bookmark_borderToday I sat in the sun.

A woman is holding a flower, her eyes closed, as the sun shines on her face peacefully.  She feels good.
Depression and anxiety in your teen will take more than you have to give. When you have a moment’s peace, and you can afford to take it, I hope you count it as progress. Photo by VisionPic .net from Pexels

Today I took care of my own mental health, just for a bit. It felt good. Today I took care of the mom.

My youngest wanted me to play with her. I was too emotionally tired to do that. But I told her I would love to be outside with her and chat with her while she played.

We’ve had a lovely summer, warm enough for the tomatoes to do well and for swimming to feel good, but not too hot. We only needed air conditioning a few times. Yesterday it got quite chilly, suddenly. Today was very cool, also. It’s supposed to warm up again, summer isn’t over yet. But, for today, it felt so good to be warm in the sun.

I had other things I should have been doing. We are leaving in only a few days and there’s much to prepare.

But, today I sat in the sun.

The household was calm and quiet (it can be the exact opposite, most of the time). Just as I was thinking I had indulged for long enough, I heard some swear words from my son in need, directed at a sibling. His OCD had been triggered. It was time to go in, time to head back to “work.”

The quiet and peace may be rare in your home, like it is in my home. I encourage you to make a mental bookmark of those times. To see them as progress, to see them as hope, to help you see your child. And take some time to enjoy them.

There is a cost. If I’m honest, I get extremely frustrated by the advice to me, as the mom, to make sure to take care of myself. The cost is often too high. If I take some time to myself, everything is still waiting for me and has possibly multiplied. Kitchens don’t clean themselves. Children don’t brush their teeth, pick up their toys, and put themselves to bed without a parent making sure it happens. If you’ve been Parent A for many years, like I have, then you know the cost. Nobody will pick up your slack. It waits for you. If you also have a child with a mental health issue, the stress, worry, and work increase exponentially.

Once in while, there are enough things done and no current storms. When those moments come, enjoy some time in the sun.

If you’re a mental health mom, take care of her, too.

bookmark_borderWhat OCD is not . . .

An ice cube tray with an even number of cubes removed, the remaining cubes in a pleasing, symmetrical pattern.  This is not a symptom of OCD by itself.
An affinity for symmetry and organization is not OCD. Feeling agitated by mess and disarray is not OCD. This was how I removed ice cubes this morning. I do not have OCD.

OCD is not being picky.

It is not liking symmetry and order.

OCD is not being very tidy and getting upset when people mess up your space.

It is not going into someone else’s messy space and wondering how they can live like that.

OCD is not having a routine that you follow every day.

It is not liking things to be done or organized in a particular way.

OCD is not getting irritated when a pizza isn’t cut symmetrically or someone is walking around with one shoe untied.

It is not having an urge to tie someone else’s untied shoe or to “even up” something that was arranged unevenly.

All of my kitchen spices are alphabetized. The shirts in my closet are organized by color, dark to light. I have made myself the exact same thing for breakfast every morning for the past 3 years. I hate clutter and knick-knacks. I like clean, modern design. I clean my kitchen every night; I do not go to bed until the dishes are done. I sweep and vacuum every day. I put things away when I am finished using them. I always buy the same brand and style of pen, in the same ink color. I am particular about my handwriting. I won’t buy a journal or planner unless the pages are white (not cream or off-white). I only like silver jewelry, not gold. I think and think and think before spending money on something that isn’t a necessity. Sometimes I weigh the pros and cons between the generic and the brand-name item in the grocery store, even if the price difference is only ten cents. When I take ice cubes out of the ice cube tray every morning (for my breakfast routine), I always take out an even number and I take them out so they leave a pattern that is pleasing to my eyes. If the last person left an uneven number of ice cubes in the tray, I take out an extra one, so the remaining cubes are in a pleasing, symmetrical pattern. I always use the Oxford comma and two spaces after a period–and I cannot stand it when others do not.

I do not have OCD.

Maybe you do some quirky things like I do. Maybe you think people like me are nuts. Either way, it’s not OCD. I’ve seen the memes. “You know you are OCD when . . . ” and a picture of a pizza cut HORRIBLY! Or one curtain that is an inch shorter than the other three. Before OCD was a reality in our family, I would have thought the memes were funny, too. I don’t think they’re funny anymore. Now, when I see those memes, it makes me think of someone wearing a scarf over their full head of hair and posting a selfie, “Look, I have cancer!”

Not funny.

You don’t make cancer jokes.

OCD jokes aren’t funny, either.

I’m not mad at people who post the memes or take “How OCD are you” quizzes. I understand, they’ve never experienced it. It seems like it might be a fun disorder. People might even think they have OCD because they will ALWAYS cut their pizza beautifully and replace those mis-matched curtains.

That’s not OCD.

OCD isn’t any fun and it isn’t funny.

How do you know if you’re not just quirky, if you actually have OCD?

If it’s preventing you from living your life.

The average person with OCD waits 17 years before getting real treatment. It’s not comedy, it’s a tragedy.

The next post will be descriptions of obsessions and compulsions, and how the two combine to make obsessive compulsive disorder.