Sunday, October 9, 2016

OCD A to Z: G is for Guilt



Guilt pervades the responsibility form of OCD, which I have dealt with in the past. Responsibility OCD involves a magnified sense of what you are responsible for, can prevent, or should prevent. When I was in graduate school, there was an article in the paper about a guy riding his bike around town and harassing women. I was flooded with panic that it was my responsibility to alert every woman I knew. I spent hours analyzing what I should do. Part of me knew that this was an impossible task, to warn every woman of every danger, and I felt like I was ridiculous for having this urge, and yet, the feared consequences were so scary in my mind, that I would be held responsible if any woman I knew was harassed, stalked or attacked by this man.

This guilt has a gnawing quality, an insistent agitation of the mind. I believed I was a bad person. I bargained with myself about how much action I would take, in order to relieve my anxiety and protect my friends and yet not seem crazy. OCD thinking can be incredibly inflexible and single-minded. Finally, I made copies of the article from the paper and put it in the mailboxes of several women I knew at the University. I felt a moment of relief, followed by more guilt that I couldn't know for sure they would read the article, or take it seriously and be cautious, and anxiety that I was ridiculous, and also inadequate at the same time--ridiculous for wanting to warn everyone, and inadequate for NOT warning everyone.

Somehow I worked the article into a conversation with one of my friends I'd given it to. She said that she's seen the same article already. I felt deflated and relieved all at the same time. It hadn't occurred to me that others would read the paper. There is a grain of truth in the feared consequences--someone might not read the paper and be hurt--and yet no one person can save everyone from every danger, as much as OCD might insist you can. It sucks that we can't keep the ones we love safe under every single circumstance. Yes, we may feel guilt, but that doesn't mean it is in our power to prevent every eventuality. Ironically, the people I've met in my OCD support group and readers of this blog are some of the most conscientious, kind, responsible people I've known, but OCD makes them feel they are deadly.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fear of Noticing Floaters in the Eye: Update



One of the posts that gets a lot of response, even though it is from 2010, is Floaters in the Eye and OCD Vision. The post resonates with people who fear that the floaters will impede all enjoyment of vision. Part of my fear at first, in 1988, was that something was seriously wrong, but then after seeing an ophthalmologist, it became a fear of always noticing the floaters and having my life ruined by that, and yet now I don't notice them most of the time. 

I went to a museum this summer with a very bright white room, and it made me really notice my floaters. It was not pleasant, and I wanted to leave, but it didn't dog me after that. In the past, I would have kept trying to see if the the floaters were still there, ever increasing my brain's vigilance and anxiety. Because of all the ERP therapy in the past, I was able to let it go once I left the white room. Do I want to go back to that museum room? No, not really. Do I find it annoying that they advertised how fabulous the art looked in that room ~ yes!! But it didn't ruin my experience of the day, and that is real progress for me.

If you have been evaluated by an ophthalmologist, then I would next look to find an Exposure and Response Prevention therapist or check out the International OCD Foundation or read Jonathan Grayson's Freedom from OCD, to work on the obsessing about the floaters never going away.  You can work with an ERP therapist to find the most feared consequence of seeing the floaters in your eyes, and work on an exposure that deals with that, perhaps a script you listen to, or moving on with daily activities instead of stopping to focus on the floaters, and learning to habituate to the anxiety so it dissipates. 

I actually stopped noticing the floaters most of the time even before I went for treatment for other aspects of my health anxiety OCD.  If you contemplate your experience, you may remember symptoms that receded, even though at the time it seemed like they never would.  Sometimes it was a rotating worry from one thing to the next ~ ERP helps you get off the Merry-Go-Round.  Does hearing about other people's health issues still make me anxious? Yes.  I had a talk with someone last week which turned into her describing her retinal detachment, and I could feel an upsurge of anxiety, but again, I could let it go because I will never have 100% reassurance that nothing bad will happen, and yet I can still live my life.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Participate in an Online Survey about Childhood Experiences and OCD

Graduate Student Jenna Feldman is working on another research project at Yeshiva University.  She asked me to post the link to her survey about childhood experiences and OCD, and invite you to participate.


Online Survey about Childhood Experiences and OCD

If you are an adult (age >18) and suffer from the symptoms of OCD you are invited to complete an online survey about your symptoms as well as certain childhood experiences that some people have. This study is being conducted by the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University. If you consent to participate in this study you will complete a series of anonymous questionnaires that ask you questions about your childhood experiences and emotions. The survey should take approximately 45 minutes to complete. If you elect to participate you will have the option to be entered into a raffle for one of four $50 gift cards. To learn more about the study please follow the link below:

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Anxiety in Creative Business: Tara Swiger and Encouragement that You Can Move Forward

This podcast on Depression and Anxiety in Creative Business from Tara Swiger caught my attention, and I wanted to write about it. Tara also sent this introduction to a follow up webinar:
Studies show that 1 in 5 adults deal with mental health issues at least once in their life.
And yet, there's so much shame and stigma about talking about this.And still, in the last few months dozens of students and friends have told me about their depression, anxiety, or struggles with their kids health.
I understand not everyone is called to talk about their experience publicly...but when we ALL stay quiet, the stigma grows strength. So today on the podcast, I'm getting honest.
You’re not alone in this.
You are NOT alone in struggling with this. And as I share, I want you to remember – whatever you’re struggling with, not only are you not alone, but you can also move forward WITH IT. Exactly as you are. People are doing it. You don’t have to be different, better, or “more together” to make a business thrive.
I have a creative business, and when I have anxiety, sometimes I come to a halt in the belief that I can't move forward WITH IT.  But the truth is I started creating art in the depths of my anxiety, and went on to start my Etsy shop in 2007 just a few months after I began Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy for my OCD.  The Exposure for me was to create the shop without knowing if it was "perfect" or the right photos, or the right descriptions, or whether anyone would ever want to buy anything. 

Tara describes how reading about intolerance of uncertainty resonated with her when thinking about her own anxiety, and this is a key theme of mine as well.  All those What If questions, the desire to know how things will turn out before they happen.

Struggling with manually creating Wordpress website for my business was the next step to realize I was compulsively researching how to do it, when in fact, I needed something simpler, and the anxiety of letting go of the idea that I needed to know how to do things before I knew how to do them.  

A turning point was at a craft show, when a woman spent a long time checking each of my items for the most "perfect" one.  The piece that the craft show customer liked the best wasn't the most flawless in her eyes, so she told me she was choosing another one that had no visible defect.  Talking with my ERP therapist, I recognized myself in this woman.  Shopping for anything would drag on because I couldn't decide if a "flaw" would mesmerize me forever or eventually fade, and I would get angry at myself for latching onto such tiny things.  

It was huge to know I was making imperfect art, but that I wanted to do it anyway.  That I did not want to walk away from something I truly loved, because it was flawed.  I now work full time in my creative business, and yes, when anxiety flares up it is difficult, but part of the difficulty is in believing that I must entirely banish the anxiety to accomplish anything, and that it is a sign that I am a "bad person" if I feel anxious. The underlying premise of Exposure Therapy is that you can move forward through the anxiety, that it is possible, and for this encouragement, I am grateful. 

 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Online Survey on Beliefs about OCD Treatment is Still Looking for Participants

Online Survey of Beliefs about OCD Treatment
Please help Jenna Feldman with a research survey about OCD treatment and enter a raffle for a $50 giftcard!

She is a graduate student working toward her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Yeshiva University, and collaborating on a research project about OCD.  If you are an adult age >18) please participate in the online survey about your beliefs about treatments that exist for OCD.  The survey should take around 40 minutes to complete.  The study was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

If you elect to participate you will be entered into a raffle for a $50 giftcard!  We are now about a quarter-way done with our data collection, and have already awarded one $50 giftcard to a participant.  However, we still have three remaining giftcards to give out, so please consider filling out our survey. We really appreciate your help!

To learn more about the study please follow the link below:

https://yeshiva.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6GxEWgbMJcx1ZaJ
Thank you for participating!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Participate in an Online Survey of Beliefs about OCD Treatment

Online Survey of Beliefs about OCD Treatment

Jenna Feldman, graduate student working toward her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Yeshiva University, is collaborating on a research project about OCD. She is looking for (adults over age 18) who would be interested in participating in an online survey about your beliefs about treatments that exist for OCD.  The survey should take around 40 minutes to complete.  If you elect to participate you will be entered into a raffle for one of four $50 gift cards.  To learn more about the study please follow the link below:

https://yeshiva.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6GxEWgbMJcx1ZaJ

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Though Your Hands May Tremble: Dr. Claire Weekes and Peace from Nervous Suffering


Discovering the Anxiety Coaches Podcast led me to rediscovering Dr. Claire Weekes(1903-1990), the pioneering Australian physician who wrote about how to float through anxiety in the 1960's. When I was in the depths of anxiety, I found a book by Claire Weekes at the library.

I recognized a kindred spirit right away.  She had suffered with anxiety(or as she puts it "nervous illness"), and knew how disruptive and painful it can be.  Dr. Weekes is clear that we are not alone in suffering anxiety, and we are not fundamentally broken or flawed.

Listen to her voice in the video below.  Though it reminded me of old movies in tone, it did not subtract to her thorough understanding of the panic cycle which feeds on "what if."


Claire Weekes Biography

Two Pieces of Peace from Nervous Suffering by Summer Beretsky