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Identifying the original trigger


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Hi,

Some experts have said that identifying the original trigger can help because it may have started when a child and you did not know how to deal with it. I have pinpointed my trigger that was when I was about 12 or 13 years old and relating to contamination. I can rationalise it now that the worry was not something I needed to worry about but at the time I did not know how to deal with it so created compulsions / avoidance to deal with it. My actions reduced the anxiety so reinforced it as being true in my mind  so I added to compulsions / avoidance because it made me feel 'better' and less anxious. I have built on the odd actions I do to feel 'safe' and created a reality of how to live a normal life that has been fixed for the last 10-15 years. I can tell myself the original worry I had wasn''t something I needed to worry about and all of the things I do  have no real benefit but the anxiety about not doing them is still real. I finally feel ready try to face my OCD but I am struggling to re-learn being normal due to all the odd things I did to feel safe over these years.

Has anyone gone through the untangling of the OCD rituals and tried to re-learn normal?

Thanks

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I know approximately how and when my OCD started but knowing that, although helpful to understand myself, doesn't actually help me tackle my OCD.

I believe most OCD specialists will always want to tackle the here and now problems, for the exact reasons you've discovered. Whatever happened in the past, the vicious circle that OCD has you in is very much a problem that you are part of now. The feelings are real and the want to do compulsions isn't going to change just because you know how it all started. 

Are you getting any therapy currently? :)

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I am not currently getting therapy. I did have it when I was younger  age 14 - 16  but my focus was trying to cope with the anxiety on a day to day basis  rather than facing it. For the past 10 - 15 years I haven't had therapy just medication and have lived my life at 50% (not wanting to risk things getting worse which also meant not facing it to try to increase the 50%). I finished school, did a-levels, uni and I have a job which is the 50% I have but the 50% I have missed out on is losing contact with friends, never been in a relationship and still live with my parents. Until a few months ago I had accepted this 50% life and I now feel I have missed out on so much and need to face it if I want a better life.

I would never have discussed my fears/issues with my family but have been doing so recently however they find in difficult because it feels like I am going round in circles and not getting anywhere. They say I would be better speaking to other people that know about OCD because they don't know what to say so that's why I have ventured onto the forum.

I know it is ultimately only me that can make the changes but because the desire to tackle my OCD is still new. I am still trying to find the best way to support it. I have been watching videos online  by experts and by people that have overcome it and this has helped. I am trying to utilise as many things that can help as possible such as this forum and looking a support groups as well. I think starting therapy again would also be something I need to re-start now I feel I want to try to tackle the OCD. 

Have you found one on one therapy sessions /support groups / forums helpful?

 

 

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Hi,

I can relate to so much of what you have written. I know exactly what you mean about living only 50% of your life. I feel the same way a lot of the time, like I've achieved the things that I can but have also missed out on a lot and feel that anxiety has ruined a lot of things that I did try to do because I couldn't fully enjoy them. I also get how it may seem to others that you are speaking in circles, I got that a lot too.

I don't think that you can overcome OCD by identifying the moment that it all started, it's not as if there has been a single event caused everything and if you can just figure it out, things will improve. I think that I know the trigger of my main fears, yet knowing this does nothing for me.

It's like you said - you need to relearn how to live your life without all of the things that have kept you "safe" over the years. To do this, CBT and ERP are the key. You need to do gradual exposures to your fears and, at the same time, learn about the thought processes that maintain your fears and how to change them. I have been in therapy for OCD twice for extended periods, and I have found both experiences really helpful. I definitely recommend it, I don't think I would have made as much progress on my own but many people do with books and online materials.

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1 hour ago, ocd sufferer 1989 said:

I know it is ultimately only me that can make the changes but because the desire to tackle my OCD is still new. I am still trying to find the best way to support it. I have been watching videos online  by experts and by people that have overcome it and this has helped. I am trying to utilise as many things that can help as possible such as this forum and looking a support groups as well. I think starting therapy again would also be something I need to re-start now I feel I want to try to tackle the OCD. 

Have you found one on one therapy sessions /support groups / forums helpful?

That's ok, it of course might take time to get your head around tackling OCD, especially when it's been part of your life for so long. I would definitely look into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. In the UK that's usually accessed via a referral from your GP or in England you can self-refer :)

In the mean time I highly recommend the self-help book Break free from OCD. It's written by OCD specialists and is a great introduction to CBT and takes you through how to start tackling OCD. It's also a great way to learn what therapy is and what to expect during a session. 

I have only had one experience with one on one therapy and it wasn't very good. That can happen, some therapists are more skilled than others. I have mainly used self-help resources, and although they were great, I definitely think the support of a therapist would have got me to a better place, so that's what I'd recommend for anyone :)

Support groups can be good, although they obviously don't replace therapy. But support groups and the forum are great places to hear other people's experiences and talk with people who understand what you're going through. 

OCD-UK are currently running online support groups, information is here, 

https://www.ocduk.org/support-groups/zoom/

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The origin of OCD is the primitive amygdala. It’s what gives out the anxiety alarm & it can be reprogrammed by not reacting to the anxiety alarm. Our Neocortex or new brain, lets you reprogram the neuroplasticity of the brain 

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I find myself doing a deal with the OCD so I can go about daily life, such as wearing gloves for certain tasks, wiping things, excessive washing and throwing things away which allows me to function somewhat. I have faced some of the small anxieties recently and I have been surprised I did not feel as horrible as I expected. It feels like the worry about how I will feel after is the  main thing holding me back even though I faced other anxieties and coped.

My brain has learnt that by doing my compulsions has kept me feeling ok and this has reinforced the belief I need to do them. I need to reprogram  not to associate the compulsions I do with feeling good and reliving the anxiety.

My life is built around reducing the anxiety as much as possible so I do hundreds of daily avoidance / compulsions I do each day which has become normal for me.

I have faced some small fears but they all relate to me contaminating other people so I thought if I could find the strength to face a really big fear this could wipe out a lot of the smaller ones.

Some programs I have seen about people with phobias/ocd have had the person doing gradual exposure building up to the main issue whereas other jump straight to the main issue.

Does anyone have any thoughts about the slow exposure v jumping to the main issue fairly quickly?

 

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