Last spring after my kids bought me my first orchids I fell madly in love with these beautiful flowering plants and have since acquired twenty of them. Yes – twenty!
They seem to elicit a feeling somewhat akin to caring for a pet.
There’s lots to learn about taking care of orchids and, as seems to be the case with every new “fun” thing I start, there’s also some glitch along the way.
But this latest glitch in my orchid hobby really bugs me. I mean that quite literally. My orchids have bugs! Fungus Gnats to be exact. I know…YUCK! Thankfully they are tiny and harmless (or so they say) and, look a lot like fruit flies but they don’t like fruit. They like moist decaying potting media. Apparently, I’ve been over-watering my flowering pets.
I haven’t been able to totally eradicate them. So, for now, I’m settling for population control. To accomplish that I must eliminate as many of the adult gnats as possible and therefore, I’ve been employing yellow sticky tape stakes to catch the little pests. Basically, I just place a small green stake in every orchid pot. Each stake has a piece of bright yellow sticky tape attached to the top. The gnats are attracted to the yellow color and once they touch down on the tape they become instantly glued to it.
The sticky tape is so sticky that I keep getting it stuck on my sleeves when I water the plants, or in my hair if I bend down to inspect a new growth, or on a leaf from another plant if I get them too close together. It’s rather annoying but boy is it effective for catching those pesky gnats.
The other day as I was watching one unsuspecting gnat fly around one of the sticky stakes and then alight on it I decided to take a closer look to see if it was struggling to get away. Sure, enough it was doing all it could to break free from the glue but to no avail. The more it struggled the more embedded it became in the glue until it ended up being just another small black dot amongst many other hapless victims.
As I sat looking at all the gnats on that one piece of sticky tape I suddenly thought about how much my brain seemed to operate in the same way. I saw those gnats as representing a vast array of obsessional thoughts which my brain had latched on to over the years and decided that I must have been born with a “sticky tape brain.”
To people who don’t have a sticky tape brain I’m sure that some of my obsessional themes might seem quite absurd and they might wonder why I’m so distressed by them and even debilitated by them from time to time. They might be surprised to know that my own logic and reasoning informs me that the thoughts aren’t legit. They might think that I just need to be educated about things; things like why I probably won’t contract a certain dreaded illness, or why I’m probably not psychotic, or what it means to be “saved by grace through faith.” They might think if they just give me the facts or reassure me or say something like, “you just need to calm down and give your worries to God” that I’ll come to my senses.
This is because they really don’t know what it feels like to have an intrusive thought float into your brain and have your brain react to it as if the world is coming to an end. All the alarms have been set off and you don’t get to choose how you feel when that happens. You don’t get to stop your heart from nearly beating out of your chest, or stop the rush of adrenaline which causes you to shake uncontrollably. There’s no opportunity to stop your saliva from drying up in mere seconds, or to control the ringing in your ears or halt the sudden choking feeling which is robbing you of breath.
Oh, and there’s more to come, because once the alarm system is triggered you can’t help but feel compelled to respond to the thought. And, once you do that you’ve activated the sticky tape response and your brain latches on to the thought in such a way that you can’t find a way to get it out of your head.
What has just happened is you’ve experienced the very first symptoms of an OCD episode. And contrary to what you instinctively feel you should do in response to the thought or what other well-meaning people might think you should do about it, the reality is that in order to effectively manage OCD, you must to do the exact opposite of all that.
This is because the thoughts get more firmly glued in your brain each time you respond to them or treat them as if they are worthy of your attention. And that’s what makes managing OCD so tricky. It’s tricky because it’s sticky.
When everything in your brain and body is warning you to flee from a thought or to fight it, you must choose to do the exact opposite. You must expose yourself to the threat that the thought creates and then be willing to grit it out through the most unimaginable anxiety because your brain is insisting on sending you some extremely intense false alarm signals.
It’s a lot harder than most could ever imagine to live with a disorder which is continually latching on to some meaningless intrusive thought, doubt or idea. It’s hard to live with OCD because the anxiety it creates is incredibly compelling. And when we respond to that anxiety we have unwittingly activated our sticky tape brain.
To read my OCD story visit – Link: http://a.co/ikDfBey
Thank you for speaking out about this issue! Please continue.
Thank you for your blog! I recently realized OCD is my problem. I had a terrible trigger, when I read it’s the “doubting disease”, as I wondered if that means I don’t have the capacity to believe and have faith like a “normal” person. Does all the doubt mean I can’t have faith?
I’m trying to understand what this condition really is and isn’t. Thanks in advance, as I try to understand this condition.
The problem with OCD is that we make our faith about our emotions rather than our choices to walk in faith, to follow Christ, to BE a Christian. The anxiety causes us to question and doubt whether or not our faith is genuine and we expect that if we really have faith that we should feel it and place more importance on that, than our walk, obedience and allegiance to Christ. I don’t know if you’ve read my book yet but I go into a lot of detail as to how this form of OCD attacks our faith and how to press through/walk through that so that we can break free from the continual mental rumination of the disorder. If you haven’t read it I want to invite you to check it out Via Amazon.com. Just type:
Strivings Within – The OCD Christian – Mitzi VanCleve and it should pop right up. God Bless!
Thank you, Mitzi! I read your book, but I’m still trying to understand this condition. So, how do I know when a thought is OCD or a thought from my true self? This junk is destroying my identity, and I’m having a really hard time trusting my own mind. It’s hard to sort this out, when thoughts feel so real and scary.
I went on an OCD forum, trying to understand this junk, and people were saying it’s made it so they can’t possibly believe in God. That really scared me, and now I’m worried about if that’s true, so I’m having all these thoughts like, ‘What if I don’t believe?’ Or worse, ‘What if I CAN’T believe because I have OCD?’ I’m worried God might have witheld faith from me, but that can’t be true, since only a few blissful weeks ago, I wasn’t doubting my faith in Him at all.
Will I ever feel certain that I believe again? I start ERP on Tuesday. The counselor wants me to say things I believe are sinful. I’m not going to say those things.
Is there a place in the Bible that will help me understand that I do have faith?
Thank you for putting this out there. I came across your blog by direction of the Father, I do believe. After being on an SSRI for about 7 years, I’ve recently weaned myself off because the side effects were starting to affect my life and job. Forgetful fog-brain is not effective.
And I find myself, just a month out, starting to see the OCD try and take hold again – the skin picking, the obsessive internet searches, the biting/stinging bug worried, and much more.
I am determined to find balance. I am determined to learn new tools for the fight. Thank you for being an advocate and an honest believer about what having OCD and Jesus at the same time is really like.