Natalie Rodriguez: "My Experience with CBT Therapy"

44091334_10218157531837737_1447712069641043968_o.jpg

My Experience with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

By: 
Natalie Rodriguez


"I have been going to therapy for five years but, if someone would have asked me about it, I would probably have lied or changed the subject. I guess that’s starting to change; right here, right now.
 
I was a twenty-year-old college student when I experienced my first panic attack. I was on campus when I felt this sharp pain in my chest. I thought my body was going to just, drop. For the rest of the semester, I was convinced I was physically sick. The following month, I found out what I was having were symptoms, not of the flu or a cold; but of a panic attack.
 
During my first year of therapy, I was diagnosed with anxiety and acute-depression. My psychologist helped me understand that symptoms of panic attacks and depression had been occurring throughout my childhood and earlier adolescent years; no one picked up on it—not my family, and certainly not me. As a child and as a teenager I got a lot of colds, fevers, flu-like symptoms, as well as stomach issues, where I would get full without eating of too little or not at all. In college, those signs of having an anxiety attack were detectable and harder to ignore. My palms clammed up and I always felt lightheadedness to chest tightness. I even developed acute-asthma, after feeling out of breath, and later found out it was common by my psychologist due to most people who had anxiety because they held their breath.
 
For a while anxiety left me paralyzed, mixed with feelings of confusion, shame, and embarrassment. In denial that something was wrong, I grew physically and mentally exhausted and therefore, thought sleeping it off—whatever had me so burnt—was the best solution. However; it intensified my anxiety and depression and at one point, getting out of bed and the house was not an option. Prior to calling and making an appointment with a therapist, I had only thought about it. But at the time, I affiliated something such as therapy to being “crazy/mentally unstable/damaged goods/screwed up in the head.” A lot of those thoughts came from the stigma I had absorbed throughout my life directed at those who sought help.
 
During my Christmas break as a junior in college, I was at one of my many lowest points. Whenever I woke up, immediately I broke out into a sweat and a rapid heartbeat that hurt my chest. Almost numbing myself to whatever I felt or thought after waking up, I would just roll over and fall back asleep. One day, my mother woke me up—it was the middle of the day—asking if I ever planned to get out of bed. For the first time in my life, I was unsure if I even could.
 
She suggested therapy.
 
I started crying. 
 
The following day, after some debate, I revisited the idea of therapy. I called my health insurance. They emailed me over a list of psychologists and psychiatrists near my home. I ignored the email and flipped back and forth. I opened another tab on the laptop.
 
Finally, I pulled myself together and I called around five different psychologists. After leaving three voicemails, one of them returned my phone call. My soon-to-be psychologist called me back and requested to meet. I met with her for the first time that following week.
 
Five years later, I am still going to therapy, on and off, and I continue to credit my evolving
recovery to both my psychologist and the therapeutic modality in which we work with called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of treatment that involves viewing the “bigger picture” from an objective perspective, like a TV or movie viewer who is trying figure out the plot turns and twists. That is also the irony itself—looking at not just your own life but others and being asked, “Why do you think they said that or did that?” or one of my least favorites because it addresses the elephant in the room - aka not being in denial - “Why do you think YOU said or did that?”
 
I am still learning to acknowledge my thoughts and feelings about certain situations, but that is okay. I continue to learn in CBT that taking care of your mental health is an ongoing, work-in-progress. Therapy can seem like a chore for some people but for me, I WANT to go. Looking back at my earlier twenties and seeing how today, I now will actually pull the “Hey, I need to talk,” or just text my psychologist and tell her what has been bothering me which is a huge growing step for me. Back then, I refused to take care of myself because at the time, I believed asking for help was a sign of weakness and failure.
 
My first few weeks of therapy were shit because I had no coping skills. If I was uncomfortable or anxious in a situation, I would just get up and leave. Something my psychologist and I worked on for the first year of CBT was to get me to sit it out, to deal with an unpleasant situation rather than run. Ultimately, I started listening to my psychologist and sat out the panic attacks, self-talking myself through them, and embraced the intensity of the anxiety itself. Often, I reminded myself that I was safe and just having a panic attack, which I was convinced would kill me. That was also something CBT taught me: that a panic attack could not take someone’s life. The body was too alert and shaken to shut down and, if anything, a panic attack just ‘woke up’ the body. 
 
Looking back, there were many days and nights where I felt like a failure and my battle with anxiety, and on-and-off acute depression would prevent me from pursuing my dreams. But it was my truth. I feel there are many people whom I know or know of, who struggle with mental health challenges, and find themselves asking: "Will I be okay?"
 
My answer to this question changes like the weather.
 
That is why Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has played a huge role in my recovery - because I found clarity. For the past five years, my psychologist has guided me towards the healthier and more certain, path for both my physical and mental health. She did so recently when I had approached her about the irony of writing stories and making movies about mental health.This opened discussion on my passion with being open towards my own personal history with it. In fact, the idea of being triggered due to older habits of thinking, “Am I being too open to the point of scaring or pissing people off,” used to scare me.
 
What changed my mind was my resolve to tell the story that a mental health disorder does not, nor ever will, ruin one’s own life.
 
My anxiety attacks come and go. Some days, I roll my eyes at the symptoms of sweat and rapid heartbeat, or chest tightness. Other days, I still find myself wanting to curl up and remain in bed and not deal with it, as though it does not exist. My history with anxiety and acute-depression has become manageable. Mental health symptoms are not always “visible,” a fact that hit home for me when I confided to some family and friends on what was going on with my health. I heard shocked and confused reactions such as, “I had no idea,” or somewhere along, “Oh, I thought you just looked tired and stressed.”
 
Growth takes time—for the person with mental illness and for their family and friends. Every now and then, I can recognize how I am changing because asking for help is not easy. Seeking help is not easy as well, because something such as one session of therapy does not solve everything. It is why therapy can be hard work and I am human, like everyone else, and often want a day to not think of anything.
 
Nowadays when I go to therapy, it is to check in and make sure that I am taking time for myself in the best way possible, especially when there are the inevitable ups and downs in life. 
 
This reminds me of those last fifteen minutes of my first therapy session, when my psychologist recommended I come in weekly for a few months - until the anxiety symptoms were not intense. She wanted me to have more coping mechanisms to incorporate into my routine such as running, walking, and doing different breathing relaxation techniques, before spreading out our weekly meets to every other week and, ultimately, once a month. Now, in that same moment, I was also pissed, due to fear. My mind continued to affiliate help with failure; I convinced myself that in order to get better, I had to put aside my goals and aspirations.
 
But in that moment, I knew that getting help from someone who was nota friend or relative was what I needed in order to heal. I knew I needed the objective perspective of someone who would not judge me. That was the moment when my psychologist told me, “This is the last time you will ever feel this much pain with what is bothering you and the feeling of anxiety and depression consuming your life.”
 
That was the moment I realized I wanted the help that was being offered.

I believed her. 
 
Asking for and accepting help is never a sign of weakness and something to never be ashamed of,  ever. Therapy is not for everyone but for many, it can be a lifesaver. It certainly saved my life multiple times and I still feel that way about it whenever I leave a session. Besides, the first therapy session usually is considered a consultation, where it feels more like an interview and giving a brief history of your background, especially if it is dealing with more personal questions.
 
Some days are brighter and hopeful and, at times, I scream, cry, or complain how I cannot do it anymore and want to quit my dreams and therapy. This feeling of wanting to give up occurred at the end of summer when I reached out to a crisis line for the first time—four times in a week. At the time, I had difficulty dealing with a breakup and some other friendships and work fallouts, while working a ten to sixteen-hour weekly job that did not support mental health. I hit a wall and saw it was a problem that needed to be fixed, especially when I recognized my control over changing my environment. So I did - and the first step was reaching out to my psychologist, where I texted what happened and something that was harder than expected to send her, “I need to come back weekly. My work won’t allow me to come in earlier or later to see you, but I’m willing to lose my job so I can take care of myself.”
 
Ultimately, I was fired by that job but in the end, I can say that deciding to put my mental health first was, and continues to be, one of the best decisions I've ever made. Today, I am in a better place and I do my best to put my ego aside and learn to surrender to seek help when I need it."


About Natalie Rodriquez

Natalie Rodriguez is an award-winning writer, director, producer, mental health and anti-violence/trauma advocate based in Los Angeles, CA. In 2014, she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in TV-Film from CSU Fullerton. Her first entertainment job was an internship at the Conan O'Brien show and Peter Guber's Mandalay Pictures, where she worked at the offices of producers, Matthew Rhodes ("Men in Black: International," "Mile 22") and Academy Award-winner, Cathy Schulman ("Sharp Objects," "Crash").
 
Recently, she wrote, directed, and was the executive producer on her first feature film, "The Extraordinary Ordinary." The film is about young adults, their history with mental health, and how one can cope with it when triggers and old coping-mechanisms resurfaces. The film stars John Posey ("How to Get Away with Murder" and "Lucifer"); Maddison Bullock ("Stasis"); Alex Montalban ("My Dinner with Herve"); Ana Marte ("Amigos," co-starring alongside, LeLe Pons).
 
You can check out more details on the project @theextraordfilm.
 
Some of Natalie's previous writing work can be found at the HuffPost Blog; Amazon Books; Anxiety Resource Center; Opposing Views; NowThis News; Zooey Deschanel's Hello Giggles; The Mighty; Short Kid Stories; GoDaddy; TheRichest; TheTalko; Writer's Weekly; and more.
 
Her screenplays and films have been featured and placed in the final rounds at Hispanicize; HollyShorts Film Festival; NALIP: Latino Lens Film Festival; ShortsTV; Stage 32: Comedy Screenplay; Beverly Hills Film Festival; Culver City Film Festival; Indie Night Film Festival; Hollywood Screenplay Contest; Table Read My Screenplay - Austin Film Festival; YouTube; and others.
 
Currently, she has multiple projects in development, including a TV sitcom, "The D," which placed in top-ten for best comedy screenplays at Stage 32. She was most recently an ambassador for Jen Zeano Designs (JZD), a clothing company in association with USA Networks and who donates $1 per sale to ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. Many Hispanic actors and filmmakers, including "Jane the Virgin's" Gina Rodriguez and "Elena of Avalor's" Aimee Carrero, promote JZD.
 
Her Young Adult manuscript, "Elephant," was also a finalist at Clare Books' the Binge-Watching Cure II contest for 'Best Novel.

For details on previous and upcoming projects, be sure to check out @natchristinerod.

Mental Wellness Holiday Gift Guide

IMG_7383.PNG

I’ve been getting flooded with “holiday gift guides.” The gift guides many people consider festive and fun, oftentimes things people don’t really need. This holiday season, I’ve made the decision to do no surprises (okay fine, maybe a few) for my friends and family - I want to only put money into what they need. So I ask, straight up. I want to give gifts people already know they want - OR a gift that I know will be resourceful. For me, that means something that aids in overall mental wellbeing and adds value to a life.

As I’ve been analyzing my budget and gift ideas, I made a master list of items that I know my people will appreciate. My hope is that by looking through my list, you will be inspired to take a similar approach when giving gifts this season. I do everything through Amazon Prime because I can’t do holiday shopping trampling over hundreds of people. You will never find me out on Black Friday. Nope, NO THANKS. I was in my sherpa onesie cozied up in bed (my happy place) and going down a rabbit hole binge watching YouTube series and videos that have no relevance to my life whatsoever - ha.

It’s fun to be able to share my list with you guys this year. I feel a special bond with my readers and I know how engaging you all are. So I hope you get a little something out of this! Happy Holidays, Outsiders. I’m with you.


Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 11.06.26 AM.png
  • Time Blocking Cube. Okay, bare with me - this could be a game changer in your life or someone you know. Oftentimes, those of us with anxiety, depression and certain disorders get “stuck.” Shoot, even people with none of the above get stuck at times! This time blocking cube can be used for everything from helping nudge you to move on from one task to another, to even just getting out of the shower or bed! I know so many people who rely on this as an aid to help them with their internal clocks and a push of motivation over time.

  • The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work and Confidence with Everyday Courage Book. This book has been on my radar for quite some time. I know people who have used this to completely transform their lives. Mel Robbins the famed, Tony Robbins-esque author, created this rule when she couldn’t get out of bed to make herself apply for jobs years ago. She practiced this learned countdown, and now incorporates it into her everyday decisions and life. AND IT WORKS. I’ve tried it again and again. I’ve even spoken about it on the Mentally Misunderstood YouTube channel. This book could completely transform your life or the person you know who has a difficult time making decisions. Sometimes, I ask the person who is with me to hurry and make A decision because I just…can’t seem to at times. But this book and rule has truly helped me make the smallest to even the biggest decisions in my life. I just do it. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. TRY IT!

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 4.51.38 PM.png

  •  Motivational, Affordable Jewelry. One of the ways that I use to help encourage myself is through wearing jewelry that is chic but has meaning. I love a good mantra saying something that resonates with something I believe in or that I can glance at to give me extra strength. It’s also one of my favorite gifts to give because you can wear the pieces every single day and they really mean something, especially when gifted. This bracelet gives me all the feels. I can’t wait to see the look on my friends’ faces when they beam wearing these. Also, These are great gifts for parents to consider giving their kids who are going through a rough time. this shows them that while you may not understand what they are going through, you are making the effort and extending a warm hand.

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 11.30.06 AM.png
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones. If you are someone who has anxiety (who doesn’t?) or you recharge by being alone with zero noise like myself - I recommend asking for, investing in, or gifting a pair of noise cancelling headphones to someone you think could use these. Honestly, I just can’t with people the majority of the time in public places. Flights, shopping, coffee shops, basically anywhere besides my bed I wear a pair. At first it sounds scary because you think you’ll only hear your own scary thoughts - but you guys, everything slows down and becomes quiet and clear when I wear these. My chaotic internal world with too much outside stimulation suddenly becomes a place I can breathe again.

  • The Essential Oil Diffuser Necklace. There are countless designs and options available for aromatherapy jewelry. The truth is, I was looking into car diffusers and then I thought - why not take it a step further, and have my oils with me if I need them at any given moment? If you are an oils person, share the beauty of this bliss with someone this year!

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 11.08.36 AM.png
Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 11.09.00 AM.png

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 10.57.03 AM.png
Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 11.10.51 AM.png

Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 11.07.04 PM.png

Earn a $20 Amazon Gift Card - OCD Online Survey

Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 11.07.07 AM.png

Opportunity Alert!

We were recently contacted by a fellow OCD sufferer, advocate and OCD researcher who is in charge of recruitment for an OCD online survey for people who experience obsessional jealousy. For many of us OCD sufferers, relationship OCD can stem from jealousy in our relationships. I know this is something I can personally attest to having experience with - and let me tell you - it is no joke. This isn’t the kind of jealousy some feel is kinda cute because it tells them the person they are dating really cares about them. No no no. This is in reference to romantic relationship obsessional jealousy. If you know what I am talking about, you are most likely a candidate that these researchers are looking for.

Must be an adult (18 years or older)

If this sounds like you - then we invite you to take an anonymous online survey that is likely to last about 30-40 minutes. As a thank you for your time spent, they are exchanging an electronic $20 to Amazon.com. Uhhhh - where do we sign up?!

In order to make sure you are a candidate who is a good fit, they are asking that you complete a telephone call with them. To schedule a phone appointment, you must email JealousyStudySurvey@gmail.com

Let them know The Obsessive Outsiders blog sent you! :)

Also, please feel free to use this email Address to ask any questions that you may have. I don’t know about you, but since I already go through this romantic relationship obsessional jealousy torture, I may as well participate and get $20 to get started on my Christmas shopping!

Anxiety & Mental Wellbeing Outlet

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 5.59.44 PM.png

Personally, I am a huge fan of putting pen to the paper in general because on the average day, my brain can't seem to categorize and put the right folders in the right mental places. I've learned that there are typically two ways I can make sense of the jumble of feelings that I can't seem to pinpoint brewing inside of me. The first is to talk out loud to myself - yep, I said it. There's too much going on inside my brain to make clear and definitive decisions and think distinctly at times. There are about two or three people I sometimes consider talking my jumbled thoughts out loud with, but for the most part, I would rather take up my own time over their time. 

But sometimes this isn't enough for me. Even though I am saying the words out loud, they don't stick. It's like they roll off my tongue and disintegrate. When I have this feeling, I know I need to move on to step two. The second and most effective way I have found to channel my emotions is through writing everythingI am thinking down in a bullet form. Simple, concise words. I will write, bullet, write, bullet and so on until I feel like I've purged and untied whatever knot has been building in my stomach. Once it's on the paper in bulleted form rather than paragraphs, my mind can begin to digest the bullets and pair together what goes with what. Honestly, the majority of the time, just writing out the bullet points, whether they make sense or not, are enough for me to rid the initial anxiety I am feeling. Oftentimes, I am so drained from sorting everything out in this way, I actually feel a huge weight lifted off of me. And many times, that's all I needed. I can come back later with a fresh mind and reassess. 

Another reason I love this method is because I now have those thoughts, feelings and emotions - all on paper to reflect back on. And this is for my eyes only. Although, there have been times when I have been so anxious, so jumbled - I have just handed the lists to my therapist and said, "HELP." He helps me sort through the prioritization or overwhelming tasks and feelings and somehow we make a plan and things become more manageable, at least for my mental wellbeing until my anxiety lowers.

The key to bullet journaling is having everything in one place. This guided bullet journal is so cheap and effective for anyone and everyone. It's less than ten dollars and gets the job done.This particular one is designed for those struggling with mental health, including weekly anxiety trackers, sleep trackers, agendas, self care checklists, etc. Oh, and I love the title, "One Breath At A Time." It also comes in a different color scheme here. Here's a snippet of why I love this one in particular.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 5.08.13 PM.png

Honestly, I love this author, Emily Byrnes. She has another bullet journal called, "One Day At Time," that helps keep track anxiety, keep track of self care, set goals, set affirmations, organize, etc. How cute is her beginning excerpt?

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 5.43.55 PM.png

Is this something you would be willing to try out? Let me know! I can't think of a cheaper of easier way to try this in a proper, guided way from someone who has been there and gets it.

If You Don't Believe In OCD Recovery...

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 3.21.25 PM.png

Eeekkk! I was asked to write a letter to the OCD Community by The Mighty this week for OCD Awareness Week. The Mighty is basically my Huffington Post, my news source - the website I check first thing everyday. In my world, it speaks my language. Below is the letter that was sent out to God only knows how many people - and I am so grateful. I PRAY this simple letter sparks a little feeling of emotion, curiosity, or identification with every single person who reads it. Enjoy. 


IMG_2324.jpg

"It wasn't until I realized – I could do something about it."

For OCD Awareness Week, we’re inviting people from our OCD community to share their stories. Today’s letter is by Kerry Osborn, mental health blogger, speaking advocate and founder of The Obsessive Outsiders’ movement and platform.

___


“Why are people talking about ‘OCD Recovery’ as if it just goes away or something?” “Is ‘OCD Recovery’ even possible?” “Does it mean I am cured?” “If it even exists, what does this ‘OCD Recovery’ look like?”

I would love to tell you that the above questions were my own, but to be frank, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as what I now refer to confidently as “OCD Recovery.”

In 2010, I had three years of failed talk therapy under my belt — I was never told there was specific treatment for OCD, much less that my quality of life could significantly improve while still having OCD. All I knew was that I was 18 years old and recently diagnosed with something called obsessive-compulsive disorder. I didn’t care enough to even research OCD — I didn’t think of it as a “disorder.” While my parents fought to get me in front of the next person who could try and help their troubled daughter, I was too busy anticipating and focusing on the next intrusive thought and preparing for my compulsion in response. I needed to do whatever I needed to do in order to get that knot out of my stomach, even if it was relief for five solid seconds, thank you very much. 

It was one year after my freshman year of college. One year after being the university’s most fascinating specimen — “The Obsessive Outsider.” One year after being bullied because I was deemed “demonic,” “schizo” and (my personal fav) “Crazy Kerry.” (“Here she comes hearing voices again, watch! You have to see her walk — LOL! I swear something is so wrong with her.”)

I was broken, battered and obsessed — until I found Jim. Through Jim, I found terminology I had never heard of before – exposure and response prevention (ERP). I was told I needed to go through an intensive program. I followed suit. Not because I knew it was possible to get better — but because my parents and therapist told me this was the next step. I didn’t know or care what this so-called “ERP” was — I also had no idea it would lead me to a quality of life better than my current living hell.

Until I found it out for myself. Until I learned to do one exposure after another, because I had nothing left to lose. Until I realized this was all just a silly disorder — nothing more — ruining my life. Until I realized — I could do something about it. I was exhausted, and sometimes I just couldn’t do the compulsion and had to give in. Sometimes I was angry at the OCD and purposely didn’t do the compulsion. Other times, I wanted to make Jim and my parents proud. All the while something was happening — the more exposures I performed, the more those specific obsessions faded. Then something new would pop up, be exposed and slowly fade. “Did I just walk all the way to class without looking at the ground performing compulsions — intentionally?” “I don’t want to give those people staring another reason to laugh — so I am going to push through this exposure of not going up and down the stairs three times — I am going down once and I will keep walking.” “Oh my gosh – I can do this.”

It has taken years of my own perseverance. It took me proving to myself the exposures worked so I could continue pushing through and facing them. It took me becoming my own therapist, because I was the only one inside my head all the time. I was the only one who could truly hold me accountable. It took me and only me wanting to get better, because I was seeing the results before my very own eyes.

Today, I can confidently say I have broken the foundation of my “OCD” belief system. I can confidently tell you I can go months without any real obsessions. Do I still have OCD? Absolutely. Do I have periods when I’m anxious over a fight with my boyfriend or a new job interview and obsessions start pounding through my mind like an electric shock? Yep. Do I ever give in because the anxiety is so bad I might not get the job unless I touch this random item? Yep. 

I still have OCD — but I also choose to have quality of life. 

Now, when I feel my mind being flooded with intrusive thoughts, I know I need to stop — stop and recognize the OCD trying to sneak back in. I know I need to get on those exposures immediately if I want to stay in a good place. I will never go back to that dark, dark place — because I know I am solely in charge of my reactions to my obsessions, and I have proven to myself time and time again that when exposed properly, the obsessions really do slow down and/or stop. There is relief. And with relief, comes recovery. 

Please remember — I was someone who couldn’t even take one step until the magical thinking of OCD told me where to step, how long I needed to stand there, and if I needed to swallow on that specific step in order to make sure I didn’t fail an exam. I was someone who was so isolated, I lost all social skills. I was someone who couldn’t practice proper hygiene, who couldn’t take a bite of food, read or write a sentence unless my OCD “allowed” it.

So when I tell you that OCD recovery is absolutely real — please know this comes from years of personal experience. I’ve transformed from a lonely and confused girl to a woman who has found fulfillment in this short life — by working full time as a mental health bloggerbreaking boundaries and stigmas on social media and as a speaking advocate. I want to show people just like yourself that OCD recovery is absolutely possible and oh so very real.

Extending a warm hand of hope to all of you,

Kerry 

Become a part of The Obsessive Outsiders community. You can check out Kerry’s work and website here. Feel free to explore The Obsessive Outsiders social media platforms on Instagram and Facebook. Sign up for the weekly OCD and mental health newsletter here

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 3.35.24 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 3.36.36 PM.png

I Don't Fall Asleep Without These Three Things

IMG_6228.png

CUTTING TO THE CHASE.

I take my nighttime routine so seriously, people actually have asked to spend the night just to watch. It's actually a bit comical, my boyfriend gets a realllllll kick out of it - but can I just say he has adapted to purchasing and using these three items every night for himself as well? What'ya know? My friends? Same thing. 

I am ALL about ambiance. Regardless of my mood - I need a clean, fresh, airy, light ambiance in order to function during the day. At night, I need a fresh bed, quiet time, and a few accessories before climbing into the space I plan to spend the next eight hours.

I feel it's important to note - I am not 'obsessive' about these tendencies and preferences of mine. To aid and continue in my recovery since we know OCD can grab onto just about anything - I purposely change up this routine once a week or so to make sure I don't get TOO comfortable. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. 

I love trying new things to brighten up the ambiance in which I live. It's my little way of taking care of myself and products like the below - well, I live by them. Check them out, and see if any or all are worth trying in your life. Make sure to report back and let us know your experience!

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 12.54.59 PM.png
  1. Natural CALM

    You may have heard of this common tactic, but if not - just know this is my numero UNO. Few people realize the true benefits of magnesium for restorative sleep, how many of us have deficiencies in magnesium, and what it all means in terms of improving your quality of life. This can lead to many issues that you may never know relate back to magnesium. My mom and grandma are HOOKED on this stuff because they found this to be the ONLY thing to help with their leg cramps in the middle of the night. Legitimately  - every single night they drink a warm cup of CALM before bed, and they don't get the cramps. If they forget, they wake up with leg cramps every. single. time. 

    I like to use a teaspoon (very important to use little amounts and follow directions at first orrrrrr you just may find yourself in the restroom one too many times that night) and mix with hot water about an hour before hitting the sack. I take this magical powder because it is the most natural way to come down after a long day, and let's be honest - just after any day in this life. Magnesium helps deep, REM sleep so much. My family has used this for years, and now all of a sudden I see it all over blogs and being used by influencers, and I know they aren't just pushing product - they recommend it because it really works. 

IMG_6227.png
IMG_5733.jpg

2. Acupressure Mat

You guys may be very familiar with this puppy since I just did an entire blog post on this puppy two weeks ago. I'll spare you my same spiel, but this is my second step after I drink my CALM. I lay on this mat and pillow for fifteen minutes and almost always am so sleepy at that point - no matter how restless I was prior to laying down - I somehow stumble into bed and never know what hit me! There have been many nights when I can't sleep and I roll out of bed onto my acupressure mat, and fifteen minutes later I'm seeing stars behind my eyelids.

IMG_6230.png
Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 12.43.05 PM.png

3. Pillow & Linen Spray

First and foremost - this HAS to be a natural solution or it's a no-go for me. This is my personal recommendation, but there are all kinds on the market you can grab. Seven Minerals sources their magnesium in the USA and takes quality control very SERIOUSLY. This is huge for me -  I don't want to think I am getting high quality magnesium oil and actually get little potency. In addition to the magnesium oil, this spray has Clary Sage, Lavender, Sweet Majoram, and my personal favorite - Cedarwood. Ahhhh, ZzZz. My favorite part before climbing into bed is pulling my spray out of my nightstand and dusting a light spritz over my pillows and bedding.

Then ya girl straight DIVES into my cozy, fluffy bed and close my eyes  to drift off while being consumed by my favorite scents with NO harsh chemicals.

FROM VICTIM TO SURVIVOR: HEALING FROM CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE - GUEST FEATURE

NA3A8206.jpg

Talk about a transition. This week we are taking on a new direction - one that we have never discussed before on our platform. In all honesty, this is a topic we never thought we would cover. Then we found Ashley's story -

and everything changed.

The Obsessive Outsiders intends to expand into many more areas of mental health and mental wellness. Our foundation will always be rooted in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, because that's where this all began. But this brand and movement is evolving into so much more than OCD. As a black and white thinker, my brain always feels constricted - and I hate it. Which is why I constantly challenge it. Right now, I am doing so by learning about all kinds of other areas of mental traumas and experiences that I may not have personally been through, but can eerily identify with. The goal is to open up my senses, my antennas, to be more aware in areas of adversity - because everything in this life I'm realizing comes back to mental health and wellbeing. Literally, every experience, every feeling, every fear or trauma, every new experience that will change the way you protect yourself or perceive things, all come back to the mind. Mental illness & mental disorders ASIDE. 

mental health includes everyone with a brain. period. 

Without further blabbing (ahem, Kerry) - I hope you all soak up Ashley's entire story. Ashley is a blogger and is the definition of all things chic and relevant - and the epitome of class. She's the girl on Instagram you scroll past and then analyze how her life could seem so perfect. She seems so flawless. She is absolutely stunning first and foremost - she has style and aesthetic that she somehow pulls off way too effortlessly, and my personal favorite - she is a girl who has a haunted past but ended up with the most incredible love story with her now husband. Let me just say - relationship goals is an understatement. Her husband looks at her as if she is made of pure gold - he has stuck by her through years of her dealing with her inner turmoil from her trauma. They are the most beautiful couple who go on the most romantic getaways and dreamy proposals. No one knew the PTSD that lied behind her gorgeous brown eyes until this week - when she shared her riveting story, publicly for the very first time. Thank you Ashley, for allowing me to honor you on this platform.

The following story comes directly from Ashley herself on her most recent blog post. These are her words, unaltered.

"This post is much more personal than my normal posts, but I feel it is very important to share. Lately I have noticed so many influencers opening up and getting real with their followers.

I truly think that there is something so damn inspiring about hearing someone’s journey from tragedy to triumph. I think nowadays social media allows people to portray their lives as picture perfect, and seeing such "perfection" when you are struggling can be hard, trust me… I know the feeling.

This is why I feel it is important to share the ways I was able to work through the trauma that was inflicted upon me throughout my childhood. I was not always so seemingly confident, happy or hopeful.

I have experienced severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks and flashbacks in my life, and at times it seemed as if this would be how I would feel forever. I am so relieved to say that I now live a life in which I don't think about my abuse everyday. It no longer haunts my dreams or ruins my days.

While the thoughts will still creep up at times, I feel so much more in control of my emotions. I have accepted my past, and chosen to move forward and not only make the best of it, but turn what happened to me into a positive. I am now pursuing my masters in counseling, and have a strong passion for mental health and helping others. But I am getting ahead of myself ...

Keep reading to hear my story and the changes I implemented that helped me take control of my feelings (and ultimately my life). It is my goal that in sharing this, I can give hope to someone who may be going through these things as well.

I hope that in sharing this, I can help diminish the stigma surrounding sexual abuse, and help other people speak out and tell their stories. And what I hope for most, is that my story of triumph, along with the resources I have provided in this post, will show others that IT IS possible to heal.

The following contains sensitive material, if you scroll to the bottom of this post, there are resources available if you are feeling overwhelmed by this content.

While I have gone back and forth about how much of my childhood I want to share, the details are important in understanding the amount of manipulation and fear that ultimately lead to me putting up with sexual abuse for many years.


THE UNTOLD STORY OF MY CHILDHOOD 

My life started out pretty rocky from the start, though I was always a happy kid nonetheless. My mom and I lived in a small town near San Jose, to be honest I can't remember if my birth dad lived with us or not, but I can remember he was around at this time of my life.

Although I was oblivious to it at the time, he was a raging alcoholic and had a bit of a drug problem. After my sister was born, my mom decided to split from him. Not too long after, she met what would soon be my step-father, and the worst thing that could have happened to our family.

We moved to Bakersfield, and lived with Jimmy.

Jimmy was the most controlling person I have ever met.

He was manipulative, abusive and psychotic.

He would get outrageously angry over the smallest occurrences; a dish left in the sink could lead to beatings, grounding for months, 1000s of sentences etc.

He would make us write out things like "I will not disrespect my mother and father by forgetting to do my chores and leaving dishes in the sink."

Now imagine writing that 1000 times.

I would always try and help my sister out when he wasn't looking, he was always so mean to her, it was so hard for me to watch. He was emotionally abusive to my mother constantly, he downgraded her, disrespected her and what he said ruled-no matter her opinion.

Our lives were under his control.

Certain memories can paint a better picture...He always had us eat dinner in the living room on TV trays, and my sister was kind of infamous for being quite a messy eater. I want to say she was about 7 or 8 at the time. She accidentally spilled on the carpet, and he screamed at her and dragged her out of the room like a rag doll, without dinner.

She was forced to eat alone at the kitchen table for the next week or so, and I was not allowed to speak to her during this time. He isolated her like this for many small, typical accidents young kids make. I would often try and take the blame, because I couldn't stand to watch my sweet sister constantly be beat, isolated and talked down to.

Another memory…him holding me up against a wall by my neck, my feet dangling, screaming at me, all because he found a broken highlighter in my backpack-he accused me of sniffing it to get high, and refused to believe that it broke from my heavy books crushing it.

I began to realize that Jimmy believed to his core we were bad kids. My sister and I both got good grades, we were loved by our teachers, and did our best to follow the strict rules of the house, but it really was never good enough.

We lived in fear, home was never safe, and school was really our only escape.

It was frustrating watching my mother let him rule our lives, she would secretly act like she was on our side behind his back, but was always too scared to stick up to him.

I moved schools a lot as a kid, never staying at one longer than 2 years. This was usually due to us constantly moving, as finances weren't the most stable growing up. Jimmy would also always find some random reason to pull me out of a school.

…I remember being called a slut in 6th grade. A yard duty had unfortunately witnessed my first kiss (and by kiss I mean 2 second peck) the yard duty told my parents, and I was smacked, grounded for months, and never returned back to that school.

He told me I wasn't really that pretty, and I shouldn't be acting that way or ever think that I am “all that”…

This lead to me being sent to a private school, which was during the middle of 6th grade. This was a hard adjustment for me, everyone at private school seemed so happy, normal, privileged...it made me angry.

I knew my life at home wasn't right, andI felt so alone.

I became quite emo at this point in time, listening to screamo, bangs in my face, black hoodies, the awkward phase a lot of teens went through.

I also began to self-harm, which was really a cry for help, though I didn't know it at the time.

When the school called my parents concerned that I was depressed and cutting, their solution, or I should say his solution, was to pull me out of junior high and home school me. And now we are getting closer to the beginning of my sexual abuse...

Being home schooled was honestly a joke.

As I stated earlier, I was always a good student, and school work was usually quite easy for me. My mother would give me worksheets, about 5-7 a day, to finish in the conference room of the real estate office she managed at the time.

So for about an hour or two, I would do these worksheets, and then just watch movies all day.

At this time I had zero contact with anyone my age, and this would continue until high school.

During this time, my mother decided to take in her struggling kid brother, my uncle Ryan, who was trying to get clean to enter the marines.

THE BEGINNING OF MY SEXUAL TRAUMA

Ryan would sit by me in the conference room and stick his hands down my pants, I didn’t understand at the time what was happening, I think I was about 11 1/2, 12.

I knew it was wrong because he was so secretive with it. 

But he began to get confident with it and would be touchy with me in the pool and often times I would see Jimmy peering through the sliding glass door or blinds, he saw and he knew what was going on, yet he did nothing.

This was so confusing to me at the time... was this wrong if Jimmy clearly saw and didn't punish Ryan? Did he enjoy watching me feel so unhappy and uncomfortable?

What I have come to realize in my older years is that he knew I was too scared to tell anyone, or that I didn’t have anyone I trusted to tell.

I have made my peace with what happened to me with my uncle, even though I know it was horribly wrong. One day at the office he wrote down on a notecard “you know if you don’t like it you can say no right?”.

I had never even contemplated saying no at that point, my whole childhood had been built on following rules and not questioning authority...

At that exact moment I scribbled the word no and he never did it again.


After Ryan went away to the marines, Jimmy began to molest me regularly.

It all began after he decided to give me the sex talk, and proceed to tell me all any boys will ever want from me is sex.

He then took me into the living room asked if he could massage my back, pulled down my pants and massaged my back, my  butt, my breasts and my inner thighs for what felt like forever.

He did it so confidently and fast that I didn’t know if that was supposed to be okay, even though I knew it felt wrong I was so in shock I just laid there. Frozen.

I wondered what would happen if my mother or sister came out of their rooms...

This became my every-third-day routine.

He molested me every three days for three years, while sometimes the pattern would not be perfect, this is how I remember it.

He would wait til  my mother went to bed, and then ask me to give him a massage, or vice versa, which is when he would make his move. If I was ever reluctant to agree, he would insist I was sore and “needed it”…

Over the years, the abuse would escalate. He would press himself against me, constantly insist on giving me massages, and eventually began groping me entirely. Stripping me of all my clothes for each massage and getting as close to taking my virginity as he could get.

As he got more confident with it he began to come into my room at night, and even during the day sometimes. It really didn’t matter if other people were home… because no one really paid much attention to me anyway, no one else but him, that is.

He would make me tell him when I was going to take a shower, so he could go in prior and open the window. As I undressed I could smell the smoke of his cigarette, and that’s how I knew he was watching me.

It’s hard to look back and realize how alone and isolated I was as a child.

I always felt like I didn't matter much, and that I really didn't have anyone to trust other than my sister, who was so much younger than me. I looked at her as someone to protect, not confide in.

AND SO, MY SECRET REMAINED.

During this time, there were many nights the cops were called, due to physical threats from Jimmy, him threatening to hurt my mom in a drunken rage, or threatenening to take my baby brother away and never come back. (My mother and Jimmy had a son together when I was 16).

I would have to take my brother and sister and hide away at our aunts, crying the whole way not knowing if he was going to hurt my mom. He would smooth talk the cops, making US seem crazy for calling.

I remember one specific instance where I decided to stick up to him.

He was screaming at my mom, pushing her against the wall and holding my brother, threatening to leave with him and never come back.

I called the cops and told them he was abusive, and scary, and threatening to kidnap Colton.

I was told to go inside, my stepdad again escaped without any consequence. It seemed as if he would always be in control, and that my mother would never leave him…

and that no one could help us. 

I had so many nights where I would lose it. I couldn’t hold it together anymore, I was sick of being so scared, so abused, so over looked, so helpless.

There were countless nights I would sneak around and try and find any medication I could, ibuprofen, pain killers, mostly all I would find was ibuprofen.

But I would take like 9 of them, in hopes that maybe I would die, but knowing it really wasn’t enough, often sending me into a peaceful zen, I would sit in the bathroom and just hide…alone.

I knew I couldn't run away.

I couldn't just die... I had to be there for my sister and brother.

The motivation to protect them and be a role model for them got me through a lot of dark times. 

As I got older I began to understand my role in the house: do all the chores, take care of Brittany and Colton, always be nice and respectable, follow ALL the rules, and let him do whatever he needed to do with me.

With this I knew, or at least hoped, that maybe we wouldn’t get into trouble and he wouldn’t be angry.

The abuse was always worse for all of us if he was angry...

Another fucked up aspect of this is that he would cry to me sometimes and apologize.

He would have these spurts of “change” where he insisted we go to church and spend family time. There was one night he literally cried in my arms, a grown man-crying in a 14 year olds arms, saying that I would hate him one day, and that I didn’t even know it. He read bible verses to me and said God would forgive him.

During these “epiphanies” he would tell me that he would never do it again.

But he would do it again the very next night.

This really made me hate church and religion at the time, because he used it as a means to justify what he did to me. 

While I was always willing to expose the physical and emotional abuse, it was never enough to get help... never enough to convince my mother we needed to leave him. And…unfortunately, I was an expert at keeping the sexual abuse a secret.

There is a certain guilt that victims of sexual abuse feel, despite the fact that is is never our fault. Additionally, many abusers threaten or manipulate their victims in order to keep their wrongdoings under wraps.

Around age 16, I began to express to Jimmy that I wanted to tell my mom what had been happening.  I was told that telling someone would be the most selfish thing I could do.

He told me my mother would not be able to financially take care of my sister, baby brother and I, and that they would suffer if I made that choice.

I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with, as a survivor of child sexual abuse, is the difference of mindset you have now, as an adult, versus how you thought as a child/adolescent.

At the time, I truly thought I was doing my family a favor by enduring what I did.

I was also terrified of my abuser, who was responsible for so much physical and emotional abuse in our home. And then comes the feeling that no one will believe you...

Something I was also told during my years of abuse.

In my situation, it seemed almost frivolous to tell, since the obvious physical and emotional abuse wasn't enough to rid him of our lives.

Another reason I felt telling was useless is because one night… he actually did get “caught”. It was after him and my mother went to a Halloween party. He came home drunk and stumbled into my room. I remember the smell of alcohol as he climbed into my bed and undressed me. My mother found him in my room and saw us both laying in bed, mostly naked. I laid there and pretended to be asleep, I felt such shame, like it was my fault… But I also felt slightly relieved, like finally, it happened, she saw, maybe I would be free…

I remember him getting up and following her out of the room. Neither of them said a word. The next day is one that still haunts me…My mother asked me if Jimmy was inappropriate with me, if he had ever touched me. My stomach dropped to the floor and I began to shake, I couldn’t look at her, I couldn’t speak… I remember contemplating what to say, all the consequences that might follow…and I remember thinking…well yeah didn’t you see…weren’t you there? But instead, fear got the best of me… and I muttered “no” and it was never brought up again.

I spent a lot of time blaming myself for not saying yes in that moment, but I have had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t feel safe enough to tell, even with her. I had begged her to leave him so many times, for awful things he did, but it was never enough to persuade her. I wondered if the sexual abuse would be any different.

I was so scared I would look like a fool…scared that she wouldn’t believe me or that she would stay with him anyway. I wish I could go back and tell myself what I know now, but unfortunately this is just one of those things I have to forgive myself for. I understand now that manipulation was ruling all of my decisions at this point in my life…and I believed to my core that telling the truth wouldn’t matter.

But, the truth of the matter is, there is ALWAYS a reason to tell, and ALWAYS someone to help. Taking that first step and telling someone will be the scariest, most vulnerable feeling in the world, but it is also the first step towards your healing, and your escape. Telling is NEVER selfish, but instead saves others girls and boys from possible abuse in the future. For me, a big motivation was saving my sister from possibly enduring that same abuse one day.

COMING CLEAN

Thanks to a trusted adult and my high school boyfriend, at age 17, I finally came clean and told my mother what had been happening to me. To my surprise and relief, she was finally on my side. She called the cops, and an investigation began.

WHAT HAPPENED ONCE I TOLD

I made a game plan the night before I planned to tell with a trusted peer and a trusted adult. The next morning, I dropped my siblings off at school, waited til I knew my mother and step father would be away at work, and went home. I told my mother through text, because I really didn't think I could verbally speak the words to her. Police were called, and I was taken in for statements and a recorded phone call in which I was able to get him to admit guilt (by repeating what the policeman prompted me to say).

Jimmy suspected something was up, and fled. --Two weeks later, he was found somewhere in LA. He was later convicted for “lucid acts with a minor” and sentenced to a measly year of jail time, but a lifetime of being branded a child sex offender.

The process that takes place after you tell someone of your sexual abuse can be, in all honesty, quite overwhelming, especially as a teenager. Prior to his arrest, we had to hide away with friends in fear he would come back home in the middle of the night and hurt us, or kidnap Colton.

I had to miss a lot of school and work, and tell my principal and bosses what was going on. This process was very scary, but it was also the best thing I could have done for myself, my family, and the community.

LIFE AFTER I TOLD

Life after I told was anything but easier.

Suddenly, people knew, and that felt like EVERYONE knew, and I was no longer able to hide my depression so flawlessly. There would be days I couldn't get out of bed and weeks where crying was a daily occurrence.

Life felt hopeless and it seemed like things that used to bring me joy no longer had the same effect. Trauma ruled my life, and no amount of love, or distractions could "cure" me.

This led to a very victimized way of living for me.

I was mad at the world, mad that I hadn't got a fair chance, mad that others had happy families-their lives seemed so easy in comparison to mine. But this type of thinking won’t get you anywhere.

You have to have that moment where you say to yourself "Look this happened, and I can’t get back those years, but I can choose not to let it ruin the rest of my life". The moment I enforced this attitude was when I was finally able to begin my healing process.

The turning point for me was when I moved to Montana. I called my Grandpa one day, and shared with him my distress and depression. At this time I had dropped out of college, was solely working and taking care of my siblings, and was on anti-depressants.

My life still felt so out of control, even though Jimmy had been gone for a year and a half.

I still was not living for me, and my Grandpa could sense this. Him and my Grammy were so kind as to open up their home to me. Jeffrey, my boyfriend at the time and now husband, was so supportive in this decision, he knew I had to get away from this situation in order to heal. He knew that if I didn’t go, I would never be rid of the obligation of helping so much with my siblings, and repressing my own needs.

And so I moved to Montana.

I stayed for 6 months, but the changes within me will last for a lifetime. I had a rewarding job at the local hospital, a second night job to help me build my savings, and also enrolled back into school. My confidence began to rise as I was recognized for my hard work. I began to feel more and more understood, as my Grandpa would stay up late with me and let me vent about my past.

I’ll never forget the moment Jeffrey and I realized I was getting better.

Jeffrey would visit me in Montana as often as he could. On one of his last visits (during the end of my stay), we were driving to a local restaurant with a great view.

The music was up, the windows were down, and we were singing at the top of our lungs. For one of the first times in months… I was happy, I was me again.

I looked over only to see tears falling from Jeffrey’s face, happy tears.

Seeing me so happy brought tears to his eyes, and I remember thinking in this moment, wow this man really loves me, unconditionally. He waited through the depression, panic attacks, and sleepless nights, for this very moment. The moment I found hope that moving on from sexual abuse was possible.

HEALING FROM SEXUAL ABUSE

Healing is a complicated, anything-but-straightforward path, that is different to each person.

The book "A Courage to Heal" taught me so much about myself and helped me understand my feelings and triggers. Once I was able to identify my triggers, I was able to sort of "train" myself to not go down the rabbit hole of dwelling on memories and flashbacks that come up.

One example of a trigger I became aware of was that every time I would shower, I felt scared, and would almost always end up crying in the shower. Once I was able to identify my fear with the fact that I was forced to be watched as I showered in the past, it was easier to acknowledge this feeling, and remind myself that no one was watching me shower anymore.

At first, it isn't easy, the flashbacks still come and you work to think elsewhere, or allow yourself to embrace the memory. One trick of the mind that helped me was changing the memory. Instead of being the victim and playing out the memory as it happened, I would imagine that I stood up and stopped it.

This would make me feel powerful, and help me move along with my day without letting that thought ruin it. It reminded me that I survived, and I have the power to live the rest of my life free from any control from him. It may sound "crazy", but it worked.

Other times I would simply say to myself "No, I am not going to think about that right now" and force myself to move on to the task at hand. Of course there were times it still would get to me, at this point a strong support system comes into play.

My husband, Jeffrey, was such a rock for me during my darkest of times, and it truly made all the difference. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have found a man willing to wait out my depression, help me deal with all my "baggage" (though he would never call it that) and bless me with a wonderful love and a wonderful life.

I really recommend finding at least one person you trust, who you can be real with about how your feeling. This can be a friend, a family member, a boyfriend, a teacher, a coworker, tell someone and let them be there for you.

Soooo, back to the book, "A Courage To Heal".

This became my "bible" to healing. Through personal stories I was able to identify in other women, helping me feel less alone. Hearing their triumphs of working through their trauma sparked hope in me, that I could possibly reach that goal as well.

This book is also helpful in identifying negative thinking processes, and giving guidance in dealing with situations that arise, such as mending family relationships after abuse is revealed, or how to cope with triggers.

This book truly saved me and I highly recommend it to any women  who has been a victim of sexual abuse at any time in their life. It’s never too late to "deal with your demons" ( as my Grandpa would say) and free yourself.

Another thing that really helped me was counseling. Counseling is 100% a necessity when you have suffered from sexual abuse. This is such an intimate and personal part of  us and when taken, it can cause so much pain. I realized that trying to push away the pain was not going to work for me long term. If I wasn’t crying or depressed, I would be shaking, suffering from panic attacks, or go days without sleeping. Basically, if the pain didn’t come out emotionally, it would affect me physically.

Talking to a knowledgeable counselor helped me open up and discuss many instances I had never even spoken aloud. It was important for my to verbalize these memories to a neutral third party-someone who wasn’t in my daily life, that I couldn’t ”hurt” from sharing my traumatic experiences with. My counselor helped me implement healthy thinking patterns into my daily life.

MY LIFE NOW

I am now happy and it feels so surreal.

Sometimes I will get anxious and think something bad has to happen soon...

This can’t be my life...but it is.

I am so proud of myself for moving on, starting a new life for myself and for learning to grow everyday. For finding a man that I can say without a doubt, loves me unconditionally, and has fought for me, waited for me, loved me through my worst, and now at my best.

For being able to love him, despite my past intimacy issues. For learning how to trust, even though I grew up not being able to trust anyone. I have come to a point in my life where I am truly happy and feel blessed.

There were so many years I mourned the loss of my childhood. I was so angry at the world for taking crucial years from me, for taking my innocence. But honestly, that the past few years of my life have brought so many amazing memories, that I hardly think about how hard my life used to be.

I have amazing friends, an aspiring career, confidence, love... things I never imagined would happen for me. I will never get my childhood years back, but I can make my adult years so damn great and successful to somewhat make up for it.

I also have found such healing in pursuing a career (counseling) focused on helping others get through their own traumas. I started my grad school journey this year, and hope to specialize in trauma therapy one day, and possibly specialize in sexual abuse trauma therapy.

I appreciate you taking the time to read my story. I hope that this post can be used as a resource for survivors of sexual abuse. I hope that it can open up this topic for discussion, and maybe even encourage someone who has suffered such abuse, to come out and tell their story. I hope that in reading this, you feel inspired to learn the signs of sexual abuse, because this epidemic is so prevalent, and happens all too often. And ultimately, I hope you feel that you know me on a deeper level. When you see my posts on social media, and my life seems so “perfect”, or easy, just remember that you never know what someone is going through, or what they have overcome.”

xoxo,

ASH

RESOURCES FOR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE

A Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse - I can’t stress enough how much this book helped me. The women who wrote it are highly educated on the subject and the effects of child sexual abuse. This book provides insight how child sexual abuse can affect you in your adult life, ways to cope, and how to begin to heal.

Lewis Howes Podcast: “ What Sharing My Childhood Rape Taught Me About Being a Loving, Vulnerable, Free Man” - Child sexual abuse happens to both girls and boys. While I can only provide insight on my own experiences, this podcast reveals a man’s perspective on his childhood rape, and it is extremely inspiring.

National Sexual Assault Hotline - (1-800-656-4673)- this service is both free and confidential. The website linked, called RAINN, is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. They have great resources on how to educate yourself on the signs of sexual abuse, resources to help survivors, and counseling services. RAINN also helps create laws and regulations that attempt to make communities safer and support survivors. They work closely with the Departments of Justice, Education, and Health & Human Services to improve the federal response to sexual violence.

The California Victim Compensation Board - I was able to get free counseling for a few years thanks to the CA Victim’s Compensation Board. This was very helpful because at the time I needed counseling most, my mother and I could not afford it. I highly recommend looking into this website to see what opportunities are available for you or your child. The resources go beyond sexual abuse and encompass other victim resources as well, such as victims of drunk driving accidents, LGBTQ resources, and domestic violence victims.

I want everyone reading this to know that I am a safe resource to talk to about trauma and abuse. I know how impactful it can be to have someone listen to you, and to explicitly say things out loud that you may have have never said aloud before. You are strong, and taking the first step toward your truth and healing will be the best thing you can do for yourself.

You can contact Ashley here and check out her blog as well right here.

Ashley was also featured on the women for greatness podcast yesterday, you can listen here.

One Day Can Change Your Entire Perspective

Event Space SUS.jpg

Remember when I wrote this blog post a few weeks back? Well, I'm here to follow up on the event because it completely rocked my world. Eight hours was all it took for me to leave the Kim Sing theatre in Los Angeles and feel like my world had just been popped open for the first time. Typically when I am asked to participate or speak at events, there's a goal for me to educate and inspire others, and I thought this time it would be no different. 

But it was. 

IMG_6337.jpg
IMG_4862.jpg
IMG_4845.jpg

This time - I walked away feeling educated and inspired. To my core. 

Let's refresh back to the purpose of the event - Show Up LAShow Up Series is the overall program, organized by my incredible friend, Brittany Potter. LA was the first destination for this event, and she plans on taking it all over the country and possibly the world. Show Up Series is a place to celebrate you, as you are, today. A place where we believe in putting ourselves first. Where self love is never selfish. Where mental health is just as important as physical health. We find beauty in the raw, authentic, and real. We embrace those who are willing to be vulnerable. We find power in our struggles. We remind each attendee that they are worthy of love, that they are enough. 

This wasn't like any event I had ever been to. The day kicked off with a mental health panel, which I was honored to speak on. I felt like it set the tone for the entire day. The keynote address and panels that followed ranged from the fear of being alone to body positivity - a term that I thought I understood, but definitely didn't until I walked out of that theatre.

The room was buzzing in the cutest set-inspired theatre I've ever seen. There was an open kitchen in the large room with a familiar face hustling around, balancing pots and pans all while filling the room with the best smelling quiches I have ever had. That person ended up being Dan Paustian - a recent MasterChef finalist, who I gained an immense amount of support from and respect for that day. Meanwhile, people were setting up boutiques on site, building donut walls, sponsors were dropping off endless amounts of product, a meditation dome was being set up (coolest thing EVER), and people were arriving left and right. I was so excited to see the friends of mine who showed up to support - Daniella, Founder of Happy Pill, part of the new OOTify app team who I work with constantly via conference calls but hadn't met in person, and familiar faces from The Obsessive Outsiders I was both shocked and honored to see.

Panel SUS.jpg
Kerry Speaking SUS.jpg

When my panel was announced first, I sat down next to three women who I now have an  immeasurable appreciation for. Jillian Rose Reed (actress and celebrity spokesperson for Breaking The Chains Foundation), Rachel Leyco (award-winning filmmaker, actress and writer) and Carly Woods (actress and screenwriter). As each of these women sat there talking of working in the entertainment industry with their bipolar disorders, navigating Hollywood through manic episodes, eating disorder recovery journeys, and culturally unsupportive families when it comes to mental illness, I realized that I truly would have never known the mere depths of these ladies stories if I had just seen them at work or on set in Hollywood. They were each powerhouses, working with Disney, MTV, along with many other prestigious companies - and here they were sitting with me in between them. I was simply me - just a girl with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although I was the only person in the room who had OCD - I sat up tall and hoped something I said would resonate with someone in that audience. Something that would resonate when it comes to the taboo of mental illness - and especially the stigma of OCD. It's always a trip to tell my story with OCD, which is so completely opposite of the stigma - and watch the jaws drop in the audience. Every. Time.

IMG_4056.jpg
IMG_6194.jpg
IMG_4714.jpg
IMG_6366.jpg

As the panel came to a conclusion, I was humbled and so happy - all of my fellow panelists and audience members came up to me throughout the day telling me how excited there was someone there to represent Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder - how few people ever do and the importance it had on the day and audience. They were right - there was representation of just about everything under the sun there, except OCD, and I proudly carried that weight on my shoulders. Never thought I would use "OCD" and "proud" in the same sentence, but...LIFE, amiright? 

The speakers that followed as I sat right in front of them soaking up every word truly gave me a new perspective on so many areas in life. Mr. Self Love (Armon Anderson) got up there and seamlessly told stories to which myjaw actually dropped (a rare occasion), speaking of going from truly and utterly codependent to becoming the self love guru of our generation. Paul Fishman, Self Love Coach, started us off with a dance party and ended with us intently staring in a portable mirror in each of our goodie bags - staring into our own eyes and repeating self love statements after him. Loralei Bayette, spiritual mentor and self love coach got up on stage busting out poems and words of hope of how a life can transform in ways so many of us had never even thought of. 

After intense, tear-jerking breakout self love sessions, we then heard from a panel of body positivity models and influencers. Going into this, I thought "body positivity" meant just that - owning all your flaws. Goes to show you how stigma really is a problem. I learned that day that the entire term of body positivity originated as a sense of identification for girls who were plus size and unwelcome in the entertainment industry. As these women sat up there representing so many areas of entertainment, I just sat in the audience in complete awe. The conversation was something I had never heard publicly spoken of, let alone how much it would resonate with me. Sarah Tubert (actress, fitness enthusiast and captain of the US National Deaf Women's Volleyball team), Dana Patterson (curve model, eating disorder recovery advocate, coach and mentor), Nadia Mejia(singer, full time model, former Miss California USA 2016), Sharlene Taule (actress and singer), and Erica Lippy (full time fit model, blogger and podcaster), all sat up front telling stories of LIFE and how they dealt with remaining publicly positive about their bodies in the industry after not only seeing it all, but being a victim of it all

IMG_4850.jpg
Audience Shot SUS.jpg

Other notable represented women like Alyssa London (speaker, Miss Alaska USA 2017), Alexa Curtis (blogger, non-profit owner, and host of Fearless Everyday on Radio Disney) and Britt from Smoothie Conversations, talked about starting their own business, changing lanes, and being women of substance, through mental health issues, financial issues and body image issues.  



And of course, our main keynote speaker, Lindsey Simcik, from the Almost 30 Podcast, one of the top ten health podcasts on iTunes. This woman is pure GOALS. Proud, confident, gorgeous, successful - and has been single for seven years, by choice. And she has NO problem with it. Her talk centered around digging down deep in each of us as to why people are so afraid to be alone. Whether we are single or in relationships, somewhere between it all we are all a little bit afraid to let certain ideals or people go knowing the alternative we are left with - just ourselves. It is THERE in which we need to start. 

There was just something about the collection of people in the theatre that day. The twenty different speakers who showed up, the audience who were so engaged and gregarious, the food and sponsors who gave a new industry, a new conversation - a chance. 


Event Photography Credits: Emma GarofaloWeston Saint James, and Yoko

IMG_4865.jpg
IMG_4488.jpg

My Holy Grail Anxiety/Stress Relieving Tactic

IMG_5733.jpg

For a long time, when I heard the word “Holistic," I pretty much let whatever followed pass right over me. I grew up with the notion that if a doctor didn’t say it and it wasn’t given to me via a prescription, it probably doesn’t work. THEN [enter anxiety, OCD, depression, stress, break downs - and adulthood]. I’ve learned that unless I have a true medical problem and know that medical assistance is my only option, I will first search all other outlets. To save money? Yes - but also because I love a little [fine, a lot] of education of what my issue is before consulting anyone else. OCD much? Yep, so I have to watch myself - but I monitor this MUCH better nowadays.

IMG_5735.jpg

Let’s revert back to two years ago. Remember when I wrote that post about my severe depression and the physical signs my body was showing that I had NO idea were related to being depressed? Well, before I ended up in front of a psychiatrist months later, I found as many coping tactics as humanly possible. One of them TRULY WORKED, and is still a tactic I use to this day. In fact, I kind-of swear by it, and so do many other people. I had no idea the cult following behind acupressure mats, until I was all of a sudden “that person” who wouldn’t shut up about it to literally everyone. Coffee date? Acupressure mat discussion. At home movie night? “YOU HAVE TO TRY MY ACUPRESSURE MAT.” Conversation that has nothing to do with anything? “WAIT WAIT HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT MY ACUPRESSURE MAT OMG YOU NEED!” Looking back geeeeeezzz I was ON one.

I was just really passionate about this holistic trick, okay? I still am, but since I’ve already told everyone, their mom, their dogs, my aunt’s second brother-in-law, I’m now coming to you. Again, I didn’t believe in this stuff, guys. But my ALL TIME favorite blogger, Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential has this in her top FIVE must have purchases from Amazon. I’m not one to buy what a blogger recommends because I am fully aware of sponsorships - but this wasn’t one of those times. The further I looked into it on Amazon, the more it was speaking to my soul - and my back pain, insomnia, stress, anxiety - and then my credit card!

I’ve never done acupuncture - so I didn’t even know what acupressure was. Basically, an acupressure mat has tons of tiny plastic, sharp acupoints that stimulate the body’s pressure points SIMILAR to acupuncture - but without the puncture! You lay on the mat (and pillow!) for about 15 minutes, working up to more over time, and let these plastic acupoints sink gently into your back and neck to hit those pressure points that desperately need relief. When the pressure points of the body are stimulated, tension in the muscle is released, while an increase in blood flow and circulation slowly aids to promote healing and complete relaxation. AKA - the stimulation promotes the body to learn to heal itself in certain ways by getting circulation at optimum flow.

IMG_5734.jpg

You’ll notice after about 10 minutes your back will start to itch (I recommend laying on the mat shirtless) and when you get up, your back will be slightly red - the itch and redness indicates BLOOD FLOW which indicates circulation and the promotion of healing in not only the back, neck, and head, but in the overall body.

I AM BEING 100% honest with you when I say to you I know this helped a lot of the physical pain I was in because of the depression. I also know for a fact that this helps my insomnia when I have too much anxiety to sleep. Sometimes, I roll out of bed in the middle of the night when I am restless and lay on the mat on the hard floor - I let my bare back and neck sink into the mat and pillow for about 15 minutes and I LEGIT almost fall asleep on the mat within 20 mins. Every single time I have done this, I have climbed back into bed and never knew what hit me until morning. It’s SO CRAZY how this holistic method works. Because I was such a skeptic about this sort of thing - I went and called my brother who lives in Hawaii (I know, I know) who is a total holistic guru and told him I GET IT NOW. He said some of his favorite podcasters like Tim Ferriss talk about how acupressure mats totally work for them, but no one can really explain WHY. At this point, I’ve stopped analyzing it and just accept that it works.

Since I’ve gotten basically all my friends and family hooked on this thing, I figured it’s about time I wrote a blog post about it and shared it with The Outsiders community.

I went ahead and signed up to be a part of the Amazon Affiliates program since I REALLY want to start recommending more products that help me, aside from medication and doctors, because I have WAAAAYYY too many tricks up my sleeve after all these years. So I wanted to be open and honest with you guys that some of these are affiliate links, and you totally don’t have to use them! But I love a good Amazon Prime moment and where else can you get this cheaper and faster?! No, seriously, let a girl know!

But this is the exact mat and pillow I purchased that has worked straight MAGIC.

Since this was the one that my favorite blogger recommended and had pictures of herself on, I went ahead and bought it and didn’t even see there are cheaper ones on Amazon like this one. HOWEVER, I haven’t tried any other mats, but how different could they really be? I just HIGHLY recommend you get one that comes with a pillow! GAME-CHANGER.

Have you all tried acupressure mats and I’m just late to the game, orrrrrr?

IMG_5736.jpg

“Pain Free. Stress Free Living.” I mean, I’ll take it.

Will I See You This Weekend?! (I sure hope so!)

Let's get (8).png

The first of it's kind event coming to Los Angeles THIS WEEKEND!


Show Up LA is the first ever installation of the Show Up Series. The event series is focused on self love, mental health, self-care and body positivity. 

To be more specific, the Show Up Series is a place to celebrate you, as you are, today. A place where we believe in putting ourselves first. Where self love is never selfish. Where mental health is just as important as physical health. We find beauty in the raw, authentic, and real. We embrace those who are willing to be vulnerable. We find power in our struggles. We remind each attendee that they are worthy of love, that they are enough. 

Let's get (6).png
Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 5.14.23 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 5.14.28 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 5.14.33 PM.png

Will you be in Los Angeles or surrounding areas this weekend? COME OUT! There will be a huge, amazing selections of speakers at the event, and I am so honored to say I am one of these highlighted speakers! Tickets are expensive, I will warn you, but trust me, with everything I have heard to be included in the value of this day - well, it's invaluable. And I'm not just talking about the $300+ goodie bags or hearing from the keynote speaker, Lindsey Simcik, actress and host of the Almost 30 Podcast. OR the number of incredible, groundbreaking influencers who are on the media list for you to mingle and network with. Since I am a speaker, I was given a code for $40 off your ticket! FORTY! The code is just, "KERRY" - feel free to use it and grab your tickets here

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 5.13.53 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 5.14.04 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 5.14.11 PM.png

OH OH OH! Did I mention the special lunch is being prepared for us by one of the finalists of Master Chef?! Count. Me. In. 

Are you coming? If so, please let me know so I can make sure to grab you and say hello! I can't wait to meet the people who have already sent me their confirmation! You guys are a truly unreal tribe. 

All my love to my Outsiders,
- Kerry

Feel Better Physically For a Better Mental View

IMG_5198.jpg

This week, we handed the content reigns to Dylan Foster of the health & wellness blog, Health Well Wise. Dylan's website content is chockablock full of articles centered around helpful home improvement tips to ways you can utilize gardening for your overall health. Dylan approached us with interest in writing a piece for us and we are BIG fans of supporting and showcasing our own. He whipped up a relevant and helpful article for you all called "Healthy Summer Eating: How It Can Affect Your Mental Health." The article digs into taking advantage of the foods more readily available to us during the summer months, and our favorite part - how feeling better physically leads to a better mental view and outlook. Check out Dylan's piece below and let us know what you think!

Healthy Summer Eating: How It Can Affect Your Mental Health: By Dylan Foster

Eating healthy in the summertime is about more than staying fit; there are so many benefits to utilizing fresh ingredients that are readily available during warmer weather, from antioxidant-rich berries that will boost your immune system to veggies that are chock full of vitamins that will keep you energized. What many people don’t realize however, is that this type of focused eating can also boost their mental health in a big way.

We already knew that certain types of foods can alter the way we feel; items that are high in cholesterol or sugar content can leave us feeling sluggish and can even contribute to symptoms of depression, and studies have shown that children who consume fewer vegetables, lean protein, and fruit are at a higher risk for developing ADHD. These healthier foods -- along with dark, leafy greens, nuts, yogurt, and whole grains -- can have a positive effect on your mental health, boosting cognitive function and reducing anxiety in some people.

Keep reading for some great info on how what you eat can affect your mental health.

Get Happy

While there is no one way for a person to find happiness, it’s certainly true that the right foods can help. Whether it’s a recipe that’s been in your family for generations and reminds you of your childhood or a protein-rich meal that gives you the energy to chase after your toddler all day, the right diet can help boost your mood and keep you feeling good, which, in turn, can help you battle the symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

“The brain is a highly metabolic organ. It uses a lot of energy, a lot of nutrients,” says Dr. Tara Narula told CBS News in 2017. “It’s always on and it depends on fuel, but not just any fuel. It’s like a car. You want to give it expensive, high-quality fuel. That means foods that have the right nutrients, the right vitamins, and the right sources of protein because these form the building blocks for the neurotransmitters in the brain, for the cellular structures in the brain, and for the enzymes in the brain.”

IMG_5199.jpg

Make Healthy Choices

Making healthy choices in one area of your life often leads to good decisions in other areas; this is true when it comes to diet and exercise, especially for those who have battled depression, anxiety, or substance abuse disorder. The way we eat, move, and cope with our feelings can all have a profound effect on our mental health, and the choices we make filter into the way we perform in relationships and at work. If you’re living with any of these issues, click here for some great tips on how to make better choices.

Feel Better Physically for a Better Mental View

No matter how you look at it, certain foods that help your mental state can also help your physical health. For instance, dark, leafy greens like spinach can help prevent inflammation, helping those who suffer from swollen joints or back pain, and when you feel better physically, you boost your confidence and self-esteem. This can help those who are living with depression due to a physical ailment; the two are often linked, especially if there is chronic pain involved. 

Better eating for better living is not a new concept, but it’s a bit easier to do in summer when there are fresh foods readily available both at the grocery store and at your local farmers market. With so many tasty, nutrient-rich foods to choose from this season, eating healthy during the warmer months should be no problem.

 

Dylan Foster is a writer at http://healthwellwise.comHe enjoys writing about topics related to how our homes affect our health and happiness. When he isn’t writing for the website, he works as an office assistant and enjoys hiking local trails with his dog, Samson.

Love A Good Podcast? Us Too.

IMG_5035.PNG

A podcast is a podcast. They're great, right? Especially when you find a podcast you totally vibe with. As if they speak your language, their your people, content you crave. That was us when we found the Women For Greatness Podcast. Not only is the host, Sarena, ridiculously good at providing a stellar platform for women to share their greatness stories, but she also has an Instagram profile that will inspire you to make moves...NOW.

 So when Sarena asked Kerry to come onto the podcast - the answer was somewhere along the lines of jumping up and down and squealing, "I LANDED OUR FIRST PODCAST INTERVIEW!!!" Very calm, cool and collected just as you would assume...

Fast forward to yesterday - the podcast dropped on iTunes. You could find us geeking out all afternoon and sending it to every last person in our contact list, which now thankfully includes YOU. This episode talks about why you should stand up and share your story, how and when to step back and evaluate your life from afar, mental disorder or not, and how the mental health community has changed and grown over the past few years.

IMG_5037.PNG

If you're looking for a lunch break distraction, or a traffic-filled commute audio listening to replace the usual tunes, here's the link straight to the podcast.

OH YEAH AND - if you feel like rating and reviewing the episode, it would help us reach so many more people who haven't yet spoken up about their mental illness. 

It's your (their) time. 

THIS Film Is Now Open To The Public

Full disclosure: We've been waiting for months for UNSTUCK: An OCD Kids Movie to be available to the public. AND we can finally announce the time has come! 

Screen Shot 2018-07-19 at 4.22.54 PM.png

Perhaps you recall us writing about the special screening we received and reviewed in February.
Friendly reminder: We gave it FIVE stars. 

The film that brought us to our knees with appreciation and identification is now waiting and ready for parents, families, kids - everyone, anywhere to watch. What was the hold up? FILM FESTIVALS! UNSTUCK was accepted and premiered at so many film festivals we had to wait to release to the public until those restrictions passed. 

SO GIVE ME THE DEETS! 

- Watch anytime, on any device

- Streaming is available on their site HERE
- Streaming is also available on Vimeo on Demand
- What's more? On Vimeo, you can watch the film subtitled in Spanish, Portuguese, Greek and French.

SIGN US UP. 
In fact, sign EVERYONE and their mother, brother, sister, aunts and cousins up. It's that good. 

Introducing: Mindfully Restored Retreats

IMG_4312.PNG

Nourish Your Minds & The Obsessive Outsiders

have partnered to create a brand new event accessible to the Mental Health Community. 

The concept came about through many discussions between Anna, the self-love and recovery coach behind Nourish Your Minds, and our Founder, Kerry. Anna and Kerry instantly connected in March at the 3rd Annual Southern California OCD Conference through their participating roles. Throughout many heartfelt discussions about the mental health community and how all of us can play a better role in helping other OCD sufferers live a higher quality of life, the catchy idea of removing ourselves from the hamster wheel of everyday life, work, responsibilities, electronics - whatever the norm is for you - and allowing our minds to unplug, disconnect and rejuvenate for a few days could be the best natural medicine. The truth is, we seem to all be so accustomed to the rush of everyday life, and it's okay to intentionally set times (or a weekend) aside to shock our minds out of the routine, sparking growth. In order to grow, we must do something different - something that pushes us beyond our comfort zone. 

& THERE IT WAS.

IMG_4307.JPG
IMG_4300.JPG
IMG_4301.JPG

  Mindfully Restored Retreats was born - an extended weekend retreat in September of 2018 (Specific dates TBD) in Joshua Tree National Park. This retreat is set with the intention of stripping away the crippling, don't-know-how-to-get-out crutch that holds us captive to our mental illnesses, depression, anxiety, OCD, and so much more. In order to get the full effects from this retreat, we invite you to come as you are, broken and battered, scared and skeptic, tired and confused, or just coasting through life - and set the intention and goal of a new kind of self-investment. Self-care on steroids anyone? We're talking getting back to the basics of where it all began - nature. Camping, hiking, bonding over new friendships and campfires, led sunrise meditations, prompted journal (provided) time to help us get in touch with our truest emotions, various activities that help us let go and learn to forgive - even ourselves! - and a personalized goody bag that is stuffed with essential oil blends, among other crafty trinkets to use throughout the weekend. 

But we don't want to just have an epic weekend and leave it at that. Included in the retreat fee, is a personalized follow up program to help provide the support, guidance and accountability you need after returning back home so you can maintain what you learned with us, practiced with us and now want to live.

*There are limited spots for the retreat as the intention is to keep it small and effective. If this is something of interest to you, please email us through our contact page and let us know you're interested to receive further information. There will be a small application to fill out so we can adjust the weekend to fit you personally.

Our goal is to make this retreat benefit you in the best possible way - and if all goes well - we plan on taking it across the US, Canada, and across the world to include as many of you as we possible can. Because YOU matter to us. You're not just another subscriber, follower, observer - you are our community friend and ally in this life of navigating a healthy mind and life. You're not alone. You're with us. 

We hope to hear from you soon!

- Anna & Kerry 

IMG_4308.PNG

Mental Health Awareness Month - "Outsiders" Edition

Header Image - Obsessed with Being an Outsider - Sasha Pozzuoli.png

May is Mental Health Awareness Month - and you best believe we are taking full advantage of this small gap of time to bring enlightenment to the outside world, as well as further identify within our own. This month, we decided to kick off our newsletter and blog by giving May's "Speak Series" featured Outsider, Sasha Pozzuoli, full creative control. Sasha is one badass chick on the outside - but we had no idea how far beyond that she is - inside. This week, we're giving you the inside look into Sasha's inner world by letting her write this month's feature. Enjoy. Take it away, Sasha...

May 1st, 2018
A Piece Written by Sasha Pozzuoli


"At some point in our lives, we are all "Outsiders." A survey compiled by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2014 indicates that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental health issues each year. An overwhelming number of people in our society feel like they are outside of the circle of inclusion because of their mental health state, making loneliness one of the most common epidemics in the United States. 

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 11.20.38 AM.png
Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 11.20.20 AM.png

Depression is thought to stem from a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Growing up, I often felt ostracized and alone. I lacked the tools and emotional intelligence as a child to understand the complexity of my situation and I felt alone in my experience. This feeling lasted well into adulthood and influenced my sense of belonging on a much bigger, and much more damaging scale. 

I was obsessed with being an outsider. For a long time, I identified with my feelings of not-belonging. Feeling like an outsider created a loneliness in me that has taken years of therapy to repair. I pushed people away out of sadness, anger, and fear of not belonging, further ostracizing myself and reinforcing the belief that I didn’t belong because I was flawed or less-than. 

For years, I couldn’t accept that my depression and anxiety were bio-chemical issues that I couldn’t control. It had to be environmental. I had to have control. I told myself what I was experiencing was normal. I was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder and extreme anxiety in my twenties and began taking medication for both just this past year. 

My journey has been long and it’s been grueling, but mostly it has been so fucking rewarding. I am proud of the work I have done and the tools I’ve developed to cope with my anxiety and depression. Struggling with my mental health has in many ways,been a blessing rather than a curse. Although I don’t suffer from OCD, being an "Obsessive Outsider" is something I identify with at an almost primitive level. 

We are afraid of not belonging because of the primitive feelings of fear that result from feeling isolated or alone because of your mental health. Feeling displaced or marginalized can elicit a fight-or-flight response when you lack the proper tools. Feeling like an outsider insights fear because we aren’t taught the value of emotional intelligence until we discover we have something to “fix.”   

Maintaining a healthy understanding of "Self" is the foundation for my various coping mechanisms.  Yoga became my outlet at a young age, teaching me body awareness that sequentially developed into Self-awareness. I learned to use pranayama, the practice of controlling the breath when I started having panic attacks in my twenties. 

In 2015, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Hoffman Process. The Hoffman Process is a week-long personal growth retreat that helps participants identify negative behaviors, moods, and ways of thinking that developed unconsciously and were conditioned in childhood. The Process helps you connect with "Self" and disconnect with patterns of thought and behaviors on an emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual level in order to make significant positive changes in your life. 

Eat clean. IT MATTERS. And as much as I’d rather not…45 minutes of cardio every day.
 
Every night, I do a mental gratitude practice before bed. Simply acknowledging three things you are grateful for and three things you appreciate about yourself, is scientifically proven to re-wire the neurological pathways in your brain. 

And lastly, be Self-ish! You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm. Be proud of your "Self" discovery and personal growth. No one knows how hard you’ve worked more than you do.
Own it."

- Sasha Pozzuoli
@sashapozzuoli
More on Sasha

Have You Ever Had Symptoms Doctors Can't Figure Out?

IMG_3773.PNG

I wouldn't fully know any of this if it hadn't happened to me. Multiple doctors visits and expensive tests with no real answers. The deep aches throughout my upper back and shoulders were constant as if I had slept for twenty hours in the same position - and the pain in my lower back which was only tolerable lying down. A year and a half ago, I woke up and faced each day feeling so icky, I knew something wasn't right. 
 

I was angry at my internal medicine doctor when I had been to three appointments and he wanted me to go to physical therapy - and prescribed me muscle relaxers which didn't do a damn thing. I went on all kinds of vitamins thinking I had a deficiency. It felt like the problem was literally in my bloodstream. I ordered this special, expensive spiked mat and pillow that is supposed to hit pressure points in the back to relax muscles. I was not going to stop until I figured out what was wrong with me.

 Blood work was normal. But I was not. 

I was in "OCD Recovery," right? I had been healthy for years - where did I go wrong? Three months prior, I had gone through the worst breakup of my life. I had never had "heartbreak" - I never let anyone that close to me. I never knew what people meant when they said "you'll feel like your world is ending and the person you love died," after your first breakup. Boy, were they right. That's exactly how it felt. I had Relationship OCD show up full force at the end of my relationship for the first time, but I also had reasons for compulsive question asking, clarification and reassurance. It was so tricky. I knew I wasn't making anything up, but I was digging way too far into things - so far that I actually pushed it to the point where the worst thing my OCD imagined happening, happened. It took months to separate that that's just how life worked out - my lack of a compulsion and my OCD had nothing to do with it, but that has been very hard for me to comprehend. 

So, I wasn't just grieving the loss of my boyfriend who became my first love and I had unknowingly put my entire identity in him because I trusted him. I was also in disbelief and completely obsessed with the reason behind our breakup. I couldn't even wrap my head around it without shaking, crying, and losing a casual fifteen pounds in two months. I was not living you guys. I was in so much pain mentally, but also physically. What angered me the most was that I was constantly complaining because I felt like my friends and family didn't believe me about the pain since the testing was normal. My father's a surgeon - you either have something wrong that needs to be taken care of or you don't. 

I was just starting The Obsessive Outsiders, and I could care less about it or anything else. I was dragging through each day wishing it would end. I didn't call myself depressed - I thought I was just heartbroken. 

Fast forward; two major things happened that led me to what I thought was unthinkable - depression. I didn't know depression had physical symptoms. It hadn't even occurred to me. You would have thought I would have figured it out, but this seemed so much more serious than what I thought being depressed felt like.

The first thing was that my parents became extremely worried about my behavior. They believed I was suicidal - and for the first time in my life I thought there was a slight chance I actually could be. I hated the fact I was suicidal over a breakup...is that normal?! I had already been through so much in this life, and my boyfriend was my only sense of real place on earth - and he was gone. 

I had two choices. I could go back to my therapist and get "help" or I couldn't be around my parents. I had never consistently been on medication before. I had always believed OCD was a behavioral disorder, and I wanted to handle it without medication.

But this was different. 

This was not OCD. This was not me obsessing and performing compulsions. This was anxiety and severe depression. My therapist sat across from us and listened while I sat in the middle of my parents crying at the age of 25 and agreed that a medication could "take the edge off." What had my life come to? 

The second thing that happened - you guessed it - my boyfriend reconnected with me and through countless conversations regarding his betrayal, our relationship began to heal and my world started lightening. Slowly, I realized my lower back wasn't in pain - and my aches were getting better. 

With time, I was beginning to notice that I felt somewhat...normal?! Was it the medication, the severe deficiency in serotonin I had that was helping? What is because my boyfriend was partly back in my life and I actually felt wanted and a place on earth? 

How does that kind of pain just magically dissolve?

It does. 

One more example for you. A year ago, we lost my grandfather. It had been a long time coming, so we were prepared, especially my grandmother. She was such a champion throughout the whole process, and really handled everything so well and level headed. She was stronger than the entire extended family. Gotta love Grams. 

A couple of months ago she started to complain that her arms and legs would ache so bad she couldn't sleep. She was in constant aches and pains. She wasn't sad, she was still playing Bridge and moving forward with what she had left of her ninety-year old life. When I heard this - I immediately was taken back to my case. I told my mom I knew there was a high possibility it could be depression. My grandma laughed when we told her - that is until she went to the doctor and the sweet Physicians Assistant prescribed her Cymbalta. She didn't feel depressed, but she was completely unknowingly, and internally dealing with the aftermath months later that happened to be in the form of physical pain - depression. 

I disclose all of this to you because it's real. Depression is real. The physical side of it is real. Keep this in mind for yourself and for those around you next time you hear a story or symptoms similar to these. 

Xx, Kerry.

A New Age Social Enhancement Platform

The app about to launch you need in your life

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 3.29.31 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 10.41.20 AM.png

In December of 2017, we were extended an invitation to attend the "Happiness" OOTifyX Happy Pill Event in Los Angeles. AKA - the first mental health "party" we've ever been to. The two companies set the stage for a lot more excitement on the horizon - great vibes, delicious food and drinks, and everyday conversations about mental health with people you just met. There was no judgement. There was no taboo feeling. There was no "exclusive" vibes. It was a normal Saturday night, where like individuals were able to come together and feel a sense of place - a rare feat when discussing mental heath or mental illness in today's world.  

On top of the unexpected invitation, our Founder Kerry was invited to be a speaker at the event which you hopefully saw the coverage of. Cue the beautiful ambiance of the Fine Arts building overlooking Downtown Los Angeles, a room full of highly intelligent, forward thinking individuals and professionals, and an evening of interactive, educational discussions all leading to the demand and launch of the newest social enhancement platform.

Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 6.02.37 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 3.46.56 PM.png

OOTify.
 A Social Enhancement Platform. What is it?

[Social: Interactive and positive community coming together to address a social stigma].
[Enhancement: Health-tech integration for personal development and enhancing relationships].

Enter OOTify: a new social enhancement platform designed to change the way we care for our mental health through open dialogue and supportive community.
 

The mantra is simple: accept, communicate, and enhance. Once you accept others and/or your challenge, the app connects you with the right person so you can get the support that you need.  In doing so, they hope you're able to enhance yourself and your relationships. It's that simple.

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 3.28.26 PM.png

Why You Need This App:

OOTify connects you with a mental health professional, life coach, or mentor by utilizing artificial intelligence to expedite the intake process and connect you with someone in real time.

Once you're connected, you can utilize HIPAA compliant audio, video, or text messaging to talk through your issues. The first fifteen-minute consultations are ALWAYS FREE. You shouldn't ever have to cold call someone for help again.

Oh, and did we mention there are no subscription fees? Once you meet the perfect match, you can pay as you go. No need to pay for something before it's exactly what you're looking for.  

This is the real deal you guys. One of our mission statements is to connect our community with tools that we believe will enhance your life - and that's [literally] what OOTify is all about. OOTify comes so highly recommend by us because we truly feel this is a perfect example of fulfilling our mission as a platform for you. 

Obsessive_Outsiders_Karen.png

What You Can Do Right Now:

The OOTify app is set to beta launch towards the end of May in conjunction with Mental Health Month...so soon! In the meantime, we highly encourage you to head over to OOTify.com/TheFabric and build your profile so you can start participating in conversational threads about anything and everything today. Personally, we are currently addicted to the "Mental Wellness" thread on the site, where helpful resources are posted and encouraging messages are available of what is working for people going through similar issues as you might be.  

Join the movement today at OOTify.com. See you there!

Follow OOTify on Instagram: @ootifcation
Like OOTify on Facebook: OOTify

-The Obsessive Outsiders TeaM

SoCal OCD Conference - My Humbling Experience

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 2.21.56 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 2.22.03 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 5.19.16 PM.png
IMG_0011.JPG
IMG_0006.JPG
IMG_0007.JPG

I've been debating whether to just write an overview of my incredible experience at the 3rd Annual OCD Southern California Conference, or if I should share the raw footage of my verrrrrry vulnerable speech. After watching it over and over again, I realize that at the end of the day You're reading this because you are a subscriber or a part of this community for good reason. Because I want to honor that relationship, I want to bring you the best content that I can, no matter how taboo or embarrassing it may be. 

Phew. This is a hard one.

I'm a public speaker. I do this all the time. I can get through my speeches, with no problems and no emotions. It's when I watch them back that I cringe. Not because of what I'm seeing - but of what I'm hearing. My dark past coming out of the cracks instead of being shoved where it deserves to be. But if I kept it shoved down as far as I ultimately would like, I wouldn't be doing my job, nor would I be leading this community in the most authentic and organic way possible. 

The SoCal OCD Conference was everything an OCD sufferer could dream of. These are the types of conferences attendees commonly say that for the first time they feel "they are home," or "with their people." It's true - these conferences truly are places of no judgement, and the more raw and real you get, the more people open up, speak up, and begin to get help and heal.

I was so honored to be asked to speak on the OCD Recovery panel at the conference. But what truly felt so right was sharing The Gateway Institute booth. This was a HUGE favor - to be front and center, the main booth, with all of The Obsessive Outsiders marketing paraphernalia spread out, digital email subscribers lists, book excerpts - the whole nine yards. I worked for weeks to prepare for this and nothing fell short of my expectations. I will never be able to thank Jim Sterner and Bradley Wilson at The Gateway Institute enough for their mentorship, friendship, and genuine support. 

It was all fine and dandy when I was standing at the booth, meeting hundreds of parents, children, colleagues, followers (perhaps even you!), but then it came time for the panel and I had to get up there and do my thing. I decided to share the non-edited version of my speech with you (click the button below to view), and I mean...let's just say it got REAL.

But the feedback I have received from dozens and dozens of onlookers? Priceless, and so worth spilling all the dirty little secrets of my mental illness past. Hearing people tell me that hearing my story was the first time in fifteen years they identified with someone for the first time or realized they have my same OCD theme they never knew existed and can now seek the right kind of help - that's what I live for.

- Kerry Osborn, Founder

IMG_0005.jpg

Mental Health on The Mighty Facebook LIVE Interview

Coolest. Opportunity. Ever.

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 2.27.30 PM.png

Last week, we were invited to the Mental Health on The Mighty Headquarters to film a Facebook Live interview hosted by Mental Health Advocate, Rudy Caseres. 

The Backstory -  When Kerry had her first article published by Mental Health on the Mighty and OCD on The Mighty, she had barely started speaking up about her OCD. The Obsessive Outsiders didn't yet exist. That was a little over a year ago. The blasted publication of that very article is what set the tone and confidence behind The Obsessive Outsiders brand and business, and has ultimately led to the multitude of hats in mental health we wear today. 

We were GEEKING out when we got the invitation almost one year later to film at The Mighty Headquarters in Burbank, CA. 

Kerry and Rudy talked for an hour about everything you can imagine and hit many points that often are not openly discussed surrounding mental health. Points such as the lack of young adult advocates and how we can increase this number, to when the right time to "come out" of the mental illness closet is. *If the words "coming out" just triggered you, we challenge you to take this opportunity to acknowledge and expose the obsession, accept the uncertainty, and just keep reading...

The Mighty team couldn't have been more inviting and comforting on set. From main editors to the producer of the live show, it was seamless and so relaxed. Because of the eased setting, the interview could not have been more productive and rewarding. Thank you to everyone who tuned in and pitched live questions! 

Check out the full interview here and let us know what you think! We love our subscribers feedback.

Till next week!

-The Team at The Obsessive Outsiders

Our Biggest Gig Yet...

IMG_2954.PNG

We are so honored to be speaking at the Southern California International OCD Foundation Affiliate Conference on March 24th, in Irvine, CA. Not only will our Kerry Osborn be speaking on a panel at the conference, she will also be representing The Obsessive Outsiders at The Gateway Institute booth.

Stop by, shake our hands, and pick up a limited-edition brochure that includes the first and only excerpt from Kerry's upcoming book,
The Obsessive Outsider.
 It would be a pleasure to meet you in person!

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 3.05.50 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 3.05.36 PM.png

We Are...

  • Speaking on a panel called, "OCD Recovery: We Conquered OCD, and You Can Too!"
  • Holding interactive breakout sessions, with live Q+A interactions 
  • Networking out little hearts out to bring better tools to help YOU
  • Handing out cool marketing paraphernalia
  • OH YEAH...and being endorsed by The Gateway Institute themselves. PINCH US.
  • Last but not least, this conference will be our Founder Kerry's first public appearance as an official OCD Coach! That's right, the legal docs are hot off the press, the session/package details are going live on our site next week, and we can't believe we already have multiple clients who are ready to start our coaching program! (FYI...this is the topic of next week's newsletter - how we got here and who mentored us to bring you the best support available). Don't miss it!
Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 3.06.13 PM.png

Details About The Conference

(Click here to be directed to the full conference information)

Date: March 24th, 2018
Location: Irvine, CA
Time: 10:30am-5pm
Included: Professional Networking Breakfast, Keynote Speaker, Lunch, Breakout Sessions, Closing Q+A.

If you are available to come to the one-day conference or have interest, click here to get your *very affordable* tickets. 

If you will be in attendance, please be sure to stop by The Gateway Institute booth and say hello! Connecting with our subscribers is our priority, and we couldn't continue this innovative mental health movement without your support. 

Talk soon! ;)

- The crew at The Obsessive Outsiders

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 3.07.32 PM.png