How COVID-19 Affects Someone with Contamination OCD

Yes, it’s another post that references Coronavirus.  I know it’s annoying since it’s all that we are currently hearing about, but please keep reading.  I promise to have a different perspective.

So many people have asked me recently how I’m handling all of this, knowing I have contamination OCD.  Gosh, I love them.  I love that I’ve created an open space for discussion around the topic by not being ashamed to talk about OCD.

In short.  I don’t even know what the hell to think.  I honestly never thought I would have to live through something like this in my lifetime.  I didn’t see it coming.  I thought it was honestly going to be like the Ebola scare we had in 2014.  It was able to get to a few places, but it was nipped and gone within a few weeks.  I guess that is what I get for being a little naive when it comes to our government, or when it comes to people being smart and proactive.  To be completely honest, BEFORE the scare came to the US, I was taking weekly hypnosis sessions with Tim Shurr at Indy Hypnosis (he’s AMAZING by the way) to conquer my contamination OCD.  I had gotten through 3 weeks before there was a case of COVID-19 confirmed in Indy.  I noticed it was helping me so much to really separate the compulsive thoughts from realistic thought.  I was genuinely feeling so much relief, getting better sleep, working out again and trying to eat less and then BOOM…..Indy has a confirmed case of COVID-19.  Not Northern Indiana, not Southern Indiana….Indianapolis, 15 minutes from our home.  Though, I did hear it was a case on the North side of Indy, so I’ll say 35 minutes from our home.  It shocked me.  I don’t know why it shocked me, but it did.  That was last Friday, March 6th.  That evening a report was on Fox 59’s website that a Hendricks Co woman had all the symptoms and was trying to get tested and no one would test her.  That kinda brought it much closer to home for me and I honestly started to think about what would happen if it ACTUALLY came to Hendricks Co (where we live).  I didn’t even really get the chance to process most of it before Sunday morning there WAS an actual case confirmed, followed by another positive case Sunday night.  These confirmed cases were in a town about 5 miles from our house.  I was SHOCKED and scared and unsure what the heck to do.

Since last Sunday (March 8th), I feel like all freakin’ pandemonium has broken loose in Indiana.  I mean, it could be worse, that’s for sure, but it feels like an extreme amount of information has been thrown at us within 5 days time.  Let me try to paint you a picture of how this feels.

I think you should realize that any type of “outbreak” or “epidemic”, and definitely a “pandemic” is basically someone who has contamination OCD’s WORST NIGHTMARE come true.  It really is.  It is the worst possible scenario we could ever think of.  It’s so scary to us, it doesn’t even register as something that can actually happen.  Let me make something clear, it’s not just the outbreak of this particular virus that is the worst nightmare, it has nothing to do with that (at least for me), it’s the fact that we have a global pandemic virus outbreak that is our worst nightmare. 

I jokingly told my husband about a week ago that if the government truly wanted to keep Coronavirus out of the US, they should have hired about 200 people with contamination OCD to make sure it didn’t happen because we are ALWAYS 10 steps ahead of any type of preparedness or prevention measures that a non OCD person would put in place.  It’s true though.  Part of having contamination OCD is thinking many many steps ahead of the average person and thinking in great detail with extreme caution, of all the little things no everyday person would think about.  Hence, why our brains are constantly in fight or flight mode…which causes all the stress and anxiety.  Our brains DO NOT STOP OR SLOW DOWN.

So, our schools are closed, my company has put several preventative measures in place for large meetings, travel, cleaning and such and I’m going to try to get set up to work from home, which may or may not work out since my company laptop is a few years old and hasn’t been used in a while (it may not be compatible anymore and of course now there is a shortage of new laptops since everyone is trying to work from home).  Our kids haven’t asked many questions to be honest.  Brayden (our 5th grader) is just excited to be out of school, but he doesn’t realize e-learning is still like going to school and will start for him bright and early tomorrow morning (bahahahaha) and our kindergartner Mason hasn’t asked a single thing, mainly because I haven’t talked to him about what is happening in the world right now and aside from what his teacher has talked about in school, I feel like he really doesn’t need to know everything because he wouldn’t understand much anyway.  All he needs to understand right now is to make sure he’s washing his hands for the entire birthday song haha.

Our grocery stores are OUT OF EVERYTHING by the time I can get there for grocery pick up through the week and even Target has gone to rationing out TP and Clorox until about 11 am when they run out completely.  I will add that the past couple weeks whenever I had to place an order for groceries or our normal Target “home items”, I ordered things like children’s Tylenol and a can of Lysol and a package of Clorox wipes, just to have a little inventory in case the shit hit the fan.  Well, I guess I should have ordered more of the Lysol and threw in some TP and hand sanitizer because now it’s all NO WHERE TO BE FOUND.  You know things are bad when you can’t even find it on Amazon.  Again, things I thought I would never witness hearing “the US is out of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, wet ones and Lysol and can’t keep shelves stocked”.  As someone who is a frequent user of alllllll these things, it’s freaking me out.  I use wet ones to open every door I use at work and in public while out shopping.  I use them as soon as I get back in my car when I’m out and about and I use them to wipe the lids of my coffee from Starbucks when the barista with dirty money hands gives me my coffee.  I literally use them for everything.  I use a lot of Lysol this time of year, just for everyday things like spraying the couch down every night (school germs and dirty kids ha), the fridge handles and door knobs and the boys’ backpacks and coats.  I don’t do these things in the summer or even spring, but I do during flu season (which apparently we’ve pushed aside at this point).

In a twist of perspective on this, I want to say that it comforts me that schools, businesses and stores are cleaning more.  The truth of the matter is that I FEEL like they should have been cleaning this much during flu season anyways!  I mean, it would drastically improve student, employee and customer well being if these cleaning measures were just a normal thing from December to March every year.  Just sayin’.

Another plot twist to me is that it’s crazy to see people worrying now about “all the things”, since I’ve been worrying about all the same things for over 7 years, only to be met with little understanding from hardly anyone, lots of eye rolls and sometimes ridicule.  Welcome to the worries and anxieties of normal everyday life for someone with contamination OCD, world.  It sucks. Maybe this will teach some people to understand more and be more empathetic. Kinda funny how when you have to adapt to a certain lifestyle, you suddenly see how difficult it is and how much it changes your every day life.

So here we are.  Sunday, March 15th.  What normally would be a time of happiness with spring finally approaching, baseball season starting, March Madness bets going, kids looking forward to spring break and people gearing up for yard work has turned into everyone staying home, “social distancing”, stalking the kids with the stock carts at the grocery store for toilet paper and living in a state of not knowing what the next day brings.  Every day we pray for the numbers to go down, for this virus to pass quickly, and that our government will make the right decisions.  For someone with the anxiety that contamination OCD creates, it’s so hard to feel like you’ve lost the little control you once had.  You look and find things you can still control, like making sure the kids are ONLY around people you know really well, that you only go to public places when you need groceries or paper products, making sure things are clean in your home, making sure your parents are taken care of, and making sure you are taking all your vitamins and making healthy decisions.

What can we do:

Social distancing is in place for a reason.  It’s not because of the virus being as dangerous as the plague.  It’s to PREVENT IT FROM SPREADING.  All of these closures are to protect us in the long run.  We have to do the sucky thing now for it to get better later….

Cancel your vacations.  Ohhhhh ya, I just went there.  I did.  I get that a ton of people are like all “YOLO” with their lives.  That’s awesome that you live your life that way, but right now this is NOT ABOUT YOU.  As far as I can tell, going somewhere like the Bahamas or Jamaica where there are very few cases and you are FOR SURE healthy and have been for at least 14 days, doesn’t seem to pose a huge risk.  BUT domestic travel needs to stop right now.  Spring break is going to suck this year, but traveling to places like Florida, Texas, New York, California and Colorado needs to be halted for a few weeks. These places have much higher confirmed cases than we have (and that’s without having a lot of access to testing!) and places like Florida and Texas have an extremely large population of elderly; not only elderly, but many elderly with underlying conditions.  Please think about hundreds of thousands of younger people (45 and younger) coming INTO a state for a week of vacation, not knowing if they are carriers or not, staying long enough for exposure, then bringing who knows what back into their home states upon return and leaving who knows in the state they vacationed to.  It’s a hot mess of a situation and no one loves a beach vacation more than me, but this isn’t about me and its not about you either.  It’s about protecting our 70+ seniors, it’s about protecting our cancer patients, our immune suppressed, and for the love of everything its about DOING YOUR PART to social distance so that more people’s lives can be spared as this virus moves along at a steady pace.  You can reschedule your vacation later, I promise.

Stop being greedy….stop buying 200 bottles of hand sanitizer, 60 rolls of toilet paper and 200 cans of Lysol.  Yes, the stores will get more in, but everyone deserves to feel a little prepared right now, not a week from now.  You guys….as I mentioned before, there’s no one more prepared for any situation that involves germs like a person who has contamination OCD and even I only “stocked” up on Clorox wipes (about 6 containers), Lysol (about 5 cans) and medicine for kids.  I didn’t hoard toilet paper or laundry detergent or wet ones (though I probably should have bought more of the wet ones since they are an every day staple for me).  Come on people….again….THINK OF SOMEONE OTHER THAN YOURSELVES…..

Offer to online shop and drop off for the elderly…..need I say more?  These poor people who are still completely capable of living on their own, should NOT be out and about right now.  It may be a struggle for them to accept your help, but they know they should.  Just make it easier on them, we need to protect them.  Be the good.

If you have kids, DO NOT use this time out of school to go to every public place possible.  This is why these public places keep closing, because the goal right now is to STAY HOME as much as possible, minus getting essential items like groceries and medicine.  My husband and I have decided we will allow our kids to OCCASIONALLY see and play with their friends, ONLY if we know their parents extremely well and know they share the same beliefs we do on the subject.  Simply stated, we know what occupations their parents have and know where they have been, haha.  Also something I never thought I would be saying or writing, in case you are keeping track!  Additionally, 95% of their friends live right in our neighborhood, so they aren’t leaving our sight or control much at all.  We will not be going to the movies, we will not be going to the zoo, we will not be going to Sky Zone or even birthday parties.  Praise the Lord above that this virus is not affecting kids as much.  But, that doesn’t mean you should disregard others around you….again, I’ll say it one more time for the people in the back….THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU!  It’s about preventing ANY AND ALL the spread and protecting those most at risk.

If you’re like me, you’re exhausted at this point from talking about it, hearing about it, seeing it and living it.  I think it’s completely normal for everyone to be mentally exhausted and confused right now.  I’ve been listening to a lot of meditations as I go to bed at night, saying prayers, and journaling.  I also have been trying to get in 30-45 minutes of treadmill time.  I just walk, but it FEELS good to check out for that time and just get the anxiousness out.  When it’s nice out, I spend A LOT of time outside.  The sound of birds and sunshine are sometimes all I need to put a smile on my face.  I’ve also been in frequent contact via email with my therapist and hypnotist.  They know these times are crazy and they are figuring it all out as they go just like the rest of us.  We are all in this together friends.  If anyone needs someone to listen to their concerns or just talk, please know I’m always available.  I’m here to help!

Take care friends, be safe and be conscious of what’s going on around you.

xoxox

Mary

NOVEMBER WARM FUZZIES

Hi friends!  It’s about that time of year-when I hunker down and go into my “why do I still live in the Midwest?” state of mind.  The weather is completely unpredictable from day to day and everything is turning brown, or white if there happens to be a random snowfall.  Although I enjoy decorating everything in white, I’m not a fan of it being outside…mmmmmk?  🙂

However, with that said, November always gives me the warm fuzzies, in that, after Thanksgiving, I’m full on Christmas mode, which sort of takes me back to being a kid, as it does for most people.  In honor of all the warm fuzzies, here are my absolute favorite things about late November.

***The start of Christmas movie season!  I don’t break them all out…but I do start the day after Thanksgiving with Miracle on 34th Street (the new one with Mara Wilson) and then usually watch Serendipity and The Holiday before month end.  Oh, and also, every year I find myself buying another favorite movie, since I’m getting too impatient in my old age (ha) to wait for them to come on TV.  Haha!

Miracle on 34th street

The Holiday movie

***Thanksgiving leftovers.  I mean….right??  I’m pretty sure Brock and I eat turkey sandwiches, turkey salad and turkey for breakfast for a week after Thanksgiving.  Yes, turkey for breakfast…put it in a pan, flip it a few times and have it with eggs and toast.  And, since our turkey isn’t crazy marinated or fried, I feel like it’s the only healthy thing to come out of Thanksgiving.  Speaking of healthy choices–I also love eating a slice of pumpkin or apple pie, for pretty much everyday after Thanksgiving, for a good week.  My mom eats pumpkin pie for breakfast after Thanksgiving.  I mean, I’m not there….yet.  But, I seem to be headed down that path. Don’t know what to do with all the leftovers?  Well, you could start here with this amazing panini RECIPE

***Decorating for Christmas.  I personally am old school and believe every holiday needs it’s own time.  I also am crazy busy with work and sports and life, so no shame to those who jump the gun and decorate early.  Truth be told, if we didn’t host Thanksgiving, I would most likely have the trees up the week of Thanksgiving, just so I could enjoy them the day after Thanksgiving and not be rushing around like a crazy person on my day off.  I typically have Brock get everything down the day after and put the trees up and start decorating them with the kids, and spend the next week or so getting everything else out and up.

***Christmas mugs for life!  You know what I do FIRST THING after I get my kitchen cleaned up after our guests leave?  Get out my Christmas mug collection!  I have, probably like most, had a few Christmas mugs stashed in my cabinet for years.  However, in the past 5 years or so, I decided that I wanted to start picking more up, because these mugs bring me so much silly joy for an entire month!  What used to be 3 random Christmas mugs from the early 2000’s has now turned into about 20 mugs!!  I’m not even sorry!  It’s probably the most inexpensive, joy filled tradition I have for myself in November/December.  My 2 newest additions can be found HERE & HERE!

These things are all simple, yet bring me so much joy in the start of a season for giving and sharing.

I hope you can find time to look for the things that bring you the most smiles as we head into the Christmas season.

Cheers!

xoxoxo

Mary

 

When Your Dog Loves Accessories as Much as You Do

Hi friends!

Today, Carolina and I want to tell you about our new friends at The Buddy Bandana.

The Buddy Bandana has the cutest bandana’s for your fur baby, along with matching human scrunchies and headbands.  You know scrunchies are a thing again, right?  I mean, every girl of the 90’s has a scrunchie obsession, even if they don’t admit it.  Trust me.  The peeps at The Buddy Bandana KNOW how much we humans love to do weird things for our fur children, like wear matching accessories, which brought their company to life this year!

Besides the really cute prints they have available online at thebuddybandana.com, they are now one of my personal favorite brands to support, because they have a really strong mission behind their brand, which is to spread awareness and raise money for rescue organizations across the country.  Every purchase helps to feed and support dogs in no kill rescue shelters.  That’s a cause I can support 110%.  Their website is also equipped to take donations, if you cannot make a purchase.

Please go take a look at their site, thebuddybandana.com and pick out a matching set for yourself and your precious fur baby, then pat yourself on the back for helping rescue a sweet dog in need. Use my code ‘woof’ for an additional 40% off!

 

*Carolina and I are wearing the Pinknic print (her bandana is a size L) and I can’t tell ya how much I love the watermelon print as well!

 

xoxox

Mary

 

 

Gradual Changes for a Healthier Life

wellness image

2019 has thrown our family some curve balls.  I’m not going to get into WHAT those are at this moment, but it has prompted my entire family (parents and brother included) to make some changes.  As a whole, we are pretty healthy peeps.  We are all pretty active and decently aware of what is good and what is bad.  For me personally, the past year I have really cleaned up my diet.  And I would say, in the past 3 years, I’ve just made minor changes that have become permanent.  BUT, hey……I know, You know, We all know….there is ALWAYS ROOM to improve.

I’ve always been this weird nutrition researcher nut; any opportunity I can get to put my blue light blocking glasses on and hit up my friend google into a deeper dive, I’m up for the challenge.  Only now days, I have more resources, like podcasts, blogs, audio books and documentaries to supplement my nerdy-ness with.  I’m not a doctor, but I did take nutrition courses my junior and senior year at IUPUI.  I mean, for a hot minute, I thought about being an RD.  But then, you know, I didn’t.  haha.  Regardless, over the past 20 years or so, I’ve always been a sucker for nutrition information and ways to lead a cleaner, healthier and “greener” holistic life.  No, I am not and do not want to be the lady wearing hemp clothes I made myself, while harvesting my own crops and beheading my own chickens, making my own soap and cleaning everything with said said soap.  Sorry, literally, I’m laughing at loud at that last sentence because I think I just described someone I can guarantee you I will never be, unless the zombie apocalypse happens.  In which case, I’m going to MI to live with my friend Andria who knows how to DIY everything out of virtually nothing.  I’m sure we could totally set up a bunker and survive with our families in tow! haha.

I do believe, however, that there are really crappy things in our every day lives that we could clean up a bit to be healthier.  I also believe that gradual changes are everlasting in the long run and that you will feel and look better when you adopt some healthier lifestyle changes.  I completely 100% believe that beyond genetic factors, our environment, and the foods we choose can play a big role in making us sick.  On the flip side, knowing that, we can do things to prevent those diseases sometimes by taking extra time to care for ourselves and our families.

Here are some simple swaps for a healthier life:

Household:

Laundry Detergent:  Swap out the Tide for Seventh Generation or Honest Co laundry detergent.  The “fragrance” in traditional laundry detergents are horrible to put on our bodies.  Anything that breaks my kiddos’ skin out immediately when they come in contact with it, is something I don’t want in our home.

seventh generation products

Dishwasher Detergent: Swap whatever powder or liquid you use for the lemon Seventh Generation liquid dishwasher detergent.  It smells great and doesn’t have all the chemicals!

Dryer Sheets:  Instead of chemical filled Bounce or Downy sheets, I use Method organic sheets (I buy them at Target).  You can also buy wool balls and put lavender essential oils on them and toss them in the dryer.

Home Fragrance:  DO NOT USE PLUG INS!!!  Swap them out (yes, even the Bath and Body Works plug ins) for organic candles and/or a diffuser and some high quality essential oils.  It’s hard, I get it.  I love the B&BW plug ins….especially in the summer time.  But really, they are just emitting chemicals we don’t need in our body.  My favorite thing to do in the summer now is to diffuse tangerine and lemon in my diffuser.  You can grab a diffuser on Amazon for 20.00 and they last forever!  There are several Etsy shops that carry natural candles as well, and the bonus is that you are supporting a local business!

Cleaning Products:  I mean, most of these are horrific and I think most of us know the chemicals in them are horrible for us to breathe in.  I’m not an expert, but I was brought up with my parents using white vinegar to clean most things; which made me want to use natural cleaning products for the most part.  In fact, before my OCD diagnosis in 2014, I never even used Lysol or bleach products, because I was scared of Brayden breathing them in.  Since then, I’ll admit, I’ve used Lysol more than I should and bleach bathroom cleaning products more than I care to own up to.  But, little by little, I’m going back to my old ways of using natural products when I can.  I mean, life happens and people get sick, so I don’t think it’s bad to have a can of Lysol or strong cleaning products on hand for that situation.  But, for the regular routine, I’m switching to more naturally derived products.  My favorites are Honest Co surface cleaner and Seventh Generation bathroom cleaner, along with good ol vinegar.

Outside:  Please don’t use Round Up or like products to kill weeds and “treat” your lawn.  The end.

 

Foods:

Meats:  Limit red meat.  No, I did NOT say exclude it.  Just limit it.

Also, beef should be organic, pasture raised, not just grass fed.  Grass fed can actually mean a plethora of things.  Google it.

Turkey and chicken should be organic and free range, cage free.  Local is even better if you have access to it, but just because it’s local doesn’t mean it’s not pumped full of antibiotics, so make sure it’s all the things listed above as well.

PS–just as a side note for ya…organic bison is actually really really good.  Keep it in mind when shopping next time for your red meat fix.

Dairy:  Keep it organic.  Local organic if possible.  Yes, milk delivery still exists in some places.  It’s really important to keep meats and dairy organic because of all the growth hormones, grains and antibiotics that are fed and injected into animals.  I know so many farmers and have picked their brains (would you expect anything less?) and they swear up and down the reasons for doing what they do (as far as raising beef and chickens), but I know there’s a cleaner way.  I mean, most of us have seen it and know it IS possible.  Is it traditional?  No.  Is it possible?  YES!  All I can suggest is to keep asking around.  I think if you are local, you can order from Tyner Pond in the Fortville/McCordsville area and they deliver for free!

Tyner Pond info

Fruits and Veggies:  My thought on these are to make sure to buy organic if it’s grown in the ground.  Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, root veggies etc.  I personally do not buy potatoes of any kind at our house…which is totally a personal choice.  Starchy carbs…not a fan.  But, that’s for another day and another post.  Also, I like to buy organic for all of our berries, lettuces, and apples.  Oranges, bananas, peaches, lemons, limes, pineapple, tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and avocados I usually buy non organic.  I mean, I probably should be buying organic peaches, but I don’t buy them often and when I do, it’s usually at a local orchard, so I just wash them with a natural fruit and veggie cleaner really good before I peel them and eat them.  As far as canned fruits and veggies go, I buy organic because of the coating on the insides of the cans.  I just always have, and always will.  As far as frozen fruits and veggies…I usually just buy organic green beans, corn, spinach, and berries.  I dont really buy a ton of frozen fruit and veggies only occasionally since I really prefer fresh.

 

Beauty/Hygiene Products: 

If you use nothing else organic on your body, USE ORGANIC DEODORANT!!!!!  Especially if you are a woman.  Think about it.  It’s literally right next to your boob.  With breast cancer as popular as it is in this world today, why would you not use something as natural and organic next to that area of your body, knowing it soaks into your skin/bloodstream.  My favorite brand (and I’ve tried about 5 kinds) is called Native.  I can work out, I can be outside all day….I can do all the things with it on.  I love it.

We also have always and will always use organic body wash/shampoo/conditioner.  I use Honest Company body wash/shampoo for the kids.  Yes, even my almost 11 year old uses lavender or orange vanilla body wash/shampoo, because, well, those are basically the only scents they have right now haha.  If Honest is not available, I will pick up Burt Bees.  I just have never, ever even thought about buying the boys something that’s not naturally derived.  I also use the Honest Co lavender body wash myself.  When it comes to shampoo and conditioner, I will use paraben and sulfate free brands.  Not organic, but much better than “the usual”.  Some of my favorites have been Living Proof and certain types of Biolage.  I also use some Alterna Caviar products as well.  I’ve been eyeing a new brand called Navy that I may try out soon, since their finishing spray looks like a life changer!

honest co products

When it comes to sunscreen, I will use 2 brands.  I use Rodan & Fields on myself because it does not contain the ingredient oxybenzone, which is very harmful because it’s a hormone interrupter, or vitamin A (while good for skincare, very bad for sunscreen).  While not a “natural” product, R&F sunscreen proves year after year to provide excellent coverage and protection.  The kids use Kiss My Face natural sunscreen.  It may seem strange, but there are some REALLY bad chemicals in sunscreen.  Not just bad for us, but actually bad for the ocean and little critters in the ocean.  I say no thanks to putting anything on my body that could not only harm me, but also the fish swimming around me in the ocean.  How crazy is that?  Just remember, oxybenzone.  Stay away from it.

Skincare.  I know what you’re thinking…how can you publish a post on using natural and organic items and sell a non-natural skincare line as a side hustle.  Welp kids, because it’s really super simple, Rodan & Fields Unblemish is THE ONLY PRODUCT that has worked for my acne and cleared my skin up and I’m forever grateful to those 2 superior Dermatologists that created the entire Rodan & Fields product line (there’s actually 4 main types of regimens and several other types of amazing products, I just use the acne regimen called Unblemish, for those who aren’t familiar).  Here’s the thing, I’ve looked at the ingredients in Unblemish and several other R&F products I use.  The Unblemish does not contain parabens or some of the other harmful products out there that are commonly found in most brands on store shelves.  R&F also does NOT test on animals and is considered safe by dermatologists in the USA, Canada and Australia where we have expanded our line thus far.  (PS…we are expanding to another country very soon…lips are sealed right now though).  Also, as a side note, this will probably come as no surprise, but other countries are a lot more strict on the products they use than the US…unfortunately.

The bottom line is this….while I do not owe anyone an explanation for this, I choose to explain, because I want people to know it’s very important to do your own research.  I look at it like I had spent so much time and money on natural and organic lines that didn’t work on my acne or skin tone at all.  So if I use a brand of skincare that works, and yet doesn’t contain a lot of the harmful chemicals listed out there, I’m winning; whether it says natural or organic on the label or not.  And also, have you read all of the above that I am doing, and am using organic for?  As for the kids, they don’t use a separate skincare line yet.  The Honest Co body wash/shampoo works great for their little faces right now.

Makeup: I’m a big Tarte Cosmetics user.  I love their eye shadow so much, their eyeliner and Shape Tape are also a few faves.  I think Tarte may be a cleaner option, though not 100% natural by any means.  I actually want to try some eye shadow palettes from Beauty Counter though, as I think they seem pretty clean.  I think cosmetics are kind of hit and miss.  Some of the products in a line can be “safer” than others.  Again, I think it’s important to do your own research.  Don’t be fooled by words like “bare” and “clay” and “naturals” or “minerals”.  While these are all words we may associate with nature and association with nature may be “clean” and “natural”, it’s just simply not true.  Watch out for ingredients like talc.  Talc used to be very popular back in the day, but it’s very dangerous to our body.  PS, don’t use baby powder that lists talc as an ingredient either.  I think it comes down to what you feel comfortable with using because there will be probably more bad than good when it comes to cosmetics.

 

Misc Items: 

Sheets contain high levels of formaldehyde….did ya know that?  So I try to shop for organic bedding as much as possible.  Also, think about next time you have to spray for bugs outside.  I mean, I feel ya sis, I don’t want a spider infestation or bees swarming me when I walk outside either, but just do some research and see if there’s a “cleaner” way to get rid of them.

 

There ya go, friends.  Those are the main items I choose to swap for (hopefully) a cleaner, healthier lifestyle for our family.

I’m no chemist.  I can’t tell you why harmful ingredients are harmful and so common with certainty.  But, I can tell you what I’ve researched and what I’ve learned along the way; and I can also say with some certainty that no one is going to be perfect and sometimes you just have to do the best you can.  You notice that I used the word gradual in the title of this post, and there’s a reason.  If this all seems overwhelming to you, just try to change 2 things a month.  These are pretty easy changes, but they do take time to incorporate and probably a little more money.  Cheaper than doctor’s visits though! 🙂

I hope you found this helpful!  If you make different swaps, comment and let me know!  I would love to hear from you.

Have a great day, all!

xoxox

Mary

 

 

 

 

 

Life With OCD in the Winter

Yes, this is similar to this post.  The difference is that this post deals with how winter effects my OCD.  How is that different?  Well, simply put, because more people are sick in the winter.  Since I have contamination OCD, the months of December, January, February and even half of March are brutal for me.

I’m dishing up some honesty today.  I have to say, OCD is harder for me to talk about, because it may seem like I’m not working hard enough or fast enough to work through it.  The problem is that I’ve had it for 6 years and it hit hard and fast, like most anxiety disorders.  I didn’t try therapy until 2015 and it was not the best experience.  Maybe it’s because it was my first experience with therapy, ever?  Maybe it was because my therapist and I just didn’t “mesh well”?  I dont know, but it wasn’t a great experience.  During the 9 months I was seeing her, she told me on several occasions I was too fragile to really work on the OCD.  I mean?  What had I been paying her for, for 9 months, once a week?  Then I didn’t try therapy again until this past summer (and PS, my therapist now ROCKS).  So basically, I’ve had to start from scratch, 6 years in.  So, it’s going to be harder to get over and take more time.

Every week my therapist gives me a teeny tiny task to conquer and take on.  I’m pretty competitive, so this works for me.  But when I say teeny tiny task, I legit mean tiny.

Background:  I work full time away from home, our kids are in 4th grade and Pre-K, and both in sports.  I’m an extrovert.  I’m built to be out socializing….THIS has put a damper on all of that, as you can imagine.

Typically the hardest thing for me is not being able to control my environment.  Obviously anxiety stems from not feeling safe or out of control.  Basically, it’s me in a nutshell, just worse in the winter.

This is how contamination OCD feels in the winter:

If someone is sick at work and I find out, I’ll ask a friend what it is, or how long they have been out etc.  Why?  Because that tells me to stay away from the bathroom, depending on what they have.  Asking anything about anyone’s business makes me feel ridiculous, I won’t lie.  But until I know something, my brain won’t shut off, my heart rate just keeps climbing and I start to go into early phases of panic.  We USED to have an amazing cleaning service at our office.  Now, they have cut our cleaning service down to 3 days a week and the service we have now really really, well, it’s not great at all.  This is not so much an issue I look at in the spring and summer, but is more of an issue in the winter.  Our building is of decent size and typically if someone is sick, there’s enough “room” that I still feel like I can have a little control.  We have 2 bathrooms.  For about 20 people.  Also, we have training in our building that is held several times a month, which brings in another 10-25 people that I feel like I have to worry about, since people tend to come to training sick because they feel like they can’t miss it.

What’s been happening the past couple weeks is that when someone gets sick…I tell myself “it’s OK, it’s probably nothing, just Lysol the bathroom and the printers, copiers etc.”  But once I start hearing the rumors about any type of stomach stuff happening, (stomach issues are my BIGGEST trigger) I just stay in my office, working, not drinking hardly anything until I can go home for lunch to avoid using bathrooms at work.  Extreme?  You bet.  I get it and I know what you’re thinking.  I could be at the mall and use a restroom and not think twice about it and who knows who has used that restroom 50 times before me.  Also, I’m sure I’m probably getting dehydrated, as I’m supposed to be drinking half my weight in water because of the anxiety medicine I take.  So what do I do?  I chug water at lunch and I chug water when I get home.  It’s horrible, I know.  But my brain LITERALLY has a giant red flag with flashing red lights that goes up telling me to steer clear of the work bathroom at all costs.  If we are talking bad colds or sinus infections, I’ll go in there with my wipes and not worry.  Stomach issues….nope.  I’ll do whatever it takes to try to avoid (aka control) the situation.

And let me be clear…it’s NOT work (even though regular cleaning would be a little burden lifter), it’s the OCD rearing it’s ugly head, making me think things are all epic catastrophes when the truth of the matter is that it probably would be OK to use the darn restroom.

Another thing that’s hard for me in the winter?  School for the kids.  I love their schools, teachers and friends dearly, but to me it’s one giant petri dish that I don’t generally worry about until the end of November, when I start seeing and hearing moms talking about the stomach bug invading their households.  Then again usually around Christmas it makes another big comeback….then typically there’s a few weeks after Christmas (probably because kids aren’t at school) when everything is calm again, then mid January it rears it’s ugly head until early March.  I learned early on that school is definitely something I cannot control.  The kids HAVE to go.  But, I do get all kinds of panicked when the kiddos come home saying their best friends went home sick or are sick with stomach issues or the actual flu.  My brain:  wash their coats, make them take showers, Lysol their book bag, ask them if they used the same school supplies or ate after each other… Speaking of questions; I also don’t want to ask them too many questions to get their minds worried.  It’s a fine line because I know some people are more prone to anxiety than others and I do NOT want to see our kids get OCD.

It-is-exhausting.  My brain is so physically and mentally exhausted when something like this happens.  Normal logic is that all kids get sick.  It happens.  Mine have been sick this winter, with some random cold-digestive virus that felt like it lasted an eternity for Brayden. I mean, I get that everyone can get, and is allowed to be sick.  What people have to understand is that my brain sends out panic signals to my body when it is someone close to us, because typically when I find out about it, you might as well list it under “categories you can no longer control since they’ve already been exposed.”  :-/.  Most would say “why worry about it now?  If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.”  Well, it would be really nice if I could think of things that way, trust me.  Instead I sit and overthink, and text my therapist for validation and text my friends just to get the thoughts out of my brain.  I mean, I’m amazingly fortunate that my friends will listen to me and try to talk me down.  That’s such a blessing.  I’m so thankful for them!!!

In general this time of year I’m just astoundingly aware more than anyone, of what my surroundings consist of.  At the grocery store, I look to see what people in front of me have on the belt….if it’s Gatorade, Sprite, Pedialyte, ginger ale or saltines—I find another lane.  Let’s break this thought process down:  all kids love Gatorade and most of them love Sprite, so why does it bother me?  Brayden drinks Gatorade all the time and it’s OK when I buy it.  But, when someone else does, along with other items like the crackers…I immediately think, stomach virus!  At the gas station, I try to use my hands as little as possible, and use antibacterial wipes afterwords.  At restaurants, I will never drink directly out of a glass.  I have to have a straw.  I also use antibacterial wipes after looking at the menu and I’m aware of everyone sitting close to me (no, not the people I’m dining with, but the table next to us or behind us) .  Are they hacking?  Are they talking about being sick?  Even when I go to my therapist’s office, I always ask her if anyone prior to me had been sick.

Family gatherings and birthday parties in the winter are also really hard for me.  I love my family and our kids’ friends dearly and I always love to see them.  We have some amazing people in our lives.  But my brain doesn’t trust that people will stay home if they are sick, and 99% of the time, it’s never our family or friends having the party, it’s other people that come to the gathering, which obviously I can’t control in any way.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been at a family function or party of some kind in the winter and good ol’ Debbie (not a real person), a mom of a kiddo who is at the party casually just throws out there that little Jenny (again, just another example) was throwing up all night, but she’s sure glad she woke up “better” this morning so she could come to the party.  Newsflash Debbie.  If your kid was throwing up 10 hours ago, they are still contagious, so thank you for bringing her here to spread it to 15 other kids who can go home and keep the gift that keeps giving alive, because we all know that 4 year olds always wash their hands and never put their fingers up their noses or in their mouths.  Or, another favorite is after your kids have been playing with a group for 2 hours, all on the same equipment by the way, one of the parents slides into the conversation and says “ya, Bobby (again, not a real person) was put on TamiFlu 2 days ago…and it made him so much better!  I’m so glad we could come today, we both needed to get out of the house.”  Are you freaking kidding me?  Your kid just tested positive for the actual flu.  Yea, TamiFlu is going to help with symptoms, but for the love of everything good and pure….why is Bobby here at Sky Zone–and also, thanks for being selfish and thinking only of yourself and how you needed to get out.  None of us had anything else going on the next 2 weeks and our schedules are wide open to be home with sick kids.  (Eye roll)  But the one that wins the most awards and literally makes me fall into an immediate panic attack is being at someone’s home for a gathering and after being there for a while, the host says “I really didn’t think we were going to be able to pull Cindy’s (another example) birthday party off, we’ve all had the stomach flu this week.  It went through the entire house and got every one of us and little Cindy just got over it last night.”  What the actual hell.  You invited 40 people to your house and you’ve all been sick for over a week and thought that was OK?  Listen, I completely get that people are really way too busy these days.  When baseball season starts, we will be living out of our cars as much as we are home, so I get it.  It’s gets worse with multiple kids in sports and activities….I get that too.  But don’t contaminate 40 people because you didn’t want to reschedule to the following weekend because your other kid had a tournament of some kind.  It should be common sense, right?  I mean, you make the best out of the situation.  You do something special at home and give your birthday kiddo his/her presents and whatever else you can do to make their night enjoyable, and you promise them a make up date.  If a make up date cant happen for some reason, then take them out for some one on one time and have a bigger party next year.

Does this sound judge-y?  Maybe.  To me, it’s common sense and being considerate to other people.  If our boys dont feel well, I make it a point to text who ever is hosting the event and tell them what’s going on.  Also, if our kids have a fever or have had any stomach issues….they don’t go anywhere.  At all.  Brock and I both work outside the home, so is it a pain when they have to be home….yes.  But ya know what, we took on the responsibility of having kids……soooooooooo….you do what needs to be done.  My parents are close and watch Mason when he’s not in Pre-K, BUT, if the kids are sick, it’s me that has to take off work 90% of the time, because I really don’t want my parents to get whatever it is that they have.

Anyways, I’m going to hop off that soap box…..but now your eyes are opened up (maybe) to how I feel when I’m at these events/places if they fall during flu season.  As bad as I want to be there celebrating…..as bad as I want to be around my friends at the party, this is what runs through my mind.

You guys have NO idea how badly I want to be the mom who just doesn’t care about what might be around the corner and let the kids go do their thing.  Don’t take it wrong though, our kids get to do what they want for the most part, I’m just leery of these types of things during flu season.

So what’s the “cure”?  How do I “get over” this?  Well for starters, with as much as I’ve put up with over the past 6 years, if you say something to me along the lines of “you’ll be fine”, or “just get over it”, I legit may slap you.  Don’t you think if it was that simple, I would have done it by now?  The real answer here is a combination of things.  Like other types of anxiety, the first line of defense (at least for me) is therapy and anxiety medication.  In my experience, having the tools from a therapist has helped the most, along with getting the right types of medicines for my body.  Not all anxiety medicine is created equal, trust me.  I feel like I’ve tried just about everything to get some relief, and the simple and true fact is that it will take a while to control.  Control is the key word here.  As I’ve mentioned before, anxiety happens when you feel like you can’t control your situation, so, if you can learn how to control your thoughts, body functions and feelings in the particular situation, you can control your anxiety and not let it control you.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Nope!  Our brains are the smartest, yet dumbest organ in our bodies.  I’m not a doctor, so that may be an exaggeration haha.  But, as powerful as the brain is, and as much as it controls in our body everyday and as much as we cannot live without it…..you can retrain your thought processes.

It takes A LOT of time and effort to change a thought pattern, but it can be done.  This is why it’s so important to see a therapist.  They basically can give you a toolbox full of tools to help in certain situations.  Whether that tool is mindfulness (a practice of being present that is a lot harder to grasp than most think), counting backwards, rephrasing the thought, meditation, distracting yourself or a plethora of other tools, it’s good to have a plan of when to use what tool and how to practice getting good at the tool of your choice.  This stuff (for lack of a better word) doesn’t just magically come to someone after trying once.  Meditation takes time to learn.  Mindfulness was one of the key tools in helping me through panic disorder this past summer.  I thought “I’ve got this, it’s a piece of cake, I listen to these videos and learn how to do it and once I know what to do, I’ll whip it out when I feel panicked somewhere.”  I can tell you that did NOT happen that way.  It took me TWO MONTHS to learn how to literally put everything in my brain aside and focus on the speaker and what they were trying to teach.  Like anything else, you have to get good at it and yes, it takes time.  I’ve said it 50 bazillion times….how everything takes time.

That being said, that’s where I’m at.  Better than last year, but definitely not out of the woods.  Actively working on retraining my brain.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I would guess I probably have another year of hard work to get through to learn how to really control the OCD thoughts.  I’m good with that.  Really.  As long as my friends and family closest to me know I may ask weird health questions during flu season, without taking offense, we can all get through this together.  And I mean, there may be a time when these panicked thoughts are completely gone and then all of a sudden 2 years from now come back.  In fact, I’ve heard it happens more often than not.  The difference between now and then is that I’ll be able to use what I’ve learned to completely transform/reshape the situation and think about it differently.

It’s important to me to be brutally honest on this blog.  I want people to empathize with the struggle.  I want people to know that even outgoing, social people like myself can be affected, as badly as they do not want to be affected.  As much as they want to be at events with their friends in January having a blast, they are instead thinking that there may be sick people there and be home upset with themselves, for thinking these things and not going.  I want people to know if you are in the same boat, you aren’t alone.  Lastly, I want people to know it’s something you can get a hold of in due time with hard work.  You will always have an ear ready to listen with me.

Friends, be kind to everyone.  I say it all the time.  You never know what they are walking through.

xoxo

Mary

 

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