Just Science

A blog reader asked me if I ever question the need for meds.

I responded:

Oh, I never question whether I need my meds– I know I do, haha! If I miss even one or two days, I can tell.

So I don’t rock the boat. My friend has diabetes and needs insulin, and I would never suggest, “Are you sure you need that? Maybe try to get off that insulin, hmm?”

I have OCD. My brain reabsorbs serotonin too quickly. So I take an SSRI to slow that down.

Not a happy pill. Just science. 🙂

10 Things I’ve Learned about Online Dating

I barely know where to start. 

This is not going to be tidy. Then again, neither is online dating.

I’ve been attempting to find love online since January– I’ve heard from over 2000 men, talked to a couple hundred online, talked to a handful on the phone, and met with a small number of those who survived the gauntlet.

In honor (lament?) of the ten months I’ve survived online dating, here are 10 things I’ve learned. Warning: there are a handful of screenshots to back up my points. I’ve chosen pretty tame ones, but they still might offend you if you’re very sensitive to this sort of thing.

  1. A great profile without a great photo won’t even be looked at.
  2. Almost no one reads your profile anyway. Your profile might say that your dealbreakers are X, Y, and Z, and Mr. XYZ will still say, “Wassup?”
  3. If you then mention you don’t want XYZ, he will suddenly say, “Wow, I didn’t even realize that was on there! Yeah, I hate XYZ too.” Right.
  4. Hook-up culture is not only on Tinder. I have found this attitude on every dating site with one exception (eHarmony)– yes, even Christian dating sites.
  5. Everything is about sex.  
  6. Online dating can make you feel like a queen or like garbage. Sometimes in the same day. Sometimes by the same person.
  7. Ghosting is a real thing– when someone you’ve talked to consistently suddenly vanishes without saying goodbye– and it is more heartbreaking that I could have guessed. This happened to me twice and still messes with my mind. I don’t want to be dramatic, but ghosting leaves scars.
  8. 85-90% of the men online act like dogs and you’re a T-bone steak. When a man is respectful, it’s almost shocking. 
  9. Chemistry is so much more rare than I’d expected. I am someone who naturally connects well with people in person, and I’m a good communicator, so this surprised me.
  10. I am a strong woman, and I can clap back at men who treat me wrong, and I still have to return to my girlfriends over and over to make sure I’m not letting my standards slide. When the majority of men treat women awful, it can make a guy look like a prince just for not harassing ya. Ridiculous.

    So. Now what? I don’t know. 

    I really don’t.

    The end. Maybe. 

    Online Dating: the [Suprisingly Serious] Preface

    I never imagined I’d be single at 35.
    I was gonna go to college, meet the man of my dreams during freshman orientation. We’d wait till college graduation to get married, or hey, maybe we wouldn’t. When you know, you know, we’d tell all our friends and professors who thought we were too young.

    Yeah.

    Or maybe, I’d watch all my college roommates find love, then all my post-college roommates … my summer camp kids … the college students I recruited when they were seventeen … the kids I used to babysit for.

    And it’s been fine– or rather, most of the time it’s been fine. Honestly, the kind of boy I’d have wanted in college is almost the polar opposite of the man I’d want today. Mostly because I am nearly the polar opposite of myself in my early twenties: sheltered, extroverted, enslaved to a brain disorder, ungracious with myself and, unfortunately, with others too. Today, I live in freedom from OCD and legalism. I’m an introvert who feels called to pour out affection and not judgment.

    I’m a liberal, feminist, evangelical Christian. Which sounds like an oxymoron to most people but makes total sense to me.

    It has made online dating difficult, I’ll admit.

    I’m “too this” for one crowd, “too that” for the other. I have a handful of “must haves” but they are very hard to find.

    Next week (or whenever I can get to it), join me for a not-so-serious look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of online dating.

    What I’m Into

    * asking for help and not apologizing for needing it

    isochronic tones (for headache relief, anxiety relief, help falling asleep)

    * Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

    * the new Rupi Kaur collection

    * supportive coworkers/workplace

    * girlfriends full of grace

    * keeping in touch with faraway friends  (Cindy, Megs, Whit, Sam … looking at you guys!)

    * Portlandia (I’m late to the party, I know)

    * kitten videos on Instagram (I literally follow more foster kitten profiles than actual people I know) (I am waiting for a mama cat to give birth and check it every half hour … oh, who am I kidding? Every five minutes.)

    * my house … I really do love it here

    * looking forward to 2018

    YOUR TURN!!! It will make me happy if you chime in with what you’re into lately. 🙂

    Love,

    Jackie

    Can. Not. Wait.

    Melina Marchetta

    Apart from the release of the Tell the Truth, Shame the devil paperback in the US this month (press release below) I’ve been working on my new novel, The House That Seb Built (working title).  Some of you read my short story When Rosie met Jim which was published online by the Review of Australian fiction, and know that it will serve as the first chapter. I’m hoping to have the novel finished before the end of the year.

    I’ve said a thousand times over that the novel isn’t about the Saving Francesca/Piper’s Son gang and that readers will be disappointed if they expect to see more than a glimpse of them. It’s mostly about Rosie and Martha and Jimmy and a whole cast of new characters.  But his friends are present in Jimmy’s life, so I thought I’d share with you his opening chapter.

    He’s home, and he knows…

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    OCD & a Career? You Bet.

    Yesterday, I got this question from a blog reader:

    Do you think people with OCD can have a successful career? Do you know people who have OCD but also got a great career? Thank you very much Jackie. You’re the best 🙂

    careerHello dear, thanks for the question and compliment!

    In a nutshell: yes, absolutely!

    I am actually enjoying two careers right now: I recruit for a university and write novels. This is such a dream for me because I love-love-love getting to work with high school and college students who are so passionate and in such a wild time of life and transition. And, of course, writing is my calling. I am so grateful to be able to write for a publisher I deeply respect.

    In addition:

    My friend A is an author and editor.

    My friends C and E are therapists.

    My friend L is a teacher.

    Do we have days where OCD flares up and makes things difficult? Absolutely. But everyone I have mentioned has taken their OCD diagnosis seriously and pursued treatment, which has allowed each of us to continue to thrive in our careers. 

     

    Healed Not Cured: OCD Remission & Relapses

    I got an email this past weekend from a lovely blog reader who has found victory over obsessive-compulsive disorder through exposure therapy. It’s such a joy any time someone shares a story of freedom, and it does my heart so much good. It reminds me of the reason I preach the benefits of ERP therapy. It reminds me of when I first went into OCD remission back in 2008.

    But I also find it important to mention that while the person with OCD has experienced healing, it does not mean that they are cured. In the vast majority of cases, OCD is never cured; it is treated and maintained. What does this mean?

    First of all, it’s definitely something to celebrate. I revel in my remission, and in fact, after eight years of this freedom, sometimes I even find myself taking it for granted. It’s a victory to come out of exposure therapy with a new tolerance for uncertainty. It’s a joy and a relief and, for me, at least, a whole new life.

    But it doesn’t mean that I don’t have OCD. 

    not you again

    There are days of intense stress where I buckle a bit and find myself having some obsessive thought patterns or even resorting to old compulsions. This disorder is mostly dormant in me … but it is still in me. And it can wake when I am stressed or fearful. Every once in a while, there is something that will trigger my OCD, and it’s like there’s a CLICK in the way my brain works, a little BLIP in the new system.

    But, usually

    1. I recognize it for what it is. I am able to do this because of ERP.
    2. I do not beat myself up over it or assume “all is lost.” It’s merely a step back. I don’t have to start the race over.
    3. I refuse compulsions. (Notably, I allow myself to ask a group of people [usually my coworkers] ONE TIME for what they would deem the appropriate response, and then I DO IT, whatever they say. I know that when my OCD is triggered, I have a hard time understand what is or isn’t a valid response. So I give the decision to others.)
    4. If it’s particularly bad, I listen to my ERP audio track.
    5. I go to sleep, as early as I need to. It is–almost without fail–better in the morning.

    I don’t mean this to be bad news–not at all; rather, it’s just something to take note of, something to have in the back of your mind for those stressful days, for those moments when your OCD wakes up and starts to whisper in your ear.

    Here’s some anecdotal data about my remission and relapses:

    • In the first 1.5 years after completing ERP, I didn’t experience obsessions or practice compulsions at all.
    • In the years after that, I have had about 1-2 relapse incidents a year.
    • Each incident has lasted on average just a couple of hours. One lasted about two days.

    This is nothing compared to my life before ERP. This is manageable. This is freedom. This is remission.

    This is good news, people.

    If you want to learn more about the exposure therapy that got me to this point, you might want to check out the following links:

    jackieleasommers.com/OCD: a collection of my posts about all things OCD
    jackieleasommers.com/OCD-help: a letter from me to OCD sufferers, along with a list of next steps
    jackieleasommers.com/twin-cities-OCD: resources for OCD sufferers living in or around Minneapolis and St. Paul

    PANDAS

    Did you know that in addition to it being OCD Awareness Week, today is PANDAS Awareness Day?

    Learn more about PANDAS/PANS at https://kids.iocdf.org/what-is-ocd/pandas!

    JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

    The PANDAS that I’m talking about has nothing to do with these guys …

    … and everything to do with childhood strep throat.

    PANDAS = Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections

    Say what???

    PANDAS describes a set of children in whom an ordinary bacterial strep infection can turn into a neuropsychiatric disorder.  The strep seems to cause the body’s immune system to build up antibodies that – who knows why – turn traitor and attack the basal ganglia in the brain.

    In other words, a simple case of strep throat gone to hell.

    Sometimes a child gets strep throat, and the body gets confused– instead of fighting off the bacteria, it attacks the basal ganglia … which leads to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

    The first time I had an intake with a psychiatrist, she asked about my past medical issues.  “Ummm … I broke my elbow twice,” I said, thinking…

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    Asking for Help

    I was just going to write a post about asking for help and then wondered if I’d already written one. I had.

    Here you go!

    JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

    I battled with undiagnosed OCD for fifteen years before I finally sought help. Now, that just seems silly.

    These days, when I encounter a problem, I open my mouth and ask for help. This isn’t weak. It’s smart.

    I’m so over the ridiculous stigma attached to this. There is nothing shameful about identifying areas where I struggle and then seeking out solutions. I celebrate my enterprising, aggressive spirit and commitment to health.

    This post is not to toot my own horn but to give my blog readers another way of framing the often humbling experience of asking for help. Doing so is a brave, intrepid, wise move– don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    Vintage inscription made by old typewriter

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