Fear Of Saying "No" – OCD and Assertive Communication

Does saying “no” make you feel anxious and guilty?

Well, I guess you are not alone. I have always found it very difficult to say “no” and I am not sure whether it has anything to do with my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but there is one thing that I know: saying “no” can make you feel terrible, especially when you have to say it to a person that you love and you really do not want to hurt.

And saying “no” is not the only thing that is difficult to do, but sometimes it can be challenging to state your opinion. Either because you’re afraid of hurting others or either because you’re afraid that others may think you are stupid.

But how could we overcome this feeling? How could we express ourselves and say “no” without hurting others?

The answer is: Assertive Communication

If you say that this sounded clichée, I will totally agree with you. I still remember the first time when I heard people talking about assertive communication and I thought it was some kind of “corporate bullshit”. But learning more about it made me realize that it is a very important thing.

First of all: What is Assertive Communication?

It is a way of expressing your thoughts, feelings and needs in an open and honest way. While respecting your and other people’s rights.

Sounds beautiful, does it not?

Why is Assertive Communication important?

There are a lot of books, websites and training courses that talk about assertive communication. So instead of giving the standard answer to this question, I would rather share my own experiences with you.

I have always been a very social and outgoing person so I have never had difficulties with talking to people but one thing that has always been very hard for me is saying “no”. Obviously, it is not the actual word that is difficult for me to pronounce but I am terribly afraid of hurting others and if someone asks me a favor, it will be almost impossible for me to tell them that I wouldn’t be able to help.

And it is not only when people ask me to help them. But in general. Let’s say I have the flu and my friends call me to ask if I want to go out with them. Any sane person would say “no”, but not me. Because I am extremely afraid of hurting others. The only thing that I get wrong is that sometimes I can hurt others by constantly saying “yes” to everything. Because if I go out with flu, it might put other people in danger and because not being able to deliver on promises will make other people feel disappointed. For example when you tell your cousin you will help him with his homework but at the end you won’t be able to make it because you told other ten people that you would help them with other things. But then, it is difficult to say “no”.

What if my cousin will think that I do not love him enough? What if my friends think that I’m just being lazy?

Obviously, it is not something OCD specific but this is something that will definitely make your OCD worse because it will make you feel anxious and guilty.

When I was at high school, my “saying yes to everything” habit used to be much more okay, because I could actually deliver on all my promises – as I had a lot more free time. But since I started working, it has obviously gotten a lot more difficult. And oh yes, work: do not think that I behave differently at my workplace. I am the type of person who will say “yes” to every single incoming request.

Because what if they will fire me if I say no? What if they think that I am not competent enough? What if they think I am lazy?

Obviously these are lies that my OCD is telling me but at the end of the day, you can never know, can you? So, I usually end up with an amount of work that’s almost impossible to handle, with a lot of post-work activities (because I’ve agreed to attend every single event my friends invited to) and the only reason why I am still doing fine is that I have a very understanding manager and friends who know me pretty well…..

I have recently read an article about OCD and Social Scrupulosity that I can totally relate to: https://psychcentral.com/lib/ocd-and-social-scrupulosity/

How to communicate assertively?

So, assertive communication is about respecting your and other people’s rights but what are the other forms of communication? Not being able to say”no” is definitely not assertive but what would we call that type of communication?

Passive communication is when you communicate in a way that you only focus on what others’ need and when you only care about not hurting other people’s feelings. While focusing only on your needs during a conversation and ignoring what others think or how they feel would be called aggressive.

Express your opinions honestly

It’s absolutely okay to have a different opinion. I know it can be pretty challenging to tell people that you do not agree with them but the people who truly love you will not start to hate you only because you have a different opinion about something. On the contrary: having a different opinion will make you more interesting.

Say “I” instead of “We”

I am pretty sure that everyone who has worked in customer service has already heard this one. But saying “I” will make your whole message a lot more personal.

Stand Up For Yourself

Standing up for yourself does not mean that you are aggressive. I do not tell you to be selfish, but you should stop thinking that other people have more rights than you do. If you have OCD, it will be a pretty difficult thing to do because one of the main features of OCD is the feeling of guilt, but you really should not feel guilty for standing up for yourself!

Learn To Say No

It is an extremely important thing to do and as I have mentioned above, I am still working on it. And it’s not only for your own sake, but also for others. If you always say “yes” to everything, it is very likely that you will not be able to deliver on all your promises. And failing to deliver on your promises will make you feel even more guilty and it will also make other people feel disappointed – and this is exactly the thing that you’re afraid of, are you not?

Watch your tone and your body language

According to Albert Mehrabian’s communication model, only 7% of what we communicate consists of the literal content of the actual message. Our tone of voice such as tone, intonation and volume, take up 38% and as much as 55% of communication consists of body language: such as gestures and facial expressions.
Pretty interesting, is it not? Even if you do not agree with someone, you will still be able to have a nice conversation with them: you just have to watch your tone and your body language.

Assert Yourself

Assertive Communication is a hot topic and there are a lot of interesting articles about it. So let me share a couple of them with you:

More about OCD?

Your Experiences

As you know, there’s one more thing that I love more than writing my stories: reading yours. So please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

Blessings,

Mark

Be My Valentine! Living with Relationship OCD

Have you ever wondered if your partner is truly “the One”? Or if you love your partner enough?

I guess it has happened to all of us that we were unsure about our romantic relationships but if you have Relationship Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (or ROCD), this uncertainty will easily turn your life into a living hell of uncertainty.

As today it’s Valentine’s Day (and I’d like to wish a Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my readers) I think it’s the perfect moment to talk about Relationship OCD. Especially because lately I have become very interested at this topic because this is my first Valentine’s Day in five years that I am not spending with my best friends drinking at our favorite pub – not because I do not want to, but because I have started dating someone. I guess it’s pretty early to talk about Relationship OCD in my case as we’ve seeing each other for just 2 months, however, ROCD is something that I went through back in the past and in today’s post I’d like to share a couple of useful details about it.

What is Relationship OCD?

OCD is often called the doubting disease and for a good reason: it can make you question even the most fundamental things in your life and your relationship is not an exception.

Relationship OCD is a less known subset of OCD in which sufferers are haunted by doubts and concerns about their relationship. Reading this, you may think that all of us have a little bit of relationship OCD but fortunately, this is not the case. We all go through difficult periods in our romantic relationships, which is obviously not a good thing but at the end of the day, it is something perfectly normal.

However, if you have ROCD, your irrational thoughts and concerns will make your life significantly more difficult and eventually, they can ruin your relationship.

So, what does it feel like to live with ROCD?

Obsessions

First of all, let’s take a look at what kind of thoughts people with ROCD may have.

What if my partner is not “The One”?

Is my partner really “the One” or am I making the biggest mistake of my life? What if I miss out “the One” because I am in a relationship with the wrong person?

What if I do not love my partner anymore?

OCD can make you question everything about your relationship – so it can easily get to the point where you are not even sure if you are really in love with your partner. Again, this may be a question that most of the people could ask themselves but when you’re suffering from ROCD, you’ll be obsessed with this question.

So, it really looks and feels like you do love your partner, but what if you’re just lying to yourself? How do you know you’re actually in love? And if you loved your partner enough, you would never find your co-worker sexy, would you?

And the little OCD monster never sleeps: it sits on your shoulder planting the seeds of doubt into your ears: what if you want to break up? Okay, you think you do not want to but are you really sure?

What if my partner is not good enough for me?

I think this is the most difficult one. Everybody has flaws, so does your partner and this thought can be very dangerous: simply because it may be extremely challenging to make a difference between your real thoughts and the lies your OCD is telling you.

And in my case, doubt is also accompanied by the feeling of guilt (such an lovely couple, are they not?):

Why do I have such thoughts? Why do I think that I am better than anyone else? My partner is clearly in love with me and I still think it is not enough! I am a monster.

What if my partner does not love me anymore?

So, let’s say you’re sure you’re in love with your partner, but OCD never sleeps and the list of “what if’ questions is endless. What if it’s your partner who has fallen out of love?

Okay, this is a question that many of us have already asked ourselves but if you’re suffering from OCD, you may start wondering about this even without any reason. Everything looks simply fantastic and apparently you’re living in a happy relationship but how could you be absolutely certain it is true? And even if your partner loves you at this very moment, what if this will soon come to an end?

Compulsions

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is like a vicious cycle: it all starts with a disturbing thought, then this thought will become an obsession that will make you feel more and more anxious. So you just want to find a way out: a way to reduce your anxiety. And that’s how compulsions usually start.

Comparing your partner to other people

Is your partner good enough for you? Are you really in love?

These thoughts can make you want to compare your partner to others. And this compulsion can be very dangerous, because let’s be honest: everyone is beautiful and you’ll always find other people who you think are more attractive than your partner. And not necessarily because they actually are but because that’s what your OCD wants you to think.

Seeking reassurance that your partner truly loves you

Okay, I will be honest: this is so me! I’m a pretty problematic person and if I finally find someone who actually loves me, it is really hard for me to believe that it is true – and by saying someone who loves me, I do not mean friends or family, because I do have a lot of friends and I have a perfect relationship with my family, but I mean: romantic love.

So, I’ll easily end up asking my partner a hundred times a day if he really loves me. Or checking our facebook messages few times a day just to make sure that our conversation was alright and that I did not say anything that might ruin our relationship. It’s pretty obsessive and I’m trying to keep it under control but sometimes it can be difficult.

Seeking reassurance from friends/books & Google

Is your relationship working? What does a perfect relationship look like?

This is something that you may want to check on Google or ask your friends about, however, this “researching habit” can easily get out of control and you may spend hours searching articles and stories about successful relationships.

And a few others:

  • Having sex with your partner only for making sure that you’re still attracted to him/her
  • “Testing” your feelings for your partner by flirting with other people
  • Avoiding serious relationships so that you won’t be hurt if your relationship fails
  • Creating rules for your partner and when they do not stick to them, you’ll think your relationship is not worth it
  • Avoiding others for the fear of being attracted to them
  • Repeatedly comparing your current relationship to past relationships

How to manage your ROCD?

The first question is whether you have ROCD or other problems in your relationships. Because sometimes it is very difficult to know. So one piece of advice I can give you is consulting a therapist.

However, I’m giving you a list of articles that may help (some of them are from my blog, others are from my favorite OCD-related websites) :

Your experiences

Okay, I’m dating someone but I was single for most of my life – which means that I’m sure that many of my readers have more experience with Relationship OCD than I do. And as you know there’s one thing that I enjoy more than writing about my experiences: reading about yours! So please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section! 🙂

Wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mark Wester

Do I have OCD?

Do I have OCD?
Self-diagnosis is never a good idea. If you think you may suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the best thing you can do is consulting a therapist. But I do not want to be a hypocrite: it can be extremely difficult to stop yourself from googling and if you’re reading this article, it probably means that you want to learn more about diagnosing OCD. I will not be able to give you a Do I have OCD quiz – simply because so far, I have not found any that I thought was worth sharing (if you have one, please feel free to share it in the comment section) but there’s one thing that I think is very important to know about: DSM-5.

Now, what is DSM-5?

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition is a manual that provides clinicians with official definitions of and criteria for diagnosing mental disorders.

In this post, we’ll look at what DSM-5 says about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and in order to give you a better understanding about what it feels like to live with OCD, I’ll share my friends’ and my personal experiences with you.

O for Obsessive: Intrusive thoughts, urges and images

Recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive, unwanted, and that in most individuals cause marked anxiety or distress.

What do we mean by recurrent and persistent thoughts and urges?

OCD is a very creative mental disorder so it would be impossible to list all the intrusive thoughts and urges it can give you, but I have been haunted by unwanted thoughts for over a decade so at least I can give you a few examples:

Fear of losing control:

  • I used to be afraid of harming my loved ones. It got to the point that I just did not want to stay at home and I would go out every single night just to be as far away from them as possible
  • In my late teens, I was terribly afraid of blinding myself. It does not make sense, does it? I know but OCD is not famous for being rational.
  • It’s gotten a lot better over the years, but I will often get an irrational urge to jump when I am in a high place.

Fear of being contaminated by germs or contaminating others

I guess Contamination OCD is the most well-known subset of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. And it is much more than a simple cleaning addiction. People who suffer from this type of OCD are extremely worried about becoming contaminated after coming into contact with certain objects or people.

I do not have Contamination OCD, but I have found a very interesting article about it: 15 Signs That You Might Have Contamination OCD.

Unacceptable Sexual Thoughts

Have you ever had to fear of being sexually attracted to one of your family members? Or have you ever been afraid of being gay/straight? It might be a sign of OCD!

And a few more examples:

  • unwanted blasphemous thoughts and images (what if I do not even believe in God? What if I do something absolutely unacceptable at my local church?
  • extreme superstitions
  • fear of fainting

C for Compulsive: Compulsions and Rituals

The individual attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, urges, or images, or to neutralize them with some thought or action (i.e., by performing a compulsion).

OCD feels like being trapped in the prison of your own mind and constantly looking for a way out. It is extremely difficult to get rid of your disturbing thoughts but you just need to find a way to keep them under control and to ease your anxiety. And this is why you start performing compulsions.

Compulsions and OCD rituals are often misunderstood by those who do not suffer from OCD. Your friend who cleans the kitchen floor 27 times every morning, does not do it because he enjoys it that much: he probably hates doing it and would stop cleaning if he could, but he just can not stop because he’s terribly afraid that his children might get sick if he did not clean the kitchen well enough.

And cleaning is not the only compulsion that people with OCD can have. Other common compulsions are:

  • excessive double checking: Have I locked the door?
  • excessive praying
  • hand washing
  • ordering and arranging things
  • counting
  • repeating certain words
  • reassurance seeking

Furthermore, OCD can also involve mental rituals such as reassuring oneself that “everything is okay” or repeating certain words in your head. And having mental rituals was one of the main reasons why it was extremely difficult for me to realize that I had OCD.

Would like to read more about this topic?

D for Disorder: OR are we all a little OCD?

Okay, a lot of people need to check if they’ve locked the door and many of us love cleaning but it does not mean that everyone is “a little OCD”. OCD is a disorder – which means that your obsessions and compulsions make your life significantly more difficult. Let’s see what DSM-5 says about this:

The obsessions or compulsions are time consuming (e.g., take more than 1 hour per day) or cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

And a few more things

“The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.

I think this one is pretty straightforward: you will not only have obsessions and compulsions when you drink alcohol or when you’re on medication.

Finally, every OCD sufferer is different, so one thing that also needs to be specified while diagnosing OCD is whether the person who suffers from OCD is:

With good or fair insight: it means that you know that your OCD beliefs are probably not true but it does not mean that you can just stop having them. Sounds irrational? Yes, I know, but this is the sad truth. For example, I know that my fear of throwing myself under the tube train is completely irrational because I just do not want to do it and I also know that touching my smartphone will not me protect from this imaginary disaster but this does not mean that I can stop having intrusive thoughts and performing my rituals.

With poor insight: you think that your obsessive-compulsive disorder beliefs are probably true.

With absent insight/delusional beliefs: you are absolutely convinced that your OCD beliefs are true. Example: I used to be a hundred percent sure that I was a psychopath and that I was dangerous to society.

Further reading

OCD is a very complex mental disorder and it would be impossible to give an overview of it in one single post. As I have mentioned earlier, you should not come up with a self-diagnosis and you should see a certified therapist if you think you may have OCD. However, here’s a list of related posts in case you’d like to read more about this topic:

Your experiences

As you know, there’s one thing that I enjoy more than talking about my experiences: reading about yours. So please share your thoughts in the comment section!

Mark Wester

OCD: a Living Hell of Uncertainty

Our world is full of uncertainty and all of us encounter situations that we just can not control. Uncertainty is something that we need to accept and live together with even if it is not an easy thing to do. And if you’re suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, accepting the fact that you can not control every single aspect of your life can be even more challenging.

OCD is often called the “doubting disease” and for a good reason. Why? Because people with OCD are constantly haunted by the terrible feeling of doubt and in today’s post I’ll talk about this feeling and about what happens if you’re just unable to accept uncertainty.

The seeds of doubt are extremely dangerous to those who’re suffering from OCD: one single intrusive thought could mean the beginning of a terrifying obsession that can easily turn your life into a nightmare.

How does it start?

Let’s say you’re at the tube station, waiting for the train to arrive and suddenly an intrusive thought comes to your mind:

What if I throw myself under the train?

Okay, I know this may sound absolutely crazy but most of us have similar, intrusive thoughts – but those who do not suffer from OCD will not worry about these thoughts. But if you have OCD, then it’s a completely different story. You will not be able to get over such a scary idea and you will start thinking about it more and more. Because you just want to be a hundred percent sure that the disaster that you’re so afraid of will not happen.

But how can you be absolutely certain that you will not throw yourself under the train?

Again, sounds pretty insane, does it not? You just do not want to die, so you obviously would not want to act on your intrusive thought. If you do not have OCD, you’ll probably find this convincing enough. But again, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not the most rational thing on earth so at this point, you’re likely to start a conversation with your inner voice – which is never a good idea:

So how do you know that you do not want to die? If you do not want to commit suicide, why do you keep thinking about it? There must be a reason behind all of this! What if you do not want to live anymore and you’re just not aware of your own emotions? You can never know, can you?

Then, you start seeking reassurance: Google, friends, books – whatever comes into your mind. And this is where a full blown obsession starts: your loved ones could tell you that you’re not the kind of person who’d ever do such a thing – and this may help temporarily – but you will not be able to stop: you will need to ask them at least a hundred times a day, just to be a hundred percent sure. And just in case, you may even start performing “rituals” – activities to prevent a disaster. Most probably, you know that your rituals are absolutely irrational and that your fears are nothing more than lies that your OCD is telling you, but it’s better to safe than sorry – because at the end of the day, you can never know, can you?

And this is how, slowly, you will be trapped in the labyrinth of your own mind, haunted by your own thoughts and it will be extremely difficult to find a way out.

Now, I have given a self-harm example, but OCD is an extremely creative disorder and the same thing happens when it comes to other obsessions:

– How do you know you’ve really locked the door? Let’s check once more, just in case, because you can never know, can you? What if you have not locked it and you do not even remember!

– What if you hit a pedestrian? Okay, you may not remember, but what if it happened? How can you be sure that it did not? Just drive back and look around once more. And do not forget to check the news!

– How do you know the kitchen table is clean enough? You do not want your loved ones to be sick because of dangerous bacteria! Better be safe than sorry! Clean it once more!

And it’s a never ending list. Life is full of uncertainties and the little OCD monster never sleeps: it sits on your shoulder and plants the seeds of doubt in your mind.

The way out

Watch out for “What if..” questions

A new obsession is just like a disease: the earlier you detect it, the better chances you have fighting against it. Does your inner voice ask you too many “what if..” questions? This can already be the sign of a new obsession.

If you want to think about it less, think about it more!

What? That just does not make sense.

I know it does not but it works. Trying to stop thinking about your obsessions will make you think about them even more.

Do not avoid “dangerous situations”

Avoiding driving because you’re afraid of running over a pedestrian may solve your issues on a short term, but OCD is a cruel monster: it will come up with another scary thought and you can not keep running away from your thoughts – so you can easily end up giving up way too many things in your life and at the end of the day, giving up all of the things you need and you love doing will never even help – on the contrary, it will make your OCD even worse.

Further reading that might help:

Set yourself free: how to break the vicious cycle
6 types of OCD
Pure O: Living in Endless Fear
OCD: a vicious cycle of doubt and guilt
Magical Thinking OCD
OCD: living a lie
12 things that will help you overcome OCD
Do not feed the monster: 5 things that keep your OCD alive

Your thoughts

As you know, there’s one thing that I love more than writing about my experiences: reading yours. So, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section!

Escaping OCD: Traveling to Georgia

Running away from your daily problems and from your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is definitely not the solution but sometimes it is a fun thing to do. Especially because traveling teaches us a lot about ourselves and the world we live in.

As you may have noticed, I disappeared for a week. And the reason behind my disappearance was that my best friend and me spent a fantastic week in Georgia (no, not the US state, but the country in the Caucasus.)

So, in today’s post I’ll share with you all the things I was doing last week – together with my OCD travel tips.

The beginning of the journey

Two weeks ago I published a post about flying with OCD – and obviously, things have not changed over the last two week. Flying has always been a pretty stressful thing for me – and I am not sure if this will ever change, but thanks for God, I have learnt to keep my anxiety under control!

If you want to read more about what flying with OCD feels like, please check my post out: Flying with OCD: What does it feel like?

First Stop: Batumi

January and February are my least favorite months of the year: lack of sunshine, cold weather and the flu season. So this is one of the reasons why I always try to escape Budapest at this time of the year. I really do not want to sound like a spoiled kid and I know I totally sound like one but believe me: if you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder it can be pretty difficult for you to get through winter! Read more about this topic: Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and OCD

I can tell you that leaving my cloudy and windy city behind and spending 3 days in Batumi was an absolutely amazing decision. And not only because of the weather, this city has a lot more to offer: beautiful streets, friendly people and amazing food at a totally reasonable price.

Oh and amazing food, a few things that you definitely need to try if you ever visit Georgia:
Khachapuri – a traditional Georgian dish of cheese-filled bread and it is absolutely yummy!
Lobio – my personal favorite! I just love it. An amazing dish prepared of beans with coriander, walnuts and onion. It is like a dream!
Khinkali – dumplings filled with spiced meat – or mushrooms, cheese or potatoes.

And a lot lot more! This country is heaven for all food lovers 🙂 And let’s not even mention Georgian wine!

And despite of my fear of jumping from high places, I could totally enjoy myself at one of the sky bars of this beautiful city. However, it was pretty depressing to see that the toilet at Sheraton’s Sky Bar had a much better view than the one I get from my window. 🙂

And obviously, my friend and me spent a lot of time at the spa. Our favorite was definitely the Turkish bath (or hamam) – it just makes you feel so relaxed. This is one thing that I’d suggest to all of you to try!

Tbilisi

Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia is one of the most interesting places that I have ever seen. It’s a place where the West and the East meet. And yeah, I am not the best person to write travel reviews because I do not like planning my trips or worrying too much about the sights to see: I just love walking around the city and exploring the streets. So that’s pretty much what we were doing.

The mountains

There’s one thing that I love more than sunshine: mountains. I was born in Budapest but I used to spend my summer holidays at my Gran’s place in the mountains of Transylvania. So for me, spending time in the mountains of Caucasus felt like being at home. And it was absolutely amazing to listen to the sounds of silence.

And we obviously did not want to miss the chance to visit one of Georgia’s most famous sights: Kazbegi. As many of you may have noticed in my previous posts, I am a christian – and visiting this beautiful, ancient church on the top of a mountain made me feel very close to God.

And last but not least: Borjomi

I’m simply addicted to mineral water. I could not imagine any trip without trying local mineral water and one of the things that Georgia is famous for is Borjomi.

Image result for borjomi water
Source: Alibaba

It is a beautiful little town with a lot of amazing spa resorts, but most importantly: it is the place where the famous mineral water comes from. And Borjomi is more than a simple bottle of water: it is pure magic, it has a very special taste and according to research it’s very good for your health.

Kép előnézete
Our hotel in Borjomi

Mark’s OCD traveling tips

Find the right companion

It is extremely important to find the right companion for your journey. I love traveling with my best friend: obviously, we get along very well, that is why we are friends but she also understands me which is crucial. You should enjoy every minute of your holidays and you should not worry about your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but let’s be honest: sometimes you just can not get away from it. OCD is like a monster that’s always ready to attack and having a person next to you who can actually understand your feelings and whom you can talk to helps a lot.

Go to places that you can afford

It is very difficult to enjoy your trip if you’re constantly worried about money. I am a big spender and I usually go to places that I know I can afford. I am from a country where the average wage is pretty low when you compare it to Western Europe, which means that we have to think twice before choosing the perfect holiday destination. And while Georgia is not the cheapest place that I’ve ever visited, it is completely affordable!

Do not feel guilty when OCD strikes

One of the main things about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is the feeling of guilt: and this can be especially horrible when you’re on holidays. Like…

Why am I scared of everything? Why do I have these terrible intrusive thoughts? I should be enjoying myself!

And you are right: you should be enjoying yourself but feeling guilty will definitely make your OCD even worse. Believe me, you’re not the one to blame for your thoughts. It does not mean that you should not fight your OCD, but the more the think about it, the more difficult it will get!

Be careful with alcohol and with smoking

I have been smoking for the past 8 years but I usually do not smoke when I am on holidays. Is it difficult? Yes, sometimes it is, but believe me: it is worth it. Smoking can make your anxiety much worse and so does alcohol. So try to avoid these habits as much as you can!

Do not plan everything!

Okay, I am not sure if this will work for all of you, but I would be terribly stressed if I had to plan every single day of my trip. I have never been the planner type and detailed plans will make me terribly anxious. I love going with the flow: having no plans means that you will not be anxious if you can not achieve them!

Keep calm and love Georgia ❤

So what can I say? An amazing country with amazing people, culture, food and sights! Going on holidays is always amazing but Georgia took this experience to a whole new level!

Your experiences

As you know, there’s one more thing that I love more than sharing my stories: reading yours. So please feel free to share your traveling experiences in the comment section!

Blessings

Mark

Coronavirus Scare and the Anxious Mind

How worried should we be about the novel Coronavirus?

This is the question that none of the articles I have read were able to answer. And I will not give an answer to this question in today’s post. The internet is a dangerous place if you’re suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety or any other mental illness.

So, I’d rather write about things that help me keep my anxiety under control. I will never forget the 2009 swine flu pandemic, even though it was eleven years ago (time flies, does it not?). The first few days of the outbreak were hell on earth for me: I spent most of my days worrying, googling and doing rituals for protecting myself from the virus. And at that time, I was not able to defeat my anxiety – the only thing that could put an end to it was actually catching the virus. Pretty ironic, is it not?

At the time of the swine flu pandemic, I was 16 years old – now I am 27. And I have changed a lot over the years: I haven’t been able to fully overcome my OCD and my GAD, but I’ve learnt how to keep them under control.

So, do I spend most of my days worrying about the Coronavirus? No!

Most of the articles about the Coronavirus will scare you to death and I really do not want to say that it is something that we should not care about or that it is not a dangerous thing. But let’s be honest: the mainstream media is far from being OCD friendly and I really hope that I can help some people by sharing my thoughts and experiences.

Stop Googling!

I am addicted to Google – I just love it and I could not imagine my life without it . And by “stop googling” I do not mean that you should totally stop using it, but I think using it for seeking reassurance is definitely a bad idea.

Why?

Because OCD does not like uncertainty. And because if you’re suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, it’s very likely that you’ll always think of the worst case scenario. So Google will not be able to give you the answers that you need: and even if it did, would you be satisfied with it or would you just keep googling? If you have OCD, the answer is that you’ll keep googling! And the worst thing about spending hours on the internet reading about the symptoms and dangers of a new virus is that you will find very scary things and you will not be able to decide what is true and what is not.

Of course, you should not put your head in the sand and it is very important to know what is going on in the world – but if you see that your googling is going out of control, just go out for a walk, call a friend or do something else.

The mainstream media is not OCD friendly

People with OCD tend to worry about a lot of things. Every OCD sufferer is different and some of us do not obsess over contamination and viruses but a lot of us do! Which means that we should not be told to be very careful because we are already chronic worriers.

I do not have cleaning OCD but I have always been scared of germs, bacteria and viruses. So I love washing my hands – to be honest, I do not think that it is a compulsion because I will not be anxious when I can not wash my hands.

But there are a lot of people who do not worry that much about hand washing, touching handrails or coughing on someone. And this is why I do not think that it is a bad thing that the media is full of scary headlines – but it does not necessarily mean that you should spend your days worrying about a new virus.

Try not to seek reassurance from your loved ones

Sometimes we need reassurance. But we should not overdo it.

Let’s say you ask one of your loved ones if they think this new virus was something dangerous. Now, if they tell you that it was nothing to worry about, will you feel better? Probably yes, but only for a couple of minutes/hours. Then your OCD will force you to seek reassurance again and if there’s nobody you can talk to, you will feel much more worried than before!

And then, what if someone tells you that they thought this was a terribly dangerous virus and the apocalypse was on the way? You wouldn’t like to hear this answer, would you?

Accept Uncertainty

Accepting uncertainty is a very difficult thing to do – especially if you have OCD. But we can not exercise full control over everything. Religion helped me a lot to accept uncertainty but I know that not all my readers are religious, so if you have any useful techniques that help with accepting uncertainty, please share them in the comment section! 🙂

Educate yourself on OCD

OCD is a vicious cycle of doubt and guilt. It is never a good idea to start an argument with your inner OCD voice, because believe me: you will lose. The little OCD monster will always be able to come up with new “what if” questions:
“They said this new virus was not dangerous, but what if it is? And what if I already have it? Like they said in our country we did not have it, but what if they were not telling the truth? “

Want to learn more about OCD? Please check:
6 types of OCD
What is it like to live with OCD? A day in my life.
OCD: a vicious cycle of doubt and guilt
Magical thinking OCD
OCD: Living a lie
12 things that will help you overcome OCD
Set yourself free: How to break the vicious cycle?
Demons are real: stop Negative Self Talk

Escape from the prison of your own intrusive thoughts

I do not want to be a hypocrite. Sometimes OCD takes over you. And in those moments, one thing that really helps is literary escaping your thoughts. We can not always run away from our problems but when I feel that I can not handle my own worries anymore, I will just go out for a walk, go running or meet a friend – and it always helps! 🙂

Final thoughts: Be Alert

The reason why I published this article was not telling people that they should not care about the new coronavirus or that we should just ignore the news. Of course, it’s important to stay alert and to protect yourself. But I perfectly know what it is like to obsess over a new disease and I thought it’d help some of you if I shared my own experience and ideas.

And as you know, there’s one thing that I love more than writing my own stories: reading yours. So please share your thoughts in the comment section! 🙂

Mark Wester

9 things you should not say to someone with OCD

It is extremely important for OCD sufferers to surround themselves with people who can support them. My loved ones have helped me a lot and without the support of my family and friends, I would have never been able to learn how to keep my OCD under control.

I’ve always been a very social person and it is not difficult for me to talk about my feelings, however, I can totally understand those who find it difficult to tell others about their OCD. A lot of people misunderstand Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and there are a lot of misconceptions about it – so people with good intentions may easily say things that do more harm than good. In today’s post, I’d like to talk about things that one should never say to someone with OCD.

1. Just stop thinking about it!

Stop thinking about it!

This is the piece of advice that people give me all the time. And I wish I could just stop having intrusive thoughts but unfortunately it is not that easy.

If people with OCD could stop their unwanted thoughts, they would do that right away, because believe me: obsessing over irrational things and wasting your time on compulsions are not fun things to do. Let’s not even mention the severe anxiety. However, the problem is that the harder you try to fight your disturbing thoughts, the more likely you will get them. I often tell people that OCD felt like as if you were in the prison of your own mind: you really want to get out and escape from your own thoughts but doing so is more difficult than most people would imagine.

Thanks for God, there’s a way out of this terrible prison of thoughts and there are a lot of useful techniques that can help you overcome Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – but telling sufferers to stop thinking about their OCD will not really help them.

2. You’re being irrational

Do not get me wrong. It will not annoy me when people tell me I was being irrational, because I know I am! People with OCD may know that their thoughts and behaviors do not make sense. Of course there are cases when you may not know that your unwanted thoughts and compulsions are far from being rational and in such cases, it can help if someone tells you that you were being irrational – but speaking from my personal experience, I can tell you that 99% of the time, I know that my obsessions are absolutely unrealistic.

For example, I used to be scared of catching HIV in the tube: I perfectly knew that it was not possible but then I just wouldn’t be able to overcome this fear or to stop my excessive hand washing. Sounds paradoxical, does it not? But that is what OCD can be like.

Want to read more about the irrational nature of OCD? Please check:
Related posts:
OCD: living a lie
Magical Thinking OCD

3. Are you sure you have OCD?

Now, telling people that they should stop worrying about their intrusive thoughts or that they were irrational may not help them, but asking them if they’re sure they have OCD can actually be very dangerous and harmful. Why?

Because Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a constant cycle of doubt and guilt. And doubt is one of the things that fuels the fire for OCD: sufferers can not stand having uncertainty in their lives. In the 19th century, OCD was known as the “doubting disease” and to be honest, this name really makes sense to me. Now, at this point, you may ask yourself why I am talking about this and what this has to do with asking people if they were sure they had OCD.

Let me give you an example (I promise you it will make sense!) Let’s say:
Harm OCD – I could write hundreds of pages about it because I’ve been living with it for a decade (is it not romantic? Wish any of my relationships lasted this long….). So it usually starts by a sudden, intrusive thought:

what if I harm someone? Like what if I just push someone off a cliff? …I mean I do not want to do it, but what if I want to? What if I just do not know that I want to do it and what if I am totally insane and why do I even have these kind of thoughts? This should mean that I am a monster. A terrible monster.

Having such thoughts is extremely distressing, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel: getting diagnosed with OCD. Learning more about OCD helped me a lot because it gave me reassurance: I am not a monster, I have OCD.
But then, what will happen if someone asks me if I was sure I had OCD?
The vicious cycle of terrible thoughts will restart!
Because…

what if I do not actually have OCD? What if my therapist is not competent enough or what if my therapist was lying? What if I am dangerous to society?

So you see, it may be an innocent question for you, but for someone with OCD, this question could mean the beginning of a new obsession.

4. You have an amazing life! You should not obsess over insignificant things.

Doubt is a terrible feeling but it is not the only one that people with OCD have to cope with. Guilt can turn your life into a nightmare too.

Telling a person with OCD that some people have it worse will do more harm than good. I can tell you this from my personal experience:

My Mum has been supporting me ever since I was OCD diagnosed. She’s helped me a lot but she is not a professional therapist and at the time of my diagnosis, she did not use to have a very extensive knowledge about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. So, she thought it would help if she told me that I was lucky, amazing, beautiful and that I should enjoy my life – because a lot of other people have it worse. Of course, at that time she did not know that telling me such things would actually make my OCD even worse: I knew that other people had it worse and it made me feel guilty. It made me think that I was not grateful enough and I felt guilty for wasting so many years of my life on my obsessions and compulsions.

And honestly, the feeling of guilt is something that I haven’t been able to fully overcome. I feel guilty for a lot of things – sometimes, even without any obvious reason. And I feel guilty for not having been able to enjoy every moment of my life.

5. You do not look like you have OCD

First of all, I gotta tell you that I am not the kind of person who gets easily offended. So, if you told me that I did not look like having OCD, I would not get upset. But everyone is different:there are a lot of people with OCD who may find this statement very offensive and at the end of the day, it IS pretty offensive. Having OCD is not something visible.
Is it a terrifying mental disorder? Yes, it is. It can make your life very difficult but most of the time, you really can not tell if a person has OCD.

6. “I am a little OCD”

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental illness. So you can not be a “little OCD”. You either have it or you don’t. I would not get upset if someone told me “they were a little OCD” because I do not think we can expect everyone to have an extensive knowledge about mental disorders, however, as one of the main reasons why I started this blog was raising awareness of OCD, I felt that I just had to include this one in my list.

7. “I wish I had OCD”

This is my personal favorite. You’re lucky not to have OCD. Believe me: it is not fun! One of the common misconceptions is that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be useful. While OCD helped me become the person who I am today and I am not ashamed of having it, I can tell you that it is far from being useful!

8. Just relax

I do think it is important to relax. OCD will usually get worse when you’re stressed. But telling someone they should relax will definitely not help them overcome their OCD. I wish relaxation could solve all the problems – but it does not.

9. Why is your room not clean?

My room is a total mess. And I have OCD. Now for many people these two things are pretty contradictory, but Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not only about cleaning. There are a lot of other obsessions and compulsions that people with OCD can have.

Want to learn more about the different types of OCD?
Check my post about the 6 types of OCD

At the end of the day, good intention is all that matters

I believe that the world is an amazing place and people are inherently good. Most of the time, we do not say things that can hurt other people’s feelings because we actually want to hurt them, but because we do not know that others might find our statements or questions offensive. This is why good communication is extremely important and it’s crucial to raise awareness of OCD.

Your Experience

As you know, there’s one thing that I love more than sharing my ideas and experiences: reading yours. Would you like to add any other thing to the list? Do you have any interesting stories? Please feel free to share them in the comment section!

Liebster Award

I’m pretty new to blogging so it’s been amazingly encouraging for me to receive an award from my fellow blogger Kacha. I just simply adore her blog as she shares things that I can totally relate to: her journey through depression and burnout – and interesting facts about psychology & mental disorders. Reading her blog has helped me a lot – so please check it out!: https://journeythroughlife591163021.wordpress.com/

The Liebster Award is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The earliest case of the award goes as far back as 2011. ‘Liebster’ in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. The award is a way to be discovered but also to connect and support the blogging community.

The rules of the Liebster Award are:

  1. Acknowledge the blog which nominated you.
  2. Answer the questions your nominator asked.
  3. Nominate two to six other bloggers who might appreciate the boost.
  4. Ask them several unique questions.
  5. Let them know you have nominated them.

Kacha’s questions (and my answers to them):

If you had an intro music, what song would it be? Why?

To be honest, this first question is the easiest one for me to answer. I was born in 1992, which means that I was a teenager in the late 2000’s – and I guess I have not grown up ever since. Deep inside of me, I am still an emo kid even though I do not look like one anymore. So, if I had to choose an intro music, I’d definitely go for my favorite song: Never too late from Three Days Grace.

What is popular now, but annoys you?

Now, this is a more difficult question to answer. Honestly, there are not too many things that “annoy me”. But if I really had to name one, I think it’d be Hashtag OCD. I just find it kind of annoying when people tell me they were “so OCD” (only because they like cleaning) or when they add #OCD to Instagram images that have nothing to do with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

If you opened a business, what kind of business would it be?

One thing that you should know about me is that I’m addicted to baklava – so If I could open my own business, it would definitely be a baklava shop! 🙂

Not sure what baklava is? Check this Wikipedia article!

Who in your life brings you the most joy?

My family and my friends. It’d be impossible for me to pick one person in particular. 🙂

Where is the most beautiful place you have been?

Oh la la, an extremely difficult question to answer! Traveling is my passion and I’ve been lucky enough to visit a lot of beautiful places. Yet, there’s one city I’ve fallen in love with: Bucharest, the capital of Romania.

My Questions

  1. What is your favorite book & why?
  2. Why did you start blogging?
  3. What one-sentence bit of advice would you give to your 13-year-old self?
  4. Who is one person that inspires you and why?
  5. Name a country you’d love to visit!

My nominees:

Rethinking Scripture
Lampelina
Talking OCD
Cynthia’s War Room
Beautifully Unstuck
PurpleStar

Blessings

Mark

Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and OCD

I can not wait for winter to end. Do not get me wrong: I love mulled wine, snow, Christmas and New Year’s Eve is always very fun, however, I’ve been suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (or more commonly known as the “winter blues“) since my teenage years.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD?)

It is a form of depression that occurs at the same time each year – usually during the winter, but there’s a rare form of SAD that is known as summer depression. In my case, it usually starts in fall and gets much worse in January – yes, that’s why I have chosen this topic for today’s post! It’s the 17th of January and I feel that I can no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel. Okay, this sounded a little bit exaggerated and do not get me wrong: I am not fed up with my life and overall, I am pretty happy but it’s still pretty difficult for me to beat the winter blues.

And lately, I’ve been wondering about one more thing: does Seasonal Affective Disorder make my OCD worse? So, this is the question that I’ll try to answer in today’s post.

How common is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

We can say that it’s pretty common but it also depends on where you’re coming from. I’m from Budapest, Hungary – a country that’s on the same latitude as North Dakota – and in my country 1 out of 10 people suffer from the winter blues.

Why is it so common?

I do not know what winters are like in your city, but in mine, they are definitely not easy to “survive” if you’re suffering from a mental disorder. I know a lot of people love winter and most of my friends would tell me that I’m exaggerating and that winters in Budapest are not that bad – and to be honest, I do not disagree with them. I do think that January in Budapest would be very enjoyable if I did not have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. But unfortunately, living with two different anxiety disorders can make it very hard to live through winter.
Not sure what Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is? Check: Frequently Asked Questions about OCD

The most difficult thing for me is that I can barely see daylight: it’s still dark when I go to the office and it’s already dark when I leave work. I do not mind cold weather, but the lack of sunshine always makes me feel anxious and hopeless.

What are the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

So, I’ve just said that the lack of sunshine made me feel hopeless. But it’s not the only thing. The symptoms of SAD may also include:
feeling sad
losing interest in activities – for me, January is definitely the most difficult month of the year and together with that, it’s also the least productive one: I just do not feel like doing anything.
changes in your appetite and eating habits – in my case, this means a lot of chocolate
increased need for sleep – I’ve always been a night owl, but during winter, it’s even more difficult for me to wake up in the morning
anxiety
having difficulty concentrating
– and in extreme cases: having thoughts of death or suicide

Causes

I’ve done a little bit of research on this (books, websites and talking to psychologists) and what I have found out was that the exact causes of seasonal affective disorder are still unclear but the most likely one is the lack of sunshine. (That’s why it’s more common in countries that are far from the equator)

Want to read more about the causes of SAD? Check this WebMD article

Is there a link between OCD and Seasonal Affective Disorder?

I’ve found a pretty interesting study on this topic. It says that half of OCD patients have seasonal mood changes – and according to the same study, 1 in 4 people (without OCD) reported to have mood swings.

Click here to see more info about this study.

Does OCD get worse in winter?

One thing that I’d like to tell you before sharing my opinion is that I am not a certified psychiatrist and I have not conducted any research on this topic. I’m just a guy who’s been suffering from OCD for a decade and who likes sharing his own experiences.

My OCD definitely gets worse in the winter. And to be honest, I do not exactly know why this happens, but I think that it’s not only because of the lack of sunshine or the cold weather. I guess it’s a question of lifestyle. As I have mentioned earlier, during the winter months, it’s much more difficult for me to wake up in the morning, so this means that I drink much more coffee than usual – and as we know, if you’re suffering form an anxiety disorder, it’s better to avoid caffeine.
You may say I’m a hypocrite: I keep telling people that it was better not to have caffeinated drinks if they’re suffering from anxiety, yet I am addicted to coffee. It’s like preaching water but drinking wine. But I think everyone has their own weaknesses and mine is coffee.

Another thing that makes my OCD worse is the feeling of hopelessness. I love the holiday season so December is one of my favorite months of the year, however, January is a completely different thing: it’s a month that I have to survive. And the feeling of hopelessness is often accompanied by the lack of motivation – they are such a beautiful couple, are they not? So as I am not motivated to do anything, I give myself more free time: more time to overthink everything, more time to worry about insignificant things and more time to act on my compulsions.

How to beat the winter blues?

Thanks for God, there’s a way out. Again, I do not want to be a hypocrite: I’m struggling with winter blues, but I’ll share with you a list of things that help me a lot:

1. Get as much light as you can
Sunshine is very important so go for a walk whenever you have a break at work/school. Today, I went for a longer walk during my lunch break and it made me feel so much better.

2. Keep yourself busy
One of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder is the lack of motivation. However, it’s important to keep yourself busy.

3. Go out with your friends
I’ve always been a very social person and during winter I go out almost every single night. Of course, it’s not the best idea to run away from your problems and drown your sorrows in alcohol but it’s important to socialize!

4. Exercise
I know this sounds pretty clichée but it is important. I’ve never liked going to the gym so I’ve found other forms of exercise that worked for me such as running or hiking.

And I enjoy going for long night walks in my city, Budapest.

Source: Szeretlek Magyarorszag
https://www.szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/bp_nemeth_zsolt_1.jpg


5. Travel
Traveling can be very expensive but you do not have to go to exotic places to enjoy yourself. A city break with your friends can also help you overcome your winter blues.

6. Light Therapy
I am planning to try this one because I’ve heard that it helps a lot. So I’ll share my light therapy experiences with you on my blog.
However, one thing that helps me even though it’s dangerous: tanning bed. I know a lot of people will not agree with this one. There’s no safe amount of tanning and those who use tanning beds are at high risk for developing melanoma. Furthermore, research says that tanning beds do not ease SAD symptoms. So it may be placebo but using a tanning bed will usually make me happier. I really do not want to promote indoor tanning and please do not follow my example – the reason why I have mentioned this one is because my blog is my safe place” , where I feel that I can talk openly about myself and my mental problems.

How do you cope with the winter blues?

As you know, there’s one more thing that I enjoy more than writing my stories: reading yours. So please do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section! 🙂

Mark Wester

Flying with OCD: What does it feel like?

Are you afraid of flying?

You are not alone: fear of flying is quite common but fortunately, there are a lot of useful techniques that could help you overcome it. But I do not think I am the best person to tell you how you can get over your fear of flying: simply because I am not afraid of flying – I am suffering from another condition called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. And in today’s post, I’d like to share with you what it feels like for an OCD sufferer to take a flight. Obviously, everyone’s different and I can only talk about my personal experiences, but if you have any thoughts, feel free to share them in the comment section!

As you may have noticed, I have not published any new posts for the last few days – not because I’ve been lazy or I had writer’s block, but because I had to travel to London. I love traveling: it’s one of my biggest hobbies and sometimes I have to travel for work too, which is absolutely amazing! So over the years, I’ve got used to flying but the OCD monster never sleeps and it can definitely make your travel experience a little bit more…hm…let’s say challenging.

So what does it feel like for an OCD sufferer to take a flight?

OCD used to make my life a living hell, but thanks for God I’ve been feeling a lot better nowadays. I’m still getting intrusive thoughts and I have a couple of compulsions I haven’t been able to get rid of yet, however, I can say that I’m pretty much able to keep my OCD under control. But taking a flight can still be pretty challenging for me. Why?

The first challenge is getting up in the morning. I’ve always been a night owl, so I’d never be able to wake up without an alarm. On an average day, I do not really stress over waking up in the morning, but when you have a plane to catch, it’ll obviously be a different story. So the night before my flight, I always check if the alarm is set – and do not think I check it only once or twice! No way, I just have to check it at least 5 times – or until it feels right. And I usually set the alarm on two different phones, because at the end of the day, you can never know: what if one of your phones turns off by itself? I’d never want to take that risk. Obviously, it’s much easier if my flight is in the evening – cause then, I do not have to worry about getting up early in the morning.
Note: Repeated checking is one of the OCD symptoms. To read more about different OCD symptoms, please check my post about: 6 types of OCD

So I was able to wake up on time – with the help of a hundred alarms and a back-up phone. But this only the beginning of the journey. I do not like packing so I usually do it at the very last minute. I guess I’m one of the most disorganized people on this planet (disorganized, with OCD – how is it possible? Check my article about 5 common misconceptions about OCD) so I usually throw all my stuff in a suitcase, but I’m always worried about forgetting to pack something important. And this worry makes me pack, unpack and repack my suitcase a couple of times. Again, until it feels right. Because at the end of the day, you can never know. Did you really put that t-shirt in your luggage? And what if you forgot to pack your underwear?

And the most hilarious thing is that there are things that I’ll always forget to pack. Even after unpacking and repacking my suitcase a million times. But obviously, this has nothing to do with my OCD.

Then, we’re looking forward to the next challenge: leaving the house. You can not just easily leave the house. It doesn’t work like that. Sometimes I think I should become a risk analyst, because I can come up with an endless list of possible disasters in just a few seconds:

– what if you forgot to turn off the oven?
– what if you forgot to shut off your hair straightener?
– what if you forgot to close the windows?

The list of “what if” questions is never ending. And obviously, these intrusive thoughts will also force me to check everything. So, I check if the oven is turned off at least 5 times and the same goes for any electrical equipment.

But most importantly: the doors. One can not just leave the house without making sure that the door is locked! Now, checking if your door is locked is a completely normal thing to do, but in my case this checking can easily go out of control.

To be honest, the journey to the airport is not too interesting. I usually take a bus and I do not like touching the handrails on public transport but I would not blame this on my OCD: handrails are definitely not clean and it’s better not to touch them. Do not get me wrong! I’m not obsessively worried about getting contaminated or something, I just do not like touching them.

Budapest international Airport

Spending time at the airport can be much more challenging though.

Let’s start with the security check: what if you faint while standing in the queue? That’s not very likely but it is not impossible. And if you faint, you can even miss your flight! It would be extremely embarrassing, wouldn’t it?

Another thing that I’m afraid of is doing something crazy. Do not get me wrong! I wouldn’t want to blurt out obscenities and I would never want to harm anyone. But I am afraid of doing it. Sounds irrational? I know, at the end of the day, OCD is not the most rational disorder. Thanks for God, there’s one thing that helps me fight my intrusive thoughts: talking to people. So when I travel with friends, it’s always pretty easy for me to overcome my anxiety – traveling alone is more difficult but there’re a lot of people at the airport so you’ll always find someone to talk to.

So I managed to pass through the security check, but there comes the next danger: Duty Free. Duty Free is a dangerous place, there’re so many things to be afraid of.

Like what if I accidentally or even intentionally steal something? Of course, I would never want to steal anything from Duty Free, but how do I know that I do not want to? What if I want to do it? What if I am a kleptomaniac? You can never know, can you?

Surviving Duty Free can be very challenging – and expensive: I do not only suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but I am also a shopaholic. But then, boarding is much easier for me. It calms me down: it’s an amazing feeling to finally get on the plane.

Killing time on a flight may often be pretty difficult. And getting bored is quite dangerous if you have OCD. If you have too much time to think about different things, you’ll easily end up overthinking your intrusive thoughts.

What if I do something crazy? What If I light a cigarette on the plane? What If I accidentally set something on fire? What if I start shouting? I mean I do not want to do any of these things, but you can never know, can you?

So the intrusive thoughts are one of the reasons why I’d never get on a plan without a book. Reading helps me get rid of the little OCD monster that sits on my shoulder and keeps whispering horrifying things into my ears.

Finally, arriving to your destination is definitely the best part. OCD can make your life difficult, but do not let it control you! Avoiding situations that you’re afraid of will not help. The world is full of wonderful places and you shouldn’t let OCD rob you of all the amazing experiences.

As you know, there’s one more thing that I love more than sharing my stories: reading yours! Please share your OCD travel stories in the comment section!

Mark Wester