Tuesday, June 30, 2009

OCD & The Man In the Mirror

This may make some people happy, and it may make some very angry, but I will say it anyway – I am a Michael Jackson fan, and I am very upset by his loss. Over the past few days, many people have shared my sentiments, but I have also been met with extreme hostility at the fact that I could feel this way about him. This is my story.

I am approximately the same age as Michael Jackson, and I literally grew up with his music. I was never a fanatical fan of the Jackson 5 like I was with the Beatles, but the little boy, Michael, had something unworldly about him, and I never tired of watching him perform.

Fast forward several decades. Within a 6 week period, my father and grandmother had just died, as well as the mother of my 2 friends who are like sisters to me. My own mother had a bleeding ulcer and was on the verge of hospitalization, and I was caring for her in my house. I also had a teenager who was going through a difficult period – he just lost the love of his life, his grandfather, and he needed me. My OCD had escalated out of control and it was all that I could do to function, and I wasn’t doing a good job of that. The grip of depression that took hold of me was so intense that breathing was difficult at times. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or concentrate on anything. I didn’t care if I was alive or not.

I remember it clearly, the night that I was sitting in a chair in the dark, in the quiet, crying and crying and hoping that the pain would stop. I remember the way my thoughts were just going around and around in my mind – they were unstoppable and driving me insane. I got up and put the radio on. I sat back down in the chair. It started playing “The Man In the Mirror.” The music, the emotional way he sang it -I felt it go right through my body and penetrate every fiber of my being. The words took hold of me and went right to my spirit:

Gonna make a change, For once in my life. Its gonna feel real good, Gonna make a difference

Gonna make it right . . . As I turn up the collar of my Favorite winter coat, This wind is blowin’ my mind...

I'm starting with the man in the mirror, Im asking him to change his ways. And no message could have Been any clearer, If you wanna make the world A better place Take a look at yourself, and Then make a change...

Man, that man With that man in the mirror. No message could have Been any clearer. If you wanna make the world A better place Take a look at yourself and Then make a change. Gonna feel real good now!Yeah yeah! yeah yeah!

Just lift yourself, You knowYouve got to stop it. Yourself!(yeah!-make that change!) Ive got to make that change, Today!Hoo!(man in the mirror)You got to, You got to not let yourself . . Youve got to move! Come On! come on!You got to . . .Stand up! Stand up! Stand up!(yeah-make that change) Stand up and lift Yourself, now!(man in the mirror)Hoo! hoo! hoo! Aaow. . .(change . . .)Make that change.

I was so filled with emotion when that song ended that I knew that this was a message that was sent to me through that song from somewhere else, I’m sure of it. I did get up, right then and there. That song was what got me moving again, made me get a grip of my life and take the steps to conquer my depression. Every time i hear it, I get the chills.

I am forever grateful to Michael Jackson for the gift of music that he gave to me. That is why I am going to the Apollo Theater for his memorial today – to thank him.

Monday, June 22, 2009

OCD & Intrusive Thoughts Have No Power

Many people with OCD or other anxiety disorders are victims of Intrusive Thoughts, which are scary thoughts that seemingly pop into the mind randomly, causing intense feelings of fear, anger, or sadness. They always produce extreme discomfort.

The thoughts themselves are bad enough, but is the emotions that they produce that can be disconcerting and damaging. But we are being fooled by our minds- these thoughts have no power unless we allow them power. We become victims of these thoughts because we think that they are messages or omens. Too often, people take these thoughts at face value and believe them unconditionally. That is because we have trained ourselves to do this subconsciously

I believe that our brains, from childhood, create patterns which trigger certain thoughts regularly and automatically. An example of this is once when I was a child I got a new necklace. I put it on and 5 minutes later the phone rang and I heard bad news. From then on every time I attempted to wear the necklace I believed that something bad would happen. It was such a strong thought that I couldn’t wear that necklace anymore. In addition, every time I saw a necklace, I would become afraid, and expect bad news. Now I know my own mind created that pattern, but back then I didn’t realize this and the fear was very strong.

If you can logically look into your minds and see that the patterns of automatic thinking which have been ingrained in you since childhood are causing your Intrusive Thoughts, they will no longer have power over you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

OCD & Success Consciousness

I subscribe to a newsletter, http://www.successconsciousness.com/ by Remez Sasson. In today’s issue there was a great article will power and self discipline, with tips and exercises to help build these great qualities. I think that if a person can strengthen their powers of will and self discipline, their OCD or any other mental malady will be helped. Here is some information from this issue:
“Everyone possesses some addictions or habits they wish they could overcome, such as smoking, excessive eating, laziness, procrastination or lack of assertiveness. To overcome these habits or addictions, one needs to have will power and self discipline. They make a great difference in everyone's life, and bring inner strength, self mastery and decisiveness.
There is a misconception in the public mind regarding will power. It is erroneously thought to be something strenuous and difficult, and that one has to exert and tense the body and mind when expressing it. It is a completely wrong concept. This is one of the reasons why people avoid using it, though they are conscious of its benefits. They acknowledge the fact that the employment of will power in their life and affairs will greatly help them, and that they need to strengthen it, yet they do nothing about it.
Will power gets stronger by holding back and not allowing the expression of unimportant, unnecessary and unhealthy thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions. If this saved energy is not allowed expression, it is stored inside you like a battery, and it becomes available at the time of need. By practicing appropriate exercises, you develop your powers the same way, as a person who trains his/her muscles in order to strengthen them.
An effective method for developing and improving these abilities is to perform certain actions or activities, which you would rather avoid doing due to laziness, procrastination, weakeness, shyness, etc. By doing something that you do not like doing or are too lazy to do, you overcome your subconscious resistance, train your mind to obey you, strengthen your inner powers and gain inner strength. Muscles get stronger by resisting the power of the barbells. Inner strength is attained by overcoming inner resistance.
Remember, strengthening one of these abilities, automatically strengthens the other one.
Here are a few exercises:
1) You are sitting in a bus or train and an old man or woman, or a pregnant lady walks in. Stand up and give up your seat even if you prefer to stay seated. Do this not just because it is polite, but because you are doing something that you are reluctant to do. In this way you are overcoming the resistance of your body, mind and feelings.
2) There are dishes in the sink that need washing, and you postpone washing them for later. Get up and wash them now. Do not let your laziness overcome you. When you know that in this way you are developing your will power, and if you are convinced of the importance of will power in your life, it will be easier for you to do whatever you have to do.
3) You come home tired from work and sit in front of the T.V. because you feel too lazy and tired to go and wash. Do not obey the desire to just sit, but go and have a shower
4) You may know your body needs some physical exercise, but instead you keep on sitting doing nothing or watching a movie. Get up and walk, run or do some other physical exercise.
5) Do you like your coffee with sugar? Then for a whole week decide to drink it without sugar. You like to drink three cups of coffee each day? For a week drink only two.
6) Sometimes, when you want to say something that is not important, decide not to say it.
7) Don't read some unimportant gossip in the newspaper, even if you want to.
8) You have a desire to eat something not too healthy. For the sake of the exercise refuse the desire.
9) If you find yourself thinking unimportant, unnecessary, negative thoughts, try to develop lack of interest in them, by thinking about their futility.
10) Overcome your laziness. Convince yourself of the importance of what is to be done. Convince your mind that you gain inner strength when you act and do things, in spite of laziness, reluctancy or senseless inner resistance.
Never say that you cannot follow the above exercises, because you certainly can. Be persistent no matter what. Motivate yourself by thinking about of the importance of performing the exercises, and the inner power and strength you will gain.”
I hope that this information will help. Also, this is a great E-zine, and I recommend it for everyone. Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

OCD & Hand Yoga - Mudra's for Health

Today I’m feeling tired and a bit under the weather. Perhaps it is because it has been raining for weeks on and off and summer has taken its time arriving. I was looking around for something to renew my energy and pick me up a bit. I remembered that my friend Jill sent me a great website which I found very interesting. It is is Yoga for the hands! It is something that people with OCD, or anyone for that matter, can do wherever they are in need of a quick pick me up. These hand exercises, which are called Mudra's, supposedly can address a variety of health issues, both physical and mental. I can't wait to try them!

Another hand exercise that I wanted to mention here is for anyone who needs a confidence boost. Spread your fingers out as wide as you can and make the space between your index finger and thumb as big as possible. It’s like standing straight and lifting your shoulders – it gives you extra confidence. I do this often and it does make a difference.

Below are the hand Mudra's that I have duplicated from http://www.healthmad.com/Mental-Health/Health-in-Your-Hand-Seven-Mudras-for-Amazing-Health-Benefits.49665


1- Gyan Mudra (Mudra of Knowledge):

Touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the index finger, with the other three fingers stretched out.
As it is a mudra of knowledge, it enhances the knowledge. The tip of thumb has centers of pituitary and endocrine glands. When we press these centers by index finger the two glands work actively.
Time duration:
There is no particular time duration for this mudra. You can practice by sitting, standing or lying on bed whenever and wherever you have time.
Increases memory power and sharpens the brain
Enhances concentration and prevents Insomnia
If we practice it regularly, it will cure all psychological disorders like Mental, Hysteria, Anger and Depression

2 -Prithvi Mudra (Mudra of Earth):

Tip of the ring finger touches the tip of the thumb, with the other three fingers stretched out.
It reduces all physical weaknesses.
Time Duration:
It has no particular time duration. You can practice it any time you want.
It helps to increase the weight for weak people
It improves the complexion of skin and makes the skin to glow
It makes the body active by keeping it healthy

3-Varuna Mudra (Mudra of Water):

Tip of little finger touches the tip of thumb, with the other three fingers stretched out.
It balances the water content and prevents all diseases which come due to lack of water.
Time Duration:
It has no specific time duration and one can practice it according to their time.
It retains clarity in blood by balancing water content in the body
Prevents the pains of Gastroenteritis and Muscle Shrinkage

4- Vayu Mudra (Mudra of Air):

Keep the index finger on the base of the thumb and press with thumb keeping the other three fingers straight.
It prevents all the diseases that occur due to the imbalance of the air.
Time Duration:
The practice of this mudra for 45 minutes reduces the severity of the disease in 12 to 24 hours. For better results practice it for two months.
It cures Rheumatism, Arthritis, Gout, Parkinson's disease and paralysis without any medicine
It is useful for Cervical Spondilytis, paralysis to face and catching of nerve in neck
It corrects the disorder of gas in the stomach

5- Shunya Mudra (Mudra of Emptiness):
Keep the middle finger at the mount of Venus and press it with thumb.
It reduces the dullness in our body.
Time Duration:
One can practice it for 40 to 60 minutes daily until to be cured from the disease.
It relieves an earache within 4 or 5 minutes
It is useful for the deaf and mentally challenged, but not for inborn ones.

6- Surya Mudra (Mudra of Sun):
Bend the ring finger and press it with thumb.
It sharpens the center in thyroid gland.
Time Duration:
Practice it daily twice for 5 to 15 minutes.
It reduces cholesterol in body and helps in reducing weight
It reduces anxiety
It corrects indigestion problems

7- Prana Mudra (Mudra of Life):
Bend ring finger and little finger and touch the tip of thumb with their tips keeping the remaining two fingers stretched.
As it is the mudra of life, it improves the power of life. Weak people become strong. It reduces the clamps in blood vessels. If we practice it regularly, we will become active.
Time Duration:
No specific time duration. One can practice it any time.
It improves immunity
Improves the power of eyes and reduces eye related diseases
It removes the vitamin deficiency and fatigue

8- Apana Mudra (Mudra of Digestion):
The tips of middle finger and ring finger touch the tip of thumb while the othertwofingers are stretched out.
Specialty: It plays an important role in our health as it regulates the excretory system.
Time Duration:
Practice it daily for 45 minutes, but practice for longer time yields more benefits.
It regulates diabetes
It cures constipation and piles
It helps excreting the normal waste regularly

9-Apana Vayu Mudra (Mudra of Heart):

The tips of the middle finger and ring finger touch the tip of thumb, while the index finger touches the base of thumb and little finger stretched out.
It benefits the heart. It works like injection in the reduction of heart attack. It is as powerful as sorbitate tablet. It reduces the gas content in body.
Time Duration:
Practice it as many times as you can. Heart patients and BP patients can practice it for 15 minutes daily twice for better results.
It strengthens the heart and regularizes palpitation
It regulates excretory system
It redeems gastric trouble

10-Linga Mudra (Mudra of Heat):
Interlock the fingers of both the hands and keep the thumb of the left hand vertically straight and encircle it with the thumb and the index finger of the right hand.
It generates heat in our body. Take milk, ghee, more water and fruit juices in addition to practice of this mudra for much benefits.
Time Duration:
Practice it any time you want. But don't practice it a lot as it produces heat in the body. It can cause sweating even in winter if you practice it longer.
It stops production of phlegm and gives power to lungs
It cures severe cold and bronchial infection
It invigorates the body

I hope that these Mudra's will recharge you and change your energy whenever you need it. Have a GREAT day!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

OCD and the Anxiety of Waiting

A dear friend of mine recently had to go for a medical test. She was pretty nervous in the days leading up to it, and near terrified about getting the results. This is a common scenario for many people, and not just those with OCD. Also, it is not just waiting for medical tests – waiting for just about anything can be an anxiety provoking experience. Whether it is an important date, phone call, or an upcoming event, waiting generally increases excitement, and can increase anxiety as well.

If a person who is waiting for an upcoming event feels good about it and has a good picture of the future, then I would encourage that way of thinking. I want to discuss the terrified people, when OCD and all the other nasty stuff kick in.

For a person with OCD (or many others for that matter,) waiting can be like torture. All kinds of thoughts can intrude on a person’s mind about the future, and people may find themselves mentally transported to the future and involved in various scenarios. Some of them can be terrifying, especially if the person is currently experiencing anxiety. Waiting can turn into a frustrating, demoralizing, aggravating, time consuming, and expensive experience. Like Tom Petty says: “The waiting is the hardest part.” I have been a victim of this way of thinking many times, and it always takes a toll, both emotionally and physically.

What we need to remember is that is only our minds thinking up these bad scenarios, and there is no proof that this will be the outcome. We have been tricked by our minds, which have created automatic thought patterns from events in the past, and we are projecting that onto this event and into our future. Why don’t we question our assumptions? Many of us just take them as fact.

We have the power to change the picture…..Visualize a great outcome to whatever it is that we are waiting for. I believe that we should play out the scene in our minds with the intended outcome as much as possible. Perhaps we will help to subconsciously attract the desired result. At any rate, it is much better then living frozen in anxiety.

I’m happy to report that my friend’s test turned out fine. My hope is that everyone out there now has the ability to question their assumptions and to positively anticipate, and turn waiting into a good experience.