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About snowbear

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  1. I agree that it's tricky sometimes. Reading a forum post is very different to being in the same room as someone where there are visual clues and a greater ability to judge mood and state of mind. All we have to go on is what is written, any previous knowledge of the person, and our gut instincts. It can be difficult (or impossible) to be certain if the person is letting off steam, making a cry for help, or genuinely suicidal. In a single person it might vary from day to day, or even from one post to the next as their environment changes, or as thoughts intensify and wane. For anyone unsure how to react to a post about self harm, rule number one is put your own mental health first, second and third. Remember there is no obligation to answer any post on the forum and there's no shame in leaving a post for someone else to answer if you're feeling unsettled in yourself at the time or if a particular post makes you uneasy. There will always be someone else along shortly who is feeling well and strong that day and for whom answering is just like posting any other reply. Nobody should be burdened by a sense of responsibility or guilt (something many people with OCD experience) whether they choose to reply or to skip it entirely. If unsure whether the person is genuinely suicidal, it's ok to ask them. Discussing suicidal thoughts doesn't tip people into acting and often the opposite is true. Bottling up feelings can lead to a worse outcome than talking openly about what's going through your mind. If you do decide to reply to a post about self harm, rule two is to go with your gut instinct. Be kind, be honest, and if you feel concern in response to what they've written, share the fact you're concerned with them and advise them to seek help from a local source such as a mental health crisis team, Samaritans, an A&E department, or a doctor on call (NHS 111 in England, NHS Wales Direct, or NHS 24 in Scotland), or even a family member. Being stuck on the other end of a written internet connection with no personal details can feel very dis-empowering. Encourage the poster to make contact with a flesh and blood person or a warm voice on the end of the phone. This is hugely important. You can't physically do anything on the forum other than offer words of comfort or advice, but people are much less likely to self harm if they aren't alone. If your gut instinct sees something between the lines which suggests the person is simply ruminating on a suicidal theme, or has a different agenda (some examples might be a cry for help, attention seeking, no intent but confused and unable to articulate more specifically how they really feel or what help it is they are seeking etc...) then it's ok to ask if your instincts are correct or off-base. As long as you word your reply with due consideration for a person who is in a state of acute distress then you won't cause any harm, and reaching out with a calm and reasoned response might help the person to calm themselves. Hope that gives people some guidelines to follow and perhaps some confidence whether to reply or leave the post alone depending on what they feel is right for themselves at the time.
  2. It shouldn't matter what the theme is, or if the theme changes a million times over. CBT isn't aimed at tackling any particular theme, but at changing the thinking processes that result in OCD symptoms. Are you perhaps trying to deal with the theme each time and missing the true therapy message? Can you see a pattern in your thinking, a common thread linking all your themes? It's that pattern of thinking behaviour you need to tackle. Something which perhaps needs to be said on the forum more often is ... there isn't any medication specifically developed or tailored to treat OCD. Anti-depressants and anti-psychotics get used because doctors have nothing more specific to prescribe. Perhaps we should be surprised these drugs occasionally have a beneficial effect rather than disappointed when they don't help. It's also not a surprise they need to be prescribed at higher than normal doses for OCD ('Hey, the hammer can't crack the nut, let's throw a sledgehammer at it.') For some people medication does have an effect, but the principle of it is using a familiar tool with brute force rather than using the right tool for the job. There's research being done to find a drug designed to treat OCD, but meanwhile if you've tried what's available without success consider simply leaving the drug option alone. It strikes me that in spite of all the therapy you've been exposed to you're somehow missing the take home message of CBT. Perhaps you should be reviewing why that avenue hasn't worked for you when it's known to be the right treatment. Is it the way it's been presented to you, or that you're not listening to what's being said? Maybe it's been too heavily biased towards ERP and not tackled the necessary shift in thinking behaviour and beliefs. We can only guess at why so much intensive CBT hasn't helped, but don't despair. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh pair of eyes and a therapist with a different way of wording the message so you 'get it' and start to make progress.
  3. Hey folks, Everybody has had their say and a chance to reply. Lets end it there and get back on track to discussing Stopplease's Nitnendo switch concern, please.
  4. Hi jmg, I'm sorry you didn't get the advice you were seeking before. Perhaps that's because you're asking a question which is difficult to answer without knowing your daughter. The simple answer is that OCD has nothing to do with violent behaviour. Violence is not a symptom of OCD. However, for someone who is very entrenched in their OCD thinking challenging the rituals and compulsions is perceived as a severe threat to their well-being, even their survival, and it's not unusual for the survival instinct to be expressed as verbal or physical aggression. You and I would fight physically if we felt our life was at stake too. Some young people are aggressive because they feel threatened, some are aggressive because they lack boundaries of behaviour, some are aggressive because their role models typically act aggressively when challenged. There's no single reason that covers everybody. You've already mentioned that you think it might be a fear reaction and I agree that seems most likely in the circumstances. I think it's unlikely she'll deliberately hurt herself or someone else when reacting violently, but I can't say the potential isn't there as I don't know your daughter's personality or temperament the way you do. You mentioned that her behaviour scares you, partly because it's out of character and partly from the violence itself. I think what matters is managing the behaviour as calmly as possible and for the parent to retain control of the situation at all times. You should be able to get some help on specific ways to do that from the CAHMS team, or it may be worth investing in a parenting book on managing challenging behaviour in kids. (There are several good ones available on Amazon, just google it.) It can be very frightening to be faced with someone acting violently, but as much as possible try to react as you would to a bully - show no fear and stand up to her without becoming verbally or physically aggressive yourself. Refuse to be intimidated. Time out is always useful, so as part of parents taking control consider setting up a quiet space where she can be alone to breathe, relax and calm down. You may need to agree she can return to finish the ritual later when she's calmer. Remember the idea of this time out is simply to defuse the situation, reduce aggression and therefore prevent injury, not to stop her from engaging in rituals or punish her for trying. Once she's calmer, even if she does decide to complete the ritual, it should be a less unpleasant affair for all concerned. Later you can work on challenging the need to do rituals with what she has learned in CBT. CBT cannot be applied successfully while she is distressed and reacting aggressively. Hope that's of some use to you.
  5. Hi Kc, Thanks for sharing the update and your insights on how 'force' can and can't be used in this age group - very useful to know. Hopefully quite a lot will be different this hospital stay with the hospital's own OCD programme and liaison with the national team during her stay. But if those don't convince her there is another variable you can add to the list - herself. She's different, she's older, maturing, more able to understand her own role in getting well. This aspect of her involvement as part of the process rather than a passive recipient of treatment can (and should) be explained to her. Whether she chooses to use that power for benefit to help herself or uses it to dig her heels in and stay stuck is up to her - let's just hope she's willing to put it to good use!
  6. CBT will teach you the fundamental principle : how you think and behave influences how you feel. So what you choose to spend time thinking about matters. Whether you're aware of it or not, when you have negative thoughts and feelings going round your head you are choosing to spend time on those thoughts and feelings rather than choosing to let them go. There can be many reasons for this. The commonest are: - believing negative feelings are the price you pay for the perceived greater good of fixing the problem in your thoughts, so you persist in trying to fix the problem. (Failure to recognise that letting go of the problem IS the fix for both problem and feelings.) - believing you don't deserve to feel happy unless you sort the problem that is making you bad, so you keep trying to fix the problem by thinking things through (ruminating.) - believing you have no control over feelings/emotions so you accept their presence and wait passively for them to change by themselves (they won't!) Negative feelings won't change unless you change your negative behaviours (includes behaviours such as choosing to spend time trying to fix the problem in your thoughts.) Letting go of negative feelings is about becoming aware that your thoughts are making you feel bad and choosing to redirect your attention elsewhere. You can either move your attention to something neutral or actively introduce activities you know make you happy. It's about being mindful (observing the moment without judgement.) Negative feelings arise out of making judgments (this is bad, that is good.) If you pass judgement on your feelings (stress is bad, sadness is bad) it creates a downward spiral where you feel bad just because you were already feeling bad. Learn not to judge yourself, your circumstances, or your feelings. Positive isn't 'good', negative isn't 'bad', they just are. Once negative and positive feelings are perceived as being equally ok (simply where you're at in that moment rather than having any importance) then paradoxically the 'bad' feeling lifts and you start to feel 'good'. That's probably not a very clear explanation, sorry. Maybe someone else can word it better!
  7. You most definitely DO have control of your feelings. Your initial reaction to something may be harder to control, but there's no need to stay with whatever that first feeling happens to be. As OceanDweller said, in CBT you learn how to change your emotions by changing your thoughts. How you react to your thoughts behaviourally also matters (whether you ruminate on them negatively, dismiss them, or counter them with positive and rational thoughts). With practise you can switch from negative emotions to positive ones in the blink of an eye just by choosing to shake off the bad feelings and be happy instead. But it does take some practise and in the early stages of acquiring the skill you also need some determination not to dwell in the arena of negative feelings. I suspect that's where you've been struggling a bit, drawn as you are to your memories of days spent in happier self-analysis. You want to be able to reflect as before, but have temporarily lost the ability to keep it on track so it's become harmful rather than beneficial. For the time being therefore, self-reflection is probably not something you should be doing except perhaps as part of a structured course of CBT under the guidance of a therapist.
  8. Well then, there's your answer.
  9. Hi Halle, I think it depends what change you were expecting to feel. Some people have high hopes that a pill will magically take away their symptoms and alleviate their misery, when in truth all medication was ever intended to do is give you a bit of calm and breathing space to sort your head out for yourself. If you're taking it to reduce anxiety, it's probably fully kicked in by now and you're getting whatever benefit you're going to get. If it's for depression, or if there's depression on top of anxiety, your symptoms may continue to improve for up to 3 months. It's worth sticking with the same brand for that long before judging it as not working or changing to an alternative. Anyway, the real improvement comes when you get stuck into the CBT. That's the part that really changes how you feel. Have you started CBT yet?
  10. This question reveals a possible error in your approach, OceanDweller. It's ok to be upfront about having issues, but you're perhaps placing too much emphasis on it and letting it get in the way. Your probable intention of honesty and ensuring suitability may seem logical, but your thinking behind such intentions is skewed. You aren't a person-with-a-problem, you're a person. Period. (as you American's say) Every person on the planet has some 'quirks' (nice euphemism) so let yours be discovered as you get to know someone - while you also discover their personality and quirks and get to know them. Base your dating criteria (and your profile) on your personality, not on your health/disorder. In other words, go dating as normal and reveal your quirks in the course of normal conversation rather than making an issue out of them. If you stop looking at it as a barrier to a healthy relationship then potential partners won't see it as a problem either. I spent three years on an online dating site. I spoke to hundreds of people, made some friends, had some fun! Some of the people I spoke to I shared that I had OCD, most of them it was apparent early on that it wasn't going anywhere so I didn't bother. If we became closer it came up in normal conversation and I shared it matter-of-factly as part of 'me'. I never made an issue of it and as a result the people I shared it with were curious about me and how it affected me rather than put off by the fact I happen to have a disorder as a quirk. Confidence is key, and confidence returns when you stop seeing the OCD as a problem or defining yourself by its presence.
  11. I can't do better than quote Ocean Dweller on this aspect. Sound familiar, Bruce? All those self-pitying moans you tell yourself send you off into the ruminations about why you have mental health issues, why things turned out as they did. Constantly thinking 'I can't be forgiven' is you refusing to forgive yourself, but until you accept your past and forgive yourself you'll stay stuck in misery. If instead you talk to yourself about acceptance and forgiveness your feelings towards life will gradually change. Improvement starts with changing the internal chatter you feed yourself 24/7. That's the sort of change Caramoole was referring to. Going to work and going out with mates is part of your baseline routine, not something you're doing that will actively change how you think and feel. Tell yourself every day that your mistakes are forgivable. Even if you don't believe it at first the message will sink in over time until it starts to feel true. Feeding yourself positive change in your internal chatter will start to bring about the bigger changes you want.
  12. Stop right there. There is no such thing as a logical compulsion. OCD thinking twists things to make them seem logical in order to justify compulsions. It's never logical if you apply non-OCD thinking (identify the flaw in the thought process.) And no amount of reassurance is ever going to put the argument in your head to bed. Next chest ache you get you'll be back to square one, wanting another ECG and blood tests to reassure you that pain isn't your heart. Reassurance doesn't work. If you want to this cycle of anxiety and OCD thinking to end you need to do some cognitive work and change the way you think about what it means to have chest pain. This shows there's a problem with the stories you're telling yourself. You need to listen closely to what you say in your head. Think about the message the words convey and what underlying beliefs they reveal/reinforce. Then ask yourself if those beliefs are valid. The reality of the pain was never an issue. So why are you talking to yourself in a way which suggests it's only OCD if you imagine the pain and justifiable worry if the pain is real? That's a compulsive thought process attempting to justify being anxious every time you feel pain just because it's there. There are many causes of chest pain and many types of chest pain. Some need urgent attention, some aren't urgent but shouldn't be ignored, and some are completely harmless and more nuisance than worrying. But in your head 'chest pain = chest pain = urgent and serious heart pain' until proved otherwise. This belief that all chest pain must always be treated as if it was serious heart pain until proved otherwise isn't true. But believing it's true sets you up for having to feel anxious and having to do compulsions to look for proof. The same belief causes you to make further interpretations - that hospital tests are the right treatment and doctors who don't react to your symptoms as you do must therefore be either confused or negligent (since they aren't treating it as serious or looking for proof that it's not.) According to your belief system an ECG and blood tests are essential to rule out heart problems, so the way you see it is how could they possibly know there's nothing to worry about? The problem lies in the belief. You're responding to each episode of chest pain as if your belief was true, not questioning yourself to see if it's valid or has developed out of fear and OCD thinking twisting things. Not all chest pain is heart related. Chest pain can often be diagnosed as non-cardiac without tests. Tackle the underlying belief you adopted in response to your dad's unfortunate death to release yourself from the obligation to always feel anxious and to do compulsions looking for proof that your very real pain is non-serious.
  13. Hi Julie, I'm sorry you're having an anxious day. It's interesting that your chest pain started at lunchtime while eating a sandwich, yet you immediately assumed it was cardiac related. It doesn't seem to have crossed your mind that it might have been simple indigestion. I'm not saying it's one or the other, or even just a muscular pain from anxiety, but this is an example of how OCD fears focus on just one explanation (the most feared, worst scenario case) when there are in fact many possibilities and most of the alternatives are benign. It's useful to remember this when you need to take a step back from the OCD to gain some perspective. You've engaged in a lot of compulsions today - googling symptoms, thinking continually about your heart, cancelling work commitments and even making preparations to visit an alternative hospital if needed. All these acts are compulsions designed to reduce anxiety. Some seem to have temporarily worked for you while others backfired immediately, but you know in the end that all compulsions backfire, because they maintain your belief there is something justifiable to worry about. You may have noticed I've edited some of your posts today to remove the trigger warnings. This is because what is seen as a trigger to one person likely won't be to someone else, and anything - literally anything in the world - can be a 'trigger' to somebody. So we don't permit trigger warnings on the forum. All they do is reinforce in your mind that there is something to be scared of while not protecting anybody else. Where do you go from here? Stop. Take a deep breath. Re-focus. Try to disengage from the thoughts about your heart and today's ache in your chest. Use distraction to take your mind off it and see if it eases as a result. (Which it very likely will if you relax and successfully distract yourself.) Take away a lesson from today that compulsions don't help in the end. Next time resist doing any googling, intensive thinking about your heart, or avoidance behaviour such as cancelling commitments and looking for a nicer hospital. You mentioned noting the negative thoughts and accepting they could happen which sounds like a form of ERP. So are you seeing a therapist at present? It may be a good idea to discuss with him/her some alternative behaviours to adopt next time you get chest ache so you manage the anxiety more appropriately (whether it turns out to be heart or anxiety related.)
  14. Hi chls08. Welcome to the forum. It must be frustrating in the extreme to be called selfish when it is your boyfriend who is clearly being selfish for insisting you comply with his demands. Trying to get him to accept that he mustn't do this isn't going to be easy, but is important to recovery that loved ones don't get involved in rituals or facilitate them continuing. Sometimes a bit of compromise is needed in the early stages, but the firmer you are about not 'helping' the better it is in the long term. It may make him kick off as he's going to feel very threatened and scared at the thought of managing rituals alone and ultimately giving them up completely, but it is the only way to proceed. How to explain it to him? Pointing out it's not healthy for your relationship is one way to go, but risks him shifting the blame for his feelings onto you (as he has already been doing.) An alternative would be to explain the relationship has reached a crossroads and for you to have a future together the OCD needs to be tackled. Make it clear you will be tackling it as a team - the two of you against OCD. Suggest he sees his GP to be referred for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (the gold standard treatment for OCD.) Explain you will support him through the process and with his therapy, but as part of that therapy you will no longer be helping with rituals. This presents your non-participation as part of a new team approach to recovery rather than as you going against him. Has he had any therapy in the past?
  15. Also obsessive behaviour, totally unnecessary for cleanliness. If wet wipes were needed they'd be manufactured so they dissolve easily like toilet paper. More evidence you don't need them!