So once you’ve had OCD for a while you start to know what your ‘triggers’ are. These ‘triggers’ can then start to control your behaviour. For me, public toilets, driving at night and drinking are just three of the things I can think of that can cause me anxiety, even before an event occurs. Most of this anxiety is triggered I guess, from past experiences.
If I go into a public toilet and there’s something on the seat, this will cause anxiety, intrusive thoughts etc but I’m going to take a punt and say not many people would like to sit on something unknown on a toilet seat?
Unfortunately for me that’s just where it begins, if there is a mark on the toilet paper dispenser or on the toilet roll itself – here’s betting most people don’t even look at the toilet roll – these can immediately trigger intrusive thoughts which can stay with me for at least the rest of the day. I’ve already mentioned in a previous post that I always rip off the first piece of toilet roll wherever I am through fear of contamination. If someone has placed the toilet roll on top of the sanitary bin or on the floor then that can be game over, I just turn around and walk back out.
I’ve already blogged about driving and some of the anxiety it causes me but at night I would say everything is multiplied and it’s much harder to dismiss, potholes, bumps in the road, noises from the car etc. I would say every time I drive somewhere at night I get back home and there’s some sort of intrusive thought on my mind which I just can’t budge, so frustrating.
So if you start to get anxious before you even get to your ‘trigger’ situation you are completely setting yourself up to fail. Your mind is already putting the thoughts into your head before you’ve even tried and so it creates a viscous cycle, which causes reluctance to do things and go places and so starts to create behavioural changes.
I’m not sure I will ever completely free myself of some of my OCD intrusive thoughts and thinking patterns, some of them are so ingrained in me after so many years. I do still make myself face them day in and day out but who knows if I will ever completely win. I guess the fact that I’m not letting them stop me doing things nowadays is a win in itself. To live life without the thoughts at all is the battle.
So the point of this post was to try and find a way of avoiding the preemptive anxiety, somehow trying not to fail before you’ve even tried. It’s such a tricky one because as soon as you start thinking about the situation you’ll probably start feeling anxious about it, another one of those ‘don’t think about the pink elephant in the room’ situations.
I would say the best way to try to combat the preemptive anxiety would be mindfulness. If you are living in the moment then you shouldn’t be worrying about whats happening later. If you know you have one of your triggers coming up, then do everything you can not to think ahead to it until you have to, this should help to stop the anxiety kicking in too early.
Every time you face one of your fears and succeed make a mental note of how amazing you are for beating the OCD and anxiety. We never give ourselves enough credit when we do well and we always beat ourselves up when we are weak – human nature I guess. Make a list of every win and refer back to it every time you are struggling.
Stay Strong xxx