A Day In The Life Of Someone With OCD

OCD Blog PostYesterday it felt as if my world suddenly stopped as I was putting some washing on. I mean my mind is always full of little anxiety attacks of “Don’t do that or (blank) will happen” “Do this or (blank) will happen” but I’ve learnt to shrug them off. This felt different, this felt HUGE, it felt so real I can’t even begin to explain, it felt so certain. “If you put this washing on, you won’t be safe” the OCD part of my brain whispered. I thought to myself “I know this isn’t real, its OCD Anna, don’t listen” I went to put some more washing into the washing machine. OCD whispered louder this time “What if its real, what if this terrible thing really will happen Anna?” I stopped, my heart pumping harder now, OCD took over my brain and filled it with terrifying images of what felt like was my fate if I didn’t listen to it. It happens so fast its uncontrollable, it’s like I’m looking into a crystal ball of my future. I felt as if my whole body and mind were consumed with fear. I was frozen to the spot. I started to barter with my rational self and my OCD “Shall I listen or shall I not?” “NO ANNA, STOP IT, THIS IS OCD” my own conscious self shouted within my brain. “How can washing possibly make something bad happen, it can’t, you know it can’t” I carried on thinking to myself,  “but what if” OCD would reply.

OCD wasn’t letting up it felt as if it was to forcing waves of anxiety over me every time I tried to rationalize my thoughts. I managed to switch the washing machine on and for a little bit I almost felt like I’d made the right choice but OCD was about to give me an ultimatum. It was going to try barter with me now, I hadn’t abided by it and lets just say OCD gets really angry when I don’t. More anxiety flooded over me, more images and more thoughts about this terrible thing happening. I was in panic mode. “Re wash your clothes and maybe you’ll be safe” OCD said as if it was doing me a favour.I sat down where I was stood in the kitchen, I needed to sit down and try to work out what to do, try to sort through all the thoughts rushing around my brain. “Shall I re wash the washing?” “What if the thoughts come true?” “No Anna this is OCD, don’t give in it only makes it worse!!”. All these thoughts bumping into to each other one after the other in my head. The thing is with OCD it wants you to suffer really, it makes out it wants to keep you safe but really it wants to make us prisoners in our own minds, it wants us to live in fear.

It was about to corner me so there was nowhere to run or hide, I was going to be stuck. “If you re-wash the clothes, something bad will happen to someone else, if you don’t it will happen to you'” I began to cry, there was no way out of this. Either way I turned filled me with anxiety if I left the clothes I felt terrified for myself, If I re washed them I felt terrified for a loved one. My heart sank as I felt tears rolling down my cheeks, still sitting on the kitchen floor. I felt so scared and frustrated but also complete and utter hate towards my own brain. I kept reminding myself I was being stupid that nothing could happen because I didn’t partake in a compulsion but all I’d do is doubt that statement. I sat for a couple of hours in the same spot running over the events in my mind, trying to work out whether to re-wash some clothes or leave them. “How can something so insignificant create so much pain, I’m so pathetic” I thought, my heart sank even further, so far it felt as if it was in my stomach.

“Do what you’d do if you didn’t have OCD Anna, you wouldn’t re wash the clothes, you’d wash them once and not even give it a second thought” I tried to reassure myself, but the anxiety wasn’t letting up I thought about the consequences of not re washing it. “Maybe I should just re wash them, what’s the harm if it makes you feel better” my mind turned to the other consequences of my loved ones. I felt as if anything I done at this point until I’d decided about the clothes would also be bad, I didn’t want to take a shower because if I decided to re wash the clothes, I’d also have to take another shower, some how this felt right in my head. I knew it wasn’t logical or didn’t make any sense if I was to say it out loud or try to explain. I was now in OCD’s bubble, prisoned in my own brain, thinking over and over and over about what to do for best but also trying so hard to rationalize the fear and thoughts I was experiencing.

I managed to get up and take a bath crying as I did because it felt so wrong not having made a decision about the clothes, but I had to get ready to go to my dads. I was dressed, I had my make-up on this had sort of taken me out of the bubble and more into reality. Messaging someone on my phone and being in another environment (my dads house) also seemed be taking my mind off it a little, I could feel the fear and thoughts lurking in the back of my mind but I didn’t feel so distressed. I debated throughout the evening whether to text my mum asking her to put my clothes on for a re-wash. Every time I typed it out, I deleted it again as anxiety would stop me and thoughts about me being selfish for re washing the clothes when the consequences would be directed towards my family.  I  flitted back and forth “Do I, don’t I?”. It had been almost 7 hours and I was still thinking about it all and I was still scared.

I arrived home and I had the idea in my head that I’d leave the decision until the morning, maybe then my mind would be clearer or maybe I would wake up and the anxiety would have decreased. Even though I’d sort of made this decision I still did’t stop thinking about if I should or shouldn’t re-wash the clothes, OCD wasn’t about to let up just because I’d decided to wait until the morning. I was right, OCD wasn’t going to stop there, it decided to throw another curve ball to torture me some more ‘You HAVE to make you decision before tomorrow, after that re-washing the clothes wouldn’t even count’. OCD always tries to match your intelligence, it will always find a way to catch your rational mind out, just when you think you’ve found an answer to the problem, it comes and creates a new problem.

I went into the utility room and sat down by the washing machine and cried. “A whole day ruined by putting some washing on, you’re stupid Anna, you’re pathetic” I told myself. My mum came in and tried to reason with me and help me, she’s seen me this way many of times. It wasn’t working, by this point  rationalizing with me wasn’t going to work, I was terrified and frantically trying to work out what to do in my head. I was well and truly in OCD’s bubble. “Come on Anna, go to bed and figure it out in morning, you can’t sit down here all night or at least relax in bed whilst trying to work out what to do” My mum said comfortingly. I responded angrily, I was so stuck in my brain that there was going to be no getting through to me.

I was alone now and it was 11 pm, sitting by a washing machine crying like a crazy person. I had to do something, I had to. I grabbed the washed and dried clothes and stuffed them into the washing machine, I poured out the washing powder and shut the washing machine door. I felt sick, “Is this the right thing to do” I questioned myself. I stopped. OCD whispered “What if it’s a test, what if you selfishly re-wash your clothes to feel less scared for yourself, which will put your loved ones in danger, but doing this will cause you to be at harm for being selfish and looking after yourself”. I broke down in more floods of tears. “Your selfish Anna” I thought to myself. I couldn’t do it I couldn’t re wash the clothes no matter how scared I was. Although I had made my decision the fear didn’t go away and neither did the thoughts.

Its 8.30 pm the next day and I’m here writing this still in fear of yesterdays decision. I’ve had moments of clarity where I feel ok and moments where I’m crying, but I am still fighting even though I am mentally exhausted and if you have OCD, you have to as well, we can’t let OCD win, your not alone in what your facing.

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This is what its like to suffer with OCD.

Disclaimer: This is all real events told exactly when and how it was. Not all OCD sufferers face the same symptoms and types but this gives you an insight to the thought process and how distressing OCD can be.

Stay Strong,

Anna

Tell OCD It’s Boring

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This quote is perfect for anyone suffering with OCD. As I’ve said before a lot people like me who suffer with OCD struggle with thoughts, feelings and images that scare us and cause us great distress. We fear OCD and its out comes of not doing as it says e.g ‘touch this or something bad will happen’ ‘avoid this situation because it makes you think of something that makes you anxious’ whatever it maybe. Everyone with OCD feels restricted and like a slave to OCD and are brains become scary places. If you think of OCD as a person it would be a selfish, manipulating and scary person who craves power. If you don’t give OCD the power it wants over you, you then become the powerful one. Without our attention OCD can’t exist, as soon as we pay attention to that scary, anxiety provoking feeling, thought or image we are giving OCD the power to control us. Of course it’s not as a simple as just ignoring OCD because if it was that simple, we would all beat it. It’s about learning to laugh at the thoughts you fear, telling OCD you’ve heard it all before and its getting boring now its no longer frightening. Trick that little OCD part of your brain into thinking you’re not scared anymore. The more we learn to laugh and not take our thoughts seriously the easier it becomes to disarm OCD. How can it get to you if you’re not scared? it can’t, OCD needs your fear to feed off and suck you in deeper. To anyone fighting with your OCD right now, take it face on and tell OCD its boring and you’re not listening, you can do it, it takes practice and trust within yourself.

If any of you have any OCD blog post requests please let me know in the comments or head on over to my tumblr and leave me a message in my ask box. I am always in the need of suggestions and I want to know what you guys need help with or want to learn about etc. If you also have any questions for me, feel free to ask!

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OCD – Your Thoughts Are Not The Problem, Your Beliefs About Your Thoughts Are.

Fearing Fear

A Little Poem About OCD

 

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Late last night I decided I wanted to try my hand at a bit of poetry, about OCD! I’m a little nervous about posting this as I am no poet and I’m not even sure if its any good. Even so, I hope you guys like it. Feel free to let me know what you think!

 

Stop thinking about that.

Just stop.

Why do I think these things?

And what do they mean?

I wish it would all stop.

 

Touch this, avoid that, count and tap.

To stop thinking about that.

But this is silly, I say.

OCD always gets it’s own way.

I wish it would all stop.

 

Don’t do that its a trap.

Think of your family and something bad.

Now do what I say, you must obey.

What if OCD is right? What if?

I wish it would all stop.

 

Anxiety takes over my body.

Germs everywhere, that’s all I can see.

I’m responsible for everything, its all down to me.

My body weighed down with all kinds of un-certainty.

I wish it would all stop.

 

Reassure me, just to sooth my OCD.

Is everything ok? Please let me know.

Before my anxious symptoms begin to show.

Ruminate over that frightening thought.

I wish it would all stop.

 

To break free from the chains of OCD,

You must learn to live with fear.

We are strong and our minds can once again be clear

I have OCD but OCD does not have me

I can make it all stop.

 

By Anna-Marie

 

Fearing Fear

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I think anybody with any anxiety disorder, panic disorder or with OCD will relate to this. When you have felt what feels like the most terrifying and uncomfortable feeling in the world, fear and sheer panic. Your heart racing, feeling like your going to lose control, feeling like you can’t breathe, feeling sick and all the other symptoms of panic. A feeling that’s really distinctive that once you’ve felt it you begin to fear it because of the emotional and physical struggle it bought. When my OCD is bad I often get a rush of anxiety and panic go through me, sometimes it may be over something, other times it just suddenly comes over me for no obvious reason. All I know is it’s probably one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced. Mainly because some of my worst memories from a couple of years ago were months of constant panic because I was so afraid of my OCD thoughts and feelings. I think since that dark place any symptoms of strong anxiety, I associate with that same feeling of fearing my thoughts and fearing I was about to lose control and my darkest thoughts where going to come true. Something people with OCD will understand.

The thing is once you fear fear, your only setting yourself to feel it. As soon as you fear something, any sign of it and you will panic. I notice when I am nervous about say, a blood test I have that horrible butterflies feeling in my stomach but then I realise ‘Oh this is normal nerves, once the blood test is over, it will be gone’ so in a way it’s a kind of a comforting fear to me. As normally I have fear that I don’t know when its going to stop and what it means. All I know is noticing it and attaching a bad meaning to the fear only makes it worse. I get an anxious feeling, I notice it, I attach the meaning that its a bad feeling and it could mean my OCD thoughts are going to come true and I’m going to lose control.  Fearing that feeling and panicking every time you feel it, is a lot worse than sitting with the uncomfortable feeling but not fearing it. I hope I am explaining this so people can understand and relate to it.

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The only way to gain control over fear is to not fear the emotion, which everyone knows isn’t easy its a natural human reaction. When you have an anxiety disorder your ‘fight or flight’ response tends to misfire which means we feel fear in situations that aren’t dangerous. When I am at home and I get a rush of panic, there is no real danger, I have just associated it with my OCD which I’ve labelled as dangerous. To disarm it we need to label it as what it is and that’s just an emotion. Although it’s not very nice, it is just a chemical reaction in our body which is harmless but uncomfortable. I am going to make a conscious decision to not fear fear instead label it for what it is an uncomfortable feeling.

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Bach Rescue Remedy: Does It Work?

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Bach Rescue Remedy is something I have been using for a while now and I thought It might be useful to give my opinion on how it works! So what is ‘Rescue Remedy’? It’s basically a natural remedy containing flower extracts that are meant to comfort and reassure you when your feeling, anxious or stressed etc! You put 4 drops on your tongue or in a drink of your choice. Rescue Remedy says It contains,’Impatiens’ for when your feeling impatient, ‘Star Of Bethlehem’ for trauma and shock, ‘Cherry Plum’ for when you feel like your mind is running away with itself and your losing control of your thoughts, ‘Rock Rose’ for panic and terror and ‘Clematis’ to bring clarity and alertness the present moment. The only other ingredient in it is grape alcohol! Its meant to help comfort and calm you down in times of need, obviously if you have an underlying reason of why your feeling like you do this isn’t going to be a cure or something you should rely on, you need real help.

I have seen a lot of articles and writing about how it doesn’t work its all a placebo effect meaning people think there taking something to calm themselves down therefore they do calm down. I still don’t know if my positive experience taking this is due to a placebo or not, but I feel like if it helps me to calm down then maybe its worth it. Bach do a variety of different versions of this. They do the droplets like in the picture above, the spray, soothing pastels, a sleep remedy and even one for pets! A lot of people buy this for driving tests, exams, job interviews and public speaking, but of course its to be used for any situation you want comfort and reassurance during in, these are just examples.

My Experience

I first discovered Rescue Remedy when I was in Greece. Long story short I had a bit of a panic before I got on the plane to fly to Greece and refused to get on, I finally got on and eventually I calmed down. I don’t think it was the flying itself rather than just the anxiety of leaving my comfort zone and a fear of being sick on the plane. My OCD seemed to latch on to this and as going home got closer my OCD started to play up and fear came flooding in. I was having all sorts of crazy thoughts ‘What if the plane crashes?’ ‘What if these aren’t thoughts and there premonitions?’ ‘If I don’t put/do such and such in a certain way that might mean the plane will crash’. I was having vivid images of me and my family crashing in the plane and it terrified me. It was a new feeling to me as I’d been on planes before and although I had been nervous about flying this was a fear like nothing before. I generally feared for mine and my family’s lives. I thought this was ‘signs’ I should go on a different flight which lead to me wanting to not fly and stay the night to get a different plane. Might I add I know this sounds crazy but that’s OCD for ya!

On the day of flying home I was adamant I wasn’t going to fly and the holiday rep recommend going to the chemist to buy some Rescue Remedy as she heard it was helpful. My Mum was desperate to find a way to get me to fly, so she went with the rep and bought me some. I finally got the Rescue Remedy which I was very skeptical about but really needed it to work. Leading up to leaving for the flight I could not stop crying, but as we got on the coach and I started taking the rescue remedy I seemed to calm down. I was still very worried don’t get me wrong, but I felt more able to control the emotions like it took the edge of it. Whether it’s because I was hoping it could work or it did I don’t know, all I know is I’m not sure how much worse that flight home would have been without it. I got on the plane, no tears just a little shaky but a lot calmer. Since then I have bought it on and off, I carry it around in my bag so if I feel anxious in public I can have a few drops to try calm me down. I also take it at home when my OCD is very bad and I’m feeling particularly stressed and anxious. I don’t know how much it does calm me down but I feel like I do notice a difference. I know some people can be funny about what something is going to taste like but I wouldn’t say it’s bad, my mum said it tastes like brandy!

 

I hope this has helped you decide whether or not they want to go ahead and purchase some Rescue Remedy or given you a little info about a product that might be useful for you! For a 20 ml bottle it’s £9.99 which is a little pricey, check out your local chemist, pharmacy or supermarket to find it. So I understand some people would be against paying out the money for something that could possibly be a placebo, but anxiety can be an awful feeling so I think its worth trying, if you don’t use it to often it should last a while.

Let know in the comments if you have tried Rescue Remedy and what your experience taking it was like?

 

Recognising YOUR OCD Thoughts

One of the biggest steps to recovering from OCD and dis arming OCD is recognising your OCD’s topic. When you have OCD your fears, thoughts and compulsions usually stem from a particular topic, wether it be harm, contamination or relationships etc to start recovering from OCD you have to learn what this topic is and how it comes into your mind, so you can then recognise these thoughts and feelings as OCD and label them exactly that so you can work on refocusing on anything but that topic. It’s not easy to recognise OCD when your brain is so busy with thoughts and doubt, and then you doubt its OCD which leads you to give in to your OCD and complete compulsions and ruminate over and over your thoughts and feelings!

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 When I went to intensive therapy I learned  a lot of my thoughts come in as questions about my particular worry ‘What if?’ ‘Could I?’ ‘Do I want to?’ ‘Am I?’ and before this I just thought that was me trying to work everything out, but my OCD makes me feel like I have to answer these questions and if I can’t there is something wrong with me and that I need to find an answer because without it how will I ever know I’m not bad, this is a compulsion. I now know any question, thought, image, urge to do with my topic of OCD, I have to ignore and immediately label it OCD and try refocus my attention on anything but what I’m experiencing anxiety over.

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Once you know your triggers, don’t question if its OCD, 99.9% of the time it will be, OCD might kick you and try to get your attention by giving you more anxiety and making you feel like you have to answer the questions in your head or you have to do the compulsion but you have to be smarter than OCD.  You have to trust your knowledge, which can be very hard because of the doubt OCD creates, but when you can  trust yourself and your therapist, you will notice the better you get at recognising OCD the easier it becomes and eventually it will be second nature to do so!

When I was facing this problem I had to just trust myself and think ‘from now on until my OCD isn’t so strong I’m going to have to trust that ANYTHING to do with my OCD topic is OCD, no matter what the question, thought, feeling or urge is, if its to with my particular fears, I have to label it as OCD’ . I am getting so much better at it, I do sometimes get lost in my head and caught up in OCD’s traps, but each day I feel like I am becoming stronger than OCD. When you become an expert on your own OCD it becomes easier to fight it and you no longer fear this awful disorder your suffering with.

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Its hard but with the right help and knowledge on OCD you can do it, I am doing it and if I can you can too, I belive in you. Become an expert on your OCD and be mindful of what your OCD involves and how it comes into your head and by mindful I mean just be aware of your thoughts and feelings but don’t think into them and get lost in them.

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Check out my other OCD, Anxiety and Depression posts to read more about my experience with OCD and tips on recovering from OCD!

Stay Strong ♥

Anna x

Feel Good Friday.

“My whole life I’ve been telling myself “don’t be afraid.”

And it is only now that I’m realizing how stupid that is. Don’t be afraid. Like saying “Don’t move out of the way when someone tries to punch you” or “don’t flinch at the heat of a fire” or “don’t blink.” Don’t be human.

I’m afraid and you’re afraid and we’re always going to be afraid, because that’s the point.

What I should be telling myself is “be afraid but do it anyway.”

Live anyway.”

I don’t know who wrote this quote, it came from a picture on Tumblr, but the writing is too small so I thought I’d type it out. I love this quote so much, as someone with anxiety and OCD I feel like this should be my motto, even if you don’t have anxiety everyone gets afraid so this applies to you too.

As soon as we feel fear we go into panic mode because of our ‘fight or flight’ instinct, which we can’t change but we can change how we react to the feeling of fear. Fear itself cannot hurt you, it’s a really awful feeling but it’s not life threatening its simply a chemical reaction in our body, an emotion.  We can go our whole life’s running from fear or we can accept we are always going to feel fear, but to not let that fear stop us from doing the things we want too, which I myself know is not as easy as it sounds. But if you aim to do at least one thing each day that scares you, that’s a good start and it makes you feel good about yourself when you stand up to fear, it makes you feel proud.I think at the moment whilst battling OCD everyday all day for me is scary, constantly trying not to give into rituals.

Thank your body for trying to keep you safe when you feel anxiety and fear, that’s all your body is doing, it gives us adrenaline ready to either ‘fight or flight’ which in certain situations is necessary and a good thing, but a lot of the time there is no real danger e.g picking up a spider or public speaking, these can be anxiety provoking things but there is no real danger in doing these things (unless you’ve got a deadly spider on your hands), that’s not something I recommend. You know what I mean, I’m not saying go do wild crazy things just because it scares you, I mean do the things you really want to do but fear stops you. It’s hard to have a healthy relationship with fear but by doing something tiny everyday I think that’s the starters to a healthier relationship with it.

Emotions are always temporary, the fear and anxiety won’t last forever, it feels really bad but it will pass. Don’t let anxiety and fear stop you from achieving good things, accept its always going to be there but live anyway!

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