Tuesday, March 8, 2016

THE DEPTHS OF HELL

'OCD Brain' by Gemma Boyd

Survivors' Network, Brighton, who I was counting on to be able to help me regarding my need to talk about the childhood sexual abuse and violence I suffered that I haven't yet fully come to terms with, never got back to me.

All the time I'm bottling up this unresolved trauma, my OCD isn't going to get significantly better: Often, I don't feel in control of my self-sabotaging behaviours, which is why I don't fully trust myself to protect myself from what I / my OCD perceives as being (fatally) harmful threats, for example, spots of blood-like substances on the pavement.

I felt let down, uncared about and ignored by this lack of response from Survivors' - as I have done on a number of occasions when I've reached out for help from family, teachers and health care professionals with my emotional problems. This is why, for years, I've chosen to prioritize my career over my health: I've been determined to have some sort of life aside from the awfulness that's constantly rolling around inside me.

Murderous feelings build up in me whenever somebody violates my personal space, betrays me or disappoints me, and because I don't talk about these feelings, I am terrified that I could actually act on them. My psychotherapist, Eva, from 10 years ago, once told me that so long as I'm aware of such feelings, they will remain - just feelings.

On a much more positive note, however, Leanne and the administrators at EverythingOCD on Facebook, together with fellow OCD sufferers have offered me much appreciated affirmation that I can break free (even if not completely) from OCD so long as I continue to apply myself as determinedly as I have been doing.

Yesterday was the worst I've ever felt: Wherever I was in the house, I feared I'd somehow poison my cat and not remember I'd done it. I constantly had to write down reassurances to myself and call my partner, Jan, for reassurance that I hadn't done this. At one point I was literally rooted to the sofa with fear and honestly believed that I was no longer capable of being in the house alone without a carer -and even found myself contemplating suicide.

By complete contrast, though, earlier on in the day, I'd successfully completed my first official ERP (to read a book without checking I've missed out pages): Having practiced ERP on this exposure before, I'd already cut my original SUDS rating (92) by over half, which I was surprised about, and I managed not to compulsively check any page numbers. By the end of this 30 minute exposure, my SUDS level had reduced from 40 to 20; quite an achievement!

It's been so hard to locate and use the part of my brain that can still rationalize, but in reading more about OCD and the process of habituation, I've been able, sporadically, to separate out myself as a person from OCD and ask myself why, for example, if I don't worry that I'll poison our garden birds when I feed them, do I worry that I'll poison my cat? 

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