OCD: Reassurance Seeker

Blog post

A very common symptom for a lot of people with OCD is the need to seek reassurance. If you’ve read previous posts about my experiences with OCD I mention how this is a massive part to my OCD. Seeking reassurance is a form of compulsion, that need for someone to tell you ‘its ok’ in some way shape or form, to get rid of a strong feeling of anxiety. Of course everyone needs a little reassurance every now and then, but when its constant over the same things it starts to interfere with your life. That and all the other symptoms that come along with OCD you can become a slave to this debilitating illness. The trouble is it’s no longer just you facing the symptoms of OCD, the family and friends you seek reassurance from are now in the grips of you and your OCD to and its very important how they deal with this to. I will talk about that later in this post.

Examples of reassurance

  • Placing an item in a certain place and asking ‘if its ok there?’
  • Did I just run someone over?
  • Do you think I’m a bad person?
  • Did I just swear or insult someone?
  • Will something bad happen If I do or don’t do such and such?
  • Are you sure?

Why people with OCD depend on reassurance?

The need for reassurance is almost like an addiction. People with OCD will have a thought, image or feeling that causes them a strong feeling of anxiety. After this the feeling is so strong, they feel compelled to perform either a physical or mental compulsion. A lot of the time the person will feel as if something related the ‘bad’ thought, feeling or image they had will come true or something bad could happen, if they don’t perform their ritual in this case seeking reassurance. Which is when people will seek reassurance from somebody, asking their opinion on the situation, thought or feeling. Doing this then makes their anxiety levels decrease. There for people with OCD keep wanting the reassurance to make their anxiety levels decrease. You might think it’s not to bad, but it spreads and becomes more frequent in a lot of cases. It’s like you know what you’re asking is silly but you just have to do it to feel better and know what that persons view and opinion on the matter is or something bad might happen and you know its silly but the doubt and OCD makes it feel so real. It’s like you develop a huge lack of trust for your own ability to judge your own thoughts and feelings.

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My experience with reassurance seeking

In the past couple of years my OCD developed from doing physical compulsions myself to getting someone else to do things for me or asking if everything was ok. It’s hard to explain but everything I done and I mean everything I would ask is that ok? is this ok? are you sure? something as simple as putting a cup in the dishwasher was no longer simple. I had to ask ‘if it was ok where I put it. I needed reassurance on everything I was touching, moving and doing. If I wasn’t asking if things we’re ok, I was asking people to do things for me instead. As you can imagine I lost every inch of independence I ever had. Which was not only upsetting and stressful for me, but also on family and anyone who I involved in asking for reassurance.When my mum was at work I would send pictures of everything I done so she could tell me it was ok. I felt like if I didn’t get the reassurance something bad could happen and I won’t go into what in particular but it was very scary things so without the reassurance it felt like my whole world was crumbling. Without it I felt anxious and I couldn’t think of anything but what I was worried about, I felt unable to do anything until I knew that the thing before it was ‘ok’. Not only that I knew how silly it sounded at the age of 19 to be asking if things that a 5 year old can do are ok or to do them for me 24/7.

 I would also ask whether my mum thought, thoughts and feelings I were having were bad or normal and what she thought the thoughts and feeling meant. This was really hard for her and me, I felt so embarrassed asking her some of the things I did, very personal, embarrassing and scary things! Its horrible feeling like you rely on everyone around you and I know how horrible it must be for them to feel pressured into reassuring me all the time and having to run around behind me to tell me things were ok. I knew it was ok really and I knew they weren’t going to tell me something I’d put down in a certain place wasn’t ok, but it’s that need for reassurance and it literally feels like a NEED. I still do seek reassurance over thoughts and feelings I have but I am learning how to cope and deal with these things by myself, slowly but surely.

Why giving someone with OCD reassurance is bad?

As a parent or a friend the first thing you do when someone you love is in distress and asking you for reassurance is give it to them. Unless you know why not to, it’s the natural thing to do. The reason why it’s so bad to reassure anyone with OCD is because it feeds the OCD. Its become a habit or an addiction almost, to have a ‘bad’ thought, image or feeling, fuelled with anxiety and then in order to seek ‘safety’ the person seeks reassurance as an compulsion. The person suffering with OCD needs to get used to that uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty and having no reassurance and unfortunately the only way to do that is to be in discomfort. The person you are refraining from reassuring may seem distressed, may try to make you feel bad for not reassuring them and they may get angry, but you and they know deep down it’s for the right reasons.

To stop OCD you have to stop seeking safety and accept uncertainty and anxiety, which is very frightening for someone with OCD. By reassuring someone you may feel like your helping them feel better but in the long run your making them worse, you have to be cruel to be kind in this situation. The more you reassure someone the more they need it again and again. You have to help them break the cycle and trap. I wouldn’t say randomly cutting of reassurance for someone who’s not been told why they can’t be reassured and hasn’t had any therapy to learn why it’s for the best and how to deal with this is a good idea. Seek help and let a professional guide you and advise you on the best way to deal with the suffers OCD.

I hope this helped give someone with a family member suffering with OCD some information and understanding. I also hope other OCD suffers like myself could relate to this post!

Stay Strong,

Anna

Depression | My Story

This is kind of part 2 to My OCD Story  blog post but this time talking about my experience of depression and what it feels like. I think depression is one of those things until you’ve felt it, it’s really hard to understand what it feels like and how bad it feels. Now I’ve experienced it and gone through it myself, I look back at times I’ve been upset and down and I can see a real difference to normal sadness everyone experiences in their life and depression. Its possibly one of the if not the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced. It’s so hard to explain what it feels like because there is so many feelings and thoughts that go along with the depression, but I’m going to try my hardest to explain what it was like for me.

If you’ve read My OCD Story blog post which I have linked above, you will know I have had bits of OCD all my life. It wasn’t until I was about 16 when my OCD was worse than it ever had been, I noticed a dramatic change in my mood. When I was at school and had friends around me I felt a bit better, I was already missing a lot of school because it took me so long to get ready and out the door due to my OCD. On top of that I wasn’t the best behaved at school, I was put on a special time-table and I was only allowed into school for 3 hours a day. This only isolated me more and I seemed to drift further and further away from my friends, I no longer felt confident and I felt very alone at times. As I went on to finish my GCSE’S and leave school I became more and more isolated, I couldn’t be bothered to meet people, I couldn’t be bothered to get ready to go out, it took me too long, again because of my OCD.

As I spent less time with friends and I no longer had school to occupy me I just felt like there was a huge weight on my shoulders weighing me down, my whole body felt heavy, I no longer saw the point in anything. I hated the way I had become, if someone asked me to go out somewhere or meet me I would instantly try to think of an excuse so I didn’t have to go. Not because I didn’t want too as such, I just couldn’t. Which is what I think people struggle to understand, how you know staying in and doing nothing isn’t helping you, yet you still can’t bring yourself to get up and do something about it. The times I did force myself to go out, I felt spaced out and like I was constantly thinking ‘I want to go home’.

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I think I was depressed a long time before I was actually diagnosed with it and put on tablets. I think its one of those things you’re not sure if what your feeling is bad enough to be classed as depression, eventually when I went to the psychologist and told them how I was feeling, I done a questionnaire and was told I had moderate to severe depression. It was kind of nice putting a name to how I was feeling, but I think when you get a diagnoses for a mental health problem you think knowing that, and being put on tablets is going to be some sort of miracle cure and everything will be ok soon. But it’s not.

When you have depression I think you either feel a million emotions at once, or nothing at all just emptiness and I don’t know which is worse. At times you feel so much hurt yet you also feel emotionless like you just want to give up. I think it feels like there’s a black cloud over your head permanently that no sunny weather could break through, sometimes you feel like you could cry forever and others you feel like you want to cry but can’t. It sucks so much confidence out of you and leaves you feeling a lot of hate for yourself,  its frustrating because no matter what anyone says you can’t get rid of this feeling.

I remember not having a job and doing nothing to help around the house, pretty much leaving my mum to do everything by herself. It was upsetting knowing she was struggling so much, yet I just couldn’t bring myself to get up and do things. I would just wake up sit on the sofa in my pyjamas and not move unless it was to eat or go to the toilet. This was my day until about 5.30pm at night, sometimes later waiting for mum to get home, when she would eventually make me get up and shower. I would put it off for as long as I could, something as simple as showering felt like a marathon. I felt so annoyed at myself I would and still do think to myself ‘Why can’t I just do it, maybe I’m just lazy?’ ‘Everyone else goes to work even if they don’t want too, why can’t I?’ I felt like I was just lazy and no one understood.

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All sorts of thoughts cross your mind when you hit rock bottom, ‘What is the point in life?’ ‘People would be better off without me, ‘I’m a burden’ etc and at times you feel like you would do anything to get rid of that feeling. I’m not going to lie, suicide crossed my mind, but I didn’t want to die, I just wanted the feelings to stop and my OCD to give me break for one second. I did self harm a few times during this time, I don’t know why, I think you hear of people doing it when there down and think maybe it will make me feel better or release all these feelings. It was also a way of visually expressing how much pain I was in on the inside without having to try explain it with words. I never really found it much help, at times I think it was a cry for help, not in an attention seeking way as most of the time I kept my arms covered. I was just so lost and confused with myself at the time. I feel like sometimes you hear and see things in films, Tv and on social media such as Tumblr, and you don’t think are worthy of classing yourself as depressed until you’ve done something self-destructive, because you feel like maybe your just overacting and being a drama queen.

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I’m 20 now and I wouldn’t say I am fully over my depression, but I am a lot better than I was, now feeling like I am coming out the other side. I can feel and notice the extreme difference in the way I feel to when I was depressed. I just feel like my mind is so much clearer, like the sun has started to shine through the black cloud that’s followed me around for so long. My body doesn’t feel as heavy and the negative emotions don’t last so long, I have better days than bad. I still have to fight hard to motivate myself and I still don’t have a job yet and I don’t have much of a social life any more but I am doing much better.

So it is true what they say ‘it gets better’ and to anyone who feels like there is no hope and they want to give up, it can and will get better, just be patient. I remember when people would say ‘You will be okay, it will get better soon’ and I’d sit there thinking ‘yeah ok, I’ve been waiting 4 years or more now for it to get better, you obviously don’t understand’. I am telling you I do understand, its horrible but if I can keep fighting so can you, it may not feel like it, but you can. No matter how many times you pick yourself up for it all to come crashing down and get bad again, keep going, good days will become more frequent and bad days will become less.

If  anyone of you reading this ever needs someone to talk to, message me on my Facebook page, Twitter or Tumblr and I will try my hardest to help. They are all linked on this blog page and to anyone who doesn’t understand depression, I hope this helps you understand it better!

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Stay strong,

Anna

Venting – Current OCD Struggles.

I will most likely delete this post soon, as I know I will post it and feel anxious. Because I feel like anything I do that’s permanent at the moment will be bad. So let me start from the beginning, I am a big reassurance seeker and I rely on a lot of people to get through my days with OCD. The thing is when you rely on people to give you reassurance that things your thinking, feeling and doing are OCD and don’t mean something else before you do ANYTHING your life gets put on hold.

Of course someone can’t  be there for me 24/7 every time I have a worry, but how do I carry on? to me I feel like I just can’t. I have avoided going shopping and buying anything, writing blogs, tweeting and posting on Tumblr, getting dressed into clothes that aren’t old because I’m scared if I wear new stuff when things aren’t ‘right’ I will never want to wear them again because they will be bad, and Friday I am meant to have a haircut and Saturday my eyebrows waxed. How am I going to do this? unless I get the text, email and phone call to help and reassure me, I don’t know what I am meant to do.

Relying on people will only cause you upset and lack of independence, which  gives you low self-esteem and huge hate towards yourself for being such a burden upon people. I know pestering someone to give me the answers I crave and need so bad to put my anxious head at rest is wrong, but at the same time I can’t help but NEED it in order to carry on with my life. Yesterday I spent all day in my pyjamas waiting for that one reply until about 8.30pm at night, until I realised, I wasn’t going to get one.

I reluctantly picked  myself up to go have a shower and find some old pyjamas to put on and I felt much better. I was proud of myself for that, it took a lot for me to accept tonight I wouldn’t get a reply and I had to shower and do lots of other things without the answers my whole body craved.  So here I am today still waiting on my answers to the questions about my thoughts, feelings and things I’ve done, sat alone in my house not moved off the sofa all day in old pyjamas, scared to get dressed and shower because I’d then have to work out how I was going to find something to wear that I won’t mind getting rid off later on if I have too.

See this is what happens when you depend on people and they can’t be there, I know I’m not allowed to be reassured because it feeds my OCD but what do I do? ignore it? refocus? I just can’t this time, I know the only person I can truly depend on is myself in life, but how do I when I trust nothing that goes on in my head when I have CONSTANT doubt about who I am, what my thoughts and feelings mean.

The most frustrating part of it is when you can see its OCD, but you still want to give in to it, people say ‘but you know this is OCD, so don’t give in’ if only it was so easy. So why am I even bothering to write this post, for attention? no because I write all these positive advice posts when in reality this is what my life is like, and I can’t even follow my own advice. Like I said I will probably delete this post but I feel like sometimes I put on a positive exterior when a lot of my days are like this, this is just me being real.

So I’m in this dilemma because of myself because I let OCD get to me and because I rely on people, so do I get up shower put on any outfit I like and tell OCD to F OFF. I know that’s what I should do but I don’t know I can, so I guess for now this is where I am at.

Stay Strong, Keep fighting guys ♥