Letting Go Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Care

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Something I’ve struggled with for a long time now and still do is letting go of scary OCD thoughts. I feel like if I just let go of OCD thoughts or rituals where I worry something bad could happen, it must mean I don’t care about the consequences or if I can let them go easily it must also mean I don’t care. I am starting to accept and learn that this is not the case and you have to give yourself permission to let go of things, it doesn’t mean you don’t care. Easier said than done right?  When your emotions are telling you letting go of certain thoughts and worries is bad and if you let go you’re a terrible person it’s really hard not to listen. I know OCD will try to do anything to try to keep me sucked in by it, because that’s what OCD does it wants to control people. Which is exactly what it’s doing by making me think if I let go and don’t perform a ritual that I don’t care and also that something bad might happen.

The reality is as soon as you get that thought ‘If you don’t do such and such something bad could happen’ and you then feel anxious or worry about not performing the ritual, that is the sign you do care. The fact you’re worried about letting go of that OCD thought or ritual, means you care if you didn’t you wouldn’t be thinking about it or worrying about it. You don’t need to carry on thinking about the subject or perform a ritual to know you care. You need to allow yourself to let go and become free because you deserve it. You can acknowledge the fact you’re feeling anxious about not performing a ritual or feeling anxious about not trying to work out what that bad thought you just had meant about you and accept that is you caring.  You don’t need to torture yourself any more than that, you’re  allowed to move on, you just need to let yourself.  Thinking about things more and more or performing rituals is keeping you stuck in the place you are right now, stuck being controlled by a pest called OCD in your head. One of the steps to freedom is to know if you’re worried or upset about letting go you care, but you don’t need to hold on to things or perform rituals. Allow yourself to fear letting go and allow yourself to recognise you care. Then let go because you don’t need to be afraid you don’t care because you have proved to yourself  you do.

Stay Strong,

Anna

OCD: Brains Are Like Sponges

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Through our lives we watch, read and see things and without even trying to are brains take all this information in. They are like sponges that soak up everything around you whether you want it to or not. Our brains then send us all sorts of weird and wonderful thoughts and images and for people with OCD these intrusive thoughts are very bothersome and anxiety provoking. Our brains send us thousands of thoughts everyday, which is fine until you start noticing and attaching a meaning to these thoughts. Something I’ve struggled with my OCD is distinguishing which are intrusive thoughts or weird random thoughts our brain thinks when it goes off in a tangent and which are ME. Which are my real thoughts and beliefs and which are my sponge like brain and creative brain thoughts.

People with OCD tend to get these thoughts mixed up with themselves. Although these thoughts are, our own, it does not mean because we think certain things that its fact. It does not mean if you randomly have a thought of say ‘cheating on your partner’ that’s what you really want to do. Our brains are curious and creative. Our brains like to create weird and crazy made up storeys. You know when you get a weird thought and you suddenly think ‘What was that? that’s so weird’ or ‘That’s so wrong, why did I think that?’ that is your true self speaking, the thought you found weird was just the brain being creative.

This has really helped me try to recognise my real identity and not lump myself with every thought I have. I now notice the thought after the anxiety provoking thought as the real me. Your true self is the person that notices and recognises these automatic thoughts. Don’t take random thoughts seriously, laugh at them and realise our brains are creative and can make us think weird, wonderful and scary things. I can feel my OCD doubts popping into my head as I write this ‘Is this true?’ ‘What if its not and all my thoughts are what I believe and like to think about?’ but hey this is what I’ve learnt and although I struggle to trust what I’ve been taught, OCD will make you doubt so if I am doubting I must label it OCD.

Where I got private treatment and learnt about OCD:

http://ocdtreatmentcentre.com/

Stay Strong,

Anna

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

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 ♥

My OCD story.

Where do I start, from about the age of 4 I can remember things that I now know were OCD, most of my fears as a child stemmed from a fear of being sick. I remember avoiding being near people who had been off school or felt ill, fearing being sick at school and going home from school because something had triggered this unknown fear I had and had caused me to feel very ill myself which I now recognise as Anxiety. I never went on any school trips as I could not handle the fact someone could be travel sick on the coach or I might even get sick when I was away. As I got older it turned to hand washing where I would make my hands bleed where I washed them so much, I remember searching for a toilet that hadn’t run out of soap before I could eat my lunch. Everyone knew I had a fear of sick but I being young and my parents not knowing enough about OCD didn’t know I had it, I never really discussed any of it with them as I hated talking about sick and telling people when I felt unwell because people making a fuss and checking if I was ok would make me even more anxious.

When I was about 10 or 11 I started getting very fearful of sale buy dates, if something went out of date on the day I was going to eat it or even the day before I wouldn’t eat it. I would look at everything I ate for signs of being ‘gone off’ which led me to throw away a lot of food that there was actually nothing wrong with but I had in my head that they didn’t look ‘right’ or they tasted funny. I started to get thinner as I was throwing away so much food and reached a low weight of 5 st 10 lbs. During this time I would pick things up with kitchen roll in case they were dirty and wash my hands even more than I used too! This is when my mum and dad took me to the doctors, the doctor told me I needed to put on weight and that it sounded like a had OCD. So that was that I put on some weight and my OCD seemed to leave for a bit, I was still afraid of sick but it wasn’t interfering with my life as much.

Which leads me on to about the last 4 years of my life when OCD has taken over. When I was about 15-16  years old I noticed I felt compelled to do certain things In fear if I didn’t I would be sick. As people with OCD know this grew into a much bigger problem and compulsions took over and soon enough I was doing everything until it ‘felt right’, It would take me hours to get ready for anything, which made me very very late for school, not only that I was staying up till about 4 in  the morning crying, arguing, kicking up a fuss trying to get things to ‘feel right’ and to try and get my mums attention in hope she would come and do the things for me, but of course crying, shouting and being nasty doesn’t get you positive attention and my mum did not understand where her happy, confident daughter had gone. Couple of years went by and actually being sick in someone’s car got me over my worst fear of being sick in public, now looking back I’m actually glad this happened as it made me face my fear!

When I was about 17 my OCD started to change and it had turned too mainly Pure O which you can find out more about HERE, I can put my finger on certain things I may have watched on TV which triggered my next fears. I have never really talked about this with anyone outside my family besides Professionals, My pure O obsessions are basically fearing I am a bad person and could do bad things. Anything that is classed as bad I have most likely feared I could do. When this first started I was so scared, I can’t even explain how scared I was, I had never felt like this before, I was thinking and worrying about things I thought only a psychopath could think about, which of course I thought MUST mean I am one! During this time my compulsions of wanting things to ‘feel right’ had returned but this time I no longer knew what ‘felt right’ so I would ask my mum to do EVERYTHING for me because in my head if she done these things for me they would be ‘right’ because she is a good person and then the decision is out of my hands.

My freedom to do anything how I wanted and be independent had gone, not only was this very hard on my self-esteem but also very hard on my mum as she felt like her 19-year-old daughter was asking her to do things she could do when she was about 5. Buying things was also a BIG problem for me, I would go shopping and buy clothes and all this nice stuff I wanted/needed then suddenly get the feeling it was ‘bad’ the feeling it wasn’t ‘right’ that if I kept this I could do something terrible so I would be forever  be returning things I really liked and wanted to the shop. No matter how bad I wanted these things I could not keep them I would think it would be so selfish for me to keep these things believing that I could do something terrible to someone just because I like some clothes, I now know this is all magical thinking, which is a big part of my OCD. Find out more about magical thinking HERE, along with other types of OCD. It felt like my whole world has turned upside down and that all this time I hadn’t noticed what a horrible person I was.

The ‘What if’ questions came in strong and fast, ‘What if I could do what that person the news done?’ ‘What if I enjoy my horrible thoughts?’  everything around  me suddenly became linked to these thoughts, ‘Could I do that?’ ‘Would I care if I done that?’ ‘Am I bad?’ and I never came to awnser the questions just spun around and around in my head which I now recognise as rumination, which is where you go over and over things in yourself but never really come to a conclusion or an answer. Everyone was forever telling me ‘Anna your not like that, you’re a lovely person’ but nothing anyone said helped, the belief I had about myself was too strong. I am now 19 and during this whole time I have seen many psychologists and therapists that have told me the intrusive thoughts and questions I have about myself are ALL OCD but this does not stop OCD making you doubt, OCD is the disease of doubt and will make you question you have OCD, it’s a liar and it tricks you into believing everything you think and feel is real. and must mean something about you.

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Image  All of this anxiety and fear caused me to go into deep depression, which was a really tough time for me where I done some very silly things to myself. It made me become very isolated and alone, I no longer wanted to go out and meet people, I was no longer the happy, bubbly and confident girl I once was at school, I had never felt so low in my life and until you have felt that I don’t think anyone can understand the severity of that feeling, the feeling of giving up and no longer knowing what to do with anything and everything.

Are you bored of my life story yet? Don’t worry I’m nearly there!! So after having many CBT sessions and feeling let down by the out come, My mum thankfully searched the internet for private treatment which you can read about HERE, going to this treatment was the best decision I ever made I wrote a testimony which you can also find HERE, when I wrote that testimony I was very positive and on top of the world with what I had achieved with the therapy. Since then I am struggling with my OCD once again, which is because OCD is sneaky, you give it any attention and it creeps back in and before you know it you’ve got the same old battles going on in your head, but I am determined to fight this awful disorder and put the therapy I have learned in to practice. I can’t go back to how I was!! I have purchased a book I was recommended called Break Free from OCD, which I will link you to where you can buy it HERE, I will be doing a review on the book once I have read through it and I will let you know how it goes!!

If anyone would like any advice on OCD please feel  free to message me on my tumblr or twitter and I will try my best to help! If you can relate to anything I’d love to hear about your stories!!

Stay Strong and keep fighting♥

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More information about OCD and help you can get:

http://www.ocduk.org/

http://www.ocdaction.org.uk/