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Topic: ocd and questioning everything you do

3 posts, 0 answered
  1. Jcob5839
    Jcob5839 avatar
    4 posts
    14 April 2020

    hello everyone im looking for some coping strategies for OCD im 17 years old and ive been diagnosed with severe ocd and depression and im medicated for both of them. I’m constantly in a frenzy about decisions i make, for example earlier today i parked my car on the side of the road and i went to get something out of the boot while i was doing that i got distracted by something in the distance, but since i wasnt thinking about exactly what i was doing i thought i could have aimlessly wondered out into the road and got hit, these scenarios i make up in my head are a constant challenge and i feel like i need to have some sort of hyper-awareness to avoid getting hurt, if anybody has experienced something similar could you please offer some advice or insight thanks

    Jacob

  2. uncut_gems
    Community Champion
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    uncut_gems avatar
    319 posts
    14 April 2020 in reply to Jcob5839

    Hi Jacob,

    I'm a fellow OCD sufferer and know exactly what you mean. I'll share with you how someone explained it to me that made everything much clearer and might bring you some insight, even if it sounds a bit obvious. What a lot of people think about OCD (probably due to how it's portrayed in media), is that the person doing a certain action (checking something, counting something, etc.) is doing it because they have some positive association with that action. But it's actually the opposite: the behavior (the compulsion) is meant to soothe/help you *avoid* the bad feeling you get from not doing it. That's why OCD is often called an anxiety disorder.

    Let's break it down, using an example from my own life: you have an obsessive thought that gives you anxiety (e.g. my mom will die), and an association with a behavior (e.g. saying "I love you" at the end of every conversation with her). I feel *compelled* to say I love you to alleviate the anxiety of the obsessive thought. The result is "magical thinking," where we tie an unrelated action in our heads to avoiding a bad outcome.

    This may already be obvious to you, but I think that the kinds of thoughts you're describing function the same way. They are sometimes called intrusive thoughts, and are another kind of obsession. They feel terrible to have, so you take an action that soothes you and makes the intrusive thought go away. In your case, being hyper-aware probably alleviates your anxiety about getting hit. Or at least, not being hyper-aware would make it unbearable.

    All this to say that what you're experiencing not only really resonates with me, but is a great example of a very common OCD thought pattern. My symptoms were much more severe in my teens (I'm in my twenties now), and I found success with what's sometimes called exposure therapy. Under ideal circumstances, one of the best ways to combat these magical thoughts is to do the thing that causes anxiety without doing the compulsion (to use another personal example, getting something sticky on my hands and not immediately washing it off). The idea is that eventually, your brain learns that the thing you are anxious about is not going to result in catastrophe, and you lose the need to do the compulsive behavior.

    1 person found this helpful
  3. uncut_gems
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    uncut_gems avatar
    319 posts
    14 April 2020 in reply to uncut_gems

    This can be done informally by yourself, but it can be very hard. It took a lot of hard work at a special outpatient clinic for me to see improvement, which for obvious reasons might not be totally feasible right now. But there are still lots of things you can do yourself. One common strategy is to sort of play it out in your head, and ask yourself, what would (realistically) happen if I wasn't hyper-aware all the time? Most people aren't hyper-aware all the time, and very rarely wander out into the road. Of course the challenge is that there will be a part of your brain that pushes against that, saying, "no, it's only *because* I've been hyper-aware that I haven't gotten in an accident yet!"

    It's an ongoing struggle that I'm still dealing with, and through a combination of time and hard work will become easier for you.

    I'm always here to talk OCD stuff, and I know there are tons of other wonderful users who have similar experiences.

    Warmly,

    Gems

    1 person found this helpful

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