Saturday, 4 February 2017

OCD.. not what you think it is.

When you think about OCD what comes to mind? Someone who has an unusually clean home? Someone who continuosly washes hands? All I knew about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was what I have seen on tv or heard when people said they had it because they were "neat freaks" something I most certainly was not.
 This Christmas, three months into my medication for postnatal depression and as things were finally running smoothly disaster struck in my head. I put it down to Christmas being hard for everyone, the stress and the anniversary of the death of a very dear friend. At first, it was the usual..feeling sad and empty for no reason, racing heart, aching bones and dizziness but then back came the post natal thoughts. Like a flash of lightning I was struck with complete terror once again. This time, however things got weird.
The first time it happened, my husband had just done some diy in the bedroom that night as I lay in bed, I saw he had left a hammer there and my stomach turned. My mind was racing with horrible thoughts "what if I sleep walk and unintentionally harm my family with it? What if I go crazy in the night and do it?"  The thoughts were so intrusive I picked the hammer up, ran downstairs and hid it in the laundry basket. Afterwards I felt sick and ashamed. Why had I done that? I knew it was wrong. A few days later I bathed the kids and put them to bed but forgot to empty the bathwater. I woke in the middle of the night in a panic..what if? I was horrified again these thoughts brewed in my head and sickened my stomach. I ran down and emptied the bath, again knowing it was wrong and feeling very fearful and ashamed. Day after day fears were piling up and smothering me I was hiding knives and scissors and was terrified. I had no idea why I was so afraid when I knew I had no intention of hurting anyone. My stomach was sick with fear of losing control. The day I threw a screwdriver out the kitchen window was the day I decided to ring the doctor. I hadn't told a soul..I had been hiding my dirty secret from everyone, even my husband. I was waiting until alone and making the place safe from something I was afraid I might become.
I was terrified the day of my gp visit, convinced that I had some really severe mental illness and that I might be taken from my family. I cried the minute I got in, I shook with fear, I took a deep breath and exploded the words from my mouth. Once again, I was answered with warm kindness and understanding. We spoke more and I realised that for a couple of years now I have been obsessed with some things..counting the letters in a sentance and adding in words to make it even, for example. I thought everybody did that. So my diagnosis was ocd. OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER. I was slightly relieved it had a name, now it was not so scary. Now I could treat it and try to beat it.
Onwards and upwards...

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Accepting yourself for who you are is the first major step of your amazing journey.


“I wish I was skinnier/ less weird/taller/better/stronger. I could never do that I am too busy/built like this/upset” Does this sound familiar? This was the way I spoke to myself. When I first realised that I was suffering with postnatal depression, I dismissed it. I told myself that I was always weird and that I had never been right. I told myself I wasn't looking after myself because I didn't deserve it, I wanted so bad to be different but had no ability to change. Through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy I learned how to face my problems and confront my fears and instead of wishing I was different accepting that right now, I have an illness. It is not my fault. I am not feeling well and so I have to make the best of what I've got and slowly improve me..for me. Don't get me wrong, this is not an easy task and sure I still needed medication after but accepting myself allowed me to tell the truth..to myself, my family and the doctors and therefore got me the help I required.

My therapist laid out my thought process for me in a simple diagram:

                           Worry (I hope I don't get an illness I cant control)

                          Anxiety( OH MY GOD I had some very intrusive thoughts that
                           I cant get rid of there must be something seriously wrong with me)→

                           Panic Attack (now I am dying, I cant breathe and I just know
                          something bad is going to happen) →

                           Feeling bad (pains aches, sickness, dizziness) →

                           Back to worry and the cycle continues and spirals out of control.

So how do we over come this?

  1. Accept yourself and write out what's holding you back eg.
    I started out in therapy saying that low confidence was holding me back, I decided to start a journal that night and just let myself go. Get to the root of your fears and accept that these things may have hurt you once and cant be forgotten but can be acknowledged, accepted and you can begin to think how you can assure this doesn't happen again.
  2. Set small goals..don't start big..build
    I realised it was unrealistic for me to want to own a business if I wasn't physically able to leave the house and deal with people.. instead of beating myself up I made a ladder of change for myself where I would start at the bottom and work my way to the top.
                                                                   ____Business_____
                                          ____Reach out and be myself on social media____
                                                      ____Showing my talent to people___
                                                                ____Talk to People_____
                                                                ____Try new things____
                                                               ____Believe in myself__
                                                      ____Stop comparing myself to others____
                                                                 ___Write a journal____

  1. When I was told to practice meditation and mindfulness I thought, yea right I cant go to the toilet alone as a mother, How will I find time for meditation? Easy..
    • Start a grateful box, write out each day something you are grateful for and put away to remind yourself in the dark days.
    • When someone compliments you, dwell on it. Write it down later if you have to just really concentrate on it and you will start to believe it.
    • The famous “superhero pose” really by literally acting out the pose of a proud superhero it has been proven that you will become more confident and happy.
    • Do not dismiss your thoughts. If you feel you were treated badly then that's just how you feel..you do not owe anybody an apology for your feelings. If you are hurt you are hurt go away cool down and move on.
    • Change the world.. We dwell so much on what we can change, why not evaluate what you can change? Volunteer, visit someone you know is lonely, smile at people, give compliments – these are all contributions to making people feel better and making life better for others.
    • Most importantly- respect yourself. Don't put yourself down to others, and don't allow them to put you down. You are a fighter, a survivor and you are strong. You can overcome and don't need to put others down to lift yourself up.

Remember, everyone is different. Everyone has battles to fights, big or small, secretly or otherwise. You are no “weirder” than the next person. You are not the cause of your illness. You are not to be laughed at at the expense of others. You are not a scapegoat. You are not a pushover. You are not flawed. You are not ugly. You are not alone.