Hello all. First, some background information - I've suffered from some form of OCD/Pure O for about 16 years (yeah, I know it's a long time)
During that time I've used various methods, some good, some bad, to cope with it and to live my life. Recently, though,
I feel that I've come upon a new stage of recovery and I'd like to talk about it here. Also, there are lots of questions I would like to ask.
This is going to be kind of rambling in some parts, that's why it's labelled questions/thoughts and not one or the other. :) Hope you all don't mind!
First off, actually discovering that there was something called Pure O was a kind of relief to me...I had previously thought that since I didn't have
a physical compulsion of any kind that I didn't have OCD...I didn't know there was a type which focused solely on intrusive thoughts and excessive
What usually happens to me is that when I get overly stressed or upset, either from a huge upheaval or a buildup of stress over time,
I sometimes get unwelcome and unwanted thoughts which I can't seem to put aside or ignore. I've taken Effexor in the past and now I am on Pristiq
(which I understand is a synthetic deriavative of Effexor) Both help a lot, but I am still searching for other ways to deal with these thoughts
than using medication.
When it was really bad (about 10 or so years ago) I used to try to struggle with the worries/thoughts for a long time each day, using all sorts of
rationalizations and refutations/conclusions to try to "convince" the worries to go away, or to find a "rational solution" to them. I now realize
that that was probably the worst thing to do (even though I didn't know it at that time) I would build walls upon walls of logic to protect myself
and then search for "ammunition" in the form of facts and arguments to throw at my enemy - that part of my mind that seemed only to torment me.
I've also had depression (ranging from severe to mild) and trauma for around the same amount of time that I have had these obsessive thoughts, though
in the last few years they have faded. Even the intensity and occurence of the obsession thoughts is less, though still more than I would like!
I've thought about it and discussed it with several people and a theory I have is that these thoughts may come out because during crisis periods in my
life - of which there have been many, especially while I was growing up - I would not feel any fear, because I would be so focused on protecting my
younger sister and dealing with whatever problems presented themselves that there was just not any time to feel fear. Which is pretty unnatural - fear is
a natural response after all. So, all that fear has to go somewhere.
I've also realized that I tend to get these worries more when I feel lost or abandoned, or when I feel something is bearing down on me or that
I "have" to do something. My therapist has suggested that we work more on the "core" issues - that is, whatever is triggering the flood of anxiety and
negative emotions that is leading to the worries - but that seems like a long-term thing. I'm not adverse to it by any means, but I sort of am looking
for something that I can use whenever it strikes, while at the same time looking for a more permanent solution.
But now on to methods of coping.
A lot of sites and books say to do stuff to take your mind off whatever is bothering you right now. I've tried but at times it seems like a tall order
for me. In the past I would be really obsessed with "figuring out" the worries and "finishing them off" but now, even though it's better, I can't
completely shake it off sometimes. It gets me down but I try to do other stuff.
I also still find myself trying to use logic and reason to grapple with the thoughts. However, I don't go overboard now and try to limit it to a few times
a day - I do things like write down whatever is bothering me, write down whatever I've done etc. Limiting it to 5 to 10 minutes (or 15 on rarer occasions)
at a time spent thinking seems to help somewhat.
I do experience a sense of relief sometimes when I think about the problems, but I am concerned that that might also be a mental ritual of sorts. Is it
really helping? Or does thinking about it only seem to help by providing temporary relief but also excerberating the condition? I'd like to do what
helps instead of what hurts, of course.
In general I am a lot calmer now and even when wrestling with the worries, rationally or otherwise, I try to be in a calm state of mind and try and bring
a measure of serenity (however hard it may be!) to whatever I am worrying about at the moment. I'm also a lot less critical of myself - which helps
I feel kind of confused about how best to proceed right now...I guess that is why I am making this post! On one hand this is a first for me in trying to
find a different handle on this bogeyman that had plagued me for so long. I used to feel that I couldn't do anything about my worries and I would just
sit around and try and distract myself from me until they lessened and went away - since if I focused on them things seemed to get worse. Now I'm actually
trying out new things, and thinking in new ways, so I feel proud of myself, more confident and even a little bit excited!
On the other hand I am still in doubt about how exactly to get better, and still a little scared and apprehensive. Also I hate this Pure O thing and
thinking about it is not easy (nor is writing this post!)
I've talked to my therapist about it a few times over the years and her current suggestion is for me to accept myself as who I am right now, at being at
a particular state with my worries and all. She tends to take a long-term view of things and I see where she is coming from, but at the same time I would
like to have new methods to work on my worries...though I'm also concerned that "working on it" may not be a good thing. She also doesn't have a lot of
experience with OCD/Pure O (she didn't know what Pure O was when I first mentioned it to her) although she's been extremely helpful with a lot of other
things. One of things I am considering is seeing someone else who works with OCD patients more so as to have a second opinion of sorts.
One thing that often comes up when I talk about these obsessional thoughts is recognizing that they are irrational, unhelpful and irritating. This is
harder to do that it seems! (as I'm sure many of you know) To me it often seems at times to be the Holy Grail of what I'm searching for - if I could just
manage to believe that my worries have no real relevance in reality and are untrue, they would cease to bother me. It's the very "unbelieving" in them
that I find difficult.
When it was really bad I found myself trying to figure out the details of the worries, so I could say unequivocally that they weren't real, but that was
just more rationalization and didn't really help. Now even if I can't disbelieve in them as readily as I would like, at least I am calmer. I would like to
be able to just say "hey, I don't need to listen to you" and put it aside, but that can often be hard. Any suggestions?
Maybe it ties into another issue I have. I've often come across advice to regard your emotions and thoughts as not being set in stone, that you are free to
decide how and what to think and feel, as well, as cultivating a sense of detachment from the immediacy of thought and feeling. This is excellent advice, to
be sure, but once again I often have difficult following it. It's like the negative feelings and thoughts are kind of "stuck" and whatever I say will not
dislodge them. (at least not as much as I want!) This has gotten better with time, therapy and medicine, but it still bothers me, that I can't follow this
advice that I personally believe in. Not sure how much it is related to the above, but I thought I would mention it.
I dunno...maybe I am trying to hard to "work" at this whole thing. My therapist has been right before about other things, so perhaps accepting myself as
who I am now is really the best medicine? Though who I am now still has a problem with these worries/thoughts, and I'm not happy about that! What I feel
I am doing isn't so much "working on it" as it is having a new perspective and finding different ways to cope/handle with the situation, as well as
learning more. Is this "working on it"? As you can see I'm still kind of confused.
Whew, what a long post! I didn't intend to write so much, but it just sort of came into existence. I hope it didn't tire you out too much reading the
whole thing! Any kind of advice or suggestions you can give on the matter will be much appreciated. Heck, anything at all, advice or not, is welcome.