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Everything posted by Saffron37

  1. Kranky, I don't know if you're aware of this, but you're asking a lot of near-identical questions. You can apply the same answer to all of them. I think it might be really helpful to show this thread to your therapist--would give them a really good picture of your mindset and perspective.
  2. Kranky, you're getting caught up in irrelevant details. It's like you're zoomed in so close to your obsession that you've lost sight of what's actually there. This is a lot simpler than your brain is making it out to be. Sure, to sit with discomfort you will have some awareness of how anxious you're feeling. But that's okay--it's not a bad or unhealthy thing to have that awareness. What would be unhealthy would be then ruminating on how anxious you are, and thereby performing compulsions. If you found yourself doing that, you would need to distract yourself from the rumination, just like you would with any type of OCD thought. But please be aware that the compulsion, the rumination is what would be the problem, not some awareness of how anxious you are or aren't feeling. You can't turn off your ability to sense your own emotions, after all!
  3. Yes, you can still use ERP. Don't worry, you can never ruin ERP for yourself. If you find yourself thinking about how worried you are during ERP, you treat it exactly the same as you would any other intrusive thought: you do not engage with it, you do not ruminate, you label the thoughts as intrusive and distract yourself with an enjoyable activity. The obsessions and compulsions here are identical to any other case of OCD. If you find yourself wanting to stop and test and see how anxious you are, you treat it like any other compulsive urge: you just don't do it. You sit with the discomfort of resisting the impulse, which is when the work of ERP actually happens.
  4. The initial goal in ERP is not to recognize that your anxiety decreases. In fact, if you're doing ERP correctly, your anxiety will actually increase in the short-term, and you will see the benefits of decreased anxiety over time--and by over time, I mean days to weeks to months, not minutes or hours. One way to distinguish between treatment and compulsions is to recognize that compulsions are always about immediate relief, so if you're engaging in a behavior with the goal to bring the anxiety down now, there's a good chance it's a compulsion. I'd advise you to explain your confusion to your therapist and ask them to help you create a plan.
  5. Hi Kranky, I understand why this is confusing, but if you take a step back and look at the big picture, I think you'll see more clearly what you need to do. What's vital to remember is that the content of your obsessions and compulsions are completely meaningless--the fact that your current fixation is on getting better from OCD means nothing in terms of how to treat it. Let's walk through what's going on: 1. You have a scary, intrusive thought, probably something like "what if I don't ever recover from OCD?". This idea becomes an obsession, just like in any other type of OCD. 2. You feel really anxious and upset. 3. In order to feel better, you perform compulsions. The one I'm hearing most from you is rumination--you're clearly turning over the question in your mind constantly. It sounds like you're also probably doing things like obsessively googling different OCD treatments, etc. 4. You mention you "sit there and try different OCD treatments"; please note that therapy-flavored compulsions are not the same as therapy. If you're trying different OCD therapy techniques while compulsively checking in with yourself to see how anxious you are, you're not gonna be able to meaningfully engage with the material. It's just another mask the compulsion is wearing for the moment, not actual therapeutic work. 5. So what do you do? You carry out ERP, but you do it in a genuinely therapeutic and not compulsive manner. What's the difference? Genuine ERP is all about discipline and resistance and effort. You will not crave genuine ERP, because it will not be something that brings your anxiety down in the short-term, the opposite, in fact. It sounds like what you are doing is going through the motions of ERP (or other OCD techniques) but really using them as a way to try to soothe yourself, just like with any compulsion. 6. How do you do this? You create a therapeutic plan with your therapist and you stick to it--no branching off to find alternative techniques, no googling, no checking how anxious you are. When you have the urge to ruminate, you resist it. It doesn't matter if you're ruminating about how to get better from OCD, the type of thinking is the problem. I guarantee that if you really stick to the guidelines of ERP you won't be able to use it as a compulsion. Okay, I hope that helps! Best wishes!
  6. I'm sorry Phili, that sounds really awful. But I want to remind you that underneath the anxiety, you know what this is--it's OCD. The world is full of uncertainty, and it's really, really tempting to believe that we can affect something as scary as getting cancer by rituals we perform, "deals" we make with the universe via the OCD, etc. The problem is that while we start out seeking to exert control via the OCD, very quickly all the power is in the hands of the OCD and we end up far more helpless than we would be otherwise! That's where you are right now--that's why you feel so afraid of something that doesn't make sense. I understand where you're coming from very well--my OCD tends to revolve around health fears, and it was sparked when my Dad died a few years ago of lung cancer. It was such a shock and a trauma that I immediately never wanted to be surprised by anything bad, ever again--of course, that's impossible, and so the OCD began. I'm in the process now of learning to accept uncertainty and relinquish control in order to recover, and I know it's really tough. But it's the only thing we can do. For better or for worse, we cannot magically control whether or not something bad happens to ourselves or someone we care about, we just have to go through life and try our best. Please try to calm yourself. Remind yourself of what you know underneath all your fear. Put on some gentle music, take a shower, whatever you find soothing. Best of luck. ❤️
  7. Phili, if I understand correctly, it sounds like you're caught in some nasty spirals of obsessive-compulsive behaviors and magical thinking. It sounds like you're worried that if you don't replay part of your game, the devil will cause you to get cancer. On the other hand, you're aware that if you start compulsively replaying your game, you'll end up stuck doing it over and over again because you won't do it "correctly" according to your OCD. You want to ignore the obsessive thoughts but you're really anxious and upset and feel unable to do anything about it. Is that about right?
  8. It's incredible how OCD can twist even an achievement into "evidence" of the opposite, isn't it? Proud of you for seizing the opportunity to show yourself compassion. And you are extremely welcome!
  9. The irony is, if the thing you were contemplating was suggested to you by others, I think your choice to not do it is even more meaningful (in a good way!) . In fact, it sounds like a situation I'd be proud of--that despite others giving me permission to do something via suggesting it to me, I thought about it, decided I didn't agree with it, and didn't do it. Perhaps you could try seeing it from that perspective? Your OCD is hyper focusing on the fact that you had the thought at all, causing you to entirely miss the point of the situation--which is that indeed you are a moral person.
  10. Hey meadowflower. A lot of people with OCD do what you're doing, which is something called thought-action fusion. It's where logically you know something is just a thought, but emotionally you register it as powerfully as if you had actually done the thought in question, leading to very distorted levels of guilt and perceived responsibility. If you read other threads you'll start seeing examples of thought-action fusion all the time, particularly in those whose OCD skews towards feelings of guilt. I'd advise you to start questioning and challenging the OCD's messaging here, which I suspect is something like "oh God, you actually contemplated something really bad, that means you were on the verge of doing it! If you were on the verge of doing it you're as bad as if you actually did do it!" Does that make sense to you, or is there a different way you can look at the situation? What about: "In order to understand myself, I need to think about different choices and then figure out how I feel about them. All human beings do this in order to grow and evolve. How can I know what I believe if I restrict myself from thinking about certain things? It's totally normal to contemplate even things I would classify as wrong or taboo, and these feelings are all about OCD." At this point, your OCD might be coming back with, "Okay, but it wasn't just thinking about this bad thing, it was actively contemplating it! That's different and worse!" Nope, that's 100% OCD nonsense. You thought about something, realized you didn't agree with it, decided not to do it, end of story. Everything else is your OCD trying so hard to make your anxiety make sense that it's distorting your thinking. I've contemplated plenty of things that I'd consider wrong or bad, even how I'd go about those things, and I've never been remotely close to actually doing any of the things in question. You'd see the same for yourself if you weren't being affected by the OCD. So now, let it go. Stop doing compulsions like going over the memory endlessly, ruminating about what could have been--realize that right now your emotions can't be trusted to be accurate or make sense. Do something sweet and kind for yourself, just like you'd do for someone you care about who's had a rough few days. You deserve it. ❤️
  11. As I said in my first reply, the only difference is that you assign a moral value to your thoughts and I do not. You attribute your thoughts to who you are as a person and I do not. The reason that you can't explain it clearly is because it doesn't make any sense. Personally, I've found that to be a good indicator of an OCD emotion--when I can't explain it clearly but it just feels so real. You've literally just described obsessive thinking. That's what obsessive thinking is, Cora. It's feeling unable to stop yourself from thinking about, ruminating over, dwelling on thoughts of a certain topic. It doesn't mean the thoughts just ambush you like someone jumping from behind a garbage can. It's feeling like you yourself are seeking those things out! Again, you're making this about who you are as a person, saying that you "invite" the "terrible" thoughts in. Here's a clinically reviewed definition of obsessive thinking: "Obsessive thinking is a series of thoughts that typically recur, often paired with negative judgements. Many times there is an inability to control these persistent, distressing thoughts and the severity can range from mild but annoying, to all-encompassing and debilitating." Sound familiar? Right, because those thoughts are obsessions, not compulsions. Again, obsessive thinking. I'm assuming the "smoking gun" here is that you think you ought to feel anxious instantaneously upon having the thought? Honey, your brain is tired. Think about how many intrusive thoughts you have per day. Think about the workout you're constantly putting your stress response through. Being that anxious that often is absolutely exhausting--I know first hand and I know you do too! Your body simply cannot become that worked up that frequently. Plus, after a while, even the most distressing thoughts become background noise. When there's no actual consequence to a scary thought aside from the scariness, your brain eventually will desensitize. The curiosity and desire you are describing is another way of describing obsessive thinking. And as you've had explained to you before, the anxiety/stress response is the exact same response as "excitement". It's all the stress response, just with different interpretations. You're relabeling the same thing in different ways to cast yourself in the worst possible light. Do you see what's going on here? In your responses to me you described obsessively thinking in like four different ways, and also added a couple of self-loathing comments just to reinforce how terrible you are and how much you feel like your thoughts are representative of who you are as a person. Which is exactly what I said you were doing. You gave no new information. Your OCD may trick you but to us it's as transparent as a 5-year-old trying to convince his Mom that he wasn't the one who broke the cookie jar while having crumbs all over his face.
  12. Cora, what you're describing as "thinking thoughts on purpose" is obsessive thinking--you know, the "O" in OCD. This is one of the core features of OCD, and every single person with OCD experiences it. For example, my OCD tends to revolve around my health, and when my anxiety is bad I find myself repeatedly thinking about and scanning my body for weird sensations, twitches, whatever. I hate it so much, yet it feels like I seek it out and just can't help it despite really trying. Sometimes it's so bad that I don't want to sit still because I fear I'll start thinking about and scanning my body! The only difference here is that I don't see my obsessive thoughts as reflective of some kind of moral failing, but you do, hence your post. This is why sometimes people here say that you have "low insight" with your OCD--because even after many explanations, you're twisting one of the key diagnostic features of OCD (obsessive thinking) into another source of "evidence" that you're a horrible, bad person, blah blah blah. Please talk to your therapist about this. Have you considered showing them your posts on this forum? Perhaps they'd give your psychologist more insight into your state of mind and beliefs.
  13. Hi Annie. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Health anxiety is my focus too, ALS in particular, and I can relate all too well to what you said about staring at your foot. I don’t offer reassurance often, but I think you should know that toes do not have muscles in them (their movement is controlled by muscles in the body of the foot and the lower leg), so it is literally impossible for you to have muscle wasting in a toe. Can you tell I’ve don’t my fair share of googling in the past? 😭😂 My advice is to take this information and then try your best not to look at your foot again. I found it helpful to wear socks when I was trying to avoid checking my foot. Ideally you would not engage in any avoidance of seeing it, but as a temporary measure to avoid more compulsions I think it’s probably fine!
  14. Hi Ma. ? I don’t know if this will be helpful, but it occurred to me—your groin region, the area your OCD is telling you is dirty and wrong, is directly responsible for your beautiful son. Without that part of your body, you could not have created his amazing life. How incredible is that? How could that part of your body be dirty or shameful when it is responsible for such a beautiful creation? Trying to provide a little bit of a different perspective. I’m so sorry you’re missing your parent—festive days can be really hard. Sending you lots of hugs. ❤️
  15. Just wanted to say @Ma29, I'm really proud of you. You're inspiring me to try harder too. Hang in there!!!
  16. Hey Rosie. I'm so sorry you're in so much pain. <hug> It's horrible to go through the type of emotions that OCD creates. Please try to be compassionate and patient with yourself and remember that OCD is a mental disorder--the only thing the intrusive thoughts about your Dad shows is that you really, really don't want to be sexual with your family! OCD always picks on what we care about most or what we'd find most upsetting/disgusting, which is why loving parents might get intrusive thoughts about harming their children, etc. Please try to remember that. As for your partner or anyone else you want to tell about your OCD, perhaps he could read a book on the topic? I really like Brain Lock, I think it does a great job conveying what OCD is really all about. Is your partner the type of person who would support you if he understood what was going on?
  17. Hyperawareness OCD? Absolutely. All of your energy and focus is going into that one tiny part of your perception. The more you think about something--and in this case, you're obsessively ruminating--the more intensely you'll feel it. The stress response also does things like raise your heart rate and respiration, which contributes an even greater sense of physical sensations. That said, OCD is OCD. A person's individual experience may have all different sorts of themes, but it's really all the same. Try not to get hung up on a specific idea of what your OCD looks like, it's easy to get lost in the details and miss the big picture, which is just that it's a mental disorder that you treat the same way no matter way the content of an obsession is. I know it's easy to get really upset with yourself when you do something that you know is bad for you, like googling a disease. I definitely struggle with that when I give in and perform compulsions. But both you and I need to remember that this disease is a disease for a reason. It causes really awful symptoms like compulsive urges, and they're incredibly painful no matter how much we know it doesn't make any sense or is a bad choice. Please try to exercise compassion and patience with yourself. Have you read any self-help books for OCD?
  18. Hi Twinkle. I'm so sorry you're going through this. My OCD revolves around health fears as well, so I truly do understand how terrifying and utterly convincing it can feel. The good news is that you seem to have great insight into the fact that your health worries are logically very overblown, yet the anxiety tells you otherwise and overrides that logic. The first thing you need to do is to calm down your body. Right now you're putting yourself in a perpetual state of panic and overexcitement, amplified by your thoughts of catastrophe and then shown through behaviors like hyperventilating. You need to send a message to your body that it's okay, there's no emergency, you can calm down. Breathe in through your nose for 7 seconds, hold for four seconds, then breathe out for 11 seconds. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but that's okay. Keep doing that until you calm down a bit, then drink some water. Now, think logically. You've been poking your tonsil nonstop with your tongue, whether or not you're aware of it. The tonsil is already irritated, so doing that is just making it worse and keeping it enflamed. Poking at any body part, even one that's not already irritated, will make it red and puffy and generally uncomfortable. So, that alone easily explains why your tonsil may not have gone down as much as you would have liked. Please trust your doctor. Remember that she has been trained and knows what she is doing and how to assess your situation. As an extremely anxious non-medical doctor, you're already setting yourself up to continually misinterpret information you read and jump to wrong/catastrophic conclusions. You just can't trust your own judgment right now, as hard as that is to feel. Go to your other doctor's appointment, but present your situation in a less panicked, more grounded way. Ask him about your fear of tonsil cancer, but then really listen to those answers and then allow yourself to let go and trust in these very well-trained doctors' expertise. And maybe most importantly, remember this is OCD. Your feelings of doom and distress and extreme terror feel like they're about the possibility of illness, but they're not--they're a symptom of OCD. Sometimes when I'm deep in an obsession about some imagined symptom, I feel like my emotions of doom are totally justified because after all, illness is real! The possibility of fatal disease is real! And sure, all those things are true. But our OCD exaggerates the perceived risk so radically that what is objectively an extremely unlikely scenario becomes the only possible outcome in our minds. Also, I've read many threads from members with diverse obsessions, and what's struck me is how absolutely identical each one of us sounds--no matter how "not a big deal" something is to the rest of the world, an OCD obsession leads to feelings of extreme misery and pain. Your emotions are not reflective of your actual health. Good luck. Please find help through therapy. Sending you many many hugs and best wishes.
  19. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy because your list of rules basically boils down to "be a statue and not a person with a living body." I mean, don't move your hands? Don't flinch a muscle or breathe a certain way? You may as well ask yourself to be a robot. And your baby needs a mum, not a piece of metal! Caramoole's right--you know what the problem is, the question is what you're going to do about it now. I know it's really tough. I'm struggling with it myself. But it's still the only way forward.
  20. Xenia, I appreciate you're trying to help, but these are really unhelpful and possibly harmful comments. Manny's problem is not that he actually is interested in children or relatives sexually, his problem is OCD. And sexuality is not that malleable. You can't force yourself to become gay, or a pedophile, even "accidentally" by masturbating to the object of your anxiety. Manny, you haven't messed up your brain. OCD is your problem, not your sexual interests. The body can be involuntarily aroused by just about anything, especially if you're combining it with masturbation (which of course will arouse you), but this does not change your inherent sexuality. Someone can masturbate to paint drying on the wall but it doesn't mean that all of a sudden they have a fetish for home repair!
  21. That's awful Rosie! I'm so sorry! That's a really crappy thing to do. And you most definitely do not deserve to be treated this way--you deserve kindness and love and appreciation. ❤️
  22. Awww @Ma29 thank you so much for the sweet sentiments. ❤️ I know this is terribly terribly tough, but you are doing such a great job at persisting and not giving up--I'm so proud of you!
  23. Oh honey. That's a really tough and really important and really brave observation. Sounds like you're starting to realize your own worth a little more, which is wonderful. One thing I can tell you is that at age 38, my friend group is richer and more varied and wonderful than anything I could have imagined at your age. You will find your people, people who will treat you well and with love and appreciation. But it does mean having to make tough realizations like this one, and then to be willing to keep searching. That said, you have time. You have so much time. Right now just focus on taking the best care of yourself possible, getting nutrition and sleep as much as you can. Just imagine...all that love and care you give to your friends and boyfriend. Imagine what it would be like if you directed that beautiful attention towards yourself!
  24. It's true, the topic is terribly distressing. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that every individual feels the same amount of misery and distress no matter what the focus of their obsession is; something that would seem completely meaningless to you (for example, hand washing) might produce such intense levels of anxiety in someone else that they're on the edge of a breakdown. When you read other members' threads, notice how the suffering is the same no matter how objectively "important" the obsession that is causing the pain. This is in no way meant to minimize how scary the topic you're dealing with is, just a reminder that the OCD is the true threat here!
  25. Man. That was just...a really awesome post, @determination987. I really needed that this morning. Thank you. ❤️ @Summer9173, I can't say it better than @determination987 already has, just want to join the chorus of voices wishing you well and sending you a million hugs. You are such a lovely human being, and things are going to get better.
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