I feel recovered from my OCD.
I am a medical doctor and have had issues with anxiety probably for the past 20 years. My anxiety went through the roof about 2 and a half years ago and I began experiencing panic attacks. I didn’t know I had OCD at that time. Eventually I saw a psychiatrist and began the process of diagnosing what is going on with me. I wanted to get help but I didn’t know how to describe what I was feeling inside. I was feeling ashamed of the thoughts that I had in my head. I had lots of harm and violence related images. I was feeling ashamed because I am a doctor and I had tons of intrusive violent images, I was getting scared with thoughts like: “What if I do that? What if I harm someone?”. I was beginning to feel disgusted with myself for having such thoughts and images in my head. And I didn’t know how to tell my psychiatrist. I thought that I probably just belonged in jail. Because I was feeling miserable and I wanted to get help I gathered all of my strength and talked to my wife and one of my friends, who encouraged me to talk to my psychiatrist. That is what lead to my diagnosis of OCD. I was started on a medication- clomipramine. And it helped with me become able to accept what is going on in my head. I began my own research on the internet and came across the book “The mindfulness workbook for OCD” and also the “OCD workbook”. I really liked the mindfulness workbook and read it few times to learn the concepts and start applying them. I also read through the OCD workbook mainly on the topics of ACT and ERP. I noticed a significant improvement with doing my own ERP. My OCD gradually quietened down and began to be just part of me but not controlling me.
I now embrace uncertainty
I’ve been battling with OCD for as long as I can remember, though now it’s not nearly as bad as it once was.. I’m 21 years of age.. Have been on and off medication as an early teen…. Some of the compulsions I struggled with include, stove top, door locks, lights, driving a certain way, being obsessively aware of my breathing 24/7, intrusive thoughts (pure o), that’s just to name a few.. These compulsions seemed to be ruling my life at the time I was about 18 and finishing school, I always had rational reasons for acting out the compulsions the way I did… All the things I did value in my life became to much and I lost interest in all my hobbies, sport, socialising, reading..
This went on until half way through being 20, when I found some interesting videos Mark Freeman put out on his YouTube channel, basically the opposite to what your taught at therapy.. ERP and ACT, this literally saved my life and my relationship with my partner as well as killing off those horrible OCD monsters in certain areas of my life.. Since applying ACT and ERP I cut out all my physical compulsions. I no longer check the stove or door locks and I no longer question my relationship or seek reassurance from my partner… Applying ERP and ACT are not easy and may be some of the hardest things you do in life but as you practise it and get better at it you show your brain it’s okay to feel whatever your feeling..
I now share my story with people who are still struggling with this puzzling tormentor and hand over some ideas about taking him down.
It’s hard for me to admit that I’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship 15 years. I have only mental bruising, and physical scars to bear and prove it. But I am that stereotypical victim who blamed myself for “letting him” hold me captive.” I am that helpless victim who wanted no pain. I am that shameful sufferer who did everything she could do to hide all of the evidence. I knew that if I ever would come out, people wouldn’t believe that I was in any sort of toxic relationship with him. After all, my relationship with OCD was and continues to be far from “typical”.
Like all emotionally abusive relationships, mine had an entry point. My first perceived jolt with my abuser was at age 14, despite earlier signs that came and went. I was a gregarious lover of life, smart, witty, and passionate about all moments past and present. He smelled my vulnerability from a mile away – the only thing I feared was that my “perfect” world could be jeopardised at any point in time.
OCD sufferers can make significant progress towards recovery.
The first time I realised something wasn’t right with me was in my first year at University, I was smoking a lot of weed and had been since I was 16. The weed only added to the confusion, I was having problems sexually and the only reasonable explanation at the time seemed to be that I was gay. Perhaps a more rounded conclusion may have been the fact I was smoking weed everyday or that dabbling quite regularly in cocaine and ecstasy wasn’t helping the situation. However, as sufferers know deep down, their irrational doubts are exactly that, irrational.
So there it began, I had just broken up with the girl I was seeing, due in part to my unwillingness to talk about the problems I was having, and out of nowhere came the desperate urge to prove my sexuality one way or another. Every waking moment was spent ruminating about whether I was gay; searching google for answers, watching porn to prove my sexuality, comparing myself to friends who were gay etc. All aspects of my life began to suffer, from sports where I had played to quite a high level to relationships with friends and family. My studies also suffered immensely, I would sit in the library desperate to take in the information that I was reading, unfortunately, the tape I had running in my head would give me no respite. The only logical solution at the time, was to smoke even more weed which as you might imagine, contributed to the disorder snowballing.
I was in a constant state of anxiety throughout that summer, I had failed an exam and was absolutely terrified of the prospect of a resit in August 2012. I knew how difficult it was going to be to even scrape a pass, my family were worried about the extent of my drug use and tried on many occasions to help me. I responded by shutting them out, too scared to talk about what was going on inside my head and perhaps still unaware of the fact I was experiencing a mental health problem. I was still golfing and playing rugby, however, I was starting to lose my love for the sports which I was once so passionate about. I continued to socialise with friends, mainly to take drugs and escape the internal struggle I was experiencing.
For all of us dealing with OCD no matter how severe and in whatever shape or form, know that your inner fortitude must be incredibly strong to deal with this monster every day.
It was Winston Churchill who gave his manic depression the name ‘black dog’ and I think a lot of you reading this may know what he was referring to when he penned that 75 years ago, I certainly can.
My OCD story started almost 5 years ago. I was 35.
I had a newborn son at home, life was great despite being exhausted ( he was a terrible sleeper) but I still had some of that new Dad ‘shine’ to me…it kept me going through those long days trying my best to manage a work/ life balance.
I remember the day so vividly when my OCD raised its ugly head for the first time. I was walking home after work , I used to cherish that time. Clear the mind…. Fresh air. I couldn’t wait to get home and see my baby boy. it was unseasonably warm for a February day in Toronto and it felt good to be walking with the sun on my face . Out of nowhere I had this thought ‘what if I hate my son ?’ It felt like An MMA fighter had sunk his fist into my solar plexus and was circling the ring looking for his next opening. I just stood there on the pavement, horrified, confused, scared… That thought sent a 50,000 volt shock through my system. I couldn’t get it out of my head.
Though at points I paint a negative picture I believe in the absolute core of my being that OCD is something anyone can recover from and is ultimately not something I’d trade for the world.
Here is my account of what it’s like to live with OCD. I hope to express myself as honestly as I can. Over the years of recovery, I’ve had to open up about the nature of my OCD through productive discussions with cognitive behavioural therapists and reassurance seeking questions directed towards friends and my long suffering parents. As a result, I now feel able to discuss some of my intrusions on The OCD Stories. I’ll begin by briefly describing my childhood experiences with OCD, my thoughts on CBT, and finally where I am now. Though at points I paint a negative picture I believe in the absolute core of my being that OCD is something anyone can recover from and is ultimately not something I’d trade for the world.
When I was nine my parents moved to Bristol and I was placed in a large school named Clifton College. Moving from a 100-person village school to Bristol was an overwhelming experience. I was picked on endlessly and attempted to isolate myself as best as I could. In my experience children are capable of immense cruelty towards each other, acting as a group to pick on the weakest or the perceived weakest. I can only speculate but I believe this experience acted as a trigger for my OCD and has shaped me significantly. OCD is about control. We attempt to control our thoughts, actions and environment all in a hopeless attempt to reduce the uncertainty. OCD takes over your life, by telling you what to do, promising to make things better but ultimately reneges on every deal it makes. Despite promising you that this is the last piece of reassurance it needs, it always demands more, growing each time you entertain it.
The things that I took away from the weekend were that OCD is just OCD
I will start by telling you that it seems like most of our stories start the same way. Something traumatic happened in our brain during a certain point in our life and we paid attention. That is the way I see my story at least and perceive it in others as well. I remember the time when my journey started and the thought that shocked my system. I remember all the thoughts and feelings that came afterwords but as I continue on my journey they are slowly going back to seeds in my subconscious and not the blooming garden of flowers they once were.
I will spare you of all the thoughts and experiences that I have had since that day 6 years ago. I will tell you that I have had GAD for most of my life and never thought much of it. These in my eyes were just fears that I had as a child/young man growing up that scared me. I will however give you an experience of a recent event that happened in hopes that it shows how OCD is OCD, an anxiety disorder.
Ever since the young man killed innocent or not innocent people at the movie theater in Colorado, I have had trouble taking my son to the movies. I remember taking my son to the new Star Wars movie only to have a thought of worry if someone was in there and would do the same. This thought would give any one anxiety but again most don’t pay attention. I’m sure your therapist has said that numerous times when describing how you’re normal. During that movie it was difficult due to the pressure the anxiety put on my chest to breath and sounds growing louder than normal because of the heightened since of awareness. There was a point when we had to leave so I could regroup, but I went back in and finished the movie. I had a choice and I know deep in my soul that to be defeated by a uncontrolled thought would take me in the wrong direction.
I told everyone all my thoughts presuming my baby would be taken away but he wasn’t… My first realisation!!!
My main OCD story starts in 2014 previous to that I had without really knowing it suffered crippling anxiety and worry (I just presumed we all worried in the same way about the same things) I also had self confidence issues which I dealt with by developing an eating disorder (control) in my early teens.
I met my husband to be at 17 which helped me gain a lot of confidence. I managed to overcome my anorexia apart from a few blips along the way, I went to college, uni got a job we got married. One thing that I couldn’t do was drive. I had past my test first time at 20 then never managed to get behind the wheel again properly for years, I put it down to a phobia initially but now I know differently, (in my mind, I had run someone over, killed them, gone to prison and shamed my family before I had even put the key on the ignition!!!).
During these years I had no idea I was suffering from mental health issues until 2004 a big one hit me out of the blue. I was a happy newly wed, new house, new job and desperate to start a family one night I was watching tv and there was an advert for pampers. I didn’t think anything of it, the advert finished and a different advert started then an image of a young boy naked entered my mind, my life as I had known it ended there and my 12 year battle with OCD started. I panicked ‘why did I think that?’ What’s wrong with me, I must be a monster a peadophile… I went into major panic, ruminating, over thinking , every horrible thought you could possibly imagine went through my head it was impossible to live with and I wanted to end my life. If it wasn’t for my husband I wouldn’t be here. I took the meds and engaged in CBT although it was hardly explained to me properly and was not diagnosed with OCD at the time. I slowly got my self together ( I say that loosely) but lived on the edge with crippling intrusive thoughts avoiding children at all costs for the next 7 years or so, and on and off meds but had no counselling after the initial sessions in 2004, at the same time I was grieving for the family I could not have (in my mind there was no way I could be or deserved to be a mum). My life felt miserable.
At the end of 2013 , I was so unhappy about not having a family but still crippled by the what if’s that my husband and I decided that we needed to try, I think my biggest motivation was my age and that l would soon be turning 40. We got pregnant a month after finally deciding I was so shocked at how quick it was and I was petrified. Towards the end of my pregnancy I did receive some counselling but unfortunately not the right kind and my midwife and doctor were both anti meds. I was so anxious about my pregnancy and having a baby that my mind was going into overdrive all sorts of worse case scenarios…so I had already decided I was giving the baby up.
If you want to feel better you will need to face your fears
Hello I am 37 years old and have been struggling with OCD since 2012.
I have always been a worrier. Before I knew I had OCD, I would worry about almost everything. I remember trying to call my mother and she would not answer. In my mind I would think that something bad must have happened to her. Maybe my step dad must have murdered her. I would keep calling and calling almost every 10 minutes until she answered. I never knew I had OCD. To me it was just normal worrying. I would drop off my daughters (5 and 6) at school through the drive through drop off and I would drive around school to make sure they made it in. If for some reason I would not see one of my daughters in school after dropping them off, I would worry and feel as if I would faint. I would then call school to make sure that my daughter was in class.
One day in summer I was overwhelmed and really stressed. I had taken a vacation to spend time with my daughters and booked the whole week with activities for us to do. One day we were scheduled to go to the pool. The heat was terrible. I didn’t drink much water that day. That day I started feeling sick, my body was weak, but I still kept going. I remember the sweat running down my back. Later that afternoon I decided to go to the gym, I took my dauthers with me and left them at the kiddy day care. One of my daughters was thirsty so I gave her my water bottle. After the gym we went back home and it was time to cook dinner. The AC in my apartment was not working, my apartment was like 90 degrees. I still decided to cook. While I was cooking I began to feel the sweat drop down my back. I soon started to feel dizzy and confused. I told my husband that I was not feeling well and he told me to take a nap. I laid down in bed and felt my heart palpitating really fast. I didn’t know what was happening. I began to get scared. I put my girls to bed and drove myself to emergency.