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estelle_2021

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  1. Hi All! I wanted to give a little update. The last time I posted on here I was in a really awful place. I had just moved back to my uni house having spent 5 months living at home with my parents, and I was incredibly anxious about being away from home after the mental health crisis I had back in December. But! I survived!!!! Sure, I've had a few blips and bad days where I've slipped into compulsions, that's par for the course with recovery. But I have to say, being away from home was an amazing exposure for me, and even though I was absolutely dreading returning to uni, once I got there, I had so much fun seeing my friends, socialising and even drinking, something that usually causes me a great deal of anxiety. I've even had a couple of holidays - I went to Glastonbury for a witchcraft retreat with a bunch of women I had never met (scary but INCREDIBLE), and a little staycation with my family. I've even passed uni with a First and have been offered a job! - Tomorrow I move into my new house with my two best friends and couldn't be more excited! I hope this doesn't come across badly in any way but I just wanted to share the happy news. I remember back in January, when I was in a really awful place, the weather was ****, and I just cried to my sister because I was feeling like I wanted to give up on life. My urges and intrusive thoughts were constant, and I had a bleak few months ahead of me, writing a thesis and finishing uni, finding a job and having to find a place to live. I couldn't have felt more unmotivated. All of the joys of finishing uni! But, I'm out the other side, feeling so incredibly proud of myself and down right RELIEVED. Like I said, I still have some off days. Even at the minute, I have my period and am feeling a bit flat and good old buddy OCD is trying to sneak in with "Everything is going so well, this is all to good to be true, something is BOUND to go wrong any minute", but I'm just shrugging it off with an "eh, whatever bro, maybe it will, maybe it won't, either way I'll cope". I was also discharged from CBT because I hated it (It was all online and typing), so I'm gonna have a look and see if I can get some other therapy lined up. Sending big big love to everyone. I know how hard and impossible it can feel. But the pay-off is still unbelievably worth it!!! Keep going!!
  2. Today I moved back to my uni house away from my parents. I had been staying with them since December when this whole OCD spike kicked off for me. I'm very very teary and overwhelmed and homesick, worried that I won't be able to cope. I was anxious enough at home with my parents looking after me but now I'm 2 hours away in a place I haven't been for 5 months. It also doesn't help that I'm hormonal as hell so I'm just generally feeling very low and can't stop crying. I'm so scared I'm gonna slip back into compulsions again, but I'm trying to remind myself that I have the option not to. As convincing as it can feel, OCD is not controlling me like a puppet against my will. Just trying really hard to accept uncomfortable feelings, know that being away from home will be really good for me in the long run and that this is a sort of exposure for me ?? I was planning on staying home for only a month but when my mental health plummeted I just kept putting it off, and probably stayed home too long. Anyway, thanks for reading, just trying really hard to keep going and stay strong. It's tough and I knew this would be hard but I can ****** do it !!
  3. Thanks so much for this recommendation !! I listened to the ep last night and resonated with it so much. I think it's definitely the case where you feel sorta "damned if you do, damned if you don't" type thing. Learning to make a decision quickly but then taking the risk that you might be making the wrong decision and sitting with the uncertainty is really challenging! I hadn't heard of him, but thanks for alerting me to him !! I'll def have a look at his videos, he's got some really good info on his instagram page as I've just discovered! It's honestly such a distressing disorder. I think I've actually been struggling with it since I was a very small child, and it's just been in the last few months that it's really spiked and latched onto the most random things. The relief you get from performing compulsions really does feel addictive, and you feel like "Okay, that was the LAST one, no more compulsions now, I feel good!" until a new obsession worms its way in, disturbs your peace and you desperately want to get rid of that discomfort. Horrible, horrible cycle !
  4. Also, just to add, I feel like my OCD is reeeeeally sneaky in that it will try to tell me that by not giving in, I'm avoiding something I fear, and therefore my avoidance is a compulsion. So then I just feel so stuck in the middle, unsure of what to do, because leaving the obsession alone feels like avoidance, and giving into it, whilst it certainly does increase my anxiety (as exposures do), I get an immediate feeling of relief, and then I think to myself "what was my aim in that behaviour?" 100% of the time, it was to seek certainty, or get rid of discomfort in an urgent way, thus is compulsive. I read somewhere recently someone saying "if you enjoy doing it, it's not OCD". I certainly DON'T enjoy doing it, but I sure as hell feel like I have to to find peace. Does that make sense? It's a nightmarish disorder, but I know that leaving things along and letting them exist without resistance really and truly does work, as I've had some good days too! It's just with stress and tiredness at the minute, I feel like the damn thing is creeping back in and tightening its grip.
  5. Hi, @Nellie Thanks so much for your great response! Yes, I absolutely understand everything you're saying. I know that my googling is compulsive because I've been stuck in a cycle like this since December, where I googled a horror film I had been avoiding for years, but then one night I got the overwhelming urge to just type it in and I thought "I'll just see what the poster looks like" or "I'll just see what year it was made". And then I'd get a massive wave of relief at finally overcoming something I'd been avoiding for YEARS (even hearing the title of the film would make me run away and panic). So, in that case, I feel like it was an exposure for me, because it was like I had overcome something and realised it was never as bad as what I had made out in my head. Except, it latched, and over those following weeks I was stuck in a cycle of constantly googling horrible things on the internet that scared me, which I don't even want to mention here, but I found some really awful stuff, and it was like my brain was addicted to the relief it got from doing something. And because there's nothing physically stopping me from typing/googling, it was like I couldn't resist that urge (the red button once again!) So yeah, it's been very distressing. And you're right, sitting with that feeling of uncertainty and not knowing how long it will last can be really uncomfortable! I even have it a bit at the minute, so sitting here on my computer is a bit of an exposure for me I feel! I think my obsessions are around urges (I also have Tourette's so sometimes it's hard to tell what is a tic and what's an obsession), and for a while I had quite bad sexuality/trans obsessions, constantly ruminating and sometimes having the urge to text/tell my mum that I'm gay or trans or something (I identify as a bisexual/queer woman). It can be really overwhelming, but thanks so much for your response! ?
  6. Thank you @MarieJo and @PolarBear. I think I'm just struggling to put into words what my experience is and I find myself getting tied in knots trying to decide if something is an exposure or a compulsion. I think I've finally found the perfect way to describe what my OCD cycle is though - I don't know if anyone is familiar with the Derren Brown kitten experiment (you can find it on youtube), where he has a woman in a room with a glass box linked up to an electrical vault, containing a kitten. There's a table in the middle of the room with a big red button that, if pressed, will send an electrical vault to the glass box and kill the kitten. The woman is given 5 minutes in the room and her job is to not press the red button. Of course, during those 5 minutes, she becomes overwhelmed with the urge to press the button, that she ends up pressing it, and thinks she has killed the kitten. At the end of the experiment, it's revealed that she didn't kill the kitten and it's perfectly safe, but by being told to not do something, and with the power of negative suggestion, her curiosity/the urge overwhelms her and she caves. It's very interesting. Anyway, I feel like that's EXACTLY how my brain operates when I get an obsession. I get an intrusive thought to do something that I know I will find distressing, but because I have the means to do it (i.e, the big red button), the urge overwhelms me and I end up giving in, as a compulsion. My heart races, my face gets hot and flushed, I experience a spike in anxiety, but then I get temporary relief, my brain remembers this good feeling of relief, and then I get another obsession. I don't know if any of that makes sense but that's the best analogy I can use to describe my experience!
  7. Hi everyone. I don't know if this is going to come across as reassurance-seeking, but I just want a place to let off some steam. I've had a rough couple of days, I feel like having been doing really well over the last few weeks and feeling well on the road to recovery, I've slipped a bit and found myself doing more checking/googling compulsions. Getting scared I've googled something awful, wanting to see if horrible words come up on the search engine etc, wanting to look up words that sound similar/are related to horrible words because my brain says "well, maybe that will be exposure, you should do it, it'll raise your anxiety and that's exposure", or being scared someone is tracking my computer, watching me through my webcam, and I'm going to get in trouble/hurt, or something horrible is gonna pop up on my computer and I'll have no control over it. Has anyone else ever had this, or come across someone with this compulsion? Where the compulsion itself is so distressing, but you feel like you need to do it to get over a fear, only for your brain to say "okay, you've done that, now do THIS !!". The relief you get is IMMENSE and ADDICTIVE but it's so temporary. I know EVERYONE says "My OCD is different !!" but I would love to hear if anyone else has experienced this or something similar. It's like, one of my compulsions a few months ago was to try to make myself be sick (I used to have emetophobia and still have a lot of anxiety around vomiting), and just having the knowledge that I COULD make myself sick by sticking my fingers down my throat, meant that I felt compelled to do so, having strong urges to do it first with my left hand, then my right hand, then with both hands, then trying to stick them further down my throat each time, then doing it 10 times in a row uninterrupted. It sounds crazy, I know. Does that sound like OCD? Luckily, I've overcome this so I know that leaving distressing ideas alone works! I just feel so stuck and hopeless, and honestly very depressed at the minute, doubting everyday if what I'm dealing with is even OCD. When I strip it down to the basics, it fits the OCD cycle (getting a thought, urge, word, sensation that I need to look up something, which causes distress, I then carry out the act of looking it up/checking, get temporary relief and then another thought/urge/word comes up and thus it continues). I'm also going through quite a stressful time with lots of uni deadlines so I feel like that doesn't help anything. Just some words of encouragement would be greatly appreciated, folks. Feeling miserable and fed up with this stupid, relentless disorder.
  8. Thank you @PolarBear ! It's so difficult to just sit with the feeling. I can usually tell if something is compulsive by the sense of urgency I feel alongside it. But because my compulsions are themselves so distressing and anxiety-inducing, that's where I feel like it's a fear that needs to be "overcome". But then once I do one compulsion, and I realise "hey, I've done that, now I should do THIS" (something even scarier), that's where I feel like..... Is this exposure? If I resist the urge to do it, is that avoidance?? I find myself getting tied in knots. Leaving the feeling alone feels irresponsible but I know the relief I get is only ever temporary, and something else will come along. I literally doubt everyday that it is OCD because it's like I'm "testing" myself, and haven't come across anyone who has similar obsessions/compulsions (I know everyone says this). I've had some good days, though, like I've said, and I've proved to myself that leaving the obsessions alone does WORK. But now it's just being so stubborn. Nightmare!
  9. I've been doing really well over the last few weeks, the sunny weather and lockdown restrictions lifting a bit has meant I'm able to enjoy things without my obsessions getting in the way, and when they do pop along I'm able to recognise them for what they are, shrug them off and move on. I even got tipsy with my sister the other day which was a bit of an exposure for me because alcohol makes me nervous! However, I feel like my OCD has been kicking back over the past couple of days and I do find myself still do strange little compulsions; "just this one and it'll go away and I'll be back to feeling calm and good again" - How many times have you heard that said !!!!! I'm under a bit of stress at the minute with a big uni assignment due soon and I'm gonna be moving away from my family home where I've been staying since December (when this OCD spike kicked off). I don't know if it's that or because I've been bumped up to 100mg of sertraline and maybe my body is just adjusting so I'm feeling a bit wobbly. Either way, I feel like my OCD is getting desperate and wanting to cling on to the most RANDOM things. I've said before on here that I have a checking/googling compulsion. Well, now my obsessions are wanting to check/google things and words that are RELATED to my obsessions but aren't directly to do with anything. So I've been resisting the urge to engage but then my brain goes "this is avoidance!!!!! you need to do it as exposure!!!! you're staying stuck if you don't do it!!!!! you're making a huge deal out of nothing, just do it!!!!!" and then i just get VERY uncomfortable, and usually end up carrying it out. And then I feel a bit better, so I start to wonder if it was a compulsion, doubt creeps in, I feel more anxious and confused and I just don't really know what to do. So that's where I'm at... Feeling a bit stuck and not sure what to do. This stupid disorder is one stubborn little-!!! Any guidance would be much appreciated friends ❤️
  10. You're so right @PolarBear !! For me now, whilst I have mostly cut out physical compulsions, it's a case of slowing down and stopping ruminating, which I think is what has been keeping me stuck. I wake up every morning with that horrible gut feeling of utter dread and sorrow for the day ahead, afraid of what thoughts I'm going to have and what DISTRESSING compulsions I'm going to feel compelled to perform. Learning to take that anxiety along for the ride and quell my ruminating is what I'm practicing, but it's so easy for the doubt to slip right back in. It can feel relentless this damn disorder!
  11. Hi all, I've just been thinking about this a lot recently, this idea that maybe our symptoms/anxiety gets worse before it gets better. When I think back to a few months ago, before I realised I was struggling with OCD and I was performing compulsions left right and centre, I feel like my anxiety, ironically, wasn't as bad as it is now. I feel like I've (mostly) cut out physical compulsions but I do find myself obsessing almost 24/7, and ruminating is deffo my biggest compulsion that I need to cut out. A few months ago, I feel like I was regularly getting the instant relief from performing compulsions because they were so frequent, but at the minute, I'm doing much better at resisting the urge to perform physical compulsions and sitting with uncertainty, but I feel more anxious and low than ever. Is this common? Is this a sign that I'm recovering and OCD is just being a stubborn little so-and-so?
  12. That's a very good point! I think I'm just so desperate to speak to a professional about it all, my IAPT therapist has been very helpful but she said she might bump me up to someone more senior. She said she wouldn't be able to give me a formal or official OCD diagnosis, but she's almost certain that's what I'm struggling with as I scored 93 on the questionnaire when apparently the diagnostic criteria is 40!
  13. Hi! Yes, I've gone through IAPT and am starting CBT with them, although I don't have many sessions so I'm considering going private if I want more therapy
  14. Hi all, Hope you're having a wonderful Friday and happy weekend! I just felt like coming on here today because I've been feeling a bit low today; I'm learning that the journey to recovery is certainly not linear and that sometimes when you think you're doing well, the little buggar comes along and tries to sneak its way back in again! I wanted to share a little bit more about my experience as I'm still very new to the forum and only recently have I been diagnosed, so it all feels a bit alien to me and it's so comforting to know there are hundreds of others here experiencing the same thing. I was first diagnosed with mild Tourette's when I was 9, which I know is a condition that has a lot of overlap with OCD (although I am yet to come across anyone else with both!), and had lots of violent and gruesome intrusive thoughts when I was little that I can still remember in graphic detail; I didn't have any overt compulsions to try to alleviate my distress, but I spent a lot of time ruminating on them and panicking over them, trying desperately to force them out of my head. I would wear gloves to bed after my sister told me it was possible to make yourself sick if you stick your fingers down your throat, and I was scared I might get curious and try to do exactly that (emetophobe alert!). I was always an anxious child and suffered quite badly with panic attacks and low mood in my teens (I'm 21 now). In the summer of my 17th birthday was when it got really bad, and only now do I look back and think "Yep! That was OCD!". I was on holiday with my family and had seen a small child and then had the awful thought/sensation that I was about to abduct and molest her, which spiralled me into a huge fear of being a paedophile; I then did a lot of ruminating, thinking "most paedophiles are men, what if I'm trans? Or am I attracted to women, am I gay?" All classic OCD stuff. A few weeks later, I remember one day having the urge to yell "I'm gay!" to my sister, even though I wasn't sure if I was (everyone questions their sexual orientation in adolescence, I'm now most comfortable with the labels of bi/queer/fluid), and that latched on. Going on holiday to Greece with my family a year later I was overwhelmed with the urge to yell "I'm gay!" and imagined elaborate scenarios where I would do a big coming out to them, causing me a massive amount of distress. I felt like my holiday had been contaminated and ruined by my thoughts. I feared getting drunk in case I lost control and came out to everybody, so avoided alcohol for years (I'm still a bit anxious about alcohol!), as well as caffeine, worried that if I had too much energy in my body, I wouldn't be able to control my impulses. I didn't recognise any of this as OCD, because I was ill-informed about the condition and thought it was all Tourette's related stuff, but looking back now I can see that I've spent the best part of 4 years STUCK IN MY HEAD. Anyway, my most recent spike happened in December just passed. One night I had the urge to look up a film that had been deeply triggering to me as a child, and something I had avoided for years. Even the mention of it was cause me to flee and panic and sob, and I always feared accidentally looking it up. Anyway, one night out of the blue it just overwhelmed me and I thought "I'm just gonna type it in and see if anything comes up" so I did, and it did, and I got the MASSIVE wave of relief that I had some questions about it answered. PHEW. That night, however, more thoughts popped in, "ooh, how long is the film? Do the actors have instagrams? Who is the director?" etc etc, so did some more searching, which picked up momentum and I told myself tomorrow I'll watch the trailer. You can see where this is going.... Now we're in March and I'm still ****** stuck. What was once an avoidance behaviour has now taken a complete 180, and my compulsion has become to ACTIVELY SEEK OUT stuff that could disturb me, or look up horrible images and videos, live surgery etc etc etc, checking instagram for distressing content, I could go on and on and on. It's like my brain wants me to be exposed to this stuff, and my compulsion is to do so, which just fuels the cycle. It's like the scene in Nanny McPhee where the kids are about to catapult their little sister but they have no control over themselves and they get terribly distressed! I DO NOT WANT TO BE DOING THESE THINGS, but my brain only gets relief once I have. I feel like my anxiety is really quite bad at the moment because I am resisting the compulsions (it escalated to an awful place, I don't want to go into detail). And then I get the urge to type in other words that sound similar but are completely unrelated, but I don't know if that is an exposure or a compulsion. Right now I'm sitting with the uncertainty of that! And if I leave it alone it feels like avoidance, which is what I did for years, so you can see how I feel stuck. Anyway, lockdown has really got to me and every day feels like an endless cycle of waking up full of dread, going about my day feeling anxious and then relieved to go to sleep at the end of it all. I've been on 50mg sertraline for about 6 weeks now but I'm thinking of bumping up my dosage. Sorry for such a long post, but I really appreciate the support I've had so far! Just wanted somewhere to RELEASE a bit tonight, and even though there's so much more I could say about my experience, I've already said a lot!
  15. Hi All, I'm feeling VERY stuck, and I know I've been on here quite a lot in the last few days as I'm waiting to begin ERP next week. As my compulsions are around checking, I really don't know if the exposures I'm trying to do are actually becoming compulsive. My Obsessions, in the form of intrusive demands and urges, overwhelm me with the need to view distressing images and things that will disturb me, or to type in certain horrible words and a feeling of "needing to know", and I only get relief once I have done so, so it is massively compulsive and I've been stuck with this for a couple of months now. When I previously got these urges, they freaked me out so much that I ran away from them, which I think in itself became compulsive, but then one night in December it was like my brain broke and I ended up giving in to these urges and as soon as I got that feeling of relief, my brain started firing off all kinds of other alarm bells and demands, so it has been incredibly distressing and chronic. This is where I've been getting confused about the information I read about ERP, with rhetoric around "facing your fears" and "confronting what scares you", when I feel like that's what my OCD is telling me to do! With my exposures, I've been doing stuff like going on my phone and sitting with the urges to look up stuff but without actually engaging in that behaviour, or equally, sitting at my laptop to do uni work and letting the thoughts and demands sit there without engaging, which I feel is good exposure work for me, as running away from my phone/laptop would be avoidance. However, like I said yesterday, there are certain songs and words that I associate with my obsessions, and I've found myself trying to listen to them and type them in as exposure work but I don't know if that's a compulsion. These songs and words aren't inherently harmful, so I feel like NOT engaging in them feels like avoidance. Equally however, when I engage with them I don't know if I necessarily feel relief in the way I would with a compulsion and I also don't know if I feel an increase in anxiety like I would with an exposure. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, and perhaps leaving these thoughts that I have to engage with these songs and words but WITHOUT engaging is an exposure, and a good opportunity for me to practice disengaging with the thoughts. Sorry for such a long rambly message but I just feel like I'm going round and round in circles and getting more and more confused!
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