Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Top 5 things that hurt my OCD

  On Monday I wrote about the top things that help my obsessive-compulsive disorder, so I thought I’d look at the opposite and discuss things that hurt my OCD.

Not getting treatment

I wasn’t diagnosed and treated for my OCD and depression until I was 26, after suffering from both for much of my life up until then. That was a lot of needless suffering because help was available.
Even after I became an adult and was responsible for my own health, I didn’t speak up and tell my doctors what was going on with me. I didn’t tell them about the strange thoughts and even stranger compulsions that were wreaking havoc with my life.
I was in talk therapy for about a year before I even mentioned my obsessions and compulsions to my therapist.
I was ashamed of my bizarre habits and thought I was the only person in the world who did such things.

Depending on medication alone

For more than 20 years, the only treatment I had for OCD was medication.
I am not discounting the tremendous help I have received from medication. It lifted me out of the worst of my OCD and depression and allowed me to live a better life.
But I ignored doctor’s suggestions that I get therapy specifically for OCD, like cognitive behavioral therapy. I didn’t want to take the time or spend the money, and I really didn’t think I needed it.
Now I recognize that medication can do only part of what I need to rid myself of the subtle ways OCD intrudes on my life. I need practical therapy, and I’ll be back to it soon.

Not taking GAD seriously

In addition to OCD and depression, I have generalized anxiety disorder. I tend to forget that and focus all my energies on fighting the “top two” disorders in my life.
But GAD has a very real effect on my OCD. The more anxious I am generally, the more I have to deal with the OCD. The generalized anxiety feeds the obsessions and makes it harder for me to fight the compulsions.
That tells me that I need to consciously take steps to lower my anxiety overall.

Giving in to compulsions

I know by now that giving in to compulsions just makes the cycle of OCD worse. The more I check, for example, the more I want to check, and the more I check.
I can’t let up. I can’t give myself a break from tolerating the anxiety until it goes away instead of performing the compulsion.

Not taking care of my health

If I get really tired, I find that I am more prone to anxious feelings and depressive thinking. Those just feed my OCD. So I have to get plenty of rest.
That’s not always easy, especially on days when I have to work late. On such days, I also tend to eat erratically and too much. Then I don’t feel like going to bed and stay up too late. Then I don’t sleep well. And the cycle continues.
I feel so much better when I get enough but not too much sleep, when I eat several small meals of healthy food, when I exercise. When I don’t take care of my health, it shows in my level of anxiety and thus, my OCD.

  What things make your OCD and/or other anxiety worse?

16 comments:

  1. If I don't exercise it's not good for me mentally. I need to run!

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  2. Not taking GAD seriously... I think I have this problem too. I need to try to deal with the GAD like I do with the OCD.

    I think all the things you mentioned are true for me too. I know I feel better when I eat right and exercise.

    Medication alone wasn't enough for me.

    Not getting treatment was really bad for me LOL.

    Oh and giving in... yep, you're right. The more I check, the more I check. I am so not good at resisting the compulsion to check. Last night, I got so cozy in my bed with my book but then I found I was so tensed up and distracted by thoughts of lights and locks. I had to get up and check everything, for I figured, why bother... just check so you can relax! What a pain!

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    1. Elizabeth, it is such a pain, isn't it, when we give in to the compulsion and we know we shouldn't. It just drives my anxiety up.

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  3. Once again - our lists are similar! Lack of sleep is a KILLER trigger for me. Wow, it is amazing how crazy my thoughts start to go if I'm over tired. I can literally feel a difference in my thinking. It's like the fog settles back over everything. Giving in to compulsions - again the worst thing I can do. I put off proper treatment for 13 years - so we match on that one too! GAD was also a really big problem for me too, and I feel like it intertwines with the OCD as well. It's like they feed each other.

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    1. Sunny, The GAD drives me nuts sometimes, trying to figure out what is causing the anxiety. It's hard for me to accept that it's just anxiety, just the way my body works. It's very frustrating, isn't it?

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  4. It makes me so sad to read how you didn't speak up and tell your doctors how you were feeling - I did that same thing. I was so ashamed of my thoughts and it felt so humiliating to me to have to tell someone out loud how I washed my hands for 30 minutes at a time or stared at a picture on the wall for an hour to determine if it was straight. I think that is why it was such a relief for me to know there was a thing called OCD and other people did these things, made me feel not so alone and weird.
    Your list mirrors mine, especially taking care of my health because exercise is so beneficial to me and I am now realizing I have to do a better job of eating regular.

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    1. Krystal Lynn, I remember reading a magazine article when I was in my late teens, perhaps, about OCD. That was the first time I had heard of it and the first time I had a name for the things I did. Up until then, I thought I was horribly weird. But it still took me a long time to speak out and get help.

      I hope your migraines are better!

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  5. Reading your post and all of the comments makes me realize how important all of our blogs are. All this sharing will hopefully inspire those who have yet to seek treatment to get help. At the very least, they will know they are not alone! Thanks for all you do, Tina.

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    1. Janet, thank you, and right back at you! :-) I hope we are reaching those who need to know they are not alone.

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  6. Your listing GAD as an issue stood out to me. I know I have anxiety that isn't OCD, but it doesn't fit into a nice, neat box with a label (besides, the psychiatrist never exactly in exactly the right words said that I had GAD, so I continue to wonder, and wonder if I'm some kind of defective person to want to claim that label along with my other labels). My counselor says that in general, I can treat an anxiety issue just like OCD and expose myself to it. That isn't so easy with the vague anxieties; as far as I know, I can just recognize the anxiety, and then go on with life. What do you do to treat your GAD?

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    1. Abigail, lately I've been trying to focus on the physical feelings of the anxiety and acknowledge the feelings and tolerate them, then move on. That's in line with my therapist view of learning to tolerate the anxiety and not try to ignore it or necessarily try to just get rid of it. It's an acceptance of it. I find that it does help me. Hope this helps!

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  7. The top 5 things that hurt my OCD, and myself, would be - 1. Not getting the right help early enough. 2. Giving in to dark thoughts. 3. Wasting time in psych hospitals without trying hard enough to become weller. 4. Like you, performing compulsions and giving into obsessions. 5. Not having enough self esteem and self confidence to make my life worth something. Susan :)

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    1. Susan, thank you for sharing your top 5. I'm so glad that you and I are not alone in this!

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  8. What hurts my OCD most is not taking medication. All the other things you mentioned are the same for me as well, but medication is the very first step to begin with. Without it I become either manic or depressed and in both cases my OCD gets worse as well. Much worse in fact.

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    1. Klaaske, taking my medication is most important for me, also. If I didn't take it, I would have a lot of trouble.

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