Category Archives: OCD Strategies

“Has Anyone Else Taken This Medication for OCD and Has It Helped?”

Something that you want very much but is very hard to get or achieve.

You probably think I’m talking about the Holy Grail.

An object or goal that is sought after for its great significance.

Still think I’m talking about the Holy Grail?

Well…I’m not talking about thee Holy Grail–the Cup that is said to have been used by Jesus Christ. I’m talking about a different holy grail. It seems to be highly sought after by many who have OCD.

I’m talking about the holy grail of medication for OCD sufferers.

“Has anyone else taken this medication for OCD and has it helped?”

I’m asked this question a lot about medication. At OCD conferences people line-up to ask the experts questions about medication. I can predict the answers will sound a lot like this:

  1. Be patient. It takes time to reach a therapeutic level.
  2. The needed dosage for SSRI’s is higher for OCD than it is for depression.
  3. No one drug stands out as the front runner. 
  4. It’s chemical warfare. Be willing to try this. Try that. Watch for side effects. 
  5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Use a combination of CBT and meds.

The holy grail of medication…Something you want very much but is hard to get or achieve. An object that is sought after for its great significance. 

Therein lies the problem. Its significance is not that great. It’s part of the solution. Not the main solution. I’m not making this up. It’s in the literature. Authors, speakers, and researchers say it all the time.

Despite all the many warnings to not become preoccupied with medication, it happens. 

Has anyone else taken this medication for OCD and has it helped?

Yes, other people have taken that medication. Has it helped? Sometimes.

Even if the answer is: Most of the time ~or~ a lot of the time, the answer will NOT be all of the time. Even if the answer was, “9 out of 10 times that medication helps,” there still will be room for doubt. Even if I say every single client I know who has taken this drug has been helped, it might not help you.

There’s no way to feel comfortable with a medication until you take it and see what happens.

If you have been prescribed medication for the first time, it’s reasonable to have doubts and even worry. In a room of 100 people, how many of them would be concerned about taking a medication they’ve never taken before? Probably the majority, especially since we’ve been influenced by the commercials suing drug companies.

If you are suffering from OCD you’re desperate for relief. It’s understandable you’re looking for a medication to reduce your symptoms. And it’s very possible to find such a medication. It’s very possible to get relief.

Having hope that a pill can provide relief isn’t the problem.

The problem? Analyzing by comparing and contrasting people’s experiences, repeatedly seeking reassurance from googling or talking with numerous pharmacists. Questioning for hours and days, “should I take it?” Thinking about all the “what ifs” over and over. Searching for something new and looking for hours to find someone with the same symptoms and finding out what they take.

This is the problem…the preoccupation with it. The compulsive checking and analyzing.

Get off the fence as soon as possible. If it takes you two hours to take the first pill, then it could take months to get up to a therapeutic dose. Commit. Don’t waste time and energy deciding. Stay in close contact with the doctor who prescribed it and in the meantime here’s where you’ll find the holy grail of beating OCD:

Channel all that beautiful energy on self-care and therapy.

  • Work on flipping your mindset from fixed to growth. It’s about learning and growing from anything and everything. 
  • Look for your blessings. Seek and ye shall find. They’re there! You’re not a victim! Roar!
  • Ask “What does my anxiety make possible for me?” If you’re not sure what this means, go HERE.
  • Help make your own serotonin by being just as kind and loving to yourself as you are to your best friend. (Until you practice self-compassion, OCD will have a hold on you, even with the perfect medication.)
  • Remember what you’re fighting for! Super pose like a superhero if your brain needs a little extra jolt! KAPOW!
  • Help make your own dopamine by developing one new healthy habit, solving puzzles, learning something new or doing something adventurous.
  • Help make your own oxytocin by hugging friends and family, your pets and even trees!
  • Eat well…lots of berries and green vegetables.

And when you’re ready to face your fears, start Exposure & Response Prevention. Maybe you won’t feel ready, but your mind will begin to tell you it’s time.

A life of avoidance is a life not lived.

Feel free to leave an anonymous comment if you want to add to the holy grail of beating OCD!

Are You Brewing Anxiety in Your Kitchen?

“The most important decisions that determine the brain’s health happen in the kitchen, not at the pharmacy.”

~ David Perlmutter, Author of Grain Brain

Last night I made a healthy soup for dinner. It was made of avocado, swiss chard, spinach, kale, cilantro, sweet potato and onions with vegetable broth. It was very tasty and when I make it again, I’ll probably add white organic beans. 

I was so sleepy after I ate it that I went to bed early. Very unlike me! I didn’t even make it through the weekly Voice results! I thought I was just tired from Tai Chi.

Today, I read the recipe (I don’t usually read recipes–I just throw stuff together) and discovered the soup is intended to be a sleep aid! It’s very high in chlorophyll. The recipe actually says this: “The fat in the soup aids the absorption of the minerals from the greens and aids in sleep.”

Wow! Good thing I didn’t eat that at lunch!!! If any of you have trouble falling asleep, or need to calm your nervous system, email me (tammy@bossitback.com) and I’ll send you the recipe. It seemed very soothing, but who knows, maybe it was a combination of factors.

While I was waiting for new brakes (ugh) to be put on my car today, I thought about the soup’s effect on me, and found the above quote by Dr. Perlmutter. 

I always ask my clients if they eat a lot of carbs and 7 out of 10 people confess, “I crave carbs and sugar and eat a lot of both.” Yup! Jackpot!

Sugar Doesn’t Make You Healthy

It’s no coincidence my clients have a lot of anxiety. These foods are addicting and hype up the nervous system. They cause inflammation, overstimulate neurons in the brain and destabilize blood sugar, all of which creates mood changes.

One key to managing anxiety is to eat foods that provide grounding energy and relax the nervous system. What does it mean to feel grounded? Have you hugged a tree lately? Isn’t it amazing!!! Certain foods can help you feel that way too!

No matter how healthy you eat, you’ll still be anxious. But, why not give yourself a fighting chance? Why eat something that increases the anxiety? Well, if you need to learn to accept anxiety, then let me tell you, eat a lot of carbs and sugar and practice gladly accepting how you feel. Eating carbs and sugar certainly create a great exposure exercise.

But, if you want to put your mental health first and make your two brains the best lean, mean, fighting machines they can be, then put these brain healthy ingredients into your diet! (Two brains? Yes! Don’t forget about your stomach! More on that later…)

Brain Health from the Kitchen

Matcha Green Tea is really great for focus because it’s high in theanine, which produces alpha brain waves and also offsets the caffeine in the tea. Focus is important because you’ve got to be able to focus on your values. Otherwise OCD will take you on a purpose-less driven life.

B vitamins are important for the production of serotonin. Get tested to see what your levels are and be sure to read this article about what to do.

Coconut water is an excellent source of B Vitamins. Mackerel too, but certain kinds must be avoided due to the high levels of mercury. Red meat is a good source of B12 as well as eggs, milk and cheese. But, many people don’t eat meat and dairy is known to cause inflammation. 

You might have to acquire a taste for this but Miso provides healthy bacteria which boosts GABA, a much needed neurotransmitter that especially hangs out in the gut. Besides the first paragraph of this article, which claims unwanted intrusive thoughts can be ended by GABA, (not true!) this is a post that explains GABA

 

The Guts of Anxiety

The gut has its own independent nervous system and it’s obvious that the gut plays a critical role in anxiety and other mood states. After all, 95% of of the body’s serotonin is manufactured in the 2nd brain–the gut!

So taking probiotics and eating fermented foods (healthy bacteria) is a must for brain health promotion! One of my favorites is Kimchi and of course adding Bragg’s Apple Cider vinegar to your water.

Having OCD is exhausting. You’ve got to be on top of your game all the time. It’s taxing to work so hard and you burn through your fuel before day’s end. So replenishing is critical and this can be done with food and exercise. For ideas about this go back to my blog, HERE.

Want to Make Your Kitchen Brain Healthy?

Get the Brain Warrior’s Way by Dr. Amen

I’ve only touched the surface about promoting brain health in the kitchen. I encourage you to do your own research and share anything you find helpful in the comments. And as always, look at benefits and side effects.

Basically eat foods that are grounding and stay away from foods that are stimulating. (Sugar and spice aren’t grounding!)

I had hoped to finish this post last night but I had more of that soup for dinner and once again I fell asleep early. So I don’t think it was Tai Chi. Definitely the soup. I don’t think I’m going to make that again! I ain’t got no time for sleep!!!

How to Control Anxiety: Should You?

The harder I tried to stop thinking about it…………..the faster I thought about it.

Don’t think about the pink elephant.

The harder I tried not to feel it….the stronger I felt it.

Don’t feel the couch on your back.

If you’ve been properly treated for OCD then you know the answer will never be to stop. You can’t stop thoughts. You can’t stop anxiety. And you shouldn’t try! What then should you be doing? 

Want the thoughts. Want the anxiety. The only way out is in, not out.

If someone is telling you to just “knock it off” send them this blog. If you’re telling yourself to knock if off…keep reading!

Let’s assume your OCD is a little you. A three or four year-old version of you. If this is true, and I think it is…telling such a young worrying child to “KNOCK it OFF” is not really teaching any kind of life lesson. 

A young boy is about to take the stage for the first time in his life and sing with the chorus. His brain is asking, “What’s wrong? How come my legs feel funny?” The brain MUST search for and provide an explanation. “Why are my legs wobbly???” The brain must explain. It’s human nature. If there’s an explanation there’s got to be a solution.

Searching for an explanation can occur below the threshold of consciousness. You don’t even know you’re doing it. The attempt to explain physiological sensations can be too subtle for the conscious mind.

Only one or two seconds have passed. Ah-Ha!!! The brain has found a reason for the wobbly legs!!!! “Mommy, what if I fall in front of everyone? I feel like I’m going to fall!”

What do you think most Mommies say? I hope you take the poll before reading any further! We’ll have lots of fun if you do!

 

The problem isn’t the wobbly legs. Agreed? The wobbly legs are a symptom of the problem. If we only talk about the wobbly legs, then we address the symptom but not the cause.

“You’re not going to fall. Your legs are very strong.” In this response the focus is on the legs. But, what’s causing the wobbly legs?  

“Here, drink some water and think about the pizza we’re eating after this.” The focus is on trying to stop worrying about the wobbly legs. Distract. Reassure. “You’ll be just fine.” Don’t think about the pink elephant. Don’t feel the couch against your back.

“The chances of you falling are very low. It’s possible but not probable. So far no one else on that stage has fallen. So you’re not likely to fall either. And I bet they’ve got wobbly legs too.”

Again, the focus is on the wobbly legs not being likely to cause a fall. Why won’t this work? Because that little brain of his quickly calculated that he could be the one and only kid that falls.


In this precious moment, this boy has an opportunity to learn a life lesson. This is the kind of lesson that will carry him through many rough times in his life.

The answer to his question, “Mommy, what if I fall” has the power to rewrite the script playing in his mind.

The way you answer your question also has the power to rewrite your inner thinking patterns. Even though your thought patterns are automatic due to practice and repetition you can retrain your brain.

Let’s talk about the little boy’s wobbly legs for a minute. We all agree that the problem isn’t his wobbly legs. Right? It’s his anxiety.

Anxiety is felt physically. In nerve endings. In muscles-tense or weak. Aches. Pains. Twitches. In breath-fast or slow. In the skin-clammy or itchy. The racing heart. Upset stomach. Tremors. Saliva.

There’s nerve endings everywhere so anxiety can be felt anywhere! 

The brain doesn’t like unexplained things. It will notice the physical sensation, create a story to explain the physical sensation, and it will build control mechanisms into the story.

When the brain explains the physical sensation, it won’t automatically consider that it’s just ANXIETY!!! And it certainly won’t conclude that the anxiety is okay. (That part has to be learned.)

Instead the brain will focus on finding a way to stop the discomfort. It will focus on the story, not the anxiety.

How can it be stopped. Hmmmmm, lets think of a story that has control mechanisms. How might this look for the little boy afraid to take the stage?

“If I skip three times and jump up once, I won’t fall.” Does that sound like OCD? The focus is on controlling the situation. The brain created a story that explains the physical sensation and now he has something he can do about it.

He probably won’t fall. So what will the brain conclude? “You didn’t fall because of that skip and jump thing you did. Good job buddy! See! Anytime your legs are wobbly, skip and jump and you won’t fall.” Liar, liar pants on fire!!!

The compulsion has been reinforced in the inner thinking-below the threshold of consciousness. And now the subconscious will run the show. This will easily grow into a habit and soon he won’t even remember why he does what he does.

This little boy has anxiety. Your OCD is young, like him. A three or four year-old part of your mind. It’s only a part of your mind. There are so many other beautiful parts to your mind. But, this part has the potential to run the entire show.

What is the life lesson this little boy has an opportunity to learn? What will make his brain a lean, mean fighting machine? Choose as many answers as you think will be most helpful:

 

The actionable steps for YOU to take are:

  1. Stay focused on the anxiety-not the story that is trying to control the anxiety. Anxiety doesn’t need to be fixed. Notice it, name it and move on. Steer away from the story and go towards the anxiety.
  2. Want the anxiety. Want the thoughts generating the anxiety. “Good, there you are. I need the practice.”
  3. Seek the anxiety. “Let’s see if I can make myself anxious right now and learn to experience it as something making me stronger.”

The anxiety comes from a very young part of you that truly doesn’t know very much about life at all. But, you have all these other beautiful parts of your brain that are very rationale and fun-loving.

Let those parts talk to the little you, who really shouldn’t be leading the way.  

I’ll lead the way now.

“I know you’re afraid and uncomfortable, but I know how to move forward. You can trust me.”

One other actionable step you can take:

To work on rewriting your inner thinking patterns, let’s rewire the messages that are exposed to the mind, but are too subtle for the conscious mind to know about.

Using post-it notes or reminders on your phone, or messages that flash on your computer while you work, write messages like these:

  • I can meet any challenge even though I’m anxious.
  • I’m ready for anything because I don’t mind anxiety.
  • I go after what I want in life even though I’m anxious.
  • Everyday my confidence grows stronger because I’m okay being anxious.

You don’t even have to read them. They’ll be picked up by your subconscious mind.

OCD and Guilt: Your Get Out of Jail Free Card

Breaking free from OCD can be quite troublesome when the obsession is accompanied with guilt or shame.

Hold on though…Not all guilt is bad. Right? Guilt causes people to fall in line and properly behave. We’re socialized to feel guilt so that we learn to control our behavior and emotions. If people feel guilt or shame they’ll be less likely to do anything wrong.

We’ve all experienced real or appropriate guilt.

Today at the grocery store I was using the self check-out. I’m proud to say I’ve memorized lots of produce codes. I entered the code 4011 for regular bananas. I was submitting my payment when it suddenly occurred to me that the bananas were organic and therefore I hadn’t paid enough.

I was in a hurry and shrugged, “Oh who cares. It’s 20 cents. Just go.” But then I thought, “No, if you don’t confess to your underpayment, you’ll get in a car accident.”

This is an example of how guilt stabilizes a society and prevents its citizens from wrongful behavior. If you do something bad then there will be a consequence.

Real or appropriate guilt happens when you’ve mis-behaved.  Guilt is the emotional penalty of misconduct.

The problem with OCD is that it generates inappropriate guilt. Nothing bad has to occur in order for you to be overwhelmed with guilt. Guilt adds a whole other dimension to OCD. 

When Should You Feel Guilt or Shame?

It’d be so much easier to break free from OCD if you weren’t dealing with so much inappropriate guilt.

When it comes to OCD, you’ve got to become defiant. OCD will tell you what rules to follow. These rules are not reasonable and will take you down the rabbit hole. You must disobey OCD.

To do that, it helps to have your own set of rules to follow no matter what OCD says.

To make it easier, what if there was a Code of Conduct for you to follow? No matter what OCD says, if you follow this Code of Conduct, you don’t pay the emotional penalty of guilt. Maybe it would be something like this:

(Draft Copy) Code of Conduct:
DO NO HARM
  • Don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
  • Don’t destroy the environment upon which all life depends.
  • Don’t do to yourself what you wouldn’t do to others.
  • Don’t make decisions for people who can make their own.
  • Don’t manipulate and control others.
  • Don’t take care of others when they can take care of themselves.
DO GOOD
  • Do to others what you would like them to do to you.
  • Do practice gratitude and express thankfulness.
  • Do put the oxygen mask on yourself first; your mental health must come first.
  • Do help this needy world through acts of kindness, not fear.
  • Do respect a person’s right to self-determination. (A person controls their own life.)
What do you notice about this Code of Conduct
  • Is there a common theme?
  • Is there anything missing? Something you think people should pay the penalty of guilt for, but not mentioned here?
  • Is there something that doesn’t belong?
  • What do you notice about the transfer of responsibility? What are you essentially responsible for? What are other people responsible for?
  • If you stick to these rules would it be appropriate or necessary to still pay the emotional penalty of guilt or shame?

Please leave your answers, questions, and comments. As always I will post them anonymously.  

This publication is part of a series of posts about OCD and guilt. The next post will be “Guilt Beyond Circumstance: A Different Kind of Guilt.”

If you want me to address a certain question about guilt, be sure to leave me a message.

In addition to your other comments, please share what you hope this series of posts about guilt will accomplish.
Thank you for your comments. They mean so much to me and also help others!

What if Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP) Makes Me Worse?

“Can My OCD Get Worse With ERP? 

On Facebook and in my own practice, that question gets asked a lot. It sounds very similar to the question children ask before getting an injection, “Is this going to hurt?”

The doctor tells the truth, “Yes, it’s going to hurt! But, not for long.”

Engaging in ERP is not something your brain will immediately register as a good thing. You’re going out of your comfort zone and all the bells and whistles in your amygdala will be sounding off! “DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!”

That’s why many people choose not to do ERP. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel good. Your brain will tell you to turn back.

It’s hard to find a pace that is “just enough.” It’s scary to move forward with exposure exercises. You won’t want to provoke your anxiety. You’ll worry it’s too much.

But, how else can you become desensitized? How else can you disprove OCD and throw it under the bus for being such a liar?

“Just enough” is the sweet spot. Some people flood and go for the big guns. “Let’s just get this over with” and they take on their worst nightmare. For them, that’s “just enough.”

Not everybody can confront their fears that way. 

Find a pace that challenges you and then build momentum. Do one thing that scares you and hit it with repetition. Then do something else that scares you, “just enough” and repeat, repeat, repeat. Keep building.

You’ll discover you can tolerate a lot more than you thought you could. And…your confidence will grow.

Growing Means Ouch

In 1979, Open Heart surgery was practically barbaric. The scar I have is 100 times wider and longer than people who have the surgery nowadays. Sometimes I feel like Frankenstein.

I’ll never forget that tube down my throat and having to be suctioned. The tears rolled down my face the first few times. Then I got used to it. Nowadays people have the breathing tube removed and leave ICU within 18 to 24 hours of surgery. I was kept on life support for over 72 hours.

 

I was in my late teens and didn’t want the surgery. At first I denied I had the problem and tried to negotiate with my doctor. But, he told me I had a hole in my heart the size of a quarter. The surgery had to be done or I’d be dead before age 40.

My life depended on this barbaric surgery. They sawed through my bones and wired them back together.

After the first day of surgery I refused pain medicine. I leaned into the pain. I wanted to get out of that hell hole. Every time I so much as sneezed, I thought I was tearing the stitches that held my heart repair together.

I mustered through. I wanted out of that place. I wanted to live my life. Within 10 days of surgery I was playing tennis.

My Strangely Wrapped Gift

A few months after surgery I went on a date with a young man who came highly recommended by my co-workers. He picked me up at the store and my co-workers said, “have fun!”

Against my wishes he drove me to his house. His parents weren’t home. He brought out an astrology book and told me the stars indicated we would make good sexual partners. I told him no. He said yes.

I thought quickly. I told him I just had open heart surgery. He saw the red, swollen scar. I told him I would die if I was traumatized. He was angry. “You should have told me about this.” He brought me back to the store. I was safe.

Doesn’t look or feel like a gift

In so many ways, open heart surgery was my strangely wrapped gift. 

Just because something hurts or scares you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. When deciding whether or not to do ERP, consider the track record of people who have done it.

It’s a mighty fine track record.

And, I hope those of you who have done it will leave a comment and encourage those who are on the fence about it. There are people who need to hear from you. How bad was it before ERP? How terrifying was ERP? How’d you make out? Please leave your anonymous comment.

Remember this, wherever you are, it’s where you’re supposed to be. We will always be given opportunities to grow and learn. Lean into it.

OCD is a strangely wrapped gift. It doesn’t feel like it at first. Neither did open heart surgery. 

Stop Reassurance-Seeking and Break Free From OCD

A person with OCD seeks one thing.

160_f_65315155_7vwgyjigwiujdbsmawjy00devygrmqej  CERTAINTY 160_f_65315155_7vwgyjigwiujdbsmawjy00devygrmqej 

 It’s your kryptonite. 160_f_54907399_wuafmp2ourzuib6z6zirtarbdu54cduy

Trying to Get It Deprives You of All Your Power 

If you’ve got OCD then seeking certainty is how you’re wired. It’s your automatic solution for doubt and anxiety.

OCD lies: “Get certainty and you’ll feel much better.” Unless you’ve learned how to shrug  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ you’ll do whatever it takes to feel better. It’s odd, but actually shrugging feels better than seeking certainty. That’s because you’ll always end up empty handed.

The problem is, it can’t be gotten. Certainty isn’t possible. There’s a possibility you’ll (falsely) feel certain for a brief moment. But, in a matter of minutes or even seconds, the doubt and anxiety will return. It’s a vicious cycle.

The Most Frequent Way People Try to Get Certainty Is By Seeking Reassurance

Reassurance is your kryptonite. As long as you’re seeking reassurance you’ll be forever vulnerable. OCD will be your boss until you learn to shrug.

You’ll have no confidence in just about anything you do. Like an addict, you’ll be thinking about your next fix, and the next one, and the next one, all day long.

Reassurance can be sought in many ways:

It Starts With a Question and Then the Analyzing Begins

  • Am I okay? Is this okay?
  • What does this say about me? What does it mean?
  • Is this wrong? Is this bad? Am I a bad person?
  • What if I lose control? What if I make a mistake?
  • Am I going to act on this thought?
  • What if something bad happens? Won’t I be responsible? 
  • What if I get overwhelmed? What if I can’t relax?
  • Did I do something wrong? Am I making the right decision?
  • Is this OCD? It’s just my OCD. Right?

The Checking Begins and Never Ends

  • I don’t remember if I did that. Go back and check.
  • Do they know what I’m thinking? Let’s see if I can get them to smile. If they do, we must be okay.
  • Did I leave something behind? Look behind and check.
  • Did I touch that? Ask. Wash to be sure. 
  • Say it again. Make sure they heard it.
  • Give all the details one more time. Make sure they understand.
  • Do it one more time until it feels right.

Avoidance is Reassuring Too

  • The way to feel safe is to stay away. 
  • Don’t touch it. Don’t look at it. Then there’s no risk.
  • Don’t think about it. Then it can’t happen.
  • Replace that bad thought with a good thought.

You can spend hours reassuring yourself through compulsions and mental acts. You can involve others by asking for reassurance. But, it’s not going to lead to freedom. 

You can’t free your mind this way. There is no breaking free of OCD in seeking reassurance. Resisting reassurance will increase your level of anxiety and doubt. It’s not dangerous. It’s unpleasant. Be tenacious. Keep resisting. Shrug. Stick with it. Tolerate it. 

If you want to be set free, there is no other choice. You can start doing it now or do it years down the road. But, if you don’t start now…OCD will only rob you of more and more. 

Resisting reassurance is what you’re going to have to do eventually. Why not just get it over with? Lean in to the pain and break free.

Watch this cool video I made for you!

 

Is Anger Making Your OCD Worse or Better?

What Role Does Anger Play in the Symptoms of OCD?

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As a therapist who specializes in the treatment of OCD, I notice a trend. Clients struggle with feelings of anger. The anger is directed outward and/or inward. 

If the anger is directed outwards there could be verbal outbursts and even aggression towards property or people. There are heated arguments at home, holes punched in walls and sometimes the police are called.

Anger directed inwards is usually manifested by self-loathing and depression. People hit themselves and/or say horrible things about themselves. They often say, “I don’t deserve this kindness, or to feel good or be loved.”

For some the anger only surfaces when compulsions are being resisted. If they increase their compulsions, their anger significantly decreases. If compulsions are prevented, anger rises.

Anger As a Defense Mechanism

Initially, having OCD can result in the development of maladaptive defense mechanisms. A common one is to detach emotionally. This is a common reaction to repeated trauma, which is exactly what an untreated OCD can be. Trauma and torture.

Having OCD can be very traumatic. The anxiety can be overwhelming. To be protected from the unbearable fear and pounding negativity the brain fragments, compartmentalizes and encodes in a way that causes emotional numbness.

Feelings are essentially sealed off. However, one emotion presides. ANGER. That’s because anger creates heat where there is no life. When a client is detached from their feelings, they don’t even experience anxiety during exposure exercises. They get mad, but not anxious. I say, “Thank goodness you’re alive and kicking!”

Being detached from all emotion except anger can be very disconcerting to someone with OCD who has intrusive thoughts of harm. “Why am I having these horrible thoughts without anxiety. I’m angry. What does this mean? I’m having violent thoughts but I have no remorse. What’s wrong with me. Am I going to act on these thoughts?”

Compulsions Are Used to Alleviate Anxiety and/or Anger. 

When a ritual is interrupted a person with OCD will react with either anxiety or anger. If they’re anxious, they’ll likely be drawn to some form of reassurance. If they’re angry over the ritual being interrupted, they might yell. A door might be slammed. “Thanks a lot. Now I have to start this all over again.”

A person with OCD manages their anxiety with compulsions. There might be a story attached to the compulsion. “I shower like this to protect my child from getting sick.” But, that’s just the story behind the compulsion. The real reason for the compulsion is to alleviate anxiety.

Likewise, a person with OCD manages their anger with compulsions. Anger doesn’t seem like an acceptable, or safe emotion to have. There might be a story attached to the compulsion. “I stay away from knives to protect my family.” But, that’s just the story behind the compulsion. The real reason for the compulsion is to alleviate anger.  

Why Does it Matter?

What difference does it make if compulsions are done to alleviate anxiety or anger? In either case compulsions have to be resisted in order to be set free. So what does it matter if there’s anxiety or anger underneath the compulsion.

Everybody aways talks about the anxiety attached to OCD. “I do this ritual because I’m afraid something bad will happen.” “I do this because I won’t sleep if I don’t do it.” This is just talking in code. What’s really being said is, “I do what I do to alleviate anxiety.” 

In this case, I would help the person with OCD learn to tolerate anxiety. Much of my blog is about this. Can the same be said for anger? Should anger be tolerated?

Experiencing anxiety is not a health hazard. But, resisting anxiety is. Resisting anxiety is detrimental to one’s heart, immune and digestive system, and hormone production. Resisting only causes stress levels to rise. The same can be said about anger. 

What to Do About Anger?

 

Practice Mindfulness Exercises

Notice anger the same way anxiety is noticed. 

  • Notice the angry thoughts without judging.
  • What is the speed of your thoughts?
  • What is the anger saying?
  • What is the anger seeing?
  • How does the anger feel?
  • Do I feel hot or cold?
  • What body sensations am I feeling?
  • What is the speed of my heart?
  • Am I experiencing any muscle tightness? 
  • What is my breath like?
  • What position are my eyes in?
  • What is my facial expression?

Talk to anger with loving attention.160_f_118764193_rvbtrzf2f0wveh4bctpacdsnzevmd9hv

  • “Wow, that feels like anger. OK, I can handle it. This is a good opportunity to practice noticing without judging or acting.”
  • Ask, “Do I have a desire to remain angry?”
  • “What are my options?”
  • “Can I assert myself with kindness?”
  • “If I engage in a compulsion to alleviate this anger, will it be conducive to my well-being?”
  • “I wish to take responsibility for my actions rather than blame others.”
  • “I accept that life is unfair and bad things happen. It’s ok. I can handle it.”
  • “I have a right to be angry. It’s okay. I can work through it in a healthy way.” 

Feeling and Acting Are Not the Same

160_f_117123901_l3wbln8gaasor1gcaaclumz22wiczfhaThere is a difference between accepting anxiety and acting anxious. Feeling anxious must be accepted.

Acting anxious is engaging in compulsive behavior and/or mental rituals. Acting anxious looks like avoidance and reassurance-seeking. Acting anxious, like rocking back-n-forth, or rubbing hands feeds anxiety. It’s okay to feel anxious, but it’s of no benefit to act anxious.

There is a difference between accepting anger and acting angry. Having OCD is not an excuse for lashing out or mistreating self or others. You can say what you mean, but you don’t have to say it mean.

Fueling anger triggers the amygdala and kicks you into “danger” mode. Fueling anger can shut down logic and cloud judgment which leads to irrational and unreasonable thinking, which leads to regret and hurtful decisions. Anger is an acceptable emotion but fueling it is of no benefit to a brain that is already sounding false alarms.

Be aware when you’re experiencing anger. If you don’t pay attention to it, you’re building a fire. The anger is uncomfortable and you’re naturally going to worry about it or want to get rid of it.

Instead of channeling your energy towards avoiding or getting rid of anger, acknowledge it. Notice it. Recognize your urge to do a compulsion is an effort to alleviate anger.

Turn towards the anger and practice mindfulness exercises.

How to Outsmart OCD (Hint: It’s Weird and Wonderful)

There is a weird and wonderful way to outsmart OCD. Weird because it’s uncanny and counterintuitive. Wonderful because it’s so amazingly effective.

In order to outsmart OCD it’s important to first understand it. It helps to know what makes OCD tick. So before we jump into ways to outsmart it, let’s reveal its true nature. 

imagesIs OCD a Bully?

OCD isn’t a bully. A bully would try to humiliate you. OCD is obsessed about protecting you from humiliation. A bully would try to make a fool of you in public. OCD doesn’t want you to look like a fool in public.

Unlike a bully, the last thing OCD wants is for you to feel humiliated.

Bullies want to make you uncomfortable. OCD wants you to find comfort. That’s why OCD hates uncertainty, because it makes you uncomfortable. OCD persuades you to do compulsions or mental acts to get rid of discomfort. Unlike a bully, the last thing OCD wants is for you to experience anxiety.

Bullies try to physically and emotionally hurt you. On the contrary, OCD is like a bodyguard, constantly scanning the environment making sure nothing bad can happen or hurt you. A bully pokes and pokes until you bleed. OCD is scared of you bleeding.

Bullies enjoy picking on people. It brings them joy. OCD doesn’t ever experience joy. Everything is doom and gloom according to OCD. Bullies get sadistic pleasure out of putting people down. OCD puts you down not to inflict pain but to keep your expectations low so that you don’t ever feel the pain of disappointment.

OCD isn’t a bully. It’s a bodyguard on steroids.

Why Not Think of OCD as a Bully?

160_f_99747725_ccjio6av1pfpgso73m4bos6nsx2pr83uWhat does it matter if you think of OCD as a bully or a bodyguard?

Because, if you think of OCD as a bully, you’re feeding a victim mentality. If you think like a victim, you’ll feel like a victim and then you’ll act like a victim. 

What kind of people have bodyguards? Powerful people. People worth a lot. People with influence.

Is it better to think of yourself as someone who is important enough to be guarded or someone who is a victim and being bullied? Which mentality is going to put more oomph in your punch?

OCD is overly protective. Knowing this and using this weakness will be part of our strategy to outsmart it. Another personality trait of OCD’s is that it’s extremely competitive.

The More You Know About OCD, the Better You Can Outsmart It

OCD is Not a Good Sport

OCD doesn’t play fair. It doesn’t accept defeat. It won’t congratulate you on your victories. Your tendency towards negative self-talk plays right into OCD’s hands.

OCD is extremely competitive. The game never ends. Just when the game is tied, it scores again and keeps you in overtime. It wants to wear you down.  It pumps its fist when you cry out, “give me a break!” Think about this for a minute. Why does it want you to lose?

OCD wants you to lose more than it wants to win. Why?

It doesn’t think your loss is harmful to you. On the contrary, it sees your loss as helpful to you. As long as you keep losing (giving in to OCD) then you will continue to see it as an authority. As long as you see it as an authority you will defer to it and by the grace of OCD supposedly be kept safe from harm or ill-will.

160_F_22448988_AeAszQACa4W74iTlgpGB0SdgLVAAykJzOCD doesn’t have much strategy in its game because, it can’t use logic or reason. It’s very reptilian in nature. Fight, Flight or Freeze. That’s all it can do, which isn’t much of a strategy. the only strategy it has is to cheat and lie. It tells you that if you do what it says, you will find peace of mind. That’s the lie.

It cheats by asking you unanswerable questions. The questions it asks cannot be answered with certainty. But, it lies to you and tells you that you can get to the bottom of it if you search hard and long enough. Cheater! You might as well be counting the grains of sand on a beach.

OCD doesn’t give up easily. It’s too competitive. All it wants is to make sure you lose. But, remember this, it can’t win unless you play. It can’t win unless you lose. 

OCD is a bodyguard on steroids. It’s highly competitive and a poor loser. But, here’s something else about OCD that we can use in our strategy to outsmart it. It’s nothing like you.

cropped-Boss_It_2.pngOCD is the Opposite of You

OCD is not a mirror reflection of you. In this instance OCD sounds like a bully. Because, bullies always pick on people who are nothing like them. e.g., The jock picks on the nerd. You are the exact opposite of your OCD.

But, again, OCD isn’t picking on you. It’s trying really hard to think of all the things you’re not normally aware of. Why? Because it’s trying to prevent something bad from happening. It thinks about topics you don’t normally think about. It’s like having a second pair of eyes with a mind of its own.

OCD leaves no stone unturned. It brings up random questions that at first seem so bizarre. OCD actually searches for unusual questions and situations. But, it’s particularly fond of asking questions about whatever is precious and sacred to you.

It’s constantly scanning and searching so that you are never caught off guard. Because if you are caught off guard you will be uncomfortable. And OCD doesn’t want you to be uncomfortable.

OCD is hyper. It’s overly protective. It hates to lose. It’s constantly on guard and tries to think of everything. But, here’s something fascinating about OCD. It can’t learn anything new.

Figure Out What Makes OCD Tick and You’ll Practically Stop the Ticking

OCD is Clueless

OCD asks a lot of questions because it’s trying to protect you. And, it’s trying to protect you because it’s void of any information. It doesn’t know anything. It knows nothing. And worse, it can’t be taught anything.

Even if its questions are answered it will keep asking the same question over and over. Because it can’t absorb or hold on to information. It’s incapable of learning anything new. It can’t retain anything

For example, for those of you who have unwanted, intrusive thoughts of harm, I just told you up above that you are nothing like your OCD. You probably got some temporary relief from reading that.

But, you won’t be able to retain that piece of good news. You might return to this blog everyday to read the above paragraph, “OCD is the Opposite of You.” It doesn’t matter how many times you read that paragraph.

In just a matter of seconds you’re going to go back to worrying that you are your thoughts. You’re going to think that because you think it, you’ll do it. Even though you’ve been reassured many times that you are not your thoughts.

160_f_109258768_fx1jn3w0cu3h1bemw6xp075dpbkanb3tOCD can’t hold on to information. So you can be reassured all day long and the good news won’t stick. OCD is not like fly paper. OCD is clueless because it’s glue-less. Nothing sticks.

OCD is on guard because it’s clueless. It can’t retain information. It can’t use reason or logic. It won’t leave any stone unturned because it can’t learn anything new. But, it won’t stop trying because it’s competitive and doesn’t give up. It’s on a mission to supposedly save you.

There’s one more thing to know about OCD. 

8 Proven Ways to Outsmart OCD Will Soon Be Explained!

160_f_80220645_had2v7yekvlm48vise42a8guoy7f8hifOCD is Only One Part of You

OCD is part of your brain. Which part of your brain? It’s not really fully understood. Is it an imbalance of glutamate, dopamine or serotonin? Is the amygdala enlarged? Too much white matter in the brain? Some kind of miscommunication going on in the prefrontal cortex or the basal ganglia? Researchers can’t say with certainty.

We’re dealing with a faulty alarm system—that we can say with confidence. Something in the brain wrongfully sounds off alarms and the body needlessly goes into fight, flight or freeze. The fear seems so real.

The toothpick on the sidewalk might cause someone to trip. Pick it up. You pick it up and throw it in the lawn. Wait. A baby could crawl on the lawn and pick up the toothpick and die from choking on it. Pick it up. Put it in your pocket and when you get home, break it into tiny tiny pieces and bury it in 12 inches of dirt. 

That whole conversation is a true story of someone with OCD. This chatterbox in his head occurs because of some kind of abnormality or imbalance in the brain. But, listen carefully: Not everything is malfunctioning in the brain. 

I’ve been healing from an elbow injury. (Racquetball is tough on the body!) For awhile it was all I complained about—all I thought about. Finally somebody said to me, “You’re not just an elbow. Your elbow is only one part of you.” Thank you dear friend. I needed that! 

OCD is only part of a whole. There’s so much more to you. There are other beautiful parts of the brain that can function just fine. Your brain can be a lean mean fighting machine despite having OCD. 

brainworkoutLet’s Make Your Brain a Lean Mean Fighting Machine

Now that we understand what makes OCD tick, how can you outsmart it?

Download “8 Proven Ways to Outsmart OCD” Here!

Creating Wow Moments and A+ Days

A Guide to Embracing Whatever              ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

How can you get your mind to surrender and embrace “whatever?” If you could figure that out WOW you would be having A+ days! Embracing, “whatever happens, happens” is a life lesson everyone needs to learn, but for those with the doubting disease (OCD) embracing “whatever” is no easy task.

I Was a Little Tricky This Week, Sorry

160_f_88145130_h0gurcx1l12shmcqbea0u6k8d7vlginnI always send a notification to my email subscribers when I’ve posted on this blog. This week instead of one email, “Hey go HERE to read all about…” I sent two emails. Neither email had any content. I was testing out the titles, trying to determine which had more appeal. To be honest I was hoping one of the emails would be very enticing and the other, nobody would open at all.

The first email was titled: “How to Build Absolute Certainty.” The second email arrived about 3 minutes later and was titled, “How to Embrace Whatever.” “How to Embrace Whatever” got a little edge because it would show in the inbox first followed by “How to Build Absolute Certainty.” But, alas…the edge didn’t matter.

More people opened “How to Build Absolute Certainty” than “How to Embrace Whatever.” A few people emailed me back and said, “I’m eager for you to send the content for how to get certainty.” 10% of those who opened “How to Build Absolute Certainty” never opened “How to Embrace Whatever.” 

There could be a number of reasons for not opening “Embrace Whatever.” Maybe they didn’t think there’d be any content like the one they just opened. Or, maybe embracing whatever doesn’t sound nearly as compelling and wonderful as learning how to get certainty.

My hope was that most people would not fall for the trap and not even open “How to Build Absolute Certainty.” I thought, if they’ve been reading my blog, or they work with me, they’ll know that trying to get certainty is what takes them down the rabbit hole and so they won’t bother opening that email.

Less than 5% skipped the “How to Build Absolute Certainty” email and only opened “Embrace Whatever.” There could be a number of reasons for not opening “How to Build Certainty.” I like to think it’s because they knew there’s no such thing.

OCD Can Be Painful, But What Causes the Suffering? 

Peace of mind is thought to be obtained from getting certainty. Yet, the very opposite is true. Peace of mind comes from the acceptance of not knowing for certain.

The more certain you try to be, the more anxious you become. Our minds were never created to be certain of anything. Other than the certainty of death, the only certainty in life, is… uncertainty.

Certainty is not a fact. It’s a mental sensation. In other words, certainty is a feeling. I can think I’m going to win the lottery. I can feel very excited about it. Yes! Yes! Yes! It feels like it’s really going to happen. The feeling that I’m going to be rich soon—does that make it true? No! Thoughts AND feelings aren’t facts.

160_f_62249125_9le5kjsulyijurexgwfoj69njnnrgi6gRealizing a few things about certainty will create a lot of WOW moments in your day. Learn to live life with uncertainty and you’ll get those A+ days.

How to Create WOW! Moments

Build Confidence in the Absence of Certainty

The degree to which one feels uncertain depends on one’s level of confidence. The more confident you are, the less uncertainty you will experience. Uncertainty is always there but you won’t think about it so much if you have confidence.

Of course, confidence is also a mental sensation—a feeling. The point is that if you have OCD your thirst for certainty is really a hunger for confidence. And you need it! You don’t need certainty, but you sure could use more confidence!

Understanding How Confidence is Built

Although I can’t say my car will absolutely start when I turn the key, I’m very confident it will. I’m 95% certain it will start. That’s not the truth. It’s just a strong feeling I have.

My degree of confidence is based on three factors:

160_f_106329739_sxc5bckqjsg5i6kiiohsug3eyqspi2tq1. Consensus

Are most people confident their car will start? It doesn’t seem to be a frequent problem I hear about very often. If the majority of people I knew were complaining about their car not starting then I might be doubting my own car’s reliability. “If it’s happening to everyone else, it’s bound to happen to me.” My level of confidence goes up or down depending on the number of people experiencing it.

Wow! Moment: Odd. OCD works in the opposite way. It doesn’t care about consensus. “Even though it’s not happening to everyone else, it could happen to me.”

Create an A+ Day: In a room full of 100 people how many of them would worry about this? Not many? Then trust the consensus. Shrug and say, “whatever happens, happens” and the feeling of confidence will gradually come over you.

160_f_104124148_51i3lrcyjzgmkc7nltowjmnbyvmrbft72. Repetition

How many times has my car started for me? This car and the three before have always started 100% of the time. The fact that cars repeatedly start for me has built my confidence level to a high degree of certainty. Through all this repetition, I’ve experienced a lot of success.

Wow! Moment! Odd. OCD works in the opposite way. Rituals are very repetitive but they are not successful. When practicing rituals, you’re actually practicing failure over and over.

What is the purpose of a ritual? You’re probably going to say, “To prevent harm or to feel just right.” But, that’s just the story OCD has made up. That’s not at all why you perform rituals or mental acts. You perform rituals to get rid of anxiety. You seek reassurance to get rid of anxiety. You avoid triggers to get rid of anxiety.

How long does all of that rid you of anxiety? Not long. It could be minutes if not seconds before you have to perform another ritual or seek reassurance. That’s called a failure! If it was a success you’d never have to do another ritual your entire life! Rituals, avoidance and reassurance seeking don’t build confidence levels. They shred confidence.

Create an A+ Day: Resist compulsive behavior fueled by a need to know. If you don’t resist, you’ll only be practicing failure after failure. Failure breeds more doubt. More uncertainty. Shrug and say, “whatever happens, happens” and the feeling of confidence will gradually come over you.

160_f_84705977_gmq3jewwnhrsmr6oppqxivwprgwhplcm3. Ease

The easier something is, or the less time I have to think about it, the higher my confidence level will be. How much effort do I have to put into making my car start? Almost none. I turn the key and the car starts. When something is this easy, I feel pretty confident.

Wow! Moment: Odd. OCD works in the opposite way. OCD makes everything hard. OCD can take something as simple as starting a car and make it into a complicated procedure. Are the tires kind of flat? What if water got into the gas line? Should the brake fluid be checked? What if the engine dies before I get to the store? What if I hit that person when I back out? All of this chatter before the key is even turned!

OCD makes you overthink the easiest things. It dissects almost anything into a million “What Ifs.” Something that’s meant to be done with ease, is suddenly very complicated. There goes your confidence level.

Create an A+ Day: Don’t overthink. Don’t analyze. Don’t try to figure it out. Our minds are meant to question. But, we’re not meant to stop and answer every question. Learn to shrug away the need to know. Say, “whatever happens, happens” and the feeling of confidence will gradually come over you.

Certainty is Over-Rated

Wow! Moment: Certainty isn’t an attractive trait.

Who do you trust more? Someone who is certain about everything to the point of arrogance? Or, someone who is uncertain to the point of humility?

160_f_71023231_cnhjmpwifwzcmuo3n3ikbtekbktksjrvWhy thirst for something that is truly unattractive? A person who is certain believes s/he’s learned all there is to know. There is no room for curiosity in certainty. Confidence allows for curiosity and certainty shuts it down.

Who is a better listener? Someone who is certain or someone who is confident? We’ve all seen someone be certain of something that is obviously wrong or unlikely. You know that person who is seldom in doubt but frequently wrong? Nobody likes being around that person who is always so certain because they never listen to others.

Certainty breeds rigidity. Confidence allows for flexibility. There’s no spontaneity or adventure in certainty. You’ve got to live in a very small little world to remain certain. Who wants that! Everything you want is on the other side of certainty!

Create an A+ Day: Dispel the notion of certainty as being attractive. It’s repulsive and restrictive. Boycott certainty! Let your value, to live life to its fullest, drive your behavior. Say, “whatever happens, happens” and the feeling of confidence will gradually come over you.

160_f_99201599_r49nsiveikhj5stne5vr2qokqinsrrjjI hope you have more and more A+ Days by embracing “whatever happens, happens.” There is peace of mind in surrendering. And your confidence will build as you surrender. As your confidence builds you begin to realize you can handle whatever. You’re stronger than you think.

Would you like to receive additional resource materials? Click Here to download a free quick guide to “Embracing Whatever?” p.s. at the end of the guide find out how you can get access to some custom made recordings of how to shrug at OCD.

An Open Letter From Parents with OCD

One night I went to the hospital to be with a client and her family as they welcomed their tiny tiny baby boy into the world. I visited him over the next few weeks in the NICU and almost fainted when the nurse pulled out a tube or snipped the umbilaca cord or something. I don’t even remember, what it was. I just know I was seeing stars. The parents, both with a long history of anxiety, were a lot steadier at the helm than me, that’s for sure.

img_1496Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with many Moms and Dads with OCD. The added bonus of that is I’ve held many newborns in my arms, and watched them grow before my eyes.

Beautiful, happy babies being taught life lessons by parents with OCD. If there is ever any doubt about the human capacity for strength and courage, all you need to do is be part of the journey of a parent who has OCD. Yes, you’ll find astonishing bravery. But, what stands out in my mind is a love so pure it can pulverize OCD.

I asked a few parents who have OCD how they stay so focused and strong. They provided a lot of good insight into what makes them tick. You’ll find they all have something in common:

160_f_69380413_annrnbjcopjefn3uuykjjpsjwqvjek2eKeep On Keepin’ On and Be Positive

I’m a wife and stay at home mom of two children. I was diagnosed with severe Postpartum OCD after the birth of my first child. I’ve learned over time to:

-Look for the bits of strength you have to reach a few goals each day starting with self care, for example taking a shower, eating small meals, staying hydrated.

– Be kind to yourself and expect to make mistakes along the way. Focus on the bits of light in the darkness without trying to evaluate the bad days.

– This experience is temporary, celebrate the victories you have each day no matter how “small” because each step brings you closer to relief.

160_f_69380413_annrnbjcopjefn3uuykjjpsjwqvjek2eFirst Time Mom: You’re Not Going to Rob Me of All My First Times OCD!

Hi! I am a wife, toddler mama, and homemaker. I like to have fun! Cooking interesting healthful food, reading fiction, and hanging out in nature, are my favorite ways to decompress. In past lives I have been a Starbucks barista and owned my own massage business.

OCD has been a struggle for me since preadolescence. Coming to terms with my OCD has been a slow process, and I am grateful to be in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy now as it is helping me to overcome OCD in far greater ways than I could without it. Despite experiencing setbacks sometimes, I can see improvement in my life.

I have tried other kinds of therapy and a lot of self-help books but nothing compares to CBT for OCD treatment, in my experience. Here are a few CBT tips that have been especially helpful to me as a mom who deals with OCD.

Tip #1: Have a Mantra such as: “Embrace Whatever”

“Embrace whatever” became my mantra, when in December of this past year I was faced with the prospect of a family road trip to go to a friends’ wedding. I was feeling severely frightened to go on this trip and was obsessing about it. Our son was around 11 months old at the time. I just couldn’t conceive of taking this long road trip with the baby, my in-laws and my husband all in the same vehicle. “What if this happens? What if that happens? What if someone says something that makes me feel bad?” If you have OCD, you know the drill.

Offhandedly, during a session, Tammy mentioned the phrase “embrace whatever” to me, and it just clicked. For me, “embrace whatever” means that come what may, good or bad, I am choosing to go with the flow. Whatever happens, happens.

It means that I will survive and it will all be fine! Even if the baby doesn’t get his nap, even if I have no idea what the trip will go down like, it will all be OK. Even if …. WHATEVER! And it was all ok, and even more than that it was a successful trip where our son bonded with his grandparents and we had some good conversation because we were all cozy driving to Lancaster, PA together.

If I had obeyed my fear we would have taken separate vehicles, so that my husband and I would have control of rest-stops etc. Instead, I chose to “embrace whatever”, by and large, throughout the trip. I said “Embrace whatever!” to myself, and probably out loud sometimes too, whenever I got clenched up inside, obsessing over details of how things may or may not work out. I have used this mantra many times since then.

Tip#2: Ask for What You Need

This concept of asking for what you need has been hard for me to remember. I think I should be able to do it all without help, but I absolutely can’t. I need help! It has been said that it “takes a village to raise a child” and I kind of agree with that.

Moms need time off too just for their own well-being. One example of asking for what I need was last year when the baby was really little, I asked my husband to be in charge of the baby monitor at night, and to help me in the middle of the night too, when the baby was waking up to feed.

This night-time partnership gave me a greater degree of sanity during the day because I got a little more sleep (and mental rest) than I would have without that help. Asking for help when I feel like I am burning the candle at both ends is essential for my well-being, and something I need to remember to do.

Tip #3: Take Every Thought Captive

This is a verse from the Bible but goes along great with cognitive behavioral therapy. Don’t let your thoughts dictate anything. Thoughts are just thoughts. Identify them, deal with them and move on.

For whatever reason (maybe “mom brain?”) this concept has been exceptionally difficult for me to grasp. Just recently (like last week) it began to click for me: Thoughts are not truths, they are just thoughts. They don’t define or dictate anything! I can talk to them and treat them like the bullying words that they are and doing this disempowers them.

I have dumb, negative thoughts going through my head all the time. Here’s a few recent ones: “You need to try harder as a mom“ or “You will sound so dumb if you have baby music playing really loud with your car windows open—who DOES that?”, “You haven’t gotten back to that person yet? You are such a bad friend”…

Pretty obnoxious stuff, right? Well, if I take every thought captive, I can put these thoughts in their place—the garbage! Lately I have just been agreeing with the negative thoughts. For example if I have the thought “You are a bad friend” I would say “You’re right I am a bad friend”.

Agreeing with a bullying thought is a way to trick OCD. It seems to have a significant disabling effect on the intense feeling of guilt or shame I was experiencing. I think this is what Tammy means when she talks about “mental kung fu”.   ac41290798310afdf52eccaaf1ba73af

Thanks for reading! I wish all of you my best on this journey we share of overcoming OCD! 

160_f_69380413_annrnbjcopjefn3uuykjjpsjwqvjek2eJoyful Mama Warrior

I am a mom of 3 kids (2 boys, 1 girl). I had my first son in May 2008- I was on Zoloft (50 mg) for depression/anxiety and was able to wean off about a month or so before he was born and able to go back on without issue; did not have any issues OCD wise, some baby blues and I would say normal new Mom anxiety. 

My second son (surprise pregnancy) was born in November 2010- I was again able to wean off Zoloft and actually did so sooner than my first (approximately 2-3 months), feeling fine up until 1-2 weeks before his birth- then weird thoughts/anxiety that I had not experienced before but brushed it off as I was under a lot of stress.

I had a somewhat traumatic birth as his cord was wrapped around his neck and he wasn’t crying right away. The next day I was having intrusive thoughts that just got worse.  I didn’t really understand what was going on, crying uncontrollably. The hospital staff I don’t believe knew how to help me properly, placed me on a bunch of heavy antipsychotic meds and I was sent to my parents without my baby (CPS got involved when I told staff I was having scary thoughts.)

I found Tammy who taught me about OCDs mechanism and how to do exposures and found a psychiatrist to help with meds (had to increase Zoloft for awhile).  It was at least 2-3 months of constant intrusive thoughts and I slowly improved.

After a year and a half or so I felt I had returned to a good place where my husband and I felt we were open to having another baby– unfortunately lost 2 babies in 2013 and then had our daughter August of 2014- able to wean off Zoloft again and felt good soon after birth.

Then had issues with breastfeeding and became highly anxious and intrusive thoughts dominated my mind (different than last time) again.  I seemed to recover quicker overall however had more mini storms than with my second son. 
 
Tips that have helped me I can break down into different categories:

  • Regular exercise/eating well (Physical)
  • Prayer/practicing my faith (Spiritual)
  • Spending time with family and friends/helping others (Social emotional)
  • Focus exercises/ exposures (although I do not do these enough especially when I am in a good place) (Mental)

And one of the biggest reminders I have to give myself is that OCD is a trickster and it can sneak back in when I am doing really good and it can wreak havoc. So I need to most especially confront it at those times; also taking things day by day especially when I am in a storm.  

The thing is although having my kids, most especially my second son and daughter, seemed to heighten my intrusive thoughts, my kids bring more joy and purpose than I could imagine- I fight OCD so it doesn’t get to rob me of that.   

160_f_69380413_annrnbjcopjefn3uuykjjpsjwqvjek2eDad Keeps an Open Mind

I have had OCD for 55 years based on what I remember of my behavior, thoughts and actions during that time.  I am currently 60.

Open to Being Reasonable

What helped me the most in parenting while dealing with OCD was listening to my spouse when we discussed how to parent.  Not for reassurance but for her non tunnel vision approach.  She would not think black and white like I did.  I knew my thinking wasn’t considerate of the whole picture of the circumstances.   So essentially listen to spouse, listen to the children and then take some deep breaths and just give parenting a try.  

Open to Spending Time Together

Having fun with the family by doing things together was a great help.  In later years as my daughters reached teenage years I would take each one out to lunch separately and just talk about anything and sometimes nothing. That helped me to understand where they were in life and helped me to be more effective at parenting.

Trusting each one until they proved with solid evidence that they had been untrustworthy.  Even then giving them some slack for being human was helpful.  

Open to Imperfection

With OCD you may feel like you should be this or that to be a perfect parent, but the kids won’t notice if you don’t buy into that self image yourself.  They just want to know you’re proud of them and love them unconditionally.

Remember it is not what you advise that matters but what you do what they remember. I learned that later on.

160_f_69380413_annrnbjcopjefn3uuykjjpsjwqvjek2eGive Yourself a Break!

Be Open With Your Kids

There are going to be situations where you have to do things differently, and your kids will notice. When they are old enough, explain that you have OCD the same way you would explain if you had a broken arm. Later, you’ll appreciate how much easier it is to just say you’re having anxiety about something instead of making an excuse to your child. In my experience, they’re actually pretty cool about it.

Try Not to Talk Yourself Down

Kids soak up everything we do in front of them. You’ll notice your young children will mimic your movements and talk like you. The other day, I was doing yoga and my 2-year-old niece randomly walked over and went into downward dog next to my mat. Kids are the great imitators. A lot of those of us who have OCD and related disorders aren’t happy with ourselves. We’ll say things like “I can’t do that,” “I’m such a burden,” “I’m weak,” and other statements in the same vein. You’ll teach your kid that having a mental illness is weakness. It makes a person a burden. Try to refer to your illness as something that happens to you, not something you are and see if that makes an impact on how your child feels about his or her own mental health.

Take a Break

You want to be the best mom in the world? Tough. That distinction does not exist. Everyone has different standards, and some amazing moms wind up with terrible kids and vice versa. You can’t be on all the time. You can’t do every bake sale, swim meet, football booster and parent conference. Sometimes you have to say no and just take that time for yourself. Give yourself a break, both figuratively and literally.

Contributed byMichelle at: Living With Intrusive Thoughts.

160_f_69380413_annrnbjcopjefn3uuykjjpsjwqvjek2eMom of Five: I Ain’t Got No Time for That (Shame)

It wasn’t long after my baby was born, that I started developing fears….Not just fears over things that you would expect somebody to be afraid of, like dogs or spiders or airplanes…… although there were plenty of those…

For the rest of this story go to: theworrygames.com  

Commonality

By now you’ve probably noticed what these six people have in common. I can’t wait to hear what you think it is! Leave a comment!