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Recovery

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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OCD

Taking OCD for a drive

OCD has been apart of my life since I can remember, but it wasn’t always apparent until I received my official diagnosis two summers ago and started to reflect on how it had affected me. In hopes of shedding light on the mental health stigma, I present my story to the OCD community.

Let’s call my OCD a creature. An elusive being; not one that slinks about unnoticed in the shadows, but not one that rears its head and cries for all to see. My OCD is a creature that merely sits on its haunches and waits for an opportunity to act. Unseen by many, it ponders carefully in the furled bracken of my mind- observing, adapting, and striking out to permeate into the physical world when the time comes. Barred back by reason, my creature claws tenaciously at the barriers my mind puts up in an effort to control the beast. But every so often, it breaks through. Every so often, my OCD takes hold of me.

As a six-year-old, my thoughts should have been a whirl of care-free illusions. However, it was then that my creature decided to forego this construct and lash out. Upon seeing something intriguing, my mind told me that if I wanted to remember it, I would have to stare at the image for no less than three seconds and say the phrase “Okay, now, good.” This compulsion is the earliest symptom of my OCD that I can accurately recall. If I did not perform this ritual, something would go wrong. Of course, my parents were unaware of this until I began my Cognitive-Based Therapy years later and revealed all the compulsions I had accumulated over the years. Eventually, my rituals and tics would evolve from psychological to physical as the creature grew over time and began to control my movements.

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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

At the age of 7

My OCD began to develop around the age of seven, around the time of my Grandmas death. I have always had a happy and fun family life, my parents have always worshiped me and my younger brother and I have very happy childhood memories. I have been very lucky with my upbringing as I have a very loving mother and father. I have always had a strong relationship with my Mum, she is my best friend and my main support network – she has been and always will be my rock. I can remember at a young age shouting down stairs to my mum and dad every night to make sure they were still there and that they were ok, even from being young I worried about my parents health and wellbeing.

My Grandma passed away before my younger brother was born. Back then it was just me, my mum and my dad, I have very faint memories of this but I am told that once my Grandma passed away I used to order the coats on the stairs every night. My mums would be at the bottom I presume so she was the safest, and then mine in the middle and my dad’s at the top protecting us. I have fond memories of Primary School, although there is one that sticks out. I must have been in the first year of school, I remember it was parents evening that night, so as you do you get your trays out ready for the parents to see your work when they arrive in the afternoon. I remember needing the toilet, I had my hand up as you do at the age asking for permission to leave my seat, the teacher at the time refused and asked me to wait, before I knew it I had an accident. I remember feeling so embarrassed and ashamed of myself, even at 9 years of age I was horrified. To make matters worse, I remember having to change into a P.E kit for the rest of the day. I cannot remember how quickly it developed but for a long time after this, I was obsessed with going to the toilet. Before leaving the house, I would go to the toilet at least 3 times to prevent this from ever happening to me again. It got to the point where I would sit on the toilet to just see if I needed to go, long car journeys with my parents meant frequent stops at service stations, in the end my Mum took me to see somebody about the problem and that is as far as I can remember. Looking back it is clear to me that it caused a lot of anxiety for me at the time, and I was trying to prevent the problem from happening by constantly going to the toilet. There is nothing else poignant for me that happened during this time. I remember being on holiday with my Mum, Dad and younger brother in Spain, and there was people on the streets selling drugs – whether or not this was due to anxiety I hated it – I remember thinking what if my dad took them? I remember shouting that I wanted to go home. I think it was at this point I started to develop fears of harm coming to my family.

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Podcast

Dr Fred Penzel – Succeeding in Your OCD Treatment

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In episode 116 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Dr Fred Penzel for the second time. Fred is a licensed psychologist; he is the executive director of Western Suffolk Psychological Services. He specialises in CBT for OCD, BDD, Trichotillomania and PTSD. Fred is a founding member of the International OCD Foundation and author of the book Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders: A Complete Guide to Getting Well and Staying Well”

Dr Fred Penzel

I talked with Fred about his article 25 tips to succeeding in your OCD treatment, including why to “Always expect the unexpected”,  “Remember that dealing with your symptoms is your responsibility alone”, how a parent, friend or loved one can handle reassurance seeking behaviours, “Remember that in OCD, the problem is not the anxiety — the problem is the compulsions”. Fred also answers some of your submitted questions. 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

80% happiness and 20% fleeting ‘what ifs’

My story starts off, probably somewhat different from most in that I hadn’t really experienced OCD at any stage in my childhood – anxiety, most definitely, but never OCD specifically that I can recall. I guess this is what made my journey of discovery that bit longer – I really had no idea what was happening or what was wrong with me.

I remember the moment so clearly – it was September 29th 2007, and I was sitting in Burger King with my boyfriend; we were both 19 and had just celebrated our one year anniversary a week earlier. Everything was perfect…perfect being the word that would ultimately come back and bite me in the ass.

I referred to a joke that I had heard earlier that week, and after reciting it back, I distinctly remember my boyfriend responding with a polite, yet quite insincere sounding ‘chuckle’ – you know the kind when you’re not really engaged in the conversation and offer that sort of response you think the other person wants to hear? We all do it. Except, when he did it, I had a thought…a jarring thought. And it went something like this:

He didn’t laugh at that joke

He really didn’t seem interested in what I was saying

What if he doesn’t find me interesting anymore?

What if this relationship isn’t right?

Oh god….

And so began my spiral into what would ultimately become 9 and a half years of utter despair and anxiety towards romantic relationships.

That moment changed me; however, I got through the rest of the meal. We said our goodbyes and I got on to the bus. Soon after I sat down, I experienced my first ever panic attack.

How could this be happening? How could I be having these doubts all of a sudden? Everything was FINE! Everything was PERFECT! Of course, this was only the beginning of a long road of scrutiny with my thoughts, and the next day I called in sick to work because I was so distraught. I mentioned it to my Mum, and of course, she didn’t really know where this was coming from either. But because I was only 19 and this was my first serious relationship (I think she secretly wanted me to get out and play the field more), she openly questioned the same thing…which of course set me off even more. I started confiding in friends and other family members, begging for help. “It’ll pass” most of them said.

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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

Podcast

Catherine Benfield – Perinatal and Postnatal OCD

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In episode 114 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Catherine Benfield. Catherine runs the blog Taming Olivia, where she blogs about her experiences with OCD, focusing on perinatal and postnatal OCD.

Catherine Benfield

I chatted with Catherine about her OCD story, the content of her intrusive thoughts, intrusive impulses, how to encourage your loved one to seek help, Recovery: Medication, CBT, ERP. We also discuss the importance of self-love, self-compassion and self-care in recovery. We discuss some ideas of what to do if you are afraid of having a kid because of OCD, how to keep a healthy lifestyle which can be important for mental health when you have a kid, overcoming roadblocks in recovery, her blog Taming Olivia, and what Catherine wish she would have known at the start of recovery. 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

Dr Jonathan Grayson – Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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In episode 113 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

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