Sunday, February 02, 2014

three little letters mean big stuff

hmmm...  so the day goes.  we've played uno, vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms, wiped down kitchen counters and yet there seems to be so much more to do. 

OCD can really stink sometimes.  I have gotten much better over the years but still sometimes, I can feel it creep up on me and it can be frightening. 

What is OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder of the brain and behavior. OCD causes severe anxiety in those affected. OCD involves both obsessions and compulsions that take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities the person values.

Here is one way to think about what having OCD is like: 

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 warning 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…

NOW, I don't have OCD this severe.  Mine is more of having things a certain way, or placed in a certain way.  Before I was diagnosed, I was unable to walk through a room and not stop and fix an overturned corner of a pillow.  I tried to ignore it and I just couldn't.  I just thought I was being picky about it.

It was after I suffered an ectopic pregnancy that I was diagnosed.  I was having recurring dreams almost every night of having a heart attack.  I found myself at times, breathing heavy and feeling that my heart was racing.  I had the nuclear stress test and no abnormalities were found with my heart.  It was then that my doctor diagnosed me with OCD and I then began seeing a professional counselor.  I learned that OCD was a chemical thing within my brain...that they urge to "fix" things or have things a certain way would always be there.  It was how I would later learn to deal with those urges that has gotten me through.  Don't get me wrong, I still get those urges that make my skin crawl but I have gotten very good at letting things go.

Here is another explanation of OCD from the National Institute of Mental Health..  

Everyone double checks things sometimes. For example, you might double check to make sure the stove or iron is turned off before leaving the house. But people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) feel the need to check things repeatedly, or have certain thoughts or perform routines and rituals over and over. The thoughts and rituals associated with OCD cause distress and get in the way of daily life.

The frequent upsetting thoughts are called obsessions. To try to control them, a person will feel an overwhelming urge to repeat certain rituals or behaviors called compulsions. People with OCD can't control these obsessions and compulsions. Most of the time, the rituals end up controlling them.

For example, if people are obsessed with germs or dirt, they may develop a compulsion to wash their hands over and over again. If they develop an obsession with intruders, they may lock and relock their doors many times before going to bed. Being afraid of social embarrassment may prompt people with OCD to comb their hair compulsively in front of a mirror-sometimes they get “caught” in the mirror and can’t move away from it. Performing such rituals is not pleasurable. At best, it produces temporary relief from the anxiety created by obsessive thoughts.

Other common rituals are a need to repeatedly check things, touch things (especially in a particular sequence), or count things.  People with OCD may also be preoccupied with order and symmetry, have difficulty throwing things out (so they accumulate), or hoard unneeded items.

Healthy people also have rituals, such as checking to see if the stove is off several times before leaving the house. The difference is that people with OCD perform their rituals even though doing so interferes with daily life and they find the repetition distressing. Although most adults with OCD recognize that what they are doing is senseless, some adults and most children may not realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary.

This explains me more than the first..  I need things to be a certain way.  I do things over and over just to make sure they are done.  Every night when I set me alarm, I set it and then I go back to double check it about three or four more times to make sure it is on so that I get up in the morning for work.

For my job, I must to things in a certain order.. when I check in each morning, I must do it in the same order or I feel very off.  And yes, I will admit, I have difficulty throwing things out.  Just ask my husband.

Why am I writing about this?  I am not sure. It just evolved.  But there you have it.  Maybe someone that reads this can share how they deal with this disorder.  Until then, good day. 

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