OCD – Looking on the Bright Side

OCD can feel very oppressive at times, so I realise the thought of looking on the bright side could be laughable at times.  However the further I travel along my OCD journey the more I see that there are aspects of OCD which you could look on positively.

Here are some of the brighter aspects of my OCD:

I feel like I appreciate things more

It’s very easy day to day to forget about how lucky we are.  A lot of the time OCD intrusive thoughts are born out of the fear of loosing what we have, whether that’s your lifestyle, freedom, the people you love, your health, the list goes on.  I think my OCD makes me appreciate what I have much more than I otherwise would. 

I care about others more

I feel like I have more compassion for others and a bit more insight when trying to understand peoples actions.  As we are all well aware, you don’t always know whats going on in someones mind.  

I am more active

Anyone recovering from mental illness should know the benefits of exercising.  There’s no better motivator then the possibility of feeling better. 

I am more social 

For me being in the house, on my own, for long periods of time, is very detrimental and so my OCD has pushed me to take part in activities, interact with people more and get out as much as I can.  It definitely stops me being lazy and as a result I do more and have more friendships and fun.  

I am becoming calmer (slowly!)

OCD recovery is a slow process and it’s not normally all in one direction unfortunately but every time I fall back, I also come back a little bit stronger and I know one day I will get there.  OCD has taught me patience, it’s making me calmer and more peaceful.  It’s taught me mindfulness and allowed me to understand myself better.

Yes, I still battle daily and it’s worth it because all the good things that have come out of my OCD have all come from the recovery I’m currently wading through.  So if you’ve happened upon this blog and you’ve just been diagnosed or you’re having a bad day and finding your recovery hard, I urge you to write down all the good things you’ve discovered about yourself as a result of your OCD.  Know that when you come out the other side you will be stronger, happier and more at peace.

I hope this has helped to throw some light onto what can so often be a very dark place.

OCD after all is all about thinking about things differently, is it not?

Stay strong xxx

OCD Awareness Week

So next week is OCD Awareness week.  What a fantastic opportunity to get talking about OCD and helping people understand it better.  I found a great list of ways to get involved on the OCD UK website.  Here are a few of the simpler ones below.

7 ideas for 7 days of OCD awareness

(OCD Awareness Week: 8-14th October 2016)

  1. Change your Facebook/Twitter cover photo for the week
  2. Talk to someone new about your OCD and tell them how OCD impacts on your life.
  3. Invite a friend to watch a movie which features OCD.
  4. Change your social media profile photo.
  5. Get a great photo of you with your ’Supporting OCD Awareness Week’ placard on social media.
  6. Blog about how OCD impacts on you and post that link across all your social media pages.
  7. Contact your local newspaper or local BBC radio station and ask them to interview you about your OCD for OCD Awareness Week.

Together we can make a difference,

Stay strong xxx


OCD & Trust

Over the years I’ve found that OCD has completely destroyed my trust.  So with the exception of a few close family members, I don’t fully trust anyone.  I think OCD gives you a very bleak outlook on life.  You become a negative person who sees danger everywhere, you think the worst of people and you don’t trust anyone, which is incredibly sad.

The outcome of this is that you never really let go and so real friendships are never formed and opportunities are lost.  Of course if you never fully let go, how are you ever going to know who you really are?  Or maybe that is who you really are – whoa deep!  I suppose the conclusion you have to come to is if you’re happy where you are or whether you want to change?

So how to build trust?  It’s a very good question, it feels like it’s something that takes years to build and seconds to be broken, something that’s super fragile and this in itself is terrifying to me.

So now I realise (after rambling for a couple of paragraphs) that I may have to work on this and come back to this topic at a later date.  Any advice or useful comments would be most welcome, I’m just sorry that this post itself hasn’t been more useful but I am still working through all this myself and actually just writing this post has made me realise I must face this issue.

Stay strong xxx

False Memory OCD

So today is the first day I’ve actually been able to put a real name to this.  Up until now I’ve always described my ‘false memories’ as ‘warped memories’, as this is what it has always felt like to me.  A real memory being skewed by my OCD rather then a completely made up/false memory.  All of my ‘False memories’ have been based on something which was originally fact so for example:

“I know for a fact that I definitely drove home from work on Tuesday.  “  – Real memory

but by Wednesday I’m thinking:

“How can I be sure I didn’t hit someone when I was driving through the high street on my way home on Tuesday?  I can’t remember every inch of the drive home so I can’t be entirely sure I didn’t.  “  – False Memory

Over the years I think this may actually have been my biggest issue.  The fear of having done or even just said something I shouldn’t of and having to reanalyse and think back through events over and over and over again.  It is completely sole destroying and can really take the joy out of doing pretty much anything, as after a while you know these false memories are going to be triggered and it can actually feel easier to just not do anything that’s going to trigger them.  writing this makes me so sad, I’ve probably missed out on a lot over the years.

My biggest tools for fighting false memories (along with all the other brilliant OCD fighting tools I’ve mentioned in previous posts) are:

Firstly: Self Belief

I’ve talked quite a lot about self belief in previous posts.  It really is worth taking some time to sit down and look inside yourself (a scary thought for someone with OCD I realise).  Understand that you are a good person, if you’d done something awful (even when drunk) your body would have an extreme reaction to it which you wouldn’t forget.  Know the person you want to be and when you look at yourself you most likely are that person already, your OCD is just covering it up, don’t let it!

Then if you still can’t shift the memory:

Check reality, Accept the Consequences, Don’t Catastrophize and Be Mindful, this is probably best explained with an example:

So say you believe you have run over someone on the way home.  You think about every moment of your drive over and over again but even though you can’t find one scrap of evidence that you have run someone over you cannot shift the false memory.  

Firstly Check Reality: think about your reaction, would you really be able to drive over someone and:

  • a) Not notice
  • b) Have absolutely no memorable reaction
  • c) No one else notice?

unlikely I would say

Next: Accept the Consequences (I realise this one sounds a bit odd but it does help me to move on.)

So the consequence of this event would probably be that you would be arrested and have some sort of trial, you may end up in prison and would have to live with the guilt of what you’d done.  I don’t know how many times I’ve imagined myself in police interview rooms explaining that ‘I don’t even remember doing it, sorry’ but actually when you start to realise you wouldn’t have anything to say to the police and that you shouldn’t be able to feel guilty for something you don’t even remember doing.  You start to feel yourself relax.  A lot of the time acceptance of these consequences is easier to deal with then the OCD feeling and constant thinking over of the events.

Next: Don’t Catasrophise the event:

You have no memory of this event so you don’t know what happened, therefore tell yourself that the best outcome occurred rather then the worst.  In this scenario it is just as likely, isn’t it?  So instead of thinking that the person you think you ran over died.  Think that you didn’t run anyone over (which is the actual reality).

Lastly: Be Mindful

OK so even if these consequences are coming your way, (which of course they’re not) they’re not happening right now, right this second are they and even if they do (which they won’t) you will deal with them then, not now.

No one knows what’s around the corner and this is why we bring mindfulness back in at this point.  Right here, right now, non of that is happening and until then you must make the most of every single second you have because life is super short and you can’t worry about the future.

So that was a lot of information (deep breath), I do feel like I’ve rambled quite a bit in this post (sorry about that).  I really do hope you’ve been able to follow it and it’s made some sense.  These tactics have really worked for me in fighting my false memories so I really hope that they can help you too.

Stay strong xxx


OCD – Skewed gut feelings

So many people rely on their gut feelings for big life decisions.  I have never been able to trust mine.  Most of the major decisions in my life have been hampered by OCD and so I’m never sure whether I’m unsure about something for a ‘real’ reason or an ‘OCD’ reason.  This has led to most decisions being incredibly hard for me.

I remember driving to look at wedding dresses and on the way a little girl was standing by the lights waiting to cross the road.  She was on the pavement but quite near the edge and I can remember driving past her and my OCD saying: ‘She was a bit close to the road, what if you’d hit her?’

From that point on the trip was completely pointless, as any dress I picked on that day would mean I would run over a little girl in the future.  Writing it now it seems completely crazy, somehow my mind had catastrophized the event, then connected that to the dress shopping.

I quite often have to ask my husband whether a situation I am stressed about is something someone ‘normal’ would also be stressed about or whether it’s just my OCD.

For example:

Whilst cooking if something you’ve chopped lands on the floor, maybe a carrot which is going to be put into boiling water.

Would you:

  • A) Throw it away
  • B) Throw it into the pot


If you got a take away coffee and the lid had a little mark on it would you:

  • A) Not even notice it (my husband)
  • B) Notice it but wipe it away and think nothing more of it
  • C) Throw the coffee away because it’s probably something horrible that will kill you (sounds a bit extreme but this is what catastrophizing does.)

I wish I could share some easy advice on how to overcome these situations but unfortunately you have to face them head on.  You do however have a wealth of tools to use against it:

To name just a few.  If it helps, every time I have found the inner strength to fight one of these thoughts/compulsions I have felt better for it in the long run and every time I have let them win I have felt worse!

The thoughts don’t go away and actually your OCD mind learns and will use new intrusive thought against you in other situations.  OCD is a huge bully which will use any ammunition you give it.  Don’t let it!

Stay strong xx

Mental Health Crossovers

One of the most interesting things for me when I finally got myself into some counselling was the realisation that what I was suffering from wasn’t just OCD but actually also anxiety and worry.  I had always just blanketed all of my thoughts and feelings under the OCD umbrella and it was enlightening to break it down and understand it all on another level.

I sometimes find it really difficult to differentiate between worry and OCD.  I will try now with a couple of examples:

A worry:  

‘I have to drive to the supermarket to do my shopping, what if I crash the car on the way or hit someone in the car park?  ‘  

An OCD thought after visiting the supermarket:

‘There was a pothole in the car park that I went over when leaving the supermarket, what if that was actually a child and I didn’t see them?  ‘  

Once you start to break the thoughts down, you can start to look at how to overcome them.  To be honest a lot of the methods work for both worry and OCD but there are some separate tools which could be useful.

For worry there is a tool called ‘The Worry Tree’, best shown by an illustration here.  I have personally found the worry tree very useful in helping to dismiss worrying thoughts when they come along.

Worry and OCD are also incredibly closely linked to GAD (General anxiety disorder) and the intolerance of uncertainty.

I’ve recently found the APPLE acronym  (Acknowledge, Pause, Pull Back, Let Go and Explore) which can be used to help combat GAD.  I’m going to be giving it a go (More information in link above page 2).

As always I hope this helps, Stay strong xx



Everyone has intrusive thoughts

For me CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) had it pros and cons.  Not all the methods worked for me but one piece of information which really stuck with me and which I believe to be vitally important for anyone battling OCD is that:


You are not weird or strange for having them, you are just less able to dismiss them. During one of my sessions I was given the below information which I am now passing on to you in the hope it will help.

normal intrusive thoughts

The table below shows the results of research findings from a survey of 293 students (198 female, 95 male), none of who had a diagnosed mental health problem. The column on the left shows the type of intrusive thought and the 2 columns on the right show the percentage of women and men who said they had experienced that particular thought.

  item female % male %
1. driving into a window 13 16
2. running car off the road 64 56
3. hitting animals or people with car 46 54
4. swerving into traffic 55 52
5. smashing into objects 27 40
6. slitting wrist/throat 20 22
7. cutting off finger 19 16
8. jumping off a high place 39 46
9. fatally pushing a stranger 17 34
10. fatally pushing friend 9 22
11. jumping in front of train/car 25 29
12. pushing stranger in front of train/car 8 20
13. pushing family in front of train/car 5 14
14. hurting strangers 18 48
15. insulting strangers 50 59
16. bumping into people 37 43
17. insulting authority figure 34 48
18. insulting family 59 55
19. hurting family 42 50
20. choking family member 10 22
21. stabbing family member 6 11
22. accidentally leaving heat/stove on 79 66
23. home unlocked, intruder there 77 69
24. taps left on, home flooded 28 24
25. swearing in public 30 34
26. breaking wind in public 31 49
27. throwing something 28 26
28. causing a public scene 47 43
29. scratching car paint 26 43
30. breaking window 26 43
31. wrecking something 32 33
32. shoplifting 27 33
33. grabbing money 21 39


  item female % male %
34. holding up bank 6 32
35. sex with unacceptable person 48 63
36. sex with authority figure 38 63
37. fly/blouse undone 27 40
38. kissing authority figure 37 44
39. exposing myself 9 21
40. acts against sexual preference 19 20
41. authority figures naked 42 54
42. strangers naked 51 80
43. sex in public 49 78
44. disgusting sex act 43 52
45. catching sexually transmitted disease 60 43
46. contamination from doors 35 24
47. contamination from phones 28 18
48. getting fatal disease from strangers 22 19
49. giving fatal disease to strangers 25 17
50. giving everything away 52 43
51. removing all dust from the floor 35 24
52. removing dust from unseen places 41 29

Purdon C. & Clark D.  Obsessive intrusive thoughts in nonclinical subjects. Part 1 Content & relation with depressive, anxious & obsessional symptoms.  Behav Res Ther 1992;31:713-20

A problem shared is a problem halved

I think one of the things which sets OCD apart from other mental illnesses is the shame it can generate within the sufferer.  The thoughts can be so repulsive to the person suffering that they don’t even want to admit them to themselves, let alone tell someone else.  This is why so many people with OCD suffer silently for so many years on their own.  Which is so sad as once you start talking about your thoughts they start to loose their ‘power’ over you.

It took me 20 years to go to the doctors and ask for help, 20 YEARS!!!!!!  Even then I wasn’t sure I could.  The thing that finally pushed me to go was my partner.  They were having some anxiety problems of their own and instead of suffering they just made an appointment with the doctors and went, as if ‘why wouldn’t you?’  I sat there and thought, you’ve suffered for a few weeks and you’re getting help, I’ve suffered for 20 years, I need help, I want help and so I went.  But to this day if they hadn’t gone, I don’t think I would have.

I can remember sitting in the waiting room at the doctors (they were running late of course)  getting more and more wound up.  When I finally got to see the doctor I’m not even sure what I said, I had, after all 20 years worth of thoughts to throw their way, but they understood straight away and they were very understanding.

I had some CBT therapy, (there is normally a wait for this, all the more reason to go sooner rather than later).  Did CBT therapy work for me?  Yes it was good (and I will go into more detail in a later post), but what helped me more then anything was sharing my thoughts, every time I talked to someone about one of my thoughts, it lost it’s ‘power’.  I know my OCD thoughts are irrational and by sharing them with someone who understands OCD, that was confirmed and therefore the thought diminished.  For me the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ couldn’t be more true.

OCD is quite a personal thing, what works for one person may not work for another but what will help everyone, I would guess without exception is talking about it.  If you can’t talk to a professional talk to a close friend who you trust, a family member who knows you well.  Just don’t continue to suffer in silence.