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Thread: Recovery, OCD, and putting life back together - can I do this

  1. #1
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    Recovery, OCD, and putting life back together - can I do this

    Hey there, thought I would check in for some advice, apologies if this is a bit meandering.

    I've posted before about my OCD getting extremely bad, as I looked to move country and move back home, post divorce. That was back in January, and since then it's been a case of hanging on and closing up my affairs and somehow I have made it back home. Sweet home. I'm living with my family now, and it's only been a few days. I really don't know how well I'm doing, and I'm feeling very low right now. A mixture of feelings really.

    Intimidated by the task ahead of me is one. I resolved back in January that upon returning home I would make my mental health my priority above all else. A couple of days after I got back, I saw a doctor and got a referral to the top mental health clinic. On Monday I should get confirmation of my first appointment with a consultant, specialising in OCD. This is the thing which is very debilitating right now. Just getting my day started using the bathroom and washing is a huge problem right now, and it takes me a long time. I am also terrified of that ordeal, because my OCD is so bad I literally get 'stuck', so that even my rituals feel like I've not even done them at all - and this goes on for ages. It took me about 15 minutes to wash my hands after using the bathroom today, maybe it was 30 minutes, I lost track of time. I wanted to have a shower after, but the prospect of this was so terrifying I've skipped for now. Maybe I will try again tomorrow, in fact I have to.

    My days don't have any real structure at the moment. If I had it my way, each day I'd use the bathroom in the morning, have a wash, get on with whatever I wanted to do in the day. Maybe go out somewhere, go for a run, do something. But right now I get stopped by this thing, and I hate this fact.

    My doctor gave me some Valium to get me through to the consultant appointment and control the panic attacks my OCD was bringing on (should be in the next week), and this has helped keep the anxiety down. I have mostly avoided hand cleaning frenzies, which occurred frequently in the past 2 months, and when I think back to those frenzies it seems like a nightmare I was stuck in. I never want to have those moments again. They were so horrible.

    I've only been back 6 days I tell myself. The day I flew back I have no idea how I made it through the day. I managed to get an old friend to meet me at my hotel and take me to the airport, god I am so thankful for that. She was a life saver.

    Being back now I don't feel any elation, but I do feel much safer. I'm no longer terrified of germs from the bathroom or toilet seat, and I keep reminding myself that this home is home, it's safe, I don't need to be afraid. I grew up here. This idea is sticking.

    I am not sure what else I can do but get help as soon as possible, and follow their advice and guidance to get back to being a functional human being who is capable of holding down a job, dealing with time-boxed situations in which I have to get washed and ready to do something. I feel so far away from that, but believe I can get there eventually.

    Daily I get quite emotional and will either feel like crying, or cry a little bit. So much stress and bad stuff went down these past 3 years that I've barely processed due to the necessity to keep working, get the divorce done, sell the co-owned property, see my high responsibility job through and depart gracefully with professional reputation intact, which I managed. I got some really good references.

    I am really not accustomed to being this broken mentally. I hate it so much, and want to have a normal wash - the contamination OCD. It holds me back so much. There are other bits of OCD that happen, like things becoming suddenly 'not mine' relating to hygiene - like my glass of drink, or my tissue I was using whilst eating. I suddenly don't know if it is mine anymore, even though it is. This has only started happening since January.

    My family say don't feel rushed, all this takes time, and I will get better. I don't have as much panic feelings day to day, so that's something. I can feel comfortable with sitting on the toilet seat at home, going to bed, sleeping in the bed.

    My OCD relating to being 'near' dirty objects has reduced. Before, I would seemingly lose the concept of 3 dimensions and have panic feelings that I have touched a toilet seat or bin which is literally 3 feet away. It doesn't happen at home anymore. God I hated that, it would send me into more hand washing, but knowing I'm safe here helps. Being out in the real world would be another deal altogether though.

    So I guess it's this - I feel incapacitated, hate this, want it to stop and I want to get better so I can live that life which is waiting for me - but right now feel like 5% of the real me. I wish I could just break free myself, crack it myself, and it frustrates the hell out of me knowing I can't manage it by myself right now, and that I need help. I need help processing all the stuff that has happened, the breakdown of my marriage, seeing life collapse, losing my comfortable safe home there (I moved out when we separated), our cats, all the things that made me feel safe. I sent myself on a mission to get back home as soon as I could. It literally took 2 years, and here I am now.

    Other bits of my OCD at home have faded - turning a tap off. Doesn't happen anymore here. There is always someone here at home. Living with family, well... anyone, is great comfort. I lived by myself with worsening OCD for the last 2 years post break up. Tried to control and limit the OCD, just enough to get back home. I am really not happy with being this mentally broken, living like this. I'm trying to get things set up at home again so I can live my life - I have a bed to sleep on, am borrowing one of my parents wardrobes, and have a place in the house to set up a computer so I can do my admin, enjoy things like games, making music etc. Home comforts. I'm lucky as hell to have my family here, and they've been so supportive. I just feel like crap almost all of the time.

    Okay maybe I'm venting here, but at 40 years old I'm just shocked at how bad I am mentally right now. I just hope I can hack away at this, get my life back somehow. Having been out of the country for several years, this is all surreal and strange. I'm happy to be back, best place for me - with my family, I think. Gives me the best chance of getting my life back. Feel so awful I can't even wash properly and look after myself.

    Before moving country when I was with my ex, I still had the OCD, but was able to self manage such that it was definitely holding me up less than 1 hour a day. On a good day, much less than that. And there it stayed, at bay most of the time. It has encroached so much now, it's moved into so many areas, and now strikes very often in the most bizarre of ways. Things becoming not mine - seemingly in an instant, through fear it's dirty and someone elses. Anything that looks like or resembles a used tissue, used bandage, anything red - could it be blood - it happens so often when I go out. Did I step on it, am I now contaminating my floor. Its endless.

    If anyone has some success stories, any advice they can give - that would be great. I get pangs of hating myself each day, but try to shrug them off - try to believe that I can do this. I can get back to 100% me, not this shadow version of me.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member melancholy123's Avatar
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    I have no advice as I admit I cant begin to understand how you feel and how this affects your life, but I sure hope you get in to see your new therapist very soon!

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    Can you find something new to focus on? Any particular (healthy) activity that you become totally absorbed in to the extent your compulsions are forgotten? That could give you a breather when you are feeling most overwhelmed.

    Dialectical Behaviour Therapy techniques and meditation helped me a lot with my anxiety and panic attacks along with soothing self talk. When your head is filling with obsessive intrusive thoughts about germs, remind yourself they are just thoughts and let them go, don't engage with them, soothe yourself with positive self talk. When you start down the thought track of germs and cleaning, take a breath and say out loud, I am OK, I can handle this, you're safe, there's nothing to worry about, you're going to be fine, you're doing well etc.

    Listen to some good audiobooks to redirect your attention. Really try hard to take in the words, repeating them as they are said. I like feel the fear and do it anyway. It might be appropriate for you too. Hopefully this will help you survive until you get to therapy. Hope you feel better soon.

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    Originally Posted by melancholy123
    I have no advice as I admit I cant begin to understand how you feel and how this affects your life, but I sure hope you get in to see your new therapist very soon!
    Hey thanks - fingers crossed on Monday I can get an appointment this week :)

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  6. #5
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    Originally Posted by thornz
    Can you find something new to focus on? Any particular (healthy) activity that you become totally absorbed in to the extent your compulsions are forgotten? That could give you a breather when you are feeling most overwhelmed.

    Dialectical Behaviour Therapy techniques and meditation helped me a lot with my anxiety and panic attacks along with soothing self talk. When your head is filling with obsessive intrusive thoughts about germs, remind yourself they are just thoughts and let them go, don't engage with them, soothe yourself with positive self talk. When you start down the thought track of germs and cleaning, take a breath and say out loud, I am OK, I can handle this, you're safe, there's nothing to worry about, you're going to be fine, you're doing well etc.

    Listen to some good audiobooks to redirect your attention. Really try hard to take in the words, repeating them as they are said. I like feel the fear and do it anyway. It might be appropriate for you too. Hopefully this will help you survive until you get to therapy. Hope you feel better soon.
    Good point - something to focus on. I can think of two things. On Monday I'm also getting a desk I can set up my computer (which came in my luggage!) and I like to make music, plus learn video editing. This could be a really good distraction and take me away from it all for a few hours. It would also be something which is very 'me', so should help me move towards being myself again.

    The other thing is running - and when I was mentally healthy enough, before I moved back home, I was running every weekend. Sadly this got infected with some severe OCD spikes, but I'm hoping that with the therapy and any medication they advise, I can reboot my running. Exercise is great for the brain, so I'd like to get this going ASAP, but without huge spikes of OCD.

    DBT sounds interesting. I'm game for any therapy the experts advise, and they are apparently the top clinic in the country for OCD.

    Self talk... man I am so bad at this. When my marriage hit problems my self talk became very negative, as I was not able to keep my wife happy and just felt awful about it. Now I'm out of that, my self talk is better but I do still fall into some bad self talk.

    When I was trying to get through my divorce, and get my job done, I coped by telling myself that I KNOW I CAN DO THIS. I did this every day, every morning, very habitual. I lost sight of that along the way maybe I can do this regarding my recovery from OCD? I mean, I know I can do this - now that I'm back. I'm just feeling a total mess inside, and having OCD this bad is really new territory, because some of it is totally off the wall and makes no sense whatsoever. I mean, not obeying the laws of 3 dimensional space, is simply unthinkable but apparently this kind of 'proximity' OCD is not uncommon.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    My days don't have any real structure at the moment. If I had it my way, each day I'd use the bathroom in the morning, have a wash, get on with whatever I wanted to do in the day. Maybe go out somewhere, go for a run, do something. But right now I get stopped by this thing, and I hate this fact.
    Sounds a though you have this backwards. You're getting hung up on this thing because you've made no concrete commitments to move on toward. So you have nothing set up to reward you for stopping the spin.

    Make a list of things you want to do. Then identify one thing on that list, and commit to a family member that you intend to be out doing that thing by x time. Then you'll be accountable to them if you ditch that commitment in favor of indulging any ritual for too long.

    When you were accountable to show up at work, you did that.

    When you had a list of tasks to accomplish for your move, you did that.

    So why would you believe that there's anything to 'really' stop you from accomplishing anything else you set your mind to do?

    Clarify the difference for yourself between the definitions of "can't" versus "won't". Commit to yourself and a family member that you will not conflate the two.

    Head high, and don't use your intelligence against yourself.


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