X

Sharing ideas around mental health and life. In the hopes that the good ones will take flight

My partner isn’t…(insert perceived weakness/flaw) enough!

I touched on my experience with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) before. So when I was reading an academic journal on rOCD it was interesting to see that BDD or simply anyone who puts hyper-attention on themselves is likely to do the same to their partner.

"Hyper-attention to one's own perceived flaws in appearance and catastrophic misinterpretation of such flaws may reflect a general predisposition to detect perceived deficits and overestimate their consequences, not only in the self, but also in the relationship partners." (*Guy Doron et al, 2012, pg 241)

The study drew several conclusions one of which was that if a suffer is overly critical of themselves, they are likely to be critical of their partner. If you struggle with type two relationship OCD (rOCD) which is the preoccupation with your partners perceived flaws, then the above quote may apply to you.

Guy Doron and co point out that in type two rOCD. character flaws come in 6 domains – physical appearance, sociability, morality, emotional stability, intelligence and competence.

Since the age of 17 I have been overly critical of myself, and constantly putting myself under the microscope to be the best I can. So it makes sense that in relationships I put my partner under the same scrutiny, making it easy for OCD to latch on to my partner’s perceived flaws. Do you notice a similar pattern in your relationship?

If so, my advice is to start loving yourself. Learn to appreciate you for the miracle you are. Learn to love that what makes you different can often make you special. When you start to love yourself, without being so critical and overly self-aware, this will then role onto your partner and you will stop picking holes in them. This will weaken OCD’s grip on their perceived flaws.

Let me know if that helps,

Stu

*Flaws and all: Exploring partner-focused obsessive-comulsive symptoms by Guy Doron et al, 2012, pg 241.

Beat ROCD video course (51% off) - includes 33 videos: Visit the course >

ROCD udemy course Banner

What I Learned From Body Dysmorphic Disorder

In hindsight I can now see that I had body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) growing up. Which is no surprise given that BDD is part of the OCD family (what a messed up family). I was so obsessed with my ears. Constantly doing my best to hide them, draw attention away from. It was a full time job. Looking in the mirror only made me feel less than, a freak if you will. BDD went on in my head for so many years, fearing I would forever be alone and an outcast due to my perceived physical flaw. The idea of suicide crossed my mind a couple times (thankfully a thought I never entertained for long, or seriously). I was considering getting my ears pinned back, however it took me months to address this with my parents. I felt so vulnerable. In a world of pain inescapable from my own mind. BDD lead to me becoming very introverted, more than my nature originally intended. Too this day I’m still working on removing some fears, habits and quirks I adopted as a result of BDD.

Over time, it got better. What seemed at the time like there was no way out, no hope for my future. Slowly changed. I went from seeing a freak in the mirror, to just me, to now a person I am happy to be. I didn’t get my ears pinned back or any surgery. So what changed? My mind. When I looked in the mirror I no longer saw what my mind wanted to see, I saw reality. I saw my own reflection without all the warped stories my BDD/OCD wanted me to see. It always blows my mind the way BDD/OCD convinces us of something so emotively, then a day, month or year later you realise it was all just an elaborate lie.

If you suffer with body dysmorphic disorder I feel for you. It’s horrible. It can be isolating. My thoughts are with you. But there is hope.

BDD is not an area I have researched yet, so the below advice is purely from observation of my past experiences with it.

  • Talk with someone
  • Love yourself
  • Apply Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Talk with someone

The worst thing I did was keep it a secret. This also delayed my acknowledgement of OCD. Talking it through with someone can seem terrifying. Whenever I went to tell my parents I would freeze and couldn’t speak. So I suffered in silence which only delayed my recovery. If you find it had to speak with your family or friends, contact your doctor who will happily listen and in fact could point you, or refer you, in the direction of some therapy (usually CBT).  The charity OCD Action has a helpline and email service that you can use for support: http://www.ocdaction.org.uk/i-need-information-support. If you are outside the UK a simple Google search should bring up BDD support services in your local area.

Love yourself

When I was suffering with BDD, in no way did I love myself. I don’t mean love yourself in an egotistical way, I mean it in the sense that every human is worthy of love. If you look in the mirror and are shocked by your reflection it is highly likely that you don’t love yourself, or think you are flawed. You need to start loving yourself. A good way is faking it until you make it. It’s hard to love yourself when you don’t love yourself. Each time you look in the mirror you may tell yourself “I love you”, or “you look handsome/beautiful today”. At first you won’t like this, you may even cringe. But over time, it may just start to change your mind. The brain is quite easy to trick. A good book on loving yourself is called “Love yourself like your life depends on it” (My review here). There are some great exercises in this book tied into a great (real life) story. Above all, you are worthy of love and belonging; start telling yourself that, even if you don’t currently believe it.

Apply ACT

ACT in short is mindfulness. The ability to watch what your brain chucks at you without judgement or reaction. When you start to panic over a particular body part and your brain starts telling you all these awful things, do not answer your brain, do not justify it and do not try to prove it wrong. This will only make it worse. If you start to accept the thoughts in your head as just thoughts and not fact, they will slowly, over time, dissipate. Start to learn to observe your thoughts. Meditation is great for this. Defusing yourself from your thoughts, will help break their illusion. Once you apply this, take action towards your values or goals straight away. This is then retraining the brain on what it should be focused on. ACT is simple but not easy. Stick with it.

When you’re in the midst of an OCD or BDD outbreak, it can seem so real. In a way it is real, the emotions at least. It’s the stories that are fake. Test out the above advice, see what works for you, add on your own research. Apply recovery tools daily and in time this too shall pass. Like me, you will look back on this period and think “Wow, the mind is tricky. It sure was painful, but I’m stronger now because of it”.

Let me know what works for you, and drop me an email if I can be of more assistance in your recovery.

To your success,

Stu

Use Your Anxiety Map To Navigate OCD

Many things can trigger an OCD spike. One trigger can be certain areas in which you live. These spikes can happen because the amount of people can create uncertainty, you might get a ‘not quite right feeling’ or maybe you have bad memories of a certain area, street or place, maybe a bad break up or a time you got embarrassed. You may find that you avoid these areas as to not spark your OCD. For example, I live in London and will avoid shopping centres like the plague. They spike my anxiety, badly, and will often set me on a downward spiral.

If I took a map of London I could probably put dark blobs or patches over various parts of London that trigger my anxiety (for whatever reason that may be). Just thinking about these places has bumped anxiety in me, as the brain struggles to differentiate between being there and just imagining it. If you have ever played Role Player Games (RPGs) such as age of empires. You will know that the map is dark and as you explore the lands the map becomes clearer. There will be dark patches on the map until you walk to those areas, then the darkness disappears.

PC Gamer Command And Conquer Map

Example of a RPG map. Image: PCGamer.co.uk

I kind of see this with my concept of the anxiety map. If you get triggered from certain areas, shops or buildings these become dark spots on your map, on your life. It’s up to you to remove those dark patches on your map. After all, a place is just a place. It only causes us issues because of the meaning we assign it.

How do I remove these patches from my anxiety map?

  • ERP
  • ACT

Exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP - learn more here) will involve you exposing yourself to the environment. This could be simply going there, it could be eating there, seeing a friend etc. At first you may feel the same anxiety as before, however after a few exposures/trips to this place, while applying ACT you should see a difference in your perception of said place. As a result anxiety will subside.

Applying Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) when you are in said location will involve you as it says on the tin, accepting the thoughts and worries that pop up. Don’t question them, justify them or ponder on them. Simply acknowledge them either by watching them without judgement or saying something like “thanks brain”. After applying acceptance, take action towards something. This could be listening harder to your friend, going to buy something or merely bringing yourself back to the present moment. You can also apply ACT to emotions. If your anxiety is high try accepting it. If we fight emotion it will only get stronger, however, if you accept that it is there and be fine with that it, it will soon dissipate.

Should I create an actual map?

That is up to you. I haven’t written it down. I just know the areas and places in my head that trigger me. If it helps you to draw a visual map awesome, it may even make it more of a game. You can then remove the dark patches as you conquer the areas. The goal of course it to have a map free of dark areas and open to a world of possibilities and adventure!

It may take time to clear your map of anxiety. However, facing the places that give you the frights is a great way of beating OCD.

Let me know how it goes,

Stu

The 10 Day Beat OCD Morning Challenge

I find with OCD that how you start your day is often how you end it. Do you find this? Starting the day wrong could be eating late (which can affect anxiety), being in a rush or simply not focusing your mind on where you want it to go. As a result OCD can catch us out, in our morning of wishy washyness. I’ve even found that OCD creeps in to my dreams sometimes, which means I have awoken anxious, so I’m already on the back foot. Rushing to work doesn’t give me any time to relieve this anxiety.

If this is you, I propose you join me in a 10 day challenge called “The 10 day beat OCD morning challenge”, catchy I know. If you are familiar with my book Challenge Yourself, I Dare You, you’ll know I’m a big believer in challenges. Usually 30 day challenges, however I wanted to start small on this one. Test the hypothesis, then roll out the results.

The hypothesis: After completion of the 10 days, my intrusive thoughts, ruminations, compulsions and anxiety will be lower.

The morning challenge:

  1. Hydrate – Drink a glass of water
  2. Clear the mind, detach from thoughts – Meditate for 15 minutes
  3. Focus the mind -
  • Read *OCD beating mantra – I swear to not answer the obsessive thoughts in my head because they are just a by-product of a biological disorder. I will stand firm when I am swarmed with anxiety because I know this is just false messaging, not the truth. I swear to take healthy action in spite of what my brain is telling me. Because I know that the truth will prevail and this too shall pass.
  • Gratitude exercise – Spend 3-5 minutes listing all that you are grateful for
  • Read goals
  1. Eat – a healthy breakfast within 30 minutes of waking

The four step challenge aims to take care of the body and mind.

Eating a healthy meal within 30 minutes of waking has been proven to help limit anxiety.

Clearing your mind will help prevent cognitive fusion which is the merging of your thoughts to emotion. Your OCD will attach the anxiety to an intrusive thought and thus the cycle starts. By meditating you are breaking that link, you are showing your brain you are not your thoughts. Starting to defuse yourself from your thoughts, will help you not buy into what OCD is telling you throughout the day.

After this, focusing your mind is important because it’s you showing your brain where you want to go today, what you want to do and in what mindset.

I will be updating daily with the results, and I’ll provide a full wrap up in 10 days.

Wish me luck,

Stu

*You can create your own mantra or use mine.

Day 1: I did the meditation last. I feel more focused and happy than usual in the morning. Doing meditation allows me to observe the OCD. Helps me see through it's lies.

Day 2: I did meditation last again. Poor job at getting up on time. I find the mornings are more focused and I find it easier to ignore obsessions. So far so good!

Day 3: Reading/listing my goals is keeping me focused. This is making me happier and taking my mind away from OCD thoughts.

Day 4: I found it hard to wake up this morning. I also dosed off during meditation - oops. I still feel more focused despite this. Alert and aware. Reading the mantra is helping me defuse myself from my thoughts.

Day 5: Having the water by my bed for when I wake, makes it easy to start the challenge.

Day 6: I had a few drinks last night. Which made it harder to be mindful during the challenge. That being said, I'm sure I'd be worse right now if it wasn't for the challenge.

Day 7: Didn't get up in time.

Day 8: It was a bit spread out as I didn't allow myself a lot of time. However, reciting my goals focused me for the day. The meditation quietened my mind in the morning.

Day 9 Didn't get up in time.

What Is ERP? How Do I Do ERP?

What is ERP? ERP is an acronym for Exposure and response prevention therapy. In short it involves the therapist, coach or individual to expose the OCD sufferer or themselves to their OCD fears and then to reframe from ritualising or doing a compulsion.

This can be a painful form of therapy, as it forces you to spike in anxiety, often opening yourself up to the obsessive and intrusive thoughts, but instead of checking or doing some other compulsion, you must refrain from releasing the anxiety through compulsions. Instead you must live in the fear and anxiety, until it decreases.

In this video I’ll explain ERP and with the help of a Go Pro show you how to implement it.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/K3Z9wLBGuqA[/youtube]

ERP isn’t easy, but it is simple. ERP takes commitment and persistence. Your anxiety will spike considerably. It will seem like something bad will happen. Don’t fight it, just learn to accept it. The more you do ERP on your various compulsions the more anxiety will decrease over time. You will find that your obsessive and intrusive thoughts will also diminish as time goes on. As you have retrained your brain to not fear in these situations.

In summation:

  • Expose yourself
  • Respond differently
  • Repeat

ERP can be incredibly tough. I recommend seeing a therapist or getting a coach to guide you through it.

Best of luck and drop me an email if you have any more questions.

Stu

Love Yourself To Beat Relationship OCD

As part of a relationship OCD project I'm undertaking, I've been reading a lot of academic journal papers on the subject. It's not all boring. The below snippet was taken from one specific ROCD paper:

"...Hyper-attention to one's own perceived flaws in appearance ad catastrophic misinterpretation of such flaws may reflect a general predisposition to detect perceived deficits and overestimate their consequences, not only in the self, but also in relationship partners" *Pg 74

This really stuck out for me. It suggests (to me) that the harsher critic you are on yourself, be that critical of yourself physically or mentally, you are more likely to obsess over certain perceived flaws in your partner. be that physical or mental.

This rung true for me. Ever since I was 17 and stumbled upon personal development books, I went on a continuous improvement quest. I expected the best from myself, and was my harshest critic. After doing talking therapy I realised this was to make up for the fact I didn't feel worthy, as a result of bullying, poor academic grades and a strenuous relationship with my brother. When I first started noticing ROCD in myself, I would be critical and really obsess on my partners flaws.

These obsessions would lead me to not pursue dates, break it off with women and generally freak out. The tough criteria for acceptance I applied on myself, I also applied on my dates. Most of the time, the flaws I perceived as threats weren't actually flaws, just over amplified perceptions.

The take away here is if you suffer from ROCD and focus on the perceived flaws of your partner, pause for a second and see if you are hard on yourself? If you are tough on yourself, and judge yourself often. Stop it. Start to love yourself, unconditionally. And soon you will apply this same love and non-judgement to your partner, thus stopping the ROCD cycle.

Thanks,

Stu

*Here is the full paper by Guy Doron et al. http://rocd.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Relationship-related-OC-phenomena-tha-case-of-relationship-centered-and-partner-focused-OC-symptoms.pdf 

Beat ROCD video course (51% off) - includes 33 videos: Visit the course >

ROCD udemy course Banner

This Decision Will Start Your Recovery From OCD

I wanted to highlight a conversation I was having on Twitter with OCD&Me a.k.a. @Lil_Miss_OCD. She raised a great point worth sharing. Which is:

"I decided enough was enough, I wasn't going to let OCD win"

OCD Beating Mindset - Enough Is Enough

All great changes have happened at those moments we say "I can't take this shit anymore". This was the same for me in my recovery from OCD. I hit a point where I wasn't satisfied with the struggles in my life as a result of OCD. I was done be down all the time due to the incessant intrusive thoughts. This decision sparked my recovery.

I suffered for 20 years before I took my recovery seriously. After deciding to beat OCD. I grabbed every book and article I could find. I went through 3 types of therapy. I changed my diet. I started meditating. I did what it took, and still am.

My point is. If you are struggling with OCD, recovery can be scary. But trust me, living with OCD is scarier. Get yourself to the point where recovery goes from a "I should" to a "I will".

All the best,

Stu

You can find Lil Miss OCD's blog here: https://lilmissocd.wordpress.com/

10 Quick Tips To Beating ROCD

Beat ROCD video course (51% off) - includes 33 videos: Visit the course >

The video below are 10 quick tips to kick relationship OCD (ROCD) to the curb.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/fU8qEw_BWJU[/youtube]

  1. OCD is the problem – Know that OCD is the issue and not the relationship.
  2. Remove anxiety – by accepting it.
  3. Break the OCD cycle – accept the thoughts.
  4. Exaggerate the thoughts – scare your brain by agreeing and exaggerating your thoughts.
  5. The one – Is there such a thing? Love is not an emotion it is action.
  6. Stop comparing – Be present with your partner.
  7. Things don’t quite feel right – Use this as a guidance out of OCD.
  8. Stop reassurance checking – Sit with the anxiety, don’t relieve it by reassurance checking.
  9. Act in spite of – When you are scared to say I love you and hug, that’s when you need to do it. Show your brain it has nothing to be afraid of.
  10. Change your focus – Get a project, or something that interests you. Show your brain what it needs to focus on.

I hope these tips help you reclaim your relationship.

Let me know if they help?!

Thanks,

Stu

ROCD udemy course Banner

Is Whatsapp Making Your OCD Worse?

A few sessions ago I was talking to my therapist about Whatsapp. In particular how it encourages anxiety in me. At that time it spurred on obsessions and then ruminations around Relationship OCD (ROCD). What I am about to explain could affect many subsets of OCD, notably HOCD.

At that time I was having obsessions around my partner not loving me, or being there for me. I was also obsessing that she did not meet my conversational needs, and was too quiet for me. So… When I was having those thoughts, and then seeing that she had been online, but not responded to my message/s. It drove me crazy with anxiety. My brain kicked in “See she doesn’t find you funny”, “See you don’t fulfill her”, and so on. This could easily be the start of a few days of intense anxiety, until I opened up and talked about it. Only to realise my fears were based on imagination, and not reality.

Is this a problem with your OCD? Or just general mental health? If so, you can turn this ‘Last seen’ feature off.

In Whatsapp, go to Settings > Account > Privacy > Then click ‘Last seen’ and change to nobody.

Whatsapp Last Seen

If you don’t share your Last Seen, you won’t be able to see other people’s Last Seen

People won’t be able to see when you were last online (which doesn’t bother me either way), but the main thing is you won’t be able to see when they were last online.

This may stop your brain jumping to conclusions as to why they have been on whatsapp but not responded. When in reality they were probably just busy, preoccupied or not paying attention.

Try this out for size and see if it helps. You will need to be mindful, and accepting that you do not know when they were last online. Live, and be happy in the uncertainty. Once you get better at it, put the feature live again and practice mindfulness.

Let me know how it goes?!

To your success,

Stu

Beat ROCD video course (51% off) - includes 33 videos: Visit the course >

ROCD udemy course Banner

The ROCD Question “What Are You Thinking About?”

My girlfriend, much like I, is an over thinker. She often has her head in the clouds. When I am having a relationship OCD bout, and I'm anxious, I get paranoid that she is thinking something bad about me. So I'll politely ask "What are you thinking?" or "what's on your mind?". It wasn't until yesterday that I realised this was a checking compulsion. Driven by OCD anxieties.

When it hit me, I told her that I shouldn't ask her that question as it's a checking compulsion. She asked me why I am compelled to check. I told her "I'm waiting for you to tell me you don't love me". Deep, I know. But that's where my OCD takes it.

My beautiful girlfriend in her infinite wisdom told me that every time I ask her the question "what are you thinking about?" she will respond "How much I love you". Where can I vote for girlfriend of the year?

ROCD Question

Illustration by NamiChikhlia.com

I like her approach for two reasons. One, it addresses the OCD worry. This might raise more questions for some people, however for me it does the trick. My brain shuts up when it hears it from the horse's mouth (sorry babe). Secondly, it makes me laugh. It allows me to see through my anxieties and intrusive thoughts. And that my friends, is the key to beating OCD. Defusion from your thoughts. When I laugh, it detaches me from the thought and allows me to see it for what it is - mind vomit!

So if you ask your partner a similar question why not give this method ago? Let me know if it works!

Best of luck,

Stu

Beat ROCD video course (51% off) - includes 33 videos: Visit the course >

ROCD udemy course Banner

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 10

Contact Me

Using the contact form to send me an email

Keep in touch or say hi

Please note: I only answer emails once a week, please be patient, I will respond in time.