World Mental Health Day

Image result for world mental health day

Today, 10th October 2018, is a reminder to the public to be aware, I don’t need to be reminded about mental health however it is useful that it reminded me that I must update this site more frequently.

Those of us that live daily with mental health issues are so busy coping, that this special day for awareness should be an opportunity to pass on a message for help, understanding or even just a little more patience from family and friends around us.  In my case, with this OCD Exposed site, I have the opportunity to reach readers across the world.

Therefore …

Since my last post in June, I took a big step forward by reaching out for therapy with a professional, in fact a professor.  During the last few months my emotions have been heightened as I delved into:

  • explaining out loud to a complete stranger, how I do live with OCD – e.g. how many hand washes per day;
  • what do I do differently with my peculiar behaviours – what is the rationale behind them;
  • why do I behave differently – what am I hoping to achieve by behaving differently;
  • what is the benefit to my OCD behaviours – am I happy when I’ve performed them;
  • how can I slowly, but surely, stop doing my OCD behaviours – baby steps leading to steps;
  • what do I want to achieve through therapy – picking off the most difficult or annoying behaviours;
  • how does my OCD impact the people I love – is it self-indulgent to impose my OCD on them;
  • what would I like my life to be like with the help of therapy – picture life without (some of my) OCD.

As you can imagine, this calls for a great deal of reflection (and imagination too regarding a potential future)!

Therapy has stirred up all my insecurities, and has eroded what little confidence I had a few months ago – it is as if I am exposing the inside of my head to someone who is paid to listen, even though I have chosen that person and have a great deal of respect for their experience and knowledge.

With my sensible hat on, I tell myself that it is probable that ‘things have to get worse, before they can get better’ and ‘no pain, no gain’.  The daily grind and effort I put into obsessive compulsive behaviours needs to be transferred as energy I put into making my therapy a success in exposing, and reducing, the anxiety that causes me to behave differently to 97% of the population.

This post is my contribution to World Mental Health Day.

 

 

Yikes, what a big step

In my last post I mentioned how angry I was feeling with my OCD, and wondered if it was time to seek some solutions, probably therapy, and likely CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

 

Confused thinking about OCD

 

Well I’ve only gone and got that ball rolling at long last!!

I spent hours trawling information on numerous websites, and (everyone’s favourite) Google searches, looking for the differences between therapists, psychologists, counsellors, psychoanalysts – what did I need?

  • Do I want to understand why I have OCD?
  • What life experiences could have increased the likelihood of me developing OCD?
  • Is the cause relevant to the treatment?
  • Do I want to delve into the why, when my belief has always been that this doesn’t matter it only matters how it can be treated to remove it?  Don’t look back just look forward is what I’ve always said.

I think I know the process for treatment if I visit my doctor and ask for help via the NHS, but also knowing that it could take months on a waiting list, I wanted to “strike whilst the iron’s hot” and go down the private route – after all it’s been 11 years since I apathetically, and therefore unsuccessfully, visited a psychotherapist for about 5 sessions of an hour.  I’ve had OCD for 28 years, with unsuccessful medication trying to help for half of that period, so it is hard-wired and severe (in my humble opinion).

I then thought maybe if I look at the possible treatments available it may lead me to the title and necessary credentials of the person that could adminster it and ….   I really hope to find someone that specialises in all the different traits of OCD I have e.g. contamination, checking, rumination, worry, (mild) hoarding, reassurance etc.

One thing I know I am not interested in is ERP (Exposure Prevention Response) Therapy – I will not be told to look at a toilet with the end goal to be coaxed to lick the toilet seat, as seen on television programmes about treatments!!

However cloudy that research was, it was then confused further by where that professional was based in relation to my home location – London is clearly the place to be to get the best help but as I find it difficult to leave home for more than a couple of hours because I need my own toilet, it is out of the question.

I found out:

  • There are websites out there that you can add your postcode and email address to and they will find the nearest professional to help you – some charge a small fee that will include an initial discussion between you, the OCD sufferer, and the professional involved.
  • Distance counselling (via phone and email) is available for those unable to leave their home, however it isn’t ideal because body language cannot be taken into consideration.
  • A great many professionals treating OCD provide an initial discussion to see if you think you will ‘click’ and feel comfortable to continue receiving their help/advice/treatment.

 

Help needed for OCD

 

There was a massive amount of information to sift through, but I didn’t find anything worth pursuing (unfortunately I think?) but at least I could say that I’d spent several hours exploring treatment.  However …..

The next day whilst chatting with my daughter I tearfully admitted that I had recently been coming around to the idea of therapy and that I’d made the big step to look at what treatment I could have, and who would need to provide it, but had not come to any conclusions.  She works in a mental health facility and studies psychology and had been waited for decades to hear those words come out of my mouth.

Within an hour she had sent me a detailed email.  She had found no less than a PROFESSOR to treat me, he has all the experience and credentials I could wish for, he is based in my local town, and at a cost within budget.  As a bonus the consulting room shown on the website link she sent me even has leather seats (a huge relief to me as you’ll know if you’ve read my previous posts).  What possible excuses do I now have?  All my boxes to start therapy are ticked.

The pace of change is faster than I anticipated, but strangely I am surprising myself at how calm I am about these speedy developments.  I keep thinking of wise words like “A long journey begins with the first step” and “Change is not a destination but a journey” and I am a big advocate of change is good as I used to be a Change Manager.  I don’t know if these are accurate quotes to be able to attribute the originator/author, but …

Change, journey, steps are all words that are helping me to summon up the strength to pick up the phone and call the practice to start dialogue about making an appointment with a professor that could change my life for the better, and could help me become the person I was before the bully OCD took over.

 

OCD help

Shopping

I know I’m naughty to continually want to shop.  I am at my happiest when shopping, even if it’s for mundane groceries – any excuse to get myself off to the shops.  I can’t wait for it to be someone’s birthday, anniversary or Christmas so that I can ‘shop ’til I drop’ and burn off calories in the process.  On top of that the internet has made it possible for me to shop 24×7, 365 days a year, even from the comfort of my sofa.

I even bought a house so that I could return the largest room back into a shop, so that I can shop for stock!  I was in paradise shopping for stock that I hoped customers would want to buy at a marginal profit, to earn a small living.  I think the economy improved from 2013 until December 2017 with all the shopping I efficiently performed.

I started to get concerned that my spending on stock was equaling (if not exceeding) my income from sales, and eventually I slowly but surely came to the realization that my ‘little shop’ was costing me money and heartache – the heartache is a whole other story that I’ll write about another time.

So as the holiday period for Christmas 2017 arrived I took the decision to close the shop and not reopen it in January 2018.  The fall out from this decision has meant that I’ve desperately needed to go on an economy drive and it was suggested to me that I keep a spreadsheet of ALL my spending, oh boy that was a nasty shock.

Because of my economy-drive and the accountability of even £1 spent, I’ve really appreciated how reckless my spending has been for many many years.  The end result is:

  • My shop is full to over-flowing with stock, that currently has no access to customers purchasing any of it – so bang goes birthday or Christmas present shopping for many years to come, as I’ll have to use up my stock and hope the relatives and friends don’t notice.
  • There is too much stock in the shop to revert the space back to a living room (as it was when I bought the property) and the rafters would struggle under the weight if it was all put into the attic, plus that space is full to capacity with previous years spending.
  • My personal cupboards, drawers, wardrobes, ottomans, and shelves are full to breaking point with all my “treasures” and supplies of every conceivable consumable from hand wash to stationery – a woman can’t run out of toiletries and post-it notes or envelopes, but I could supply the whole village in the likelihood of an alien invasion.

Cupboards rammed full

Over the last six weeks I’ve come to realize that I do have a shopping problem – to say I love “retail therapy” or that I’m a “shopoholic” is not a funny throw-away comment anymore.  It can’t be right that I look forward to running low on butter or toilet rolls so that I can have an excuse to go to the supermarket, but as you no doubt experience yourself, hardly anyone, especially a shopoholic like myself, can walk into a supermarket and not be tempted to buy more than you went for.

I thought I’d read a great deal about OCD, but clearly not because yesterday I was surprised about how big a problem shopping can be for sufferers – the condition is named monomania or Compulsive Buying Disorder.

It must be incredibly painful for people with OCD that absolutely dread having to go shopping, perhaps because too many people are in an aisle and can be off-putting that they’ll brush against them, or the process of even getting to the shops is too traumatic.  I read that the packaging being perfect is a worry, that there can be no sign of tampering and that the item being bought needs to “feel right”, both at the shelf and then again at the conveyor belt/till.

http://www.ocdaction.org.uk/forum

On the OCD Action forum (see link above) I read how one lady was checking packets of toilet rolls for split/damaged packaging and was then horrified to see a colleague watching her.  She covered her embarrassment by saying she had seen a competition on the wrapping last time she bought the rolls, and was looking for it on the packaging again!  Us people with OCD need to be so creative with our excuses to hide our true behaviours, and it is sad in my opinion.

I do suffer with the above problems – always vigilant about the distance kept from strangers (if they touch me accidentally they don’t realise my outer garment will need washing), never touching the shelving or conveyor belts and never touching the handle on the trolley (I use the metal frame).  I always take items from the middle to ensure that the least fingers have touched the item and that the potential for it to have been picked up off the floor after dropping off the shelf is minimised.

All of that said though, the pleasure of shopping for me outweighs the OCD inconveniences.

If you would like to read more information about this subject, the link below is very useful.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1805733/