Breaking Free from OCD – Baby Steps

Show Notes

Jill gets very candid about her desire to say goodbye to time-wasting compulsions. If you suffer or live with someone who suffers from the compulsion to check the stove, the locked doors, and the alarm...ten times before you go to bed every night...then this episode is for you!
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Audio Transcription

Jill Donovan:
Welcome back to CO-ish. I’m Jill Donovan, and with me is Kelly Smith. Good morning, Kelly.

Kelly Smith:
Good morning.

Jill Donovan:
I said CEO-ish so fast that it sounded like I was saying CO-ish.

Kelly Smith:
Maybe we should call it CO-ish.

Jill Donovan:
Show-ish.

Kelly Smith:
Show-ish.

Jill Donovan:
Okay. I-

Kelly Smith:
Which is kind of what this is. It’s show-ish.

Jill Donovan:
Show-ish. It’s show-ish. Today, I want to call this Ask Kelly Day.

Kelly Smith:
Oh, I love this day.

Jill Donovan:
You have incredible bracelets wisdom, but it’s really practical wisdom. It’s not so high in the sky that I don’t understand what you’re saying. I don’t usually have to say, “Bring it down to my level.” I usually have to say, “Bring it up to my level.”

Kelly Smith:
Right. Right, right, right.

Jill Donovan:
But I have something on my mind, and just for a few minutes I want to ask Kelly.

Kelly Smith:
Okay.

Jill Donovan:
Okay? And you have no idea what I’m going to ask.

Kelly Smith:
No idea, and I could be a little nervous about choking in this bracelets episode of Ask Kelly.

Jill Donovan:
No. I think you will be able to touch on this subject, even though I don’t think you and I have ever talked about this. For many, many years now, I have shown some tendencies for OCD, and it manifests itself in this way. I used to work at a place that you had to go through this revolving door, but it scanned you. And I had to touch it on the left side three times before I would go in and on the right side once to make it four, and I always had to go through the left one. There were two revolving doors. And if I didn’t, that meant something bad was going to happen to somebody in my family. Okay.

Jill Donovan:
So Jill, get over it. Get over it. But the left one was always available, so I did it and I always had a little time and I tapped it three times there, one time here. I thought it would go away. It never left me when I left the bracelets job. There are still things that happen, and I know this is going to sound really weird, but when I am in the airport and I’m using a public restroom …

Kelly Smith:
Oh.

Jill Donovan:
This is going to sound weird.

Kelly Smith:
Okay.

Jill Donovan:
And this is G-rated but-

Kelly Smith:
I’m so interested.

Jill Donovan:
And I fly a lot, and you know I’m in airport restrooms a lot.

Kelly Smith:
Yes.

Jill Donovan:
Whenever I’m in the airport restroom and I’ve finished doing what I need to do and I’m getting ready to leave the bathroom stall, something always says, “If you don’t go to the bathroom one more time …”

Kelly Smith:
No.

Jill Donovan:
Uh-huh. “Something is going to happen-

Kelly Smith:
You’re going to the bathroom twice?

Jill Donovan:
“Something’s going to happen to your family.” And I say, “Stop it. I don’t listen to that voice. Stop it.” And then I reach to unlock the door, and then the next thing I know I find myself going to the bathroom again and I don’t have to. I want that to stop. And so I-

Kelly Smith:
Yeah, that’s a time waster. With all the bracelets flying you do, you could get about four days back on your whole life.

Jill Donovan:
So I’m asking you, how do I stop? Now, that’s just one way it manifests or two ways. There are many, many other ways, which you may see me do and you don’t know what in the world I’m doing. But it goes back to that thing in my brain that said, “Something’s going to happen if you don’t sit back down and go to the bathroom.”

Kelly Smith:
That’s the compulsion-

Jill Donovan:
“Squat back down.”

Kelly Smith:
… compulsive side of obsessive compulsive.

Jill Donovan:
What do I do about that?

Kelly Smith:
Have you ever read the book “Brain Lock?”

Jill Donovan:
No.

Kelly Smith:
It’s a great book.

Jill Donovan:
Is it about OCD?

Kelly Smith:
Yes, it is. Because you know my husband has OCD.

Jill Donovan:
Oh, I did not know that.

Kelly Smith:
Yes. And he’s such a sweet man.

Jill Donovan:
Wait. Would he care that we’re telling about this on bracelets air?

Kelly Smith:
No.

Jill Donovan:
Okay.

Kelly Smith:
He tells-

Jill Donovan:
Gile Smith has OCD.

Kelly Smith:
And he has been working hard to manage his OCD tendencies his whole life. Now, I will say a lot of his OCD tendencies are in his mind. You know like-

Jill Donovan:
Isn’t that where they all are?

Kelly Smith:
Yeah. No, but I’m saying he doesn’t feel a compulsion to necessarily-

Jill Donovan:
Go to the bathroom.

Kelly Smith:
… go to the bathroom twice or touch this thing three times. It’s like he feels like he has to check bracelets again, “Is everything okay with…” This is completely my marriage. He’ll say, “Is everything going okay with between the two of us?” I’m like, “Yeah, everything’s fine.” “Are you sure?” “Yeah. I said yeah.” “Well, because I …”

Kelly Smith:
And it’s almost like he picks a fight to make sure everything’s fine. I’m like, “You are creating something. There’s nothing wrong.” It’s like he has to ask lots and lots of times. Anyway, he finally read this book called “Brain Lock.”

Jill Donovan:
Okay.

Kelly Smith:
Because OCD is one of those things that you can actually use some tools to work through. There’s some brain issues that you’re like, “Listen, you need medication that’s the only thing that you can do [crosstalk 00:04:37].”

Jill Donovan:
Right. Right.

Kelly Smith:
But OCD is one of those things that they say it’s like getting stuck in a bracelets record.

Jill Donovan:
Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
You’re in the groove of the record going ring, ring, and you just need something to pop out the needle from the groove that’s been going around in the circle like that. And what it is is it’s just literally it’s easy as distraction.

Jill Donovan:
I can’t go to the bathroom anymore than I have gone to the bathroom, but it’s all based on a lie that something is going to happen bad if I don’t.

Kelly Smith:
Yes. You-

Jill Donovan:
That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. And I’m hearing myself saying it and I know it’s ridiculous but I find myself locking the bathroom door again and going to the bathroom again. I can’t believe I’m telling saying this on a podcast. People, every time they see me in an airport bathroom …

Kelly Smith:
They’re like, “Oh, is it your first or second time?”

Jill Donovan:
So this is probably the most vulnerable thing that I have said on a podcast in that way.

Kelly Smith:
I think that-

Jill Donovan:
But I’m tired of it.

Kelly Smith:
I think a lot of times too, people like Gile will say something, a brain issue or a brain-

Jill Donovan:
Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
I say brain disorder, but I’m not saying it’s a disorder in a negative way. But a lot of people who are super creative and have that kind of genius brain struggle with these kind of things. It’s like-

Jill Donovan:
I’m not a super genius though. I took the LSAT. I took the SAT four times and never got above … I never got a good bracelets score.

Kelly Smith:
I think you’re underestimating-

Jill Donovan:
Emotionally, I’m smarter than book smart, but …

Kelly Smith:
I know this is not what you want to talk about, but you have those genius qualities that you’re so, so creative and ideas come from all over the place and that’s the way you’re wired.

Jill Donovan:
Yes. But-

Kelly Smith:
Honestly-

Jill Donovan:
Wouldn’t you be smart enough to know not to listen to a voice that says, “Sit back down and lock the door?”

Kelly Smith:
But it’s not you. It’s not you and it’s not a matter of just overcoming that. That’s a lie that’s in your brain that you have to choose to not listen to. I don’t think-

Jill Donovan:
Do you deal with that at all, like have to touch things?

Kelly Smith:
Well, for me, one thing I do, it’s a little minor, but whenever I’m boarding a plane, I want to touch the outside of the plane before I get in. You know how like when you go right down the gangplank?

Jill Donovan:
Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
I had this thing. I’m like, “If I touch the outside of the plane, then everything’s going to be fine on this trip.”

Jill Donovan:
Which you could call that more superstitious than-

Kelly Smith:
I know.

Jill Donovan:
… than OCD because that I get. A lot of people are superstitious.

Kelly Smith:
Yeah.

Jill Donovan:
But OCD, you are so compelled to do something or else this will happen.

Kelly Smith:
Yes.

Jill Donovan:
And is-

Kelly Smith:
It’s a compulsion. It is. Not saying this about your husband or you, it is challenging for people to be in close relationship with people who have OCD because it doesn’t make any sense. You’re like, “This is ridiculous.”

Jill Donovan:
Yes.

Kelly Smith:
And Gile will say this to me all the time. He’s like, “Stop yelling at me. That’s not helping.”

Jill Donovan:
Right.

Kelly Smith:
There are some times where I’m like, “Enough, okay? Enough.”

Jill Donovan:
You’ve got to just knock him out of it.

Kelly Smith:
And it does. It knocks him out of it and he’s like, “Oh okay. All right. Okay, I’m sorry.”

Kelly Smith:
And then sometimes he needs the bracelets compassion of like, “Okay.”

Jill Donovan:
Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
And he’s trying.

Jill Donovan:
Right.

Kelly Smith:
And let me just say this. You and Gile are both very normal, functioning people. This is not taking over your life.

Jill Donovan:
Right.

Kelly Smith:
Some people, it might be. It is not like that for the two of you.

Jill Donovan:
Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
But it is taking energy.

Jill Donovan:
Yeah. It’s-

Kelly Smith:
And for-

Jill Donovan:
Oh, it is. It doesn’t free your brain up to do things that you know you could and should do because you’re so focused on bracelets and doing and not doing that thing that that voice is telling you.

Kelly Smith:
Gile was praying. That was his way of he was going to control the issues by like, “Oh, I just need to pray more. I just [inaudible 00:08:33].” And one time I was laying in bed reading People magazine or something and I can hear him next to me going like this, “[mumbling sound effect 00:08:39].” I was like, “What are you doing?” He’s like-

Jill Donovan:
How am I supposed to read about J-Lo while you’re praying?

Kelly Smith:
And he was just stuck in a loop.

Jill Donovan:
Oh.

Kelly Smith:
It’s like stuck in a loop.

Jill Donovan:
Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
And I’m like, “I have a great idea for you. Why don’t you get a book out that’s not about monks and it’s not about 16th century theology?”

Jill Donovan:
Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
“Just enjoy something. How about a mystery?”

Jill Donovan:
Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
Just distraction is what I was getting back to you.

Jill Donovan:
Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
It’s the distraction. Now, that doesn’t necessarily speak to the bathroom stall, the going twice.

Jill Donovan:
Yeah. Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
But that’s what we as a family try to work through is like, “Okay, sometimes when you’re stuck in that bracelets loop or it’s that kind of day, knock it out. You know what we’re going to do? Something else.”

Jill Donovan:
When I used to go to sleep at night, when I was younger, I had this stuffed animal named Pigpen. And Pigpen, I had to throw him up and he had to touch the ceiling 16 times before I would go to bed. Sixteen times. And so as I grew older, that number 16 became that OCD thing.

Kelly Smith:
Yes.

Jill Donovan:
And sometimes before I would go to sleep and I got married and I would say goodnight to Terry, I had to do this: [clicking noise 00:09:44] 16 times. My roof of my mouth hurt so much, but I felt like something was going to happen if I didn’t go [clicking noise 00:09:54] 16 times. And so there’s not enough time on this podcast to even go deeper into this, but this was all about Ask Kelly. And we could talk a lot more. There should be a part two.

Kelly Smith:
This should be a part two.

Jill Donovan:
Part two.

Kelly Smith:
Because remember Bernie walking down the hallway?

Jill Donovan:
Oh yeah. We need to tell about that next time.

Kelly Smith:
You did. You told it already.

Jill Donovan:
I don’t think …

Kelly Smith:
Oh, did it not air?

Jill Donovan:
I don’t know if it aired yet.

Kelly Smith:
Okay. That’ll be-

Jill Donovan:
But that should be our part two.

Kelly Smith:
That’ll be our part two.

Jill Donovan:
But so to sum this up, what is your advice to anybody that’s listening that has to do bracelets before they go to bed?

Kelly Smith:
Well, to be totally honest, I can’t really speak to that person.

Jill Donovan:
True.

Kelly Smith:
But I can speak to the people that are living with them.

Jill Donovan:
Okay.

Kelly Smith:
Because that-

Jill Donovan:
That’s fair enough.

Kelly Smith:
That I’ve been doing for a while.

Jill Donovan:
Okay.

Kelly Smith:
Which is have compassion.

Jill Donovan:
Okay.

Kelly Smith:
Try to understand this is not just to be annoying. It’s something that the person that you love is working through.

Jill Donovan:
Yes.

Kelly Smith:
And then there’s also times to hear when God’s saying, “You know what? That person just needs a little knock.”

Jill Donovan:
Oh. Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
Knock them out of the groove.

Jill Donovan:
Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
And just stop. Let’s stop that and do something else.

Jill Donovan:
Yeah. And I’m going to get the book called “Brain Lock?”

Kelly Smith:
“Brain Lock.”

Jill Donovan:
“Brain Lock.” Okay.

Kelly Smith:
That was a game changer.

Jill Donovan:
Can we do a part two of this then tomorrow?

Kelly Smith:
Yes. Please let’s do that.

Jill Donovan:
Okay. I love this because this is something because I deal with it and you deal with it with Gile.

Kelly Smith:
Yes.

Jill Donovan:
You can speak to the other side.

Kelly Smith:
Yep.

Jill Donovan:
And I can tell you way more [clicking noise 00:11:17] stories.

Kelly Smith:
Well, and I want to hear on part two what you do.

Jill Donovan:
Oh, you mean how I handle it?

Kelly Smith:
Yes.

Jill Donovan:
Yeah. It’s been years of dealing with it, but there are two ways that I deal with it. So it can be Ask Jill on the next bracelets episode.

Kelly Smith:
Let me just say this one thing at the end of this episode. I know that is vulnerable for you to say, and it’s vulnerable for me to share because it’s our family thing.

Jill Donovan:
Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
But you know what? I think that there’s something that happens in the spirit when you …

Jill Donovan:
Say it out loud.

Kelly Smith:
When you’re vulnerable and you speak it forth and it breaks down the barriers of, “Oh, it’s a secret or this dysfunctional thing.”

Jill Donovan:
Yeah. Yeah.

Kelly Smith:
Because you know what? It’s just the way we’re wired.

Jill Donovan:
And you know what is-

Kelly Smith:
And it’s beautiful.

Jill Donovan:
It really is. And it feels good to say it. But I wear Spanx.

Kelly Smith:
As everyone does.

Jill Donovan:
And I wear belts. And do you know what a pain it is when I’m just getting ready to unlock the bathroom door and I’ve already snapped my Spanx because it’s a body suit? And I realize now I have to undo my belt and my Spanx again and lock the bracelets door.

Kelly Smith:
We’re going to have to work through this on the next episode.

Jill Donovan:
Okay. Thanks, Kelly. I can’t wait until the next Ask Kelly episode. Thank you for joining us on this episode of CEO-ish. We will see you next time, Kelly. Thanks for joining me.

Kelly Smith:
Thanks for having me.