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  1. That's some great advice, thanks loads people! The concrete steps are just what I was needing help with. Gbg's list of small risks sounds like what I want to get going on because I haven't really tried that yet with these fears, and I love the idea of going on the offensive. Thanks for sharing some of the actual items on the list - I couldn't think where to start but that might be enough to get some ideas going. I definitely also have the fear of being immoral thing but I will try to find ones that fit my fear of letting people down, and of doing things I don't feel 100% competent at, too. Then I can do what Gemma said and do a prediction of how it will go if I don't ruminate afterwards and try that for an hour to see how I feel after. I have read the Break Free book but a while ago, borrowed from a friend. Might borrow that again. I have Jonathan Grayson's book. Then like Leif and dksea said, I can try to let myself feel the guilt and anxiety and try to accept it without reacting. Sounds hard but the new thing will be starting very small with things on the same theme as my massive fears. I haven't done that yet and I am almost keen to get going and challenge myself to feel those feelings and let them be there. Thanks so much. This will take practice I know but I have to start somewhere and have been stuck for months not seeing a good plan of attack for my main issues, so I'll see if I can get this together now and maybe start to see some progress. Thanks again so much. This is hard on your own, so your input is valuable to me. X
  2. Hi. I'm stuck because I still can't accept that it's ok for me to make mistakes. It's the cognitive step I guess. I think my core belief is that i don't know what I'm doing in general. I have to make decisions every day where I don't feel confident I made the right decision and I'm constantly pretty terrified that one of them will turn out catastrophically wrong. And I will deserve the blame because I made the decision even though I already knew that I didn't properly know what I was doing. (I feel like I'm driving down the motorway without knowing how to drive, so I should stop, but that would be giving up on life and I'm not supposed to do that either....) Logically I can see that for most things in life other people don't have perfect confidence in their decisions but they are not all in the state I'm in, so possibly the difference is that I've spent too long thinking about it all and now I'm hyper sensitized to it. I can also see that even with my worst decisions, if it was someone else who made them I'd forgive them. So I'd like to be able to forgive myself. And sometimes I can, fleetingly, but it doesn't stick. Does anyone have any advice on how I can start to accept bad decisions as just a part of life and not the sign that I'm dangerously incompetent? Maybe I do understand enough already and need to get on with exposures but these are so hard to design when all my compulsions are constant rumination and worry. I wonder if I need to work on it like this: I can choose to either be safe or live a proper life. I keep losing sight of that. I know I can't really be safe but I kind of feel safe when I'm at least trying hard to find my mistakes and fix them and prevent new mistakes. I feel safe from the possibility of accidentally being a negligent, bad person who doesn't care that they've been bad because at least I can make sure I care. But in practice that means constant worry and rumination because that's how I do my "caring". So of course I'm not getting better. I can see that I'm deliberately keeping my ocd going on this way. So now I need to make it concrete with a hierarchy, don't I? I'm finding it hard to think of things to do here. I have done well with my checking compulsions (locks etc) but with rumination it's hard for me to see what I need to do exactly. Thanks
  3. Hi greentop. I sympathise - I had a panic attack recently over a real event I've managed not to confess for a year and I was desperate to confess on the spot just to end the horror. Constant fantasies of confessing churning around in my head.... Managed not to, and now I don't really want to even think about the topic, certainly don't feel inclined to confess. (I'm sure the urge will be back but it's gone for the moment). I will try to reconstruct what I did. I think I told myself some version of the following: You are very anxious right now, so don't trust your reasoning. It might seem sensible to confess, but remember that previously it has seemed better not to confess. There might have been something in that view that you can't see right now. It's ok that you don't know right now what's the best thing to do, so decide to do nothing about it, at least for now. Remember that confessing is a compulsion, so for that reason alone be very wary of it and certainly don't do it just to escape the anxiety. You can live with the anxiety. Just take the next breath when you need to, and the next step when you need to (I got that from someone else's post on this forum and it really helped! So thanks for that, can't remember who said it.). The feelings will go and it doesn't matter that you had a panic in public. Other people will be fine with it, just look after yourself for now. Once I'd calmed down I think I talked myself through my "cognitive" view of the situation, to put things in perspective a bit (all of which I've worked out very gradually in less anxious moments): Maybe that thing I did was very bad, maybe it wasn't. I just don't know. It seemed ok to do it at the time but who knows? I will aim to leave it at that if I can and not try to find "the truth". I can choose to forgive myself for deciding to do the thing I did. And I can choose to forgive myself for deciding to not figure it out any further right now. Both those decisions might prove to be wrong in time but right now they are the best I can do and I can choose to accept the risk that goes with making those decisions. Hope some of that is relevant. This is so, so hard. Hardest thing I've ever done. X
  4. Hi Taurean. Yes I think keeping up a challenge attitude is great. It keeps us practising and seems to give a feeling of control in amongst all the rubbish we are constantly dealing with. Well I'm pleased that I made a start tackling the replaying-conversations compulsion. It seems that tracking what kind of thinking I've been doing in a day is much more difficult than tracking whether or not I double-checked the cooker. So I don't really know how it went! But I will keep it on my list of challenges and maybe over the course of weeks I'll see a change. The challenges I posted up a few weeks ago are also ongoing. I seem to be taking a very small-steps route so progress seems slow but I do see progress which is heartening. I'm doing physical checks of cooker etc less than before and still aiming to cut out completely eventually. Hi Angst. I suppose your symptoms would be ocd rather than depression if they're done in a compulsive way? I think I do the thing with the conversations compulsively, although it doesn't feel deliberate but that's probably because it's such a strong habit. I'm guessing many of us will have some depression with our ocd and they might affect each other - so I think the strain of trying and falling to live up to ocd's demands can make me depressed, and depression can (I think?) bring a negative bias which our ocd tries to protect us from (as in, seeing the world as dangerous leads to safety behaviours)...? Whether or not these replayed conversations are deliberate though, a common issue might be that we associate the content with meaning in a way that others might not. So I remember saying something offensive and jump to the idea that I'm a dangerous person who shouldn't be allowed to talk to other people, and maybe you associate a meaning with the memory of feeling embarrassed? And in both cases someone without those themes might have the memory but shrug it off straight away? Ok, off for another day of attempting to avoid/quit replaying conversations, not check cooker just before leaving, and only looking the front door once. ...if possible! And if I fail, I haven't completely failed because trying is the first step and I'll get there eventually....
  5. Today's challenge: avoid replaying past conversations in my head. This is a massive compulsion of mine. It often ends with me spotting something I said that I wish I hadn't because e.g. I might have hurt someone's feelings or broken a confidence or got someone into trouble. I can feel the urge to go over a conversation I just had right now. I know it wouldn't end well. If I didn't find anything I would just move onto yesterday's conversations and so on until I found an issue to grab onto and wrestle with for the rest of the day at least. Going to take a big breath, be aware of the urge and let the urge and anxiety be there while I hang out the washing then get on with some work. Also going to remind myself this is a very well practised habit and overcoming it is likely to take months. There will be lots of failed attempts probably. But the first step needs to be taken so that's what I will aim to do today. Thinking of you guys doing your challenges too and that is helping With all our different issues what I have learned from this forum is that we really are in pretty much the same boat. Deep breath everyone....
  6. Hi Cub. I just wanted to say that I thoroughly recognise what you are saying. You are describing my own thought processes and I've had so many days dominated with huge anxiety, completely unable to make an ordinary decision and feeling awful and stupid about it. Whichever decision I imagine making, I can see that consequences might be awful, and on top of that I feel such a failure because other people don't seem to get in that state in a normal day. Not solved it yet but I'm working on the idea of accepting that things MIGHT go badly wrong BUT that it was still the right thing to do to make the best decision I could at the time. That seems like it has to be right, and I think it must apply to every decision actually. It's like a combination of giving myself permission in advance to make a decision that might not be the best one, and forgiving myself afterwards for having made it even though I can see that bad things might happen as a result. I'm doing it right now because I'm nervous about posting this, in case it's the wrong advice.... Anyway, I wanted to say I get this. I have frequently been hiding somewhere in tears at work, through the terror of not being able to make ordinary decisions. I think I am seeing these days that there is another way to go about things and very gradually moving towards it. Sending some hope your way. X
  7. Going to try to not ruminate on a new panic that got triggered today, where I did something that seemed ok at the time although not perfect and now I think someone else might be thought badly of because of my decision. It could happen and I feel anxious but going to aim to let the bad feelings stay and not pursue the thinking any further. It's very obviously my usual theme so I guess I can manage to assume my worry is exaggerated although I really wish I could just fix it! Also going to try to repeat today's feat, of not checking the cooker within the last ten minutes before leaving the house, for the next couple of weeks or so.
  8. Thanks for the replies I went out that night and as usually happens I said something I regretted saying and started the spiralling thoughts about being rejected by people because I'm so awful..... Then I thought, I could add a new verse to my song where I simply repeat the thing I'd regretted saying through the whole verse, loudly (still only on my head!) and with gusto! It does feel uncomfortable of course but I think it works because you're right in the face of the feared thing in a way that doesn't automatically draw you into ruminating because it's not ordinary thinking, and it's a bit silly. It also feels rather empowering to go on the offensive like this P.s there are various similar ideas in ACT therapy which is where I got this from
  9. Hi guys As per ACT therapy, I've put my core fear into a rather jolly song! (Tune is same as "glory glory hallelujah".) Thought I'd share it with you: I don't know what I'm doing! I might be getting everything wrong! I might have already ruined lots of people's lives, And there's still lots more to go! (Altogether now...!) I worked it out on the way to work last week when I was anticipating a very triggering meeting that would show me up as incompetent. I also decided that I would aim to be myself in the meeting, as if I was already good enough and didn't have to prevent them seeing how bad I really was. I suppose I wanted a positive aim of doing my own best, to be an antidote to the triggering I thought would happen. Kind of like, I might get told off, everyone might judge me for being a sham/failure, but that's under their control not mine. What I can do is to say and do what seems best/right at the time. (I'm thinking that's maybe all we can ever do, so by definition that's good enough...? That's what I think in principle of course, if I thought that in practice I wouldn't be here!). The meeting went well - it didn't trigger me during or afterwards. I need something similar today. I have a social event to go to, last year's version of which started off a disastrous obsession that's still bothering me massively a year on. So I'm a little nervous. Planning on using the song and aim of just doing my best at the time and being myself again. Woke up very scared about going but this tactic seems to have made me feel stronger so far.
  10. Hi gbg. Your issues are very similar to mine and I'm finding this such a relevant and useful thread. Given the state I'm in i feel like a fraud even trying to help but I've wondered, with the being good thing, are you aiming for something that's not real? What does being good actually mean? Is it feasible to live a happy life while demanding of yourself that you be good, and be sure that you are being good? There are a lot of messages given to us from society that we should constantly try harder and be better, and I think that can be rather harmful for worriers like us. I'm wondering whether you feel you're not good because you've spent so long asking yourself whether you're good and needing the answer to be yes because you care about being good, but being unable to be certain because how could a person ever be certain of that? I think you talked about other people seeming good and seeing confident. People who don't question whether they're good can easily seem confident. So I suppose it's like all ocd. It's asking the question that gets us into trouble. We need to find a way to decide not to ask it or at least not to try to answer it any more. Also, I think we need to fill the gap that will be left once we leave that alone or we'll keep coming back to it too easily. I'm reading Mark Freeman's book "You are not a rock". It's excellent and covers that topic well: you find new motivations based on other values (as in ACT therapy). As I said though, in practice I am very stuck too. Trying hard to get the theory straight so that I can then apply it to my own issues in practice. Xxx
  11. Hi Ironborn I really feel for you. I struggle with real event OCD too, including moral/ethical transgressions. I am not over my own issues yet so I don't have "the answer", but I think the route out of these things might be to forgive ourselves. I don't think this goes against the idea of embracing uncertainty because you're not aiming to end up with a final, certain judgement that what you did was either ok or not ok - there is no true answer to that: it would depend who you ask and on what day you ask them. But I think we have the right to forgive ourselves for our past actions. I think anyone and everyone has that right. We are human and fallible and our actions depend on a huge number of factors, most of which we can't see at the time. We simply can't get it all right. You talk about how those parents might judge you, and I do the same thing, imagining how the people most likely to judge me harshly might judge me. But is that fair, really? They're too close to the issue to see it clearly. You don't know them. I bet they've made their own mistakes. Nobody has a clean slate, but that's ok. We're all just trying our best and learning from our mistakes as we go along. A good trick is to imagine a close friend who you really care for making the same mistake and regretting. Would you want them to forgive themselves? The problem is then that it's so difficult to do that, even if we go along with the idea in principle. I'm really not good at that bit myself yet and I'm trying to be patient with myself about it. I wonder if it comes slowly but naturally once making the decision "in principle" to forgive yourself allows you to then determinedly give up the compulsion of ruminating over it? So some sustained effort at leaving the issue alone is going to be necessary I think before we actually feel better. I hope I'm talking sense here. This is my first "advice" post and I'm a bit worried about getting it wrong.... But I really wanted to give a bit of support as you're giving yourself a very hard time there and I think there's another way
  12. Thank you OCDhavenobrain. Yes, it's a big lesson to learn, I think. And it's going to take some time to properly sink in. Also, how nice to have people I can say this stuff to and they get it!! A lovely thing after so many years
  13. Hi. I'm on Day 7 of trying to tackle things with a hierarchy, so logging how my week has gone. With my current low-level hierarchy items I am making progress : surprisingly good with not checking emails; surprisingly anxious with not checking taps. And a lot of fails with the cooker! I've also noticed that I have hundreds of compulsions! I had no idea! At first this realisation was horrifying. Now I see it as hopeful. I can try working on them. It's like seeing a path that might lead out of the darkness, or a new set of steps along that path. (So if the main path is "stopping compulsions", then spotting new ones to stop is like a new step on my path being lit up for me to take.) New ones I've recently noticed: Asking myself whether I'm using my time wisely at this moment, whether there's something else I should be doing. I ask myself what various other people might say about it: how well am I doing in their eyes? (Actually, that's the same for decision-making too : if I decide X, what would Z have to say about that, especially if the outcome is Y?) Didn't think it before but I seem to have a few related to magical thinking. E.g. when a deadline changed I thought it somehow didn't apply to me and I made sure I met the original deadline just in case. Practicing coping. I mentally rehearse a feared situation and how I might respond in order to be more ready when it happens. Scanning for problems. I think I do this as a way to work out what to do at any time, because I have a core fear that I don't know what I'm doing (don't know how to do "life"). So I assume there's bound to be something going wrong; to be a good person I now need to find it and fix it. That must be a "good" way to spend my time. I've realised I am basically anxious almost all the time, minimum 95%, probably more. So I'm constantly trying to reduce it by looking for a problem and fixing it. So this is like the lowest possible level of hierarchy: no actual trigger, just need to sit with the anxiety. Even this is challenging, but not terrifying. No wonder I can't yet handle the anxiety of "I've ruined various people's lives" though when literally no trigger is so hard! Ok that's it for now. Thanks for your support. It's definitely helping. X
  14. Wow thanks so much Cub for such an encouraging, supportive message. Very much appreciated. Xxx
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