I’ve talked about recovery not being a straight line quite a bit recently but it is so important to remember for anyone going through a mental illness. You will have good days and bad days, sometimes I feel like I’ve got it all sorted, I feel positive and hopeful and I can’t even remember what it feels like to have OCD at all! Other days my OCD can be triggered without any warning by the smallest thing, it can hit me quite suddenly and from the most random of places and this can really knock my confidence.
For times like this it’s good to have a plan of action in place and I’ve found over time it does get easier to get through these periods. With practice, a plan, my knowledge of recovery and the methods to use I’m getting there but frustratingly for me I can’t seem to avoid my OCD completely.
Now I don’t really know anything about the brain science behind OCD but I am 100% convinced that when I get hit by my OCD, a chemical change occurs in my brain. It’s almost like someone covers me with a black veil and I just can’t see out of it, no matter how hard I try to think positively and do all the things that are good to dismiss the thoughts, this huge veil of doubt just sits on top of me and I cannot shift it. On top of this I find the next day I am anxious and unable to concentrate easily, my brain just won’t focus on anything and I get incredibly restless and distracted, almost like it is recovering from the affects of the previous days veil.
This happened to me just yesterday, all triggered by something in my yogurt which I didn’t recognise and there was just nothing I could do to stop it rolling in. I didn’t let the thought linger and therefore today I don’t feel the ‘doubt veil’ anymore but currently I am trying to work through the anxiety sitting in my chest and the restlessness which just won’t let me focus. I am at work finding it really hard – hence why I am writing this rather than working. I’m hoping by writing it down I will be able to let it go and move on but I only have so much power over the internal workings of my body unfortunately.
I haven’t mentioned medication much, if at all on this site. I’m not a huge one for popping pills but I did try SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor’s) for a brief period of time. The only thing I found they helped me with – hence why I’m bringing them up now – was the ‘doubt veil’ which comes over me. Logically if you don’t have that doubt, then the thoughts are easier to dismiss and recovery is easier but I think I always reasoned that I didn’t want to be on them forever and at some point I would have to face the veil myself anyway and so I stopped taking any medication a few years ago. I do however think it has it’s place and I know it helps a lot of people through really tough times. It’s a very personal decision.
I’m not sure if I have any advice particularly on how to fight these episodes, all I can say is by having a plan of action and trusting the tools you have to fight the thoughts, you will come out the other side quicker each time but it can be very hard when you are in the throws of a thought to believe this I know!
Natural serotonin production
We all know serotonin is the happy hormone and SSRIs are designed to stop the re-uptake of it but there are natural ways you can increase and maintain this hormone. I’ve been doing a bit of research myself on this subject as I’m really interested in how to increase it naturally. Here are some of the ideas I got from a quick google and the reference link they’re from if you want a bit more information:
- Sunshine/bright lights
- General positivity
- A massage
- Reduced stress
- Reduced sugar
- Emotional healing
- Focus/Sense of achievement
reference link – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/
Looking down the list there’s nothing particularly new here, we all know in the back of our minds whats good for us but I think when you’re feeling low it becomes incredibly hard to look after yourself properly which is of course at the exact time when you need to most.
So how to fit some of these things into your daily routine?
- I think we all know exercise is good for us but it can sometimes be hard to get motivated particularly when you’re feeling low/out of sorts. I am going to start with a daily walk as this knocks two of the items off the above list: exercise and sunshine.
- I also love that general positivity is on the list, by having a more positive outlook this then comes back to you and rewards you, how wonderful.
- I’ve recently found that a sense of achievement really helps with my overall fulfilment and therefore well being as well. I have started working towards a music exam which I have been meaning to get for years. The fact that I am getting closer to achieving it rather then continuing to put it off has really improved my sense of self worth.
- You could probably group together reduced stress and a massage if you feel like giving yourself a treat as well.
So hopefully some of this has been helpful, as always we’re all in this together.
Stay Strong xxx