Category: Obsessive-Compulsive disorder

For some of us, painful memories stick like glue. These memories impact us so hugely that they crowd out the happy ones. It can appear that there were no positive experiences that we had as a child.


 If that is the case for you, it is healthier to challenge that thinking. If you think there were no happy memories at home, look for the ones outside the home. 


Somewhere, somehow, you were nurtured as a child. It may have been a relative or neighbor. It can seem like an affront to the painful memories to recall any good ones, but keep looking for the warm moments. Even if both parents were monsters, they had some good qualities, no matter how minuscule. Make it OK to invite the pleasant memories to surface.  You can still keep the unhappy ones. Since you survived long enough to read this blog, you were sheltered, clothed, fed and schooled. Therefore, you were nurtured, however poorly it was done. 


While not here to tell you to shut off the bad memories and get all positive, I’m here to say there was painful and pleasant in every life. It is realistic to look at both. If you cannot look at the bad memories and want to see everything wonderful in your past, go for it, as long as you do not openly oppose anyone else’s experience. Despite the awful memories, if you cannot look at the good memories and see only the hurtful ones, you may be doing yourself, and others, a disservice.  


Also, it is easy to forget that it is universally true that no one has all easy, pleasant experiences.  So to expect that we should, is unrealistic.  

To start you off with remembering the pleasant …

Remember a time when you laughed as a child.

Remember a time when you played with a ball.

Remember a time when you proudly wore nice clothing.

Remember a time when you happily conversed with a new friend.

Remember a time when someone did something kind to you.  

Remember a time when you won at a game.


These may seem simple. You may want to discount these small joys. Yet, these memories can dispel the myth that your childhood was all bad. The more you dwell on the happy times, the more you will find balance, no matter how terrible your childhood. To remember the positive does not discount the pain. It is about refocusing your view and recognizing the whole picture. Your foundation does not have to be totally one dimension. Allow yourself the simple pleasure of enjoying the pleasant memories.


For me, I recall bouncing balls against the side of the house. At a young age, it was a delight to catch it and do it again and again. Even chasing after a missed ball was fun. Later, I played baseball, starting at age six with a hard ball. My older brother, the boys in neighborhood and I teamed up every summer to play ball near our home. Holding my own as a girl in that competing world was thrilling. No amount of pain by getting hit with a fast hard ball, ever slowed my enthusiasm. Even though I could hardly stand upright due to respiratory challenges, I ran to bases as needed. That fun was part of what developed my determination and perseverance to get through the rest of my life. Life has its rewards.


How about you? What do you remember?


Following the recent loss of several people in the shooting in Tucson, I have heard people blame Jared Loughner’s parents for the shootings. Others say: “He is just no good and he was born that way. He is bad.” At least one well-respected TV commentator called the perpetrator: “ a nut job.”

Some people blame the gun lobby. Everyone has an opinion. Some say he shouldn’t have had a gun that allowed him to shoot more than ten rounds. Ah, I suppose ten people are enough target for one days shooting. Now, who is insane?

Others blame the health care system or the health care workers. Most health care workers need to be commended, and not blamed when things go haywire. Often, tireless and unappreciated mental health care workers strive against all probability to do everything they can.

Does the blame remind you of anything? Does the Virginia Tech shootings come to mind? The exact same arguments came up then.

The leading doctor in the field of schizophrenia, renowned psychiatrist Dr. E. Fuller Torrey blames state governments. Pointing out that the system is not set up to see all the information on a person who is dangerous to themselves or others, Dr. Torrey said: “Ultimately, it is important to hold state officials responsible for not providing sufficient resources to treat those who suffer from serious mental illnesses. For almost two centuries, it has been an accepted function of state government to protect disabled persons and to protect the public from individuals who are potentially dangerous. State governments have been very effective in emptying the hospitals in an effort to save money but remarkably ineffective in providing treatment for seriously mentally ill individuals living in the community. We have completely failed these people.”

While Dr. Torrey makes a worthy point, I think we all need to look at ourselves, too. Our whole society has lacked the will and the commitment to solve this challenge. We feel helpless and want it hidden from our sight. Our country reflects our common values. How much do we value the mental health of all citizens?

It is said that people with mental illness do not commit more crimes than the rest of us. What if, because we handled it, no one with mental illness would commit a crime due to mental illness? That would cut down on crime enormously. Then we would have mass murder committed only by the sane. By any measure, can mass murder be sane?

This tragedy has been happening several times a year here and in many countries. It’s like the movie: Groundhog Day. We are the characters in the movie that keep forgetting what there is to learn from this. The lesson is that we need to get mentally ill people help, even if we don’t know which ones might ever kill. It seems our policy has been that since we cannot know for sure who will kill, we do not need to help any of them. What if we made sure they all got help? While we’re helping them, we would be helping ourselves. Not only would our world be safer, we would have a healthier, even happier, population of former sufferers of mental illness.

In coming months, when the six dead are long buried and the thirteen people wounded recover, we will likely forget. Could this incident in Tucson have been prevented if we all were interested enough?

While we cannot change what happened, how might we prevent the next tragedy? The next time it could be you. I invite you to join me in asking our congress members: “What programs will be put in place for sufferers of schizophrenia, such as Mr. Loughner? What is the state or federal plan that will prevent the next tragedy?” In case you don’t know your local congress members, here is the list of senators and representatives by state district: Please call or write. It is very easy.

If we cannot care enough about the sufferers, then we need to care about ourselves. We live together with the mentally ill, whether we know it or not. We drink the same water and breathe the same air. We see schizophrenics on the street, often homeless. Instead of judging, let us ask ourselves what we can do to make this world work for them, as well as for us. Mental illness is a brain disorder. Mentally ill sufferers are not bad people. Because we do not have a solution to their problems, we wait until some of them do something unacceptable and then we condemn them, often to death. “It is conservatively estimated that 5-10% of death row inmates suffer from serious mental illness.” That huge number might be prevented in the future, if we act today.

While improvements can me made in many areas such as the topic of mental health systems, mental health workers, guns and government programs and priorities, I want to focus away from blame and look at responsibility without fault.

Who is responsible for the sick among us?

We have hospitals for the physically ill. Happily, Rep. Gabrielle Gifford is in rehab, possibly for months. Like thousands of others in our country, most wounded people with medical insurance will be rehabilitated for as long as it takes. There’s no such facility for the mentally ill who are pushed out of a mental hospital in a few weeks, or less, no matter what their mental wounds.

While Jared Loughner does not engender sympathy, we have to acknowledge that he, and others like him, did not get help. I am not defending the shooter. I am pointing to the bigger picture. This message is about more than this one incident. It’s about all the past and future incidents exactly like this, except for the location and the victims involved.

Why do we ignore the needs of the most severely disturbed of the mentally ill? There are no visible scars. We pretend these people are normal. Then we judge them morally wrong when their thinking is totally unbalanced. We justify our scorn. It is understandable and normal to abhor the behavior that disrupts the world in any way. We assume that the mentally ill could manage their life better, or at least as well as we do.

Often, even when we know someone’s behavior is caused by serious mental illness, we still want to deride him or her. They are not like us. We tend to think: “Why do they have to act that way? They shouldn’t be like that.”

According to Dr. Torrey, schizophrenia is at least one mental condition that Jared Loughner has. With severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, some behaviors are downright destructive, some highly dangerous, some merely annoying and some seemingly normal. Often, those suffering some mental illnesses can make it difficult for others to endure their company. For that reason, we naturally stay away. Since we never can be inside their disordered brain, we cannot know if we could control our behavior any better.

Our attitudes may block people getting help. Instead of experiencing shame for an illness they did not choose, what if the mentally ill were respected so much that they had no fear of getting help and they had no loss of self-respect? If they received help early their disease would not be as severe. Most mental illnesses can be successfully treated.

As a whole, it appears that our view of those suffering from mental illness is that they are less worthy than the rest of us. We do not consistently mock people with heart disease or cancer. Our first reaction is concern. Could we have concern for the health of a mentally ill person?

To learn more, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a fact sheet that I included at the end.

The consequence of ignoring another’s suffering was huge and painful this time in Tucson, as it was in Virginia Tech. There have been many tragedies throughout our history, both ancient and recent history and all time in between. So, unless our collective intention becomes compassionate toward the mentally ill, this horrible crime will show up again and again. According to Dr. Phil McGraw, it happens about three times a year. When it does not affect us directly, we go back to forgetfulness.

How responsible for their actions is a person with such a neurological disorder? While I grew up with family members with mental illness, I cannot give a definitive answer to that. Each incident and each person is different. I wish our society had such a support system for mentally ill people that no one would have to ask the question of responsibility. As citizens, we have some say in what goes on. To that extent, we are somehow responsible for the way the systems are run, or not run. We are not to blame. There is opportunity in knowing that we have power.

So, who will demand that mentally ill sufferers get help? I hope you will. How responsible for your world, do you want to be? We can go on blaming others for why things are they way they are, or we can take some action. If everyone took one action to heal this problem, the world would change.

For decades, Dr. E. Torrey Fuller has championed the needs of schizophrenics. Alone Dr. Torrey cannot do it all. I call upon you to keep the funding alive without costing you anything but a stamp.
Dr. Torrey frequently tells people who want to help that they should send a thank you note to Ted and Veda Stanley who fund his work. That is probably the #1 thing people can do to help his research: help preserve his funding.
People who want to thank the Stanley’s for funding Fuller’s research can write
The Stanley Medical Research Institute
5430 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 200
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

If this is too much, please send a Thank You email to the Stanleys about Dr. Torrey’s brain research here:

From there are other ways to help:
“Please acknowledge your local mental health experts and doctors. Encourage them to begin participating in the brain research programs so we can find a cure for schizophrenia faster – this is something you can do today that could change the world for the 20 million+ people around the world suffering from schizophrenia. Support this effort today!
My understanding is that the Stanley Foundation and Dr. Torrey are already working with the organizations that can provide them the brains that are prepared in the way they need for their research. However, other research organizations also need brains for further research. One specific organization I recommend is the “Harvard Brain Bank” – for more information
visit their web site. —

From NAMI’s fact sheet, here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery:
* Mental illnesses are serious medical illnesses. They cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence.
* Mental illness falls along a continuum of severity. Even though mental illness is widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion-about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans-who live with a serious mental illness.
* The National Institute of Mental Health reports that One in four adults-approximately 57.7 million Americans-experience a mental health disorder in a given year
* The U.S. Surgeon General reports that 10 percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders that cause significant functional impairment in their day-to-day lives at home, in school and with peers.
* The World Health Organization has reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.
* Mental illness usually strikes individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.
* Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives; The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.
* The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.
* With appropriate effective medication and a wide range of services tailored to their needs, most people who live with serious mental illnesses can significantly reduce the impact of their illness and find a satisfying measure of achievement and independence. A key concept is to develop expertise in developing strategies to manage the illness process.
* Early identification and treatment is of vital importance; By ensuring access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective, recovery is accelerated and the further harm related to the course of illness is minimized.
* Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down.

So, besides joining me in questioning the plans of senators and representatives, thanking the Stanley Foundation and educating ourselves about mental illness, I invite you to get involved in local chapters of NAMI. Each of us has a contribution to society as a whole to make it work for everyone.

More about blaming:

To learn more about the Stanley Foundation go to:

Dan Hannemann, my guest on August 24, is an energy worker, counselor, hypnotherapist, entrepreneur, coach and co-author. Dan shared his expertise and experience about Anxiety Disorder

His account of the challenges and the gifts of Anxiety Disorder gave me a whole new perspective on the subject. Besides overcoming many of the difficulties of Anxiety Disorder, Dan is able to support others in overcoming their challenges. On the spur of the moment, Dan outlined a four-step process for any anxiety sufferer to climb his/her way out of anxiety.

Dan Hannemann is a contributor to the book: Wake Up … Live the Life you Love: Living in Abundance. His websites include: and You can find him on his blog radio program

Also, Dan offered a gift to listeners. Check out this interview.

Listen to internet radio with Marifran on Blog Talk Radio

Best-selling author, editor and founder of Conditional Publications, Vrinda Pendred was my guest in August.  Vrinda’s topic was the gift of OCD.   She spoke from the UK.

Delightful and articulate Vrinda Pendred shared her experience with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  OCD was one of five neurological disorders that Vrinda has dealt with concurrently through her life. You will be amazed at what she has created out of these challenges. Below is the replay.

MP3 File

Vrinda’s book is Check Mates published by Conditional Publications, books by and about people with neurological disorders.  Her sites are: and

There is more about Vrinda and OCD on articles in this site April 26 and April 27.



Happily, today I am host to Vrinda Pendred, Founding Director/Editor of Conditional Publications, a new independent publisher dedicated solely to publishing the works of authors with neurological conditions. Their first book ‘Check Mates’ comes out on May 11,2010.

Vrinda Pendred

Yesterday Vrinda stopped buy Caron Goode’s blog and if you missed it you can go here –

This is the third day of a 14-day Book Tour.  Through Vrinda, I learned a great deal about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It was very revealing about what it is like to live with and manage the challenges through daily life with partners, parents, children, siblings, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  After reading this interview, if you are as excited as I am, sign up for the book launch reminder so you can purchase Check Mates.  You will receive over 30 free personal development gifts on May 11,2010. To register, go to:

How does OCD affect you as a marriage partner and how does your OCD affect your partner?

I went through a year of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for my OCD, training me out of a lot of the more obvious obsessions, like checking rituals and realignment of objects, etc. However, there are more internal obsessions – the aspect of OCD that gets called ‘Pure O’ (obsessive ruminations) – and these are what afflict me most, these days. And yes, this does sometimes affect my relationship with my husband. If I get an idea stuck in my head and can’t move beyond it, I feel a need to discuss it until I’ve exhausted it out of my system, even if it means neither of us gets any sleep – which of course doesn’t make my husband very happy! Sometimes I need reassurance about things, which can be draining on him, because with OCD it seems no amount of reassurance is enough; your brain makes you doubt even things you are 100% certain about. And I must admit that I haven’t yet found a way to fight off the anxiety I feel over an untidy house – which is not easy when you have a small child! Normal things like a shoe not in the right place, a toy in the kitchen, etc. will make me feel about ready to scream – and sadly sometimes I have got very angry about it, only later realizing it was the OCD that was the bigger issue, NOT the normal family household clutter. These things make me think I must sometimes be difficult to live with, as a wife and mother. My husband understands, though, and has been remarkably patient with me, and together I feel we’ve been learning from each other like any other couple, OCD or not.

How did you, Vrinda, manage to be so successful and so wise while steering your life through OCD?

I would say it’s probably a case of being incredibly stubborn! When I want something, I don’t stop until I get it, which has included achieving goals, making relationships work and finding a way to overcome the OCD itself. I think most people have it within them to go beyond what life has doled out to them. All it takes is a lot of determination and a refusal to back down.

Did Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder help you in some ways?

One consequence of being such an obsessive person is the inability to let things go. Sometimes this works against me and puts me in a lot of pain. But other times I would say it becomes the force driving me toward my goals. I also have thought, in light of Check Mates, that perhaps having the neurological conditions I have will be the very thing that helps me along in my career and life purpose. After all, if I weren’t coming at my writing from this angle, I’d be just another storyteller trying to get noticed amongst all the rest.

There is more information on this unique book in my blog post yesterday.

Be sure to follow Vrinda to her next Virtual Blog Tour stop on Thursday, April 29 th, hosted by Andrew Mondia at AND … don’t forget to sign up for the book launch reminder so you can buy ‘Check Mates’ and over 30 free personal development gifts on May 11,2010. Just go to

It might sound like a surprising thing to say, but Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder affects pretty much everyone. Maybe you have it yourself. Or perhaps your partner has it, or your sibling, or an old childhood friend, or maybe your next-door neighbour. You might not even be aware of it, but the chances are high that you know someone who is obsessive-compulsive.

Check Mates

In recent years, OCD has become more publicly discussed, with celebrities coming forward and admitting they are afflicted by the condition. Yet when David Beckham went public with his diagnosis, much of the world made jokes and laughed. There was little consideration for his lifelong struggle with his own mind, or the difficulties it might pose for his family. There was even less acknowledgment that most people are at least a little obsessive-compulsive themselves.

Despite the growing awareness of such conditions, stereotypes persist…and an inspiring (and inspired) group of writers have boldly decided to do something about that. Together, they have compiled a groundbreaking new book Check Mates: A Collection of Fiction, Poetry and Artwork about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, by People with OCD.

Check Mates, edited by Vrinda Pendred, is the first ever collection of fiction, poetry and artwork about OCD, by people with OCD – the real experts on the subject. It also marks the launch of Conditional Publications, the only dedicated publishing house for writers with any kind of neurological condition.

Divided between ‘Realism’ and the ‘Beyond’, this book drives the absurdity and horror of OCD straight home. It has been put together by writers and artists from around the world, and showcases a wide range of emotions, from love to hate, joy to rage, fear and sorrow to hope and optimism. There’s even a little bit of humour! I think everyone will find something to relate to.

What it doesn’t do is shy away from the truth. Every angle is covered, no matter how painful, which makes for a startling and moving read.

If you have OCD, you’re going to find yourself in this book and realise you’re definitely not alone. If you don’t have OCD…you’re probably going to find a little of yourself anyway, because that’s what this book does: it forces us to look at our own neuroses. I think this book is set to crack wide open a few stereotypes that have been flying around for far too long.

And what makes this book even more special, is that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of every single copy of Check Mates will be donated to OCD charities.

Check Mates: A Collection of Fiction, Poetry and Artwork about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, by People with OCD is coming to Amazon on 11 May 2010. To show my support of this inspirational new book, I am giving away my booklet: A Gift of Having Parents with Neurological Disorders to everyone who buys Check Mates on the day of the launch.

AND… In addition to my gift, there are over 30 other wonderful gifts being offered by mind-body-spirit teachers, authors, coaches and healers from around the planet when you purchase Check Mates: A Collection of Fiction, Poetry and Artwork about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, by People with OCD on May 11th.

AND … Vrinda Pendred, the editor of Check Mates, and a genuine artist of surreal fiction, is giving away an EXTRA special gift of her own: ‘The Passenger’, an unpublished short story about Tourette Syndrome.
To find out how you can buy this book on May 11th, claim your free copy of ‘The Passenger’, and receive over 30 other gifts, just click HERE
Or copy and paste this link in your browser:

I hope you will join me in celebrating the launch of this unique book, Check Mates, the first ever collection of fiction, poetry and artwork about OCD.
Be sure to sign up for a “launch reminder” HERE, and then mark your diary for May 11th!

The Spiritual Journey of Mental Illness
The purpose of this blog is to dispel stereotypes through bringing awareness, respect, compassion and understanding to those who deal with what is known as mental illness in all its forms. Subjects include the gifts in the challenge, the impact in family life, and the perspective of the journey.
Since my earliest days, I have witnessed mental illness in others. Diagnosed with schizophrenia and bi-polar, my mother was especially unbalanced. My father, a closet alcoholic suffered from symptoms of depression. Then, I married a wonderful man.
Unknowingly to both of us, my beloved Ed had depression.
From my husband, I learned that there are forms of depression that vary from the stereotype.  Ed did not sit quietly in a dark room and weep.  His depression was one that expressed as anger ready to explode for any reason.

Living with mentally ill people gave me keen observation. Direct experience of knowing how it is from the inside is new territory for me. My taste of it is Seasonal Affective Disorder that started a few years ago. For me, it is a disorder. Even with a Vitamin D3 supplement, I am not immune to a dreary thoughts and feelings from early December through March. Taking responsibility for my chemical imbalance during those months, I take a natural OTC supplement that helps me.