Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Update on the thing in my head.

So as part of the ongoing management of my OCD, my Therapist has encouraged me to conduct regular reviews of "life" to see how I'm doing and help me get a clear picture of the flow of things.
Now as something of list maker this has never been a problem for me and whilst doing my regular monthly checks today it occurred to me that I've not blogged about how I'm doing with my condition.
Those who know me know that the last 5 years, since being formally diagnosed, have been a trial for me, and those around me.
There have been times where I've been going backwards rather than forward, where the darkness just wouldn't give way to even a shimmer of light and when the hill seemed too steep to climb.
Conversely there have also been times of unbridled triumph , where I basked in the light that sent to shadows scattering and when I've done nothing but gained momentum on my way down the other side of the hill.
Anyway today proved something of a milestone.
I had to attend quite a serious meeting at work today which involved me, several members of senior management and quite a large does of anxiety.
Now anxiety is something that I suffer with really bad. In the past it has been one of the main triggers for some of my worst episodes and up-turns in compulsive behavior(repetitive list writing, agonising over choices to name just two symptoms).
Anyway, over the last few days my daily anxiety levels have risen as the meeting approached but I've managed to keep it at bay. Yay! Even in the final hours leading up to the meeting I managed to keep my marbles in their bag, as it where.

  • by monitoring my behaviour and not allowing the beginnings of "faulty thinking" to bloom into full blown all encompassing internal crisis's.
  • by remembering to breath......slowly. Simple but easy to forget when flapping.
  • practicing mindfulness.
I want to talk a little bit about mindfulness, as it's been something of a revelation for me. At first I didn't get it. When I was first introduced to it a few years ago at group therapy I couldn't get a working mental image to allow me to remove me from my thoughts and view the process from a position of calm detachment. Then,about 18 months ago, I was having a series of sessions with a student therapist called Madelaine. The subject of mindfulness, and my struggle with it, came up and she suggested a simple mental image to use that, for one reason or another, has worked for me. The image is this:

Before you is a series of boxes. In to each box goes a thought as it occurs to you, without you analysing it - just recognising it was a thought and putting it in the box. Once a box has a thought in it, it goes on to a conveyor belt. The conveyor belt winds its way to a hatch at the far end of the space before you. Once the box containing the thought goes through the hatch it is gone, it cannot come back. Other thoughts upon the same subject or emotion may occur, they may be identical but they are new thoughts.

Using this scenario/mechanism/ritual/strategy (call it what you will) it is amazing how quickly I can "get a grip" and calm down, effectively clearing my head and then "starting again" from a mindset I choose rather than the one created by reaction to my faulty thoughts.

It's worth mentioning at this point that there are as many of these scenario's as there are people, anything that works for the individual is fine - but the one above works for me. :)

Anyway back to today. The meeting went well and resulted in a positive outcome which I didn't fully believe it would but it did. Thank the Gods. :)
Not so long ago a meeting like this would have caused panic attacks and days (and sleepless nights) of obsessively compulsive acts.

I would like to think that this may help another who, reading this at a dark time, may see that there is hope of getting on top of things.

So in terms of review, things are going well. Not every day is easy and not every day do I succeed. But the difference between a lapse and a relapse are huge and a lapse can be coped with. Using the above methods I have found a way of living my life the way I want to, not the way that my OCD drives me to live.

There is hope.
You can win.

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