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)
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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! 🙂
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.
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:
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.
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:
Seeking professional help: usually Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
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 thatyou’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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
Want to read more about OCD and the lies it can tell you?
Is life more beautiful with a little bit of magic? Well, for some people it certainly isn’t. Especially for those who have OCD.
I’m pretty sure many of my readers have already heard about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – a terrifying mental illness that millions are suffering from. Now, in the media, OCD is often portrayed as a kind of cleaning addiction (if you have seen Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners on TLC, I guess you know what I’m talking about – do not get me wrong, I do not say the TV show is not good, but it can easily mislead people who do not know what OCD is about.) Note: click here if you want to see a list of frequently asked questions about OCD
Today, I’ll write about another symptom (or we could even say a “sub-type”) of OCD, which is magical thinking.
What do we mean by magical thinking?
Magical thinking doesn’t mean that you believe you have a kind of magical superpower. It’s a kind of “mindset” that makes you think that performing certain activities will help you avoid a disaster, will save your loved ones from any possible harm or will make you luckier.
Now while reading this, you may think: is this not a kind of superstition? And that is a very good question. To a certain extent magical thinking looks pretty superstitious, but it’s much more than being afraid of black cats or feeling unlucky on Friday the 13th.
People who’re suffering from magical thinking OCD are just unable to stop acting on their compulsions and they can be extremely distressed by their own thoughts – and being the slave of your own compulsions also means that you spend a great deal of your time on them.
What are the main symptoms of magical thinking OCD?
Well, first of all: believing that if you do not do things in a certain way, something terrible will happen. To be honest it’s very difficult to explain this feeling because your rational self knows that it’s absolutely crazy, but then you’re just unable the stop your racing thoughts. A few examples that I was experiencing:
– if you do not skip every other step while walking up the stairs, one of your loved ones will get sick.
– if you do not touch certain objects multiple times (until it feels right, depends on the sufferer’s preference), you’ll get fired from your job. And obviously, if you miss the ritual, you’ll be terrified for the whole day.
– if you check 15 times that the door is locked, your home will be protected – if not, again: something horrible will happen
– being extremely superstitious: now there are a lot of people who’re superstitious, but people with OCD take it to a whole new level: spending significant part of their day trying to avoid any situation that they feel could bring them bad luck.
– if you watch certain movies, something bad will happen (Obviously, I wouldn’t like to share the list of movies I’m avoiding, because those poor movies are not the ones to blame for the distress that they’re causing to me.)
Now, a lot of people may have thoughts that are similar to the ones I listed above, but it does not always mean that they have OCD. OCD starts when you are obsessed with these thoughts and it’s difficult for you to stop acting on the compulsions the little Compulsive Monster is suggesting to you.
And obviously, the list of thoughts magical thinking OCD can give you is much much longer.
So please do not hesitate to share your personal story in the comment section (or in an e-mail if you prefer that). There’s one thing I love more than sharing my stories: reading yours.
Two of the key characteristics of OCD are doubt and guilt. But what does it feel like to suffer from them? That’s what I’m going to write about today and I’ll share one of my personal stories with you.
First of all, let’s take a look at doubt: this is something I have already mentioned in a few of my previous posts. People who’re suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are living in doubt: and this is one of the main reasons why it’s so hard to get rid of OCD and to move on.
Doubt: what does it actually feel like?
If you have OCD, I’m pretty sure you have already experienced this terrible feeling. To me personally, doubt usually means the “what if” type of questions. The majority of people wouldn’t be scared by a sudden intrusive thought: such as throwing themselves under the train or jumping off the cliff,because they’d KNOW for sure that they do not want to do it.
Now one of the scary things about OCD is that you NEVER KNOW. If a random thought comes into your mind, you’ll not let it go – that’d be way too simple. No, you’ll start analyzing it – and that is when the feeling of doubt and guilt comes into the picture. So let’s say that you have just had a scary thought – throwing yourself under the train for example. What happens next?
You tell yourself that it’s just crazy and you do not want to do that. Why would you?
This is the point where the OCD monster (yes, I usually imagine OCD as an ugly little monster sitting on your shoulder and whispering random stuff into your ears) joins you: – How do you know you do not want to do it? What if you actually want to do it?
Answering Mr. OCD’s questions are usually very difficult, but let’s try: – Because I do not want to die.
But the OCD monster will never give up, so it carries on: – You said that word yourself, did not you? What if that means that you want to die – you just do not know about it.
And carrying on with this inner conversation is very distressing – and the more you do it, the worse you feel.
So what are the best things you could do?
1. Label your thoughts:
Recognize when you have an intrusive thought and tell yourself that this is just OCD and that it’s not real and not rational at all. Doing this requires a lot of practice. I wouldn’t have been able to do this a few years back – and even nowadays, it can be very difficult, but I promise you one thing: it’s worth the effort. This will help you a lot.
3. Do not try to stop your thoughts:
This will have the exact opposite effect than the one you’d want to have: if you try to get rid of your thoughts and to force yourself not to think about them, you’ll actually think about them more.
3. Be angry at your OCD monster:
Anger and fear are not compatible feelings: so it’s unlikely that you’d feel the 2 of them at the exact same time. So by being angry at your little OCD monster will help you overcoming your fear.
Guilt: What does it actually feel like?
Now let’s speak about the feeling of guilt.
It’s very much related to the feeling of doubt. You just start blaming yourself for the things that you’re thinking about and for the feelings that you have. And you start thinking that these are actually a part of you and they define who you are. So, the fact that you’re having these thoughts and feelings means that you’re a horrible person.
As you can already imagine, this feeling of guilt is also responsible for giving you even more doubts (and also the other way around – your doubts will make you feel more guilt). So the two of them are pretty much completing each other. What a beautiful relationship, isn’t it?
For me, the feeling of guilt is one of the major obstacles when it comes to overcoming OCD and for a very simply reason: I feel guilty for wasting so many years of my life on my obsessions and compulsions and I’m afraid that If I do not have them anymore, my life will become worse.
Okay, let’s stop here: reading this, you’ll think that I’m totally insane (which is partially true, but not becaue of my OCD). But I’ll explain you why I feel like this:
To explain what it is, I’ll just literary copy and paste the definition from a book: unreasonable and irrational thought patterns that are characterized by connecting actions and events that have no relation whatsoever.
Over the years, I have managed to overcome most of my fears and I’ve become relatively good at handling OCD, but there’s a final fear that I have to face and that’s OCD itself. And it’s the feeling of guilt that makes it so difficult. I just feel that I wasted so much time on worrying about things that did not actually matter that I think I’m not worth of being happy anymore. I feel that I’m a sinner and my biggest sin has been destroying my own life with my disturbing thoughts. I’m living a pretty decent life nowadays (except for the OCD part of course), but I’m just scared: what if I manage to overcome OCD and things will get worse?
I wake up in the morning and the first thought coming into my mind is: – what if I did something terrible while I was sleeping and I’m not even aware of it? The list of things that I could have done during my sleep is absolutely endless: I could have harmed someone, I could have stolen something, who knows?
And obviously, this intrusive thought wouldn’t just let me alone: no way, I need to check if everything is okay at home and sometimes (not everyday) I need to check the news: because then, who knows, I may have been sleepwalking and I may have done something insane that I’d not be proud of.
Now this would be totally justified if I were a sleepwalker, but I am not. I am suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – and one of the main characteristics of OCD is doubt. You know that you do not want to do certain things and to be honest you also know that you’ll never do any of those things that your intrusive thoughts are suggesting to you, but you always doubt yourself and you keep asking yourself: what if….?
Then it carries on: having your morning coffee is not always simply. First of all: you shouldn’t even be having your morning coffee because caffeine can actually make your OCD symptoms worse, but then everyone has their own guilty pleasures. Mine is coffee.
So having your morning coffee wouldn’t be scary on it’s own, but then one thing you always need to check is whether you actually turned the coffee machine off – what if you haven’t done so and your home will catch fire? And what if someone gets hurt because of that? Let’s not even think about that.
Yet, every morning I need to check a couple of times if I have really turned it off. You never know, do you?
I have anisometropia, meaning that one of my eyes is stronger than the other ones. So obviously, I need to check a couple of times (until it feels right) whether I have managed to put my lenses in properly.
Leaving home: the most difficult part. And a pretty well-known obsession – I do not think that this will surprise any of you: I need to check a couple of times if the door is locked.
This compulsion started a few years back and at that time, it used to be enough for me to check it like 3-4 times, but over the years, it’s been getting worse and worse, so nowadays I need to check if the door is locked at least 10 times – and sometimes that also includes walking away from the door and going back to check it once more. This is very embarrassing and I guess my neighbors think that I’m totally loco.
Then, I usually take the tube to go to work. Sometimes I need to go back home to check once more if my door is properly locked, but fortunately that’s not too common. Let’s say it happens only once per week.
Now the tube is one more obstacle: my Pure O is torturing me and makes me think: what if I threw myself under a tube train? Do not get me wrong, I do not want to do that. But the “Pure O monster” would never be okay with me telling him that I do not want to do it…cause it’ll keep asking me questions …that usually start with “what if”?
So, I usually prefer staying as far from the platform edge as possible – you never know, right?
Finally, I arrive to my workplace and thanks for God, usually nothing particular happens when I’m in there. One of the techniques that I use for keeping my OCD under control is keeping myself as busy as possible. We could say I’m a workoholic – I may actually be one – but this is another topic.
Even though life at work is pretty much like a safe zone for me, the intrusive thoughts wouldn’t leave me alone: so I obviously need to check at least 3 times if the e-mails I’ve written are okay, I need to check sometimes whether my contact lenses are still in. A weird compulsion that I usually have during the flu season is that I keep checking if I have fever – not if checking it would make any difference if I actually had fever, but then it’s just something I have to do. At least a positive thing is that we do not have flu season all over the year.
Then obviously, sometimes I’m afraid of fainting because that’d be an embarrassing to do in front of your co-workers – this could actually give me a minor panic attack but I’m trying to control it.
Now a typical day usually ends at the bar at the corner. I’m a very social person and I have a lot of friends – that helps me a lot, cause my other way of handling OCD is that I just simply try to ignore it completely and try to get away from it as far as possible. So keeping yourself busy can actually help. Obviously, one needs to face ones fears but OCD shouldn’t take over your life – so my suggestion to everyone who’s suffering from OCD is to go out as many times as they can. 🙂
So, what happens at the bar?
It really depends on the day. Sometimes my OCD leaves me alone – sometimes it’s taking over me.
One thing that I absolutely dislike is when people tell me their secrets. I’m very good at keeping them, but on the other hand, the little Pure O monsteroften starts whispering random stuff into my ears: – what if you tell someone about their secrets – and then it carries on – I know you think you do not want to tell it to anyone, but what if you actually want to tell their secrets to others or…what if it just accidentally happens? I usually let this thought go away pretty quickly, but that doesn’t always help cause the next one is waiting in the queue: what if someone else who knows about their secrets tells other people and then your friend will think that it was you?
Now that is a much scarier one: it’s something you just can not control.
Usually, this intrusive thought wouldn’t force me to do any compulsive thing, but then another little monster is waiting for me at the toilet (alright, I knooow, this sounded kind of creepy, but you see what I mean: GERMS). So, after using the bar’s bathroom, I must (yes, must is the best word to describe the feeling) wash my hands a couple of times – there’s no specific number for this, it’s just…until it feels right. Depends on the day.
Getting home is usually pretty safe. There’s one more thing that I do not know if it’s linked to OCD or not (probably need to ask a therapist – I’ll let you know once I got the answer), but I just need to have a phone call with someone before I enter my home – If I do not do that, I have the feeling that something terrible might happen. So, I usually smoke a couple of cigarettes and talk on the phone before entering my home. This could take an hour – or two.
During the day, I like keeping myself busy, but then the scariest part of the day is when I get home and go to sleep. As you may have noticed (based on my previous posts), I’m single so I’m not sharing my bed with anyone – which means that Pure O’s most active period is the one when I’m trying to fall asleep.
So a storm of all kind of thoughts is on the way: I usually ask myself whether I’m good enough at what I’m doing – my job is pretty important to me so I constantly worry about losing it and this makes me check all positive feedback that I received in the past – just to make sure I was good enough. So I need to check the feedback a few times, until it just feels right.
Another intrusive thought is my extreme worry about not being able to buy a flat on my own (that’s extremely important in our culture, not sure if it’s the same in yours – please feel free to share in the comment section). So this can force me to look at flats for sale – for hours and hours. Do not get me wrong, I do not actually have the money to buy one, it’s more like a magical thought: if I check it enough times, I may end up having money to purchase a house or flat. Completely illogical, I know, but well, OCD is not famous for being the most logical thing on earth.
Finally, a very last one that often keeps me awake at night: the feeling of guilt. What If I’m not grateful enough for everything I have (at the end of the day, my life is pretty good) and I feel that I’m a bad person and feel very guilty for having wasted so much money on myself (yes, next to all of this, I am also a big spender – a shopaholic, you might say – just to make things even worse.)
The last thing that I do everyday, before falling asleep is: – checking if the alarm is set. Not only once, but at least 3 times – and on 2 different phones.
I’ve always been a night owl and it’s very difficult for me to get up early in the morning. So then you can never know, if you are unable to get up in the morning, you’ll not be able to get to work on time so they’ll fire you and then you’ll not have money so ….you’ll even become homeless and…I think those who are suffering from OCD can carry on completing the rest of this.
So: this is the story of my life. Every day is different, but the one I have described above is a pretty average one. I obviously didn’t want to share all of the details because what if I won’t be able to publish any more posts after that? I wouldn’t want that because I love sharing my stories with people. And I hope you like reading them.
Please share your personal stories in the comment section because there’s one thing I love doing more than sharing my stories: reading yours! 🙂
Have you ever heard your friends saying that “they were so OCD” ? Or watched any reality shows where they present OCD as a kind of cleaning obsession or as the fear of germs?
The answer is probably yes.
But the reality is that OCD is much more complex than that – it’s just like the boggart in the Harry Potter series, it can have a lot of different faces and every single person who’s suffering from OCD will experience it in their own way. Some of us need to repeatedly check if we’ve locked the door, some of us must clean our homes multiple times a day – but there’re people out there who’re being tortured by a much less known form of OCD, called Pure O.
What is Pure O?
Purely obsessional OCD – or simply, Pure O – means that you’re haunted by intrusive and uncontrollable thoughts, but these are usually not accompanied by any compulsions.
Now, this was a definition from a psychology book that I was reading and there are a lot of articles on the internet that speak about Pure O from a scientific point of view, so in this post I’ll write more about my feelings and what Pure O means to me: a total terror.
I’ve been suffering from it ever since I was a small child, but then it got out of control when I was at junior high.
What doesPure O feels like?
Most of the people have intrusive thoughts: but those who do not suffer from OCD may not even notice them. And Pure O usually starts with one of these crazy thoughts, such as:
– what if I’m sexually attracted to my relatives? – what if I’ll harm one of my loved ones? – what if I push someone off the roof? – what if I push someone onto the tube tracks? – what if I am a bad person? – what if I confess a crime that I did not commit? – what if I put my cat into the microwave? – what if I jump off the roof?
And after the first intrusive thoughts, it’ll get worse and worse, so you may even be able to explain yourself that you’re not a bad person and that you do not want to act on your thoughts – but OCD is like a monster and this monster is doing amazingly well at giving the benefit of doubt to its victims, so it’ll just carry on with:
– what if I actually want to do the things that came into my mind?
If you do not know that you’re suffering from Pure O, this question will be extremely difficult to answer: you’ll doubt yourself and you’ll never be sure whether you actually want to commit all the horrible crimes your intrusive thoughts have been suggesting to you. While those who know that they have Pure O may be slight luckier: it’s not me, it’s just Pure O, I’m not a bad person and of course I do not want to do any of that crazy stuff. But then the final attack:
– what if…I do not even have OCD, what if I just believe that I have it, but the truth is that I’m a horrible person?
So as you can see, Pure O is able to provide you with an endless list of “what if” questions. Creativity is a very good thing, but when it comes to this terrifying disorder, it’s actually a huge advantage if a person is not too creative – because the more creative you are, the more opportunities you have to invent more and more “what if” questions (with the help of our Pure O monster).
At this point, you may ask yourself: how can one get rid of Pure O?
I’ll be honest with you: at the moment, I will not be able to give you a complete answer to this question, because I’m working on it myself, however I can give you a list of ideas that actually helped me:
1. Seek professional help
Okay, this may sound clichée and I know you could probably find this one on every single OCD related website, but I do think this is extremely important.
The answer is simple: Pure O is characterized by doubt. I used to think that I was totally crazy and dangerous and I was scared to talk about my feelings because I thought I’d end up in a psychiatric hospital and I’d spend the rest of my life there. But then I went to a therapist and that’s where I learnt that intrusive thoughts are actually pretty common and a lot of people have them – obviously, it didn’t stop me from having major panic attacks every time an intrusive thought came into my mind, but then it’d been a huge help. (I shouldn’t even mention the useful techniques that I’ve learnt during my therapy – that’ll be a topic for a future article 🙂 )
2. Tell your family and friends
I know this is a difficult one, because a Pure O sufferer would normally ask themselves a question: what if they think that I’m totally insane?
And that’s a valid point, I used to think the same. But then, believe me: my loved ones reacted to it much better than I’d have ever expected. Earlier, I’ve mentioned that a lot of people have intrusive thoughts (according to studies, and psychologists), so I’m pretty sure that there’s someone among your friends who’ll understand the way you feel. Of course it’s important to find the right person with whom you can share your experiences, because let’s be honest: there are the kind of people who’d make the whole thing worse by their comments, but according to my experience, it’s really worth taking the risk.
3. Stop avoiding!
Yes, I know it’s difficult to face your fears, but the sooner the better. Hiding kitchen knives and scissors (in order to avoid any potentially dangerous situation, such as harming someone that you do not want to) may seem to be a good idea, but it’s not a long term solution.
4. Do some research!
Reading more about OCD will make you understand it more – “know your yourself, know yourself and you shall win a hundred battles without loss”.
I’ve read hundreds of articles about OCD (if we think about it more, OCD may actually be my obsession……:) ). And it did help me a lot. My blog is pretty new and I’ll be posting on a regular basis so in the upcoming weeks, I’ll share with you the best articles and books that I’ve found about Pure O.
I hope this article will help some of my readers – and please do not hesitate to share your experiences in the comment section!