The Time I Went a Week Without Internet

Right now I’m laying in the front yard on my bean bag chair, watching my dog’s heavy breathing in front of me. His toys are scattered across the grass, making it look like I have a two-year-old brother rather than a nine-year-old dog. Popped balls, dormant Frisbee’s, and exploded stuffed animals atop the grass, but Gator isn’t interested.  He just lays there, resting silently.

GATOR2
My dog, Gator!

 

I am honestly amazed by the beauty of nature. However, I am even more amazed that I don’t enjoy it like I used to. 

I walk through this front yard every day. Although, it’s usually on the same path. From the car to the doorway. I touch very little grass and any grass I do touch is through the bottom of my shoe.

As a child I spend a lot of time outside. I played in the sandbox, in the mud, on my bike, in the pool. When it snowed I couldn’t wait to jump in it. As soon as the first snowflake fell I wanted to be out  there. I wanted to run and play and I didn’t care if I fell down or my hands went numb from the cold. I protested snow pants and the bags over my socks my mom insisted on.

Nowadays, when it snows I just want the plows to come so I can go shopping. You know, what I find fun now.

I look out the window and admire the snow. It looks beautiful, peaceful. But I don’t enjoy my time outside in it. I think about playing in it, but “it’s too cold”. When I must walk in it, I complain about my frozen ears and focus on shielding my electronics.

It’s easy to chalk this change up to growing up. I am an adult now, it’s normal to spend less time outside. My one qualm with this theory is my dad.

My dad spent much of his childhood outside. Him and his 5 brothers spent their summers at the local pool and he grew up to be a diver for his university. There are plenty of home videos of them playing outside in the snow. But when he grew up, he kept swimming and he kept playing.

When I was old enough, he taught me how to play outside. He played soccer up until a few years ago. He was the assistant coach on my own soccer team. And when I grew out of it, he had the dog.

My dad still spends most of his days in nature. He still seems to find beauty in it.

When I go outside and look at the trees, I find it beautiful, but I don’t have that sense of wonder that I used to. Even looking out at the mountains of the Carolinas, I don’t feel overwhelmed with their beauty. I don’t feel moved.

I worry I say it’s beautiful because I have to. It’s expected of me to. When I was a child or even a younger teenager, I would be moved by the smallest piece of nature. Now I’m thinking about other things. “I have to edit a video, I’m late for my appointment, I have to get dinner, blah blah blah…”

My mind has been influenced by this fast paced society. Society constantly tells us to go and do, never to stop and listen.

Then they market new technology like it is the answer to our problem. Saying if we buy the latest iPhone, we’ll be able to do better, and therefore, be better.

But it only makes us more stressed out. It takes us farther away from stopping and listening.

I wonder if my attachment to my phone is part of the reason I stopped enjoying the outdoors. The older I got, the more I was interested in new gadgets and less interested in being outside. Why would I go outside when I have an infinite amount of entertainment at my fingertips?

Once I got an iPhone, my connection to the internet became literally constant. There were very few times when I had no way to get online for an extended period of time.

Actually, there were four times.

The only times I’ve been without the internet were when I was inpatient in the mental hospital.

My second time inpatient was after I got an iPhone. Now, when I tell you my connection to the internet was constant, you better believe I took advantage of it. My iPhone was the best distraction from my severe OCD. I had obsessions from the moment I woke up until the moment I fell asleep, so the phone was always by my side. In the weeks leading up to the inpatient stay, I spent my days only laying in bed and playing on my phone. Although it was my easiest distraction, I still had obsessions and compulsions while using it. It was also used to compulsively research my newest theological “discoveries.” I would read from the most obscure webpages and believe it was the absolute truth, because that means OCD can accuse me of being a sinner for believing the “wrong” thing.

(Just a note, don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Especially if OCD says it’s true.)

I was like a zombie. I was making no progress with my life or my recovery, if you could even call it that.

Zombies & Psychology
Just a pun intermission. (Or “puntermission”!)

My last time inpatient, I was definitely in recovery. However, it was hard for me to keep up with therapy. Things in my life were very hectic and different. I had just graduated high school and was preparing to go away for a week without my parents. It would have been the first time I had been away from them for a week by choice, rather than necessity. However, I was going through a bad OCD spike that made me incredibly depressed. I wouldn’t focus on therapy and I stopped doing frequent exposures. I got out of my recovery mindset and started giving into compulsions and depressive thoughts. The internet was my distraction once again.

Without that distraction while inpatient, I was able to focus on myself. I was able to make a new recovery plan. I started from scratch and built up from where I left off. Instead of just idly letting things go downhill, I took action.

This obviously wasn’t only because I didn’t have my phone. But without it, I was able to look at my surroundings. I saw the trees and grass and appreciated it more than the hard, cold tile of the mental hospital. I looked at my life objectively, out of the lens of life’s pressures, and was able to start anew. Most teenagers groan of the idea of no internet, but in all honesty, being away from society for a little while is refreshing. Focusing on yourself and not worrying about what anyone else thinks of you is what makes your time spent inpatient so productive.

Without life’s distractions, you can find methods to get your life back to where you want it to be.

While sitting outside on the grass, I realized that maybe in order to get my life to where I want it to be, I need to take a break from the internet. It might be a little reminder of what’s important in life.

I can spend more time outside and have more quality time with the Earth. I can go on adventures and get my amazement for God’s creation back. Yes, me and the Earth are going to be best friends after this vacation.

It’s been a few weeks since I started this post and I am just now finishing it. I’m still unsure of the rules I will implement for this internet vacation, but I would like it to happen sometime this summer. And if you all are interested, I will blog about it.

Hope you liked my ramblings today. Let me know if you relate to anything I wrote in this post! I know it went a little bit everywhere.

Kat 🙂

Ps. I’m feeling a lot better since I started this post. I feel like my life is getting back to where I want it without the vacation. Although the vacation would still be nice.

I am doing a bit of a vacation with internet access, but I will talk about that in a vlog! 😉

Why It’s Hard Having Sexual Obsessions (Rant)

1) My slutty friends (TOTALLY JOKING, my friends are great!)

Anyone who’s been on Facebook during engagement season knows the frustration of watching your friends one by one get married off. I was thrilled for the first one, but by now I’m totally over it. It seems that every 19 year old on my friends list got married this year. This isn’t a bad thing and I’m super happy for them, but it gives the opportunity for a lot of obsessions.

You don’t have to be married to bother my OCD, though. Pictures of unmarried couples trigger the anxiety as well.

What’s worse than that are the people constantly posting jokes about “Netflix and chill” and some poor girl “wanting the d.” I’ve seen posts of incredibly sexual drawings that have left me ruminating for hours.

2) Sappy love songs

My OCD can be triggered by even the smallest mention of love. There was a point where I couldn’t even listen to the most innocent of love songs without getting anxious. Whatever happened in the song would always end up in my mind. And, in proper OCD tradition, it would happen with the wrong person. My mind would play out every scene in the song with me and that person. It makes it hard to listen to the radio because I never know what song is going to trigger me next. Don’t even get me started on the blatantly sexual songs.

3) Cute Couple Pictures

Much like the love songs, pictures of couples give me intrusive thoughts. Once again, these pictures could be anywhere. It is all but impossible to avoid them. Not that I should. The more I expose myself to these things, the less anxiety I will have in the long run because I’ll get used to them.

But right now I’m ranting so I’m not thinking of those truths. Let me rant in peace!

4) Stumbling Upon Sexual Education/Blogging Sites.

It seems every few days a friend posts a link entitled something along the lines of “Top 50 Kinky Sex Moves!!!11!!1!!1!” and “What He Wants In Bed!!!1!!1!11!” When I see these things, my anxiety spikes. For some stupid reason, I then get a terrible urge to look at the article for reassurance that it’s not as bad as it sounds. Which, of course, makes everything worse. So now I’m reading about the latest sex moves and my OCD is overjoyed to take in the new material.

This also happens when I walk by an issue of Cosmo in the grocery store. That magazine is basically my nemesis.

5) How Can I Enjoy Law and Order: SVU?

I have a confession to make that everyone probably knows already. I love Law and Order: SVU. I love Olivia Benson’s hardcore attitude and seeing everyone’s story lines unfold. It’s a guilty pleasure. However, it is so hard to sit through episodes that talk about rape. Which is nearly every one.

When my sexual obsessions first became more prominent, they were mostly about rape. It was also mysteriously around the time that I started watching SVU. Which came first? I’m not sure. But having these intrusive thoughts has hindered my enjoyment of the show and any show like it. Especially the more graphic episodes. Once again, it gives my OCD new material.

6) Accidentally Stumbling Upon Porn

That pretty much says it all.
This was especially hard in my Tumblr days. Oh, Tumblr.

You may have noticed a lot of these have to do with the internet. Ever since I was twelve, I’ve pretty much lived on the internet. It has always been my safe haven. A place to go to where I had friends and people who supported me, when I didn’t have that in real life. Websites like Tumblr were my go-to places when I was depressed. Unfortunately, websites like Tumblr also made my depression worse. Being on the internet all the time led to me never leaving my house, which made me feel even more lonely.

Now the internet hurts me in a new way. What was once a safe haven is now a minefield filled with triggers. Youtube is my main source of entertainment, but even on there it’s hard to avoid sexual content. Just watch one PewDiePie video and you’ll see what I mean.

7) Researching OCD

This problem may only exist for mental health bloggers/vloggers, but researching OCD really triggers my sexual obsessions. To no ones surprise, the types of OCD that trigger me are usually sexual related, such as HOCD. I sometimes find descriptions of intrusive thoughts and compulsions too graphic for me. Or sometimes a story of recovery will involve things OCD doesn’t want to hear about. Sometimes these things create more intrusive thoughts and worries. I continue despite this, because I know people need to be educated on these topics.

10615435_4649224084033_2640430219066990186_n
Yes, the people need me, OCDGIRL! Educating people and fighting OCD since 2k13.

8) Avoiding Important People

When I was having intrusive thoughts about a therapist while in the OCD Intensive Outpatient Program, it was hard to even sit in a room with him. If he got too close to me or touched me, I would immediately freak out inside. But I couldn’t tell anyone. I couldn’t risk someone knowing I have these embarrassing thoughts.

What made it even worse was that he was my favorite. I loved working with him. We would do exposures for my social anxiety every day and I couldn’t just give him up to OCD. (My determination to continue working with him despite OCD is a good thing, of course.)

It got worse when the thoughts moved on to my psychiatrist. If I had not been doing my exposures, I would dread seeing him because of the terrible anxiety I had leading up to the appointment. One night before an appointment with him, I just started bawling my eyes out because the anxiety was too much to bare. The next day my psychologist and I started doing exposures around seeing him.

It’s the association anxiety that hurts the most. Intrusive thoughts are one thing, but it’s the people and objects associated with the thoughts that give me the anxiety that makes it hard to live my life. There could be a trigger around any corner to cause intrusive thoughts and anxiety. Albeit, the more I work on my intrusive thoughts with exposure and response prevention, the less daily triggers I have.

I have to say, I’ve come a long way from those exposures. It took me two years, but I finally was able to tell my psychiatrist one of my thoughts. And at our last appointment I hugged him and had no anxiety. I would love to still be working with him about these thoughts, but I’m now 1,000 miles away.


 

Other people with sexual obsessions might avoid people of the same sex, opposite sex or children. Since my OCD tends to focus on a specific person, I just have one person I severely want to avoid. However, I am so glad that I didn’t avoid him. By not avoiding him, I was able to have great conversations and make huge progress with my OCD. Through medications and exposures.

Everything on this list triggers my intrusive thoughts. At one point, I would have avoided all of them, but now I do it anyway because I’m not about to let OCD dictate what I do.

The biggest thing that has helped my sexual obsessions was talking about them. If you’re struggling with sexual obsessions, please tell someone. The more details you can give, the better help you can receive. Trust me, if your therapist is any good, your therapist is not going to judge you.

If talking to someone is too hard, try writing them down. Writing down scary thoughts takes some power away from them and helps you separate them from yourself. Because you are not your thoughts. You are not your OCD.

You are not your OCD.

Thank you for putting up with my rant! I hope it enlightened you on some of the struggles those of us with sexual obsessions have. It certainly helped me to get my feelings out.

See you later and hopefully with something more coherent,

Kat

Ps. I was recently interviewed by theOCDstories.com about my OCD story. If you want to check it out, click here.