- 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!
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
Money is something that I have a very complicated relationship with, I’m guessing I’m probably not alone in this. Like with food it’s one of those things in life that you can’t just avoid or ignore, it’s part of life and you have to try and have a good and healthy relationship with it.
We were never rich growing up but there was always food on the table and a warm bed to get into at night. We didn’t have nice holidays or new toys all the time and we were the family who had to walk and bus everywhere whilst the neighbours turned a blind eye and got into their cars to travel, quite often to the same place we were heading but that was OK, it definitely could of been worse and I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me.
My relationship with money actually took a very dark turn when I was 18 and I travelled to New Zealand for a gap year. My gran had very kindly paid for the flights and I was going to be staying and volunteering at a local school so I didn’t think I would have to worry about money. I had saved about £700 in my bank account from working weekends as a waitress at a local pub and to me that was a lot of money, I’d be fine and for the most part things were fine.
Once the summer holidays came the people I was volunteering with wanted to travel to Australia, off we went and again I didn’t really think much about 3 weeks away. About half way through the holiday I completely ran out of money and I became reliant completely on the people I was travelling with, this was not good.
One of them made me feel like the smallest piece of dirt every time we had to get lunch or pop into a supermarket and she had to contribute a bit extra to help me out. I’m not talking about big posh dinners now, I’m talking about a pot noodle or a sandwich, literally enough to survive on. The other – who was an ex boyfriend – basically made me feel indebted to him and like I had to get back with him and be with him to justify what he was giving to me. I felt so grateful at the time that he wasn’t leaving me penniless, I probably would of done anything he asked. It really was one of the lowest points of my entire life and I wish I could of been stronger but at the time I just wasn’t. My OCD was bad and my life experience was just non existent, now I look back I was scarily vulnerable and it makes me so sad.
Fast forward to when I came home and off I went to university, because isn’t that what every teenager does? I still had no money and was in a terrible mental space because of my OCD. I remember one winter I didn’t even have money for shoes and so wore my flip flops, man it was cold. I used to eat rice, frozen veg and tinned tuna every day as it was all I could afford. I eventually dropped out of university as I was spiralling downhill very quickly and pretty much moved in with the aforementioned ex. I’m sad to report that it took me about 5 years to start to build myself up again after going through multiple toxic relationships and jobs.
There are probably many issues I need to deal with from this situation but for now I’m focusing on the money. I guess it is unsurprising that I now have an obsessive relationship with money, checking my bank account a lot and keeping spreadsheets of every transaction. Of course this behaviour is not healthy for me and I’ve reached a point currently where it is completely unnecessary. I shouldn’t have to look at my bank account all the time and so I am going to try not to.
In fact I am going to try and not look at my bank for a year!
Yes that’s right, one whole year. Personally I will be amazed if I can do this but man I would love to so I’m going to try. I will keep you posted.
It makes me sad that so much of modern life revolves around money, we can loose so much of ourselves in the quest for it. It can give other people significant power over us and make us feel unworthy and less than.
Writing this blog post has been tougher then I thought and it’s bought up more issues then I expected but I’m glad I’ve managed to make a start on unpicking some of my yucky past. I hate looking back as it makes me so sad but if I don’t how else will I heal?
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 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
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
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