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About snowbear

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    OCD-UK Member and

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    North Wales
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    Creative writing, psychology, mental resilience and leadership

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  1. Putting OCD-UK membership on your Christmas wishlist - what a fabulous idea! At £24 a year (payable as a one-off, or as £2 monthly instalments) it's an affordable present for many people's families even if the sufferer isn't able to afford to buy membership themselves. And it could be a way to 'come out' to families, start a discussion, and engender the support needed for the recovery journey. If I wasn't already a member I'd definitely put it on my list to Santa.
  2. Hi Headwreck and welcome to the forum. Several things crossed my mind reading your posts, so I'll address each one by quoting bits. No. There's no reason for you to get stuck on this obsession. Some obsessions fade away as the things which concern you most in your everyday life change. With that approach you're dependent on time and external factors - basically however long it takes for a change of focus (change in priorities) to happen. It can be years! However, if you learn how OCD works and identify the patterns of thinking and behaviour, then with all new obsessions you can nip them in the bud and there's no reason for them to last even as much as a day. So step one is to learn all you can about OCD. Learn about how your reactions to thoughts lead to problems, recognise when you've slipped into these ways of thinking and practise changing your responses until it becomes second nature not to give your thoughts meanings they don't deserve. This sort of shift in focus is common with OCD. Obsessions are always about whatever topical issue is playing on your mind, whatever feels like the biggest threat around. Sounds to me like when the relationship was newer your biggest insecurity was your partner betraying you, but now the relationship is on more solid footing your fear is you'll do something to muck it up and lose the one you love. So your OCD shifted the goal posts accordingly. Rather than see them as opposing alternatives of 'genuine guilt' versus 'imaginative OCD' you need to understand the two go hand in hand. You obsess over things you would feel guilty about, which makes the guilt feel real, which makes you feel genuinely guilty until you can't tell what's real and what's imaginative 'filling in the gaps'. These are ruminating compulsions. The desire to work it out, to know for certain is strong, but you need to accept you will never have certainty on this and the harder you try to remember the more uncertain you're going to feel. The solution you've chosen has become part of the problem. Confessing and checking are reassurance compulsions, but the more you seek reassurance the more doubt it creates. Again , the solution you've chosen has become part of the problem. To turn things around you need to be able to recognise your compulsions and stop doing them. No ruminating, no memory checking, no self-reassurance, no confessing/checking with your partner. Instead of being determined to prove your guilt or innocence one way or the other, accept you may or may not have anything to feel guilty about - you have no clear memory so you'll never know. End of. Either way it's in the past and has no bearing on your life or relationship now (other than the ruminating you're doing which is keeping it alive.) Forgive yourself without knowing whether there's anything to forgive or not and let it go. Hanging onto the belief ''if I'm guilty I shouldn't be allowed to get away with it'' will only send you back round in the same endless circles. So you need to change this belief to something more realistic such as ''People make mistakes, it's allowed. They can be forgiven, I can be forgiven. What matters is what I do next, not worrying about the past.'' Have you been referred for any CBT? If not, you might find it useful to read a self-help book which outlines the CBT process. It can also teach you to recognise when you're giving your thoughts false meaning or interpreting them in negative and destructive ways. A good one is Break Free from OCD. Hope that gives you enough to get started.
  3. Dr Claire Weekes

    I've also come to believe (like you, a personal opinion) that OCD isn't an ''illness'' at all. I now think of it simply as the adoption of distorted thinking patterns and habitual behavioural responses - both of which are things we can change through learning and practise. ...psychological reaction /adopting a distorted thinking pattern - very similar ideas ...maintaining anxiety/ habitual behavioural responses - again an easy parallel to draw. We think alike, Caramoole! And like you, I see this simplification of what OCD is and how it comes about as good news for recovery. I could give a long-winded and detailed explanation of how genetics, anatomical differences, chemical differences etc - all the things people claim make OCD an illness and quote as evidence of 'something physical going on' - are easily explained by the changes in thinking patterns and behaviours, but I'll keep it for another thread and another day.
  4. Dr Claire Weekes

    This idea is supported by Professor Randomsky's research paper published last month. In essence, OCD-like symptoms (checking) can be induced in non-OCD sufferers just by suggesting a loss of control. The conclusion of the study is that fear of losing control plays a large part in developing and maintaining OCD.
  5. My OCD is breaking my husband

    I can relate, Jennie, as the severity of my OCD pushed my partner into a mental illness of his own. What I put him through amounted to bullying and abuse and I've run the gauntlet of shame and guilt many times in the years since. I personally don't think we can, or should, excuse ourselves by blaming OCD and saying it's not our fault, but I've only come to that conclusion slowly, painfully and after years of reflection. Although we are not responsible for having OCD, or for the nature of our obsessions, I do believe we need to take responsibility for how our behaviour impacts those around us. I now think doing so is a necessary part of the healing and recovery process. However, let me be clear that acknowledging how our (past) behaviour has caused harm to a loved one, and owning that responsibility, is a very different thing to beating ourselves up over it and feeling bad about it. Sure, you'll go through a phase of guilt and shame and confusion and self-hatred...that's normal when you've done something you're not proud of. But it's also important to take the next step and forgive yourself. Completely. Self-forgiveness means a) Letting go of the past b) Changing your behaviour and never repeating the same mistakes again. That's why I say it's a necessary part of recovery. If you continue the same kind of damaging, compulsive behaviours then no amount of saying sorry and beating yourself up is ever going to heal the wounds - or help your loved one to heal. Stopping the behaviour that caused the damage is the first step in being able to forgive yourself. So my advice is 1. Acknowledge to your husband that your past behaviour has caused him stress/hurt and apologise for it 2. Ensure he gets the help and support he needs from professionals to overcome whatever resulting health problems he has (mental and physical) 3. Discuss a realistic time frame with your partner on what you hope to achieve in overcoming your OCD and by when (so you both feel things are finally changing and can both experience the hope of your lives improving) 4. Focus on getting well rather than fixing past mistakes. 5. Practise your love-kindness and forgiveness meditations/ reflections. From time to time (especially when your partner is unwell) the guilt will resurface. During these phases it's important not to allow yourself to ruminate. Treat the presence of guilty feelings as a reminder to get/stay well and reaffirm you'll never to go back to the harmful compulsive behaviours again. If you do that, self-forgiveness will follow/return each time. Remember - whatever has gone before, all you can change is the here and now. The more well you are, the stronger you can be in helping your partner to recover too.
  6. Hi Helpless and welcome to the forum. I've moved your post to it's own thread so you can keep track of answers more easily. It's good that your friend is seeing a therapist and getting help. Everything you mention is quite common in someone with contamination OCD, including the paranoia that someone will break in or has obtained the feared object and intends harm. It's logical to think this rational approach would help, but there is nothing logical or rational about OCD. The problem is her thinking has become distorted. Any logical argument you offer is processed using the same distorted thinking and just adds fuel to the fire as 'proof' there is a very real threat. Reassurance there is no risk is also ineffective. The only way to overcome this is for her to understand where her thinking is going wrong and to choose to change. That's why she needs CBT with a trained therapist who can explain it to her and guide her through the process. As a friend your support is important and beneficial. Aim to keep things as normal as possible and try not to get drawn into her rituals (compulsions) around avoiding places or doing things to prevent contamination. Gently explain you understand she is seeing the world a particular way, but it doesn't mean the world actually works as she currently thinks it does. It's helpful to remind her that she won't always think this way and that things will change for the better with therapy. You might feel less helpless if you gain a little knowledge about OCD. (Knowledge is power!) Perhaps you could read a book on OCD together? Or read it yourself so you understand what therapy is asking of her and can help to keep her on track when she's struggling. If that's something which interests you, a good one is Break Free from OCD . I hope that gives you somewhere to start. There's also a wealth of information on the charity's main webpages. (Click the grey tab for 'OCD-UK charity' at the top of this page. ) If you've got any specific questions or want to let us know how things are going this is the place to post.
  7. Life and ocd

    Ok, sorry, Brucey. I shouldn't have assumed. Maybe your next post could be about something positive, hopeful or future-looking? Show us with your words that you're trying to change the way you think and what you focus on.
  8. Do I need to feel guilty for this?

    Of course it's impossible! More to the point, it's unnecessary. Believing you have to be careful is part of the distorted thinking of OCD. Breaking free of OCD will require you to choose to let your guard down deliberately, to let it go and risk the consequences. At the moment that seems unthinkable to you, but as your thinking becomes less distorted it will make more sense. The way forward is to realise the risk you think you'd be taking if you let it go only exists because of the way you're interpreting your thoughts. Put a different meaning on things and the consequences you fear so much will vanish. You don't need to give up your faith, or become a bad person to do this. Just accept you got the meaning wrong and allow yourself to correct it.
  9. You don't. The biggest mistake OCD sufferers make is thinking there's a way to feel ok BEFORE you leave it alone. This only locks you into the endless cycle of ruminations and compulsions. It works the other way round. You have to let it go first and accept you'll feel uncomfortable and scared for a while. But gradually you will reach a point where you surprisingly do feel ok without knowing, without the need to do compulsions. It's only the ruminating that keeps you thinking it's impossible to feel ok without certainty. Every person with OCD must eventually take this 'leap of faith' if they want to begin their journey of recovery. It takes courage, but it's the only way to break free of OCD. There are no short cuts, no magical cures, and no exceptions. Take a deep breath - and jump.
  10. Life and ocd

    I object to the use of 'had' in the past tense. I am HAVING a worthwhile and fulfilling life, and I will endeavour to go on making it worthwhile and fulfilling to my dying day. I've said this to you thousands of times now Bruce - your life isn't in the past. Stop telling yourself it is. Life is in your present and in your future. Look forwards, not back.
  11. After agreeing my contamination OCD was based in anger rather than fear... 'Try punching some cushions instead of doing cleaning rituals.' This was when I was sleeping on plastic sheets on the floor, owned no furniture, was using a folded coat as a pillow. She knew all this, so where was I supposed to get cushions from? Even if she hadn't been aware of the extreme circumstances I was living in at the time, punching cushions wasn't going to treat my mental contamination OCD.
  12. Welcome to the forum, Victoria. I'm sorry to hear of your loss and how this has affected your daughter. You say her OCD is under control (or at least not the most pressing problem) and that her depression has worsened. My first thought is to wonder why a combination of medication and talking therapy isn't helping her? There could be many reasons for this, but the first question to ask is what kind of psychotherapy she's receiving and whether this is based in (or includes) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT.) Because of her bereavement I suspect it may be Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) she's receiving and while this would help her cope with her emotions (and maybe a bit with the depression) it won't address the OCD directly. I also wonder whether her OCD is as under control as it perhaps appears from the outside. She's at the age where children develop the ability to think in abstract terms and seek deeper meaning in their thoughts and feelings. So she may have acquired greater ability to control and suppress visible (physical) rituals, but simultaneously start experiencing an increase in invisible (mental) rituals. If she's having difficulty making sense of it all and either feels unable to talk about it or isn't being asked about it, the sense of isolation that results could possibly lie behind the self-harm and suicidal feelings. Paradoxically, it's also not uncommon for depression to worsen as OCD improves. An over-simplistic way of thinking about it is the upset feelings have to be expressed one way or another and as one outlet for self-expression is closed another opens up. My suggestion would be to speak to her therapist about the kind of therapy your daughter is receiving, whether it has addressed her OCD or just the bereavement/depression, whether the therapist believes there may be more covert OCD continuing which needs further CBT, and whether the therapist is happy with the results achieved so far. (If not, what's her plan?) I'm sure you regularly talk to your daughter too, so perhaps aim to have a conversation about whether she has troubling thoughts she tries to push away or deal with inside her head. You might also want to discuss the self-harm behaviour at a calm moment when things are good (rather than in response to an attempt to harm or when emotions are high.) A good approach is to ask what kind of feelings make her hurt herself (rather than asking why she does it) and then exploring together what situations make those feelings arise, what makes them seem overwhelming, and what alternative ways she could use to cope. I hope that gives you some ideas for where to start. Let us know how you're both getting on.
  13. Recovery tips?

    I agree with Ashley that ACT is not a suitable solo therapy for OCD and that the problem is our interpretation of the thoughts. However, ACT therapy is much more than simply 'accepting your thoughts.' It's about accepting there are things you can't control, committing to improving the things you can influence, and then directing your energy appropriately. It can also be broadened beyond mere thoughts to accepting your emotions and committing to change the way you treat yourself. I think this is where it is most useful for OCD sufferers. It's common for OCD sufferers to be harsh self-critics who set unrealistic moral standards for themselves while simultaneously being non-judgemental and forgiving of others. ACT can be one way of addressing this distorted emotional thinking. So ACT is a useful adjunct to CBT. Indeed, it's often part of the package of CBT. Just not appropriate to use as solo therapy.
  14. Recovery tips?

    There's a lot of confusion around on what mindfulness is and isn't - hardly surprising as the term gets used very loosely and in multiple contexts everywhere you look these days. You could be forgiven for thinking it's the best invention since sliced bread and a modern therapy technique! But mindfulness isn't new. It's an ancient wisdom which has been around for thousands of years. Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Socrates refer to the principles in their teachings. Psychologists have simply given the principles and techniques some modern labels to make it accessible alongside the other cognitive based talking therapies. Mindfulness spans two main areas: 1. Meditation 2. Cognitive principles Each of these can be sub-divided, but for simplicity let's say there are two main types of meditation and four main principles. Body scan and Breath Awareness meditation is the form of mindfulness people are most familiar with. It's about physical awareness and is used to clear and focus the mind for a particular purpose (such as relaxation, spiritual cleansing, or for pain relief.) Love-kindness meditation (metta meditation) is about emotional awareness and well-being. It engages different networks in the brain and has separate benefits. In my opinion it's often overlooked by therapists teaching 'standard' mindfulness and is greatly underused in psychology. Anyway, moving on... Mindfulness principles can be summarised as i) being in the moment ii) observing without judgement iii) practising love and forgiveness (including self-forgiveness) iv) focus attention When psychologists talk about 'mindfulness' as a therapy they are referring to Mindfulness CBT (MCBT), not merely to relaxing or focusing in the moment. Applied in its fullest context it has a broader range as a therapy than standard CBT. However, just as 'standard CBT' is tailored to treat a particular problem (eg. OCD, depression, pain relief and so on...) and just as there's a difference between CBT- trained therapists who are and aren't OCD specialists, MCBT is only able to treat OCD if it's tailored to address OCD symptoms. 'Mindfulness' (as the general public thinks of it) is unlikely to be of benefit in overcoming OCD symptoms if used alone because the all-important CBT part of is often overlooked. When we talk about 'mindfulness' as a therapy for OCD, I think it's important to make a distinction between the options of using MCBT as a solo treatment and applying the meditation/principles as a useful adjunct to CBT for OCD.