OCD – Responsibility

I expect there is an official term for this type of OCD but I’m not aware of it.  Basically it’s intrusive thoughts which occur when asking other people to do things for you.

for example: Say I asked my husband to go and pick something up from the shop for me, I would then have intrusive thoughts about all the things that could potentially happen to him on the way or whilst he’s there and I would then feel responsible for those things: I asked him to go, he’s only there because of me. Therefore I am responsible for anything that happens to him during this time.

This is another way OCD can isolate you very successfully, not only are you scared to go out yourself because of your OCD thoughts and anxieties, but you also become scared to ask anyone to help you in any way in case something happens to them, making you feel more and more alone.  OCD is such a bully, it wants you to be alone and suffering in your mental torment forever.  It can also make you come across as indecisive as you internally struggle with whether to get someone to drop the kids off at school or pick something up from the shops on the way home.

Unfortunately I don’t have an easy answer for this one either, sorry.  You just have to be stronger than it somehow.

  • Distraction is probably a good method, ask someone to do something and then do everything you can to keep yourself busy.
  • Having the knowledge that the other person has their own free will and that you cannot control everything.  I think that’s a big one with OCD and anxiety, you have to accept that you cannot control or know the outcome to everything and actually you probably wouldn’t want to given the choice.
  • Practice your mindfulness, be in the moment now and not in the unknown future worrying about things that will probably never happen.
  • Ride it out, anxiety can only be at it’s peak for a limited time, your body cannot sustain it for too long so breath and know it will pass.
  • Don’t catastrophise – which you obviously have if you’re in this situation.
  • Talk to someone, it could even be the person you’re worrying about.

Hopefully some of the above can help, I work on these things daily and slowly things get easier but it’s a long old road and some days it’s definitely tougher than others.  Remember you’re not alone and as always

Stay Strong xxx

 

Breathing

So I’ve done Yoga for many years and for anyone who’s done Yoga at all you’ll be aware that there’s normally a bit of meditation involved and some deep breathing and to be honest I normally find this part a bit dull.  I’ve also been on courses where I’ve learnt about the importance of breathing to get through fight or flight and all about the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system and how to balance them, I’ve learnt about heart math and it’s benefits and I’ve even blogged on here for over two years about how important breathing and mindfulness is but it wasn’t until today whilst listening to a Happy Place podcast with Rebecca Dennis that the impact of my breath on my entire life really hit me.

A good few years ago when I first met my husband he used to say to me quite often:

‘You’re holding your breath again’

Now, I just used to find this ‘pointless’ information annoying but today it REALLY hit me that this is actually the root of all my issues.  This is why yoga and meditation when I do them actually help me A LOT.  I hold my breath literally all the time, I’m doing it NOW, whilst writing this post, I can feel myself doing it!

I honestly think this is going to change my life.  I have been doing my meditations more (admittedly not everyday) but even that is starting to help and I am definitely going to continue with it.

Just stopping now and listening to my breath, its not smooth its not even, I’m surprised I’ve lasted this long to be honest!

I am sure I will need to do some work on what has caused me to hold my breath in this way but at least now I am aware of it and I can move forward.

Hopefully this will help someone else too,

Stay Strong xxx

 

Yoga

I cannot speak highly enough about yoga, I flipping love it!  I have done it for years just as a hobby really but it’s benefits for me are huge.  It relaxes me, improves my mental head space, it gets me more in tune with my body, it also helps with my Ulcerative Colitis, it strengthens my body and improves my flexibility, the benefits are endless.  If you’re struggling mentally for whatever reason or actually even if you’re not and you’ve never given yoga a go then you should really try it.

More recently I haven’t been doing as much exercise in general (this includes yoga) mainly because of a lack of time and energy (having just had a baby recently) but I am just starting to feel like I can get my head back into it and I have been bringing myself right back to the basics.  It’s amazing how much you can forget, even the small things like how to breath properly and hold your core muscles. The foundations are so important – in everything not just yoga – you have to put in the time and effort at the start to make sure you reap the benefits at the end.  Like with mental health recovery it is a marathon not a sprint but boy is it worth it in the end.

My own company

Now this is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember, I really do dislike being on my own and having to sit with my own thoughts, eeek!  In fact I’ve realised recently that I talk out loud to myself all the time and I think it’s partly so I don’t have to listen to my own thoughts and partly so I can separate the important thoughts from the jumble that is my own brain.

I find everything feels a bit more scary when I’m on my own, my anxiety is heightened and I catastrophize constantly, it’s also much harder to just dismiss negative thoughts.  For me this is a working progress and I do believe I’m better at it then I used to be but man I’ve got a long way to go.

So once again I don’t have a nice quick fix for this either, hummm.  I expect if I asked an expert they’d tell me I have to face it and just sit with the thoughts, feelings and inner ramblings.  Maybe eventually something more positive would start to come out?

I think when you have OCD intrusive thoughts it’s incredibly difficult to like yourself and therefore your thoughts, I think the version of yourself you see is completely different to the one everyone else sees and so you can’t understand why other people like you at all and you actually have no idea what they think of you.  Maybe they see more of the real you then you do, the you without OCD – if like me you have Pure O – now that’s a mind blowing thought!

So of course I must work harder on my self love and try to see all of the positives instead of the negatives.  I must push myself to do the things I know make me feel well mentally:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Do exercise
  • Eat well
  • Remove caffeine and alcohol
  • Remove any negative people who make me question my self worth from my social circle
  • Write a list of positives to read when struggling
  • Continue to write my blog
  • Appreciate all the beautiful things I have in my life
  • Live mindfully

So this is my little lecture to myself today to give myself that extra push that I know sometimes we all need.  Recovery is a marathon and not a sprint and boy don’t I know it, so until next time

Stay Strong xxx

 

 

OCD – Coping Strategies

So this appears to be one of the main searches that brings people to my site – not too surprising I suppose – so because of this I felt like it deserved it’s own post.  It does feel like a pretty big topic to be honest and I guess for everyone the answers will be slightly different.  There are a few different types of OCD and what will be a trigger for some people won’t be for others.  I guess ultimately none of us want to just cope with OCD we want to conquer it but for now here are a few things I’ve learnt along the way.

Lets start with a few facts

  • Believe and know that EVERYONE has intrusive thoughts.
  • People with OCD intrusive thoughts do not act on them EVER!
  • You are not a bad person for having these thoughts, the fact that they repulse you/that you fear them actually means completely the opposite – that you are a good person.
  • A thought cannot hurt you

1. Talk to someone, anyone (even if it’s yourself initially)

Counselling was so useful to me, talking through my intrusive thoughts and realising just by saying them out loud that they lost some power straight away.  Saying them to someone else and expecting a huge reaction only to be met with a normal expression was a complete revelation to me, what had I been worrying about all those years?  Medical professionals have seen it all before, you might think you’re the only one having these OCD thoughts but I promise you you’re not.

It can take some time to build up the courage to seek medical help, for me it took over 10 years but the sooner you go for it, the sooner your recovery can start.

2. Take one day at a time

Unfortunately OCD recovery is not a quick fix, you will need to take it one day at a time and it won’t be a straight line, there will be set backs but each time it will be a little easier to get back to where you were, always be kind to yourself, you’re only human after all.

3. Be mindful

Mindfulness is something which is fantastic for grounding you.  When you feel the anxiety starting to build and you feel trapped in a thought try to take yourself out of the situation (if you can safely) and breathe deeply, focus on something in the room and try to describe it to yourself, what does it look like, feel like, smell like etc

4.  Don’t spend time alone

One of the worst things you can do is sit in on your own trying to diffuse the thought.  Don’t even think about touching google, giving the thought time will only give it more power over you.  The best thing you can do is give your mate a call and get out the house.  Unable to do that then put a movie on, sing to a favourite piece of music, just don’t give that thought anymore of your time, I promise you, it won’t help!

5. Don’t be self destructive 

It’s very easy when you have a mental illness to want to try and escape it in any way you can. For most people this will mean alcohol, drugs, sex – anything really that gives you some short term relief.  Unfortunately these activities will not make the problem go away and in fact will probably make them worse.

6. Look after yourself

Eat well and exercise when you can, the body is a machine and you need to take care of it for it to work properly.  If you have a bad day then let it go and don’t allow yourself to spiral, no body is perfect.

7. Stop looking for normal

I really hate the word normal, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist to be honest.  Stop striving for something that is not achievable and just aim for the things that make you feel happy and content, this is your normal.

8. Be careful what you watch

This can be anything from the news to social media.  If you are someone who’s mood is massively affected by watching the news – I know mine is – or by looking at other peoples ‘perfect lives’ on Instagram or Facebook then don’t look, or give yourself a cut off – no social media after 9pm.  Most of it isn’t real anyway and they could be just as unhappy as you are.

Wow I really could rant on and on I think but unfortunately I’m out of time!  It really is tricky to find half an hour at the moment with looking after a baby (who’s currently sleeping) but I hope the above list can be of some help to you, perhaps I’ll try and do a part two next month if there’s enough interest but for now

Stay Strong xxx

 

 

Conquering OCD on Instagram

So more recently I’ve been finding it tough to find the time to write complete blog posts.  Having a newborn and a toddler life is pretty full on, however this has been getting to me as I think it’s so important to keep the conversation going.

Therefore I have opened an Instagram account, I’m hoping it will be easier to post pics and tips rather than write whole posts.  The blog isn’t going anywhere, there will just be less regular posts until I have more time to dedicate to it in the future.  Please follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/conqueringocd/  I am so grateful for all your continued support.

Stay Strong xxx

OCD – Control

Firstly a little apology that this post has been a while in the making, a newborn really does make getting things done tricky at times!

Something that is particularly hard for me  – I think I have mentioned it before in previous posts – is staying in control of my OCD when life events don’t allow you to control everything.  I can only speak of my personal experience but for me knowing what is coming next – although potentially a little boring at times – allows me to stay calm.

I think we all know life isn’t always predictable and so how can we prepare for the times when it throws us a curve ball?

Recently I’ve seen the return of my UC (Ulcerative colitis) which is an autoimmune disease.  Very conveniently it goes away during pregnancy but I’m now 8 weeks post pregnancy and it’s starting to return.  I’m feeling tired already and this reoccurrence – although not completely unexpected – has taken it’s toll on my positive outlook and energy levels.

Trying to stay positive and calm when you’re feeling under the weather is extra tough as it can seem unfair and motivation to do anything can be low.  When it’s just a cold there is an end in sight but with a long term condition it can be hard to see light at the end of the tunnel.  However it is important to try, particularly when you have people relying on you.

The last couple of weeks I’ve had to have some little talks with myself and reflect back on some of my previous blog posts to remember all the things I need to do to stay in control of my OCD.

Normally one of the first things I like to do when I’m feeling low is to get out of the house – four walls are not your friend – however this isn’t always possible when you’re feeling poorly.  If it’s not possible to get out then do what you can to improve your mental outlook.  If you can:

  • Open a window to let in some fresh air
  • Turn on the lights, potentially invest in a SAD lamp which helps with seasonal affective disorder – I am particularly sensitive to light.
  • Take a multi vitamin to give yourself a boost
  • Make sure you’re eating well and drinking enough water
  • Get your head phones in and listen to some of your favourite tunes
  • Call a friend or family member and have a chat or even better get them to come over
  • Try to avoid alcohol, smoking and caffeine
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep but not staying in bed all day
  • Try to have a shower and get dressed
  • Look at online blogs where people are in similar positions to yourself, this can make you feel a lot less alone.
  • If you can do some exercise
  • Write a thankful list of 5 things to be grateful for.  This can help to refocus your mind onto positives rather than negatives.
  • Use mindfulness and meditation.

There are so many things you can do to keep yourself on the right path but at the core of it all you have to want it, even in the toughest of times never loose your focus.

and of course, as always,

Stay Strong xxx