I recently saw that sesame Street had introduced an autistic character into one of their episodes (see clip below)
People with anxiety related disorders often think there’s something wrong with us, that we’re somehow not normal. Well let me tell you that societal norms are a lie and I think the sesame Street episode in someway speaks to this though doesn’t necessarily go as far as they should into the idea. I think they get it right in saying Julia has a “Julia way” of doing things but I think they miss out on saying that when you don’t understand someone’s actions that they may not reflect on you but it’s just “their way” of doing things.
For me throughout much of my younger life I felt like an out cast because I thought I was “different” because I made weird noise and did strange things (Tourettes) and would get anxious when my OCD acted up. I was lucky my mother reached out to the tourettes society of Canada who came in a spoke to my classmates and explained something similar to sesame Street that there was nothing wrong with me it was just “Dave’s way” of doing things. This really helped my classmates sympathize with me and also made me feel more at home with myself. We all have “our way” of doing things the societal norm is a lie.
As I grew up and into my teen years I learned to accept that I had my own way to do things abs the ticks grew less and when they did happen I learned how make them appear as if they were just a weird cough or stretch it was a good kind of “behavior modification”. The thing about “the way” that we handle situations I is that it changes. The “Dave’s way” of my elementary years is far from the “Dave’s way” of today. It really came down to patience, awareness and support (again God bless my mother for being there and helping assure me that it was in fact chemical imbalances and not a problem with myself).
So now let’s get practical. How to get your way: 1) Realize that your condition is a part of who you are but doesn’t define you. It’s just your way of doing things. 2) Realize that you can take steps to change “your way” this is important because though maturity can help you with your issues without action your way can become even more of a problem. As I touched on before cognitive behavioral therapy is one method that has been proven effective along side medication.
This article was originally going to be for my OCD fam (holla at your boy…But it has to be an even amount of times…Sorry OCD pun) but it really applies to anyone with a mental health disorder. It’s the concept of seperating your rational self from your mental health disorder.
I didn’t want to make this article very long because there’s a ton of good content on it however I did want to touch on it as it is the concept behind why I started this blog. So repeat after me “it’s not me it’s my mental health disorder” now do that as you slowly breathe in and out (I made an app for breathing at www.breatheandbecalm.com). Good for you! Step one taken. I find that by using this mantra always in the back of my mind I’ve really begun to come to terms with the reality that there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m not weak or “messed up” (though sometimes we all feel like a mess) my mental health disorder is a part of me but it’s not who I am as a person therefore it can be controlled. It’s the monster that needs to be fought and though you may never be free it’s symptoms through patience, self control, personal growth, medication (if needed) and therapy if possible (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been used very effectively see resources at end of article) though they may never go away it is possible for the symptoms to become manageable (ie my tourettes which is now managable). Until we speak again, keep fighting the monster.
Uncertainty sucks for someone with mental illness, it’s the things that fuel our fears. For someone like myself who lives with moderate to severe OCD (though it’s gotten better as I’ve learned to cope) it’s the thing that causes my mind to go in circles, rhuminate on a topic as they say.
One of the things I’ve learned through therapy is that accepting uncertainty is a big factor in making living with OCD easier.
This is really hard when you’re afraid you left the stove on and it could burn down the house, even though you’ve checked and confirmed that it’s off 5 times heh. Thoughts like this happen to me many times a day and it sucks but thanks to cognitive behavioral therapy I’ve learned to be more comfortable with uncertainty like this eventually you learn to identify these thoughts and accept them. Accepting that maybe you left the stove on and it could burn down the house is kind of weird but when you remember you checked it already it becomes normal and re-assuring and I’m learning more and more to trust that.
So I sit on the street car thinking about it and write this blog, I remind myself that uncertainty doesn’t always have to be bad. Uncertainty is brings opportunities it’s what fuels exploration, it’s exciting. I need to remind myself of this constantly to get through my day. In the end nothing stays the same and things get better, this I’m certain of.
Until we speak again, keep fighting the monster.