OCD in Numbers

What are the most common obsessions in OCD? And how many people actually have them?
These are two of the questions that I am trying to answer today. As I have always loved statistics, I decided to look at some research data about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and in today’s post, I will share a couple of interesting things that I have found.

Most of OCD-related research was conducted with a relatively small sample size, so I can not guarantee that all of the numbers that I got from different sources are a 100% accurate – but they looked pretty realistic to me – I mean, obviously because otherwise, I would not be sharing them with you!

1 in 40

1 in 40 adults in the U.S. have OCD.(source)
What about other countries? Now that is a good question! I have not been able to find statistics from other countries, however, I was going through a few websites from France, Romania and Hungary and most of them estimated the prevalence of OCD at about 2-3% – which is very similar to the U.S. numbers.

65 %

The percentage of OCD sufferers who get diagnosed with OCD before the age 25.

19

The average age at diagnosis. (source)
And looking at this, I can see that I am pretty “average”. My OCD got out of control when I was a senior in high school and I got my diagnosis at the age of 19.

Want to read more about how OCD is diagnosed?

Most Common Obsessions

Source of Data – chart by Mark Wester

I guess the fear of contamination is the most well-known OCD obsession – and according to the statistics, it is also the most common one. However, as we can see it is not the only obsession that people with OCD have – and it is not even significantly more common than other obsessions such as aggressive or terrifying thoughts (for example, fear of harming loved ones) or body-focused obsessions (such as the fear of choking).

10%

10% of people with OCD constantly question their sexuality.

Most Common Compulsions

Source of Data – chart by Mark Wester

Want to read more about obsessions and compulsions? Check:

Living with OCD: What impact does it have on your life?

So, what impact can OCD have on your life? It really varies from person to person. And obviously, it changes over time: OCD used to make my life a living hell, but then it’s gotten a lot better so I can say that in my case it went from “significant impairment” to “mild impairment”.

  • 50.6% of adults experience significant impairment.
  • 34.8% experience moderate impairment.
  • And 14.6% experience mild impairment.

13.7%

13.7% – the lifetime prevalence of ADHD in adult OCD patients.

What is ADHD?
It stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Myself, I do not have ADHD myself, however, you can find a lot of interesting articles about it on Maja’s blog: Lampelina. For example this one: Me and my ADHD

Over 30%

30% of adults with OCD have a lifetime history of GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). (source)
What is GAD?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by exaggerated anxiety about simple, everyday life things – with no apparent reasons for worry. I am a very “lucky” person because I have both OCD and GAD – sounds amazing, does it not?

Read more:
How to tell the difference between OCD and GAD?

About 30%

About 30% of people with OCD have had a substance use disorder at some point in their lives. This is nearly double the rate of the general population. (source)
And yeah, me too I have been there. I started to drink at a very young age and had alcohol problems during my teens. And by saying alcohol problems, I do not mean that “I sometimes got drunk” but I mean actual alcohol-abuse.

10 times

Depression is 10 times more prevalent in OCD patients than in general population. (source)

Want to read more about depression? Check out Kacha’s blog to read more about depression, burnout and a lot more: Food.For.Thoughts

Your thoughts

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

Blessings

Mark

OCD: Prisoners of Guilt

Do you feel guilty about your past mistakes?
You are definitely not alone with that. It is a perfectly human thing to blame ourselves for things we think we have done wrong. However, if you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, this feeling of guilt can easily turn your life into a living hell.

Two of the main features of OCD are doubt and guilt. And in today’s post, I will talk about guilt. If you’re suffering from this terrifying mental disorder, you’re likely to feel guilty about a lot of different things. Like, many people with OCD have intrusive thoughts about harming their loved ones. And if such a terrible thought comes into your mind, what will be your first reaction? You’ll be scared to death but then, you will think that you are a horrible person and you will start feeling guilty. Because only a truly evil person has such thoughts, right?

But this is not the only type of guilt. There’s another one which is exactly as dangerous – or maybe even more:

Feeling guilty for having OCD

I have always thought that OCD was pretty similar to obstacle racing. You manage to overcome one obstacle, but another one will soon appear. For me, one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome was the feeling of guilt. And by this feeling of guilt, I do not mean that I was feeling guilty for having intrusive thoughts but something even worse:

I felt guilty for having OCD and I did not want to let go of it, because I thought that I was guilty for wasting so many years of my life on my obsessions and that I would not deserve to live without having terrifying thoughts and time consuming compulsions.

Sounds totally crazy, does it not?

Now, I know it does. But I did not always use to know. Simply because most of the articles on the internet will talk about people with OCD who feel guilty for having unacceptable thoughts and urges, but they will rarely talk about people who actually feel guilty for wasting their life on their OCD. In a way, this is also a kind of guilt about unacceptable thoughts, but it took me much longer to realize that this was just another face of the OCD monster. And a very dark one.

Guilty Superstitions

So yes, I used to feel guilty for having OCD. And I do not even remember how this whole obsession started but one day, I started to blame myself for not enjoying my life enough. And then, I started to recall all my beautiful past memories and told myself that I had been a terrible person because instead of having fun, I was spending all of my time on useless obsessions. But the story is still not over. Because OCD is much more creative than anyone would ever imagine. This demon (I think it is a demon at the end of the day, and it is worse than the demons from Hollywood movies – because you can not even run away from it) told me something that actually made me its prisoner for a few more years:

What if my life will get worse if I let go of my OCD?

This feeling will be pretty difficult to describe especially because I am not sure if any of you have ever felt the same way. So, I did not actually think that OCD was a fun thing to have but what I used to believe was that God would punish me if I let go of my OCD.

Do not get me wrong, I did not think that God was evil and he would want me to suffer. But I thought that wasting so many years on OCD meant that I was a terrible person. A sinner, who was not able to enjoy his life. Someone who was not grateful enough for the wonderful life he had – and let’s admit, I have always been pretty privileged. We may even say that I am a spoiled kid. And I really believed that if I find to escape from my OCD, I will be punished and God will take everything away from me: my family, my friends, my job, my house – everything!

So you see how evil OCD can be: it actually made me believe that I would be punished if I ever managed to get a way from it.

Read more: Magical Thinking OCD

Breaking out of prison

So, how did I actually break out of this prison?

It would be a lie if I told you it was easy. And it would be a lie if I told you I had done it by myself. One thing that helped me a lot was learning more about OCD because it made me realize that this feeling of guilt and the superstitious fear of getting punished had something to do with it.

And then, time heals all wounds. As time went by, it was getting better and better. And nowadays, I do not feel guilty anymore. Life is a precious gift and we should not spend it suffering. When I was a teen, I would have never thought that one day, I would be able to enjoy myself without worrying about irrational thoughts and weird urges. But then, here I am: I do not say that my OCD is totally gone, but I can enjoy my life without feeling guilty about things that I couldn’t possible control.

Your story

As you know, there’s one thing that I love more than writing my stories: reading yours. Please share your experiences in the comment section! 🙂

Further reading

Is it OCD or OCPD?

OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and OCPD (Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder): two disorders that have a pretty similar name. But are they actually similar? And what are the differences between them? This is what I am trying to find out about in today’s post.

When I told my friends I had OCD, some of them would be pretty surprised. Why?

Because they used to think that OCD sufferers were perfectionist, always punctual and that they loved planning everything. And then, there’s me who never gets to work on time and who enjoys traveling around the world without booking accommodation in advance.

My friends were not alone with their misconception about OCD. There are a lot of people who think that people with OCD are super organized and are extremely worried about details. But why do people think we are like this?

Well, OCD has multiple subsets and there are people with OCD who’re obsessed about cleaning and planning. But I believe that one of the biggest reasons behind the misconceptions is that people do not always know the difference between OCD and OCPD.

First of all, one thing that I need to tell you is that I do not have OCPD so I won’t be able to tell you what it exactly feels like – all I know is what I have heard from friends and what I have read in books and on the internet. Also, if you have OCPD and you think that some of the things I wrote are not correct/offensive, please leave a comment.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?

OCPD is a personality disorder that is characterized by extreme perfectionism, order and neatness. People with OCPD will also feel severe need to impose their own standards on their outside environment.

And now, let’s look at what OCD is:

A disorder that causes repeated unwanted thoughts or sensations (obsessions), or the urge to do something over and over again (compulsions).

So if we just look at the two definitions, we can see that they’re pretty different from each other. While the main features of OCPD are perfectionism and neatness, if you have OCD, it will not necessarily mean that you’re obsessed with cleaning or that you love to have everything organized. People with OCD can obsess about a lot of different things other than order, cleanliness and adherence to the rules.

The big difference is the way you feel

People with OCD are typically distressed by their thoughts. Like as you may have noticed, I usually compare OCD to an evil monster who sits on my shoulder and whispers terrifying things into my ears. So I am definitely embarrassed by my OCD.

And then there’s my friend who cleans the kitchen floor multiple times a day and is a perfectionist. So if he told you about the things he normally does, you would easily think that he had OCPD. But he does not – how can you know?

He does not clean the kitchen floor a hundred times a because he thinks it is not clean enough, but because his OCD tells him that if he does not clean it one more time, a terrible bacteria will make his whole family sick. Does he know that this is extremely unlikely? He does, but it does not necessarily mean that he can stop acting on his compulsion.

While as far as I know (and if any of you have OCPD, please feel free to correct me in the comment section). People with OCPD believe that their actions have an aim and purpose.

Symptoms of OCPD

I have written a few posts about the symptoms of OCD (okay, let’s be honest, my whole blog is pretty much about my OCD symptoms and I really hope you won’t get bored of reading it.) So this time, let us take a look at the symptoms of OCPD.

As I mentioned earlier, I do not have OCPD so I have done a little bit of research to find out more about the symptoms. If you think I have missed anything important, please leave a comment.

And one important note: OCD is a very creative mental disorder so people who’re suffering from it may have symptoms that are very similar to the ones of OCPD.

An overwhelming need for order

I guess this symptom is the reason why it can be so difficult for many people (sometimes even for mental health professionals) to make a difference between OCD and OCPD.

OCD involves unwanted thoughts and images as well as obsessions. And common OCD obsessions include repetitive arranging, organizing and lining up of objects. But people who have OCD do not keep their homes organized because they love arranging things, but simply because they have to. You just have the feeling that something terrible will happen if your bookshelf is not arranged in a certain way. You’re likely to know that you’re being irrational but it does not mean that you can stop doing it. It’s like a kind of “magical thinking”. On the other hand, OCPD is characterized by excessive concern with orderliness.

Rigid adherence to moral and ethical codes

Everyone has their own views and beliefs but people with OCPD have rigid adherence to their moral and ethical codes. And this is something extremely different from what OCD feels like.
Do not get me wrong! By saying this, I do not mean that people with OCD have no moral codes. But what I mean is that one of the main features of OCD is doubt – if you have OCD, you’ll question even the most fundamental things in your life, while people with OCPD will be absolutely sure that their ethical code is “the right one”.

Being hardworking

I have always been a workaholic. But not because of my OCD. Some people with OCD are hardworking, some are not. And some of us can be obsessed with our jobs. Like losing your job is a scary thought that can easily force you to check your sent emails nine hundred times a day – just to be sure you have not written anything creepy. But being hardworking is not the main thing about OCD.

An overwhelming need to be punctual

Pretty much the same as above. There are OCD sufferers who feel an overwhelming need to be punctual but just look at me: I am always late – and I never even stress about it.

A sense of righteousness about the way things should be done

When you have OCD, there are things you just have to do in a certain way. But not because you think it is the right way, but because you’re afraid that if you do not lock the door the “way you should” something terrible will happen.

Finding it hard to express your feelings

While there are OCD sufferers who may find it difficult to express their feelings, this is definitely not an OCD symptom. But it is a symptom of OCPD.

I can only speak about my experiences but I have always found it relatively easy to talk about the way I felt and I never really try to hide my emotions.

Not being able to throw things away

Hoarding may be a symptom of OCPD and at the same time it may also be a symptom of OCD. So, something that we have in common. Hoarding related to OCD is something totally unwanted: you do not do it because you find it enjoyable, but because you just can not stop doing it. Like what if you throw something away and you’ll need it in the future? What if you throw something extremely valuable away – without even knowing it?

And a few more OCPD symptoms

  • rigid mannerisms
  • being extremely frugal with money
  • a fixation with lists
  • extreme attention to detail

How common is OCPD?

Estimates for the prevalence of OCPD in the general population range from 2.1% to 7.9%. A large U.S. study found a prevalence rate of 7.9%, making it the most common personality disorder. While OCD affects over 2% of the population.

Can you have both OCD and OCPD?

It is possible for a person to have both disorders.

The gender gap

An interesting fact that I came across is that men are diagnosed with OCPD about twice as often as women. When it comes to OCD, the overall prevalence between males and females is equal.

One thing we have in common

Living with a disorder is not an easy thing. Both OCD and OCPD can make a person’s life very difficult. And let’s not even talk about the things that these conditions can force us to do – such as irrational compulsions or extreme hoarding.

Further reading

Want to read more about OCPD or OCD? Check:

Important note

I am not a certified therapist – just a guy who’s living with mental disorders. And believe me: self-diagnosis is never a good idea. If you think you may have OCD or OCPD, seek professional help!

Your thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been living with OCD for most of my life, but I do not have OCPD. So if there’s anything that you think would be important to mention about this disorder or if you have any experience that you’d like to talk about – please feel free to share it in the comment section or send an email to markwester92@gmail.com

As you know there’s one thing that I love doing more that writing my stories: reading yours.

Thank you

Special thanks to Ashley (check out her blog: https://mentalhealthathome.org/ ) for giving me this idea to write about! 🙂

Blessings,

Mark

Scared to let go of my OCD

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has always reminded me to obstacle racing. You manage to overcome one obsession, but another one will soon appear.

It really is like a never ending story full of obstacles. And this story is much scarier than any horror movie I have ever seen. At least, in the movies you can run away from the monsters, but escaping from the prison of your own mind is definitely not that simple. You can try to run away but believe me: it will not work. OCD is a demon that you have to fight, even if it is a difficult thing to do.

I usually share techniques that could help people overcome their OCD or at lease ease their anxiety. But today’s post is a little bit different. And apologies in advance if it will not make too much sense. I just feel that I need to write about the way I am feeling at the moment.

Letting go of my OCD

I have been living with OCD for most of my life and over the years I have seen many faces of this terrifying mental disorder. I have been able to overcome a lot of different obstacles: I used to be afraid of blinding myself, harming my loved ones or jumping off a cliff. And I can say that most of these obsessions are gone.

And over the years, I have learnt to deal with most of my obsessions and compulsions but there’s one thing that I have never been prepared for: the fear of letting go of my OCD.

And I mean it is pretty obvious why I have not been prepared for this. Because if you think about it, this fear sounds absolutely crazy. Why would anyone be afraid of getting rid of a mental illness? Reading this you may even think that I have lost my mind. But…the more you think about it, the more it makes sense.

Running out of fears?

Obsessions and compulsions can change or can be replaced by others over time. And the little OCD monster never sleeps.

I do not only have OCD but I am also suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). But lately, I have been feeling a lot better. I started worrying much less about the things that I used to worry about and I started feeling much more relaxed. And ironically, this is exactly what started fueling my OCD.

In my case, this new feeling of calmness meant the beginning of a new obsession:

What if I do not care about anything anymore?

There are a lot of things that I want to achieve in life. I have a lot of plans. There are a lot of places that I would like to visit and things that I want to do. But the little OCD monster never sleeps and it has planted the seeds of doubt in my mind:

Why have you been so relaxed lately? What if you’re not motivated enough? You have not worried about your job for a long time. What if it means that you do not care about it anymore? What if you are lazy and you just simply do not want to work anymore? What if you do not want to achieve anything in your life? What if one day you just do not want to get up in the morning? What if you will never enjoy your life again? Okay, at the moment, you think you’re enjoying yourself but what if you’re lying to yourself?

So again. The typical “what if’ questions. And most of them are pretty easy to ignore because I have gotten used to these kind of thoughts over the years. But OCD is a very evil monster and it has other questions to me. Questions that are much more terrifying:

Are you sure you really want to let me go? Remember. You used to be much more motivated when we were together. And nowadays, it seems that you do not think too much about me anymore. You have not managed to escape from me but we definitely spend much less time together. Do you not think that this could be the reason why you have become much less motivated? Do you not miss me? What if you do? If you overcome your obsessions and compulsions, you will not be the same person anymore.

Dealing with a jealous partner without breaking up

At this point, you may be thinking that I have totally lost my mind. Because comparing OCD to a jealous partner is absolutely sick. I know. But in the past couple of days I have realized that OCD was pretty much like a jealous partner. The OCD monster will go crazy if you see other people (have pleasant thoughts) or if you ignore it. And the worst thing is that you can not break up with this monster because it is living inside of you.

But one thing you can do is learning how to handle it and recognizing when it tries to manipulate you

Finally: Life is almost like a fairy tale

The Beast let Belle go. But Belle decided to stay. And the Beast turned into a handsome prince.

I have always believed that life was like a fairy tale. And Beauty and the Beast are one of my favorites. Belle and me do not have too many things in common. But I can totally relate to her because I have my own Beast: OCD. And we live together in the castle of my own thoughts.

Will the beast ever let me go?

I do not think so. But one day, this beast could turn into a prince. When I was a teenager, it used to be terribly difficult for me to manage my OCD. But it has gotten a lot better. And I am sure that one day, all the scary obsessions will turn into something much more beautiful.

Okay, now that I have just finished writing about my feelings, I can tell you that I am feeling a lot lot better. And writing about your emotions is something that I can recommend to all of you. It really helps a lot.

Thank you for reading

Mark Wester

200 Followers <3 Thank you!

When I started my blog last December, I would not have thought I would reach 200 followers. But I did. And it is an amazing feeling. Looking at the stats, I see a lot of numbers but the most amazing thing is that these numbers represent actual human beings: more than 200 people who actually follow my blog, who read my articles and who support me with their comments.

I would like to say a big big thank you to all my followers!

You can not imagine how much it means for me to see that there are people out there who’re interested at what’s going on in my life – and in my mind. Ever since I started my blog, I have been feeling so much better, and not because I could finally find an interesting hobby, but because of my readers: it is a fantastic feeling to see that there are people whom I could help just by doing something that I have always enjoyed: talking about myself. So thank you again: for reading my posts, for encouraging me with your comments and for everything, really.

Suggestions: What would you like to read about?

One thing that I’m terribly afraid of is writer’s block. At the moment, I still have a lot of ideas to write about however I am pretty sure that this list will not be endless. And even if it was, my blog is not only about myself and it is not only for myself.

So, if you have any questions, any topics that you’d love to read about: please share them in the comment section. I have already received a few ideas, such as Comparison between OCD and OCPD from Ashley or Foods that help OCD from Robin – Will soon publish these posts!

Or if you do not feel comfortable sharing your questions, thoughts and ideas in the comment section, you can also send an email to: markwester92@gmail.com

Guest Posts

Would you like to talk about your own OCD experiences?
I would be more than glad to have your guest posts on my blog! 🙂

What have I learnt from blogging?

Blogging has shown me that suffering from a mental disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. In real life, people rarely talk about their feelings but on the internet, it is much easier to tell others about the way you feel. A few years ago, I used to think that I was the only person with my problems but now I know that there are a lot of other people out there who understand the way I feel.

What are my plans for the future?

I have never been a planner. And honestly, I do not know what my plans are. I’m just going with the flow. But one thing I know is that I will keep on writing. 🙂

My Most Popular Blog Posts

So far, I have published 34 posts – let’s see which are the ones my readers liked the most:

Mark is a Happy Fox

Okay, do not ask me why and how this happened but most of my friends call me “foxie”. Just another weird thing about my life. So at the moment, I can say I am a happy fox:

Source: lovethispic.com

Blessings

Mark

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