Category Archives: Mindset

I’m Making a Voodoo Doll for my Son

Now before you get all shocked and judgmental, wait to see where I’m going with this.

I’m not teaching him how to be passive-aggressive  or to wish harm on others.

In fact, the doll will represent him (or at least one part of him).

You’re really confused now, aren’t you?

Well, let me enlighten you.

My son has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

A lot of people joke about OCD and remark that they constantly need to even things up or that  they’re “crazy” when it comes to worrying about germs.

They talk about it like it’s some endearing little quirk.

But OCD isn’t a quirky character trait.

Tamar E. Chansky, author of Freeing Your Child From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, describes it likes this:

” OCD comes from a biochemical mishap in the brain. Part of the brain sends out a false message of danger and rather than going through the proper ‘screening process’ to evaluate the thought, the brain gets stuck in danger gear and cannot move out of it. The emergency message circuit keeps repeating and is ‘immune’ to logical thought.”

Ms. Chansky states that the key to battling  OCD is to learn – via cognitive behavioral therapy –  to label it as a bad source of information, and to figuratively “boss it back.”

Are you wondering about some of the things OCD makes my son do? Here are the latest rituals:

  • He hates the number 2 and will get very angry if you do anything two times (like say a word twice, or shut the dresser drawer in two moves)
  • The refrigerator door must not close on its own; we have to control it.
  • He will flick the light switch on and off upon entering or exiting a room.
  • He has to step into and out of a room several times until he “gets it right.”
  • He’ll produce a four-noise sound pattern in his throat whenever something bothers him, which is A LOT!

In the past, I’ve asked him, “Why are you doing these things?”  but I don’t do that anymore because he really doesn’t know why. He just feels like he has to do them or things will not be right in his world.

Sometimes, I’m pushed to the point of frustration – especially when we need to be somewhere on time – and I lash out with a command like, “MOVE IT! WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE!”

And I always regret doing that, because it’s not his fault. My boy shouldn’t bear the brunt of my impatience. It only makes him more anxious.

So, I’m reading whatever I can find. In particular, I’ve found excellent resources for explaining OCD to children. Here are a couple of good titles: Up and Down the Worry Hill by Aureen Pinto Wagner Ph.D and  What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck  by Dawn Huebner Ph.D

Some experts recommend naming the OCD, giving it a separate identity and directing the angry feelings at this named source. This particular method helps when using the boss-it-back approach. So, I was considering this approach when I had a brainstorm (no pun intended).

I found instructions for how to make a voodoo doll here, and decided I’d try to construct the  voodoo poppet. I bought an armload of supplies at Hobby Lobby, including Spanish Moss (which has currently left a trail throughout the family room and my office), and I’ve stuffed that little bugger good! But that’s all that I’ve done, so far.  I haven’t completely thought this through.

I do know that the doll won’t feature his face.  I don’t want him to think we’re angry with him because I don’t want him to be angry with himself.

The plan (as I envision it thus far) is to yell at the doll for sending out the wrong messages and stick it with pins and say, “GO AWAY, OCD! YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!”

There’s only one problem.

I suck at sewing, and right now the doll looks like Patrick from Spongebob.

And I know my kid is going to be tempted to paste the face of Jack Sparrow on the head (wherever the head is on this thing) because his dad is currently showing him the Pirates of the Caribbean movie which features the voodoo doll.

I won’t let him be sidetracked. I want to see if this doll actually does some good.

And if it does, I have a feeling I know what my next business venture will be.

After I hire a good seamstress, of course.



Filed under Mindset, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Special Needs

Why I’m Friendship-Challenged At The Moment

I am self-exiled to a figurative isolation booth right now. There are many reasons why, and I will not delve into all of them.

But there’s one I wish to identify because it’s exasperated me for so long. Here goes:

I can think of few things more irritating than listening to parents who cannot shut up about their gifted kids. You know who I’m talking about…the folks who are convinced you’re interested to know that their little angel was only three years old when she started reading or those who complain that the school district doesn’t provide their son with challenging enough homework. “What’s a child prodigy to do?” they moan.

I suppose if you can somehow empathize with them (i.e. your child is also a genius), these kinds of announcements serve as your opportunity to bond with your pals, and to kiss their asses as you tell them what amazing parents they are!

But if you’re the mom or dad of a special needs child, you’re likely not to be so empathetic. In fact these innocent interactions can bring on a full panic episode! While listening, you’re thinking about the likelihood that your little one is not going to be able to keep up with the rest of his or her Kindergarten classmates. And that of course leads you to fear that your child is never going to learn to read, will eventually fail out of high school, and thus have to live with you in your house for the rest of your life while you continue to make his bed, do his laundry and prepare customized meals that he will undoubtedly refuse to eat.

So, you learn it’s best to drift away from the braggarts and instead fall in with the parents whom you believe will get where you’re coming from.

But then something strange happens.

These relatable people start to depress the fuck out of you. And the stress continues.

While it’s somewhat comforting to know that others share your concerns and can relate to your experiences, I’ve noticed there’s a similar one-upmanship happening within this crowd. Maybe it’s just that they need to vent, or that they want to make a connection. Or it’s possible that they’re simply seeking sympathy. Whatever the reasons for their “boasting”, it  upsets me to hear how Mrs. X’s daughter refuses to get dressed unless she can wear the same (unwashed) shirt every day or how Mrs. Y’s son can’t control his aggressive nature and so hits innocent kids on the playground.

Perhaps I’m just not ready to face what could be even worse episodes down the road for my OCD/ADHD boy. I’m afraid that what I’m doing now to help him is not enough, and that I won’t be able to handle what awaits us in the future. I turn to these friends for support and comfort, but I end up feeling even more hopeless and depressed. The conversations bring my insecurities to the forefront, and then just leave me hanging.

I think every parent is insecure to a certain extent. Correction: I know every parent feels at least a little bit unsure. For many people, talking about these uncertainties is cathartic. I get that. But right now what I’m looking for are tools.

Currently, I’m reading books and consulting websites for practical advice. Some of the online support groups are also rather helpful when the participants outline the strategies they used to overcome their daily struggles with their children.

For me, I’ve found the best resource in the “ocdandparenting” Yahoo group.  While it’s somewhat excruciating to hear others’ stories (but only because of my own fears), the members make a point to tell the readers what has worked for them. What’s also nice is that they go out of their way to say that it does – and will – get better.

So, right now I’m setting up camp in a tiny corner of the Internet, and until I can start to feel more equipped to help my own child, I’ll likely be of little use to my real life friends, especially those whose children have problems of their own.

Forgive me: I’m not ignoring you, and it’s not that I don’t care.  I just want to be able to give as much as I take where my friendships are concerned. I don’t want to be the one who’s doing all the unloading, and I can’t bear to be the catch-all for your complaints right now.

I suppose what they say about love also rings true with friendship; you can’t really love another until you are able to love and appreciate yourself. I don’t want to hurt my friends by being emotionally and mentally unavailable, so until I can strengthen my skill-set and start to feel like a more proactive parent, I can’t be the friend you deserve.

I hope this doesn’t discourage anyone from turning to their friends for comfort and support. Ultimately, a listserv of anonymous users cannot be as fulfilling as real relationships with flesh-and-blood friends. Just be more aware of what those real friends may be going through before you begin to engage.

And please know that nobody but you and your spouse care that your kid is brilliant.

If you’ve learned nothing else from my post, remember that.

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Filed under Friendship, Mindset, Special Needs

Purty Words? I Could Never Live it Down.

So, lately my life has been a shitstorm. You know Murphy? The guy who created that law about bad things happening. That’s what it’s been like to be me.

I won’t bore with you the personal details, but it seemed like a piling-on of one terrible piece of news after another: family, health, finances.

Now when bad things happen to good people…and keep on happening, you start to doubt whether or not you are (in fact) a good person after all.

You begin to believe that maybe you deserve the crap life is throwing at you.

And nothing good can ever come from that belief.

Because once you feel like you’re  not worthy, you sort of invite the caca into your world. “Come in,” you say. “Please take up residence in my pitiful abode. You’ll fit in just perfectly here!”

Of course, at the time you don’t realize you’re sending out personal invitations. You just believe you’re a victim. “Wah wah,” you cry. “Woe is me” and similar self-talk.

It’s difficult to believe that you (me, in this case) has anything to do with the unfortunate series of events because you’re so busy feeling sorry for yourself.

But all it takes is a single moment of clarity to begin to spin that mindset in another direction.

That moment came for me yesterday, when I reached across my desk to open (and watch) a DVD I had purchased last year. A DVD based on a book I had read years ago. One which had really changed my life at the time, but its lessons were stored away so deep in the recesses of my mind that I simply forgot about its wisdom. 

If you don’t know anything about Louise Hay, I’ll sum up her philosophy very quickly for you: Change your thoughts to heal your life.

I realize it sounds nauseatingly New Age-y, but I’m convinced there’s something to it. Approximately eight years ago, I created a vision of a family. I was suffering from infertility, and the odds were stacked against a 38-year-old woman with rapidly expiring eggs. So I spent at least 20-30 minutes per day creating a realistic scene in my mind.  In the scene, there was a small child laughing and running around in our backyard. I “lived” that scene until I actually believed it was true.

A few months later (and with minimal intervention from fertility drugs), I found out that I was pregnant. Not with one baby, but two.

Skeptics love to rebuff the Law of Attraction. They make jokes about it and the people who swear by it.

Based on everything I’ve written so far in this blog, and the types of cards I create, you would think I was one of those people. But I have no choice but to be a believer, because I won’t let myself bring any more negativity into my world.

There’s just one problem.

How can I reconcile this new way of thinking with the type of material I create for this blog and my Hurty Words products? Can I be cynical and snarky while also adhering to a positive-thinking mindset?

That is the challenge.

Because while “purty” words will likely improve my life, they’re not very funny. Punny, perhaps…but not funny.

And I’ve always believed that humor has great potential in the spirit-lifting department.

So, maybe that’s the key. I’ll laugh at the idiots, but won’t let them get me down.

Maybe that’s the answer for all of you out there, as well.

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Filed under Mindset