Tag Archives: ocd

Mental IMAGES

OCD is defined as: Obsessions are unwanted and repetitive thoughts, urges, or images that don’t go away. They cause a lot of anxiety. These obsessive thoughts can be uncomfortable. Obsessions aren’t thoughts that a person would normally focus on, and they are not about a person’s character. They are symptoms of an illness.

I wanted to shed light on mental images in OCD, a lot of times people who do know about OCD know about the intrusive thoughts or the compulsions. But what about the mental images? Many people who suffer with OCD are plagued by mental images that are often disturbing & distressing in nature. This makes the fears amplified to the point of the individual now picturing in detail their worst nightmares. Aaron Harvey describes it in an interview with Cosmopolitan.

“One of the things I have to deal with the most is harm OCD, and it’s really challenging. When I step into the shower and see the razor blade, it will automatically trigger [an image of] me, like, mutilating my genitalia. If I react to those images, they just get worse. It’s kind of like living in a nightmare. …I’ve struggled with sexual identity as a result of repeated, intrusive sexual thoughts about men, despite being straight. During sex, I may have dozens of intrusive thoughts spanning incest, violence, and other unwanted imagery that steals the beauty of the moment. I have graphic flashes of friends and strangers engaging in bizarre sexual acts” – Aaron Harvey (creator of instrusivethoughts.org)

The images are extremely debilitating, and getting to a point where you are okay with just allowing them to pop in and out is extremely painful and difficult. The images cause a lot of distress, so suffers gut reaction is to try their hardest to get rid of the thoughts. But as we know trying to push away and resist the thoughts fuels OCD and makes it worse.

ERP is a great tool against the images, exposing yourself to the images and not allowing yourself to engage in compulsions will allow the reaction subside. To really challenge yourself purposely try and think of the images and confront the discomfort.

Exposure Response Prevention, commonly referred to as ERP, is a therapy that encourages you to face your fears and let obsessive thoughts occur without ‘putting them right’ or ‘neutralising’ them with compulsions.

Exposure therapy starts with confronting items and situations that cause anxiety, but anxiety that you feel able to tolerate. After the first few times, you will find your anxiety does not climb as high and does not last as long. You will then move on to more difficult exposure exercises.

Being asked to face your fears is perhaps one of the bravest aspects of treatment, and is where the approach of the therapist is most valuable, helping a person understand the cognitive reasons behind an exercise and being there to help encourage and motivate them to face the challenges it involves.  If the therapist actually participates in the exercises too, this helps build up trust and confidence in what they are asking the person with OCD to do.

Uncertainty

OCD at its core is the inability to accept uncertainty. Life is uncertain and no one can predict the future, and for someone with OCD they will try relentlessly to try and to figure out how to reassure themselves and predict the future. OCD knows you the best out of anyone and will use that as a weapon against you. The content of the OCD does not matter it can shift to different forms and will try any angle to get your attention. If it isn’t getting a reaction it will change its approach until you fold. Remember it is not about getting rid of the thoughts, but living with them and changing your reaction. A common hurdle with dealing with OCD is the inability to accept that having these thoughts and ideas are natural and everyone experiences them. A sufferer will become so terrified that they start to resist and carryout compulsions, which just makes things worse. I met Jonathan Greyson at the conference, someone I have been admiring for years, his books, videos, and work have truly changed my life and my outlook on OCD. At the conference he told me an important message when OCD keeps attacking responding with “maybe it will happen or maybe it wont” the idea here is that we don’t know what will happen and being okay with living with MAYBE will help the brain be okay with any thoughts. I would highly recommend practicing this technique, any thought that pops up that triggers fear respond with this, I know it is easier said then done especially because OCD can be present all moments of every waking hour, but it gets easier the more you practice. Doing this while practicing ERP to purposely challenge your fears will help significantly. It is extremely important to find a therapist who is trained in ERP the IOCDF website has an approved list of therapists who know how to treat OCD:

OCD Conference 2019

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:

  1. The doctors from Bergen Norway came to present around the 4-Day Bergen Treatment
  2. Brainsway TMS received FDA approval and will be getting approval in Canada most likely by the end of this year
  3. ERP (Exposure Therapy) is the gold standard
  4. ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) helps with pushing yourself past the thoughts and the pain by practicing mindfulness and radical acceptance
  5. 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:

https://www.ocd2019.org/events/26th-annual-ocd-conference/custom-38-ae4b5eb661f7421da58d467be6eba399.aspx

ROCD – When OCD Infiltrates Your Relationship

I found a horrowing tale of ROCD written by

CRISTIANA BEDEI25 MAY 2019, 00:30https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/relationship-ocd-symptoms-treatment

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 ActionOCD UK orNo Panic.Samaritans runs a 24-hour support line on 116 123.*Names have been changed to protect the subjects’ identities.

NEW SHOW ABOUT OCD

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!