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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. Yay! It's wonderful to hear you're doing ok, Saz, and feeling so strong. Way to go!
  2. Hi cashew, Others may comment in due course on whatever personal methods they've discovered to help them stop compulsive ruminating, but as you tagged me and asked I'll share my thoughts on the matter. Nobody can stop thinking. The normal healthy brain is designed to be curious, always looking for things to occupy it. Nothing 'OCD' about that. Even a monk skilled at deep meditation is thinking when his thoughts are 'empty'. He's simply trained his mind to focus on the sensation of his breathing and ignore everything else, but his brain isn't inactive. It takes a huge amount of effort to focus that narrowly and to stop himself from becoming distracted by (interested in) the totally natural thoughts which arise or 'intrude' as the brain scans itself and the world around it for things to think about. Random thoughts will pop into his head, but he lets them fade and be forgotten almost in the instant they appear, 'blocking' them out of his consciousness by completely ignoring them. A skilled meditator can experience silence even in a crowded noisy place because he is able to tune out everything he doesn't want to focus on. (Same as anybody can temporarily tune out the TV when a person walks into the room and asks them a question - you focus on what you want to hear and block the rest.) Though you don't need to focus to the degree of a meditating monk, what people are advising you to do to overcome your 'intrusive thoughts' is exactly the same principle. When your brain flags up a thought (any thought) you have three choices. 1. Focus on it, go with the flow, problem solve, analyse, check, compare, delve into it...etc 2. Acknowledge the thought and let it 'float' in your mind without analysis or emotional attachment. This is a technique some people use to brain storm ideas, allowing their 'empty' mind to throw up previously unconsidered links and associations that might prove useful for problem-solving very complex issues. 3. Label it as unimportant, uninteresting and valueless. Ignore it and let it fade away and be forgotten. With OCD the mind typically goes to #1 on everything, checking it out, analysing it to death to see if it's true/significant/threatening in any possible way. Because the obsessive topic is something you believe would have bad consequences this quickly becomes a mine field of more and more fearful thoughts exploding all over the place. What should you do if you accidentally run into a minefield? Rush about checking which bombs have yet to explode? No. You stop. You stand completely still. You calm yourself down and you focus on staying calm while you resolve the situation. The same is true when you start to feel anxious or uncomfortable about whatever OCD thoughts are going through your head. Stop. Calm yourself down. Focus on staying calm instead of thinking about the 'bombs' (thoughts), much like a meditating monk focuses only on his breathing and ignores everything else going around him. For example, say you had a thought 'What if I'm gay?' OCD tells you the answer will be found by reacting with #1. Ruminate on every angle, consider every scrap of evidence real or unreal, test yourself just to be sure... To counter the obsessive thoughts you go to #2. Calm yourself. Allow the thought to 'float' in your mind. You might find it helpful to visualise it as writing in the air in front of you, or as a nebulous cloud or whatever takes your fancy. But then you just let it be there without reacting. When the #1 questions come firing at you and your emotions start to run riot - just breathe. Stay calm. Let it be. Observe yourself being calm. Observe yourself not reacting. Notice how different it feels to be standing completely still in the middle of your minefield instead of jumping about trying to avoid the explosions. Notice how calm you are. How safe it is to simply 'be' and not to be rushing through your thoughts thrying to prevent something bad happening. More thoughts bombard you - snipers the lot of them, trying to scare you into running again. Stand still. Be confident that as long as you don't run you're safe. Let each and every bullet (intusive thought) whizz past you. As long as you don't react they are harmless. Now you're ready to try #3. Simply ignore the thoughts as they arise. With all the mines in the minefield deactivated it's safe to move again. Let the thoughts fade and be forgotten and get on with your day. When you first start #3 it can take a lot of effort, all that letting go, forgetting, remembering (the thought pops back into your head unbidden hundreds of times over) ...so it requires a hundred times of stubbornly refusing to treat it as important, let it go, ignore it, forget it... But with practise ignoring and forgetting can take less than a second, so fast it's as if the thought was never there. My signature quote is a description of perfect mastery of #3, let it go and forget it in a heartbeat. 'To fly as fast as thought to anywhere that is, you must begin by knowing you've already arrived.'
  3. Ooh, I like your fence with the trellis top, Roy! My garden took a backseat last year with no gardener able to attend for months. Then it underwent a radical chopping back and ripping out phase in autumn so it's really bare just now. I'm waiting to see what pops up this spring and whether anything survived being buried under the forrest of overgrowth. Exciting times!
  4. Dave, I think you're getting stuck by asking yourself the wrong question. At the moment you're focusing on the 'what if I'm gay?' thought and it blocks out rational thinking thereafter as you go into a state of anxiety. Instead why don't you ask yourself, 'How do I see my ideal future?' Picture it. Really let you're imagination run riot. Are you successful, rich, famous? Happy in your job? With someone or single? Remember this is your fantasy ideal so don't let yourself get distracted by thoughts about gay or straight. Just try to picture yourself 5 years or 10 years from now and make a note of what sort of things show up in your happy fantasy. One thing I hope you'll put in there is being OCD-free! Imagine that. What does it feel like? What becomes important to you in its place? By taking your mind away from the anxiety-provoking question and putting yourself into a 'happy place' state of mind you should find the urgency of finding answers to your sexuality becomes less intense. You might even find the answer you seek by a different route. If something in your fantasy future makes you anxious it's not meant to be there and doesn't reflect the real you. If it makes you happy and eager to see that imaginary future happen for real then it reflects the true you. Now, look at how you respond to the thought of being gay. Anxious? Suggests it's not part of your true make-up. Happy, relaxed and feeling good about yourself? Whenever you get locked in circles of anxiety by the thought of being gay, repeat this exercise and hopefully it will be clearer to you where your heart lies, regardless of how you feel when you test yourself or doubt yourself.
  5. Hi Ironborn, Your post is clearly asking for reassurance. You said it yourself, it's that you have no clear memory that's killing you - in other words, it's OCD wanting 100% assurance of no wrongdoing. Then you add that another worry supports your first worry (about you and your wife while on autopliot). This is a compulsion, looking for things which (seem to) support and validate your first anxiety. You know what to do. Stop checking your memory, stop looking for valid reasons to feel anxious. Accept anxiety and doubt is the result of you making an erroneous connection between a normal physical experience (the erection) and the circumstances it happened in (comforting your son to sleep.) Let it go and occupy yourself usefully until the feelings fade.
  6. Hi Ryukil, Good to hear you're having therapy again and that things were better after the session this week. I hope you continue to improve. Regarding some obsessions being too terrible to ignore... I've been there, done it and got the t-shirt. It was many years ago, but I haven't forgotten the lesson I learned, slowly and painfully, from adhering to this sort of thinking. I used to make bargains with the universe (God, or whatever power you believe in) that I'd stop doing compulsions for some of my anxieties as long as the 'biggies' remained off limits. It was in fact just another attempt to retain control, for me to set the boundaries instead of God deciding my fate. Looking back I can see I was simply not ready to face the issues underlying my OCD and this kind of bargaining was in fact a sneaky avoidance compulsion. There was a lot of semi-conscious thinking behind the bargaining. The things I'd labelled as too terrible to ignore went to the very core of my belief system, seemed to threaten my values to the extent I'd rather die than be that person, resisting the terribleness seemed to define me...etc. Notice I said 'seemed to' there. In my thinking at the time it was a definite 'they DO define me, they ARE terrible' and I was unable to step back and accept that was just how things seemed at the time. A lot of cognitive therapy later I was able to put a different interpretation to those same thoughts and accept the thoughts and beliefs were making me feel that way only because of the interpretation I gave them and not because of the thoughts themselves. My suggestion is two-fold. 1. Have a chat with your therapist about this and describe it exactly as you have here. Discuss a stategy to deal with your fears in progression so you build your confidence on a few smaller issues first, but then tackle on of the bigger ones, and then go back down the list and re-build your confidence on some smaller ones again. This ensures you don't fall into the trap of wasting all your therapy time on insignificant progress while putting off the real issues ad infinitum. 2. Consider looking more closely at your core beliefs and why something which is in itself unimportant and without power (a thought) has the ability to leave you feeling so threatened and scared. What is it you truly fear? Not the surface thing of 'God will punish me' or 'bad things will happen' but the deeper core fear of what you're really trying to avoid or control by targeting specific things with compulsions. It usually comes down to a simple phrase such as 'I'm afraid of not coping', 'I'm afraid I wouldn't cope with thinking badly of myself', 'I'm afraid of becoming someone I'd despise' ..etc. The truth is in every case the person IS more than capable of coping and CAN get to a point where their self-esteem and self-valuation isn't tied to their obsessive thoughts. It can take some digging (soul-searching) to reveal your core beliefs if there has been years of covering them up with diversionary obsessions and compulsions, but the effort is always worth it.
  7. Hi Lovescrafts, welcome to the forum. Transferrance of obsessions from one thing to another is extremely common. Typically OCD latches onto whatever is of most importance to the person at the time. As CBT progresses the person usually gains an understanding of the underlying mechanism that sustains their OCD whatever the topic. Once that idea has been grasped it gets a lot easier to nip new obsessions in the bud as soon as they appear. How many CBT sessions has he had and are they spaced regularly with homework in between? Is he diligent about doing the homework? The biggest factor in making progress throughout recovery is the sufferer's desire to be free of it and their willingness to face the anxiety. It can take time, or even a specific incentive, to get to that point of being ready to put the work in. You've absolutely done the right thing in putting boundaries on checks and reassurance. Hard though it can be, try to maintain this and apply it instantly to each new obsession topic. I'm sorry to hear he's unable to be supportive, particularly with regard to you attending virtual therapy sessions yourself. In terms of practical advice, all I can suggest is to have an honest conversation about how you feel, why he felt angry (threatened?) by you seeking therapy, how the situation is affecting you etc. Work out what you need and discuss how those needs will be met in future. Encourage him to do the same. Not unikely his idea of 'needs' will be a list of compulsions! It can be helpful if you're able to respond to this by pointing out which ones are healthy needs (that you'll work on achieving together) versus his compulsive desires (which you'll work on stopping together.) Creating a mentally healthy environment for your child to live in can be difficult if the family routines get taken over by OCD. You say you have a baby; at that young age being exposed to OCD behaviours is unlikely to have lasting influence. So don't worry about it for now, just aim to keep your own routines as normal as possible. (As best anybody can in lockdown!) You may have to accept that, in the short-term at least, your partner won't be a source for your emotional needs. Have you friends or family who you can confide in and lean on in his place for a while? Maybe reach out to ask them for help around practical issues of childcare too. (I'm aware that might not be possible just now due to covid, but lockdown won't last forever and OCD recovery can take some time so it's worth thinking aheead to when life opens up again.) Well done for educating yourself on OCD. Being well-informed is of huge benefit when it comes to supporting someone with OCD through the stages of their recovery. Things can get better. Push forwards and set (small) goals. As life improves you can set bigger goals. Try not to despair. You're not alone and help (for both of you) is available.
  8. Hi ST 85, I just wanted to pick up on your use of the acronym ROCD. It may seem like handy shorthand for the specific OCD worries you experience, but in reality it's not useful and can potentially slow your understanding of how OCD works and how to overcome it. Here on the forum we encourage people not to use acronyms like R,P,H- OCD. It's best to come to terms with the fact all OCD works in exactly the same manner, whatever the topic. Instead of relating only to those whose worries are similar in nature to your own, you begin to see the pattern across all topics and more quickly grasp that the problem isn't what you're worried about, but that you respond to this worry with a recognisable pattern of behaviour - obsessions and compulsions. You said you've experienced OCD symptoms over a variety of topics in the past, so your goal now is to learn how to deal with OCD, not how to deal with the current topic your OCD has latched onto. Hopefully as you browse the forums this unwanted pattern of behaviour will become ever clearer to you, alongside the remedy.
  9. Hi croydonbilly. Welcome to the forum. I'm sorry to hear your mum is suffering from OCD and that it is affecting the whole family. The biggest help you can give her is to gradually bring her round to the idea things have got to change (for her sake, not as a threat) and get her to accept she needs help. Then you can approach your GP or IAPT services and ask for her to be referred for CBT. It can be a scary prospect for someone with severe OCD to agree to get therapy as if forces them to leave the safety zone they've carefully constructed over many years. The best way is often to 'chip away at it' with a series of honest, open chats over time, each one confirming your support and love but also challenging her to accept there's a problem and that help is available when she's ready to tackle it. Patience is key. Meanwhile, you might find some useful ideas in this book. It's for those who live with someone who suffers from OCD or anxiety rather than for the sufferer. Good luck! If you have further questions , or just neded to offload, here is the place to post.
  10. You made a useful distinction there brainwaffle. Medications can slow your thinking. If you're experiencing fast and repetitive thoughts this can reduce the symptom of feeling bombarded which can bring some relief. Antidepressants (SSRIs) lift your mood which can enable you to think more positively and problem solve more efficiently - both useful in the fight to overcome OCD. Aintipsychotics reduce random and unfounded ('crazy') connections made between thoughts that can lead to psychosis. If your brain is racing with 'crazy' ideas it can help to have those reduced. What medication can't do is help you understand how the interpretation you put on your thoughts locks you into a cycle of fear, obsession and anxiety reducing behaviours (compulsions). CBT teaches you to allow for alternative interpretations with different outcomes (puts the obsession in perspective) and helps you practice alternative responses to anxiety provoking thoughts (change your behaviour, stop compulsions.) I probably jump in too quickly to say medication doesn't solve OCD and that it only reduces anxiety so you can better engage with CBT. It certainly works differently for individuals with some people getting only bad side-effects and no benefit while others feel markedly better on their drugs. What I'm really saying is the decision to take or pass on medication is for each person to make for themselves, but people should be aware that drugs are a passive treatment and overcoming OCD requires active participation by the sufferer (CBT.) I'm not anti-drugs. Just pro-CBT.
  11. Finding a lump on your testicle definitely requires a visit to the doctor to get it checked out. But there are many causes of testicular lumps, so although its natural to fear cancer until the doctor has assessed it it's unrealistic to assume the lump has to be cancer or to continue to worry once it's been checked out. Realistic fear quickly goes away once reassurance has been received. You know it's an OCD (unrealistic) fear when checking it out and getting reassurance still leaves you feeling doubtful. No amount of reassurance will ever satisfy an unrealistic fear. Even if you get temporary relief the doubt (and fear) always returns soon after. The attempt to reassure yourself by hiring lawyers didn't erase your unrealistic fear, deleting youtube content didn't give you relief, and when there is no knock at the door in the morning that won't bring relief either. Your obsessive thoughts will keep the anxiety high no matter how often or how much reassurance you get. The good news is that once you stop trying to get certainty through reassurance the anxiety does go away. But you have to take a leap of faith and stop looking for any kind of reassurance for a while to get there. At first your anxiety will probably increase because you're not doing any compulsions to relieve it, but remind yourself that although the way you feel is real, the thing making you feel that way is just unrealistic thoughts.
  12. The saying ' not seeing the wood for the trees' is appropriate here. It's not 'probably' OCD, CVora. It is OCD. The logical (and correct) explanation is that it is OCD. You need look no further than that Five minutes reading the forums and you'll come across lots and lots of people with similar fears. Maybe not the exact same fears, because no two people live the exact same life or think the exact same thoughts, but the principle is universal and identical across all OCD themes. Looking for exact matches between your experience and other people is a sneaky compulsion - sneaky because (as I said above) you'll never find anybody who experiences OCD exactly like you which gives your OCD room for doubt and sets the whole cycle off yet again. Step 1. Accept this is OCD Step 2. Make the decision that you've suffered long enough and are determined to find a new way of dealing with your anxious-provoking thoughts. Step 3. Identify your personalised compulsiuons. (You've done this earlier in the thread.) Step 4. Start to apply the advice you've received (resist doing the compulsions) Step 5. When you fail (and at first you will because everybody fails at first), go back to step 2. Remind yourself that you want things to change, that you're ready to put in the effort required and however hard it seems the way to achieve that is to keep trying.
  13. That's a shame, Richard. I have no doubt CBT would help you, it's even used to help schizoid disorders quite commonly now. But if theerapy isn't on offer then all you can do is read the self-help books and try to apply it as best you can yourself. Every person with OCD believes 'the problem is...' and says their fear really can happen. I understand sometimes people really do get jailed in Russia for their political views, but ask someone with fears of bacteria and they'll say the likelihood of illness is real, people with responsibility fears will say they 'should' feel responsible and so on. In truth your fear is equally unjustified as someone who washes their hands 20 times instead of once. If someone has an obsessive fear of cancer the one thing they should NOT do is go to the doctor! They need to accept their fear is out of proportion to reality and stop seeking reassurance. Same with you, wanting to go and ask the secret services for reassurance only maintains your belief that getting jailed is a likely outcome of this. You have to accept your fear is out of proportion to reality and that reassurance seeking and other compulsions (asking lawyers, checking youtube, deleting things) is what keeps the fear active. Your therapist may be right that for now you should avoid public speaking. As you get better at facing your anxiety and not giving in to compulsions you can reintroduce these activities to your life. By then you will understand how compulsions maintain OCD and be equiped to manage the thoughts without anxiety. Why not talk to your therapist about the 4 steps? Maybe you can teach her about treating OCD!
  14. Hi dayb23, SSRI's (or any drug) won't change the thoughts; drugs only ease the anxiety your thoughts produce. It's good that you'll be going for more CBT soon as that's the treatment which changes the thoughts and breaks the cycle of thought>anxiety> more thoughts... You may have some further reduction in anxiety up to 6 weeks after starting a new drug so hang in there and fingers crossed it will tide you over until the CBT begins.
  15. Hi humbelno 1, I'm sorry to hear you're beating yourself up over this. After a relationship ends it can be a good idea to spend a bit of time alone, but not because you don't deserve to be loved or anything. Just to give yourself time for reflection. Look at it as 'What's done is done.' Better than drowning in guilt is to take a moment to accept that a lesson has been learned, resolve that next time you'll act differently and then put it behind you, forget it and move on. Try not to indulge in self-loathing, it's a pointless exrecise that achieves nothing, just keeps you stuck in the guilty obsessions. Divert your attention to plans for the new year or some positive project/achievement.
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