Monday, August 22, 2011

OCD A to Z: W is for Worry

Worry is like leaving your headlights on, and draining the battery. Worry is exhausting and stalls you in the middle of nowhere. The saying that "most of the things you worry about never happen" has circulated for many years. I remember seeing it over 25 years ago when I was in high school. Worry is used as a talisman to ward off disaster. The first time I saw a psychiatrist in the early 90's for my anxiety, he diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder(GAD), which involves worrying about several different areas of life.

You worry too much.
If only you would stop worrying. . .
There's nothing to worry about.

The word worry comes from the Old English wyrgan, which meant to strangle, and evolved to mean "to cause mental distress or trouble." For all the stranglehold worry has held in my life, I couldn't imagine being without it. I felt that it somehow protected me, and that if I stopped worrying, something bad would happen. I hated worrying, but it was a compulsion.

I also felt like I had a responsibility to worry, since if something bad would happen if I stopped, then it would be my negligence. This can conspire with the OCD, and especially with intrusive thoughts, and the fear that if you stop worrying about the meaning of the thoughts, then it says something about your moral character, and so the worry starts up all over again.

What is worry actually doing? I once read that some researchers believe it damps down strong feelings and fears, and even though noxious, serves a function to buffer the fears. But can worry actually ward off danger? Will it guarantee I'm a good person, not a danger to others or myself? If worry can motivate me to actually do something constructive, I can see a use for it, but most of my worrying led to more fear, more exhaustion, more erosion of my life.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Call for Submissions of Creative Work for OCD Awareness Week 2011: Deadline August 31, 2011

The IOCDF is asking for submissions of art, writing, music and film for OCD Awareness Week 2011. If you have something you would like to share, the deadline is August 31st, 2011 at 12am EST.


The International OCD Foundation and its affiliates from across the country will come together to educate their communities and the public as a whole about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and its treatments. Learn from the nation's leading experts about how they work with those who suffer daily from the debilitating disorder. Have the opportunity to hear testimonials from patients both recovering and just beginning treatment and learn about the different treatments and therapies that help people hold jobs, balance relationships with family and friends, and lead more typical and productive lives.


OCD Awareness Week is presented by the International OCD Foundation as a vehicle for support, advocacy and education to help end the stigma surrounding OCD and encourage sufferers to identify the disorder and / or seek treatment. The national Foundation has enlisted the support of its Affiliates nationwide to join in this education effort.

2011 OCD Awareness Week Event - October 15

In an attempt to raise awareness of OCD and effective treatment the IOCDF will hold a national event in Boston, MA this year. This event will be video-streamed live across the country. Building on last year’s successful story telling event this year we will be broadening the event to “creative expression” of OCD. We will be looking for submissions in four different categories (for more specific information pertaining to each category please click on the desired category below):

Click here for applications in the following categories:
Personal Story/Fiction/Poetry
Short Film/Video/Animation

All submissions will be viewed and judged according to the following criteria:

Submissions will be accepted between August 1 9am EST until August 31 at 12am EST. Up to 5 finalists from each category (determined by a panel of experts through the IOCDF. The decision of the judges will be final.) will then be posted on our website for the public to vote. In mid-September winners will be announced. Winners will have transportation and hotel accommodations paid for by the IOCDF for the October 15th event.

Click here for applications in the following categories:
Personal Story/Fiction/Poetry
Short Film/Video/Animation

Friday, August 12, 2011

Free Online Treatment for OCD in Australia

Macquarie University's Centre for Emotional Health in Australia contacted me about passing on information about a free online course they are offering for dealing with OCD. I checked out their About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) factsheet, and they advocate for Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy, so if you live in Australia, this could be helpful.

Here are some details:
The eCentreClinic OCD Course is a 5-lesson cognitive and behavioural treatment package that delivers remote evidence- based treatment. The treatment includes techniques that would normally be delivered in face to face treatment. The main emphasis is on exposure and response prevention however the Course also includes a strong cognitive component. The OCD Course is delivered over 8 weeks and the participant has bi-weekly telephone contact with a Clinical Psychologist who is experienced in the treatment of OCD. The Course is open to individuals with all subtypes of obsessive compulsive disorder (with the exception of primary hoarding compulsions).

The OCD Course has been tested in one open trial with 20 participants to date. This research has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders. In summary the results from this study showed a high level of acceptability for the Course with 81% of participants completing all the Lessons and 100% of respondents indicating that they would recommend the Course to friends. In terms of clinical outcomes, participants improved significantly on the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale and 52% of participants no longer met criteria for OCD at 3 month follow-up.

Exclusion criteria for the OCD Course include:

- Aged <18

- Primary hoarding compulsions

- Suicidal intent

- History of psychosis

- No access to the internet

- Unstable medication dosage

- Current CBT treatment for OCD

- Residing outside of Australia

For enrollment information, check out The OCD Course.

OCD A to Z: V is for Voice

Censure - Illuminated

I hear a distinct voicing of my OCD thinking, a pattern I am getting better at recognizing. I personify my OCD as a voice that at times I argue with or reason with or acknowledge and move on to something else. When I first started Exposure therapy, whenever I said that "I" wanted to check something, or look something up or find certainty about an urgent question, my therapist would say, "The OCD wants this"--he said he wasn't suggesting I actually had another person inside me, but that he believed there was more to me than compulsions, that what I wanted was something bigger than my disorder allowed.

Sometimes he would have me be the OCD voice and he'd be "me"--and it would get intense. He'd call out the OCD, with its rigidity, and it's insistence on the unobtainable in order to be happy, and the lack of sophistication in dealing with life, a "one trick pony" with nothing to offer me but an illusion. At first I hated it, because I felt attacked, felt wrong and a failure, but I started learning to trust my therapist's support of me as a person, and seeing that his loyalty was to my soul, my purpose, my being, not to a pattern of obsessive compulsive thinking. OCD can latch onto any human experience, and in this way can feel absolutely unique, and yet the overall pattern is the same, the mode of operation, the demand for certainty, the search for actions or thoughts to undo the anxiety of the obsession.

Lolly over at Lolly's Hope Blog posted Pearl Jam's I Am Mine yesterday, and it was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.
The North is to South what the clock is to time
There's east and there's west and there's everywhere life
I know I was born and I know that I'll die
The in between is mine
I am mine
I am mine. My OCD gets in my face and says, "Ha! How do you know what's you and what's not? Are you sure you can be yourself? You need to figure this out. Now." But I can see the pattern, the opportunistic nature of the OCD wanting an answer, wanting to know for sure, wanting to perpetuate itself. If you are struggling with the erosion of your life because of OCD, remember that you are in there. You aren't broken or defective. One of my great fears was that if I started to get better from OCD I'd discover how truly bad a person I was, and then be without hope altogether, but the compassion of my therapist, my husband, other people dealing with OCD--all this helped me to see that there is hope, that I am no less than any other human being.