Wednesday, 12 December 2012 0 comments

Paranoia

I have seen a lot of discussion on the net about whether Paranoia is part of OCD.

While there are specific paranoia disorders, it is also evident that symptoms of paranoia are prevalent within other mental disorders where the key mental issue anxiety or depression.

I can think of several paranoid thoughts that I regularly deal with. If they are not related to having OCD, they at least can trigger or exacerbate the key OCD thoughts/behaviours.

Some of my paranoid thoughts -
  • People are talking about me behind my back because no one actually likes me or they think I'm weird
  • Work colleagues think I'm terrible at my job and may be trying to get me out of my job
  • Bad things, like my car breaking down, are happening because God is punishing me for things I do wrong
  • I can't let myself or my loved ones go near heights as I'm sure someone is going to fall and die. This feeds into the God one where this is happening because I'm a bad person
The scrupulous nature of the paranoia is very difficult because as a religious person you are taught and believe that God is 'all seeing' and is giving out blessings or correction on a daily basis. These correlate quite closely to the paranoid thoughts of being watched and someone being out to get you.

My current example is that my car has broken down and I have a very costly repair. To top it off it's Christmas coming up and we can't afford the repair. Over the last four years our car has had problems every December and it has been costly and ill timed. I have been and even now feel convinced that this is God trying to punish me and send me a message that I am doing things wrong and need to correct them.

Let me be clear though, the things I come up with as being 'sins' or 'wrong' have nothing that evenly remotely connects them with my car breaking down. As an example, this is just made up, it's like saying I smoke cigarettes so God is making my central heating breakdown as a sign that I am sinning and he is punishing me. Or I am cheating on my wife so God has made me lose my job.

Do any of you think there is any possibility of such events being realistic? Is this how God acts? Are these purely paranoid thoughts?

It is very strange to feel something is correct when to others it would seem like a ridiculous connection to make.

I am so frustrated and almost hopeless today. I don't want to care about anything and I just want to feel left alone! Everything seems to have significane and a massive impact on my life.
Thursday, 22 November 2012 2 comments

ACT and Cheer up your hearts

One of the challenges with scrupulosity, is that it creates a paralysing, even damning, feeling. It makes you scared to make choices or be trusting in something. I’ve been so consumed with thoughts of

‘Have I done something wrong?’
‘I have done something wrong! Oh no my life is over.’
‘Will God not help me?’
‘Have I done something in the past I still need to repent of?’
‘What’s the real meaning of life?’
‘Why doesn’t God just help me or answer me?’
‘I have to be so careful so that God does not have a reason to punish me.’

These thoughts put your thinking and state of mind somewhere other than ‘HERE’, not in the present moment, and so concerned about existential questions or past or future events that you are stuck and can’t progress in even the simplest of tasks that are right before you.

There are many things I don’t do either because I am scared they will create problems in the future due to them not being acceptable behaviour to God or because I can’t seem to feel right about engaging in an activity until I sort out the BIGGER questions rolling round in my head.

The thinking is that I’d feel much better if I could just resolve all of the questions I have before I move on and live my life. This is the trap! There always seems to be something I can feel bad about or something that needs questioned.

In my experience, the advice given to those with scrupulosity is they need to work on ‘acceptance’. Acceptance that you won’t always have the answers and that certainty cannot be achieved in some things, even when you are dealing with God.

This can seem counter-intuitive to a member of the church. We are always told to seek to understand things, get answers from God through prayer and scripture study and gain a ‘knowledge’ of truth. The scriptures are full of people who have felt unworthy or helpless or with questions and the stories show their determination and endurance to get an answer, which never fails. Yet because I have OCD I am being told I need to just ‘accept’ that there’s stuff I don’t know or things I might not be able to get an answer to?

I could write a massive blog post on the above paragraph alone, but I won’t bore you with my mental gymnastics around the subject of doubt and it not seemingly being acceptable in church circles, maybe because of the strong and constant use of terms such as ‘I know’, and ‘without a shadow of doubt’.
Here is where I currently am in the process of overcoming this problem – to try and not question worthiness and existential stuff on a daily basis. It is stopping me from doing anything good with my life, RIGHT NOW. I’m in a state of inaction in many respects as I’m wrapped up and consumed with the thoughts listed above.

From reading the scriptures I have been really interested in this idea of ‘action’. A doctrine of the church that is unique to the Book of Mormon that everything that God has made, including humans, can either act or acted upon.

In 2 Nephi 2:14 it tells us

 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

Now this is not what you would call a principle unique to ‘church’ as it is evident within science that this is an obvious principle of existence. Everything acts in it's own way and is acted upon by many forces. However, I call it a ‘doctrine’ unique to the church because with bringing it into the scriptures we are saying it has some importance and bearing on our understanding of ourselves as Children of God.

I can tell you outright that with OCD I feel very much ‘acted upon’ and don’t feel so much that I am free to ‘ACT’ for the reasons I’ve explained above.

In another scripture, 2 Nephi 10:23, we are told

Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.

So here we are to understand that we are definitely one of the creations that was created to primarily ‘act’ and not be acted upon. So I am to ACT. The other thing I get from this scripture is that first and foremost God wants us to ACT, even if our actions may lead to ‘everlasting death’.  It is our right and privilege as Sons and Daughters of God to choose, and to ACT. Anyhting that prevents us acting is not helpful to our purpose.

Having scrupulous thoughts and doubts stop us living, acting and choosing what we will do today or tomorrow as we are so focused on the questions and doubt. We have somehow lost the tolerance to accept that we might have or will do something wrong and don't know with certainty some things with spiritual significance. This causes us to be overwhelmed and unable to ACT.
Another scripture in D&C 58:27-28 says

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

I am to choose things with my own free will. I get to choose what I will do and for what motives. I am not to feel constantly restricted and compelled to do things by the Church or commandments. Not only am I supposed to ACT according to my own free will, but I have been given all the power already to do so. God wants me to make choices based on what I want, what I know and what circumstances I am in.

Here's a thought - God doesn't want to give you answers to everything. The real exercise is that he has given us the power within ourselves to do things and choose things, and he wants to see what we are going to do with it. Being crippled by doubt and fear, which OCD gives us, is not expected and is not necessary to progression.
I have the opportunity and the power to ACT for myself. I have certain things to help me along the way such as church and scriptures, but at no point does God expect me to hit a state of inertia out of fear of Him or because there’s a few unanswered questions. He’d rather we ACTED, despite our previous wrongs and regardless of whether we get the future stuff wrong.

We are ultimately learning how to best be ourselves and how can we do that unless we ACT in the way we want to? While this may involve looking to God and asking some deep questions occasionally, it is not to become so burdened by fear and doubt that we don’t live and even enjoy this mortal existence.

Buddhist teaching has a principle of ‘Mindfulness’. This is being accepted as an effective psychological tool in Western society. It’s all about living and experiencing the moment. I believe that this is what we need to do. Then the bigger eternal questions and doubts will all come out in the wash, and meanwhile we have built our lives and lived in a way that means we have become something and gone somewhere. Take the risk that you aren't worthy and take the risk that you might be wrong about something. That is the purpose of our existence and it’s ok to feel life’s simple pleasures in the process. What use are we if we can't do any good because we are so concerned about being good?

Now while Wikipedia is not the ultimate, all knowing power of the internet, the following page is a good intro to mindfulness. Please check wider sources if you wish to know more.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness_(psychology)

I'd be interested in any feedback or disagreements you have with what I've shared above. I'm always open to corrections and constructive criticism. I'm learning here too.
Tuesday, 13 November 2012 2 comments

The difference is INTERPRETATION

If I was to use the rather grim, but useful, example of a war to illustrate the challenge of interpretation, hopefully I can help explain the challenge I and other OCD sufferers face.

Firstly, in any circumstance that take place there are some key FACTS that can be established. These are points that are not open to interpretation in the common usage of the word. *

In the example of war such FACTS would be things like, a war is taking place and can be confirmed by going to where it’s happening, groups of people are fighting against each other and people are dying in the battle.

Even with these FACTS there is much we don’t know that is left for us to make a judgement. This can go lead to many questions, such as

·         Who is the good guy in this war? Is side A or side B the ones in the right?
·         Why is the war even taking place? What are they fighting for?
·         Are those dying actually martyrs for a good cause and therefore paying a reasonable price or are they victims of someone else’s evil designs?
·         Should we condemn or support the war?
·         Do we have any moral obligations to fight ourselves?

Our ability to reason and interpret events is largely based on our previous experience, current circumstances, deductions based on the things we know and very often we interpret something based on the way it makes us feel.

Now with every person we all have different experiences, different circumstances and different levels of understanding. So despite the FACTS of war listed above, many people can interpret and think very differently about the reasons, purposes and outcomes of that war. Each person can then feel completely correct despite someone else having a different interpretation.

This leads us on to the concept of TRUTH. If there are so many opinions, so many ways of seeing the same thing and so many possible interpretations, how can we know what the TRUTH is? Is there just one right answer?

For OCD sufferers the FACT is that we have a thought or a feeling that distresses us to the extent of real panic and despair. This leads to either a fight to find the TRUTH (which actually never resolves the problem) or feeling compelled to act in a certain way to elminate the threat, panic and despair.

The thoughts are deemed as being significant (the first way we interpret) simply because of the fact we had the thought. It is interesting to note that we are not experiencing any thoughts that are unique to an OCD sufferer. The intrusive thoughts which create doubt and worry for us are the same thoughts your average person has. The difference being the interpretation that it has significant meaning, while others dismiss, rationalise or take no notice of it.
As these are intrusive thoughts which are accompanied by intense emotional responses of panic, fear and upset the next interpretation is that they are true or say something about who we really are.

If we try to dismiss the thought or try to accept a re-interpretation of the thought an OCD sufferer can feel they are ignoring a real problem or potentially lying to themselves. Surely thoughts with such a seemingly powerful impact can’t be wrong, despite the fact that is exactly what we want them to be? You are compelled to prove them wrong or do something to make them feel less right.

In the throws of OCD and when you are trying to recover from it, this is where the challenge lies: How do you know if your interpretation of a thought or event is or isn’t correct, especially since the feelings that come are leading you to think the most personally upsetting interpretation?

The desire to deal with or question the thought,  can only lead in one direction, and that is to try to elminate the uncertainty by confirming what’s right (TRUTH) or performing some physical or mental compulsion to try to ease the negative feelings. These can be things like washing your hands repeatedly to try and feel sure that you will not be infected by any deadly germs. Sometimes these compulsions can be completely unrelated, for example checking that the lights are off several times in order to feel more sure that your family will not die in a car crash.

I can’t tell you how many times a day I ask myself what is RIGHT or what is TRUE and then begin questioning the answers I come up with.

There seems to be no room for ambiguity or uncertainty in the OCD world. We can’t have a thought or concern and leave it open ended.

The trouble is that most of our lives are filled with ambiguity. Seeking to eliminate uncertainty is virtually impossible in all of life’s events. We operate on principles such as faith and hope in all instances. When I leave to go to work in the morning, I don’t know if I will make it successfully but I still leave the house and go trusting I will get there.

OCD is picking on some potentially ambiguous thoughts and expanding their importance and meaning to us as individuals. We need to tackle the immediate interpretation our senses and emotions place on the thought by either learning to ignore the thought or consider other possibilities that help challenge constructively the initial interpretation. Challenging the thoughts can be difficult as there is a fine line between re-enforcing the obsession through analysing the thought and trying to realise that it’s just a thought with probably no hidden meaning or significance.

One observation I have is that people with OCD are often very clever, caring or concerned individuals with high standards that often only apply to themselves. OCD would be impossible in the person who doesn’t care or ultimately enjoys the horrible things our minds focus on. The distress and panic felt should be a comfort in the sense that it shows we really don’t enjoy what is intrusively being put in our minds.

The ability to care and be concerned are positive qualities and are for the benefit of all who would be a recipient of your time and talents. OCD is a disorder that is seeking to take advantage of these positives and take you down negative paths.

This is not an easy ride.

We have help out there such as medication, Mental health professionals, CBT, Books and our own sheer tenacity. If you are religious, this can be a great source of strength also.

I wish for all OCD sufferers the very best and the ability to gain the skills to accept and live with the thoughts this condition imposes upon us. This is the start and main way to overcome this disorder.

Interpretation is an important skill and goes to the very core of our understanding of who we areand, paradoxically through trying not to interpret as an OCD sufferer, in time we can heal and we will have our concerns and thoughts in a better perspective.



*(Maybe someone dealing with philosophy or a philosophical flavour of OCD would argue,and greatly fear, that everything is ultimately up for interpretation. Such types of philosophical OCD are difficult to cope with. )
Friday, 9 November 2012 2 comments

Psychotherapy Appointment 3

I’ve spent the last three weeks reading the first two chapters of the book given to me in my last appointment.

Chapter 1 was just an introduction to what OCD is, while Chapter 2 starts asking you to identify what obsessive thoughts you have and what compulsions you perform.

I have 4 obsessive thoughts that are predominant

1)      God doesn’t exist and therefore I am living a futile existence
2)      Because I’m a sinner I am bringing God’s punishment and harm upon myself and my loved ones.
3)      I am living in nothing but a society where morals and religion are social constructions.
4)      I am living a lie because I have the above thoughts/doubts yet I try to maintain my life as it has been.

You will see from the subject matter it’s very Religious and Scrupulous in nature. The extra challenge is that these can be normal concerns for many individuals, so to accept them as more than normal thoughts for me, and are the result of OCD, it’s slightly harder to come to terms with. It creates an additional anxiety inducing thought that maybe it is purely a crisis of faith and I am faking OCD.

The real clue that it is OCD is that I can’t stop thinking about these thoughts, also they can come with severe anxiety that almost cripple me. They are against what I want to believe and what I have based my life on.

When it comes to compulsions, things are a little bit more muddled. I’m not a hand washer and I’m not a door checker as such, although I have the experience where I’ve checked a door a number of times. Here’s what I do –

1)      Try to think  about it and get an answer so that I have certainty. This is like a mental compulsion. Mull it over in my mind until it is resolved.
2)      Challenging my thoughts with questions like ‘Why did I think that?’ ‘What does that mean?’ ‘How significant is this?’ ‘What does this say about me?’
3)      Avoid things that might trigger the thoughts and panic. These are things like avoiding reading scriptures or not going to non-essential church meetings.
4)      While I can avoid reading scriptures, I am often compelled to read religious material or medical material online during high spikes of anxiety, to try and feel better or get answers to why I feel so bad.
5)      Internally shouting ‘STOP’ and trying to dismiss thoughts as unimportant.
6)      Needing to talk to others and get reassurance on the thoughts that are troubling me. This used to be manifest in the need to confess sins to a priesthood leader. I repeatedly confessed some sins, and even dug back into my childhood to find things I possibly may have done. I don’t feel the need to confess so much these days.

The interesting thing is that any relief the above 6 things give, it is only temproray and things can revert back to the obsessions within a matter of minutes sometimes.

These two chapters have given me a lot more to think about other than this analysis of thoughts and behaviours. It has raised some interesting questions for me and I have a few thoughts I will maybe share in separate blog entries.
Monday, 5 November 2012 0 comments

Discover yourself: Keep a journal


I came across this article on lds.org the other week and it felt like a bit of a personal lesson as well as one I should share, an article called 'Discover yourself: Keep a journal'

http://www.lds.org/ensign/1980/12/discover-yourself-keep-a-journal?lang=eng&query="discover+yourself"

This confirmed for me some of the reasons why I should write down my thoughts, life events and OCD challenges. It confirmed that which I felt when I was first started reading about writing therapy which led to me starting a blog.

Two bits that really stood out to me were as follows -
He feels an urge to write that comes from within—an urge to express, to understand, to improve, to establish the validity of his experiences and his existence. When he sits at his typewriter to crash out a few quick pages or when he spends a quiet hour on a Sunday to catch up on the last few days, he is spending valuable time with himself, listening to himself.

One quite specific to OCD was

“Writing can help you express some of the emotions—until you can let go of the feelings, learn from the experience, and consider appropriate alternatives.”

This is also one of the key pieces of advice my psychotherapist advised as part of OCD. Write down your thoughts, warts and all. Also write down anything you can think of that counteracts the negative, intrusive thought.

I can really promise that this process can help alleviate the pressure from the mind. That which you are striving to keep to yourself and within your own head is controlled a little better as you write it down. This could quite often help replace the compulsion that may follow as it reduces the anxiety you try to appease with the compulsive behaviour.


It's not always easy to write. I personally have feared that the thoughts will assume some further reality or greater hold as I put it on paper, but this I can promise is not true.

 I have started and stopped several times in the past few months, but it's something I'm willing to keep trying as the small glimmers of strength or control I have felt as a result of spilling my head on a page has been worth it every time.



I hope this article can be of some help.


Tuesday, 23 October 2012 0 comments

Psychotherapy Appointment 2

Wow it’s been a difficult few weeks between these appointments. My medication was changed from clomipramine to Sertraline as the side effects to clomipramine were becoming too much.

This may be partially responsible for the set back I’ve felt the last couple of weeks.

I've been fighting with myself about whether this is OCD or not. How can I tell it's not my real thoughts?

I have also been struggling to do the things that my therapist asked me to do, the relaxation cd and writing down thoughts and challenging them. She says this is very common, as these are the things that are starting to challenge your mind and your current way of living, I am resisting them.

I have however been getting a bit more exercise during the day. So it’s not all negative.

This appointment we started to get down to what my thoughts are and not so much about how I feel. The plan going forward is to work through this book called

‘Overcoming Obsessive Thoughts: How to Gain Control of Your OCD’

Here’s a link to the book on Amazon        Overcoming Obsessive Thoughts

Every week I am to read a chapter and complete the tasks outlined, then in future appointments we will discuss what the outcomes were.

The one interesting thing during this appointment is that I ended up getting emotional about things I didn’t even realise were upsetting to me. During my teenage years I spent almost all my time drawing and getting involved in art. For a few reasons this came to an end, one being a rejection from art school. From that time forward I kind of stopped drawing or doing anything creative.  I was almost blubbering like a baby during the appointment while discussing this time.

The other goal for me is to start doing something creative again in order to create some ‘me’ time. Especially when it seems to have been so central to my character growing up.

So my goals are to
1)      Listen to the relaxation cd
2)      Write about my intrusive thoughts (this will probably be guided by the book)
3)      Exercise
4)      Take up as a hobby creative art again
Thursday, 11 October 2012 4 comments

Why do I have OCD?

This is a tough question. As a member of the LDS church we are often led to think about the reason behind things, to look at the bigger/eternal picture.

When I try to understand why I think the way I do or have to go through so much OCD doubt I come up with a range of reasons why I might have OCD; none of which actually get me any further along the road to dealing with it.

Here’s my reasons

1)      I have OCD because I need to learn something from it.
2)      I have OCD as a punishment for things I have done wrong in the past.
3)      I have OCD as a consequence of things I have done wrong in the past.
4)      I have OCD because there is naturally a biological problem I couldn’t help.
5)      I don’t have OCD at all, but I am just trying to make my living a lie be explainable.

This is not a happy range of thoughts to go through, especially as I feel that I must find out the answer so then I can fix it.

I feel like I’m not learning anything but just hurting, so that’s reason (1) gone.

If I’m being punished, then what’s the point anymore as it’s just getting worse and I might as well stop trying to be good.

If it’s the consequences of doing stuff wrong, and not God punishing me but just letting nature run it’s course, there’s certainly no mercy being shown my way. Can I really be such a bad person that this is the consequence of sin?

If it’s a natural biological problem, why isn’t God helping me by giving me little glimmers of hope and truth to help me ride through this difficult thing?

Maybe I am just trying to find something that fits rather than actually having a problem. Maybe this is just what would excuse my bad thinking and give me a reason to blame something other than who I really am?

I wish I had someone I could really talk to about this, someone who understands. Not sure my new therapist would understand.
Friday, 5 October 2012 0 comments

Psychotherapy Appointment 1

So first of 6 -8 appointments with my psychotherapist. We meet every two weeks.

We chatted about how I felt during the day, to which my answer was anxious, shaky, jumpy, tense and tired from the constant mental battles. I was telling her it started from the moment I wake up.

Work is the hardest place for me, however I don’t know why because where I work there are great and supportive people. Maybe it’s the inner challenge for mental resources, where work requires my time and thought, but so does the OCD.

My therapist gave me a relaxation cd and has encouraged me to use it everyday and within a couple of weeks I may start feeling the good effects of that positive, relaxing action.

Secondly, I have to exercise more to burn off the excess anxious energy that I have. So when I’m at work I need to go for a walk at lunchtime. My therapist suggested jogging or running.

Thirdly, I need to write down my thoughts, especially the ones that trouble me. I have to write them down and the reasons why I have this thought or think this thing. Then I am to right down evidence that disconfirms this thought.

As you will be able to tell, if you have read my blog up until now, is that I started exercising and writing. However, I have not kept it up. I have hardly written anything for a month or more and I stopped running because I hurt my knee.

I have a book to read as well, called ‘The Imp of the mind: Exploring the silent epidemic of Obsessive bad thoughts’ by Lee Baer PhD     


I'll keep this blog updated with progress on the relaxation cd, the exercising and the writing.

In further news, I met with my doctor again and my medication was changed. I’ll leave that for my next post.
Monday, 24 September 2012 0 comments

It's Official!

Well it’s true! I have OCD. I have been officially diagnosed as having OCD.

I had an appointment with a psychologist on Thursday, at which she confirmed my suspicions that OCD is what’s been bothering my life for the last 13 years.

My therapist is going to start CBT at our next appointment, which is two weeks away.

It was hard news to hear and for a couple of days I felt worse, but it has finally given me some confidence in accepting this diagnosis, as I was worrying about whether I was just lying to myself and OCD was an excuse for my thoughts.

As far as I’m aware it’s a common thing to experience doubt whether it is OCD or not, when you truly do have OCD.

It was funny on the morning of my appointment. I said to my wife that I was worried that I’d go to the appointment and they would say there was nothing wrong with me and I was making it all up. My wife’s reply was…..in between her laughter….“There is no chance they will tell you there is nothing wrong with you.”

So apparently to others it’s obvious.
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 0 comments

Assessment forms for my first Psychology appointment

So I'm going to meet with someone from the Psychology team tomorrow and was asked to complete the forms attached below. I've found it a bit difficult to fill these in. I will post the results from these tomorrow and let you know how it went.



Wednesday, 12 September 2012 0 comments

Progress?

Ok it’s been just over 4 months that I have been taking Clomipramine (anafranil), Over which time the dose was increased to 150mg.

Since I have been taking Clomipramine I have been a little bit less obsessive but I still have obsessive doubts. The main difference is that I don’t panic when I have these thoughts. The anxiety is a much more dull or subtle feeling.

I still spend most of my days anxious, but I am not crippled by thoughts and emotions.

The bad thing about Clomipramine has been the side effects of sweating, tiredness (almost falling asleep at work every day), slow urination and leg and hand tremors.

While clomipramine has been helpful, and better than fluoxetine (prozac), I think that I would prefer to take escitalopram (cipralex) or try sertraline, but my doctor was not up for changing medication again, but I’ll be pushing for a change after a full examination by the psychiatric team. I’ll tell them about all the side effects I want to avoid.

In fact since I mention it, I have just received an appointment to meet with a psychiatrist on the 20th September which will be my first appointment and hopefully a start to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

There is a number of assessments I need to complete before going. I will scan them in and show you them tomorrow.
Tuesday, 4 September 2012 0 comments

Is there anybody out there?

I'm just wondering if there are people out there reading my blog, or whether the view count is just people stumbling over it.

Would you be so kind to leave a comment, anonymously if that suits you best.

I would love to hear from you.

Monday, 3 September 2012 0 comments

I feel like I'm living a lie

Finding it very difficult this morning. I feel like I’m living a lie. I feel like I’m living a fake life. Everything I do is to keep an image. I can’t stop thinking that the only reason for anything I do is because I’m trying to live a fake life that is what others want of me.

Maybe the thoughts I am calling ‘negative’ that make me anxious are real and that is the real me that is just breaking through the falseness of my life.

There seems to be no point to life, no point in trying because it’s all just fake.

I am largely struggling with religious doubts, which is very difficult as I would have said it is upon religious beliefs that I have built my life and relationships. If I am to accept the negative thoughts as real then my whole foundation in life has gone.  I then can’t see what the point would be to anything. It’s central to my understanding of myself and the world.

If this is OCD I’m finding it very diffictult as this is a subject matter that is completely subjective as not everyone believes in God or even the same religion. Therefore to everyone I meet the answer can often be ‘well walk away from your religion’,or ‘maybe your beliefs are changing over time’, but that is walking away from my whole life.

I want to believe what I have based my life on, but I can’t do it with constant anxiety and doubtful thoughts.

It’s a strange feeling to hope that it is actually OCD because it explains what I feel very well, but at the same time I struggle to believe that it is OCD and I am just perpetuating the fake life.

I wake up anxious every day, and I am so tired of trying to block or resolve this dilemma.

It won’t leave me alone.

Some things I do know, I love my family, and I want to get passed this.
Friday, 24 August 2012 0 comments

Friday needs some Jamiroquai


Hope you enjoy this for a Friday tune.
Thursday, 23 August 2012 4 comments

Think about what you are thinking about

Please don't think for a moment that with a title like this, I am telling you as someone with OCD or mental health challenges that you should ruminate or obssess, This is just the title of something I was listening to Today. I have been listening to a discussion on the Mormon Channel, which was an interview with an LDS Family services counsellor called Bruce K Fordham.

It was good to hear the things he spoke about. He was discussing how we can sometimes feel like our thoughts control us. His interview on the Mormon Channel and also in an Ensign article published in April 2009 outline a simple two step process to gaining control again of our thoughts.

His simple technique for combatting intrusive or unwanted thoughts are as follows –

First, we can treat the thought with indifference, preventing it from developing or becoming engaging to our minds.

Second, we can replace the negative idea with a wholesome thought or activity.

I found the interview on the Mormon channel more insightful and helpful than what was written in the Ensign article as it's a bit more in depth.

Here is a link to the podcast


However, Here is the link to his Ensign article

Think about what you are thinking about

While this is not an unusual or a unique approach, I found it helpful to hear a member of the church who knows about mental health challenges say that you don’t have to challenge your bad thoughts, infact you are allowed to be indifferent and unresponsive.
Monday, 6 August 2012 0 comments

Good for......not much it seems!

Something’s been bothering me. I hope I can explain this without any harshness or criticism, as that is not my intention.

For the past few years I have had pretty bad episodes where I am so anxious and distressed with thoughts that I have become quite ineffective. I’m stuck in the depths of obsessing, doubt and panic attacks.

This has always led to being released from my church callings. The last four callings I have had, I’ve been released when one of these episodes kicks in. They generally last around 6 weeks. I can understand the point of view that a church leader would want to help me by removing that burden from me, but it’s not such a nice thing to always see yourself letting others down because of something going on in your head.

The more it occurs I know there is a questioning or unwillingness to call me to something else, even if I feel better. What tends to happen is I have a chat with the Bishop when I’m in the throws of my anxiety and panic, I get released and then the Bishop doesn’t speak to me again, nor a counsellor nor a home teacher (that’s because the home teachers don’t come) or any other leader. It becomes nothing more than a handshake on a Sunday for several months after. I’m left without a calling and without any real form of church support.

I am not saying I want someone to pour out my soul to, but it seems like I am some kind of spare wheel now, so there’s no point in including me. It would be nice to have someone say to me ‘How’s things going, are things any better?’

I sense a great reluctance to ask me to do anything or call me to anything. I doubt I am even considered, because I’m the mental crazy one who’s unreliable.

With the latest developments of being told this I have OCD, there is only one ward leader who knows this, and a couple of close friends at church. I’ve not told any other leaders, because none of them have asked how I am. I’m not going to go and seek out someone to pour out my thoughts and ailments, but the opportunity has never even been close to occuring.

I guess I am in a unique situation. Not everyone has religious/morality based OCD. Even if I was to tell them, would they get it? I have previously told them what I question and doubt as my obsessions, but I didn’t know at the time that they were obsessions. That vital information clears up alot of issues. Without that info this obviously leaves them thinking I am just weak or I have sinned or I just don’t understand the Gospel.

I think I need a calling as a form of exposure and a way of retraining or replying to my negative thoughts. But I’m in limbo with no calling, no responsibility, no communication with leaders and I think a stereotype as the mentally ill one who must have done something sinful to be punished and tormented.

I have been told that my name has been put forward for callings to the Stake, but the answer came back ‘No, the Lord has other plans for him’ (whatever that means). It obviously doesn't include giving me a calling even to hand out hymn books.

If I was to tell anyone or everyone I had OCD won’t that just confirm to these people that I am a crazy nutjob rather than currently having them just be suspicious?

I’m feeling the ‘Why me?’ thing just now. Why have I got this? Why am I the crazy one? Why can’t I just be normal, instead of judged and ignored?

I guess it’s my pride that is hurting with this one. I feel dispensible. It’s almost like I have to be less active with  problems before anyone would be interested in helping. As my butt is on a church pew every Sunday, no one seems in the slightest bit interested.

I have learnt a valuable lesson, that just because someone is at church every Sunday  doesn’t mean they don’t have a problem that is too heavy to carry alone sometimes. I’m going to try to be there for others to help with their burdens - with or without a calling.
Thursday, 2 August 2012 0 comments

It's like a scab that I can't stop picking


There seems to be only one thing more scary that anxiety and obsessing, and that is not feeling anxious and obsessional.

For the last few days, I have been feeling a lot more grounded. I actually feel like I am in my own skin. Any sense of derealisation and depersonalisation have gone. My anxiety, sweating and general dazed state has greatly diminished.

It would appear that being anxious and overwhelmed has become the norm, and what I expect from my daily existence. It has been about 12 years that I’ve lived with anxiety and ruminations.

As I look back without the anxiety tinted glasses  there have been times that I have felt this relaxed over the 12 years, but it has been the exception.

I keep thinking

‘Should I be anxious about something?’
‘Is it ok to be this care free?’
‘What has happened to all my obsessive thoughts?’
'How do I feel about this?'

It is the strangest thing. I am basically free from the anxiety and obsessions, yet I seem to be left with the obsession to check where my obsessions have gone. I keep testing myself and how I feel.

You’d think I’d be jumping at the new lease of life I feel from, I’m guessing, the medication I’m taking but instead my brain is trying to find the very thing I was trying to get rid of.

I need something to fill the void the anxiety has left.

I have realised that this week I have stopped doing any writing of a journal. It seems like I have not felt the need to write anything down to help make sense of stuff as the anxiety has subsided. I also haven't exercised. If these have been two beneficial things, then I need to remember to do them even if I feel ok.
Tuesday, 24 July 2012 0 comments

No anxiety = flat and dead

Today is the first day in a while that I have felt almost free of anxiety. My obsessional thoughts have not been around so much in the last hour or so. The other way I can tell that I’m not anxious is that my legs have stopped bouncing and I’m more inclined to sit still.

Here’s the funny thing…..Life without anxiety almost feels flat and dead.

Is this because I’m so used to the heightened awareness and being on edge that without it, things seem lifeless.

I’m left feeling that I either want to fall asleep or find some way of creating a positive high in equal measure to the anxiety.

I’m not sure I want to live life in extreme highs and lows. Just need some plain old life, experiencing the joys of simple things and being able to take interest in things like work etc.

I almost don’t want to try to feel happy as I’m convinced that thoughts and feelings will kick in to bring me down a peg or two.

I should just try to enjoy the low as a nice change.


As a side note - I have just been referred to a clinical psychiatrist for a diagnosis and for further treatment. I'm really hoping that brings some results. It might take a while as the NHS has a bit of a backlog in the psychiatry section, much like all other departments. Hoping it comes about soon though.
Wednesday, 11 July 2012 3 comments

Are these all OCD moments?

Since it has been confirmed that I have OCD I have had some unusual memories of previous events that I think may have been related to OCD.

I haven't been raking through the past to find these either, they have just popped into my head. I don't want to label them as OCD related if they are not. It seems to be hard to tell.

Anyway here's a list of thoughts/events............

1) Going through the process of counting how many letters are in a word and trying to make them either an even number or follow a pattern of numbers eg 'Accommodation'  If a word like this has uneven numbers of letter,  I would try changing the word and then counting it eg. 'Are you sure it has two m's or can you drop one and count 6 and 6 letters? Or I would have to say 'Accommodations' and add the 's' so it would now add up. This seems to get more intense when I am tired or anxious. As a result I can count the amount of letters in a word extremely quickly. It freaks my wife out a bit.

2) I was dating a girl who I really really liked. I thought it was going to end up in marriage. I started thinking 'Maybe she is not attractive enough for me to marry her?' I had this thought and at the same time thought it was the most ridiculous question to ask because she was very attractive. I wanted to avoid the chance we might marry because I might leave her for not being attractive enough. This was so against my self image that I couldn't understand why I was thinking this. I ended up feeling bad about myself and feeling like I must be a horrible, shallow person for having this thought that just keep repeating in my head. When I thought of her, saw her or spoke to her on the phone this thought would pop up. I'd become quiet and cagey around her and ended up telling her I had this thought, but that I also thought it was ridiculous. She was understandably upset by my honesty. I was somehow trying to tell her what I was thinking but also how silly I thought it was at the same time. Our relationship didn't last much longer.

3) During a time of feeling bad and confessing sins to my Bishop, I was not feeling any better for having gone through the confession process where I normally would feel some relief. I started thinking of a time in my childhood that I threw a stone at a bus. I was convinced that I must have killed someone when I threw that stone, but I never knew it at the time, and that is why I am still feeling bad now. I was thinking of ways that I could find out if I had killed someone, like going to the police station and handing myself in, trying to identify the time frame and go and read all the old newspapers I could find for that time and in that area to see if anyone died. I was praying and begging for forgiveness over several days with no relief. The urgency of this thought faded, but I still think about it even today.

4) I heard some news that a friend of mine was driving a car irresponsibly and crashed killing one of his passengers. He was sent to prison. I started to think about how badly he must feel and how horrible it would be to go to prison. It was almost like I started to feel how badly I thought he must be feeling. I became consumed with feeling how badly he felt. This led me to feel terrible myself, but then I had to attribute something to how badly I felt. I then came up with several reasons for things I should feel bad for and I had to confess them to the Bishop, my Dad and other family members. I was looking for reassurance that I didn't need to feel this bad.

5) When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I kept having thoughts that I could not possibly be the Father of a child and be successful. I had overwhelming thoughts that I didn't want my children to be raised in the church despite the fact I have previously chosen to commit my life to the gospel and the church. Why would I think I didn't want my kids to be taught gospel principles and go to church like I did? I would be living my whole life as a lie, pretending to be a Father who wanted to teach his children the gospel, but all along I didn't and I was lying to my children and my wife and my whole life would turn into a sham! The panic of this only subsided with medication, but I never felt the thoughts were addressed or dealt with. I still have the thoughts today.

6) I was convinced that as a child I must have participated in a homosexual act that I had not repented of and had to confess to the Bishop about a time I was friends with a specific boy. Maybe I fancied him and maybe we did something inappropriate? Despite the fact I have never had any sexual feelings towards a man in my life. My Bishop found it rather strange that something I hadn't definitely done would trouble me so much.

7) This is quite a specific one so if you are at all sensitive you may want to skip this - I woke up one morning while on my mission, holding my erect penis. 'I must have been masturbating in my sleep' I thought. 'How depraved an individual are you if you masturbate in your sleep?' This was the onset of my panic. I had to confess. I had to admit that I was doing that in my sleep. I must be the worst Elder ever. I am going to be sent home. What if I was to find someone that day who would accept the Gospel and now I won't be in tune and I won't find them and it will be my fault! How was I to know whether this was ok or whether this was a sin? I couldn't chance it, I'd have to confess and find out.

8) I read a scripture Mosiah 2:41 all about the blessed and happy state of the righteous. I had what I now know is a panic attack and the thought 'You are not happy like these people are happy. You are therefore not righteous and you probably can't be because of all the stuff you've done wrong. You are wasting your time because you are always sinning even when you are trying not to.' I couldn't get rid of this thought and doubt. I'd try and find out what it was that I had done wrong stopping me being happy. The ironic thing is that it was only this thought that was making me unhappy.

There are a few more but this post is long enough.

So do you have any thoughts on these? Are these OCD related thoughts and actions?


Friday, 6 July 2012 2 comments

Friday Video - Jesus is waiting - Al Green

 Al Green at his most mellow and most powerful.

If you didn't have a belief before you heard this, you now have a reason to start.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012 0 comments

On the edge



I am feeling super anxious and down this morning. I woke up at 3am and couldn't get back to sleep no matter what I tried. Felt like I was awake inside a dream.

I've had a cold the last couple of days with a sore throat. Could it be possible that OCD is made more intense by feeling slightly unwell?

I have no desire to do anything today. Feel like I am sliding backwards. This frustrates me because I'm taking the medication and trying to be positive. I just want to curl up under my duvet and hide. I'm not going to do this, but it's all I want to do. If I could just sleep and wake up in a more controlled mood.

I'm constantly feeling the need for a definite answer on my thoughts. Can't allow ambiguity. It started as a result of reading a book about OCD and Cognitive behavioural therapy. It brought on even stronger the 'This isn't OCD' fight and the need for proof that it is.

There was me thinking reading about OCD or CBT would make it easier and not worse.




Monday, 25 June 2012 0 comments

Harden not your hearts

For quite a while I have been saying to my wife that for the past few years I feel like I was becoming a harder person. This has manifested itself in a few ways, mostly being less caring about others and more willing to criticise.

The worst thing was that I felt I had no choice in this. I was reacting to situations that were placed in front of me and dealing with them as best I could while at the same time protecting myself from anxiety, fear, doubt and probably a few other unpleasant emotions. To criticise or to push away meant I would not be over come by any of the fear. Besides a lot of people I know seem to get away with being selfish, and seem to enjoy life, so why not me? Let me tell you, it was somewhat effective in the moment, but if you let yourself free wheel through life and only think of you, then you will find yourself doing things you would never normally do and you will brush it off for a while in arrogance and I would say I was just looking after myself. Little did I realise at the time, but I was simply storing up pain for my next big mental break.

I could never explain this hardness and why I was feeling this way. Now that I am coming to realise that it was my reaction to safeguard against OCD, I understand a bit more why I was so afraid or fearful and therefore more protective of myself. I was hiding from any and all situations that could possibly induce panic. I still have that anxiety and fear everyday. I still have the thoughts that test me everyday and I still do the compulsive mental routines of checking how I feel about things and testing myself, but it is getting better bit by bit.

My last big crash about three months ago which led to 6 weeks off work and 2 terrible weeks at work, wrestling with panic and thoughts, I came out of the downward spiral a bit more positive. I decided to act differently. Regardless of what I thought, I was going to think about others more and even fake the happiness. The funny thing that happened was that I felt less hard.

Today I read a scripture and the simplest of things stood out to me. How come I had never read this before?

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts. (Jacob 6:5)

I probably would always have noted the call to repentance first or felt overwhelmed with trying to come with a full purpose of heart, but this time ‘harden not your hearts’ stood out.

So the scripture is telling me that I have a choice in whether my heart is hard or not. All this time I have felt hard, it has been a choice I have made and not something I was forced into. As I look back I can see when I made the choice to be hard, but have never really acknowledged the fact I did.

Every time in the scriptures that it mentions hardness of heart, it is phrased in such a way that indicated it was the person’s choice. The only differences I can find is in Exodus where it says a bunch of times that The Lord hardened the Pharaohs heart, but every time it says this there is a Joseph Smith Translation to correct it to Pharaoh hardened his own heart. The second one is in Hebrews

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13)

Here is states that sin can bring hardness of heart, but of course it is us that chooses the sin, so we are still making the choice to be hard even if we thought the choice was only to do something wrong.

I understand this is not ground breaking. I’m not trying to reinvent the gospel, but it's a simple principle that helps me to remember I have alot of control over how I react. While OCD seems to remove a lot of control over certain thoughts, the choice to be hard or not, has always been mine. 


This thought would not have helped me, even a few weeks ago. My head was still wrestling on an hourly basis. Now the medication is kicking in a bit better, I feel like this is the true me starting to come back and shine through the bleak thoughts.



 
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