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Recovery

OCD

Learning to give thoughts less attention

To this day I still get Intrusive Thoughts, but I’ve learnt to pay them less attention

We all have them – little explosions in our minds catching us off guard. Thoughts that are out of character, unusual, maybe even a little disturbing, “Where did that come from?” We ask.

Estimates vary, but the average person has between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts a day. Our minds are complex beasts and it can feel like we’re at the mercy of some of these thoughts. We’re not good at controlling our minds either; a familiar test – for the next minute you’re not allowed to think of a big pink elephant no matter what. Go… Wasn’t easy was it? And that’s what OCD Intrusive Thoughts can be like. When your mind fixates on a thought or a particular idea and just won’t stop going over it. It’s beyond your control. It’s in control of you – at least that’s how it can feel.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was fairly well portrayed by Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets. His character, Melvin Udall, had to bring his own plastic cutlery to a restaurant because of a fear of germs and has to use a new bar of soap each time he washes his hands. Hand washing, flicking light switches, counting, avoiding cracks in the pavement… These are almost anecdotal ways that OCD presents itself. Certainly not to be downplayed, for sufferers at the mild or extreme end of the spectrum, these obsessions and compulsions can be one of the most horrible experiences to go through. According to the charity OCD UK, the World Health Organisation has listed OCD as one of the top ten most disabling illnesses of any kind, in terms of lost earnings and diminished quality of life.

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Podcast

Sheva Rajaee – OCD and anxiety in the age of information

This week’s episode is sponsored by The Gateway Institute. They have locations in Orange County, San Francisco and Phoenix. Find out more here – GatewayOCD.com 

In episode 86 I interviewed Sheva Rajaee. Sheva is a psychotherapist at the OCD Center of Los Angeles. Sheva specializes in the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other related anxiety disorders. Sheva recently did a Ted Talk called “Addicted to the answer – anxiety in the age of information”.

Sheva Rajaee

In this episode I had a great chat with Sheva about many topics. We discussed the importance of giving yourself permission to have what you need, mindfulness, sleep, exercise and alone time. How increased access to information can cause anxiety, going on an information diet and learning to watch emotions until the urge decreases. We also discussed living with uncertainty, turning pain into growth, gratitude practices and dealing with intrusive thoughts. 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

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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Podcast

Beyond the doubt course – Jeff Bell and Shala Nicely

Get 25% off Jeff and Shala’s course exclusive for The OCD Stories listeners: Find out more >> 

In episode 85 I interviewed Jeff Bell and Shala nicely about their online course Thriving with OCD: four keys out when locked in doubt.

Beyond The Doubt

I enjoyed my chat with Jeff and Shala as always. We talk about navigating life with OCD, the art of making belief, their triple A attitude: appreciaton, authenticity and abundance. We talked about mindset, being driven by purpose and service, and how surrendering can help 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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Podcast

CHRISSIE HODGES – PURE O (PART 2)

In episode 84 I interviewed Chrissie Hodges as a part two. You can find part one of the interview here – Chrissie Hodges Pure O (Part One). Chrissie is a Mental Health Advocate & Public Speaker, Peer Support Coach, Author of ‘Pure OCD: The Invisible Side of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder’. Chrissie was awarded the Hero award at the 24th IOCDF conference in San Fran and is a global ambassador for the Shaw Mind Foundation.

Chrissie Hodges

I had another fun and insightful chat with Chrissie. We discussed many topics including dealing with anger, dealing with people who say “I’m so OCD”, not taking on other peoples thoughts and self care. We also talked about peer support, processing guilt, speaking out about your theme, visualisation, finding what you enjoy, finding out who you are, medical and emotional recovery. Enjoy!

Recovery is fluid, recovery is possible” – Chrissie Hodges


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

Chrissie Hodges – Pure O (Part 1)

Ep83 is sponsored by theocdclinics.com (Locations: Dallas Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio/Austin metro areas)

In episode 83 I interviewed Chrissie Hodges. Chrissie is a Mental Health Advocate & Public Speaker, Peer Support Coach, Author of ‘Pure OCD: The Invisible Side of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder’. Chrissie was awarded the Hero award at the 24th IOCDF conference in San Fran and is a global ambassador for the Shaw Mind Foundation.

Chrissie Hodges

I had a fun and insightful chat with Chrissie. We covered topics such as dealing with personal stigma, Pure O, talking about sexual and violent intrusive thoughts, depression, supports in recovery: exercise, talking with peers and self awareness, using the term Pure O, dealing with an identity crisis, being able to forgive yourself – it’s not your fault, memories, suffering is suffering, and being kind to yourself. 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

Help, hope and healing

So from my own experience I can confidently say that there is freedom from the mental prison that OCD can lock you in

It all started on the last day of 4th grade when a classmate accidentally sprayed 409 cleaning solution in my mouth. Or at least I imagined it was sprayed in my mouth. Either way, it was the starting point of my lifelong journey with OCD. That afternoon I was terrified that I would get sick, and thus began my obsessive fear of getting sick which would shape the following years of my life in extreme ways.

Soon I started obsessing over anything that could potentially make me sick. In 6th grade, I really hit my low point. My obsessive fear began to literally control my life. I had such high anxiety about getting sick that I would give in to compulsions that would temporarily relieve my worries. I felt compelled check and re-re-re-re-check things, to count to a certain (and ever increasing) number, to repeat words and phrases, to touch certain things- the light switch, the couch, the desk, the door knob, the table, the list goes on. But not only did I have to touch them, I had to in a certain order and a certain number of times, and the worst part was if I messed up, I had to start all over until everything was done “just right”. Everything was a struggle because I had developed such an intensive routine that I dreaded even having to begin my endless rituals. Eventually, things were so bad that I was pulled from school. My days were a blur, stuck in the prison of my own mind. At one point, I even said that I wanted to die.

My turning point came in the midst of this storm when my Mom found a pamphlet about OCD at our church and told my mom, “This is her.” I thank God that she picked up that pamphlet because it was the first step on a long and very difficult battle of overcoming OCD. Thankfully, this awareness led me to become connected with a great counselor who helped me to step-by-step stop giving in to my obsessive fears.

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OCD

Punching OCD in the face

It doesn’t have to control you, you can be free.

I’m Chelsea and I’ve been living with OCD since as early as I can remember. My earliest memory of OCD was being in my room, I was probably three, and I’m having an image of a dog attacking me repeated over and over in my mind making it impossible for me to sleep. My OCD grew and changed with me as I got older, but because it was only intrusive images and no obvious physical compulsions it was hard to identify until was 30 years old! 30 years of living with OCD with no help… until this year. This has been a transformational year for me, to say the least, and I’m excited to share my story with you.

So as I was saying, my OCD changed with me as I got older. Since I was about seven I had an ongoing obsessive image of someone stabbing me at night when I was trying to sleep. I would check under the bed and in my closets multiple times a night to see if anyone was there. Every night I had to sleep with the light on and most nights I ended up in my parents bedroom because I couldn’t sleep.

When I was in my senior year of high school I had images of a tsunami hitting Long Island, where I’m from, every night. I would try to fall asleep but my OCD would start and I’d have to turn on the TV to see if there was news of a tsunami hitting Long Island. I remember knowing it was not a real fear but it felt so real to me that I had to check! I’d run outside at night to listen to see if I could hear a tsunami coming toward my house only to come inside and still feel unsettled. 

I went to college, specifically in an area that wouldn’t be impacted by a tsunami, and pushed myself hard, graduated, became a producer but kept finding myself in relationships that were unhealthy for me. I was attracted to people and situations that were dramatic and hard, and let’s be honest, I was a drama queen! But drama was a good distraction for me. I drank a lot, smoked way too much weed and was living as far from the moment as I could because the moment was way too scary. 

About a year ago I broke up with a boyfriend and started realizing I had not found a relationship that was good for me because I had not really figured out what was going on inside me. I was running and hiding from something I didn’t want to listen to. My OCD about a year ago was terrible. I was probably drinking 5-7 nights a week and smoking about everyday just to escape reality, or the reality that I thought was real. The images were terrible, they could be triggered by a horror film or a scary idea and they could ruin full days of my life. 

It wasn’t until I was listening to a friends mental health podcast, Call Us Crazy, that I realized I had OCD. It was my ah-ha moment and I was so excited. I compulsively researched OCD (typical) and immediately felt less alone. All of these scary thoughts that had been haunting me were experienced by tons of other people to! And the best news was there was help. Mt. Sinai’s OCD program seemed like the best so I called them the next day. Talia, the Clinical Research Coordinator, heard my story and was so kind and helped get me into the program as soon as possible.

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Podcast

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

Help me reach more people with the podcast by leaving a review on iTunes, click here >

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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