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


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

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!

OCD & Disregard of self worth

This is something I’ve only been able to see since recovering from OCD.  There is, I believe, a very real link between OCD and disorders such as bulimia, anorexia and drug and alcohol abuse.

I’m sure there are other contributing factors but in particular (and definitely in my case) a viscous cycle of OCD intrusive thoughts can make you believe you are a horrible person, capable of horrible things and not worthy of love or happiness.  You get beaten down over hours, days, weeks, months, years even, until you don’t feel like you know yourself, you don’t like yourself and you definitely don’t care about yourself.

You look for oblivion or control, some people look for both.  Personally I drank, it was easier to forget the OCD thoughts, until the next morning that is, when you were suddenly hit by that horrible doubt about what you might have gotten up to the previous evening, oh the possibilities an OCD mind can conjure up are endless, believe me.  I also had periods of time when I didn’t eat properly and binge ate, I even tried to make myself sick once but luckily for me I was unable to do it and when I looked in the mirror afterwards and saw all the blood vessels in my eyes had burst from the effort I really scared myself.  It still scares me now writing this, to think that if it had been easy would I have just carried on doing it, where would that leave me now?

So one problem can so easily become several and really it all started with the thought that you are capable of something you can’t even bear to think about…………..wow!

And so in conclusion to what is – I apologise – quite a deep post, anything you can do to build up your self confidence is going to help you fight those thoughts when they come knocking.

Stay strong people!

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

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!  


Like yourself, you are good enough

I don’t generally like to think of OCD as a separate unwanted part of myself, at the end of the day, like it or not it is part of me and I expect it will always be there in some way, shape or form.  However I would say OCD is a bully, it prays on my self doubt, and feeds off any negativity going on inside my brain.  When you have an intrusive thought, most of the time it will bring you down and absorb you into yourself, it will make you doubt the very core of who you think you are.

Therefore my advice is simply to like yourself and who you are.  You will only believe yourself capable of horrible actions if you think you are a bad person and do not like yourself.  Work on building your confidence as a person, invest time in looking after yourself, exercise, spend time with friends, do things you enjoy, all of these things will help you to know who you are.  Then the next time OCD tries to convince you you’re capable of something awful you will know yourself better and it will be easier to dismiss the thought.

Don’t let OCD drag you down!