading this blog you are old enough to be in touch with all of these things. You know how you feel in each of these moments and when you are “safe” and when you are not. Knowing is not enough though; unless you know when to ACT. The act of asking for help, the act of reaching out, the act of doing anything to get back to a “safe” place. This is WHY Mental HEALTH is key to preventing and treating Mental Illness.

Let me offer one simple analogy and then we will climb out of the depths of the “deep”. You absolutely know when you “feel” good or bad physically; it is impossible to NOT know when you have a cold. You are stuffed up, coughing, feverish. You go to the doctor if it gets beyond the point of a “common cold” to prevent a more serious condition, pneumonia, upper respiratory infection, etc. There is no difference when you “feel” good or bad mentally. However the way we treat it is VERY different. When we feel “blue” we might tell ourselves to “snap out of it” and sometimes that might work, but when it doesn’t how far are you willing to go until the blue becomes dark and you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel to know how to get out…again WHY Mental HEALTH is key to preventing and treating Mental Illness.

I offer my insight on this tonight because I recognized that within a range of four days I have gone through a WIDE array of emotions, moods, states of being unexpected and unintended. I felt physically exhausted Saturday, excited with anticipation and then later emotions mixed with confusion, gratitude and disbelief Sunday, grief-stricken Monday and then moderate on Tuesday…not to mention the anxiety and anticipation described last night and today as I started this blog. My mental health is in good standing because I prioritize it as high as my physical health which I simply do not compromise. Even with a strong base there are days that suck. When you mix exhaustion with any one of these emotions it can be a recipe for a fast decline.

My hope is that regardless of your “mood” as you read this blog that you have tolerance for the “swing”. Our highs can be as dangerous as our lows and if we are not paying attention while on the “swing” we can find our feet swept out in front of us as we lie flat on our back from the fall. Next time you are in a “mood” hang on tight and control the “swing” it’s easier to balance when not pushed!

Moody and I own it – L.

p.s. Committed to Love and Transparency – Judgment has no place here.

Overthinking – it kills creativity and worse

I have found myself intimidated by the idea of writing. I have so much to share, so much to say and starting dialogues prompted and ready to roll but then I overthink it. Instead of writing from my heart and my very busy head I sit and think about what my audience wants to hear or read. I realize in this moment that this is where I am going at it ALL wrong.

I am not a fiction writer for a reason. Put simply, I cannot make it up. I write about what is real, what compels me and my writing is truly a form of journaling that I am brave enough to share. If I have to think about what I am writing it is a deal breaker because I have to “feel it”.

The idea of overthinking is one I identify with as I frequently overthink. I find myself overthinking about EVERYTHING in my life which is why I suffer from anxiety. I have worked to remind myself that most of what we “overthink” won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I use tools like asking myself “will this matter in five years” to help bring perspective. But it happens anyway and it happens at various levels.

The problem with overthinking is that it then lends itself to obsessive behavior and elevated emotion. Neither of these are a compliment to my personality…ha! Obsessed in my word means I follow relentless routines, push harder than necessary and will exhaust that which I am obsessing. Elevated emotion in a Taurus is down right dangerous! The issue with the emotion attached is that I have an uncanny ability to rally those around me easily therefore I am not only getting myself amped up but all of those that support the “cause”.

I Googled “overthinking and the excerpt above came up. It is absolutely on-point. The reality is that the more you think, the more you obsess, the more anxiety that surrounds the situation and the spiral begins. Additionally the article attached to the excerpt above notes:

Chronic overthinkers rehash conversations they had yesterday, second-guess every decision they make, and imagine disastrous outcomes all day every day.

Thinking too much about something often involves more than words–overthinkers conjure up disastrous images too. Their minds resemble a movie where they imagine their car going off the road or they replay distressing events over and over again.

https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/5-exercises-to-train-your-brain-for-happiness-and-success.html

I can relate to this excerpt admittedly worse than I want to, but admitting that something is a problem is the first step to solving, so once again I bear my soul.

  • Second-guessing every decision is something I do often but more in line with conversations versus decisions. It is frequent that on my drive home from work that I will replay all of the various interactions I had that day. I question my dialogues and my emotions and then visualize what I could have said or done different. Clearly pointless in that those moments have passed and most of these “replays” prove that nothing was wrong with the original dialogue.
  • Conjuring up disastrous images is the worst thing my brain does and the one thing I work very hard to stop or avoid. My mind is a very powerful tool. As noted above I can replay a scene in my head that will play over and over, feeling so real that it can bring true emotion to the surface. I was just telling my son the other day about this as one of the frequent scenes that plays out in my mind is “what if” when Gary and the kids are traveling together. I worry that if something happens to them I could lose all of them at once. WHO THINKS ABOUT THIS AWFUL STUFF!!?? I do.

In the end I criticize myself less and instead realize that my form of overthinking is truly about offering my best performance, work, relationships, etc. If I did not care I would not overthink and I will take “caring” over going through this life doing things that have no meaning. In my life, everything has meaning because if it doesn’t then I don’t engage. In this world, it’s easy to exhaust, it’s easy to letdown and hence my overthinking on how to manage it all.

With regards to my writing; today was a turning point of doing exactly what brought me to this passion to begin with years ago. Writing for me is not about thinking and certainly not about overthinking; it’s about getting out of my brain those thoughts that are circling, those things that have taken hold as an outlet. Just like this post I write it exactly as it is in my head and what comes out on paper surprises me to the point that it in itself is its own therapy as I now understand it better and can release my additional thoughts and emotions around it.

I have made a commitment the day I hit “publish” the first time to have the courage to share exactly what came out on paper. It is this commitment that will be my anchor and reminder to keep it pure; what is in my head will be what comes out on paper. Unapologetic-ally, not over-thunk and raw enough for YOU to get it even if you don’t.

Life as I see it – L.

Crazy…really…wow

As I was sitting in the nail salon recently I overheard a woman in a pedicure chair talking to her nail tech about mental illness. At first blush her comments were somewhat entertaining until I realized her views and then I found myself shaking my head at the ignorance that was so blissful it was on display. Others in the salon could hear her commentary and like myself were taking it in silently. As I left the salon I was still shaking my head at her commentary and hence a blog is born.

Her comments after marinating on it made me realize that we are still climbing a mountain of understanding to get Mental Health to the mainstream. In her words “there are so many “crazy” people in the world today”. In my mind this is the equivalent of calling those that get annual exams “hypochondriacs”. I am no more “crazy” for having a therapist than I am a “hypochondriac” for getting an annual mammogram. The second is understood as “preventive medicine” and the first is simply incomprehensible to her.

As she told her story she went on to exclaim her shock about being asked “mental health questions” during a recent medical visit. She joked that she gave the doctor a hard time and would not give him straight answers to questions such as “Have you ever thought about hurting someone or yourself?”. Additionally, she went on about how “crazy” it is that we now have counselors in our schools. The reality is that there have been counselors in our schools for as long as I can remember and quite frankly with the incredible rise in mass shootings it clearly is not enough. We need more counselors, we need more doctors asking the questions that no one else has the courage to ask. We need to heal this nation one “crazy” person (her words, not mine) at a time until at which point asking these questions and seeing counselors in schools becomes the norm.

Her comments made me think back to when I was in school and while I knew there were counselors in the school I was not sure why some kids had access to them while others, like myself, did not. Further exploring this thought I think back to how much I could have benefited from counseling in those years. How could they know what I was going through? There were so many distractions at home that made paying attention in school a task beyond measure some days. I certainly can say that it felt “crazy” not having the tools to cope.

I am intrigued by this woman’s ignorance as I immediately acknowledge that at no point was she attempting to be offensive. This was truly a point of view from someone that was raised in an era where they swept it under the rug, kept a stiff upper lip and carried on; regardless of how miserable and uninspired they found themselves. Her generation was where a “woman’s’ place was in the home” and that “woman” was expected to “serve her husband” and whose place was always last behind everyone and anyone that needed something, anything. Forgive the assumption that some of this “crazy” that exists in the world today is a result of her generation “Mommy Dearest”. 🙂

I do not begrudge this respectable woman as this is her view which is clearly defined from her lifetime of experience. My Mom was also not a believer in therapy and did not fully accept mental health as I do. Our views differed greatly and we debated many times over the efficacy of talking with a therapist. My mother was a very private person and did not like to talk, in general, let alone when she was wrestling with her thoughts. My Father is also not a proponent but certainly does not begrudge others. Theirs is a tough generation. This is indeed the era that believed in a stiff upper-lip perfectly defined as ” displays fortitude and stoicism in the face of adversity, or exercises great self-restraint in the expression of emotion”.

I am not “crazy” nor are the millions of people that suffer from mental illness. We all have the ability to be mentally ill. Some suffer with mental illness more than others; no different than those that are more susceptible to a physical ailment more than others. The love of the era in which we live in now is that mental health is as easy, if not easier, to attain as any mainstream medical care. There are Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), hotlines and medical insurance coverage typically offers mental health as well.

So flipping the script a bit I want to thank the CRAZY lady at the nail salon for getting my attention and reminding me that there is still work to be done. But even more importantly I want to thank her for also confirming that our society is indeed changing; we do have counseling in schools, we do have better access to therapy and most importantly we are checking on our mental health as diligently as we do physical health. I will take it, one crazy baby step at a time.

Life CRAZY as a loon – L.

Therapy…the shame in talking about talking

Why is it taboo to talk about therapy? What is the shame in our mental health? We talk about mammograms, menopause and colonoscopies without hesitation. It makes zero sense to me and that is why I do talk and about it and will talk about it.

Mental Health therapy is no different than physical therapy or occupational therapy as it gives you tools to manage through an injury, to speed up the healing and ultimately to handle it when it comes up again. I can no more diagnose nor treat the breast cancer that a mammogram may find than I can diagnose nor treat mental illness. But both can kill you. If you have symptoms in your breast we are quick to tell you to go get it checked out right away because time is of the essence. But if you have symptoms of depression we rarely tell you to run to a therapist. Instead we may offer to have lunch and take you to a movie. We may sit and listen to what is on your mind with zero ability to help you solve it. But to suggest that you “go see someone” is considered extreme. Why?

The role that a therapist plays in unraveling the knots in our head is no less a skill that any other doctor possesses in curing us from any number of diseases. They know how to get to the core of the issues and most importantly what work to do to get past the issues.

As important as it is to see a Therapist when you are sick, it is as important to see them when you are well. Again, much like your doctor, you go and get an annual exam even when you are not sick to make sure that everything is well. It is in fact now called a “Well Visit”. Seeing a therapist when you are well is as important as when you are not. The more they know about your “normal” the better they can help when you are not.

The reality is that there is no shame in talking. We talk to our families, friends, coworkers, neighbors, store clerks; for God sake we talk constantly. Why then do we have to hide when we go talk to the one person that can make something out of what we are thinking and what we are talking about. The ridiculousness of it being taboo to find meaning in our thoughts and learning techniques to manage those thoughts and control those emotions is something we have got to continue to breakthrough.

I have heard many say, when the therapy-debate arises, that they don’t need to talk to someone. It is a choice like the many we have to make in our lives and you are entitled to yours. My plight is to to take the shame and judgement away from the discussion; the discussion with a Therapist and the discussion about therapy by talking about it…it’s what we do.

Just sayin’…L.