Monday, August 22, 2011

IOCDF: Dare to Believe

Check it: Awesome opportunity to promote OCD awareness with the IOCDF. Get involved!

OCD Patients Challenged to ‘Dare to Believe’
International OCD Foundation presents OCD Awareness Week
Oct. 10-16

The International OCD Foundation has launched “Dare to Believe,” a new campaign to challenge the stereotypes of mental illness and encourage OCD sufferers to commit to overcoming the disorder.

“Dare to Believe...together we can beat OCD” is one of the campaign’s signature messages that will be featured prominently during OCD Awareness Week, to be celebrated October 10 through 16, with events across the United States and Canada.

The campaign encourages OCD suffers to “Dare to Believe…there is hope” and “Dare to Believe…treatment works.”

The International OCD Foundation is the nation’s leading resource and advocacy group for sufferers of obsessive compulsive disorder, their families, and medical professionals. The IOCDF funds research, provides access to treatment, educates professionals to treat OCD and annually presents the country’s largest national event dedicated to OCD and related disorders.

Some 4 million Americans suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder. There is no cure for OCD, though its symptoms can be effectively managed through treatment including therapy and medication.

OCD sufferers, their families, and professionals who treat OCD are invited to submit art, poetry, short stories, videos or music for the 2011 OCD Awareness Week live event in Boston on Oct. 15, which will also be streamed on-line. All submissions should reflect the “Dare to Believe” theme. Winners will receive a free trip to the Boston event to showcase their work.

“OCD is the doubting disease; patients find themselves in compulsive rituals because of the doubts in their minds,” said Jeff Szymanski, executive director of the International OCD Foundation. “Through our ‘Dare to Believe’ campaign we want OCD sufferers to confront and overcome those doubts, knowing that there is a larger community supporting them throughout their journeys.”

For more information on OCD Awareness Week and the Dare to Believe challenge visit www.ocfoundation.og. Entries into the Dare to Believe contest accepted until Aug. 31.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How San Diego and Southwest Airlines conspired to keep me hostage in Texas forever.

I made it to San Diego. Remember? All the way back that far. And I promised you the hellish story of trying to get home? I’m gonna try to remember it now and give it to ya straight.

I did NOT want to leave beautiful San Diego and all the amazing experiences I had there. But I drug myself up and out of my super cozy bed that I was allergic to, packed my bags and headed out. I decided to wear a strapless dress and cute shoes because I wasn’t going to be doing that much walking and the dress was new and I wanted to wear it. Not entirely the most comfortable, but worth it.

I’m not gonna lie, I got a little bit of a late start and may or may not have had a Pacifico before heading down to the shuttle. No sense letting them go to waste, right? My flight wasn’t until 2:30, but I had to be out by noon of course. I waited until the last possible moment to drag my bag and new found sense of accomplishment down to the lobby. Housekeeping was about to have a freaking stroke trying to get into my room to clean it, so I figured it was time to let them have at it. Didn’t show up til 4 both other days I was there, but that day that damn room needed cleaning!

I was feeling like a regular pro as I caught my shuttle and oh so proficiently and tipped my suitcase carrier guy who probably has a more impressive title than that but he carried my suitcase so he is suitcase carrier guy to me. I checked myself in, I swept right through security. Like a pro. No trace of mental illness. I wasn’t even nervous. I DID get selected for a pat down so that was fun. Remember how I had on the strapless dress? When you get a pat down and they pull down along your dress, it pulls your fracking top down. So after struggling to NOT be accidently nude (because I really like to decide for myself when I get naked), I was in the terminal. It was so packed and I wasn’t hungry so I just stayed put for a couple hours. I had my phone and my books and I was good to go.

My first clue should have been the flight numbers. I’m better but I still have freaking OCD and the flight numbers were not sitting right with me from the first day. There was a time in my life when that combination of numbers would have sent me into full scale panic, but I let my rational brain take over. This is gonna be no big deal right? Right. Until they change the gate and I almost miss boarding. Thank you for the heads up San Diego. I mean, I know that you love me too and don’t want me to leave, but there are better ways to handle it, San Diego. You gotta let me go. I’ll return to you someday. But don’t make me almost miss my dang flight. I am a grown-up now and can’t go doing stupid things like that. And that was just the teaser.

And that plane was hot. Packed full, air not working well, only single seats left in between other people who were trying not to make eye contact in a not so subtle attempt to be all “Don’t sit here! It’s crowded and hot!” Yeah, not fooling me. I’m sitting. And I’m bringing all 6 feet of me along so my knees are probably fixin to poke you. Deal with it.

So I read my book (I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell which is so funny I was actually hurting from laughing), and ate my peanuts and drank my Dr. Pepper and was a total pro. And then we stopped in San Antonio to let some folks off. And then more people got on. And it was hotter than in California. And the cabin was melting. And we sat there. And sat there…and sat…and started to get really cranky…and then this “There is some kind of problem with some kind of light and blah blah plane maintainance and scary broken plane words and we are going to check it out and let you know as soon as we know that the plane actual works instead of testing it out in the sky.”


And so there we sat. And the girl who previously couldn’t drive a car or leave my house or hold a job was now a bonafide traveler stuck on a plane. That may possibly be broken. And now I have officially missed my connection in Dallas. This is the part where the Obsessive-Compulsive girl is trying to show up. This is the part where Anxiety Disorder is all “Know what?! Now would be a great time to start freaking out, OK! Right now would be perfect OK OK! Let’s do this thing. Now. NOW!” But I sat. And I was so effing sweaty and the cute dress was starting to turn into a hot mess and my armpits were sweating like a man’s. So at least I smelled awful and all my make-up was gone. That’s neat.

And now…”everybody off the plane. It is, in fact, officially broken but we have no idea why. We are going to try and fix it but probably won’t be able to but just kick it in this empty airport for a while as we bang on it with tools to make fixing sounds while we actually drink beer and go through your luggage.” But now we are like a family, we passengers. An angry tired family. And the airline decided to perform some sort of sick social experiment and separated us into two groups.”Group A…winners. You get to go get on this not broken plane and we are taking you to wherever you wanted to go. And have fun. And probably you all get puppies. Group B…Surprise! Welcome to San Antonio! You are stuck here. And you need to go re-book yourself for a flight to God knows where we can get you. Oh, but we can’t get you anywhere tonight because, duh, its already 9:30pm and San Antonio is closed. All of it. OH! And also…your luggage just went with group A. We just really like them a lot. Hotel? What do you mean, ‘hotel’? Oh, like…you want a place to stay overnight? Ha! Well…let’s see. That’s a real stretch.” Thus began the movement of our remaining family en masse to re-book flights and try to beg for a room for the night.

After finally finally finally securing myself a ride home the next day and begging a hotel room out of them, I went outside to sit on the bench and wait for the shuttle that was coming. Allegedly. As we were a family now and as I was all independent and normal, I began chatting with a couple guys who also were abandoned like unwanted children at the shuttle station to hopefully end up at a hotel and not at a raping. Nice guys, from Tulsa out for training for their work. At this point I had abandoned my shoes and hadn’t eaten since the Pacifico that morning and I was tired and had no luggage and no hairbrush or toothpaste and I just wanted to relax. The shuttle actually showed up and took us to an actual hotel which turned out to be pretty cool surprisingly. Some kind of modern, artistic place. Exactly the kind of place where you want to walk in to the ultra swank lobby with no shoes on, sweating and tired, with 6 other people who are also looking their finest.

The good news…the bar was open! I made a plan with my new friends to meet at the bar in 10 minutes. You know, after I went to my room and didn’t actually freshen up or anything because I didn’t have any luggage. We were the only 3 people in the bar that night and the bartender was a super cool chick who got me some chips and cheese sticks and Corona. She was my best friend at that moment. OK, but it turns out that one of my other new friends was under the impression that he could get my number and etc and etc and "hey we are at a hotel...". I was not gonna let that happen, but god love the kid for trying. He pulled out all the stops. And by that I mean “had lots of shots” His wingman/friend, the bartender and I had actually reached the point where we were just outright laughing at the poor guy because he was really trying to bring his A game. But it was not even in my periphery of thought. Finally, friend took drunky back to their room as good friends should when the striking out has just become sad. I figured it was time to try and get comfortable in my room with no way to take out my contacts and nothing to change into and dirty hair.

So remember how I just kinda popped up to my room when I first got to the hotel and dropped my little bag of books and my purse and went right back downstairs? OK, yeah. I also dropped the sleeve of the key. That had the room number on it. Which I suddenly realized I had no clue what the room number was. So here’s me: tired, dirty feet, wrinkled dress, nearly delirious and giggling standing in the hall like an idiot with no idea where to start. Which made me laugh. So now I am laughing like an idiot standing in the hall trying to figure out what to do. So I did what made the most sense; I started at the end of the hall and used my key in every door until one of them opened. I think it took about 12 tries. But that is what you call problem solving, everyone. Take the lesson and learn from that. You are welcome.

Morning after a crappy, uncomfortable night of sleeping. Guh. Hot. Tired. Need coffee. Fancy pants hotel charges a kidney for coffee. Didn’t have my meds with me because like an idiot they were in my suitcase. Made it to the airport. Sat around for a few hours. Still have no food because apparently San Antonio only believes in enormous pastry type cakes for breakfast. And I’m cool NOT having diabetes. Finally on a plane. Still internally freaking out a little because, hello, our other plane broke. But this flight number was super OCD compliant so I felt better. Started a new book. Made the connection in Dallas. Got to OKC. Where my luggage didn’t show up.

Great. So I went to the luggage claim place and I was the second person in the line. As I stood behind the guy in front of me, I actually spotted my suitcase in a pile. But the guy in front of me was a good ol’ boy from Yukon and knew the luggage room guy. And knew his parents and grandparents and that ol’ boy down there at the co-op that used to run us out the feed and did you know he got himself cancer and his wife done died? And also, I seen your parents up in church a few weeks ago down in Chickasha and how are they doing and how’s your brother and I gots me a new pick-up truck for running the equipment out to the fields but the wife wants her a new truck too. And so on and so on…

Many inane facts and questions later…I had my suitcase! I was in the city! I was walking to my car! Which I can’t remember where I parked. So now I have a hotel hallway situation only on a much larger scale. So what did I do? Wandered around the parking garage hitting my panic button. It took me about 10 minutes. I knew I was on the 4th floor, because yeah, 4.

Success! In my car! I even loaded up my super heavy suitcase. Did I mention that this particular suitcase is broken? The frame is bent all to hell and the handle doesn’t pull up for rolling so I have to drag it from the top which causes it to bang into my ankles every other step. But I am in my own car with my own music and mess and familiarity. I just need to head home. Exit: that way. OK. Wait, I drove around that way once…wait…how do I get down to the next level?...OK, whoops I’m going around the floor again…I think that was one way…I think I just almost crushed that tiny little parked hamster wheel of a car…stop ducking every time you drive under the clearance bar, Angela, it’s not going to hit you in the head…I am still going around in a circle on the same floor! What is happening here?! I want to leave this parking garage! No, no, no I am still circling…oh oh oh wait…third level! Success! Well, mother eff! How did I get back on the 4th level?! Grrrrr! OK, really now little yellow camaro behind me? You in a hurry to be somewhere Bumblebee? Because maybe you should get in front. I seriously cannot get out of here!!

So that happened. Finally I just went down level by level going the wrong way on the one way entrances. I was getting seriously desperate. But I made it! I made it home! I traveled all the way across the country and back! By myself! I rule at independent. Just not so much with directional capabilities.

Me and my dress with dirty hair and no shoes on morning two of just trying to get back home already!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Untitled because I'm tired.

I woke up in a good mood today. Really really good. Which is funny, because yesterday was shit. Yep. No other way to classify that. Sucked balls. In case you have not been able to pick up on my subtlety or you don’t actually know me in person, let me catch you up. I am in the middle of a divorce. Yeah. Sometimes your life changes without your permission. Sometimes people hurt you without your permission. And sometimes you let them keep hurting you. And sometimes you stand up and say “no more”. Sometimes you have to force yourself to walk away from things even when it’s all you’ve ever known. And sometimes a brand new person emerges. Sometimes everything is different.

So I think I’ve been doing OK. Really OK, in fact. I didn’t think I could handle this. But to be fair, I never thought I would have to. But I am handling the frackballs out of this. But yesterday was crap. What would be the point of blogging everything if I wasn’t honest? So honestly, yesterday was breakdown day. I have been working so hard and so diligently. I am making choices that I am proud of and choices that I stand behind. I have no regrets. But yesterday. Damn. It’s so frustrating to be misunderstood. To have words put in your mouth. To have your character questioned. To go back to that dark place of questioning myself and my choices and my thoughts. I found myself giving up my power. It sucked. I let my situation start to control me and my emotion.

But then I took a breath. I talked it out. I made decisions. And I trusted my instinct. I’m going to screw up. I’m going to screw up a lot a whole bunch of times. But the lesson here is to take responsibility for myself. I will not give away my sense of self-worth. And sometimes it’s ok to break down because it helps me re-evaluate and forces me to stand back up and dust off and remember that I am, in fact, capable of this.

And today…today was good. Really good.

*and i'm working on the "getting home from San Diego story. it's not done yet.*

Monday, August 1, 2011

San Diego Pictures. From my phone. Because my real camera was recently submerged in water. Don't do that.

View from my balcony on the 6th floor

More of my view


The pier that makes me dizzy

So much water and rocks

me on day 2 of trying to get home

Things you don't see in california that welcomed me home

10 miles per gallon. The environment frowns on this. I hear you already!

IOCDF 2011 or How Angela conquered San Diego and Magic Fish and Airplanes and yes there is mild cursing ahead because this story is too big to NOT curse a little so just relax and go with it

Holy crap y’all guess what the eff happened to me?!

I went all the way across the fracking country all by myself and got all the way back. And I had fun. I had more than fun. I had brand new experiences. I had challenges and successes and a little bit of adventure. I’m gonna try and start at the beginning but mother-of-a-bald-headed-monkey there is so much. I’ll try and break it up into manageable pieces. But you know how I ramble and get excited about stuff.

In case you are new here and I have a feeling there are at least one or two, welcome and let me give you a back story. I was at the International OCD Foundation Conference this last weekend in San Diego. I got to speak. About myself. For an hour. So, you know, exactly what I normally do. I have OCD. I had OCD? I will have OCD? I have a story and I have been on a journey though my life and I got to tell the story as it stands up til now. Clumsy, mentally ill, dead faced, dark, scary, exciting, beautiful, and unpredictable. It was an honor and a privilege to share my life with other people. I am so humbled at all of the people I met who face challenges so much worse than anything I could imagine. Those people give me strength. And it was so special to be allowed to share with the OCD community.

Anysupersappygetotheboobstoriesway, I left Thursday. I was nervous. Nervous started a few days before. By Thursday, I was crazy nuts nervous. I had made a promise to myself that I was still going to put one foot in front of the other for this whole experience and I swear to dear sweet 8 pound 6 oz baby Jesus, there were moments that I was literally only functioning one minute at a time. But just like that…Airport…parking lot (I parked on the 4th floor shut up I’m still allowed a little bit of loony)…security…gate…plane…transfer…2nd plane. Like. A. Boss. And I talked. And reached out just a little. And I sat next to strangers and talked to them and laughed a little and may or may not have banged my head on the overhead bin in front of a whole mess of people. I’m fine. The concussion a few weeks ago knocked all the soft right outta my head so I can take a hit now.

I would like to take this moment to point out a few things:

A) San Diego is un-freaking believable. I was seriously in culture shock within about 2 minutes. It is so unlike anyplace I’ve ever been and so not what I thought. As the weekend moved along I seriously started to love that place. How does a girl from landlocked states love the ocean so much? Except for the damn earthquakes. Crap just swaying around with no warning. That is messed up. I spent all weekend assessing every shake for it’s earthquake probability and determining if I should dive into a doorway or pull covers over my head or whatever it is you do in an earthquake besides pee your pants.

B) I would like to be congratulated for not quoting Anchorman not one time. I told San Diego to stay classy about 14 times inside my head. And I definitely called a few people Tits McGee inside my head. And I was totally biting my tongue to refrain from any references to glass cases of emotion. Particularly during my speech.

C) Also I thought I was allergic to California. Turns out I was allergic to my bed cover. Never trust a hotel bed cover. Wink wink I'm talking about cause people have sex on it.

Back to my trip; I seriously almost didn’t go to the speakers’ reception cocktail party thing on Thursday night. I was so exhausted from all the travel and still writing and re-writing my talking points and holding down my compulsions to a very surprising minimum and all this without extra meds so I just really came close to talking myself out of it. That’s what I know how to do. I talk myself out of experiences. Of risks. Of chance. Fortunately, sassy britches Angela got a hold of scaredy cat Angela and gave a little verbal whopping. “Woman! You cut this bullshit out right now and get your ass down to that party because you have worked hard and you deserve to be there. Suck it up, untwist your damn panties, and get down there!” She can be a total bitch sometimes. I changed my outfit approximately 20 times. Started and stopped walking out the door about 20 times and finally left. And couldn’t find the freaking entrance to the patio restaurant. I could see it. I’m pretty sure everyone could see me wandering around like a fool. Remember how I’m a tall girl? Yeah took me two laps around the place to figure out how to get in.

But they let me in. Budlight Lime in hand (because the froufity bar didn’t have Corona) I tried to eat but literally did not recognize any of the food. The names of the food were foreign to me. I’m not entirely sure if some of it was food. It may have been wet naps or something. So, I put myself out there (up there?) and I talked to someone, then someone else, and another and another and I was laughing and comfortable. There were people exactly like me. There were people who understood me. And that’s why I didn’t argue when I was whisked away into a cab having no idea what the destination was but I was definitely amused by some Canadian accents. It was a fancy pants restaurant. I relaxed. I ate spaghetti with marinara because you know, you can take the girl out of the Olive Garden but you can’t get her to order food she can’t pronounce or afford. And then I took some bold chances. Did things I’ve never done. Took a chance. And lost my freaking ID. It had apparently leaped from my purse onto the floor and tried to be all sneaky with me and crawl away under the table. I think I might have to start wearing all valuable cards/ID/insurance around my neck on a lanyard so when I get found wandering around shoeless somewhere and bleeding, I can be returned to my rightful owners. But the universe had plans for my ID. And I got it back. And some people think that things are coincidental.

The next three days were amazing. Life bending. Mind twisting. Irrational. And completely logical and natural. I went to meetings. I again met people exactly like me. People who got it. People who related. And I also met people who were nothing like anything I have ever experienced before. I allowed myself to open up and tried to soak it all in. One of my favorite quotes from the conference was “Faith is a choice”. I tried to keep choosing. Just keep making choices and keep moving forward. And wouldn’t you know it? Things happened.

I ate fish tacos. Did y’all know that you can make a taco without mild sauce or Taco Bell's permission? It was Mahi Mahi. Fresh and good and I have no idea what a Mahi Mahi is or if that is even a thing. I had ceviche. That’s food, everybody. You eat it. It’s raw fish that actually like cooks itself in citrus juices. It cooks its own freaking self. Like voodoo or David Blaine. And it’s really surprisingly good. Even if you don’t put ranch on it. I saw the water at night. There are boats and this fabulous breeze that smells nothing at all like cows. I walked and walked and walked. There was so much good conversation. I love the energy of a smart mind with experience and life. I tried to pick those brains apart which is actually a disgusting turn of a phrase. I tried to soak that up. And I told boob stories. Because that’s what I do. I'm Angela. I'm loud and inappropriate. And on the third night there were actually freaking fireworks outside viewable from my balcony. Really, San Diego?! I’m already trying to figure out a way to move here and you are seducing me with your magical fireworks and self cooking food!? I get it already! But we have the State Fair and OU Football. Suck it.

My speech felt good. I was so worried no one would come. But then again I would tell my story if only one person showed up to hear it. I figure I’d keep on telling it to myself even if I was the only one there. I’d probably get bored in a room all alone for an hour and end up breaking something because I may or may not have been curiously pushing buttons and flipping switches but that’s your own fault for leaving me alone with AV equipment when you know I am there for the crazy people conference! The room was full. And it felt like my family. I was safe there and I shared to the darkest part of the struggle all the way to the night before . Fair warning: If you ever interact with me you are eligible for my blog/show/speech unless you specifically sign a waiver forbidding me not to tell stories. I’m gonna start carrying those waivers in my lanyard with my ID and my bus money.

At one point in my story/speech I compared my life to standing on the edge of this cliff. My life was on the other side of that cliff. But I couldn’t jump. I needed to be pushed. Kicked. Thrown. I need every experience I have to shape who I am and who I could be. So recently when I was pushed over my proverbial cliff, I surprised myself most of all by not falling. So I found it wonderfully poetic when later that day I found myself on an actual cliff. Looking over water and waves and freaky ass pelicans that have no personal space boundaries. You better check yourself, birds. I was just sort of trying to take a mental image for myself. And also trying to actively NOT die by falling over a cliff. Let's just keep that as a metaphor. I climbed and explored and walked along this pier that made me dizzy. Because of the waves. I felt like the entire thing was moving. The waves actually make a crashing sound. But apparently those “aren’t big waves at all” even though I thought they were “freaking enormous” but no they aren’t that big because it’s “so windy” and I’m all “Yeah when you see your picnic table relocate to your neighbor’s yard, that is windy. This is a breeze.” Moral of this paragraph: I like oceans. Oceans are pretty. Don’t fall off actual cliffs.

One more thing. I would like to submit for your approval another sandwich for admittance into the rapidly expanding “Angela Loves Sandwiches Hall of Fame”. The previous entries are Beach Sandwich and the more recent Hospital Sandwich(es). We shall call this one “San Diego Sandwich” and I rank it above Hospital Sandwich and in a very close tie for first with Beach Sandwich. I might need to try both again at some point in life. The bread was all soft and there were tomatoes and avocado and bacon. Enough said.

And so it went. I like to think that I did my part to bring a little bit of south to California. I ordered a bangload of ranch with my pizza. I drank beer instead of fancy stuff. I tried to stay positive and open. I chopped off the middle of my fingernail. I banged my ankle on something and cut it. I tripped only about like 4 or 6 times. I wandered around lost approximately 10% of the time. I spilled coffee on myself. I lost my ID. I tripped on my iron cord. I watched Jersey Shore in my hotel room one night even though I’d seen it a hundred times before because hello it’s Jersey Shore and the only thing better than Jersey Shore is Teen Mom I don’t care how adamant you are about or how much of a learned scholar you may be. I win. I win at awesome TV. Every time.

And then it was time to try and get home…I can’t even begin to start that right now. It’s…just…Holy Hell. That was a nightmare for another time.

I did this. I made it. And I'm OK. When do we do it again?

Just. Got. Home.

I was supposed to be home yesterday but I got sidetracked with an "adventure" (please use air quotes). That is a long blog story. The entire San Diego trip is another long blog story and really was an adventure without air quotes. And the stories will be epic. Once I replenish my fluids and get some sleep. Seriously though, BEST WEEKEND EVER! Life changing and challenging and pushing my boundaries and so many amazing things. And then there was the IOCDF conference part too! I'm working on it. But now...bed.