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!

Links & Related Posts

My Tumblr Ask Box

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

Fearing Fear

My Experiences With Treatment For OCD

Therapy blog post

I want to start this post by saying this blog post talking about my experiences with CBT is to share with people who might of had the same experiences as me. This is not to put anyone off seeking help, because you need help and treatment to learn how to cope with severe OCD.

Grab yourself a tea or coffee its going to be a long one.

Are you sitting comfortably? then I will begin (haha)…

So lets start from the beginning which was my first experience under CAHMS the mental health team. I was diagnosed with OCD and started going to CBT for my fear of sick and the rituals that went along side that. I didn’t really get on with the therapist that I was working with I found them very emotionless for someone treating people with mental illness. I didn’t find them very motivating or caring and I think its important you feel cared about and trust the person who’s treating you with CBT. As OCD makes us feel so scared about our thoughts, feelings and not performing rituals, its important we trust the individual enough to not engage in OCD. I went there once a week and if anything it was more like a counselling session, where I would talk about everything that had gone on and what I was struggling with. When I was assigned tasks to complete at home such as ‘write down your thoughts before performing a ritual’ or ‘keep a diary of your rituals’ I found it too hard. I didn’t really understand how it would help and I had so many rituals and thoughts I didn’t see how it was possible to write them down. Baring in mind I was about 14-15 at the time, I thought I understood OCD but I didn’t at all. I needed someone to explain it to me, to motivate me and explain clearly what they wanted me to do and why. It was getting harder to fill the hour session we had together up, I felt like I just sat talking. Which maybe I had the wrong idea of therapy, but I would have liked the therapist to tell me how therapy works, guide me and correct me. So long story short eventually the therapy stopped and I felt no better of. I discussed with my mum and the psychologist that I didn’t feel like the therapist was right for me and my personality which is bubbly and chatty.

From the age I stopped therapy about 14-15 I didn’t have CBT again until I was 17. To fill in the gaps, I still suffered with my OCD and went on to Setraline tablets to help with this which I didn’t stay on for very long. I’m not sure why or how but over time my OCD which related to sick seemed to calm down. I feel like one of the main reasons I got over this fear was from facing it by being sick in front of people I wasn’t that familiar with in a car. Although it was an awful experience I do think this aided in this particular fear being less prominent in my life. OCD tends to merge and latch on to new fears and the next  was being a bad person, a psychopath and worrying I would do ‘bad things’ or ‘psychopathic things’. My first experiences with this new to me form of OCD was probably to date the worst experience of my life. I was desperate to get help and understand what was happening to me, so I went for another round of CBT with a different therapist. This time, was more positive, I really liked the therapist and found them easy to get on with and less dull to be around. I found this round of CBT a little more effective although not greatly. I’m not sure if I just didn’t engage in it effectively or what. I found it mostly useful to talk about my thoughts and feelings and learning that they are more normal than I think. We also done other exercises such as writing a list of good things I had done in the past week and the bad, to show I do good things all the time which means I am not a psychopath. This was helpful and reassuring for me. Which I think is the problem, I felt reassured to have someone to tell all my thoughts and fears to,  for them to then respond and tell me that’s OCD, it was like a form of reassuring me because I doubted I had OCD. I don’t think I believed the treatment would work and I don’t think I trusted the therapy enough to not partake in rituals and to not listen to OCD. Once dealing and getting used to what I was experiencing with this form of OCD, I guess things were a bit better but not manageable.

Skipping a few years to the age of 19. I still had my fear, but this time it wasn’t just the thoughts and feelings that bothered me it was the rituals. I didn’t do rituals myself, I would ask people to do everything for me which in itself was a ritual. Everything I done I felt anxious about like if I didn’t do it ‘Something bad would happen’ or ‘I would be a psychopath’ you can read more about my OCD in my ‘OCD Story’ blog post which you can find HERE. Remember people with OCD do know that what they do has no effect on what happens, the OCD just makes us feel like it does and so does the anxiety and doubt. This was my first ever CBT treatment with in the Adult mental health team, so I was a little more optimistic that they may take me more seriously and work with me a bit better. This time I loved the therapist I had, I felt comfortable around them and like we were on the same wave length. Being older I expressed my concerns that I didn’t want to just sit around and talk about it, I needed her to guide me and tell me if I’m talking to much. I trusted them and felt like they actually cared and understood what I was experiencing. Although I still struggled to partake in  exposure exercises. Which involved not asking someone to do something for me or not taking things I felt anxious about back to the shop, or  to not confess and seek reassurance about things I had thought or done. At this point I felt reassured that I had someone to discuss all my latest thoughts and worries with, but again I feel like I used it as a part of my OCD to seek reassurance. My compulsions were still bad and my life felt out of control and everyone around me were also feeling as much despair as I was.

I watched the Extreme OCD Camp on TV (BBC3) and couldn’t help but wish there  was somewhere around here that done treatment like they did. My mum done some research about places around here, where you could pay for treatment specialising in OCD as we were all at a loss of what to do with me next, I’d had enough of living like this. She came across ‘The OCD treatment Centre’ which was based in Taunton but had a variety of therapy packages available, where they also will travel to you. I wasn’t keen on the idea of doing group therapy or travelling up there the way I was feeling. It was expensive but my family said if it would help me they would pay for it (which I am very lucky and grateful for). We got in contact with Sharon who runs the OCD treatment centre, I spoke to Sharon via phone before making my decision to take the plunge. I felt like she really knew what to say to me as she had experienced OCD for herself and also dealt with her son’s OCD. Skipping a head of time a bit, me and my mum made our way to Taunton to stay in a hotel for 5 days, for me to receive treatment. I was so scared. During my 5 days of treatment Sharon taught me about my brain and about my OCD. I thought I already knew everything there was to know about my OCD but I was very wrong. I learnt so much that I felt like I was finally coming to terms with having OCD, I always knew I was diagnosed but I don’t think I really believed I had it due to the doubt I experienced from OCD itself. The environment was relaxed, I got to sit on comfy sofas and sip on cups of tea. After 2 or 3 days of learning about my OCD I felt ready to fight it, It was a combination of  being sick of living the way I was and what I had been taught and trusted. I knew this was my opportunity to make the most of the money my family had paid and I felt like it was my last hope.

We went out in to the town in Taunton, where I done some exposure work and learned even more about myself and my fears. I had to do silly things in public, to open myself up to not caring what people thought of me etc. We also went out about and exposed me to my particular fear and tested out my theory that I might be a psychopath. Sharon would say ‘You see these two ladies walking towards us, if you’re a psychopath don’t move out the way, bang in to them if they don’t move because you’re a psychopath and don’t care about other people’ of course I moved straight out the way. All these little things helped me believe I had OCD. By the end of the week I had stopped asking my mum to do anything for me, I still wanted to occasionally but knowing I had 24 hour care and I could just call Sharon if I was having a OCD meltdown, or talk to her and work on the problem the next day was comforting. I enjoyed the therapy and my mum also did, she learned lots about OCD and how to help me, it was also a lovely week for me and my mum to spend time together and experience a new place. I feel like this treatment was the one for me. I felt like I had taken so much away from the week and I finally felt like this could be a turning point in my life. I was scared about going home but excited to tell everyone what I had learned and put it into practice. Months on now, I still struggle with trusting I have OCD and believing I am not in fact a psychopath because of things I think and feel. But I am in a much better place than I ever have been. I feel like I have OCD but OCD no longer has me. I have more control now. I have struggled with reassurance seeking from Sharon via text and emails but I am continuing on working on that and I am doing pretty well at the moment. Having follow-up sessions with Sharon has also been a massive help, being able to recap and reinforce what I have been taught.

This is just my experiences with therapy, don’t let what I have said about CBT put you off. You need to seek help to get better, it’s very hard to do it on your own. Some people have amazing experience with certain therapies others don’t  It just depends on YOU, and you won’t know until you try. I think it also depends on whether you’re ready to get better, sounds weird as you hate your mental illness and would do anything to get better. But when you’re so afraid of not engaging in OCD behaviours and have so much doubt its hard. You can also become stuck in a rut and not being the way you are seems slightly alien to you now.  When you’re ready and I mean truly ready to commit and trust in the therapy you’re receiving that’s when you can start recovering. Don’t give up if one therapy or therapist doesn’t suit you, keep trying. Look at me its taken ages and I’ve only just realised that I wasn’t trying enough, I didn’t understand my mental illness as much as I thought, but now I do, I am feeling the most positive I have done ever. I feel like I now have the tools and motivation to truly put what I have learnt into practice. I hope some of you relate to my experiences and find them useful! I also hope you’re still awake after all that reading!

Links

http://ocdtreatmentcentre.com/

http://www.ocduk.org/ocd-treatments

Stay Strong,

Anna

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

 

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

OCD: Reassurance Seeker

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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

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

Permission To Disobey Your Mental Illness

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When you have OCD and you’re going through the daily battle of trying to get better  and trying not to give in to rituals,  it makes you feel so guilty and selfish.  You feel like your just allowing bad things to happen by ignoring your rituals,  you get stuck between what your rational brain or therapist is telling you to do, which is to not give in to OCD, and the OCD side of you which tells your selfish if you ignore your thoughts and rituals because bad things could happen!

 From my personal experience with OCD, I am a big reassurance seeker, so when it came to therapy, I didn’t find it so bad when the professional was telling me it was ok to not do rituals and that it’s the right thing to do, knowing that someone professional had told me that its ok, or that they wanted me not to do such and such ritual, it made me feel so much better I felt less selfish and guilty, like I had permission that its okay to disobey OCD. But of course there’s a point in fighting OCD when there’s not going to be a professional there to tell you ‘its ok to not do such and such a ritual’  or that ‘I want you to not do such and such ritual’  you have to face it alone, which is when I found it the hardest.  I have found giving myself permission to fight OCD very difficult, because thoughts like ‘How can you not do such a small thing (a ritual) when something bad could happen, how selfish of you’  come flooding in accompanied by strong feelings of guilt, anxiety and confusion.

The quote in the picture above has been on my mind a lot lately since I saw it, when I’m struggling and wanting to ask some one for reassurance about whatever it may be I’m doing e.g putting something down and wanting to ask ‘is this ok here?’ I have thought about this and thought of it as getting permission that leaving this ritual is ok and I don’t need to feel selfish, Seeing it written down just seems to help me get my head straight, a reminder to give myself permission to disobey my OCD. You don’t need anyone’s permission to keep fighting OCD, and you definitely do not need OCD’s permission, because it will never allow you to disobey it, you have to find the inner strength to disobey it yourself, regardless of what feelings and thoughts it tries to throw you off track with.  I think printing this quote off and sticking it around your bedroom or house is a good idea, so when your about to do a ritual you can see it and remind yourself you have permission to disobey OCD, think of it as me and everyone else fighting with OCD saying it to you ‘this is your permission’ and use that to comfort you and know you’re not selfish, you’re doing the right thing by giving yourself permission to disobey OCD. The only bit of you that is selfish is the OCD your suffering with,  OCD is selfish for trying to break you and keep you in its trap, but you’re not, the mental illness you and I are suffering with, that’s what’s selfish.

Stay strong, your all beautiful,

Anna ♥