Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Eight Months.

It's been eight months since I've last written....holy moly! A lot has happened. I've missed writing. I've "written" countless posts in my head while laying in bed, driving on the freeway, eating dinner, etc... It's weird, as much as I loved to blog (and honestly still do), for some reason that I don't understand, I have felt as if I was rebelling against something I loved. I have had an internal attitude towards my blog.

Tonight I was thinking about my therapists at Roger's Memorial.....Heather and Nick. I miss them. I miss you guys, if you are reading this. :) I was wishing I could have a couple "refresher" sessions with them. I'm doing well overall, but I still have my struggles. Somedays I handle them better than others. I think that's probably the case for every person with a heartbeat. There's just a few of us lucky ones that get this cherry on top called OCD.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What's my level....you ask?

If you actually think I licked the gas pump, ha....think again! :) Pumping gas without using layers of paper towels has been one of the most consistent exposures I have diligently stayed on top of. (And let me be clear...it is NOT because of licking the gas pump or even kissing it for that matter. :) I begin to feel a little panicky when my gas tank starts to run low, and I still get that punch to the stomach feeling when my hands first make contact with the grimy rubber and cold metal of the pump. Sometimes the intensity of my thoughts about how dirty and germ-ified the pump handle is almost gets the best of me, and I'll rub the palms of my hands strategically somewhere on my jeans where I think I'll be the least likely to come into contact with the germs again. Realizing that I am still giving into a compulsion when I do that, I try to justify it with "At least I didn't WASH my hands or use a barrier." Humph.....the rationalization!!!

It seems like this last month has been exceptionally hard....or maybe it was just last week, but the week felt so long that I'm mistaking it as an entire month. I could spew many "reasons" as to why it felt so burdensome, but I'm pretty sure the reality is that I'm going through a bought of depression. When I look at my life, I am beyond blessed. I have everything I need and more than I deserve, yet I find myself coveting the things I don't have. Why does an attitude of contentment seem so difficult right now. Does my lack of contentment have anything to do with my depression? How do I choose contentment despite my depression, and what does that look like?

My sister-in-law, Jessie, came to visit me for a couple days in the middle of last week for our long awaited and affectionately dubbed "Thelma & Louise" adventure. For her birthday in August, I bought her big sunglasses and a scarf and we planned to spend a couple days just us girls watching the classic movie, indulging in yumminess, and driving up the pacific coast highway with our hair blowing in the wind. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Driving along the coast with no specific destination, feeling free to sing off tune while laughing at each other dancing in our seats, was amazing. I still felt anxious for the majority of the day, and it didn't "cure" my depression, but it gave me some perspective that I needed. Jessie found a quote by The Elephant Man that sums it up pretty well.....

"My life is full because I know that I am loved."

It is true....so true. I am loved.....loved by my family, my dear friends, and most importantly my Creator, the lover of my soul....because of this, my life is full. Acknowledging that truth while not beating myself up for feeling sad, depressed or anxious is an art I'm sure will take a long time to perfect.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I am back in Wisconsin. A ton of memories and emotions have been billowing in......some good, some not so good. I'm here because Roger's Memorial Hospital asked me to share a part of my story at their annual fundraising gala which also happens to coincide with the OCD Foundations nationally broadcasted event called "OCD Stories: An evening of reflection, humor and education about OCD." I feel honored to be a part of this.

Everyone is invited and welcome to be a part of this evening's events by watching it live at http://www.ocfoundation.org/awareness/ .

Monday, October 4, 2010

My happy yellow room.

Holy Moly, it's been a long time!!! I've missed you, dear blog! I was reminded today that it's been exactly two months since I've written on my blog....yikes! Trying to pick something to write about seems a little overwhelming because if my mouth was speaking all that my mind is thinking, I'd have a severe case of diarrhea of the mouth or word vomiting......both are uncontrollable explosions.....so hopefully they get the point across as to how quickly thoughts are tumbling from my mind. :) haha. Oh goodness.

I'm not exactly sure why I haven't been blogging.....nor have I been journaling. Sigh. It's literally one of my favorite things to do.....writing, that is.....so why I haven't been doing it is as much a mystery to me as it probably is to you. Sometimes it feels like an internal battle against what I know I love and what I know is good for me. I can't figure it out. But alas....here I am again, computer on my lap, glass of wine next to me, letting my fingers flow with the rhythm of my thoughts.

Today was a good day. I woke up to light rain and grey skies. Love, love, love! I felt cozy and happy.

A year ago right now, I was getting ready for all the craziness of being on the OCD project. Actually, I wasn't really getting ready because I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Speaking of which, I do realize that I didn't share my thoughts on the last two episodes....maybe I'll get to that one of these days....maybe not.

During a group at Roger's, we used colors to identify different emotions we felt and where we felt them throughout our bodies. Pink is my favorite color, but I discovered that yellow is my happy color. :) It makes me smile just thinking about it. So, this summer, one of my projects was to turn my room from just a room into a room that exudes happiness and embodies my free spirit. The transformation has been really fun.....painting, hunting for perfect little treasures to put around my room, bargain shopping on craigslist, rearranging, etc. It's not 100% done, but I heart it very, very much so far!! :)

Look at my bright yellow wall!! It calmly SCREAMS happy, happy, happy! :) I love it.

I found this fabulous desk on craigslist and absolutely fell in love with it! My good friend, Sarah, and I stayed up till the wee hours of the morning painting it. It's rugged, uneven, and just perfect!

That empty space in the corner is eventually going to be the home to a huge, overstuffed, cozy, white chair. So excited!

So there it is......my happy, yellow room. :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sick on the couch.

Sigh.......I don't really know why I haven't been blogging recently. I have SO much I want to write about. Writing is so therapeutic for me too, so it's a little bewildering as to why I've almost been avoiding it. Don't know.

I've been a little under the weather today, with a gnarly head cold. Blah! The pressure between my nose and eyes makes me sneeze like crazy.....or at least makes me feel like I'm going to sneeze all the time. Ah-choo!

I still plan on blogging my thoughts on the last couple episodes of the OCD project, and I definitely want to share my thoughts on the International OCD Foundation convention my mom and I went to in DC. Oh, and I started doing yoga......have tons of things to share about that. :) And then there are all the "normal" day things that I've worked through, laughed through, cried through, and shrugged off with a "hmm."

I'm still alive, just haven't been lively on my blog lately.....or facebook, or email, or phone calls..... eeek!

Oh, and I have a super, super awesome story.....or follow up.....to my church post. Sooo fun!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ollie sings a song with Uncle Theo

Oh my goodness. My mom and I are in our hotel room in DC after a long but fabulous first day of the International OCD conference. We just watched the final episode of The OCD Project (which I will write about when I am less tired and more focused) and then were watching silly videos on Youtube. Good times. We came across this one, which was filmed a little over a year ago when my precious little nephew, Oliver, was born. He is three days old in this video and he is a star in the making!!! Oh my....my mom and I watched it twice and could not stop laughing!!!!! Sooooo funny!

Oh, Ollie....how you make my heart happy! :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shoes and dried vomit.

I just arrived in Washington DC and my hair immediately went from straight to FRIZZY. Holy moly! I need a shower…..and definitely a shower longer than 5 minutes. :) I am in DC for the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) convention, and I am excited! I think it's going to be great. My mom flies in tomorrow, which I'm even more excited about!

I’m pretty sure airports and flying are perfect breeding grounds for anxiety…..even for the general population. For OCDers, that anxiety quickly morphs into a chaotic mess of obsessions and compulsions. It’s like anxiety on crack. There are triggers everywhere, with everything. The airport is one of my least favorite places to frequent....unless it's just to people watch. :) Everything seems overly grimy and disgusting, and the hustle and bustle just enhances it all. Going through security nearly brings about a panic attack every single time! The only thing my brain focuses on is all the shoes!!! Shoes everywhere. People taking off their shoes and throwing them on top of their bags and jackets and purses like it’s no big deal at all. In reality, it’s……probably……no……big……deal. That’s hard to say, because I’m still trying to grasp onto that fact. With my OCD frame of reference, it seems terrible! It feels paralyzing just watching people grab their shoes and toss them onto their stuff. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that. ……it’s something to work towards, I supposes. Ugh….even just typing that caused my stomach to drop and tense, and my heart to beat faster. I hate this feeling. My mind is spinning. I feel nauseous.

On a funnier note…..

I board the plane in LAX, walk back to my seat….as in the back of the plane, back. I pretty much have the worst seat. Back of the plane, middle seat. My favorite. Having only had three hours of sleep, I am thoroughly looking forward to a nap on the plane. As if I haven’t been triggered enough in the two hours I’ve been awake, I find my seat and as I’m about to sit down I notice that there is dried vomit coating both sided of my seat belt. Oh HELL no! The two gentlemen sitting on either side of me were obviously confused with my half sitting posture which turned into a northbound leap. Still holding my bags, I quickly maneuvered my way around the guy sitting in the aisle seat, and walked straight back to the galley where I calmly informed the stewardess that I needed to be reseated.

I was reseated. :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Video is up.

The Hollywood Hiking video is finally up! Woot-woot! :) To go back to the post in which it is embedded, click here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The sani aisle.

I had to run to Target tonight to pick up a few things. As I was pushing my cart toward the laundry detergent section, I glided by an entire aisle of sanitizer wipes and disinfectant sprays. It was almost nostalgic....but a punch in the stomach all at the same time. It was a special moment, really. That sounds kinda silly, but it really was. I looked at all the different colors and sizes of the sanitizer wipes, which have always been my favorite.....well, the sanitizer wipes and the hand sanitizer and hand soap, and..... okay, maybe they were all my favorites. Whatever. Back to my original thought. :) I haven't bought any of those things since last October! A slight smile swept across my face as I looked at all my favorite sanitizing products, remembering how I felt so soothed each time I would use them. I felt myself desiring that feeling again. That soothing, calm, peace.....regardless of its fleeting presence. I wanted to buy just a couple products. "For old times sake," I told myself. "Just a couple won't hurt. And besides, I won't use them all the time. I'll just keep them around, like 'normal' people." When I realized the thoughts I was having, I then felt that punch to my gut that I'm all too familiar with. That flippin' parrot trying to make his home on my shoulder again. AHHHHH!!!! Literally, I felt like screaming......right there in the middle of Target. If I appeared normal before, me screaming while looking at Clorox wipes standing in an aisle in Target was bound to make me appear otherwise. :) At that point, I knew it was time for me to resist and keep putting one foot in front of the other until I got to my original destination of the laundry detergent section. It's weird how I have such an internal and emotional reaction to something so silly, so normal, so good. I didn't like it. I don't want to be affected by the sani aisle. Oh, but it represents such a dichotomy in my mind.

And all the cute little hand sanitizers they sell in the check out lane now. It's like they've come out with a million new versions since I "quit." :) Take them away, just take them away.

BUT....I choose to embrace those moments (and the grimy, unsanitized handle of my shopping cart), and be thankful for yet another exposure in which I triumph over!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Episode 7

Nothing soothes this frustrated female like a ginormous bowl of rocky road ice cream!!! :) Mmm, mmm, mmm!

I know I'm breaking my own rules of blogging about episode 7 before I've blogged my thoughts on episode 5 and 6......but oh well.

Tonight's episode was quite possibly the most frustrating episode yet! Episode six was probably the hardest, but tonight's definitely took the cake for ruffling my feathers. I literally felt my chest and arms breaking out in hives as I watched the part where I was told to spread urine all over my room. And yes, it was real urine. Warm, frothy, smelly urine, served fresh to me daily. Awesome. And even though I specifically asked not to know who the donor was, I conveniently found a picture on facebook of the generous person. Double awesome.

I know I've said this before, but what is sooo frustrating is that my desire to get better was constantly questioned by the person who was supposed to be helping me. It was never a matter of whether or not I wanted help......geez louise......to this day, I am sooo grateful and humbled for all the treatment I received. I wanted help, I needed help, but "help" caused me to feel paralyzed.....or at least the "help" that was being presented to me on the OCD Project. I didn't understand, and I wanted to. Tough love is a good thing, but torturous love......not so much. Ok, so maybe that is a little dramatic..... :) but, it felt like torture at times.

Dr. Tolin: "Kristen, Kristen! Your attitude is BS! You need to stop it!"
Me: "This is BS!"
Dr. Tolin: "If it's BS, then fire me, Kristen! You fight OCD or don't!"

That little conversation was actually quite humorous for me to watch, only because of the ironic foreshadowing to a conversation that Dr. Tolin and I would have two months later. I highly doubt it will be shown on next week's episode, but just in case it is, I won't go into detail until next week.

Cody, Arine and I were close buddies throughout the entire three weeks. We looked forward to our nightly, un-filmed conversations that we affectionately dubbed "our closet conversations." :) I miss those conversations......where we all spoke the same language without really having to say anything at all. The laughs, the tears, the deep conversations....such sweet memories. I love that they showed the part where Cody asked if I would kiss him with all the prosthetic deformities on his face. Even though I came across a little biaaatchy, I think I was actually quite supportive of Cody throughout that whole exposure. I'll call him tomorrow and ask him just to be sure. :) We even played a good game of tennis, and he would chase me with his crazy looking fake face, and I would freak out, we would laugh.....and then we were told to stop playing because sweat was making Cody's face melt off. Haha! :) Priorities, priorities!! :)

This has definitely been an interesting part of my journey.....watching the beginning of my treatment on TV. I think the basis of this show is actually quite amazing and fascinating. One of my goals was to help bring about awareness to a disorder that is so misunderstood, and through my own personal triumphs and also my frustrations, I have had amazing opportunities to do that. For that I am thankful. Other things I am so thankful for:

The Peace of Mind Foundation. I loose my words when I try to come up with an appropriate way to thank them. Liz, who is periodically seen on the OCD Project, started the Peace of Mind Foundation and generously offered to pay for aftercare for all six of us on the show. Had it not been for Liz and her foundation, I honestly don't know that my life would look any different today than it did nine months ago. Thank you, Liz!

My therapists at Roger's Memorial Hospital. Bless them! :)

My family. What a loud, boisterous bunch we can be.....but oh how life is sweet because of them.

Most importantly, I'm thankful for Jesus. His gentle grace is truly amazing!