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Lizzy

OCD returned after many years

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Hi, I'm new here.

I have OCD and PTSD from childhood trauma, but my OCD has been treated and under control for many years.

I've always retained a tendancy for OCD thoughts when stressed, but have been mostly able to deal with them and to muddle through life.

Recently, I went through very strange and very intense workplace bullying by a new manager and when I took sick leave because of the effects it was having on my mental health, this manager fired me.

I've seen my union and a lawyer for advice and talked to friends and have decided to move on and seek employment elsewhere. The company was a very small company, so moving to another department to avoid this abusive manager wasn't an option.

In the wake of this experience, my OCD has returned full force.

The bullying started in October (6 months ago) and I was fired 4 weeks ago.

The OCD started getting pretty bad around December and has really ramped up since I've been at home on sick leave, with nothing to distract me/ no work tasks to take my mind off the OCD thoughts.

It's gotten to the point where I'm going to have to talk to my therapist about it and I've ordered the book "Everyday Mindfulness for OCD: Tips, Tricks, and Skills for Living Joyfully" by Jon Hershfield and Shala Nicely.

I have a friend who also has PTSD and OCD, which is very helpful, because he understands how those two conditions interact (they impact each other and amplify each other in a very challenging spiral).

I'm looking for support via accountability... Reminders not to let OCD thoughts get out of hand and to nip them in the bud and to refuse to allow them to have power over me.

I've beaten OCD before, so I am confident I can do it again.

Thanks for any support :)

Liz

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2 hours ago, Lizzy said:

 

I've beaten OCD before, so I am confident I can do it again.

Yes, you can. Your advantage you know its game plan. 

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Hi lizzy 

Welcome to the forum :) 

I'm sorry you've been through such a dreadful time. It sounds horrendous. You definitely have the right attitude though. Come to the forum for support any time you need it :) 

Have you read a book called "break free from ocd" by Paul Salkovskis? In my opinion one of the best books out there I'd really recommend it if you haven't read it already.

:) 

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Hi @paradoxer and @gingerbreadgirl  :)

Thanks for your messages!

I should probably add that my OCD is currently focussing on all worries related to my future/ employment/ finances/ paperwork. These themes are all obviously related to the job loss. In addition, my brain just seems to be in "OCD mode" at the moment and is attaching anxious and obsessive thoughts to "just about anything". The most difficult time of the day for me at the moment is waking up in the mornings, feeling panicked and overwhelmed by what I have to do that day (which feels like "everything").

My main compulsions are worrying/ thinking/ ruminating about these things constantly and making "to do" lists. These to do lists are not helpful or sane... they are dysfunctional and seemingly infinite and overwhelm me and make me really anxious. Seeing as mornings are my most anxious time, I've decided to ban myself from all worrying before lunch time. Just cut through those thoughts and refuse to buy into them. I've decided that I can deal with my to do lists between 1 pm and 6 pm each day, as I do need to actually get some of those tasks done. I will also try and delete all "OCD type entries" on my to do lists, wherever I can catch them.

I hope that this is a sensible and pragmatic approach, and that by giving my brain some rest and taking it out of the 24/7 loop of worry and anxiety, it will naturally start to calm down again over time.

Much of the initial shock of losing my job under such sh*tty circumstances has passed, and I think I've mostly worked out how to make sure my finances are okay. I'm also slowly able to make new plans and no longer just reeling and wondering "omg what now?"

I think I will have to be vigilant about noticing OCD thought patterns for quite a while tho, because it's totally my brain's go-to thought pattern at the moment. A new intrusive, obsessive, anxious thought pops up every 5 minutes or so and keeping them at bay is a rather tiring struggle at times.

Having beat OCD before, I know it's my own brain trying to trick me tho, and seeing as I am a very stubborn person, I know I just have to be even more stubborn than my own brain and refuse to be tricked. Also, I know that compulsions are like an addiction and fighting them is the same as fighting any other addiction.

It's one messy, unglorious day at a time, but it eventually gets easier and the only way out is through and facing your fears is the way to get out of it.

It's crazy how "convincing" OCD thoughts are tho... They feel like the most convincing thing on earth 😛

1 hour ago, gingerbreadgirl said:

Have you read a book called "break free from ocd" by Paul Salkovskis?

Oh, and thanks for the book recommendation - I'll check it out! :)

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About being 'the most convincing thing on earth', when that dodgy brain chemistry kicks in ... !

It does sound as though you're on top of things. 

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Thanks :)
 

Just realised something as i was drifting off to sleep...

Cos of childhood trauma, I was always forced to be "responsible" as a kid... to be grown up and bear responsibilities beyond my age.

I think that's part of my OCD dynamic... Feeling like I'm never allowed to let go of being responsible for everything... Even for things that I can't possibly be responsible for.

Crazy amounts of responsibility for things that make no sense.

I want to let go of that.

It's not *my* responsibility to bear.

I just want to step back and no longer be connected to that false sense of responsibility for "everything".

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Accountability post:

I had a challenging day yesterday. I live on a farm and had to drive to a nearby city (2 hour drive each way) and spent the day running errands. I was out of the house for 12 hours and that much input always makes my brain unsettled and OCD type thoughts can latch on to any event during the day/ anything that was said by me or others.

Thankfully OCD thoughts were mild yesterday and I was able to cut through them all. It's such sweet relief when that works. Brain becomes peaceful and feels sane.

While I was having lunch, I had the strongest OCD thought of the day... It is the thought that underlies all of my OCD thoughts, which is "I'm not doing enough."

I never feel like I'm doing enough.

If I'm resting, I'm obviously not doing enough.

If I'm having a normal day, I think "I could/ should do more."

But even when I'm doing more than I can handle, when I'm overwhelmed, it's still "I'm not doing enough."

Cos it's never enough. Ever. No matter what. (According to OCD)

So, I was expecting yesterday to be a challenging day and that I would struggle, because I had a lot of things to do/ errands to run.

And at lunch, I noticed that I was doing better than expected... I had managed to consistently cut through OCD thoughts all morning and was feeling grounded and surprisingly okay.

And then OCD brain used that as a reason/ an explanation/ a justification that I obviously wasn't doing enough.

If I had energy to spare, that meant that I should run some extra errands on my lunch break, instead of sitting down in a cafe for an hour between other errands.

I struggled with that thought for most of lunch but while it was difficult not to give in to that thought, I managed and ended up having a calm day, without feeling guilty about it.

When I got home in the evening, my brain was going a mile a minute, randomly processing the day's events, which is classic OCD thought territory for me.

I managed to tell myself that I'm just tired tho and went and watched TV until I eventually fell asleep (tho I didn't sleep much/ well because my brain was still randomly racing a bit).

Today I don't have anything I really "have to do" other than look after my pets.

Being able to rest can be both a blessing and a curse for OCD... it can definitely trigger a lot of "I'm not doing enough" thoughts.

And given that I slept poorly/ too little, I'll have to be vigilant today, to not let my sleep-deprived brain fall for OCD thoughts.

Overall, I'm feeling a lot better than I was last week.

Clearly identifying and cutting through the OCD thoughts has helped calm and soothe my brain and I no longer feel like I'm spiralling.

I feel like I've been able to regain a normal sense of control over my day and my brain... No longer feel like I'm at my brain's mercy and like things are spiralling out of control messily.

Still keep being surprised and blindsided by some of the more intense OCD thoughts (like "I'm not doing enough").

As I deal with the milder OCD thoughts successfully, I feel like I'm on top of it.

And then suddenly *bam* an intense OCD thought will ambush me (yes, that's what it feels like) and will start screaming in my brain, full force.

And the thought is so convincing. It feels 100% true. And it feels very urgent.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the urgency, that it takes quite a long time to think "Ohhhh... it's another OCD thought... Well disguised and unnervingly convincing..."

And then the struggle to step back from that... to disentangle my brain from that utterly convincing thought... to remind myself that THIS IS HOW OCD WORKS... this is its pattern, this is its modus operandi.

Stupid brain, stupid OCD.

I'm getting there tho... one day at a time... Every day that OCD doesn't win, is a day that I win.

Edited by Lizzy

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Accountability post:

I have been trying to do "easy and useful" things with my mornings this past week.

I have been doing a 25 minute yoga video most mornings, and struggling to complete it, taking breaks in between etc.

Throughout, my OCD thought has been (as usual) "You're not doing enough"

Today I just managed to complete the full 25 mintues in one sitting with relative ease.

Now OCD is also (loudly) saying "You're not doing enough"

It's not enough to complete the video/ yoga session once per day.

I should be doing it twice per day, should be doing additional exercise, blahblahblah.

I think one of the difficult things about OCD thoughts is that often there *is* a kernel/ an element of truth to them... that makes them particularly hard to refute.

Because, yes, objectively it would be "better" for me to do more exercise than a 25 minute yoga session per day.

That's objectively "true".

But.... my OCD plays with that and distorts it and turns it into something unhealthy and dysfunctional.

Because even if I did do "more" exercise, my OCD would say it's still not enough and that "even more" would be "even better".

Which at some point stops being objectively true.

Doing sport obsessively would not be healthy.

I think that "element of truth" aspect to many OCD thoughts is what makes them particularly tricky and insidious.

I need to fight the compulsion to do "more" sport today.

I also need to fight the compulsion to do "something else instead"... like doing a household chore to compensate for not doing "more" sport.

Sigh.

Stupid OCD, stupid brain.

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Accountability post:

I had a relatively quiet day, but got a few things done. Most of the day I was able to deal with OCD thoughts well.

This evening the familiar theme of "I haven't done enough" has started up again, quite intensely.

It's very convincing... Right now I believe the thought about 90%. Not quite 100%, because I know that it's important for me to get rest and to recover at the moment. But 90% because I don't *feel* like I've "done enough" whatever that is actually supposed to mean.

Not enough to have a sense of achievement. Not enough to feel positive about the day or about myself. Not enough to have a good life in future. Not enough, so I will have to try twice as hard and do twice as much tomorrow to make up for it.

But it's all OCD rubbish. "Enough" doesn't exist.

And there is no "reason" my brain has come up with this OCD thought. It comes up with this OCD thought randomly multiple times a day, every single day of the year. Sometimes the thought is louder, sometimes it's quieter.

I shouldn't be engaging with the thought and debating whether it's true or not, nor trying to find evidence to prove or disprove it. I should just accept that my brain is having an OCD moment right now, and I should disengage from the thought and just do something else, something that I enjoy instead. This OCD thought has no value or merit and its content is irrelevant.

Edited by Lizzy

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Accountability post:

I want to try and change the question "Am I doing enough?"

It's an OCD question and the OCD answer is always "No". It's never enough. There is no such thing as "enough".

I want to try changing that question to "Am I doing a healthy amount?"

That's a much more sane, useful question.

That question also contains the awareness that "doing too much" is just as unhelpful as "not doing enough".

I don't think it will be an easy pattern to shift. The OCD question "Am I doing enough?" has been hardwired into my brain since childhood.

But it is worth a try.

The answer to "Am I doing a healthy amount?" is "Yes".

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Hey folks, I can't tell you how relieved I was when I saw this topic thread on here. I am in exactly the same position where my OCD has been under control for 17 years now and due to serious extenuating circumstances has come back with a vengeance and is threatening my life balance. 

I have been off work for 6 months with endometrial cancer (which thank the gods is not life threatening just life altering and humbling to say the least). I am pretty much stuck in the house all day every day, my relationship with my husband has been massively impacted and has raised questions about the future of my partnership with my husband. 

As a form of escapism I have been reading a huge amount and have become completely obsessed and addicted to a number of fictional characters. I know they aren't real, I know the story isn't real, but I can't let it go.

My every waking moment is taken up by thinking about them, I spend my days having completely ridiculous conversations "with them". I haven't been able to read another book to try and get them out of my head, I am completely obsessing about the ways in which I could change and alter my life to make meeting someone like them possible. I can't sleep, I don't want to eat, I can't concentrate on anything else. 

This is one of the ways my OCD presented before and I managed with help and CBT to get a handle on it but so many of my coping mechanisms aren't possible when I'm stuck at home on my own most of the time and I'm so ill. 

I'm so frightened about feeling how I did before and going back to the way I was. My husband had never seen this from me either so it is really difficult to explain what is happening and why, Im so embarrassed and ashamed - it's one thing to think like this when you are 17 years old but in your 30s!!

I just feel so hopeless right now :(

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Hi Captain Kirk :)

Sorry you are going through a tough time. My symptoms came back after a distressing life event (in my case: bullying at work and job loss) and then being at home on sick leave, too.

I guess in both our cases, the distressing event ramped up the OCD symptoms and then by being home all day, there's too little distraction and our brains get lost in OCD symptoms.

51 minutes ago, PolarBear said:

maladaptive daydreaming

I agree that it sounds a lot like maladaptive daydreaming.

I'm sure that you can beat this. Make a plan, get support and then take it one day at a time.

I'm sure we'll both get back to normal soon :)

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Accountability post:

So, much of today was okay, but I hit a difficult OCD patch this afternoon. Got really stuck in the thoughts and feelings associated with "I'm not doing enough".

And as I thought about how "There is no enough... It will never be enough for OCD" it really hit me how badly this is messing up my life.

The thing is, having grown up with childhood trauma, things used to be pretty bad in my life. And I had to fight so hard to overcome all of that.

So it was normal to feel like I wasn't doing enough, for things to be okay. Because things weren't okay.

But somewhere along the way, that became self-perpetuating.

And I would always tell myself that things would get better... Once I had completed therapy. Once I had done vocational training. Once I had a job. Once I was financially secure.

I got so used to having to motivate myself with "It will be better one day."

Now I'm stuck in an endless loop of that... Where I'm not happy, but tell myself I will be once I've achieved the next set of goals.

I used to think I was being motivated and optimistic.

Now I think I was chasing something unattainable.

As long as my OCD thoughts about "I'm not doing enough" are with me... nothing will ever be enough.

I can achieve however many goals... It still won't be enough. My OCD will always find a new reason why it's not enough.

When I was going through trauma, it was normal to want to escape "into tomorrow". Because it was obvious that life would be better, once I was grown up and had escaped childhood trauma.

But now that I'm grown up and living my own life, if I keep chasing tomorrow, then I will never live in "today".

And "today" will never feel like it's enough.

OCD will keep shifting the goalposts endlessly and I will run myself ragged, chasing after them.

I have no idea if I can accept my life, as it is now, as being enough. It feels utterly impossible. It feels undoable.

But I know that's inherent to the nature of OCD, so I'll just have to do the undoable to break free from it.

It scares the bleep out of me tho.

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Accountability post:

I struggled quite a lot with this yesterday:

On 12/03/2020 at 01:39, Lizzy said:

But now that I'm grown up and living my own life, if I keep chasing tomorrow, then I will never live in "today".
And "today" will never feel like it's enough.
OCD will keep shifting the goalposts endlessly and I will run myself ragged, chasing after them.

It hit me pretty hard, how deep this goes and how significant and profound the changes are that I need to make.

I think in many ways I'm scared out of my wits to live in the here and now without things like work/ projects to distract me.

To really be in the moment and to accept that "this is my life" feels like an impossible task. Even tho that sounds ridiculous, because it should be as easy as breathing.

There are so many old, scary, painful emotions that flood up when I try to be in the moment and try to accept that this is my life.

I feel like I'm having a mid-life crisis. It's been coming on for a while, but this job loss and the sh*tty circumstances associated with it and the feeling of "what now" have really brought it to the fore.

My brain wants to bury all of this in obsessions and compulsions and trying to resist those is as much fun as an addict resisting alcohol or drugs.

It hurts, it's scary, I want to scream and run.

I know it's a growth opportunity.

I know I'm going through a mid-life crisis for a reason.

I know if I do this right (courageously, patiently, wisely) then I'll come out of it stronger and happier and more at ease.

But it's going to be a frustrating, messy, arduous journey.

And I'm so tempted to bail.

Edited by Lizzy

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Accountability Post:

Feeling a bit better today, but things are still "meh".

Trying to take the day off today... it's hard tho... my OCD is going to have a field day with it.

What worries me is that it will be low/ medium level most day, and I'll deal with that.

And then at some point it will probably spike massively and catch me off guard and then I'll spiral.

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Accountability post:

Still struggling with being able to prioritise things and working out what I need to do (actual tasks important to life functioning) and what are imaginary OCD tasks that feel "very urgent" but aren't.

For example an actual important life task = completing my overdue tax return.

An imaginary OCD task that feels very urgent = have to make sure I've replied to everyone's emails.

Often, my brain is literally unable to tell the difference... or my brain may be screaming much louder about the OCD task compared to the real life task (where my brain may be yelling "avoid avoid avoid").

I'm aware it's totally possible to work through these things, analyse them, resist doing compulsions, stop avoiding, etc etc.

In practice, it takes huge amounts of energy, is very draining and sometimes feels endless, because some days OCD thoughts are coming at me a mile a mintue and sometimes they're so hard to distinguish from other "truly urgent" issues.

Stupid brain, stupid OCD.

 

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Accountability post:

In recent days, my OCD has focussed more on Corona virus issues, rather than on my usual/ previous issues.

Not so much contamination/ cleanliness OCD obsessions.

Rather, focussing on issues like can I keep the animals on our farm fed and safe?

And this has turned into my usual obsession of "I'm not doing enough" which means I am constantly "doing something" and not taking any breaks.

Or, rather, I'm taking brief breaks when I'm exhausted, but the continue working again straight away.

I'm not actually resting or having leisure time or doing self-care.

Which is not healthy.

My brain thinks I have to "do my best" to deal with the current situation (Corona virus) and only if I "do my best" then I can be free of feelings of guilt, if anything negative happens, because I can honestly say that I did my best.

But "doing my best" leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

If I'm working all day, and taking no breaks, is that "my best"?

Or should I get up earlier in the morning and forgo some hours of sleep to do more? Because more = better = doing my best?

These are OCD logic loops and they're not helpful.

I need to again focus on "am I doing a healthy amount"?

Currently, I think the answer is no, because I am doing too much.

I should be obsessing less and I should be engaging less in the compulsion to "do more".

 

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Accountability post:

This past week, I've been focussed on dealing with Covid fallout in all areas of my life/ societal life.

So not really focussing any energy on keeping OCD symptoms and reactions down low.

My main compulsion atm seems to be checking the news, which is keeping my brain in a permanent state of alarm, making me feel like I need to check the news more (and so on...)

As a way of reducing this, that doesn't feel stressful, I'm going to limit myself as follows:

For the first half hour of each hour (so from 9:00 to 9:30 am, for example) I will ban myself from checking any news/ media re Covid.

In the second half of each hour (eg 9:30 to 10:00 am) I'll allow myself to check the news.

Just by reducing it by 50%, I'll get my brain to calm and settle down a bit.

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