Sunday, January 7, 2018


'Roots' by Gemma Boyd

First of all I'd like to wish readers of this blog from all over the world a very happy, healthy, peaceful and loving 2018!

This article, OCD and PTSD - and the relationship between the two, was one of the best presents I received last Christmas: About 11 years ago when I was diagnosed as having OCD / PTSD, no health professionals explained to me all of the hellish symptoms I was experiencing and how the OCD and the PTSD related to each other - plus OCD in particular, wasn't taken as seriously in the UK as it is today. I wish I could've been given this article to read at the time of my diagnosis, as it would've saved me so much angst (I'd have know I wasn't simply losing my mind).

Often the symptoms of my OCD / PTSD are exacerbated by stress, change, hormones and exhaustion: In November I convinced myself that I'd taught one of my piano students the wrong thing by accident, which triggered a tidal wave of bullying intrusive thoughts towards myself such as,
"You're going to get fired," "You can't trust yourself," "You're crap at what you do," "You don't do enough with your time," "You're a loser." etc. They kept replaying uncontrollably in my mind, and at one point I felt as if killing myself was the only way I was going to be able to make them stop. This all links back to how as a child I'd often get a beating from my parents for the mildest of misdemeanours: One small mistake could lead to my fearing for my personal safety. Just after I turned up at my piano students' house I burst into tears, and he couldn't believe that my having made a mistake had got me into such a state. As it turned out, however, he said that he admired me for having had the guts to own up to not being perfect.

Sometimes the combination of terrifying intrusive thoughts and the bodily sensations that accompany them are so overpowering that I lose the ability to reason with myself: Even though nowadays I'm generally more comfortable in the company of lone men, occasionally if I encounter a man in a context which reminds me of where I was sexually abused, for example, while walking in the woods, I can experience a graphic flashforward of this man raping me. I'm able to delay asking my partner for reassurance that I'm okay after such incidents, and I'm learning to be more compassionate towards myself through studying Maintaining a Mindful Life with Monash University, run by FutureLearn: I've found the section on 'Cultivating Self-Compassion and Emotional Health' especially helpful, along with the mindfulness meditations on Kristin Neff's Self-compassion website. The more I'm able to be kind to myself, the less stressed and more productive work-wise I'm able to be, and I'm learning how to avoid the 'rabbit holes' of negative reactions I have regarding what I assume others are thinking of me.

Two years ago, at the beginning of this journey to being able to find more freedom from my mental health issues, I found it impossible to relax, but now as a result of my daily commitment to yoga and meditation, I'm able to completely let go of the tension in my body in most situations. This in turn gives my racing mind a rest: I heartily recommend Yin and Restorative Yoga teachings if relaxation is something you find difficult. As I've said before, I believe that the ability to be at peace and present in your body is key to being able to reign in symptoms of OCD / PTSD.

My checking compulsions still affect me quite badly on a daily basis, but sometimes I'm able to leave the house without unplugging an appliance!

I liken suffering from OCD / PTSD to being stuck in quicksand: I feel as if I'll never be completely free of it, but the less I struggle and the more I breathe, the more reserves I'll have to keep stepping away from it.

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