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ERP

Podcast

Sheva Rajaee – Some questions can’t be answered

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In episode 131 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Sheva Rajaee. Sheva is a psychotherapist who specializes in the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other related anxiety disorders. Sheva did a Ted Talk called “Addicted to the answer – anxiety in the age of information“ which made up the core of our first podcast together.

Sheva Rajaee

In this episode I chat with Sheva about her OCD story, superstition in relation to OCD, avoidance, acceptance around unanswered questions, why the two words “So What” are the most powerful in the treatment of anxiety disorders, meditation, and much much more. 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!

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Podcast

Dr Jonathan Abramowitz – Living the CBT lifestyle

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In episode 130 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Dr Jonathan Abramowitz. Jonathan is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Chapel Hill, NC specializing in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). He is also Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina. Jonathan has written two self-help books and published over 250 scientific articles, books, and book chapters.

Jonathan Abramowitz

In this episode I chat with Jon about mini-rituals, the openness scale, tracking and monitoring compulsions, what to do if ERP doesn’t seem to be working, living the CBT lifestyle, ACT supporting ERP, ACT metaphors and much much more. 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!

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OCD

I have hope now

I’ve been anxious since before I can remember, but I vividly remember my first obsession.  I was 8 or 9, and on the first day of school, our teacher excitedly told us we would be taking a class trip to an amusement park in May that year for some sort of science day.

Almost immediately, all I could think about was dreading and avoiding the trip.  My thoughts started to fall into an obsessive pattern that’s now so familiar to me:  What if I fall off a roller coaster and die?  What if I don’t go on any roller coasters, and I become some sort of social pariah?  What if I vomit on myself or someone else?  What if someone else vomits in me?  What if I pee my pants?

I became obsessed with roller coasters and roller coaster accidents.  There was no internet back then, but I remember checking out books from my school library about roller coasters to research the probability of their failure even though I’d never been on one.  I asked my science teacher all sorts of crazy physics questions.  It’s funny to me now, but at the time, I was terrified.

My obsessions continued through middle and high school.  I was mostly Pure O at that time, but I was on the debate team and knew how to research, so I used my skills to feed my worst fears.  One year, our debate topic was Russian foreign policy—I became obsessed with the kind of treatment resistant tuberculosis that was prevalent in Russian prisons at the time.  I live in Texas.

If I got a sore throat, I was suddenly dying of TB—I vividly remember asking my family doctor for a TB test.  She looked at me like I was insane, but she never said the word “anxiety.”

Simultaneously, my debate partner and I started dating, and my STD and pregnancy fears began there.  We never had sex, but making out was enough for me to feel like I had been infected.  A girl in our class was diagnosed with herpes around this time, and I couldn’t shake the idea that I was going to get it.  I still struggle with these fears despite over a decade of marriage.

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OCD

The Intangible Demons in My Head: A Story of a 13 year old’s journey with OCD and Anxiety

I don’t wash my hands a hundred times a day. I don’t clean obsessively, or need things to be “just right”. I don’t count numbers, or switch light switches on and off. But I have OCD. Dear old OCD has been with me for a quite some time, and is always finding new ways to terrify me. Thanks again for that OCD.

For me, my OCD is mostly around intrusive thoughts and reassurance seeking. I remember my first intrusive thought, when I was just 9 years old, I couldn’t fall asleep, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was suffocating my dog with the blanket. I keep looking and checking on her, until I was certain it was off her and she could breathe. I felt if I didn’t keep checking, she would die, and it would all be my fault.

As I grew older, my GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and OCD symptoms grew larger and larger until they overflowed, and my parents knew it was time to take me to a therapist. My intrusive thoughts, or “bad thoughts” as I called them, revolved mostly around hurting myself, or killing myself. I was terrified that I would somehow manage to kill myself, and that because I thought that, it was going to happen. I avoided the kitchen, and couldn’t do anything dangerous in fear it would be me trying to commit suicide.

Let me make it clear that I was not going to do these things, but this is the nature of OCD, to make you doubt, doubt, doubt, fear the worst things, think the worst most “blasphemous” thoughts. Everytime I heard the word suicide, alarm bells, no freaking air raids go off in my head. I went into full panic. I write “were” because it used to be much worse. Although, this is still something I experience on a daily basis, it is much better than before.

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Podcast

Rose (Bretécher) Cartwright – Pure

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In episode 119 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Rose Cartwright. Rose is a writer and author of the book “Pure” published under the surname Bretécher, which is now a Channel 4 drama series. Rose is also a director over at intrusivethoughts.org.

Rose (Bretécher) Cartwright

I talked with Rose about her OCD story, her book and now turning it into a TV drama. We talked about her recovery, and where she is at in her journey. We talk about violent and sexual intrusive thoughts, dealing with the potential embarrassment, shame and guilt around taboo thoughts, we discuss ERP, learning to not need an answer for the OCD thought, dealing with relapses, meditation, learning to love yourself, dealing with stigma and the advice she would give her 20 year old self. 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

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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Podcast

Story: Marco Maggioni

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In episode 117 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Marco Maggioni. Marco Kindly agreed to share his story with us. Marco’s written story for the site was titled “Overcoming OCD is not a fight, is an act of love”, this energy and mindset comes across in this episode beautifully.

Marco

In this episode I chat with Marco about his OCD story, his recovery journey, how meditation has played a role in his recovery, tips for meditating, letting thoughts be, and the importance of kindness and compassion. 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

Time to Stop Hiding

The stigma surrounding mental health is such an enormous barrier in terms of healing. So many people are afraid to speak about their struggles. We don’t want to be seen as weak. We don’t want to be considered ill or broken, unstable or dangerous. We worry it will effect friendships and professional lives. We worry and we hide.

But there are so many of us you guys! Honestly, I don’t know of a human being that does not combat demons, whether or not they are diagnosed with a mental illness. I mean, think about all of the people running around who are tormented and stay silent, never receive a diagnosis, never get treatment or support of any kind. That is heartbreaking to me.

Why those who are challenged in a mental/emotional way get treated differently than those challenged by a physical illness? Because we can’t “see it”, and we only believe what we can see? We have all seen someone with a mental illness that is noticeable in an outward manner. Maybe a homeless, wandering, talking to imaginary people, possibly acting out aggressively. Those people we know and believe are ill because we can see it. It more than likely makes us uncomfortable, and we probably avoid them.

Now, I’ve never really been one to care too much about what other people think of me. It’s a double edged sword of course, but it does allow me to be honest and not beat around the bush. And yet, as I look back at my child self, I can recognize now, how at a very early age I learned to hide part of myself from the public at large, and build walls to protect myself from being found out and consequently hurt.

I started noticeably struggling with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. Without getting into all the medical and scientific “stuff” there are several types of OCD, one being that which runs in families, is passed down genetically. This type usually starts rearing its head in childhood versus adolescence. I come from a long line of superstitious triple checkers. Cousins that couldn’t pass buy certain bushes without touching them and uncles who made funny twitches with their mouth before they took a drink, because they just had to. My mom had obsessions and compulsions as a child, and knew immediately what was happening when she noticed my first compulsion, which was feeling for my heartbeat to make sure it was still beating. Poor Mom, she knew the terror I felt inside. She tried to help, but there wasn’t a lot of information on OCD 35 years ago. We all just thought we had a quirky family. Continue Reading