Pure O and False Memory OCD

I haven’t blogged solely about OCD for a while so I though it might be time.  I have been avoiding writing this post ever since I started this blog, it’s a really tough topic for me to write about as I still struggle with it myself at times and there’s always a fear that it may trigger something.

My first post on false memory OCD which I wrote over two years ago has been my most viewed post by a country mile and that just tells me how many people are struggling with this one.  It is I believe one of the most isolating parts of OCD and one which I would predict people are most terrified to talk about.  I wrote about it once with regards to my fears around driving and false memories/OCD thoughts that I might have hit/killed someone and not realised.  Today I take it a step further and talk about another completely terrifying topic the fear/false memory that you may have interfered with a child.

I would say thinking you are a murderer or a paedophile are probably two of the scariest and terrifying thoughts you could have.

OCD is very clever, because ultimately you know you haven’t done these things but because you cannot prove it 100% you spend hours obsessing over the fact you might have.  You spend hours googling things and pretty much driving yourself insane going over the same situation again and again and again, slowly withdrawing from reality.  You become irritable if distracted and are unable to function properly.  You are scared to tell anyone, as who would have these horrible thoughts and be ‘normal’ (whatever that is), and so you become more and more isolated and alone.

This part of Pure O and false memory OCD has made me think I’m the worst human alive and so scared to speak to others through fear of being judged that at times I have thought the only way out or release would be ending my life.

Pure O intrusive thoughts have made me too scared to give my niece a hug when I read her a story, scared to take my nephew to the bathroom and at times scared to bath my own children through fear that I might do something inappropriate.

False memory OCD has also played it’s evil part in this and at times has made me think I actually have acted inappropriately, which of course I now know is complete rubbish.

All this I am sad to say in the past has led me to withdraw from seeing my family and friends and made me feel like the only way out is ending my own life. The thought that I could harm some of the people in this world who I love the most has been completely horrifying and probably the worst part of my OCD over the years, hence why it’s taken me so long to write about it.

Having a thought does not make it real or you a bad person, we all have them. It does not mean that you will harm a child or do something inappropriate.
It can be extremely difficult to talk about these intrusive thoughts, particularly if they include people close to you or their children but it is unbelievably important that you do if you are having them.  Doctors are trained to hear about these thoughts and will not think you are crazy or a horrible person, they will be sympathetic and understanding, they will have heard it all before I promise you.

By talking to a professional and saying the thoughts out loud it takes their power away immediately, it normalises them as you see other peoples reaction is, just normal.

You have to believe in yourself and know that you are a good person.  You find these thoughts repulsive and so disturbing because you are a good person.  It is normal to have a negative reaction to the thought but you then have to let the thought go and not dwell on it.  This is what everyone else does because everyone has these thoughts!

I have come such a long way with these intrusive thoughts, I have gone from feeling like I can’t bath my son, to pushing myself to and ignore the thoughts, to now not even having the thoughts at all.  Bath time has actually become a fun time, splashing about and laughing.

You just have to know who you are, truly, you are not a bad person. If you know that then you will know you are incapable of acting on any of the intrusive thoughts coming your way, particularly these ones.  Work on liking yourself and you must speak to someone, I cannot stress how important this is, then you will be able to pull yourself out of the darkness like I did.

I hope by me putting this out there that it will help people in a similar position to feel less alone and seek help. This has been unbelievably hard for me to write about and has actually bought tears to my eyes but if it can help one person then it has been worth it.

As always (and this week I’m definitely talking to myself to),

OCD – Transference

So I’m not completely sure whether transference is the best term to describe this type of OCD but it feels like the best word to use for now.  When I think about OCD transference I think about a belief that someone else’s issues/problems can be ‘transferred’ onto you by just hearing about them/coming in to contact with them.  I would say it’s very closely linked to magical thinking OCD where there doesn’t have to be any actual factual link, your mind has just associated the two things together and triggered the anxiety and from then on you’re just back peddling.

I get this a lot, I mean A LOT.  It’s almost like when I hear something new, say on the news or in the paper I have to self assess myself to see if I am capable of what I’ve read or if there’s any event in my past that I can link to what I’ve seen.  Sometimes there’s even a fear that I could do what I’ve heard in the future.  So yes, it pretty much covers all bases.

Something I have found really helpful with getting through this type of OCD (which pretty much still hits me daily) is liking and believing  in yourself you have to know yourself incapable of unthinkable acts.  It does get a bit trickier when it’s something out of your control like a fear of contamination or a health issue.  We can spend so much time worrying about things happening to us that we forget to live.  This is probably one of the saddest things about OCD, I know I have missed out on a lot over the years through fear.  It’s so frustrating for me to look back now and I really try hard not to let it get to me anymore.

Having an awareness of what is happening can help, I’ve had OCD for a long time but I probably had it for nearly 10 years before I really understood what it was that was happening to me.  Without the understanding the anxiety and fears are more real because you just ‘go with them’, your body is telling you to be scared so you are.  I am now so aware of my irrational reactions to things that sometimes I am combating them before they even hit me.  Obviously it would be amazing to get to a stage where I have no reaction to the news etc but I’m not sure if this will ever be possible for me.  There’s only so much you can change the way your mind works.

So one of the things about transference is that a lot of them time you know the associated thought is irrational, I’m going to use an example sorry.

Say you have found out a friend has cancer, when you are hearing about it you think of yourself and then you have a fear that you will also get cancer unless you neutralise the thought with a ritual of some sort. 

You have transferred someone else’s issue onto yourself.  It’s quite a basic example but you get the general gist.  What can also happen for people with Pure O is that you realise the thought is irrational and you have to try and work out why your brain has linked it and why it’s completely irrational, therefore giving the thought time and making it stronger and more distracting.

I’m sitting here writing this now and I don’t like the fact that I’ve used myself in the example.  As by writing it my OCD is telling me that it could make it more likely to happen, which I know is completely irrational but still, the thought is there and I’m so tempted to change my example but I’m not going to!

It’s tough, this sort of OCD because you can’t avoid it, you have to face it.  Try to live in the now as much as you can, don’t think about the past, at all.  Try not to think too much about the future because you can’t truly know what is going to happen and you have limited control over it.  If you can take a  positive action then do it but otherwise let it be.

  • Make the most of what you have, write a thankful list each day to help you realise all of the good things that you have and how lucky you are.
  • Seek out the positives in life and don’t let other people drag you down.
  • Always do your best to fight the thoughts, it will get easier over time.
  • Use every tool you have to stay on course through your recovery.
  • Eat well and exercise if you can
  • Don’t use alcohol to drown out the thoughts, this never works!

Stay Strong xxx

Pure O

So here we are with another OCD classification, there really are a whole world of subcategories aren’t there but you know when you’re suffering from OCD you probably have no idea about which subcategory you fall under and actually it’s not hugely important.  OCD can actually morph as well, when I was younger I had a lot of physical compulsions but nowadays 99% of my OCD would be classed as ‘Pure O’ I guess.

Pure O is when your OCD is internalised and you don’t really have any compulsions.  I would guess it’s more common in adults (though I have no evidence to support this) than children as I would say adults are generally more socially aware and better at hiding things, especially over time.

It’s also potentially a more dangerous form of the disorder as well, as if someone is particularly practised at hiding it, you can have no idea they have it and that person can suffer in silence for years and probably will, as if they’ve gone to such extreme levels to hide the thoughts then they’re probably ashamed of them.

So how can you tell if someone is suffering from ‘Pure O’?  I think my biggest tell was always mood swings, if a thought hit me that I couldn’t shake I would become quite withdrawn but if this wasn’t possible for a some reason then I would get very touchy as trying to rationalise a thought while trying to behave ‘normally’ is well, impossible to be honest.

People will not want to just open up and tell you what they’re thinking if it’s already causing a massive level of distress.  To get someone out of one of these episodes is tough.  Thoughts can take hold for days, weeks, months sometimes.  I’ve had to  come home from holidays in the past because I just can’t break out of the spiral and have been unable to go out or do anything,

OCD can be so terrifying and at times like these suicidal thoughts are not far from your mind, anything to stop the thoughts and associated anxiety!

So that was all a bit dark, sorry about that but I wanted to try and get across to anyone reading this who’s not suffering from OCD how scary it can be.  I’ve purposefully not put any of my personal thoughts in there so as not to trigger anything for anyone.

Different people find different ways of breaking out of ‘Pure O’, for me it has been a mixture of things.  Something that really helped me initially was talking to my CBT councillor.  Just by voicing the thoughts out loud and to see her completely non judgemental face sitting opposite me was amazing.  Thoughts I couldn’t even bear to think of, she just confirmed were completely normal – what a revelation!

I had a course of CBT therapy, I haven’t spoken much about CBT on this blog so far, personally for me it didn’t work.  Now I don’t want to bad mouth it in any way as I know it’s helped a huge amount of people but for me it just wasn’t the right method.

Some things that have helped me are:

  • Mindfulness, amazing!  Not the deep meditation sort but the bringing your mind back to the present moment sort.
  • Distraction – best thing ever
  • Structure, work and routine – has saved me on numerous occasions.
  • Socialising – interacting with others and not being stuck in your own thoughts, never underestimate how important this is.
  • The knowledge that the thought will eventually pass – even though sometimes it feels like it will never, ever go and actually the thought itself may not but your anxiety levels will.  I still get intrusive thoughts daily but everyone does – it is ‘normal’, never forget that, they’re not going to disappear you will just be able to dismiss them more easily.
  • Take good care of yourself and like yourself – I seem to say this one a lot but it’s so true and I seem to constantly need reminding of it myself!
  • Don’t drink the thoughts anyway, this is a short term fix which DOES NOT WORK!!!!!!
  • Talk to someone!  Remember you are not alone, someone else is probably having the same thought as you right this second and suffering in silence as well – how annoying is that – if only you knew and you could reach out to them, you could both laugh about it together, please talk to someone if you can.


Opening a conversion with someone who has OCD

If you think you know someone who may be suffering and you’re not sure how to start a conversion with them then offer them an indirect opportunity to talk, sometimes this can be easier for people, something like:

  • ‘I’ve been reading this amazing blog/book/article recently about OCD……….’
  • ‘Have you seen that celebrity_________ she/he has been talking about their OCD………’
  • ‘My ______ has recently told me they’ve been suffering from OCD, I’m so glad they opened up to me, now they’re getting help’

All these approaches are not direct and allow the person to open up a conversion more easily if they feel they want to talk.  Speaking from experience if someone says to me, ‘how are you?’ the automatic response is normally ‘I’m fine’, when sometimes that’s not the case.

Sending love to all today, I know it can be so tough

Stay Strong xxx