“There are no facts, only interpretations”

Last year I became preoccupied by the idea that I didn’t want to socialise with certain friends of mine. It wasn’t anything that I could put my finger on but I seemed to have this lingering feeling that perhaps they weren’t the “best” people for me. It drove me to distraction trying to figure out why I felt this way. Why did I suddenly feel anxious about seeing two of my oldest friends? What was the right thing to do? Part of me wondered if it was related to my OCD (a slight coincidence that it became an issue when my OCD was bad!) and it did in some way appear to be related to a worry about being a ‘good’ person but it wasn’t a clear cut thought that I could put my finger on, it was a blurry sensation – like an out of focus photograph.

On the other hand, I had also had some experiences with these friends that had left me feeling uncomfortable and so I wondered if I was just realising that they weren’t the right people for me. I wondered if perhaps I was just moving on. I was seeing a psychotherapist at the time who felt that it was related to changes I was going through and that this was my instinct/subconscious telling me that these friendships weren’t the right thing for me anymore. On the other hand when I started seeing a CBT therapist she offered the view that perhaps I was just trying to seek a certainty about my friendships, looking for perfection and that perhaps these thoughts and feelings were intrusions related to OCD.

So what is the truth? I am learning that perhaps there isn’t one truth. My psychotherapist had one view, my CBT therapist another and so clearly the truth is only the truth from that perspective. I continue to see these friends (although not as frequently) and try to just tolerate the discomfort this brings with the idea that perhaps I am investing time in relationships that have moved on and conversely sit with the worry that perhaps I am drifting from close friends for no real good reason. The truth of the matter is that perhaps I will never know the truth (now THAT’S a difficult truth to swallow!)

In my experience it is one of the hardest things about OCD, this feeling that you can no longer trust your instincts or know that you can rely on yourself to know what the truth is. But I have realised that if I can sit with that then I can probably overcome just about anything (now that is a good truth to have!).

I’d be interested to hear other’s experiences and thoughts in the comments section of trusting yourself when you have OCD πŸ™‚

Emily x

11 thoughts on ““There are no facts, only interpretations”

  1. The fact that these feelings you have seem strongly tied to uncertainty tells me it’s likely to be OCD. However, I know what you mean about it sometimes being hard to tell the difference between your instincts and OCD. OCD involves basic feelings of warning or danger that our brains give us, which feel a lot like all the rest of our perfectly normal instincts. Some therapists say, “If you think it might be OCD, it probably is.” And maybe that’s true. Normally, if your brain is giving you a really valid feeling, after learning about OCD and going through therapy, you will be able to tell the difference, and it’s better to take the leap and assume it is OCD — and risk making a mistake — rather than give in to a false alarm. Making mistakes in life can actually be a very good thing, and much more educational than success.

    • Thanks for this comment! I love your sentence ” making mistakes in life can actually be a very good thing, and much more educational than success”. So very true and important to remember. Thanks again! x

  2. Emily it is bizarre how much I relate to your posts! I know this feeling and it’s really unsettling; trying to draw the line between instinct and OCD. I’ve never really thought about it before but I think perhaps OCD does blur instinct – there’s that feeling that something just ‘isn’t right’ when in fact, there’s probably nothing wrong.

    Sometimes friendships drift apart naturally, with or without reason, and if this is what is happening then time will tell. Until it becomes a little clearer, it’s good to hear you’ve recognised that this may be OCD-related and continued seeing your friends regardless πŸ™‚

    Rebecca x

    • Hi Rebecca,
      I think you’ve nailed it “there’s that feeling that something ‘isn’t right’ when in fact, there’s probably nothing wrong”. My CBT therapist said to me once “why not operate as if it’s OCD” and see what happens. Quite good advice really!
      Thanks for commenting, funny how so many of our experiences are shared!
      Emily x

  3. Hmm… Well this sounds like it could be OCD, but I know what I would do.
    I’d make a mini-chart.
    Comparing what happens if it is OCD, or if it isn’t. And then action, which is treating it like it’s OCD even if it maybe isn’t, to inaction, which is waiting for the feeling to either go away of discover a clear reason you you to feel that way.
    Arriving at four basic possibilities…. okay, I hope you don’t hate me for it (and I hope it’s legible – and yes you’re welcome to think me a little insane), but I made you a super simple chart. XP

    ————-It is *not* OCD——————–|—————— It *is* OCD————
    1.Inaction: You grew apart, it happens | 1.Inaction: The feeling could grow, or
    sometimes, and that’s okay. | possibly extend to other friends.
    2.Action: You worked on your CBT skillz | 2.Action: It’s hard but you push back and
    and recognized that OCD was | make sure you’re in control, not
    not the problem in this case. | your anxiety/OCD. πŸ™‚

    This chart is of course super simplistic, and since I don’t really know your situation I tried to base it just on what you had said.
    I apologize it is biased by the fact that my own OCD often started out as innocuous feelings and if I didn’t deal with them, they got hella worse.

    Okay, I’m gonna run scared now, I hope I that maybe helps. Ack.

    • totally not legible. I’m so sorry. 😦

      It should read under it’s not OCD
      Inaction: You grew apart, it happens sometimes, and that’s okay.
      and action: You worked on your CBT skillz and recognized that OCD was not the problem in this case.

      For it is OCD it should read:
      Inaction: the feeling could grow or possibly extend to other friends.
      Action: It’s hard but you push back and make sure you’re in control not your anxiety/OCD.

      Alright. Sorry again for my messed up attempted chart. Too bad there isn’t an edit or delete button. XP

      • Hi PurplesShade,
        Thank you for your thoughtful comment and chart too! Sorry for the slow reply, I went away and didn’t have internet access. I like that in both your ‘action’ points CBT features. I have found it so helpful and it does help me recognise more and more what is and isn’t OCD. It’s a work in progress for me πŸ™‚ Hope you’re doing well. Emily x

  4. Dear,,

    Hi.. please introduce myself,,I am Asian,24 years old. I am unemployed. I have been fired from the job I was in twice. I can hardly find any other job bcs of my bad working experience on my cv.
    Since then, I realized that I am a slow learner. I was fired bcs I did mistakes for so many times and didn’t understand the instructions properly.

    Well, I have big problem with learning new thing. I used to be a very hardworker but still there always be some flaws on my work. My supervisor always mad at me like, “I’ve said it so many times!”. They did right thing. I didnt blame my previous supervisors who fired me. All I am blaming is my ability of learning and understanding.

    Because of this,I know my weakness well. This leads me to have a terrible feeling when it comes to talk to someone, I’m always getting nervous and panic when I have to explain something. That’s one of the reason why I got fired. I have bad communication skill. Why, because I am afraid if I’m doing wrong.

    Ever since the last day of my working, I haven’t applied for any job yet. I have traumatic feeling about getting fired. My mom always scold me and asking why I’m not looking for another Job. In fact, I never told this to anyone before include, (especially) my parents. I told them that my contract was terminated because I had to handle another job outside my Job desc. I didn’t tell them the honest reason.

    I can’t even share this to my bestfriends bcs they are the people I am envy with. They are the people I wish I could be. They are now having good position in their company with good salary. I feel so much intimidated when we go out for cinema or just hanging out,, they’re all proudly spending their self-earn money and sharing their working experience. Meanwhile, I am still using my parent’s money,, and the leftover money from my last salary.Things are getting harder for me when they ask what my daily activities are. In fact Im just doing nothing at home.

    I keep telling lies to everyone. I am really afraid to tell the truth and to be judged. Having myself as a slow learner has already become the most hurtful thing I have to face.

    Now I am fighting so much againts my own anxiety and low self esteem. I am so afraid what if I never get a proper job.
    I am really expecting for you to do me a favor about what to do? What am I supposed to do ?
    I am so much thankful for your help..

    Best Regards

    • Hi,
      I’m really sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time. Of course it is difficult for me to suggest much as I don’t know your total situation and I’m not an expert. I guess I would say can you think of one person that maybe you could be honest with. In my experience it helped when I told one person what was happening for me. I think it might take some of the weight from you if you could choose a family member or friend you think might be understanding.
      The other thing is (and it’s difficult for me to know as I don’t know what’s available in Asia) is whether you would be able to access a psychologist. They might be able to help with your anxiety and low self confidence (which often impacts on our ability to retain information we’re given and to learn new things!). You may find if you can work on your self esteem/confidence levels that learning things becomes a little easier.
      I guess the main thing to say would be don’t be too hard on yourself. You have gone through a difficult experience, it is understandable that you are feeling anxious and worried.
      Seek help (preferably professional help) to help you work through it.
      Wishing you lots of luck.
      Emily xx

  5. I’ve had to learn not to trust a lot of my own thoughts or concerns, especially when hungover or after a few days of drinking consecutively. That seems to exacerbate things. I try to visualise what my friends would say or think regarding the potential ‘problem’ I’m worrying about, and get out of my own head, because 9 times out of 10 I’m over-worrying.

    Do you find alcohol effects your situation at all? I’ve significantly cut back in recent times. Thanks for sharing.


    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I do definitely find that drinking affects me negatively. I really don’t drink very much at all these days, not that I was a heavy drinker before but I was definitely a fan of the old meet friends after work in a bar and have a few! These days though the feeling of being under the influence makes me anxious and I feel anxious the next day too so really there’s nothing to sell it to me anymore! I went on holiday recently and decided to have a few beers and I just regretted it the next day. I was jittery and on edge so couldn’t say that it did anything for me. I don’t miss it particularly.
      I’ll be following your blog with interest πŸ™‚
      Thanks again for commenting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s