Excessive Apologising

I compulsively apologise for things that are out of my control. My obsessions manifest from being a terrible person. I get myself so anxious and upset over the thought that I have hurt somebody’s feelings and that they will never think the same of me again. To relieve the anxiety associated with this, I apologise.

When I have sought reassurance – I apologise. Partly because I know how ridiculous some of the questions are and I can understand how irritating it must be for the person involved.

When I practise avoidance – I apologise. An example of this is after I have had a drink I pass my cup over to my girlfriend so she can put it out of sight so that I can avoid my compulsions.

If I have had the slightest disagreement with a loved one and I mean something so minor that it really does not matter I apologise profusely.

I apologise a lot for the way I am feeling – I constantly tell my Mum and my girlfriend that I am sorry. Although they tell me that I don’t need to apologise – I cannot help it.

Carrying out my compulsions is another matter I apologise for. It adds time and complicates even the simplest of tasks. When I walk up the stairs, I ensure each foot brushes against each step. I get to the top of the stairs and I twist my body several times to ensure both sides of me have touched the bannister. Most of the time I do this compulsion I have somebody behind me – usually carrying something upstairs.

I say sorry continuously. A single sorry is not enough. As I obsess over certainty I have to be certain that I have apologised properly. I am aware that I am doing it but I cannot help it. It’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorders famous last words – just one more time, but it never is. I will tell the person ‘this is the last time now – I’m sorry’ I’ll even joke with my girlfriend and say ‘I’ll probably say it again in 10 minutes’. I will also ask if they are sure it’s ok. I become so distressed over the way I portray myself to the people I love the most. My anxiety fills me with guilt and my obsessions add to it until it spirals out of control.

Another worry associated with over apologising is that if I ever need to say sorry it may not seem genuine because I over use the word. Apologising is a positive way to take responsibility for your actions but when it comes to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder this is not the case. I need to work on excessive apologising and learn not to fall into the trap. With this being said when I do apologise I mean it with the up most sincerity and I am deeply sorry for causing distress to those closest to me – even though they tell me I have not caused distress. These people mean more to me than I could ever put into words and I love them dearly.

I also want to emphasise that I a have never been made to feel guilty about my illness, although I apologise excessively I haven’t done this out of pressure or lack of support. I know that I am loved unconditionally and the compulsion has no reflection on my loved ones behaviour towards me.

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4 Disney Quotes to alleviate the stress of every day life

Mental health awareness week took place last week and the focus this year was stress. Personally, I find stress incredibly difficult to manage, and as I suffer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder stress magnified my illness a considerable amount.

Although stress is not a mental health problem it is closely linked to mental health as it can cause mental health problems or make the existing problem worse.

Stress affects me emotionally, physically and mentally. It leaves me feeling restless, agitated, overwhelmed and unable to concentrate.

Here are five Disney Quotes to alleviate the stresses of everyday life and how I relate to them

1. Think of the happiest things it’s the same as having wings – Peter Pan

“You think of a wonderful thought”

“Any happy little thought?”

“Like toys at Christmas? Sleigh bells? Snow?”

When I begin to feel stress mounting up I think of the things that make me happy. I think about the first time I met my girlfriend. The day my little brother started School. The times I have laughed uncontrollably with my family. The holidays I have shared with the people closest to me. When I think about these moments in my life, the memories I have automatically lift my spirits. I attempt to concentrate on the people that make me the happiest and try to block out the negativity that it causing me distress.

2. Laughter is ten times more powerful than screams – Mike Wazowski

The pressures of everyday life can prove to be extremely stressful. Regardless of the situation we have all had a point in our lives where we feel like screaming. I have had many days where I feel like I could just sit there and scream due to stress. Instead of doing this, I find a way to laugh. I dig out a memory, find a photo, make a phone call, look online or spend time with a loved one. I find that laughter is the best medicine – after all laughed decreases stress and releases endorphins.

3. In every job that must be done there is an element of fun, you find the fun and snap the jobs a game – Mary Poppins

For me stressful events have led to anxious and overwhelmed states. I feel that this quote applies to many situations where stress is overclouding life. I have to think of the reason that I am doing what needs to be done. For example – I have to go to work – when I go to work it means I can do things with my girlfriend and my family. I try to look at what I can do to get through the situation and ways it can help me. I look forward to the end product knowing it will give me joy.

4. Look for the bare necessities. The simple bare necessities. Forget about your worries and your strife’s – Baloo

There are many different reasons that people experience stress. Finance, illnesses work, education and confrontation are just a few examples. When I begin to feel stress – I strip it down. To the bare necessities. I have what I need and more. Warmth, food, a home, happiness, family and friends. I look around me, the people, the place I call home, even at the sky. Sometimes I get stressed about things that really do not matter, I take a mole hill and make it into a mountain. I look at the bigger picture and I am thankful for what I have.

8 lies told by Obessesive Compulsive Disorder

This blog has been reposted to The Mighty

1. I am here to protect you

I am your friend, I will protect you, look out for you and keep your family safe.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder took over my life at a young age and I was adamant that working with OCD would bring me peace and happiness. In reality, it has brought me the opposite, the more I listened and gave into its demands the worse I became over time. Instead of being friends with OCD I am now battling against it, to live a happier lifestyle.

2. My thoughts make me a bad person
 
You are a bad person for thinking these thoughts. You have thought it so you are going to act on it.

I experience intrusive thoughts every single day, I have tried to control them over the years but I cannot stop them coming in. Having these thoughts does not make me a bad person and I would never act upon them. I allow the thoughts to flow freely through my mind whilst keeping myself calm and distracted.

3. Rituals will keep you and your family safe

I promise that if you tap the wall your family will be safe. Keep tapping, you are responsible for everything that happens to the people you love. 

There are several rituals I had at the onset of my diagnosis that I still have today. Some rituals come and go, they differ in shape, size and importance. As I am writing this I know that no matter what I do, I cannot predict the future or have absolute certainty that everything is going to be ok. However in an hours time, that will not be case. When OCD takes the upper hand, I lose sense of the knowledge I have acquired. I tell myself that it will be ok regardless of what OCD tells me, but at the moment in time it is extremely difficult.

4. You will feel better after Reassurance

You need certainty. It will make you feel so much better. If you don’t get what your looking for from your mum, ask your dad. Ask your brother, your partner, your friends, keep seeking reassurance and in time your anxiety will pass.

Seeking reassurance is a compulsion. It provides short term relief for me, and in the long run I feel much worse. By seeking reassurance I am giving into Obsessive Compulsive Disorders demands and heightening my anxiety.

5. Just one more time

Just do it one more time and I promise everything will be ok.
 
It never is. The more I give, the more Obsessive Compulsive Disorder takes. This is how I get caught up in the vicious cycle, I believe that by engaging in a ritual just one more time, my anxiety will decrease, and it does – for a short time, but it comes back strong and it takes every ounce of energy to ignore it.

6. You can not tell anyone

What will they think of you? They will think you are a terrible person, they will take you away, you will be all alone.

For a long time, I believed this. Until recently, the only person I could talk to was my Mum. I struggled talking in therapy through fear of what would happen to me and I isolated myself from social groups. Adding to this, the stigma surrounding Mental Illness has meant that I have been unable to talk about my experiences until now. My support network is my greatest tool in the battle against Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and I am so glad I am able to discuss my Disorder with my loved ones and that I have finally found the courage to write about it.

7. It’s all your fault

All you had to do was to tap the wall, now look whats happened its all your fault.
 
One of the first times I managed to fully resist a compulsion, something bad happened the next day. This led to agonising guilt and OCD really took control of me for a few weeks to follow. Somehow, I managed to tell myself that it was not my fault, and no matter what OCD told me, there is no way I could have had any impact on the event whatsoever.

8. You will never get better

I am bigger than you, stronger than you, and I have power over you. Just keep doing what I say and eventually things will work out.

I have always believed that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder will reign power over me forever. I have recently found a few ways that I can manage it, I have started mindfulness and together with writing I am finding an outlet for distraction. When I use the techniques given to me in therapy, it makes me feel worse. Whenever I try to ignore OCD I am exhausted. However I know that this is only short term, and I am on the right path for recovery.

6 Disney Movie Quotes That Have Helped Me in Mental Illness Recovery

This blog has been reposted on The Mighty

I grew up like the majority of people watching Disney films. Even now at the age of 23, I find watching a Disney film gives me the same enjoyment it did all those years ago. I was lucky enough to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando a number of times throughout my childhood and I find that Disney takes me back to the happiness I experienced in my younger years, when I was worry-free and had a mind bursting with imagination rather than unwanted thoughts.

I had a particularly difficult day yesterday. My thoughts were racing and I had no energy to fight it off whatsoever. I decided to watch a Disney film (“Walt before Mickey”) and managed to fall asleep for a couple hours. After waking up, I spent some time looking at different Disney films, their quotes, meaning and what they mean to me at this point in my life.

Here are the six Disney quotes that got me thinking about myself and recovery.

1. “You have more power than you realise. Don’t think, don’t worry. If the time comes, you’ll know what to do.” — “The Incredibles”

See the source image

Most of the intrusive thoughts I experience are regarding death of my loved ones. I have a thought and my compulsions ease the worry — I feel that by doing a certain action, I am stopping any harm coming to them. Although after suffering for a number of years, I do understand that by carrying out an action this will in no way stop any harm to coming to my family and friends. However if there a slight chance it will – I am going to do that action. In life, nothing is certain and the only certainty really is death. The truth is no matter how much I worry about the future, there is no way I can change it. Living with obsessive-compulsive disorder makes you strong in your own right. I realize that whatever lies in store, I have no choice but to cope with it and carry on.

2. “This is impossible — Only if you believe it is.” — “Alice in Wonderland

The human mind is very complex, with functioning thoughts feelings and desires. If you tell yourself a blue pen is black enough times, you will start to believe it. The power of the human mind is limitless and one of the strongest and most useful (or in my case not useful at all) powers you possess. My actions and the way I feel are all a result of my mind. Obsessive-compulsive disorder has so much power over my mind that sometimes, I cannot distinguish between the two. This had me thinking a lot, about how powerful my mind is, and that my thoughts are not me. Thinking logically about a thought will really help me — questioning what I am thinking. Challenging myself and my thoughts will be another obstacle in my recovery.

3. “Lefou I’ve been thinking, a dangerous past time I know.” — “Beauty and the Beast”

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I spend a lot of my time thinking. The majority of my thoughts are clouded by negativity. I can spend far too much time thinking and acting on a single thought. Now I am using mindfulness, which brings my attention to the present moment, rather than focusing on my thoughts. The aim is to allow a thought to come into my mind and let it pass without inflicting any worry upon myself. This makes me think about the other things I could be doing with my time rather than sat over thinking and worrying. Things I enjoy doing like writing and making the most out of my brain and my mind rather than letting Obsessive Compulsive Disorder take up all my time and energy.

4. “I don’t want to survive, I want to live.” — “Wall-e”

Image result for waleeOn my darker days, I find myself just existing. I don’t get much enjoyment out of the things I used to and I feel like I spend all my time sleeping. I wake up, I go to work, I eat and I go to bed. Life itself is so precious and the world is such a beautiful place to be in. I want to spend more time living — doing this I enjoy and spending time with the people I love the most. My intentions during my recovery are to get up and get dressed even when I do not want to, because at the time I enjoy what I am doing it is just the initial stage of getting up and having to do it.

5. “Just keep swimming.” — “Finding Nemo”

See the source image

My illness is not physical and no matter how hard people try, nobody can fix me but myself. I do not have broken bones that need to be healed by a doctor, my recovery will take time and it will have its up and downs. Looking at this from a lighter hearted point of view — I need to do just that. I need to carry on with everyday life no matter how hard it will get for me. When my thoughts are at their peak, I need to carry on practicing Exposure Response Prevention therapy and do just what Dory says — just keep swimming.

6. “A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside” — “Winnie the Pooh”

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The people I love support me in ways I cannot even begin to describe. Without them, I could not help myself and I would not be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the little things like waking up to my Mum’s laugh while she’s cracking jokes about something so stupid, or a text from my girlfriend when she knows I am having a bad day. This support gets me through my bad days knowing there is somebody there to talk to that really cares and they really are my greatest tool in overcoming obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The challenges and struggles of seeking reassurance

Reassurance seeking involves checking with somebody repeatedly to make sure everything is ok in respect to an obsession or worry.

Over the last few months, I found myself seeking more and more reassurance than before. I need certainty. Certainty is a solution for my anxiety and without it, I become increasingly anxious and frustrated. Once I engage in reassurance seeking, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder wins the upper hand.

The concept of reassurance seeking even to me is irrational. The whole idea that I am experiencing distressing obsessions and a person that has no medical or philosophical knowledge can put my mind at ease. When I logically think about it, how will the person in question will know for definite that I am going to be ok or that a certain event will not happen to me – this being said, at the time it is at the up most importance to be reassured.

I spend various parts of the day seeking reassurance from different people in different ways. I seek reassurance mainly from my girlfriend and my Mother – the reassurance can range from worries that even I find insignificant to concerns of high importance. I spend a lot of time seeking reassurance from my girlfriend as my anxiety heightens at night. The most common form of reassurance I seek from her is asking if I am going to be ok. No matter how bad the fear is when she tells me I am going to be ok, just from her words and the sincerity in her voice I believe that everything will be fine – for a short period. Reassurance seeking is short lived, and once you participate in it, the need for it becomes greater. Once she has reassured me the first time, I will ask repeatedly. Once the compulsion of reassurance is complete, the obsession gains validation and the worry is reinforced, this is how reassurance seeking spirals out of control. My girlfriend engages in my reassurance seeking because she wants to lower my anxiety and get me out of the state that I am in at that time.
When it comes to my Mother, seeking reassurance is much more difficult. I have found ways over the last few years to be clever with my reassurance seeking, in regards to the wording of my questions and the ways I go about it. As my Mother has been with me from the start of my diagnosis, she has had a long and hard journey with me. Some days she will give me just that little bit – if I ask again she will not participate and other days she will not take me on board at all. The approach from my Mother as she calls it ‘pulling the rope’ or ‘playing ocds game’ is very frustrating on both parts. I completely understand why my Mother takes this approach with me, because by participating, the worry will heighten and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder wins. My Mother refuses to engage in my reassurance seeking because she wants to lower my anxiety and get me out of the state that I am in. Both my girlfriend and my mother are the most wonderful, caring, loving people you could ever meet, and although there approach differs, they work. Sometimes I will seek reassurance from one and then proceed to the next. When my Mother refuses reassurance, I will contact my girlfriend to ask her. No matter whether the reassurance has been sought or not, the ongoing cycle is continuous. I will not stop until I get the answer I am looking for, and even when I have found it, I will continue.

I understand how irritating and frustrating it is for someone to engage in reassurance seeking. I am aware of what I am doing because I will say ‘just one more time’ or ‘this is the last time’ as well as apologising every time I have asked the question. My girlfriend will always put me at ease, be very warm, soft, and gives me endless reassurance whereas my Mother is as affectionate, caring and warm in regards to the reassurance she gives me tough love and knows when enough is enough.

Reasons why I need to stop seeking reassurance

  1. Reassurance seeking is a compulsion. In order for me to overcome my battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder all forms of compulsions and rituals need to be eliminated. Once a compulsion has begun, it is impossible to stop. There is very little difference between continuously tapping an object and excessively seeking reassurance. Both stem from the same obsession, supply the same level of anxiety and produce short-term relief.
  2. It gives the obsession validation. If there is nothing to worry about then why do I seek reassurance? For example, yesterday I was putting cream on my girlfriends shoulder to ease dry skin, I got some of the cream on my lip and I asked her repeatedly if it was going to be ok and if anything would happen to me. Thinking logically – why would the cream on my lip cause me any harm? What could it actually do to me? Lips are skin and the cream is for the skin so how could it cause any damage? Once we both engaged in the reassurance seeking the worry got much worse and led to more worries and obsessions.
  3. It is another form of avoidance. I cannot cope with the distress and uncertainty surrounding the obsession so the only way to deal with it is to avoid it. By seeking reassurance, I am putting the power into somebody else to waver the worry.
  4. It affects the people you love the most. By seeking reassurance, I am raising their stress levels and putting immense amount of pressure onto their shoulders. The concept that Obsessive Compulsive Order not only affects me, but the people around me is very upsetting.

 

Although reassurance seeking is not a physical action, it is just as exhausting as a physical compulsion and both render shame, confusion and distress. The thoughts consume every fragment of your mind and the compulsions reduce your worry for a short time only. I would love to say that I am going try to stop seeking reassurance but at this moment in time, I do not think I am ready. For sufferers with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder I think that it is very important to understand every aspect of your illness and the reasons behind what you are doing to get onto the road of recovery.

 

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A letter to my Mum

I have shared this letter I wrote for my Mum on my blog to thank for my Mum for being the wonderful woman she is and to emphasize the impact Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has not only on the sufferer, but those closest to them

Mum,

Obsessive Compulisve Disorder took over my life at a young age and consequently it took over yours too. Until recently, you were the only person that knew the full extent of my illness and how much of a hold it has over me.

We have always been close, and I have never had a problem talking to you about anything. I do not know if you remember the very first time I came to you about my intrusive thoughts. I was so scared and I did not know what was wrong with me. No matter how strange the things I said were, you didn’t ever make me feel strange. We both know that at the beginning, it was all on you, I had been abdonded by the people I called my best friends and I had dropped out of college, but I could always rely on you.

You took me shopping when I found it impossible to walk round a shop without carrying out my compulsions. You sat with me while I asked you the same question time after time. You had my back through the onset of my illness and you stuck up for me regardless of the consequences that it would affect your relationships. You sat with me in CAHMS through every single appointment, when I think back to that, I cannot imagine the impact it had on you but you got me through every part of it. You wiped away my tears and held me whilst I had panic attacks knowing there was nothing you could do to take the pain away. You looked after me; reassured me, cared for me and partnered with me to battle Obessive Compulsive Disorder whilst looking after another child, running a household, being a wife and having your own time.

Although we now have a mutual agreement on what you call ‘not pulling the rope’ you still manage to give me just what I need – you spend time with me, listen to me, and tell me that it’s going to be ok. You have sometimes been at the receiving end of my frustration but you have always remained firmly by my side. I am sorry for those times, and I know that everything you have done and said has worked out for the best. I know that is as frustrating for you to watch your daughter suffer as it is for me to deal with.

Even though I feel as though the worst period has passed, we both know that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can come out in full force at any time. You are a very important source of support. You can spot when I am struggling, just by listening to my voice or seeing my face, you know me better than I know myself. I cannot imagine what it has been like for you to watch helplessly as this terrible debilitating disorder has taken over me throughout periods of my life. No matter what is going on in your own life you have always put that to one side and put me first. You are so selfless, so strong and I owe so much to you.

I do not think I have ever properly thanked you for everything you had done for me in regards to my health. I want to thank you for being the best friend I could ever possibly have, for never giving up on me and helping me learn to laugh through the bad days. You have taken care of me for many years, and I will always take care of you, have time for you and be there for you in return.
I love you Mum.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

I find myself writing this morning due to the lack of knowledge and stigma surrounding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that I have received personally this week.
‘Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a serious anxiety-related mental health problem where a person experiences frequent intrusive, repetitive and unwelcome obsessional thoughts which leads to an increase in anxiety and often followed by repetitive physical or mental behaviours, impulses or urges conducted in an attempt to relieve themselves of a perceived fear and obsessive thought’
Obsessive – An Obsession is an unwanted thought or image that enters your mind against your will causing feelings of anxiety and unease
Compulsive – A Compulsion is a repetitive physical or mental behaviour that you carry out to relieve the anxiety brought on by the obsessive thought
Disorder – This becomes a problem when it becomes so large it affects your everyday life

OCD is in the top 10 of the most disabling illnesses by loss of income and decreased quality of life and affects 1.2% of the population.

There is not a definitive cause for OCD but it is believed to be a result of neurobiological, genetic, behavioural, cognitive and environmental factors.

As a sufferer, I am very passionate in the understanding of the illness and I find it so disheartening for not only myself but also everybody suffering with a mental disablement to hear people make stigmatic comments surrounding Mental Health.

I have suffered for as long as I can remember with constant obsessive and unwanted thoughts. From a young age, I regarded myself as a bad person for having terrible thoughts. At 7 years old, I had no idea that what was happening to me would affect the rest of my life and the impact it would have on the people I hold so close to me. Little did I know that by ordering coats on the stair well in my house I was unleashing a monster that would control my mind and actions for many years to come.