Markers of Progress | Article F18

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“Just tell me how I got this far, just tell me why you’re here and who you are. ‘Cause every time I look, you’re never there and every time I sleep, you’re always there. ‘Cause you’re everywhere to me and when I close my eyes it’s you I see. You’re everything I know that makes me believe I’m not alone, I’m not alone….I sense it now, the water’s getting deep, I try to wash the pain away from me…And when I catch my breath it’s you I breathe.” – Lyrics from “Everywhere” by Michelle Branch.


It was the middle of August 2018 when I heard the song “All You Wanted” by Michelle Branch over the radio on my drive home from a family therapy appointment. There was something about that song that struck me in that moment as fitting to explain Thor and Loki’s relationship in the Thor and Avengers films (the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in particular). In my spare time I like to write Loki-centered Avengers fan fiction that I post up online on two main fan fiction websites. So, I wrote myself a story exploring the depths of Thor’s early childhood relationship with Loki and one of his untimely deaths. I covered a lot of ground about grieving and the process of that, the concept of legacies and meaning, the difficulties that death poses to both man and demigod and I thought it was a nice single story that I could plop out into existence just because.


But then when I had long since finished writing that story, I heard “Everywhere” again by Michelle Branch and the idea of a prequel popped into my mind. The first story, “Somebody Who Cares”, dealt with the end of a grieving process whereas this prequel, “It’s You, I Breathe” would be based in the very beginnings of that process. I imagine that Thor will be seeing reminders of his brother Loki around in the world while battling with what if’s of what could have changed the story from ending the way that it did.


I’ve decided to talk about this source of artistic inspiration and expression because it’s really, really important for us to find these little golden coins of reasons to stay alive for and changing our relationships to items in our lives. I’d like to discuss the continued ways in which my recovery has been explored and how I was successfully able to avert a crisis in the middle of November.


Initially I had only ever heard these songs by Michelle Branch as echoes of my childhood, then at one particular square inch of time I was able to take in that information with a whole new perspective. I related to it differently from Point Z than Point B. This concept is similar to the meaning and understanding I can find in reading a novel at one portion of my life, say when I was 15, versus another period of my life, at 25, and coming away from that experience with different thoughts than I would have previously. Or, when it comes to treatment, I can begin to track my Internet activities in August only to come to accept for myself that I have an unhealthy relationship with it in November (whereas before I would have denied it). The way in which I relate to the world and the way I believe and perceive the way the world interacts with me is an ever-evolving relationship. This is the type of principle that makes triggers so unique to each individual. Triggers can be anything and some days may make us more vulnerable to them than others.


But because I had built a positive relationship with this song to my artistic explorations, I could tap back into those pleasant activities when I was deeply struggling with all the feelings of a crisis. It was the first time in a long time that I had caught myself before the crisis (Emotion Mind) took over and I was 100% safe. I was able to identify that talking over the phone with someone would help me and I needed some sense of direction to move forward. Whom I spoke to on the phone gave me enough reminders of my currently stable self that while I had urges I didn’t want to act on them.


So I didn’t.


I coped ahead, I used opposite action, I rewarded myself, I recognized the factors that make my life worth living and I gave myself credit for the work I’ve been doing over the last nine months and made it through the turbulence to get to the pretty view of the horizon. I’m not where I once was and if I come by there again, which may happen, I won’t leave it the same way as I once would have.

And that, my friends, is progress.

Written: Nov. 21.2018

Present day: 1/8/2019:

Hey everybody! This is an old article nowadays but I wanted to put it up since I’ve been avoiding it for the last 2 weeks, lol. I hope that you enjoyed it! Also, I do have ‘Somebody Who Cares’ up on my AO3 and accounts, links in my About the Author section, if you want to check them out!

I’m actually in the process of updating a bunch of fanfics in case that’s something that interests you! I will probably pop up another article tonight and type up my poem (the first one in over a year!) that I wrote yesterday at program during art therapy.

Today’s been weird in that I slept most of the day, so I didn’t get nearly as much done as I was hoping to but what can you do?

I have to still eat dinner, clean Galaxy’s cage, type fanfic, write fanfic, work on a few blog posts and maybe try to actually read some, oh, and answer messages. Any who, that’s what I’m up to!

Hope you’re all well!! ❤ ❤ ❤

PS does anyone else not see the line break when in progress of the post but it appears in the post itself later? Ugh, that’s annoying.

Treatment 101: OCD-Institute & ERP | Article F18

NEW Articles THUMB = 11.29.18

In preparing to write this article I had to do the one thing I’ve wanted to do for ages but never tried: reviewing some of my old journals and two red folders from my time three years ago in the OCD-Institute of McLean hospital. McLean offers one of the three major OCD facilities treating the disorder across the United States (and it’s a world-renowned program). The OCD-I is not a locked unit so I could actually leave the campus for dinner at Friendly’s with family but was expected to be back by, I’d guess 10PM, to sleep there overnight. Besides medication the most used tool for treating OCD is called Exposure and Response Prevention or ERP of which the goal is to expose the client to their distress related to OCD and refrain from using compulsions.

Because this took place three years ago, I can only describe what my experiences were like given my particular circumstance. I was first told about the OCD-I from the Counseling Center on campus as a potential treatment option for myself (at the time experiencing mostly OCD behaviors). Over the spring 2015 semester I transitioned to an OCD specialist therapist whom I saw twice a week for a year. I remember before I landed in my third hospitalization of 2015 I learned that the OCD-I had a three month wait list. The helplessness and hopelessness I felt at that moment was unbearable and led me to accruing more suicidal thoughts that I wanted to act on at the time. However, during my hospitalization I did begin to fill out the application and eventually sent it over to the OCD-I.

In fall 2015, I took a leave of absence from school as I got accepted into the OCD-I around October and stayed there for five weeks. Because it wasn’t a locked unit, we could have laptops and iPods and things to that effect (strings!). People who were dealing with OCD around cleaning or cooking were often the ones serving food and experiencing their ERPs firsthand. We had about four hours of ERPs each day and two hours of them on the weekends. We would often go out on the weekends into the Boston area to practice the skills we were learning at program to apply into the real world. The average stay for an individual was up to three months, but insurance often bottomed out before then. We would follow a set schedule–a goals oriented group in the morning while sitting in a circle, two hours of ERP and track A or track B specific groups, which for me, meant a mindfulness group on some days, intrusive thoughts group, expressive therapy, emotion regulation, and a motivation group.

I find it quite funny that I’ve found some DBT related worksheets from within these red folders that I didn’t realize would play such an important role in my treatment and recovery three years later.

My ERPs had involved exposing myself to methods that I had used in the past to harm myself, saying that I was going to use it to harm myself (which would produce distress) that I then had to shift gears completely from and “live my life. While living my life, I would have to practice mindfulness skills of defusion and practice staying in the moment. Living my life could include just about anything except sleeping and talking about suicide.”

If it sounds slightly warped and unethical, I did have to return the methods after the ERPs were over as they were keeping it behind the nurse’s station.

A few of my notable memories from this time period were some of the friendships that I made and rolling down a big hill out on the campus, “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten and “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes being songs that I danced to, practicing grounding techniques with one of the other clients, a client getting kicked out for stealing and a suicidal crisis that emerged from this consequence, my getting the chance to be my authentic self and make positive messages for the other clients, attending the OCD support group and a few notable lectures.

One of those lectures involved a client focusing on the whiteboard of their values while other clients played their intrusive thoughts. It was a harrowing and emotional experience and even though they cried, they kept their attention forwards and didn’t interact with the ‘thoughts’. Another involved what you would say if you had to give a last speech before you died and another was the memorable speech Alan Rabinowitz gave featured on The Moth titled: “Man and Beast” and the book “The Happiness Trap” which is about ACT.

And finally, there was a set of questions from the OCD-I’s surveys that always stuck with me:

“When I want to feel *more* positive emotions, I change the way I’m thinking” and “when I want to feel *less* negative emotions, I change the way I’m thinking.”

At the time, these two questions were the resounding hum of my treatment after I got released. And from there, well, the rest is history.

Article written: Nov. 21.2018

Present day A/N: I’m trying out the newer layout option and while it’s fancy and nice, I feel it’s also a little more complicated than complicated needs to be. Regardless, here I am.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post! Again, it’s from a while ago but soon I’ll be able to write my final 2 articles to share with you guys here (that I’ll be writing this month, just to clarify). Okay, I hope you’re all well!

I’m thinking I might return to the OCD support group that continues to meet every first Tues of the month as I haven’t gone in a year and I would like to reappear plus I now have a really, really good GPS to bust out. I might send them all an email, too, actually. 🙂 Interesting! ❤ ❤ ❤

I’m typing up my poem next to be uploaded tomorrow on here! 🙂

Stay safe!!! xxx

EDIT: I have no idea what happened but the new layout forced this post into the past and before my MoP one which makes no sense to me so that’s why there’s a discrepancy between the images used and the way the descriptions/A/N’s were written. Sorry about that!! Fucking WordPress.