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taurean

What Makes Us Stay Stuck!

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Based on my own personal experience and journey through one to one CBT, self-help and seven years of membership here, I would say the following are the big contributors to staying stuck. 

Not understanding or accepting the cognitive side of CBT. 

To recover, we need to understand how OCD works, and why it creates the circle of distress that maintains the disorder. 

And we need more than this understanding. We need to believe what we are being told, and stop believing what OCD is saying. 

Stop carrying out compulsions 

We will find this message all over the forums. Yet still sufferers get deluded into believing that ruminating, testing, researching, reassurance-seeking etc. will make things better. 

But they never will. Carrying out compulsions connects with the core belief of the OCD, gives it life and power. And we stay stuck. 

Listen to WE not the OCD 

Time and time again there are topics here asking for help, and the community gives that help - in easy to follow guidance. 

But the sufferer often doesn't listen :(

Erroneously, they keep listening to what the OCD is saying, not us. 

Detach, and take the high ground 

Here is a simple technique for understanding what everyone else sees but we don't. 

Pretend you are in a helicopter, which takes off and hovers a safe distance above you. 

Look down in a detached way at yourself beneath, and notice what you are thinking and doing. 

Compare that with the guidance above, and see how what you are doing is wrong. 

Determine to make the necessary changes, then return safely back to the ground. 

A simple way to refocus? When an intrusion comes calling, think "oh that's just my silly obsession" then gently but firmly refocus away to something involved and beneficial. 

These ideas should help get out of repetitive OCD behaviour, but remember you will still need to challenge the OCD through structured sessions of exposure and response prevention. 

And if you aren't sure what the OCD core beliefs are which are underpinning your problems, ask for help here. 

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Taurean 

i recently acquired a book which had ERP scenarios in it . I read them and they really shook me up . I feel it is not possible to do ERP unless under professional guidance as this experience certainly created a high level of anxiety and fear which have dominated me for the last few days and it is stuck in my mind . What’s your view 

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Just now, Skippy said:

I feel it is not possible to do ERP unless under professional guidance as this experience certainly created a high level of anxiety and fear which have dominated me for the last few days and it is stuck in my mind . 

To be honest, generally if we could do ERP on our own without guidance we would not need therapy in the first place, so it's not unusual for people to experience an upsurge in anxiety at the thought of it.   But, again this is a key point, here in the UK we don't recommend ERP as a stand alone treatment for OCD, the NHS recommend CBT (to include ERP), and that's where the value of doing the cognitive work makes a difference. Now don't get me wrong, doing cognitive wont making the behavioural aspect immediately easy, it's still hard, but if we understand what we are doing and why we are doing it (cognitive) then there's a chance the behavioural exercise if done correctly and regularly could lead to long-term recovery.

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2 hours ago, taurean said:

Stop carrying out compulsions 

We will find this message all over the forums. Yet still sufferers get deluded into believing that ruminating, testing, researching, reassurance-seeking etc. will make things better. 

But they never will. Carrying out compulsions connects with the core belief of the OCD, gives it life and power. And we stay stuck. 

I have never liked this kind of advice, from professionals or the forum.... telling people to stop compulsions is obvious and unhelpful, we have to help people understand this concept (which you have partly done) but also help them understand 'how' to stop carrying out compulsions. 

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Hi Skippy. 

I totally agree with what Ashley says. 

The purpose of this thread isn't however to tell people how to stop carrying out compulsions - plenty of guidance available elsewhere, not least PolarBear's excellent video on how to stop ruminating. 

The purpose here is to emphasise how carrying out compulsions leads to giving belief to intrusions and maintaining the connection to the OCD core belief, so  keeping us stuck. 

I think the best approach to ERP is the softly softly approach to structured ERP. 

This involves working out your OCD themes, and first understanding what the OCD is doing and how it does it.

Then listing the triggers in a ranking from lowest anxiety-inducer at the bottom up to the highest at the top. 

We start the exercise at the bottom, and work through a trigger feeling the anxiety but reminding ourselves of what we learned from the C part of therapy. 

The anxiety will be high at first - but we have to experience it, have to go through this process. 

On the next and subsequent sessions we should find the trigger eases in power and the anxiety tails off. 

Only when we have laid that trigger to rest do we go on to the next trigger on the ladder upwards. 

Do we have to go out into the feared situation to carry out ERP? It helps, but it is not essential - we can find a quiet place and conjure the situation up in our mind. 

Aside from working the structured ERP, we need to resist avoidance. If we carry this out, we are beginning to add an OCD restriction - a rule - to our lives, and that needs to be challenged. 

If I had listened to the rules and restrictions OCD wanted to place on me, I would never have left the house. So I faced up to them, refused to allow a restrictive rule to be imposed. 

 

 

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I too agree with Ashley; apologies Taurean, I'm not trying to dispel what you're saying here because you are absolutely right and this is just an outline, this isn't you just telling someone specifically not to carry them out.

But I would really like it if, when we're responding to people's posts, we don't just bark at them 'stop performing compulsions.' There are a few people who do this and it's unkind and unhelpful and makes that sufferer feel they're not being listened to; they're being spoken at and I don't like it and I feel it's going against the grain of what we're supposed to be doing here. We need to give them some ideas on how: breathing exercises, or distraction, doing something they enjoy. Maybe suggest a few things of their own which help them in distraction; for me it's chatting to someone and asking how they're doing, or going to the gym, or even just going outside for a walk. Sometimes I manage to brainstorm myself away from the compulsion.

But yes, I do agree Taurean and I thank you for writing this post, as it will helpfully hope those still struggling to understand a little bit more.  

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I was a little bit hurt by the comment, because it just wasn't the purpose of the topic to go into how to stop compulsing, and thanks cub for acknowledging that. 

Perhaps it would be beneficial if I look through what has been posted previously on how to stop carrying out compulsions, and post links to good posts under a separate topic? 

There is no need to reinvent that wheel when good material already exists. 

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My sincere apologies, Taurean, if I have hurt your feelings or caused you any offence. You're a kind man and you always take the time to make good responses. This was a useful post for everyone's general reference, I totally get that and none of that was aimed at you. Perhaps this was an inappropriate platform for me to make the comment - I stand by it but this was probably a bad time and method to broadcast it.

 I do agree that we have to feel the fear and do it anyway but it can take a bit of time - I should know! I often see it as jumping over a lake and landing on the other side. It's just finding the courage to make the jump that can be difficult and it's okay not to make the jump on the first go.

Thankyou for taking the time to write this post and for putting it on here. I am sure it will prove useful.

C x :hug: 

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I am OK cub, I was just a little surprised by the force of Ashley's comment, especially as I spend a lot of time here advising people how to break the urge to compulse. 

But never mind, the reason behind my post  has been explained - and I think I will create a topic on helping people stop carrying out compulsions. 

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I think a tip post on how to physically stop compulsions would be very useful. I right now am having compulsions over certain ideas I want to write; they don't feel 'real' in my head, they feel forced, so I focus on the ideas that I would like to write, just for myself. Anyway, that's another story. But yes, I would fully encourage such a post and we could all chip in with our own ideas. 

Glad you're okay.

C x

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OK cub I will put something together, kicking off the thread with some previous good posts from the forum back catalogue to start us off. 

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I am OK cub, I was just a little surprised by the force of Ashley's comment, especially as I spend a lot of time here advising people how to break the urge to compulse. 

 

 

Have you perhaps taken Ashley's comment the wrong way? I haven't seen any force used, or unfair criticism in any of his replies to you, which you mention below?
 

 

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Am receiving a tax rebate, so will donate some of it to OCD-UK 

9 hours ago

Report

 

 

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taurean

Not sure about this now, having been - to my mind - unfairly criticised on a topic designed to help not hinder. 

Hopefully I will feel better about this soon and feel like making that donation. Right now I do not. 

44 minutes ago

Report

 

 

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I didn't appreciate nor understand that criticism earlier in the thread.

It wasn't the purpose of this thread to go about explaining how to stop carrying out compulsions  - only to remind people that we will likely stay stuck if we continue to carry out compulsions. 

No doubt I will feel better about it, I am not one to hold grudges. But today is not going to be that time. 

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Don't worry felix, I'll no doubt wake up and forget about this tomorrow. 

And if I do put a specific thread together of forum ideas, past and present to help people towards stopping carrying out compulsions, then my resentment will be refocused towards a positive outcome :)

 

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A little calm reflection and I am feeling much better about this now, having made my point about the purpose of the thread. 

So I expect I will make that donation soon. 

As Mr Spock would say, "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one" :)

 

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16 hours ago, felix4 said:

Have you perhaps taken Ashley's comment the wrong way? I haven't seen any force used, or unfair criticism in any of his replies to you, which you mention below?

Yes on re-reading I think you have a point felix. I did take the comment as a direct criticism, but see now it was likely meant more as a general grievance of responses across the forum. 

Anyway equilibrium is restored, and I will put some work in on the new how to stop carrying out compulsions topic. 

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Well I put together a topic for how to stop compulsions, and popped in links to two previous topics I posted on that subject. 

And I found that on 31st March 2015 PolarBear posted an excellent topic on exposure and response prevention , which is accessible from the forum search field for those that want to read it. 

It's called "Exposure & Response Prevention: a primer". 

Edited by taurean

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On 11/03/2019 at 10:23, Ashley said:

I have never liked this kind of advice, from professionals or the forum.... telling people to stop compulsions is obvious and unhelpful, we have to help people understand this concept (which you have partly done) but also help them understand 'how' to stop carrying out compulsions. 

This is very true, particularly when sufferers are only just developing an understanding of OCD and the complexities of how and why it impacts on them as it does.  However, often, the reminder/advice that someone needs to work on stopping compulsions is being given to someone who has received months/year's of forum advice.  Where there have been dozens of threads, thousands of responses, very detailed explanations, suggestions, support and advice on why compulsions are damaging and how best to work at reducing them and why it's critical for recovery.  So yes, at that stage we will see someone say "You have to work at stopping compulsions".  It isn't barked out simplistically as a first response, it's an abridged version of all that has been advised before.  To continue (in such instances) to repeat advice and explanations over and again isn't helpful to recovery.  There does come a point where (despite having great sympathy for the anguish a sufferer feels) we have to bite the bullet and start the work of reducing compulsions.

I think the purpose of this, and similar threads, is to provide a summary of salient points rather than of implying people should just "Get over it/stop doing compulsions".  I don't think we have a single member who would be so unsympathetic and unhelpful.  We have after all, all been there.  It could be argued that a new user may read the thread and think "If only it were that simple".  I don't believe that any of our users are told "Stop doing compulsion" in isolation.  That reminder is given where it can be seen that someone isn't making the changes that ultimately they must, when detailed explanations and suggestions have been given over a long period of time.  I think we all need to consider these reminders in context.

The ultimate goal is recovery from this dreadful disorder and it's not an easy path to walk but in order to do so we will have to reduce and stop carrying out compulsions at some stage, despite the anxiety it provokes.

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Encouraging people to want to change their unhelpful behaviours and start on the road to recovery is a stumbling block for the helpers too. 

I had massive motivation as I needed to carry on supporting my disabled wife, and pay extra into the pension pot /keep life insurance going to ensure she would be fine if anything happened to me. 

I had to be well enough to keep working in order to do this, and I was prepared to do whatever it took to be able to do so. 

Maybe we need to help combine real motivation with a belief in what therapy can, and will, do for those committing to do the hard work?

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56 minutes ago, Caramoole said:

However, often, the reminder/advice that someone needs to work on stopping compulsions is being given to someone who has received months/year's of forum advice. 

I accept that but if someone's been given the same advice 1000 times, telling them to stop doing compulsions won't enable them to stop. We have to continue giving practical helpful and meaningful advice 1001 times and continue until the person feels empowered to act and implement.  Even if that individual doesn't act on the advice, it's possible another anonymous reader will read that great advice and act on it.

 

16 minutes ago, taurean said:

Maybe we need to help combine real motivation with a belief in what therapy can, and will, do for those committing to do the hard work?

Yes absolutely.... but that doesn't mean we ignore those not able to do the hard work (not that is what you're saying). In 99% of cases it's not that the person is unwilling to do the hard work or that they lack commitment, they fail to do the work because they are scared and fearful of the consequences of OCD.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ashley said:

I accept that but if someone's been given the same advice 1000 times, telling them to stop doing compulsions won't enable them to stop. We have to continue giving practical helpful and meaningful advice 1001 times and continue until the person feels empowered to act and implement.

I both agree and disagree in part.  I don't think that I've ever seen anyone who hasn't received compassionate support.  I know over the years I've tried to offer many examples, analogies, suggestions, in many, many different ways in the hope of finding the one method that will "click" and help someone to move forward.  But, among that advice is the role that compulsions play in helping a sufferer remain stuck in the OCD cycle.  And yes, it can be cripplingly fearful, it can provoke extreme anxiety and it's something I'm often at lengths to point out...….also, that it can be started at a very low level but ultimately, is something that sufferer's have to try and formulate a plan of action (alone, with forum help, with a therapist) to start to reduce those compulsions.

1 hour ago, Ashley said:

In 99% of cases it's not that the person is unwilling to do the hard work or that they lack commitment, they fail to do the work because they are scared and fearful of the consequences of OCD

Something we all appreciate, it is what makes any of us a sufferer of the disorder.

Perhaps in the context of this thread it could have read "Understanding the role of compulsions in OCD and working to reduce/eliminate them".  So far as education is concerned it remains a valid and critical piece of advice.

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I like to think that, at some point, there is going to be a change within the sufferer that enables them to implement the advice given. 

If that happens to be on the 1001th time the advice is given, so be it. 

We still have some mileage to go in helping people to break out of the catch 22 of falling into vicious flower thinking cycles and resultant catastrophic thinking. 

And as I know only too well myself it's perfectly likely that one intrusion can break through our resilience and, if we don't apply what we are told, plunge us into a rabbit hole and down the snakes. 

I would truly truly love to see more of us break free from stuck scenarios and reclaim their lives. 

Edited by taurean

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I searched the forum and thought I would find atleast one thread of you on the matter because you have wrote so many good threads Taurean. I wan't to say something about what concentrating on what can be done -- what is possible to change.

Concentrating on what someone can change and accepting that this is the only thing you can do if you don't want to be a victim of endless rumination. We with OCD tend to end up endlessly ruminate so we need to see that there is no point in doing so (analyzing and thinking about matters over which you have no control)

Concentrating on what you can change and really really accepting the fact that there are just so much you have control over, the past is not one of the rhinga you have control over. The part "really accepting" is the hardest but it have to be done or atleast I think that the sufferer will fall victim of rumination. We really reeeeally need to accept this. I dooo think that this is what separates us from people who doesn't end up in their head. They too want things to be different, sure if things were different... But they aren't and they move on.

Edit: I luke this place because here are people who care, because they remember the specific sufferer and there are no wrong in being frank with someone who doesnt need 10 pages of the same facts, I think that can be counterproductive. This forum is one of few where this individual approach shows.

New members needs the fact, I wish here were a lot more new members, because every new member gives us an opportunity to shorten the painful experience, which it is to suffer from the sometimes dreadful condition OCD. Also, we need to realize that the members that get many posts usually are the ones which (could be) takes a little more time before they recover.

 

Edited by OCDhavenobrain

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Thanks for your kind comment, and this input, havenobrain. 

I had to get up and take some medication as my arthritic knee is suddenly playing up again so, while waiting for the pain relief to kick in, thought I would add something into the mix. 

We can spend too much time dwelling on OCD as sufferers, and this gives it more prominence and helps to keep us under its power. 

I myself am not currently affected, and keep my forum time under control - essentially my own guidance is to only enter a thread if I think I can make a real difference, or to support excellent postings. 

So - even with time available as I am retired - I keep my mind involved in plenty of other things - and this is enjoyable but also therapeutically helpful. 

I myself have never joined any other forums. I suspect that some of our fellow sufferers post, and so are actively conducting an OCD discussion, on other OCD forums too; this to me is likely to be compulsive, unhelpful, behaviour and likely to give belief, rather than relief. 

Reams of material has been published about how to get better from OCD. But to my, now well informed, mind the key problems that are holding us back are simply summarised, but not simply resolved. 

Sure we may struggle to obtain face to face CBT - and I regret this though understand the reasons why.

But we don't need to use multiple forums, read multiple books. 

We need to determine to do the simple things, find a formula that works for us, and commit to using it. 

On a number of my own threads I have sought to set out such  key elements of CBT that need to be addressed. And how when we work this through we can approach, then burst through, the "gain line" when we regain the ascendancy and the OCD power and frequency begins to fade. 

I am pleased to report that the pain relief has kicked in, so time now to return to the land of nod. 

Here's hoping more sufferers will be encouraged by what we have all said here to follow up the ideas and suggested other threads, and really make progress to step out of the stuck environment. 

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5 hours ago, taurean said:

Thanks for your kind comment, and this input, havenobrain. 

I had to get up and take some medication as my arthritic knee is suddenly playing up again so, while waiting for the pain relief to kick in, thought I would add something into the mix. 

We can spend too much time dwelling on OCD as sufferers, and this gives it more prominence and helps to keep us under its power. 

I myself am not currently affected, and keep my forum time under control - essentially my own guidance is to only enter a thread if I think I can make a real difference, or to support excellent postings. 

So - even with time available as I am retired - I keep my mind involved in plenty of other things - and this is enjoyable but also therapeutically helpful. 

I myself have never joined any other forums. I suspect that some of our fellow sufferers post, and so are actively conducting an OCD discussion, on other OCD forums too; this to me is likely to be compulsive, unhelpful, behaviour and likely to give belief, rather than relief. 

Reams of material has been published about how to get better from OCD. But to my, now well informed, mind the key problems that are holding us back are simply summarised, but not simply resolved. 

Sure we may struggle to obtain face to face CBT - and I regret this though understand the reasons why.

But we don't need to use multiple forums, read multiple books. 

We need to determine to do the simple things, find a formula that works for us, and commit to using it. 

On a number of my own threads I have sought to set out such  key elements of CBT that need to be addressed. And how when we work this through we can approach, then burst through, the "gain line" when we regain the ascendancy and the OCD power and frequency begins to fade. 

I am pleased to report that the pain relief has kicked in, so time now to return to the land of nod. 

Here's hoping more sufferers will be encouraged by what we have all said here to follow up the ideas and suggested other threads, and really make progress to step out of the stuck environment. 

I am sorry to hear that. I hope I will be more like you and my grandmother when I get older.

Acceptance, real true deep down acceptance is key, it is the way we should go. I personally haven't been able to accept frightful things and situations and it started when I was a kid. But it is hard too, very very hard and that is why we are turning to compulsions. Certainty in a world of uncertainty when it feels like it is our task to be sure, and it often starts when one is young and feel alone with the thoughts.

Dksea wrote about it being a lifestyle change, that is true. That is how one have to approach it. You do not change and rewire years of habits by doing a little different sometimes. It takes time.

Accepting scary things is not an easy task, that plus the habit of turning to compulsions makes an effective recipe for more of the wrong behaviour.

Edited by OCDhavenobrain

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