How to Stop Beating Yourself Up

Beating ourselves up may feel like justice, but it rarely helps anyone. It’s time to try something else.

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I am so indecisive…or it’s my OCD

Indecision has plagued me and driven those around me mad my whole life.  Decisions like what to eat for dinner or which shoe to wear take painstakingly long and cause marked anxiety.  I sometimes get so anxious in trying to make a trivial decision, I end up frustrated, stressed and occasionally just refuse to make the decision.

I recently read an article that shed some light on this frustrating trait and helped me to learn that indecision in an OCD sufferer can be a symptom of OCD.

Dr. Charles Raison writes:

Although many people with OCD do primarily manifest classic symptoms such as fear of contamination, a need to count or a need for things to be symmetrical, it is just as common for individuals with OCD to suffer most from symptoms that are less well-known, none of which is more common than indecision. And indecision is always at its worst when the patient is presented with two options that are equally desirable.

Seriously!?  It’s my brain again!?  Bitter sweet because it’s not my fault or a flaw in my character, but I guess this also means it’s not so easy to change, but I suppose I knew that part already.

Indecision is a symptom in its own right and doesn’t need any additional obsessional content about bad things happening if the wrong decision is made. It’s not the outcome that bothers patients as much as the raw problem of a making a choice.

In this, as in almost everything, people with OCD are suffering from a truth of the world that most of us ignore: in this case that every decision requires that we give up the choice we didn’t make.

It’s difficult to explain why decision making is so hard especially when the choice at hand is over something so simple where either outcome would seemingly be fine.

So, this goes on my list of attributes that are not my fault and that I may not be able to change, but it is my philosophy that one must make the best of things.  Accept it, but make it work or at least practice ways to deal with it.  I know this will most likely be a life long struggle, but knowledge brings clarity and clarity is the start to solving problems.

Click here to watch my video post about indecision on my youtube channel.

Does OCD Go Away?

I have had OCD my whole life; in fact I really can’t imagine life without it.  As my previous posts state, things are mostly under control, but it’s still a part of me.  Some people, however get OCD later in life.  Most researchers say that this is not a sudden affliction, but rather something has triggered what was always there.  I recently came across an article about a book called, Saving Sammy, that details the story of a mother whose child suddenly experiences OCD symptoms at age ten.  He is later cured after a year of antibiotics when they learn of his strep (PANDAS).

These “triggers” that set off OCD always seem to involve a stressful event or situation like pregnancy, divorce, moving, college, etc…

I think for some people OCD can go away, but for others it can be there for life.  I don’t feel one way about this or the other because really, whether OCD is in me or out, I will strive to make the best of my situation.

OCD and Hormonal Imbalance pt. 2

Finally, the lab results were in my hand and to my surprise and expectations, my progesterone was low and so was my estrogen. So now what? My hormonal imbalance could be the cause of my horrible PMS, dry skin, headaches and possibly my OCD! Well, maybe not my OCD, but I would not be surprised if it was exacerbating my OCD.

Serotonin problems are theorized to cause OCD and hormones are very much a part of serotonin, so why is it so crazy to believe that putting hormones in check could help?

I am very excited to start my hormone therapy and will post results.

If you are interested in learning more about hormones and hormonal imbalances, I recommend web searching “hormonal imbalance”. I read the book “Dr. John Lee’s Hormone Balance Made Simple” by John Lee and Virginia Hopkins. The book is very easy to read and probably could have been condensed into a pamphlet, but the information is still beneficial.

From my own research I have found a few things to be essential for keeping your hormones balanced:

  1. Eat organically: It’s not just a trend, but when you don’t eat organically, you ingest antibiotics, pesticides, hormones and all sorts of toxic garbage.
  2. Sleep: I know…I know…sounds lame, but it makes sense right?
  3. If you are currently on birth control (like the pill), talk to your OBGYN.

Obsessed – show on “A&E”

“a&e” began a show about OCD called Obsessed memorial day weekend of 2009.  To my knowledge, this is the first show about the disorder.  The series consists mostly of interviews and documentary style footage with each episode consisting of stories from two people who deal with OCD.  Each person then goes through weeks of CBT, usually with positive results.  At this point drugs are not a prescribed form of treatment on the series.

So far, we have seen characters who suffer from all different types and severities of OCD from hoarding to hand washing.  The consistent theme is that OCD has considerably intruded upon their lives and created unmanageable problems.

One particularly touching episode dealt with an older man who had not dealt with his mother’s death and had severe OCD that manifested in hoarding so extreme he had at points needed to sleep outside his apartment.

The CBT portion of the episode is a bit intense because the patient must face their fears through an exposure which is typically the last thing they would ever want to do.  Though seemingly cruel at the time, the patient seems better off after having gone through with it.

At first I kind of liked the show’s focus on people who reminded me of myself as well as the fact that it brought some attention to OCD.  The type of attention however was very disrespectful.  What a person with OCD obsesses about is often times the thing they are most ashamed off and therefor, do not enjoy talking about it.  I could not help feel like these people were being exploited.  After all, the episodes where CBT was not going well and the star of the show quit therapy early, the viewers first reaction is to blame the victim and why shouldn’t we?  Most of the time quitting is bad and rarely reflects positively on one’s character.

I also believe the bootcamp style of therapy to be irresponsible.  Sure, it works for the show, but go ahead and guess how many real therapists would ever recommend that in real life.  It’s like weight loss; people have a better chance maintaining the lifestyle if habits are put in place and practiced over time, not over night.

Lastly, the exposures portrayed on the show were highly unrealistic.  Before therapy, I had watched the show and the exposures were so intense, I decided then and there to never try therapy.  I eventually had to, and I learned that therapy for OCD is really not like what is shown on tv.

To summarize, the show brought some light to the world of mental illness which is still very much in the dark, but did not do so in a respectful manner.

Tormenting Thoughts and Secret Rituals by: Ian Osborne

This book was not only a good read for me, but for my family as well.  My mom blamed herself in some ways for me having OCD, but when she read this book, she learned that it was no one’s fault and that OCD is biological.  The author is a therapist who also suffers from OCD, which gives him some authority on the subject.  The book goes over different types of OCD, various therapies, histories and breaks down a lot of what OCD really is.

The author also accounts varies case studies detailing real people and their stories.  I did not find it so in depth as to cause me further anxiety, but I found it comforting to read about others who had OCD and what it was like for them.

The most important thing I gained from this book was the understanding that OCD is rooted in chemical imbalance, which helped me to stop blaming myself.

OCD Forums

That night I decided to look up OCD online, I ventured into a forum (social phobia world) and wrote a little about myself to get some feedback to see if I might have OCD.

I got some comforting responses and browsed the forum daily for quite a while.  I found it both good and bad.  

Pros:

  • It was nice to remain anonymous
  • I got all kinds of feedback to my questions 
  • I learned there are many others out there who suffer from OCD
  • It’s free

Cons:

  • I became obsessive about checking the forum
  • Some of the other posts were very descriptive, causing me anxiety

Finding resources online is a good way to reach out, but use caution.