OCD – Our Closet Demon?

Guest blogger @DaveJPosti has kindly written another very helpful post about opening up to people about your OCD. In this post he talks about the benefits of opening up to friends and family (it doesn’t cover romantic relationships as that requires another blog post…) Here’s what he has to say on the issue…..

Who knows about your OCD? Who do you wish knew about it? Everyone? No one? I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot recently. In fact, doing as well as thinking. Telling people close to me about my OCD/anxiety. Close friends. Not so close friends. The desire to be open overcoming the shame of my own mind.

You already carry the weight of the world and more around with you every second of the day. Releasing some of that weight becomes vital, life affirming. A reconnection with who you really are. But who to tell? How much to tell? A glossy coating of ‘stress’ and ‘some strange thoughts’, or the unvarnished truth of the excruciating torture of your OCD? Would your friends/family understand the depth of the mental maze you’re lost in? Would they even need to, so long as they accept and listen without judgement?

If you’re thinking of confiding in friends about your OCD, then I would say, go ahead. Those that mind don’t matter, those who matter could never mind. Of course it may feel hurtful if someone doesn’t understand (something which will hopefully be dealt with in another blog post) but the people you want in your life are the ones who listen without judgement and ask questions with compassion. Don’t sugarcoat your experiences. You’ve been hurt. Painfully so at times. But fundamentally, you’re still the same person with the same capabilities as before. You may have forgotten that but it’s true. Don’t understate this. But I don’t think you would experience negative reactions. More likely is the lighter feeling and freedom of casting a burden aside. And the potential for an even closer relationship with friends/family. You’ve swept aside the superficial stuff and made yourself vulnerable. In a way, this is when you’re strongest. You’ve done the thing most people run away from. You may well find that your friends/family deeply respect this and value you even more.

And then confide in you about their own struggles.

So by confronting your fears in this way you’re actually shining a light onto the path for others to confront their own demons too. Worth doing I’d say.

OCD our closet demon

Blog hop for hope

I was scrolling through twitter one evening and saw some tweets about a Blog Hop being set up by @ocyours. I was feeling nosy and decided to see what it was all about. The idea behind it is that every month that there’s a different theme and everyone writes their own post on that topic. The person hosting the hop that month then puts all the blogs on their blog. The thing that really caught my eye though was that this month is about Hope. Well this should be easy I smugly said to myself. My blog is all about hope, my twitter handle is @hopeforanxiety, I can easily write a post on that topic…and then came the reality. Hope is actually a really slippery topic which doesn’t seem to want to be pinned down and so my smugness has waned and I’m just going to write a personal account of hope and what it means to me. 

Whilst I was at my lowest point last year I had a motto. I know some people find mottos a bit sappy, a bit annoyingly over-positive perhaps but for some reason this one worked for me. It was: “There is Hope and where there is Hope there is Strength”. Hope was something that played on my mind a lot in the early days – I even painted a plate with the word on one day (please see here) – possibly in a desperate bid to find “HOPE” that had gone missing somewhere between being unable to keep a meal down, being tormented by an onslaught of weird and wonderful worries and all the while still trying to hold down a 9-5 job. To be honest I really didn’t have much hope but I knew that I needed to find it. It can be easy to motivatingly say to others “keep the faith, there’s hope” but when someone is staring into a black abyss or bobbing on a dark ocean it can just feel like empty promises. 

But do I think that hope can be cultivated? Absolutely. That’s not to say that if you’re having trouble finding it that you’re not trying hard enough, I don’t think it’s just about having a positive mindset but I think even in our darkest moments there will be the odd flicker flame of hope. It may die as quickly as it is lit but the flame can be fanned until it starts to grow. I started a challenge every day with my sisters to think about “Joys” for the day. It was hard to begin with – my battered soul was adamant that there was no joy, nothing to gain any pleasure from but I persevered. As I did, I started to notice that even when I thought my day had been the worst yet I could still find one small thing that had pleased me in some way. The rules are simple, the joy doesn’t have to be huge it can be as basic as your favourite TV programme being on, a nice sunset or a kind word, it just has to be something that you notice yourself feeling in that moment a little brighter about. Once I started doing it, I noticed hope tagging along behind. I started to hope that there was maybe more to come, that there may be more joys and that perhaps things could be better yet. 

Hope is an incredible feeling because if you taste it and hang onto it, it somehow strengthens you to face the next day and the next. If there is no hope the voice of despair taunts you “well what’s the point of trying” but if there’s hope, then the voice within you whispers encouragingly “why don’t you try again tomorrow”. 

Hope can arrive on the back of many different things. It can occur through having treatment and seeing positive changes, it can be reading other people’s recovery stories (I did it endlessly and it always strengthened my resolve and hope that I would get better) and it can be through the things you do for yourself. I have never written about this before (possibly through some mis-placed sense of embarrassment) but sometime last year when the going was tough I rang the Samaritans. I had arranged with my therapist that as a contingency plan if I was feeling overwhelmed during the week then one of the things I could do is ring a helpline to chat. The sneering voice in my head jeered of course and scoffed at what a loser I was for having to ring a stranger for help but I was frantic with the idea that I might be over-burdening my family (not true of course but anxiety has no patience for truths), I didn’t have supportive flatmates and my friends didn’t know the half of it. And you know what? It was one of the best things I did. Not specifically because the person on the end of the phone was uber helpful, in fact at points I thought it sounded suspiciously like she was reading a magazine (I’m sure she wasn’t it was probably just unfortunate rustling!) but in fact I didn’t care. I had made a choice to ring, share and off-load my fears and worries and because I had made a choice to do something to make me feel better and a choice to express just how awful I was feeling that gave me hope. It gave me hope that perhaps I know how to look after myself, that I have resources, that I could trust myself to look after me, hope that there are always other alternatives, Hope that there are people to help and people who are going through similar situations (after all the Samaritans doesn’t exist just for me, it exists for all the many people going through a difficult time) and most of all it gave me hope that there is hope. 

So yes, hope is a slippery thing, sometimes its impossible to find and sometimes it feels hollow but there is hope and where there is hope there is strength. 

Wishing and hoping that you are all finding your way on your recovery journey. 

Emily x


Relevant websites:

http://obsessivelycompulsivelyyours.wordpress.com/ This is @ocyours blog – She is the creator and host of the blog hop this month. 

http://www.samaritans.org/ The Samaritans – If you are feeling overwhelmed or just like you would like to talk to someone who isn’t immediately involved in your situation then the Samaritans are great people to ring. They will listen to you for as long as you need and offer a supportive and judgement free listening ear. 



Like a bridge over troubled water.

First of all I’d like to wish any readers of the blog a Happy New Year. It’s slightly delayed as I went away but I hope 2014 is a year of great steps in recovery for you all.

So as is natural at New Year I got reflecting on 2013. Personally, it was one of the hardest I’ve been through. My OCD reached epic proportions, I started to feel that I couldn’t cope at work and my anxiety was so high that I couldn’t eat or keep anything down. I reached a pretty low place. But then something bright came out of the darkness. I started a blog. At first it was just for me to be able to vent a little and in part to alleviate some of the anxiety I was feeling. But gradually it started to become a place where I felt I could share my experience and perhaps even raise awareness a little. Through starting the blog I then joined twitter and to my delight started connecting with other people who also experienced anxiety and OCD, or who work with it, or who have family with it. It was a step in lifting the enormous weight that had been crushing me. I have found that in the most personal of issues I have found great comfort in the kindness and support of people I’ve never met sometimes more than with people I know – it can after all be so difficult to open yourself up entirely to people who know you. I would certainly encourage anyone who’s experiencing any of the issues that I raise in the blog to tap into online communities (not as a reassurance tool I should be quick to add but peer support is a heartening thing).

I’ve also had lovely emails/comments from some people who have read the blog. It’s nice to know it’s seen and I have appreciated each and every one of the comments that have been left.

I think at the heart of the matter is that in these kind of situations it’s essential to know that there are others out there – that you’re not the only one battling through with a quiet determination. Of course I don’t wish this on others but still I think it’d be a much darker place if there weren’t others to share your sorrow, your triumphs so today I am thankful for all the others out there who share their stories and even in their dark times reach out and provide a little support.

Warm thoughts to you all and wishing you all the best for 2014 🙂

Emily x