THE SPEAK SERIES: YOUR TURN
"The Speak Series" is a platform that we are opening up to our OCD Community. This will include a monthly feature on our website, social media channels, and newsletter where you can share some insight into what theme of OCD you have and discuss what tips, tools and tricks have worked for you. We will use this platform as our own therapeutic community where we bring the therapy to US. If you are interested in being featured, please message us via our contact page and directions will be emailed to you. We can't wait to feature you!
OUR PLATFORM IS YOUR PLATFORM.
THE SPEAK SERIES NOVEMBER 2017
Featured: The OCD Bee Blog (@theocdbee)
OCD THEME – HARM
I have struggled with harm OCD since I was 4 years old.
My OCD stems from a fear of losing people and it has manifested in many ways especially in magical thinking and contamination.
OCD makes me believe that I am a bad person- a belief which has triggered multiple depressive episodes, suicide attempts, anorexia and bulimia.
I have decided to use my negative experiences and turn them into something positive.
The OCD Bee intends to raise awareness about OCD and support those affected.
Things I have found useful in my recovery:
· Listing facts about myself to prove that my obsessions don’t correlate. I also tell myself what is happening right now in front of my eyes which are never what my mind is obsessing about.
· Separating my mind from my soul. It’s helped me not to feel that my thoughts define who I am. Thoughts come in and out of your head but your soul is who you really are.
· Allowing myself to feel whatever I need to feel without judgement. Feelings pass and they won’t bother you as long if you feel them and process them in the moment. I spent my life suppressing emotions and that created such an unnecessary weight. Let it hurt, then let it go.
· Body scanning- paying attention to everything that your body feels and if you feel something, concentrating on that feeling. Often with anxiety, we try to get rid of the sick feeling but if you focus on it and tune into your body rather than being scared of it, it will go away.
· Trying to make the feeling worse. This is similar to the above bullet point. If you take control in making yourself feel the worst you can feel, it takes the power away from OCD and also proves to yourself that feelings can only get so bad.
· Explaining OCD magical thinking to people with this metaphor:
“A train manager asks a man why he keeps throwing paper out of the window. The man replies that ‘the paper keeps the hippos off the track’. The train manager says that ‘there aren’t any hippos on the track’. The man responds that it was because he has been throwing paper.”
· Asking myself whether my anxieties, particularly about having harmed someone without knowing, would stand up in a court of law.
If you love these tips, check out more on this blog here.
THE SPEAK SERIES DECEMBER 2017
Featured: Away With OCD (awaywithocd)
OCD THEME – CONTAMINATION & REASSURANCE
My OCD has been around for a very long time. I am 34 years old and started having emetophobia at age 5 and started treatment for OCD at age 6. OCD Themes: Over the years the symptoms and themes have changed but the most constant have been contamination and the need for reassurance.
I also deal with checking, intrusive thoughts, hyper-responsibility and some religious OCD. My themes have varied and waxed and waned over the years.
I started medication (SSRI) at the age of 17 and it changed my life for the better. Since then, I've been on a variety of SSRIs, benzos, an NDRI and antipsychotics. I weaned off all medication to become pregnant in 2013 and my mental health then took a turn for the worse.
My OCD came back with such force (while pregnant) that I was barely functional. I eventually got back on medication and safely delivered my son. However, my mental health has never been the same. My son is now 3.5 and it has been a tough 4 years of acute symptoms. I want to help others know they aren't alone in the fight.
Self Education: Learning as much as I can. My best sources are books by Shannon Shy (OCD Advocate and peer counselor) and books by John Hershfield, MFT. Shannon also has a wonderful blog and Facebook page with daily coping strategies. He has changed my life by teaching me to adopt a warrior attitude toward OCD.
Take it slow: This is some of the best advice I've gotten from Shannon. Break it down in to small parts; part of dealing with OCD is feeling overwhelmed all the time. Taking it day by day is great, but sometimes you have to take it hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second.
Reminders: Growing up, my mom taught me that my mind was "playing tricks on me." And with OCD, it really is. You have to remember that it is NOT you, it's your OCD. I also remind myself that I'm not alone. As isolating and excruitating as it can be, I'm not alone and neither are you.
THE SPEAK SERIES JANUARY 2018
Featured: Susie Hearn - @lilsuze15
OCD THEME – PURE O - CATASTROPHIC EVENTS, FEAR OF FORGETFULNESS, CHECKING & REASSURANCE
I found out I had OCD when I turned 30 years old. I had been told for a decade that I struggled with a general anxiety disorder but was never labeled as OCD.
While my diagnosis took a long time, I showed signs of OCD behaviors at a young age: asking for reassurance and checking primarily. My indicators exacerbated while playing sports in college and into my early/mid-twenties. I suffered with body dysmorphic disorder; as well, I had intrusive thoughts, primarily, thought-action fusion. Finally, after numerous therapists and counselors, I found a doctor that was able to label my conditions properly. After reading, “The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing His Hands”, I had a huge rebirth because for the first time I didn’t feel like a leper or social outcast and realized that other people in this world struggle with the exact same intrusive thoughts that I did!
Medication, therapy and education: I started an SSRI medication last year and it has completely changed my life! Along with CBT therapy, I can allow the thoughts but not act on them or take responsibility for them. Education and becoming your own advocate are also vital to my process.
Acceptance: I am finally learning who I am instead of who OCD is. Accepting the disease as apart of me has been a huge part of my growth. By embracing that I have OCD, I can differentiate the “scary, horrific” thoughts as the disease rather than who I am. And, I love me and hate my disease and that’s a beautiful epiphany.
Community Support: Reaching out to others. Learning about other people’s struggles has been the biggest gift given to me on this journey. I don’t share every thought that comes, but through transparency with myself and others I have found so many wonderful and supportive relationships. Hearing people’s stories allows us to bond and connect on a deeper, more meaningful level and we tend to treat each other a lot kinder when we can allow ourselves to operate in this vulnerability.
Fight: The most important part of my process. Coping with OCD has allowed me to realize that days can be very good and very bad and neither one defines where I am with my disease. I will never give up my fight against this disease. And now I find comfort in knowing I’m not fighting alone. I fight alongside our marvelous medical professionals, family and friends, advocates and supporters and most of all the wonderful OCD community.
THE SPEAK SERIES - FEBRUARY 2018
Featured: Melissa Molinari - @missymolinari
OCD THEME: Scrupulosity OCD/Intrusive thoughts
The skills I have learned for dealing with my OCD took a while to master. I want to share them with you and hopefully it helps.
Dealing with intrusive thoughts is hard enough but when you are afraid of offending God with every little thing you do, that is completely challenging. The first skill I learned was to hold onto my own strength. Anxiety runs you down but no matter what your strength will always be there. The Second skill I learned was to keep telling myself that God is with me not against me. No matter how bad my thoughts were or how much I believed I did something wrong when I hadn’t, I knew God did not blame me or want to punish me for the things I could not control. The third skill I learned was to resist the compulsions by telling myself not to give in to the bully and keep doing what I want to do. Telling yourself you are stronger than OCD and that this is not your fault will help tremendously.
THE SPEAK SERIES - MARCH 2018
Featured: JENNIFER ROY - @JENROYPR
OCD THEME: CONTAMINATION, ILLNESS/GERMS
I really got hit with OCD when I was 28. I moved back to MA from NYC and dealt with a perfect storm of stressful events at that time. Though I struggled with anxiety and depression, I was not diagnosed with OCD until I was 28.
I was a television reporter at the time and had a terrible panic attack right before one of my stories. I continued to report on the story and suffered through the attack, and when I returned to the news station I thought to myself “I don’t know what just happened but I’m a different person now and nobody can see it”. It felt like I had just been through a war.
Then one night a thought popped into my head, “What if my Chinese food was prepared next to raw chicken and contaminated?” I kind of fixated on it to the point where I only ate half of my meal, just in case the food was contaminated. I thought if I kept doing that - having those thoughts and eating less - I was headed for big trouble. That is exactly what happened from that day on.
For 10 years I struggled with eating. I was terrified to eat and even drink. I went from 105 lbs to 90 lbs and felt the physical affects of not eating; I was moody, tired, couldn’t think clearly, and was in and out of a doctors office about 4 or 5 times a week. I developed osteoporosis at 40.
1. Peer Support and Social Worker: Finally, I found a peer advisor in Shannon Shy, and he turned my life around. If you’ve never had an eating disorder you need to realize how much it can take over your life, because eating is something we do everyday. Shannon conducted daily phone sessions with me, and got me to eat again. I also met a social worker who diagnosed me with PTSD as well as the OCD and treated me with ACT, DBT, and CBT as well as talk therapy and education.
2. Psychiatrist: I see a psychiatrist every 6 months or so to check-in with about my medications. I take Prozac and blood pressure medication.
3. OCD Support Group: I have the BEST group of friends in my on-line OCD support groups. These friends have made such a difference in my life by enabling me to reach out to them any time of day to discuss OCD or life in general. It’s amazing what it’s like to find someone your age who understands what it’s like to go through OCD after fighting alone for so long. These friends are the best part of my OCD.
4. Advocacy: After meeting so many fearless friends in the OCD community I slowly began to be public about my OCD and I now work to destigmatize mental illness. I am religious and something that got me through the toughest times was feeling that I was going through this to help others. My friends gave me the courage and confidence to start speaking out and it has been unbelievably gratifying and eye opening. I continue to look for opportunities to share my story and educate the world about OCD.
THE SPEAK SERIES - APRIL 2018
Featured: taylor fowler - @futuremrsjones2020
OCD Theme: pure o/intrusive thoughts
Taylor's coping mechanisms:
1. reaching out to others and prayer: talking to a close family member or significant other about your ocd can help tremendously. they can help you stay grounded and support you in times of panic. just the act of telling someone, "I'm struggling right now" is therapeutic in and of itself. i often will pray with them as well. I know that god hears my cry and has his hand on me.
2. Fightin' words: when intrusive thoughts are popping into your head, fight back. don't let them tell you that they are you. attribute them back to ocd, and tell them to stop. i'll often curse (in my head) at the ocd, and it makes me feel like i have the power and control. It sounds silly, but simply trying to pretend the thoughts are not there only makes you feel helpless and guilty. this is especially helpful for thought-action fusion, a common pure o symptom.
3. Psychiatrist & medication: I see a psychiatrist about every three months to talk about how i am doing and to reevaluate my medication. i was given ssri's for several months, but they did not work as well as we wanted them to. I am now taking an snri and it has helped me have many more good days than bad. medication will not take away the ocd, but it will significantly help.
THE SPEAK SERIES - May 2018
Featured: Sasha Pozzuoli - @sashapozzuoli
For mental health awareness month, we are switching things up and broadening our relation to other disorders. sasha has depression and anxiety, and although she does not have ocd, she identifies with our "obsessive Outsiders" community on a very personal level. We loved featuring her take on feeling like an "obsessive Outsider" as someone without ocd. this notion further proves how so many of us feel that we are alone and outsiders to the seemingly normal world - but even the differences in our disorders bring us together - we all feel like outsiders at some point. no matter the mental illness, no matter the person. Enjoy hearing what Sasha has done to improve these feelings of loneliness.
May 1st, 2018
A Piece Written by Sasha Pozzuoli
"At some point in our lives, we are all "Outsiders." A survey compiled by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2014 indicates that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental health issues each year. An overwhelming number of people in our society feel like they are outside of the circle of inclusion because of their mental health state, making loneliness one of the most common epidemics in the United States. Depression is thought to stem from a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Growing up, I often felt ostracized and alone. I lacked the tools and emotional intelligence as a child to understand the complexity of my situation and I felt alone in my experience. This feeling lasted well into adulthood and influenced my sense of belonging on a much bigger, and much more damaging scale.
I was obsessed with being an outsider. For a long time, I identified with my feelings of not-belonging. Feeling like an outsider created a loneliness in me that has taken years of therapy to repair. I pushed people away out of sadness, anger, and fear of not belonging, further ostracizing myself and reinforcing the belief that I didn’t belong because I was flawed or less-than.
For years, I couldn’t accept that my depression and anxiety were bio-chemical issues that I couldn’t control. It had to be environmental. I had to have control. I told myself what I was experiencing was normal. I was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder and extreme anxiety in my twenties and began taking medication for both just this past year.
My journey has been long and it’s been grueling, but mostly it has been so fucking rewarding. I am proud of the work I have done and the tools I’ve developed to cope with my anxiety and depression. Struggling with my mental health has in many ways,been a blessing rather than a curse. Although I don’t suffer from OCD, being an "Obsessive Outsider" is something I identify with at an almost primitive level.
We are afraid of not belonging because of the primitive feelings of fear that result from feeling isolated or alone because of your mental health. Feeling displaced or marginalized can elicit a fight-or-flight response when you lack the proper tools. Feeling like an outsider insights fear because we aren’t taught the value of emotional intelligence until we discover we have something to “fix.”
Maintaining a healthy understanding of "Self" is the foundation for my various coping mechanisms. Yoga became my outlet at a young age, teaching me body awareness that sequentially developed into Self-awareness. I learned to use pranayama, the practice of controlling the breath when I started having panic attacks in my twenties.
In 2015, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Hoffman Process. The Hoffman Process is a week-long personal growth retreat that helps participants identify negative behaviors, moods, and ways of thinking that developed unconsciously and were conditioned in childhood. The Process helps you connect with "Self" and disconnect with patterns of thought and behaviors on an emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual level in order to make significant positive changes in your life.
Eat clean. IT MATTERS. And as much as I’d rather not…45 minutes of cardio every day.
Every night, I do a mental gratitude practice before bed. Simply acknowledging three things you are grateful for and three things you appreciate about yourself, is scientifically proven to re-wire the neurological pathways in your brain.
And lastly, be Self-ish! You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm. Be proud of your "Self" discovery and personal growth. No one knows how hard you’ve worked more than you do.
- Sasha Pozzuoli
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