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Medication

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

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

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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Podcast

Alison Dotson – Being Me With OCD

Support our videos and get rewards by becoming an The OCD Stories patron: https://www.patreon.com/theocdstories

In episode 54 of the podcast I interviewed Alison Dotson. Alison is an OCD advocate and author of the book “Being me with OCD: How I learned to obsess less and live my life”.

Alison Dotson

I enjoyed chatting with Alison. She does a lot for the OCD community, and she does it with a smile. Her book was enjoyable to read and if you haven’t checked it out, give it a go (links below). In this episode we talk about her OCD story which includes religious and sexual orientation OCD themes. Advice for seeking help, the keys to Alison’s recovery, using exposures in your everyday life, how having a support group can help and the ‘obsession in a box’ technique. Enjoy!

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Harm OCD

It all seemed too weird

It all seemed too weird, embarrassing, ridiculous to share with anyone but I am thankful to have the opportunity to share it here.

Someone recently reminded me that we all have our dark places, things that we are ashamed of.  The following is a brief description of mine…

My story is connected to obsessive compulsive disorder.  Specifically something called “harm ocd”.  I discovered the name for it when I was 14 or 15, but the symptoms had been there for years.  I can remember being a young child and having disturbing thoughts of harming myself or someone close to me.  These thoughts would be accompanied by distressing images which caused extreme anxiety.  Was i going crazy, losing my mind?  Was I a danger to myself and others?  Typically the thoughts would be about physically hurting/harming someone close to me (I did not want to hurt anyone, but feared that I would lose control and do so).  I became afraid to be alone with others, to be around sharp objects/potential weapons, to babysit, etc.  The avoidance did not work and the thoughts continued until I discovered a medication and therapy that worked for me (anafranil and ERP).

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Podcast

Dr Jonathan Grayson – OCD Recovery, Uncertainty and Virtual Camping

Help and inspire others by sharing your OCD story. Find out more here >

In episode 45 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Dr Jonathan Grayson. Jon with his wife, Cathy founded the LA treatment centre for anxiety and OCD. Jon has been working with people with OCD for 35 years and is the author of Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He founded the support group GOAL and is also known for his idea virtual camping.

Dr Jonathan Grayson

I chatted with Jon about the strength you gain from having and recovering from OCD. We discuss certainty as an emotion, learning to cope with the worst, camping and virtual camping. We talk about motivation in recovery, seeing a life after OCD, medication, how ACT can work with ERP, his support group GOAL and how a supportive community can help. 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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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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Podcast

Dr Becky Beaton – Hoarding, Trauma and OCD

In episode 43 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Dr Becky Beaton. Becky is the Founder and Director of The Anxiety & Stress Management Institute. Becky is also a co-founder of OCD Georgia, which is an affiliate of the IOCDF. She was also a psychologist on the US TV show Hoarding for 60 episodes.

Dr Becky Beaton

I talked with Becky about many topics including hoarding, therapies for hoarding, how trauma affects OCD, dealing with anxiety around flying, getting motivated for therapy, the impact of stress on OCD, the importance of sleep, why conscious breathing is important, mindfulness and how to get started with it, medication, nutrition and exercise. 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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Peadophile OCD, Pure O, Sexual Orientation OCD

The OCD Rabbit Hole

For my friends, family and Kiwi girlfriend.

I have ‘Pure O’ OCD where the compulsions are more in your head and ‘mental’ as opposed to someone with contamination OCD where they will do ‘physical’ compulsions such as washing their hands and trying to control not getting contaminated from AIDS or Ebola. But to be honest as I have had OCD since I was a child (4-5 apparently.) I have gone through all the different types including (not in order): fears of black specks, contamination, washing hands, ‘Pure O’, fear of the numbers 13 and 666 (with plenty of horror movie references,) sexual and religious OCD. All the compulsions do, are re-enforce the OCD and that is where Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) helps.

With regards to the sexual OCD, it has gone through the’ OCD mill’ where the first worries with sexuality was when I was at boarding school and like most boys at the age of 13, there were many jokes about being gay. I recall one boy saying that “1 in 10 people are gay” so of course we all looked around to try and work out which one of us would end up gay if we weren’t already. I would look at Calvin Klein boxer adverts and worry that I was attracted to images of men with six packs. As I realised that being gay wasn’t an issue, it then went onto darker sides of the sexuality spectrum. It went onto bestiality at the age of 14-15 where I worried I might be attracted to animals. I had a weird dream at one point, which involved a sex act with a dog. This completely freaked me out where I then felt sick and actually cried. Looking back, it was disturbing but also amusing in how ridiculous it was. The bestiality fear tapped into my love of animals, where I have always been a massive fan of dogs and cats (not in a sexual way!)

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