OCD 2020: Make your New Years Resolutions SMART!

Are you planning to make any New Year’s Resolutions?

You are not alone: most of us make New Year’s Resolutions, but unfortunately, only a few people can actually achieve their goals. Every single year, we promise ourselves that we would lose weight, eat more healthy, quit smoking but for some reason, we are not always able to keep our resolutions. (According to Google, 80 percent of people fail to keep their New Year’s Resolutions.)

Why is that?

Because our goals are not always SMART enough.
A lot of businesses use SMART goal setting to define their objectives – and if it works for them, why would it not work for us?

Setting goals brings a lot of benefits. Whether for life or work, goals can take you much further than you’d ever imagine and defining your objectives is among the first steps you can take in order to fight Obsessive Compulsive Disorder!

There are a lot of articles on the internet about how to write SMART goals, but in this post, I’ll talk about goal setting from an OCD point of view.

What is a SMART goal and how can it help your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

SMART is an acronym that stands for:
Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Relevant
Timely

How can we set a SMART goal to achieve our New Year’s Resolution?

Specific

Making your goals specific is the first step. Having a clear target is very important and this target can be something very simple (now, simple does not mean that it’s necessarily easy). For example, if you avoid going over bridges, you can set a goal for yourself that next year, you will cross a bridge at least once a week. Or in my case, one thing that I want to work on is my uncontrollable door checking habit: every morning, I have to check at least 15 times that I have really locked the door. It may sound funny to people who do not suffer from OCD, but believe me, it is not a fun thing: especially when I am in a rush.

Measurable

Now, how can you make your goals as specific as possible? By making them measurable! And why is it important to make them measurable? Because what can not be measured, can not be managed. And also, because it’s an amazing feeling to see your progress and to be able to compare yourself to who you were last year.
For example, if you’re obsessed with cleaning, a perfect goal that you can define for next year would be doing less cleaning. However, what do we exactly mean by “less cleaning”? This is where the personal factor comes into the picture. If you clean your kitchen 3 times a day, your new year’s resolution could be to clean it only once a day. Or once a week: but you’ll always need to make sure that your goal is realistic!

Attainable

This has always been the most difficult part for me. I’ve always been a perfectionist and to be honest I am not the most patient person that I know. So back in the past, I always used to come up with goals that had simply been impossible to accomplish. Such as: I will overcome OCD in 2 weeks or I will quit smoking in 4 days, and so on.
It’s a good thing to push yourself, but you should always know your limits. If you’re not sure whether you’d be able to stop doing a certain compulsion in 4 months, give yourself a year. And if you’re not sure what is or is not realistic, consult your therapist.

Relevant

This particular step is for making sure that your goal is actually important for you. If you achieve your goal, will it make you feel better? Is it worth the effort?
If the answer is no, look for something else. If the answer is yes, go for it! 🙂

Timely

How much time do you want to give yourself for achieving your goal?
It’s extremely important to give yourself a specific deadline – it will keep you motivated and it will make you more focused towards achieving your goals. And obviously, another thing that you’ll need to consider before setting deadlines for yourself is whether those deadlines are realistic. It would be simply amazing if we could stop doing our OCD rituals by tomorrow end of day, but unfortunately, I do not think this could be possible.

My SMART goals

So what are my New Year’s Resolutions?

To be honest, I do not have too many, because I do not want to promise myself something that I know I would not be able to do.

I have 2 compulsions that seriously interfere in my life: one of them is checking locks and the other one is Googling. I usually need to check 15 times if my door is locked, so by the end of 2020, I would like to break free from that habit: so I will check it only once, after locking the door! As for the Google part, it’s much more difficult for me to come up with a SMART objective, but on an average day, I spend about 2 hours on Google (for seeking reassurance and for calming myself down) – so by the end of 2020, I’d love to reduce that to 30 minutes a day.

Another New Year’s Resolution that I have is cutting down on alcohol. I do not think that I am an alcoholic, but I drink 2-3 times a week (obviously,this may be shocking to many of my readers, but in our country, this is pretty normal). So my New Year’s Resolution is that by the end of 2020, I will cut back on my drinking and I will only drink once a week.

What is your New Year’s Resolution?

As you know there’s one thing that I enjoy more than sharing my thoughts and ideas: reading yours! 🙂 So please share your New Year’s Resolution in the comment section!

Do not feed the monster! – 5 things that keep your OCD alive.

I have always imagined Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as a big, cruel monster that does not want to stop torturing me. So would anyone like to feed such a beast?

Of course not!

So, in today’s post, I will talk about 5 things that are just like a delicious meal for our OCD monster and that we should stop doing: unless we want to keep our little monster alive, but if you’re reading this post, I do not think that would be your intention.

Negative Internal Monologue

Has your inner voice ever told you that the things that you’re planning would not work out? Or if you are not perfect enough, people won’t love you?

This is exactly what a negative inner monologue would look like, and it has a lot of different types. Your inner voice may be:
very critical: telling you that you’re not good enough
anxious: convincing you that a disaster is about the happen
perfectionist: you have to be perfect, otherwise, people will not love you
victim: you will never be able to get rid of your problems

Now as you can see none of these thoughts sound too reassuring and having them will definitely make your anxiety (and your OCD) much worse.

So what can you do to stop your negative internal monologue?

Challenge your negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones! Now, it takes time to learn how to do it, it’s not something you can do overnight. However, there are a lot of useful techniques that will help you turn your negative self-talk into something much more positive – But this is a topic for another post 🙂

False Beliefs

So why is it difficult to stop having our negative monologue? Because of our False Beliefs.

It would be impossible to list all the false beliefs that OCD sufferers might have in one single article. Especially because everyone has different beliefs and opinions – that’s what makes us individuals.

But I think one of the most common ones would be the way we perceive uncertainty:
One thing that’s always been extremely difficult for me was accepting uncertainty and understanding that if there’s a possibility that something terrible might happen it does not necessarily mean that it will happen.

How did I combat my false beliefs?
It’s been a very long journey. And to be honest with you, I am not sure if it’s something that you can do without a therapist.
Simply because there has to be a person in your life who tells you that your beliefs are false – otherwise, you would not be able to decide as one of the main things about OCD is the constant feeling of doubt.: how can you know that it is true or false, what if you think it is true but actually it’s not? Or the other way around.
Once you’re able to recognize your false beliefs, it will be much easier: they may still be there in the background, but you’ll be able to control them to a much greater extent.

Suppressed Feelings

Have you ever struggled with expressing your feelings? Well, you are not alone. Sometimes it’s difficult to speak about the way we feel.
Showing your emotions to others will significantly improve your life:
First of all, it just feels good: if I’m angry, I will usually call one of my friends and tell them about the way I feel, and it just helps a lot.
And then the other reason why it is important to tell others about your feelings is to fight the feeling of loneliness. A few years back, I used to think that I was the only one who’s suffering from different mental disorders and if I told others about the way I felt, they would think I am absolutely lunatic.
But sharing my thoughts and feelings with others made me realize that I am not alone: it’s impossible to find a person who’s absolutely perfect and who does not have any problems – it is sad, however, knowing this will give you more confidence and you will feel less lonely.

Stressful Life

It’s likely that stress on it’s own does not cause OCD, however, it will definitely make it worse. The anxiety caused by your stress can get in the way of your OCD treatment: when you’re stressed, you’ll be doing worse at combating your false beliefs or at turning your negative internal monologue into something more positive.

How to deal with stress?
There are a lot of useful techniques to manage stress. For the moment, I do not have too many posts on my blog about stress management techniques, but you can find more on this link:https://stressmanagement1.ga/

No purpose in life

Well, having a purpose in life is important for everyone. That is what keeps us alive and that’s why we wake up every morning. If you feel like you have no sense of direction and no purpose in your life that can make you sad, depressed, anxious and at the end of the day, that will worsen your OCD symptoms.

Define your short and long term goals – believe me, it will help you a lot! 🙂
New Year is coming soon, so I will talk more about the different goal setting techniques in my next post – let’s make a few effective New Year Resolutions!

So these were 5 things that we stop doing if we want to get rid of our OCD monster. If you would like to read about things that you should keep doing, check out this article: https://over-coming-ocd.com/2019/12/19/12-things-that-will-help-you-overcome-ocd/

Set yourself free: How to break the vicious cycle?

Have you ever felt that your OCD was a kind of a vicious cycle that you can not break? Or that it is like a maze with no way out?

That is exactly the way I used to feel and to be honest, I still think that OCD is like a maze of thoughts, but fortunately, there is a way out!

What helped me a lot was understanding how Obsessive Compulsive Disorder works. This is one of the reasons why I have started this blog and in today’s post, I’ll talk about the OCD cycle.

(If you do not know/ not sure about what OCD is, please check out my post about Frequently Asked Questions about OCD.)

What are the four elements of the OCD cycle?

Obsessive Thoughts

Everything starts with obsessive thoughts. A lot of people have intrusive thoughts, but people who do not suffer from anxiety disorders (or in our case OCD), usually do not really get bothered by them. Now, to an OCD sufferer, an unpleasant idea or a distressing thought can easily be the beginning of a new obsession.

People say I am a very creative person, so I wouldn’t like to give you the list of all the obsessive thoughts I have ever had, but a very nice example that I can give you is a pretty recent one: my fear of melanoma.

How did it start? Simply enough, sometimes I use tanning beds and I obviously knew that it was a risk factor for melanoma. And then one of my friends was telling me off for doing it, so that ‘s all it takes.

Okay, let’s stop here for a sec: you may say that my fear was absolutely rational or that this sounds more like Hypochondria, but please keep reading. This is only the beginning, It will get worse!

Oh by the way,I have found a pretty interesting article about the differences between OCD and Hypochondria, click here to check.

(Note: I am aware of the risks of indoor tanning and I would not like to promote it! This is an unhealthy habit that I used to have and I am not proud of it: I am just being honest. It had nothing to do with my OCD, I was doing it because winters can be very dark and depressing in my country. )

Anxiety

I think this is the worst part. Anxiety is a horrible thing, it can totally ruin your mood. During my worst episodes of obsessive thinking and anxiety, I felt as if I were 2 different persons: the rational Mark who completely understand that he is very unlikely to have melanoma and the other, OCD Mark, who keeps asking the typical “what if?” type of questions. Because at the end of the day, you can never know, can you?

And all the other symptoms of anxiety that (unfortunately) I am pretty sure that some of you may have experienced: feeling on the edge, nervous, restless…and a lot more, but that’s a topic for another article.And this anxiety is the cause behind our next element in the cycle:

Compulsive Behavior

I think this is probably the most well-known part of OCD. When I tell people I have OCD, they’ll usually think that I am addicted to cleaning or washing my hands. But there’s so much more to OCD than this – I think the compulsive behavior is rather a symptom than the actual problem.
Because at the end of the day, you do not keep cleaning your fridge because you like doing it: you do it because of your anxiety.

Now my obsessive melanoma fear made me do a few crazy stuff (and this is where you can easily see the difference between me and someone having hypochondria):

– I had to complete an online melanoma risk assessment 5 times a day – yes, you’ve read it correctly, 5 times a day! And…the same assessment. I managed to find one that I particularly liked because at the end of the assessment, it would tell me that my melanoma risk was very low. So I was seeking reassurance.

– I checked melanoma statistics few times a day – do not ask me why I was doing it. I do not know. It was more like a superstition, like: if you do not do it, something terrible will happen.


And the craziest one was taking at least 20 pictures a day of my moles and comparing them to photos of melanoma moles. Also, sending it to other people to see what they think. Now, you can imagine how happy my friends were because of this….


Why was I doing all these? Now we arrive to the last element of the vicious cycle:

Temporary Relief

Acting on your compulsions will calm you down for a few minutes or even hours, but believe me: the intrusive thought will come back and the whole cycle will restart.

It is very hard to stop doing your OCD rituals, but as a first step, you need to acknowledge that they do not help. Even if you find the best possible ritual. Sad, but true.

How did I break out from this vicious cycle?

While in TV shows, they often tell you not to try certain things at home. And before sharing my personal solution to my melanoma scare, I would like to emphasize: I did not do the best possible thing and I wouldn’t suggest anyone to follow in my footsteps:

I ran away from it. Okay, not literary but I just got all my moles removed. I was told I wouldn’t need to do that and that they are extremely unlikely to be dangerous but then I really felt that it had been the only way out. After getting them removed, I would still call my dermatologist a few times a day just to make sure the results came back fine. But then my obsession was finally over.

So, why do I think that this was not the solution to the problem?

Because OCD is not about one obsession, OCD sufferers can have more than one obsession (we’re lucky people, are not we?) and your fears can change over the years. The obsessions and compulsions I used to have in my teens were different from the ones I had in my early 20s.

So you should fight your OCD instead of fighting your fears in multiple different ways!

What works on the long term?

Be more conscious of yourself – and of the OCD cycle:

An obsession is just like an illness: the earlier you recognize it, the better chances you have to fight it. This is something that one can totally learn: now, OCD usually gets worse with age (according to most of the psychologists I have talked to), but if you learn how to control it, believe me, it will get better and better. And being able to differentiate an obsessive thought from a rational one is the first step.

Mark’s tip: be aware of “what if” questions. Another characteristic of OCD is the constant feeling of doubt, so even if you’re able to convince yourself that your the intrusive thought you’ve just had, is simply impossible, OCD will always be there for you to whisper the terrible “what if’ question to your ears – and if this question comes into your mind, you should start working ASAP on breaking the cycle before it even starts!

Stop doing your OCD rituals!

This is one of the hardest ones. Especially that apart from the rituals that others can see OCD sufferers doing, there are a lot of invisible, mental rituals. So sometimes it’s even hard to recognize that you’re actually doing one!

What I did was: forcing myself into situations that make it impossible for me to act on my compulsions: such as leaving my phone at home so that I’d not be able to google melanoma symptoms or telling my family and friends not to “assist” my rituals (like for example, if you have harm OCD, do NOT tell your loved ones to hide the knives from you!).

Expose yourself to your deepest fears!

So as you have seen, anxiety is one of the elements of this vicious cycle. But avoiding situations that make you anxious will eventually make your OCD even worse: remember, OCD is an extremely creative disorder, so it will always be able to come up with a new intrusive thought, a new obsession and we can not spend our whole life on the run!

Other things you can do:

Learn more about OCD: know your enemy and know yourself, you will win a hundred battles.
So check out my posts about:
the 6 types of OCD
Frequently Asked Questions about OCD
12 things that will help you overcome OCD

And soon I’ll also share a list of useful websites and blogs about OCD – but that’s still in progress 🙂

Do not hesitate to share your own OCD stories, ideas, thoughts and helpful techniques in the comment section, because as you know there’s one thing I enjoy more than writing my posts: reading yours!

Post Scriptum – An OCD side effect!

OCD is not always bad – it is a terrifying illness and it’s not fun to live with, but sometimes it can help you becoming a better person. Ever since the OCD episode I shared with you in this post, I’ve been working on raising awareness of melanoma and on helping people who’re suffering from it. We are so busy with our problems that we often forget that there are a lot of other people out there who need help (in many cases, even more than we need).
So I just do not think it’d be appropriate if I published this post without sharing a link to the Melanoma Research Foundation (Click here).

OCD: Fight the Boggart! :)

Do you think Harry Potter books and movies are just perfect for Christmas? Well you are not alone!

I do not only suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but there’s one more condition that I have: I am a hundred percent addicted to Harry Potter. I simply adore the magical atmosphere of JK Rowling’s books and it reminds me to my childhood: I grew up alongside the amazing world of Harry Potter and I was extremely disappointed when I had not received a letter from Hogwarts on my 11th birthday. Actually, I do not think that I will ever forgive that school: they totally forgot about me and that is simply unacceptable. I have always wanted to be a Slytherin. Anyways, I’m 27 years old and life should go on. 🙂
(What is your favorite Hogwarts house and why? Please share in the comment section)

Even though I am totally offended, there is no Christmas without Harry Potter. I do not know why but Harry Potter books and movies always remind me to Christmas. And one of the characters from the Harry Potter books that I find extremely important is the boggart.

Now first of all, what is a boggart?

A boggart is a shapelifter that has no definite form, but takes the shape of the thing that is most feared by the person who encounters it. Sounds pretty much like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, does not it?

Why do I think that the boggart is an iconic character?

Because it reminds me to my OCD. Now you may say that I see OCD everywhere – and I think you would be right if you said that. But the boggart from Harry Potter is something that one can absolutely relate to OCD. It is a monster that always represents your biggest fears.

Ronald Weasley’s boggart was a spider. To Neville Longbottom this monster appeared in the form of Severus Snape and Harry’s boggart took on the form of a dementor,

It is pretty much like OCD: some of us are scared of germs, some of us are having intrusive thoughts about harming our loved ones and some of us are afraid of harming ourselves. But all of us have one thing in common: we are haunted by a boggart called OCD, and this monster is responsible for a lot of things that can easily ruin a person’s life: obsessions, intrusive thoughts and compulsions.
(Note: click here to learn more about the different types of OCD)

Riddikulus! – Defense against the Dark Arts!

Riddikulus – this is a spell that could protect you from the boggart. Unfortunately, it does not work against OCD and one of the reasons behind that is that OCD is not ridiculous at all.
But one thing we can learn from the Harry Potter series is that we should not be scared of our little boggart, because at the end of the day it’s nothing more than a pathetic monster. Is it difficult to think of it in that way?
It certainly is. But by acknowledging that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is just like the boggart, you have better chances to fight against it.

So I can not give you one single spell that helps you fight your boggart, but what I can give you is a list of things that actually worked for me: click here to see them and a piece of advice: learn more about OCD so that you’d be better at recognizing this monster. It has a thousand faces and it is scary, but if Harry could defeat his own boggart, why wouldn’t you be able to get rid of yours?

And finally, please feel free to share your ideas and stories in the comment section. Because as you know, there’s one thing that I enjoy more than writing my own posts: reading yours.

Mark Wester

Obsessive Christmas Disorder: Merry Christmas to all of you! :)

It’s Christmas Time! 🙂 And today I really do not want to think of OCD and I will not write about it. Today is a day that we should spend with our loved ones and enjoy life.

So what should be your plan for today? 🙂

1. Spend time with your loved ones!

Now because of our stressful lives: work, money, anxiety disorders and other issues, we often forget what is truly important: the people that we love. Obviously, we should spend time with our loved ones and take care of them throughout the whole year, but Christmas is a perfect opportunity to tell them how much you love them.

2. Do not stress!

A nice Christmas meal and gifts are important to many of us, but they are not the only thing that matter. So do not stress too much over the presents and the Christmas dinner: just enjoy yourself!

3. Eat a lot!

I am a perfectionist and sometimes I do worry about gaining weight but then we should forget that on Christmas day. 🙂 This is one of our traditional Christmas meals:
(Please share yours in the comment section)

(Note: image from jocooks.com)

4. The biggest gift is being surrounded by the people you love!

I totally a hundred percent adore giving and receiving gifts, but again: do not stress over presents, it’s much more important to enjoy being with your loved ones.
Interesting fact: in my country, it is not Santa Claus who’s bringing us the gifts, but we have 2 other gift bringers: Baby Jesus or the Angel (depends on which part of the country you’re coming from). In our family, it’s the Angel 🙂

5. Admire the beautiful Christmas decorations!

Christmas markets and lights are just amazing: every city, town and village looks absolutely magical on Christmas day (or in most of the cases, throughout the whole month to be honest). So spend some time on enjoying the fantastic atmosphere! 🙂
For example, this is where I live:

(Note: image from: http://minimatine.hu/ )

So, Merry Christmas to all of you and please do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section. Because as you know there’s one thing I enjoy more than writing my own stories: reading yours.

Mark Wester

Why do I have OCD? – Causes and risks

Why do I have OCD? This is a question that I am sure every OCD sufferer has already wondered about and the answer to it is much more complicated than you would imagine.

First of all, the cause of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not fully understood so if you start googling it you’ll find a lot of different theories and some of them will totally contradict each other. In this post, I’m trying to list the ones that are widely accepted and that actually make sense.

Biology

Chemical and functional abnormalities in the brain – I have been reading about this a lot and it has something to do with a hormone called serotonin, but as I am not a biology expert, I’m just sharing a link with you that gives you slightly more information on this:
https://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/full/10.2217/14796708.3.5.589

Genetic and hereditary factors

OCD runs in families: if your grandparents, parents or siblings have it, you’re much more likely to have it. This sounds pretty sad, does not it?
In my case, this is totally true: I am not the only one in my family who’s suffering from OCD – a few of my family members have it too and this is one of the main reasons why it was very difficult for me to get a proper diagnosis. I have always had a very strong relationship with my parents so it was not a challenge for me to tell them about my intrusive thoughts and compulsions. The only issue was that they used to think it was something very common and perfectly healthy. Generations of our family have lived their life with OCD . So if our great-grandmother had it, we can have it too, right? (I should not even mention that at the time of my diagnosis, my family members did not use to know that this condition had been called OCD – they thought it was just “stress” or some “minor anxiety”.)

Other risk factors

Overprotective parents

Parents should take care of their children, but some of them just worry too much. If you grow up believing that the world is a dangerous place (because that’s what your parents keep telling you), you’re much more likely to develop a lot of different fears. I guess my overprotective family is definitely one of the reasons behind my anxiety issues.
And it’s absolutely not their fault: an upper middle class family of aristocratic background goes bankrupt, so they’re forced to move to one of the creepiest neighborhoods in the city with their school age kid. Now this is pretty difficult even without any anxiety disorders – but with one parent already suffering from OCD, this is an instant disaster.

Perfectionist parents

It is not necessarily a bad thing to be perfectionist, but constant stress about being perfect is definitely not okay on the long term. Especially if you’re a child. While perfectionism on it’s own is very unlikely to cause OCD, growing up in a perfectionist family can definitely make your OCD much worse. Thanks God, my family and me are far from being perfectionist so at least I did not have this risk factor.

Parents who find it difficult to express their feelings

It’s very important for every kid to grow up in a loving family where they feel they can express their emotions. Now, being raised in a family that does not like expressing their feelings – or in one that even thinks that one should be ashamed of crying or afraid to love others – is definitely not the best thing for an already anxious child.

Alcoholism in family

I am sure that for most of you, this does not come as a surprise. Having an alcoholic parent can cause a lot of psychological issues that will accompany you forever.

And one more that I personally believe is a risk factor: Teenage Alcohol Abuse

I have not found any research data on this topic, but I have a few friends who are suffering from OCD and one thing that we have in common is: teenage alcohol abuse.
Now you may say that we started drinking because we had OCD and we wanted to ease the symptoms – but believe me, for most of us, that was not the case. OCD symptoms can begin at a very young age, but I can tell you one thing: I was definitely not suffering from OCD in my early teens.
I do not say that teenage alcohol abuse is the reason behind anxiety disorders, but I do believe that it’s a huge risk factor. And this is a risk factor that is very hard to fight, especially for those who come from a culture where teenage drinking is considered to be cool.

Please share your thoughts

If you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of hundred battles: please feel free to share in the comment section anything that you think might be a risk factor for OCD.
And please do not hesitate to share your personal stories and experiences, because as you know there’s one thing that I enjoy more than sharing my ideas: reading yours! 🙂

Mark Wester

Celebrating Talent: Blogger Recognition Award

Today’s post is a little bit different from the other ones I’ve been posting so far. This time it’s not about OCD, but about something much more cheerful: Blogger Recognition Award.

Maja has nominated me for Blogger Recognition Award and it means a lot to me: it’s very encouraging especially that I started blogging quite recently – only 2 weeks ago. So I’m extremely glad to hear that there are people out there who enjoy reading my posts and it’s a fantastic feeling to see that I can help others by sharing my stories.

So, Maja, (or dear neighbor, because I see you’re from Slovenia and I’m from Hungary so we’re actually neighbors :). Thank you very much once more, getting this recognition made my day and made me even more motivated to write.

Rules

1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog. (Just in case you missed the hyperlink above: here’s the link to Maja’s blog: https://lampelina.wordpress.com/ )
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to.
6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them, and provide a link to the post you’ve created.

How (and why?) did I start my blog?

I started my blog pretty recently and I feel that it’s been a very good decision. I’ve been suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder ever since I was a teenager and I still remember how much it helped me at the beginning of my OCD journey to read about other people’s experiences. So a few weeks ago I started thinking about creating a blog and sharing my stories and thoughts with others.

2 pieces of advice

Now, this is a hard one. I’m still pretty new to blogging and I am not sure whether I am the best person to give you an advice but what I think is important:

Be yourself: every person has a different personality and a different perception and understanding of things – and that’s exactly what makes the world a very interesting and colorful place. So all of you should be proud of who you are and share your views and ideas with others!

Listen to your heart: write about something that you are passionate about. Life is too short to spend on things you do not like doing ! 🙂

And finally: my nominees

According to the rules, I can only pick 15 blogs – and it’s extremely difficult for me to make such a short list as all of the blogs I came across are simply amazing. But here is my list:

Tornado of Chaos
DSM (Defeating Stigma Mindfully)
Pointless Overthinking
How to be cool
Mental Health @ Home
LifeIsfinewhine
Fractured Faith Blog
MacalderBlog
The Other Stuff
Food for Thoughts
Crow On The Wire
The Godly Chic Diaries
Mitch Teemley
Be Inspired..!!
varjakbaby

Thank you all for sharing your stories, ideas and thoughts as there’s one more thing that I enjoy more than writing: reading your posts!

Mark Wester


How to tell the difference between OCD and GAD?

Do you feel constantly anxious?

Unfortunately, you are not alone. There are a lot of people out there who have anxiety disorders. Today, I’ll talk about the 2 conditions that I am suffering from: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
I am a very lucky person, am I not? Having one of them would be perfectly enough and then I have both, but let’s look on the bright side: at least, I can share my stories with you!

So first of all, let’s take a look at the definition of these two disorders

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (or OCD) means that you have unwanted and repeating thoughts (intrusive thoughts), obsessions and behaviors that force you to do certain things over and over again (so, kind of compulsions). In most of the cases, you know that your thoughts are completely irrational and that your compulsions do not make sense either – but you just can not stop having those thoughts and can not stop acting on your compulsions (click here to see more examples). Sounds scary, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by exaggerated anxiety about simple, everyday life things – with no apparent reasons for worry. Now based on this definition, you may think that most of the people around you have GAD – or you may even do a self-diagnosis. But do not jump into conclusions: in this article, I’ll share a couple more details about GAD and you’ll see that it’s much worse than being stressed.

What are you worried about?

One of the biggest differences between OCD and GAD is what sufferers are worried about. If you have OCD, it’s likely that many (or all) your worries are simply irrational – because OCD is a big liar. While those who have GAD are worried about more realistic things, however, their anxiety is way too exaggerated.

So, let’s see a couple of examples.

As I have already mentioned, I’m “in a very lucky position” – because I have both OCD and GAD. Sounds absolutely fabulous, doesn’t it? Now the good thing is that I can share a few of my examples.

Typical OCD thoughts include:
what if I did something wrong and I do not remember?
what if I jump off the cliff?
– what if I set my own house on fire?
– what if I harm someone I love?
– what if I catch HIV?
– what if someone dies because I did not clean the table well enough?

So as you can see, many of these thoughts are completely irrational and even the ones that sort of make sense are way too exaggerated. For example the HIV one: that’s an obsession I used to have (thanks God, I have managed to overcome it). I used to be afraid of catching HIV on the tube which is absolutely nonsense and I knew that it would be impossible – but still, I’d wash my hands hundred times a day and avoid public transport: because you can never know, can you?

Now for GAD, it’s much more difficult to give you a “list of worries”, simply because one of the main issues is that GAD can make you worry about pretty much everything.
So if you suffer from it, you do not only have a few obsessions that make you anxious – you constantly jump from one worry to another. Let’s say, you wake up in the morning and you start worrying about the presentation you need to deliver at your workplace. Once that is over, you’ll find a new thing to worry about: your co-worker did not smile back at you, so what if they are angry with you for some reason? And it goes on and on.

If you have GAD, you’ll always think of the worst case scenario. This might be a perfect skill if you wanted to become a risk analyst, but then it does make your life very difficult.

What do you do about your worry?

People with GAD may do certain things to fight their anxiety – such as seeking reassurance from others or avoiding certain situations, but these compulsions usually do not take over their lives.

Now, if you have OCD, that’s different. Apart from having obsessive thoughts that can keep you awake for the whole night, you also have to do certain things – and these are called compulsive behaviors. (yes, that’s right, you just have to do them, because if you do not, you think something terrible will happen and you’ll be anxious for the whole day).

This is the part of OCD that’s pretty well-known, but very often misunderstood. When I tell people I have OCD, most of them will think that I’m just addicted to cleaning, but unfortunately, the reality is much darker. Cleaning is not the only compulsive thing OCD sufferers have to do, the list is much longer and can include:
– extreme double-checking (have I locked the door?)
– having to repeat certain words
– counting
– reassurance seeking
And a lot more.
Click here to see what a day with OCD looks like.

I have OCD, does it mean that I also have GAD?

So, I have both of them, but just to avoid any misunderstanding: it does not mean that every OCD sufferer has GAD or the other way around. These are 2 different mental illnesses even if they share a few similarities.

Things that will help you overcome OCD and GAD

I think a very important step is educating yourself: the more you know about your enemy, the better chances you have to fight them. So I really hope that this post helped you. 🙂

As you may have noticed, I’m pretty new to blogging so I’m still working articles about techniques that worked for me to ease my OCD/GAD symptoms. (Subscribe to my blog and check back later for more! 🙂
However, I’d like to give you a couple of ideas that may help:

  1. Seeking professional help: usually Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  2. Breathing exercises for relaxation
  3. Limiting or stopping the use of caffeine
  4. Eating healthy food
  5. Getting enough sleep
  6. Medication
  7. Check my article on 12 things that will help you overcome OCD

Finally, there’s one thing that I love more than sharing my stories: reading yours. Please share your personal experiences in the comment section!

Mark Wester

12 things that will help you overcome OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is one of the most terrifying mental illnesses and it can make your life a living hell. Fortunately, there are a lot of useful techniques that can help you ease your symptoms. In this article, I will share 12 things that helped me a lot – and I really hope that you’ll also find them useful.

1. Do not rely on your intuition!

Trusting your intuition is not always the best idea.
It is very tempting to invent your own methods for treating your OCD.

As you could have seen on my blog (and you’ll keep seeing it in the future), I prefer alternative methods for treating OCD or any other disorder, but the issue is that OCD is a liar. It tells you irreal and irrational things and it forces you to act on your compulsions.
So, relying on your intuition and inventing your own tricks could actually make your OCD worse. Why? Simply, because you may end up having additional obsessions and compulsions – next to your existing ones.

2. OCD is chronic

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is just like diabetes or asthma: you can keep it under control, but there’s no cure for it.
It is a pretty sad thing to read, I know and first time I learnt it, it’d actually give me a panic attack: it’s scary to imagine that you’ll spend your whole life with this monster. But it’s better to acknowledge this fact.

The good news is that there are a lot of success stories, and a great number of people who can keep their OCD under control.

3. Doubt & Guilt – recognize them!

One of the characteristics of OCD is the constant circle of doubt and guilt.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the typical “what if” questions, and the“one never knows” logic:
– What if I go crazy?
– Have I locked the door?
– What if I did something terrible and I do not even remember?


The little OCD monster constantly sits on your shoulder and plants seeds of doubt in your mind. By acknowledging these feelings, you’ll be able to keep them under control.

4, Do not seek reassurance!

I’ll be honest with you: this is the most difficult one for me. I’m personally addicted to seeking reassurance and this is something that I’ll need to work on a lot more in the future, but I’m on a good way to recover from it.
So what do I mean by seeking reassurance?
When you keep asking your friends whether you’re a good person, just to make sure you’re not dangerous to anyone. Or when you keep checking Google to make sure that you couldn’t have caught the disease you’re so scared of.
Sounds familiar? If yes, the best thing you can do is stop doing this!

5. Do not try to prevent your thoughts!

The best way to prevent your obsessive thoughts is trying not to prevent them. Sounds pretty paradoxical, doesn’t it? But it actually works.
While you’re trying to prevent your thoughts you actually think about them even more, so it’s a vicious cycle. Most of the people have intrusive thoughts and these are perfectly natural – even if they’re not too pleasant to have. Let’s accept that they’re there and you’ll feel much better!

6. Agree with your thoughts

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
The last thing you’d want to do is to agree with your thoughts: they can be way too scary. But then, it’s kind of a reverse psychology: if you agree with them, you’ll think about them less.
And spending less time on them will give you more time to relax and this will significantly reduce your anxiety.

7. Do not rely on others: they won’t always be there!

Your loved ones can help you a lot. And that’s something that you’ll need, but on the other hand, make sure that you’re able to feel good even if they’re not around.
I’m a very social person and at the beginning of my OCD journey, I made a terrible mistake: I became addicted to seeking reassurance and support from my friends and family. During my worst OCD period, I did not use to be able to spend time alone, I’d always need someone to be there to tell me that things were going to be alright.

8. Recovery takes time

If you’ve been reading about OCD or about any other mental disorder, I’m pretty sure that you have seen this statement enough times.
So I do not want to spend a long time on discussing it. All I want to say is: yes, it’s true, it takes time to recover, so do not stress. Stress can make your symptoms even worse.

9. Be proud of yourself!

Having OCD is definitely not fun and it’s very hard to talk about it. But it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
There are a lot of people out there who will understand you and who’ll be able to help. Talking about it is a huge relief and I am sure that you’ll find a few people with OCD in your environment – they may not talk about it, but believe me, you are not alone!

10. Educate yourself!

Knowing your enemy will help you fight against it. Learning more about OCD will help you handle it better.
I was diagnosed with OCD ten years ago and at the time of my diagnosis, I did not use to know anything about it. And I can tell you it was much more difficult for me to handle it than it is nowadays. One of the reasons behind this is that over the years, I learnt a lot about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and I have adopted a lot of techniques that help me fight against it.

If you want to learn more about OCD, please check:
Frequently Asked Questions about OCD
My blog feed

11. Eat Healthy Food!

I’m sure this is not a new piece of information for most of you, but it’s still important to mention. Sugary foods, caffeine, alcohol and processed products can make your OCD and your anxiety worse.

I have found an amazing article about what foods you should avoid if you suffer from OCD: https://www.livestrong.com/article/467972-foods-not-to-eat-if-you-have-ocd-or-panic-attacks/

At the moment, I’m about to make a few changes to my diet and it’ll probably take some time to feel the positive effects of them. So I’ll keep you posted! 🙂

12. Get enough sleep!

Being tired can definitely worsen your anxiety. So another thing that helps is getting a good night sleep.
I know it may sometimes be difficult as OCD gave me a lot of sleepless nights, but at least try to sleep as much as you can! 🙂

+ 1 more thing

There is one more thing that I love more than sharing my own stories and ideas: reading yours.

I’m pretty sure that many of my readers have useful ideas that can help others overcome OCD. So, please share your thoughts, techniques, tricks and ideas in the comment section – or just drop me an e-mail.

Mark Wester

OCD: Living a lie

Nobody likes liars. And if you could choose, you’d never live with one. But some people have no choice, they are forced to share their lives with a liar called OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is one of the most terrifying mental illnesses and at the same time it’s one of the best liars the world has ever seen.

Why do I say that?

Because OCD can make your life a living hell by telling you lies that are absolutely irrational and making you believe that those are actually true. Now, if your partner or one of your friends is a liar, it’s obviously a very annoying thing, but at least you can get rid of them or you can try to change them. However, when it comes to OCD, it’s much more difficult: it’s a liar that you’re forced to be together with for all your life, 27/4. It’s a part of you, you can not just tell it to stop.

What are the lies that OCD tells you?

It’s extremely difficult to give you a full list of all the lies that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has ever told people, but I’ll share a few very disturbing examples with you.

1. Doing your rituals will save you from a disaster

Most of the people with OCD (if not everyone) are way too familiar with this one. The little OCD monster sits on your shoulder and keeps telling you to do certain things so that you could stop a disaster from happening to yourself or to your loved ones (let’s say if you do not touch a certain object 5 times in a row, one of your family members will die). In most of the cases, you recognize that OCD lies to you, and the things it tells you to do are absolutely irrational, but you just can not stop doing them, and this is where the feeling of doubt comes into the picture:

– What if the lies are actually true?
– How do you know they are not true?
So, the safest option that you have is to act on your compulsions and to obey the OCD monster.

Want to read more about rituals? Check:
Magical Thinking OCD

2. The world is a dangerous place

If you’re suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, it’s very likely that you feel that the world is a place full of dangers. And I do not say that our planet Earth is the safest place, but then it’s not as scary as a person with OCD would imagine it.

Unfortunately, this lie has been torturing me for years: I know that it’s completely irrational and I absolutely understand that I shouldn’t be afraid of everything, but at the end, OCD is always takes over me.

An example that I can give you is my extreme fear of contracting HIV: it’s extremely unlikely to catch it from touching a door knob, but I can assure you that OCD is able to explain to you how this would be possible:
– what if someone touched the door knob a few minutes ago and there’s some blood on it while you have a small scar on your hand and then the virus enters your bloodstream? You can never know, can you?

3. You are dangerous

Well, there are many OCD sufferers who’re dangerously beautiful, but despite that, I’m pretty sure that they’re absolutely not dangerous to society.

Many of you may have already heard about harm OCD: a sub-type of OCD that makes you think that you’d easily be able to harm yourself or one of your loved ones.

Now let me tell you one thing: you are not dangerous. People with OCD would probably be the last ones on earth to hurt others. The reason why you can not get rid of your harm obsession is exactly because you’re extremely scared of it. And that actually means that you do not want to act on your intrusive thoughts.

A couple of years ago, I was going to a therapist who helped me a lot. A question she asked me was:
– If you could choose, would you prefer not to have your intrusive thoughts? (I was afraid of harming someone I love)

I obviously said:
– Of course, I want to get rid of them, that’s why I came here.

And then she said:
– Yes, and that means you’re not a bad person. If it you wanted to act on your intrusive thoughts, you’d actually enjoy having them and you wouldn’t have come here.

4. You do not even have OCD

I think that this is the worst lie OCD could possibly tell you.

And this is the one that is the most difficult to get rid of: you can tell yourself that you should stop doing all your rituals, because they do not make sense. You may even be able to convince yourself that you’re not at all dangerous and that thinking that you’d attack a random person in the street is absolutely ridiculous, but then there’s always a final lie OCD tells you:
What if I do not even have OCD? What if my therapist was lying me? What if I’m insane?



This sounds scary, doesn’t it? And I do not say you can easily stop having this thought, but one thing that helped me a lot was learning more about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and about the lies it could possibly tell me.

Further Reading

Want to read more about OCD and the lies it can tell you?

I really hope this article will help some of you: knowing your enemy will give you better chances to fight against it.

And do not forget, there’s one more thing I love more than sharing my own stories: reading yours! So please share your personal OCD story in a comment section or just drop me an e-mail.

Mark Wester