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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‘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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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/