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OCD

OCD

just another day and new realities

I have a pretty firm hope that the more I act the way I want to be, the more I’ll become exactly that.

The first time my OCD played a role in daily life was when I was in middle school. I was at a friend’s house and we were going to watch a movie. Before he was able to open to DVD case and put the disc into the player, I insisted that he wash his hands. I didn’t want to get anything from his hands on the case. Begrudgingly, he said OK and went to the bathroom. One of the worst episodes of OCD I’ve ever had was about a year ago. I was getting out of bed and checked my phone for the time. As soon as I tried putting the phone down, I felt off, worried, out of control and obsessed. I couldn’t stop touching it, moving it, pressing on the surface. After about ten minutes of this I went outside to catch my breath, though I knew I wasn’t finished with the compulsion. Out on that porch I began breathing heavier and quicker. I started sweating, even though it was a brisk day. I squinted my eyes and held my eyelids closed, trying to psych myself out of what I knew was coming. Then, panic attack time. I spent the next 30 minutes on the couch, listening to Guns N’ Roses, trying to will myself out of it. Nothing worked, though, which I knew would be the case. I just had to manage and ride it out.

The loose point to my OCD story is that you can always make it out to the other side. In the moment, you’ll never get any clarity. Nor will you find any solace. People close to me always try to remind me that I’m not crazy, I’m not the only one who experiences this stuff, and it’s not as bad as I think it is. None of those observations help. Or they don’t help me. I’ve had to find ways to deal with my OCD on my own, because, let’s face it, OCD is a very private thing. I, for one, am not quite embarrassed to show it to people, but I am very hesitant. The judging, confused eyes are unnecessary. And the fast, five cent “advice” from those who don’t have this disorder is often painful.

Wisdom from those who know nothing about a topic is rarely useful, and bordering on useless.

I write about, share on social media, and talk with others about various mental health issues because I want to. Because doing so sometimes sheds light on the issue. It sometimes erases just a bit of the stigma around certain ones. And it helps me sleep at night and function throughout the day; knowing I did my small part in informing, educating, or just plain sharing.

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OCD

90% better from OCD

Now, I consider myself 90 percent better from OCD.

I am 38 years old and have been suffering with OCD for the past 17 years. When I look back in retrospect on my teenage years, I now realize I had small signs of OCD back then. I remember that I was very obsessed with making my homework perfect and doing a whole math project in pencil and then instead of erasing a mistake I would redo the whole assignment. I remember having the fear that I wasn’t perfect and what people would think of me if I made a mistake. Fast forward to 17 years ago because that’s where my OCD really started to get extreme. The event that triggered my OCD was when my father had his heart attack and almost didn’t survive. I was 21 back then. I then began to get the intrusive thoughts that if I didn’t do something my father would die. For example, if I didn’t put the turning signal in when I made a turn I thought something bad would happen to him. If I put the radio on a bad number (which I have issues with numbers) I would think my father would be injured or fall ill. My whole daily life became surrounded by numerous obsessions and compulsions about my father being ok and focusing and doing everything “right” to keep him alive and safe. This went on for 15 years. I would text him repeatedly throughout the day to see if he was ok. I then, for a period of about a year, went to therapy. I was embarrassed to tell anyone that I was seeing a therapist due to my fear of that negative stigma that I’m so called crazy.

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OCD

Learning to give thoughts less attention

To this day I still get Intrusive Thoughts, but I’ve learnt to pay them less attention

We all have them – little explosions in our minds catching us off guard. Thoughts that are out of character, unusual, maybe even a little disturbing, “Where did that come from?” We ask.

Estimates vary, but the average person has between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts a day. Our minds are complex beasts and it can feel like we’re at the mercy of some of these thoughts. We’re not good at controlling our minds either; a familiar test – for the next minute you’re not allowed to think of a big pink elephant no matter what. Go… Wasn’t easy was it? And that’s what OCD Intrusive Thoughts can be like. When your mind fixates on a thought or a particular idea and just won’t stop going over it. It’s beyond your control. It’s in control of you – at least that’s how it can feel.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was fairly well portrayed by Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets. His character, Melvin Udall, had to bring his own plastic cutlery to a restaurant because of a fear of germs and has to use a new bar of soap each time he washes his hands. Hand washing, flicking light switches, counting, avoiding cracks in the pavement… These are almost anecdotal ways that OCD presents itself. Certainly not to be downplayed, for sufferers at the mild or extreme end of the spectrum, these obsessions and compulsions can be one of the most horrible experiences to go through. According to the charity OCD UK, the World Health Organisation has listed OCD as one of the top ten most disabling illnesses of any kind, in terms of lost earnings and diminished quality of life.

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OCD

My OCD Struggle

I think the biggest piece of advice I have received over and over again by my therapist is that to beat the doubt disease you have to trust and have faith.

Hi everybody,

First I would just like to say thank you to Stuart and The OCD Stories website/podcast for helping me feel less alone during some very hard times. I have had OCD my whole life but it wasn’t until this past year that it has really incapacitated me. My earliest memories of OCD are from my​ childhood where I can remember feeling extremely guilty for small things that most other little kids probably wouldn’t even think of. I would have some thought like “maybe I love my mom more than my dad” for example and then I would spend hours dwelling on it and crying and confessing to my parents and begging them to forgive me. Another example is that sometimes when I was walking through the grocery store with my family I would see the cover of a swimsuit magazine or a pretty girl and I would feel interested in it (which is obviously very normal for a kid who is curious about the opposite sex) but that simple feeling of being interested in pretty girls would produce so much guilt and disgust inside of me that I would spend days on end thinking about what a terrible person I was and how I was going to go to hell. I come from a big Irish-Italian family so we went to Catholic church a lot when I was a kid and it was something that was important to my family so I bought into the whole idea of guilt whole-heartedly and it caused me a lot of anguish even though the things I was guilty and ashamed of were very normal. But I had no idea. I simply thought I was evil and that I had to go to confession every time I did something I considered bad. Despite these early feelings of extreme guilt and shame, I was still a pretty happy kid and it didn’t keep me from becoming a popular kid who was a very good athlete.

As I went on to become a varsity captain in baseball and basketball in high school it seemed like those early feelings of guilt and shame about weird, small things subsided a bit but what I didn’t realize was that my OCD had just transferred to a different theme. I got a girlfriend my Sophomore year in high school and we stayed together for three years. While there were good times with her, I was in pain for a lot of the relationship and often for very small reasons. I would see her talk to one of my friends and then get a thought like “what if she likes my friend” or “is she cheating on me” or “we’re not right for each other” and I would dwell on these thoughts for days and we would fight all of the time because of my doubtful thoughts. The relationship caused me so much pain because for some reason I could never trust her because of my thoughts and it looked like I was just an insecure guy but what nobody (including me) realized was that I was suffering from OCD.

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OCD

Free at last

This is what specifically worked for me and still does to this day (it’s been like 10 years!)

Okay relax dude, you’re not gay, trust me. This is just a hurdle you’re going to conquer. I did it and you definitely can too.

So I had this HOCD for like, I don’t know, 5–10 years!!!…It was horrid!..I even went to a ‘coming out’ group but was asking ‘how do I really know if I’m really gay?…This one gay guy was like if you look at another man’s ass and are like yeah…check that out.. But I was like, well that doesn’t do it for me but I’m still stressing out. I even made myself look at gay porn but still was not with it. I was seeing dicks everywhere at times, I was like Jonah Hill in the movie Superbad, it was not fun at all. Kind of funny now though.

I mean we can condition ourselves to like fucking anything really if we wanted to right? I’ve slept with many women since an early age so if anything I was like I could be possibly bi but it just didn’t seem genuine. I’m kind of an artist and my dad wasn’t around so much when I was younger so the mind tends to look for reasons and connections to tie into especially about everything you’re scared of. I went to multiple therapists, took self-improvement seminars…I wanted to be done with it!! Until I finally came to something that worked!! Here it is my lucky friends. Hope this frees you!!!! FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST…Try this shit out and welcome aboard of leaving that nonsense behind you…

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OCD

Embracing Uncertainty in OCD Recovery

A person’s recovery from OCD requires them to let go of the concept of certainty and embrace uncertainty.

My OCD story. I’ve made this post visible to those I feel know me or won’t judge me. I hope my story will educate those who don’t truly understand OCD.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always been a hypersensitive, worrisome and impressionistic person. I experienced my first OCD symptoms at the age of six. I have memories of myself lying in bed with my eyes closed, having unwanted and intrusive thoughts repeat in my mind. Most of these thoughts involved close family members, who I’d visualise as being harmed and tortured. This made me feel extremely upset, frightened, guilty and helpless.

At the age of ten I began engaging in a bizarre compulsion, one which had me spitting saliva everywhere I’d go. I’d spit mostly on my clothes and the floor, and this would be accompanied at times with a strange swallowing compulsion which I still carry to this day. A lot of my thoughts were still centred on harm and a feeling of entrapment, both of which made me believe I was evil and deserving of some sort of punishment. I felt that If I was to swallow my saliva something bad would happen to me or my family so I tried my hardest not to do this.

I had also become fixated on the number ‘four’. Everything I did was in fours and even to this day I still engage in this ‘four’ compulsion, although I try really hard not to. Some nights I would be doing actions such as turning off the light switch four times, over and over again until I felt I had got it right. It wasn’t a matter of just making sure I had done it four times, I also had to place my hand on the switch in a correct manner, with four fingers on the panel, upright and not downright. Even if I had made the slightest mistake in my hand placements I’d have to start over. This would last at least thirty minutes on average before I felt comfortable enough to move onto another action that requires the same ‘four’ compulsion to get me through my day.

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OCD

Help, hope and healing

So from my own experience I can confidently say that there is freedom from the mental prison that OCD can lock you in

It all started on the last day of 4th grade when a classmate accidentally sprayed 409 cleaning solution in my mouth. Or at least I imagined it was sprayed in my mouth. Either way, it was the starting point of my lifelong journey with OCD. That afternoon I was terrified that I would get sick, and thus began my obsessive fear of getting sick which would shape the following years of my life in extreme ways.

Soon I started obsessing over anything that could potentially make me sick. In 6th grade, I really hit my low point. My obsessive fear began to literally control my life. I had such high anxiety about getting sick that I would give in to compulsions that would temporarily relieve my worries. I felt compelled check and re-re-re-re-check things, to count to a certain (and ever increasing) number, to repeat words and phrases, to touch certain things- the light switch, the couch, the desk, the door knob, the table, the list goes on. But not only did I have to touch them, I had to in a certain order and a certain number of times, and the worst part was if I messed up, I had to start all over until everything was done “just right”. Everything was a struggle because I had developed such an intensive routine that I dreaded even having to begin my endless rituals. Eventually, things were so bad that I was pulled from school. My days were a blur, stuck in the prison of my own mind. At one point, I even said that I wanted to die.

My turning point came in the midst of this storm when my Mom found a pamphlet about OCD at our church and told my mom, “This is her.” I thank God that she picked up that pamphlet because it was the first step on a long and very difficult battle of overcoming OCD. Thankfully, this awareness led me to become connected with a great counselor who helped me to step-by-step stop giving in to my obsessive fears.

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OCD

Punching OCD in the face

It doesn’t have to control you, you can be free.

I’m Chelsea and I’ve been living with OCD since as early as I can remember. My earliest memory of OCD was being in my room, I was probably three, and I’m having an image of a dog attacking me repeated over and over in my mind making it impossible for me to sleep. My OCD grew and changed with me as I got older, but because it was only intrusive images and no obvious physical compulsions it was hard to identify until was 30 years old! 30 years of living with OCD with no help… until this year. This has been a transformational year for me, to say the least, and I’m excited to share my story with you.

So as I was saying, my OCD changed with me as I got older. Since I was about seven I had an ongoing obsessive image of someone stabbing me at night when I was trying to sleep. I would check under the bed and in my closets multiple times a night to see if anyone was there. Every night I had to sleep with the light on and most nights I ended up in my parents bedroom because I couldn’t sleep.

When I was in my senior year of high school I had images of a tsunami hitting Long Island, where I’m from, every night. I would try to fall asleep but my OCD would start and I’d have to turn on the TV to see if there was news of a tsunami hitting Long Island. I remember knowing it was not a real fear but it felt so real to me that I had to check! I’d run outside at night to listen to see if I could hear a tsunami coming toward my house only to come inside and still feel unsettled. 

I went to college, specifically in an area that wouldn’t be impacted by a tsunami, and pushed myself hard, graduated, became a producer but kept finding myself in relationships that were unhealthy for me. I was attracted to people and situations that were dramatic and hard, and let’s be honest, I was a drama queen! But drama was a good distraction for me. I drank a lot, smoked way too much weed and was living as far from the moment as I could because the moment was way too scary. 

About a year ago I broke up with a boyfriend and started realizing I had not found a relationship that was good for me because I had not really figured out what was going on inside me. I was running and hiding from something I didn’t want to listen to. My OCD about a year ago was terrible. I was probably drinking 5-7 nights a week and smoking about everyday just to escape reality, or the reality that I thought was real. The images were terrible, they could be triggered by a horror film or a scary idea and they could ruin full days of my life. 

It wasn’t until I was listening to a friends mental health podcast, Call Us Crazy, that I realized I had OCD. It was my ah-ha moment and I was so excited. I compulsively researched OCD (typical) and immediately felt less alone. All of these scary thoughts that had been haunting me were experienced by tons of other people to! And the best news was there was help. Mt. Sinai’s OCD program seemed like the best so I called them the next day. Talia, the Clinical Research Coordinator, heard my story and was so kind and helped get me into the program as soon as possible.

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OCD

Present Moment – A poem

I wish I could stress
A little bit less
I can be a mess

I love to have fun
Just ask anyone
I’m queen of the pun

But pain in my chest
Breathe, I do my best
Body put to the test

Bad thoughts in my head
Sometimes I am led
Believed what they said

I know they’re untrue
Thoughts can’t make me do
Intrusive, not you

So, fight compulsion
Though feel revulsion
Hold back impulsion

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OCD

Taming Olivia

Please, please, please remember this… No matter how awful OCD feels for you now it can be managed, it can be treated and in many cases, it can be fully recovered from.

Hi, I’m Catherine, I’m 36 and I’ve lived with OCD for as long as I can remember.

It’s morphed and shape-shifted many times throughout my life and has also varied in severity and intensity.

I’ll briefly tell you about my experience before talking about the things that have really helped with my recovery – I ultimately want my story to be one of hope and encouragement.

My childhood was very much focussed on keeping my loved ones safe, it centred very heavily on external compulsions. I counted, checked… recounted and rechecked everything because I believed it would help keep my family safe.

I checked taps, switches, plug sockets, window latches, basically everything and anything. It was hugely time consuming. I also had to repeat things until they felt just right and at times it was very difficult for me to lead a normal life. There were times I was heavily reliant on others to do the simplest of tasks.

Apart from telling my boyfriend, who would go onto become my husband, I kept my OCD a secret until the age of about 25, when I told a few family members. I lived through those previous years in silence and with no mental health support at all.

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