Jump to content


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About snowbear

  • Rank
    OCD-UK Member and

Previous Fields

  • OCD Status

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    North Wales
  • Interests
    Creative writing, psychology, mental resilience and leadership

Recent Profile Visitors

3,651 profile views
  1. Totally possible. Like everything else it just requires that you understand what you're trying to achieve and a bit of practise to get there.
  2. Spot on, GBG. Core beliefs mainly develop in childhood as everyday experiences are made sense of (the best we know how at the time), but troublesome core beliefs can develop at any stage of life. Thankfully, the same process that creates the problem ones can also be used to change them to less troublesome ones! Key to changing them is to look at how you interpret your day-to-day experiences (typically in a way that confirms the core belief) and then challenge that interpretation at every opportunity as new experiences occur. (Is there another way to interpret this situation? Is there an alternative explanation for feeling this way that I've overlooked? What am I missing/ assuming here?) That would be the cognitive approach. They don't have to be big 'events' or OCD-related experiences to be useful teaching tools. In fact, examining the way we interpret mundane things often gives the most insight to our hidden beliefs (because mundane things are less emotionally charged and therefore easier to think about openly.) You can also use a behavioural approach to challenge core beliefs. (So there are horses for courses, whichever the individual prefers!) It's the same technique as devising an ERP exercise. Perhaps you might do two 'exposures', one while thinking, 'I'm a bad person and any minute I'm going to be found out' and one while thinking, 'I'm a good person, I have nothing to hide.' The exercise is to show you the effect your thinking has on how you feel ,and to make you aware of how you interact with the world while feeling different ways. Rather than just being told to change what you believe, you get to personally experience the truth that it's not what other people are aware of or unaware of that matters, but the story you're telling yourself on the inside. Another way to put it might be that challenging core beliefs cognitively is about learning that alternative thinking processes are available to you. While challenging core beliefs behaviourally is about experimentally putting some of those different thinking processes into practice and experiencing what happens when you change how you think. It's really simple stuff. Why no text books explain it like that is beyond me! Maybe some day we'll all write a book between us.
  3. 'I deserve to be punished' is an extremely common core belief in people with OCD which is often the fuel that keeps their OCD alight. The 'I'm a genius' type belief (misconception!) isn't a core belief. That's a conditional belief.
  4. The cognitive therapy you're having should be addressing this issue, Saz. You get distracted by thoughts about 'how serious it is' and so you miss the point that the original thought (false memory) troubles you because of the meaning you give it. Not because it's serious or because of the content or because of any other reason you might come up with. This time you're getting distracted by your emotions. Your logic gets hijacked by imagining being separated from your own children and it prevents you from seeing the rest of the world objectively. The reason you finds these triggers so distressing (to the point you wish to avoid them) is because of the meaning you're giving them in your head. ('Imagine if I was separated from my children, what if this happened to me...) Hopefully your therapist will spend some time with you helping you to see how the meaning you're giving the thoughts/images/memory is the problem rather than them being a problem in themselves.
  5. snowbear

    Cognitive before behavioural

    I like your fire analogy. Very apt. This is proving a most interesting discussion and it's got me thinking too, GBG. We all agree (hopefully!) that there is only one type of OCD - the kind that has obsessions and compulsions. Topic/theme can vary of course, but so can how the 'O' and 'C' manifest. Based on how people have described their experiences so far, I'm coming to the conclusion there are 3 main ways OCD manifests which may require different treatment approaches. Which is best for any individual can be decided in partnership with their therapist. (Note: I'm not saying 'this is how it is'. What follows is only my work-in-progress thoughts on the matter. I welcome all suggestions, additions and opposing opinions. ) 1. The Leap of Faith treatment group: - People whose OCD manifests mainly as intrusive thoughts, repetitive rumination and covert (mental) compulsions may find the best approach is to 'take the leap of faith' and start with behavioural therapy (to put out the fire as GBG put it.) Then some cognitive therapy to get to the root of the problem (fire control and prevention) and finally some more behavioural experiments to put the newly learned 'fire drill' into practice. (B> C> B) 2. The Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway treatment group:- People who have mainly overt compulsions (cleaning, avoidance, checking) may find the best approach is to start with some simple explanations (Polar Bear's definition of what simple cognitive therapy can be is ideal for this.) Then behavioural therapy to 'feel the fear and do it anyway'. If needed this can be followed with more in-depth cognitive therapy (looking at core beliefs and thinking patterns which are obstructing progress) and finally more behavioural therapy. (c> B > C >B) 3. The Platypus treatment group:- ( I was going to call it the 'complex dissociated OCD' group, or the 'crazy-mixed-up kids' group, but platypus seemed a more descriptive and likeable alternative. ) These are people whose original obsession has become hidden over time, or whose compulsions are not obviously (directly) linked to a particular intrusive thought or fear. (eg. mental contamination.) This group needs in-depth cognitive therapy before any kind of behavioural therapy is possible. Attempts at behavioural therapy after only the simple cognitive explanations (Polar Bear's description above) will be counter-productive. So for this group the suggested best approach may be C> b> C> B. There will be exceptions: -people who don't neatly fit neatly into one category and need an even more individualised treatment plan -people who have more than one way their OCD manifests -people whose treatment plan needs to take into consideration co-existing diagnoses (eg PTSD, primary depression, bipolar disorder) - people with other conditions which impact their ability to take instruction/process information (eg Autism, BPD)
  6. I agree. But I have to disagree here. The brain isn't 'misfiring'. It's working as exactly as a brain should work, doing it's job. But, like a computer, the results you get out are only as good as the data you put in. I know you'll agree, Roy, that intrusive thoughts are universal to everybody with or without OCD. What differs between OCD sufferers and people without OCD is a two-stage process of first giving meaning to the thoughts and second responding with anti-anxiety behaviours (obsessions an compulsions.) Interpreting your intrusive thoughts as negative and unwanted is the first stage of OCD. I don't think we should attribute someone's core beliefs to their OCD. Also, core beliefs don't have to be mythical, exaggerated, about revulsion, or even false! They are simply a way of looking at things which has become so familiar that the person thinks that way on autopilot. For example, say someone has a core belief 'I deserve to be punished'. Well, all of us make mistakes, all of the time. Black and white thinkers often opt for the simplicity of good=reward, bad=punish and typically have equally rigid ideas about the definition of good and bad. (As you've said yourself, black and white thinking is a cognitive distortion commonly adopted by people who develop OCD.) If the only option a person has for dealing with mistakes is punishment then the core belief 'I deserve to be punished' is true (for them) when they do something that falls within their definition of bad. If a person has other options available in their thinking repertoire (eg. forgiveness, atonement, learning, acceptance, or even 'karma' and retribution (not all other options have to be positive) then they have a range of responses to choose from. If they also have a more flexible definition of good and bad which acknowledges the complexity of real life with all its grey areas, then their options are multiplied exponentially. Mistakes can be seen in any number of ways. It's not the deed that makes it a mistake, but the thinking you apply to it. Similarly, it's the thinking you apply that makes intrusive thoughts negative, unwanted, repulsive, disgusting etc. And it's the thinking you apply which determines how you choose to respond to the thought even after you've given it meaning. Changing troublesome core beliefs is about switching off the autopilot and applying a different kind of thinking. Where many OCD sufferers get stuck is they interpret 'apply a different kind of thinking' as being told to change their character values. But it doesn't mean that at all. So when someone concludes 'not being punished' as 'being let off the hook', and 'acceptance' as 'it's ok to do bad things' that's because they're still applying the troublesome 'the only possible option is punishment' way of thinking. If they apply a different kind of thinking, eg. mistakes are part of the ongoing learning process that is life (not necessarily a bad thing) ... then they are able to conclude 'good people can make mistakes and be even better people as a result'. This enables them to see the mistake they are beating themselves up over and obsessing about is much less harmful than they feared and they can choose a way of dealing with it that doesn't require the self-punishment of doing compulsions to try to prevent or neutralise 'the bad'.
  7. Wrong. You are choosing to take no action to improve things. You've told yourself your boss wouldn't listen because you don't want to have that conversation with them. You tell yourself you have to put up with it because moaning about your lot and doing nothing to change it has become your comfort zone. Then you come here seeking sympathy, seeking justification for continuing as you are. Time to stop fooling yourself Bruce. Some well-meaning people have already responded, but I hope nobody else falls into the trap of giving you the reassurances you seek. Anyone who thinks I'm being hard on Bruce, maybe I am. But it's for his own good in the long run. Let's all encourage him to start taking responsibility for change and making his work and life a better place.
  8. snowbear

    Who wants to change?

    What's stopping you Bruce? You're so quick to post something negative when it suits you, but when challenged you stop replying. Please don't let this be yet another thread where you just moan and disappear until the next moan. Where's that plan, Bruce? Every day for over 2 years I've discussed with you the need to make a plan and suggested ideas on where and how to start. Nothing is stopping you from making a plan. Even if you're too scared to put it into practise just yet , at least there'd be a plan there, waiting for when you are ready. At least if you made a plan it could be ticking over quietly in your brain, sinking in, making little changes to your thinking, helping you to get ready for bigger change. What have you got to lose by thinking about and writing down a plan?
  9. snowbear


    Hi Lancslass, As with all OCD, it starts with the meaning you give something. Retirement doesn't mean ill-health and dementia. That's the first assumption/meaning you need to correct. What treatment have you had? Is this self 'management' (struggling through, hoping the compulsions don't wreck life too much) or are you applying CBT techniques that you've learned? Retirement is a wonderful time. Do you have a plan in place for all the things you want to achieve in the next decade/ two decades? Part of the solution will be to change how you view retirement - from a time of illness and debility to a time for enjoyment and exploring new things.
  10. snowbear

    Period panic

    So? Irrelevant, not important. Shrug it off and get busy doing something productive with your day.
  11. Decide it's ok to get better by any higgeldy-piggeldy, less-than-perfect route that comes your way. Embrace imperfection. Decide you're going to 'go with the flow' rather than try to control or monitor every aspect of your recovery. What's stopping you from making effective use of the therapy around you is the desire to 'get it right'. There is no 'right way'. Doesn't exist. What works is 'right', wanting to 'get it right' is wrong. Get your head around that fact and you'll have made a good start.
  12. snowbear

    Needs to end

    Only one way to find out - deal with the OCD and see what you're left with. Thing is, if you were doing all those recommended things like self-care, activity, and (most importantly) no compulsions I guarantee you would be happier than you are now. And if you find you're still not totally happy then at least you're in a stronger position to fix that by being free of compulsions. Doing compulsions is THE one thing above all others that makes people miserable. But because it's your safety net and you think it's helping you can't see the fact they are destructive until after you've stopped doing them. It's OCD thinking (wanting certainty before acting) that keeps you doing compulsions, trying to gain that certainty you crave. Another fact people struggle to accept is compulsions will never give you certainty. They feel like the solution and you do them because you're convinced certainty is out there somewhere if only you could just... but it's all a big self-deception farce. The only way to prove these facts to yourself is to take the leap of faith, stop doing compulsions and experience life without them. Will just being free of OCD guarantee happiness? No. But it's a huge step towards being happier, and all the things that will make you happy are then available to you. (They aren't at present because of how OCD affects your thinking processes, not because your life is inadequate in some way.) When you're ready you tackle this obsession in exactly the same way as every other obsession. You identify the compulsions and practise not doing them. Checking if you're aroused, analysing if you're enjoying it, questioning if it's what you want, analysing your feelings - you just listed a load of compulsions and there are probably more. Then there's the meaning you're giving to intimacy (if this isn't right it's all or nothing, using doubt as a convenient obstacle to tackling your other OCD issues, narrowing your perception to physical pleasure instead of seeing the bigger picture etc etc) which can be addressed with cognitive therapy. But one thing is for sure, if you wait for certainty before acting then you'll be a long, long, long, long, long.... time waiting in misery.
  13. snowbear

    My son

    Oh the poor wee man! How stupid of the teachers not to see past their standard rules. I'm sure you have, Wonderer, but really reinforce with praise how wonderful he was to ask and reassure him he did the right thing. Fingers crossed for him in his new school. Maybe over the summer you could try some gradual exposures to public toilets on days out/ on holiday, so he gets used to the normality of using 'unfamiliar toilets'?
  14. snowbear

    Embrace it!

    Compulsive urges often switch focus, so you conquer one and another takes its place. Nothing unusual in that. You need to apply the same ERP/behavioural exercises to each scenario whatever the urge. But solely doing behavioural therapy on these urges is like topping up the oil in a leaky car engine. It'll keep you on the road, but it's not getting to the bottom of the problem. So you may also benefit from some cognitive therapy to identify the common factor to these urges which triggers a 'got to fix it' response. For example, it may be you get the urge to blow your nose/pull your trousers up/swallow whenever you feel self-conscious. Or it may occur when you have a fleeting thought that people are looking. Or it could be when you get overwhelmed by an emotion you don't want to face (eg. self hatred) and the urge acts as a displacement activity to temporarily 'defuse' the unwanted emotion in your brain. These are just examples to give you the idea. The actual reason you do it will be unique to you. You may be able to identify it yourself and devise a plan to solve the issue, or you may need the guidance of a therapist to talk you through both identifying the trigger and how to deal with it more appropriately.
  15. snowbear

    Needs to end

    Hi TimeToStop (good name choice!) If I may butt in on the conversation... Very important point here that's relevant to everybody seeking therapy. No. It isn't a therapist's responsibility to get us to do the things they suggest. It's a therapist's job to offer insight and advice, but it remains 100% the responsibility of the sufferer to put in the work. Of course you're not obliged to do what the therapist says. It's a choice. Your choice. Do the work and improve your life OR don't do the work and stay as you are (If you're lucky. Most people find if they do nothing that OCD gets takes over more and more of their life.) Having therapy isn't about making these things easy for you. Therapy is about showing you other ways to think and act so you stop making things a struggle for yourself. It's hard work - at first. But gradually you understand more and it gets easier. Therapy isn't about somebody else magically lifting a burden off your shoulders. (Good) therapy gives you wings to fly, but you still have to flap those wings yourself if you want to take off! This 'need to know' is reassurance seeking. You've been told by two independent therapists that it's OCD and yet still you doubt. You even realise that us telling you if it is OCD and whether it matches other people's symptoms (or not) won't reassure you! No surprise there, because reassurance never satisfies OCD doubts. As for 'types' of OCD, there is only one type - the type where people have obsessions and compulsions. What they obsess over can cover any topic imaginable and what compulsions they do varies hugely from one individual to the next, but it's all OCD nonetheless. Looking for similar symptoms in other sufferers (or in self-help books, or on the forum) is pointless. You are unique. Every person with OCD is unique. But whatever our individual symptoms and behaviours, we all have OCD. Don't let yourself get bogged down looking in the apple barrel and wondering if they're all still apples because some are red and some are green. I agree with Hal: First you need to commit to change. I can't stress enough how important that is. If you aren't committed to change then you'll always get drawn back towards your addictive-style behaviours and compulsions. We've come full circle, back to you being responsible for your recovery under a therapist's guidance. Committing to change means no matter how hard it is, no matter how many times you lapse, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again - with even more determination next time around. So, when you're ready to change perhaps the next step would be to engage with another therapist and devise a plan together for recovery. This will involve working out what thoughts and feelings trigger your current behaviours and a step-wise plan for stopping of those behaviours. Personally I think a combination of mindfulness and CBT works well, but everybody is different. All you need to keep in mind is that therapy is two experts putting their heads together to work out a solution. The therapist is the expert in CBT and you are the expert in how your mind works and how you feel. One suggests, guides and advises, the other puts in the hard work! Restricting access to the internet is an avoidance compulsion and won't teach you to be responsible for your own actions. So as Hal suggested, consider continuing to use the internet for every day things like shopping, but start setting boundaries for yourself on what sites you will no longer visit. Much of addictive behaviour is habit, so have some non-compulsive alternatives ready for when the urge to return to old haunts hits you.