- It is never too late to be what you might have been
- If you ever feel like giving up just remember quitting won’t bring you any closer to your dreams
- Be afraid and do it anyway
- You’re either fighting for your dreams or fighting for your excuses
- Just relax nothing is under control
- The real challenge is to overcome how we view ourselves
- Just a little progress each day adds up to big results
- Be obsessed with your own potential
- If your dreams don’t scare you, they are too small – Richard Branson
- If you never try then you’ll never know what might have been
- Believe in yourself, you got this!
A complicated topic this one, I think. I very rarely drink nowadays and to be honest I don’t really miss it but with the Christmas season coming up and the inevitable works Christmas party on the horizon I am feeling the pressure a bit more.
I’ve mentioned to my work colleagues that ‘I won’t be drinking at the Christmas party‘ during a conversion about ‘what we should drink on the train on the way there!‘ and I was met with, ‘once you have one you’ll want to drink‘ and ‘but your so much fun when you’re drunk‘ etc etc. Now don’t get me wrong I work with a good bunch of people and I know they respect my decision but it has highlighted to me that you are definitely going against the grain if you don’t drink.
So why is it such a taboo and why is our culture so focused on drinking as a social MUST to have fun?
Are we just all too nervous to relax in social situations otherwise or is it just the love of drinking away the realities of the world for a few hours (was that a bit deep?).
I’ve definitely used alcohol as a way to escape the realities of my life in the past. I drank massively to excess during my 20’s, partly due to my OCD but also partly because in our culture today it really is just the done thing.
Nowadays I don’t mind not fitting in, I know who I am and I am happy with that, I don’t need to conform but through my 20’s I was not confident. In fact I kind of hated myself a lot of the time (thank you OCD) and so I drank like everybody else.
There’s definitely a bit of dedication involved in not conforming but still partaking in life. It’s not healthy to cut yourself off from social situations completely to avoid drinking, especially if you suffer from mental health issues, being on your own is going to do you no favours (Obviously if you have a serious problem this could be different for you and you should get some help).
It is difficult as you can come across as being awkward or difficult a lot of the time. I hardly drink and I don’t eat dairy so I’m never having a bit of the birthday cake or sip of the celebratory champagne and occasionally I do feel like I’m being anti social but you just have to own it and enjoy the fact that you’ll be the one with the clear head in the morning.
I’m not sure whether I’ll ever completely give up alcohol but I think I’d like to. In the past I would have terrible memory loss after a night out drinking and that mixed in with false memory and magical thinking OCD was a very, very scary mix, especially if you don’t have a good mate to fill in the blanks for you. These are definitely days I’d happily leave in the past.
I know this sort of memory loss can be terrifying for people with OCD but there’s no way around it other then just not drinking. If you’re using alcohol to block out bad thoughts then I can tell you now that it’s only a short term fix and it will not work, but you probably already knew that didn’t you?
Recovery is a slow process but it’s worth it and things will start to get better I promise.
Stay Strong xxx
I think anxiety has been part of my life for as long as OCD if not longer. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt completely relaxed, always questioning myself and my abilities, always thinking I’m not good enough and trying to please others. I naturally put myself down and the other day I even talked my boss out of promoting me at work because I didn’t think the people I would be managing would respect me enough to see me as senior! I’ve also noticed recently that I hold my breath, all the time which I’m currently leaning is terrible for anxiety.
I have created so many negative patterns over the years – similar to my last blog with the self defeating thoughts – that I’m surprised I’m still surviving to be honest. I’ve even been tempted to give up this blog a few times as, “I know I’ve never been good at writing and who would want to read what I have to say anyway”.
I’m pretty sure a lot of my issues – particularly the breathing ones – stem from when I was young. I had terrible teachers at primary school, a terrifying father who
I just wanted to please all the time so that he wouldn’t loose his temper and just no good role models to show me good habits. So here I am at 34 trying to wade through all the sh*t. Letting go of things which are very deeply rooted, some maybe even completely hidden from me still seems like an impossible task but I’m slowly trying to chip away at it day after day.
I’m guessing we’ve probably all got a bit of baggage stored up somewhere, if you’ve managed to get to where you are in life without any then you’ve done extremely well and please let me know the answer! Some people I think are calmer and find things easier to let go of or flow over them (this is what I’m working on). Other people probably don’t even realise that the reason they loose their temper so quickly or grind their teeth at night is probably rooted in something subconscious. Some people simply don’t want to face their issues and other perhaps can’t or don’t feel strong enough to. It’s definitely not an easy road that’s for sure.
My ‘baggage’ for want of a better word started to make me ill; OCD, anxiety, UC, so I didn’t really have a choice but to look at things. I am trying with this blog, therapy, diet, exercise, breath work and meditation to work through my issues but even I’m scared to open some of the doors to what I know is going to be horribly hard. There’s also a fear there particularity with the OCD that I will get pulled back in and that is absolutely terrifying. Some days I feel like I’m clinging on and I might slip back, other days I feel strong and can face exposing myself to my past. The journey is long and bumpy but somehow I have to stay on it.
So I started this post about anxiety and how I feel like it’s connected to my breath, I’m currently going through a book, ‘And Breathe’, by Rebecca Dennis, which I would highly recommend as I believe it has helped me already. Just understanding how breathing properly can help you control your emotions and anxieties when they hit is the most fantastic tool. I have been feeling more energised and positive just by doing 20 minutes breathing practice a night, it is nice to feel a little bit more in control and to have the energy and motivation to want to cook more healthily and exercise more.
I hope you’re all doing well this week,
Stay Strong xxx
Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘You’re your own worst enemy’? Well I’ve definitely got that one down. I’ve become so good at it in fact that I now do it subconsciously! It wasn’t until very recently – whilst going round a supermarket – that I could hear myself saying:
‘You’re really stressed out’
‘I feel so anxious’
‘Why is this so hard?’
‘Don’t look at anyone, head down and just get what you need’
Of course if you then add in all the OCD thoughts on top:
‘That looks a bit like blood’
‘That person just knocked me, what if I’ve caught something from them?’
‘I had a bad thought when I picked that carrot up, maybe I should put that one back and pick another one?’
‘Are the ingredients in this going to give me cancer?
you get the gist, completely exhausting.
So basically I go round day after day giving myself a hard time and pretty much setting myself up to fail from the outset. My mind is constantly telling me that I’m not good enough, I can’t cope and that I’m feeling anxious. I really don’t stand a chance and to top it off most of the time I’m doing it without even realising!
When I realised I was doing this I did try to turn the phrases around and speak more positively and kindly to myself but of course I have to notice that I’m doing it before I can be proactive about it.
I think we probably all need to be a bit kinder to ourselves, I mean if we can’t be kind to ourselves then what chance do we stand and yet I bet most of us are our own worst critic.
I am going to try and think of 5 things each night that I like about myself and when I look in the mirror I’m going to try and look at the things I do like about myself rather then the things I don’t. Trying to change the habit of a life time is not going to be easy though, so many things happen without me even realising.
Why are we so hard on ourselves anyway?
Over the years I have found that in general people don’t want to hear good things, it almost feels like you’re boasting if you say ‘well my relationship is great and I love my husband very much’, people just don’t want to hear it.
People seem to like to moan and then moan to each other about each other, what
is with that?
Society seems pretty broken when I think of situations like this. It takes a very secure and happy person to be truly happy for someone else and I don’t think many people are there themselves so how can they feel it for other people?
We all need to work on our happiness and be a bit kinder to ourselves. Maybe try saying some of the following to yourself.
- I deserve to be happy
- I am in control of my own happiness
- I am blessed with wonderful family and friends
- I possess the qualities needed to be successful
- I am beautiful
- I love myself and who I am (generally a really hard one for people with OCD but so important for recovery.)
I hope they help, as always
Stay Strong xxx
So in the UK this week it’s mental health week and this year it’s focused on body image. Such a humongous topic and something that I think probably effects everyone of us in some way shape or form (no pun intended).
I have had my own journey with body image along the way, if you’ve read anymore of my blog you may have read about my low moments when I tried to make myself sick, this makes me so sad when I look back now. Our bodies are so amazing after all and yet we can treat them so badly at times.
I am once again on my own journey with my body having just had two babies in three years it has changed somewhat but I have a new found respect for how amazing it is and I will never hate my body in the way I have previously. I also have an autoimmune disease (ulcerative colitis) which demands I respect my body to feel well so I have no choice really, I have to take good care of myself.
I feel like the media has a lot to be accountable for for the unrealistic and unachievable goals it sets us, who are they to say what the most desirable body image is anyway? I look around my local high street and how many people do I see who look like someone from a magazine, zero, that’s right ZERO! Perhaps the people in the magazines are the unusual looking ones and not us?
Anyway I digress a little from OCD and I do have one incident from my past which I can remember quite vividly which involves eating and my OCD.
So when I was younger and my compulsions were really bad I had to do everything four times and I mean literally everything! I remember standing in a local shop wanting to buy a bag of chocolate – like a selection pack with multiple bars in – now this is the sort of thing you would normally only want one of. I stood there trying to decided which one to buy for what seemed like ages, every time I made a decision – I’ll buy this one – an OCD intrusive thought would come into my head and be associated with it – magical thinking OCD. Long story short I ended up buying four of these bags of sweets – and probably spending most of my pocket money at the time on them – and then of course I had to eat them all too – so bingeing as a result of my OCD – the result of which, predictably was that I felt full, sick, guilty, ashamed and all the other rubbish that comes with eating too much and did it help relieve my intrusive thoughts, of course not!
This happened a lot to me over the years and so not only was my mind out of my control but also my body and it did take an awfully long time for me to stop eating in this way, my poor body.
Learning to love yourself is I think a life long journey but we must focus on the things which are amazing about ourselves and not the things which aren’t our best features. If you’re someone who loves every part of yourself then you’re a very lucky person. I think when you can realise that no matter what you do you’re never, EVER going to look like someone in a magazine then you can start to move on and accept who you are and how beautiful you are because no matter how much you diet or work out it is completely unachievable because:
- They’ve been airbrushed – they don’t even look like that!
- They spent like 3 hours in make up as well!
- They had someone come and do their hair and make up for them – I’d look amazing if I had that too.
- All models are different too, there’s no way you can be, white and Asian and Mediterranean and 6 foot tall and petite and have blue eyes and brown eyes and blonde hair and brown hair – no one can have all those things.
- No one gets it all, I promise.
- We are beautiful because we are unique, if we all looked the same life would be dull, dull, DULL!
Mental wellbeing is essential for your body and body image to be positive too, if you can get your head in the right place then the rest will follow. On those days when you’re feeling low just take little steps towards making yourself feel calm, right down to the basics of breathing if necessary and don’t beat yourself up for the odd off day, we all have those I promise.
Stay Strong xxx
Now this is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember, I really do dislike being on my own and having to sit with my own thoughts, eeek! In fact I’ve realised recently that I talk out loud to myself all the time and I think it’s partly so I don’t have to listen to my own thoughts and partly so I can separate the important thoughts from the jumble that is my own brain.
I find everything feels a bit more scary when I’m on my own, my anxiety is heightened and I catastrophize constantly, it’s also much harder to just dismiss negative thoughts. For me this is a working progress and I do believe I’m better at it then I used to be but man I’ve got a long way to go.
So once again I don’t have a nice quick fix for this either, hummm. I expect if I asked an expert they’d tell me I have to face it and just sit with the thoughts, feelings and inner ramblings. Maybe eventually something more positive would start to come out?
I think when you have OCD intrusive thoughts it’s incredibly difficult to like yourself and therefore your thoughts, I think the version of yourself you see is completely different to the one everyone else sees and so you can’t understand why other people like you at all and you actually have no idea what they think of you. Maybe they see more of the real you then you do, the you without OCD – if like me you have Pure O – now that’s a mind blowing thought!
So of course I must work harder on my self love and try to see all of the positives instead of the negatives. I must push myself to do the things I know make me feel well mentally:
- Get enough sleep
- Do exercise
- Eat well
- Remove caffeine and alcohol
- Remove any negative people who make me question my self worth from my social circle
- Write a list of positives to read when struggling
- Continue to write my blog
- Appreciate all the beautiful things I have in my life
- Live mindfully
So this is my little lecture to myself today to give myself that extra push that I know sometimes we all need. Recovery is a marathon and not a sprint and boy don’t I know it, so until next time
Stay Strong xxx
So more recently I’ve been finding it tough to find the time to write complete blog posts. Having a newborn and a toddler life is pretty full on, however this has been getting to me as I think it’s so important to keep the conversation going.
Therefore I have opened an Instagram account, I’m hoping it will be easier to post pics and tips rather than write whole posts. The blog isn’t going anywhere, there will just be less regular posts until I have more time to dedicate to it in the future. Please follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/conqueringocd/ I am so grateful for all your continued support.
Stay Strong xxx
So I’ve had a little break from blogging over the last month. Really because my life just got stupidly busy but also partly because I find it easier to blog when I am having an OCD ‘episode’ for want of a better word. It’s much easier to be honest and helpful rather then preachy if I am experiencing what I am blogging about at the time. I guess one of the only downsides of recovery is that this happens less often and therefore I have less to share.
I have a lot going on at the moment and I have found that it’s come with a barrage of OCD and anxiety, oh joy! One of the upsides of being very busy though is that I don’t really have any time to give to the thoughts and so although they are coming at me, I am able to bat them away with relative success. This is obviously also a result of a lot of hard work over the years as in the past it wouldn’t matter how busy I was, the thoughts would still consume me.
So even though I’ve been doing my best over the last month I have had a couple of little ‘blips’ which, luckily I have managed to shake off but still it’s a very unwelcome reminder of how easy it is to slip back and how all consuming OCD can be.
I think the word consume is quite fitting when it comes to OCD, when a thought gets me that I just can’t shake for one reason or another it feels like all the light, joy and happiness has been sucked out of my world and there is just an all consuming darkness which comes over me. I would imagine this is a bit what depression must feel like too. It doesn’t matter how much good stuff you have going on, you just can’t break free.
Getting things done while suffering from OCD has always been tough for me. As each activity throughout the day normally has some sort of associated OCD thought. It can be a lot easier to avoid doing anything, this is definitely something I still battle daily.
Confidence is something else that my OCD has robbed me of and I am really unsure about how I will ever truly rebuild this part of my personality. It has been pretty much ripped to shreds by a mental illness which is completely relentless.
Right so I don’t mean to moan, this blog is all about finding ways to combat OCD, including all the things I’ve just mentioned above.
So we have the:
All consuming thoughts
Well if you have OCD you’ll know how hard it is to combat the all consuming thoughts, after all this is pretty much what OCD is. I’ve talked about lots of ways to fight thoughts in this blog but I’ve got to say I think the some of the things that work the best for me are:
- Be mindful, somehow bring your thoughts back to what is right in front of you and don’t let your mind wonder onto if’s, but’s or maybes.
- Distract yourself with a new task/conversion/activity/anything to bring your mind away from the intrusive thought.
- Accept that the darkness/doubt feeling won’t lift straight away, you need to be patient with yourself
The procrastination from fear
The procrastination unfortunately is something you just have to face head on. There is no way around it, you just have to go through it. I quite often find that the anticipation is worse than the actual event and that once you have got something done sometimes the thoughts just disappear.
Sometimes they don’t and you have to work on dismissing them the other end but if you move strongly from one task to the next and don’t give yourself time to think on the past event, then sometimes you can’t even remember what it is you were worrying about, how wonderful! Being busy is definitely your friend and OCD knows this and tries to stop you doing things, don’t let it!
The lack of confidence
The confidence thing is something I really need to work on, because of my false memory OCD it is really hard to to truly believe and trust in myself and my own judgement. There aren’t many people in this world who want to build you up and you really have to believe in yourself to succeed. It’s something really worth working on, it’s all about baby steps I guess and knowing that you’re just as good as everyone else. Don’t let that OCD bully knock you down.
I hope some of my thoughts have been of use, OCD really is an ongoing daily battle but it can really help to know you’re not battling it alone and so thanks for all the positive feedback.
Stay Strong xxx
I think stress is something we all deal with, there’s just no escaping it nowadays. We’re all programmed to take on too much and expect too much from ourselves. How we deal with stress however varies massively, some people seem to be able to dismiss it relatively easily where as some of us let it consume us.
My current method for dealing with most stress is avoidance, over the years I’ve become very aware of what causes me to spiral downwards and so nowadays if I don’t need it in my life then it’s not there. I realise this probably isn’t the healthiest approach and I wouldn’t really advocate it but there’s an element of self preservation in there for me while I’m on my long road to recovery and I slowly let bits back in on days I feel stronger and remove them again on days when I don’t feel so great.
So this is all well and good until I come across some unavoidable stress, urgh, the worst kind. How then do we process the wash of tension, self doubt, etc when there’s just no getting away from it? It’s a good question and one I’m definitely still trying to answer.
Firstly I always try and start with a bit of perspective, when struggling with OCD it’s very easy to catastrophise situations and make them appear much worse than they are, try to rationalise your thoughts where you can.
If the stress has been caused by say an argument at work, or a bad drive home then just let it go, the other person probably did hours ago, is it really worth your time and energy?
If it’s something more significant like an exam or money worries say then stressing isn’t going to help. Sit down and write out a plan of action, things you can positively do to impact on your stress and deal with the situation in a positive light.
Organisation is key, I personally have a lot going on at the moment but by organising my time and being pro active I am just about winning.
If you can take some time out just for yourself to regroup then do. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and feel the stress leave you as you breathe out.
Mindfulness and meditation are also great ways to reconnect with your body and try to work out what has caused the shift. The small amount of time it takes will definitely be worth the pay off you get afterwards. I’ve got to admit though whilst writing that last sentence I felt a bit hypocritical as this is something I never/rarely do, like I said I’m still working on it too!
Stress is something that quite often comes upon us without us even realising. Sometimes the first sign for me is that I can feel my shoulders getting tight or I start to be really snappy and short with people. Being able to sense and notice your signs early is another important factor in getting your stress under control quickly.
When you’re already processing a mental health issue stress is the last thing you want being piled on top of you, my advice would definitely be to remove all unnecessary stress where possible. I expect we’ve all taken on something we don’t need which can be eliminated.
If you can’t remove all stress, take a day off. Put the kids in nursery/school, book a days annual leave and do what makes you feel good just for one day, it’s a bit self indulgent but feels amazing and is totally worth it. You can’t function properly if your cup is half full after all.
Learn to say no when you can, people won’t think any less of you and you will gain some time and energy back.
Look after yourself, if you are the one holding it all together and people are depending on you it’s more important then ever that you take good care of yourself. Don’t resort to caffeine and sugar try and be conscious about what you are putting into your body.
I hope my ramblings have been of some use, just by writing a few things down I feel a bit more together myself. Most things aren’t as bad a you think, look after yourselves and as always,
Stay Strong xxx
Now I’m pretty sure this one isn’t an OCD specific one but I would guess that someone with OCD is almost guaranteed to suffer from self-defeating thoughts, I know I do. They come as a pretty package along with low confidence and self loathing which tend to be traits of OCD.
They occur pretty naturally as well so you don’t even realise you’re having one, so when you think about it you’re setting yourself up to fail before you’ve even attempted something, without even consciously realising you’re doing it, wow!
I have these thoughts all the time, even right now I’m procrastinating over a piece of programming work I’m supposed to be working on. I’ve convinced myself I can’t do it, even though I’ve done my job for over 6 years now and I’ve always managed to work through any issue which has been thrown my way. Why therefore do I still undermine and doubt myself almost instantly every time?
Another example: just this week I found myself writing a work email to a colleague and towards the end I wrote something to the tune of “I realise it’s probably a stupid question but……” I didn’t know if it was a stupid question, I didn’t know what he would think by reading the email, so why did I put myself down? Did I do it before he had the chance to? Was I protecting myself in some way?
I think my OCD has definitely contributed to this personality trait, it’s hard to be strong, confident and resilient towards life’s challenges when you don’t feel it inside. In fact you probably feel low, worthless and useless a lot of the time when suffering through panic attacks, bouts of anxiety and trying to dismiss intrusive thoughts. Man you have enough on your plate don’t you?
I obviously have a lot of work to do in this area of my life and I feel like it’s so extra important for me at the moment because I don’t want my little boy to adopt such a negative trait from me. I must:
- Eliminate any negative/self deprecating thoughts and phrases
- Have a positive attitude towards any challenge that comes my way
- Know that I am good enough
- Don’t expect to be perfect/set myself up to fail (wait is that a self deprecating thought?)
It always makes me sad when I realise how much my OCD has shaped me over the years, how I’ve let people put me down, tell me I’m not good enough and generally just had a lot of my fight kicked out of me. Well now is the time to start fighting again.
I hope some of my ramblings have rung true with some of you too and that you can notice these things and start to act on them as well. Let me know if you make any progress.
As always (and more than ever this week), Stay Strong xxx