Weekly Challenge No.1

Here is this week’s challenge for everyone. Do this properly for a week and you will see improvement in your ROCD. Please post comments below relating to any experiences or difficulties you have with this during the week.

DO NOT ENGAGE YOUR ROCD THOUGHTS.

DO NOT PUSH THEM AWAY EITHER.

LET THEM BE.

BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF.

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37 comments

  1. I need more details or more description on how to do this. There’s such a fine line between not engaging the thought, and seeking relief through the idea “I’m fixing this bad thought by not engaging it, so now it’s going away and everything is okay” which just becomes its own compulsion. I literally don’t know how to not engage the thoughts. Will a therapist be able to help? I feel hopeless =(

    1. You are exactly right Matt. This is the same thing as trying to teach someone how to bike. Until they get on the bike and practice, they will not get proficient at it.

      What you are trying to do is push all these thoughts to the back of your mind. You do this by not giving importance to the thoughts.

      It is a long process. Remember when someone starts to learn how to bike? They will focus on the pedals, handlebars, road, etc until it becomes second nature and they can just enjoy it…it is the same process.

      Hope this makes sense…once you start to do this little by little, you will start to realise that are you getting better at it and build confidence.

    2. I think the important thing is to not give important to the thought. Recognise that it is an rocd thought and then dont pay attention eg. “oh here is an rocd thought, I’m just going to let it be and not react to it, in fact i will move on to my next behavious” ie. just behave like how you would behave if you don’t have ROCD. Another way you can do is to distract yoursefl from the thought, it is not running away so don’t worry. When you find yourself thinking ROCD thoughts just focus on something else eg. play a game, engage in conversation with your bf for atleast 10 mins. You will find that the thought will fade. The important thing is that once you find your thoughts fading away, you don’t check for them. As in “oh I’m feeling better, lemme check if the thought is still there” by checking you will creating that thought again.

      1. Thank you.
        I think the most common thought is ” if I think and see only flaws in my partner that must mean I do not love her/him”. And ” what if I did not experience this with someone else”.
        This is the thing I do not seem to get over.where these believes coming from and Isn’t there any truth in it.
        I know that yout spouse is just another human being and good feelings wont br there all the time,but when the bad thoughts are 90% of the time,its hard to believe they do not mean anything.
        Opinions?

  2. Yes, I agree with Matt. How on earth do you just let them be? The only way my mind stops is if I keep myself really busy. I’m not sure if that’s good though…

    1. Yes, that is a short term strategy – to keep busy. Learning how to be comfortable with them is the long term strategy. I will write a more detailed post about this…

      1. Thanks Blip. I just needed to be sure that keeping busying isn’t a bad thing to be doing because it really does help for a while. Thanks again!

  3. Blip, I am curious to know what you went through in your personal struggle with ROCD. I find myself having intrustive thoughts like “What if I lost this person?” or “What if I met someone else?” or “What if everything falls apart?” and it tears me apart inside because that is not what I want and I can’t understand why I’d have thoughts like this when I really love and want a life with the person I’m with. I’m sticking through this because I know it would be a huge mistake to give up based on fear. Like hanging oneself to prevent death in the future. It’s all entirely nonsensical but it comes at me anyway. My main question is did you have thoughts like this too? Your relationship has survived and I’m wondering if you went through similar fears.

    1. Hi Katie,
      Thanks for the message. Yes, I went through all of the possible and imaginable “what if’s” and then some more. What I learned as well is that physical symptoms were tied to this type of thinking behaviour as well. At the height of my anxiety, I was having panic attacks not knowing if I was awake or asleep. Hours were like minutes too. So I managed to pull through (partly my effort, partly miracle from God) married my girlfriend and I am now very happy in my relationship. Sometimes, I do have some glimpses of the old thinking patterns of the past and fears but they do not last long and do not trigger physical symptoms. I know that I suffer from anxiety and depression and that these have an impact on my ROCD. So I am quickly aware of negative thinking patterns and “what if’s” that pop in my mind and try not to engage with them. It works 99% of the time because my brain is better balanced and it has been retrained. The remaining 1% happens normally when I am tired physically or exhausted mentally. Then I just do something for fun, like a movie, music, guitar, etc…

  4. Dear Blip, how can I (we) let these though be? Do we have to accept them? If my Rocd tell me I’m not in love anymore Do i have to believe in it? Is that what you mean?

    1. Hi,

      Great question and I am glad that I am given the opportunity to explain this in more detail. Acceptance is not accepting that the thoughts you have in your mind are true. Acceptance is accepting that your brain will produce any kind of thoughts (true or untrue) and that they are not facts. The problem you are having is that you accept the thoughts that come into your mind as true. The brain produces around 70,000 thoughts a day. Are all these thoughts important? Are all these thoughts true? Are all these thoughts facts? No. But because you focus your thoughts on your relationship you are going to produce a lot more thoughts about this. Some good. Some bad. Some neutral. The brain has no clue to what reality is but it will work on the background associating things without you even knowing it. “I do not feel anything anymore.This means I do not love her/him.” This will pop into your mind. What do you do? Accept it as a reality? Or just a thought? If you are exhausted, can you think straight? Let’s say that you have not been sleeping for two days. Can you think straight? So, how do we expect an anxious brain that hasn’t been able switch itself off for weeks, months or even years to produce feelings of love and empathy?

      See my today’s blog post for more on this…thanks for the inspiration.

  5. So ., correct me if i’m wrong…. we don’t have to believe that the thoughts tell us (I dont really love him/her)! But we just have to accept those are just thought stripping them of the “Aura reality” we give them??

    PS thank you for this blog!!! Give me hope and strenght!

    1. Yes. That is basically it. They are just one of the many different thoughts that our brains bring to our attention. Once you learn how not to fall for this trap, things will start to improve greatly.

  6. Thanks for your response Blip. I have another question for you! A lot of my anxiety is fear of the future. How can you cope with the idea that something could always happen to change things? Does one ever really just “know”? My heart says that this is the person I want to marry and spend my life with, and my head says “Yes, well you know s*** always happens”. Did you go through this too? Coming from your perspective, how did you accept the unknown? Why does something so good have to be shadowed by doubt? : (

  7. Very good question Katie. The trick is to find balance. If you live too much in the past, you will find depression. If you live too much in the future, you will find anxiety. So maybe we should live most in the present and a lot less in the future and even much less in the past.

    It is good to plan and dream. It is part of human nature and hope. We cannot predict the future. And this is the problem with ROCD and anxiety – looking for certainties. But this creates a paradox. The more we want certainty in the future, the less happy we are in the present.

    The best way to deal with it, is to make informed choices. Not to base your choices purely on feelings and emotions but on rational things as well. One of the things that helped me to move forward and marry my girlfriend was that I knew that she was willing to work on the relationship, amongst other qualities. So this was an informed choice. Was I 100% that she was not going to change afterwards? No.

    I think that people like us need to accept that life is not 100% certainty. That if it is better than 50-60%, it is OK. And most often than not you will make good choices. Our OCD brain wants perfection and certainty but even if it was possible to achieve this, it would doubt it. And once it doubts it is not 100% anymore. So you are left with a brain that will NEVER recognise certainty and you are unable to enjoy the present because you are living in the future.

    One day, you just have to wake up and say to yourself – screw this, I am going to enjoy life even with anxiety, doubts, uncertainty and ROCD! And that is when life starts to get better.

  8. Thanks Blip. I’m sorry to keep troubling you with questions, but I have another one. So how would one go about self help with erp or cbt when they have thoughts like “What if I met someone else?” or “what if this isn’t right?” or “what if things fall apart”? Surely you don’t confront that scenario in your mind? I’m just wondering how it works because I really want to get better and every time it seems to get somewhat better my mind starts spinning again. It’s like a never ending cycle of agony.

    1. No worries, questions are good as they might be useful for other people. Yes, I like the what you said about “the never ending cycle of agony” imagery. The only way is to break the cycle, to start to feel better. Imagine that you are invited for a roller-coaster ride. Someone gives you a ticket and you know that if you accept the ticket you will most likely go on the ride. So what do you do? You guessed it right, if you don’t want to go on the ride, then don’t take the ticket. The ticket in this case is the “what if”. Start taking the “what if’s” tickets and your brain will take you on a ride…
      In ERP you would most likely write a script of what if’s and the worst consequences that could happen and re-read, replay the script. You would start with things that make you spike not as much and then move gradually. But I would recommend a good therapist for this or a good book. However, it is said that people can have the same results with CBT/Mindfulness. So some people prefer this approach.

      1. The thing is the more you try to solve them, the stronger they will get. I bet that after you had your baby your thoughts were busy with other things and that just stopped your ROCD thoughts. Glad that you could have that sort of experience that you know that if you stop worrying, things will get better!

  9. Thank you Blip. That makes sense. I personally can’t really afford a therapist right now so I’m trying to deal with this as best as I can on my own. It’s tough. Did you also find yourself questioning every single thing about your relationship with your wife before you married? I was fine and very happy before this came on, and now I have moments where I wonder if I feel bored sometimes and if that’s normal. I have also developed the habit of comparing my relationship to other relationships and reading articles like “how to know if you’re with the right one”. The main thought in my mind lately is what if I left for someone else, even though I’m a very monogamous person and I love my partner very much, it just doesn’t make sense and I feel insane. I bought a book on anxiety and natural remedies, hopefully that will help some.

    1. Hi there

      Yes, I went through all what you have described. A good warning sign, is the “what if” thoughts that start to happen in your mind. This is when you should not engage with them. It is like a tempting red light that you need speed past. I would just not do it 🙂 I think you are right. You need to find things that work for you. Some people can get a lot out of reading, others exercise, others natural remedies. So it is a good learning curve!

  10. I’m so happy I found your blog, it’s a real inspiration, I really wanna recover from this constant doubting as its depressing and exhausting. Before this all happened I was so happy in my relationship until out of now where the thought of not loving my partner came into my head and has sent me into so much confusion, despite my brain coming up with over ten different reasons why we’re not right for each other, (which all have no truth or fact)I’m still hanging in there cause I really don’t want to lose my partner. At times I wonder if its rocd or reality, it’s really difficult as my partner is the best thing that’s happened to me. I just wanna be normal and for us to be happy again. Anyway thanks so much for your blog it gives people like me hope for the future to know that one day we will be functioning normal again .

  11. I recently had a sudden panic attack about whether or not I was attracted to my husband and was I really “in love” with him the way I think he is with me. Before we met, I had some bad depression episodes and only mild OCD. I was then and still think I am perfectionistic and obsessed with beauty and physical appearance in myself and others. When I first met him, I didn’t think he was the greatest looking guy I’ve dated, and I started to compare him to past boyfriends’ looks and he didn’t look as “cute” as some of them. Then I got HOCD really bad and couldn’t even be around pretty women. Yet, I developed strong feelings of love for him, and despite breaking up with him several times due to the panic, agreed to marry him. Now I’m afraid I have been living a lie (married 10 years) and don’t really love him the way I should. The panic, fear, guilt, and dread is overwhelming. Everytime I think of leaving him because of this, the panic actually worsens. Could this be ROCD or is it just that I was never really that physically attracted to him and shouldn’t have married him?

    1. Nina, to be honest I don’t know the answer to that question. There are a lot of things in your story that are reminiscing of ROCD but I would not be able to give you an exact diagnosis on the basis of that alone and because I am not a qualified professional. What I can say is that if it is truly ROCD, there is no reason why you should not be able to go back to the same place where you were before in regards to loving him. It will require a lot of hard work and patience and maybe medication. If it is not ROCD, there is no reason either for you not to be able to feel the same things again. The problem with love is that it is a perishable item. You need to give love constantly to feel love constantly. When people talk about growing out of love or apart, in most instances it means that the relationship fizzled because love has been taken for granted. The relationship hasn’t been nurtured properly because most likely life got in the way. But these are all things that can grow back.

      1. Thank you Blip and Roosa for your comments. It is definitely true that when I am depressed (or extremely depressed since depression is on a continuum for me), that nothing feels good and when you’re anxious, it’s even worse. How can you feel any true emotion when anxiety has taken over? I am almost positive that what I am experiencing is OCD or a form of ROCD because it happens only when I’m terribly depressed and it comes on so suddenly, like out of the blue, the “what ifs” start: “what if” I’m not sexually attracted enough to him to be happy, “what if” I break up with him over this [when I don’t want to be without him], “what if” I never really loved him the “right” way [even though I love him deeply and have never stopped loving him]? When I get so depressed, it seems I obsessively look for external reasons for the bad feelings I have inside and always start to compare myself or my spouse to others as far as physical appearance. I will compulsively look at him to see if I find him attractive and if he doesn’t look good at that moment or I notice his flaws, I immediately panic and become filled with dread. Then more “what if’s” come into my mind.

        I am feeling better today and, for the most part, have been able to stop analyzing his looks. I have made a conscious decision to let go of the fear so that I can see what I truly feel without it – because I realized the fear and dread itself causes such horrible feelings that they overtake any real emotion. I’ve discovered that fear is not an emotion; it’s just a visceral response to, in the case of OCD, an irrational, catastrophic thought or belief. When you purposely let it go, you can better see or feel the “truth.” Even just feeling okay with him is better than being overwhelmed with depression and panic. Then I can begin to work on nurturing the relationship to once again feel my feelings of closeness and love.

        I knew I had OCD but in a million years would have never imagined there was something called ROCD. But it makes total sense. I’m so sorry that any of us have had to feel this torture in our minds, but so glad that we know we are not alone or totally crazy.

    2. Nina, you are not alone. Your story could not be more close to mine!! Reading your response on here made me feel not alone. i too have been married for 10 years constantly doubting myself and even had a bout of HOCD about 5 yrs ago.

      1. I thought I would reply to the group to let you all know there is definitely hope in this. After only a few weeks on 10 mg of Lexapro, self-counseling/journaling, and therapy with my psychiatrist, I am feeling 10x better than I was last month. To me, this is proof that my thoughts and horrible anxiety were a form of OCD or ROCD. It brings me great relief to know and understand this is what it is. Right now, I look back and see that the thoughts were “not mine” and my fears were quite irrational.

        I am not saying it was easy to get through this. I fought it like hell, in the sense that I forced myself to let go of the thoughts, ignore them, recognize they were irrational or from faulty brain chemistry, telling myself it’s okay to not be 100% sure about everything all the time (just accept the unknowns), and to not allow the feelings of panic to make me run away from my wonderful husband. I love him so much and am so glad that I had the strength to fight this (again).

        I feel stronger knowing that I am not alone in this. I am not a weirdo or crazy. It’s just a brain malfunction, and in my case, past abuse and negative teachings that I simply have to reevaluate and unlearn.

        No matter how bad it gets, there is always hope so don’t ever give up.

      2. A big THANK YOU for your comment – it is all here: medication, self-therapy, therapy, perseverance, patience and fighting MINDFULLY.

  12. Hi girls, it is great to make new friends but be very careful to not feed off each others obsessions. It is only going to make yours worst. If you talk a lot about the “What if’s” and so on you will get a lot more triggers to deal with. Do speak about practical solutions but do not dwell on the problems.

  13. I just want to add that, like Blip, I made a conscious decision that I was not going to let the thoughts and fears ruin my life or my marriage. I was going to beat the crap out of it because I deserve better than this, and so does my husband. It does get better when you DECIDE you are stronger than the disorder and that you just aren’t going to take it anymore!!!

  14. I woke up crying my eyes out and shaking like crazy.Opened the Pc and by mistake i discovered this page.Oh what a relief.I just texted my Psychiatrist to tell her that i just self diagnosed myself with ROCD and I ll see her on Thursday.
    I have this fear fo 4 months and everytime i am with my boyfriend I feel anxious and sad and want to run away.I m telling myself all the time that it s due to anxiety and that my thoughts are not real.But i haven t managed yet,there is no improvement.I hope my Psychiatrist-Psychotherapist will help me with this.
    I m weaning off some meds now ,bec they didn t work for me.She s putting me on some kind of Mood Stabilizers this week.
    But with the knowledge i gained from this side,with the sessios,and the med i m optimistic that i can do it and have a life full of love with my beloved one.
    Sorry for my poor english,it s not my mother tongue ,i m from Greece

  15. I feel like I don’t feel anything anymore and I do know it’s from my depression and anxiety but my brain won’tme believe that at all I think even my heart has accepted it….. I am starting to look for a therapist but I fear I accept them… I do all the mental stuff to see if I can feel love for my partner… but there nothing… this morning I felt the in love feeling for the first time since december started.

    1. Hi !

      I know how you feel.I also felt “love”- feeling 2 days ago.the feeling was so strong that it felt too overwelming to handle. Fast I returned to rocd. Is that something you others have experienced?
      I have a good therapist and Im having sessions with her via Skype. Im also going to an OCD-intensive course to London end of january.
      If anyone is interested to hear more, you can email me: roosah@yahoo.com

      We are all in this together<3

  16. Like right now I feel it but I am scared it’s just tricking me… I don’t trust myself at all…. I don’t feel depressed… which scares me more I am having anxiety though..

  17. What if I’m just in denial…. this isn’t my first time going through anxiety and depression..
    Last time this happened I had a therapist. ..

    1. Hi Amanda.
      I think that question “am I just in denial” is very common question for rocd. I asked that from my therapist and he explained that everyone is afraid of being alone, everyone. So if we only stayed in our relationships just to avoid being alone, we would not react this way. We would know why we did not want to be in the relationship. The anxiety tells that we care.
      But again this is reassurance. Better way for OCD is the acceptance. So what if you are on denial!? Its about putting your life in a perspective . You wont ever know for sure if your bf is right for you (nobody knows) and its not the end of the world if you don’t know.you can choose to love.

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