The things that are on my mind:

  • the man who reentered my life last Saturday, said, “I think of you often and miss how honest and easy you are to talk to,” chatted with me for hours, promised we’d get coffee, then disappeared Sunday
  • The One That Got Away (not the same as the first guy)
  • My curling wand that looks naughty (but my hair looks great!)
  • The EMDR therapy that has gotten me back to writing and loving it
  • Keto
  • Queer Eye season 3
  • Cute stationery
  • Adulting crap like finances
  • Poetry by Wallace Stevens

How about you?

Normal [for OCD]

normalforocdIt is like the earworm chorus to a song that makes you sad: “Is this normal with OCD?”

Is this to be expected with OCD? Do others with OCD experience this? Am I going through something unique here or is this normal? Is this normal? Is this normal?

So, first off, as always, let me remind you that I’m not an OCD expert or a therapist of any kind; I’m just an OCD survivor who knows an awful lot about it and has talked to a lot of sufferers over the last decade.

Secondly, while I do hear common experiences among a lot of OCD sufferers, I sometimes hear the opposite (or quite different) experiences from others. What I’m trying to say is that NO ONE IS ALONE, but also there’s not just ONE narrative either. Picture it as an OCD mansion where there are many rooms, but they are all full. There is no room where there is just one lonely being. We are in this together.

The list below has a two-fold purpose: first, for those suffering to “put a voice” to their experience. I want you to see that what you’re thinking and feeling is normal and common enough that it’s on a list. I remember the first time I read Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser, I literally underlined line after line because this book was putting my own thoughts right onto a page. A woman I had never met had an experience similar enough to mine that her work of fiction felt like I could have been the main character. That meant everything to me. It showed me some universal themes of OCD. It showed me I was not alone.

Secondly, this list is for non-sufferers, because it’s important for you to see how debilitating this disorder is, and perhaps it will help you to recognize symptoms in others.


I doubt I even have OCD.

What if I really just believe X, am Y, or enjoy Z– and it’s not OCD at all?

I dread things or people I used to enjoy.

I avoid things or people I used to enjoy. 

I will feel perfectly normal for weeks and then suddenly completely sick and anxious and scared and awful. It comes and goes. 

The thoughts are worse in the morning. 

The thoughts are worse at night. 

I had one thought about homosexuality and now it’s all I can think about. Does that mean I’m gay?

If I fixate on someone I think is beautiful, does that mean I like him/her?

My body reacts to things it shouldn’t.

My body reacts to things I wish it wouldn’t. 

Does a bodily reaction mean [this obsessive thought] is true?

I can no longer experience normal crushes.

I can’t enjoy crushes. 

When something good happens, something in me finds a way to sabotage it.

I think I’m not allowed to enjoy good things.

I will find a reason I should not enjoy good things.

I will turn the good thing into something bad or wrong.

I get uncomfortable feelings and sometimes I feel like I want them, but I don’t.

I used to get so triggered and anxious that I would think X must be true. But now I don’t get as triggered and anxious, so I think maybe it’s because X is true. Is X true?

I’m exceptionally aware of [blank]. This must mean [something bad].

“Something” just keeps telling me that I’m [whatever it is].

I have always wanted X, but lately “something” is telling me I want Y, even though I don’t want it and it makes me feel sick. 

My problem last month was X. Now I think I’ve sorted most of that out, but the problem has shape-shifted slightly into Y, and now all I can think about is Y.

Am I dating the right person?

Am I married to the right person? 

I love my significant other so much, but sometimes I feel like maybe I don’t. Do I?

I feel like I should break up with my significant other because I’m so unsure. 

I keep thinking back on my past and stuff that I never worried about before now is plaguing me. 

I think on my past and am not sure if I’m remembering things right. I’m so focused on rebuilding that memory correctly because then it will prove [something important] to me.

I think on my past and remember something I did, and now I’m wondering if I liked it.

Now I’m actually not freaking out anymore; does that mean I’ve subconsciously accepted those thoughts?

If I feel better, am I actually better, or have I just given in to that belief?

I thought I was just accepting that I have OCD, but now I think maybe I was accepting the bad thoughts.

I’m scared ERP therapy will actually make me the thing I am dreading. 

I’m scared ERP therapy will reveal I am the thing I am dreading.

Sometimes it feels SO REAL. 

OCD friends, what else would you add to this list?




Erin Morgenstern, author of the bestselling novel The Night Circus (and one of my all-time favorites), has a book coming out in November of this year.

The Night Circus came out in 2011. The Starless Sea in 2019. There’s been a long gap.

love how she puts it on her personal blog:

This has been a long, difficult process but I wanted to get it just right no matter how long it took. This book existed in bits and pieces for a long time and some of the pieces stayed and others changed or wandered away entirely and it refused to be book-shaped for a very long time and then one day it was. I’m still kind of surprised that it’s finally reached this point.

A lot of this is how I feel about Salt Novel. I want to get it just right now matter how long it takes. 

I have a feeling it can be a really special story. There are elements of that magic right now– they catch my eye like the glint off a glass wind chime; I hear the lyrics when it gets really, really quiet.

On Colbert, Bradley Cooper said of his movie A Star is Born, “I had the luxury of time,” and I’ve been letting that settle in my heart. I so badly want to PRODUCE and PUBLISH and DO and ENTERTAIN, but I am choosing to be grateful for the luxury of time to get this book just exactly right.

I have Paula Munier’s book at home, Writing with Quiet Hands, and I need to start it over again. Quiet hands. Quiet heart. Luxury of time. Get it exactly right. Make it special.

Thanks for listening to my heart.

Watch at 6:40 🙂


My main goal for February was to survive, and I’m nearly there!

February, despite being the shortest month, is probably the hardest for me– though December is a worthy competitor. In MN, February is typically freezing (true this year!) and snowy (ditto) and so busy in my work life (yup).

If you are familiar with Spoon Theory, just know that February uses all my spoons and borrows from January and March.

But my hardest events are over now. (Not sure the snow is though!) My house is clean. I’m freshly showered, I had a warm meal, it’s 9:10 PM and I’m already in jammies and ready to do a little freehand writing.

I rarely do my writing by hand anymore … except when I’m afraid.

And, well, I am.

But I’m doing it anyway.

Writing in a junky composition notebook is a great way to fool the scared writer part of one’s brain. It feels so laidback, unofficial, non-threatening.

I have been doing EMDR again, and I go back on Monday. It has been unreal to unpack the last 4.5 years, and I feel so grateful I get to reframe it all and reclaim writing as my joy, not my fear.



If there is a line where the other side is Creativity, I feel like I’ve been camping on that border.

Gaining strength for the adventure.

So ready in some ways. Just making sure in others.

I have actually made a few small forages across the line. Short trips.

The colors there are so brilliant. Oh, and it’s spring.

I Love Therapy

If I woke up and was 18 again, I would start therapy right away.

I know not everyone can afford it (though some churches and non-profits has free options) or access to it. But if you can and do … dang. I was so scared of it, like by going I’d be admitting I was flawed.


It has just been such an incredible outlet and growing experience for me.

That’s all.

Lie Soup

I remember how, in college, every day felt like it could be the day I met him.

Not anymore, although certainly when I started online dating I got that feeling back.

I’m actually on a semi-hiatus from it. The faces are too familiar. I need new choices.

How can I still cry for him almost two years later? Sometimes I think I should thank him for saving me from himself. Mostly I’m angry he took that choice from me.

I write to him. On a separate blog. One he’ll never see.

I’m moody and dramatic lately, pushed from behind by PMS and ahead from Cupid.

I’m angry.

It’s not constant. I’m not wasting away into a waif. I’m not directionless. If anything, I’ve been more focused and motivated, more creative and driven, than ive been in a long while.

But I’ve been telling myself a lot of lies lately. I try to follow up right away and confess I’m lying. But sometimes I don’t, and poor Jackie spends hours marinating in that awful brew.

Tonight my skin is pruney with Lie Soup. I need to cry it out.


Back in, oh, 2005 maybe, all of my insides were shaken when introduced to the idea of “the box,” that is, the place where you keep secrets no one knows. I remember having a conversation about this with a friend, who had learned about it in a psychology class, and to this day, I don’t know if this is wide-spread concept or something that one professor believed.

But it struck me: did I have a box? Did I have secrets no one knew?

I sure did.

There was something very unsettling about it for me.

I decided to empty my box.

(Let me pause here and say: this is not my field, so I can’t speak about this psychologically or medically or in any smart way except that I have seen secrets ruin lives. But I also know that it is not safe for everyone to share secrets. So there’s no judgement or advice here, just a story, just my story.)

I didn’t take out a billboard and post my secrets. I didn’t start this blog till much later. I started small. One on one with a very safe friend. Then another friend. One summer, I decided to talk about OCD in front of a group of 9th and 10th grade campers and my counselor friends. I truly thought I was opening Pandora’s Box, forever altering the course of my life.

secretsI mean … I was. But not in the negative, scary way I feared.

Later, I started this blog. Wrote about mental illness in the university newspaper. Spoke for a few classes.

Let me again be clear: some of my secrets (like OCD), I eventually felt safe to share with anyone. But some of my secrets are still only shared with one or two best friends. I do not owe the world my secrets. I only owe myself freedom from them. So when I find a secret is holding me hostage, I start with finding one safe friend to share it with. Sometimes it never goes any further than that. Sometimes I share it with a group or this blog or toss it into the wilds of Instagram.

So, I’ve been secret-free since 2005. It feels good.