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3 Things I Do When I Have An OCD Episode

 

 

fightorflightpicDuring a panic attack or through the process of OCD being triggered, your brain immediately goes into ‘flight or fight’ mode.  You may be familiar with the racing heart, the heat, the shaking and just the sheer terror of the episodes.
So it is important to realise that your brain can not make rationality of chaos in these moments.  You are not going to be able to think your way out of it (whether in a state of panic or not).

When an unexpected trigger comes I do these three things:

1. Acknowledge that I have been triggered and tell myself that the terrible feelings I am experiencing may or may not have basis in reality (classic ERP there 😉 ) and allow myself to feel them.

2. Take five or ten minutes (if I can) to do mindfulness.  I have some 3 minute ones mindfulness meditations ready on my phone.  If you don’t have anything handy, slow your breathing down and take deep breaths in and out, not judging what you are feeling.

3. Carry on.  Even though I feel like running for the hills, I try and carry on with work, the outing, etc.  It is amazing how your brain responds when you just keep doing what you were doing.  I stop the OCD from controlling my life and making a big fanfare.

One other little trick is that I tell the OCD that if I am still thinking about it tomorrow, I might do something.  Seriously, I rarely do or I have even forgotten!

Even those who experience panic attacks or anxiety will hopefully benefit from this.

God truly bless you,

 

Anna 🙂

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Poem

OCD

You Shall Not Pass

Nor will I

I will stand my ground

and stare at your face

until it melts into

a pool of nothingness.

I have everything behind me

and only good before me

I will not waste myself

on the terrors of the night

nor the arrow that flies by day

it wouldn’t hit me anyway.

I’ll be more than Gandalf

to your Balrog Demon

You will fall

But I will be standing.

You Shall Not Pass

But this will.

And that, as they say, is that.

Anna K 19/11/2015

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The Final Meltdown – OCD

meltdown

I’m going along nicely I think.  ERP is slowly but surely allowing me to stare my fear in the face and overcome it. It was hardest in the beginning – not asking for reassurance, not self-reassuring and feeling what was like a crushing weight of the world on the very top of my head.

I have had about a month of just enjoying life.  This has never happened to me before.  I start not to fear fear itself and I start to realise, just maybe, I can keep my OCD from controlling me and affecting others.  I also have several chronic illnesses so a month of doing well looks like being able to do my business from home when I want to, visiting the odd friend or neighbour, going out for dinner(!) and doing things all by myself and in harmony with Andrew.

I’ve had an uncanny sense of wellbeing which I have (rightly) chosen not to question.  After about a month since my last ERP session, I skype my therapist and she is absolutely thrilled at how I am doing.  Both she and I can see several positive changes. I think more positively, logically and less catastrophically.  I enjoy being in the moment rather than trying to escape it.  I hit a few major speedbumps where my OCD tried to take on different forms and I successfully allowed it to be, and it went away for the most part.  My therapist started talking about dialling back the treatment. Wow!

Then yesterday happened.  What was so different about yesterday?  Well, I was vulnerable and tired from my therapy session as I always am.  I was feeling especially ‘triggery’ and on edge. So I do, what I realise now, was perhaps partly stupid and perhaps partly prudent and I avoided my husband and my dog.  I slept the day away and woke up extremely perturbed.

Sure enough, later that night, I was triggered and I couldn’t just let it go or even let it explode inside of me and let the feelings be as they were.  I went straight to Andrew for reassurance.  What disturbs me the most was the way in which I did it.  I’m so used now to being completely transparent and honest and not hinty or manipulative in any of my responses. Unfortunately, I reverted to an old habit of asking to be reassured in a way that was whiny and just ‘old-school’ for me.  I started getting more and more worked up, Andrew said more of the ‘wrong thing’ and I felt completely exposed, raw and angry.  I don’t often get angry, but there was so much pre-frontal cortex, amygdala and basal ganglia stuff going on that I was ropeable.  I cried, I railed, I wanted to escape and just go somewhere peaceful in my mind but I was STUCK – entrenched in old patterns and had worked myself up to the point that I wanted to argue or go somewhere population-less and scream at the top of my lungs. I couldn’t think of anything else, my blood pressure was rising, I was pacing – I thought that stuff had gone a loooong time ago.

Thanks to Andrew (who I am still slowly letting back into my world), he did not engage me in an argument when he realised I was in distress, but instead acknowledged the shitstorm that had happen.  He admitted he really had inadvertently crossed the line with my triggers and said unhelpful things. In reality, everyone does this – exposures or triggers happen when you are not prepared or ready for them at that stage.  I also acknowledged that I said some hurtful things.

Now the healing begins (again!). And it hurts like hell because I thought I’d had my final meltdown months ago. But I will do the opposite of what my OCD wants – I will sit here typing this in the same room as my husband and my dog, I will offer him a drink even though I don’t feel like it, soon I will meet his eyes and not look at him like the enemy.

I think the lesson to take away is that there will be relapses, mistakes, triggers, upset and heartache along the way.  OCD is an old and seemingly ‘safe’ friend.  I think the lesson is also that an incident like this is normal, I will be uncomfortable in the moment but it might not always be that way. I may think this is the straw that broke the camel’s back but I may find myself even forgetting parts of this painful time, we both might.  I might find that I am creating again in a few days and might even crack a smile.  Maybe I won’t?

I think the biggest lesson overall is that I am not my illness.  I am actually a really nice, cool and loving person.  Take away the OCD and I’m really quite normal(ish).

So I’ve had a meltdown. But that’s OK.

It’s OK.

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Daring Greatly With OCD

I am Anna and I have had OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) since I can remember – approximately 38 years.

I had no idea why I was bombarded by unwanted, offensive thoughts; why I had to turn on and off the light switch a certain amount of times so my parents wouldn’t die; why I had to avoid cracks, then later become obsessed with germs and getting sick, literally holding my breath around someone who had a sniffle.

OCDblocks
At about 20, I finally received a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Order.  My OCD, I found later, was comprised mostly of Harm OCD – horrible and extremely distressing thoughts of harming myself or someone else.  This contributed largely to my depression and anxiety (or vice versa).
I was nearly at my wit’s end, as I had been many times before, when I was blessed financially by some people who heard my cry and I was able to start doing the only truly internationally recognised treatment for OCD: Exposure and Response Prevention therapy.
I look forward to hearing your stories and to sharing mine – the highs, the lows, the agony and the relief.

Anna 🙂