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Everything posted by snowbear

  1. No worries, Chels. I'm not bothered about these occasional mix-ups and neither is PolarBear. I wish...
  2. So often people say exactly what they need to hear without realising what they've said. It's because you're treating these thoughts and feelings as significant that they have become troubling. When you realise they are just thoughts and accept they have no significance they will gradually fade away. When you do compulsions (ruminating/thinking about it, checking your physical reaction and more) you convince yourself the thoughts are significant and set yourself up for another round of trouble. You asked on another thread if the book Break Free from OCD would help you. The book does explain the cycle of thought > interpretation > feeling > result and how changing the interpretation you give it (the significance/ meaning you decide it has) can break the cycle. If you haven't yet got a therapist to talk you through it then a self-help book like this one is a good place to start.
  3. I'm not against people sharing OCD experiences, but be careful about using Instagram as a place to find advice. Unlike the charity website/forum here there is nobody monitoring what people say on Instagram or checking it is appropriate and helpful. I have no idea who this person is; he may be a qualified CBT therapist, he may be peddling his own brand of therapy that's not regulated or approved by BACPS (the organisation which accredits properly trained therapists.) Before doing any sessions with someone (particularly if it's someone you've discovered through online advertising) always check their credentials and don't be afraid to ask about the therapy on offer. Make sure it's CBT (both cognitive and behavioural parts) and not ERP alone, or counselling, or 'anxiety management'.
  4. Hi Laura, There's no such thing as 'HOCD', just OCD. The theme (sexuality, harm, germs whatever) is irrelvant to how it's treated and acronyms like 'HOCD' tend to cause confusion more than they help. Whatever the theme, treatment is with CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy.) Self help is a useful way to go, though be careful you don't fall into the trap of doing exposure therapy alone and ignore the cognitive part. In my opinion, the cognitive side is far more important. As you say, it can be distressing to be told to 'just let the thoughts happen' and understanding the cognitive part helps you deal with things like that. Which self help book(s) have you read? I recommend Break Free from OCD, but there are others available that explain CBT quite well too.
  5. Hi Girlie1 and welcome to the forum. That's great news that your daughter is getting CBT. Online sessions are just as good as face to face in my opinion. (I had CBT over the phone in the days before video calls were invented and that worked too.) Having your support, keeping to a routine and getting regular exercise will all help as well. I'll try to address the questions you've raised. As far as Uni goes, there's no reason she shouldn't do well, especially as she'll have some CBT skills under her belt by then. Telling a future employer shouldn't be necessary unless she still has OCD at that time which is severe enough to affect her ability to do her job. Otherwise there's no need to mention it to anybody except when applying for life insurance (unless she wants to.) Personally I think medication has a very limited role in OCD and is not needed for the vast majority of people. I agree with your daughter that trying CBT first is the way to go. Labels, labels, sheeesh! Psychologists love a label. Thinking you smell bad when you don't is really just another intrusive thought and can be treated in exactly the same way as other worrying thoughts - with CBT. I see no reason to separate it out and label it as something different. OCD is the same whatever the topic. Thinking of it under the one umbrella makes it easier to apply the same CBT skills to the problem whatever the theme and avoids landing the person with a lot of unhelpful labels which make them feel there's twice as much wrong as there is. There are a lot of people feeling anxious over going to the local shops thanks to the pandemic and my advice on that issue is the same as for somebody without OCD; as soon as the lockdown eases get back out there and try to get back to normal. If she has low confidence you might find it helps her to have company at first, but essentially it's about pushing through the anxiety. 'Feel the fear and do it anyway' as the famous book says! Perhaps she could join the forum herself? Doing CBT can be hard and it can help to chat about it with people who understand. She might also be interested in our Young Ambassadors section on the main website which you can access here. I hope that helps and if you have further questions this is the place to ask!
  6. I think you know what this is, Lily. You're back to asking for reassurance that you're not a bad person. You know how to deal with these compulsions. Let's see you put it into practice.
  7. Hi Logan, I hear your concerns, especial;ly given your family's health as a whole. It must seem logical to you to ask the younger work colleagues to return to work first. However you have no idea if any of them have medical conditions which put them at risk, or perhaps are living in households where someone ill or very elderly is being shielded. I'm sure many of them could produce a list of reasons not to be the first to return to work too if asked about their overall situation in the same way you are assessing your own predicament. Do you think your concerns could be driven more by OCD than the specific health issues you mentioned? It's natural to look for 'real issues' to support you continuing to work from home, but it does sound as though your anxiety comes from OCD thinking disproportionately increasing the dangers in your mind. Have you been given a date to return to work yet, or is much of this worry based on the presumption you might be asked? It could be your employer is already making a list of which employees are to return to work first - with you at the bottom of the list. All the worry and anger would then be for nothing!
  8. Half way to a good plan. Distraction until you stop thinking about it is good, but there's no need to be more careful or more vigilant next time. Telling yourself that you should be will only reinforce your belief that the risk is higher than it is, when in reality it's lower than you already think. Perhaps a better second half of a plan might be to think of ways to enjoy your pet without the restrictions your OCD puts on that. Have you ever (just for fun/interest) put yourself in your dog's head and tried to see it from her point of view? Do you think she ever gets frustrated by the boundaries you put around her, or anxious because she picks up on your anxiety for her safety? I'm not saying you shouldn't keep her safe, but children can suffer from parents being too overprotective (however well-meant) and I was just wondering if dogs too benefit from a little relaxing of the rules sometimes? Shouldn't having a lovely pet like a Golden Retriever be all about fun and games?
  9. If you truly mean that, then here's my advice as an old and wrinkled person with decades of living experience. More 'life advice' than 'OCD advice' becauise I'm in that kind of mood today. Take it or leave it as you see fit. Depends how you define 'good person'. In my books someone who is readily able to forgive mistakes (their own as well as other peoples') is a good person, because to forgive is the kind and loving thing to do. Holding yourself to such a high moral standard that you won't let something go (forgive yourself) makes for a rigid and less loving person. Are you defining 'good' as 'morally correct'? Because on that path lies misery and disappointment for the whole of your life. Better to be 'morally well-intentioned' than morally perfect. My advice is to carefully rethink how you choose to define 'good'. The older you get the more troubling memories you'll accumulate. Things you've done that make you squirm when you remember them, regrets you have to carry, failures you can't undo. If you don't adjust how you approach the world you'll quickly find life unbearable. The answer is to become kinder to yourself. To accept there will be times in life where you will feel helpless and in pain. To allow those times to come and go and get on with life in spite of them. The memory will always be there, but it doesn't mean you have to keep remembering it, ruminate on it and beat yourself up over it. My advice is to look for the lessons learned in this episode and then to accept you're not perfect and let it go. You live with guilt by coming to terms with it. You rethink your definition of dishonesty and accept there are some things which are best left unspoken, even if that pains you. Consider silence on the matter your private burden to carry alone, tuck it away somewhere and then forgive yourself and let it go. Stop dwelling on it. Stop dragging the past into the present. If the only people who deserved love and happiness were those who never put a foot wrong in life there would be zero love in the world and every last person on earth would be miserable. Everybody deserves love, happiness and forgiveness. A second chance, and a third, and more. Your choice is whether to let life, love and happiness pass you by while you ruminate on this, or to accept you aren't perfect and you don't need to be perfect to be 'a good person'. Then go out and grasp life with both hands and a full heart.
  10. I very much doubt you want to be what your thoughts say at all. If you did you'd have no anxiety and not be at all troubled by the thought, would even get genuine pleasure from thinking , 'I'm a pedophile and I love being one.' Does that sound like you? No. Therefore it's neither fact nor genuine. Doesn't matter that you're not able to say they're not true. Overcoming OCD is about giving up the search for certainty and living with doubt. You're not trying to get to a place where you can sigh with relief and say 'Finally! I know it's not true, it was just OCD.' The aim is to get to a place where you shrug your shoulders and say, 'It's just a thought, just a feeling, it's not important and it doesn't mean anything.' Then you can add, 'I might be a pedophile, but I'm probably not and the doubt about whether I am or not is ok with me.' As long as you go on trying to prove to yourself that these feelings aren't a sign that you're a pedophile they will continue to be there, constantly making you feel they must be true because they feel so convincing. And the harder you try to deny them the more convincing they will feel. It also explains why - at some level - you probably quite genuinely don't want to be free of OCD! At the moment you're giving yourself only 2 options: 1) it's true I'm a pedophile monster OR 2. it's all OCD and I'm really a good person. Given those options it's hardly surprising if you're hanging onto your OCD. What you need to realise is these aren't your only options. You're ignoring several more possibilities, one of which is 'I'm not a pedophile, I'm just placing too much importance on the thoughts and feelings I get and confusing myself.' When you start to realise there are many other options and not just the black and white choice between monster and OCD you're currently giving yourself, then you'll be much more willing (eager!) to be rid of OCD. Ok, it probably could. But EQUALLY, it probably couldn't. Do you see that 'probably' works both ways? In other words, this event proves nothing. But yet again you've got caught up in the details and the feelings and convinced yourself that the only 'probably' that has meaning is the one that produces the outcome you fear, totally ignoring the probably that proves your innocence.
  11. Hi JaneJay, You've done exactly the right thing in explaining this is a compulsion and therefore you can't support it. I think if you took the phone away on the grounds that she's compulsively looking at clothes for hours (ie. because of her OCD) it could cause resentment (which is actually fear from her compulsion being stopped disguised as resentment.) However, there's a 'normal' parenting issue here too. Any young person spending their parent's money online without the parent's consent should expect to have their phone confiscated! It sounds as though she knows your credit card details so you might want to think of ordering a new card/ changing the PIN so she can't purchase anything without you knowing about it. I would approach it from the angle of inaffordability/ unacceptable spending, at least initially. This can put an instant 100% stop to the ordering and returning of goods and gives you some breathing space to tackle the driving force behind her behaviour (the OCD thoughts.) Once the ban on buying anything is in place you should find it easier to refuse to look at new clothes completely and get back to her doing what you want her to do because you asked her to do it and not as part of any bargaining. I'm never convinced a limited time of indulging compulsions works too well as when the allotted time is up the feeling you need to persist is still there. Being cut off mid-compulsion always felt worse to me than not being able to do it at all, but the time limited allowing of compulsions does work for some so that's your call. You won't make her OCD worse by removing her phone. But it's common that when denied one compulsion a new one takes its place, so you might think you're seeing a deterioration when its just a shift to some new way to bring her the reassurance she craves. You may also wish to start helping her to see that 'sorting her clothes' won't sort her concerns over starting college and that the feeling she won't make friends or fit in is just a feeling which has nothing to do with what clothes she wears. (I know, hard concept to get across when kids spend their lives thinking fashion matters!) Perhaps have a chat about how meaningful friendships are formed based on what we do, not what we wear. Try to build her self-confidence so fitting in becomes less of a concern. You may think this isn't tackling her OCD, but the problem isn't so much what she's doing (buying and obsessing over clothes) as the faulty thinking which results in that behaviour. (That she won't fit in, that she's not good enough as she is, that there's such a thing as the 'right' clothes and having them can solve feelings of insecurity.)
  12. If I could give you one birthday present it would be to be able to think 'Yeah, I'm a bad person. Whoop-e-do-da. Good for me. ' Seriously! Many years ago I got to a place where I was so angry with the world I thought (for the first time) 'I wish I was a bad person, get my own back on the human race, make the universe pay. ' Almost miraculously all my OCD obsessions and rituals connected with the belief 'I have to ...because that would make me a bad person ' stopped troubling me. I don't really want revenge on the human race and the universe (well, maybe just a little bit! ) but I can truly say with complete indifference now 'So what if I'm a bad person? It doesn't matter if I am.' I'm completely at peace with the idea of being a bad person in someone else's eyes, because in my eyes I'm ok - not good, not bad, but ok, just as I am. That's the gift I'd like to give to everybody with OCD if I could, getting rid of the need to be good/perfect/never do harm and acceptance that 'ok is good enough' would wipe most OCD off the face of the earth in an instant.
  13. You're asking me for reassurance. If I say 'No, it's not OCD' you'd interpret that as the guilt etc is justified. If I say 'Yes it is OCD' you are likely to interpret that as... thank goodness, that means it isn't 'me'. Which misses the point I've been making. The point I'm trying to make is your interpretation is the problem, not the behaviour and anxiety that follows. You're treating an obsessive thought as if it had significance. You're doing compulsions (including seeking reassurance than your behaviour is OCD related) You tell me, does that sounds like OCD?
  14. Again, a slightly inaccurate twist. The issue is the interpretation you put a thought. (If I did something wrong then I'd lose everything dear to me.) This interpretation leads to guilt (in case you actually did do something wrong), fear (that you'll lose everything) and worthlessness (passing judgement on yourself). Your feelings are a result of the meaning you gave to your thoughts. If I could emblazon this in gold and stamp it on the forehead of everybody here I would! Read it again. Feelings are the result of the meaning you give to thoughts. It's unimportant whether you did anything wrong or not. It's matters not a jot what you know deep down. It's irrelevant if you did something taboo and forgot you'd done it. What keeps this torturing you is you are telling yourself these things matter. When you obsess about how they matter and do compulsions to control the outcome of them mattering in the way you think - that's having OCD. When you accept your interpretation is only one of a billion possible interpretations and the only reason you chose the one you did is because the meaning scared you, that's when you can start to let go of the OCD. Chose a different interpretation which has a less scary meaning for you. All interpretations are equally valid - it's your choice which way you interpret things.
  15. Not true! You ARE still 'checking'. If you weren't you would have no knowledge of the arousal or its abscence. Perhaps a better way of phrasing the compulsion you're doing is registering/ acknowledging. It's a more subtle form of checking, but still a compulsion. You've answered yourself here though you may not realise it. YOU give the thoughts their power by doing compulsions (thinking them on purpose is a compulsion, avoiding thinking them is a compulsion, checking, ruminating, denying/countering...all compulsions.) So it should be no surprise these thoughts feel more powerful (real) than previous ones, because YOU are giving them more importance than previous thoughts. Which is what convinces you they must be true. Like Cora, you're applying a rule incorrectly ' (If I'm not anxious then it must be true') The lack of anxiety just means you're not anxious any more, no more and no less. This can happen when you become habituated to a thought (bored by it or overfamiliar with it) Trying to find things which support the idea its ok is a compulsion (reassurance seeking.) You've switched your attack on the discomfort the thought creates in you from obvious rejection to attempted acceptance - but you're still interpreting the thought exactly the same underneath it all so nothing has actually changed. If you didn't think it was wrong you'd have no reaction to it, barely even realising you'd had the thought at all. It's a common misunderstanding to believe the rights and wrongs of something is what makes it OCD. It isn't. Yes, you can challenge this! You just need to make sure you challenge the right thing so you jump the wall instead of bashing your head against it. To forget the whole thing and move on you have to stop giving the thought importance. Stop doing compulsions to make it feel ok. Accept you have thoughts from time to time which are classed as morally wrong by most people, but having them doesn't make you a bad person. Other people have similar thoughts and interpret having them as unimportant. You give importance just to having the thought, so it makes you anxious.
  16. Hi Chris, Doing anything 20 times a day is just a little bit obsessive, don't you think? It does sound as though you're using the forum to seek reassurance at present. However, that doesn't mean you should pull the plug on coming here. Imstead it means you need to start using the forum as it's intended to be used. Rather than looking for a story similar to yours (reassurance seeking) you would be better to learn from the forum how the detail of the story (what you're worrying about specifically) doesn't matter. It's the way you interpret your thoughts which creates the problem (and the anxiety.) These are compulsions. Ruminating (going over and over thoughts) will never give you the answers you seek. It's not the details you need, but an understanding of how your behaviour (doing compulsions) is keeping the anxiety going. Bit of confusion here too... having OCD doesn't convince you of anything. If you have a thought that you might have done something against your nature and repeatedly do compulsions to convince yourself that you haven't then it creates doubt. The doubt in turn makes you believe the thing you fear must be true. OCD is thinking you need answers and doing compulsions. The concincing and believing is the result of doing compulsions. This is ruminating, a compulsion which keeps the anxiety active in your mind. This is the reason you've attached so much importance to a random (unimportant) thought. Naturally if you feel you could lose everything you value you will be very anxious. Try to accept this is a fear of losing things you value (just a feeling) and not a prediction that you will lose everything unless you remember some forgotten detail. (Your obsession.) Try reading a few posts which are about a topic different from yours and look for the recurring advice across all threads whatever the topic. That's how you can use the forum in a positive way - learn about interpreting your thoughts more realistically and how to change your behavioural response so you lessen instead of increase your anxiety.
  17. Hi Parentsuk and welcome to the forum. OCD can start suddenly after a triggering enotional event, typically where stress levels are already high. Given the current situation with coronavirus it's possible the recent walk was a 'trigger' that set things off. It's also possible your son has had other symptoms of OCD for a long time but they've been more manageable. (Obsessive worries/concerns on topics which caused less severe anxiety.) So what appears to be sudden onset OCD could be simply unrecognised OCD that's recently escalated to a less comfortable level. I used the word 'trigger' but in fact a trigger is just an event that the person interprets as significant in some way. A meaning becomes suddenly attached to a random thought. The meaning usually has severe consequences for the person IF it were true. It's the imagined consequences which make the thought significant/ scary. For example, say previously your son thought, 'Kids are cute, I'd like to be a dad some day.' That's a happy thought and carries no stress. In a state of general (mild) stress we can feel more pressured to get things right in general and the brain starts to interpret the world more cautiously. 'What if...?' So a chat to a baby starts as normal with the happy response, but then gets layered with caution, 'What if I'm not fit to be a dad? What if I'm inappropriately attracted to kids? What if...?' These are labelled 'intrusive thoughts' because they are unwanted and cause distress. Next the person tries to relieve the distress they feel, often by denying or rejecting the thoughts as if they were a reflection of their true self (ruminating), or by trying not to think them (avoidance), or by doing some ritual to counter them (counting, washing etc.) These responses are compulsions. The more compulsions the person does the stronger the belief the worries are valid and the greater the anxiety felt. It's important to realise the topic the worry is about is not relevant. It's the thinking/ interpretation/response that has become faulty. The faulty thinking/response cycle (obsessions/compulsions) is treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT.) Your son might find it helpful to register on the forum himself and work through this with the help of other sufferers, or he could try a self-help book which explains the thinking/response problem and how to overcome it. Alternatively he can ask to be referred for CBT by his GP. (Or self -refer to IAPT if you live in England.) It's thought that low Vitamin D may contribute to poor mental health in general, but Vit D levels are not directly related to the onset of OCD. If you think he's got low vit D (not been outside for 15 minutes daily or 90 mins once a week) then taking an over the counter supplement at the recommended daily dose won't hurt.
  18. Hi Spiders90, I can't give you an official diagnosis, as you said, but everything you listed is on the spectrum of OCD behaviours including the desire to have everyuthing perfect and be absolutely sure of something. I think you should bring this up with your doctor and ask for a referral to CBT for OCD. When you see the therapist a good place to start would be to print off the list you posted here and show it to him/her by way of explanation of how it affects you.
  19. I was about to say something very similar. Telling you what degree of cleaning is 'normal' is pointless because everybody defines 'clean enough to do' differently. What you need to do is challenge the idea that the threat is as huge as it feels. Accept that (in this instance) your gut feeling has got it wrong. The anxiety results from a percieved threat (your thoughts) so it's your perception (thinking) you need to change rather than setting limits on how much cleaning you should or shouldn't do.
  20. Hi Em! It's wonderful to hear OCD no longer controls any aspect of your life and to see you here as a beacon of hope for others - living proof that full recovery is possible.
  21. Hi Cora and Blossom. When anything happens in life we try to make sense of it. That's normal. For example: If I drop this apple it should fall to the floor. If it floats in the air then it means there's no such thing as gravity. You let go of the apple and it falls, confirming that the world really does work according to the rules you've used to make sense of it (gravity exists.) However, when you try to make sense of it using the wrong rules that's when things get confusing. For example: ' If I feel arousal when hugging my brother there should be anxiety. If there is no anxiety then it means...' So you hug your brother, feel aroused and scare yourself with whatever you've decided it means. But maybe it doesn't mean what you assume. Maybe you've got the rule about how the universe works wrong. (Apples float in air.) If you keep checking to see if you're aroused and then check to see if the result of arousal is anxiety, it's like dropping a barrel of apples one after the other waiting for one of them to float. Convinced that they 'should' float you keep testing your theory, but apple after apple drops to the floor suggesting the rule 'apples should float' is wrong. That's where you need to start. Question your thinking about what 'should' happen (the rule you use to make sense of your feelings) and question the rule you use to explain what your responses mean. There are worksheets which can help you with this, showing how getting the meaning wrong leads to further confusing thoughts and anxiety. A therapist will work through it and personalise the worksheet to you. (For OCD-UK members, there are worksheet examples in one of the previous Compulsive Reading magazines, Issue 38 from Dec 2017.)
  22. Hi Natalie. Welcome to the forum. It's more common to hear about people who keep everything ultra clean, but you're not alone in having to live with dirt and disorder because of your OCD. This is called magical thinking. It's believing there's a 'right' moment to do things and feeling anxious if you have to do them at any other time or in any other way. You need to accept there isn't a specific moment in reality, it's just a feeling. The feeling can be very strong and going against that feeling can create a lot of anxiety, but that doesn't mean the feeling you 'should' wait for things to feel ok was valid. The way to get better from this is to start doing things outside of the times you've set for doing them. Perhaps decide 'Today I'm going to clean up (whatever you've chosen) and I'm going to do it even though I understand it feels like the wrong time or feels like I should wait for a better moment.' Then you get stuck in and do the task. At first it will make you anxious, but the more often you 'just get on with it' the easier it becomes to do things when you see they need done without having to wait for it to feel right. You can get a head start on therapy by reading a self-help book such as 'Break Free from OCD'. You may not find examples of your specific experience in any book, but your problem is the faulty (magical) thinking and all good self help books explain how to begin to tackle that and change the way you feel about doing things. You might find it easier to start with something that doesn't make you overly anxious and build up to the tasks that make you more anxious. (Create a hierarchy.) Or you could prioritise things by hygiene, taking on the dirtiest tasks first so your environment more quickly becomes a pleasant place to be. There's no right or wrong way to approach it, whichever suits you best personally. Have you heard yet when therapy will start?
  23. I would describe these as short term coping mechanisms at best. Yes and no. If you try to actively ignore it (push it way/ tell it to leave you alone etc) then you're still interacting with it. This tells your brain the thought is important so it sticks around. Letting it be there without reacting is more like shrugging your shoulders with indifference and turning your back on it. Imagine a snarky aunt has come to visit. If you engage with her she'll continue to make snide comments that make you feel bad. If you just leave her sitting on the sofa and get on with your life as if she was invisible then she'll sit around and sulk in silence for a bit (which might be uncomfortable but doesn't stop you getting on and doing your own thing.) Eventually she'll get the message her snarky opinions aren't important to you and she'll leave. Where it can be a struggle is in practising indifference. Sticking with the snarky aunt analogy, if you keep turning round to check she's still sitting there sulking, or keep thinking about the last thing she said, then you're engaging with her and she'll stick around just to spite you. When the thought's come into your head you have to stop putting a value on the thought being true/untrue. That's the key to developing indifference. 'Yes, I might be a bad person for thinking that, so what? It's ok if I am a bad person. But equally, thinking that doesn't make me a bad person. Fantasies are just harmless thoughts that mean nothing. I'm allowed to fantasize about whatever I want.' There's no value/ benefit in the thought being untrue and equally there's no value/detriment to it being true. Total indifference, so you can turn your back on it and get on with other things (distractions/chores/life.)
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