Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

My mum asked me how I was getting on with my therapy. I said “Mum, stop calling it therapy. It’s not therapy, it’s CBT” For some reason, I just don’t like her calling it therapy. It’s strange going to treatment for something where there is no surgery, drips, injections, pain relief etc. It’s all about conversations, questions, answers, understanding, laughing, crying and strategies. Just because you can’t see my OCD, it doesn’t mean it’s not there so talking must be the best treatment for it? It’s proven to work in lots of cases. I just need to wait and see if it works.
So I told her that my first session was ok. It was on a Friday afternoon and I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it with having a busy week at work but on that Friday, I had a bad morning at work (OCD related, didn’t reach a deadline) so goung straight to CBT after that was interesting!
My CBT guy (that’s what I call him) told me a little bit about CBT then I suddenly just burst out crying. I started to feel a bit nervous about what was going to happen and he asked if I wanted to end the session there but I explained that the tears were probably just because of having a bad day at work. The CBT guy has a good ability to make someone laugh when they are crying and not a lot of people can do that so the rest of the session was full of laughter and tears.
My CBT guy is down to earth, lets me call him by his first name and doesn’t act all professional. This makes me feel relaxed which is helpful when your telling your life story to him!
We spoke about where my OCD maybe started and he asked me some questions. And before I knew it, the session was over. He told me that there isn’t a time limit of 6 weeks or so put on my CBT sessions. He also said that I can see him weekly or fortnightly.

One thing that stuck in my mind from the session is how CBT guy explained disorder. He separated the word into two – ‘dis’ and ‘order’. He said that we are going to put the DISorder back into order but I will have to do most of the work.

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Mental Health Awareness Week

I’ve only just found out tonight that it is Mental Health Awareness Week. (13th – 19th May 2013)
I wish I had known this earlier on today.
I previously mentioned in another blog post about the term OCD being used without much thought going into it. For example, “I’m so OCD”, “I wish I had one of those Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners in my house” or “I’m a little bit OCD. I need to have my clothes colour coordinated in my wardrobe.”
This happened today (different phrase) and I really had to bite my tongue. I was at training and I was placed into a group with a range of professionals I had never met before. During an activity where we had to match up cards to the correct category, one member of the team began to line the cards up neatly. Another member of the team noticed her doing this and made a comment, “someones a bit OCD” and they all giggled – except me. I was frustrated (I couldn’t say anything as I didn’t know her or what she knew about OCD) but I understand that she obviously doesn’t know a lot about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder if she used the term in a jokingly manner. Being neat and tidy doesn’t mean you have OCD. This is why there needs to be more awareness raised!
OCD is a common anxiety disorder – more common than you probably think! It’s often misunderstood. (I even don’t understand it at times). It’s nothing to laugh about – only I’m allowed to make a joke about my own OCD, it’s not fun to have and I wish for a life without it. It’s had me at my lowest, just after diagnosis – an experience I can only describe as horrible. I lost a lot of confidence in myself and I never want to feel like that again but recovering from it has made me determined to fight my OCD.
Yes we all have quirks but I can assure you that OCD is definitely not a quirk. I used to look at my lists as a ‘strength’ (organised) but now they aren’t working. I become very anxious when I don’t manage to complete tasks. Imagine feeling like a failure for not doing the ironing? It’s a task that most of us hate doing anyway but when I become emotionally exhausted from trying to work through a list and eventually leave the ironing and 10 other things to do for tomorrow, I’ll often be left feeling like a failure and guilty. I sometimes won’t go out at the weekend if I haven’t completed my list. I also feel that they have affected my memory because I rely so much on my lists to remember things.
The next time you are about to describe something as “a bit OCD”, please take a second to think of all the people trying to fight OCD and the impact it has on their lives. Or even if you hear someone say “I’m so OCD”, please try to find the courage to tell them to either go see their doctor if they think they have OCD or ask them to stop using that term.
I would like to take this opportunity to point out that I have links to OCD charity websites, youtube videos and other blogs about OCD. Please have a look.
PS. It only takes a click to share this blog.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.

I’m not selfish, OCD is.

On Friday night, my OCD showed it’s true colours. It was quite upsetting and it left me sitting alone on a Friday night watching some drama progamme on ITV1 that I payed no attention to whatsoever because I couldn’t stop worrying about my actions…
I finished work at 5pm. I had gone to Tesco to do the weekly food shopping so that I could enjoy the rest of my weekend. Towards the end of the food shop, I felt a horrible pain in my stomach – a bit like period pain x100 (sorry guys, your gonna have to imagine this one). It had me doubled over in pain but I tried my best to hold it in so that no one would have to ask me if I was ok. It was difficult to breath and I could feel the colour draining from my face. I thought I was going to be sick! I looked around the shop to see if there was a private room/office where I could ask to sit until this passed but I didn’t want to explain what was happening incase the shop assistant panicked and called for an ambulance. I tried to carry on with the shopping but I couldn’t. After bumping into someone else with my trolley, I decided enough was enough and I had to get out of the shop. Unfortunately I chose the most laid back ‘I’m in no rush’ checkout operator. She tried to make small talk with me – I couldn’t have made it any more obvious that I was in no mood to talk! – however she still proceeded to make comments on everything she scanned ”Ooh I haven’t tried that before, that looks lovely”. Awwww shurrup! I just want out this damn shop to get home. Bless he. She was only trying to be nice; I would normally chat away.
The pain eased to a dull ache but it left me feeling sick. I made it home and went straight up to my house (left the shopping in the car).
I slumped down onto the couch feeling sorry for myself. I’ve never felt pain like that in public before and I was a bit embarrased. I’m sure my boyfriend thought I was putting it all on to avoid bringing the shopping up – he knows how much I hate it. He huffed and puffed because I had already asked him to help me with my lists earlier on whilst I was at work (this is something I shouldn’t do because this is pleasing the OCD, yes we all need help to do things sometimes but the plain reason I ask for help is to shorten my lists, not the fact that the kitchen floor needs swept).
After about an hour of moaning about it, he went down and brought the shopping up. By now I felt fine, I wanted to help but my OCD told me to stay put on the sofa, ”Let him do it for once, you deserve a rest”
He put it all away then told me he put the oven for my pizza then said he was going to his sisters and left. He was in a mood. This made me feel extremely guilty. It’s as if my OCD knew this was going to happen. I felt rotten.
”He’s going out to get away from you”, my OCD said. (I just want to clarify that I’m not hearing voices, these are all just unwanted thoughts)
I just want to show that it’s not me who is being selfish, I always wish to put others needs before mine. I’m often too busy helping others that I forget my own needs but on Friday, my OCD decided to be a stubborn little shit, then tortured me later on with guilt – telling me that I didn’t deserve all the support that I receive. My OCD tells me I don’t deserve a lot of things.
I sat for hours thinking about it. I can’t ignore the unwanted thoughts. The only thing that reassured me was a kiss from my boyfriend when he came back home. I knew then that everything was ok. What a waste of time and energy spent worrying about the whole thing.

The beginning of the end (hopefully)

I have some good news to share! I received a letter last week offering an appointment to start Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. CBT has been recognised as a successful way of treating/managing OCD.
My question is… Will CBT for OCD be as easy as ABC or 123? No. It won’t. This is just me trying to make a joke of all of the acronyms used these days. The way Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is shortened down to OCD is genuinely why I think the term is used without much thought…after all, OCD has a nice ring to it. Right? This matter is for another blog post.
As I was saying, I’m happy that I have received this letter offering me an appointment so soon (my initial referral letter said there is a waiting list of 10 months to access CBT!) but at the same time, I am absolutely terrified of what might happen to me and my lists.
The first session of CBT lasts for 45 minutes. Is that all? How will the guy (physcotherapist) understand my OCD in 45 minutes? I don’t even understand my OCD sometimes. I’ve got to trust that he has dealt with someone like me (OCD with lists) before and that he can help me but that’s very hard to believe right now.
Will the CBT upset me? I know that it is going to challenge my thought process and I have been trying to challenge my OCD but it has proved very difficult and upsetting…this causes my anxiety to flare up so I give in to the OCD to reduce the anxiety (which then makes me feel like I have failed – causing more anxiety. Do you see the viscious circle?).
Will I be a new person after the course of CBT? Will it change my negative thinking of the worst? Will it stop me analysing EVERYTHING? I’ve done this as far back as I can remember so if CBT makes me stop thinking like this, then will I be a happier person? What will my thoughts be like minus ‘thinking of the worst’? I’m intrigued and excited!! (Note – My OCD has just told me not to get my hopes up)
Where will my lists go? I usually keep them on my iphone. Will it be hard to still use my phone without feeling the urge to open up my diary. How will I cope without my lists? – Will I be able to remember everything? Will I have loads of spare time because I’m not spending it adding to, deleting tasks and re-arranging my lists? Will I be free of anxiety?
I’ve got so many questions but I suppose they will all be answered during the CBT. I will let you all know how I get on.
Please let me know if CBT has worked for you?

New month…more lists.

So it’s the first of May. A new month means I copy and paste my set lists (yep, I have a mastercopy) onto the days of the week in my diary on my iphone. This is a task on my to do list for the 1st day of each month. I don’t want to be doing this, planning my lists for the month ahead – I could be doing something better with my time but my OCD won’t let this one slip. I think to myself ”You aren’t going to forget to do all of these tasks” but my OCD quickly pushes that positive thought to the side and reminds me of the consequences of my fear or forgetting. It reminds me of the humiliation I feel when I forget something. It tells me to just plan my lists to be on the safe side. Whenever I try to tell myself that what I am doing is silly, the OCD pushes the thought away and makes me beleive that the positive thought isn’t a good idea. It’s a viscous circle.
Looking at my lists for the month ahead makes me feel anxious. I get all figety, hot and restless. It just reminds me that I am stuck in a rut. When will I get out of this? I feel that the only way to stop using my lists is by going to cognitive behavioural therapy (which I’m on the waiting list for). I just really hope it works – today I read a nice quote on twitter… ”There is hope and where the is hope, there is strength.”

This week I feel a lot more confident, I’m back at work and things have been going fine (touch wood). I am just having a little fight with my OCD today.

Nobody wants you

Who would want such negativity controlling them? We all want to lead positive, happy lives (don’t we?)
Quite often, I have doubted whether or not I actually have OCD (before diagnosis and after diagnosis). It feels good when I manage to convince myself that I don’t have this OCD. Do I do this because I’ve been living with it for years and I’ve only recently been diagnosed? Is the doubt all part of the process of accepting the diagnosis? Yes, I always knew my lists were an ‘OCD thing’ and I laughed it off. But OCD is much more than the lists. It’s the way my mind works, the way I think. Since I was diagnosed, I have found the missing peice to the puzzle. It all seems to make sense now. At least now, I am able to identify when I’m thinking of the worst and when I am worrying. Before diagnosis, that was all happening subconsiously.

I have a different form of ocd – I haven’t spoken to or heard of anyone with the same type as me and I need that to change. There must be someone out there who has the same type of OCD as me? Most of my compulsions happen within the my mind. No one would be able to tell I have this disorder. I’m good at hiding it. There are no physical signs. My lists are kept on my iphone. Friends, family, workmates… they would probably assume I’m checking my facebook or sending a text when I’m deleting tasks from my lists or planning my evening by making a list. No one has ever questioned why I ask for reassurance, they are probably unaware that I’m trying to reassure my worrying thoughts!
The truth is…no one wants to have OCD. Maybe that is why I doubt whether or not I have it.
Doubt is just another thing that comes with OCD…

I hate you OCD

First blog post. I wrote this on my phone last night at 1am.

 

 

As I lay here trying to get to sleep – the only time that I can escape from you – you’ve got to have that one last try at crippling my mind. You try control my thoughts and I try my hardest not to beleive them. I toss and I turn. I breath in and I sigh. I toss and turn some more. You have me worrying about something that I’ve already reassured myself about! I contemplate getting up to make a hot soothing cup of tea but you tell me that that will only wake me more. There you go again…telling me that the worse will happen. You have me worrying at the possible chance of my anxiety coming back. The more you do it, the more awake I become. I’m tired. I just want some sleep! Why can’t you just give it a rest?

 
I wish I could turn off my thoughts – a thought switch on my head would do the trick!

 
I’ve had enough of you OCD. It’s about time that I took control, not you. You will not win this battle. In the past you have made me feel like I’m always fighting a losing battle. You’ve dominated my mind since forever…back when my brain was still developing. How am I going to get rid of you when you’ve made my thoughts seem normal all of these years?