Tag Archives: life

Types of OCD

OCD can latch on to any theme but there does seem to be similar subject matter amongst suffers. It is also import to understand that mainstream media has inaccurately depicted OCD, showcasing individuals washing their hands and engaging in cleaning rituals. While there are elements of germs and hand washing it is very different then what has been showcased in films or television.

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are behaviors an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease his or her distress. For example, hand washing is the compulsion and is in response to the distressing thoughts, images or ideas. Someone with OCD could experience a distressing thought or image every day all day long. The sensation and imagery is so vivid the sufferer begins questioning the probability of the distressing thoughts coming true. The sufferer also begins to question who they are as a person, what they are capable of and fixate on their surroundings and thoughts.

Imagine your mind telling you all day everyday that you must be vigilant against germs and that you or a loved one can become extremely ill if you do not take measures to protect yourselves. OCD doesn’t just stop there you begin to feel a strong sensation of being contaminated and vivid images begin to pop into your mind showing you as sick, dead or a loved one sick/dead. When handling objects or touching things images and sensations creep up making you feel disgusted. Even when you feel safe and have taken the “measures” to ensure nothing bad can happen, OCD plants even more doubt and a lot of times people are left feeling trapped by endless uncertainty. It isn’t just a fleeting thought it bombards you and there is no escape, the more you try not to think about it the worse it gets. OCD can take over very quickly, leaving the individual exhausted and terrified.

OCD can also manifest by torturing the sufferer with thoughts/images of violence either of oneself or others, sexually aggressive and taboo ideas such as incest, pedophilia, and bestiality. It can also bombard an individual with ideas of sexual identity and religious sins (scrupulosity). These are just a few examples OCD can manifest in any form and is really good at being creative.

It is important to note that no matter what theme someone has the response is always the same extreme anxiety, fear and constant questioning of “why am I having this thought”, “why me?” And “I want it to stop”. OCD suffers do not enjoy having these thoughts it is quite the contrary they begin to engage in rituals to rid themselves of these thoughts. Someone with harm OCD may have hundreds of images pop up in their mind depicting scenes akin to a horror film but the characters are the most precious people in their lives – children, parents, spouse and friends this is also the case with sexual images. The people you would do anything for, the people you have the most love for OCD attacks and makes you feel afraid of yourself, environment and of life. There is no escape you just have to take being forced to view and think thoughts that are completely against your inner values.

Some of the common themes (there are many others)

  • Fear of evil or hostile thoughts, including warped ideas about sex or religion
  • Excessive doubt or fear of making a mistake
  • Fear of hurting yourself or someone else
  • Extreme need for order
  • Fear of being gay
  • Fear of dying or contracting a deadly illness
  • Fear of accidentally hitting someone with your vehicle
  • Feel responsible if something terrible happens example) fire
  • Afraid of going crazy or that you will snap

For a more detailed list please visit – https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/

OCD can silence the sufferer into a deep depression, it makes you believe you are crazy and no one normal could possibly have these thoughts. It is very important to know that everyone experiences intrusive thoughts. When I first experienced OCD symptoms I had no idea what was going on I truly believed I was going crazy, my thoughts were out of my control and I was tortured by harm obsessions. I was terrified to share what was happening inside my mind as I thought for sure I would become institutionalized. I finally had the courage to search “Intrusive Horrible Thoughts” on google and that day was the start of my journey. Google brought up a website called intrusivethoughts.org and that was the first time I saw that this was an actual “thing” and it was called OCD. I wish I did not wait 2 years to search up my symptoms as I would of been able to get the help I needed way sooner. No matter how afraid you are, scared or the doubt you feel just know there is a large community of support and specialists who have heard it all and come from a very loving and non-judgemental place. I highly recommend http://www.cfcbt.ca/ as a local resource.

 

 

 

 

 

TMS?

I want to preface this with saying this blog post is not medical advise and to speak to your attending physician in regards to TMS as a treatment option. Especially to discuss the risk and side effects of treatment.

There has been a lot of media coverage around TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) in the past year and how effective it is for mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and even addictions.

What is TMS?

From the International OCD Foundation:

Recently, psychiatric research has become increasingly focused on the idea that the structure and function of the brain’s “neural networks” might play a part in OCD. Consider your brain from this perspective. Your brain is made up of cells called “neurons” which communicate with each other. When several neurons work together, they are referred to as a circuit or network. If you’ve ever taken apart a computer or other electronic device, you’ve likely seen a green plastic board covered in gold circuits. Much in the way electricity travels through this circuit board to convey information from one part of the computer to another, your brain uses neural networks to convey information from one part of the brain to the other.

So, instead of targeting neurotransmitters (the chemicals used to communicate between individual neurons) researchers are now looking at how neural networks function to communicate from the parts of the brain that regulate, say, emotions to the part of the brain that regulates movement. It is our hope that new treatment methods that focus on neural networks, rather than neurotransmitters, may offer help to those individuals who have not had success with other treatment methods.

-Jeff Szymanski, PhD, Executive Director of the IOCDF

There are a few different machines out there that are used for TMS treatment, that uses magnetic fields with a coil to stimulate the areas of the brain. The treatment is suppose to be well tolerated and non invasive.

The FDA recently approved the Brainsway TMS device for the use of treatment of OCD. The FDA reviewed data from a randomized, multi-center study of 100 patients, of which 49 patients received treatment with the Brainsway device and 51 received treatment with a non-working (sham) device. Patients already receiving OCD treatments (medical management) were maintained at their current dosages throughout the study. The study evaluated the reduction in patients’ Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS) score, a common metric for measuring the severity of a patient’s OCD. The results indicated that 38 percent of patients responded to the Brainsway device (i.e., greater than 30 percent reduction in YBOCS score), whereas 11 percent of patients responded when using the sham device.

To get more information about Brainsway TMS – https://www.brainsway-global.com/

Is TMS coming to Edmonton?

The mental health foundation released the following statement:

We’re happy to announce that, thanks to your contributions, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has been able to move forward with plans to bring the devices to a local primary care center, and has staff spending the summer identifying the ideal location to house the 4 new machines. The Oliver Primary Care Network has expressed interest, and is being carefully considered.

The Edmonton TMS program will be the first in the province, and as such, AHS is taking care to develop a program that they can replicate across the province while maintaining consistency.

Program coordinators are currently connecting with physicians to guide implementation, and will begin hiring staff for operations in the fall. Our goal is to see the machines fully operational in early 2018, and partially operational by the end of this calendar year.

– Mental Health Foundation

I am excited to see that more treatment options are becoming accessible to sufferers and look forward to see new publications around TMS for OCD.

Radio host suffers with OCD

Amazing story written by Trevor Dineen of CBC speaks about his personal struggles with OCD.

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/nowornever/living-with-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-1.4424547/cbc-radio-host-reveals-his-personal-struggle-with-ocd-1.4424557

By Trevor Dineen

When I walk into an airport bathroom, like I did last week on my way to Vancouver, I hear the flushing, running taps and hand dryers. But I also hear something else.

“You have to pump the soap 25 times and then wash your hands 25 times. Don’t miss any numbers. Don’t skip any pumps. Oh and do that whole cycle 25 times and then you can leave.”

Now why on earth would I do all of that?

“Because if you do, you won’t die.”

Welcome to the inside of my brain. I have obsessive compulsive disorder. I’ve had it for over 15 years. And to be honest, it almost took my life.

When I was 22, I basically lost everything because of it. One day my brain decided to start telling me that if I did these small compulsions, I wouldn’t die. So I did, because honestly, I didn’t want to die. But then these small compulsions got bigger and the routines got more complex.

The next thing you know, it was taking me 90 minutes to get in and out of a bathroom. It would take me 75 minutes to get into bed. I’d have to walk around cars 25 times when I got out of them. I had between 200-300 compulsions that took up four to five hours of my day.

I quit my job, dropped out of school, and pulled away from all my friends. I was wasting away, mentally and physically. A year and a half went by and all I did was get worse. Finally my parents found me collapsed and crying on their basement floor. It was Christmas Eve and and I had just finished doing all of my routines and compulsions in front of my entire family and relatives.

It was my rock bottom.

My mother, Carol Dineen, eventually opened up to me about how terrified she and my father were in those moments. “Watching my son deteriorate to the point where we knew if we didn’t get you help, we were going to lose you,” she said. “I knew that in my heart. That’s why it was so important to find you help.”

Trevor Dineen (CBC)Help, in my world, came in the form of Dr. Willows. He’s a psychiatrist at Seven Oaks Hospital in Winnipeg. He’s the one that saved my life.

When I had the chance to revisit him recently, he told me, “You presented with the perfect illness. You came in with everything people say about OCD. Because you had everything. Remarkable obsessions, very time-consuming compulsions and hours upon hours of routines.”

Without him, and the months of cognitive behaviour therapy that he guided me through, I don’t know where I would be today.

But it’s not gone. I still have compulsions. They rear their ugly heads whenever I get stressed or I’m concerned for someone I love. But overall, they’re much more manageable now. I know I’ll always have them. A handful or more will always linger, and I have to be okay with that. It’s just become a part of who I am.

And it’s a part I’m okay talking about. Because at the end of the day, I hate the idea of anyone ever feeling as lonely and as scared as I did. So hopefully, this helps. Even a little bit.


Resources:
Anxiety Canada

Canadian Mental Health Association

OCD Canada

Book Recommendations:
Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive disorder: A Personalized Recovery Program for Living with Uncertainty (updated edition), by Jonathan Grayson

The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing: The Experience and Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, by Judith L. Rapoport

When Once Is Not Enough, by Gail Steketee and Kerrin White

Stop Obsessing!: How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions, by Edna B. Foa, and Reid Wilson

Pain

It is hard to put in words the distress that OCD causes; it is this weight that follows you around everywhere you go. You can’t escape it, and you can’t run away from it. Throughout the day and night these echoes of thoughts, images and sensations are there with you, the story line so vivid and crippling we fall surrender to its demands. All moments are slightly stolen because your there but your OCD is also there with you.

There has been so much I have lost to OCD, so much I fear because of OCD. I try to beat it and overcome it, but there are days where you are overwhelmed. It is important to remember that OCD does not define you, and even though our minds have turned on us we can live with this monster.

The struggle is real and ongoing; it is hard to explain how your mind can become your biggest hurdle in life. The dark lens of OCD alters reality, and forces us to want to maintain control.

It is so scary to take risks, and to feel brave enough to trust yourself and that this is just OCD. For me my OCD has manifested in a few different forms, but the best way to describe it is imagine watching a horror film over and over again in your mind, but this isn’t any normal horror film all the characters in this story are the people you love and care dearest for. You can’t do anything to stop it, and are forced to be subjected to this torture. The people you would do anything for you would sacrifice anything for you have to live with being bombarded by never ending thoughts and ideas that you can’t protect them and if you don’t engage in certain behaviour they won’t be safe. Even when you are told this is a disorder this is what the disorder does a part of you still is afraid that what if it isn’t? What if they are wrong and there is real danger? You have to ask yourself has what I have been doing worked so far? Am I happy? Maybe I should take the chance that nothing bad will happen and this is just OCD, and every doubt I have is also OCD? It is so hard to take that leap of faith but it is worth a shot to try, I still every morning have that struggle between doubt vs taking a risk. The days when I chose risk always turn out more fulfilling but it is hard to remember that when doubt feels so strong.

I have decided that life will be filled with challenges, uncertainties and pain. But along the twists and turns there will be these beautiful moments, connections and experiences that make it all worth it. We can either let OCD rob us of those moments or accept that it is going to be painful and filled with uncertainty but it is better then letting OCD win.

“In order to write about life first you must live it” – Ernest Hemingway

 

 

Choice

Dr. Steven Phillipson is a leading expert on OCD his work with patients has provided an immense amount of progression for OCD treatment. His website https://www.ocdonline.com is full of a wealth of knowledge for suffers. I have provided below an excerpt from his article “Choice”, I encourage you to visit his website and read through the articles posted.

In both the treatment of OCD and in living a disciplined life, there is no word more important than “Choice”

by Steven J. Phillipson, Ph.D.
Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

It is unfortunate that our schools do not teach us that our brains are comprised of many systems, some of which operate with considerable independence from the others. The independence of these systems is reflected in the way individuals suffering from OCD respond to episodes of extreme anxiety. Like all human beings, those with OCD have a strong basic survival instinct and are likely to experience great distress at the prospect of leaving a perceived threat unresolved. However, when what they experience as a threat is actually a function of their OCD (and therefore, is essentially the product of misfiring brain circuitry), they still react to this perceived threat as if their very lives were in danger. A conflict of independent systems also can affect those who do not have OCD. For example, a person may have the goal of exercising, but when the opportunity to do so presents itself, she may find herself thinking, “I’ll begin tomorrow.” Similarly, when tempted, someone whose goal is to save money may find himself thinking, “Yes, but this sale is so tremendous! Look at all the money I’d be saving!” The point is that we can only make disciplined and values-based choices that challenge instinctive or self-defeating urges when we are mindful of the contradictory agendas presented to us by our brains.

 To date, the focus of my writing has been on educating sufferers and professionals alike about the various forms of OCD and the methods of behavioral treatment I have found to be effective. In contrast, this article attempts to identify the essential qualities within the patient that contribute to the success or failure of treatment. In my discussion of this subject, I will give considerable attention to such concepts as agency, mindfulness, and autonomy. Agency can be defined as the faith we have in our capacity to respond effectively to challenges in our lives. Mindfulness is the non-judgmental awareness of an experience in real time – that is, as that experience is unfolding – and an acknowledgement of our responsibility for the choices we make and/or the beliefs or perspectives we endorse in relation to that experience. The willingness of patients to be accountable for the choices they make has a profound effect both on the recovery process and the achievement of their goals in life. And finally the term autonomy refers to the choices and actions of the “Gatekeeper,” the “I” or “me” who, based upon his or her goals and values, makes the final decisions on matters of importance to the individual.

The conscious, independent behavior (physical or mental) of selecting, making and or acting upon a decision when faced with two or more possibilities: the choice between good and evil, skilled and unskilled as well as, fight or flight.

• A range of possibilities from which one or more may be selected.

• A course of action (mental or physical), object, or person that is selected or decided upon and summarily put into effect.

This writing is a call to arms! Its purpose is to inspire readers to come to terms more honestly with the choices that will be required if they are to achieve their goals in life.

Continue reading at:

 

https://www.ocdonline.com/choice

 

nOCD

nOCD is a great app to use during treatment with or without a therapist. I have been using it for over 6 months now and have really felt the impact the app has. It allows you to input your triggers, track your progress, do exposures and even share it with your therapist. I would really recommend this app to anyone who is suffering with OCD, it also gives you the encouragement to get through those tough exposures and delay the compulsion. What I also like most about the app is that you can look back and truly see your progress and if things have become less triggering for you.

The link is below:

https://www.treatmyocd.com/

 

 

Dr.Jonathan Grayson

 

Dr.Jonathan Grayson is an expert in the field of OCD, he has contributed tremendously in patient treatment. This a beautiful explanation of how it feels for someone who has OCD. It can be extremely difficult and uncomfortable opening up to loved ones about the disorder, especially since there is a lack of understanding in the mainstream media. This video is a great way to have someone engage in having a preview of what a sufferer experiences.

 

 

The Horror of Thought Spirals

OCD can be extremely sneaky, a common fear I have is “what if this isn’t OCD”? “What if I am wrong, and I actually have something to be worried about”? or “even if there is a 0.000000000001% chance of this terrible thing happening, I am not willing to take that risk”. This type of doubt is extremely common with OCD, we get to a place where we finally have our thoughts labeled as OCD and before we know it we have OCD telling us that well what if your wrong…and the thought spiral starts all over again.

OCD is a disorder that revolves around uncertainty and doubt. A sufferer gets trapped in these thought spirals, because the discomfort and anxiety caused by not being 100% certain. This pushes the sufferer to carryout compulsions to feel relief. A tool that can be used in these moments, is reminding yourself of the following:

  1. No one can predict the future
  2. Life is uncertain (that is the nature of how the world works)
  3. This is OCD *Even when OCD makes us questions whether this is OCD taking that leap of faith that unequivocally this is OCD will help tremendously from getting sucked into the thoughts
  4. Remind yourself that you don’t want OCD to take more away from your life

It’s extremely hard to do this, especially in moment of intense fear and anxiety. OCD can make us question who we are, what we are capable of doing and take away from precious moments and experiences in life. Taking the leap to trust that I have OCD and this is how the disorder works will help create distance from the thoughts. The ultimate goal is to get to a place no matter how uncomfortable, no matter how risky we do not cave and forget that this is OCD.

I try and incorporate this in my meditation every morning, to try and anchor myself before the start of the day. I find even putting a reminder on my phone through out the day that comes up encouraging me to not do compulsions has also helped.

Just remember that OCD is separate from you, and the thoughts, fears and uncertainty is OCD so the second we have doubt that too is OCD.

 

 

Great Article about Louise Casemore

Ghost River's solo show, OCD, brings affliction out into the light

Writer, director and performer Louise Casemore is adamant conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and addictions are no laughing matter. She does concede, however, that they can be approached with humour if handled carefully.

In 2015, Casemore created and performed in a show called OCD for the Edmonton Fringe. It was awarded Edmonton theatre’s Sterling Award for outstanding new Fringe work and was Theatre Alberta’s pick of the Fringe that year.

Casemore says her goal in creating OCD was always “to bring a light touch to a heavy subject.”

She said she was prompted to create the show when she noticed a growing trend of treating mental illness and addiction far too casually.

“I noticed a T-shirt that defined OCD as Obsessive Christmas Disorder.

“A friend who had battled alcoholism said he was annoyed that people threw the term addiction around so lightly when he understood what it really meant,” recalls Casemore who had battled Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when she was a teenager.

“I wanted everything to be perfect, which produced some tics and compulsions that were pretty annoying for other people. Back then, sitting down to a meal with me could be pretty exasperating. I’d be rearranging everything on the table.”

She also knows people battling OCD who can’t drive a car and can’t sustain a relationship “which is why I was very cautious in creating my show. It needed to respectful and honest.”

Her solo show is based one-third on her personal experiences. Another third was created from extensive research on the disorder, including interviews with doctors, therapists and sufferers.

“The final third is pure fiction and that’s where I could really bring in a comedic touch.”

She says her show is “much more than me just standing on stage speaking a diary. It’s storytelling and performance and it has some poetry in it.”

She also points out, though there is definitely structure to the show, it is loose enough to allow people to react or even interact if they feel the need to and they definitely have.

Casemore jokes that since its premiere at the 2015 Edmonton Fringe Festival, she has toured OCD to “dirtbag bar basements,” cavernous concert halls and everything in between.

“I’ve wanted to bring it to Calgary, but I just haven’t had any breathing room.”

Casemore has been busy as the artistic associate for Ghost River Theatre, as well as the artistic director for her own company, Defiance Theatre.

Ghost River and Defiance will present Casemore in OCD at the West Village Theatre (2007 10th Ave. S.W.) Feb. 1-10 with a pay-what-you-can preview on Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. nightly. There will be a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 3 and an 8 p.m. student performance on Feb. 6 with a talkback following that show.

Tickets are $25 with $20 tickets for artists and $15 tickets for seniors and students.

Tickets and further information are available on ghostrivertheatre.com