Advice, information & OCD treatment
We heard a joke on TV recently about a website for people with OCD called www.ocdhelp/i-left-the-iron-on/no-i-didn’t-/yes-i-did/no-i-didnt.com I guess it might be funny if you don’t have to live with the incessant urges, emotional overload, exhaustion, fears and mental torment from your mind (and that’s before having to worry about covering it up and wondering what other people think). However, for those who are currently battling with OCD you’ll know that this is no laughing matter and you can’t just “pull yourself together.”
Over the years in our therapy practice, we have been amazed at how many people experience OCD, we have been amazed at the breadth of differing rituals sufferers feel compelled to enact, however, we are not surprised that the majority of these people are intelligent, articulate and skilled professionals, because so much of how OCD works is based on thinking too much. We also know with the right help it is possible the lessen, manage and even release these confining shackles.
What is OCD? Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
It doesn’t matter what it is! What matters is how you take back control, you have to stop asking why and start asking how! Having to know why means it is happening to you, whereas, wanting to know how to move forward and let it go is an enabling stance.
Now, it is true that certain facets of the brain can get unsettled following traumatic events (bullying, abuse, rejection, bereavement and experiences that lower self-worth) or following on from long periods of anxiety or depression, and in these instances one part that may dysfunction is the Caudate Nucleus part of the brain, which functions like a switch, when it is off everything is OK and we are calm, however, when it is on we feel like some form of action is required.
The continuous thinking and worrying that an OCD sufferer is prone to do for long periods of time seems to trap their Caudate Nucleus in the ‘on’ position. Normally, you might check if the door is locked (switch set to ‘on’ therefore you need an action) so, you lock the door (switch get sets to ‘off’ so you can relax).
For a person who has unknowingly re-programmed themselves via prolonged and excessive negative thoughts the switch does not flip back to the off position after the initial action, so they remain fearful. This applies not only to physical actions like checking doors, washing hands etc. but also, for thoughts and ruminations “if I don’t spend time thinking about X then something bad may happen etc.
Luckily our brain is very malleable and is quick to adapt when new strategies are applied so this minor dysfunction can be circumnavigated and whilst your levels of stress and anxiety decrease it often reverts back to normal.
So, because this automatic switching part of the brain is temporarily out of order the Calmness in Mind Program will show you how to do this manually – teaching you how to can use conscious thoughts and a more thorough understanding of your emotions to give the brain the time it needs to rewire itself.
Different types of OCD behaviour & ways of thinking
Every day we talk to clients during their OCD treatment , they each have a whole range of differing compulsions and they nearly always start the conversation with “You are going to think I am really weird because I have to ……..” Well, you are not weird and we have heard so many differing behaviours and ruminations that we are amazed at how skilful the mind is at scaring and trapping us – if it wasn’t so serious it might even be a little funny.
We have tried to list some of the more common ways that the OCD manifests in people (there are hundreds of other ways too!)
- Touching Things & Not Touching Things
Having the compulsion or need to touch things often occurs in the early stages of OCD, this may be having to touch a part of the body, the floor, a lucky charm etc. This activity is often accompanied by the need to do this in a certain way or a certain number of times or within a certain time frame, the activity seems (to the individual) to stop their anxiety rising or prevents ‘bad’ things happening to them or others. Equally, the rituals may be about not touching things like; not stepping on the gaps between paving slabs or cracks in the road.
- Excessive Hygiene and Obsessive Tidyness
Another common behaviour that may get hijacked by OCD is an overwhelming fear of germs or contamination – the individual whose OCD ruminations guide them down this route is forever cleaning themselves or their houses to limit the fear of contamination or catching some form of disease (i.e. Aids.) In extreme cases the fear is so intense that it is not possible to leave the home or they may need to clean for hours and hours to calm the anxiety and racing mind. We have always seen a strong correlation between perfectionists and light OCD perhaps that is why many sufferers know how they want things to be, and therefore, can become obsessively orderly and tidy (even if it is only in one or two aspects of their life, like a tidy organised kitchen and a messy bedroom.)
- The Role of Numbers in OCD
Counting and doing things in multiples of certain numbers is very common, climbing stairs two by two, or switching a light on and off 3 times before finally turning it off, clicking doors closed five times before moving out of the room etc. etc. This behaviour can often be seen in anxious children (and follows the person into adult hood) and is often paired with a secondary and tertiary traits, such as, tapping a chair three times before sitting and only sitting from the left-side of the chair and only if the chair is leather (won’t sit on a cloth chair). The depth of these chained behaviours can be quite astonishing.
- Security Based Behaviours
Once again this is a common compulsive trait, the need to ensure doors are locked, the gas is turned off, windows are closed, the alarm is set etc. before going to bed or leaving the house. This can become very extreme and it may take a person 2 hours to get to bed at night or twenty minutes to leave for work in the morning (if they leave at all as this ritual is often associated with agoraphobia too.) The behaviour is tiring and very frustrating, having to check things over and over again in a predetermined order and procedure (even though they know it is silly!) It can be very frustrating at another level as it affects the family too and this normally leads to further guilt and worry as the individual tries to hide the behaviour or come up with excuses to justify it
- Hoarding And Collecting
Hoarding or collecting type compulsions are surprisingly common – where the person finds it almost impossible to throw things out (in-case they are needed) even if it is what others may call rubbish, like cans, boxes or newspapers. This may become out of control if the person lives alone and they may find their house fills up with ‘junk’ that often is very hazardous. It is also common for a hoarder to be a ‘collector’ of anything from toys, Toby jugs, old clothes, CD’s, records, books right through to plastic ducks.
- Fearing Loved Ones Will Die Or Become Sick
Another common way OCD may grab the individual is through and intense fear of someone they love dying if they don’t do a certain thing at a certain time and in a certain way. They say “I know it is silly, but, what if it did happen? I can’t risk it.” Of course, this is a very emotionally charged obsession is often arises where a parent or a close friend passed away when the sufferer was young and they may blame themselves. This belief may express itself as a fear of a child or a spouse becoming ill if a certain behaviour is not observed.
- Paranoid Thoughts And Fears About Harming Other People
A racing mind and continuously worrying thoughts are a major symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder, when these stories get out of control they may become super scary (and even paranoid) ruminations. This can take many forms, common ones include, thinking you might stab someone, thinking you might poison a person, hurt a child or, believing that you are being followed or people know something bad about you (that you don’t know), this goes on and on and is only limited by the imagination of the individual, they feel real and because they feel real the sufferer begins to believe that they may be going mad (and if they are going mad, they might actually do it!) Paranoia is common when these ‘stories’ get out of control and it is hard for the individual to function well at work or home. In reality, these fearful urges are almost never acted upon and are no more than the mind glimpsing the space between dreaming and being wake.
- Sexual Ruminations, Fears and Compulsions
For some people the OCD may manifest through thoughts of a sexual nature and this can be very distressing, it ranges from inappropriate sexual thoughts about children (even your own) and may include sexual thoughts during breast feeding or bathing babies, as horrible as these thoughts are – they are only thoughts. H-OCD which is an obsession with the thought that you may be gay (even if you are not attracted to the same sex) . This obsession can be very distressing because you are always doubting yourself and looking for any evidence (through constant ruminating) that you may actually be homosexual. This is doubly worrying when you are in a comfortable and loving heterosexual relationship and (consciously) know you are not gay.
- Need To Confess Compulsions
For some there is an overpowering OCD need and compulsion to own up to doing something or confess to something that feels true but just isn’t. Common examples of this include, wanting to confess to the police for misdemeanour’s such as, shop lifting, harming people, fraudulent activities and drug abuse – these things usually have never happened but they feel so real and the compulsion to crave reassurance is huge. This can be very worrying to family members as there is no way of reassuring them that they didn’t do it.
- Superstitious Beliefs Rituals
It is quite common for OCD to be targeted around things like the devil or evilness in general and can manifest in a whole range of ritualistic behaviours that they believe will ward off those forces, who they believe may harm them or those they love. Rituals such as, avoiding certain numbers associated with the occult, silent prayers and placing objects in certain places before going to bed.
It doesn’t matter what your OCD symptoms, rituals and obsessions are, they are just a symptom of OCD, not the real problem (yes, they cause further problems) however, treating these symptoms is missing the point completely – we need to work on the underlying problems, not the presenting symptom – that is what the Calmness in Mind OCD Treatment Program does.
Where does OCD come from?
Once again, it doesn’t matter! However, in our experience there are common themes that we see from day to day, anxiety in childhood often manifests as OCD once they become and adult (or it becomes more evident as an adult). OCD is often the last in a long chain of events that might look like this:
One typical scenario that leads into OCD might look like this; abusive or nervous parents develop an anxious child and due to his low-self esteem is bullied at school, so he learns avoidant behaviours that manifest as situational phobias. As these phobias increase so do scary ruminations in the mind which lead to irrational ritually obsessive safety routines which take lots of time, which leads to agoraphobia, which finally leads to full blown OCD.
At other times the obsessive compulsions may arise after a period of feeling really down, perhaps 6 months after losing a job, losing a loved one or other forms of trauma. Either way OCD seems to try and keep the person stuck so they can’t get on with their life – it is almost as if the unconscious is saying “this is safer than that” it is better for you to be trapped at home than have to face the world, whilst at the same time the conscious mind is saying “this is just stupid, why is this happening to me?”
So, as we said before, it doesn’t matter where OCD comes from what is important is overcoming OCD.
This page attempts to answer the question what is OCD? In the section above we have detailed the many types of OCD and how they grab your attention. For all of the other biological and physical symptoms of OCD you can read more here…
Feeling tired and exhausted
It is physically and mentally exhausting to live with anxious feelings and a racing mind for any period of time. The continuous strain on your unconscious nervous system is huge and absolutely drains you at a deep biological and emotional level. Learning how to limit this strain by quietening your mind is key to escaping OCD.
Are your carers helping or trapping you?
Over the years working with people who think and act in anxious ways has led me to observe closely the way their closest family members unknowingly (or perhaps knowingly) may hinder their recovery. Quite commonly I see the following situations:
- The family just don’t know what OCD treatment works, or how to help, so they just do their best
- The family have caused the anxiety in the first place – anxious mother = anxious daughter (learned behaviour)
- The family guilt the sufferer in to remaining stuck – “I don’t know what I would do with my life if I wasn’t looking after you.”
- The anxious person uses the anxiety to get attention or control a spouse “I can’t leave her because she needs me.”
- The family have unknowingly confirmed the sufferers beliefs about themselves – “It’s a shame you don’t have more confidence.”
We believe, that these things need to be considered when moving away from anxiety, really it is a time to be quite selfish and focus on yourself, what you want, just until you recover. Read more here.
OCD treatment recovery conundrums and traps
There are a set of thinking traps that often people fall foul of, that they use (unknowingly) to keep themselves stuck, for example; there is the Certainty Trap, where he has to be certain that nothing bad will happen if he stops his rituals (that is an impossible situation, as we never know what will happen next). The Feeling Guilty Routine, where, due to a huge sense of responsibility, morality and very high standards, this selfish preoccupation leads to feeling guilty, and when a person feels guilty they tend to expect to be punished – hence the OCD. The Martyr Routine, where the person says “It is better to sacrifice the quality of my life than to expose another person so some form of threat.” Of course, they are not really considering the long term effects on the other person from all the ‘protection’!
In reality OCD is very much about control, controlling emotions, controlling outcomes, controlling health, controlling people, controlling nature, whereas, Real Control is being in control of being out of control, that’s what confidence really is “I don’t know what will happen next, but, I’m sure I’ll be OK.”
How this anxiety recovery program will help you
The Calmness in Mind Anxiety Treatment Program teaches you how you are unknowingly trapping yourself and once you can see why you have OCD and which type of OCD, much of the fear subsides. With less fear in your mind we help you to quieten the thoughts and lean into the fear with lots of strategies to keep you calm and in control, finally we help you to work on who you are and what you want, because people with OCD are very much stuck in the present moment and they need to regain their confidence and dream some new dreams about who they are and what they want. This is not a quick fix product, it is a sensible journey that deconstructs your predicament and teaches you how to fix yourself. If you are prepared to follow the program, put the work in and lean into the fear, we believe it is possible to take back control.
Start your OCD treatment program today
Escaping the clutches of OCD is not easy, but when you are serious about working on yourself and you have a sensible OCD treatment program in your hands, anything is possible. Perhaps it’s time to stop listening to your emotions and start taking more control of your life?
Get started today, download immediately and begin your OCD treatment and recovery programme.