Be a Celebrating Hero

An Asian black bear, shot after charging the &...

An Asian black bear, shot after charging the “Old Shekarry”, as illustrated in Wild sports of the world: a boy’s book of natural history and adventure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Potty-stench made going to the bathroom awful. Phong would wait for days rather than use a public bathroom. Just going near one left him showering for hours under scalding water and layers and layers of soap. He would work through three bars of soap at a time before he could even think about stopping. Stopping before was too horrific. If he did, before he stopped feeling dirty, than something horrible would happen, or so his thoughts shouted at him. The devil would eat his little girl.

Phong knew that was not going to happen but the thoughts were tormenting and nothing made them better. Sometimes he would rather die than see the bloody gruesome scene in his thoughts another day.

Obsessive Convulsive Disease is a bear. Getting treatment is seriously scary. The treatment not working is petrifying. And just about anything in between is fear invoking. You get the picture. Who will go up against a bear like that?

I remember in the Disney*Pixar movie, Brave, when the dad, Fergus, yells:

Mor’du! Elinor, hide!
[Elinor and Merida run off, one of Fergus’ men passes a spear to him, Fergus charges towards Mor’du (in bear form) but he snaps off Fergus’ spear, then we see Elinor and Merida escape on horseback, then Fergus holds up his sword at Mor’du and shouts]

Fergus, like the beast he fights, growls a bellow:

Come on, you!
[suddenly Mor’du lunges forward and the screen goes blank]

Eventually we learn that Fergus won but suffered the casualty of his leg. The amount of adrenaline in that time and sympathetic hyperawareness Fergus experienced is just close to the amount that Phong has daily or multiple times daily sometimes in his Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy and medications. In ERP, he has to choose to expose himself to this nearly incomprehensibly horrible fear, respond to it and then wait until the fear lessons. This is a bad case of, “it must get worse before it gets better.” But Phong does it. Mostly. He just does not want this to go on and like a prisoner of war, he is eating the grass under the fence line to survive. The man has courage. Can you imagine going through that kind of cortisol crisis every day?

And as mentioned, on top of that, he takes his medications. Anyone who takes medications, knows that we don’t need courage once to do it, but every day, hand to pills to mouth, we need sinew. Phong is one of my heroes.

Question: Do you know you are a hero? Any ideas, why? How do you celebrate that? Or would you if you would celebrate this? Please tell us your story.

Self-care tip: Growl a bellow at what you fight! Be a celebrated/celebrating hero.

4 thoughts on “Be a Celebrating Hero

  1. Wow! I love this post!!! Although Phong suffers way more than I, this reminded me of how I felt before I sought treatment. It was scary but the intrusive thoughts were even scarier. Although I knew they were not real, the idea that I had the capacity to think such things, was terifying and mind consuming. After finally reaching my breaking point (and much encouragement from my spouse), I bit the bullet, faced my fears, found treatment and began healing! After about a year of trying several different medications and finally finding one that helps keep my thoughts at-bay, I have started discovering much of what I have been missing in life. I am no longer a prisoner of my thoughts (well, I should say, I am rarely a prisoner of my thoughts. I still have rough days). But the fact that I can say I have rough days rather than a rough day everyday is a triumph for me! Amazingly, in writing this post, I just realized and recognized that I should celebrate this accomplishment!!! I am proud of how far I have come!

  2. I constantly have to work on keeping my mental stress down. One way I work on this is making small changes in eating better. When I bake or cook with different ingredients like agave nectar, egg beaters, etc. I know that I am doing myself a lot of good. I am also working hard at taking my medication earlier so that I can get to sleep earlier, and get up more relaxed. The exact timing of taking my medications, and the period between medications and bed is a very hard one to develop. So far I feel successful at least once every two weeks with getting to bed at a decent time. Maybe I just need to stop for a scond and give myself credit for the hard work.

    • Hey Heidi! great to hear from you. on such a topic too. i just lost my own tenuous grip on late night eating unfortunately but am thankful i can choose again over and over better.
      good thoughts on rx timing too. i’d love to hear more from you on how it goes when giving yourself credit. keep on.

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