Tip #31 3 Mistakes to avoid on the recovery road

So I have more than 30 posts here (did not think that I would get that far!) and I am thinking now if people are really benefiting from these tips.

I thought that if you give people the tools, they would be able to “fix” the problem. Maybe it was bit naive of me because they still need to learn how to use the tools. This is a very difficult thing to do without providing some sort of feedback like a therapist does. But I am not a therapist. So I can only share what I have learned. I would like to share what not to do. The three most common mistakes that people do (and that I have done) when they try to get better.Here they are:

No.1 – Thinking that you can solve the “ROCD problem” in your mind. 

“If I could just figure out if I love my partner then I would be out of this situation. I need to think about this some more”. And there you go again, thinking about it hours without end, analysing situations and  your feelings, etc, etc…Weeks go by, months and even years. If you can’t see this pattern in your life then most likely you are fighting a losing battle. Always falling for the same tricks that the brain plays on you.

No.2 – Not understanding the difference between treating “R” vs. “OCD” 

There is no magic solution to beating ROCD. In fact the worst thing you can do is to try and solve the “R” instead of the “OCD”. EVERYONE has “R” doubts, problems and questions. Happy and good moments. You are trying to solve the part of you that is NORMAL. Not everyone has OCD. This is what you should be trying to solve. The OCD side. This is the side that has drained your emotions, left you anxious, numb and feeling negative about life. The “R” WAS the side that brought happiness, joy and fulfilment to your life.

No.3 – Not challenging yourself enough and thinking that there is a magic “aha” moment and all will be allright.

I will say it again. There is no magic solution to ROCD. It will take a lot of daily work from your side. I only know of 2 solutions: medication and therapy (e.g. CBT/ERP/Mindfulness) . Sometimes you will need both and sometimes you will not.

It is 2013. Challenge yourself to improve at least 1% from your ROCD. One step at a time. Be patient with yourself. It does get better! I would have lost my beautiful companion if I had let ROCD ruin my relationship. And it almost did. But she stuck by me. In the midst of all my craziness.

My challenge for you in 2013:

1) Read a tip a day from this blog and see how you can implement it in your life, learn from it and try to educate your brain about it. Be gentle on yourself too. It is OK to forget things, not have all the answers.

2) Try to incorporate mindfulness practice in your life. Here is a link with FREE MP3’s. I can help you with this with you have any questions.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/e8o62697l6x1mwy/ofHiFWKWBh/Mindfulness%20Mark%20Williams

I really would like at least one of you to write a guest article on this blog in 3 months time and I am more than happy to help in any way I can. But I can’t pull you out. You will have to do it yourself. And you can do it if you avoid these 3 mistakes!

p.s. here is a video about mindfulness

http://www.ted.com/talks/andy_puddicombe_all_it_takes_is_10_mindful_minutes.html?utm_source=Web&utm_medium=twitter

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32 comments

  1. I bet you will get a lot of these comments (I’ve seen some already) but here’s one more: this blog is amazing! I’ve been dealing with ROCD for over ten years though it was only last year I “found” it and it all made sense. (Until I started doubting that I have it hehe) I was reading a lot about it, most of the time it just made me more anxious. But then I found your blog and I was able to stop the unhealthy “looking for answers” thing I did online.
    Your tips are really helpful though I know that to get better its all about the work I can put in. I have move forward (hey, I even got married!!) but there’s a lot work left to do but I feel motivated to do it! I’m starting a yoga teacher training in the end of the month and I believe that will boost my recovery from this evil monster. 🙂 maybe I will write a guest article about yoga in the future! I can’t thank you enough for writing this blog!
    Best,
    Carolina

    1. Thanks for your comments. We need to hear more about improvement stories. I think the idea about the yoga article is great! Keep us posted about your training and I really would like to hear how yoga affects your mental state. I have heard a lot about yoga and its benefits but it is always best to hear first hand stories!

  2. “Not everyone has OCD. This is what you should be trying to solve. The OCD side. This is the side that has drained your emotions, left you anxious, numb and feeling negative about life. The “R” WAS the side that brought happiness, joy and fulfilment to your life.”

    That part right there really resonates with me. For me, the worst part is the obsessvieness about whether or not something is right, especially since I experience ROCD even at the beginning of a relationship, when most people are just getting to know each other. But I obsess and analyze if there is “enough” feeling there to want to continue to the next date, etc. The “drained” emotions are extremely common, with only anxiety left behind, then I begin to get negative and wonder if I’ll ever be happy in a relationship. But this post and others like it constantly remind me that thinking about my feelings every second and losing exciting “like” feelings is all part of the OCD, not regular reactions.

    But I had one question. The hardest part for me to deal with is being very excited and happy to like someone, spend time with them, etc. and then the question pops up and its like the feelings fade, mostly to nothing, which then increases doubts. How do you deal with the disappointment of feeling numb?

    1. Really good question. I think it starts by not doing the wrong things: drinking, feeling sorry for yourself, drugs, relationship hopping, etc…Any thing that dulls the pain and does not tackle the problem.

      From there, you slowly develop acceptance that it is OK not to feel in love all the time. It is OK to have your emotions drained. I would also say that is 10 times more acceptable to feel this way if you have ROCD. This happens in every “normal” relationship, even if the relationship is as right as it can be. Even in the “soulmate” scenario. The trick is if you can turn disappointment into acceptance you will start to feel less numb..

      Disappointment is just another thing that fuels the numbness. Once you put all those negative feelings into neutral the numbness starts to fade. But also do not build any expectations towards this happening. Just acceptance of whatever is, is. Tricky balance but worth it in the end…

      1. This process will take some time as you are retraining your brain. But once you get into this “zone” and learn how not to engage with your thoughts …ROCD will lose its power over you.

    2. I have the same problem… it hits at the beginning after I’ve realized I’m crazy about someone, and might have a chance… then the doubts start… my brain knows it’s the perfect time to sabotage. And there’s the guilt… by this point, I care about them enough to be terrified of hurting them. I almost invariably flee, because the anxiety gets so great that I have a hard time functioning… I stop eating, stop concentrating at work. At a certain point I know it’s me or them. But the regrets… it hurts so bad knowing that someone can seem so perfect, and I can care so deeply for them, but at the same time feel completely incapable of being seriously involved with them… I don’t know, maybe caring so deeply for someone I haven’t known very long is the obsessional part showing itself. Is it common for people with ROCD to fall for people quickly?

      Perhaps the worst part is the isolation… nobody can understand this. I try to explain why I’m miserable and depressed and not eating … “well I met someone I’m crazy about… and while that might seem like a good thing, I’m actually in misery.” How can a person who doesn’t suffer from ROCD understand and not judge? I’m thankful to have found this blog.

      1. What you say about caring deeply right away is exactly how I am. Before I even experience ROCD I fell head over heels for every guy I met and was upset when they rejected me. Now that I know ROCD is present when I date, I’m less “all in”, but I still expect things to move fast and get excited and then that’s when I go “woah woah woah, but maybe I don’t like them.” I wonder if the same process of obsessing about liking the person is the same as obsessing about not liking them. All obsession, all the time.

      2. Yes, it is possible for people with ROCD to fall for people quickly. Even in a relationship. I call these “mini-crushes”.

        Understanding and compassion come from experiencing. Until I got ROCD, depression and anxiety I did not understand mental diseases and how real they are for the sufferers. But some people are more empathetic than others…

  3. Thanks for another great entry! I have been slowly getting back on track and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’m back at college again and have other things to worry about and occupy my mind. It kind of helps but I know that my ROCD is still there, and for some reason the most in the mornings. It’s actually the very worst in the mornings for me…any ideas why this is?

    I struggle the most with accepting that is it okay to feel like this and that it is okay to have doubts about my relationship. Everywhere I would look for answers (which is bad) would say that if you feel like this you are in the wrong relationship or that you don’t love your partner in the right way or enough.I expressed my concern to my boyfriend about how I worry constantly that I don’t love him enough or in the right way and being the sweet man he is he said “If you didn’t love me you wouldn’t be worrying about it so much. You wouldn’t care.” This helped me quite a bit.

    Another thing I struggle with is when I’m not feeling anxiety but the thought comes up then I worry that it must be true if I don’t feel the anxiety or when he’s away I don’t miss him or long for him that it means I don’t love him…it’s a vicious cycle but I believe I’m getting closer to the end of it.

    1. Yes, mornings used to be bad for me as well. I think it is combination of things. In the mornings your systems reboot and because your head tends to be clear, your body is anxious and loads up the brain. And because your head is clear, you are more aware of this.

      You are always stuck no matter what you do. If you worry it is because you worry. If you don’t worry it is because you are not worrying enough – YOU CAN’T WIN THIS FIGHT WITH YOUR BRAIN. And this is what a lot of ROCD sufferers do not understand. The broken brain will ALWAYS win the argument. No matter how many reasons you present it. It will spin your reasons around and say that you are wrong.

      But ROCD sufferers keep on going back for more punishment…always trying to find a solution in their minds. You should look for understand and compassion there, not solutions.

      The solution is very simple. Just do not engage with your brain in conversation.

    2. Mornings are extremely rough for me too. Coffee has always helped my anxiety a lot, which some find curious. There’s some surprising inverse relationship between mental energy and anxiety, perhaps…

      1. Hmm, strange…I’ve given up caffeine entirely because I found it made my thoughts race more, because it was a stimulant rather than actual rest. However, when I don’t get my proper sleep/erratic sleeping patterns, there is definitely more anxiety, so I see what you mean about a tired mind. It’s like being tired makes your mind more open to giving in to thoughts. Still, if I were to drink coffee when I’m tired, it only makes things worse.

  4. Hey Blip,
    I am suffering quite badly and i am still not really convinced that it is rocd, coz in germany where i live it is not a known diagnosis. i am just so scared that things are not right and that itll all end and that ill lose my boyfriend. then again, my thoughts say: thats just because you re afraid of being alone. i fit most of the rocd criteria, type 1 and 2, but recovering alone seems so difficult. my therapist calls it an anxiety disorder, but i am scared that trating me for this wont be enough. do you have any suggestions?

    1. Hi BoomBox

      I don’t think that your therapist is wrong in calling it an anxiety disorder. ROCD is a recognised form of OCD. http://www.ocduk.org/rocd. And OCD is categorised under anxiety disorders. One of the characteristics of OCD and ROCD is that sufferers spend a lot of time obsessing about their relationship. If you see yourself doing this on a daily basis and for long periods of time then most likely there is an OCD component (can’t remember the exact criteria for diagnosing OCD). It is common for ROCD sufferers doubting that they have ROCD. It is part of the disease. Like I said here many times, the issue is not the “R” but the “O” that you should be trying to solve. The problem for many therapists like you have pointed out is that there is very little knowledge about ROCD and trying to find a therapist that knows about ROCD is very difficult. The good news is that some of the tools used to treat OCD are also useful in treating ROCD. My suggestions would be:

      1) Educate your therapist – you can print off that page link. See if he is trained in OCD and other techniques. It is not uncommon for therapists to treat with techniques that they are used to and know about. If you think that you can find a better therapist then do so. I had 5 different therapists and always learned something useful from them.
      2) See a medical doctor as sometimes people require medication to treat OCD, anxiety and depression
      3) Educate yourself about OCD. Do not spend time on ROCD boards discussing your symptoms. This will only worsen things. You are better off learning about your disease in the long term.
      4) Focus! Focus! Focus! Slow down! Slow down! Slow down! Take one day at a time.
      5) Drop me a line on my email so that we can discuss more strategies in more detail.

  5. Hey Blip,
    Sweet of you to reply. Yes, I spent most of my time worrying if things are right, if i love him, if i like what he says the way he says it, his haircut and if i could possibly love him if i dont. I find it actually worse when we are together, is that normal? Id reckon its because he is there to ‘remind’ me. If i talk about it with my therapist, i notice how stupid the thoughts are, just when i have them they seem so … realistic, inevitable and true.
    so mindfullness, right? I just know it as a method for going to sleep, how do u use it on a daybyday basis?

    Cheers for everything,
    Boom

    1. Hi

      No worries. In reply to your question, yes questioning is normal in any relationship. Just how your brain responds to it that makes the difference. In regards to mindfulness, check out the links on my blog! Got some mp3’s too. Mindfulness is about practice that then translates to good thinking behaviours!

  6. One of the really interesting things I’ve noticed is that sometimes after an enjoyable time with that special someone, there’s a period of “positive” and pleasurable obsessing/daydreaming that seems to help eventually usher me back into the ROCD. Even though this initial obsessiveness seems warm and pleasant, I think it helps to reinforce my erroneous conviction that my happiness (or lack thereof) is dependent on my ability to think the right or wrong thoughts. Later on, if I’m not able to reproduce the feelings of that pleasurable daydreaming, it frustrates me, and it’s only a tiny step from not being able to think/feel the “right” thoughts to trying to fend off the “wrong” ones.

    Interestingly, one of the most notable things I can remember about my young life (even before the emergence of OCD) is that daydreaming was always hugely important to me, and a huge source of pleasure. Not trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, but it’s interesting to wonder if there was some early tendency or vulnerability showing itself there. It might be a bit presumptuous, but I wonder if any other OCD/ROCD sufferers have had similar experiences…

  7. I always had the same tendency of darydreaming. a tool i always used to creat my own happy place… vivid immaginations of stories with happy ending or to solve problems… Now that immagination that i controlled and that always helped me finding happines came alve and is working agaist me…

  8. My issue is as follows: Only two months after saying “I Love You” to my current girlfriend, I had a massive wave of doubts. They came on suddenly, and were unexpected. I had experienced some doubts before, but they were rather easily brushed aside. These ones stuck. I could not explain them…until they started to justify themselves and suddenly I was believing them. Now I really do believe them much of the time. I’m not sure if these are true feelings that I have been avoiding all along (though I know that I did love her at one point) or if I am simply being tricked by ROCD.

    When I am with her it gets more complicated. I feel less anxious, but I don’t feel the strong feelings fo love very often. Instead, I feel rather numb, and very melancholy. Not depressed really, but also not happy. And I get the doubts again. I had similar feelings with my last girlfriend and I ended it. I was very happy after I did – but with my current gf I’m not sure that I want to end it. I know that I should ove her, that I did, but now I feel this numbness around her. I read about many people who say “I know I love my partner but I still have these doubts.” In fact, I am not sure that I love my partner – isn’t that the point of ROCD? If this is an “up and down” process, shouldn’t I be having more ups?
    We live in separate cities, and she just finished a 9 day trip staying with me, and we had lots of fun, laughed a lot, and I usually enjoyed her company. But I also got obsessive thoughts while she was around – jealousy, doubts, obsessively thinking about whether or not I love her. We talk on the phone daily.

    Now that she has left the serious anxiety has come back. I think about if constantly. The thought that scares me the most is that sometimes when I think about losing her I don’t feel much of anything, where I would expect to feel sad. Other times I feel anxious. I feel jealous very often, I am constantly comparing myself to her past relationships. She has told me that I more than measure up, which should dispel my anxiety, but it doesn’t. I am terrified of the idea that I don’t really love her, but that staying with her is the path of least resistance, and that I simply stay with her to avoid being lonely. I can’t tell the difference.
    She has the traits that I look for in a woman, so I’m not sure why I feel this way.

    I tried mindfulness for the first time last night, just 10 minutes, and it helped me feel less anxious. But I still haven’t felt the strong feelings of love for a couple of weeks. I feel lost and scared.

    1. Once you feel anxious, it will be very difficult to feel anything else. I am glad that mindfulness helped. In order to see some long term benefits from mindfulness, I would say you would have to practice daily for a period of at least two months. Do not try to rush it either. When the brain is somewhat broken, it does take time to heal.

  9. i have severe rOCD. Severe. I really like this guy… and I mean REALLY like him. alot. But rOCD makes me feel/think that I’m not happy flirting with him, and it makes me anxious whenever I’m flirting with him ,.. also it makes me empty and makes me feel that i don’t like him when i can dare say it’s more than like … I’ve liked him for 3 years … hasn’t changed…

    I am on Prozac and going to CBT and starting to take it seriously, VERY seriously. I write in CBT diary every day… it’s the fighting … I just can’t seem to help fighting… I know i should sit with it… i thought i was coping, and i feel like i am improving and that i can cope … i just need help… not reassurance per say … but i need someone who is really making progress to give me advice …

    … he makes me light up and feel happy inside … it’s the OCD and anxiety that makes me want to scream… I would do anything not to lose him again …

    1. Hi, it already looks like that you are on the right path as it appears that you understand the disease. I say this because you write rOCD not ROCD. And this is a very good basis to build on. You just have to hang in there and also look at mindfulness practice as an extra set of skills to pick up. Also learn to take one day at a time, one moment at a time. Do not live in the past or the future.

  10. Please help. Until three weeks ago, I’ve been fairly happy with my partner, whom I just moved with across the country a year ago (been together over 2.5 years). I thought (think?) that he’s the one and I’ve never loved anyone the same way. I’ve been feeling ups and downs of ROCD for a while (wondering if he’s cheating, if he still loves me, if he is gay, feeling controlling) but it’s always been mostly manageable. We’ve been fighting a bit recently (over normal things) and I suddenly had this crushing panic and anxiety about having normal doubts. I know that it should be normal to not feel ‘in love’ at every moment and to have doubts or need space, or find yourself irritated at times by your partner, but having these thoughts scare me and I’ve found myself in the middle of a massive three day panic attack. I’m terrified that maybe I don’t love him anymore (or never did?) and I can’t sleep, can’t eat, and I feel nauseous when I’m around him – which is difficult because we live together. I don’t know if this is normal ROCD or if I suddenly stopped loving him. I don’t know how to explain any of this to him, but I feel drained, and numb, and panicky. I feel surreal – like I’m going to wake up and these nightmarish feelings will go away but I’m afraid that they won’t. I would really, really like to talk to someone. I have a therapist I just started going too but I’m afraid she won’t understand.

    1. It looks like you are describing very high anxiety symptoms. I do think a therapist is a good idea but you should also consider a doctor to prescribe you some medication at least for the short term if you are not coping properly. Drop me a line if you would like to chat more.

    2. Dawn,
      You are NOT alone! I’ve experienced this in the past and still continue to battle it sometimes. First off let me say…. If your therapist doesn’t understand then they are NOT the right therapist to be seeing. Maybe find an OCD or rOCD specific therapist?

      My first attack began last September and the horror lasted on and off for about five months, then subsided to manageable rocd with odd spells here and there.

      It IS rocd! I promise. You would NOT be freaking out about it like this if it weren’t. I imagine you’ve lost feelings for other people in the past? I sure have, and I’ve done it effortlessly. I’ve broken up with a few boyfriends simply because I KNEW it wasn’t the right relationship. I was comfortable and happy with my decision and everything about it felt so so right to me.

      When I think about breaking up with my current boyfriend (who I’ve been “officially” with for a year and a half) I freak out and get anxious and panicky and depressed. Sometimes my OCD even convinces me that I’m freaking out because I’m realizing what’s really right for myself. But I KNOW that I’m freaking out because beneath all the obsessive compulsiveness, I really do care for him and I want to love him! I want to love him in every way he deserves to be loved.
      I can not go one day without talking myself in and out of breaking up with him and it’s been like that for me for about 9 or 10 months now. It’s crazy. But I know I’ve stuck through it for a reason so I’m just going to keep sticking, and I encourage you to do the same 🙂

      Seek the help you need, and if you don’t get what you need then seek help elsewhere. And keep posting on forums like this one! There’s tons of us and we’re all in this together.

  11. Before share my rOCD issues on your message board/blog one thing needs to be cleared up: how do I trust a site author/moderator who paradoxically implores his readers to never spend any time discussing their symptoms on such a board? Confusing.

    1. There is no paradox. You can easily solve your “paradox” by reading the “how to best use this blog link” this is the first introductory paragraph.

      “The purpose of this blog is to help you find the tools to overcome the problems caused by rOCD.”

      The last two sentences in the same section:

      “And that is why this blog exists.To raise awareness and to help rOCD sufferers find a glimmer of hope.”

      The purpose and guiding principles of the blog are very clear from the outset. I don’t think these would be best served by having every poster writing about their symptoms and detailed stories. I definitely do not encourage that. Some of the comments have been heavily edited by me, for the same reasons. If you were to write a long description of your symptoms and triggers, I would do the same.

      There are some instances where posters do discuss symptoms and I approve and reply to their comments because I think this would be beneficial for their understanding of how rOCD works. If you contrast this with what is happening in other blogs – I wrote about this here: http://relationshipocd.com/2013/06/01/negative-behaviour-2/

      I think the only real paradox is this:

      http://relationshipocd.com/2013/02/17/last-post/

      But I caved in to requests from other rOCD sufferers. In addition, I receive around 3 personal emails a day from rOCD sufferers and sometimes I realise that I haven’t covered certain things.

      A lot more people email me directly instead of sharing their stories on this blog’s comments board. If you can find friends that are more solution oriented, have been through rOCD and are able to give you sound advice without given you too much reassurances then I think you can trust them and share the details of your story with them. But from personal experience, I am not convinced that you will find them in other discussion boards and facebook groups. If you do find any other group with this same positive mindset, I am more than happy to post a link to them on this blog. Feel free to email directly as well.

      1. Thanks for a prompt and well considered reply. As with the rest of your contributions, it was also useful. On that note, am looking forward to your book.
        In struggle.

  12. Hello All, me and my girlfriend have been together for 9 months. Initially we didnt know but I realized she had rOCD about 3 months ago. We’ve had such a rough patch because it seems like everything hurts her, like she is ultra sensitive, which also makes her very very sweet and loving. But at times when she is questioning me incessantly or when shes yelling I get so frustrated and say things I regret, then have to apologize. For the most part I keep my cool but is seems like the happier we could be, the more and more scared and vulnerable she feels…almost like a child at times.. Recently (last week) she really saw there was an issue and agreed to go to therapy. Well this week she has broken up with me again. The big issue I have is that when she discusses the relationship with other people she basically just focuses on the bad things that I do, meaning when I get frustrated and say ugly things. Truth is I havent acted that way since I was a teenager and I’m 34 now, I mean I’m not a person to say mean things and get ugly like that. Her parents see the relationship without really knowing what ROCD is and she gets a lot of advice from her parents. Anyway, it just seems so illogical of her since she really knows inside why weve had fights, to ignore the biggest factor which is the rOCD. I’ve offered to take it on as though the rOCD is mine as much as hers and go to therapy with her, etc. I’ve given so much to this relationship and I cannot seem to stabilize it. So what? She breaks up and start this whole process with another person and then breaks up with them too??? I know I need to learn more self control but I have been the only one in her life to stick it out and really show her whats going on…..Where does this cycle end for her? Shes gonna have to face it sometime to have a relationship….I mean I’d be willing to not have kids just to be with her since shes afraid to have a kid with OCD……..ITS BEEN CRAZY overwhelming….and Ive wanted to run too, but I’m just disappointed that right when I’m getting her to the point that she is able to face this thing, we part ways……Should I fight for her, because if I dont then who will?? I love her, I want to be with her, but I’m lost…..Please help.

  13. Thank you for this post. It helped me a lot. I am at the beginning of my journey. I had different OCD symptoms but not relationship related. It’s heart breaking… it really is….

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