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OCD

“What you resist, persists”

1.29.13

This past Christmas I received a 27oz. bag of Ghirardelli chocolates. I don’t think I’m a chocoholic but I do enjoy chocolates. The night I received the bag, I ate and shared a few with my husband. They were delicious. I saved the rest for “rainy” days. And this winter, there have been just too many rainy, snowy, and foggy days! The craving and my hippocampus It happens late at night. The need for something sweet. Tangerines usually suffice. It may take as many as four, but my chocolate stash remains intact. But then there are those days — you know which ones — when you just need something stronger to get the job done. It’s then that the thought of my hidden stash pops up in my mind. I say to myself: “You had a great eatin

OCD, Guilt, and Religion

12.15.12

[See original article published here.] “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he….”  ~ Proverbs 23:7 Grace had grown up in a religious home. She was familiar with the above proverb. She understood it as a reminder to maintain pure thoughts to be a better person. Unfortunately, she was challenged by obsessive-compulsive disorder(OCD), and every time she read verses such as this, her anxiety and guilt would torment her. Honesty and integrity were often talked about in her home. Impure and blasphemous thoughts were against her religious beliefs. She had learned that if she were to sin, she could take steps to be forgiven. A broken heart, contrite spirit, and confession were essential. Her troubles began in middle school. She was taking a his

What OCD Feels Like

11.8.12

[See original article published here.] Mike’s thoughts were driving him “crazy. One thought would lead him into another and another. His anxiety would shoot to the roof and he couldn’t stand it. He felt these thoughts would never stop tormenting him. He appeared distracted and aloof to those around him. He was too busy thinking. His brain was constantly on rewind and reviewing his thoughts and actions. Did I say this? Did she say that? What if I said this? What if this happened? What if? What if… were constant questions in his mind. Sometimes he felt as if his brain were going to explode because it was racing a thousand miles per hour. He was sure about one thing: he needed 100 percent assurance regarding his thoughts and doubts. He spent c

Before It Knocks You Down

10.19.12

A while ago, I met a client whose family loved the ocean.  Every opportunity they had to go on vacation, they chose a place where they could body surf.  I asked him to tell me the skills one requires to succeed at this pastime many ocean fans enjoy.  I find the parallels useful in understanding treatment for OCD.  I especially use these comparisons when my clients love the ocean also.   Body surfing: Patience is king if you want to learn the trade. Learning to recognize the waves is important so you know what to do. Be in good physical condition.  You need to know how to swim and tread water, in case the ocean water flows high and you can’t touch the ocean floor. When the wave comes, go under it or ride it before it knocks you down. T

If You Have OCD…Consider This:

10.10.12

When I work with children that suffer from OCD, we personify it in order to empower them. When they choose to name their OCD, they will find a funny name such as “germy,” “ozie,” etc.  We talk about shrinking it, and not letting it boss them around.  This empowers them. When I work with adults, they don’t name their OCD, but I help them understand how debilitating OCD can be if they let it run amuck in their minds.   Below are seven statements that summarize the most important issues a person needs to be aware of in order to “be in charge of their own lives again.”   Beware of: Nourishing and fortifying OCD.  When you give in to its demands and continue the rituals, OCD becomes stronger.  Remember, it has been said that OCD is li

Curing the Doubt

9.22.12

Anxiety is something you want to keep at bay. You probably avoid and do whatever it takes to find relief.  Despite hearing and reading “there is no cure” for OCD, you most likely keep your guard up to find at least a few seconds without the doubt.   Curing a doubt becomes a debt that goes out of control just like those loans people get at the Pay-day Loans Companies.  “I’ll pay this debt as soon as I get paid” you tell yourself.  Unfortunately, the days, weeks and months go by and what began as an immediate and small loan has become an insurmountable debt you have to pay.   What happens when you want to cure the doubt? Logically, satisfying the doubt should work similarly to satisfying your thirst.  When thirsty, you gulp a bottle

ERP: One Step At a Time

9.4.12

When I first talk to my clients about ERP (exposure and response prevention), they have a puzzling and incredulous look on their faces. They seem to be thinking:   “You are telling me, I am paying you so you can make me more anxious?  I am here for you to take away my anxiety, not to give me more of it!” Because I can “read” their mind I explain in detail what ERP means and I will briefly summarize it here:   We clarify the bad reputation ERP has thanks to reality TV shows in which OCD clients are crying, screaming, and on the verge of a full-blown panic attack because they’re being “exposed” to that which they fear the most. ERP is about helping you “habituate” or get used to that which you fear.  However, it is by NO means like you’

When Once Is Not Enough

8.28.12

[View original article published in Psych Central here] “Say good-night mommy, say good-night,” pleaded Johnny every night. It wasn’t as if he had not already read several books, been tucked in, and kissed good night. Johnny’s pleas continued every night. After the third or fourth nagging requests, she would get irritated and say, “I am done! This is the last one. Good night!” Johnny would cry and ask for more “good nights.” Mom didn’t know it at the time, but she was reinforcing Johnny’s need for reassurance. One “goodnight” was not enough, but neither were ten. Ritualized hand-washing or other grooming compulsions were absent. There didn’t seem to be any checking compulsions. If there had been, Johnny’s parents probably would have sough

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