Monday, October 31, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness.  It will change your life mightily.  ~Gerald Good

Happy Halloween. This pumpkin above is about as much as I'm doing for Halloween this year. A little sad? Maybe. I'm just not into the halloween holiday itself. Fall, well...that's another story. On this Halloween day, here are a few of the things for which I am thankful:

  • Pumpkins: I love my little light up pumpkin (pictured above), and love turning all the lights off at night and watching TV with just that light on in the room! From the little pumpkins and gourds I have in my house and on my desk at work, to the pumpkins I pass while driving around town, I think they add a lot of fun and "cheer" to some very early mornings in my life. It's the little things in life that we sometimes forget to be thankful for. 
  • Fall Foods: I've been eating some DELICIOUS fall foods, some of which I've talked about on this blog. Click here for my latest fall recipe that I've made! Seriously- check it out. It's DELICIOUS! 
  • Family Fun: I've spent this past week with variations of different family members. While it was unexpected, I sure enjoyed the time that I spent with them! 2 of them I haven't spent any significant time with in the last few years, so it was fun to catch up!
  • Crunchy Leaves: Being outside in the fall is one of my favorite things! I know I talk about how healthy and important being outside in nature is, but I really do believe it! In the fall, I love walking on the edges of the road and hearing the sounds of the crunching leaves beneath my feet. I've loved it since I was a little kid, and I try to do it at least a few times every season! 
  • Laughter: I did a post about a month ago on why having a sense of humor is critical to our health. You can read it here. This week was full of laughter, and it was fantastic. Of course there were a few tears and some stress too, but the bad doesn't have to discount what was good. Laughter is healthy, and I got to experience it this week...quite a bit:) 
Now it's your turn!
Are you dressing up for Halloween. If yes- what is it? If No- will you give out candy instead?
What are you thankful for this week? 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Coffee

I know I've mentioned this multiple times on this blog, but I really love almost all things fall. I try to make foods I currently am consuming into something that falls under the "fall" category, and my coffee is no exception. While I love Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, there's no way that I will be shelling out money for it on a daily basis. I decided to make a little variation of this at home.

Mix for the perfect pumpkin flavored coffee!

I put pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon into my coffee grounds and brewed as usual. The hint of fall that this mix produced was delightful, and the perfect start to any fall morning! I just bought some nutmeg, and I'm planning to try a bit in it at some point this week.

A variation: take a small spoonful of pumpkin from the can and stir in to hot coffee. This of course made it taste much stronger of coffee, but it mixed in easily and tasted great! I wouldn't choose to do this on a daily basis, but it added something fun and extra. 

Either way, pumpkin coffee is the perfect start to any beautiful fall morning:)

Here's a recap of my posts from the last week. Make sure to check them out if you missed any of them!

** While both these posts are tailored specifically towards supporting someone who struggles with OCD, these posts included many suggestions that are helpful for any mental illness or issue in life. Check it out, educate yourself, and brainstorm steps you can take to support those in your life who struggle with various forms of mental illness! 

Now it's your turn:
Do you have any fun ways to tailor coffee to the season or holiday? 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Roasted Acorn Squash With Apples and Sausage

While perusing blogs a few weeks ago, I stumbled on a recipe for Roasted Acorn Squash with Apples and Sausage on Melissa's Blog at Hungry, Healthy, Happy. While I'm not a huge squash fan, my mom had given me an extra acorn squash that I needed to use, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try the recipe out. I used a few ingredients because I used what I had at home, and didn't shop specifically for this recipe.

Acorn Squash (cut in half)
Brown Sugar
Chicken Apple Sausage (2, cut into pieces)
Large Red Apple (1, cut into pieces)
Sweet Onion (1, cut into pieces)
Water (used this in place of broth in frying pan with sausage, apple, and onion)
Olive Oil (to caramelize onion)
Oregano (used this to replace the thyme)
Sea Salt

 2 halves of the acorn

 Butter, Brown Sugar, and Salt in the Squash

 Caramelized Onions, Apple, Sausage, Salt, Pepper, and Oregano slowly cooking

 Squash immediately out of the oven

Final Product! 

For someone who isn't a fan of squash, this was absolutely DELICIOUS! It took a lot of self-control to save on half for another meal. It held up well after it was reheated, and it was just as good the second day. Every bite I took tasted like I was eating a little piece of fall. 

A few notes about the recipe: Squash can be very difficult to cut through. I put the squash directly in the microwave for about 2 minutes to start. This helped with the ease of cutting it! I didn't have broth, but just threw in a bit of water into the frying pan and that did the trick, and tasted just fine to me. I didn't have thyme, so I just threw in a tiny bit of oregano. To check out the entire recipe, click here. Melissa has a number of fantastic recipes on her blog, so make sure to check it out!

Now it's your turn!
What's your favorite way to cook squash? What taste or smell reminds you completely of Fall, no matter what time of the year you experience it? 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Favorites

Favorite Tiny Delight of the Week
Cooking! I can't believe I'm typing that, as I have *always* hated to cook. This has slowly changed, and this past week I've cooked a number of fall recipes that have not only been fun to make, but delicious to eat (and healthy as well!). Keep your eye out tomorrow for a delicious new fall recipe!

Favorite Quote of the Week
"Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Favorite Post By Someone Else
On The Day You Were Born... - Emily @Daily Garnish had a 55 hour labor this past week. What a strong woman! This is the first picture she shared of her precious baby. She's also shared her birth story on her blog. Check it out!

Favorite Past Post 
My Little Lifesaver - It's allergy season, and many of us will suffer. Maybe you don't feel like you have allergies, but notice that you're getting more sinus headaches lately? This IS FOR YOU! This has saved me from months of antibiotics, steroids, sinus infections, and headaches due to allergies. Check it out!

Favorite Search Terms
Now it's your turn!
What's been one of your favorite "tiny delights" of the past week? Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

OCD Awareness: {Help! Someone I Love Has OCD part 2}

Yesterday I listed out 5 steps you can take to help support your loved one if they are struggling with OCD (or any mental disorder for that manner)! Click here if you missed that post. Today I will be discussing a few more:

  •  Learn to recognize and reduce "Family Accommodation Behaviors" (listed exactly from the OCD Foundation, pg 14)These are behaviors that people do to enable the OCD symptom, and are not healthy for you or your loved one. While it seems helpful in the moment (I'm taking away some stress), it doesn't help them to address the situation, and doesn't help it long term. 
    • Participating in the behavior: You participate in your family member's OCD behavior along with them
    • Assisting in avoiding: You help your family member avoid things that upset them (ex= doing their laundry for them so that it is cleaned the "right" way)
    • Helping with the behavior: You do things for your family member that lets them do OCD behaviors (ex= buying large amounts of cleaning products for them)
    • Making changes in family routine: (ex= you change the time of day that you shower, or when you change your clothes)
    • Taking on extra responsibilities: (ex= going out of your way to drive them places when they could otherwise drive themselves)
    • Making changes in leisure activities: (ex= your family members gets you to not leave the house without them. This affects your interests in movies, dinners out, time with friends, etc).
    • Making changes at your job: (ex= you cut back on hours at your job in order to take care of your family member. 
  • Don't Focus Solely on the Behavior. Remember that the OCD thoughts & behaviors are not all of who your loved one is. Focus on them as a whole, not just on the behavior. It's important that the individual knows you care about them as a whole person. 
  • Come Up with a game plan if your loved one refuses treatment: Your loved one may need more time before they are willing to seek treatment. You can help or harm in this situation. Don't nag or demand- they'll often strengthen their resolve to avoid treatment. Encourage them, be open to discussing it together, and get support for yourself! Patience and gentle encouragement can be helpful during this time. 
  • Remember that you cannot do the work of treating OCD: You cannot change your loved ones thoughts or behaviors yourself. You can help point out distorted thoughts, or remind them of things such as the "4 Rs", but they must choose to do the work. Don't blame yourself if they don't change- it's NOT your fault! 
  • Aid a listening ear: If your loved one is actively engaged in treatment, they may want to process sessions with you, or express how hard it is to sit in the anxiety (through ERP). Choose to listen and support, but don't dump answers and advice on them unless they want it. If you constantly dump advice, more then likely they will stop talking to you!
Well, there you have it! 10 steps you can take to remain healthy and support your loved on in the best and most healthy way possible!
If you've missed the other posts in this series, here they are!

Now it's your turn:
If you have a loved one struggling with a mental disorder, what do you do to keep yourself healthy?
If you are currently struggling with a mental illness, in what ways do you feel supported by your loved ones? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

OCD Awareness: {Help! Someone I Love Has OCD! part 1}

If a loved one has OCD, there are things that you can do to either hurt or help the situation. With a little knowledge, support, and research, you can be the healthiest individual you can be in helping support your loved one. Here are a few steps that you can take:

  1. Educate yourself and your family on OCD: OCD can be complicated and difficult to understand. On the surface, it doesn't make sense why an individual MUST do something to right something that has happened or something they thought about. When you educate yourself on the disorder, this begins to make a bit more sense. Reading books and finding websites, as well as talking to a doctor or therapist, will help you learn about the disorder. 
  2. Get support for yourself: From online and "in person" support groups, these can also be beneficial not only in educating yourself, but in processing your own thoughts and behaviors. 
  3. Engage in self-care behaviors: It can be draining at times in dealing with someone struggling with an illness or disorder. Taking care of yourself is essential to not only keep yourself healthy, but also to provide healthy support to those around you. Here are some ideas to help get you started
  4. Learn to identify cognitive distortions & start changing them! We each have cognitive distortions that sneak their way into our thinking patterns. Learn to change these in your own conversation, as well as helping those around you start changing. There are a number of cognitive distortions that are prevalent in OCD, and it's important that your loved one know these as well. Click here for information on Challenging & Changing Cognitive Distortions. 
  5. Learn to set healthy boundaries in your life: This will not only help you to engage in self-care, but it will also help you to maintain a healthy relationship with your loved one(s). Click here and scroll down to "boundaries" for a list of posts I've done on this topic. 
Part 2 of "Help! Someone I Love Has OCD!" will be coming tomorrow. Keep your eyes out! (I'd also like to mention that these steps listed above are helpful for ANY mental disorder, not just OCD).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

OCD Awareness: {Medication}

OCD is best treated through a combination of therapy (such as ERP) and medication. Because OCD is a biological disorder, medication tends to do fairly well in helping to treat it.  Just a small sidenote: It's important to not just take medication, but to use it in conjunction with treatment for best results.

When an individual has OCD, there is a lack of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain. Medications used in the treatment of OCD help increase levels of serotonin, and are called Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). In each of our brains, we have an area called the synapse between neurons in the brain. Neurotransmitters (the brain's chemicals) are sent from one neuron, through the synapse, to the next neuron. SSRIs serve to inhibit the re-uptake of serotonin from the synapse. Are you confused yet? Because of this chemical process which occurs in the brain, medication can be a helpful part of treatment.

There are certain drugs which have been found to be helpful for the treatment of OCD. The OCD Foundation lists the following medications (source, p. 10):

  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)

It's important to remember since this medication is used to help correct a chemical problem, it takes a number of weeks for medication to reach its full capacity to work. While some people notice changes within a few weeks, it will probably take a couple of months for it to work completely. Please be patient!  People experience side effects in different ways. Learn the side effects! Remember that a side effect of the medication may be less intrusive on your life then the obsessions and compulsions, and the results of these things, on your life.

Here are other posts in this series:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal.  It's a way to live.  
~Attributed to Jacqueline Winspear

I'll be honest right now. Things are not going well in my extended family. While I have hope that at some point things will stabilize, right now I feel like everything is falling apart. I don't necessarily want to be thankful. However, I know that the practice of thankfulness is healthy both physically and mentally, and so I will choose to plow ahead, though my heart is heavy.

Here are a few things I'm thankful for at the moment:

  • The practice of thankfulness: I'm glad I have this weekly "holiday" on my blog to force myself to continue this practice throughout the week. I know there are benefits, and I believe with all my heart that we should be living a life of gratitude, not just a few days a year. I'm thankful this is part of my regular posting schedule, and I'm thankful I'm doing it when I don't feel like doing it. 
  • Delicious new recipes I've made: Did you check out this recipe? Oh my- it's delicious! I've also made 3 different very fall tasting dishes this weekend, which I will be sharing soon. I love fall, and I love embracing it to the fullest!
  • Organization: I love when things are clean and organized. The more out of control life around me seems, the more overwhelmed I get by a messy and unorganized apartment. It's clean, sparkling, and under control right now, and I'm happy about that!
  • Wellness: I know- I've taken a few weeks off my "wellness wednesday" posts due to my series on OCD. However, focusing on wellness in my own life has helped to keep me balanced and healthy despite things being very difficult. When we hit hard situations, it's easy to start giving up some of our healthy behaviors, which adds a lack of health to an unhealthy situation. I've been able to stay fairly balanced, although it hasn't been easy to do so!
  • Beautiful Fall Foliage: From running, walking, and driving to work to sitting in my living room, I'm loving all the beautiful changing leaves and brilliant colors! I wish the colors lasted a bit longer, but I have some beautiful pictures to look at. 
See? Beautiful colors:)

That's a few of the things that I'm thankful for in the midst of this crazy week.

Now it's your turn!
What are you feeling thankful for today? 
Is it hard for you to notice positive things in life when life seems to be falling apart in some way?
What's your favorite fall recipe to make?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blueberry Greek Yogurt Banana Bread

A few weeks back, I decided to try a recipe I had saved for weeks, waiting for the perfect moment! Emily at Daily Garnish posted a recipe back in June for Blueberry Greek Yogurt Banana Bread. Sounds delicious, right? It was so good that I decided to share it all with you!

Baking Powder
Brown Sugar
White Sugar
Greek yogurt
Blueberries (fresh or frozen)


Nasty looking mashed up bananas

All mixed up and ready to be cooked!

Fresh out of the oven! 


This was absolutely delicious! I ate it for a number of breakfasts, and was also the perfect thing to bring to a brunch I had! I cooked the bread a few minutes too long the first time, so it was too burnt brown on top, but it didn't taste burnt at all. The prep time was minimal and it was easy to make, which is the way I like it. For the entire recipe, click here (Emily's pictures make it look much better then mine do too!). 

*I'd also like to mention that Emily has many fantastic recipes on her blog, and it'll be well worth your time to check them out. Remember the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad I posted a few weeks ago? It's from her blog as well! 

Now it's your turn:
What's your favorite thing to make for breakfast or brunch? 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Favorites

Favorite Delight of the Week
Pumpkin decorations in my office and house! When fall hits, I love spreading out all my little pumpkins and gourds around the house. This also helps me in my practice of mindfulness. It's fall, and while I want to be stressed about the fact that winter is coming, I'm choosing to enjoy where I am in the present. Pumpkins help with mindfulness:)

Favorite Quote of the Week

"Confidence on the outside begins by living with integrity on the inside."
-- Brian Tracy

Favorite Post By Someone Else
My Thyroid Story- Running With Sass  Heather has some fantastic information on Thyroid functioning. I highly suggest reading the post and educating yourself on the signs and symptoms. It's also important to note that sometimes thyroid malfunctioning can look like depression. It's good information to know:)

Favorite Search Terms

Thursday, October 20, 2011

OCD Awareness: {The 4 R's}

In his book entitled The Obsessive-Compulsive Trap: Real Help For A Real Struggle, Dr. Mark Crawford outlines what he calls the 4 R's. I think it's a great little memory device in dealing with OCD, so I thought I would share. This is quoted exactly from his book (page 128).

  1. Recognize: This step uses cognitive therapy tools to enable the patient to identify the thinking that is behind the anxiety. In treating OCD, this inevitably results in identifying the obsessive thought, worry, or image and correctly defining it as an irrational obsessive thought.
  2. Resist: This step refers to the RP {Response Prevention} diagram. In this step, the patient is aware of the urge to perform a compulsive behavior. He has been educated regarding the importance of employing RP as essential in breaking the power of OCD and is prepared to resist the urge to perform the compulsive behavior. 
  3. Replace: In step 3, the patient begins the process of modifying the obsessive thought or worry with one that is based on truth.
  4. Re-direct: In the final step, the patient is taught to use the tools mentioned earlier to get through the critical interval of response prevention until the anxiety passes and the pattern of obsessive thoughts followed by compulsive behaviors is weakened. 
What I enjoy about the 4 R's that Dr. Crawford identifies is that it's easy in the moment for a parent to remind a child about their 4 Rs, or the individual can keep a "4 R's" post it note in their cubical at work as a very easy reminder of how to walk himself through the anxiety he experiences. 
In Step #1, Dr. Crawford mentions the need to identify thinking behind the anxiety. Sometimes, this includes one (or more) cognitive distortions. To read about cognitive distortions, click here and here. In Step #3, the individual changes the thought to one that is based on truth. For more information about challenging and changing cognitive distortions, click here

Here are the other posts in this series:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

OCD Awareness: {ERP Therapy part 1}

Today I'm continuing my series on OCD. If you've missed the previous posts in this series, here they are:

Those who struggle with OCD are not without hope! There are treatments and therapy that have been proven to e effective. Of course with many types of disorders, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is proven through numerous research studies to be the most effective. One type of CBT, called Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP), is especially effective. 

"Exposure refers to confronting the thoughts, images, objects and situations that make you anxious" (source, p.8). Of course this seems counter-intuitive, because in life, and especially with OCD, it's all about trying to decrease anxiety by doing something (compulsion) to deal with the obsession. Response Prevention means that "once you have come in contact with the things that make you anxious, you make a choice to not do the compulsive behavior" (source, p.8). Again, this doesn't seem to make sense. Why would someone make an active choice to sit in the anxiety without trying to do anything about it? On the surface level, if you try to ignore the thing that makes you anxious, the anxiety level will tend to sky rocket. Here's the neat thing that most of us don't realize, because we don't give this a chance to happen: if you can sit in the anxiety and not do the compulsive behavior, you will notice that eventually your anxiety level will drop. "The drop in your anxiety that happens when you stay 'exposed' and 'prevent' the compulsive 'response' is called habituation" (source, p.8).

For someone struggling with OCD, the idea of ERP can be absolutely terrifying. What might happen, or what might I become, if I can't do a compulsion to make the thought or situation right? The idea of sitting in anxiety and learning to deal with it is fairly horrifying to some, and can lead to panic at just the thought of this. 

Keep your eyes out for a follow up post on ERP! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

"The breath of Autumn is a whisper to the soul" -Dove Chocolate

Last week I put off my traditional Thankfulness Monday post due to the start of OCD Awareness Week. While I will pick up on these posts starting tomorrow, I felt like it was important to refocus on gratitude this week. 
Without further ado, here are a few of the things I'm thankful for right now:

  • Fall Items: I'm a huge fan of fall, and especially a big fan of foods related to the fall. I've used the type of apple pictured above in oatmeal, apple crisp, apple pie, as a side to my lunch, and with peanut butter recently. It's DELICIOUS!
  • OCD Awareness Week: I think it's important to educate ourselves on various mental disorders in order to not only increase our own individual understanding, but also to understand how we can best support those in our lives who struggle with a variety of issues. If you haven't read my posts so far, please do so (and look for a few more posts this week on the topic!).
  • Carbs: Bring on the pasta! I've eaten a crazy amount of pasta this past week, and the more I eat it, the more I crave it. In all sorts of forms, I think it's absolutely fantastic! I've even started including a little pasta in with salads. I may be slightly obsessed at the moment. 
  • Sunday Night Traditions: Every sunday night, a group of friends all gets together for dinner and movie to bring on the new week. I love the tradition, and think it's a great way to start the week out on a positive foot. 
  • A few great opportunities for work in my field: Yes, I have a job, I absolutely love my job, and I'm not planning to leave my job. I've been exploring and engaging in a bit of side work as well, and I'm enjoying what I'm getting to do. I'm grateful I get to live out my passions daily. 
Now it's your turn:
What are you feeling thankful for today? Do you have any fun weekly traditions with family or friends? What's something new you've learned about OCD?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Favorites

Favorite Friday Delight of the Week
Summer weather with the beautiful fall colors! This week has been absolutely gorgeous! It's been in the upper 70s-mid 80s, and sunny! I've spent every evening after work outside until it gets dark, trying to soak in the beautiful weather. A fantastic perk of this great weather is that it's nice while getting to experience some of the peak colors of the fall. I think the colors are breathtaking, and I've enjoyed every minute of some of the long walks I've taken this week!

Favorite Quote of the Week

"To live is to choose. 
But to choose well, 
you must know who you are and what you stand for, 
where you want to go and why you want to get there." 
- Kofi Annan

Favorite Post By Someone Else
Not So Extreme Home Makeover  by Melissa - We all know that moving is stressful, but she's made the best of it and created a great workspace for herself!

Favorite Search Terms
  • don't use words too big for the subject
  • negative coping
  • Apple Cranberry Oatmeal
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy Cuenca, ecuador
  • identity distortion
  • OCD Awareness Week 2011
(OCD Awareness series will be back up and running next week! Please continue to let me know if you have any questions you'd like answered.)

Now it's your turn!
What are some of your favorite things right now? 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

OCD Awareness: {OCD Thinking}

“As we discussed in Chapter 1, the more you fight an obsession, the more frequent and intense it becomes.  This is called a paradoxical effect, something we all experience at times.  For instance, if someone commands you, ‘Do not think of a red elephant,’ you will automatically respond by thinking about a red elephant.”
Edna B. Foa, Ph.D., Stop Obsessing!

OCD is an anxiety disorder in which thoughts go around and around in the brain (obsessions) until an individual does something to "make it better" (compulsions). When an individual has OCD, the "warning system" in the individual's brain is not accurate. "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...Feelings don't lie... Unfortunately, if you have OCD, they do lie. If you have OCD, the warning system in your brain is not working correctly. Your brain is telling you that you are in danger when you are not" (source, p.2). 

Because the brain tells the individual that something isn't correct, the individual must then do something to make that anxiety go away. This is why an individual engages in compulsive behaviors. It would be easier if the individual could tell themselves that it's not true, or not to think about the obsession. However, have you ever tried to not think of a red elephant. The more you try to tell yourself not to think of the red elephant, the more you will think about it. Therefore, simply telling the individual to not think about it does not work. This is why the individual needs to learn to handle the anxiety in the situation. 

Check out the other posts in this series:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

OCD Awareness: {Obsessions & Compulsions}

Welcome back to another post as part of OCD Awareness Week. If you haven't read the previous posts, check them out:

OCD Awareness: {Introduction}
OCD Awareness: {Statistics & Barriers to Treatment}

Today I thought I would go into categories for obsessions & compulsions. Sometimes it's easy just to think of the "clean issue" with OCD, but there's much more involved in this as well. It's when we know and understand that we can begin to support. The information that follows is from this source.


  • Contamination (body fluids, germs, or other contaminants)
  • Losing Control (fear of acting impulsively to harm self or others, yelling, stealing, etc)
  • Perfectionism (fear of losing information or things, exactness)
  • Harm (fear of harming others or being responsible for something happening)
  • Unwanted sexual thoughts (forbidden sexual thoughts or images, obsessions of homosexuality)
  • Religious Obsessions (concern of offending God, excessive concern of morality)
  • Other Obsessions (concern with getting illness or superstitious ideas)
  • Washing & Cleaning (Excessive washing/cleaning in the right way or for far too long)
  • Checking (making sure you didn't hurt self/others, making sure you didn't make a mistake)
  • Repeating (re-reading/writing, routine activities (walking in/out of door), repeating in multiples)
  • Mental Compulsions (Reviewing events, praying to prevent harm, "canceling out" thoughts)
  • Other Compulsions (collecting items (hoarding), putting things in order, asking to get reassurance)
Of course under each of these categories the way the individual lives them out is different. An individual may struggle primarily with only one type of obsessions, or may struggle with pieces of many types of obsessions or compulsions. Each individual is different and unique in their own struggle and expression of these aspects. I would like to mention one thing in regards to the obsessions list. Most of these may seem familiar to you. I think the ones from this list that people don't hear about as much is the "harm" and "unwanted sexual thoughts" categories. I want to stress that just because an individual struggles with obsessive thinking in these areas DOES NOT MEAN they will act on them. In fact, people who struggle with these types of thinking don't act on them. For more information on these Violent & Sexual obsessions, click here

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

OCD Awareness: {Statistics & Barriers to Treatment}

In yesterday's post, I introduced OCD and gave definitions of obsessions and compulsions. Today I would like to further explore what exactly OCD is and potential barriers to treatment. 

Surprisingly, many more people struggle with OCD then the average person might guess. According to the International OCD Foundation, "Our best estimates are that about 1 in 100 adults – or between 2 to 3 
million adults in the United States – currently have OCD. This is roughly the same number of people living in the city of Houston, Texas. There are also at least 1 in 200 – or 500,000 – kids and teens that have 
OCD. This is about the same number of kids who have diabetes." Were you aware that this disorder was as prevalent? Perhaps we aren't even aware of those in our life who do struggle. People with OCD can continue to be quite functional, and aren't always as severe as movies sometimes portray. Might there be people in your life who are currently struggling, and you are unaware? For a disorder this prevalent, why are we not discussing it more? Why are we not educating ourselves on the signs & symptoms, and developing ways that we can support those who struggle? 

There are many barriers to treatment which make it difficult for the individual to get the help that they need. Unfortunately, there is generally a huge gap between the first symptoms of the disorder and when the individual finally gets help. Here are a few of the barriers:
  • Education: As a young person first experiencing the signs of OCD, I may not even be aware of the fact that what I'm experiencing is actually a disorder. I may believe I'm just "weird" or "going crazy". As parents, educators, doctors, mental health professionals, or others who are regularly around children, teens, and young adults, we MUST be able to identify the signs & symptoms as well. 
  • Shame of the Individual: Especially with obsessions having to do with unwanted sexual thoughts or harm to those around, it might be humiliating for others to know what you are REALLY thinking. Fear of being labeled or made fun of, as well as a fear that you are "too crazy to be helped" can lead to a lack of getting help. 
  • Lack of Support From Family: Obviously there are some people who are terrified to be "labeled" or refuse to admit that their child may have a problem. A parent's lack of support in getting their child the help that they NEED can be a huge barrier to treatment as well. 
  • Affordable or Convenient Treatment: Sometimes life just seems too busy to take time to go to a counselor, or we don't have the money to afford a counselor. 
If you are one of the "1 in 100" with OCD, please know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There is a community of those struggling with this disorder, and a host of counselors ready and eager to help you on your journey! Unfortunately, OCD doesn't just "go away" when we ignore it, so the best thing to do is get the help that you need quickly and as soon as you see symptoms develop! 

Here's what you can do:
If you struggle with OCD, what's a barrier to getting the help you need?
If you don't have OCD, what sort of stigmatizing behavior might you engage in towards those struggling? What can you do to continue to increase your knowledge on this disorder? 

Monday, October 10, 2011

OCD Awareness: {Introduction}

Happy Monday! I will be forgoing my usual "Thankfulness Project Monday" post for a post dedicated to an awareness week. Today begins OCD Awareness Week! As many people only know what is presented in the media, I thought I would spend a few posts this week addressing the issue and helping each of us to increase our education on this disorder.
With that, please join me on a journey to understand a little better the "disease of doubt"- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

When an individual has OCD, there is a struggle with both obsessions & compulsions. The National Alliance of Mental Illness states it the following way:
"Obsessions are intrusive, irrational thoughts -- unwanted ideas or impulses that repeatedly well up in a person's mind. Again and again, the person experiences disturbing thoughts, such as "My hands must be contaminated; I must wash them"; "I may have left the gas stove on"; "I am going to injure my child." On one level, the sufferer knows these obsessive thoughts are irrational. But on another level, he or she fears these thoughts might be true. Trying to avoid such thoughts creates great anxiety.
Compulsions are repetitive rituals such as handwashing, counting, checking, hoarding, or arranging. An individual repeats these actions, perhaps feeling momentary relief, but without feeling satisfaction or a sense of completion. People with OCD feel they must perform these compulsive rituals or something bad will happen." (source)

If you're anything like me, you might see a few characteristics of yourself in the above description. We each have worries and quirks in life. If you see yourself a bit in the description above- DON'T PANIC! It's normal for each of us to obsess about some things in life, or to have rituals, such as a bedtime ritual. People with OCD struggle with these thoughts for many hours throughout the day, and life is changed because of it. 

A few things to look forward to in this series:
  • Statistics in population
  • Common obsessions and compulsions
  • Exposure and Response Prevention
  • "how to help a friend" (supporting someone in your life who is struggling with OCD)
What you can do:
  • Educate yourself on the disorder, and learn how to support those struggling
  • If you are struggling with the disorder, choose to take a step forward to educate yourself and/or seek help and support!
What I'd like to know:
What questions do you have about OCD? What would you like to know or see in a series devoted to OCD? 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Favorites

Favorite Tiny Delight of the Week:
Greek Food. I love it and could eat it every meal and be OK with it. I was in Greece once for a month and felt so sad when I left and didn't have easy access to it anymore. This weekend I made a various of this souvlaki salad and every bite of it was delicious! I love the extra challenge and fun that various cultures provide in terms of food, and it's my goal to add as much variety of these foods and cultures into my life!

Favorite Quote of the Week:

“Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management.  Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.”   – Betsy Jacobson

Favorite Post by Someone Else:
Are You An Addict by Emily at Perfection Isn't Happy - This post is a great look into working out and exercise as a balance in life, and the process of it becoming an addiction. Working out is healthy, but being addicted to it is not. I loved some of the thoughts she had on the issue!

Favorite search terms:
Now it's your turn!
What are some of your "favorites" for the week? What are your thoughts on exercise addiction? What does balance mean to you?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Looking to the Future

Have you started noticing a theme of "what happens today will change your tomorrow"? Often times we need a little perspective challenge to get us to a healthy point. Here are some past posts to help you brush up on this:

Every day we should each be checking in with our perspective on things which includes owning up to our choices today and looking towards our future goals. What we do today directly influences the future, so the choices we make today are crucial to our health and growth as individuals.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: {who I am today}

I've had an incredibly busy week preparing for a few extra responsibilities beyond what my normal life entails. I wanted to get up posts ahead of time, but I'm not realizing that I can't do that without sacrificing sleep. As much as I want to do this, it's not so healthy, so you will be getting some atypical posts for me.

As you know, while talking about wellness, one of the things I've mentioned many times is that the choices we make now in regards to our health will change how we are and what our health will be in the future. I stumbled on this quote and thought I'd share:

Spend a few minutes going through some of the other Wellness Wednesday posts, and figuring out one choice you can make today that which change your tomorrow. 

Now it's your turn:
What do you want your today and tomorrow to look like? What choices do you need to make to be healthy?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Choose Today to Alter Tomorrow

“The consequences of today are determined by the actions of the past. To change your future, alter your decisions today.” ~ Anonymous

What initially caught my attention from this quote was that it reminds me of a verse from the Bible that says "Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal" (Philippians 3:13-14, ESV).  This is definitely one issue that I see with clients frequently. We have a hard time dealing with the past and moving forward. We like to clutch onto the past and drag it through the future with it, not releasing it and moving forward. 

When we are held back by the past, we don't allow the future to become what it has the potential of becoming. We can't go back and change the past. If we choose to not leave the past there and move forward, then it changes our future. TODAY we have the choice not to change or fix the past, but to change the future. We can't re-write the past, but we have the option to write the next chapter  in our lives. 

The point is that we need to make a decision to alter our choices so that our future DOES have the option to be different. A healthy life involves a series of choices. You may have made unhealthy choices in the past, but you can choose to stand up today and make choices that will change the course of your life. 

Thoughts for you:
What do you need to let go of and not drag it through our future? What choices can you make today that  have the potential to change the rest of your life?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward

Most days in life aren't really exciting and great or really boring and bad. Most of our life tends to be made of average days. This is why the quote above stood out to me. The regular practice of thankfulness and gratitude can transform a life from ordinary to extraordinary.

That being said, here are a few of the things I'm thankful for this week:

  • October: I love fall, and october is full of all sorts of fun fall activities and foods! Give me some pumpkin, apple, cider, cinnamon, and spice (although not all together) and I'm a happy person!
  • A weekend with family: I got the chance to see a few family members this past Saturday, and we had a great time together. 
  • Movie nights with friends: relaxation, laughter, food, fun, and friends all mixed together, and I'm definitely game for it! Every week I have a "movie night date" with some friends and enjoy the time we spend together (and having something to look forward to throughout the week). 
  • Greek Food: For those of you who've been reading for awhile, you know that I LOVE Greek food. I made it for the first time in a few weeks, and every bite of it was delicious and savory. 
  • A great run this week: This week I had a really wonderful run in this perfect fall weather that we've been having. I love the feeling of a good run, and knowing that I've accomplished something out on the road. 
Now it's your turn:
What're you thankful for today? 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pork & Veggie Kabobs

While summer may be gone, it doesn't mean we have to lose some of our favorite summer foods! One of my favorite foods in the summer are kabobs on the grill! I modified a bit and made kabobs by cooking the meat & veggies in the frying pan. 

Black Pepper
White Wine Vinegar
Garlic Powder
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Pepper (Yellow & Orange)
Coconut Oil (for the frying pan)

These are the spices I used to marinate the meat overnight. 

I put the meat in 2 bags. I frozen one bag for later.

This gives you an idea of the size pieces I cut

Beautiful Orange & Yellow Peppers

Peppers & Onions in the frying pan

The final product!


This held up very well in the refrigerator and made enough for a few days of left overs. I just got a broiler pan after I made this, so I plan to try broiling the meat next time. Either way, this is delicious!

Now it's your turn:
When you make Kabobs, what are your favorite foods to add?