Negative behaviours

Negative behaviour #2

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First of all, I would like to congratulate all of those who have made some improvement in regards to their rOCD. I have been getting a lot of e-mails lately about people that apply some of the principles in this blog and to a lesser or bigger extent have moved a little bit forward. This motivates me to keep on running this blog.

This blog is not meant to give all the answers to rOCD questions but to share some principles that will help people in their rOCD journey. I do not have all the answers or principles either. But I can see when wrong principles are being applied.I receive a lot of e-mails from people around the world and I spent on most days 1-2 hours everyday answering people’s questions or doing Skype with them. A common theme seems to be reoccurring though.

This common theme is that of spending a lot of time online trying to solve the “rOCD riddle” – people do two things:

No.1 Googling symptoms such as “do I really love my partner” “how to know that you have fallen out of love” etc etc

No.2 Sharing their personal experiences in forums or Facebook groups, “trading spikes” e.g. “this what makes me spike and what about you?”, cross-matching symptoms, etc, etc.

Treating rOCD like a card game where you trade Pokemons (spikes, symptoms) or expecting Google to sort them out. Like there is a magic answer. There is no magic answer. There are only two things in these places – people trying to push their own Hollywood philosophy of what love is (most of these people giving advice are relationship “experts”) and other rOCD sufferers looking for reassurance.

The only thing worst than this for your recovery is rumination – Negative behaviour #1.

I can see the benefit of getting together with other rOCD sufferers and sharing coping strategies, positive behaviours and positive experiences with OCD treatments. If you are going to share something share positive things.Use the 1/99 rule. Spend 1% of the time talking about the problem and 99% of the time talking about solutions. Don’t feed your own reassurance monster or other people’s reassurance monster. You are better off doing a mindfulness exercise in the 20 minutes that you spend doing this.

Like I said in the beginning. I do not have all the answers but I do have the answer for this one. This is definitely something that you should NOT  do.

Roller coaster ride and chronic disease

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OK.I had promised myself and everyone else not to write anymore posts. I guess I will have to take that back as some people have asked me to write about specific topics and I see a need of writing a few more because of some of the feedback and observations of lately. I will start with this one today.

Something that is common to almost everyone that I speak with is what I call roller coaster behaviour. This is the sequence of events (or very similarly), I will explain:

1) There is  a strong rOCD trigger that leads to high anxiety and panic (spikes)

2) Starting to feeling very bad and looking for quick fixes – go to blogs, websites, speak with friends, offload onto partner, etc

3) Life kicks in and the mind/brain gets distracted – start being busy with other things

4) Anxiety decreases (and starts to think that does not have rOCD, it is actually not that bad and I can cope with it)

5) another trigger appears and the cycle starts all over again

So this rOCD has become a chronic disease, does not “kill” immediately but still lives in the background and goes through cycles. And then we wonder, why we do not see any improvement.

Real lasting improvement can only happen when we commit ourselves to daily change. No matter how much good advice we get – if we cannot apply it daily it is only a quick fix. We need to stop and really think about this.

Are there any other options to daily commitment? Yes, if we don’t want to get better.

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

Tip #30 Psychological resilience

At the height of my ROCD anxieties, I stumbled upon mindfulness and decided to take a free course at University.  Before I could go on the course, I had to have an interview with the therapist in order to see if the course would be suited for me and most importantly if I was ready for the course.

A lot of people are exposed to a lot of different psychological techniques to get better but for some reason they decide (consciously or unconsciously) to take what I call – negative action. Negative action is expressed in some of the following behaviours:

1) Focusing on the problem rather than solution

2) Giving up too easily and wanting results quickly or in their own way

3) Not willing to give it a try and experience some discomfort

4) Indulging in self-destructive behaviours e.g. drinking, drugs, short-lived physical-based relationships, etc

4) Adopting self-pity as a best friend…and many others…

The direct result of this negative action is that they bury the problem deeper. Or ignore it, hoping it will go away. The sad truth is that it is impossible to get better by doing this. Some people are able to adopt more positive (action) behaviours. In the face of a problem they are able to do what is needed to solve or minimise the problem, patiently. Psychologists refer to this as psychological resilience.

Some people have it more than others. It is an inner strength that can be developed and grows over time even if you think you do not have it. Here is a link by the American Psychological Association that talks a little bit more about resilience and gives practical tips. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx#

When I was finishing my mindfulness sessions, I asked the psychologist what was the most important factor that differentiated people that were able to get better  from those that weren’t. Her answer was: psychological resilience. I had asked the same question to my ROCD therapist and she told me something very similar – “those people that get better are those that stick at it.”

Find the time in your life to get better. Give up something that it is not essential for your needs.