Browsing Tag

Recovery

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

Get exclusive podcasts and content by becoming a member of the podcast find out more here >>

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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Podcast

Story: Lillie Fergus

In episode 112 I interviewed Lillie Fergus about her OCD story. This is the first episode in the new story series of the show. Where I will interview people with OCD monthly to share their story, and find out about their recovery. 

Lillie

In this episode with Lillie we discuss her OCD story, OCD running in her family, existential obsessions, recovery – ERP therapy, how to stay motivated to do ERP homework, dealing with uncertainty, how meditation has been useful for Lillie, dealing with roadblocks in recovery, breaking down stigma, her advice for people starting their OCD recovery, dealing with anxiety, and why it’s important to keep learning 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

My still “undiagnosed” OCD story

I know things will only get better, even though right now as I’m typing these words in my computer my brain is telling me, “are you sure about that?”

I consider my childhood a very happy one, always smiling, happy to have a family that was very stable.  I always admired my parent’s relationship growing up, and would pray that one-day I’ll marry someone like my dad and have a happy life. When I turned 13 I started liking boys my age, there were many guys who were impossible to get and I would pray (no joking when I said praying) every night so they can notice me, but the minute they would start showing interest in me I would immediately feel not attracted to them. My mind would immediately start thinking, “his nose is big, his head is big, and his shoes are old and things like that. I never saw this as an issue, I just thought I was being an adolescent and being immature was part of it.  I began dating this guy who was a really good guy, but I always felt like I was never “in love” with him, because I didn’t feel those butterflies and things I used to feel with the guys that were not interested in me, we became really good friends and I decided to give him a chance. We were young and I knew I was leaving the country in a couple years, so anxiety and obsessional thinking was never an issue because I had an “exit door”. We dated for 3 years and to be completely honest it has been the best relationship I have ever had.  We eventually broke up because I moved to the U.S.

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OCD

The one you should keep

I’m thankful for my therapist, for the SSRI that has given my inner voice enough power to be louder than the doubt

I remember the day exactly. March 12th. It was a wonderful day. I spent the day doing what I love, which at the time was fashion photography. I went home that night, and laid myself down to sleep for what I would now know as my last night of peace. I spent the night tossing and turning, only to realize that my heart seemed to be beating faster than normal. Strange? It was 10pm and I’ve never not been able to sleep before. I sent my older sister a text, and asked her if she ever couldn’t fall asleep because her heart was beating so fast.

Her response shook me. “All the time. You’re having a panic attack.”

A what?

The next three months were excruciating. How could I go my whole life not experiencing this, living such a normal life, now not being able to even take a full breath. I enrolled myself into therapy, and met my current therapist. We talked about my ability to be impressionable when it came to hearing others anxiety stories. Of course I was feeling that way, I was lost in this whole new world of fear and panic. How do I know what to expect? What to believe? She then spoke the sentence that spiralled me into the onset of my OCD.

“Maybe you just need to find yourself?

Words from a therapist you never want to hear. Words from a therapist, or from anyone in general, almost certain to cause a identity crisis in someone in their early twenties. I went home and carried on with my usual daily tasks. Cleaning up after myself, and picking up the stuffing from my dogs favourite toys. I went to grab the laundry out of the dryer and I thought to myself, “What if I have to leave my boyfriend in order to find myself?”
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Podcast

Dr Elizabeth McIngvale – Peace of Mind

In episode 104 I interviewed Dr Elizabeth McIngvale. Liz is the founder of the not for profit Peace of Mind foundation which is dedicated to serving the OCD community. She has a Phd in social work and is assistant professor at Baylor university. At the age of 17 she became the national spokesperson for the international OCD foundation.

Dr Elizabeth McIngvale

In this episode Liz shares her OCD Story, how she deals with OCD, how her view of ERP has changed in the last 5 years, lifestyle changes, her ‘live with Liz’ Facebook chats, the Peace of Mind foundation, the OCD challenge course, technology and OCD, and breaking down stigma. 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

The illness that haunted my life

You can be whole again. You can live an amazing life. I promise.

My name is Lillie, and I, just like most who are likely reading this, am on my journey of recovery from OCD. And it’s been quite the journey, to say the least. OCD has been the fight for fucking my life, but I’ll get into that later. I realize that this illness has followed me and haunted me for my entire life, but it wasn’t until much later that I realized what it was.

When I was a young child, I had a loving family, all of my needs met, went to the best schools in my city, and my life was seemingly the “ideal childhood.” Except, I always had a nagging feeling like something was wrong with me. Even as young as 4 or 5 years old, and probably even before that. I felt like I was an outsider looking in with my peers. Things bothered me that didn’t bother anyone else. I just, for lack of a better term, didn’t feel right. I felt like I didn’t belong and despite being an outgoing and extroverted child, I couldn’t shake that something about me was different.  I worried more than the average child and was very meticulous…about everything. I was obsessive and impulsive (and compulsive, obviously). I was told that “I cared way too much” and “bothered by things that aren’t worth being bothered by” by teachers and peers. Kind, I know. Everything had to be “right” or else I would have a full blown meltdown. For example, I would arrange Barbie Dolls, Polly Pockets, and American Girl Dolls in a very particular way and my older brother would move them around just to be annoying and I would have a MELTDOWN. I mean, a screaming and crying meltdown. At my fourth birthday party, everyone was walking in and out of my room and touching my things. I was in full-blown panic, meltdown mode. I would write and rewrite things over and over and over and over again until they were “perfect.” I would count and recount things over and over until it was “right.” I never got a damn thing done in school. Ever. Homework was such a source of anxiety. In early high school, I sat in the lobby of the athletic building after school with a piece of my friend’s schoolwork who had beautiful handwriting, and wrote and rewrote words, until I had brand new handwriting because I thought mine wasn’t perfect enough. Test taking was just…hellish. I was, without fail, always the last person to finish a test, and not for lack of knowledge. “Am I doing this wrong?” “I need to have perfect handwriting.” “I have to erase all of this and rewrite it.” “I’m going to fail out of high school and end up on the street and just die.” “How do I get out of taking this test because I’m going to fail it.” And because of my OCD, my grades did suffer. They didn’t suffer drastically by any stretch of the imagination, and I would somehow make it onto my school’s Honor Roll each semester; but, since my grades were not all A+’s, I developed more anxiety around school. I was a serial procrastinator because I didn’t want to feel the anxiety of doing schoolwork, but had to get the work done eventually, so I also didn’t sleep. I was what some like to call, a vicious cycle. I’m not quite sure how I made it out of high school alive, and I’m not being dramatic.

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OCD

OCD: Collapse and Rebuilding

Change can, of course, lead to anxiety. But perhaps it’s challenging yourself to face this, to be open to the world and all it has to offer, that also opens you to the beauty and variety of a deeply fulfilling life.

I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder at eleven years old, but while it was then I was first offered a label for some aspects of my thought processes and behaviour, it would be some years later, as a young adult, that I finally feel I developed an understanding and insight into the depth and variety of my obsessive compulsive tendencies, and how they had come to affect my life.

In life, we often find ourselves pushing beyond our comfort zones, and as a result, we may experience anxiety in the face of uncertainty and the unknown. To feel anxious is innately human; to feel anxious over decisions we’ve made, to feel anxious about the past and future. While closely intertwined and co-morbid with anxiety in a general sense, OCD is a separate diagnosis. As a condition, it is dichotomous; on one hand, a recognisable pattern of thoughts and actions feeding into one another in an identifiable obsessive-compulsive spiral, on the other, a nebulous concept, with obsessions and compulsions varying enormously for each individual sufferer.

Obsessions may be generalised as ideas relating to harm or misfortune befalling the sufferer or people around them. It is key to remember that obsessions are not indicative of a person’s desires, nor are they indicative of a way a person wishes to act. Everybody, at some point in their lives, will experience ‘ego-dystonic’ intrusive thoughts, or thoughts which are alien to their sense of self and personality. A conscientious driver may have a fleeting thought about swerving his car into an oncoming vehicle or upcoming pedestrian; a person who prizes themselves on being calm and collected may experience a sudden thought about acting in an aggressive or violent way towards somebody; a person manoeuvring to avoid entering somebody’s personal space on the street may suddenly have an intrusive thought about groping or touching the other person in a sexually inappropriate way; a person waiting behind another on a station platform may have a sudden mental image of pushing the bystander into an oncoming train.

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