Compulsion Doubt Theory – Overcoming OCD Compulsions

A few years ago I wrote a post on overcoming OCD compulsions and how thinking of an opposite thought could combat the initial thought, so for example

Intrusive thought

 ‘I need to wash my hands until it feels right because I touched something dirty on the door handle and I might now be contaminated’

Opposite thinking

By washing your hands multiple times you are more likely to get dry chapped hands and therefore pick up an infection from somewhere’ 

This worked for me and got rid of my compulsions completely but I now realise it’s even simpler then trying to find an opposite thought, all you actually have to do is create doubt in the compulsion, as soon as your mind doubts that the compulsion will actually give you relief if becomes pointless to do the compulsion at all. 

People who suffer with OCD generally feel a sense of over responsibility for other people, this responsibility creates incredible anxiety at times and so compulsions can arise to try and neutralise this.  Have you ever noticed that sharing your intrusive thought with someone else and hearing them confirm that it is silly makes you feel a lot less fearful? Well this is because by telling someone else the responsibility for that thought becomes shared with that person and so your responsibility has somewhat been diminished – ever heard of the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’?  well if you think about it the problem itself hasn’t actually changed at all, you just feel less responsible for it.  

By hearing someone say, ‘yes I checked the oven was off too’, this immediately takes away some of your responsibility for whether the oven was on or not and offers you some relief but what if you could create this relief for yourself?  

What if you said to yourself;

‘By checking the oven a second time I am creating self doubt which will lead to further uncertainty. ‘

Did you know the more times you check the cooker/front door/iron or whatever it is, the more likely you are to doubt whether it is actually off.  

You can do this with any OCD compulsion, you just have to create some doubt in the thought, here’s another example;  

Intrusive thought:

‘What if when I went over that pothole in the car it wasn’t actually a pothole but a person, I must go back and check’  

Driving related compulsions can be really hard to overcome but I always tell myself;

‘If I go back and check I increase my rate of hitting someone by 50% as I have to drive back over the same road again, I also give the doubt credit in my head and create more doubt’. 

This puts enough doubt into the compulsion to make it worth sitting with the uncertainty and of course eventually it goes.  

Doing things a set amount of times was always a huge one for me. I had to do things 4 times as I was growing up as there were 4 members of my immediate family and if I didn’t do things 4 times something would happen to one of them.  If I had a bad thought whilst doing the compulsion 4 times I would then have to start again or do things in multiples of 4 until I got through a set without having an intrusive thought,  Believe me when I say that this was unbelievably time consuming and very quickly escalated into having to do pretty much everything 4 or 8/12/16/20 etc times.  

Create doubt with number related compulsions by telling yourself;

The more times I do something the more likely the intrusive thought is to happen.

THIS WORKS!!!  Please try it!

It feels like quite a hard concept to explain but I know other people can benefit from ‘Compulsion doubt’.  If you feel this could be something that might work for you then please let me know and I will try and write up a few more examples.  

I really hope this can help you as much as it has me, we really are more powerful than the intrusive thoughts we have,

As always,
Stay Strong xxx

please follow me on Instagram at @conqueringocd

Everyday It’s You vs You

Happy New Year all! Is it still OK to say that on the 27th Jan? How is 2022 treating you so far? I always find January a tough month, it’s dark, cold and long! But at least we’re nearly into February now and it’s getting a bit lighter each day as we edge closer to spring, yay!

Today I thought I’d pop on here and share my latest mantra which seems to be helping me, as you know I’m always keen to share the good stuff. Each morning when I wake up and I start to get bombarded with the OCD torrent of crap – because it is crap you know – I tell myself, ‘it’s you verses you everyday, so who are you going to pick? The OCD you or the; happy, funny, relaxed, best version of yourself you?’. Ummmm, well it’s an easy answer isn’t it, so why so often do we pick the other one? and don’t start thinking you don’t have a choice, because you do.

  • You can choose not to engage with the thoughts
  • You can choose to look after yourself with good self care
  • You can choose to accept the uncertainty – I know this ones tough
  • You can choose to be that best version of yourself, for your family, friends and yourself
  • You can choose to put a smile on your face, even when you don’t feel it – because this sends positive messages to the brain by the way.
  • You can choose to live and be that best version of yourself

I get so mad when I think about how much of my life I’ve wasted worrying about my OCD intrusive thoughts. It’s also important to remember it’s not a straight line though, we all have days when we feel more resilient then others or we self sabotage for who knows what reason and you know what that’s OK too, that’s part of life and being human. Always be kind and compassionate to yourself, remember the thoughts affect you because you find them hard/repulsive/horrible and it is completely normal to have the thought in the first place.

So put the mantra,

Everyday it’s, you vs you’

up somewhere and read it everyday, I have it as my screensaver on my phone so I see it all the time and this works for me, I really hope it will work for you too.

As always,
Stay Strong xxx

What a year!

Well, what a year 2021 has been, I feel like I’ve been to hell and back and I really didn’t see it coming. As a result, I have been super quiet on here and I am sorry for that but know I have been working on myself and building back my resilience which was shattered to pieces a few months ago.

This blog was never a place to fill with OCD triggers and so I’m not going to go through in detail what has happened but just that it was some health issues which resulted in panic attacks followed by a particularly awful run of jury duty which triggered my OCD, the result of which was a mental break.

There is no way I could have predicted either of these two events and it has given me a new perspective on my recovery. I really thought I had my OCD under control but what I’ve come to realise this year is that I had actually just become very good at avoiding my triggers. I wouldn’t watch the news or go to places I found uncomfortable but by avoiding these things when I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t anymore, I just shut down and was unable to cope.

My coping mechanisms had become so natural that I hadn’t even realised I was doing them, scary! So, the second half of this year has been a battle with myself to get back on track and I am still going through this and will be for some time I believe. It makes me sad that this has happened but I am learning and growing all the time and having self-compassion is incredibly important. I will not be sad to see the back of 2021 but here are some thing it has taught me which maybe useful for you as well.

  • You can’t hide/avoid your triggers, they will find you. You have to face them and ERP the shit out of them!
  • Self-care is essential!
  • Exercise is really important but don’t rely solely on it! I’ve done this in the past as I love yoga but then if you get ill what do you do, have a backup!
  • Sleep well
  • Eat really well, avoid sugar and processed foods
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs and caffeine where possible
  • Help others, this takes the focus off yourself and gets you out of your own head, I teach yoga and it is fantastic for this!
  • Be in nature as often as you can, when I was really low just watching the birds fly in the garden seemed to lift me a bit, knowing the world is bigger than you and your thoughts is important.
  • Learn to live with uncertainty, yuck, I hate this one but it is essential for getting through OCD and health anxiety, none of us know what the future holds and the sooner you get on board with that the happier you’ll be.
  • Learn some breathing techniques, you don’t have to meditate everyday (unless you can of course, in which case do) but know how to regulate your breath for those situations when it’s tough and you feel your anxiety rising, I will try and do a blog on this next year.
  • Socialise, I find it brings me back to the present very quickly and out of my own head
  • Don’t avoid anything, push into the avoidance – another yucky one I know.

Those are just a few of the things I have learnt, I could probably go on and on to be honest, I’ve done so much in therapy this year! I will do my best in 2022 to blog more with helpful information and I might add in some yoga and breathing exercises too. If you don’t already follow me on Instagram please do as I’m going to be throwing more info up there in the coming months, all things that have helped me.

I hope your 2021 has been better than mine and that your recovery is going well, no matter where you are on that road remember it is not a straight line and there will be set backs, even massive ones like I’ve had this year! Always remember that you are a good person and that these thoughts – which everyone gets – affect you more because of that. Sending lots of love to everyone suffering with OCD over the Christmas period, I know it can be really tough, wishing you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year,

As always,
Stay Strong xxx

Relapse and Recovery

So, I’ve been away for a while and I’m sorry about that but the title of this post might give you a little insight into why that’s been the case. 

I’ve had OCD for a long time now and I thought I was pretty resilient and to be honest I think I probably was but starting in November last year I went through a series of events which I did not see coming and in May this year that led me to a mental state which was scarily close to suicidal.  Even writing that world has given me chills and I still can’t quite believe it but there you have it.  I’m still on my road to recovery at the moment and some days are better then others but I am definitely not where I was six weeks ago and that is very good news. 

Now I’ve learnt a lot over the last few months and I am planning to share the good bits that could help you guys too but it’s going to take me some time as I have to protect my mental health and writing this blog, even though cathartic at times can be emotionally draining. 

So enough about me, how is everyone?  I think the world is such a tough place mentally at the moment and it’s very easy to feel quite down about things, especially if you have OCD, as we are generally more prone to seeing the worst-case scenario and looking for problems which confirm our negative thinking patterns.

I’ve been doing my best to notice and override these thinking patterns, so I thought I’d share some of the things which have helped me along the way:

  • Sitting at the end of each day and writing down the things which have made me smile.  Even if I’ve had a pretty miserable day there’s always been something and focusing on these is a great way to go to bed thinking more positively, it gives you a great list to look back on when you’re feeling low too. 
  • Gratitude can also help, I tend to do this first thing in the morning, I lie in bed after I wake up, take a big breath into my lungs and I am thankful that I am alive, that I can breath and feel my body move with my breath, I wiggle my toes and feel grateful that I can and then I open my eyes and feel grateful that I can, I give myself a hug and tell myself that I am proud of myself, that I love myself and that I am a good person.  All this takes about 60 seconds so don’t tell me you can’t do it to!  Connecting with your body and thanking it for working for you is so important.   
  • Being out in nature, for me this is a massive one, there’s something so nice about being away from all the hustle and bustle of daily life and just grounding yourself, it can make your worries feel very small and insignificant and can remind you that you are part of something a lot bigger then yourself. 
  • I would normally say exercise at this point and this has always worked for me BUT what happens when you can’t exercise?  This has also happened to me recently and it has taught me that you can’t be reliant on one strategy for your mental wellness, you have to have a bag full of resources to fall back on, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket!   
  • Breathwork, this has been something I’ve always rolled my eyes at in the past but I’ve started to integrate some breathwork into parts of my life, especially round situations where I get very anxious and it is amazing how you can change your whole state of being through breathing.  If you get quite anxious it is worth learning one or two breathing exercises which you can use when the situation calls for it.
  • Eating well, now this can seem a massive effort when you’re feeling at your lowest but start easy and build it up.  For instance, you can add an extra piece of fruit in instead of a sugary snack, you can still have a sugary snack but if you’ve already had two biscuits maybe substitute the third for an orange?  Yesterday I made myself a second coffee at 3pm, I knew this was a bad idea and even though my brain was saying ‘yes you want it’, I ultimately knew what would follow would be a jittery rest of the day, then not being able to get to sleep at bedtime and so yesterday I poured it down the sink and made myself a decaf instead but don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of days when I’ve drunk it and suffered the consequences when I’ve felt less resilient or thought I would be OK, you learn as you go and you should never beat yourself up for these decisions once they’ve been made, accept them and move on, ALWAYS!!!!
  • Social interaction, this is so important and I couldn’t recommend it enough.  OCD has this nasty way of making you think you’re alone and you’re the only one suffering but it couldn’t be less true, the more I speak to people the more I realise that everyone has something going on, no one is acing life, despite what their Instagram feed may look like and you are definitely 100% not alone.
  • Get help, if you are really suffering don’t wait, I’m back in therapy now and that’s exactly where I need to be.

I have so much to share from the last few months and I promise to only share the good stuff in the hope it will help you too, no one needs more misery in their lives.  I really hope you’re all good and as always,

Stay Strong xxx

Is it me or the situation?

This is something I think I was already aware of but has been bought to my attention again recently by my new working schedule.

Just over a year ago I wrote about how I was going to leave my job in May 2020 and pursue an alternative career in Yoga. I wrote this post click here to view on March 4th 2020, just before lockdown and if lockdown hadn’t happened I think I would of followed through but lockdown did happen and everything flew up in the air!

I am happy to say I did manage to get my yoga qualification and I am now a Yoga instructor however the course ran for longer then was first planned and I had to continue to work at my old job throughout. There were too many unknowns just to quit, I guess this is a great example of not knowing what life is going to throw at us.

I now find myself in a double working life at two extremes of the spectrum, my part time day job as a software developer and my evening job as a yoga instructor but what I have noticed even more is that I take better care of myself on the days I do my yoga then when I’m just sat at my desk.

Why is this I ask myself?

Is it because I’ve been doing my software development role for a long time and there are certain habits which I have mentally attached to my software development working day? Such as always making a hot drink before going into a meeting, having a sweet snack at 10.30am to break up the morning, or not bothering to get up and walk around enough – even though I feel my fitbit giving me a hard time every hour!

These little habits have become so ingrained in my working day that I hardly even notice myself doing them. However on yoga days I think more about what I’m going to eat, I tune into and listen more to my body and I have to concentrate more to get it right and not just go onto autopilot like on other work days. Potentially as time goes on the yoga will become easier and more ingrained but I hope not.

This pattern has led me to look at other things in my life like my OCD. At this stage when I’ve had it for 25 years, there are definitely some little ‘ticks’, shall we call them, which have become so ingrained in me that I don’t even notice them anymore! They’re small things which don’t have a negative effect on me particularly but they’re still there. An example of this would be that I like to rip off the first piece of toilet roll – this has been a thing for ages and I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it previously – it’s a really small thing but it still stemmed from an OCD compulsion.

Now what if I changed the situation….? What if I only put a small roll of toilet paper in the loo at any one time, I would have to use it more sparingly and not waste any, right? If I change my situation then I can change my ingrained OCD compulsion? Worth a shot maybe?

Work wise I think I will eventually leave my software job behind, once life is a bit more ‘normal’ and the yoga is a bit more established. In the meantime I am going to try and put a new slant onto things, mix things up a bit and see if it improves my attitude to my self care on my non yoga days. Maybe I’ll do a bit of yoga whilst the kettle boils or work out a chair yoga routine to do daily.

Has this post made you think of anything you do which you know is your OCD but you let it slide because it’s been around for so long? If you’re in a good place in your recovery it may be a good time to challenge these set behaviours like I am.

As always

Stay Strong xxx

OCD – Blind Faith

So how is everyone doing?  It’s been a tough few weeks hasn’t it.

Today I thought I’d write about Blind Faith; this is something you may never of heard of but if you have then it’s probably been in a religious sense. The definition of Blind Faith, from our friends at google is as follows: 

Blind-faith… is lacking in some component(s) of information but still continuing to believe in something. …You can have faith that something will occur knowing that the evidence suggests the outcome…but blind-faith is having faith something will occur with no evidence or conflicting evidence against that outcome

Now if you suffer from OCD Blind faith is something you definitely need more of but you probably struggle with.

WARNING: there might be some triggers here, especially if you’re pregnant!!

When I was pregnant with my first child I was in a pretty bad way mentally for most of the pregnancy, too many uncertainties for my OCD brains liking.  I read up on everything (a mistake) and catastrophised everything! 

I remember going away for my birthday in March when I was about 14 weeks pregnant and going for a walk with my husband.  We got stuck in the muddiest field full of cows, lots of their poo and sheep with their new born lambs and I honestly had the biggest breakdown/panic attack where we ended up back at the hotel, me in the bed in the foetal position crying – pregnant women are supposed to avoid mud because of bacteria in the soil and new born lambs because of an infection that can be transmitted to pregnant women – I hadn’t touched any of the lambs but of course my OCD completely catastrophised the situation and the weekend was all down hill from there. 

Later that day we went down for an evening meal and there was fish on the menu, needless to say I was already in a pretty bad way and my resilience was none existence by this point.  The fish on the menu was seabass – fine for pregnant women in moderation – but my magical thinking OCD kept telling me it was swordfish – to be avoided by pregnant women. I don’t know how many times I checked the menu and of course I had my phone out googling; ‘fish you can eat whilst pregnant’, for most of the meal. I was a stressed-out, anxious mess the whole time and I don’t remember one thing we talked about that evening because I was so distracted by my intrusive thoughts – sound familiar anyone?  

I remember looking over at my husband and asking him why he was so calm and he said the following words to me,

‘This is not in your control, you just have to have blind faith that everything is going to be OK’

and he was absolutely right (don’t tell him I said that!).

Of course I’m relating all this to my pregnancy, where you really do have very limited control over what the outcome will be and you have to just trust that your body knows what it’s doing. However this can be related back to any OCD intrusive thought/situation and I still use it most days. 

Remember we don’t really have any control over how our life is going to turn out, what events we’re going to be caught up in (Covid) or whether we’re going to be well tomorrow (my BPPV – vertigo which I just suddenly woke up with), we really only have now and that’s it.  We are all living with uncertainty and the more we can just trust and accept that we have no control but that we will get through whatever comes our way, only WHEN it comes our way then we are winning!

This is the resilience which we should all aim for and focus our energy on. Instead of worrying about the what ifs and the maybes we should be focusing on building up our resilience so we’re prepared for anything that comes our way.

So the next time an intrusive thought comes your way why not have a bit of blind faith that by not fixating on it/acting on the compulsion everything will be OK.

Sending love to you all at this crazy time, remember we’re all in this together!

Stay Strong xxx 

Pure O During Lockdown

I have had OCD for the last 25 years (man that stat sucks) and generally I have become pretty good at keeping it at bay but more recently with everything going on in the UK I have noticed I am slipping more often and there just aren’t as many of my normal coping mechanisms around because of lockdown.

My mental health feels very fragile and it’s quite scary at times as I can see how easy it is to slip backwards, it doesn’t help matters that my physical health has also not been 100% and normal routines have slipped over the holiday period. I have felt my patience lower and my irritability rise along with reduced energy levels and motivation, all this has resulted in my resilience being lower for when the intrusive thoughts hit me.

I have had to sit back and reassess how to deal with a new outlook where not all my normal coping mechanisms are available to me. Normally I would throw myself into seeing friends and family, exercise and getting out and about but not all these are currently possible.

So what am I trying?

  • To get out everyday for fresh air and a walk with the kids and dogs
  • To spend some time on my yoga mat everyday, whether this is just sitting still for 5 minutes or doing an hours workout. I currently have some issues with dizziness and I am getting over a cold so some days all I can do is sit and I need to remember to be kind to myself and accept this.
  • I have ordered a wellness journal and I am hoping this will focus my mind on positivity and gratitude rather then negative self talk.
  • I am taking some vitamins, and looking a little more carefully at my diet, replacing fast food and easy sugary snacks with fresh fruit, salads and veg.
  • When the negative thoughts come I am trying to just let them be and let them go as I know this is the only way.
  • I have felt very up and down over the last few months and I am trying to learn to sit with the downs when they come and know that they are part of life, I know now that they do pass with time.
  • Making sure I get enough sleep
  • Drink more water, I have found a good way to do this is to drink warm water as it is easier on my sensitive teeth and is absorbed into the body more easily as it’s closer to body temperature. This has really helped to clear my head in the mornings.

I know we’re all finding the current climate tough, if anyone else has found anything that’s working for them then please share in the comments below.

Happy New year, I hope you’re all OK out there, you’re definitely not alone!

Stay Strong xxx

Beating OCD Top Tips

So this year I haven’t managed to post as often as I’d like, Covid-19 and my yoga course have taken most of attention and I do find the OCD isn’t affecting me as much.  Is this because I am so busy?  Partly I think yes but I am definitely not naïve enough to think it has gone away completely.  Some days I can feel it there at the back of my mind, ready to come back with a vengeance when things calm down and this is quite a scary thought.  

So I wanted you all to know that I haven’t forgotten about you and hopefully the yoga will come together with this blog to give me more tools to help us all in conquering OCD completely.  

I’ve looked back over the stats for the year and still right out in front is the post I wrote on Pure O and False memory OCD. It has double the views of any other post and to be honest having had OCD it’s pretty obvious why it’s up there in front.

I think Pure O and false memory OCD are arguably the worst parts of having OCD, they’re completely hidden from view so people don’t know they’re happening and the thoughts are so terrifying at times that just the idea of uttering them to another living sole can be completely debilitating.  In fact OCD works in a way that it will find your deepest, darkest fears and go to town, making you feel like the worst person alive – you’re not by the way.  

Here are a few things to remember;

  • The first thing is that OCD likes you alone and isolated, it wants to be your only ‘friend’. Laughable isn’t it, OCD is probably the worst friend you could possibly have, the one who just takes from you and only gives you shit in return, if we had a friend like that in real life we would get rid of them pronto! It might not feel like it at times but you are separate from your OCD and you can be in control of it.
  • However hard it is you must try and speak to someone, even if initially it’s just yourself.  This might sound odd but I’ve found even by verbalising the thoughts out loud their power is reduced. I think most of the time we know the thoughts aren’t real and so by saying them out loud  it can reinforce this.   
  • Always remember everyone has these thoughts! You should take comfort not fear in the fact that the thoughts repel you and make you uncomfortable, this is the natural reaction and 100% means you would never act on them.  
  • Believe in yourself, you are not a bad person – self love is essential for recovery.  
  • Be mindful and live in the now, it is all we have, your version of the past only exists in your mind.
  • Avoid alcohol and other mind numbing substances, they are only short term fix’s and will actually make the thoughts worse overall.
  • Write it down – when I started this blog it was for the purpose of passing on helpful tips to others struggling but surprisingly it has also become a form of therapy for me as well.  Putting things on here detaches them from myself, allowing me to look at them more objectively.  
  • Remember there is light at the end of the tunnel, I still have very dark days but I am far enough into my journey now to know that that feeling doesn’t last forever and the darkness does lift – even though at times it feels like it won’t.  
  • You are not alone – though at times you will feel like you are – around 750 thousand people suffer from OCD in the UK and that stat is closer to 2.2 million in the US.

Wishing you all the best Christmas and New Year, I’ll see you in 2021!

Lets hope it’s a good one!  
As always,
Stay Strong xxx

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

Just smile

OCD and anxiety can be so isolating at times and the more time you spend alone the stronger their hold on you becomes.  One of the things we need to fight constantly is to keep going out to places, being social and interacting with people.  This of course is more easily said then done.

One of my biggest hang ups has always been supermarkets, I hate them.  I hate the carparks full of people walking in any direction they fancy, the busyness inside, people walking into you with their trolleys, having to make decisions on food choices and
ignore all the associated OCD thoughts.  I will admit for a long time I avoided them completely, I’ve only recently started to go back into them now and I still wouldn’t dream of doing a whole weeks shop.  This is something I’m working on and in the mean time I am so grateful for online shopping!
Anyway I’m digressing, if you are an OCD or anxiety sufferer I am sure you have places that trigger similar thoughts for you, whether it be the car, driving, shopping centres, wherever.

Unfortunately there’s never an easy fix for these things (sorry!) and what we have to do is reprogram our minds and get to the root of what is so anxiety inducing about these situations.  I know for me there are a lot of OCD triggers in supermarkets but I am slowly working my way through them, taking time to breath when someone knocks into me and knowing I will be OK. Picking up the first carrot I see rather then wondering what each little mark on it may be and giving myself time to let the anxiety fade as I know we cannot stay in an elevated state permanently.

A new strategy I’ve recently learned which I am starting to try in the hope it will help is to smile, sounds simple I know.

The brain is suspended in darkness and can only react to the feedback it receives from the senses.  If you are heading towards a situation that would normally make you anxious or you are experiencing some anxiety/OCD thoughts for whatever reason then try  and smile your way through it.  It is reassuring for the brain, it thinks you are happy and it helps to reprogram your automatic responses to situations.
There’s also the added benefit that a lot of the time if someone sees you smiling then they will smile back and then you get more positive reinforcement for your brain that you are safe and happy and that there is no need to trigger any fight or flight anxiety inducing responses.

It’s so simple and so easy to do and can be so powerful.  I know sometimes smiling probably feels like the last thing you want to do but just give it a try, I know I’m going to.
I hope it helps and as always,

Stay strong xxx