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

How do you know that it’s ROCD or simply just not the relationship for you?

I recently got asked a great question from one of my readers on Relationship OCD. The question “How do you know that it's OCD or simply just not the relationship for you?”.

That is the golden question. Is it OCD or is it the relationship that is the problem? If only we could know the answer, then all our troubles would cease to exist. The problem is actually asking that question only makes OCD worse. It keeps you questioning the relationship which only creates more doubts. OCD is called the doubting disease for a reason.

When you can become happy with the uncertainty of that question you will soon find it stops coming up as much. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) teaches everyone but in our case the OCD sufferer to accept the thoughts in our heads. The mind (and OCD) wants to protect us so it asks us questions. How we answer them allows the brain to see if they are important to us. If we answer the question, or try to prove it wrong we are telling our brains to ask us again, and again. With OCD the key is to learn that we don't have to answer the questions or thoughts in ours heads, if we don't want too. This is the best way I have found to rewire the brain.

Meditation also aligns with ACT. The headspace app is a good tool for getting good at meditation.

Couple With Cat Illustration

Illustration by NamiChikhlia.com 

With ROCD and OCD generally, I find it helpful to see OCD as the 'matrix'. An illusion. When we go through ROCD periods it can seem so real that we are 'in the wrong relationship', 'that our partner isn't the one', or 'that we just don't click with them'. These periods can be agony, filled with anxiety. But also we go through days where our relationship is bliss. When you notice this pattern I see it as 'seeing through the matrix'. On those clear days it's obvious it's OCD that causes the bad days. So I make a firm mental note of these epiphanies. So next time I have an OCD episode I can remind myself that it is OCD. It doesn’t remove OCD instantly, but it stops me from having a big episode.

There is a great book on relationship OCD called Love you, love you not. It has lots of useful information and advice. Below are three bits from it that may help you with this question.

1. If you are ruminating on this question or similar questions for more than 20 minutes a day, it's OCD. This has helped me in my recovery. That if I'm over thinking for long periods of time, I know it's OCD. I then trust that knowledge and accept my doubts. They will then slowly fade.

2. Despite what Hollywood has told us, there isn't 'the one'. Or at least in the way they portray the one. They show love as constant bliss, and falling head over heels at first sight. Real love takes time, it is the merging of two people. Love is something you work at. Love is not something you feel, it is something you do.

3. Act as if. When sufferers get these doubting questions they will often retract from physical or verbal displays of affection. For example when OCD is strong you may hold back from hugging or saying 'I love you'. This is often from fear of leading the other person on. When you get intrusive thoughts telling you not to say 'I love you' that's when you need to say it most. This will show your brain not to worry.

The final bit of advice I have at the minute is to live according to your values. For example if you are an animal lover, and your partner kicks every cat he sees then this is a big value clash for you and probably will end the relationship in time. Don't obsess on little value clashes though. Like if he leaves the toilet seat up and your value is tidiness. This is minor, don't fixate on it. Only be concerned with major value clashes. But I'm sure they would have become apparent by now.

I still have ups and downs with ROCD but it is much more manageable. Every day I am learning and getting better. ROCD can actually make us better partners and create stronger relationships, so there is a silver lining to going through this.

Don't get down if you take a step back, just keep taking positive actions.

I hope that helps, and I'm here when needed.

Stu

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

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Can OCD Affect Your Dreams?

I've noticed that when I'm having many intrusive thoughts and OCD cycles, it carries into my dreams. Give me a break OCD!!!

The last few days I have woken up with ROCD thoughts, and have been exceptionally anxious. Reflecting on this I remember my dreams were about my relationship and they weren't loving dreams.

A Dr from Hong Kong univeristy found in his study that OCD can influence our dreams:

“The overall findings substantiate the notion that individuals with high obsessive-compulsive distress tend to dream certain themes more frequently,” said *Calvin Kai-Ching Yu, Ph.D., of the Department of Counseling and Psychology.

OCD and Dreams

So it's only understandable that if I am having trouble with ROCD it's naturally going to occur in my dreams. We've all had it. Where we do something all day, or speak about someone just before bed, that thing or person magically appears in our dream. With OCD especially when we are stuck in a cycle our brain is thinking about little else. It doesn't have much else to choose from when we finally go to sleep.

To give you an example. I was having a dream about my girlfriend. We were out and about. Or in fact I was coming to meet her. We met up in what appeared to be a half Asda half arcade - dreams are weird. As we walked out of the store, she saw one of my friends. She proceeded to talk with him and walk off. My OCD (in the dream) told me "see she doesn't want/support/get you". I woke up, and I was mad for about 3 minutes. My OCD was in full force telling me that, that was evidence. I then came to my senses, and realised that I was mad at her for something she didn't do. I soon broke this cycle. However, there have been some days when I woke up, and couldn't break the cycle and it put me on a downward spiral of "what ifs" around my relationship.

If this happens to you my only advice would be - Once you wake up, do something to calm your mind and break the OCD cycle. Do your best to separate yourself from believing the dream at all. Meditate, be mindful or read a few pages from an OCD book to defuse yourself from your thoughts.

Hope that helps,

Stu

*Quote taken from http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/12/27/in-ocd-intense-dreams-linked-to-more-compulsive-behavior/49694.html

When ROCD Intrusive Thoughts Get Obscure

I have been doing some great work with ROCD, and OCD generally. Meaning I have been firm in the face of it and kept practicing ACT, and accepting my emotions (anxiety). The last two weeks have been great.

That being said anxiety spiked for me yesterday, the reason isn’t important for this article. My therapist told me that the more I remove OCD, the more obscure it will get. It will become desperate, if you will. Because its normal concerns, the potentially believable ones were no longer bothering me, it had to reach into the depths of my mind to scare me.

ROCD and Obscure Thoughts

The obscure belief around my relationship was that our horoscopes don’t match, and therefore we are doomed as a couple. If you believe in horoscopes then this isn’t obscure. But I have never let horoscopes dictate my behaviour or life. I read the signs of the universe, not the book that is written about the universe and that tries to fit 7 billion people into 12 star signs. Then make assumptions on love compatibility. I want to caveat that I am nonchalant towards star signs, I neither believe them nor disbelieve them. The point is if they have never bothered or scared me before, why now is my OCD putting so much importance on them? Because it has nothing else to use against me. It is using the ‘destiny’ card. A far flung attempt of intimidation. All I can do when this thought rises, is accept it. They have never dictated my life, so I’m not going to let them now. Sorry OCD!

If you struggle with ROCD, or OCD in any form. What obscure and weird thoughts is OCD showing you? If you never cared about such things before OCD or when OCD wasn’t there, that’s a sign that it is in fact OCD, and that you should accept the thought, as one of OCD, and nothing more.

I hope that helps,

Stu

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

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Does Hypnosis Cure OCD? My Experience

In my recovery from OCD I've been working hard on the traditional therapy methods. But at the same time I am trialing all the weird and wonderful alternatives too. I never forget that we used to believe the earth was flat. We were wrong before. It's important to remember we could still be wrong about a lot of things we are certain about as a society. My point is, never dismiss something because it isn't adopted by the mainstream. With this in mind I wanted to see if hypnosis would have any impact on my OCD.

I listened to the below hypnosis which focuses on removing your obsessions. The first time I did it, my oh my. I was the most relaxed I think I have ever been. Straight after, my mind was considerably more quiet than before I started. I continued to listened to this for around 8 days. Although it had a diminishing impact, there were some benefits worth sharing.

Does Hypnosis Help OCD Sufferers

Will hypnosis heal OCD? I'm not sure, maybe, maybe not. But from my early dabbling s in it, I can see two powerful benefits:

  1. It will relax you
  2. It puts suggestions deep into your mind about not obsessing anymore

This hypnosis deeply relaxed me. When anxiety is high, and you are stressed out. Finding ways to distress and relax, can be a great step to lowering anxiety. As we know, anxiety will decrease when left alone. This I found is benefit one of hypnosis.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/GRdQPxm0LdI[/youtube]
The second benefit would have to be the positive suggestions the hypnotist says. In the above video he encourages you to talk about obsessions being something you used to do, and that you are free from them. Whether this actually removes them or not is up for debate. What I found it did do, is remind me of my recovery. When I started obsessing, his suggestion would pop into my head and remind not to give in and answer the intrusive thoughts.

Does hypnosis work? Who knows. But for the OCD'er I see strong benefits to doing it.

To your recovery,

Stu

Caveat: My test was only through a YouTube video. If I did it in person, it may have had different effects, be that good or bad.

How Do I Find Out If I Have OCD?

To answer the title of this article I want to share my story in the hope that it may bring you some comfort. In hindsight I can now see that I had OCD from the age of 6 or 7, I remember being petrified of swimming in swimming pools because of any ‘sharks’ that may be in there. Or the fact that I would have to walk back and forth past any old painting or ornament until it ‘felt right’. But I don’t think I really realised that my behaviour wasn’t normal until about the age of 16. As a kid I remember thinking that this pain I was feeling couldn’t be the normal human experience, but I couldn’t ask anyone, to compare notes. I was terrified. I don’t know what of. Maybe that if it wasn’t normal, people might think I was insane. Over the years OCD just became normal to me. It bothered me, but I had come to accept it.

At the age of 16 it started to cause me more issues and affect my day to day life. I was tired of feeling this way. I googled my symptoms (doctors love it when you do that), and after reading a  few articles on OCD it was apparent that my mental torment was a result of obsessive compulsive disorder. I’m pretty sure from memory that I decided to make an appointment with my GP (Doctor) fairly shortly after finding it out. I remember waiting in the Doctors waiting room, adrenaline coursing through my veins. I was scared, weak with anxiety. As I walked into his office, and described what was going on, I had never felt so vulnerable. Exposing my ‘madness’ to a stranger. I can’t remember a great deal of what he said, I do remember him referring me to the mental health department of the NHS. Which I saw at a later date. But that’s another story…

Do I Have OCD?

If you aren’t sure of what you are suffering with or you want to get therapy, then go see your doctor. It is terrifying, there is no doubt about that. But living with OCD is the scariest thing you can do. Seeing the doctor is over very quickly, and after, you should feel a great relief that you’ve finally shared your secret. Being vulnerable and taking this step is one move closer to recovery, to peace of mind. This may be one of your hardest steps in recovery, it’s also one of your easiest. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can find the right therapies, books and information to tackle this. And remove it from your life, so that you can live the life you deserve.

Here are some tips for taking the plunge and seeking help:

  • Ask yourself the question: What’s worse, the discomfort of going to the Doctors or telling someone, OR, living a life plagued by OCD?
  • Understand that the Doctor has heard it all before. So you won’t come across as ‘weird’
  • What you say to the Doctor is confidential. So you don’t have to worry about anyone else finding out, if you don’t want them too.
  • Be honest with your Doctor. The more honest you are, the better they can advise you.

I hope I’ve inspired you to seek help if you haven’t already. If you have any more specific questions please leave a comment below.

To your recovery,

Stu

 

Know Your Enemy: Knowledge Is Power In The Fight Against OCD

If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles... if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperilled in every single battle.” Sun Tzu

I mean come on. Chinese military general Sun Tzu might as well have been talking about OCD. Sun Tzu wrote the philosophical war manual Art of War. The above quote is taken from this legendary text, and ‘guide’ book for any one interested in battle strategy. Sun Tzu’s advice is to know your enemy and yourself, if you do you will not get dragged into many battles. If however, you don’t know your enemy or yourself, you will be pulled into battle time after time.

In the context of OCD:

  • Know OCD and yourself = You will have less fights with OCD and symptoms will decrease over time.
  • Don’t know OCD and yourself = OCD will continue to trick you, pulling you into many battles. Causing OCD symptoms to increase.

Knowledge really is power in the fight against OCD. Since I have been researching and blogging in the area of OCD, it never fails to scare me how little a lot of suffers know about OCD. In terms of how it operates, how to reduce it and eventually remove it. I’m more than happy to answer any questions. My recovery however has been propelled by asking some questions, but mainly through my own reading and consuming content such as videos and podcasts.

Know Your Enemy OCD

Therapy is important, no doubt. But self-education is the added ammo in your fight. When I knew I couldn’t handle OCD any more in its’ current strength, I made a commitment to get better. I put my recovery first, and went about reading as much information as I could, whether that be through books, online articles or academic journals. I hit up YouTube to consume as much content as possible and started following an OCD podcast. As you start to consume content you will naturally narrow your focus and what you search for. Most of what I searched for was recovery based. As it was solutions I needed not more information on what I was suffering with – although this was initially important.

Below are some good resources to get you started, but above all I hope I’ve inspired you to know your enemy, as when you do this you will more easily spot when OCD is attacking you. You can then strategically out manoeuvre it. Over time it will become second nature.

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) a.k.a. mindfulness

The Happiness Trap (Great for self-therapy) - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Happiness-Trap-Based-revolutionary-mindfulness-based/dp/184529825X/

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Break Free From OCD (This has a good overview of the different types of OCD) - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Break-Free-OCD-Overcoming-Compulsive/dp/0091939690/

Cognitive Biobehavioral Therapy

Brain Lock (Great for self-therapy) - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Brain-Lock-Yourself-Obsessive-Compulsive-Behavior/dp/0060987111/

Exposure and Response Therapy (ERP)

Daring To Challenge OCD - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Daring-Challenge-OCD-Treatment-Prevention/dp/160882859X/

How nutrition affects mental health

The Ultramind Solution - http://www.amazon.co.uk/UltraMind-Solution-Broken-Brain-Healing/dp/1416549722/#

Videos

Mark Freeman has created a ‘Beat OCD’ playlist on YouTube. Some very good advice: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2ADA7A35723646F6

If you need any advice please get in touch 🙂

To your successful recovery,

Stu

ROCD: “Other Relationships Are Perfect”

For those of us that have, or had Relationship OCD (ROCD) black and white thinking can cause a lot of problems. One area that I wanted to discuss today, is this idea of marital/relationship bliss. The idea that every other relationship is perfect, without worry, doubts or concerns.

Do you get this? Where you look at another couple, or hear one part of the couple talking about their spouse or about something they did at the weekend, with a smile on their face. And you think “They have it all figured out. They are so happy”. My OCD tries to make this assumption, a lot.

For example, today I was asking a work colleague about his recent wedding. After a little bit of small talk and catching up, he said that they were looking to get a away for a month next year. Cue OCD. I get an intrusive thought of “you couldn’t spend a month away with your girlfriend; you’d get bored”, “if only you were as happy as them” etc. Of course I know this not to be true, I’d love a month away with my girlfriend. But as we know, you can’t reason with OCD. Luckily, the last few days I have been doing good work at accepting intrusive thoughts and lowering anxiety through ACT. I felt a little bump of anxiety, and a momentary drop in my heart when the intrusive thought hit me, however it didn’t grow into a vicious OCD cycle, because I nipped it in the bud.

ROCD "Other Relationships Are Perfect" Article

If you struggle with ROCD. Do your best to spot this black and white thinking. In the case above, notice when your brain makes solid conclusions about others’ lives from only minimal evidence, in this case a passing comment. My brain created a whole scenario and assumption about others’ lives from one comment. How tricky is OCD?! Understand that these dramatic predictions or assumptions are often a huge tell tell sign that it is OCD trying to play games. Spot this, mindfully watch it, then go play games with people you choose too, not OCD.

The other more cognitive aspect of this is, there is no such thing as the perfect couple or love at first sight. Real love, takes time and hard work. It is the coming together of two individuals to create one meaningful life.

Best wishes with your relationship, and OCD recovery,

Stu

P.S. Remember, it is OCD that is the problem, not the relationship.

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

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The OCD Cinema: Now Showing Horror Movies

Our minds are like cinemas. Most people don't spend that long in the cinema. However, those of us with OCD have a freaking season pass. On bad days we go to the cinema on a daily, no scratch that, hourly basis. Which would be cool if the Cinema franchise Cinemind played comedies all the time (specifically Will Ferrell) but it doesn't. 90% of the time they show only horror movies. Not just any horrors movies; horror movies tailored to your worst fears in a given area. These films are so terrifying that you can easily lose the fact that you are watching this film, you become so engrossed you actually start to star in it. The film becomes so real, you can no longer distinguish what is the film and what is reality. This is the problem with OCD.

Does the above sound familiar?

I don't know about you, but I don't like horror films, I won't pay to have someone scare me. But with OCD if you don't want to feel the horror film you need to start watching it. You have to remember you are in the cinema, and that you are firmly planted in your seat. You need to remind yourself you are watching the movie, not in it. Easier said than done. It is our daily work. Our responsibility to our recovery.

OCD Advice: Watch the film, don't act in it

Next time OCD starts firing horror movies do not buy into it, do not get incarnated into that place. Instead watch the film, without judgement or labeling. If anxiety is there, just feel it, again don't judge it. OCD wants you to link the anxiety with the thought. DON'T BUY THE LIE.

Once you have watched the short film, get up out of your seat and go live your life according to your hopes, dreams and values. Rinse and repeat each time it happens.

Best of luck,

Stu

Hollywood’s Ideals Of Love, And The Issues For OCD Sufferers

I've come to realise from the study of relationship OCD (rOCD) that we have been brought up on a fairy tale information diet of love. I first came across this in the book Love You, Love You Not. The author expresses how Hollywood and other media outlets paint an unrealistic view of love. Mainly the 'love at first sight' storyline. I had that once, found out it wasn't, it was just my hormones.

I was having a think about the films I have consumed in the past and the current films I watch. Low and behold over the last 6 years since I've started having OCD target any relationship or dating scenario I had, the key films I've watched and loved have been romantic comedies. Who doesn't love a good chick flick?! The key theme is usually: meet, love at first sight, stay up all night talking, minor hiccup then live happily ever after.

rOCD Article

For me, having the anxiety disorder OCD, my brain was constantly looking for perfection, serendipity and love at first sight. So when I would date and when any minor thing seemed off, I would get floods of anxiety, from my brain sending me a false message. My OCD was seeing anything except perfection as a risk to my happiness.

Realising this has been a massive step. Understanding that love and relationships take time. It's the bonding of two separate human beings. True love isn't a look across a room, it's the getting to know of each other, warts and all. The growth of two people merging for one common goal.

If you suffer with rOCD do a mental scan of yourself to see what your views of love are. If they are 'love at first sight' then start to replace this belief with one of true love. Real love.

Hope that helps,
Stu

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

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‘Love You, Love You Not’ rOCD Book Review

What a fitting title. In fact at times of anxiety around the relationship I've looked at that cover and just laughed. Such a witty and painfully poignent title.

I have had OCD related issues around dating and relationships since I was 22. My OCD never touched relationships before this. But that's another story I'll cover at a later date. The key of this article is to review the book and maybe encourage you to buy it, should it meet your needs.

Any way I was looking for a search box moment. I was upset that I was with this amazing girl and some days I would be swamped with anxiety around the suitability of the relationship, and then other days it was great. I was figuratively 'going out of my mind'. I started searching the web for others who have OCD and similar relational concerns. I started to find out that I was in fact not alone (phew). It even has its own term, rOCD or relationship OCD. After a little more searching and reading I stumbled upon a blog called RelationshipOCD.com.

The blog offers some great down to earth advice. They were (are) selling a book called 'Love You, Love You Not' which talked about rOCD and how to recover from it. In my desperate situation I had to take a chance. Click - purchased.

Relationship OCD Book

Let me start with the end. The book helped me immensely. It made me understand what love truly was, how to break the cycle of repetitive worries and gave me a lot of hope. Something that at that time, was in short supply.

The book covers:

  • The background of rOCD
  • What love is (tainted by Hollywood)
  • The idea of 'falling out of love'
  • The 5 ways to love
  • The components of love
  • How to break the intrusive thought cycle
  • Q&A section from the blogs readers
  • Planning your recovery

What I liked about this book is that it was written in an easy but actionable way.

"If you want to be " normal", you have to start acting 'normal'" snippet from the book.

If you think you have rOCD or you know you have OCD, and are having relationship concerns I think this book will help you greatly on your path to recovery.

Regardless, if you are struggling I know your pain. Keep your head up and focused on recovery. It will get better.

To your success,
Stu

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

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