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Terriblethoughts

How to tell ocd from valid worries

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Hello all, I’ve been wondering if there’s any way to tell real worries from ocd. Recently I’ve been stressed about any foods or anything that could potentially be toxic to dogs.
 

If I eat something that has cocoa in it or any chocolate I start worrying that I’ve dropped a piece or some crumbs somewhere and that my dog will eat it and become ill or worse. Is this a legitimate worry? I feel it is possible that when you’re eating a piece might fall without you noticing. It’s just annoying, I worry about it and wash my hands after having the slightest contact with chocolate. Then after I start scanning the floor for any pieces and clean sometimes if I see any suspicious looking specs. I do have a big dog so I think it’s less likely that she would become ill from a tiny piece but idk. 

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Hey.

Yes this is OCD and not a rational worry. Your dog having a small piece of chocolate will not make her ill or anything worse. I remember a few years back myself and friends left one of those big slabs of Cadbury milk chocolate on the couch and my dog managed to have about half the slab before we caught her and took it away. Shes still alive and very happy to this day lol.

Point is, it is very much OCD to check whether you've spilt specs of cocoa or dropped small crumbs. Stop doing this and you'll feel better soon. Accept the uncertainty otherwise you'll drive yourself mad worrying about it.

Hope it all goes well :)

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We get this question regularly. Real worries vs OCD worries. The thing is, what good does a real worry do? What good does worrying do? I tell you that although worrying is quite normal, it does no good.

Now if you dropped a whole chocolate bar on the floor, you would know it, pick it up and that's that. If you have to bend over to get your eyes closer to the floor, you are going way overboard.

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@BM94 @PolarBear Thank you!!

Sorry one more question, yesterday I had a small space heater on and I left my room briefly with it still on. Irresponsible I know. Then when I went back I noticed my dog had gone in my room and seemed a bit avoidant of the heater so I’m thinking maybe she burned herself on it and it does get really hot. She’d walk past it no problem but if I held it towards her she backed up. I feel guilty now for testing like that it might have been scary for her. I only did it to try and determine if she got burned but still.

 I didn’t see any burns on her nose and I ran my hands near her paws and nose to see if there was any pain but she seemed fine I think. Not really sure though, seemed relaxed for the most part but at one point she closed her mouth and didn’t have that relaxed look on her face. Also I could have been more thorough checking it’s just I started getting intrusive thoughts.

I’ve unplugged the heater since so nothing like this happens again and today I put a treat on it to see if she would be too afraid to eat it. She wasn’t and seems fine but my mind is telling what if she has a burn somewhere I can’t see or tell? I’ve heard dogs sometimes don’t show pain unless it hurts them a lot so I worry if I need to do something or see a vet? 
 

I checked her nose again with bright light and now I seems like there’s a slightly lighter part on her black nose and I’m wondering if that’s a burn. I did touch her nose prior to see if there was pain but she seemed ok? I don’t think she likes it when I put my hand on her nose but I can’t tell if she’s being finicky or if there’s some pain.

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Well, you're looking for reassurance. 

You are way overthinking this. Hello, OCD. Loves to fixate on ridiculous things.

Edited by PolarBear

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Ok read @PolarBear 's comment above. The point he made was that worrying about anything is fruitless and doesn't do any good.

What you've said above is exactly that, you're worrying about something that you can't change and will never be able to get complete certainty for, totally overthinking it. What's the point in worrying about it?

You've done compulsions by checking her nose, you've done compulsions by putting a treat on the heater, you've done compulsions by worrying over it. You've also done compulsions by shining a light in her face, none of it is necessary. Cut these compulsions down and you will see the difference.

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5 hours ago, Terriblethoughts said:

Hello all, I’ve been wondering if there’s any way to tell real worries from ocd. Recently I’ve been stressed about any foods or anything that could potentially be toxic to dogs.

Its frustrating, but of course if we could easily tell we probably wouldn't have problems to begin with.  
A good rule of thumb is: If you think it might be OCD, it probably is.

A lot of worries (maybe all worries) that we deal with with OCD have some sliver of real risk involved.  The question is not whether its theoretically possible for a worry to happen, its whether our response is reasonable given the circumstances.

So in your case, is it possible a dog can become ill from eating too much chocolate?  Yes, that is something that can and does happen.  
Does that mean your responses to that fear are reasonable in this situation?  Washing your hands? Scouring the floor for even the slightest crumb of chocolate?  Do you think non-OCD sufferers (or those of us without your particular worry) would respond that way?  If the answer is no (or probably no) then treat it like OCD.  
OCD will respond with "but what if..."
But there is ALWAYS a "but what if...", if you keep doing an action based on the "what if" you can always keep doing the action, there will be no escape.  Its hard, but try not to respond to the "what ifs", in time it will get better.

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Thanks for responding guys really appreciate it. I’ve found a new worry now although it’s not that bad thankfully. I worry that it’s morally wrong to even have chocolate in the house if you have a dog. If chocolate was toxic to babies then wouldn’t we be not eating chocolate anywhere near them? I realize a dog isn’t a baby or a human but to me I kinda think dogs are better than humans.

Someone please tell me I’m being dumb or irrational so I can stop worrying or tell me that if I do consider dogs better then humans I should be getting rid of chocolate or taking extreme care not to drop any.

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Evening,

Yeah you're overcomplicating this one I'm afraid.

I read the book "overcoming unwanted intrusive thoughts", it may be worth you having a look at this and seeing how it is worded.

There are 3 internal voices they say - "worried voice", "false comfort" and "wise mind".

Your worried voice is saying "oh my days theres chocolate around, I could kill my dog if she got hold of it and it would be all my fault and I cant cope with this".

Your false comfort voice is saying "well you think that dogs are better than humans so it's definitely important that you look into this, why don't you keep all the chocolate completely away from her so she won't have any chance of getting to it and check any places that she could find some crumbs on the floor and you'll feel better, coz you know that if you don't she could get hurt".

Worried voice is saying "ok that's not a bad idea. But what if I miss a bit? I mean you know how you wouldn't have anything harmful around babies so why don't we do that for dogs too?"

False comfort says "yeah you're right, maybe you should lose all the chocolate in the house, and then go onto the OCD forum and ask people on there to tell you you're being dumb and irrational, I'm sure you'll feel better after that"

Worried voice will always come back with a "yeah but....."

And it goes ON and ON and ON. False comfort is the voice you have listened to when you have engaged in compulsions to ease the anxiety the thought has caused.

Sat all the way over there, wise mind is saying "wow you guys really are getting into a mess here. I am recognising that these are intrusive thoughts and that is all they are. I know that nothing is certain, you will never be able to satisfy the worry that your dog could get chocolate somehow, so I know there is no point going round in circles about this".

-----

All in all its about being able to disconnect a compulsive reaction from a thought that has sprung up in your mind. 

Yes, chocolate is a risk to dogs, but it's learning not to catastrophize the thoughts and to see them for what they are: thoughts that really can be dismissed as unimportant.

If you have a dog and your chocolate is in a cupboard somewhere, just remember that is the exact same situation for MILLIONS of other people too. Think about how a non-sufferer would see these thoughts.

Hope this helps :)

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Thank you so much. Sounds like a good book, I need to look into getting some.
 

I do see that the cycle keeps going on and on but I can’t help but feel if I got rid of all the chocolate in the house then I would at least be doing what I could within reason to prevent her from eating it.

I know most people who have dogs also probably have chocolate in their cupboard but I don’t think most people view their dogs quite the same as me or maybe it’s just the ocd talking here. I apologize if I’m wrong about that and I’m not trying to say people don’t love their dogs or anything.

I’m saying to myself: “you can’t even throw away people’s chocolate to keep your dog safe” and “it’s selfish that you haven’t given up chocolate, a minor pleasure for you but a poison for your dog.” I mean I could give up chocolate but I don’t live alone and other people eat it sometimes anyways. If I threw it all out they’d be thinking wtf where’s all the expensive chocolate gone lol. 
 

Sorry this is probably ridiculous and is one of my more minor worries. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

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Lots of things are toxic to humans and we still keep them in the house - cleaning products for example. I have children and still have these items. I don't consider that irresponsible - I just make sure they don't go into the cupboard they are kept in. 

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12 minutes ago, Terriblethoughts said:

I can’t help but feel if I got rid of all the chocolate in the house then I would at least be doing what I could within reason to prevent her from eating it

But you see that is not within reason. Why should you stop yourself from enjoying chocolate to entertain what OCD is telling you?

14 minutes ago, Terriblethoughts said:

I know most people who have dogs also probably have chocolate in their cupboard but I don’t think most people view their dogs quite the same as me or maybe it’s just the ocd talking here

So that is a classic OCD inspired belief, that your love for your dog is so different from anyone else's. It's not.

I love my dog to millions of bits and pieces but I still have chocolate in my cupboard so I can enjoy it when I feel like it. 

I think for you it is a simple case of realising they are just scary thoughts that something could happen to your dog, and not doing compulsions like getting rid of your chocolate to reduce the anxiety. It isnt reasonable and will fuel your OCD big time.

 

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2 hours ago, Terriblethoughts said:

Thanks for responding guys really appreciate it. I’ve found a new worry now although it’s not that bad thankfully. I worry that it’s morally wrong to even have chocolate in the house if you have a dog. If chocolate was toxic to babies then wouldn’t we be not eating chocolate anywhere near them? I realize a dog isn’t a baby or a human but to me I kinda think dogs are better than humans.

Someone please tell me I’m being dumb or irrational so I can stop worrying or tell me that if I do consider dogs better then humans I should be getting rid of chocolate or taking extreme care not to drop any.

The dubious 'morality' of OCD. There's nothing 'moral' about the disorder.

If someone tells you that you're dumb or irrational for having such concerns it's reassurance. 

Try to use the fact  that the cry wolf syndrome strikes again (apologies for the canine reference) to give you an insight. 

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Thank you Annie that’s a good point. The thing is though it’s not just me in the house. I do make sure it’s in a safe enough spot but I feel like it’s possible someone else will leave a piece out on the table or something.
 

BM thanks again, I guess it’s not reasonable but somehow it seems like it is to me. I guess that’s ocd. I’ll work on it.

I also feel guilty though bc if I thought it was a big deal in the past but waited to post here then it’s like I thought there was maybe a threat and didn’t ask about it even though I thought maybe it could hurt my dog or worse. Even if the threat wasn’t real the feeling that it might be was and I didn’t ask about it right away. 

Thanks paradoxer. Would the above also apply to there’s nothing moral about ocd? 

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3 hours ago, Terriblethoughts said:



Thanks paradoxer. Would the above also apply to there’s nothing moral about ocd? 

There is nothing moral or altruistic about OCD, in fact on the contrary, that rush to 'do the right thing' is only (an understandable) mechanism to escape one's own pain. 

That rush, that injection of guilt is a faux rendition of the real thing (far worse than the genuine article). 

Just my take. 

Wishing you the best. 

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4 hours ago, paradoxer said:

There is nothing moral or altruistic about OCD, in fact on the contrary, that rush to 'do the right thing' is only (an understandable) mechanism to escape one's own pain. 

That rush, that injection of guilt is a faux rendition of the real thing (far worse than the genuine article). 

Never thought of it like this. Makes so much sense!

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4 hours ago, Terriblethoughts said:

Thank you paradoxer appreciate the responses a lot.

TT you're welcome. 

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1 hour ago, AnxiousAnnie said:

Never thought of it like this. Makes so much sense!

Thanks! ... I'm glad that resonates. 

Best. 

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