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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OCD

The Rise and Fall of OCD

As an OCD sufferer myself, it’s only really gotten to this point of overly obsessive and compulsive behaviour in the past two years. I realised it was OCD last year, after constantly beating myself up about being obsessed with embarrassing things. I experienced very mild OCD when young, with “do this or that would happen”, but it faded and I never really took notice. It’s only when it took the form of disturbing and distressing thoughts did I realise something wasn’t right. Even though the thoughts didn’t instigate any compulsions at first, the compulsions eventually became a way of relieving the distress brought on by these thoughts. And as you know I’m sure, as soon as I thought I was over something, the OCD has already jumped to another part of my life. For one period I didn’t want to sit on the tube, the next period I couldn’t get out of bed because I couldn’t rid a thought. Often the thoughts are hard to shake because they make me doubt my beliefs. Which is the hardest part to overcome.

Over the past 2 weeks I discovered The OCD stories on the podcast app, and it’s changed my life. I can’t even list the positive messages here as there are so many. The guests who share their experiences – from onset to recovery – really have brought this way of life into perspective. For some time now, to get my mind away from thoughts and compulsions I have written poems at times that my mind would usually wander (the underground, buses, a queue etc). They’re really true to what I go through, and now I know what many OCD sufferers go through as well. Sometimes there’s a light, and then there’s a slump. But it’s all about focusing on long term recovery. While small steps to start with are hard, the most powerful thing is to know that beneath all the OCD malarkey I know who I am and what I believe in. It’s then up to me to use that power and stop the compulsions.

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Podcast

Donald Robertson – OCD, and Stoicism

In episode 64 of the podcast I interviewed Donald Robertson. Donald is a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist, trainer, and author who specialises in the treatment of anxiety and the use of CBT and clinical hypnotherapy. He is the author of many books including “Stoicism and the art of happiness”, “Build your resilience” and “The philosophy of CBT”.

Donald Robertson

I had a good chat with Donald about Stoicism and OCD. We talk about what Stoicism actually is, the birth of CBT, advice for exposures, how broadening your scope of attention can help dilute anxiety, defusing from thoughts, meta-cognitive therapy, effective meditation, how to become more resilient. Enjoy!

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Podcast

Dr Allen Weg – OCD Treatment Through Storytelling

To get Jeff and Shala’s OCD course with 25% off, click here >>

In episode 63 of the podcast I interviewed Dr Allen WegAllen is a licensed psychologist and founder of the stress and anxiety services of New Jersey. He is on the board of directors for OCD New Jersey, an affiliate of the IOCDF, and he wrote the book “OCD treatment through storytelling”.

Allen Weg

I had a nice chat with Dr Allen Weg. He shared some great wisdom around OCD recovery. We talk about the power of storytelling, he explains ERP through a couple stories, shares the importance of lowering stress in your life, preventing relapse and graduated vs flooding in exposures. Enjoy!

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Podcast

Eric Kupers – The Dharma of OCD

In episode 62 of the podcast I interviewed Eric Kupers for the second timeEric is Associate Professor, at Cal State University East Bay, in the Department of Theatre. He is also Dance Co-Director, at the Dandelion Dance theatre.

Eric Kupers

Eric emailed with a long philosophical piece of writing (see below) for the site. It’s called “The Dharma of OCD”. Eric has taken one aspect of his understanding of the world and applied it to OCD to make sense of it. I liked this approach to tailoring understanding of treatment and recovery from one’s own perspective. In this talk we chat openly (and philosophically) about his piece, including what is Dharma, why is buddhist philosophy a good framework for understanding OCD and how does treatments such as ERP and ACT link in with it. Enjoy!

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Sexual Orientation OCD

The millions of intrusive thoughts that took over my life

almost one year after beginning recovery, but I have learned to discard them and accept them for what they are—OCD.

Before my onset of OCD, I had suffered from debilitating depression and a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a common trend for a recent college graduate without a clear path. Covering up depression was something I had done for years, while my panic attacks followed a near-perfect circadian rhythm as I laid down to sleep, out of earshot from any potential listeners. Nobody knew about the depression and GAD, but when I got OCD, the effects were immediate and painfully obvious to everyone around me.

Two Christmases ago, I went on a trip with my best friend and her family. We were eating out at a wonderful Italian restaurant, gabbing and laughing with my second family. Suddenly I look across the table at my best friend, thought about how nice she looked, then suddenly the thought hit me: she looks beautiful. I must be a lesbian. I immediately dropped my fork and sat there paralyzed while all the blood drained from my face and my stomach began tying itself into knots.

These feelings simmered unrelentingly for the next six months while my OCD thickened everyday. Every detail, conversation, action and relationship in my life leading up to that point was examined endlessly through this new lens. Here are just a couple of the millions of intrusive thoughts that took over my life, dictating my every word and action.

I can’t step in my closet to pick out clothes because then I would officially be “in the closet” and therefore I am secretly gay. 

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Sexual Orientation OCD

OCD caused me to…

OCD caused me to do many things:

OCD caused me to not wear blue, my favorite color; because blue is for boys and boys like girls, therefore I like girls.

OCD caused me to throw my clothes around my room because going into my closet was symbolic and meant that I was “in the closet”.

OCD caused me to not be able to not be able to walk around my house, cook in the kitchen or go to the bathroom out of fear of seeing my three girl roommates.

OCD caused me to never go to the gym or do any physical activity because this was a “butch” thing to do and meant that I was gay.

OCD caused me to take the long way home from school everyday because on the main route, there was a house where a “most likely gay couple” lived over 30 years ago (before I was even born).

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Podcast

Storytime – My 40 Year Journey With OCD

Overcome Compulsions Daily‘ t-shirt and hoody >>

It’s storytime… Eric shares his OCD story with us. Eric talks about how he observed the OCD cycle, and how he found a way out of that cycle. Hope it helps.

This Wednesday version will only be on itunes and other podcast apps. It will not be on YouTube like the interview episodes. You can also listen here through the audio player below.

Here is the written version of Eric’s story: My 40 Year Journey With OCD.

Share your story >

This podcast is also brought to you by nOCD. Download the app for free and they will donate $0.50 to an OCD charity on your behalf: http://m.treatmyocd.com/ocdstories

Enjoy,

Stu

Podcast

Adam Shaw – Pulling The Trigger (OCD Recovery)

In episode 61 of the podcast I interviewed Adam ShawAdam, along with Lauren Callaghan co-wrote the book “Pulling the trigger – OCD, Anxiety, panic attacks and related depression. A definitive survival and recovery approach”. Adam also founded the mental health charity The Shaw Mind Foundation.

Adam Shaw

 I had a good chat with Adam. We talk about suicide, why reassurance is a nasty drug, taking a punt on recovery, facing fears not fighting them and living a life beyond OCD. This is an inspiring talk, hope it helps. Enjoy!

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Podcast

Storytime – On Avoiding Writing This Essay

It’s storytime… Morgan shares her OCD story with us. Morgan talks about perfectionism and how OCD got worse in college. Morgan offers hope and an example that you can achieve your goals even if OCD is present. Hope it helps.

This Wednesday version will only be on itunes and other podcast apps. It will not be on YouTube like the interview episodes. You can also listen here through the audio player below.

Here is the written version of Morgan’s story: On avoiding writing this essay and Morgan on the podcast.

Share your story >

This podcast is also brought to you by nOCD. Download the app for free and they will donate $0.50 to an OCD charity on your behalf: http://m.treatmyocd.com/ocdstories

Enjoy,

Stu