Great Film to raise awareness and to give insight on the struggles of OCD!
I just came back from the annual OCD conference in Austin, TX and it was incredible! I encourage anyone who is suffering with OCD to attend the conference, not only are you around pioneers in the field like Doctor Johnathan Grayson and Jon Hershfield, but to meet like minded individuals is just so incredible. The conference was full of resources, talks, peer supports and so much more!
Here are a few key take aways:
- The doctors from Bergen Norway came to present around the 4-Day Bergen Treatment
- Brainsway TMS received FDA approval and will be getting approval in Canada most likely by the end of this year
- ERP (Exposure Therapy) is the gold standard
- ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) helps with pushing yourself past the thoughts and the pain by practicing mindfulness and radical acceptance
- Suffers with OCD are the kindest, bravest and most compassionate people I have ever met I will hold on to these incredible interactions for ever.
Next years conference is hosted in Seattle!! See below for information:
I found a horrowing tale of ROCD written by
It was 2017 when Hannah*, 33, had her first obsessive thoughts about her husband and their relationship of over 15 years. “Within days, I had a complete nervous breakdown and ended up in A&E,” she recalls. Increasingly anxious about coping with a mortgage and two children, Hannah started having panic attacks and was then diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition she now believes she has had since her teens.”I would spend my days worrying, What if we lose our house? What if I have a car accident?and then one day I had this thought, What if I don’t love my husband? – and that one stuck,” she says. It became the only thing she could think of, up to 40 times a minute, all day, for days on end. “It consumed everything, I was extremely distressed and the thought of not being together and breaking up our family would then fill me with such anxiety [that] I would have a panic attack.”OCD is a common mental health condition causing persistent, unwanted thoughts and compulsive behaviours. Cleaning rituals and repetitive checks are probably its best known symptoms but OCD can manifest in other ways, often unheard of. With Hannah, it made her doubt she’d ever been in love and she would compulsively google relationship information, before cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helped her break the exhausting cycle. “I had to be very careful who I entrusted with my struggles,” she warns, “as all it would take would be for someone who didn’t understand to say ‘Sounds like you just don’t love him anymore’ and that would be enough to trigger weeks of horrendous anxiety.” When OCD has relationship-related symptoms, it is sometimes referred to as ‘relationship OCD’ or ‘rOCD’ – especially online, on message boards or in support groups – but these are not official medical terms, as clinical psychologist and columnist Linda Blair explains. Charities like OCD UK also discourage their use, to avoid confusion.”It’s certainly common for people with OCD [to] overthink anything that is important to them,” Blair says. When it comes to romantic relationships, that can include obsessively questioning whether someone is ‘the one’, comparing to others, researching relationships online, suspecting infidelity or to have cheated themselves and not remember it, even. Despite being absolutely torturing, these specific symptoms are not very frequent, according to Blair, who has almost 40 years of clinical practice. They might be more likely if there is a particular concern with the person’s past or current relationship experiences, though.”If there’s actual doubt out there as well, that makes your OCD a lot worse,” says Valerie*, a 27-year-old from the East Midlands, who managed to come out of a very triggering, long-distance relationship. “A lot of things [my ex] used to say to me didn’t add up, basically, there was a lot of distrust and the obsessions and thoughts would come in,” she remembers. Social media also made it worse, enabling more compulsive checking and obsessive thinking: “I went through this shit time of not eating, lying on my bed, doing nothing, literally refreshing Facebook page, then Instagram page and Facebook page and Instagram page, just to see what was going on.” The more she checked, the more she thought she had reasons to check and jump to the worst conclusions; it was all-consuming.Obviously, anyone can question their relationship or become fixated with monitoring their partners but that – as problematic as it may be – doesn’t mean they have OCD, Blair points out: “OCD has to be all-pervasive, in other words [it] has to interfere with what we call activities of daily living, the things that you would normally do.”Diagnosed at 16, after a series of panic attacks made it hard for her to attend school, Valerie says she’d always been very self-deprecating and often second-guessed why anyone would want to be with her. Being with an honest and supportive partner for the past year and a half has really made a difference, but she still finds herself uncontrollably questioning her boyfriend’s motives and thinking he might leave. “Sometimes I’ll focus on specific people and be like: ‘Why don’t you want her? She’s great, she can do this and this.'” And having had to take time off work to take care of her mental health and start a new cycle of therapy hasn’t helped with her fear of not being good enough.Blair says that with such obsessive thoughts it would be helpful to try and avoid confronting your partner continuously to get reassurance, because if their patience wears out a bit, you may end up feeling even more anxious. If possible, confide in a trusted friend or family member to put things into perspective, she suggests. “If you don’t get any relief there, then I would seek professional help,” she adds. “I would go first to my GP and say: ‘Look, I’m so troubled by these thoughts. I don’t have proof for them, but I am troubled by them and they’re causing me not to be able to function well.'”Talking to someone calm and objective, who can challenge you in constructive ways – a mental health professional, usually – can help. With therapy, it’s possible to reduce the amount of time when obsessive thinking and compulsive habits take over and find appropriate thought-blocking techniques – things that make it impossible to think about anything except what you’re doing, Blair explains: “Like counting backwards from 500 by 13, or naming all the different shades of blue or figuring out all the songs of your favourite rap artist.” Finally, you would work towards adding more enjoyable things to your life than being consumed by OCD.Getting better is absolutely possible, as Chris, 42, proves. This father of two from Norfolk has been with his wife for 20 years; his OCD first started at 17, when he left a medical training course because of violent intrusive thoughts. “I was imagining doing horrible things to patients, so I had to walk away from that,” he says. He didn’t seek help and the condition died off for a few years, until his obsessive thoughts came back, this time focusing on his wife and family. “I started to experience [thoughts] that my wife would be cheating on me, or leaving me, or that something was going to happen with the boys,” he remembers. Things got to the point where he had to stop working, as he couldn’t leave his wife or his children alone, he had to be with them constantly. “The fact that I thought I was going crazy caused me to go to some very dark places, I started self-harming and doing some very nasty things to myself that could have been disastrous,” he admits. Following a mental breakdown, 12 years after his first symptoms, he finally sought help: “Seeing the GP is the best thing I ever did,” he says, encouraging anyone in a similar situation to do the same, as soon as possible.”[Now] I’m a lot better, the relationship OCD is minimal,” he says. After several cycles of therapy, including CBT, Chris has learned to manage his obsessive thoughts about something happening behind his back or to his wife and family. “Ten years ago, [relationship-related] OCD was never talked about, now it’s starting to be discussed,” he notes. “It’s a good thing, it can only lead to more acceptance.”
If you are struggling with OCD, you can contact charities OCD Action, OCD UK orNo Panic.Samaritans runs a 24-hour support line on 116 123.*Names have been changed to protect the subjects’ identities.
I have been a huge fan of Rose Bretécher for years, she has been an incredible advocate for OCD, and has brought OCD into the mainstream media. She has been featured in several newspapers, magazines, documentaries and now she has been working on a miniseries based off her life and book Pure. Take a look at the trailer below!
I discovered Davind Goggins a few years ago, his passion and growth is inspirational. One of my favourite quotes of his that I use to tackle my OCD is “The path to success will leave you callused, bruised, and very tired. It will also leave you empowered.” – David Goggins
His mentally on facing fears and attacking things head on inspire me to continually do my exposures. When my intrusive thoughts are making me suffer I remind myself that sufferings is integral to growing because once I face the fear I become stronger, and more prepared to handle the ups and downs that are the reality of life.
The strength of our mind and being able to will ourselves into transitioning from being debilitated to in control of how we react and feel towards OCD.
Goggins a previous navy seal speaks about his experience being beat, starved and forced to spend hours in extreme conditions during training. The leaders of the training got to go home relax with their wives and children, while him and the rest of the seals had to stay outside in the cold and suffer. Rather then wishing for the suffering to end he showed the leaders that they can’t get to him, and he smiled instead of wallowing in the pain. He had a paradigm shift and accepted his suffering, rose above it and shifted the power dynamic. This is exactly what is most effective with OCD, it will tell you that your a horrible person, you are disgusting, cruel or that everything should be feared but what if instead of listening and falling for its demands you smiled right at it and took away its power? Life is full of self hate, and external pressures and unfortunately bullies exist and all we can control is our reaction to them.
So, next time OCD tells us we are weak or that doubt creeps up again remind yourself you’ve been through this before and take away the power by building mental strength that it can no longer penetrate.
I highly recommend watching David Goggins and hope you feel inspired by his words!
Great article by Birgitte Hunt
2018 can leave now.
2018 was the year where OCD hijacked my daughter’s brain and took our family hostage.
It was the year where everything I thought I knew about OCD was challenged and I came to realize the stigma and misconception that surrounds it. OCD is the “neat disease” right? WRONG! Sure, for some people, compulsions do involve a need for order, but for many, OCD creates chaos not just in their heads but all around them. My daughter’s room was perpetually messy, she was highly unorganized, extremely forgetful, and had trouble focusing. There was nothing “neat” about OCD in her case. It was ugly and chaotic all around.
Until 2018, I was blissfully unaware that OCD has “themes.” It was the year where my family came face to face with perhaps the most horrendous one of all of them. Common types of OCD that no one ever talks about are Harm OCD, Sexual Orientation OCD (HOCD), Pedophile OCD (POCD), Scrupulosity OCD, Relationship OCD (ROCD) and “Pure O” OCD — just to name a few. Every sufferer will tell you that their theme is the worst, and that they wish they could trade it for any other theme. However, while I won’t argue that every OCD theme is living hell for the sufferer, some themes are evidently surrounded by more shame, guilt, disgust and fear than others. My daughter’s OCD convinced her she was a monster. Awful.
2018 was the year where I had to witness my child in unbearable mental and physical pain, where I had to listen to her talk about the disturbing images in her brain, the horrific nightmares, unable to end the torture. Thinking of this now feels like my heart is being ripped out of my chest all over again. I would be awoken by sobs or cries coming from her room so many mornings that I started waking before the crying would start, and just lie in bed and wait for it. Weeks would pass after she had gotten better where I would still be jolted awake thinking I heard her cry.
2018 was the year where my rational and logical brain had to stop trying to understand or explain OCD. I’ve always been one to want to understand or explain things logically, but OCD pulls you into a rabbit hole where nothing makes sense. It has no logic. It lies. It asks questions that can’t be answered almost to the effect of “How long is a rope?” Right.
2018 was the year of trying to navigate the mental health care system and insurance coverage/policies, of doors being slammed in our face, of having to entrust my precious child’s brain to professionals who sometimes had conflicting opinions on what the best and most effective treatment would be.
It was the year of trial and error as far as medication was concerned resulting in even more heartache and despair, until we got it right. This process took about 10 months.
It was the year where I had to give up my job to take care of a completely debilitated child. Feeling tremendous guilt for focusing all of my attention on her and very little on her 13-year-old brother and her dad — my rock — who was tasked with carrying the financial burden of taking care of a family alone on top of the pain of watching his little girl suffer and sometimes reject him.
2018 was the year where extensive testing proved what I’d already suspected: that my daughter is extremely intelligent (IQ in the 98th percentile), the year of trying to figure out how to support her at school, and of navigating 504 and IEP plans. It was the year of endless meetings with school counselors and psychologists and vice principals, the year of pleading with teachers to support my child who wanted so badly to do well and please everyone, but who struggled so much to meet deadlines because of the chaos in her head.
2018 was the year where I became OCD’s punching bag. The year where I was cussed and screamed at, had things thrown at me, was called every name in the book and was blamed for everything that didn’t go right every single day. It was the year where I’d lie and cheat and tell my daughter whatever I thought she needed to hear to feel better and let me be. Where I got sucked into her compulsions and inadvertently became part of her disorder.
It was the year where OCD nearly destroyed my family. The pressure and frustration and hurt kept building and building; it isolated us, and made us turn on each other. When one family member is as sick as my daughter was, it prevents you from doing anything and everything you used to do as a family.
It was the year where something so heart wrenching as hearing my child talk about wanting to die (though she did not have a plan and always assured me she wouldn’t ever kill herself because she knew how sad it would make me) just became “a Thursday.”
It was the year where she and I took a much anticipated trip to Denmark to visit family that just ended in heartbreak, gut-wrenching fear, escalated compulsions, and a trip back home to the US soon after our arrival.
2018 was the year where I was tested mentally, emotionally and physically like no parent should ever be tested. A year that felt like death by a thousand paper cuts. Where I sometimes just wanted to give up and send her away. Where I cried nearly every day. Where I resented my child for having a disorder she couldn’t help. Where I just wanted to fall off the earth and disappear so I wouldn’t have to live another day of the pain I was feeling. Where I screamed at my child when I should have remained calm, but also where I ultimately discovered a strength within me and her that I didn’t think either of us possessed.
And finally 2018 was the year where — after eight long, tough months of worry and despair and heartbreak and feeling completely powerless as a parent — my daughter was finally admitted to UCLA’s OCD IOP for Children and Adolescents and her journey towards recovery began.
It has been a long, mentally draining 12-week journey (so far) of ERP (Exposure Response Prevention) therapy that has challenged all of us, sometimes past our breaking point, way beyond our comfort zone, but at the same time empowered us to keep going. OCD didn’t break us. Despite everything we’ve been through, we stayed the course and persevered.
I wrote this in the waiting room while my daughter was doing her exposure treatments. My hope was that our family’s experience would become a resource for parents of teenagers with POCD to reference as they tackle this horrendous OCD theme which is surrounded by so much guilt and shame that no one ever talks about it. We have to talk about it. There have to be more articles written about the ugly side of OCD. The sexual themes. The themes concerning the fear of harming oneself or loved ones. Information about these dark themes is not easy to come by which makes you feel isolated and hopeless when initially faced with it.
My goal was to keep a log tracking my daughter’s progress and/or setbacks from start to finish. But it quickly became evident to me how emotionally and physically exhausting the process would be and I honestly never really had the energy to experience it all one more time in the process of writing it down. So I didn’t. But it’s forever edged in my memory and I wish it could’ve become a book. This will have to do for now. Maybe some day…
The list of emotions felt by everyone in our family this past year is extensive: hope, fear, despair, pride, anxiety, resentment, excitement, relief, grief, stress, loneliness, exhaustion, joy, frustration, love, pain, desperation, sadness, unity… it goes on. Literally, a roller coaster ride of emotions, which we rode until we were sick to our stomachs and finally were let off. Ups and downs. Ups and downs.
After 12 weeks of intensive treatment, we are looking at discharge from UCLA in the not so distant future. Another case of mixed emotions — wonderful and terrifying news all at once. What’s going to happen once we’re on our own’? When we no longer have a team of highly experienced and qualified OCD specialists keeping us on course? A team of super heroes.
My daughter does not have any physical compulsions anymore. I compiled a list of her compulsions in preparation for her intake evaluation 13 weeks ago and when I look at it now I’m AMAZED at what she has accomplished in 12 short weeks. She still has work to do but she’s stronger and better equipped to handle what OCD throws at her in the future. So am I. Her recovery has not been linear. Two steps forward, then a step back. A dance with the devil who’s refusing to let go.
The first week in treatment the therapist my daughter was working with asked her if she wanted children of her own. It crushed my heart when she looked down at her feet and quietly said “no.” A couple of weeks ago, after 9 weeks, she said “I hope I have a little girl — I think I would be a good mom”… It totally made me choke up.
You can go now, 2018.
I have been given the pleasure to post my friends personal story around how OCD has impacted his life.
My OCD struggles started at a very young age. I knew something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t put a finger on it. I remember chewing gum a certain way, and I had to chew it ten times on each side of my mouth at any given time. I also remember checking, and making sure doors, and windows were locked. I also checked over and over if the appliances were turned off completely. It literally became a chore, and it gave me extra anxiety and stress I didn’t need. What struck me the most was that during school, I never really had OCD pop up. I used to place my bag on the ground without the fear of contamination. I remember being able to use a public restroom without hesitation, or anxiety. Now, it’s literally an every day struggle. People don’t seem to realize the mental strain this illness has. It can be so overwhelming at times; you just wish you didn’t wake up the next day. It can get that bad!
Through my life experiences so far, a lot of my OCD stem’s from lack of serotonin (clinically speaking), but I noticed my OCD got worse from trauma I experienced in my life. Due to the constant stress my brain went through, it just made the mental illness worse. It came to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore and I tried to end my life. Stupid move, I know, but thankfully I survived my suicide attempt, and I am very thankful for it. The best way’s I find to deal with OCD is to tell yourself “Nothing bad is going to happen, if I don’t do the compulsion.” You just have to keep repeating this over and over in your head until it finally registers and you don’t do the ritual. Distraction is another great coping mechanism. When the compulsion pops up in your brain, just do push-ups, or put a cold towel on your face. Doing so will distract your brain, and in return the OCD will subside. Another way to cope is to join group therapy, which I did, and as a result made wonderful friends. Now we all struggle together! Also, it’s quite ok to make fun of yourself, and the illness. I find that laughter is the best way to cope, and it just takes the stress away! As they say, laughter is the best medicine.
Just remember, you aren’t alone. There are millions suffering with this illness, and don’t ever give up. Keep going, keep laughing, and in the end you’ll realize the illness makes you unique. And, it’s better to be different instead of generic. Keep fighting!
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.