Guest posts

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.”

Hollywood syndrome

imgres

Hi everyone,

I have slowly started the book on rOCD and am still corresponding with some rOCD sufferers. I had a very interesting discussion with one of them. I will call this person P.

I have asked P to write a list of (misplaced) expectations in regards to her relationship and send it to me. She also kindly agreed to share them on this blog as our discussion might benefit other people. By the way, P did a great job recognising where some of the issues might lie!

I call these the “Hollywood syndrome” – where we set unrealistic expectations based on fairy tale type of relationships only seen in movies. This was one of the things that I had to learn as well!

My replies are in blue (by no means perfect either!).

  • I should feel in love with my boyfriend 24/7. Impossible thing – you can’t feel these hormones all the time. Even if you could, you would start getting immune to it. And wanting a higher kick. 
  • When I have a boyfriend whom I consider to be in love with, hence I should not feel attracted to other guys or find them good looking.Impossible. You can’t switch this off. It is like saying “I do not want to feel hunger anymore.”
  • If we are having fights over small issues that means we’re not meant to be. A right couple do not fight.Don’t know of any relationship that does not fight from time to time. The issue is how we do it, not that it happens.
  • If he is not doing enough things for me, then that means he doesn’t love me as much as I do. I probably should be with someone who does things for me more than I do. This is a communication issue and male/female thing. The important thing is that BOTH are willing to put on the effort to address this.
  • I shouldn’t feel bored of him if I love him. If I feel like getting out on my own spending a little time away from him than that must mean I’m bored of him. You don’t stop being an individual when you get into a relationship. You can become more flexible like watching action movies with boyfriend but you still like your chick flicks…
  • I shouldn’t marry him ’cause I already know him so much so after marriage it’ll be all same and boring. (spike given by a friend) – you make the relationship exciting if it needs be. When things tail off – the infatuation feeling – you need to make things kind of happen again. I had a really great time with my wife, playing bowling last week. You have to find the solutions. And you cannot feel excitement all the time, it is not healthy.
  • If I move in with him, I’ll get bored cause of living with the same person all the time. Our love might fade away. Yes, or it might grow to a deeper level. It does not grow deeper when people are apart. But it will require work.
  • If I find some other guy hot then that must means I’m not in love with my boyfriend 100%. Or it just means that you find the other guy hot.
  • If my boyfriend is a bit immature or isn’t upto the level of understanding about life and love and other things then we can’t work out. Every relationship is a compromise. You are not perfect either. But this is the point of love – growing together by means of compromise.
  • if I’m looking for signs then that must mean he is not the right one for me. How do I know this is the one for me?

    Or Is this Mr. Right or Mr. Right-now?!” Maybe I should keep looking for signs. Ultimately, no one knows. No one. Our best bet is to become Mr and Mrs. Right through a lot of work, patience and service. Becoming is reality. Being is fiction.

LOVE IS HARD WORK. By putting two imperfect people together, we can’t expect perfection to happen!

Guest post 2

hope-boat

 

Hi everyone,

Recently, I received an update from someone that I had started helping out a few months back asked her to share her improvement story on this blog. This is not a testimonial to my counselling skills by any means but a testimonial to her perseverance, patience, positive thinking and effort. There is no magic trick here. Here is P’s story:

I had my first OCD thought when I was 19. Since then I was living in a vicious circle of psychiatrists, antidepressants and bad therapists, who never really believed I could ever get better. A couple of years ago I decided it was enough and found myself a proper therapist. With his help I managed to get rid of all my medication but started having terrible withdrawal symptoms and some of my OCD and anxiety came back (especially ROCD). I didn’t want to start taking any drugs again and was looking on the internet to find help. That’s when I discovered this blog. After some hesitation I emailed the blogger and he offered to help me straight away. He told me how he got better and introduced me to meditation and mindfulness. Most importantly he gave me hope! I followed his instructions, started exercising and eating healthy, bought a few books on mindfulness and really got into it. I started meditating every day and focusing on living in the moment. Few months on I feel like a different person! I get up in the morning and I’m not miserable. I go to work and I don’t think “what is this all for, why should I bother?”. I look at my boyfriend and instead of having a million questions in my head, I know I love him more than anything. I learned to accept that nothing will ever be certain and that there will be times when I won’t feel in love with him. And maybe he won’t feel in love with me. But that’s life and I feel like I’m now much better equipped to deal with setbacks and difficult situations. And I look forward to whatever life brings next.

I am really happy that P found the strength to carry on through a very difficult period. But mostly importantly, that she developed a very good mindfulness attitude about her future – that no matter the circumstances, she will be able to deal with it.

Another post from another rOCD sufferer

Hi everyone. I would like to share an inspiring story from another rOCD sufferer. Her name is Natalie. Natalie’s story was much longer than this and had to be edited to fit the short action format of this blog. I left in the bits that I thought would be useful for other sufferers as positive action points. You will realise that this story is not symptom focused but rather action focused. Here it is.

Natalie’s story so far

*

Hello, My name is Natalie and I am 22 years old.
I have been with my boyfriend for almost 20months.
For the last 7 months of my life I have suffered with ROCD.
In my case I had no signs or symptoms of ROCD until my boyfriend’s Nan passed away from cancer back in August.

*

I think that tiny positive light in the back of my head knew I still love the man, if I let him go it would be like leaving him over false thoughts and feelings or leaving him for no reason and if I search deep enough I sometimes get a glimmer of knowing how much I really love him and that makes the fight all worth it.
The first thing I did was tell BOYFRIEND and my family who were all extremely supportive. I was very nervous about how he would react to what I was telling him but I should’ve known he would’ve just scooped me up into his arms and be there for me despite me being able to look him in the eye and feel no love for him at certain points during my days and weeks. It cannot be nice for anyone’s partner to have to hear it and thankfully BOYFRIEND is made of sturdier stuff. I don’t know how I could go through it without him.
The first thing is admitting you have a problem. The second thing is getting help.
The doctor put me on Citalopram, an anti-depressant which helped lift my moods a bit but this wasn’t enough as the thoughts persisted and I knew I needed professional help of a different format.

*

My manager knew there wasn’t something right with me and recommended a hypnotherapist.
I was rather sceptical at first but was desperate to get better and so I gave it a go, HYPNOTHERAPIST taught me a lot about my brain and why it was putting me through what I am going through, she made me realize I am a sufferer of anxiety and she taught me tips and techniques to deal with the thoughts that come into my head. I knew it was going to be a long process but you have to start somewhere. From then on, every week I would sit on HYPNOTHERAPIST’s sofa and listen to what she had to say, her explanations and id let her put me into trance so she could talk to the receptive part of my brain, the part the ROCD cannot attack and infiltrate.
I must’ve been seeing HYPNOTHERAPIST for about three-four months and I found that I have days where thoughts and feelings of love for BOYFRIEND come flooding back and I have moments where I can bat unwanted thoughts away. Sometimes I kiss him without worrying, I say I love you without thinking about it and I can even have consecutive days where I feel pretty good.
I still have days where I slip and they’re still difficult but I just keep moving forward and when I climb back out of my hole and get back on track, even just for 10 mins in the right direction it is so much better.

*

I stopped seeing my hypnotherapist about a month ago and I’m doing a lot better on my own. I’m not going to lie that I still have moments where I struggle. My dad always told me to take each day as it comes and as a sufferer of ROCD I find it very suitable advice. Sometimes I have my ups and sometimes I have my downs but I try to press forward every day even when it’s very hard.

Be more optimistic (Guest post)

*This was not written by me. This is a guest post.*

Hi, my name is Brandon and I have been suffering from ROCD for just over a year now. I have been with my amazing partner for a year and two months, but unfortunately most of this time has been spent on worrying about my relationship. Sure, ROCD is hell, but I know for a fact that if it wasn’t for the ROCD then my relationship would not have lasted this long. Why? Because ROCD (and any illness as a matter of fact!) always has its positive sides.

Now you’re probably thinking that I’m a mad man for what I have just said. “How can ROCD be good!?” You may ask. But think about it, once you have finally beaten this disease imagine how happy you and your partner will be together. You have gotten through the one disease that has the most chance of splitting you apart, and now you are happily living the rest of your lives together knowing that your relationship is so precious and strong that even your “own” thoughts and feelings could not come between you. (I say “own” because they are not really your real thoughts.)

I am a ROCD sufferer. And going through my ROCD journey was one of the most difficult and confusing periods of my life. I have started this blog as an attempt to help all those that are going through their ROCD journeys. And like me in the past, find it very difficult to find happiness and joy in everyday living. I am glad to say, that today, ROCD does not control me anymore and I live a very happy life with my beautiful wife.
I would like to focus this blog on finding ways to moving forward instead of getting trapped in our own thinking (which caused ROCD in the first place!).

Doesn’t that sound similar to what I have just said? This is from the very first article that was posted on this blog.

I know that most of you read this only took in the part that mentions about sadness and struggling to be happy, but now, if you have read the advice and tips on this blog, it is time to stop the self-pity and stop feeling sorry for ourselves. I know this disease is hard to live with and I know that right now you feel as if nothing will ever be the same again, but if we don’t start being more optimistic about things then we will never improve. There is hope, and you WILL get through this, but for now you’ve just got to try your best to be as happy as you can.