Relapse

I haven’t posted in so long…

Around Christmas time my OCD (particularly my Relationship OCD) relapsed pretty bad so it has been a struggle.  I am two weeks into therapy again and it is hard but I am fighting to accept that I don’t get to know some things. I’m fighting to accept uncertainty.

Relationship OCD targets the very thing that is most important to me.  I read a study recently which speculated that people with Relationship OCD tend to get a lot of their self worth from their relationships.  Not having a good relationship feels like the worst thing to me so naturally my OCD attacks it.

It makes me question my boyfriend’s love for me, it makes me question my love for him, it makes me question the “rightness” of our relationship.  It targets our most special moments and it breaks my heart.

But at the end of the day I am choosing to trust that it is my OCD and not that we really aren’t right for each other and I am working to accept that I don’t get to know if that is the truth or not.

Magical Thinking

I’d like to take this opportunity to explain how OCD made me think that I was psychic because of a closed gate….

 

This post is about OCD Magical Thinking. It essentially fools us into thinking that we have control over things which we do not, or that we are somehow able to predict things that we cannot.

 

Yesterday as I was leaving work the thought popped into my head that it had been a while since the gate to the parking lot was closed early (forcing me to go out a different entrance and take the long way around to the highway). I then had the overwhelming feeling that the gate would be closed that evening, which of course as I got closer I saw that it was indeed closed.

 

My mind immediately jumped into panic mode telling me that I do in fact have psychic powers and that when I get overwhelming feelings about my OCD fears they also must be true.

 

In the back of my mind was a little voice telling me that this is probably not true and that the gate thing was either a coincidence or that I subconsciously registered the closed gate out of my peripheral vision when I first left the office. But the little voice was swiftly silenced by the much more boisterous voice of my OCD telling me all my worst fears and feelings are true and that I should pay extra attention to them.

 

In the light of day I am able to mostly silence that OCD voice which was so loud last night, but it is still there. It will probably always be there, and I have to just accept that because the more I try to eradicate it the louder it seems to get. So alas, I will allow OCD to be there without giving it as much weight as it thinks it deserves.

OCD About OCD

Sometimes OCD makes you worry about the most ironic things.  I remember when I first started with an Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) group I was worried that I wasn’t OCD-enough.  I had already had a consultation session with the therapist running the group but yet I still worried that I wasn’t supposed to be there.  Not in an I-Don’t-Want-To-Be-Crazy-Enough-To-Be-In-This-Group sort of way, but in a What-If-I’m-Fooling-Everyone-And-I-Don’t-Actually-Have-OCD way.  Which makes no sense. My OCD was essentially making me worry that I wouldn’t be “cool” enough to fit in at OCD group therapy.

oh honey

Another odd one I encountered was toward the end of my time attending the group.  I started to notice improvements, and notice that I was able to catch myself early if I started new obsessions.  You would think I would be elated and feel so free.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful for that group, it changed my life!  But for some reason I kept noticing an odd desire to hold on to a little bit of my OCD.  It was almost like I didn’t know who I was without it.  I worried that my OCD would completely go away (HAH!) and I would be a totally different person.  And even though OCD can be very difficult and very isolating, here I was bonding with people over it and feeling like I fit in somewhere (and who doesn’t like to fit in?).

friends gif

Point being: OCD makes you worry about OCD *le sigh*

What are some ironic worries that OCD has caused you to have?

Relationship OCD (rOCD)

Relationship OCD. Have you heard of it? Most people haven’t (including my first three therapists). I first noticed the symptoms when I was in high school but it would take another 8-9 years before I would be properly diagnosed.

Relationship OCD (rOCD) follows the typical pattern of OCD: Intrusive thought -> Anxiety -> compulsion to counteract the anxiety. With rOCD though, the theme of the intrusive thoughts center around one’s relationship.

Most people experience it as Type I, in the form of intrusive thoughts regarding their own feelings toward their partner. But occasionally someone may experience it as Type II, intrusive thoughts about their partner’s feelings toward them.

The first type would have you obsessing about your significant other’s flaws (partner focused) or fearing that you have fallen out of love (relationship focused). For example you might become obsessed with a particular flaw that you view it completely out of proportion to reality, convincing yourself that your partner is not attractive enough, or smart enough etc. Or you may be so hyper-aware of your feelings toward your partner that you become alarmed any time you feel annoyed or angry with them, convincing yourself that because you don’t feel completely 100% in love at all times that you are not with the right person. This can put a heavy strain on a relationship if the other person senses a distance, or starts to feel as if they are constantly under a microscope.

The second type typically involves the need to repeatedly check that your partner still loves you. For example you may be obsessed with the idea that your partner is attracted to someone else or that they are just pretending to be in love with you. The idea that you cannot guarantee your partner’s feelings causes a constant level of uncertainty and fear. This can also put a strain on the relationships as the other person begins to feel that no amount of reassurance will be enough. Or as John Mayer puts it “I adore you, but there’s a hole in the cup that should hold my love”.

With rOCD some of the common compulsions can be:

  • Seeking reassurance (either from friends and family or from your partner directly)
  • Avoiding movies, songs, or other couples who trigger intrusive thoughts
  • Spending a lot of time on the internet researching relationships
  • Mentally reviewing past relationships to compare them
  • Mentally comparing the relationship to those of friends, family, or even characters in a story
  • Checking to see if you still “feel” in love
  • Checking to see if you feel more attracted to someone else
  • Checking to see how often you think of your partner

The thoughts are always intrusive and unwanted, going against what the person truly feels and believes.  The desire to be “sure”, especially in an area of life where most people are taught to believe there is one true soul-mate, takes over.

But just like other forms of OCD, allowing the thoughts to be there without needing to do anything about them is the best treatment for rOCD.

rOCD is heartbreaking because it attacks one of the very things that is supposed to be a source of comfort.. Sometimes you just have to take it one day at a time and say to yourself “OCD will not control this. I make my own decisions and right now at this point in my life I am choosing this relationship and this person and this love”.

Half The Battle

Gun control is only half the battle in this type of shooting. Acknowledging the mental health aspect of these tragedies isn’t meant to take the blame away or lessen the horror, it is to prevent it from happening again! If someone shows warning signs of a physical illness we encourage them to go to the doctor but mental health is viewed as a luxury instead of a necessity. In addition to passing gun control laws let’s please also advocate for better, and more easily accessible mental health care. Let’s educate people (especially parents and school professionals) on ALL the warning signs of mental illness and make it more acceptable to talk to someone about seeking treatment.