June 5th, 2010

fyou

OCD - a big arse post

My chosen userpic for this post is aimed at my OCD ;)

Okay, I'm kind of posting this as a promise to myself lol. I just watched the first episode of the OCD Project and feel inspired. I've been on medication and been having CBT for a while now to treat my OCD (among other issues) but so far my OCD seems to be getting worse.

I know this probably isn't the best way to deal with it but so far not much else has worked - starting today I am going to put a complete stop to all my rituals. God knows where this strength has come from all of a sudden but I feel I can do it.

Maybe studying for my psychology essay has reminded me that OCD and in particular thought-action fusion is a cognitive distorion and looking at it that way helps for me personally. It's like seeing part of brain as a cramp in a muscle that needs a good stretch. I feel like I need to take the plunge.

One of the worst things about OCD is the more you perform your rituals and think about your obsessions, the worse they get. It's like that old adage if you are told don't think of white elephants, what do you do? Think of white elephants of course! The trick, it would seem, is to not give as much energy to your obsessive thoughts and not allow yourself to get anxious (which is what would spur you on to perform a ritual in the first place). Of course, this is easier said than done.

For anyone who has seen 'The OCD Project' on VH1 (I believe it's only available in the US which sucks, because i'm in the UK, managed to find the first episode, hope i'll be able to watch the others) my form of OCD is probably most like Tracy. I have a fear that my mum will die. This obviously comes from my background, my father beating my mum - so constant threat of losing her, my father committing suicide when I was 11 - actually losing a parent before their time as such and then loosing my grandfather 2 years later, again a sudden although natural death. I'm also an only child and don't have much other family that i'm close to so obviously i'm very close to my mum. I'm also still quite dependent on her despite my age. I mean she doesn't you know, brush my teeth for me lol but she cooks for me, cleans, drives me everywhere, pays for a lot of things etc I guess I just can't imagine my life without her, not just in terms of those material things (including getting extremely anxious when I think about paying bills because I feel like I just don't understand it all) but also because I feel like she is a part of me - like I wouldn't know myself without her. She is my life. And the thought of the pain of losing her just makes me want to kill myself (although the one good thing about my OCD is that I could never do that as it would hurt her and would therefore be something I could never do).

Beyond that, like a tree, my OCD stretches into many different branches. I can't do anything that would make my mum feel a negative emotion, for example having an argument. I can't deal with the guilt.

Eventually my OCD branched out into other things to. Religion is one of them. It's weird, I don't call myself religious by any means, and when i'm speaking to someone I can say what I like. But if I listen to a song about God, or say something like "Oh my God" I get anxious - it's like...but what if? Maybe I should just perform a ritual to be on the safe side - which is one of the things about OCD.

One of the best ways to describe the feeling is the lottery. You play the same numbers every week, you know you are never going to win more than a tenner or if you are really lucky maybe a bit more. But compared to the money you spend buying the tickets every week you aren't really earning anything. So why do you keep playing? because it's sod's law that the one week you don't play your numbers will come up so you do it just in case. That's kind of what OCD is like. You Know logically it can't possibly have any control but just in case it seems like a small price to pay.

Of course, in reality it's not a small price to pay at all. It's very expensive. It takes over your life.

Partly for my benefit i'm going to list my various rituals here and I vow to stop them starting.......NOW.

- Getting anxious about my mum dying and performing any ritual that pops into my head at the time (there is no rhyme or reason to these rituals). I need to let the thought come into my head, remember it's just a thought with no power or influence over the probability of it actually happening and that given my history of course that thought will pop into my head. But I have no control over it, and can't spend the rest of my life worrying about it. I need to enjoy life - that's what my mum wants for me above all else.

- Fear of thinking, saying or listening or seeing something related to God or religion. This extendes even to putting a cross in a box on a form. I am not someone who believes in organised religion and even if there is a God, if he she or it wanted me to act that way they would not have created me this way, giving me the power to question it and debate it. I am never going to know what happens until I die and who knows maybe not even then. I cannot go on torturing myself over something that I don't even know to be true or real. I need to have faith that if there is a God, that power will not judge me based on stupid man-made rules and that I have been created a certain way (be that by a God or not) and must embrace that as that is the way I am and I cannot change that and shouldn't have to. Oddly, this obsession seems to be in check when i'm with other people or writing something online. It's when i'm alone that it becomes an issue.

- Fear of certain numbers. This began as a tie in to the religion issue. The number 6 is nasty because it's related to the devil (Can you tell I went to a catholic school? It wasn't even one of those nuts catholic schools with nuns or anything but it proves that those stories as a child can be very damaging, even when your parents aren't really religious either). Therefore any number with a 6 in it is bad or anything 6 can be divided into - such as 12. Also numbers than together make six - so for example, 5+1 or 24. 3 is also bad because it refers to the tritum God and blah blah blah. Odd Numbers are good. 11 especially. Also 5 and 7. It's good to have a few pairs and one number at the top or end so to speak. The number 9 isn't very nice either. I need to stop avoiding these numbers.

- Colours. The colour red is bad (guess why?). As is Purple and White. And Peach. And Orange and sometimes Green. I need to stop avoiding these colours.

- It's okay to think bad thoughts. Everyone thinks them now and again - it's just your brain processing information nothing more nothing less. I've read on many OCD forums, posts from guys who are terrified they are a peadophile because when they read something in the paper the image of what they are reading pops into their head. This is a normal biological reaction where your brain is processing the information it has just been given when you read the article. It's not like these guys are sitting there fantasising about it and they are so physically disgusted at themselves for the image coming into their head. I feel really sorry for them - they are not peadophiles. Peadophiles are people who are sexually aroused by children and these poor men are not but are made to think that just the visual representation of information given means they are. This is an example of what OCD can make you think. For me, this applies to the idea of imaginging someone dead or being killed. This does not mean that I want it to happen or that I get any pleasure out of it. It is merely a thought, passing through your bain as it struggles to file everything away in the correct place. I must stop punishing myself for thoughts relating to death.

- Touching door handles, switching lights on and off a certain number of times. This is related to numbers but also checking. I need to have faith that I have completed a simple task correctly the first time and even if I haven't it is not going to effect what happens to my mum.

- Hope and declarations of happiness tempt fate. This probably stems from the words "this is going to be the best christmas ever" followed by the death of my father a week later. What happens, happens. I have no control over it whatsoever. Saying, I'm happy doesn't not automatically mean a bad thing is going to happen. Bad things MIGHT happen and that is scary but they also might not and in order to function in life we need to have hope that the latter is true, otherwise none of us would get out of bed!

- Re-reading and re-typing. This has been one of the most frustrating. Typing e-mails, even LJ posts I will often delete a word and re-type it many times. I am a lover of books and having to re-read a sentance many times just makes you want to give up. I need to accept this has no power over my life.

- Re-pronouncing words over and over. The same as re-reading and re-typing. Annoying as fuck.

There are hundreds of other rituals mixed in among these and I fully intend to abandon them all.

I've just told my mum what I intend to do (she promised to leave her bedroom door open and snore very loudly so i know she's okay, lol).

Wish me luck!

P.s. I'm happy to report that I did not re-type anything in this post. This is the first time I have done this in YEARS. I feel so empowered. I hope it continues. It won't be easy but I need to get my life back together.
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