Tuesday, 15 July 2014 0 comments

Call it what it is

I started thinking yesterday back to when it was first confirmed that I had OCD. I chose to reflect a little bit because it’s easy to often get lost in just getting through the day.

I remember one of the first things I learnt about how to deal with OCD.

It was the idea of every time an obsessive thought comes, you are to stop a second and label it.

Labelling means telling yourself it is an OCD thought and not coming from you per se.

At first I remember starting to do this and it not making any difference at all. In fact in some ways it made me feel like I was lying to myself and it was just another way for me to not face the truth.

I mean how can a thought you have in your head, which goes with an emotional reaction so deeply felt and poignant, be wrong?
That is the $64million question.

I struggle all the time with this still, but labelling it is a necessary process.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not perfect in this and I have certainly not overcome OCD, but when this labelling is done regularly, over an extended period of time, you can start to believe it as a possibility.

Separating yourself from certain thoughts and suggesting that they are not really you is a useful technique.

I have come to identify OCD thoughts with something almost like a passenger who follows me around, and is a terrible conversationalist.

It’s a bit like that nagging kid in the back of the car on a long journey, but the journey doesn’t seem to end. What’s the destination?? I dunno.

For a time I was very disciplined in labelling thoughts as obsessive or not. It worked relatively well. The challenge is in being consistent and that’s where I fail a bit.

My wife and I do not like talking about OCD as OCD. It all sounds very doom and gloom. So, although slightly crazy, we have given it all a name.

Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce PETE!

We call it Pete. That’s it’s name.

So when I am feeling a bit consumed in thoughts etc I can say to myself “Pete is an asshole”.

I say to my wife “Pete is being an asshole again”.

Sorry for the sudden appearance of a swear word, but that’s how it goes. This statement doubles up as a labelling of the thought and also an exposure to scrupulosity worries.

In the scrupulous mind swearing is akin to taking someone’s life or something close.

So I say that swear word to describe OCD.

It’s surprisingly refreshing.

Who would have thought that a good swear word could calm anxiety.

Is God going to disown me or leave me alone for simply saying “asshole”??

Sanity says no, but OCD says yes.

I have to take that chance.

Labelling alone is not enough. It's a great start, but other stuff has to follow I think. I've got some ideas and thoughts on that, but maybe for another post.
Monday, 14 July 2014 0 comments

Triggers and the descent into the inner mind

I have noticed all of my images on the site have disappeared. Well isn’t that a tad annoying!!

I have gone through all of the processes to try and locate the images, but it seems like my whole gallery has disappeared from google. Maybe my fat fingers hit a big ol’ delete button without realising.

Whatever the reason, the images are gone.

Sorry about that.

They were probably the best things on here.

One really interesting thing about OCD, or my OCD, is that I end up having OCD about OCD.
Boy does that get confusing!!

Many times I obsess about whether what I have is actually OCD. Maybe I’m just trying to make it fit. Maybe it’s just another lie and distraction from the TRUTH of my thoughts.

After all, surely it was lying and distraction that got me in this confused mess in the first place right?




Or so my head tells me.

I was having a chat with someone over the weekend and they were asking me if I thought I knew what the triggers were. I stumbled. I couldn’t come up with an answer.

Cue spending the rest of the weekend worrying about whether I actually had OCD or not. Maybe I’m just lying? Maybe I’m just deceiving myself? The diagnosis all seems a bit too convenient does it not?

I mean what are the chances that there is a medical condition whose symptoms completely match up with my general daily feelings. I know! Sounds way too convenient right. I must be lying to myself!! There is no other possible explanation.
I may as well have had this to obsess about, because if it wasn’t this it would just be something else.

When I get to this stage, my normal reaction is to google it and read everything I possibly can about OCD to either confirm or denounce my diagnosis. Ahhhh blessed reassurance, which never lasts!!

The hours I have spent on google reading about OCD is obscene. I could have used that time and effort to become a millionaire. Heck maybe I’d be ruling the world right now, the effort and time spent was so significant.

Google and I have a love hate relationship. Not only is it my number 1 re-assurer, but it is also my number 1 nemesis.

I flippin’ hate/love Google.

It is tough to identify triggers and hold on to that definition or clarity because when Obsessions flare up again it doesn’t really matter to me what the trigger was, I am too lost in the thoughts and anxiety.

Something decent came of it though. It made me think of my triggers for a post. Hopefully posting them here gives me a physical as well as a mental reminder of what these are. I mean I guess I know them, but I just haven’t nailed them down for long enough to make an impact, due to second guessing whether I have OCD in the first place.

Generic triggers
Stress – busy life, lots to do

Tiredness – if I miss sleep then I really feel anxious

Specific triggers
Reading scriptures – I am just like the bad people the scriptures talk about. I can see all my sins and the damnation awaiting me if I don't change. Oh and have I denied the Holy Ghost? - Wow that’s a strange one huh

Hearing controversial or ‘anti Mormon’ discussions or topics – The mere suggestion of disagreement leads to the question ‘Is my whole life a lie?’ (My biggest challenge right now)

Work/employment – It’s like my brain is annoyed that I have to focus on something else, other than OCD. I spend all day at work fighting for headspace to concentrate on my job. A good example of this is that I am at work typing this right now. I have to get this out in the hope I will be able to work a bit later on. Maybe my blog is becoming part of a compulsion to this obsession with OCD.

Any kind of discussion of an existential nature – MIND BLOWN – back to square one

There are more I reckon, but these are the main current ones. I can see how OCD has changed over the years. It started with scrupulosity, confessing everything!! It moved to relationship OCD, fear of who I loved and who I didn’t. Then it was existentialist stuff. Now it’s scrupulosity and existentialist stuff all wrapped up together.

I am almost intrigued as to what is coming next.

So, what a lovely life it is when you are freaked by the idea of going to work and sitting there for 8 hours a day, anxious when you have anything to do, on edge with even slight tiredness, can’t turn to the scriptures for uplift and support, feeling like your whole life is a lie and then questioning if you or Neptune really even exists, and if so, where and how?
Every thought as it occurs is so powerful and consuming.

But I will tell you one thing……… I actively try not to give in to any of it.

Do I go to work every day? YES.

Do I get on with my busy schedule? YES.

Do I read Scriptures? YES.

Do I go to church and teach lessons? YES.

I will tell you one thing…. It’s hard!! However, these hard things are the things that will save me in time.
I used to avoid reading scriptures, and I must have gone about two years without even opening them. However, every day is now my exposure therapy. This makes every day a challenge. It almost feels easier to just give in to the thoughts. At least then it would just be the thoughts and not an active fight against them. But the fight is necessary.

While a ‘fight’ sounds very active, it can actually be passive. Involved in the exposure therapy for me is trying to ignore what I am being told in my head and then just engaging with the thing I’m scared of. It’s really tough sometimes, but it gets easier. I just wish it lasted longer.

I fight all day long. The frustrating thing is once I’ve broken down the barriers a bit one day, the next day I wake up and they are all back again.

I think I’m making progress, but then there’s just those days that grab you by the throat and choke any sense of safety and wind out of you. The chest tightens. The brain races. The legs twitch constantly and you feel hyper aware of everything around you, even though the truth is you are only aware of your own feelings.

I need to figure this stuff out a bit better. I do quite well pretending. This just adds to the sense of living a lie. Sometimes I over compensate, trying to be all light and jovial. I’m pretty sure that becomes annoying.
I am going to make a post about my compulsions soon as I am beginning to see more of them. I also want to try and put my thoughts down about scrupulosity at some future point, but one step at a time. I have work to do.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014 0 comments

Faith and OCD

We believe that Faith is the beginning and foremost principle of the Gospel.

With the definition of FAITH being 'the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen', the very nature of Faith suggests not only a degree of not knowing, but potentially having conflicting information presented to us which we cannot resolve intellectually or with the collection of all available facts. Do we ever really have all the information?

Reason is an important starting point for belief and even faith, but faith takes that reason and then extrapolates what you can gather, and steps into the unknown. Both reason and faith are needed so we can know where our knowledge and reason ends and where faith begins.

All faith is blind in some way, but never wholly blind, as many critics of faith tend to assume, because we know what we know and exactly what it is that we don’t know. We know our questions. We know the discrepancies.

If exercising faith is a key fundamental principle of the Gospel and God’s proscribed plan for us, why do we sometimes act or feel so surprised when we come across a difficult situation in life that requires us to act when we don’t have all the answers?

President David O. McKay said, “The rich rewards come only to the strenuous strugglers.”

That doesn't sound like a piece of cake does it? It implies only those who have moments of struggle even have a chance of receiving rich rewards.

OCD is your struggle. It has a purpose. It's not solely to afflict you or cause you pain, but it's there to help you grow. With OCD you have to clearly recognise by reason what is right and wrong, what is obsessive in nature. You always know it sounds wrong, yet fear is there instead of faith.

You don't have all the answers, but then again you don't need them.

Life has no certainties, so why are we seeking them, or closing ourselves off because we are scared of some circumstances?

Seek answers. learn what you can. There is much good in the world and plenty of medical knowledge. We really need to lose the fear though, and seek for faith in Christ who sees all things and, when asked, is the author and finisher of our faith.

Let him start writing faith in your heart so you can overcome your troubles, and in time you can just let go of what you don't know with the assurance that it will be ok.