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malina

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  1. I meant you should wear the clothes that you percieve as dirty, but are actually clean. I think your example of the sock is a perfect place to start - in that situation you certainly shouldn't change the sock and you shouldn't change the jeans. Just accept that the sock could be dirty, but who has ever been hurt by a dirty sock? Resist the urge to change that sock and let the anxiety come. Just feel it and keep telling yourself that this is just OCD and it's not real. The OCD has gotten worse because you keep engaging with your compulsions. Until you stop allowing yourself to change clothes that you percieve as dirty, you will continue to be stuck. You have to fight back, but you seem to constantly allow yourself to carry out these actions that, deep down, you know don't make sense.
  2. I think you just have to start exposing yourself. Take it easy and don't push too much, but wear your "dirty" clothes....and the anxiety will come. It's supposed to come. Feel the anxiety and eventually you'll see that nothing will happen. Dirty clothes won't kill you and anxiety won't kill you either. I think you just have to take the plunge and gradually stop engaging with these compulsions. It's a painful process but it works.
  3. Thanks, Steve that makes a lot of sense! I guess the fight doesn't have to be one involving anger and trying to force yourself to stop believing these things. You fight this by being logical and trying to give the intrusive thoughts less meaning. Of course that is easier said than done, I've been dealing with this for so long and thought that I knew everything there is to know and yet it still gets to me.
  4. Can I ask a question - do you on some level believe that dirty clothes aren't dangerous and see the irrational nature of these compulsions?
  5. Hi Phil, I may not be the best equipped to answer this because I personally haven't had a huge number of compulsions. However, I have been reading your thread here it sounds like you have been engaging in your compulsions to the point where you have exhausted them. This is possibly why they aren't giving you relief. Also, anxiety is completely random, they may give you relief sometimes but not other times. I think you need to really try to stop engaging with them. Yes, you put on fresh clothes and they feel dirty, but so what? Wear the clothes and accept feeling dirty, it will not harm you. What is harming you is cleaning your things over and over again to make them feel clean. The feeling of being dirty will always come back. We have all worn dirty clothes and nothing has happened to us because of it. The more you expose yourself to the feeling of being dirty, the more it will decline and you will need the compulsions less and less. It's so hard to change when this has been your way of life for so long but it's the only way.
  6. malina

    Very high anxiety day

    Hi Ollie, I'm sorry to hear this, it sounds so incredibly frustrating! The only thing to say here is that in moments that really matter, anxiety can sometimes be at its peak. It chooses to bother us when we are most vulnerable. Just out of curiosity, have you told her about your issues? I told my partner very early on that I have OCD, mainly because I was really scared that he wouldn't want to be with me because of this and I had to be honest. For us it turned out to be a good experience, but people react in different ways. Just take your time, this caused you a lot of anxiety now, but with work it will go down!
  7. Yes, my OCD has jumped around throughout my life. I think that I've had it as far back in life as I can remember, since I was around 5 years old. Back then, it was mostly guilt related, always thinking that I'd done something wrong and neeing to confess that to my parents. Then as I got older, my predominant problem has been intrusive thoughts about self harm. However, I've also had other anxiety related problems in between - fear of heights, claustrophobia, feelings of depersonalization, physical sensations. I'm 31 now so I've been dealing with this for such a long time and it honestly feels like a never-ending list. I do like when it changes though, because it makes it easier to identify. I really struggled when I started feeling actual physical symptoms, they felt so incredibly real and I thought something was actually happening to me. Now that I recognised them as anxiety, they magically stopped. I think it's like anything in life, nothing is the same over a long period of time, but the underlying congitions and physical processes are the same.
  8. I've just been thinking about how I cope with my intrusive thoughts and anxiety. I've been speaking to my therapist about how there are generally 3 responses to anxiety - fight, flight (avoidance) and detachment. I think my coping mechanisms have been a combination of avoidance and detachment. The detachment is particularly strong to the point where I feel completely detached from my environment, as if I'm not real or the world isn't real (anyone else get that?). I just feel so frustrated, I'm trying to just let these feelings be but everyday is like a cycle of anxiety and intrusive thoughts. I'm at a point where I feel like I need to start actively fighting this, but I don't know how! Well, one way is through exposure. I've been set homework to put out some knives (that's what my intrusive thoughts are about) and I really have done that. I took out a knife, put it where I could see it, put my phone next to it so I'd have to go to it if I needed something on my phone, put it in the sink while I was washing the dishes so that I'd be forced to look at it and be close to it, etc etc. Today I'm much more anxious, but I am keeping the knife out so I can practice when I'm not feeling great. However, the feelings of sadness, fear, anxiety and the engagement with the thoughts still remain a huge problem. I just want to stop feeling horrible really. I am trying to just get angry and say: No, I've had enough, this isn't real, but the thoughts persist. Do you think that if I keep doing that enough they will eventually listen? People keep saying that you have to accept the thoughts and feelings and that they will eventually go away. I've been doing that for 10 years now and they still get to me, there has to be something more that I can do. I guess my question is this: I understand how this framework we use applies to compulsions (don't do them, allow the anxiety to come and see nothing will happen), I also understand how exposure works (be with the object that scares you, feel the anxiety and see that it will go down and nothing will happen). I don't understand how this applies to thoughts, it's the thoughts that cause me more distress than anything else and I don't know how to apply these coping mechanisms to something that isn't linked with compulsions or real life objects/situations.
  9. I understand, I feel the same to be honest. The thoughts are so compelling that not responding to them seems counter intuitive. I think it won't come naturally right away, you're probably used to being anxious and this has become a natural state for you. Instead of trying to be in "control", just try to relax. Try to just get on with your day, accept that the thoughts are there and that they seem very real, but continue with your day.
  10. Surely it's not more tiring than responding to the thoughts and constantly being worried though. You have to keep in mind that the thoughts are a symptom of OCD, ignoring the symptoms doesn't make you fake.
  11. I am currently struggling with obsessions about self harm, particularly around knives. With these thoughts, I have become obsessed with edges of things, like when I touch the edge of an envelope or my key rubs on my skin. These things disturb me but feel fascinating and good at the same time. Yesterday, I was putting on a packpack and the strap rubbed on the skin of my hand. When I was putting on the backpack, I could tell it was going to happen and I wanted it to rub up on me. Now I'm scared that I have actually allowed myself to be harmed. I know this is just OCD but the thought won't go away. I was using an object in a completely normal way and there is no way that this was harmful to me. It's just that I wanted/allowed it to happen. I've just always taken solace in the fact that I've never self harmed and believe that it makes it unlikely that I'll ever act out on these thoughts, but this is pushing me to think that I have actually given in.
  12. I think that most of my OCD themes have been related to real things that I have observed or that have happened to me. I guess that is just the nature of life, bad things can happen to you and they can be unpredictable. I think with our OCD we have trouble handling the possibility that something can happen and try to control it in excessive ways. I think they key is to accept that, yes, bad things can absolutely happen, but that we just have to accept that and try to enjoy life regardless. I actually realise that not very many terrible things have happened to me, yet I've spent so much time worrying about that. All that time worrying about essentially nothing could have been spent on enjoying life. It's great that you have found a way to accept this. Relationships and friendships are tricky and anything can happen, but the more you try to control the outcome of relationships, the less you will be able to enjoy them.
  13. Oh I can completely relate! I've done so much avoidance of knives. Years ago I was sharing an apartment with a friend and once she went away for the weekend and I was so anxious being alone that I threw all our sharp knives away....and then had to pretend like I had no idea what happened to them when she returned! I've had so many different symptoms of OCD and anxiety over the years - guilt, fears about health, claustrophobia, and most recently, physical symptoms, just to name a few...but this is the one that gets to me the most and it has certainly had the biggest impact on my life. Thanks for this, it is very helpful to hear! I think I'm happy to balance a somewhat slower recovery with feeling okay in the present. I know that I have to start facing these things and I'm trying to do it bit by bit, I'm alone right now and letting myself sit with these thoughts, so it's a start!
  14. I've been going through a big OCD relapse in the last few weeks. It's a long story, but my main fears have been about self harm, particularly with knives. I've had this issue for over 15 years, I think it started when a girl in my school was self harming. I have never done anything to hurt myself but did have a crisis about 10 years ago when I felt completely out of control and I sought help. At that point, I was diagnosed with OCD and started CBT. It was a huge struggle but I managed to get a handle on these thoughts and, while they re-emerged from time to time, I was able to brush them aside and continue as normal. However, they are back and I've once again started CBT after several years. Now my problem is that I know a lot about OCD and I know how CBT works, I have to expose myself to situations that I'm afraid of. I'm afraid of using sharp knives and being at home alone, particularly in the evenings. I went into therapy thinking that I was going to be great and do all this exposure and that I'd be getting back to normal asap. Well, I haven't been, I've been doing a lot of avoiding and I feel really disappointed in myself. I am avoiding using sharp knives, I avoid being home when my partner is not there. I know that avoidance reinforces the OCD and is making it worse. I've also been thinking, though, is it okay to just take my time? I have only had 2 sessions of CBT so far. Generally, I think I'm coping quite well, I'm trying to take care of myself, eat well, get rest, keep up with my work and engage in social things. I have also spent some time at home alone, but only during the day, and very briefly used a sharp knife. I'm also trying to face some other things I'm afraid of, like using lifts. I'm thinking that maybe I should just take some of the pressure off and just take it one day at a time and go as far as I'm comfortable. I don't know...I would love to hear from others about your experiences with this. Am I just letting myself down here by not jumping into it, or is it okay to just take it easy and move forward at a slower pace?
  15. Thank you for this thread, I haven't read all of it but it is something I have been thinking about lately too. I would really love to know why I have OCD. It seems that some people can point out a period when their OCD began, but for me, it goes as far back as I can remember in my childhood. I have never lived without OCD and I would like to understand why I have it, but I don't think there is a clear reason or underlying cause. I think that various life stresses have made it worse, but it has always been here.
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