A PSA About OCD

While I am late to the party, I still wanted to draw attention to the fact that this week, October 8-14, 2017, is International OCD Awareness Week. OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is a mental health disorder that affects many people. According to the International OCD Foundation, OCD

"occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are behaviors an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease his or her distress."

They go on to give an example on how it feels to have OCD. 

Imagine that your mind got stuck on a certain thought or image…

Then this thought or image got replayed in your mind
over and
over again
no matter what you did…

You don’t want these thoughts — it feels like an avalanche…
Along with the thoughts come intense feelings of anxiety…

Anxiety is your brain’s alarm system.  When you feel anxious, it feels like you are in danger.  Anxiety is an emotion that tells you to respond, react, protect yourself, DO SOMETHING!

On the one hand, you might recognize that the fear doesn’t make sense, doesn’t seem reasonable, yet it still feels very real, intense, and true…

Why would your brain lie?

Why would you have these feelings if they weren’t true? Feelings don’t lie…  Do they?

Unfortunately, if you have OCD, they do lie.  If you have OCD, the warning system in your brain is not working correctly.  Your brain is telling you that you are in danger when you are not.

When scientists compare pictures of the brains of groups of people with OCD, they can see that some areas of the brain are different than the brains of people who don’t have OCD.

Those tortured with OCD are desperately trying to get away from paralyzing, unending anxiety…

How do I know so much about this subject? Well, a few years ago I was diagnosed with OCD. Although I often felt I had tendencies toward OCD behavior, I was able to manage them on my own for most of my adult life. Once I hit forty years of age, however, I became overwhelmed with my obsessions. My obsessions manifested themselves in the form of intrusive thoughts, mainly regarding my health. I became unable to distinguish fact from fiction, reality from delusion. I spent hours fixated on my upcoming mammogram, obsessed over a freckle I was certain was changing into a mole, or bumps on the back of my head. I could be fine for days, and then suddenly, I would be paralyzed with fear because I saw an article on Facebook about a woman with a horrible disease. My OCD would then cause me to fixate on the symptoms, which I of course researched on Dr. Google...DO NOT DO THAT...and my mind would be filled with scenarios of my death.

Although the term OCD is thrown around quite randomly, it is a real disorder, and those suffering from it, in my experience, are initially reluctant to shout it from the rooftops. It is more than being neat, or disliking germs. It isn't a status symbol or worse yet, a joke. It is a serious mental health issue, and left untreated, will consume one's life and render him or her unable to function on certain days due to endless anxiety ridden moments.

I am beyond blessed that my husband Steve recognized my need for help when the time came. He literally put me in the car and took me to an amazingly empathetic doctor. But even more, I was blessed to have the most kind, respectful, and considerate nurse who immediately put me at ease. I felt able to open up and pour out all the thoughts I have carried inside my head for so many years without feeling judged, or worse yet, labeled. When I left, my nurse April hugged me. I knew then that I was going to be ok. And thus began my way back from the depths of OCD. 

My new doctor is amazing. She will literally sit with me and go over each of my concerns. She checks to make sure my issues are not real medical concerns.Then she reminds me that I will deal with this forever, but I have tools to help me now. She and my new gynecologist and nurse April reassure me as well. They listen to me. They don't label me. I am comfortable with them and I feel so relieved.

How else am I handling this part of my life? Well, I do take medication. And I am ok with that. I understand the medicine does not change who I am...it doesn't change ME. The medicine helps the part of my brain that needs it to function properly, so I can be the healthiest me I can be.

I also have an amazing therapist I visit when I need to be reassured. She has given me tools to use when I have a slip up. Perhaps one of the best? OCD does not define me. I am NOT OCD. I HAVE OCD. It is a small part of me. And through medicine, therapy, mindfulness meditation, support and love from my family and friends...yes, you, Marian, Heather and April...I am now able to say that yes...I have this thing I deal with. It is OCD. It is a pain. I think of it as my cross. I think everyone has something. And this is mine. 

So there you are. Something about me you didn't know. But something I am not ashamed of.  Something I share to encourage even that one reader who may be helped by my story. My advice to anyone suffering from this mental health issue...

1.  Admit it. To yourself.
2.  Confide in a loved one.
3.  Seek help from a doctor or nurse professional.
4.  Follow the plan he or she sets out for you.
5.  Continue your plan, even when your symptoms cease.
6.  DO NOT GOOGLE.
7.  Ever.
8.  Have faith and pride and love in and for yourself.
9.  Lean on your family and friends when necessary. 
10.Ditch the fear of judgement.
11. Anyone who makes fun of or judges you is not worth your time.
12. Pray. If that is your thing. 
13. Live your life. OCD doesn't define you.


Thanks for visiting, my friends.
I am always glad you do. 

26 comments:

  1. Bless you, Billie Jo! I have never been diagnosed with OCD, but I do the same thing with symptoms, Dr.Google, etc...and I"m a nurse!! I should know better! I have been on medication for years for depression and anxiety. I have tried several times to stop the medication, which never works for long. It makes me sad that this will probably be a part of my life forever, but am very thankful for the medication. Thanks for sharing this personal part of you with us!

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  2. Thank you for sharing Billie Jo -- I feel like someone in my family may be suffering from OCD and other issues too that can make functioning so difficult. SO happy you found help!

    Have a good weekend sweetie!

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  3. Thank you Billie Jo...I think you and I had discussed this before....at least I think we did, smiles. Google is the pits...or anything to look up on the internet for health issues...well...not all bad.

    Thank you friend, for being brutaly honest, I wish more folks could be more forth coming. smiles

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  4. Oh mercy!!!!! Didn't know it was this week!!!!

    I am 80, and I have had OCD forever. And I have 'doctored' forever. And complied. And taken reams of meds. To no avail.

    Until somewhere in my 60's. My pharmacist husband read of "Prozac." A psychiatrist prescribed it for me.

    And I began to live more normally, for the first time in my life!!!!!!!!!! It was the only thing, which filled in the chemical, my brain was lacking in.

    Took that for many years, until it was obvious that I needed a change. So a psychiatrist prescribed a new med. It was needed, and works.

    Never will be cured! We know that! We have to accept that. There are better times, and harder times. We learn to live with that. Remembering, before we had any medical help. That helps.

    My particular case, needed more! It was tied to religion. Religion made a fertile ground, to grow my HORRIBLE obsessions.

    For years, I had had religious questions. Which I tamped down, by thinking... If a loved priest believed, than I should. Or the old admonition, to never question! REmember, I am 80, and I grew up, in a very strict Roman Catholic Church.

    In 2000, I gave myself permission to question. I spend years, seeking, asking (religious sources simply said "I had to have Faith."), reading, reading, reading. And I finally came out, on the other side. No longer following any religion.

    I do not need Rules, to use common sense, to not do things. Common sense.

    I could not have just "walked away" from religion. It would have driven me more 'crazy'. LOL I had to take the time, to think it through. Years. I am not a fallen-away Catholic. I am a thinking, human being. Who used her mind. (If you ever take the time, to read on the History of religions... It will open your mind. Wow!)

    I was brave enough, to spend years, getting to where I am. I firmly believe, that there are many, who don't really believe. But are too lazy, to work on it. :-)

    All who were born with brains, which did not secrete enough of certain chemicals, know you are not alone. Seek help! Counseling yes. Get the meds, which fill in the needed chemicals.

    It's never over. But it can be helped, to be controlled.

    Gentle hugs,
    Luna Crone

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  5. And... An addition..... For years, I was being treated for depression, and phobias.

    Wrong!!!!

    Of course I was depressed!!!!! I was living with constant compulsions, in my mind. Of course I was depressed. But the root, was not depression, per say.

    Of course I had what looked like phobias. Can't go shopping, and etc. But it wasn't a phobia, per say. I would have religious compulsions of guilt, because I obsessed that I was damaging items, in a store.

    Of course I avoided stores, when they brought up my mental obsessions, of religious guilt, over possible 'hurting' or damaging items, in stores.

    Duhhhhh....

    And yet, I was made to go to Phobia Groups. Ugh. Scared little me. Having to listen to all those people with real Phobias. Having to interact. Horror! I can still remember those times! -sigh-

    My point? If you have been diagnosed with Depression or Phobias, please get to the bottom of WHY you SEEM to display these tendencies. If by chance, they are caused by OCD, it is better to be doctored for the root cause.

    If. If. If. I just say if. Because this caused me so much pain, of misdiagnosis.

    Luna Crone

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  6. God bless you Billie Jo for being so open about this. Several in our family suffer from different mental health diagnosis. It's a shame that people feel they can't talk about it, and that more isn't being done to further research in the area.
    As you mentioned, we all have something. I believe by being open and sharing it puts others at ease that they are not alone in their battles. We are fine with sharing things like a cancer diagnosis, diabetes, even autism, but not so much the many mental heath issues facing so many.

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  7. Dear Billie Jo. Thank you for posting this. I suffer from anxiety and it is a battle in my daily life. I am thankful to live in an age where there is some treatment. Mental health issues are so very wide spread, and yet there is still such a stigma associated with them. (which is a shame.) Hugs to you dear friend, and have a blessed weekend. Juli

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  8. Thank you for sharing this, Billie Jo. I am so glad you have found a supportive team of medical professionals to help you with this. I will be praying for you. <3

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  9. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself with us! You are a brave strong woman! We are all battling something. I'm so happy that there are people out there to help us! Bless you sweet friend! We are all in this together! Love you!!! ♥♥♥

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  10. I appreciate your being able to share this part of your life with us. Being a nurse, and one that felt compelled to work with those with these type problems, I am open and honest and know it helps to speak, lean on friends, family and health professionals...it helps more than people know or understand. I am so happy that your husband and family are beside you. I pray God will continue to bless you with a wonderful life.

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  11. You are such a wonderful lady, thinking about others and trying to help. Mental health issues have such a stigma and yet are more common than any of us realise. I have family members who suffer with depression and my young nephew took his own life due to this illness. I am so glad that you have found a great medical team that you have support from. Take care of yourself.

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  12. Hi Billie Jo~

    I admire you so much for sharing a part of you that can be hard, or uncomfortable to share. You are an amazing woman, so kind and thoughtful about others feelings, I know you always make me feel better after visiting your page.

    OCD is something that we deal with as well. I have several people in my life who struggle with it on a daily basis, it's hard, but like you said, it can be controlled. Love, kindness and patience are a must, as well as medication and yes, counseling and the right doctors are so important.

    Thank you for talking about these issues with us, I know it took a lot of courage to put it on your blog, I know that someone will read it, and it will give them the courage to go and seek the help that they need. Thank you sweet friend.

    Hugs and Love,
    Barb

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  13. How wonderful you have such a supportive husband who recognized that you needed help. That speaks to the strength of his character and your marriage. You certainly are blessed. I am so glad you are able to speak out about OCD and be a voice of encouragement. How lucky we are to know you!

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  14. Wow! I had no idea what OCD was really like. Praise God you've found help. I feel honored that you would feel safe enough to share your experience and make it feel safe to seek help.

    You're a beautiful lady inside and out, and I am honored to know you through our blogs and our correspondence.

    Hugs to you!
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

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  15. What a wonderfully helpful post, Billie Jo, and you are to be admired and thanked for reaching into the depths of your being to share this with the rest of us. I am thankful that you received the right treatment and the support that is so valuable. Like you said, everyone has something but not everyone is blessed enough to get the correct support. We are all truly helped by your sharing your story with us. Have a great week-end with your loving family.

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  16. Thank you for being transparent about your OCD. I've made jokes through the years about having OCD but it was not until I read your definitions of obsessions and compulsions and what follows that I realized I have these problems and have had them most of my adult life. I knew I had problems with depression but not OCD. There is a verse in the Bible that says "anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down (some translations use the word depression for weighs it down) but an encouraging word makes it glad." Proverbs 12:25 I've been aware that there was a correlation between anxiety and depression but never, until I read your post, that there is a correlation between anxiety and OCD, that OCD causes anxiety. Your post today is like a missing piece of the puzzle and helps explain what I've never been able to understand about the never-ending anxiety I've experienced for years. I've always thought OCD only applied to people who washed their hands a lot and never paid that much attention to it. I see now there is a lot more to it than that. I had no idea. Thank you again for your post! It explains a lot!

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  17. Thank you for writing this post. My 16 year old son suffers from OCD. It was helpful to hear what it feels like to one who has it.

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  18. Thank you for sharing this. It's so important that we talk about mental health issues to help remove the stigma!

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  19. Oh sweet new friend of mine, my son was diagnosed at 14 years old. He suffered through debilitating bouts as we fought to understand this disorder. At 19, he is today without a doubt the strongest young man I know. Through wise Christian counseling, medication and much prayer, he knows how to handle the tough times much better these days. Our family has walked together through this and learned so much!

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  20. I'm so glad you shared this with us! ((hugs)) You are so very brave to write about such a hard and personal topic. (Kiddingly, I thought you were going to say it was a candle obsession! ;) )
    My husband has severe mental health issues, it is a big reason why I have not blogged regularly in so long. It's hard to blog when a part of life is, well, so hard. It's a issue that I would love to blog about, but, it's personal to him. It's not an easy topic to discuss.

    God bless you, I'm so glad you got help right away and have a loving, supportive family. Love to you my friend!

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  21. Oh Billie Jo Thank you for sharing this. We have people in our family that have OCD and anxiety. It's a real thing I know and I'm glad you are receiving the help you need and are working through it. You're an inspiration.
    You have a lot of Blog friends and know that we are all on your side and support you.
    Thank you again for sharing, have a wonderful Sabbath Billie Jo.
    Hugs
    Saimi

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  22. God Bless You, Billie Jo!
    You are so right, we all have our personal cross to bear.

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  23. Billie Jo, love you and your heart so much.

    Growing up and even in most of my adult life I never knew that some people suffered with pain in their mind. I never knew that there were battles that existed within them.

    And then when Anna was around 4 we knew something was wrong. I read every single book I could on adopted children and trauma and the effects of being separated from biological parents, and mostly from the effects of being a baby that was never held (while living in an orphanage)

    We sought trauma counseling for Scott and I. And we learned that Anna was 'wired' wrong. Yes, that there was hope. That she could be healed from love but that some things would be so so hard for her to cope with.

    It's been a long long journey to help her to heal, help her to know that she is indeed loved and help her mind and body to not freeze when she panics. But every step has been worth it.

    She is in her own counseling now still dealing with PTSD but she is good. And happy. And most of all loved.

    I thank you for sharing your journey so publicly on your blog. It's an awful feeling to feel isolated becuase you are sure no one would understand. I lost 'friends' when Anna wasn't a 'normal' toddler playdate companion. Friends left when I was carrying her around 'too much'. Something in my heart knew I was supposed to carry her around all day. Some days I wish I still could.

    You are brave and brilliant. And so so loved by your precious family. You are strong. You are comfort. And you are everything you were created to be.

    Blessings to you my dear dear friend,

    tara

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  24. (((((((HUGS))))))) You could have been describing me and exactly what I do. Luckily I also have a wonderful doctor who understands me and my concerns and my NEED to make sure that I and my loved ones are all okay. He knows me well and helps me with this, my anxiety, and is also super supportive of my trying to handle my CFS and Fibromyalgia with natural supplements if at all possible because he knows of my aversion to medications and that I will only take them if absolutely needed. Praying for you and know that you are not alone in this.

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  25. Bless you sweetie. I love the do not google.... EVER. Advice well taken. We all struggle some more than others. Love you lots.

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  26. Just when I thought I couldn't love you more....
    Thank you for sharing such a personal thing with all of us. I'm so glad you have that wonderful man, Steve, who supported you and gave you that little push you needed. Now, maybe you are doing the same for someone else. Years ago, I had been depressed and I went to see a psychologist. at First I didn't think I needed one because I have so much support in family and friends. However, I came to see that this person is completely neutral and sees nothing else but you. It was so good for me. (and I have her number in my cell in case I need her again :) )
    You are amazing, Billie Jo. What a brave person you are to share this with us. Hugs to you and the family.

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Billie Jo