Author: Blip

We have moved

new-website

Hello everyone. We have a “new” website – relationshipocd.com  where we have been developing more blog content and other resources . We also wanted a more mindful approach to the website. Simplicity was one of the guiding principles.

Feel free to send some comments our way. Please also note that content creation on this website  you are reading now has stopped…it was a great start but due to limited functionality we had to change!

Take good care and enjoy life!

 

 

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The antidote

Hi everyone

Not sure if I covered this or not previously but here it goes!

A lot of the time when we start our recovery journey we tend to focus on the outcome rather than the process. What do I mean by this? I mean that we set goals such as “I will eliminate OCD from my life” or “by the end of treatment I will not feel anxious anymore” or “I will not have intrusive thoughts again”. If we take these as measures of success we are destined to fail. And why, you must ask? Mainly for two reasons:

First, these are all things that we cannot control. As we try to exercise control over things that we do not have any power over it will only get us more disheartened if we have a bad day or short relapse.

Second, once we build this expectations in our brains that these are things to be expected if treatment goes well a.k.a. cure then we are also training our brains to look for MINIMAL signs of this. The funny thing is that any SMALL problem will look BIG once this expectations sets in. Instead of thinking “this is just a short blip” we start thinking “this is a disaster and will never get better from rOCD”.

So what is the antidote? It is simply focusing on the things that we can control. We can control the process not the results. Examples of this are: exercise, good sleep routines, mindfulness practice, etc. A great quote from Gandhi that illustrates this principle is:

It is for us to make the effort. The result is always in God’s hands.

 

A great blog that talks about this as well can be found here. So, my invite to you is that you focus on those things that you have control over and be patient. Do not set timelines either. We are aiming for a lifestyle change – to better live with OCD. Does this mean that we cannot be happy? Not at all. People with OCD can be as happy as anyone else. And I know that from personal experience. 🙂

 

Why rOCD might be harder to treat today

Hello everyone,

busy couple of weeks babysitting the little one in the evenings so that my wife can finish off her MSc (Psychology). I have really lucked out as my wife finds time to keep the household running, work on her dissertation and takes care of the toddler during the day. I am still catching up on a backlog of emails and comments on the website. People are coming back from the summer and trying to settle back into new or old routines and the day-to-day reality is starting to settle in.

During summertime, we keep ourselves busy and well entertained and in most instances rOCD takes a backseat. With the end of summer, rOCD starts to take a front row seat now. Maybe because of stress or other factors. I have been starting to notice a common theme when it comes to mindfulness and the e-mails I have been receiving. I will share it here because I think people will benefit from it. When I ask people about mindfulness, most of the time these are the two most common answers:

“I have tried mindfulness.” Or “I have done mindfulness a couple of times”.

Let me ask you this question. You know you have a marathon to run and you know you need to train for it. Can you imagine before the race starts, saying: “I went running a couple of times” or “I have tried running”?

Relationship OCD is not a sprint and it will never be. It is one of the hardest marathons that you will ever run.

Ask yourself another question – is the work of genius a gift or hard work? Would Michelangelo have been capable of producing his lifeworks if he had been as distracted as us?

This is what he said of himself –

If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.

Your ability to focus, be diligent and be patient with yourself will largely determine your progress.

Open question/suggestions

Hi everyone,

It has been a while since I last posted here. As always I try not to overload this blog with information and I rather focus on quality rather than quantity.

As a move towards quality, I am trying to assess potential interest from people in relation to an online course/toolbox for dealing with rOCD. As I understand it, some people, prefer the interaction and would benefit from a daily reminder/follow up that would put them on the right track. This is how I think it could look like:

1) 4-12 week course

2) links to videos and other content

3) weekly/daily homework

4) tracking/feedback forms or reports

5) support forum (where people share strategies not problems 🙂

 

This would require an investment of time and money from me as I would have to create new content, migrate this blog to another server and buy the necessary software/plugins to run this course/training. As much as I would like to present this resource as free, it will be impossible for me to do so. However, I still think that this could be done at a very reasonable price (maybe a a one time off fee of 30-50 dollars).

 

I would love to hear your views on this and maybe other things that you would like to see in an online “course”.

 

Accepting OCD

Hi everyone,

As always I am trying to cover subjects that I did not think about covering in previous posts. And sometimes the shortest posts are the best 🙂

Going back a few years, at the height of my OCD problems, one of the hardest things for me was accepting that I had OCD. I went through analysing feelings to point of exhaustion. Asking myself why I was asking questions. Maybe this is a “sign” that something is wrong. The light at the end of the tunnel came when I realised two things:

1) I could not “switch off” these thoughts easily and they were creating great anxiety. Surely this wasn’t normal ???!!!!

2) EVERYTIME, I thought I had found an answer in my mind  and seemed to find some solace or peace for a few moments, the following thought was almost in every case  “what if “. It would take a few seconds, few minutes or a few hours but the “what if” was always there. My brain always managed to find a “what if”. In most of the cases, almost straightway. It was really tiring arguing with myself!

This was when I started my acceptance journey towards OCD. It took me a while to fully accept this new reality but it all started by these two little observations.

 

 

The perfect partner

Hello,

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer and doing a bit of mindfulness… 🙂 I don’t think I have covered the “perfect partner” issue from a rOCD perspective in previous posts so here it goes.It is also important for me to mention that I am not discussing cases of emotional and/or physical abuse. We are excluding these cases from this discussion.

 

There are two “lies” that rOCD tells when it comes to evaluating if we are in a relationship with the “perfect” partner:

No.1 If your partner was really meant for you, you would not be feeling any anxiety/having doubts, etc.

No.2 If only my partner had/did not have x, then he/she would be the perfect partner.

Before we go into more detail, we need to first think about what a perfect partner is. If our background is Western culture, then most often than not this notion would be based around the Hollywood myth that you just need to meet the “right” person and everyone will be happy ever after. Other things like education, social status might also be important. If we come from an Eastern or African culture, maybe we will be more concerned about acceptance within our own family and our partner’s family. The point is that there is no Universal definition of perfect partner. And there will never be.  Why? Because different people and cultures, value different things.

OK, now point no.1 – No.1 If your partner was really meant for you, you would not be feeling any anxiety/having doubts, etc. This type of thinking is quite common in rOCD sufferers. In this case, we think that the cause of the problem is basically external and not internal. And the risk here is that we will go from relationship to relationship, trying to find this perfect partner as we believe that this would lead to no anxiety. And to make matters worse, even those that are close to us reinforce this myth. “If x was really meant for you, you would not be feeling or doubting this way”. Having doubts is healthy. Having doubts all the time is unhealthy. At a certain point in the relationship, you will have to take a leap of faith. It happens in all relationships – even those people that do not suffer from rOCD! So if you find yourself questioning or stuck in an unhealthy way (I call this “spinning the wheels” and not getting to any conclusions), take this as further evidence of rOCD at work.

And No.2 If only my partner had/did not have x, then he/she would be the perfect partner. Getting fixated on certain physical or intellectual attributes to the point of creating even more anxiety, can also be quite common. The number one priority for the anxious OCD brain is to find faults in our partners as these are perceived as danger sources. The brain in its best attempt to protect us, ends up hurting us. So if you find yourself obsessing about a certain lack of something in your partner for a long period of time, take it as further evidence of OCD. I am not saying that you should ignore values that you consider important in a relationship.  I am saying that we need to better distinguish between essentials and non-essentials. What qualities are also important in 20, 30 and 40 years from now?

 

The bottom line is that no one is the “ready made” stuff when it comes to relationships. Success in a long term relationship depends very much wanting to become the perfect partner rather than finding the perfect partner. As a personal note, I have celebrated my 3rd year anniversary last Wednesday. In these 3 years, we have been through so much together, both good and bad. But our relationship is stronger today than it was 3 years ago. In the midst of my crazy rOCD period, I understood one thing: The person that I was going to propose to was willing to put the work in and so was I. Then, I gathered up the courage to ignore my rOCD and moved forward with faith.

 

 

A success story

Hi again,

I am catching up on my emails and here is a shortened success story from a rOCD sufferer. I really like two things about this story (but there are many more!):

1 – The analogy used that when we love something (or someone) that does not mean that we should be thinking about it all the time.

2- That success is not measured by not having rOCD thoughts but rather by managing the disease and its symptoms. This means that we can learn to be happy, even when we have rOCD!


 

About a year ago, I had recently turned 21 and life was going great. I met a girl I really liked and we hit it off for about four months. Suddenly, as I was studying for an exam one night that feeling of happiness was turned upside down with feelings of doubt, anxiety, and depression. I had no idea what hit me and none of my friends knew either. I felt crazy, alone, and desperate for my life to return its former state. Finally I realized I was feeling anxiety in my relationship and was able to go online and self-diagnose myself with ROCD. The feeling of isolation went away but it would be a long time before I would learn how to cope with this monster.

When I figured it out, I explained it to my parents who were both understanding but I hid it from my girlfriend for 3 heart wrenching weeks because I was afraid of how she would react. I contacted my therapist who had helped me in the past and encouraged me to tell my girlfriend. He told me to tell her that I loved her but was experiencing obsessive irrational thoughts. When I finally told her, she was very understanding and even proud of me for seeing a therapist to deal with it. That was a huge relief but admittedly still a low point in our relationship. My heart would beat fast around her and I would constantly question whether or not I felt the way “I was supposed to feel” when she sent me a cute text message. I would constantly question whether I even had ROCD or if I just plainly didn’t like her anymore. And when I spoke about it with her, it was a sensitive topic and I would have to reassure her that I loved her. In a summer time where I was supposed to be relaxed on a break from school, I was absolutely miserable.

The first step was education. I had plenty of thoughts that were quickly disproven. All of my thoughts said essentially the same thing: that I needed to be thinking about her all the time, and that I needed to feel something every time she called me, texted me, and saw me. One strong method of disproving these thoughts was comparing my relationship to other things that I loved. For instance, I don’t always think about Mexican food, but does that mean I don’t love it? Of course not. These realizations helped me improve, but I was still tormented by constant obsessive thoughts and heart palpitations. This was because I could not accept my anxiety for the life of me and that made my improvement much harder. Every time I experienced a feeling of “something wrong” or an obsessive thought, I thought “this is so stupid, why is this happening to me?” and I would become anxious about getting anxious and it would spiral into a depression. At one of my lowest points, I learned to accept my anxiety by repeating the phrase “I can allow myself to feel anxious because I know my body is over-exaggerating the threat of danger.”

What I didn’t realize is that the trick to making obsessive thoughts going away, is to not think about them at all. Every time a thought would come up, I would try to rationalize the thought and disprove it instead of just simply ignoring it. It felt as if I was missing something important if I ignored the thought. When I realized how to “thought stop,” I made a lot of progress. Highly effective methods that helped me “thought stop” were visualizing a stop sign, biofeedback, observing my surroundings, zapping myself with a rubber band, and looking at a compiled album on my computer of pictures from Google images or my photo album that make me happy. Also, although I have always lifted weights, running improved my anxiety sensitivity significantly.

All in all, it’s important to have some sort of routine to stay motivated; otherwise progress can be frustrating and discouraging. I recommend that anybody who is struggling should get a therapist and read Bruno Ping’s book which I learned a lot from. I improved without medicine which was hard but worth it in the long run. My key realization was that it’s impossible to try and feel a certain way since that just adds anxiety and works counter-intuitively. The best thing to do is to just think about something else that makes you happy. Currently, my girlfriend and I are happy. I still experience a few anxious moments a day but I give them no importance and they gradually dissipate.

A guest post from Holland

Hi everyone,

 

Lately I have been getting many emails from people wanting to share what has worked for them in regards to improving their rOCD. It is really interesting to get someone else’s perspective other than mine, as it might resonate with other people better. So here it is!

 

On choosing acceptance 

My name is Jel, I am a 31-year old woman in a 1,5 relationship with a lovely man. rOCD first hit me a few months ago. It was simply awful. I went through all the stages of rumination, anxiety, panic attacks, numbness and endless doubt. Now, a few months in, I feel rather good. I know I will have some bad days to come, but I will try and deal with them. I went to see a therapist (mostly CBT) and signed myself up for a course of mindfulness. But what also helped a great deal was acceptance.  
You mentioned on your blog that a lot of sufferers get stuck on the point of acceptance of rOCD, because we always doubt if we really suffer from this disease. And because of that doubt, and the endless search for an answer, we do not really get any further in treating rOCD.
The same thing happened to me. Even though I started to feel a lot better, the thought that ‘this isn’t rOCD, I must be really wanting to end my relationship’ just kept making me feel awful and ruminating.  To give you my example, of how strong my doubt can be:
Despite my dad having OCD and me being diagnosed with anxiety disorder and OCD by specialists twice, on bad days I still doubt I have rOCD. Every ‘normal’ person would roll their eyes over this doubt, because there is just so much evidence to prove it! But I doubt it, and since I have OCD I am always going to doubt it. There is just no certainty to be found that will ever make me stop doubting.
So, at a certain point, I realized, there is no point in keeping up the search for that certainty. What I did instead was, I made a choice: I chóóse to believe I have rOCD!

And that helps! So for fellow sufferers, even if there’s a little voice (or a huge one) that tells you to doubt, try to live and be as if you DO believe you have rOCD. The doubt will be there anyway, so it is at least worth the try of believing you really are a rOCD sufferer. You might think you’re just fooling yourself (hello OCD) Well then, just fool yourself, why not give it a try? Because then, you have the right mindset to treat your thoughts as rOCD and make some progress.

 

 

Another guest post :)

Hi everyone,

just wanted to share another post from another rOCD sufferer on how they are moving forward with their rOCD.

This for me was a very good point: “I wanted to show others out there that regardless of your sexual orientation ROCD does not discriminate.” It is a very good example that OCD is very much an internal process and not external process and that there is no logic to it. Some people that email me, have been married for years and with children as well and then OCD strucks…See if you can pick up the positive behaviours and tools that this sufferer has adopted and a change in mental attitude!

 

My name is Christopher, I am 29 years old. Almost two years ago I went through a very tough time personally with a lot of stress and worry building up I became depressed and I developed panic disorder, a brutal yet luckily a very treatable anxiety disorder. Anyone who has had a full blown panic attack knows how awful this feeling can be. Having them daily sometimes multiple times is far from enjoyable

A month before I started my medication and really began to understand what was happening to me I met the man of my dreams John. I fell in love from the get go and knew that John was the one. He also had suffered with panic disorder and still copes with anxiety. I recall one night on our 3rd date I slept over and awoke at 5 in the morning having a panic attack feeling like I could die. I wanted to be in my own bed which was an hour away. My boyfriend John spoke with me on the phone the entire hour until I got safely into my bed. I knew at this point I’d found someone very special. That was also the day I decided to do something about this near crippling anxiety and I began taking medication. The medication worked and I was feeling like myself again and things with John were great.

5 months into our relationship I hit a wall. An awful thought entered my mind. Was John the one? Was this real or was I only telling myself I wanted to be in this relationship? Every perceived flaw of John seemed to stick out and I couldn’t focus on the positive. I found myself looking at John and when I didn’t feel an explosion of fireworks in my heart I felt this is it… Our relationship is over. Every time I had a break and would feel better another thought would pop up and contradict the previous thought until it became an exhausting never ending cycle. I felt guilty and selfish and didn’t know why after 5 months my anxiety was coming back full force. That weekend I ended our relationship over much tears and a day later I knew that even though I felt this was the right choice, it did not feel right and I had made a big mistake. I knew that something was wrong. It was like a light switch had gone off. One day I was in love and the next day I was not.  Something had to be wrong. The following day John and I got back together and even though my mind was still playing out its battle with its self, I felt happier having him in my life. I spoke with a therapist and my doctor upped my medication. A couple months later I came across this site. What I was feeling had a name and they’re other people like me and it made everything almost better from the get go. Practising CBT and mindfulness did the rest and I have good and bad days majority are great and I feel I have this under control. I am so thankful to have found this blog it’s changed everything for me. I’ve opened up to John about my struggles and he’s a great support. I never knew that I was OCD prior to developing my panic disorder. It turns out that it brought a bigger monster out, one that I am determined to beat.  Also, in case you hadn’t picked up, I am  in a gay relationship and I wanted to show others out there that regardless of your sexual orientation ROCD does not discriminate. Thank you so much for sharing your blog and your own struggles with us. You have no idea what a difference you have made. Today we are living with each other for over a year and both planned our first big trip to Paris this summer which I would never thought possible almost two years ago. I also found Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to be even more useful than cognitive behavioural therapy alone.

Another good guest post.

hope
Hi everyone,
here is another guest post. From time to time, I am privileged to be emailed these inspirational stories of people that would like to share their journey with others. I have underlined and bolded some elements that really stood out whilst I was reading it. Thanks for sharing CG.
“I have been suffering from OCD all my life, I just didn’t recognize it. There have been times when it was easier to cope with, especially when I met my partner more than three years ago. Last year, OCD came back with full force, and I was absolutely desperate. It was almost unbearable for me – I didn’t know how to move on, I didn’t know what was happening to me. Then I discovered this blog – entirely by chance. This was the first step: to know that I was not the only one, that this is just another face of OCD. I slowly started meditating and doing yoga, eating healthier and practising mindulness skills. I learned to accept the disease and I understood that no matter how involved I am in all this trouble, this man could still make me laugh. He was always by my side, even though I  hadn’t been myself for a long, long time. I finally understood that ruminating was the worst thing to do. And I learned that this was neither my fault, nor was it his. When I really started to accept the situation, things really improved. I’m taking a small dose of SSRI and consulted a psychotherapist who gave me some useful tools for working with OCD. Without this blog, it would have taken me much longer to recover.
I have learned to live with it, and I still have my bad days – but there are a lot of wonderful ones which mean the world to me. This might sound bad to someone who wants to be normal again so badly, but trust me, once the clouds start to disappear, life gets so much better.
Dear fellow OCD sufferers: hold on. Practise your mindfulness skills. Do meditation. Do yoga. Don’t ruminate. Accept things as they are – but keep on working. And dear Blip: thank you so much!
Well, I’m still with the most wonderful man alive and a few weeks ago, I asked him to marry me. He said yes.”