Browsing Tag

Recovery

Podcast

UNSTUCK: A family that fights OCD together, beats OCD together

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In episode 81 I did my first face to face interview. UNSTUCK is a documentary about childhood OCD, with the unique angle of the kids as the experts. Kelly Anderson and Chris Baier started this project two years ago to shed some much needed light on how OCD affects children, and how they can recover. In this episode I chat with Chris, and his two daughters Vanessa and Charlotte.

UNSTUCK cast

I was touched by the bravery and intelligence of these two girls, and by Chris’ dedication to the advocacy of recovery from childhood OCD. We talk about the inspirations behind the documentary, the importance of showing a child’s hope not their desperation in the film, advice for parents to help their kids, advice to kids doing ERP, and advice on how siblings can help their brothers or sisters in recovery. 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

Taming Olivia

Please, please, please remember this… No matter how awful OCD feels for you now it can be managed, it can be treated and in many cases, it can be fully recovered from.

Hi, I’m Catherine, I’m 36 and I’ve lived with OCD for as long as I can remember.

It’s morphed and shape-shifted many times throughout my life and has also varied in severity and intensity.

I’ll briefly tell you about my experience before talking about the things that have really helped with my recovery – I ultimately want my story to be one of hope and encouragement.

My childhood was very much focussed on keeping my loved ones safe, it centred very heavily on external compulsions. I counted, checked… recounted and rechecked everything because I believed it would help keep my family safe.

I checked taps, switches, plug sockets, window latches, basically everything and anything. It was hugely time consuming. I also had to repeat things until they felt just right and at times it was very difficult for me to lead a normal life. There were times I was heavily reliant on others to do the simplest of tasks.

Apart from telling my boyfriend, who would go onto become my husband, I kept my OCD a secret until the age of about 25, when I told a few family members. I lived through those previous years in silence and with no mental health support at all.

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OCD

It started as a thought of hit and run

Once upon a time in a land not far enough away, a girl was minding her business when alarm bells started ringing…

My OCD really, probably started in childhood, but for the sake of time, I’ll say it became “real” last September.  I’d even consider it to be very mild in that my OCD episode lasted less than a week, and then it was gone.  My first experience with OCD was hit and run OCD.  I drove by a bicyclist, which is pretty common here in Western NC, and almost immediately, alarm bells started ringing.  Not literally, but also sort of literally.  I remember my brain telling me that I had to go back, that I had to make sure I didn’t hurt the guy, that I needed to check on him to make sure he was safe.  Of course, I told my brain that was ridiculous and I refused to turn around.  I mean, after all wouldn’t I know if I hit someone?  My anxiety and the alarm bells just kept getting worse the further I drove.  By the time I got home, my hands were shaking and I almost couldn’t breathe for the panic that was welling up inside of me.  The logical part of my brain thought if I checked the passenger-side of my car, and I didn’t see anything like dents or scratches, then that meant I didn’t hurt anyone.  So of course, I checked my car.  And wouldn’t you know it, there was a scratch that I didn’t remember being there before.  But really, how often does a person check their car for dents and scratches, especially on the passenger side?  My brain went to anxiety overdrive.  I remember walking into my house with what felt like a completely blank stare, because in my mind I had just hit someone and left the scene of an accident.  How could I tell my husband what I had done?  Or my parents or my friends? What would they think of me?  Would they think I was a monster?  What about the general public?  In my small mountain town, the community crucifies (not literally) anyone who would dare harm a bicyclist.  Would anyone believe me that I didn’t know I hit a person?  I was so wracked with guilt, shame, and anxiety, that I made myself sick.  I couldn’t eat anything, I couldn’t focus on my homework that was due that night, and I couldn’t sleep. I probably slept two hours.  Every time I closed my eyes, I kept replaying the scenario over and over in my head.  I was trying to find some proof that I didn’t hurt anyone.  I kept telling myself I know I didn’t hurt anyone, but my brain kept asking me “Are you sure?”  Of course, we can’t just click rewind on our lives to make sure we did or didn’t do something, so I gave in to it.  I couldn’t be sure I didn’t hit the bicyclist.  Although the anxiety subsided over the week, it was one of the scariest times in my life.  I couldn’t understand why I was having anxiety and panic attacks, seemingly out of the blue.  Of course, at the time, I didn’t know OCD was anything other than hand washing and/or counting.  My husband and I had only been married for a couple of weeks when this happened, and I kept forgetting to take the “just married” sticker off my car.  After this incident, I left that sticker on my car for a solid month, for fear that when the police inevitably showed up to throw me in jail, they might think it was suspicious that I removed something that could easily identify my car as the one in the accident.  I checked local news sources every day to see if someone had reported a hit and run.  I did this for about as long as I left the sticker on my car.  I did eventually stop thinking about the hit and run that never was.  Sometimes I can tell the story and be completely fine. Other times, my anxiety kicks and my OCD likes to ask “Are you really sure though?”.

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OCD

OCD Without Apology

Needles.

Hypodermic needles were my first fear.  The doctor’s office became home to my nightmares.  Sharp objects—knives, spears, and swords—became my first obsession.  My first compulsion was to hold a sharp object against my chin—GI Joe’s scuba knife, a Fort Apache spear, or Galahad’s tiny sword—grit my teeth, and count.

When I was 13, I needed a booster shot.  In the weeks before it happened, I developed a new obsession: glass.  I collected sharp pieces of glass from the roads and sidewalks.  I collected rusted bottle caps.  I collected sharp stones.  It had never occurred to me before, but what if a sliver of glass gets caught in a car tire, gradually sinks deeper and deeper into the tread, and finally causes a blowout on the freeway?  If I didn’t keep filling my coat pockets with the dirty little “hazards” I plucked from the ground, someone might die in a car accident.

When I was 19, I rolled out of a moving car and ran as fast and as far as I could.  It probably saved my life. If it hadn’t been for the two black eyes, the gravel embedded in my back, and the two painful head wounds beneath my bloody hair, I would not have recalled anything but a chilling scream.  I desperately wanted to remember more. I wanted to remember more when I panicked without reason and pulled my car to the side of the road, when I turned and chased the images that lurked along the dark edges of my brain, when I told the story of how I’d rolled out of a car and mysteriously wakened entangled in an electric fence.

I remembered being alone.

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Podcast

Mark Freeman – The Mind Workout

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In episode 75 I talk with Mark Freeman for the third time in the show’s history. Mark is a mental health author, coach and YouTuber. He is the co-founder of the blog everybodyhasabrain. Mark has just launched is new book “The mind workout”.

The Mind Workout

In this conversation with Mark we discuss getting into good mental shape, living with uncertainty, chemical imbalances, stigma, dealing with compulsions, training the brain to deal with urges by training it on ‘normal urges’, taking care of your mornings, motivation, setting goals, awareness bandwidth and the importance of values. 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

My disorder does not define me

My disorder does not define me and it shouldn’t define you either.

If you are reading this looking for a miracle cure for your anxiety or OCD, you can stop now.  This is not that kind of story.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that kind of story doesn’t exist in reality.  I should know.  I spent the better part of the last three years searching for it.  Instead, this is the story of my journey with OCD.  And while every individual’s story is going to be unique, it is my hope that by sharing I can help someone feel less alone in their struggles.

It was sometime in mid-April 2014.  I had just celebrated my 34th birthday.  The last few years had brought an incredible amount of joy into my life with the birth of my first daughter, a successful career as a teacher recently earning his master’s degree, a healthy social life, a loving wife, a nice home, and many hobbies to occupy my free time.  On the surface, I was living the life that that I had always dreamed of.  However, there were also some significant stressors that impacted me during those years. My mother and sister both survived bouts with cancer, my wife lost her job and was out of work for a few months, we had a pregnancy end in miscarriage, and my cousin died by suicide after a long battle with OCD.  Throughout all of these experiences, I kept moving forward, attempting to brush them off and never fully dealing with the emotions that came along with them.  In particular, my cousin’s death affected me in ways that I never allowed anyone else to see.  His OCD was something that I wasn’t aware of until his death.  However, I was no stranger to OCD myself.  On two separate occasions, after my wedding and the birth of our first daughter, I experienced bouts of intrusive thoughts significant enough to prompt me to research them and to determine that they might indicate a problem with obsessive compulsive disorder.  Fortunately, in both those instances, the thoughts subsided without causing any real interference with my day to day to life.
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Podcast

10 Things You Can Do This Week

Join the community and get Mark Freeman’s “10 things you can do this week (and next)” PDF. Click here >>

In episode 74 of the podcast I share two insights from Mark Freeman’s “10 things you can do this week (and next)” PDF. I talk about how changing your morning routine can help in recovery and how you can make your brain squirm. I share these insights and tell you how you can get a free copy. 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

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

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

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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