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Podcast

Ethan Smith – If I Can Then You Can Too

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In episode 118 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Ethan SmithEthan is a professional Writer/Director/Producer. Ethan is a national ambassador for the charity the IOCDF.

Ethan Smith

I talked with Ethan about his OCD story, and his recovery. Ethan breaks down what worked for him and his recovery journey. We talk about how ERP helped in his recovery, and how ACT also played a part. Ethan talks about self-compassion, getting into nature and the power of choices. Ethan’s words of experience offer hope and inspiration. Hope it helps. 

podcast

To listen on iTunes click the button, or go to iTunes and search “The OCD Stories“. If you enjoy the podcast please subscribe and leave a review. It helps us reach more people who need to hear these remarkable stories of recovery!

You can also listen on Android and over devices through most podcast apps, such as Stitcher.

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OCD

My OCD Story Part One: Living with OCD

OCD formally entered my life two years ago, but in hindsight, OCD has virtually touched every aspect of my life for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories of it is when the influenza virus finally made its way to my home country Venezuela. I was probably around 6 years old. I had heard the news on the radio that people were getting very sick and even dying from this and all I could feel was this paralysing anxiety and dread that I was going to also get it. I kept asking my parents for a surgeon’s mask to wear until the virus subsided and they kept refusing, laughing that I even wanted to wear such a thing outside. The only thing they said when I kept asking if I could get the virus was “you’re too young to be worrying about this” and while they moved on with their lives, I was trapped in endless overthinking about whether or not I could get seriously sick and if I would die soon.

Throughout all my education, I excelled in my courses at a great cost. Behind my straight A’s, top of the class achievements, and published papers at university level was great anxiety, panic attacks, self-punishment for not doing enough, and endless exhaustion from overexertion. I now know OCD was the one making me practice literally all the math problems (not one could be left undone before an exam!) because otherwise there was a slight chance I wasn’t prepared enough for the test. I saw my friends practicing five of them at the most, getting them all right like I did, but they knew when to stop; whereas I had to keep going because I could never feel confident enough until they were all done. And even then I didn’t feel confident enough – it was never enough. I now know OCD was the one keeping me in the library everyday (including weekends) until 11pm at night, prioritising staying on top of the class over all the friendships and connections I was starved from, being a student overseas away from family and friends. I now know OCD was the greatest obstacle in my education career, the one that beat me up so hard for not being perfect enough that I couldn’t finish my dream degree, a Masters in Research in Sexuality and Gender studies at my dream university. OCD didn’t let me finish my dissertation because it was never ‘good enough’, even though everyone told me I was a great writer, my destiny was academia, my research was exciting. None of this mattered because OCD kept drilling at me “you can’t do it, it’s never going to be perfect, so you might as well not do it”.

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OCD

Recovering from Postnatal OCD

I’m Renee, I’m 33 years old, married to a wonderful man, am the mother of a beautiful two year old daughter, own a sweet little mini fox terroir and a hold a successful career. Underneath this wonderful life though, I live with a significant fear of abandonment, generalised anxiety disorder and OCD. I want to share with you my story which focuses on my recovery and how I live my best life despite having anxiety and OCD.

I grew up in a fairly dysfunctional home, my dad an alcoholic, with undiagnosed mental disorders and my mum who was stuck in a cycle of trying to help and save my father. Most of my childhood memories consist of my dad going on benders for months at a time. Mum would contact different establishments trying to locate him and hide money so he wouldn’t gamble and drink it all away. After he had finished his benders, usually because the money had run out, he would return home and he and my mum would carry on as normal. My father was very physical towards my mum and verbally abusive towards me, my other siblings (all of whom lived out of home) and my mother. Some of my earliest memories are filled with anxiety and panic.

As a result of this childhood, I inherited a fairly sizeable fear of abandonment that would present throughout my life in varying degrees. I sought help throughout my 20s, where I was able to really delve into my anxiety and fear of abandonment. I had therapy for many years but still turned to relationships and other unhelpful methods to help fix what ‘was wrong inside’.

When I reached the age of 27, I met my husband and by this stage, I’d developed techniques where I would lie about things that happened to me in order to seek reassurance from him. By doing so, it would reinforce in my mind that he wouldn’t leave me, which brought my fear of abandonment down to a manageable level.

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OCD

The illness that haunted my life

You can be whole again. You can live an amazing life. I promise.

My name is Lillie, and I, just like most who are likely reading this, am on my journey of recovery from OCD. And it’s been quite the journey, to say the least. OCD has been the fight for fucking my life, but I’ll get into that later. I realize that this illness has followed me and haunted me for my entire life, but it wasn’t until much later that I realized what it was.

When I was a young child, I had a loving family, all of my needs met, went to the best schools in my city, and my life was seemingly the “ideal childhood.” Except, I always had a nagging feeling like something was wrong with me. Even as young as 4 or 5 years old, and probably even before that. I felt like I was an outsider looking in with my peers. Things bothered me that didn’t bother anyone else. I just, for lack of a better term, didn’t feel right. I felt like I didn’t belong and despite being an outgoing and extroverted child, I couldn’t shake that something about me was different.  I worried more than the average child and was very meticulous…about everything. I was obsessive and impulsive (and compulsive, obviously). I was told that “I cared way too much” and “bothered by things that aren’t worth being bothered by” by teachers and peers. Kind, I know. Everything had to be “right” or else I would have a full blown meltdown. For example, I would arrange Barbie Dolls, Polly Pockets, and American Girl Dolls in a very particular way and my older brother would move them around just to be annoying and I would have a MELTDOWN. I mean, a screaming and crying meltdown. At my fourth birthday party, everyone was walking in and out of my room and touching my things. I was in full-blown panic, meltdown mode. I would write and rewrite things over and over and over and over again until they were “perfect.” I would count and recount things over and over until it was “right.” I never got a damn thing done in school. Ever. Homework was such a source of anxiety. In early high school, I sat in the lobby of the athletic building after school with a piece of my friend’s schoolwork who had beautiful handwriting, and wrote and rewrote words, until I had brand new handwriting because I thought mine wasn’t perfect enough. Test taking was just…hellish. I was, without fail, always the last person to finish a test, and not for lack of knowledge. “Am I doing this wrong?” “I need to have perfect handwriting.” “I have to erase all of this and rewrite it.” “I’m going to fail out of high school and end up on the street and just die.” “How do I get out of taking this test because I’m going to fail it.” And because of my OCD, my grades did suffer. They didn’t suffer drastically by any stretch of the imagination, and I would somehow make it onto my school’s Honor Roll each semester; but, since my grades were not all A+’s, I developed more anxiety around school. I was a serial procrastinator because I didn’t want to feel the anxiety of doing schoolwork, but had to get the work done eventually, so I also didn’t sleep. I was what some like to call, a vicious cycle. I’m not quite sure how I made it out of high school alive, and I’m not being dramatic.

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Podcast

Dr Ashley Smith – CBT, OCD recovery and a blind quest

In episode 101 I interviewed Dr Ashley Smith. Ashley has a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She worked as a staff psychologist at a children’s hospital and an anxiety specialty center for a combined 10 years before going into private practice. Ashley recently wrote her first book “Childhood Anxiety Disorders”. Inspired by her own difficulties she launched ablindquest.com to blog about creating lasting happiness regardless of perceived limitations.

Dr Ashley Smith

In this episode Ashley shares some of the biggest challenges people face in therapy, the things people do successfully that speeds up recovery, how her approach to OCD treatment has changed over the last 10 years, using positive psychology alongside ERP, advice for parents of kids with OCD, dealing with the emotion of shame, personal development, Ashley’s personal quest for happiness, and her year of new experiences. Hope it helps.

podcast

To listen on iTunes click the button, or go to iTunes and search “The OCD Stories“. If you enjoy the podcast please subscribe and leave a review. It helps us reach more people who need to hear these remarkable stories of recovery!

You can also listen on Android and over devices through most podcast apps, such as Stitcher.

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Podcast

OCD Charities: The IOCDF

In episode 70 I talk with Jeff Szymanski and Ethan Smith of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). Jeff is the executive director of the charity and clinical psychologist. Ethan is an ambassador for the charity and a professional Writer/Director/Producer/Actor. This interview is one of a three part series of OCD charities. The goal is to find out more about what services they have, and how you can get involved.

Ethan and Jeff IOCDF

Picture credit: Alison Dotson

We talk about stigma and how to break it down, the charity, the services the IOCDF offer, the term OCDvocate, their annual OCD conference, finding the right therapist and how you can get involved. Enjoy!

podcast

To listen on iTunes click the button, or go to iTunes and search “The OCD Stories“. If you enjoy the podcast please subscribe and leave a review. It helps us reach more people who need to hear these remarkable stories of recovery!

You can also listen on Android and over devices through most podcast apps, such as Stitcher.

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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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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

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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Podcast

4 Ideas for OCD Recovery

In episode 44 of The OCD Stories podcast I talk about 4 ideas for OCD recovery that have been on my mind.

Stuart Ralph

I talk about why I started the podcast, and its aims, why it can be good to bolt on new ideas to your existing treatment approach, using ERP throughout life not just OCD, changing your focus from the problem to the solution, silver linings and the importance of community. Enjoy.

 


podcast

To listen on iTunes click the button, or go to iTunes and search “The OCD Stories“. If you enjoy the podcast please subscribe and leave a review. It helps us reach more people who need to hear these remarkable stories of recovery!

You can also listen on Android and over devices through most podcast apps, such as Stitcher.

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

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