OCD

It wasn’t easy but I could feel myself getting better

Looking back on my life there are times when I don’t remember my OCD – though it was there, I just don’t carry those memories – and others when my OCD experiences are the only memories I have. There are two periods in my life that I would say are the most relevant to my story of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

The first was when it all started when I was 10 years old. I guess a lot happened all at once in my family: we moved house, my Mum went back to work, I started a new school. My Mum had to go into hospital and I worried (incorrectly) that it was my fault. That’s when it all started, all at once. Most of my thoughts revolved around keeping my family safe and healthy. I was unsure and afraid and I was looking for some way to gain certainty and control. I had compulsions both mental and physical that I would feel compelled to perform and I was convinced those rituals were the sole thing keeping my family out of harms way. The only time theses thoughts were almost bearable was when we were all at home, together. Safely, healthily. I still had rituals to carry out but they lacked that same sense of urgency I felt when we were apart.

The mental compulsions made it hard to focus during school and to have a conversation when trying to make friends and the physical compulsions made it hard to take part in my dance classes which I loved and again, when you’re at a new school and you don’t know anyone, hard to make friends. I don’t remember ever being made fun of but I know that the other kids, even the teachers and other parents, even my parents, would have thought that I was weird. One of my “things” was that I would go about my day with one of my hands (preferably my dominant hand) completely flexed. Which was obviously incredibly physically restricting, but also very mentally draining as it required so much focus to keep my hand so tightly stretched. In OCDs all to familiar way, the hand stretching provided temporary relief and at the same time induced so much more anxiety which came when I had to swap hands or if my mind strayed from the thought of flexing as I worried incessantly about whether or not there was a brief second where my hand wasn’t stretched and what the repercussions might be. The hand flexing was just one on a long list of compulsions, which seemingly took over my life overnight. Too be honest I don’t know how I did manage to learn anything at school, make any new friends or continue competitive dancing back then. My mind was constantly preoccupied with monitoring my hand and I don’t know how my head had any room for anything else. I would avoid certain activities which I couldn’t do with my stretched hand or I would participate while juggling the constant distraction and feared consequences of a slip. An outsider looking at me would have thought I was fine, perhaps labelling my behaviour of avoidance and distraction as laziness or self absorption but inside I was frantically clinging, believing I was looking after the health and safety of not just myself but the three people I loved most. Each day that I ritualised, I was attempting to gain certainty and in exchange, bargaining away more and more of my mental health.

Continue Reading

Podcast

Kimberley Quinlan – It’s a beautiful day to do hard things

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

In episode 133 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Kimberley Quinlan. Kimberley is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who treats people with OCD and related disorders, Eating Disorders and Body Focused Repetitive Disorders. She runs her own podcast called Your Anxiety Toolkit, and is a former guest of the show.

Kimberley Quinlan

In this episode I chat with Kimberley about how OCD can affect people’s sex lives, giving yourself permission to be imperfect, why it’s a beautiful day to do hard things, social anxiety, honouring your pain, self-love and much much more. 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!

Continue Reading

OCD

Reflections on Relapse

I am currently working my way through what could be called an OCD relapse.

For the last few years I’ve felt a steadily increasing sense of wellness and confidence. My ability to interrupt my obsessions and compulsions has grown, and I’ve felt more and more at home in my body, my life, and even my mind. I’ve been practicing Exposure Response Prevention techniques, mindfulness meditation, and lots of movement forms. I felt like I was beginning to move beyond my OCD as a defining feature of my life.

And then, seemingly out of the blue, a wave of turbulent OCD thoughts, behaviors, fears, and intense anxiety overwhelmed me. I unraveled. I felt right back at square one, and like I had to basically start over. It was a huge struggle just to get through each day. I was devastated. It had felt so good to be expanding beyond my fear and mental vigilance. And now that state of expansion felt a million miles away.

And this has happened before. Many times. Periods of expansion and strengthening have given way to sudden OCD relapses over and over. And each time it’s happened, I feel like I’ve done something wrong.

Part of that feeling of wrong seems to be the OCD talking, as my particular obsessions are all about how I’ve done the worst thing imaginable and will be punished for it—usually after death. That part of the feeling of “wrong” I’m going to label as my OCD thought and not engage with it. But there’s another side to the feelings that the relapses are my fault. This side has to do with how I understand growth over the long-term in living with this disorder.

Continue Reading

Podcast

Story: Solome Tibebu (Anxiety in Teens)

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

In episode 132 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Solome Tibebu. Solome shares her OCD story, and her initiative Anxiety in Teens

Solome Tibebu

In this episode I chat with Solome about her OCD story, the importance of psycho-education, running to help manage anxiety, advocating for mental health awareness, relapses – led to increased resilience, how parents can help support their children, and her initiative Anxiety in Teens. 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!

Continue Reading

Podcast

Sheva Rajaee – Some questions can’t be answered

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

In episode 131 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Sheva Rajaee. Sheva is a psychotherapist who specializes in the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other related anxiety disorders. Sheva did a Ted Talk called “Addicted to the answer – anxiety in the age of information“ which made up the core of our first podcast together.

Sheva Rajaee

In this episode I chat with Sheva about her OCD story, superstition in relation to OCD, avoidance, acceptance around unanswered questions, why the two words “So What” are the most powerful in the treatment of anxiety disorders, meditation, and much much more. 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!

Continue Reading

Podcast

Dr Jonathan Abramowitz – Living the CBT lifestyle

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

In episode 130 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Dr Jonathan Abramowitz. Jonathan is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Chapel Hill, NC specializing in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). He is also Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina. Jonathan has written two self-help books and published over 250 scientific articles, books, and book chapters.

Jonathan Abramowitz

In this episode I chat with Jon about mini-rituals, the openness scale, tracking and monitoring compulsions, what to do if ERP doesn’t seem to be working, living the CBT lifestyle, ACT supporting ERP, ACT metaphors and much much more. 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!

Continue Reading

Podcast

Dr Jenny Yip – OCD Treatment

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

In episode 129 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Dr Jenny Yip. Jenny is a clinical psychologist who specilises in OCD and anxiety. Jenny runs the Renewed freedom center based in Los Angeles. She is also a clinical advisor to the nOCD app, and author of the book Productive, Successful YOU! : End Procrastination by Making Anxiety Work for You Rather Than Against You.

Dr. Jenny Yip

In this episode I chat with Jenny about her OCD story including postpartum OCD, how OCD fears are unique to each person, exercise and meditation – mindful walks/yoga, the importance of a patients belief in the process of therapy, involving the family in treatment so that the standards in therapy are maintained in the home i.e. no reassurance seeking, parents being role models for living with discomfort i.e. refusing to play into compulsions, reducing the amount we use our phones, and much much more. 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!

Continue Reading