Anxiety, OCD and Phobias

In a previous post about clutter I pleaded with any reader who was baffled by how difficult it can be for some people to just keep things clean to try to understand!

So here we are. More in-depth on the topic of anxiety, OCD, phobias and hopefully some info to better help you understand them!

Let’s start with how SERIOUS these things can be.  Many a person will toss around the word OCD, and a phobia like arachnophobia very lightly. While there are some very mild forms of OCD, phobias etc, these are conditions that literally cripple people.  If you ever wonder “do I have this”  just ask your self, does ______ prevent me from doing “normal” everyday things that most other people have no trouble with?  Does ______ make me rearrange my life?

My own example: Does my fear of wasps prevent me from doing “normal” everyday things that most other people have no trouble with?

Yes, if a wasp is hovering by my front door I will not get within 30 feet of it. I will wait however long it takes for it to fly away. If a wasp is hovering outside my car I will wait however long it takes for it to fly away before exiting my car. If a wasp is in the same room as I am I will always stay on the opposite side of the room, even if this means dropping what I was doing and circling non stop for 45 minutes. 

Does my fear of looking stupid in public make me rearrange my life?

Yes, for years I would never walk into a store or even stop to buy gas if I was by myself because I was too afraid that I would do something stupid and that others would judge me. 

Present day, I’m not so afraid of looking stupid anymore, so that last one (social anxiety) I have happily overcome!  Wasps still creep me out.

So let’s go back to arachnophobia, when used lightly it can be applied to anybody whose first reaction to seeing a spider is to scream, run away, get the heebie jeebies, etc.  Someone who is legitimately suffering from arachnophobia is more like me and the wasps, except lucky for me it’s very unlikely for a wasp to get into my home or to be in random places I frequent like grocery stores etc.  So arachnophobia would make you nearly paralyzed with fear to be in your own home. You would sweep corners, vacuum every nook and cranny daily, shake out clothes, shoes, socks, possibly go as far as to keep them all in sealed bags and STILL have to check to make sure there’s no spider in them before wearing.

OCD when used lightly can apply to someone who keeps their towels folded a certain way, who organizes their closet by colors, likes things to be lined up just so.  I call those compulsive tendencies. Not quite the same as OCD.   This explains OCD better than I could with my own words, so here’s a short video from a tv show called The OCD Project.

I watched that series, it was very intense.  And it made me feel better about the things that I have not yet been able to change about my self!  I have had strangers, family members, friends, just tell me to suck it up, just deal with it, get over it. Which only adds to the overall feeling that I was a failure as a human being.  And then finally one day about 4 years ago, after posting on  a message board for navy wives about how I was MORTIFIED to go a command Christmas party, and plenty of people basically telling me I was weird and/or just not understanding the level at which I was afraid of having to be in that situation, someone sent me a private message.  In a nut shell it said, I get you, I’ve been there, it sounds like you have anxiety problems, and there is something you can do about it.  That kind woman and that message changed my life!  And I have spent a lot of time since then trying to help others who are like me, and trying to help others understand, so that maybe they too can help others.

Onward to Hoarding! Hoarding is a form of OCD, it is the opposite end from those who are OCD about being super clean and tidy.  I have seen people say, “Well why are these people so lazy? It’s not that hard to just …….”  But for them, it really IS that hard.  If you had a 100 dollar bill, and everyone expected you to just throw in the trash, how hard would that be?  It would be pretty hard, $100 is a lot of money, most people wouldn’t sneeze at the chance to have an extra hundred bucks in their pocket these days.  It is just as hard for hoarders to let go of their stuff, it might be an old bank statement from 10 years ago, but it has just as much value to them as that $100 dollars would to you.  And it’s just as hard for a professional to convince them that it’s okay to throw it away, as it would for someone to actually talk you into throwing away that $100.

And again, there are SO MANY forms that affect everyone in different ways.  And they need help, some people might not even realize that it’s something that they can get help for. I hope that I can change someone’s life someday just like someone changed mine.

This post may be all over the place, but hey, I already admitted that I’m crazy! Ha!

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Optimism and Perspectives

Something that really strikes a nerve with me. Pity Parties!

This applies across the board, but Holy Whiners Batman! Some military wives just cannot keep it together!

Some people are just pessimistic, others really are being dealt the worse hand possible again and again and again.  And everyone just has their bad days, this I know and understand. I have been there!  (This whole post is excluding true tragedies such as death, destruction of your home etc.  I’m referring only to things like your garbage disposal is broken, you’re just lonely and miss them while they’re temporarily gone etc.) However, I believe in being unyieldingly optimistic!

True optimism never fails!  If you’re truly finding the silver lining to all your bad situations, then you’d be balancing the bad with the good, perhaps not in equal proportions, but still. Optimism means that you’re not constantly wallowing over all the woes in your life. You find your happy thought and let your self fly!  When you wallow in it, you just stay upset and bogged down, possibly even depressed.  When you find the good in it, however little it might be, you’re choosing to focus on something positive instead the negative. I honestly believe that when you choose optimism over wallowing, you just become happier all around, how could you not?

My real pet peeve about pity parties is the double standard many have, especially when it comes to military spouses.  Some people lose all perspective but their own.  I have, and will always, full on support that sometimes it’s okay to have a pity party.  Sometimes you just need to let it out. Whether you broke a nail, stubbed your toe, your car broke down, or your spouse just left to be gone for a week, two weeks, a month, several months, over a year.  EVERYONE gets to complain once in a while.  But then that double standard kicks in for some people.   One person may feel the need to whine about how much they miss their spouse who’s gone for 6 months on a daily basis, but have the nerve to tell someone else that they shouldn’t complain about missing their spouse just because their spouse is gone for less amount of time.  Would that person appreciate someone else who has to deal with their spouse be gone for longer periods of time tell them that they shouldn’t whine about 6 measly months? Or a widow telling us not to complain at all cause least our spouses are still here?

I have learned a great many things from my Grandfather, and I hope he is around for a long long time still because there is still so much I could learn  from him.  One thing I have learned is that we’ve all been there once. It’s important not to forget about the perspectives you had as you’ve gained experience in life.  A military spouse may have learned to deal with being alone for long periods of  time. But that doesn’t make the feelings of someone who hasn’t had to deal with it invalid.  Just because I can go several months without my husband without batting an eye doesn’t mean that I get to tell my friends that they shouldn’t complain about their significant others only being gone for comparatively short periods of time. It’s all a matter of perspective.  If you don’t already, perhaps you should consider someone else’s perspective before you criticize them just because you feel like their problems are nothing to sneeze at.