OCD – Never giving in

This is probably one of the hardest parts about fighting OCD.  You can never give in, not even to one compulsion because if you do it will never go away.  OCD never gives in, so you mustn’t either.  It can be so tempting sometimes, particularly with a new intrusive thought which can catch you off guard.

When it is a new intrusive thought (as opposed to a recurring one, which over time can be dealt with and it’s power diminished) the associated anxiety can be more intense and sometimes before I know it I’m spiralling internally downwards, becoming outwardly more touchy and irritable, my heartbeat is starting to rise, I’m getting hotter, my brain is trying to work out what to do to return me to equilibrium and more often then not giving into the compulsion is the quickest fix at this point.

Here are some of the scenarios I have personally faced over the years:

Whilst making a sandwich I thought I saw a black mark on the bread and my mind starts catastrophizing about what the mark could be and before you know it, I’ve convinced myself its going to do the person who eats it irreparable damage.   At this point the thing I most want to do is throw the sandwich in the bin and start again.  Even though I know logically that the black mark I saw was actually just an air hole in the bread but can I convince my OCD mind of that?


Whilst buying items in a supermarket, I pick up some toothpaste which has a grubby mark on the packaging.  Once again my mind starts catastrophizing about what the mark could be and what I then want to do is just walk out of the supermarket and leave the basket behind.


Whilst leaving a store carpark I drive over a pot hole in the road.  Once again my mind gets riddled with doubt and all I want to do is drive back to the car park and check the pot hole I went over wasn’t a child or animal.

Because hey, wouldn’t that be easier??  Well actually no.  No, no, no, no, no, no NO!

This is where all your CBT training, mindfulness, distraction, the lot, all comes into play.

A couple of other tips that can sometimes helps me are:

  1. To take yourself out of the situation completely.  So if I’m in the kitchen washing something and all of a sudden I have the thought that it’s still dirty for whatever reason and I need to rewash it, I can very often start to find myself in a spiral (as described above) and the only thing I can do is step away.  Go and do something else for half an hour and then come back.
  2. Distraction:  sometimes I sing to myself, I realise this sounds a bit nutty but actually the process of singing or even humming out load is sometimes a big enough distraction in my head that I can get my task completed.  Even if I’m just singing “The washing is clean, it’s all fine” over and over to myself, lol.

Of course the price we sometimes pay for not giving into our compulsions is that they then hang around like a big heavy weight on our shoulders.  I have had intrusive thoughts which have stayed with me for days, years even and this does make the fight particularly hard at times.

I find sharing the thought with someone as early as you can (if you have someone you are able to share them with) helps to diminish the thoughts power significantly.  If you don’t have someone you can talk to easily about this stuff then try writing them down or say them out loud to yourself when you’re alone.  Almost by getting the thoughts outside of your mind in someway, you can help to detach yourself from them and diminish their power.  Sounds a bit crazy but this actually really works, give it a try.

and as always, Stay Strong xxx


Conquering mental health naturally

So the last couple of weeks I’ve been struggling a bit.  I’m not sure how other peoples OCD affects them but I tend to find – having dealt with it for years – that day to day I do OK.  It no longer stops me getting out and doing things and I’m pretty good at dismissing the thoughts when they pop into my head.

However every now and again a new thought will appear and for whatever reason, I’m not feeling quite as strong as usual and it manages to creep in.  Now I find – and I would be interested to know if this happens to anyone else – that once this has happened, even if I can dismiss the thought that same day, in the days that follow I seem more susceptible to my OCD.  I’m not sure why and so this is what has happened over the last few days, my walls have been weakened so to speak.  So when this happens, what do I do?

Well it’s a good question and I am still learning myself what works.  I have in the past tried anti depressants and I know they help a lot of people but personally they’re not for me.  So I try the natural approach, here are some of the things I like to do:

  • Get Out – For me it’s important to get out in the air, go for a walk, anything so I’m not cooped up in the house.
  • Socialise – If I feel up to it, I socialise.  I know this isn’t always easy, believe me, but there’s no better distraction than being in the company of others.  It can really help to normalise a situation
  • Talk to someone – If you have someone you feel comfortable talking to about your OCD then talk to them, don’t bottle things up.  This is how the thoughts escalate out of control
  • Exercise – I try to Exercise, go for a run, go to a class at the gym, get those endorphin’s moving.  It maybe the last thing you want to do but it will help.
  • Be mindful – live in the moment, remember, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, live in the present“.
  • Distraction, distract yourself with an activity, something you enjoy and find absorbing, you will be surprised that your mind will completely forget the thought. I always think if I am able to forget about the thought then it can’t have been that important in the first place.
  • Meditate –  I’ve always found this one tricky as it involves clearing the mind, not always easy when you have OCD!
  • Watch what you eat and drink –  I think we’re probably all aware that caffeine, alcohol and too much sugar are not going to help mental health.  This one isn’t always easy admittedly but even small steps towards eating and drinking better will help.  Just one less coffee a day, one extra piece of fruit, baby steps.
  • Remember to like yourself – remember who you are, you are good enough.
  • Write it down – when I started this blog – admittedly not long ago – I did it to try and help others with the little I had learned over the years, however surprisingly I’ve found it therapeutic to write and so I now use this very blog as one of my coping strategies as well.

I have to admit when you’re feeling low any of the above can feel hard to achieve, it can be much easier to stay in and mope.  Also the results can sometimes take a while to happen, I had a conversation with my other half just this week about how I was doing all the right things and I was still feeling anxious.  I ended up going for a run in the rain at 9pm, just to try and get rid of the anxiety that was sitting on my chest.  It did work, but was a huge effort.

I will continue to build my list and as I find new ways to help the OCD pass I will share them.  I hope this list can help when you’re feeling low, maybe keep the link saved so you can refer to it when needed.  Stay strong people!  


Overcoming OCD Compulsions Continued

So this is kind of a continuance to my previous post Overcoming OCD Compulsions which you really need to read first for this one to make sense.

I thought of one very good ‘Overcoming thought’ so to speak, which I still use daily.

When I feel compelled to do a compulsion because of something I don’t want to happen e.g some I know will get sick/die/be hurt/I’ll do something bad, whatever it may be then I think to myself

‘If I do this action more then once, surely the thought (whatever it may be) will be more likely to happen’.    

By doing the action only once, the thought becomes insignificant and if you can be strong and stick with it, your mind just disregards it as a passing thought and not something relevant which it has to cling onto.

Sounds so simple I know, but try it, it works.


Overcoming OCD Compulsions

One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was to overcome my OCD compulsions, I can confidently say I went from doing everything 4 times to almost completely eliminating compulsions and this was before I had any counselling or had even heard those three letters CBT.

Now, time for a little disclaimer: I am not claiming to be an expert of any kind, I have no qualifications when it comes to therapy I am literally sharing what worked for me in the hope it can help others.  If it works for you too, fantastic.  

Now you know it wasn’t going to be one of those ‘one size fits all’, quick fix, type of things, that would be too easy, but hopefully you can mould what I did to work for you too.

So here it is, I basically used OCD against itself, let me try and explain.  We know as people who suffer with OCD that when we get an intrusive thought, that it is just that, but as much as we try and rationalise it out (so feeding the thought) it won’t go away and in fact most of the time it gets worse and worse until we finally give in and do the compulsion.  But what if when the thought came into your head you threw a different thought back at it??

Here’s an example for you as it’s very hard to explain without one.

Now a classic OCD compulsion for most suffers is hand washing, I know it was definitely one of mine.

So I go to the sink to wash my hands (hopefully just once this time I think in my head) but then as I’m washing my hands here comes the intrusive thought

‘What if that part of the tap you touched wasn’t clean, I saw a little mark on it, who knows what that could be, maybe you should wash your hands again just to be sure??’

Now the idea is to throw a different thought back at it such as this:

‘The more I wash my hands the more likely they are to get very sore and cut, if I have little cuts all over my hands am I not more likely to pick something up from the tap or in fact anywhere?’

OCD brain then thinks:

‘Yes, actually you’re right, I am better off washing my hands just once as the small risk of catching something from the tap is outweighed by the bigger possible risk’

Compulsion conquered, take that OCD!

Now this is just one example and obviously there are millions of different possible compulsions, but I actually found I was very good at thinking of new questions to oppose the ones triggering my compulsions.  I think it may be the way our minds work.

Another example which I used was walking under a ladder, how compelled we all are to walk around the ladder no matter what just to avoid some bad luck.  But what if you had to walk onto a busy road to walk around the ladder, isn’t that actually more dangerous then going under it??

Afterall OCD is just messing with your reality so you go and mess with it and see if it works for you, I really hope it does.