Ri(tu)als

I nailed my feet to the ground

I did not trust gravity

I did not want to float away

Feebly flapping

My arms tried to fly (they didn’t like that we were rooted)

So I duct taped them to my torso

When my fingers wiggled

I tied them together

A breeze came and blew my hair

I weaved my locks into a tapestry

They could have made good money if they would have sold it

When the birds sang, my ears would hear them

I filled my ears with silly putty

Stuffed cotton balls into my mouth

I sewed my eyes shut

Velcroed my lips together.

Only then could I sleep.

On Books and OCD

Books, Me, and OCD

“Can we please read Madeline tonight?” I asked as if I were a toddler asking to read her favorite book for the fifth time.

She ignored my pleas and excavated through the piles of clothes and books that littered the floor of my room. She came up with Eloise Takes a Bwath.

“For someone with OCD, your room is a disaster,” my mother said.

I ignored her comment; she knew that OCD didn’t work like that.

“We read Madeline the last two nights;” she declared, “it’s time for something different.”

She did have a point. We did need a new book, and Eloise was that new book.

We only made it through the first few pages that night. I kept getting s-t-u-c s-t-u stuck on the words. Starting and stopping, we read for an hour that night, and every night. She read aloud, and I listened, trying to form the words into sentences instead of grouping the letters into clusters of fives.

This counting of the letters interrupted my life the summer before my sophomore year when my great grandma had her second heart attack. Because I could not save my grandmother, I had to do the second best thing: make sure that every word that I saw or heard or thought had five letters in it.

Diagnosed in with OCD in 9th grade, I thought I had lived the hard chapter of my life. I had spent several months in therapy and was finally doing better, until my grandmothers got sick. In 9th grade, my OCD had been nothing more than a series of rituals in order to make sure that things felt just right. When my grandmother had a heart attack, my OCD turned into preventing her death. As my OCD became more intrusive, school became harder since all I was doing was counting, and I lost one of my favorite things, reading.

Mom and I never finished Eloise Takes a Bwath; we switched over to The Phantom Tollboothinstead since you can only read the first page ofEloise Takes a Bwath so many times before you cannot take it anymore. We slowly made our way through The Phantom Tollbooth.

As the harsh Florida winter ended, I was at a point where it was no longer necessary for me to be read to; I could finally read a book on my own, something I had not done since school had started back in August. Over the course of six months, I had gone from nearly illiterate to reading again.

My parents often say that they wished they could have made it all better, wished they could have made my OCD go away. Looking back, I am happy their wish did not come true. Although I am grateful that I am better and my OCD is managed, I am more grateful for what my OCD has given me. When I was diagnosed with OCD, I was given the choice to let it control my life or get my life back. Through therapy, I’ve been able to learn one of the most important things, that I have the power to change my life. Beyond learning the power I have to change, I’ve also made some of my closes friends because of my OCD. I’ve met an incredibly community through the International OCD Foundation’s Conference and was able to speak to kids with OCD on the Teen Success Panel. I feel like I was given this challenge in order to make something out of it. Because of this belief, I’ve started a nonprofit summer camp for kids with OCD. Since I had to fight to get my life back, I will make something out of the life I now have.

to photography

I did not pick up a camera until 10th grade, and even then I did so reluctantly, actually to fulfill the fine arts requirement. Since I realized mid-summer that I needed fine arts credits in order to graduate, I could either take photography or acting. I choose photography.

As soon as I began shooting, I was in love. The thing that I love the most about photography is the ability that it gives the artist to control their environment and learn how to focus on the things that are beautiful. I feel like a treasure hunter when I shoot. I am finding the beauty on my home planet. I am not creating it, for it is already there. I am simply finding and capturing it for all to enjoy.

This idea that photography captures beauty that already exists carried me through some rough times. When my ocd picked up and I couldn’t really read, I turned to photography to get out of the prison of anxiety that my mind had created. With photography, I was given a new mind set. I was able to put down all my intrusive thoughts and simply find beauty in a way that I hadn’t been able to do for a very long time. My photos became my anchor, the thing that reminded me when things were tough that there was still beauty. “look, you were able to find beauty here. it still exists,” my photos would say to me. “there is a world outside of your mind.”

to say that photography cured my ocd would be a huge overstatement, but i think it would be fair to say that it helped me realize why I needed to get better. When I was so trapped in my mind, everything that I saw was distorted. Things that were harmless to others, my mind turned into things that would surely kill me. All the words that I saw were simply more things that needed to be counted. But with photography, I was granted a new brain, in a way. When you are handed a camera, there is a sort of unspoken demand: you will use this to find beauty. you will use this to show emotion. you will use this to move people.

Soon, those demands that came along with being handed a camera seeped into my life. You will find beauty. You will show emotion. You will move people.

To Bath Junkie

I break my blogging silence with an open letter to Bath Junkie, the charming bath store in Saint Augustine, FL.

Dear Bath Junkie,

It really saddens me to write this letter because I really wanted to love your store.  I came across your beautiful smelling shop while I was in town for the Gentlemen of the Road tour featuring Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and Mumford and Sons.   We spent the Saturday roaming around the shops.  Our only requirement to enter a shop was that it had air conditioning, since it was ridiculously hot and miserable.  (Can it please be cold???)

We entered your shop after we finished the most magical popsicles.  I wish I could remember the company that made them so that I could share the deliciousness with all of you lovely people.  I first fell in love with your shop.  Such a great concept, letting people mix their own scents! And I was totally about to spend all of my my mom’s money on those awesome essential oil shower fizzies.  

But then I saw this. 

Image

 

Really, you name your soap after a mental illness? It’s 2013.  This stereotyping and downplaying of mental illness is getting ridiculous.  Especially because OCD does not equal cleanliness, hand washing, order, or anything else that you were trying to portray by naming your soap OCD.  

OCD is (as described wonderfully by the IOCDF):

Here is one way to think about what having OCD is like: 

Imagine that your mind got stuck

              on a certain thought or image…

Then this thought or image got replayed in your mind

                  over and

                                   over again

                                                      no matter what you did…

 
You don’t want these thoughts — it feels like an avalanche…

 Along with the thoughts come intense feelings of anxiety…

 Anxiety is your brain’s warning system.  When you feel anxious, it feels like you are in danger.  Anxiety is an emotion that tells you to respond, react, protect yourself, DO SOMETHING!

On the one hand, you might recognize that the fear doesn’t make sense, doesn’t seem reasonable, yet it still feels very real, intense, and true…

Why would your brain lie?

Why would you have these feelings if they weren’t true? Feelings don’t lie…  Do they?

And end quote.  

I personally have OCD and have never once washed my hands more than any “normal” person.  In fact, I probably do it less.  I know that hand washing is a compulsion that many people suffer from, but OCD is not defined as that.  I think it’s about time we all get educated. 

Bath Junkie- If you’re reading this, I would love with all of my heart to come speak to you guys about why I feel so important about this.  I ask you to be advocates for mental health or at the very least to be respectful to those of us with mental illness.  

Thank you all for reading this.  Please share if you can.  Let’s stop stereotypes.

Sending you all my love,

J

to cover bulletin boards/is this legal?

Two parts today. Part one is my typical blog, me ranting about a specific subject. Part two is going to be something that I don’t even know that I can do, so sorry WordPress if I broke some rules or something, please don’t make me shut down my blog.  Okay. Let’s begin.

Part one: To cover bulletin boards

So we are renovation our preschool at my church, and I was helping today by recovering the bulletin boards with white paper.  It seems like an easy task, but really I should never have been assigned this task.  The reasons follow.

1. You have to use staplers in order to staple the paper to the board.  It doesn’t seem like that much of an issue, but it is.  So back in like 3rd grade, I stapled my finger, because what else are you supposed to staple, the paper? I stapled my finger, and I did not cry.  Or whine (well I probably whined because I whine about everything). Or yell.  I took it like a man.  Except not like a man because there was a boy in my class who stapled his finger, and he cried.  I was strong.  The reason why I tell you this story is because that stapler incident was the first hate crime against me committed by a stapler.  Today, two  three staplers decided to break on me, shooting staples all over the classroom and cutting my fingers multiple times.  That is why I should never be holding a stapler to the wall or anywhere for that matter.

2. I actually can’t use a stapler.  I’ll either staple it too hard, or too loose so my staple will fall out.  I don’t understand.  There are staples on that bulletin board that have been there for 20 years, but mine can’t stay up for 20 milliseconds.  I just don’t get it.

3. Here is an illustration of me next to the huge bulletin board.  It’s basically like a garden gnome trying to wrap a house in wrapping paper. But PLOT TWIST the wrapping paper is slightly damp for unknown reasons, and you can only attach the paper with staples. (I’m not sure why the board is green in my illustration, but I deleted the file and therefore cannot change it)Image4. I can’t judge the size of the paper to the bulletin board.   Image

Needless to say, a lot of paper was wasted. 

That’s end of part one.  Sorry about the illustrations.  I needed to use my Illustrator, so what better artistic use that stick figure drawings?

Part Two, which I don’t know is even legal whoops.

Can I do this? Okay so I’m having a fundraiser on Indeigogo to raise some money to start a camp for kids with OCD. If you have time and money, check it out and maybe donate, maybe? If you don’t, it’s totally okay and I understand. But if you have an extra quarter or two million lying around, we wouldn’t mind if you gave it to us.  Hopefully I remember to put the link in.. Forgot that yesterday. Aren’t I great at this nonprofit stuff? (no response required)

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/camp-audeamus-a-camp-for-kids-with-ocd/x/4141036

 

to make a phone call

I’m in an odd place right now, a place that shouldn’t be a big deal, but to me is it.  I am starting to see my goal of hosting a summer camp for kids with OCD turn into a reality.  People are talking, emails are sending, progress is being made.  But on the horizon a cloud looms.  And the cloud is a phone call.  

Yes, a phone call.  You mean the thing that people have done for over 50 years? Why, yes, yes I do mean that.  

But haven’t you been making phone calls your whole life? Yes, of course… Well kind of… not really.

In reality, I avoid phone calls like I avoid eggs.  I do try to only call those I know, and even those calls I keep to a minimum.  Why can’t we just email? Or meet in person? Or send a letter? Or owl? All of these seem like awesome options. 

Nope.  I have to call, and I am the one doing the dialing.  What if I call in the middle of dinner? (Well, that’s not plausible since it’s an office number) What if I dial wrong? What if we both can’t hear and we have to redial 5 times (which has happened before)?  How am I supposed to take notes and talk and hold the phone and listen and process and be professional all at the same time? I mean I’m pretty decent at multitasking, but the extent of my multitasking is playing Tetris and watching SNL all while petting the dog and eating a Thin Mint. You wish you could do that. 

But I realize the importance of this call, and calls in general.  And I will make the call.  But calling is scary, but so is starting a summer camp.  But I do believe that it will all be worth it in the end.  

Until next time, have a good week.  Make the call.  Reply to emails.  I’m going to go attempt to dial now.  

Totally kidding on the last part; I’m not ready yet.  

to quote some quotable folks

I now present to you a collection of my favorite quotes/ song lyrics/ sayings/ things that I have taken note of over the year.  They shall be listed below, and some of them will have a brief explanation next to them to provide some context.

Look at the stars.  See how they shine for you. Yes, I did just start off with Coldplay, which is incredibly lame, trust me, I know.  But for real.  When was the last time you looked at the stars? I love to think of them as shining for me, for us, for all people.  They shine as encouragement.  They shine as memories. They just simply shine.  They are like mini fireworks every night.  Wow. That sounded incredibly sappy. Please accept my apologies. 😦

Above all, nation is humanity.  I saw this inscribed on a bench at Duke.  I don’t really know what it means, as I took note of it and never actually studied it.  But I like the simplicity of the quote.  If someone has an inkling as of what the meaning is, please comment!!!!!

Consider how hard it is to change yourself and realize it is impossible to change others.  It’s really freaking hard to change.  SOOO much willpower and strength is necessary.  I commend all of you who have changed yourself.  Way to go.

I’m gonna get over your.  I’ll be alright, just not tonight. I know these lyrics are about getting over a guy, but for me they reminded me that I will win my battle with OCD, even if it is not tonight. But I will get over it.  Patience, my dear.

Sucks to suck! It just does.  So don’t suck.

Life is not cured; life is managed.  This little masterpiece is from It’s Kind of a Funny Story, which is kind of my favorite book.  Not everything can be fixed, and not everything is supposed to be fixed.  You just learn to cope.  COPING MECHANISMS.  Those two little words have been thrown a lot at me these few months.  Apparently I had developed some great coping mechanisms or some crap like that.  But anyway….

There is a mountain, then there isn’t a mountain, then there just is.  I LOVE THIS QUOTE.  I heard it on the Dr.Laura show, which I loooooove also.  To me, it means that there is a struggle, then there isn’t a struggle, then you can just be.  Just exist.  Just live.  How awesome.

Let it go; this too shall pass.  Nothing is permanent.  Good or bad.

Someone will irritate you today.  Don’t let them.  You can’t avoid being irritated by one of these 7 billion fools  human beings that dwell of earth.  So just let them be annoying and then don’t get annoyed.  Be the master.

I live here because I am too much gorilla and not enough human.  Or in my case, I live here because I am too much child and not enough adult.

I am a litmus test for quality.  https://theothercourtney.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/litmus-test-for-quality/          I stole that from her.  I hope that’s okay… I’m not really sure how this blogging thing works…

For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day, and so too one day or a short time does not make a man blessed and happy.

To Emma Watson

Dear Emma Watson,

This lovely quote was said by you, Emma.

“And then – and this is sort of irritating at times – I’m a bit OCD about perfectionism.”

As much as I love you,  I just wasn’t feeling this sentence.  The reasons will now be listed below.

1. It’s a little wordy.  16 words to express a thought that doesn’t need more than 3, maybe 6 words if it’s a rough day.

2. If something is sort of irritating at times, I highly doubt that it’s a mental illness.   You can’t be a bit OCD, just like you can’t be a bit cancerous.  You are, or you are not.  I do agree that OCD can come in many different intensities, but usually if it’s a bit, it’s probably not OCD.  Just my opinion.

3.  As previously stated on my past post, one cannot be a mental illness.  It’s not possible.  Simple logic.  Just like someone cannot be a cold, you cannot be OCD.

4. I don’t understand why you couldn’t just say “I’m a bit of a perfectionist.”  or “I’m a perfectionist.” That would have easily gotten your point across without bringing in metal illness.

Emma, I expect better from you next time.  I’m sure you’re a smart young lady, and I normally love you, but just think before you speak.  You play such a role in so many people’s lives and could change the world in so many ways. I, as a fan of yours who actually has OCD, would ask you not to use OCD as an adjective and would love if you used your fame to promote awareness about things such as OCD and other mental illnesses.

I hope you read this.

I still love you, very, very much.

Love,

Jessica, a teenager who loves Harry Potter and you and has OCD

P.S.- If you do happen to see this, Emma, that would be so extremely amazing and incredibly remarkable.

 

 

to correct some common misconceptions

although i am a mere fifteen years old and do not have nearly as much experience as some people on this planet, there are some pretty ignorant and confused people on this planet.  i am using this post to hopefully teach these people a few things.

1. a milk allergy is not equal to lactose intolerance.  i have this conversation at least once or twice a week.  “i’m allergic to milk.”  “oh, so you’re lactose intolerant?” “no, i’m allergic to milk.”  “it’s the same thing.” last time i checked, they are not the same thing.  let’s use some simple logic to determine that a milk allergy is not the same thing as lactose intolerance.

  • part 1 of my argument: why would we have two totally different names for the same thing? if a milk allergy was truly a lactose intolerance, why would they be two separate things?
  • part two: they have different symptoms.
  • part three: why are you correcting my diagnose? are you a doctor? i’m not going to fight you on what disease  or illness you have; i will just accept what you tell me for i have not gone to medical school (not yet at least)

2. ocd is not an adjective. the phrase “i am so ocd” makes no sense at all, so please, please stop saying it.  you are actually saying “i am so obsessive compulsive disorder.” ‘you’re a disorder???? wow.  i’m jealous of that.  i wish i was able to turn into a mental illness so i can plague all the people that i don’t like.

  • on a side note, can you please, pretty please with a non-ocd cherry on top, stop saying that you have a disorder when you don’t have it?  thank you very much.  its kinda offensive to those of us are actually affected by these wondrous little acronyms that you like to throw around so lightly
  • and also, it would be grand if people realized that having ocd does not make you automatically clean things, or straighten things, or wash your hands.  it comes in all shapes in sizes, so please keep that in mind.  🙂 thanks very much

3. just because someone isn’t giving you their 100% uninterrupted attention does not mean that they are not listening to what you are saying.

4. eggs are not dairy. dairy comes from cows.  eggs come from chickens.  eggs are baby chickens. dairy is not a baby cow.

i think that’s all the misconceptions that need to be cleared up for now.  enjoy your week.