OCD – It’s all a way of thinking

OCD feeds off self doubt, loathing and negative thinking spirals.  It will make you think you are the worst person in the world, that you are capable of horrible things and that you don’t deserve love and happiness.  It will isolate you and drag you down if it can, so if you’re fighting this bastard every day like me then you have to get very good at telling it to go f*uck itself.

One of the best things you can do is simply like yourself (I’ve spoken about this a lot before), know who you are and don’t waver.  You are a good person who deserves good things to come to you and you are stronger then the thoughts in your head, yep that’s all they are, thoughts, not even something tangible or real.

I’ve recently tried to take the next step in my recovery.  For quite a while now I’ve been using my husband for reassurance when something happens that triggers an OCD spiral.  It’s worked so well for me, whatever it is I’m stressing about whether it’s something that’s happened on the drive home or in the supermarket or wherever I just run it past him, he just shrugs and that’s reassurance enough for me to know that I’m worrying over nothing.

Now initially I didn’t even realise that this was a coping mechanism, it happened so organically over time.  Then a while ago I read something that basically confirmed if you do this to relieve a thought then it is a ‘coping strategy’.  Of course they’re right and ultimately I need to be able to process these thoughts on my own without my husbands help.  So I’ve been doing my best to do this, I’m going to be honest it’s super tough, it takes me longer to remove the doubt feeling but it does go eventually which is reassuring.

Last night something happened when I was picking my kids up from pre school and I immediately started to catastrophise it in my head.  I could feel the doubt pulling me down, all the ‘what if’s’ starting to flood into my head.  My mood started to drop and I could hear myself becoming irritable and snappy.

I made a decision that I wasn’t going to talk to my husband about it and that I was just going to sit with it and not think on it.  This was incredibly hard, I busied myself
with making tea when I got home and distracted myself as much as I could, the doubt feeling stayed with me all night, though it did start to loose it’s grip as time ticked on.  This morning the thought has popped into my head a couple of times but I have been able to dismiss it relatively easily.

Something that has really helped me to remove the thought is choosing to put a positive slant on the situation rather then a negative one.  I’m sure I’ve said this before but if you must catastrophise then do it positively!  Realistically if you are going to live your life fully then you are going to come across situations that are going to trigger OCD thoughts, FACT it’s impossible not to.  You cannot avoid them and you know what, even if you try to you will still hit them occasionally, avoiding OCD DOES NOT WORK (take my word for it, I’ve tried).  

The best thing you can do is look at a situation and think on it positively.  So don’t think ‘what if this could of happened‘ but think ‘that didn’t happen’ or ‘I reacted in the best way I could, now I know I can deal with the situation if it happens again in the future’. 

Know you can’t control or predict everything and that that’s OK, you probably wouldn’t want to even if you had the choice.  Know you are a good person and you will always do the best you can in any situation, that’s really all anyone can hope for.  It takes so much strength to overcome these thoughts but you can do it I promise.  Do not let OCD win, do not let it pull you down!

I really hope this helps, even getting it down is helping me process it.  Writing the experience down even though hard can help detach it from your mind, you can then go and burn it if you wish!  By writing it down it’s like an alternative to telling someone, it gets it out and then it’s gone, yes!

As always, Stay Strong xxx

OCD – Everything in a Rush

This for me is one of the most annoying parts of my OCD.  As pretty much anyone suffering from OCD will know, your mind can easily link thoughts with actions.

So for example:  If you’re washing something up and all of a sudden you have the thought of someone you love dying, it is very difficult to not want to rewash that item.

I have found that certain tasks I have to do daily, such as the washing up, cooking or cleaning have – for me – a sort of anxiety associated with them which hangs above me. Almost like I’m holding my breath whilst I do them, I have to get through the tasks (because they have to be done) but I never have time to relax and do them properly, in my own time, as I constantly feel on edge until the tasks are completed.  There are just too many things that can occur which could send me spiralling.

There are things which help me through most days – which I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned in my previous posts – music is particularly good, if you’re singing away to a tune you’re less likely to be stressing about what you’re actually doing but I still find I feel anxious every time.

It would be amazing to be able to relax and enjoy tasks more.  I have noticed recently that I rush in so many parts of my life, nothing can be done in a relaxed way.  Decorating, sewing, gardening, piano playing, even going for a walk into town.  There aren’t many things that make me feel calm and relaxed and so anxiety has started to become a feeling I live with.  Some days it’s better than others, some days I feel like I have someone sitting on my chest it’s so bad.

I try to be mindful as much as I can, things that make me feel peaceful are: open spaces, forest walks, running, exercise in general, the rain – I love the rain- , hugs, reassurance, love.

Having a mental illness, any mental illness is a daily battle.  When you find something that helps, that makes you feel calm and happy, make a mental or if it helps a physical note of it.  Turn to it when you feel low.

So this post probably hasn’t offered much useful advice but maybe it has helped someone feel less alone.  I know that that in itself can sometimes help.  Over the next few weeks I plan to delve further into mindfulness, anything useful I discover I will of course share.

Just one last thought before I sign off this week to World Suicide Prevention Day which was yesterday.  I may be a little late but it’s never too late to be aware of such an important issue.  It is so sad to think that people feel they have no other option, suicide is preventable and we should raise awareness where we can.

Stay strong xxx

 

The OCD Fear

This is one of the saddest things about OCD for me.  When I look back over the last 20 plus years of my life and realise all of the opportunities I’ve missed just because of ‘The OCD Fear’ of; going places, driving, watching the news, reading the paper, reading books, some days even stepping out of the front door, I could go on and on and on!   So many things lost.  Even my friendships and relationships have been massively impacted because there’s always some sort of OCD monologue going on in the background getting in my damn way!

Mindfulness has been a fantastic tool for dealing with this in recent months but I still find myself avoiding things such as the news because I know if I hear one really upsetting thing I won’t be able to get it out of my head for the rest of the day.  In fact if it is something that has happened locally sometimes my OCD can even start to make me believe I might have been involved in some way, madness I know, but yet somehow OCD can make it all plausible.

However more recently I’ve gotten a lot stronger, using mindfulness I am able to dismiss my OCD thoughts more easily then I used to.  Also I have been working a lot on liking myself something that seems so simple but actually the better you know yourself and the more you like the person you are the less capable of these terrible thoughts you will feel.

So my advice would be to get to know yourself better, write down the things you like about yourself, if you’re finding this hard ask someone close to you what they like about you and write that down.  Read these things when you’re feeling low.  Always keep in mind that the fact that these thoughts disturb you means you know the actions are wrong and you would never act of them.  Remember, Everyone has intrusive thoughts.

Sometimes it feels easier to let the thoughts win but if you do this they will never go away.  I like to think I’m pretty strong nowadays but I still have the odd OCD compulsion which has actually become so natural to me that I forget I do it and that it’s even OCD at all.  One in particular that springs to mind is that I always rip off the first piece of toilet roll through fear it may have been contaminated in some way.

My pledge this week is that I am going to try and stop that compulsion bringing me just one more step closer to beating my OCD!  Maybe you could try and beat just one of your OCD compulsions too and let me know how you get on.  If you need any additional motivation this week, just think of one of the memories/opportunities OCD has stolen from you and say NO, you’re not having anymore of my life OCD!

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.