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  1. Dksea, thanks for responding 🙂 Taking your advice and some time to consider things a little more, I think if I’m completely honest with myself, it is for compulsive purposes more than anything else as my primary motivation is really to prevent feeling anxiety; and perhaps the other reasonings for the purchase are in fact justification to bolster my case, so to speak, in kidding myself that it’s not OCD driven. Therefore getting a new car will take away all the anxiety I have around that particular vehicle, but as you said, doesn’t prevent another “what if” popping into my head potentially immediately after I buy it lol! Plus I have noticed that the thought to replace the car tends to come after a spell of uneasiness. Not enough to call it anxiety, but definitely response to an “off” feeling. So, I am instead going with what you suggested and use it as a tool to test my OCD. Im having a good OCD day today which I think helps my clarity in these situations, so I just have to remember this when my OCD spikes up and I’m all of a sudden browsing for new cars!
  2. Hi Handy, I’m a little confused... what is triage the first step of? And what does this mean in terms of what you think I should do?
  3. This is why I am so torn. Buying the new car so to speak, is a reasonable thing to do. But, at least half of my motivation to do it comes from an OCD and therefore unreasonable place, so it’s very difficult to know what to do. For instance, if I didn’t have OCD or my theme wasn’t related to this, would I still do the action? Half of me would (for the practical reasons), but I also wouldn’t do it based on the unreasonable rationale. It’s all so confusing! Feeding the OCD is what I am really trying not to do, which is why I am reluctant to make the choice until I am more sure that it’s for the right reasons, and not OCD as it definitely wouldn’t solve the repetitive behaviour in the long term. I’m currently waiting for CBT so don’t yet have a therapist I can hash this out with. Perhaps I should set a time delay on making the choice and see if my mind is any clearer at that time?
  4. Thanks for your reply Angst. What I am trying to get at really is how to know whether a specific action is motivated by OCD fear or whether the decision to act is based on reasonable thought, when the subject of the action is within one of your OCD themes. Its also a difficult one as the action I’m struggling over isn’t one that can be done repetitively, but will elimintate the need to do this particular type of repetitive checking once I have done it. So let’s say you have ocd about being responsible for getting into an accident while driving and killing your family. Your compulsions involve continually checking the various components of your (second hand) vehicle for safety, as you are concerned that the age of the parts and the fact that they are second hand makes them more likely to malfunction than the components of a brand new car. So now let’s say you’re considering getting a new car. There are various “reasonable” motivations to getting a new car, such as money, safer design generally, etc. but a substantial reason behind your decision is that it will eliminate the fear that those particular components are going to cause an accident, and therefore the need to continually check the components of your car for safety. The decision doesn’t come as a direct response to an anxiety spike, but is still somewhat influenced by the OCD theme. How do you know what to do in that situation? I would certainly feel better buying the new car, but am I doing it for the right reasons?
  5. Is it a compulsion to do something to prevent the risk of a feared scenario from occurring? The answer seems to be an obvious yes based on that question alone, but I am really getting confused as to whether the urge is a compulsion or whether it’s just a sensible thing to do. The reason it’s making me confused is because the urge does not come as a direct response to an anxiety spike, but more to provide certainty that a feared outcome won’t occur. But the feared outcome is definitely a part of my OCD theme. It’s so confusing trying to figure out whether my motivation for acting is sensible or whether it’s just another sneaky part of my OCD. Can anyone help give me guidance on identifying a compulsion in this way?
  6. Leif, I love this explanation! It’s like the “real” you is in there somewhere deep down telling you everything’s okay and you don’t need to be afraid, but that part is so tiny compared to the monster convincing you that your fear IS real and if you don’t do what the OCD is telling you to do, your very worst fear is going to hit you in the face and your life as you know it will never be the same again. This horrible cycle happens over and over again, unrelenting.
  7. I can definitely relate to this way of handling triggers, but I do struggle a little with ranking my levels of anxiety, as when I am triggered, everything seems just as anxiety inducing as everything else related to the topic lol! But thinking about it, I may have made progress and not realised it, as when this new manifestation of my theme (legal/fault ocd) first reared it’s head, I couldn’t bear having anything at all to do with any of it. Now I am able to go on my computer and check emails etc. Which I couldn’t have done before. For me, I have to be really careful not to ruminate and “what if” my way down the rabbit hole when I’m involving myself in theme-related actions. I’ve noticed it’s so easy for me to be handling checking my emails quite well, but as soon as a “what if” thought enters my head, I have to work really hard not to follow the thought with checking and ruminating. A perfect example happened just now. I am forever getting calls from nuisance numbers and I will block those numbers if they call. I just had a call from another number, but then made the mistake of going through all the numbers I had blocked previously and checking to make sure they were in fact only nuisance callers and not important calls I have somehow blocked. Numbers I don’t recognise make me extremely anxious as I fear that it could be someone calling me to say I’ve done something wrong or I’m going to get into some legal trouble somehow, so avoiding answering and blocking these numbers are actually avoidance tactics (which I have only just now realised). But, they are trapping me and keeping my OCD going as I follow the same ritual each time: 1. Anxiety spikes when the phone rings and I don’t know the number, so I ignore the call 2. I then search the number on the internet to see if it’s listed as nuisance (which is what I am always hoping for) 3. If not a nuisance number, I then go into further panic and then check all the potential areas of my life that the number could have called me from and the reasons why (e.g. a call to say I’m being sued etc). This has just happened to me with a couple of the numbers I had blocked, as they weren’t listed as nuisance, and I had the overwhelming urge to go and check all the usual areas. I very nearly did until I realised what was happening! So im guessing in this particular scenario, full exposure would just be to answer the calls, and refocusing would be what I have just done, by resisting the compulsion to go and check phone numbers of those “potential” callers, and focus on something else until the anxiety abates. My anxiety is lower now, but I still have a background hum that’s making me feel uneasy. I wonder how long that will take to pass. I have also been having the OCD doubt, that perhaps this isn’t OCD and I have a genuine need to fear, but even looking at this scenario, my logic and reasoning in relation to the unfamiliar numbers reassures me that it must be ocd as the fears don’t make sense. For example, if it was indeed a feared phonecall from such an organisation as a solicitors etc. they wouldn’t be calling me from a mobile number for one. This realisation is not helpful for overcoming the trigger itself, but is a good way to remind myself that it is indeed OCD. I am learning now that if for any reason I get that awful stomach twisting sensation when something happens, I need to take a step back and examine what’s happening there further, rather than just automatically trying to get rid of the feeling. It’s amazing the ways your theme sneaks into your life without you noticing!
  8. Hey Leif I decided on option B in the end - I agree that triggers seem much easier to handle when you go into them intentionally rather than try to fight fire with fire when they intrusively pop in. The purposeful exposure I did the other day has however, left me with an ongoing surge of intrusive thoughts and a general feeling of foreboding (that had left me alone for a little while) which I will have to try to handle with distraction until they abate. So in that regard, it’s interesting how best to handle the aftermath of exposures. I wonder do these “exposure hangovers” get shorter as time goes on? Your approach sounds like a good one which I will definitely be trying - intentional exposures using the heirarchy, with refocusing and other cognitive tools for when they try to intrude and take control of my brain. I’m currently waiting for CBT so have been reading as much as I possibly can about overcoming this horrible thing. I’ve read Overcoming OCD by Veale and Willson, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Hayes and I’m just now in the middle of Brain Lock by Schwartz. They have all taught me a lot and have at the very least introduced me to many of the techniques I can put more forcefully into practice when I get to CBT. Its really interesting as some days I feel like I am not making any progress and that the light at the end of the tunnel is so small that it’ll take me a lifetime to get there. But then I have to remind myself that even though it doesn’t seem like it, I have made enormous steps - I didn’t even know what was happening to me until quite recently! Now I am able to look at what’s happening at least with a perspective I never had before. Whenever I have these worst fears hit my mind, I try to remind myself that it’s most likely just my ocd, and that thought alone (that the things I am afraid of may actually just be a load of rubbish, and that there is hope to live a normal life) is enough to distract me for a little while at least!
  9. So I’ve pushed myself a little too hard today with exposure and now I’m struggling with a phrase I read earlier that triggered me. This phrase now keeps popping into my head intrusively and spiking my anxiety. How best do I approach this? a. Do I repeat the phrase purposefully and make it come into my head under my control rather than the ocd’s? OR b. Because I have been attempting ERP already today and my ocd resilience is super low right now, should I passively allow the thoughts to come and practice refocusing instead?
  10. Thanks PolarBear. I definitely feel as though I have emptied my mental strength bank as I’ve just tried to look up something in relation to the subject and I saw a word that triggered me immediately so I know my resilience is spent. Anxiety flooded me hard in a nanosecond so I got out of there sharpish. It’s really frustrating as minus the OCD, the triggering subject is something I am really interested in and want to keep doing. I had been doing it for around a year when OCD decided to hit it and I had to just step away immediately as the anxiety was immense. But this last trigger just shows that I only have a very small threshold for exposure at the moment. The hardest thing is reminding myself that the fears are not my instinct telling me that I shouldn’t be doing this thing, but that it’s my OCD fabricating these fears. Urghhhhh!!!
  11. Thanks Leif, I like the idea of being a beginner - gives me hope that I can one day become an expert and beat this stupid beast! I have been attempting to tackle a couple of things off my fear heirarchy - tasks which I have been vehemently avoiding as the ocd burnt my fingers badly last time I tried. This time was better... the initial anxiety was lower than in previous attempts, but rumination has been difficult to ignore. I find that this rumination then leads to more intrusive thoughts, which if not controlled, sends me into a severe anxiety spiral. But, I am happy to say that I have been able to refocus my efforts both when I have noticed the rumination, and when the related intrusive thoughts pop up. But I wonder, what now? So although my anxiety is currently controlled, my instinct is to leave the situation well alone for a while as I feel too much exposure might be dangerous as I don’t feel strong enough to consistently battle it. Is it okay to do this? Can this be successful or am I somehow still reinforcing the irrational fears? I also feel that today’s exposure exercises have kind of emptied my resilience tank so to speak. A telephone number called me this evening that I didn’t know and I could feel the all too familiar anxiety and intrusive “what if thoughts” flood my brain. I didn’t want to answer as I don’t know the number (and I am afraid to), but at the same time, the uncertainty of not knowing who it was, and more importantly, the possibilities of who it could be, made my stupid anxiety spike. Once again, I managed to refocus after a little while, but I have a feeling I will get more intrusive thoughts again after this. This is so tiring!
  12. Thanks everyone! I wonder so do these small wins really add up to overcoming the big ones? I feel like my big ones are such mammoth obstacles that there’s no way that these little wins would have any impact. But then again, not much about OCD makes sense anyway lol so you never know!
  13. This is a tiny victory in the grand scheme of it all, but every step counts and so I wanted to share! I have what I can only describe as legal OCD which means my obsessional fears are being a criminal and getting sued. This makes me super paranoid about literally everything I am doing in my day to day life. So, I had to return an item of clothing I had bought and made the decision to fold the packaging over the original address label, rather than sticking the returns label on top. I found this really hard as it made me anxious that whoever handles the package could potentially be able to unfold the packaging and see my name and address (this makes me anxious as part of my compulsions is taking steps to “hide” from the world). As soon as I had made the decision, I had the overwhelming urge to undo all of the packaging and stick the label on top of the address label - but I didn’t! I resisted the compulsion and sent the package off anyway. Yes I did wake up in the night with anxious thoughts about it, and yes I did think that I had made an awful mistake, but I resisted those thoughts and refocused myself back to sleep. And that’s it lol - that’s my victory! Small yes, but gave me a surprising boost of hope and determination that I can in fact overcome this.
  14. Thanks so much for all of this Taurean. Reading Dksea’s extract really hit home and made me quite emotional. It made me see that my career has been my version of Dksea’s “tv episode” and although there’s a long road ahead, there’s hope that I will get there. Thanks so much for all of your help Taurean, and I will keep you posted with my progress
  15. Thank you so much for taking so much of your time out of what sounds like a lovely weekend to help me Taurean. It really means a lot. Its interesting and gives me hope when you say you have friends who have also experienced trauma and they don’t have these fears because it’s further proof that the past isn’t actually a threat and it’s pure fabrication from ocd just using that particular topic as a trigger. I just have to keep reminding myself that nothing is impossible, but that doesn’t mean it will happen. The need for certainty is so tough sometimes, and have found myself checking and analysing so many times in the past to try and figure out the probability of these things happening, how these things could come about and all the potential avenues the situation could take if that happens and what I would say and do in each scenario. It’s such an exhausting waste of energy. I am getting quite good at refocusing, but I know that it’s only a sticking plaster until I can get into CBT and challenge the thoughts. If I were to practice ERP at home, do you have any advice about how I would go about sitting with the anxiety without the rumination? I am currently just saying “no” or “stop” whenever I find myself ruminating when a trigger occurs, but I’m not sure if that has the potential to turn into another compulsion. But that seems more like refocusing rather than exposure as I really struggle sitting in the anxiety with the trigger without the rumination starting.
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