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About snowbear

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    OCD-UK Member and

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    Living with OCD

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    North Wales
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    Creative writing, psychology, mental resilience and leadership

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  1. Hi Husband 1908 and welcome to the forum. First, it's good news that CBT helped reduce the symptoms by 50%. Not such good news that progress has now halted. There are 3 issues here: 1. The effect on you 2. The effect on your toddler 3. The misery your wife must be experiencing. If her way of doing things had no impact of the other 2 family members then she'd be fine to defend her position and decide for herself where 'normal' starts and ends. However, you are all suffering as things are. You can approach your GP regarding counselling; a place/person to offload to and someone to help you see how you can manage your feelings about the situation. Or there may be a family member you could talk to? Having someone else in the family circle aware of the situation can add weight to your suggestion to restart therapy. There are several examples of twisted thinking mentioned above which you should feel free to challenge. It's not you 'giving in to the OCD', it's your wife giving in to the OCD by insisting the piles are dirty. You could try challenging her on that and help her see how her OCD fears have twisted the logic. Another twisted thinking example that can be challenged. It's her OCD that's controlling all your lives. Your attempts to change things back to a more balanced/normal life are about taking back control from the OCD, not from her. You can counter allegations of being controlling by asking which whether she'd rather be controlled by her OCD fears or take back control of her own life by getting more therapy. The late nights and poor sleep will also affect all of you. The best you can do there is probably leave her to her rituals and get some sleep yourself. Don't fall into the trap of staying up to help her finish the tasks she's set herself or enable her OCD in any way if you can avoid it. (Hard, I know.) The biggest leverage you have is the effect this is having on your child. This isn't a healthy encvironment for your toddler who will be picking up the general anxiety vibes and the idea that mum has 'special' rules that dad is afraid of breaking. That does have a knock on effect on the child's behaviour and psychology, however much mum's with OCD deny it to themselves. If you can get her to see that the chances are high she'll be motivated to get more therapy and improve things. Good luck!
  2. Hi Anon 123 and welcome to the forum. I'm sorry things are so tough for you both just now. The fear with OCD can be so intense that perfectly lovely people turn temporarily into manipulative monsters! But you aren't helping her by enabling her compulsions. It helps to have a quiet chat to explain calmly why you're going to stop doing what she wants before you start challenging her behaviour. It's distressing to be challenged 'mid-ritual' but less so if you know it's coming. Similarly, you can choose a quiet moment to try to explain how her behaviour is affecting you (making you anxious, feeling stuck) and before she goes off into one on nobody loving her etc you explain it's because you do love her and want to go on living with her that somethin g needs to change. Encourage her to go back to therapy. If she says she doesn't see the point, ask bluntly why not. Chances are she'll say 'it didn't work' so challenge that with something like, 'CBT isn't something that's done to you, but something you work at yourself under the therapist's guidance. So if it didn't work maybe that shows you weren't ready to put the work in back then. When do you think you will be ready? What has to happen for us to get to that place? Let me help you get there.' I'd try not to let her dwell on the autism spectrum issue if possible. It can be a great excuse for not tackling the more difficult (emotional) aspects of CBT, but truth is we're all on 'the spectrum' to various degrees and this stuff isn't easy for anybody. Hanging onto labels like autism doesn't mean you can't achieve success, it just means you might have to work even harder to achieve your goals and at the start of therapy the goals seem hard enough without adding more obstacles for yourself! While waiting for therapy to re-start, consider investing in a self-help book and suggest you read it together. Information is power, so even if she refuses to read it you'll likely learn a lot just reading it yourself. There are lots of good books available so browse a bit to see which clicks with you, but I usually recommend 'Break Free from OCD' as readable and explaining the do-it-yourself CBT well. You can find more titles and advice here.
  3. Hi Claudia, I'm sending your son a big virtual hug. It's terrifying when you get 'stuck' as you feel there's no way out of the moment you're in. There's no easy answer, but my advice (from personal experience) would be: 1. Try to help him become calmer - his mind will be racing at a million miles an hour, so simply doing some slow breathing with him can help. It also gives him a temporary different focus and that can be all that's needed to get out of the cycle of 'stuck' thoughts. 2. Try to break down whatever it is he's stuck on into stages and encourage him to move forward one stage at a time. 3. Don't be afraid to ask why when he says he can't do something. If he reveals something of his thought processes in the answer it can sometimes help you to come up with alternative stategies that might be more acceptable. 4. When time is short (have to get to school on time etc) sometimes you could offer him 2 alternatives and let him choose the lesser of 2 evils. Feeling that he's in control (making choices and doing it his way as much as possible) can be make getting to the end goal seem possible again. (When 'stuck' the task feels permanently impossible so just taking away the permanancy of impossible and making it feel do-able is a step forward and can calm his mind enough for him to work out his own way through.) 5. At bedtime allow some things to be left to the next day. Depending what he's stuck on it may be you letting him away with some tasks (eg. not brush his teeth this one time) or it may mean you encouraging him to let go of his belief that everything he's trying to get done needs done before bed. If he feels unsafe leaving out part of his routine consider offering to help him sort whatever it is tomorrow..but bed now. Hope those ideas help.
  4. Hi Miss Sparrow, It's not what the thought is about which makes it OCD, but whether the person then does compulsions in response to the thought. Compulsions are typically intended to reassure the person the thought isn't true or an attempt to neutralise the thought in some way. If he is doing mental checks or ruminating or any kind of ritual or avoidance behaviour as a result of having the thought about waking in a parallel universe, that would qualify as OCD.
  5. Hi again, Cub and Sean. I'm not trying to stop you from forming a supportive friendship here (the more support and frinds the better!) But I want to step in again with a word of caution. I speak from personal experience and from 15 years of being around the forum. Please just hear me out and then what you do is your choice. It can feel very lonely having OCD, as if nobody else could possibly understand the complexity and depth of distress caused by the particular thoughts you have. So when you find another person suffering similar thoughts (the same OCD theme) it's natural to want to compare notes. That's fine. But there's a danger of together trying to solve the questions created by the theme instead of focusing on treating the OCD. When you understand OCD properly you realise the theme truly is irrelevant. Whether it's religion, cleaning, responsibilty or some other topic the thoughts are about, the underlying thought process - and therefore the treatment - is exactly the same. As long as you stay focused on the theme (religious questions) you're not seeing the real problem. It's not what the thoughts are about that creates anxiety, but the meaning you give them. To recover from OCD you need to step AWAY from the content and look at how you interpret your thoughts in the first place. I think that's harder to do if you're still looking for similarities between your experience and someone else's rather than looking for the common denominator in ALL ocd. You want to swap tips? My biggest tip is to read the threads on the forum where you think the topic is the most different from what you experience. Look for the similarities in thinking process; how the meaning the person gives to their theme feeds on their personal fears and how the interpretation of their particular thoughts leads to compulsive behaviours. When you can see how the mechanics of OCD works in others it becomes easier to step back from the highly charged emotions of your own OCD and see the same thinking process happening in yourself. As long as you're looking at the theme and not the thought process you'll likely feel your OCD is very complicated and difficult, but actually the principles of therapy are applied to specific OCD themes in a very simple way. If you can see the common denominator across all themes you're well on the way to sorting yourself out.
  6. Hi Ocdinhants. Welcome to the forum! It's a very natural human trait to want to know the reasons for things being as they are. But with OCD it's important to focus on the present rather than look back at the causes. Lots of people without OCD can tick all the same boxes as you. Perhaps a more useful way to look at it is to say that somewhere in your past you learned to respond to 'stress' with a particular way of thinking (saftey conscious) and self-reassurance (checking rituals.) It's not surprising that whenever any kind of stressor rears it's head in your life you revive the way of responding (the learned behaviour) that you first used in childhood. Hopefully your talking therapy is CBT and not 'counselling'? If so then the cognitive side will teach you to recognise when your thinking is leading to a particular way of behaving (checking) and to understand that the way you interpret your thoughts is what leads to the anxiety and doubt. The behavioural side of therapy is where you then try out other interpretations and behave differently as a result. It's fascinating how the brain works and I love reading about it myself but knowing what's happening in your head doesn't need to get any more complicated than what I outlined in the paragraph above. Understanding the structure and function of the brain won't cure OCD! Doesn't mean you shouldn't read up on it, just recognise that this kind of background knowledge is for interest only and where you need to put your energy is into the CBT and breaking rituals like taking 'checking' photos. (Well done on stopping that. ) The urge/compulsion will always have the power to take over in the heat of the moment if you try to counter it with logic. Compulsions are a response to feelings and feelings can override logic. But you can apply logic in a different way by understanding that what you're dealing with is a feeling (of insecurity or doubt) rather than a reality/fact (is the tap off/door locked.) The more attention you give it the more it reinforces the feeling, so you (logically) overcome the doubt by NOT checking and the feeling gradually subsides. (It can increase temporarily, but subsides with time.) I think everybody feels it's one step forward two back at times. As long as you're doing the CBT work there will come a time when you stop feeling as though you're slipping backwards.
  7. Hi Sean, Why don't you just post it here? We encourage people to use the private messaging for general friendship chat and to keep discussions about OCD for the forums. This protects both parties as everything is said in the open and any confusions or misleading 'advice' can be corrected by our forum community. Please don't be shy about sharing your story or thoughts on the forum. We don't judge and there's nothing we haven't heard before in one form or another. Plus it's nice to welcome new members to our community and get to know you in your own right.
  8. Hi Doubt it, A person's sexuality has zilch to do with whether they have OCD or not. Whether you're straight, gay, bi, or uncertain what your sexuality is has no impact on you having OCD. The topic OCD thoughts are about is always something where the consequences threaten your happiness or something you value. Sexuality in itself isn't the issue, it's how you personally interpret the thoughts you're having about your sexuality. Because that interpretation makes you anxious you then engage in compulsions like ruminating or checking which fuels the OCD cycle of interpreting thoughts as meaning something and doing compulsions to try to ease the anxiety that causes. Begin by accepting they are just thoughts with no meaning, and try not to give in to the compulsions.
  9. Hi Cora, Don't get hung up on the idea a thought has to be 'intrusive'. All thoughts are created by ourselves, there's no such thing as a thought 'intruding' on your mind as if it came from somewhere else. Psychologists describe thoughts as intrusive, but it means they are typically unpleasant, unwanted or cause distress, not that they have appeared suddenly out of the blue. You can tell your therapist as much or as little as you like. You can also explain the kinds of worries you have without going into the details. It's up to you. Perhaps it would help if you think of it as explaining how your OCD thoughts affect you rather than 'confessing'.
  10. Hi Cub, I'm sorry to hear therapy isn't helping at the moment. It can be difficult to engage in CBT when you feel unworthy of help or are scared you'll mess it up by trying. When you hit a brick wall like this it can be helpful to take a step back from trying to treat the OCD and instead apply some therapy to how you view yourself. Have you ever tried self-compassion meditation? It's a form of mindfulness and can be very helpful. If you practise it daily it starts to chip away at the negative feel9ings you have towards yourself and build a more normal, healthier self-image. You can find lots of meditation exercises directed at self-compassion online, but I've attached one from a course I did to get you started. The idea is not just to follow the script that's there but once you're familiar with the basic idea to use it to address the specific problem you have. eg. Training yourself to believe you are worthy of kindness and that you deserbve to be treated with the same compassion you would extend to anybody else. Remember you have to practise this meditation daily, often for months, to rewire your brain totally. It takes time, so don't give up in despair if you find you're still harsh with yourself after the first week! Meditation transcript -self_compassion_difficulties.pdf
  11. Hi Cora, Remember it's not having a thought which makes it bad, but that you interpret having the thought (dream) as meaning something bad. People have weird sexualdreams all the time and simply shake them off and forget them the moment they wake. It's only because you're giving it meaning it doesn't have that the memory of the dream is persisting. Let it go and treat it as the mental belly fluff it is.
  12. Hi Mumtobe. Welcome to the forum and congratulations on you upcoming event! I'm sorry to hear that this exciting time is being affected by these kind of thoughts and worries. What you are describing is a form of 'magical thinking'. This is where you associate thoughts or feelings with something that has it has absolutely no connection with at all. As if a name could somehow be 'lucky' or 'unlucky'. I suspect your reaction to the names reflects a general (and very normal) concern that something might go wrong with the birth or your baby's health. So any name could carry the same feelings of danger because it's not the name that's the problem but the feeling. Sometimes just understanding why your brain is creating these worries is enough to put the feelings aside and ignore them. When the thoughts arise remind yourself that a thought has no power to determine the future. Thinking something doesn't make it come true. I bet you readily accept that fact for things like thinking you'll win the lottery won't make it happen since there are no strong feelings involved. It's only because this is important to you that the feelings are strong. Strong feelings can override all logic! Whatever name you choose it can neither hurt nor protect your baby, so choose one you and your husband both like. It may help to counter the negative worries by creating new associations in your mind between the chosen name and happy preparations you're doing such as 'This is xxxxx's nursery and the family are looking forward to xxxxx's happy arrival.' I hope the remainder of your pregnancy goes well and isn't spoiled by any more unwelcome thoughts. Do come back and let us know how you're doing! And remember to have a chat with your midwife if you have persistent mental health concerns before or after the birth.
  13. Ok. Let's try something else. Imagine you are the judge in a court and the person in front of you has just been convicted as a child abuser. Really try to imagine their face, the way they stand, what they're wearing - make it as real a person as you can. Done that? Ok. It's your job to sentence this person. What sentence would you give them? Now swap places. Put the person you sentenced in the judge's seat and yourself in the convicted person's place. What sentence do you hear being given to you? I'm willing to bet you were judged more harshly than you judged the other person. Why? Almost everybody with OCD will either say it's because they don't deserve to be 'let off so lightly' or that they hold themselves to a higher moral standard than everybody else. Sadly that's just more of the same thinking that fuels OCD - trying to convince ourselves we're good people. You have to accept you're no better/ no more moral/ no worse/ not in need of greater punishment than anybody else. That's thinking in a more healthy way. When you can put yourself in either the judge's seat or the convicted person's shoes and feel compassion either way, then you'll be able to see that your present 'shock' response is you being unreasonable towards yourself. Despite how it feels it's really not the rational/moral response or 'doing the right thing' you believe it to be. If you cling to the idea that you shouldn't be allowed to think differently then you're sentencing yourself to going round in circles forever, never getting the answers you seek. The answer is simple - allow yourself to consider alternative ideas. At the moment you're making it an all or nothing choice between the two extremes and scaring yourself as you swing from one possibility to the other and back. Permit yourself to be neither perfect nor a monster but just somewhere in between like everybody else and the OCD pendulum will stop swinging.
  14. Cora, You acuse yourself of being a child abuser and then get scared by the thought. What do you think the punishment for child abusers and pedophiles should be? Prison, death penalty, therapy and reform? Unless you're an extremist 'bring back the death penalty' kind of person you must be willing to give abusers/ monsters an opportunity to reform, right? So instead of getting caught up in thoughts of 'OMG that's the worst thing I could be, OMG, OMG' and coming to a full stop, try thinking beyond that initial fear. What if you were an abuser? (I'm not saying you are, I'm asking you to stretch your mind and think beyond the OMG thoughts.) If you allow that therapy and reform is the way to go then isn't CBT and changing how you react to your OCD thoughts what you should be aiming for instead of getting stuck on all this self-accusation and beating yourself up? Try thinking beyond that first 'shock' reaction which you get stuck on every time. Aim to get to a point where you can shrug and say, 'I might be a child abuser, I might not. Instead of worrying that I am one I'm going to accept there's life beyond being an abuser and redemption even for monsters and concentrate on getting my life back on track. ' Taking a different approach like this can help when you SO fear the consequences of the thoughts that your mind stops thinking beyond that first 'OMG' reaction.
  15. Sending you sympathy over the pain, Petal. I live with chronic severe pain so I know what it's like when you have to deal with other stuff and you can barely think. I'm glad my reference to the Jeremy Kyle show shocked you. It was meant to! When you're locked into an OCD cycle of worries going round your head it's easy to get so emotionally caught up in it that you start behaving irrationally and in ways that are totally at odds with who you are. That's why I suggested taking a step back - see yourself as an outsider would see you if they only knew you from that one moment and it can be a wake up call to change how you react to OCD thoughts.
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