What Would I Do If I Didn’t Have OCD?

You know when you find yourself in that mental battle of ‘should I perform the ritual or shouldn’t I?’ and you go backwards and forwards trying to work out whether you should give in or resist and keep fighting, weighing up the consequences of what feels like the biggest decision ever. It can be the most frustrating thing trying to work out which road to go down, do you go for what feels like the easiest and safest option – to perform a ritual, or do you take the harder but better in the long run option – to not perform the ritual, whatever your OCD involves I think we all have been faced with this exhausting mental battle at some point. From my experience in this situation I often know deep down its OCD and need to fight it or I’m only feeding my OCD, but there’s that doubt ‘What if it’s not  OCD this time?’ which I now know to recognise, that doubt of ‘is this OCD or not?’ IS OCD trying to trick you.

A really effective question to ask yourself when your caught in that mental argument is ‘What would I do if I didn’t have OCD?’ if its OCD the answer will be ‘Not this’ you would not be performing safety rituals if you didn’t have OCD, so now you know its OCD you know you need to not give in. It always helps me fight through the feelings and thoughts that come with OCD, as the question ‘What if it’s not OCD this time?’ is now invalid, because if I didn’t have OCD there’s no way I would be avoiding situations, asking for reassurance or performing ANY ritual. I think once you’ve accepted OCD is trying to trick you and will try to make you believe your rituals are necessary, it makes not performing rituals a little less frightening. Of course the doubts will come flooding in, and OCD will shout louder than ever ‘What if your wrong, what if it’s not OCD’ but that is OCD speaking again, ask yourself again, ‘What would I do if I didn’t have OCD?’ and do whatever it is you would do if you didn’t. Try to do the opposite of what you feel like you need to do right now, because YOU make the rules, not OCD, and if you want to get better and be like someone without OCD you have to do what you would do if you didn’t have it. You can apply this whether you have OCD or not, just change the question to fit your situation for example ‘What would I do if I wasn’t scared?’ or  ‘What would I do if I could NEVER fail?’.

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Stay Strong and DO NOT give up, you can do it, OCD cannot win, it doesn’t deserve to ♥

OCD – Your thoughts are not the problem, your beliefs about the thoughts are.

When you have OCD and you have constant bizarre, scary and anxiety provoking thoughts it hard too look past them and we often find ourselves thinking there MUST be something wrong with us for thinking the way we do. I learnt what I am going to talk about at the OCD Treatment Centre and it’s really eye-opening, so I thought I’d share what I was taught with you guys!

From my personal experience  whenever I had thoughts I considered bad I used to instantly think I must be a bad person to think such horrible things.  Which is one of the main reasons OCD is a problem with our beliefs about ourselves and the meaning of our thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts, the meaning we attach to the thoughts is the problem, e.g ‘If I have a bad thought I am a bad person’ so is the thought we had actually bad? not really thoughts are harmless they are just brain activity, we have created a belief that certain thoughts are bad and should not be thought about.

Often OCD sufferers like myself get stuck in something called ‘Thought-Action-Fusion’  also known as magical thinking which is basically thinking a thought, is just as bad as acting on it or it happening, which is  no wonder we feel so much anxiety and guilt if we think about certain things or  do not perform mental or physical rituals. How could you not feel anxiety when your brain is saying ‘If you can think about that, you must be a psychopath’ ‘If you don’t do this then your family could die’ its because a lot of the time thinking these things to us is as bad as it happening, or thinking these things means it is almost certain to be true. which you can find out more about HERE as well as other factors of OCD.

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I have always been told everyone has intrusive thoughts, but people with OCD get stuck on them, unlike people without OCD who don’t take any notice or can easily dismiss them as ‘silly thoughts’, but that’s because they haven’t attached any meaning/belief  to them, to them they are just ‘thoughts’ but to people with OCD like myself, they MUST MEAN something. A belief is nothing more than what you have told yourself or been enough times that you believe it, often beliefs are irrational and unhelpful, but hard to get rid off.

An example of this is Person 1 has a belief that the colour red is lucky, person 2 has a belief that red is unlucky. Person 1 is going to have happy, pleasant and positive thoughts and feelings towards the colour red, because they have the belief its lucky. Person 2 on the other hand is going to have horrible, negative thoughts and feelings towards the colour red because they have the belief its unlucky. Person 1 will like red and want to be around it, person 2 will want to avoid red. So whos belief do you think is correct, person 1 or 2?… neither its purely a belief they have both attached to the colour.

Which is the same with a person with OCD and without, the person with OCD will have a thought, feeling or urge and see it as a negative thing that means something about themselves, or that they need to do something about e.g perform a ritual.A person without OCD will have a thought and still be at peace with themselves, because they have no meaning or belief attached to the thoughts. A good thing I got taught by Sharon Davies from the OCD Treatment Centre was that it’s not the story or the content that’s important, a story is just a combination of thoughts, It’s the meaning we have attached to the story’s/thoughts, it’s what we do about the story (thoughts) which becomes the problem.

Which is true it’s not our thoughts, feelings and urges that are the problem it’s what we do about them, whether we choose to acknowledge them and be sucked in by OCD. So when you think about it,  a thought is just a thought, if we get rid of the meaning and belief we have attached to the thoughts, OCD couldn’t survive because we would no longer be bothered by the content of the thoughts and without our attention OCD cannot survive. Trying to change a belief you have had for so long can be really hard, as I have found out and still am, but once you realise you have an irrational belief that’s the start of  getting rid of it. Remember if you no longer believed your thoughts, feelings and urges meant something bad, where would your OCD be? Gone.

tumblr_ly6h4j0szt1qmyf2uo1_500      Stay Strong, Keep fighting ♥

Reflecting on 2013.

Another year is almost over and it will soon be 2014, scary I know! At the start of every year I look back and think this year will be different, but then I sit back  and do nothing, and before I know it another birthday has been and I’m thinking ‘I’ve still got ages to change yet, then a new year is suddenly a couple of days away’! Now I have had some struggles with my OCD and depression, but I feel like this could be my year, I have a lot more control over my OCD and moods! This year has been better than previous ones, I have achieved some things such as going to an intensive therapy and fighting OCD, losing weight and even starting this blog! But with me it’s just ‘doing’ everything, getting a job, getting out and about, losing more weight etc I want to do it so bad yet the thought of it all scares me so much and gives me so much anxiety, I just keep putting it off until another year of staying home with no job or social life has gone by!

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All of the things I know I need to do scare me so much but I don’t want to waste any more years, I have wasted so many years with a life revolved around OCD, anxiety and depression. Its easier said than done but this has to stop, I don’t think I will ever feel ready to get a job but the longer I put it off the more scary it will be too me.

This year I am determined to not let my problems make me a prison in my own house, I feel like I am able to do all these things I want, but I am my own worst enemy and don’t believe in myself, I can’t see myself working and having a massive social life again, its been so long it seems alien too me.  I know what I need to do, it’s just doing it, I remember  my parents we’re saying ‘Anna you need to sort yourself out, before you know it another year will be gone and you won’t have done anything’ and I would reply ‘Yeah I will I have ages until another year yet, in my own time I will’ which makes me sound lazy and spoilt ‘in my own time I will’ but it’s not that, I’m just so so scared of stepping outside of this comfort bubble I’ve built around myself and I don’t want to burst it and see what’s outside, but I do at the same time.

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Even writing this now and really thinking about the last 3 or 4 years of my life where I’ve really not done a lot, makes me feel so many things, disappointed, nervous, lost, upset, angry etc but at the same time this is how im comfortable and how in a way I like to be now. This year though, 2014, will be my year. I write that with doubt, but why? I am the only person stopping myself, it is all possible if I allow it to be.

I don’t want to be reading this at the end of 2014 and having that feeling of regret and disappointment about myself, that I spent another year doing nothing, it is such a waste of life. At times I see no point in life it all seems so pointless, but why is it? I should be making the most of it and thinking ‘Well today I feel like life is pointless, but tomorrow I might not’ put that mood to one side and carry on living my life as I am here, and I’m not going to feel any better doing nothing and I definitely won’t find the answer to ‘What is the point?’ sitting on my bum moping all day.

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So I thought I would write a couple of the main things I want to achieve with in this year, seeing it written down and knowing other people will be reading this and maybe even inspiring other people to do the same might help me, as I don’t want to let my lovely readers down do I? ♥

  • Get some form of job
  • Carry on losing weight (currently lost 3 st)
  • Go out more
  • Carry on blogging and making my blog grow!
  • Keep fighting OCD and get better at it

This may all look like simple easy things, but to me there huge changes, I really need to do this, so if any of you bright sparks have any ideas on ways to keep myself motivated or tips in general, feel free to message me on here, Twitter and Tumblr!

I hope 2014 is going to be YOUR year too, Happy New Year!

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Feel Good Friday.

I think as humans we compare ourselves to people we think our better than ourselves A LOT. I think it is quite natural to do that, although I don’t think its a healthy thing to do, its hard not too. Even from a young age I think we do it, we see that girl or boy who is really good at drawing, sport or their hand writing is neater than yours, and you can’t help but get that disappointed feeling along with thoughts like ‘I wish I was like them’ or ‘I’m so rubbish, such and such a person can do this, I can’t’!

As we get older I think we do it even more so and I think young adults like myself in particular are very critical of ourself and compare our ability’s and looks to other people our age all the time! I am forever looking at girls and thinking ‘Why don’t I look like her, she is so pretty’ ‘Why aren’t I skinny like her’ ‘I wish I looked like her’ and at the end of the day I don’t, which should be ok with me as I am who I am! But it’s very hard accepting yourself as you are with all the flaws we recognise in ourselves, but I think its important to remember that person you’re looking at and wishing you we’re like, probably looks at you and sees something in you they wish they could do/ have. I think we always want what we don’t have, we could be really good at art, yet you see that person that’s good at maths and think ‘I’m so dumb all I can do is draw’ and that person may look at you and think ‘I Wish I was more creative’.

What I’m trying to say is, don’t be so hard on yourselves, you can’t compare yourselves to something you’re not, when you think about it, its silly, you can’t judge yourself and other people on what they can’t do. Everyone is talented, but if you compare yourself to someone with completely different talents than you, you’re going to live your whole life believing your not good at anything! Remember you are a genius at something, doesn’t matter if it’s the same as another person!

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‘Lose your mind, come to your senses’

People with OCD like me, are often spending too much time in our heads, too much time thinking and giving importance to harmless thoughts! This idea isn’t just helpful for OCD sufferers but for people who suffer from anxiety and panic in general. When I had my intensive therapy which you can find out about HERE I remember the quote ‘Lose your mind, come to your senses’ being used, and I thought ‘what?! I’m scared I am already losing my mind, I don’t want too’ but it does not mean literally. It basically means when you’re having an anxiety provoking thought or feeling, stop for a second, forget about what is going on in your head and come to your senses, so notice what you see, hear, smell, taste and touch.

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All of these things are REAL, can you see any danger in front of you? no, your fight or flight is just sending you false messages and giving you the feeling of ‘something’s not right’ or a strong feeling of panic. Which at first I thought ‘no there is no real danger in front of me, but I’m worried I am the danger and what goes on in my head (OCD thoughts) is dangerous, this feeling of panic feels so frightening’ but like I got taught, what’s going on in your head is not real, it’s all imagination, which is why us people with anxiety and OCD get in such a pickle because we have very vivid imaginations! We know OCD is trying to trick us when the doubts come flooding in ‘yeah but what if there is a danger’ ‘what if I don’t do this and such and such happens’ so when that happens just take a second to notice reality rather than what’s going on inside our heads.

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Like my intensive therapist Sharon Davies said ‘No matter how much I imagine and think about being on holiday on a beach, size 10 in a bikini right now, I’m still not there’! What we think is not real, what’s going on in front of us is! I think this is a really useful thing to remember when your feeling the urge to listen to that horrible OCD voice in your head or feeling anxious in a situation thats not dangerous, try to   ‘Lose your mind, come to your senses’ !

Stay strong, keep on fighting, you got this♥

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Caffeine & Anxiety.

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A while ago I used to drink A LOT of coffee and have it extra strong with about 2 teaspoons of coffee and very little milk, everyone always used to say to me ‘Anna how do you drink that, that’s not good for you!’ I started to notice after I ate a lot of sugar and had coffee I had this jittery, shaky feeling which as we all know too much caffeine can cause, but It didn’t feel like a good buzz it felt like anxiety.

It then occurred to me that caffeine and anxiety can cause very similar symptoms so put them together at the same time and its going to be twice as bad! I asked my psychologist and she said we don’t recommend anyone with anxiety to have caffeine, alcohol, drugs etc, as it’s a stimulant it causes an adrenalin rush, which is why people feel more awake and energetic, too much caffeine though can cause side effects such as Insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, stomach upset, fast heart and muscle tremors, Sounds a lot like anxiety right?

So imagine already having an anxiety disorder and adding a stimulant to the situation as well, your just adding fuel to the fire! Different people are more or less sensitive to caffeine, but its known that people with mental health problems are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine. Which is why when I stopped drinking coffee and coke with caffeine it seemed to help, no I’m not cured but I don’t think I need any more adrenaline and anxiety than I’ve already got.

I still drink tea but not as much and tea contains less caffeine than coffee and doesn’t seem to affect me so much. If I can I will have a decaf option but an even better drink to try is herbal teas, although I’m struggling to get into them, peppermint tea is the nicest I’ve tried so far! Try cutting out caffeine from your diet and see if you notice some improvements, caffeine can be found in many things but some of the worst items are coffee, tea, energy drinks, fizzy drinks and chocolate!

Let me know if you have found caffeine makes you’re anxiety worse and I’d love to hear from you if you stop having it and your anxiety improves. Do you have any herbal teas you would recommend?♥

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The many misconceptions of OCD.

This is something that is very close to home for me, I can’t help but notice how misused the word OCD is and how many Misconceptions about OCD there are. I don’t blame anyone for misusing the word at all, that’s due to lack of understanding which is where the misconceptions come in, because OCD can be perceived as a cleaning and organizing disorder, which it can be, but its the thought process behind the behaviours that not many people know about, and OCD can take many forms NOT just cleaning.

Have you ever heard someone say or said yourself ‘Oh I am so OCD about organizing’? Or ‘I love to clean, I’m so OCD’? You probably have. I know I have, you just have to type OCD into twitter and see all the tweets that are along the lines of the quotes above. The thing is when you have severe OCD hearing this can be frustrating because being particular about how clean you like things or how you organize things etc does not make you OCD. OCD is where you feel compelled to do these things, you don’t WANT to do these things a certain way,  you feel like you HAVE to do these things or something bad could happen. Which is where the thought process behind OCD comes in, which is what most people don’t know about. OCD stems from a thought usually a ‘What if’ thought or a bad thought, so someone may have a thought ‘If I do not do this, someone might die’ or ‘If I don’t do this I could get really ill or someone else could’ then the anxiety comes flooding in and makes you feel like you HAVE to do it or else this thing could really happen. To have OCD you do not have to have psychical compulsions they can be mental such as an image or thought about something anxiety provoking, then feeling like you have to work out what that thought means about you and ruminate over and over about it. We know its irrational, but its the ‘What if’ it could and the fear is so real we can’t take the risk and ignore it. All of the above are just examples of OCD, there is so many different types of OCD and compulsions etc.

Something I have been seeing a lot recently is people saying ‘I would love to have OCD then I would be organized’ or ‘My OCD has its pro’s because at least I’m always organized and tidy’ which I think is the worst thing to read when you have OCD yourself. As I cannot express how wrong this is, no one with OCD enjoys their compulsions, if that were the case everyone with OCD would be happy and as far as I know, I have not spoken to someone who sees having OCD as a pro or a good thing that they enjoy. Yes being organized and enjoying cleaning etc is not a bad trait to have, so if you are enjoying what you think is OCD, it probably isn’t! Another comment I have also been seeing is ‘I have CDO, it’s like OCD but the letters are in alphabetical order’ this ‘joke’ is completely ridiculous, I don’t know anyone with OCD that calls CDO because of their OCD.

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So this post isn’t about me being bitter because I have OCD and people think they do when they don’t. It’s about spreading awareness. So next time you hear someone say something along the lines of the quotes above, you can politely correct them so they know that they could be offending someone with severe OCD who is really struggling with it, or if you find yourself saying these thing just take a second to think is this really OCD or am I just particular and like to do things my way. If you think you may have OCD or know someone who does then please get help, here you can find where you can get information on whether you have OCD and what help is out there for you http://www.ocdaction.org.uk/.

So basically what I am trying get across is, if you like things in a certain way sometimes, you are very particular about things and are organized, it does not mean you have OCD. I really hope this post helps anyone to understand OCD more and to use the word a bit more seriously, too not joke about it or think of it as a slight quirk you have.

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