Tag Archives: thoughts

Letting Go

I have been having a bad month of anxiety & OCD, I feel like I have completely relapsed and the intrusive thoughts have become so intense that I am back to square one. My intrusive thoughts have caused me so much grief and sadness that all my tools I have learned have somehow slipped my consciousness and I have been in the belly of the beast.

At times I feel in control, and other times I feel completely overwhelmed by anxiety and worry. I thought to myself if this continues I don’t think I can function properly, and the urge to want to just stay in my room indefinitely provides me with comfort. As if quarantining myself would somehow lead to me being free of anxiety.

I forgot that I have dealt with this monster many time before, and the idea of  a quick fix or a “cure” just does not exist. I forgot that in order for this to become easier and better I have to force myself to face it head on and push myself through hard work. I forget that I now have to incorporate this into everyday life, it has to become a lifestyle change. Just like going to the gym is hard work, I have to exercise my mind and implement all my tools that I have learned.

The thoughts become so loud, that it can become self consuming the key is to not have any judgment NO MATTER how intense and unpleasant the thoughts may be. It is the balance between accepting the discomfort and loving the self that will ultimately free the grip of anxiety.

Anxiety exists regardless if it is invited in, and my fundamental flaw in my current approach is that I have re-entered the cycle of wishing and praying that my anxiety could just vanish. The notion of that is counterintuitive to my growth, because it assumes anxiety is capable of vanishing everyone has anxiety it is part of being a human being. The sooner I accept that as truth the less power anxiety has. The sooner I embrace anxiety, and stop going to war with myself the sooner I can feel a beautiful inner balance.

Discipline is so important when dealing with anxiety, the discipline to know that it is just anxiety, and the discipline to proactively use tools such as meditation, journals, mindfulness etc. will ultimately create an automatic thought response to counteract anxiety.

Going back to the example of the gym, at the beginning the idea of going to the gym can be so daunting,  especially if you have not gone in years.  The first few weeks seem excruciating, and many people quit never to come back because of the intensity and emotional obstacles they face. But if you stick through it eventually you’ve created a habit and your routine automatically incorporates going to the gym as a natural part of your day. You also start to feel better, enjoy it and even desire to go. This is the same idea for anxiety, the beginning will be so much work, and extremely uncomfortable and intense but eventually it will become an automatic part of your natural life.  A big lesson I learned is during good times I have to keep putting the effort in, just because I feel amazing does not mean I can just revert back to not working hard, that was my downfall this time and I have now been able to catch it. It is easy to slip back into old ways of thinking especially when things have settled down. The motivation for change decreases as the intensity of suffering decreases.

Consistently working on being present and mindful will create a beautiful inner happiness that glows and circulates throughout the entire body. The simple yet complicated practice of letting go…without fear or ruminating.

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing OCD Podcast!

I came across a beautiful couple Julie and Andy, who both dedicate time out of their life to host a podcast around OCD and Anxiety. This has been a wonderful resource for many people, and makes you realize that other people are also going through what you are. The stories of the guests will leave you inspired and encouraged. I really love their podcasts, not only do they interview people who personally are suffering with anxiety, but they speak with professionals and loved ones of sufferers giving a broader understanding of the disorder.

The link to the podcast is:

http://coldflyer.com/

 

Video Journal

 

I suffer with anxiety and to elaborate more I suffer with OCD. In my previous blogs I speak about what OCD is, how it impacts someone, and what tools may help to combat the crippling anxiety. This week has been a tough week for me, I was experiencing a big spike in my anxiety, once the anxiety passed after a few days I was able to recalibrate and ground myself again. In this moment I wanted to create a reference point for myself for when my anxiety spikes again. I thought about how I was going to capture my ideas, and really communicate to myself in a rational way. I decided I was going to make a private video journal, in this video I would speak to my future self. I found this extremely effective because now I have a moment in time where I can refer back to and guide myself through my anxiety. Seeing myself so grounded and resilient to anxiety is truly empowering and has snapped me out of anxiously thinking. In the video I talk about my past few days of being suffocated by anxiety, I then move on to explain why it is so important to just accept the thoughts for what they are and not allow myself to label or “argue” with my anxiety. I go on to say how important it is to realize that I will never know anything with complete certainty, I wont even know what will happen 5 minutes from now. This was important for me to capture because a huge aspect of anxiety is the “what if” this happens and constantly wanting 100% certainty that it will not happen. Once that certainty is achieved at a level that my anxiety is content, it moves on to another subject matter and there in lies the vicious cycle of anxiety and obsessively wanting to achieve reassurance. In the video journal I remind myself of all the tools I have to tackle my anxiety, and I also address what anxiety is and why I am actually the one in the drivers seat not my anxiety. When anxiety takes over essentially “I” as the driver become the passenger, and it becomes very difficult to reassume the position of driver in these moments. I would highly recommend creating a video journal as a guide to help during times of anxiety provoking situations. It not only helps with combating anxiety, but it also is a great catalogue of showcasing personal growth.

Eighteen

I wanted to share a beautiful piece my younger sister wrote. She too has struggled with anxiety, and this year in particular has been extremely challenging for her, as she tried to navigate life after high school. At the age of only 18 we are somehow supposed to know what we want to do for the rest of our life, and what path we must take to get there…please enjoy my sisters beautiful words.
Eighteen
By Gabrielle:
This is something I’m writing on the spot, as these words flow through my head, it might not make sense or mean anything and jump from one point to the other but I hope you enjoy it
I took a year off this year, I took a year off and I learnt so much about myself, in more ways than I could have ever imagined- lots people frown upon gap years and such behaviour, but as a “honour student”, “valedictorian”, “leadership activist” if those prestigious, meaningless labels even meant something than I probably wouldn’t be writing this; People seem so perfect and posh, life is complicated and why can’t it be? I needed time to figure out my life… because the truth that so very few of us will admit is that we have no idea what we are doing in our life, we have no clue what we want from this strange world! And we are so afraid of being “wrong” and being imperfect that we place so much pressure on ourselves to become this person so far from who we truly are… that we don’t even recognize ourselves. We live each day with these constant expectations, this checklist that we must succumb to, these obligations, this “perfect life” when in reality we are all walking around dealing with life as it comes, because the truth is life is hard- we are dealing with our own problems, our own battles and making decisions that determine our “future”, and I say that in quotations because our future is yet to be determined- when I was in Australia one practice I hold so dear to my heart is this idea that you only have right this second, you can’t control yesterday or what is to come! You can plan the shit out of your life and make this agenda of your daily life events, but I can promise you life is unpredictable! Go back to a two weeks ago, when you were stressed about that thing you never thought you would ever make it through… now fast forward to the present, isn’t it amazing that you survived! Haha, you as a human being are an incredible species and all I have wanted is to inspire and motivate individuals to be happy, but you can’t teach people how to be happy it’s a skill someone must learn on their own! My dad always use to say to me, “your face looks ugly when you’re sad” and I use to get deeply offended, but as I have grown and matured I realized wow that is so true, it feels so good to smile and to laugh! When has laughing after been a painful experience? When you feel good, you look good! when you embrace the very essence of who you’re as a person you are more in control of yourself and your life! And I have noticed that by being okay with the unknown and living so freely in the moment without this perfect picture of my life ahead, sure I have goals as do we all, but Im not this perfect person, I am weird and ridiculously passionate, and extroverted and talkative but i love who I am because these are the things that make me who I am… I share pieces of my story with you all in hopes that you’ll feel inspired- deep down I think we all have a vocation, a passion that bubbles in our blood- a light that exudes off  of our skin, so powerful that being without it is truly like attempting to breathe without air… it’s impossible. I think that if we turn our backs on what we truly want in life and our dreams we are already setting our selves up for failure, a life fulfilled by materialism an a vicious cyclic void of deep pitted emptiness.
I think, in the little wisdom that I have gathered in my 18 years of life I have come to find that happiness is an essential part of of life- and I truly think happiness is extremely maintainable and attainable,
Being happy isn’t as complicated as people make it sound- it’s actually quite simple, when you do things you love you’re naturally a happier person, when you do things you don’t enjoy you’re unhappy-
People tell me, but Gabby, You don’t understand its a lot more complicated than that, I have no motivation to be happy-
These people are the type of people who are so afraid of their mind, and allow their thoughts to manifest and take over who they are as a person that they become so incapable of producing happy thoughts, because their mind has so much power over them- “gabby, you spam so much on istagram and write so many pointless things that no one reads”, instead of getting upset and sad and living in this vicious victim state I say I don’t  care tiny voice in my head because I love sharing my thoughts on life, I don’t care if people take something or absolutely nothing from  it because I wanted to write this
Another thing is reminding yourself to be motivated and ambitious, your motivation could be small things, the great little things that you enjoy or look forward to everyday! Like for me I love watching the sunset, or just looking at the sky…  when your allow yourself to feel good and take it in your body thanks you for that 🙂 it’s not a coincidence that we get sick when we are stressed… when it comes to life doing the things that make you happy, choosing a career path (even if it seems extremely impossible to do what you love- SO?? If you don’t who will?!) that makes you feel excited and brings joy to you is important for your own wellbeing!
I can’t stress how many times I have seen people forget that each day is a blessing- when I say people are facing their own battles each day it’s true… I have been blessed with an opportunity that allowed me to view life in a way of greatness and opportunity, rather than “what the world owes me”… I constantly would sit around waiting for signs and something to guide me in the direction I’m suppose to be in! Because I wished so badly to have some sort of control over my life and answers! Have a sense of direction- but when I started to be faced with certain challenges in my life I started to realize holy hell, life is a blessing and I’m grateful for even existing, I’m grateful to be able to travel, and see the world and to have my family and friends and to educate myself and stay humble and have the opportunity to take the steps towards fulfilling my dreams and reaching my goals…
I believe in empowerment and that humans can inspire each other in thousands of different ways and I truly believe that we are so capable of anything in this world- taking a year off was the best decision I have made in my life, and I am proud of the person I have become as I transition through the various phases of my life; through this all I was afraid, felt useless and allowed the fear within me to take over, but I persevered and created myself this year, built my life and have continued to throw bricks on my back to build the roof over my head. I have embraced who I am, and I accept who I am in my story and I have learnt to love and forgive and show sympathy and empathy for those around me. I have learnt not to judge- for I don’t know other people stories and their experiences, and I’m not entitled to attempt to understand who they are… people are complicated, life is complicated and we are all just finding our way day by day.
If you take anything from this, I hope it is this:
I hope you remind yourself that you’re an amazing person, whether you don’t agree with it, we all make mistakes, we are all weird and emotional and have flaws and are different but we have our own deep rooted aspirations and if you don’t go after that- for your self no one will for you!
Do what you love and inspire those Around you, life is meant to be lived ❤

Extinguishing the “WHAT IF”

Anxiety in the simplest definition is the idea of not knowing what will happen, and the fear of scenarios coming true. People with anxiety need to know with 100% certainty the outcome of a situation, an interaction or their future. The easiest way to combat anxiety is to come to terms with accepting that you will never know 100% and that is okay. In actuality no one will know a future event with certainty and the more we accept this notion the more manageable anxiety gets. I try and start my mornings by telling myself “today is going to be a good day, and I am okay with anything that happens”. The less attention I give my anxious thoughts the quieter their voice becomes, they want to steal the spotlight, and cripple your day by casting a shadow of doubt across all your thoughts. Sometimes anxiety can’t even be pinpointed to a specific event or thing but being anxious alone can trigger “why am I anxious now?”, “nothing is happening, I shouldn’t be anxious…is it because….this or this..”.

You may for example be thinking about an email your boss sent you asking to meet, rather then just simply waiting to meet anxiety strikes by casting fear and plays vivid scenarios of everything that could possibly go wrong in this meeting. These intrusive thoughts don’t stop until the meeting takes place and you get relief from knowing your meeting was not as intense as you played it out in your mind. This way of thinking intrudes on every interaction throughout the day, and can really send a sufferer into a spiral of intrusive thinking. The issue here is that so much time and energy is consumed by anxiety, and it really takes a toll on a person’s life. The next time intrusive thoughts pop up about all the terrible things that can happen try and combat it by saying, “I actually don’t know what will happen, and that is okay”. What I find most interesting about anxiety is that I build up scenarios so much in my head that when the reality happens for example- meeting the boss, the difference is profound. I magnify the outcome so much that it becomes extremely disproportionate to reality, I find relief when I have the reassurance of seeing what the real outcome is; however, I know that will only last a short moment before my mind jumps to the next unknown.

I am okay with not knowing what will happen, I along with everyone else in this world am unable to predict the future so when anxiety strikes and tries to tell me I can somehow control the outcome of the future I now realize how inaccurate that is.

 

“Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.” – Sonia Ricotte

24 Comics That Capture The Frustration Of Anxiety Disorders

A great piece shared by BuzzFeed enjoy 🙂

[Editors’ note: Anxiety affects everyone differently. These comics represent the experience of the artists and not necessarily the experiences of every person who deals with anxiety disorders. Anxiety is deeply personal, but we hope you find some solace in these comics.]

1. The way our restless minds consume us.

The way our restless minds consume us.

Art by Spencer of heymonster.tumblr.com

2. The unique experience of having a panic attack.

The unique experience of having a panic attack.

Art by Rachel Poulson.

3. The seemingly superhuman power our minds has over us.

The seemingly superhuman power our minds has over us.

Art by Natalie Dee.

4. How little things can add up.

How little things can add up.

Art by trixibelle.tumblr.com.

5. Our weird ways of coping.

Our weird ways of coping.

Art by Beth Evans.

6. The way anxiety becomes a constant companion.

The way anxiety becomes a constant companion.

Art by Claire Jarvis.

7. The difficulty of communicating our anxiety to others.

The difficulty of communicating our anxiety to others.

Art by boggletheowl.tumblr.com.

8. The way the littlest things can feel like huge accomplishments.

Art by Beth Evans.

9. The hard truth that it’s not something we can run away from.

The hard truth that it's not something we can run away from.

Art by Claire Jarvis.

10. The constant worry that we’re the only ones who think about the big questions.

The constant worry that we're the only ones who think about the big questions.

Art by Kate Leth.

11. The way anxiety can keep us from reaching our potential.

The way anxiety can keep us from reaching our potential.

Art by Beth Evans.

12. The crippling overanalysis of everyday interactions.

The crippling overanalysis of everyday interactions.

Art by socialanxietycomics.wordpress.com.

13. The fear.

The fear.

Art by L.B.

14. How anxiety stops us from being social.

How anxiety stops us from being social.

Art by Sam Brown.

15. The unfortunate fact that anxiety can strike at any given second.

The unfortunate fact that anxiety can strike at any given second.

Art by Cassian.

16. The way anxiety interferes with our ability to exist normally.

The way anxiety interferes with our ability to exist normally.

Art by virtualgirlfriend.tumblr.com.

17. The different forms anxiety can take.

The different forms anxiety can take.

Art by Bethany Rose.

18. The art of giving ourselves credit for the smallest victories.

The art of giving ourselves credit for the smallest victories.

19. The terror of owning up to our anxiety.

The terror of owning up to our anxiety.

Art by Nervous Comics.

20. How anxiety manifests itself physically.

How anxiety manifests itself physically.

Art by Nervous Comics.

21. The way anxiety can overshadow the positive aspects of our lives.

Art by Elena of elena-the-alter-ego.tumblr.com.

22. The endless cycles.

The endless cycles.

Art by ourlittlehappyplace.tumblr.com.

23. The inescapable discomfort.

The inescapable discomfort.

Art by Sean Clark.

24. And the constant feeling of being out of control.

And the constant feeling of being out of control.

Art by everybodyhasabrain.tumblr.com.

Amazing story from Varun Gwalani

Amazing video from Varun Gwalani! So brave of him to share his struggles with OCD, and show that sufferers are not alone. Please take the time to read his story, and watch his video. I was truly inspired by his courage and efforts to spread awareness.

https://www.thequint.com/health-fitness/2016/11/24/stereotype-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-bleak-picture-monster-varun-gwalani-mental-illness-ocd 

The other day, I heard someone say, “She kept yelling at me when my room was untidy. She’s so OCD, man.”

As someone who is actually so OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), I was understandably annoyed. I didn’t turn around and go on a tirade about how offended I was. I don’t do that when people use the term for their own purposes- Obsessive Comedic Disorder or Obsessive Christmas Disorder, or something else that’s clearly not obsessive.

I don’t do that because I know there’s no malice behind it, just ignorance.

To explain OCD simply, first remember that a large part of your brain’s job is to be a warning system, to detect possible threats, to remind you that something as simple as putting your hand to fire, or crossing the street without looking, will harm you.

Now imagine if this warning system, this most fundamental part of your brain, is broken.

Also Watch: Mental Heads: Stamping Out Stigma Around Mental Illness

With a broken system, you’re constantly scared of everything. Anything and everything around you can kill you. If not kill you, it can infect, hurt or damage you in some way or another. Most of the time, though, it’s not just you that it’s affecting. Your parents, your family, your friends, all of them are in supposed danger, if you and you alone don’t do what your broken brain compels you to do.

That’s what OCD is.

There are more than ten different kinds of OCD, and every case of OCD has a high chance of being severe and debilitating to the point that it affects everyday life.

Even those “funny” pop culture stereotypes of people with OCD tics become less funny when you pull back the curtain and see the reality. Repeated hand-washing becomes slightly less funny when your mind compels you to do it over and over again, till your skin strips off your fingers, but you still can’t stop. Counting steps while walking, or having to shower several times because of germs sounds funny, until you realise that the person doing it believes that their life physically depends on it. And why shouldn’t they? Why should you believe your brain is lying to you?

These are all symptoms of different kinds of OCD, which include morality OCD, checking OCD or sexuality OCD. When you have OCD, that’s exactly what your brain is doing. And after a point, you can’t distinguish between what is you and what isn’t. With that, we come to the kind of OCD that I have. It’s called Aggressive OCD. What does that do? Well, it’s really fun: It gives me visions of death.

So when I encounter ignorance, what I try to do instead is to the set the record straight- What exactly does being obsessive or compulsive mean?

Let me answer that by telling you the story of one day in my life.

My eyes open. It’s 4 a.m. Or is it p.m.? I look around. The curtains aren’t drawn, the sky outside is dark. It’s night. Not that it matters much to me. I had fallen asleep for a few minutes before I was jerked awake again by a stabbing. It wasn’t a stabbing pain in any part of my body; it was more like my brain had conjured up an image of my oldest friend stabbing me in the throat. I yawn.

I turn over on my cool, comfortable bed in my big house and I try not to dream of death. I’m able to stop when I’m awake but I need to sleep. I can’t control it while I’m asleep. So I’m simultaneously tensing my body in fear and anxiety, while trying to relax it enough to fall asleep.

I finally fall asleep without knowing. I say without knowing not because I didn’t know when I fell asleep, but rather that my dreams are so vivid and impactful that when I wake up in a few short hours I was more tired than when I went to bed.

I lay in bed for a few minutes, scrolling through Facebook, waiting for the noise and the chaos of my mind to surge once more. Right on cue, they do, and I get out of bed. There’s no need to “steel” myself or “force” myself to get out of bed. Do you have to steel yourself for the sun to rise? It just does. In the same way, the monster in my brain will always be whispering and screaming.

I look into the mirror to brush my teeth and my throat is cut, it opens up before my eyes. I continue brushing. I am boiled alive before I step into the shower. I step in. An image of sprawling intestines from a dead body flashes before my eyes. I eat my ketchup-soaked omelet, the reds melting together.

I am done. I have delayed enough at home. I have to go out into the world, doesn’t matter for what. The monster licks his lips with relish, a visible smacking sound resounding in my head. I roll my eyes.

In the streets is my monster’s favourite weapon: Vehicles. Vehicles off all kinds. Get in a cab and the cabbie will have a secret gun to blow your head off. Ooo, maybe it could be one of those glowing-light cabs. Brains would look so nice splattered on them.

Trains? Everyone on the train is a murderer, rapist, cannibal. Your friends will die over and over before your eyes, your monster will feed on this chaos in your brain, you will suffer. You get the picture.

I get home, staggering and drained. I start writing about this monster and I am still haunted by the inescapable fact that the monster is made in my image.

This monster is made up of thoughts that I couldn’t possibly conceive of myself, but they still come from my own mind. That is what true obsession is: An inability to control your own thoughts. It will be hammered into you every minute of every day until you wish you were numb to it, but you aren’t.

And it’ll make you want to blame yourself. Because the same place that controls all your basic functioning, is also the place that’s rife with corruption. Medicines help me. Therapy helps me. But I don’t know if that guilt and anger I still hold at myself for not being able to control something that is out of my control, will ever fade.

(Varun Gwalani is a TEDx speaker, author and mental health advocate. The First Storyteller, his second novel, is based on his experiences with Aggressive OCD. Twitter: @varunug)