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OCD

OCD

OCD focused on racism and anti-semitism

…there is a lot of comfort and support to be gained from knowing that somehow we are all in the same ship.

Dear all,

I want to remain anonymous, because I have a story which is still difficult to tell. (I hope I can make myself clear as I am not a native speaker.) I am a 41 year-old male living in Europe, and have been dealing with OCD symptoms from a very young age (3rd grade). Like many others, I have come to know its different types (contamination, sexual orientation, pedophilia, harm, relationship) and all of them were and still are equally nasty to me. I have been lucky enough to receive professional help (since I was 22) and with medication I function reasonably well. What I want to write about here is an OCD variation I did not read about yet, on the web or in books, but one that has been bothering me since I was 16.  It is an embarrassing type because it is focused on racism and antisemitism. In fact it is so embarrassing, that I almost feel compelled to stress here that I am not a racist or an anti-Semite (as I used to promise and swear to myself when I was younger).

I grew up in a progressive Christian family (I am non-religious now), and my parents always taught us to do the right thing and be there for others. They also showed this in their own behavior: Our family lived in Africa for a couple of years where my father was a tropical doctor, and my parents are still very active in helping refugees. As a kid I learned that racism and prejudice were not acceptable, and in school I learned about the Holocaust as the ultimate evil. And then, as a late adolescent, I started to get these unnerving thoughts. It is very difficult to put them in words, because they were vague and not very outspoken. But somehow they made me doubt the wrongness of antisemitism, and racism more generally, which I found shocking.

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OCD, Relationship OCD

Lessons learned from Relationship Focused OCD

I encourage you to find a therapist who you connect with, and fight to get to the other side! You are worthy!

My first day of my first experience in intensive therapy I was asked to write down my thoughts one day from wake to sleep. I kid you not, by 9am I wrote “exhausted and yawning” (I had gotten up at 6:30). I looked at the journal and realized it was literally one page of thoughts already (probably more but I didn’t want to write it all) and it had only been 2.5 hours. These thoughts consumed about 95% of my day, and were draining me. I felt like I needed to find answers, but at the same time I didn’t know where to go, knew there weren’t actual answers, and part of me didn’t even feel like I needed any. I was trapped.

“Who do I want to be with? What if she isn’t the right person? What if I should be with a guy? But, wait, I have been with guys… How did I feel? Is that who I see myself with? Was it different from this? Should I try again? It’s expected of me. How should I feel? What if I doubt this and can’t commit? Does this feel right? Am I sexually attracted? But emotional means more to me…but you just doubted sexually so what about that?…  What is life? Do I want to be here? What if that car hits me as I get out of my car to get the mail?  Would I care? This is too much to deal with. What if my family never accepts me being with a girl? If they doubt it, maybe I am wrong. How do I know? What makes me happy? Should I move or try to go out more? No but that’s not who I am, but who am I? But wait, I want to be with her but do I need to explore myself more before committing? How do I know? I want to be with her. I had never acted this way with anyone else: losing track of time or had 7 hours feel like 1, sharing as much as I did with someone, yet my brain kept fighting me! I wasn’t used to this feeling. Comfort, calm, connection, and oh wait love–no, never! With a girl…was this right? Did I really feel this way? What if I am wrong?”

This is maybe two minutes of a day’s worth of thinking. Believe me it went on and on, uncontrolled, exhausting, circuitous, torturous circles of mental rumination. It tore me to pieces. I could go on and on, but you get the point. The answers weren’t there; the internal dialogue and questioning never ceased, and I couldn’t escape.

Our brain loves uncertainty and just following human nature, if you feed it, it gets hungry for more. OCD hits ya where it matters most (for me: relationships). I was tortured, stuck in my head, silently screaming so loudly that some days you could hear it through my smiles. I would ask friends, talk incessantly about the topic, but that was only temporary reassurance and fuel for the OCD cycle. The thoughts would only return a few minutes later, leaving me right back to where I started (fun, right?).

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OCD

Conquering my battle

I want you to please know that you are never alone, there are so many people who really do understand what you are going through

I often find myself awake at night with my eyes full of tears, crying out to God asking him, “Why? Why do I have to lie here in panic, why do I have to spend every waking second of my days full of anxiety?” We can ask God that question all we want, but the whole time the answer is right there in front of our eyes. What’s the answer? The answer is that life is full of battles, hardships,and trials, life is not perfect and it was never meant to be. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can stop asking the question why and start accepting the battle that you were given to fight, even when you feel as if you can’t fight anymore. God only gives you what you can handle and with knowing that, you can know that you can conquer any hardship that comes your way.

This past year I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Anxiety, and Depression. I think I always knew from a young age that I dealt with these disorders, but it wasn’t until now that I decided to do something about it. If you let these disorders go unhelped they only get worse and you eventually find yourself crying out for help.

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OCD

The OCD Burglar

I would urge anyone that has identified with anything I’ve spoken about to seek advice and talk to someone.

MY OCD STORY

I’ll set the scene. I’m sat here in bed, slightly intoxicated, listening to Celine Dion. I’ve just read my best friend Joe’s ‘coming out’ story. Scrolling through – there is a section about his mental health and suffering with OCD. I knew that he’d had OCD when he was younger as we’ve discussed it before – we’ve joked about what our symptoms and triggers were. In his story, Joe describes OCD as a mental health disorder. I have never considered my OCD as a mental health issue because I was so young when I had it and it was never referred to in that way around me. During a time when mental health is being discussed much more openly, I feel like sharing my OCD symptoms and triggers may help other people that have also found themselves involved in it.

DISCLAIMER – WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ IS COMPLETELY TRUE, HOWEVER UNTRUE IT MAY SOUND. THESE WERE REAL EXPERIENCES AND ACTUAL THOUGHTS THAT HAPPENED IN MY ACTUAL HEAD.

THE BEGINNING

I don’t remember the exact age when my compulsions started but I remember it being at the end of junior school and the beginning of high school (around 10-11 years of age). I have always been terrified of being burgled. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to think back to where that fear has come from but it’s a struggle to pin point a particular event that may have triggered it. I remember watching the Danny Boyle film ‘Million’ which features a scene where a burglar comes through an attic hatch into a boys bedroom. This could very well have been the start, but I can’t blame Danny for the whole thing, I’m sure there was more to it. We also had our garage broken into a couple of times, which scared me witless, but never our house. I think the fact that it had never happened made me even more scared that it was still to come.

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OCD

I refuse to…

I am learning to trust I have the ability to deal with the worries and ‘what if’s’ if they became true.

I have OCD. Contamination OCD.

It has taken me many years to write those words without feeling crippling shame or performing a humorous apology. I have embraced the fear and vulnerability and I have found strength and power.

Today I feel healthy: managing my thoughts and doing the work to succeed in recovery. I have dug deep and swam into the dark pockets of my psyche to understand the reasons my OCD manifested. I know the theory of how to heal, so, emotionally I continue to carve a new path of newly created thought patterns. Patterns of understanding and truth and self-care. Patterns that will serve the self of today not the lost and fragile girl of the past.

Trauma and grief I believe are the cause of this dance with OCD.

I have not had any more or any less of these two emotions or experiences than the next person. I have experienced things in my life however that caused me pain and I did not know where to put the hurt that these moments created so I suffocated my grief and my shock and it became fear.

People are fragile and they break. Hearts can hold so much but there needs to be an outlet and everyone’s outlet is different and specific to them. OCD became my friend and my enemy. My protector and my abuser.

My OCD was born with the sudden death of my beloved mother.

It was fed and nurtured by a stint in a U.S jail and a horrific deportation experience, reckless drunken behaviour, leading to regret, guilt, doubt and shame and the need for there to be consequences. My OCD, in part, caused the shocking breakdown of my marriage and took nourishment from it.

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OCD

Childhood to Adulthood OCD

My name is Skyler. And I have had OCD as long as I can remember.

My dad was the first person to start calling me “OCD”. Before I even knew what it meant. With some of my compulsions being obvious to him since I was little. Such as: making sure closet doors are closed all the way, excessive and often aggressive eye blinking, excessive stretching and contorting of my limbs. Particularly my arms and wrists. Picking up pieces of paper or trash off of the carpet, repeatedly touching things or checking things, making sure adjacent objects are flush with each other, (books, dvds, cd’s, toys, cards) flipping light switches on and off and looking at the clock every 30 seconds.

Most of my compulsions I had as a child, come and go. Or have faded in intensity over time.

The only compulsions that have become more severe with age have been the stretching and especially the blinking… which causes me daily headaches and eye pain.
Now onto the real problem…. the obsessions.

As a child, my obsessions were the smaller half of my OCD. With my compulsions being in the spotlight..

But as I entered adulthood, my obsessions began to increase in severity, complexity and frequency.  Until arriving at a point where they rule my life from the moment I open my eyes.

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OCD

Little Victories

It was an everyday struggle. It still is.

11 years old. 5th grade. That’s when it all started:

I would wake up at 5:50 on the nose. Not a minute before, not a minute after. I’d dash into the kitchen and begin making a pot of coffee for my mother. I would prepare everything the night before– the filter already filled with fresh coffee grounds, the water container already filled to the line, the spoon perfectly aligned on a fresh napkin. While waiting for the coffee to brew, I would prepare and eat my breakfast. When the coffee was finished, I’d pour it into a cup and place it to the right of my mother’s “spot” at the kitchen table, with the handle perfectly aligned to the right. By 6:05, I HAD to be finished in the kitchen and on my way to my next morning task. I’d get dressed, brush my teeth, make my bed, curl the tips of my hair, and run to the living room to start my next morning ritual. At exactly 6:30, I would turn on the television and watch QVC (the home shopping network). The show was so structured, which was appealing to me. I was fascinated as to how they could talk about one single item for an hour straight, without it seeming too repetitive or mundane. The show brought me an odd sense of comfort, which is why I let it into my life every single day. At 7:20, I would grab my backpack, head to the car, and mentally prepare myself for a day of school.

To start my day in the classroom, my pencil would be placed horizontally on the top of my desk, my composition book to the left, both perfectly aligned, of course. I sat next to the same girl all year long. She was eccentric—in both her personality and disposition. I respected her, but she was a complete mess and it drove me nuts. She’d spread her things all over her desk, would leave a mess, and fidget and chew on things. I was constantly reaching over and organizing her desk for her. Surprisingly, she never said a word. Although we were opposites, she understood me, and I understood her. We were “different”.

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OCD

Finding a way

I am learning that I CAN have thoughts I CAN have emotions…

My Story…So far! I think back to when I was a pre teen & there is so much happening, not only physically but also mentally… This is when I first recall OCD happening to me. I was around 12 years old & I began to count & touch doors, handles, count my steps, turn off the T.V. at the “right time”. I had no idea what was happening, it all seemed innocent to me back then just a little quirk I had, I just wanted to get that “right feeling”, no big deal. As I got older and into my later teen years I will never forget this feeling… ever. I woke up one sunny morning & it was like I was HIT by a Bus (Which I actually was years later, lol!!). I had this feeling of anxiety/sweating/tightness in my whole body…All from one single THOUGHT…Am I homosexual because I did that “thing”???? Prior to this thought I had never been attracted to the same sex… Ever. It was just a thought in my head, that’s all… But for some reason it would not leave me.. It hung around for months on end, every waking minute it was there, I would try & resolve it by looking at men out in public to “check” & see if I was attracted to the same sex but that just made matters worse, I would sit and look at magazines with pictures of Men to see if I was attracted to them… It was all so confusing & scary & stressful.. before this thought my life was just going along fine, usual life stuff. How could a single thought turn my  life upside down for months??? I look back now to that morning of “the thought” and with all my OCD experience and think… I was Truly living in my head… I was nowhere to be seen, just a shell of my former self, walking around the planet earth trying to find an answer out of this nightmare, only to go deeper down the “Rabbit Hole”!! The more I tried to scratch my way out of the hole the deeper I fell, every time I reacted to these thoughts & try and make sense of it all my Brain would throw another one at me.. Hey Scott what about this one?? I would try & figure that one out only to lead me onto another thought & completely forget about the first thought that popped into my head! Eventually this obsession left me, how I can’t recall? There was a brief period where I thought I was back to the old me… But I still had those underlying “quirks” of touching, counting & turning off the TV at the right time, no idea that I was keeping the OCD Beast alive in me for bigger & better things to pounce on & make my life hell again. Around 23 yrs old I went globe trotting for around 2 years, my OCD was still there unbeknownst to me, I just continued on with my “Quirks” of touching, counting, etc while I was working & traveling the World and the OCD booger not really bothering me much…. I found myself living in London England for a while with some friends, I had a job as a Gardener. It was a fun job UNTIL one day I was cleaning out a commercial garden & came across a Hypodermic Syringe… I didn’t really think much of it at the time until about 2 years later when I was working as a Gardener again back in my Homeland of Australia… Working away one Sunny morning, cleaning out a garden bed I was pricked by something prickly, usual gardening, it happens almost daily… Then all of a sudden my Brain throws up a thought…WHAT IF IT WAS A NEEDLE AND I CATCH AIDS!!!!! In an instant my Brain was going crazy with “what if’s”… Down the “Rabbit Hole” I went again, trying to scratch & kick my way out of this one…Only to find myself deeper down that Hole once more..! This Obsession has been my Nemesis over the years coming & going for the last 15 years of my life, when I was first triggered back on that Sunny morning while Gardening I began on a path of Checking, Coping, Controlling. Having HIV Blood tests A LOT over the years, I have lost count! I have to say it’s been at least 6 years since my last test, I am still alive believe it or not!!

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OCD

OCD or Recovery: The Choice

One way is recovery and the other is OCD. It is awesome to have that choice!

Growing up I used to worry a lot. About everything. I never told anyone though. I’m not sure if this was because I thought ‘If I don’t say it its not real’. Or maybe I didn’t want to seem weak? Or perhaps I didn’t want people to worry themselves? Probably all of those. It does not matter too much now. The fact is I had a load of anxiety taking a ride on never ending waltzers in my belly and, despite having a wonderfully supportive family, I never felt comfortable vocalising its existence.

So where does this anxiety go? How is the pressure relieved? Unfortunately the natural mistake any child, teenager or adult can make is to try to work that feeling out. To try to think themselves out of that feeling. It can work briefly. But if that anxiety pot is always on the verge of brimming you have to keep thinking of more ways to reassure yourself that everything is going to be okay. Throw a frightful “intrusive thought” into the mix and its not too much of a jump to see what can happen next. The individual starts to dedicate their whole lives to convincing themselves that thought was not real. But the issue is the anxiety made it FEEL real. And so the cycle continues. OCD is born.

I remember in my early 20s I used to say to myself “I will NOT have that thought today” and manage about 5 minutes at best. That track got stuck more than the NOW 54 CD that I used to use as a tea coaster and frisbee. And was even shitter. I was so desperate to have a ‘pure’ brain without ugly thoughts. But anything from a pair of scissors to a dark BBC News story would be enough to set me off into dreadful doubt and reflection. Of course all of this reassurance, coping and avoidance made things much worse. I had got to the point of planning how to ‘hand myself in’ (for crimes against the thinking world I suppose) and researching online to see if I had the same brain as the Moors Murderers. All was not well.

Then, whilst training for a new healthcare role at the age of 24, a little miracle happened. The woman taking the group mentioned “some people with OCD have repeated unwanted thoughts about hurting people”. I sat bolt upright. Straight after I raced home and jumped on Wikipedia and started reading about OCD, intrusive thoughts and compulsions. The relief I felt that day is still something I marvel at fondly. That there could be a reason for all this confusion and fear felt something close to being reborn.
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OCD

Transmuting Pain into Art

A lot can happen in an hour, so I focus on minutes and good moments.

I woke up one morning after getting my wisdom teeth pulled, bombarded by an inordinate amount of UNWANTED OBSESSIVE INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS that I found myself incapable of ridding. We all have thoughts, but these thoughts were like none other I had ever had before. Racing through my mind feeling as though someone had lit the tip of my brainstem on fire….I was debilitated. Suddenly I was checking if the stove was off, flicking light switches up down up down up down, blinking a certain number of times until “it felt right,” tapping my fingers into numbers into counting….repeating sentences…..what happened to my mind?  I didn’t know why nothing filtered out. I didn’t know why I could not let these thoughts go. I didn’t know how I was going to successfully enter my first year of college at UCSB with such bizarre obsessive worries. I was concerned about absurd topics like whether or not urine was sterile. I wanted to know that semen was not air-borne. I wanted to make sure my zipper was properly up or else something bad might happen to a family member.

August 2002, my sense of homeostasis was taken from me.

After 7 months of living in clandestine and being tormented by my own mind, I finally saw a psychiatrist who explained to me that I had a very severe on-set of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. How could my brain drastically change over night I thought? Also, from the stigma that I heard regarding OCD, it was a disorder of hand washing and cleaning. I didn’t do either, so how could OCD be my diagnosis I thought?

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