Is this me, or my OCD?

From my experience with years of having OCD, I always struggled with the question who am I? I think when you have so many confusing thoughts and feelings constantly running through you and your head its easy to lose sight of who you are and it sometimes feels like you suddenly never knew who you were in the first place.

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We tend to define ourselves by our OCD thoughts and feelings, for example with me and certain thoughts I have I am constantly feeling like I’m this evil, horrible person and I remember crying  thinking of memories from my childhood and thinking ‘how could I turn out like this, how could I have gone my whole life not even noticing how bad I am’ it broke my heart to think I was this scary monster. Even writing this gets my brain thinking ‘Am I?’ but I think us people with OCD need to stop questioning who we are, it takes time for anyone to discover who they are, let alone when you’re so lost, battling a mental illness, constant anxiety, doubts and thoughts. I don’t think anyone could find their inner self with all of that going on in there heads. We need to stop asking ourselves ‘Is this me or my OCD?’ mainly with intrusive thoughts, because I think that is the main reason people question themselves and try to work out whether what they are thinking/feeling is them or the OCD.

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How about instead of ‘Is this me or my OCD?’ we just think ‘I have OCD, it doesn’t matter right now if its me or my OCD, I’m feeling anxious, the need for certainty, reassurance or to do a ritual so it most likely is OCD, I will come back to this question later on when I’m calmer’. What is the point in that question, if you asking yourself ‘is this OCD?’ it is most likely to be OCD, its known as the disease of doubt and that’s a doubt in itself questioning if your thoughts and feelings are you or OCD.

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 As Sharon Davies from the OCD Treatment Centre said ‘You can’t think yourself into inner peace, inner peace comes when your mind is clear’ which I think is really true and relates back to feeling like you know longer know who you are because OCD is such apart of your mind and life. You can’t know who you are until you’ve learnt to except and deal with your OCD until then except you may not know who you are, as scary as that sounds. Why beat yourself up over not knowing what’s OCD and what’s you any more, you get more and more lost in your mind and are less likely to find your inner self. Take a deep breath, accept OCD, label OCD and refocus on anything BUT OCD.

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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 ♥

‘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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