February 25, 2012

What to say about OCD?

I’ve been doing fairly well lately.  The real “acknowledgement” or.....epiphany that I had about Core Beliefs, combined with mindfulness, and refusing to avoid triggers seems to be working for me these days.  I’m going into a period of PMS so we shall see if that continues.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I definitely will!

The one thing that I’ve realized – and this may seem so obvious to many of you – is that Core Beliefs have been formed from experiences that I had while growing up.  They are automatic, and KEEP ME STUCK (In fact, by giving too much weight to my core beliefs, I almost create a self-fulfilling prophecy.).  And in many instances THEY AREN’T RELEVANT IN THE PRESENT!  I’ve really tried to be aware of my core beliefs playing a role in my life lately, and have reminded myself that I have a choice now;  I can decide whether I want to behave independently from what my mind is saying to me. 

This has really helped as I have begun to date again.  The ROCD has been lingering in the background, and I have had moments when I have given into my compulsions (checking, ruminating, avoiding, etc).  The threat here is that if I don’t compulse, the worst might happen – my core beliefs (being unloveable by a man, and all men are inherently assholes) might be proven true.  I’m enjoying feeling a little more in control of my life and this whole experience.  I’ve been in this spot before, but this time it’s with a little more wisdom.  I’m appreciating dating just for the fun of it, and the ERP experience, not with the goal of “disproving my core beliefs” (wow – that’s a lot of pressure!), or finding a husband!
I’m reading a book called “The User’s Guide to the Human Mind”, written by Shawn T. Smith.  The book is based on the principles of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), which I find is very similar to Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.  It is a short book, and the author writes with humour, which I enjoy.  I’ve read many books on ACT, and for some reason, I really like the way the author describes the way our mind works to preserve our safety and survival.  His explanation really seems to have “stuck” with me.  I definitely recommend reading it.  Has anyone else read "The User's Guide to the Human Mind"?

February 17, 2012

OCD and Core Beliefs (Part One)

I’m starting to realize how much my OCD is tied into my Core Beliefs.  That statement might seem obvious to some of you, but as I go further in treatment, and “un-peel the layers” of my OCD, I realize that none of this is going to be a quick fix.  It’s kind of an oxymoron, really.  In some ways it really is just that simple.  Don’t compulse.  Let the thoughts be there.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Do what you want to do, despite the thoughts and your anxiety.  Not for me.  And I suspect, not for many people with OCD. 

You see, my OCD will take ANY and EVERY opportunity to remind me of my fears, and I'm starting to understand why my particular theme of OCD has developed.  Some days I am at the point where I’m less frustrated/upset/depressed about the thoughts, but more frustrated that having OCD just makes dealing with regular life challenges so much more difficult.  (I want to deal with the real problem at hand, NOT all the OCD crap!!) I have some deeply entrenched core beliefs about myself and the world that definitely make my life more difficult, and – I think – become a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

As I look back on this last year or so, I have to remind myself to be kinder to myself, considering the difficult times that I have been through (not an easy thing for me!).  I broke up with my boyfriend (who was my partner for four years, and very supportive), my mother became palliative, and then died, and I finally stood up to my father and his intimidating ways.  My mind has been so BUSY with all of this stress.  It’s a lot for a person to handle.  And let’s be honest – my family experience didn’t exactly teach me the healthiest ways of coping with difficult situations.  (Note – I am eating better, getting enough sleep, trying to meditate and trying to get some exercise, so I’m on the right track there.)

What I’m trying to say is that facing these stressful situations has made some of my core beliefs forefront in my mind.  To name a few:
  • I must always be able to control my emotions or I am weak, and there is something wrong with me.
  • I am substantially flawed in some significant way, therefore, I am un-loveable (especially by a man).
  • All men are completely emotionally inept, and not trust-worthy. 
  • I must never make mistakes, because if I do, people will reject me. 

These beliefs cause me to look at the world in a very “black and white” kind of way.  I am trying (TRYING, BELIEVE ME!) to learn how to live in the grey – but WOW – it is a difficult thing to learn.  I am also trying to process difficult emotions around the death of my mother and the way my father has treated me through the years.  I suppose it will take time.  From everything I read, core beliefs are very difficult to change, and that notion is very depressing to me.  How will I ever have what I want in life if I can’t change these core beliefs? 
I long for some peace of mind. 

Update:  My father still has not contacted me.  I have taken a break from “proactive” ERP, but still do my best not to avoid anything that triggers me.  I have another date on Saturday (I guess you’d call that “proactive” ERP!), and I am actually kind of excited about it. 

February 5, 2012

Big ERP step.....I went on my date!

So I did it – I went on my date.  I’m really glad I did for many reasons, but mostly for the ERP opportunities that the date presented to me.  My date was a really nice guy, which was great, but there wasn’t a lot of attraction between us.....we struggled to keep the conversation going for 2 ½ hours.  Of course these types of “grey area” dates are exactly the ones that my OCD likes to latch on to.  If the guy was super rude, or simply a jerk it would be much easier for me to say “not for me”....but he was a nice guy, polite, and it seemed like we had a few things in common.  But – the feeling just wasn’t there.  You know – that feeling of “connection” or “attraction” or whatever you call it.  Most people would just acknowledge that, say thank you for the date and move on.  Or, they might even go on another date, and see if something would develop, because sometimes that happens too.  For me I need to know NOW.  And because it wasn’t either INTENSE LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT, or complete I CAN'T STAND THIS GUY, my OCD is off to the races. 

He’s a nice guy though, why don’t you like him?  Maybe there’s something wrong with you that prevents you from liking nice guys.  Maybe because of your history with your dad, you’re attracted to the bad guys, the ones who are mean to you.  Maybe you’ll keep going out with the wrong guys and eventually get so fed up with that you’ll become a lesbian.” 

What happens next, is that I get into a back and forth with my own head trying to justify what exactly it is that I didn’t like about him!  (I think this is a compulsion but I am going to discuss with my therapist next session.)

Maybe you’re just scared to really be loved by someone.  Maybe you don’t know what true love is!  Maybe it’s not possible for you to form a healthy bond with a man so you might as well just be with a woman.”

Why didn’t you really like him?  Could you see yourself kissing him?  You need to know NOW if you like him, and NOW if you would want to kiss him because if you don’t know that it means that you really aren’t attracted to men and you are just a lesbian in denial.”

These are the thoughts I’ve had in my head since going on my date. 

When my date and I parted company, it was quite awkward, but he said that he would email me.  I have promised myself that if he emails I will reply.  And if he asks me on a second date, I will go, because that is what people who don’t have OCD would do.  I don’t have to know NOW if I want to marry him.  I don’t have to know NOW if I want to kiss him. 

This is new territory for me – dealing with this in a different way.  Just another “layer” of all of this OCD crap to be tackled I suppose.  Good practice.  I do wish that I could be like normal people and actually look forward to dating.  But wishing isn’t reality, and I have to deal with the cards that I’ve been dealt.