My OCD Is Just A Thing

So…how is my OCD holding up with all this stress in my life??     

It’s flipping the monkey’s out!  But, it’s just my quirky brain being…quirky.

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By Ginny (Nature Photography) 

Anxiety triggers my OCD, so I tend to experience more OCD episodes when I am stressed and anxious; especially, if I am not practicing stress management.  Stress management helps me prevent annoying OCD episodes from occurring; however, when an OCD episode does occur, it is the practice of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques that allows me to easily breeze right through them without emotionally falling apart.


Emotionally Numb To My OCD 

My OCD bully brain no longer bothers me.  Personally, my OCD (Pure “O” OCD) is just a thing that happens…

My OCD is comparable to hiccups.  They come and go, and there is nothing I can do about it.

I can’t really explain it.
Although I am not emotionally attached to my intrusive thoughts, intrusive thoughts still flood my brain and get stuck on repeat due to the faulty wiring of my brain (OCD).   I still have moments of “what if?”   I still feel the strong emotions.  I still have irrational OCD fears.  BUT, the difference, is that I am 100% self-aware that my thoughts and feelings are OCD.

I often, nonchalantly, tell my friends and family when I am currently experiencing an OCD episode.  I am rarely ever embarrassed anymore.  I also do not ask for reassurance from anyone,  because I can now recognize and acknowledge that my own thoughts are irrational and/or silly.  I know who I am as a person.  I also know I am a person with a quirky OCD brain.

More importantly, I no longer dwell on the question, “Why am I having these kinds of thoughts.

I think it’s the “why” that causes so much emotional suffering, because “why” questions our own character, making us feel like a bad person (when we aren’t), and it fuels self-doubt.

Control Anxiety, Control OCD

In my opinion, stress & anxiety are the root cause of OCD episodes.  I practice a mix of Stress Management and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques to keep my OCD under control.

First, I had to learn to accept I have an OCD brain.  Because the truth is, there is nothing we can do about how our brains are wired (well, not yet).

Also, it is important to understand that our intrusive thoughts do not define us.  When we realize our OCD has nothing to do with us, we can begin to release the emotional ties we have with those lingering intrusive thoughts.

Thoughts are meaningless without action. 

Sometimes, intrusive thoughts can be so overbearing, we may have difficulty recognizing that those intrusive thoughts are OCD related.  So, it’s important to identify and understand the triggers to our OCD episodes (everyone is different).  The reason for this, is not avoidance, but acceptance.  Acceptance is a big part of stress-management and we must accept that nobody, not even normal brains, can control their own thoughts. 

Recognizing triggers is a start to self-awareness, that gives us the power to make a choice.  The power to be in control of our OCD.   Either we avoid something that we know is going to trigger our OCD (which kind of limits our happiness) OR we accept our OCD is going to be triggered and we work through our OCD episode (if it occurs) fully aware of our thoughts and feelings.  Being  self-aware with “Hey, it’s just my quirky brain being OCD,” reduces our emotional attachments to intrusive thoughts and allows us to move on with our lives.

It is important to note, that everyone experiences OCD differently.  Some are fully aware when they experience OCD episodes, they know all their triggers, they know everything there is to know about their own OCD, yet they are still emotionally suffering from their intrusive thoughts and feelings.

In my opinion, I believe emotional suffering continues, because we end up asking ourselves the wrong questions.  It’s analyzing our thoughts and emotions to death that fuel our OCD.

Before I understood the relationship between my OCD and anxiety, I was asking myself all the wrong questions.  Those questions led to more questions and eventually, I found myself dwelling deeper and deeper on my OCD thoughts and feelings, until I was completely consumed by self-doubt and thinking I was going insane.

I eventually learned, if the questions I am asking myself over and over are leading me in an endless circle of doubt, perhaps, I am just asking myself the wrong questions….

Questions That Are Perhaps Fueling OCD

  1. Why am I having these kinds of thoughts?
  2. Does this make me a terrible person?
  3. What if?
  4. Where are these fears coming from?
  5. Are these thoughts real?

Perhaps Questions To Ask Instead

  1. What am I anxious about?  (Think about everything going on in your Life)
  2. What are the facts?
  3. Are these thoughts rational?
  4. What triggered my anxiety?  (A change, even a slight change in something new)
  5. Is this something I can control?

Everyone’s OCD is different, so, this may be helpful or may not be helpful.  My point is, when you’re not getting the results you want, it’s probably time to change up tactics.

If you find yourself walking in circles, STOP, and point your feet in a different direction; then start walking again-perhaps you’ll go somewhere new for a change.

You Got This!!

There was a time in my life, I thought I would never be happy.  I struggled to imagine how anyone could ever get over such horrendous thoughts and feelings.  There was a time in my life, I thought I was going insane.

Today, I am glad I took a stand against my OCD bully brain!  It’s wasn’t easy.  I am not cured of OCD, but I did manage to overcome the emotional suffering of my OCD.   Hope does exist.  It is possible, to live happily with OCD.  It just takes a lot of work, understanding, and some OCD bully brain ass-kicking!

To everyone who has OCD, you got this!!

 

 

 

My OCD “Phantom” Quirks

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I still have some lingering OCD quirks; OCD habits that seem to have been engraved into my brain, in which no longer serve any OCD purpose.  These are behaviors that I perform without even thinking.  There is no compulsive need or emotional suffering behind any of these left-over quirky behaviors; they are just simply habit.

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My brain is very much OCD wired, but I am in control.  I no longer allow my OCD brain to cause me “emotional” suffering.  Sure, on occassion, I still experience some OCD episodes, but they don’t last very long and are always triggered by stress.  For me, stress management has been the key to living comfortably with an OCD brain.

Today, I often experience, what I call, OCD “phantom” quirks (compulsive-like behaviors with no OCD meaning or purpose), lingering around from a time when my OCD brain was in full control.  For whatever reason, these quirks developed into routine habits.  I am guessing, as an ingenious way to beat my OCD brain to the punch.  Over the years, as I began to conquer my OCD brain, I became so focused on eliminating “emotional” suffering, I seemed to have failed to change some of the physical OCD behaviors (quirks) that morphed into habits.

My 5 Best Phantom Quirks

  1. When shopping, I always take the product behind the first product on the shelf.  There is no compulsive need to do so, it’s just a matter of habit.  Most of the time, I grab whatever is in front of me- I do not care, unless the product looks damaged or something.  But if I am in rush, I automatically grab the product from behind the first product- it’s just habit developed from an old OCD quirk.
  2. Vigorously Checking the Door To Make Sure It’s Locked  Before, I would wiggle the monkey’s out of a doorknob to make sure it was in fact secure and locked; sometimes, unlocking and locking again to be extra sure.

    Today, I do it out of habit.  The other day, in fact.  While running through my mental checklist – backpack, lunch, homework,  my hands were automatically checking the locked doorknob.  I didn’t even realize what I was doing until my daughter loudly interrupted my mental thoughts with “Mommy, it’s locked!”  Obviously, something I have to work on.

  3.  Not Reusing a Spoon For Coffee  I used to experience OCD contamination fears.  If you put down a spoon on a surface (even a known clean surface), my OCD brain was convinced it was then contaminated and I was forced to get a new clean spoon.  

    Today, after stirring my coffee with a spoon, I generally just rinse it off and put it back in the drawer.  Sometimes, I leave it on the counter for later and just rinse off and reuse.  But, if I am not fully in the moment, when I go back for more coffee, I will automatically get a new spoon- even though, I notice a perfectly good spoon sitting next to the coffee maker.

    Fortunately, I have successfully broken my habit with cups!  I used to never use the same cup twice.  Man, now I use the same cup all day!  Just rinse and re-use!

  4.  Counting Traffic Lights  I used to count how many traffic intersections were between point A and point B.  I don’t know why I did this, but I had some compulsive need to do it.

    Today, I am guessing it’s habit or perhaps it’s been embraced as a navigational skill.  Although I no longer actively count intersections,  I can still generally (not always, like before though) tell you how many intersections you have to pass through to get to your destination.  It’s a great party trick!

  5. Using A Knuckle To Press The Elevator Button  Not all OCD habits are worth breaking; especially,  those that are probably better for your health anyway.

    As I mentioned before, I used to have contamination fears.   One OCD habit I acquired was pressing the elevator button with my knuckle, rather than my finger, to avoid germs.  Then, I would immediately (as if it were an emergency) wash my hands or use hand santizer afterwards.

    Today, I prefer to use my knuckle instead of my finger to press the elevator button, because it’s a healthy habit (kind of like, sneezing into your elbow rather than into your hands).  I rarely have a compulsive need to wash my hands after pressing the button, unless, of course, it was noticeably icky or sticky.   Flu season is also an exception, I might seek some hand sanitizer afterwards, just because I really do not want to be sick with the flu.  Nobody likes having the flu!   

Maybe My OCD Brain Is Controlling Me From Behind the Scenes And I Don’t Even Know It!

Maybe, my OCD brain is subconsciously triggering compulsive behavior?  Oh, that sneaky OCD brain of mine….

No, my OCD brain is not controlling me subconsciously.   The OCD brain is a bully that is driven by emotional suffering.  If you aren’t experiencing emotional suffering, your OCD brain is not winning, thus, definitely not in control.

I truly believe compulsive behaviors are physical responses to emotional suffering caused by obsessive irrational intrusive thoughts.  If I am not experiencing any emotional suffering with my OCD quirks, then I am pretty confident these quirky behaviors are nothing more than just simple habits left over from years of actually performing compulsive behaviors due to frequent OCD episodes.

If you think about it, a habit is something you do routinely, and practiced enough, it is very difficult to break.  So, it is certainly reasonable to assume, compulsive behaviors due to frequent OCD episodes, done routinely, and practiced enough, could develop into normal everyday habits.

In my opinion, if you aren’t emotionally suffering from a habit, it’s not OCD (anymore).

Am I Just In Denial?

Of course, I am not a professional expert or anything-experty.  For all I know, I am just in denial of my OCD and I am still “suffering” from OCD.  But, if I am, am I really suffering?  Isn’t the entire point of overcoming OCD, overcoming the emotional distress caused by OCD?

I’ll always have an OCD wired brain (or, so I have been told),  and if I can re-wire my brain to be truly OCD-free…how long is that going to take?  Baby-steps, please!  Baby steps!  

If there is one thing I have learned on my OCD journey, is that OCD is personally unique to each individual.   Although no two bully brains are the same, every bully brain causes emotional suffering.  If you can free yourself from the emotional suffering, then that, my friend, is what I call progress in my book!

It’s truly okay if you cannot re-wire your brain back to normal!  Normal is so boring anyway.  The important thing, in my opinion, is overcoming the emotional distress (suffering) caused by the OCD bully brain.  After that, any OCD “phantom” quirks left behind, embrace them!  Embrace them like OCD battle scars!