Tuesday, 26 November 2013 0 comments

Do not run faster than you have strength


OK maybe not quite like that. Read this......

Mosiah 4:27 - And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

This is a wonderful verse of scripture, and it contains so much. It’s like my head explodes with ideas and thoughts (good ones) whenever I read it.

It speaks of so many principles, which correctly understood, can transform our lives. Some of these being –

Wisdom
Order
Temperance
Patience
Persistence

It is both universal and personal in its application.

It puts in perspective quite clearly what the expectation of us is in the sight of a loving Heavenly Father.

It suggests being patient and kind with ourselves, while at the same time not making excuses for our weaknesses. Not running faster than we have strength still suggests that we should be running/moving but just at a pace that is right for us and our current situation.

There will be times we can run harder, do more, withstand more, and there will be times that we can’t think of anything other than making it to the end of the day.

The nicest thing that comes from this is that we learn that it isn’t speed that wins the prize, but diligence. Keep going daily. Do what you can, Be honest about what you can and can’t do.

Of late I have been feeling good (does OCD ever really leave though?) and have wanted to take on so much more. I feel like this is a time that I have the capacity to run faster than usual, and I want to. Some are concerned about for me that I might be doing too much. Maybe they are right. I won’t argue. Last thing I want to do is burn out or go down in a blaze of glory when I don’t have to go ‘down’ at all.

There are some exciting things coming my way in the near future and I don’t want to be incapacitated with my OCD alter ego. I have a name for him. Pete.

Pete’s an idiot.

Lately he has had me doing some really bizarre things.

One of which was truly odd. I remember as a teenager I used to have some tics where I would involuntarily blink a lot or open my mouth wide. These all passed with time and I haven’t really got any tics these days.

However, one thing I can’t stop doing is running through events in my head. I relive conversations and situations. I really struggle to stop doing this once I start. This has sometimes led to me talking them out loud again while I am in the car by myself or anywhere by myself. I think the anxiety is that I came away looking silly or I made a mistake with something I said.

Anyway, I was coming home from work on the bus the other night and I started re-imagining a previous conversation I had with someone. While mentally revisiting it my thoughts took the conversation down a root that it never went down in reality. The next thing I knew I was opening my eyes to see myself waving my arms around, pulling a silly face and saying something out loud in front of the whole bus.
They must have thought I was insane, because I thought that about myself in that very instance.

It felt completely involuntary. So much so that I didn’t know I was doing it until I opened my eyes, which I also hadn’t even realised I had closed. I have never physically acted out my thoughts in such a way before. Not even in private. The most outward it’s been is in speaking it all again out loud.

I have been a bit panicky since then that I will do something involuntarily somewhere of more importance or significance to me in future. I don’t want to do something so seemingly crazy at work, church, at a meeting or in front of my family. It feels like the real definition of crazy to me.

There’s nothing like that to make you feel like you are completely insane. I guess that anyone who is really insane doesn’t think they are insane. The very fact you think you might be insane is generally a good sign that you aren’t. Well, that’s what I am telling myself anyway.

Have you ever experienced any involuntary movements, actions or tics that are OCD related?

Mine have all been internal until that point on the bus. Let’s hope I’m not evolving into having more outward compulsions. I’ve heard that can happen as OCD can change over time.

To get back on topic, I’m learning from this verse of scripture all the time and the lesson is relevant to the above situation. It’s all about pacing yourself and doing what you can. Stuff is going to happen in life, stuff you would never even have imagined. Let’s not panic at them, but accept them and be more concerned with doing what you can. Try to live in the moment using mindfulness principles rather than living in past events, conversations or situations.
Friday, 15 November 2013 0 comments

Reassurance pt 2


My last post on reassurance as a compulsion for OCD sufferers might have sounded like a lot of the things we need in life, like talking to friends, family, finding information and generally seeking feedback, need to be stopped.

However, this is not really what I was wanting to say. We all need reassurance from time to time whether we suffer OCD or not. We all need to talk things through and offload or seek a better understanding of things in order to be reasonable people.

I guess the real challenge with reassurance is deciding whether the need for reassurance is a natural human response in the circumstance, or whether it is a compulsion that you are using to scratch the OCD itch?

Knowing what type of things I seek reassurance on, due to OCD, I can see at least one or two places to stop seeking reassurance. I have stopped seeking reassurance on worthiness issues, which as we all know can be a big question for everyone in the LDS church. We discuss it a lot and we value the idea that we are ‘worthy’, however with any real thought you can quickly realise that none of us are really ‘worthy’, so it’s a bit of a nonsense worrying too much about it. We just need to do what we know to be right, and keep trying.

I simply made a decision that I would never go and discuss or seek to confess anything to a Bishop or a Stake President again. That thought might strike the fear into some members, and some may see that as an act of defiance or pride, but the context is very different in the instance of OCD.

An OCD sufferer who deals with scrupulosity or religiosity are generally not the type of people who go around doing stuff that needs confession to the Bishop. Normally sufferers are already so hyper-sensitive to doing anything wrong that they will be

1) confessing stuff they have already confessed
2) imagined wrongs which never happened, but because I’m thinking of them maybe they did
3) thinking a bad thought that you believe says something devastating about your character, and the list could go on.

This is not a normal thought process. This is the obsessive thought. The compulsion is to have a Bishop or someone in authority tell you it’s ok. Nothing else will do.

In these instances you have to refuse to confess to a priesthood leader. This is not pride, this is forcing yourself to see sense.

Of course, serious transgressions that may occur in the future need confession as part of the repentance process, but it’s just a part of the process, not the ultimate and most important detail.

I have learnt something about faith and forgiveness in this process. The faith comes from believing that the Saviour will forgive me for the small things I do as I recognise them and essentially move on trying to do better. He doesn’t need or want us to be so crippled with anxiety and guilt that we can’t manage to be better because we are so swallowed up in a sense of our own guilt. Faith is trusting in Jesus Christ that he will make right the wrongs that we can’t, and then we move on with life.

I have found the best form of ‘confession’ or ‘reassurance’ comes from writing down my thoughts and questions. The process of writing them down is getting them out just as effectively as telling someone. It also has the added benefit of ordering and structuring your thoughts. It also relieves anxiety as you are engaged in the process of writing, things become clearer.

Full blown anxiety is never a good state in which to make decisions, unless it’s RUN FOR YOUR LIFE A BIG GRIZZLY BEAR IS GOING TO EAT YOU!!!

While small amounts of anxiousness, stress or fear may help motivate us in certain circumstances, when it becomes sheer panic and debilitating we are no longer being rational.

So my advice, stop the reassurance from others, write it down instead. It keeps your stuff personal, but still creates the release and the opportunity to re-evaluate and reassure yourself.
Thursday, 10 October 2013 0 comments

Reassurance pt.1

In recognising that I crave reassurance in the depths of my OCD, I have come to realise that it is something I have always sought even outwith the OCD thoughts.

I have always required the reassurance of someone else telling me something was done right or was done well. The reassurance does not need to come through words, but in written forms and physical contact. The praise of someone else is to help me feel acceptable or worthwhile. Without it Paranoia and anxiety set in.

We all need reassurance from time to time. It can be the one kind word or the little pick me up that we require to help us carry on. When the search for reassurance becomes habitual or compulsive, this is where it becomes an issue.

I can’t begin to categorically say that this predisposition/weakness is a characteristic that contributes to the development of OCD or if the presence of OCD has led to the development of this trait. I will probably never know what came first.

There are key sources that I have turned to for reassurance within the last 15 years –

1) Church leaders (confessions that occur repeatedly)
2) Family members (confessions and just generally pouring out my thoughts)
3) God (in prayer or fasting, then trying to make deals with God)
4) Friends or colleagues (
5) Internet diagnoses (Google is not always your friend)
6) Medical books (but you then find other illnesses you might have)

I’m sure there are others.

I have successfully received reassurance from each of these sources on different occasions. Each have been successful in fulfilling the need for reassurance, but I have found that no matter how many times I can be reassured of something, the next time I face the thought or situation again, any former reassurance received is useless. The reassurance needs to be more definite the next time and maybe repeated several times. It’s a bit like taking a drug, you build up a tolerance and need more to get ‘high’ or to ‘come down’.

Any previous belief in statements of reassurance once received can easily be dismissed. In fact you can believe that the original reassurance must have been wrong, despite the fact you want it to be right. So any previous reassurance becomes fuel to the fire of OCD as it never actually changes anything.

The difficulty that ensues is that you have an Obsessive thought that needs reassurance to quell the anxiety, but you just have to deal with it another way. We have to learn new ways of looking at and dealing with the emotion and distress caused.
Monday, 7 October 2013 0 comments

General Conference and 'coming out the OCD closet pt2'

So Elder Jeffrey R Holland's talk was great. It's not earth shatteringly new, and anyone who has any experience of mental health challenges would hopefully already feel this way, but it is great that the subject has been approached by an Apostle for those who maintain scepticism about mental health challenges.

The real question is, if it's ok to admit to these things, should I take this as another incentive to come out of the OCD closet? I'm still in two minds about it.

I am more settled with the idea of 'coming out' but I think there has to be an appropriate context. I mean I don't want to just stand up in Testimony meeting and announce it. I feel it has to be done in a constructive and unselfish way. I am not telling people for my benefit as I am ok with my personal challenge and I'm not looking to get support or pity or praise. I feel it might be of use to someone else to not feel so alone in their despair, and if it can help someone else then that's just a bonus.

On another note, I wonder if this is a topic that might benefit from a ward fireside or something as there are others who have experienced such challenges. There is a Gospel centred approach to overcoming these challenges and it might be a good focus for a motivational, uplifting fireside?

Check out this talk if you haven't already....

Monday, 23 September 2013 0 comments

Intensity



One key component of OCD appears to be that an OCD sufferer has a thought (the obsession) and then feels that there is some meaning to it, rather than it just being something that enters our mind and then dismiss it.

EVERYTHING HAS A MEANING (or so my brain would like to think)

I think this comes from the fact that our thoughts engage us with emotional responses. I was sitting in a meeting with a priesthood leader who told me that I was “pretty intense”. I laughed a bit at the time to try to take the edge off that statement that struck a little too close to home, not necessarily helped as I looked over at my wife who was furiously nodding her head and pulling a funny face.

I knew this to be true but didn’t expect it to be so apparent. I have tried so hard to be easier going and more relaxed. I obviously haven’t been trying hard enough.

Some of the intensity I can definitely attribute to OCD thoughts, but not everything I think is an obsessive thought. I seem to have intensity about other things as well. Here we have a bit of a ‘chicken or the egg’ situation. Am I intense because that’s my personality, and this lends itself to OCD, or is it the OCD creeping in to my every day thoughts? In an effort to not turn my thoughts on intensity into a rather intense analysis, I’ll leave it there (believe me, I could go on). I have been trying of late to try and be happier and present myself in a more care-free way. What can I say…. it’s not working.

I get intense in ways such as intense concentration. I can think about something until my brain literally hurts. In fact I get lost in topics and subjects so much so that I become consumed mentally and emotionally in the topic. For example, I got so caught up in the topic of LDS Church History for a while that when I was at work I had to be listening to something or reading something about Church history because nothing else mattered in my little world. Needless to say I didn’t get very much work done. My brain pretty much just said that this was the most important thing and I almost shut down in relation to other tasks and life.

I can often be so mentally exhausted that I can’t take any more stimulation and just have to try and shutdown completely. Let me tell you that this is not possible at work or at home with two young kids and a wife who has a reasonable expectation of my engagement with them all while I’m at home.

I also get quite intense emotions. I very rarely just feel good, bad, tired, anxious etc. The emotions always have to be the pinnacle of the emotion being felt. From a church/gospel standpoint, this also relates to feeling the spirit. I must create for others or for myself feel the most profound experience with the spirit.

(This is what leads me to burn out and crash I think. I generally go through a pattern of something close to a breakdown every 18-24 months. I think I just get overloaded and my anxiety and mental wiring just go nuts.)

I can see in other people’s eyes when in conversation one of two things.

Firstly, and most rare, that people think I’m some kind of deep, thoughtful and inspired person because I seem to put in so much effort into thought and preparedness. Little do they know it’s almost not a pleasant experience and it is generally against my own will.

This one is a hard concept for me and actually seems like a reinforcement to the OCD behaviour. The very thing that is wrong with my thinking is being seen by others as a very positive personal, even spiritual trait. It almost blows my brain that something so destructive can be seen by others to be a great spiritual gift. Maybe that’s a whole different topic for a later blog post.

Secondly, and most common, people look at me like I’m either way overthinking something, trying way too hard or raising points/questions with my comments that don’t need to be made or asked. Who knows what they think actually, all I know is that I get a rather quizzical look from them or a sense of ‘shut up already’.

So my intensity level needs to drop down a notch or two, but how do I do that, especially when they are tied up in my anxiety, self image, personal characteristics and people’s positive impressions of me?
I find that this intensity leads into perfectionism. I struggle with that. The worst thing about it is that I am never perfect so it’s just a constant let down.

I have set myself a task, and trying to be as relaxed about it as possible, that I am going to read the scriptures, other positive teachings from the church and other sources about happiness, peace and faith (as I think this is lacking when we try to take things upon ourselves too much).

Like it says in the scriptures in many places “Be of good cheer”. This is the goal.

I do notice in the statement the sentiment that it is a choice. It is something I can choose to “Be”.

Let’s see how this works. If anyone has any thoughts or insight into how to be less intense, I could use all the help I can get.
Monday, 9 September 2013 6 comments

Paranoia, OCD and surely I must have schizophrenia!

***I don't know how I feel about this post anymore. Having re-read it I don't think I have explained myself very well. I seem to be trying to separate schizophrenia and OCD based on the idea that thoughts can always be seen as irrational with OCD, and that is a generalisation that doesn't always hold true, even for me. I feel I may have spoken out of turn a bit due to my lack of knowledge of schizophrenia, but I will leave this post up however, as this appears to be the most visited one on my blog. I just wanted to add this update because I am less sure of my presentation and assertions now. I just put down what I think at the time, and I am not infallible that's for sure. If it's any consolation I have previously felt I was schizophrenic, but have come to realise I am not, and it really was OCD all along.




If you or I can say ‘I am going crazy right now’, are we actually going crazy?

Surely a crazy person does whatever crazy people do, but think they are normal.

Can a crazy person identify their own craziness?

To me that suggests they are not crazy at all, but actually very perceptively stating that their behaviour or thoughts are not what is considered ‘normal’.

This is an important point. I’ve felt, and have heard others with OCD say that they have often thought they were Schizophrenic, or have a paranoid personality disorder, but one key distinction is that with OCD you can still see the irrationality in your thoughts, even when you can’t stop them.

They may seem and even feel believable, but there is still something in the background that says ‘I don’t want to think this’ and ‘I don’t want it to be true’. This idea that we can think something and then at the same time disagree with it is what leads OCD sufferers to think they are schizophrenic. It's like there are two people in there fighting out an idea. In reality it's not another personality but simply an intrusive and unwanted thought.

Paranoid disorders lead to delusion, and OCD people are not deluded.

Infact in my experience they fully know that what is going on in their head is wrong and this is what creates the anxiety. We don’t like having thoughts that we aren’t in control of. We therefore think there must be some hidden meaning to them.

Here’s a definition I’ve been thinking for where paranoia and OCD meet –

Paranoia – is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion.

OCD - is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, yet is recognised as irrational as we ask if we are delusional.

An OCD sufferer can still sense the irrationality even if they can’t stop having the thought. OCD sufferers don’t wholeheartedly accept the thought but we fight it or try to neutralise it with a compulsion.

We kind of feel paranoid thoughts but also know that we are being paranoid, despite the fact that doesn’t immediately help us with the paranoia. A personal example here is that I have previously felt that everyone is out to get me and everyone talks negatively about me. This thought causes some pretty intense anxiety and fear of doing the wrong thing in front of others, because I don’t want to give them any fuel for the fire of hate, but rather than become convinced of the thought, despite the anxiety I can have intermittent thoughts of “That’s unlikely. Not everybody can be talking about me behind my back.” And “What does it matter what other people are saying anyway!” This is a clear sign that it is kind of OCD rather than a paranoid disorder of some kind.

This should be of some comfort that you are not crazy as you can see your 'craziness'. That shows a real connection, however small, with reality.

I hate hearing that I’ve been mentioned in someone’s conversation, even if it’s been good comments. If I do something wrong or make a mistake I have thoughts that people will not forgive me and I will be labelled by my mistake for life. I seek for re-assurance from people after I do things that are publicly seen, such as teaching at church or speaking in work meetings, to make sure I did it ok, but can’t seem to accept it when they say I had done a good job. I can see that all of these thoughts are irrational but OCD is essentially the game of second guessing yourself, and the symptoms are the evidence of the need to second guess.

I used to have a problem when watching Tom and Jerry cartoons. If I ever watched one I would think it was the most evil programme out there. I mean they are hitting each other, cutting each other in half and more generally just being extremely nasty to each other. I used to think there must be a conspiracy behind these cartoons. People are trying to desensitize us by making us laugh at violence. Right after this thought, I’d be asking myself why I was having such a ludicrous thought? There’s far worse out there than Tom and Jerry cartoons. So this was a paranoid thought of sorts, but I could see the paranoia rather than being convinced by it.

I’ve recently had a change in calling at church. I am now in a position where I am more visible and have to spend more time in counsel with others. I have found myself in the last week or so asking people if I’m doing ok and checking incase someone thinks I’ve done a terrible job. I’m struggling to not seek this reassurance, and it is reassurance in an OCD sense because I know I have done ok so far and I also know that people have more important things to do than to be constantly discussing my success in fulfilling my new responsibility.

I have to get on top of this type of reassurance seeking as it’s almost like I am looking for people to say nice things about me, which is essentially what I’m doing, but not for the reasons they may think. It’s my compulsion and not my narcissism or ego taking over.
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 0 comments

Bad day - Grace shall be as your day

Ok I've had a bad day.

I was having the compulsion to go on the internet today. That was the first time in quite a while.

This is up there with the most difficuly of compulsions for me.

It really knocked me. I couldn't believe it just came back out of nowhere.

I have felt the intensity of OCD thoughts increasing in the past week or so but for some reason still wasn't expecting this. I had forgotten what it had felt like.

The power and control a compulsion can have over you is big. I am also starting to feel the urge to count the number of letters in words, this is another big one of mine.

I did not give in though. I distracted myself with other stuff. It was hard. Even now writing this I can feel the compulsion coming back because this blog is making me think of it.

It is time to just weather the storm. Time to huddle down and just hold on tight.

Here is the opportunity to really put in to practice such techniques as mindfulness, acknowledging the thought and then distracting myself from it with something more important and then even just throwing on some funk music, this is my musical medicine.

My wife and I call my OCD 'Pete'. Giving it a name helps give the distance needed so I can understand that it's not me as such, but it is something else.

We talk of Pete when I'm having a bad day. We have even been known to tell Pete "he's an a**hole".

For some really strange reason swearing at Pete makes me feel a bit better, but then I start thinking I shouldn't do that. Nice time for the scrupulosity to kick in.

Such is life.

I have a lesson to teach this week at church, a sunday school lesson about the pioneers. I have been reading about the hymn that was written and sung at this time - Come, Come, ye Saints.

The words have been having a big impact on me this week. I honestly think that the sentiment of the song is deeply helpful to understanding trials and difficulties. Here's the words -

Come, come, ye saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell -
All is well! All is well!


Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
'Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell-
All is well! All is well!


We'll find the place which God for us prepared,
Far away, in the West,
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
There the saints, will be blessed.
We'll make the air, with music ring,
Shout praises to our God and King;
Above the rest these words we'll tell -
All is well! All is well!

And should we die before our journey's through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell-
All is well! All is well!



Thursday, 15 August 2013 2 comments

Coming out of the OCD closet

Of late the real obsessive thought has been ‘there is no way the spirit is going to be with you, especially when you teach lessons or speak at church.’

That’s quite a specific religious obsessive thought, so some may not be able to relate to that.

Once the panic sets in, as I teach a class every week plus I had to speak in sacrament meeting last Sunday, The compulsion is to start looking for things I have done wrong. Some things are easy to find because we all do things that we could argue with ourselves was right or wrong.

After I teach a lesson or give a talk I then seek reassurance from those who were there to see if they enjoyed my class or if it was ok. Did they feel the spirit? I almost feel like it has to be the best class on the subject they have ever heard and I then can over compensate with preparation. I become quite the perfectionist, in my head at least.

The one I came up with in the last few days was that I taught in a Sunday school class that we don’t need to worry too much about the word of wisdom, as long as we take care of the definite proscribed guidance, we are not required to become too zealous with other aspects. We do what we feel is right. We all know when we are abusing something like food or caffeine or sugar etc.

I started to think ‘maybe I shouldn’t have told people not to be too worried about it. Maybe that has just given someone licence to break the word of wisdom and is therefore I was teaching something wrong, AND that is one of the reasons the spirit won’t be present when I teach!!!’

I seem to know that this is completely illogical. Even if I was slightly negligent in enforcing the principles of the word of wisdom, it’s not a sin by any means, just simply incorrect. However, I also actually feel I was right in what I said, but the anxiety certainly arises as I identify this as a possible reason for a loss of the spirit.

Accepting this as an OCD train of thought is tough when you are faced with a class or are placed into a situation where you are supposed to be spiritual. I hope I am managing to not show it too much. I had a few moments of restraining myself mentally on Sunday.

This leads to the thing my wife has been telling me to do for a while now. She has been telling me to be more open about having OCD. She feels I should be ‘OUT AND PROUD’. She’s not nagging me about it, but she is definitely of the opinion I should be more vocal about such things.

I’m not so sure.

I don’t hide the fact I have OCD and I also don’t go around telling everyone. If it was something that fitted the conversation and I felt OK about I’d maybe share that I suffered with it, but I wouldn’t like to give them all the details. I would never refer them to this blog as this is too much information to put my face and name to.

I am fearful of the stigma or stereotype that may come with the name of this condition. Maybe I should show a little more trust in my friends and family??

It’s a tough one because no one really gets it unless they suffer from it. It takes a kind person to take this information and do only the best of things with it. My wife doesn’t even know all the ins and outs of my mind on a daily basis because it’s just too much, but the little that she does know she is great with.

So I have already ruled out a full coming out of the OCD closet, but maybe I should share it with a couple of close friends at least.

I have briefly mentioned it to a couple of people who are close friends when I was first diagnosed, more out of shock and disbelief that this is what I was actually suffering from, but they have been very quiet on the issue, for which I am grateful.

There is a part of me that wishes I never told them though as I get a little bit paranoid about what judgement may be going on behind the scenes. It’s like I have just told them what my kryptonite is and that leaves me feeling a bit vulnerable.

In society and therefore in the church as well I think there is still a stigma about mental health issues. I would love to be part of breaking down those stigmas but I’m not sure I’m brave enough.

So what do you think? Should I open the OCD closet a little bit and maybe expose my weakness?
Tuesday, 25 June 2013 2 comments

Putting a brave face on it

What an interesting couple of months has passed.

On the whole I have been feeling ok. Had a few rocky days here and there, and the OCD thoughts never really leave, but they have been manageable and at times forgettable.

I find myself in situations regularly where I am working, teaching a class, playing with my kids or just doing some random household chores and I get this overwhelming feeling that I'm just faking normality. I feel like I am just becoming better at putting a brave face on and that's becoming second nature.

I then can't decide if that's a good thing or not? My head descends into a bit of a muddle. Luckily the anxiety doesn't spike too much, maybe due to the medication or the techniques I try to apply to these situations, such as trying out mindfulness and focusing on something that is real and right in front of me rather than my thought.

There is an image that clearly depicts what's going on with OCD thoughts when you are trying to maintain the symptoms and get on with life, and it is this....



I teach a class at church and sometimes midway through the lesson I'm teaching my mind is off on it's own little journey. I'm not sure if it is spotted by others, I do try to keep that brave face on and the look of normality. I've had the odd comment like

"you looked a bit tired today, how you doing?"

This is really infrequent though so I think I might be getting away with it. It is difficult to put yourself out there so publicly sometimes but I'm grateful for it as it is stretching me and pushing me out of my comfort zone. Whether I do a good job or not, is another question. I get a bit paranoid about it actually. The OCD likes to tell me I'm terrible at it and the anxiety flourishes.

I've got to kick OCD's butt though. I'm not letting this beat me.

One thing I am learning is that I am just going to be myself, which I am starting to think might be a good thing.

Maybe I shouldn't be hiding it so much, maybe I should just tell everyone that I have OCD. That is a scary prospect for some reason, incase it defines me in others minds or limits the opportunities given to me because people will judge me unfit or 'mentally ill'.

I figure I am not going to hide it, nor am I going to announce it. I am not going to be afraid to discuss it if the subject arises or it feels right to be open.

Sorry I feel like this post is just me dumping thoughts on a page. I hope it has some relevance and can be relatable.









Monday, 15 April 2013 0 comments

Positivity - Have you had your plus sign today?

So a lot of my posts so far have been about how rubbish OCD feels and trying to understand and expose my thinking to other possibilities.

I would be missing out on the whole experience if I only posted when things were negative.

This last week has been unbelievably good.

I have been feeling better than I have for a long time. When I would normally look back and think of the times I felt great I would long for that feeling again. Well, this last week I got my wish.

Don’t get me wrong, every day I still wake up and think “How do I feel today?”, a definite check or test that normally ignites the OCD fire, but I have been able to embrace the fact that life is not black and white. I have felt the nuances and ambiguity of life and even enjoyed it. Hope has come into my heart and mind. I can identify that which I feel is right and wrong. I have been able to perform the task in hand and not be overwhelmed with other thoughts, anxiety and the urge to compulsively check the internet and what’s in my head etc.

So if you are suffering from OCD and are reading this you really want to know what has happened to bring about this change. Good question. I have some thoughts on this.

Last weekend was General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Firstly, In preparation I did something I haven’t done so well for a while. I decided that I was going to make a conscious effort to say a prayer every morning and every evening (quite difficult to do when you have religious OCD). However, I wasn’t going to attach any pressure to it. I was thinking of just doing it, being sincere in what I pray about and then trying my best to let it just be. Sometimes I think we can expect too much too soon from prayers, or get too angry or frustrated about what we are expressing or we can get too complacent. I was going to just let my prayer be what it was with no expectation or further concern about it's results. I figured that the fact I am saying the prayer and showing commitment by doing it consistently that this alone was enough expression of faith and hope for some guidance.

Seondly, during the time I spent watching General conference I listened intently. I found that there were answers to lots of the things I’d prayed about and expressed frustration about. There were too many things answered and too many questions cleared up that it was a testament to me this was not coincidental. I really felt that I was calmed and made more peaceful because I was willing to commit to prayer and committed to listen for answers. This is not some mystical or magical process, but I had the sense of reality in interpreting the events that transpired as ‘real’ and true. I won’t go into all the questions or things I had in mind, but trust me when I say some were random and so unique to me that no generic church talk would have answered them. I believe in the reality that God can teach me through others words.

Secondly I decided that during last week I would immerse myself in the scriptures. I do read the scriptures for teaching classes on a Sunday and I do read from other sources on the internet or books, but this was a different mindset. I was going to just use the scriptures as my source and nothing else. So every day I read the scriptures first and foremost. In doing this my feelings about life’s purpose and my understanding of faith were clear and uncluttered. I really felt that I was learning more from just reading the scripture alone than from adding to them all kinds of other source material. More than that, but I was being soothed as I read whatever it was I was looking at. This week I was learning about the Law of Consecration. Maybe the principles in that were things I needed to be reminded of, who knows.

That’s all I’ve done and I honestly believe it has made the world of difference. Nothing else has changed. I am not on new medication. I am not working differently. I have the same amount of pressure and problems, but something changed. These were the only three things that changed, prayer, conference and scripture focused study.

This might seem like a very specific solution to my specific religiosity OCD, I guess this could sound like a type of exposure therapy for religious OCD, but I don’t think that this is something that works solely for me and my situation. I’d love to hear from other people if they have had similar experiences.

I'm a bit annoyed with the fact that such simple things have made such a difference. I feel like I should have known and been in a place to do this before. Maybe that is being a bit hard on myself. Maybe I needed to get to this point by working through so much other stuff first. I should just be glad that the persistance to work through my OCD challenges have paid off, at least in part.

I don’t for a minute think that my challenge with OCD is over or that I have just ‘cured’ myself. I do however think that God gives answers to those who show some commitment and a willingness to listen for answers, while not letting other ‘stuff’ cloud your determination to getting the answer from the most important source.

Prayer and studying scripture has been the best medication I've found to date. It has been the difference between a positive experience and a negative one. They are like happy pills.

Try it. I'm convinced it works.
Tuesday, 9 April 2013 0 comments

Lord, I Believe

Amen to what he said!


Thursday, 14 March 2013 0 comments

Just stop it already

In my current situation, where I am on medication, I don’t have massive anxiety attacks but I still deal with the day-to-day anxiety that seems to invade every situation.

I still have the thoughts, in fact I can’t get rid of them, but I don’t have the crippling effects of full blown distress.

However, I spend all having the obsessive thoughts in my head. From the minute I wake up to the minute I go to sleep, everything is tainted with the obsessions.

I feel especially bad when I’m at work. It’s like my brain knows that I have other things to do and it’s fighting for attention.

My compulsion is to work out some way of finding ‘the answers’ to the doubts and questioning. Because I work on a computer all day I can easily indulge the compulsion to read stuff on the internet. Some days I can sit at work and get very little done, but the amount of pages online I can read is staggering. It makes me feel better but only for a little while.

There is one problem with the internet; everyone has an opinion. If you find one answer that helps you, the next minute you can find a diametrically opposed opinion to contradict the first. It’s not restricted to opinion either, it revolves around what people call FACTS, yet the facts are contradictory also.

So the internet can feed the obsession’s anxiety by reading something against what you want to hear, or by finding something that you do want to hear you are soothed and therefore reinforce the effectiveness of the compulsion.

What a bit of a minefield. I may be wrong but I think this compulsion is particularly difficult to deal with, maybe more difficult than other compulsions because of the double edged sword it appears to be.

I don’t’ want to start a fight of “my compulsion is worse than your compulsion” as having not experienced other compulsions I may be judging unfairly.

As I can generally get on with life despite the weight of the thoughts always encroaching on my headspace, there are those times where you are supposed to be able to enjoy yourself, let loose, ignore your problems for a while. Not possible!! The best I can hope for is to not be focused on the obsessive topics but have a feeling that I am ignoring a bigger issue or faking enjoyment.

There is never a feeling of contentment or peace or just being me.

All of my relationships are affected by these thoughts, even when they are not relationship OCD thoughts. It’s just that the obsessions affect how I view myself and how I am in relation to others. The obsessive thoughts circles around the things that I feel define me the most. If my self image is constantly in chaos then it’s completely understandable that my connections with others are screwy.

Frustration and the tendency to over emphasize imperfections ensue.

Ignoring the thoughts is not as easy as I hoped it would be.
Thursday, 7 March 2013 0 comments

It's about time I blogged something!

This has been the longest time between posts on my blog since I started last summer.

If you’re interested, I’ll bring you up to date.

Things have been somewhat better recently. I still have some serious compulsions to read stuff online and I also struggle to leave certain questions alone. There is a great deal of underlying anxiety going on, but it has not debilitated me.

I have been going to work, church, family stuff and have even enjoyed myself a couple of times.

One truly difficult thing I’m dealing with is that I have been given a new calling at church. I was called as the Gospel Doctrine Sunday school teacher.

That doesn’t sound particularly difficult in itself, but for someone who has religiosity/scrupulosity OCD. It makes me confront on a daily basis the very things I struggle with.

This has good and bad effects.

I recognise that it is almost like an exposure therapy for me. It is making me face the very things that freak me out. I use avoidance as a way of dealing with things, but of course this doesn’t solve anything. I would have avoided personal scripture study, but I obviously can’t avoid it when I’m supposed to be teaching it. I’m forced to look at the obsessive thoughts even at times when they are not triggered on their own and I have to work through them. I am reading a lot more about the Gospel and have actually learned quite a lot of information I may never have been drawn to before.

The bad effects are that, like any type of exposure therapy, it is a painful process. It still impacts my day at work. I am constantly desperate to search for stuff online. I have to try and get as much opinion, fact and detail as I can. Many hours at work I have been lost in the online world of gospel doctrine, church history and plenty of other stuff that relates to our human existence and planet. So while I have to address things and get exposure, it’s almost potentially reinforcing my compulsion. I have to find a way to take a step back from the compulsion but still maintain exposure to the difficult stuff.

The other bad is that every Sunday I feel unsure of myself and feel like I put on the all too common OCD mask where I act how I should and meet the expectations placed on me, but feel totally overwhelmed inside. This makes me feel a bit paranoid that I’m actually a terrible teacher and my lessons are never any good.

I have not been to see my therapist either. I had to cancel an appointment and then it never really got back on track. I feel bad about this and my wife is not pleased with the fact it’s stopped. I have to get back in touch and set up some appointments. I feel like things are progressing quite well, but I think I have to get the support as I don’t want to have a bit melt down again. They are not pleasant.

I have also stopped writing like I have been doing; probably the reason why the blog posts stopped, but I should start this again. It’s all about finding the motivation to do it and the energy.

Spending all day inside your head is a tiring business.

I’m slowly learning that the time to do things is NOW.
 
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