OCD Symptoms and What Makes Them Worse

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I’m going to concentrate on two facets of my OCD in this post: counting and fear of losing things.

Looking back, I realize that I was displaying OCD symptoms by at least age nine. My parents were fighting all the time. Despite the fact that my father had abused me, I was consumed with fear of “something bad” happening to our family. I would set myself a deadline to finish a task. If I finished the task in time, things would be okay. They weren’t, of course. My father left and took his girlfriend and disappeared in Florida. I never saw him again. Now, I realize that was the best thing that could have happened to me despite the financial hardship we endured because he never paid one cent of child support.

I already had the counting and magical thinking symptoms of OCD. As I grew up, I had many things stolen from me by relatives. I had my move to New York to live with my fiancé planned, but an emergency disrupted my plans. I had to move suddenly, taking only my clothes and a few special personal belongs, just what would fit in the car. My plan was to take the train back to North Carolina, rent a U-Haul, and move the rest of my belongings to New York. When my fiancé and I came back to North Carolina to move my things, I found that the same relatives who had stolen from me in the past had plundered my bedroom. They stole diaries, clothes, knickknacks, jewelry, even my rare Stevie Nicks photos.

I moved my furniture–the cedar chest and rocking chair that my mother gave me, the bookcase that my grandfather gave me, the antique vanity that my aunt gave me, the wardrobe and chest of drawers that I bought with my tax refund–and the personal belongings I had left to New York.

My marriage was falling apart at my wedding. When I decided it was time to leave him, I wired money to rent a box truck to a friend in North Carolina. She drove to New York alone and helped me pack all my things into the box truck. The kitchen and one bathroom were downstairs. The living room and bedrooms were upstairs, and there was a loft accessible only by a ladder. The only way to get into the attic, where some of my things were stored, including Christmas decorations belonging to my deceased grandmother, was via the loft. I have vertigo. I couldn’t climb the ladder. My friend couldn’t climb it due to health reasons. I could hardly ask my estranged husband to get them for me. And, all of my furniture was upstairs. The only things that my friend and I could get out of the house were the bookcase and rocking chair.

That incident caused me to develop vivid nightmares, and intensified my fear of losing things 1000 percent. I mean, the cedar chest that my mother gave me and the Christmas angel that was on the nightstand when my grandmother died are still sitting in my old house in New York. So I’ve developed a terror of losing anything.

I walk the house at night looking for books, photographs, costume jewelry, and tonight, my set of fine-point drawing pens. Pillowcases that match a set of bedding. Where’s my camera? I just got up and checked. It’s in the bedroom. Where I left it. Where’s the crochet hook that my grandmother gave me when she taught me to crochet? It’s right here in the box in my desk where it always is.

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I will be almost sleep, and something will pop into my head. Where is the collar that my shelter cat Mika was wearing when I adopted her? I get out of the bed. It’s in the box where it always is, where it has been since she died.

Then I get back in the bed, but I don’t sleep because my mind is racing. I can’t stop thinking about the things that people have cruelly and casually stolen from me over the last 30+ years.

OCD manifests in many ways. They all take time out of the lives of OCD sufferers, and often, their families. I’m lucky. My mother understands what’s “wrong with” me and tries to help. I think that most other people like me probably aren’t so lucky.

If you know someone like me, try to help them. If you are someone like me, you’re not alone.

 

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Stop Talking At Me

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We all know at least one person who talks at us, not with us. I’m including talks to us as problematic. Parents talk to a child. Teachers talk to students. Employers talk to employees. Friends talk with friends.

You probably make excuses for the person who talks at you, like I’ve always done until tonight. If the person is a relative, that’s difficult, especially an older relative. I used to suck it up, but finally I realized that I’m 45 and when my 75-year-old uncle started yelling his opinions at me, I yelled back. I haven’t talked to him since. I don’t miss him.

I have the ability to write toxic people out of my life. If you hurt me deliberately, don’t apologize, and don’t try to make things right, you are out of my life. I won’t be at your funeral because you’re already dead to me.

I had an unpleasant encounter with an acquaintance tonight. I tried to tell her about some personal things that were bothering me. She started talking at me, finishing my sentences, raising her voice (in MY house) to shout me down, and blaming me for everything from my chronic depression (she’s been through worse) to not respecting my elders (she’s five years older than I am.) I shut down.

I knew that she had to run herself down, so I stopped looking at her. I got up and poured a glass of wine. I didn’t offer her any. I sat and looked at nothing while she harangued me. Why didn’t I tell her to get the hell out? It’s my mother’s house. My mother kept trying to talk to her but she ignored her and focused on me. So I dropped a mental wall between us.

This has been an ongoing problem. Even positive interactions consist of me saying two words and her yammering and not allowing me to talk. I’ve given her multiple chances to change her behavior. She hasn’t. She won’t. It’s an ingrained behavior. It’s also a lack of understanding of depression. You cannot verbally beat someone into not being depressed.

She finally gave up tonight when she realized that I was not there in her conversation, and she left . . . but she told me that she would be back in the morning to talk to me. I’ve come to the decision that she’s a toxic person, and I’m not having anything else to do with her. If she actually shows up tomorrow, I’ll tell her just that. It’s my mother’s house, but I can go to my bedroom and shut the door.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, if you feel like you know her, then I have to tell you that the relationship isn’t going to get any better because it’s not a relationship. It’s a one-way street. You say, “You know, I feel like . . .” and the person in your life is off and running and you sit there and feel smaller and smaller and just want something to make it stop.

You. You make it stop. Drop the mental wall, and give yourself time to figure out the best way to deal with your situation. Ultimately, the best thing to do is to say, “I don’t like the way you talk at me and try to push your opinions on me.” But, you really can’t do that with a co-worker. You may be concerned about staying cordial with a neighbor. You may have to put up with a relative.

If this person is your SO, run fast and far away, because this behavior is controlling behavior and will only worsen unless you can get into couples’ therapy.

Two people talking is a conversation. One person talking at another person is a lecture. Do you need to be lectured? I don’t think that you do.

 

Earth Day 2018

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For Earth Day, April 22, 2018, I decided to highlight my six favorite fantasy artists. Five have Twitter accounts. Please have a look at the work of these women. They all explore the fantastic and mysterious parts of our planet through subject matter and intensely textured art.

Because it did not occur to me to make a thread of the tweets for each artist, I combined them into a Twitter Moment:

Here’s the link to the first tweet containing contact info for each artist and examples of her work:

Happy Earth Day!

A Four-Fold Goddess?

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I read recently that Gerald Gardner introduced the concept of the threefold moon cycle-based Goddess, but I can’t find any sources to confirm that. I did turn up a couple of references that he and/or Raymond Buckland created or expounded upon the Threefold Law (whatever you send out into the universe returns to you three times over.)

Threefold or triple goddesses are as ancient as the first myths. This Wikipedia page concentrates almost entirely on Greek and Roman goddess triads. It mentions the Irish Brigid but doesn’t include her in the list. It does include The Morrigan. Hecate is mentioned multiple times as an aspect of the triple moon goddess. Since Hecate was the only god to help Demeter when she was searching for Persephone, I think of them as a triad: Maiden, Mother, Wise Woman. That combination is not listed on the Wikipedia page.

Being pagan is a lifelong learning process. There is a reason it’s called the craft. When I was 15, maybe a little younger, I became enamored with the Maiden, Mother, and Crone represented in the cycles of the moon. Having recently, (about two and a half years ago) returned to exclusively studying and practicing Wicca, I’ve realized that I feel more attuned to the cycles of the earth than that of the moon.

I have this poster, Les Saisons, by Mucha, hanging over my dresser/altar. (Please note that I am no longer recommending products from Amazon.com because they refuse to address their business relationship with NRA-supporting Fedex.) On my poster, Winter is in the last panel.

I’m drawn to the idea of a fourfold Goddess: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. I’m a Capricorn, an earth sign, and my favorite plants are trees. I’m also fascinated with fungi, and trees and fungi go together like clown fish and anemones. Mushrooms grow in the rich earth of the forest floor, beneath and on trees, especially oaks. They also grow on dead trees and help the process of decay.

The moon controls the tides and thus life on Earth. I understand why our ancient ancestors assigned such importance to lunar and solar deities. I want a four-fold earth goddess representing each season because She would speak to me more powerfully than a lunar goddess. I feel that a four-fold Goddess also more accurately represents the stages of a woman’s life in the 21st century. We need a representation of women my age, women in middle age. I’m trying to create this Goddess on my altar with figurines. I’m a visual, tactile person. That’s one reason that, as a child, I found the visual ceremony of the Catholic church so fascinating. I guess that’s why it’s so easy for me to picture a scene in a book in my mind and why I’m drawn to descriptive language. Unfortunately, I can’t quite translate what’s in my head to paper the way that visual artists can.

“That’s just a made-up religion” is something that pagans, heathens, witches, and Wiccans hear all the time. All religions are made up in the sense that human beings played a part in bringing them to life. One day, I’ll create my 4-in-1 goddess for myself, and maybe people with the same yearning will seek Her and venerate Her.

School Walkout, April 20, 2018

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Students across the country walked out of class today to mark the anniversary of the Columbine shooting and the need for common-sense gun control. Many wore orange, as initiated by survivors of the Parkland shooting, because hunters wear orange to avoid being accidentally shot. At some schools, only one or two students participated in the walkout. At one school, possibly a private school due to the uniforms worn by students in the picture, seniors were told they would be excluded from their graduation ceremony if they walked out. At another school, students staged a sit-in or “die-in” and some were arrested. I believe that all these punishments are wrong. I won’t comment on my suspicions as to why some schools punish student non-violent protest and some don’t. I will say that arresting high school students for quiet, non-violent protest is wrong, and that we as citizens should not tolerate it. We adults have a responsible to stand up for these kids and young adults.

Two students from different schools, one seven and one ten, were the only ones to participate in the walkout.

I know that people are saying the young kids who walked out of school alone and gave statements about why they did it were coached by their parents, but when I was seven or eight, I was reading Rachel Carson and watching the news with my grandfather. It’s a mistake to dismiss these kids.

But I don’t think that they’re ever going to allow us to dismiss them. Big change is on the horizon.

Back Here

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2018 justin tongue

I set up a new WP blog, but I didn’t get into it. I only posted a few times. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t my space. It felt like deleting my Twitter and starting over.

The last three years have been difficult. I’ve gone through a lot of changes. It didn’t feel right to abandon those changes and try to be, well, some non-ranty person. I have opinions, and this is where I keep them.

-Robin, 4-20-18

Why I Love the Internet

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I’ve been able to speak to a few of my favorite writers on Twitter. I gave one my address and asked if she would consider sending me an autograph to keep in my favorite of her books (the next best thing to her signing the book.) Not only did she send me a nice signed note card, she sent me a copy of her just-released book!

I have a Flickr account but sadly rarely use it any more because I’ve gotten in the habit of taking photos with my iPod instead of my Canon. Sometime last year, I uploaded this photo of my Morrigan statue. The artist, Brigid Ashwood, came across it and left a nice comment about my photo. It was such a nice surprise, especially after a particularly nasty night on Twitter, which I’ll touch on the next time I post.

No matter where you go online or IRL, you’re going to run into some bad apples. In addition to making friends you would never have met without social media, the Internet is a way to occasionally speak to a writer, artist, or musician who has touched your life.