Treatment

Something must have changed the chemical imbalance in my brain to make me respond differently to anxiety. I wish it was just as easy to change it back.

My very first session of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helped me realise what life event changed the chemical imbalance for me but it is something I am not willing to share.

My treatment for OCD currently consists of medication and therapy. Most of the time, when you are unwell or ill, the doctor will fix you. Generally speaking; plenty of rest and fluids, a balanced diet and a prescription medicine will usually make you feel better and have you on the mend. Can you remember the nursery rhyme Miss Polly had a dolly? At the very end, the rhyme quotes ‘he wrote on a paper for a pill, pill, pill. That’ll make you better yes it will, will, will.’ Maybe Polly’s dolly had some kind of cold/virus that could be treated with paracetemol/anti-biotics. In a few days, her dolly will feel much better and stop screaming the place down. A quick fix all round!
With OCD, it’s not that simple. There is no quick fix. Treatment can take months or even years depending on the severity of it. OCD sufferers have to notice their symptoms first before they seek help (for many, this can take years and alot of courage as their intrusive thoughts are embarrasing to them) because the doctor can’t guess the symptoms. Then they have to try and understand the diagnosis and how it matches up to their symptoms and thoughts. They’ll maybe go through a phase of denial which is horrible. They can’t rest in a bed and get better (although proper rest does help!).

In my case, I got worse before I got better (The Verve – “but the drugs don’t work, they just make you worse”). With SSRI anti-depressants, they take a while to kick in and they make anxiety worse. A side effect of my SSRI’s is clenching my teeth when anxious/stressed/sleeping which has resulted in a painful clicking jaw. I’ve also experienced trembling/waking up shaking, panic attacks, nausea, loss of appetite, depersonalisation, sleepless nights and vivid dreams. 
I attend therapy on a Saturday morning and during the week, I expose myself to the things that make me anxious so that I can try respond to it in a different way other than lists or controlling it through order.
Exposure and Response Prevention is tiring; mentally and physically!
I have to treat this on my own. Nobody can do it for me.
What I’m trying to say is, I wish there was a miracle cure for OCD… one that requires no effort. One where I just wake up the following day, with my life back.

Last night, I had a heart to heart with my Mum. It made me realise that we all need to cherish the life we have, make the most of it and live it to the
full. It really got me thinking and quite motivated to cram a lot of living into the next 10 years. Life isn’t plain sailing – there will always be waves. 

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Battle in my mind

I’m having a bad night so I thought I’d try and get it down in text. Please excuse my writing, it’s all over the place when I’m like this. It probably won’t make sense.

You might have noticed that I often go on about wanting an ‘off switch for my thoughts’. Seriously, this needs to be invented for OCD sufferers. It would bring peace, calm and sanity to me.
I’m doing my own head in. I’m my own worst enemy!
I tried sleeping through it earlier. It helped at the time, but now I’m not tired and I can’t sleep through it and this is when I panic.

I really want an ‘off switch’ right now. Imagine not knowing if your own gut instinct is right because you are wrong with it so many times? Your gut instinct can be very useful in tricky situations/challenging times. Take that away and what do you have? A battle with your own mind. A battle against your thoughts. Silly thoughts that you can’t seem to shake off.

Friday night into Saturday morning… I had a bad time with OCD, then I couldnt have been better for the rest of the day.
Today…I had a good morning/afternoon and now it couldn’t get any worse.
Unpredicatable eh?

I’ve been doing so well with my OCD recently but its nagging away again. It’s trying to rear it’s ugly head and I’m really trying my best not to let it take over. It’s exhausting.

Just a thought? Is it just a thought? Why am I thinking it then?

What is OCD and how it affects me

What is OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (also known as OCD) is an anxiety disorder. It’s not a cleaning disorder. It’s not a perfection disorder. It’s an ANXIETY disorder. It affects people in lots of various ways – some ways that you wouldn’t even imagine.
We all have thoughts, sometimes irrational, silly thoughts and they disapear out of your mind as quickly as they entered. With OCD, your mind won’t let the thought slip until you have done something about it. You may start obsessing about this thought. You then become anxious and frustrated because you can’t let it go. Your action to reduce the anxiety is the compulsion.
So, do you think you have OCD now that I have explained it a little?
I used to think of my ‘need to have things in order and organised’ was just a quirk. Little did I know that I was using ‘order and lists’ to control my life as a coping strategy to try avoid feelings of anxiousness…
There is a fine line between OCD and quirks and that fine line is anxiety. It’s only when the quirk you have makes you feel irritable and anxious that it becomes a problem and begins to take over your life.
It’s a pain in the ass to be frank and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

How OCD affects me…

As mentioned above, I’ve been living with OCD for 9 years subconsiously. Think of a ‘dormant volcano’ that has just errupted.
Or think of this for example. I’m sitting on the sofa after a busy day of work. I’m gathering my thoughts thinking about family that I need to go see, humming my favourite song and then I think about what to buy for tomorrow night’s dinner. Mmm, chicken fajitas sounds good. Yes. I think to myself that I will get the ingredients tomorrow after work. But here are my initial thoughts, ‘You’ll forget all the things you’ll need and it will be such an inconvenience to you. It will bring back that tight feeling in your chest that you find hard to release. Write it down. Make a list’.
So I make a list of the whole 5 ingredients that I would need to make fajitas. I want to delete the list because I should be able to remember 5 ingredients. However the thoughts come back, ‘You’ll be tired on a Friday night, you’ll forget to buy the ingredients or miss something and then you’ll have to eat a boring, crap dinner instead. Just keep it on the list, it’s easier. Remember the shame you feel when you forget something’.

I sometimes wish there was an ‘off switch’ for my thoughts. OCD is like having a constant battle with your own mind and the OCD always wins.
In the example above, I tried to challenge my negative thoughts because I want to get rid of my need for lists – THEY DO MY HEAD IN!! But the OCD tries to remind me of the shame and anxiety I feel when I forget something.
Your probably thinking…’How can someone become anxious if they forget to buy ingredients for fajitas?’
I can’t even answer that question. I don’t know why I get anxious! I’m 21!! I have the same feeling of shame and physical symptoms of anxiety if I forget anything – no matter how important it is.
Anxiety isn’t the only thing I struggle with. I sometimes experience panic attacks. My chest goes all tight and I feel like I can’t breath…there is nothing I can do but to just ride it out and try focus on taking slow, deep breaths. Panic attacks only happen when I’m going through change or under a lot of pressure or feeling extremely stressed.

(((Please, please, please…If you think you have OCD, go to your GP for help no matter how small or severe you think it is. My GP was great and very helpful in telling me that I’m not ‘crazy’.
She referred me for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help change my thought processes, prescribed me SSRI anti-depressants (not because I’m depressed but to help boost serotonin levels in my brain) and gave an information and contacts resource pack.
OCD won’t go away on it’s on. It will only get worse as the years go on.)))

Order OCD – realisation

Hi everyone. I haven’t updated my blog for a while and the reason being that I have been having a pretty sh*te time.
Where do I begin?
I have moved back in with my Mum after leaving my ex boyfriend. This happened one week before my 21st birthday and my head was all over the place. Now, anyone with OCD will know that change/stressful life events are a challenging and exhausting time. The only thing that I found challenging was not having my clothes and belongings in order!! It’s only until the bad things happen that you realise that you have been living in your own little bubble. It was here that I realised that I have ‘order’ OCD. When something has become so normal to you, it’s hard to point out that something is not right.

I was sure that my medication had been blocking out the heartache of a break-up. This was frustrating as I wasn’t angry when I should have been and I was very reasonable and understanding when I shouldn’t be giving a f*ck. Anyway, lesson learned – ‘trust no one but yourself and remember that a leopard doesn’t change it’s spots.’

Since moving back home to Mum’s, my lists haven’t been as bad. I don’t rely on them as much! This put me into a serious case of denial. I was convinced that I don’t have OCD anymore as I’m feeling rather good.

My CBT guy is on annual leave and be has left me with homework to do. I need to write down all thoughts and physical sensations I experience when I’m feeling anxious. Two months ago, I would probably have filled out 10 sheets in a day – meaning at least 10 episodes of bad anxiety in the day. But now? 1 every few days.
My lists were really bad to the point that they took over my life when I had my own flat. Now I’m living somewhere where it’s not my responsibility to run the house.

So what does the future hold for me? When I find my own place, will the lists become worse? I don’t know. It’s hard to treat an open wound when it has already started to self heal.

Memory

At my last CBT session, CBT guy arranged the next date and asked if the date suited me. I joked and said , “just let me check my lists” (my iphone diary holds daily lists and reminders)
CBT guy smiled and said, “put your phone away, don’t check your lists and try remember if you have anything on that day”.
I said, “right ok, that day should be fine”. I felt rushed to say whether the date was ok or not.

Whenever I am rushed, my OCD won’t let me relax until it’s ‘certain’ and ‘sure’ of every detail.

I left and whilst driving home, my mind wouldn’t let it drop. I knew I should have checked my list. 10 minutes later and suddenly I remembered I forgot I was actually working on that day. It was only me in the car but I felt so embarrased and ashamed that I had forgotton that I was working.

Automatic thought was – ‘He’ll be angry with me for having to rearrange, I wish he would have just let me check my lists”

So it’s a catch 22.
I’m there to try stop using lists and get rid of my OCD but I still depend on my lists because I have become so used to using them. I truely believe they have now affected my memory because I rely on them to remember to do things because I have this fear that I will forget things. (or maybe my OCD makes me doubt my memory skills).

Acheivement

Today, I had a list of things to do. But I didn’t work through it in the normal way that usually do.
I put the tasks in order then turned my phone off. “Right, I’m gonna do this without a list”
Three hours it took me to do the things I had to do around the house. This would have normally taken me around five hours because I usually get distracted by my list then have a wee peek at twitter and facebook as you do.
However, doing the tasks without a list caused a lot of stress. It felt like I had too many things swirling through my mind. I couldn’t order those thoughts and that was hard. I had to fight the urge to switch my phone on, look at my list and score off what I had done.
On the up side, I had lots of extra spare time to chill out, which I like doing on Sundays anyway 😀

I kicked your arse OCD!!

Panic

At my second session of CBT, I told my CBT guy about what my doctor suggested I share with him. Doctor says I’ve been having panic attacks – (I think what I am experiencing are mini anxiety attacks and not full on panic attacks – horrible none the less!)
So CBT guy explained the physical symptoms of anxiety, by doing a little drawing of the human body and I have a lot more than I realised!

My homework for this week is to notice when I am experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety and what triggers it.

Do you know what it feels like to contantly have an inner fight with your mind, gasping for breaths but not getting enough air into your lungs? It’s horrible. I find that slow deep breaths in and out relieve this but it’s sometimes loud and draws attention to me. Any other tips would be much appreciated 🙂