I’ve started back up with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy lately, in addition to my ERP therapy directly for OCD. And it’s made me think about where and how I spend my energy, what feels good to me, and what energizes me. Thinking about how I start my days, I’ve come up with an energy hierarchy for myself:
The idea here is that the bottom tier takes the least energy and is the basis for doing the activities at the upper tiers. So, for example, I won’t have the energy to exercise or relax into cartoon watching if I don’t get out of bed and feed the cats first. (I’d like to mention that depending on the day, coffee fits under basic survival 🤪) Then if I spend a ton of time just sitting around and not exercising, I won’t feel much like working on a painting. And if I don’t spend time doing something creative and spending quality time with myself, I won’t feel like spending time with others.
I imagine everyone’s energetic hierarchies would look different; some people are energized by socializing, for example, whereas I like to socialize but it tires me out.
I’m happy to be able to know my current self in this way. I think it’ll not only help me prioritize my time & energy, but also help me pick myself up when I’m feeling low.
It’s the first day of summer and despite a beautiful sun-filled sky, warm breezy weather, and cloudless blue, I’m not feeling up to snuff. I’m feeling lethargic, down, and although lonely I have no desire to go converse with folks.
Days like this are…depressing. It’s like, I wake up looking out at a sunny morning world and feeling like it might all be alright today. And then by mid-afternoon I feel like a zombie. Not tired, persay, but energy-less.
I did this two weeks ago for different reasons, but this evening I’m going to try and smoke-out the stale energy from my room using a flower want I got from my friend’s herbalist shop. I love using her stuff because I know the love and care she puts not only into making her products but also gathering the ingredients for her products. You can feel the love and kind energy in an ethical harvest.
Routine & rituals are things I revere greatly but that I’ve had trouble focusing on lately. A simple energy cleanse is at least a simple ritual that helps me. I want to mention that I’ve found there are a few important things about spiritual rituals:
💐They make YOU feel something (i.e. they aren’t necessarily prescribed by a religion, governing body, etc.)
💐The practice aligns with your values (i.e. if you value sustainable living, you only use sustainabile items in your practice)
I’ve also found that sometimes I just have to be open to not feeling anything. I’ll usually wait around to practice a ritual until my mind feels steady and focused – which makes it really easy to fall out of the habit. And only when I’m regularly practicing rituals does my mind feel more steady and focused. It’s a vicious cycle. So I’m trying to get into that opposite action mindset and just do the thing that I put together to bring me joy or cleansing or feeling – even if doesn’t do so that day.
aLike, for example, I normally love a good walk in the woods. Usually it helps clear my mind and bring a smile to my face. But some days I don’t feel like it’s going to do anything and I have no momentum, so I just don’t go. And it’s fine to just sit around some days, but I do start to miss my woods walks! So, like today when I’m feeling down, I’m going to go in the woods even if it’s just for 10 minutes with my headphones in blasting a podcast to get my butt out the door! Rituals don’t have to be perfect. Like a small-venue concert where the guitarist forgets a chord, sometimes the imperfections make you smile the broadest.
And so I wish you all, readers, a day with joyful imperfections.
I’m in a transitional phase; a season of pruning. I find myself craving severing poor ties; not craving forced conncetion over joyful solitude any longer. I still want to share of myself with others but I feel much more discerning about whom and how much, in a way I sometimes worry may come off as cruel when my only real goal is to protect my energy.
I was raised a people-pleaser. I grew up doubting my decisions; I was raised taking the “higher road” of self-sacrifice for others, to baby others because I was “smarter,” “more mature,” etcetera. I was raised to bite my tongue when angry and dissect every interaction, every thought before it became spoken word. I was a priveleged kid, I have privelege now, my family is good and kind – but I would not say I’ve ever been fostered for who I am. Supported to a point, but it’s that classic Catholic-school conundrum – if you went to Catholic school most of your life, you probably understand what I’m getting at.
I got in trouble for humming in school. Even though I was the top student, never got in trouble, and that meant I was supposed to get to play Mary in the school pageant in 8th grade, the part was given to one of the worst-behaved students to “help her out” – because her mom yelled the loudest. I wasn’t allowed to play a Who in our Christmas pageant because I wasn’t “small and cute and Who-looking enough.” (This is all just elementary school, mind you.) I was told I couldn’t be an actress because “I’d never look like them.” If I’m being honest – and it’s hard for me to be, because I feel that someone-else-has-it-worse sense of guilt every time – I was bullied quite a few times. And I wasn’t really listened to, either. I feel like I’ve always been fighting something and I didn’t know what; now I’m realizing maybe I’ve been fighting myself I grew up feeling bad about myself.
But enough complaining – that’s not what this post is about. I’m working on transitioning out of that old me, starting a new timeline of wild self-love and enjoyability. I’m “re-parenting” myself. The Artist’s Way taught me to treat my inner child, to love and support it now because now I’m both that inner child and the adult who can give that inner child support!
So I’m doing the things I love to do, even if they seem scary or pointless. For the joy of the day, the moment. This ties into “opposite action,” to be discussed if you read on. I’m
🌿Making art and music
🌿Hanging out with my cats
🌿Spending time outside
🌿Spending time with a few close friends
🌿Cooking tasty, healthy meals
🌿Eating farmer’s market cherry pies
🌿Singing along with Spotify
🌿Hitting the bars
🌿Going thrifting for new clothes
and more. Because these are things I enjoy, and when greater Society feels pointless, these things are there for me.
Like I said, [capitalist] Society feels pointless. A friend once told me he was happier when he was homeless, and I don’t doubt it. I can imagine a feeling of surviving for yourself and for your circle; every complaint now, when I’m above survival threshhold, feels measly. And of course that’s because survival now looks different than it does to my monkey brain. Survival may be different now but we have too much – or at least too much of the wrong things. That’s why landfills are overflowing and I had to drop $15 for the only recycled toilet paper option. That’s near an hur’s pay literally down the toilet.
I’m certainly not advocating that anyone should go without home or comfort, I just hope we as a Society change our values and actions a bit. I’m tired of hearing “sustainability journey” and the other green-team buzzwords. This isn’t a holiday. This isn’t just for fun. This isn’t a round-the-world fun cruise “journey.” We’re literally trying to change the way we function so that we and our children and our children’s children will be able to have home and comfort.
Sometimes, between OCD and depressive symptoms, I struggle with momentum. There are many things I want to do but I sometimes feel like a lead sinker in the middle of the ocean; stuck and heavy.
I recently learned about opposite action and as I understand it, it’s basically pushing through mucky feelings and doing the opposite of what your anxiety/depression is telling you will feel the best. For example:
🧠I’m feeling down on a Sunday afternoon and I want to just sit in front of the TV and binge Supernatural. Instead, with opposite action in mind, I put on something light and happy (like Bob’s Burgers), stand up, and stretch out while I watch.
🧠I don’t feel like going outside. I just want to sit around the apartment. So thinking opposite action, I throw on some headphones and go for a walk around the block.
🧠I don’t want to take a break from staring at my computer screen doing work. So – because opposite action – I get up and wander around for a few minutes just to shift my mindset.
🧠I’m anxious about getting together with anyone, but I also know that sitting alone in my apartment for days won’t feel good – even though it seems easier. So – thinking opposite action – I set up a time to see a close friend for an hour or so.
🧠I worry that my bass-playing won’t be good enough and I’ll get grumpy, which makes me not want to pick up the instrument and play at all. But opposite action: I pick it up and play anyway.
What’s important here, I believe, is to notice the layers of want. Take that last example for instance. I both want to play the bass and want to not be grumpy/feel bad about my bass playing. And this is where my values-driven opposite action comes in. I value creativity, I value the enjoyment of playing music. So I push through the anxiety – I’m nervous that I’m going to feel bad if I don’t play well – and I play anyway.
In fact, a values-driven opposite action practice is going to inform the rest of this post – 🧠I really do not feel like taking care of my plants today because I’m nervous about getting dirt all over the floor or realizing that a plant is dead. But the health of my houseplants matters to me, so I’m going to do it anyway.
Cactus & Succulent Care
It’s the summer now, and warming temperatures mean an updated watering schedule for my cacti and succulents. Of course they still don’t get watered very often; I’m a proponent of rare and heavy watering for these types of plants.
Increased temperature and more intense sunny days also means I can remove my grow light setup for my adult desert plants.
As you can see in the image above at right, the vacuum will need to be broken out after all this.
My echeveria got a coffee treatment today to lower the soil pH. Luckily, I had some leftover bean juice I couldn’t finish and that just got funneled right into the soil. Plus I pruned away the dried-out flower stalks just so my cat wouldn’t chew on them and inadvertantly make a mess.
I’ve also still got my little infant jade plant going. I suspect she may need a larger home to grow into soon, but for now she got some very-diluted fertilizer and water.
Care for all the other plants
First things first, my own care. I stopped to eat a chamomile flower – I love the grassy-yet-sweet taste of these little darlings.
We start with the easy things to do. My kitchen window basils get misted, my recently-pruned celery gets checked on, and my epiphytes go in for their bath. My crispy wave fern goes in for its shower.
While the gorgini sit in their 20-minute warm water bath, I get to the rest of the plant care. The parlor palms also get checked on, and they seem plenty watered and happy. Next the ponytail palm gets checked on – same situation there. Take a look at the closed terrarium – all good, seeing some growth there. White willow sapling gets a good drenching from the watering can. All spider plants get a watering. Peperomia gets a look-see and since the soil’s dry down two inches, a good watering is had.
Gorgons come out of the bath, and look – these two are hugging are they dry!
Next comes two bigger undertakings: (1) Pruning and cleanup, and (2) Re-seeding. These primarily take place for my bedroom and bathroom plants.
Check out the before-and-after of cleanup in my bedroom window:
You might notice that a wheatgrass is missing in both photos. All of my wheatgrasses needed replanted. With grasses, regular pruning/cutting can help keep them healthy and green, but I fell off with my pruning because wheatgrass just grows so fast! So I saved what I could and re-seeded.
Now, one of my bathroom plants died and so I had to prune the rotted-out remnants away. Someday, in my dreams, I’ll have somewhere to compost this type of thing. But otherwise I make sure all the bathroom plants are dust-free, doing well, and watered.
I suppose life is always up in the air; my life feels particularly up in the air right now. That’s not really a complaint, as years of therapy for OCD in particular have taught me to live with the maybe’s. It’s really just an observation, something I’m sitting with. What other choice is there? I find a lot of beauty in uncertainty, as much as it does cause me stress at times – depends on what I’m uncertain of.
There are so many creative endeavors I want to pursue. My wonderful houseplants are, I suppose, an endearing creative outlet for me; I get to care for lovely living things while arranging them to beautify my home, and it brings me much joy and acts as a bolster to my mental health. I gave my plants their first actual shower the other day (yes I literally put them in the tub and turned on the shower) and I like to play music for them and sing to them sometimes. There’s evidence that stuff really helps them. I also saw recently someone dances around the house with their plants to mimic wind, and I’ve started doing that a bit. I love to dance.
I suppose there’s this bit of my creative side that wants to make in order to be known. I want to show myself, be vulnerable; at the same time I have no desire to be vulnerable. I feel like I have a history of being too generous with others and not generous enough with myself. I’ve been the one to do a lot of emotional work.
I’m thinking of myself like a little fruit fly. If I zig-zag to land on every surface, sure I could hit a sweet flower – but I could also hit a sticky trap. I’m trying to not force a landing on “what I should do next” but rather just be okay with the uncertainty.
I’ve been doing the so-called “little things.” Making myself nice dinners; going to the farmers’ market; making art; daydreaming.
It has taken all of my self-control not to buy a 42nd houseplant! I just can’t handle learning the care of a brand new plant baby right now. Especially when I have some work to do:
I need to give my crispy wave fern diluted fertilizer. It’s becoming pale because there’s not enough nutrients in its home.
I’d like to figure out what’s going on with my peacock plant. It’s suddenly gotten really droopy, and it has been watered and the humidifier’s running. It also got coffee yesterday.
I’ll re-seed the wheatgrass and clean up some dead plants/do some pruning.
It looks like my spider plant needs a good watering.
The three air plants need a full soak watering. They got misted a few times over the week since my apartment’s air is dry.
The celery appears to need some sort of treatment, possibly neem oil. Suddenly the leaves don’t look right – little white dots and they’re off color. I’m guessing spider mites but I can’t understand yet how that could’ve happened.
I’d like to consider moving the little baby jade propagate. Now that it’s warm I’ll bet it wants to grow. I have to read up on what it might need at this little baby stage.
I have so many creative ideas bouncing around in my head; I swear, plant care and having plants around helps my brain work.
🌹 I could make lo-fi music. I even have some song titles in my head, and I know how to record and stuff. I could learn to mix; I have the time!
🌹I could sell plant propagates in cute thrifted containers. I saw someone doing this at a craft market recently and I thought it was a lovely idea. They were selling all succulents. I’d probably focus on all varieties of pet-safe plants.
🌹I could somehow share the art I’ve been making.
🌹I could continue work on the children’s book I’m writing with my dad. If only I could convince him to do the illustration…
🌹I could learn how to screen print. I’m pretty sure there are local classes.
🌹I could write a play. I’m not really a big theater fan and yet I always loved Shakespeare. And there are a few choice plays that I adore.
🌹I could do some gardening out on my building’s shared lawn. I wouldn’t plant anything edible because I’m not the one in charge of lawn care and I don’t know what chemicals are used, but some native flowers would be nice. I did seed-bomb it earlier in the spring.
I wonder if part of the loveliness of caring for plants is how easy it is to feel happy for them. It can be hard to be proud of other humans who are thriving, especially when you’re just surviving – it takes practice. But it’s easy, at least for me, to be happy when my celery grows a new shoot, or my parlor palm grows taller, or new spiderettes appear off my spider plant. It doesn’t matter what mood I’m in, those things make me happy and proud. I suppose that’s why plant care is such a labor of love; we can give them so much, and although they do it quietly they give us so much in return. They give us fresh air, calming colors, beauty and life all their own. Unlike with people, I don’t feel like my plants take from me. Of course, they literally do – they take my water, the food I give to them, carbon dioxide that I breathe out. But this is symbiosis. I’ve been hard-pressed to find that with people, although I do have it with a select few folks. And so for now I live happily among the houseplants.
Two things I struggle with: 1. Fearing – and thus feeling – my emotions 2. Assigning an absurd amount of meaning to my emotions.
Fearing my emotions: in some ways, I’ve felt this was justified. I was an angry kid and sometimes I acted out because of overwhelming anger. But what I realize now that I’m older is that it wasn’t my anger itself that made me act out – it was that I didn’t know any healthy ways to address my anger. And, though many of my reasons to be mad were justified, adults in my life would try to explain away my anger. Trying to explain away an emotion does nothing but make it come back stronger an hour later. Because I didn’t let myself feel or felt guilty about the feelings, I started throwing things instead of throwing tantrums.
In a society that tells you “You’ll know when he’s the one,” how can we not over-assign meaning to what we feel? I never understood that assertion because time and time again I’ve “known” things that turned out not to be the case – thanks, OCD brain. Also, divorce rates are high, so that’s bullshit. There are all sorts of reasons why that’s bullshit; don’t get me started.
But anyway, how do I deal now? I share this because a few folks I was talking with earlier found this coping mechanism I use really helpful. When an emotion comes up – be it anger, sadness, joy, loneliness, whatever – I don’t sit there trying to figure out why I feel the way I do or what it could mean. I just feel the feeling.
What’s that look like?
I want to address, of course – this doesn’t apply if someone’s approaching you on a dark street corner and you feel afraid! But in a way I guess it does – you don’t need to rationalize that fear, right?
I do not always need to rationalize my feelings. I can feel them and if there’s a non-urgent, compassionate (and self-compassionate), useful way and reason to address them outside of myself, I can do that too.
I’m realizing that I am, and usually have, refused to take anything but the best for myself in my life. And that’s beautiful. And I hope I can expand that mindset while holding on to my compassion and gratitude.
I went on yet another woodland excursion the other day, and what a time I had. I’ve not once regretted heading out to the woods. Or to the ocean. Or playing music. Or singing along. Even when I’ve thought I didn’t have the energy. I hope for you, reader, that you have or find something in your life that brings you that kind of joy.
So while out in the woods, I followed a small relatively quiet trail farther than I’ve ever taken it. I got to revel in the gurgling sounds of a little creek with little waterfalls, and I saw a rogue windchime out there! Normally I’m not into adding unneeded extravagance to natural landscapes, but something about this windchime, out there on a quiet still day, painstakingly hung there and hurting no one, was… beautiful.
The whole scene was the stuff of my dreams, down to the old cobblestone bridge and the clay cliffs. In fact I’m working on painting it.
On my return from a sunny afternoon in the woods I drank the stinging nettle tea I’d started steeping that morning, and look at this mountain-dew-esque color! Exquisite (although Mountain Dew is not exquisite).
My woodland walks are my wonderful time for myself. I’ve noticed that I’m much grumpier when other do their own thing when I haven’t given myself space to do my own thing. And I’ve also noticed that when I am taking time and energy for my own creative and comforting efforts, I get very annoyed when people take out their own lack-of-making-time-for-themselves on me! It’s all about taking & making space for yourself.
For me tonight, that looks like [quietly] blasting Lady Gaga and Flock of Seagulls and prancing around with my bass guitar, playing it badly and singing. And writing this post. May you have as blessed an evening.
I enjoy the greater amount of time I have now to enjoy my own hobbies and spend time with myself. But when I end up spending too much time on my own, I feel depressed and anxious and sapped of energy and like I don’t want to do any of my hobbies! It can be a hard balance to strike, and I wish I had some advice for how to strike it.
I’ve found that the advice we’ve all heard a thousand times at this point, label what you are feeling and then allow it to be there, is the only thing I know to help me. Like, I don’t feel like this is my best writing right now – and that feeling is there, and I’ll let it be there and just continue to write because it feels good to write even when it’s not good. Even when no one reads it (in case you didn’t know, I really don’t write to be read. I just write to write and appreciate when people read.)
I have this restlessness in my heart lately. It’s a kind of restlessness I’ve felt on car rides and beachside occasions and sunny summer bike rides all across my life, but that I never gave myself the time and space to leave there, to let be. Usually I filled it with something, whether that something was impulsively starting a romantic relationship, feeding my insecurities, or trying to fit the outline of someone else. It’s a feeling not that my life isn’t where it should be, not that I’m unhappy; it’s this feeling that I truly am interesting, I am special, I have talents and inspirations and motivations that I deserve to follow, even if it seems scary or difficult or open-ended.
I wonder if that restlessness is why I feel frustration with folks I care about when they’re engaging in their passions and not engaging in their relationship with me. Because I have passions that I want to engage in more, maybe.
And that’s where it comes back full-circle in that I treasure my time enjoying my passions alone, and I treasure a certain amount of time with certain others. I’m still trying to strike the balance.
There are also the shadows of things that have upset me in the past, shadows of the way I was raised or words said to me that hurt like a physical blow. They don’t bug me most of the time, but in difficult moments they still hide in my mind and torment me a bit. And I think, again, that advice is sound – to let those feelings be there, to realize hey, this still bothers me! , to set my boundaries, and to go on.
Well, technically. I sort of foraged with two friends a few months back but it was less about foraging and more about learning/experiencing the woods that day. But today, thanks to my city’s lovely parks program putting together guided walks with an herbalist, I did my first foraging and flower-eating!
Well, okay, I’ve eaten flowers before. But not flowers I’d picked myself.
So today I learned about:
garlic mustard (*see my upcoming post on invasive species!*)
knotweed (my friend actually taught me about this on aforementioned woods trip prior)
dandelion (the same friend has also taught me some tricks with dandelions)
plantain (not the plantain you’re thinking of)
I really enjoyed the taste of bittercress; I had to stop myself from eating a piece that I’d picked to press in order to remember it’s shape (I ended up losing the piece along the journey home, ugh). Violet flowers also tasted alright. Motherwort was bitter but not so bitter that I was unhappy, and I was told it’s good for cardiovascular support and it’s a nervine.
I think my biggest excitement is stinging nettle. Apparently there are histamines that give you the “stinging” reaction if you handle stinging nettle for too long or without being gentle – and it turns out the stinging can be medicinal! It can promote circulation which, if you have a sac of fluid in your knee six years post-op and numbness, which I do, is nice to know because it can help reduce my swelling! I was quite literally told that I could tap myself in the knee with the leaves and let it sting me. I’m looking forward to this.
And as someone who wants to forage responsibly and for others to do the same, here’s a tip I learned: When plucking nettle, [gently] pluck just above the next leaf layer the same way you would pick basil to make it bushier.
Now, I don’t feel even remotely experienced enough yet to share much about these plants; rather I just want to share my excitement that these things grow in my very own local park! Where there are no pesticides sprayed! And where I may or may not know spots where people don’t walk their dogs where plants are pee-free…
I will share what I made with what I foraged today, though!
New Planties: Crispy Wave Fern, Willow (yes, a whole-ass tree), Zinnia, another Friendship Plant
Seedlings! Both Indoor & Outdoor
Here I have a couple of pollinator see packs. The tiny one is a strawberry plant, and that will be staying inside simply because I don’t have any outdoor space where I teenie weenie pot like that would stay safe. The other two are sunflowers and daisies; I actually have some other sunflower seeds that are going directly in the ground outside tomorrow!
As for these two medium-sized seed potting kits, there’s also not anywhere outside I’d feel super safe keeping them – except for doing exactly what I plan to do, which is creating a way for these little dudes to hang from our big strong maple out front. I’m hoping to make some hemp string hangers for them!
I’m not into bombing – unless it’s seed bombing. These little seed bombs (clay + compost/dirt + local native plant seeds + water) starting to actually sprout while still in the container!
Making them was a blast, and throwing them about has been a blast as well. Hopefully I’m blessed with a beautiful alleyway full of wildflowers this season.
Last but not least for the seedlings – some basil seeds have been laid beneath their elder basil brother!
No sprouts yet, but peep my new yoga gnome thanks to my absolute favorite Pittsburgh nursery (Cavacini’s) – who sort of offered me a part-time position, by the way.
The folk at the counter overheard me talking plants to my family and said “ah you brought your own plant lady!” And later they said “I’m so glad you’re gnome people.” I’m very into gnomes and so is my dad, honestly.
An Artistic Endeavor
This isn’t the artistic endeavor I came here to talk about, but: if I made tee shirts that said “I’m just foraging” or something for people to wear like at the park or something… I don’t know. That’s just in my head.
Anyway – a while ago I started working on a self-portrait based on one of my favorite photos of myself. I didn’t finish it but I’ve decided to scale up and do a canvas painting alla the Andy Warhol fingerpaint of late. I’m feeling the Sunday depressies today (even though it’s Saturday) but I hope my energy’ll be up later and I’ll work on it.
A Curly Girl Success Story
I wanted to be sure to drop this here because (a) I want to be able to replicate it and (b) it took me F O R E V E R to find something that worked to return my hair to how I remember it being at it’s healthiest, so maybe this could work for you if you’re struggling to find a routine for your curls!
So, the morning curl post-cowash* refresh:
Filtered water spray soak – like, I got it basically dripping with a spray bottle full of Brita water
Mielle Hawaiin Ginger organic leave-in conditioner squished in, up to the roots
Denman brush – first just a regular brushing, then brushing from under the roots for volume
Let air dry in the warm weather!
*I had cowashed the day before; this routing was done on none-shampooed, non-apple-cider-vinegared, dry hair.
I’ve been using SheaMoisture intensive hydration conditioner with manuka honey and mafura oil to cowash lately. Occassionally when my hair is super dry I use I AM hydration elation instead. I have not shampooed in weeks, I use a 1:3-ish ratio of apple cider vinegar to filtered water to wash/clarify. My hair is also cut into relatively short layers.
This is a brain dump inspired by the fact that I got to fingerpaint a few days ago.
Here’s the first thing I fingerpainted!
I don’t know why logically but that first image, where there’s still a big white unpainted splotch, just catches my eye every time. And after this I went down to the art store and bought 4 more canvases to finger paint because gosh is it relaxing on my OCD. It’s like a salve on sore skin.
I also painted eggs with my family for Easter, and that was another super-relaxing very-fun time. I made the tie dye ones and a hot pink splotched one and one with a really ugly pickle on it.
Getting purposefully messy has been a real antidote to my OCD lately, which is crazy because there have been so many times over the past year that I’ve avoided situations where I’d get dirty or messy (like painting) for fear of getting poisoned or poisoning someone else.
TW: self-harm & OCD
I’ve also been getting better at forgiving myself/not engaging with self-hatred. I am unfortunately once again less than a month free of self-harm but the urges are more physical and emotional now than they have been prior, when my thoughts twisted and turned in on themselves until I hated who I was thanks to my own mind. Now I just feel physical discomfort.
But back to “getting better at forgiving myself/not engaging with self-hatred.” I got annoyed by some friends recently and complained to another friend about it. And then when I saw the aforementioned friends I was annoyed at I did feel a little bad about complaining about them. But I didn’t let OCD take it and run with it the way it sometimes does – when OCD tells me I’m a bad friend and an uncaring person for complaining, I’ll now sarcastically say to myself – “Ah yes, that’s me. A terrible, hateful, uncaring person because I get annoyed at other people sometimes. Makes sense.”
And I’ve also gotten back to being able to do things in social contexts on my own. Like, sit at a restaurant and eat alone. Or (safely) drink a beer at a bar alone. Or go to an event alone. Or sit at a coffee shop alone. Sometimes this stuff has been hard for me to do because I’m sitting there thinking about how I look to other people. Honestly, now, I mostly don’t care. What right do other people have to judge me? Me sipping a beer or planting a plant or chugging a latte isn’t hurting anyone!
I don’t like to be advice-y. I think there’s more than all of our fair share of that on social media. So let me leave off with a wish that you have a great week, living it your own way & bringing joy and peace to your little world.
My cat got a nosebleed all over my wall. I’m going to sit by the bloodstains and not clean them.
Now, reader, I don’t know how that seems to you. To me when I tell myself that, my brain says things like this:
Are you nuts? You’re a bad cat caretaker. You’re lazy. You’re just leaving the blood because you’re lazy. You don’t even have OCD. You’re lazy and selfish. Your cats are going to die because you aren’t being diligent enough.
Mind you, I’m not never going to clean that blood. I’m just going to sit with it until the urgency of I NEED TO CLEAN THIS NOW OR I AM LAZY AND MY CATS WILL DIE fades to Hey, that blood’s kinda gross – let’s clean that up.
This is exposure therapy. A.k.a., torture.
This to the right is what the blood looks like.
I do want to point out here that my kitty who got the nosebleed is fine – he’s napping in the sun as I type. He just has a stubborn URI and nose irritation.
So now I sit at my desk near that blood spatter. My anxiety/guilt starts at a 8/10. And I sit, and I wait for it to decrease to about half of that. And I try not to ruminate; I’m allowed to remind myself of the facts, like that the vet said blood isn’t dangerous to my other cat. But I work hard not to ruminate, keep checking up on the blood, etc.
At the 5 minute mark I’m down to a 7/10 but I feel like a crazy person working at my desk surrounded by blood. And that thought sends me back up to an 8.
My movements are stiff because I’m trying hard to avoid touching blood; in my head I know there’s already know way I haven’t put my elbow or forearm in some of the [dried] spatter. I feel myself getting a bit shaky. I’m oscillating between 7 and 8.
At the 9-minute mark I’m calming down a bit for now – down to a 6/10. My kitty looks very cozy in the window. I think about a TikTok I saw where a man’s puppy decided to lick his bleeding cut, and no one there was freaking out – maybe I don’t need to freak out, either? (They did tease the dog for being a vampire, though, understandably.)
I feel like I’m in a cheap horror film.
And my head goes back to You’re lazy, you’re doing this for attention, this isn’t real, you just want attention. But my body doesn’t really respond this time.
At the 11-minute mark I’m down to a 5. That doesn’t mean it’ll keep decreasing linearly but I’m hopeful.
My arms feel itchy. Not sure if it’s dry skin or stress; the suddenness makes me guess it’s stress.
(Believe it or not this’ll all make me feel better?)
There are gnats in this house, and I like bugs but I wish they would go away. Why do we need gnats in the house?
At the thirteen minute mark, my kitty cat sneezes right near me and although I don’t check for blood on the furniture from it, my anxiety is back up to about a 6.
I’m looking forward to a nice lunch at 12; this helps calm my brain just a bit.
There’s blood on my calendar. There’s blood on my calendar. It’s incredible to me the way projectile blood hits certain things and skips others.
I’m going to sip my coffee, no matter how much it scares me. I won’t die.
At the 15 minute mark I am still at a 6. This makes me a little sad and stressed.
I think, thank god I have therapy at 1.
Someone in a group therapy session for OCD talked recently about how even without OCD telling them things were urgent, they’d have made the same decisions they’d made. That gives me hope; my values are to care for animals. Even without OCD I’d be caring for this animal and cleaning up his blood until he gets better. OCD just makes things even scarier when they’re already scary. I’m glad for my values.
Gratitude is something that really gives me rest. Today I’m thankful for sunshine, warmer weather, and my wonderful coworkers. And my parents, and cat rescues, and little local tiki bars. And unforeseen friendships and little joys. And at the 17-minute mark, I am back down to a 5.
I feel safer than I did at the start. And less stiff, too. But I’m not looking forward to the eventual cleaning. I’m getting hungry, I have obligations in a half hour, things are still a bloody mess… I’m feeling the world close in on me a little bit. But again, my body doesn’t react so strongly to these thoughts – and that’s a win.
At the 21-minute mark I felt the anxiety drop down to my feet like a balloon stabbed with a needle. I’m at a 4/10, and that’s half. The exposure’s over.