Monday, April 25, 2016

Managing OCD instead of it managing me

Mental illness can be worse in times of stress.  This weekend, when my son was the ring bearer in my cousin's out-of-state wedding, it was very likely that the OCD wolf would start howling,  We sufferers need to remember that the OCD could spike during times of potential stress, and we need to do things to keep that from happening to the best of our abilities (I wish we could be 100% successful at this).

This weekend, through God's grace, I managed the illness instead of it managing me.

4 ways that I managed OCD:
Lilac flower from my walk tonight
I did Exposure Response Prevention (ERP).  The obsessive thoughts still came, but I was able (for the most part) to resist the compulsions.  When I did give in, I just started to feel worse (which always happens).  I struggled with the time issue a bit in the car on the way there. And I struggled with scrupulosity ("I must read the Bible right now."  "I need to ask God for forgiveness again.").  That kind of stuff.  But it really wasn't too long before I was able to refocus on something else and stop doing the compulsions, which made the rest of the weekend WAY easier.  When the obsessions and compulsions aren't clouding my brain, I'm able to be more successful in the other things I know I need to do in order to manage the OCD.

I planned ahead, which brought minimal stress.  Yes, there was still stress, and yes, I could have planned ahead more.  But the important things were planned out, which meant that I didn't get overwhelmed.  I had a lot of help from family, my husband is a rock star, and the kids didn't do too shabbily either.

We gave ourselves the whole day to make the 5 1/2 hour trip, which was good because it took us over 7 hours (long stops, and, oh yeah, running out of gas..,).  Our first scheduled activity was the rehearsal which was at noon the next day.

Also, all ring bearer duties were accomplished without incident.  We remembered his entire outfit.  He didn't have any bathroom accidents.  He made it down the aisle.  He didn't lose the real rings (no symbolic rings here!).  He was quiet through the rest of the ceremony.  He loved playing with the flower girl.  ALL WENT AS PLANNED, which helped keep the stress level minimal!  :)

I rolled with it.  I haven't always been the best with my plans changing.  In fact, "haven't always been the best" is generous.  My tendency is to get cranky and stressed when things don't work out exactly the way I think they should.  But somehow I was able to roll with it when my kids got rowdy in the hotel and restaurant after being stuck in the car for most of the day.  Or when the hotel pool was closed when we had packed everyone's (even the baby's) bathing suits, and this was how I had planned to spend free time with the kids with the dual purpose of having fun and wearing them out.  Or when the baby woke up 2-3 times each night and I immediately fed her to keep her quiet so the other hotel guests would be able to sleep (time to do some serious sleep training, but more on that later).

I spent time relating to others.  It was so wonderful to stay in the same hotel as extended family.  We got to chat, but best of all, they got to love on my kids (which all parties seemed to equally enjoy!).  OCD has the potential to ruin relationships, and I'm so grateful that this has not happened in my case.  We are created to be in relationship - both with God and with each other.  There is freedom in authentic relationships, and I was able to experience that this weekend.

As I've posted previously, I believe that as long as I am on this earth, I will struggle with OCD.  It's a result of living in a sinful world with pain and suffering.  I do, however, look forward with HOPE to being free from this mental illness when I am with Jesus in heaven.  Even though there is trouble in this world, Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).

My goal is not to be free of the OCD, although that would be absolutely wonderful.  No, my goal is to live with the OCD and to manage it in a way that is glorifying to God.