Sunday, August 21, 2011

What If.....

Those two words "What If" are two words that bring so much fright and fear to my mind and body yet to many others they are just two words.  Think about it for a second, think about those words "What if" and now put another few words behind it like "What if I don't wake up tomorrow morning?"  "What if the things we think are the truth are actually the worst things we could be doing?"  "What if I say the wrong thing?"  "What if I commit to something and it isn't what I want or what I imagined?" What if? What if? What if? The What If's could go on and on and on.  Their story lines and plots could also just keep flowing like a dam with a hole in it, but in reality many of these what ifs never come to fruition because it is the mind playing games.  What if the mind isn't playing games and these thoughts actually are the real thing?

Why do I bring this up you may ask?  

Well, this morning when I woke up I saw a book on my kitchen counter with the title reading "What If," it happened to be my dad's book about something to do with what if history didn't turn out the way it has, yet it immediately got my mind moving to what if questions.  Then Coldplay's song "What If" kicked in next, with the initial lyrics where Chris Martin asks What If questions and the second versus ends with "What if you decide you don't want me there by your side?"  I didn't let it stop me, though, because I made my chocolate chip pancakes and continued on with my morning with Coldplay's song still stuck in my head.

"What if they did stop me?"  "What if all these thoughts became so intense I became paralyzed by them?"  You may be reading and thinking, stop this isn't possible how could someone become so paralyzed by two words that are part of a thought?  In fact in the world that we live in, it is possible people are paralyzed by their thoughts.  For those people who do succumb to these "What if" thoughts ruling their lives, they suffer from one possible mental illness called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).   I say one possible illness because I am no psychiatrist or psychologist and have no idea what other mental illnesses can be associated with "What if" thoughts, but only know of OCD because I happen to suffer from it.  No I don't suffer from the typical kind of OCD people think of, the one of constant hand-washing or physical rituals, nor do I let my OCD get in the way of everyday life, but I do suffer from a unique kind of OCD.

My OCD is the one where my mind says "If I think thought X then it must be true" and then that causes me to worry that thought x is going to be the be all end all.  You probably are wondering "How is that OCD?"  

Let me explain: For me, when my mind thinks thought X and thought X is something that I'm not familiar with then my mind starts to panic saying "Oh my goodness this thought is true and it is going to happen to me, AHHHHHHHHHHH"  Then my mind obsesses about it constantly and fears that is going to happen.  Now if I had the type of OCD that had physical rituals then my mind would say "What if I didn't lock the door?" then I would go home and check the door to make sure it was locked and it would be all better;  however I don't have that.  For me my ritual comes in the form of a mental movie and picturing thought x through from beginning to end and then my anxiety from the OCD goes down.  This pattern is by no means true for every single thought I have, but it happens frequent enough that it throws many curve balls my way yet with the constant help of friends, and therapy I am working on conquering this.  

So how then does this relate to seeing things through a different light, like I have described this blog to demonstrate?  The reason why it does relate to the subtitle of my blog is because with every action I do, I always think "What if I was in the other person's shoes how would I feel if the action I am about to do is done to me?"  I may have mentioned this before in my post on RESPECT, but this question of being in the other person's shoes is the way I live my life.  It, in all honesty, is probably the one "What if" that does not cause me anxiety or OCD much of the time because it has an answer and a piece of clarity to it.  Reason being is because I am able to think to myself about how I would feel and that enables me to give a concrete answer to the action, word, or thought I am about to do.  Does this way of thinking become paralyzing?  I admit it definitely does, but in my mind I would rather be consumed by thoughts like this and reach out to friends about it, rather than thoughts getting stuck and constantly playing them over and over and over in my mind because I am so caught off guard and frustrated with them.  

To conclude, I want to end with two points: 

1.) The brain is a very understudied organ.  Each and every one of us carries this machine on top of our bodies in this cavity called the skull, yet we really don't know how it all works.  Yes we have made great progress in terms of the brain and understanding it, but as great as modern medicine is the brain is one of two places that we really are lacking study on.  Why do I say this?  Well, it gets to my second point which is:

2.)  Mental health and well being is probably the biggest area where improvements need to be made in terms of modern medicine.  As someone who has struggled with OCD now for 6 1/2 yrs I know all too well how hard its been for me.  I am not saying this to have people feel sorry for me, or think of me in any different light, because that should not happen.  If people do come to think of me differently then they aren't true friends.  I am saying this because for all of my friends out there studying to be doctors I am hoping one of you takes on this challenge of understanding mental health and its relation to the brain.  What I am trying to say is I am hoping someone is able to pinpoint exactly what inside the brain is wrong with a person who has OCD or someone who suffers from any other mental illness.  Is it something hormonal?  Is it something that a little repair through surgery could fix?  Is it something related to a person's DNA?  Is it genetic?  If it is genetic how then do you help these people?

Next time you hear a "What if" just think that may be just one day someone may be able to understand how a person is stirred up by this "What if" and bring them back to reality!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Where's the Line Because I think You Crossed It

Yesterday was officially the first day Verizon Communication Workers were on strike, but I have Mondays off so I wasn't at my place of employment yesterday.  So today was my first day in, and my place of work is situated in between 2 Verizon buildings, one for maintenance vehicles and the employees there and the other I don't know what's in the building but it's a smaller Verizon owned building, and my workplace is down a driveway directly past the bigger building.  As I was driving in today, it was my first experience driving through a strike atmosphere, and to say the environment was peaceful would be a very false misrepresentation.  The striking workers looked at me and my coworkers with disdain.  Now my job is not unionized one bit, the only people in my company who are union are the pilots who fly our planes, so I was not in any way crossing any picket lines, but those striking workers looked at me as if I was.  I got into my place of work and was standing around the time clock waiting to punch in with my fellow coworkers and two of them were saying these striking workers became hostile with them while they were driving down the driveway this morning.  Did me or my coworkers cross any picket lines or do anything that provoked these workers to cross the line this morning to behavior in an aggressive manner? Absolutely not. 

The morning routine continued on normally for us, but then it came time to leave the building to be on our way for the day which began without a problem, however once myself and the caravan of other trucks from my building left with me that's when it became interesting.  The picketing workers had increased in number, and it was also time for their replacements to be on their way to do the jobs these workers were not doing.  They had the entrance to their workplace human blockade as they protested in a circle to not allow the trucks to leave and then at the intersection of the road, they had workers situated in the right hand turn lane blocking any of their trucks and any of my coworkers from making that right.  One of their trucks had managed to get out of the lot and went to make this right and that is when all hell broke lose.  The picketing workers were harassing the hell out of the person operating the truck.  They were cursing him and calling him a traitor, saying he had a flat tire to try and get him out of the vehicle so they could do what to him I could only imagine.  At this point I was in the left hand turn lane, and they were still harassing this man, so I pulled my truck up and was about to make the left but traffic was to heavy to allow for the turn, in the northbound direction so I had to sit there like a lame duck blocking one lane of southbound traffic.  However sitting like the lame duck did provide my coworkers with the ability to swing around these picketing workers in the right lane and make the right to go southbound.  Finally I was able to make the left and be on my way.  

You probably are now wondering why I am sharing this experience today.  Well for the past few weeks on my way to work, I have been seeing people picketing at another place of employment, a hospital, stating that they are opposed to unionization of their hospital.  It is quite interesting to see the two contrasting opinions making all this noise, because on the one hand you have people fighting for their unionization to remain and for their unions to keep protecting their rights as workers, then on the other side you have group of people fighting hard to prevent this unionization from occurring.  Both of these actions are freedoms of speech and don't get me wrong I have no problem with people demonstrating for their rights, but when it comes to harassing people just trying to do their jobs or be on their way to work, that is a whole different ball game in my opinion.  

At this point in time with the current state of the American Economy and even the world economy, those of us who are employed should be grateful we even have a job in the first place.  I understand it to be a "sin" to cross the picket line but in all honesty with the current situation out there in the job climate, shouldn't these people both union and non-union be grateful they have a job that pays and provides them with benefits in the first place?  I mean I do get that the union does not want to have to pay for healthcare, but really be happy you have it at all and have the job that is giving it to you.  I know we have a crisis on our hands in so many areas and its a result of what many believe to be "irresponsible actions" by the government, but the one thing I think these striking workers and those protesting against unionization should see is that we have many men and women overseas in harms way fighting for us to have these abilities to have healthcare and jobs, yet these people protesting find it more important to not do their jobs or protest against an ability to protect their jobs because its all about them and not the greater good.  I do realize that there are people not paying their dues and that also isn't fair by any stretch of the word fair, however, I do believe it is time to stop thinking about "ME" and think about how the bigger picture.  

On this night, as our 30 downed service members returned to our United States lets remember them and the many blessings they have given up to protect us and keep us free, so that tomorrow when we wake up we can go to our jobs and have a place to work to pay us and give us benefits.  Let's not cross the line by harassing those trying to just do their jobs, or get to their places of work and instead just let them be and if protesting is going to achieve anything just do it peacefully.