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Recovery

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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OCD

On The Road To Recovery

But with the right help and support I know I can get better.

I was always been a different child, I obsessed over a lot of things that other kids wouldn’t. I believed that if I didn’t pray a certain amount of times, someone I loved would die. This was scary to deal with at such a young age. I would obsess over things and get worked up about things. Eventually my OCD grew, it manifested itself into everything in my life. As I started high school my OCD got unbearable. It took up my life I couldn’t function normally, I couldn’t even walk into a room without my mind telling me “don’t go in that room or someone will get hurt”. Things that I used to love became meaningless, I didn’t find joy from anything anymore.

I started going to therapy and soon started CBT. It was hard at first to open up to someone and let them know about my thoughts. I struggle with intrusive thoughts, these thoughts are so real to me sometimes I can’t tell what’s real and what’s in my mind. These thoughts revolve around harming people I love. I believed that once I had this thought it would come true. This is so scary for me because I take responsibility for everything. I started self harming because I felt worthless, like I needed to punish myself for being a bad person. I got sent away to a psychiatric hospital when I was 14, this was so scary. I didn’t like it at all, I felt alone and my self harm got worse after being in hospital. I ended up being discharged from hospital as they believed it wasn’t the right environment for me.

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Podcast

Liz Atkin – From Compulsive Skin Picking to Compulsive Charcoal

In episode 60 of the podcast I interviewed Liz AtkinLiz is an award winning visual artist and mental health advocate. She is known for her free 1 minute compulsive charcoal drawings. These drawings are inspired by and as a coping mechanism from compulsive skin picking, also known as dermatillomania.

Liz AtkinCharcoal Drawings

 I had a good chat with Liz about compulsive skin picking. She shared how she has transferred the energy of skin picking into art, how her drawings act as randoms acts of kindness for strangers. She talks about how art can be an conversation starter for both awareness of the condition and helping others who live with other conditions. Liz shares some tips for stopping skin picking, and offers some good advice for living an amazing live. Enjoy!

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Podcast

Storytime – My Road To Recovery

It’s storytime… Hillary shares her OCD story with us. Hillary talks about her harm obsessions, and offers in a candid and hopeful way how she started her recovery. 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 Hillary’s story: My Road To Recovery.

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

OCD

From OCD To University

Just know that you are not alone and you will be able to live a very happy life!

It all started when I was 15 and suddenly I realized I was living with rituals and having very horrible thoughts about my family. I have had a feeling of anxiety all my life since I was 7 years old. I remember having a nightmare and the monster from that nightmare pursued me my whole life until I turned 17. I remember having terrible thoughts of death because I was sure that one day this monster was going to hurt me. So when I was 15 I realized I was living in a cage. I was doing rituals for 20 minutes before bedtime and in the morning before school. I had contamination OCD as well. I remember myself hating everybody and having no desire to be anywhere but at home. Home was the only safe place for me to stay and when I was 16 I didn’t even have the strength to go to school and I was sure that I would not be able to enter university with my anxiety.

My OCD was associated with the protection of my family and I from danger. I was checking the doors, going up the stairs, turning off the light in a certain way, I was washing my hands many many times a day. After that I started doing rituals even at school because of my fear to communicate with others. I was like an actress and I was always playing a role of the ‘happy girl’ who has no problems. Weekends were the only days when I never left the house and did rituals so I was the happiest person in the world.

I was depressed for about 2 months and could not find purpose in life. I was so scared. I was faking illness to stay at home and could spend 7 minutes to put a blouse ‘right’.

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Podcast

Discovery not recovery

In episode 50 of The OCD Stories podcast I discuss the concept of discovery in OCD recovery. I came across the idea while studying for an exam. I wanted to share it with you and unpack the concept to help you live your best life.

Recovery is possible

This is the 50th episode which I never thought I’d get to. Thanks for your support, and I hope the podcast and website has been of service to you. 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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Harm OCD, Pure O

My Pure O and Harm OCD Story

She has confirmed to me time and time again that no one in the history of OCD has ever actually acted on these intrusive thoughts

Like many, my OCD reared it’s ugly head when I was a teenager in the form of Pure O, or harm OCD.  At the time I had no idea what OCD was, there certainly was no Google back then, and sincerely thought I was losing my mind.  I certainly didn’t want to talk to anyone about the intrusive thoughts so I kept the torment to myself. I remember in the late 80s being in our kitchen with the Phil Donahue show playing on the tv and only half listening until I realized there were people on this show discussing exactly what I was going through.  It was like an elephant being lifted off my chest and I cried many tears of relief as I listened to other stories and finally understood what I had was just a horrible condition that affected many.

I have thought at the worst times that I would rather have terminal cancer than this disorder, because at least only myself would have the chance of being harmed in that scenario.  The cruelty of this illness seems to me to be one of the worst illnesses that can affect a human, but I know there is hope in the form of reaching out for help.

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