Sunday, 29 April 2012

Elder Morrison

Dear Folks, This is an interesting article. Elder Morrison has a good handle on mental health issues. I love it that our leaders can hit the nail on the head with this stuff. Check it out:

Look Up

I went out for a run recently. In all honesty, I am no athlete. In addition to this I have been trying to get some help for my sore back and neck. The treatment guy said I need to straighten up and sort out my posture. I have been trying to straighten my back and hold my head up a bit more. There I was, running (and walking) through my local public park. It's a hilly spot that causes some toil on my part. I remembered to straighten up and, boy oh boy, did it ever help. I could see things like trees and sky. They had been strangely missing in the past. It only then struck me that I was too busy looking at the ground or even my feet that I missed out on all of this. I ran on with a little more vigour than I had before. Isn't that just the way of things. I live in my OCD bubble. Ruminating about this or that. Did I really think....? What was my true intention.....? What did I really mean......? It's like staring at the ground on a sunny day, surrounded by beauty, looking at dirty gum marks on the pavement. I am only beginning to learn this stuff now after suffering from OCD for nearly 20 years. It is really painful living. It can stop you in your tracks and make you believe that you are bad, wrong, filthy despite the endless exertion of perfectionistic living. For me I am looking for some more steps into healing. I suspect I need some more outside input soon. LDS Family Services maybe? Perhaps I could have some conversations with my Heavenly Father (a no brainer really). While I figure out the next steps I am going to give myself the following advice: Lift your head up! Look around! Breathe! Feel! Until next time.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

"And what is the purpose of your visit today?"

When Mrs. LDSOCD and I were newly married we took a trip from Canada, where we lived at the time, and headed into the States. We left our twin babies at home and took off for beautiful Maine. This was a chance to escape the heavy responsibilities that come with being a parent, for a little while at least, to two lively, not to mention hungry, noisy and frequently aromatic boys.

At the border, the guards spotted my British passport and pulled me into the office for a "chat". The little fella that quizzed me (who was not for mincing his words) asked, "And what is your purpose in visiting the United States today?" What else could I say but the truth. A day trip, followed by an overnight stay. Many questions followed, delivered as my ultra-assertive border guard chum and i stood toe to toe in a tiny interview room. During our short,shaky (I was the shaky one) exchange it became clear that that he didn't believe my story. Yikes! I didn't want to be locked up or anything like that. Fortunately they "cut us loose" (their words) in the end and we were off.

Over a decade later, I am left to reflect on the question about "purpose".

Brother Thurl Bailey,a former NBA basketball star, was interviewed on the Mormon Channel recently and noted that this question of purpose, posed while travelling, got him to thinking hard. I subsequently have too.

What is my purpose today?

God has sent me here. I am, in many ways, faulty but He will guide me with to ultimately become who he wants me to be.

What does this person look like? I am only just beginning to scratch at the surface. I now feel that most of all I need to be me! Unequivocally me! Let's figure out who I am then I can start to make some progress.

In a nutshell then, I am a Son of God, a follower of Jesus Christ. I have been sent here to fulfill my own personal mandate and find my purpose(s). I experience weakness, made manifest in very many ways which includes OCD. I am struggling with this but know my Heavenly Father with help. I know that my overwhelming purpose is to be obedient to the principles and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ but am thrilled to know that God wants me to share from my heart some of my experiences and issues.

What brought you here today? Oh and while you're here, what is the purpose of your visit?

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Hiding Behind the Mask

It's clear to me that I wear a mask in public. Just as naturally as I wear my suit to Church or sweats to the park when running, I pick up my mask when i leave home and head off into the outside world.

"Hi. How are you?"
"Oh, I'm fine! How are you?"

Sounds familiar? To me "fine" is not a an acceptable word to describe the complex emotions, thoughts and experiences of a magnificent child of God. Our lives are so rich and accompanied by powerful feelings, joys and pains that "fine" cannot simply cut it. A mowed lawn might be fine. A tuna sandwich may be fine. The weather on a Spring morning could just about be fine (even sometimes here in Britain!) Our lives? Try giddy, despondent, troubled, fearful, enthused, ecstatic, overwhelmed, burdened, hopeful, anxious, peaceful (and i could go on ......and on). Perhaps we experience vast ranges and varied collections of emotions within each day. If the Lord took me into His presence and asked me to share with him how I was feeling, what would I say? I'm pretty certain I would not tell him I was doing fine. He would see through such dishonesty.

So how do we balance things out? I'm not advocating letting all of our concerns and weaknesses hang out there on public display. I am suggesting that, at least in my life, I open up a bit more where possible. Those friends that are around us, as well as family members, dear ones who have earned our trust, have been placed in our midst by God. Let's exercise some caution but surely let's give more away than trite pleasantries.

The hymn teaches, "In the quiet heart is hidden sorrows that the eye can't see". (Lord, I Would Follow Thee). Let's help our dear associates to feel comfortable enough in our presence to open up that we may be of value in performing the work of the Master. They need to be lived and listened to. There are sinking souls in need of rescue. You may be one. God loves you and will not fail to succor you in the appointed hour.

So, tomorrow when I go to Church and shake those hands and greet those dear Brothers and Sisters, I will try to look behind the "fine". Maybe I'll be able to take off my mask, my disguise, that convinces people that all is well. Either way, while I am on my voyage of recovery, I am beginning to understand the need to be me.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Line upon Line

Dear All, It's pretty clear to me that the Lord loves us all. I think it was Elder Patrick Kearon who said that he especially loves those who don't feel that God actually does have a love for them. I know that the Lord is real and wants to reach out and bless us. I have OCD and am troubled by general anxiety. I also have a job that i extremely stressful. This week I have been praying, as have the rest of my family, for a miracle. What I really wanted was for the Lord to swoop down and deliver me from the stress, trouble and anxiety I feel, maybe even changing up my employment circumstances to ease some burdens. What has actually transpired has been different. The Lord has blessed me to gain some new insights instead thus far. I have learned through inspiration, brought through feelings of my heart. The Lord loves me and wants me to be myself. That's right. Warts and all me. That doesn't mean I should misbehave but be me. I have allowed some of my weaknesses to be a bit more visible and it feels great. I don't think I will be an open book but it certainly feels good to be more honest and clear with folks about what is going on. Maybe miracles have been wrought. It might just be that the path of deliverancewill come a step at a time.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Out For a Run

I went for a run this evening. I would like to classify myself as a 'runner'. I have run past the local football (soccer) stadium in the past and felt out of puff before I have completed what would be the length of the pitch. The "stars" of the mighty Scottish Premier League make it look easy when I have seen them on that pitch. The running part that is. They seem to have more problems with the passing, shooting and scoring parts. Interestingly, exercise is good for mellowing me out in brain stress terms. President Faust once extolled the virtues of physical exertion explaining that generations past had an advantage as they were heavily involved in physical labour e.g. working the land etc. My Grandfathers worked in farming and coal mining. I'm not saying that emotional issues were non-existent but if my experiences are anything to go by it is easier to think straight when physically active. On another, note a friend of mine claims that, as a result of a more sedentary lifestyle, human core temperature has dropped by a single degree (Celsius) in the last 100 years making our immune systems five times weaker. Hmmmmmm. Don't know what I think about that. Also, I wonder how frequently I need to go out running to be 'a runner'. Is twice every six months enough?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A Wee Request

Dear All,

Let me know if this is of any value to you and also if there are any questions. I would like to keep the focus on recovery from OCD but want to keep it light from timr to time to. If you have any questions or coments about any of this leave a comment.

Let me introduce my dear friend.........OCD.

I mentioned in a previous post that I would take some time to outline how my OCD has changed over the years. I have always been a worrier. Even as a child I would worry about things excessively, usually being scared of getting into trouble.

It all kicked off at the age of about 19. I worried that I had contracted a fatal disease. That was fun. I would worry and ruminate over this until I went to the doctor and he told me there was nothing wrong with me. I almost took his word for it but ovtime that faded away.

I have had weird experiences from time to time. WHen walkikng to Church one morning, I saw a razor blade on the ground outside a petrol station. What do you do? Ignore it? Stick it in a rubbish bin? Not me. This was a job for OCD man (complete with cape and super hero tights)! I agonised over it before putting it in the bin. "Oh no! now what should I do?" Well I went into the station and explained the issue to the atendant making him aware that there was a razor blade in the bin and please be careful when you empty the bin and don't get cut. Way to go!

I have been convinced I have run someone over while driving a van around town. The van must have clipped a kerb. The obvious cause of this bumping sensation? "I've hit someone!" "No-one to be seen." The solution? Drive up and down the street looking for the poor victim that has been struck. Oh boy!

I worked in a restaurant and had the responsibility to clean up. The place had some nooks and crannies that were generally left untouched by cloth and mop. Not on my shidt. I would go wild making sure everything was clean. No way was any bad bacteria going to poison customers when I was on shift. I just couldn't relax about it and caused myself some aggravation. I did a lot of hand washing in this place too.

I can't tell you the number of times when leaving the office I have checked and rechecked that switches are off and that windows are closed.

So you see I have been a ruminator, a checker, a cleaner, a hand washer among other things. You can se how OCD shifts and is multi-faceted. What an adorable little disorder, always changing so you are never bored. Also, I always have my OCD to keep me company, such a dear friend indeed.

Is there a driver behind these situations? Having carefully considered it, I think that it corresponds to fear of man. In each of the situations I was carefully controlling my life or my environment in order not to make mistakes that would see me punished by man or God. I'm not sure why this fear is so prevalent. That's something I will need to figure out.

Until next time................

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


I spoke with a holistic medical practioner today. He thinks he can help me. I expected he would, after all he is getting paid. Despite my latent cynicism I do trust the guy. I am not writing to suggest a particular brand of therapy in any way. I am wary of folks that earn their living through alternative therapies as you could spend a lot of cash for little impact. To me it is important that we follow the Spirit of the Lord in selecting any medical help. The main thing was that I was pretty open with this chap. This was somewhat a departure. Usually in conversation I am a closed book. Just being able to chat openly about my issues was an interesting departure. I am not saying that we should be an open book with others but would suggest that we should be true to ourselves. I have, for years, hidden away the parts of me that I thought others would find unpopular. For example when I was a teenager I dated a girl who hated football (soccer). "Football", I proclaimed, "is a waste of time" (or words to that effect). What a fibber. For years I have been living someone else's story. This has a depleting effect on one's energy and is not in any way healthy. Be true to the principles of the Gospel and be true to yourself. These things are of paramount importance. Please, please think about this and then act in accordance with the principles of the Gospel. It will help you to be happy.

On my last post I said I would cover some points about my shifting OCD patterns. I'll do that next time.

Until then.............

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy! I have had some periods of real heavy OCD in the past. Right now my obsessional thinking relates to worthiness and in particular if I see an inappropriate image e.g. some underdressed indiviual either on a billboard, TV ad or walking down the street, I worry.
"Did I just ogle that person?"
"Did i look again?"
"What was I thinking?"
"That was so wrong!'
"Am I OK to use the Priesthood?"..........................

Do you get my drift. What fun! If you can imagine what it is like to be in that mindset 24/7 you can get a handle on where my head is at on a frequent basis.

When I misapply Gospel teachings such as the encouragement and commandments to be clean, pure, chaste etc. I have a pretty sure feeling that I am a big baddie. Although I have had some experiences lately that have started to chill me out a bit (I'll post about that sometime soon.). These obsessions are in no way enjoyable and looking at it as Mr. Rational, I can see that my mind is overworking or maybe even malfunctioning during these episodes.

That relates to the obsessions. Now or the fun part (if only!!?!) the compulsive behaviour. What do I do to counteract these thoughts? I think of a bad thing to take away the image / thought. This happens to be another little gem - bad language. That's right! I resolve one negative by thinking of another one. Thinking (sometimes mouthing) these words makes me feel bad and takes my mind away from the original intrusive thought. What a pathetic cycle. Why do I do it? President Packer says to sing a hymn. In my mentally unstable world it seems that foul language kicks out the obsessional thinking. What a laugh!

So in summary my obsessions (intrusive thoughts relating to members of the opposite sex) are followed by my compulsions (secret swearing). You can tell my self esteem does not go through the roof when I am in this cycle, which by the way is almost constant. I struggle to watch almost anything on TV without this process kicking in. Walking down the street is about enough to get things of to a flyer.

This is only part of the picture for me. I honestly feel that I am in recovery. I have decided to put up and suffer no longer than I need to. I have spent some time chatting with an LDS Family Services counsellor. This has been good but is only starting to scratch the surface. I really do believe that I can be healed. I hope that if you are like me and suffer from this psychological issue that you hang in there. If you are a later-day saint or not, hang in there. Help is at hand. We have not been sent to Earth to fail. Success can and will be yours if you work at it. Let's remember that we have been sent here to have joy.

Until next time happy handwashing (or whatever is your thing).

Oh and by the way I will take some time to chat through my shifting symptoms next time as I too have been in the handwashing gang among others.


Monday, 9 April 2012

Get Connected

I was passing our neighbours' place the other day. Our neighbours are working over here from eastern Europe and have gone home for Easter. I wondered how a couple of overseas guys would feel about leaving and heading home. What would they miss? What is it that gives them a sense of connection with their residence over here?

It struck me that the sense of connection I feel comes not from landscape, amenities, geography or any such thing. It is without question people that matter. We need to connect with people. As a result of hiding my true self away it is easy to fail to connect with others. When you have OCD, one of your biggest focuses is one of your biggest secrets. It is difficult to be yourself and connect fully with others when you are hiding away. I think it is important to be able to open up to the right person / people. Strangely enough you would think I would talk to God about my issues moer than I do but I think I have normalised the pain I feel and tend to just get on with it.

My counsel: Don't just get on with it if you can get help. Talk to God. Talk to someone. Once you have tried to get some help and done all you can in faith, then it's time to get on with it. I truly believe God the Eternal Father of all members of the human family is there, willing us forward, ready to bless us in all of our endeavours. Our Saviour Jesus Christ offers healing through His atonement. Let's get out of God's way and let him do his miraculous healing work.

Once we have commenced our healing journey, we can begin to connect with our dear friends like never before. I have felt this begin to happen in my life. As I slowly edge down the path to recovery I feel more of a desire to have people in my life and I am more ready than ever before to be me.

Until next time..............

Friday, 6 April 2012

Things I Knew and Things I Did not Know

Tomorrow I am speaking at a wedding. I had a thought as I was walking into town today. I was heading off to pack up an Easter display at the main shopping centre in town. Some good PR? Let's hope so! I was listening to a BYU devotional (Amy Petersen Jensen 20/3/12). She made a remark reflecting on some things she knew and some that she did not know when she was an undergrad at BYU. It struck me, as I walked, that since getting married 12 years ago I had learned some things.

What did I know at that point?

I knew that I was a son of God. I knew that I loved my wife (and still do). I knew that God was going to help me and wife in our future life. I knew I wanted to treat my wife well and do what was right.

What did I not know?

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. Honestly!?!?!?
The list of what I knew indicates how big a gap was left there. Not to suggest that I am the polished final article now by a long way. How to communicate, meet needs, being aware of my other half's wants in life...... I could go on (and on). To be blunt I am only starting to know what makes my own brain tick (tock).

In OCD terms I had no awareness. I had never heard of OCD. I only knew that I had previously had some hardcore worries. I thought I might be terminally ill even though I was generally healthy. This was around 5 years prior to getting married at around age 18/19. That should have been a warning sign. It seems to me that a lot of poor mental health starts to show up at this age. I even took my worries to the doctor. He was wise enough to know that I was an anxious chap and managed to put my mind to rest. Although as the years rolled past and I began to worry about worthiness. Was I good enough? I hesitated in going to the Temple because I was afraid to give an account of my standards in a Temple recommend interview. I put off going. I even put my name down to go a couple of times and didn't show up for the bus that was taking us there. I had no way of having the confidence to chat this through with any leaders. I thought that they would be horrified if they knew the real me. In general I was a good kid. My issues were not always reading my scriptures. I paid my tithing, did my callings and tried to be a decent home teacher. I would go out with the missionaries and always went to Church but always felt not good enough. Worry, worry, worry!

When I came into the Church at 21 I had no idea of what was up with me. I had no idea there was a problem. As the years have rolled on I have developed a vocabulary to know and express how I am feeling. I have had help and am developing on my healing journey. I like to think that coming into the Church has brought this painful stuff out of me. I like to think that it is linked to the Saviour's atonement. Healing often hurts and this is my hope for the experiences I am having.

So what do I know now and what do I still not know. Of course I only know snippets of truth in terms of how to live but the Gospel has given me tools to chase the darkness away and live better.

Until next time..............

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Get the Vision.

Here's another thought. We learn in the Book of Mormon that miracles are a feature of God's true Church on the Earth. Moroni 7:28 "have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay". This is important to me. If you, like me, have struggled and suffered for years, it is important to look for the miracle. I know that some readers will sigh, shrug their shoulders and feel somewhat weary. They may feel that they have looked for miracles over and again to no avail. I feel that God is in the detail of our lives. Miracles are available to us. Sometimes it is my lack of belief and vision that limits the outcomes I can attain.

Let me give an example. For years I have worked in education. A noble profession you might say. A worthy vocation perhaps. I do enjoy working with young people. It is a stressful occupation within which I have laboured nearly a decade and a half. I hopefully have accomplished some things and have been of service and value. Some changes in my role were suggested to me and I realised that my heart was not fully into what i was doing. A good friend, from a completely neutral standpoint, spoke to me and made a suggestion that a career change might be in order. I had never before thought of this. A new feeling of invigoration overtook me and I was excited again. I never realised that I had lost the excitement for what I was doing. As a result, I feel it is time for a change. My vision has increased and I am ready to move on in my life. I honestly did not believe that change was possible. My inner script had told me that, as a thirty something, change was not going to happen. Who wrote that script? Why was I so blind to any alternative ideas? My lack of belief that change was not an option had hemmed me in.

How does this fit in with miracles? It was a miracle that the right friend at the right time had the conversation I needed. The Lord had softened me up a bit and I was ready to listen, unlike ever before. As I said, God is in the detail.

OCD, Fear, Stress and Fatigue

Dear fellow OCDers (and any interested parties). I have some new insights into my issues. I had a good chat with an LDS counsellor lately. I walked in to the office expecting to dig deep into my ruminations. I tend to compulsively ruminate on my worthiness. My LDS counsellor started by asking me questions about a host of seemingly unrelated issues e.g. changes in life, work etc. Odd it seems? Not really. I have learned that stress and fatigue kick in to make the OCD cycle worse. If I can manage to get some balance in my life and enough sleep things will get better. It is sometimes, therefore, more helpful to get stuck into these factors than to wire into the compulsive thinking or behaviours.

Here's the question. Does this realisation cause me to slow down and take better care of myself? The answer - Not particularly. Another consideration for me is that I tend to be somewhat of a perfectionist. Oh yes! Perfectionism and OCD, what a combo. My fear of others and desire to do things right (with a capital R) causes me to be driven forward in an unrelenting manner. Perfectionism and OCD cause a lot of fear.

It is worth noting that I have locked in hard to a dodgy frequency of inappropriate levels of self improvement. This is not the fault of the Church but relates to faulty thinking/interpretation on my part. The challenge is to eliminate the faulty parts so I can feel a bit better.

By the way. Things will get better, I am sure. I have been a washer, lock checker etc. throughout my life and my OCD has a fairly changeable quality. The pain of the OCD problem is pretty acute and I think it is time for a step in recovery.

Anyway I will sign off at that and will post more about my recovery, even though I'm feeling worse at the moment! Great!

On a spiritual note, I believe that the Lord is real and will intervene. I am posting this as a declaration so that you can watch my recovery, initiated by Him, and receive hope. If you have OCD hang in there and be kind to yourself.