Five Quick but Extremely Therapeutic Ways to Battle OCD

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Hi friends!

Now that we have discussed what OCD is, what types are out in the world and how diagnosis usually works; I wanted to give my 5 best, most helpful, tips on overcoming an intrusive thought spurred on by the OCD.

These are tips I’ve picked up in my years of therapy and through the many books and documentaries I’ve read and watched.  I truly hope they help.

1. Be present.  When an intrusive thought “attacks”, try to take yourself out of the situation mentally.  Be mindful of every single detail of your surroundings and try to focus on this.  What’s the air like?  Is it a pretty day?  What color is that tree?  I wonder when that field will be harvested (sorry, Indiana girl here).  Force yourself to take that thought, pick it up, and move it aside.  Sit with it, be ok with it, and move it aside by thinking grounding thoughts.

2. Breathe.  It sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s life changing.  Breathing calms the body down like nothing else can.  Focus on your breath.  Breathe in through your nose for a count of 5, release through your mouth for a count of 5.  Do this about 10 times to regain control of your emotions and thoughts.

3. Pray.  I’m Christian, so this is one I use a lot.  However you choose to be spiritual and practice that; bring those tools to the table for this one.  Pray for relief and understanding, pray for a sense of calm and confidence. Don’t repeat the same prayer, try to keep it simple, to the point and mindful.

4. Write the fear down.  Do a “brain dump” of all the feelings you have at that very moment.  Why does that thought make you feel that way?  What brought the thought on?  How do you see yourself getting out of the situation or putting the thought aside.  Treat the thought like it’s a person if that helps.  Give it a name.  It may sound silly, but our brains acknowledgement a feeling better when it’s given a name.  What do you think you have to do, step by step, to defeat this feeling/person/thought?

5. Ground yourself with gratitude.  No really, it works in a moment of fear like nothing else.  When you feel the intrusive thoughts boiling to the surface, stop them by looking around you and seeing the things you are grateful for.  Are you alive and healthy?  Are you at work, out with friends, driving your own car?  Do you have kids?  Can you afford the privilege of college?  Do you have an animal you love? Close friendships?  Supportive people in your life?  Think of them, think of all of it.

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xoxox

Mary

 

OCD Awareness Week :Diagnosing OCD

Happy Friday, compadres!

Today I wanted to share a little about how OCD is typically diagnosed (in my experience) and what to push for when you see a doctor.

  1.  I initially diagnosed myself.  Yep.  How scary is that?  I was on maternity leave with Mason and googled my symptoms/thoughts.  I had an advantage I guess, if you want to call it that, because my grandpa had contamination OCD, so I had been around it my entire life.  My dad mentioned to me one night that I was showing some of the same symptoms and suggested I google it.  SPOT ON.  I immediately made a doctor’s appointment with my General Physician, and also planned to talk to my OB at my 8 week follow up appointment.  At both of my appointments with both doctors, they wanted to talk maybe 5 minutes about it, grouped it in the general anxiety classification and wanted to give me random anxiety medicines (I was already on one) and change what I was on. A few months later, I was officially diagnosed with contamination OCD and general anxiety by 2 other doctors.
  2. PUSH for understanding!   I knew I needed to speak to someone who specialized in anxiety disorders, so I was given information about a psychiatrist.  After our initial appointment, I had a plan that was tangible and we discussed medicines and other forms of therapy to tackle the intrusive thoughts.  Take Away:  Friends, as much as you love your everyday doctors, when it comes to anxiety disorders…you need to speak to someone who SPECIALIZES in anxiety disorders.  So many people have anxiety now that doctors are a bit blind when it comes to a specific type of anxiety disorder.
  3. Find a therapist. Like, a REAL psychologist or counselor that has actual degrees in psychology and is specially trained in treating anxiety disorders. I hate to belittle anything because ‘hashtag you do you’, but a social worker who specializes in couples therapy or general therapy isn’t going to do you much good. I was completely clueless the first time I had to look for a therapist! I knew nothing! I spent a lot of time on psychologytoday.com (not an ad) and a lot of time talking to friends that had a great relationship with their therapists. Unfortunately finding the right fit usually isn’t an easy task or usually correct the first time.  OCD is very tricky and can be harder to work through because of the hold the brain has on intrusive thoughts, so please be sure whoever you go to see has a lot of experience treating OCD and other severe anxiety disorders.
  4. If the doctor you see (unless they are a psychiatrist, of course) suggests medication and you choose to take it, do your own research before committing. Every person is different and our bodies metabolize medicines at different speeds. For example, I had NO idea my body metabolized pain medicine at warp speed and that my brain literally had receptor blocks to several of the most popular anxiety medications. My psychiatrist had me do genetic testing to see which medication would work best for me. I was soooooo thankful he had requested I take the genetic test! It helped him decide what anxiety medication would work best for me long term.  So please, please, please do some research and ask a lot of questions before committing to a medication.
  5. Finally, if you have been diagnosed with OCD of some kind, please know, as I am proof, it does get better, but understand it will take time and work.  My contamination OCD is pretty severe at times, but after 5 years of work, 2 therapists, multiple doctor’s appointments, multiple doctors, multiple types of therapies and a psychiatrist later, I finally feel like I have the appropriate combination for kicking it’s ass.  I finally have an amazing therapist who continues to educate herself on anxiety disorders and also teaches at a local college on the topic, I finally have a plan for medications and have found one that works for me, and I’ve put in major work through personal development, mindfulness, commitment to myself and confidence that has put me on a road to recovery (hopefully forever!).

you are not broken

Please, if you feel like you have OCD, please, please, please reach out to someone….even reach out to me!  No one needs to suffer through the thoughts.  There is help available, and I will help guide you in the right direction as well as I can.

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xoxox

Mary

OCD Awareness Week-How Do You Know? (Types)

Hi friends!

This week I wanted to dive into all things OCD.  Today, let’s start with the basics.  By the way, in case you didn’t know, OCD is short for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  This is NOT what you see on TV, this is NOT what you see on cute shirts at Target, this is NOT just a clean room cleaned in a particular, controlled wayOCD is REAL.  It’s debilitating, it’s life altering, it’s scary, it’s frustrating and something NO ONE wishes they had.  Trust me.  First, let’s talk about what OCD is…..

Typically, there are 4 types of OCD that most sufferers fall into:

***Doubt and Harm: Examples would be checking to make sure things are safe, ie: Obsession--“The house will burn down because I left the stove on”, “I made a mistake”, “I will get robbed because I left the doors unlocked.”, “What if I said something that offended someone?” “What if I hit someone or an animal while driving and caused harm or death?”

Compulsion--Repeated checking of doors, locks, appliances, belongings, data entry, quality of work, etc, seeking ongoing reassurance from others that everything is “OK”, mentally replaying conversations over and over. Driving back to “check” no one was harmed.

***Contamination: (The category I unfortunately fall into)  Examples would be fear of germs, fear of contamination from the environment, another person, or fear of giving someone something you have and therefore contaminating them.   Obsession–“I will get sick, experience bodily harm or be in perpetual pain” which may lead to the spread of horrible germs throughout my household, (some even worry about death), obsessive house cleaning, office cleaning etc., “I will harm/make someone else sick”, (which is not as common), contaminated living/working space.

Compulsion: Excessive hand-washing, bathing, grooming, washing items/surfaces (ME!), avoidance, wearing gloves/masks, controlling bodily movements to avoid touching.  Avoiding people who are sick or are around sick people (ME!), avoiding crowded places and/or avoiding going out as much during times of the year when most people may be sick (ME!).

***Symmetry/Exactness: Disorganization and/or cluttering of objects. Non-symmetry. Odd angle placement of objects. Untidiness.  WHAT IT IS NOT: liking things a certain way, or in a certain place.  This is SERIOUS.  Some people will go into a complete panic attack and end up at the hospital over someone moving things around on their desk as a joke.  I cannot stress this enough….this is NOT about liking your belongings organized a certain way.  This is much more serious!   Obsessions: A sense of complete loss of control.  Non-specific.  Needing things to feel or be a certain way – to feel “right”.

Compulsion: Reorganizing objects to extreme levels. Placing objects at perfects angles to achieve symmetry.  Putting items out and knowing their exact angles and measurements and knowing when items are “off”, even the most organized people wouldn’t notice.

***Unacceptable Taboo Thoughts & Mental Rituals: Where an individual has unwanted obsessions that are often of a religious, violent, or sexual nature. This group has often been referred to as “pure obsessional” because of their lack of overt rituals.  Obsessions: Extreme thoughts about religious figures, and impulses to do violent things, such as to push pedestrians into oncoming traffic. People who have these thoughts typically have no history of violence, nor do they ever act on their urges or impulses; however, because OCD patients often believe their thoughts are dangerous and overly important, they devote a large amount of their mental effort in attempts to suppress them.

Compulsions: No actual physical compulsions. People in this category of OCD have purely mental compulsions.  People with mental compulsions are usually coping with thoughts that are unacceptable in nature (like sexual, harming or religious thoughts), or worries about illness and health.  Rather than perform an actual physical ritual, people will engage in these covert rituals and mental neutralizing.

***Other Forms of OCD you may not even be aware of:

Hoarding

Scrupulosity –ie, fear of doing something morally wrong, questions personal values, reciting prayers over and over, saying the same silent prayer multiple times, seeking forgiveness, counting prayer beads etc.

Causing Harm to People on Purpose –ie, random thoughts of harming someone or oneself (NOT to be confused with suicide).  Seeking reassurance they are not bad or immoral, having a general sense of responsibility to prevent harm from coming to someone.

OCD is not an adjective

Though the types I have listed are the most common types of OCD, there are probably always going to be other forms that are not talked about as much.  If you have any of these symptoms, please see a doctor and explain to them what is going on.  Also, keep in mind,when dealing with anxiety disorders, explain to your doctor that you want to really know and understand how to tackle the intrusive thoughts of OCD, for LIFE, not just be given a “band aid” so to speak.  More on this later.

Alright!  That’s all for today!  Happy Tuesday, all!

xoxo

Mary

 

 

International OCD Awareness Week

OCD week

I’ve recently been made aware that October 13-19th is International OCD Awareness Week.

I’m pretty excited about this, because if nothing else, people need to understand what REAL OCD is, and how debilitating it is.  Therefore, I’m going to be posting this week, with tips and coping skills I have learned (from professionals for the most part) over the 6 years I’ve had Contamination OCD.

–Tips that are tangible for anyone suffering from an anxiety disorder.

–Quick effective ways to feel some relief.

–Practices to master that help in panic situations.

–Ways to explain to those around you what OCD is, and how they can help.

 

Join me this week, friends, in educating yourself about TRUE OCD, and what it really is, and how you can help your friends/family/coworkers that have this debilitating anxiety disorder.

 

xoxox

Mary

 

My Favorite Books

I’m starting this post with an asterisk.  It’s never good when a post starts with an asterisk, right?  But, I’m starting it that way because although I love to read and learn new things from books, I don’t have a lot of “extra” time and I don’t really dig listening to books on Audible.  I like to have an actual book in my hand to read.

*When I say I don’t have a lot of time, I mean that.  I work over 40 hours a week away from home, have 2 kids, work a side hustle with Rodan & Fields, try to schedule blog posts (I promise I really do), spend time on starting my own personal growth/development journey, have a 10 year old in travel sports, have a very needy (although also very cute) 5 year old in tee ball and try to keep up with a house, a 7 month old puppy and occasionally laundry.  On a good week, I can get a walk or two in on the treadmill.

So, without further ado….my FAVORITE books that I continuously come back to, year after year.

Reshaping It All, by Candace Cameron Bure.  This book is G-O-L-D!  She wrote this book back in 2010 or 2011 I believe, when she was starting to come back into the spotlight, and I’m telling you; it’s relatable, down to earth, HONEST and something every woman and mother needs to read.  It’s no secret that Candace is, and always has been one of my favorite people in the celebrity world.  I love many of her books, but there was something about this one that clicked with me instantly.  I refer to it all the time, 8 years later!  It contains ways to mindfully eat, a handful of very simple recipes, scriptures related to each chapter’s subject and even touches on getting back into a workout routine and getting your mind back to what’s important.  Go get it or download it!

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.  I was reading Self Magazine one day in 2011 while eating breakfast (side note: this only happened because we only had 1 kiddo at the time, obviously haha) and saw the suggestion for this book.  At the time, I wanted to read something new and different, and what’s better than a book called with this title?  Right?  I walked myself into Barnes and Noble and bought it a few days later.  We were living with my parents at the time while our home was being built and the only piece of workout equipment they had was a stationary bike.  So I took the book with me every night while I was on the bike.  I was hooked.  What an amazing book!  And, at the same time, my workout went from 30 minutes to 60 minutes because I literally couldn’t put the book down.  The idea that every month Gretchen implemented something that sparked happiness in herself and in others made me happy as well.  The notion that if you just change things up, start some new habits that are good for your soul and change your perspective on every day occurrences was a little mind blowing to me.  It made me think about what my habits were at the time and how I could change them ever so slightly to become a happier person, and/or make someone else happy.  It’s a book I’ll never forget or get rid of.  Every time I even see it in my book collection I think of happy times.

The Frugalista Files, by Natalie McNeal.  I can’t even remember how this book fell into my lap.  Maybe another magazine suggestion?  Maybe my friend suggested it?  Regardless, it was funny, insightful and enlightening!  Ironically, I remember reading this book while watching the Royal Wedding (William and Kate)…so I mean, basically this concept sums up my life, haha.  As I’m reading a book on how to save money and how this amazing woman paid off over 30,000 in debt, I’m watching a million dollar wedding and getting googly eyes over Princess Diana’s massive diamond ring on Kate’s finger.  All joking aside, this book was awesome!  Natalie, the author, is so funny and honest and gives realistic goals and tips for cutting back on expenses, while being a woman in the workplace that still has a great social life.  It was a fun read and would be good for anyone looking to change up some of their financial habits. Check Natalie and her hilariousness out!

Do you guys notice the word habit keeps coming up?  It amazes me, that even in 2011, changing habits was something I was not knowingly gravitating to.  Habits are obviously the HARDEST thing in our lives to change.  You don’t even realize how hard it is to change them until you try to be consistent to make a change.  Now that I’m slowly stepping into the personal growth/development world, I’m realizing how naive I was before, when I THOUGHT I had good habits.  Friends, let me just tell you, I have a looooooong way to go.  Sorry for the side step from the book reviews, but it’s amazing to me that even 8 years ago…personal development was there, under the surface, screaming to be heard.

Girl Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis.  If you haven’t heard of this book, you are living under a rock.  If you haven’t read this book, you are missing out.  So listen, sometimes we search for something to grasp when we go through hard times.  I was doing this last spring/summer when panic disorder was ruling my life at the time and my anxiety was spiraling out of control.  I was desperately looking for something and someone to relate to.  I would google anxiety help and all kinds of crazy stuff would come up, I would search and search for books on anxiety and OCD and panic disorder and only clinical type books would come up, no matter how I tried to search.  Then, deep, dark in the rabbit hole I had gone down in, I came across someone recommending this book.  Here’s the thing, this book is NOT a book on how to help anxiety.  I think it was more like a red blinking light sent to me from God that I needed to do a deeper dive into the world of all things Rachel Hollis.  When I did this, I found her podcast called Rise.  I had never listened to a podcast and didn’t even know how to work the podcasts on my iPhone.  I came across her podcast from April of 2018 about how she dealt with her debilitating anxiety.  I felt like the world sat still for just a minute….I had FINALLY found someone I could relate to, someone my age, that was a mom, that had been an event planner, that wanted to work, but had bigger plans no matter the struggle with anxiety and that was honest about her successes and failures.  Are our reasons for anxiety the same?  Somewhat.  But, I took the TOOLS in that podcast and in the book that I found and applied them in my day to day life.  Game-changer.  As I mentioned above, the book is not about how to deal with anxiety, but if you are struggling with anxiety and know the red flags associated, then you will find the tools in the book.

This book is about lies we tell ourselves as women, moms, sisters, daughters, co-workers etc. that we have started to believe.  This book is about ENCOURAGING you to live the life God created you for.  Will it happen overnight?  Heck no….God wants us to work for what we want, ya know.  It’s about using our gifts God blessed us with, to their greatest potential.  It talks about getting out of your own way and not caring so much about what people may think of your goals!  It opened up a lot of doors for me; for example, I felt led to talk about my anxiety struggle and knew so many others around me dealt with similar issues, but I just didn’t know how to display it.  Now I use my blog, yep…this little sucker here, to be completely 100% honest about my anxiety battles.  Do you know what that did?  It, in turn, helped other people, which in turn, helped me feel better, helping others.  Then I thought, as silly as it sounds, I’ve always wanted my own platform, and it’s giving me one…albeit a very small one right now, but it’s something.  It encouraged me to keep going, through the panic, through the OCD, through the anxiety and get my story out there.  I have no idea where all of this will lead, but I know where I would ultimately LIKE for it to lead….anxiety and all.  So, stay tuned and please please please, go get this book and subscribe to the Rise podcast!!!

The 5 Second Rule, by Mel Robbins.  I’ll be honest, this was another find on my quest for all things anxiety help last summer.  I didn’t find out about this book until last fall when I had come across something of Mel’s on You Tube.  I, again, like many times, fell down the rabbit hole of listening to her Ted Talk on the 5 Second Rule, then going on to listen to her give interviews with several personal growth gurus and before I knew it, I was following her on social, subscribed to her You Tube channel, ordering her book and listening to her morning coffee talks.  The book is not all about how to get past anxiety.  It’s about learning how to change your brain’s thoughts.  We can retrain our brain, ya know?  It’s about developing habits and staying consistent and doing them anyway even when you don’t.  You hate working out, welp, 5-4-3-2-1- DO IT ANYWAY.  You can apply this teaching to basically any situation in life.  It takes work.  Don’t let the simple concept fool you…because trust me, I’m still working on it.  I have a long way to go before my brain adjusts to accept different thought.  Here’s something to take away though, Mel is one smart woman.  She is a lawyer and is one of the most sought after speakers in North America.  All of her research is backed by science, generally from Harvard or Yale studies and she is hilarious!  Also, she’s a busy mom with an even busier life that still manages to be present and open to new thoughts and ideas.  And yes, she’s an anxiety sufferer as well, but has self taught her way around it.  It’s a great read guys, you should definitely check it out!

Well, there ya have it!  My top reads!  I really hope you will hit up your local library or Target, or hop on Amazon to give these books some love.  I have several others that I have read that are definitely some awesome reads, so I may include them next time.  As you can see, I’m not a big fiction reader.  I really don’t have an answer for why that is.  Maybe because what little time I can devote to reading, I want to read about ways to make my life the best it can be?  That sounds right.

(Side note: I’m 100% positive that Rachel Hollis’ new book Girl, Stop Apologizing will be on the next list, but I just haven’t finished it yet.)

I hope you all have a great day and if you have read any of these books, drop me a note and let me know what you thought of them!!

xoxox

Mary

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