Disgust Contamination OCD
This is Nathan Peterson, licensed clinician and OCD specialist.
Did you know that the fear of contamination or being germy doesn't always lead to the fear I'm getting sick? What about having certain thoughts and now I am mentally contaminated. My brain is unclean. This feeling is wrong. In fact many feel this overwhelming feeling of general disgust.
In this video we will be going over what mental contamination OCD looks like and explain this feeling of disgust, also we're going to go over how you're going to handle this feeling and thoughts.
Imagine this for yourself. You touch door handles, shake people's hands, touch that shopping cart and make it home. Most of the time we just wash our hands and move on. With mental contamination, these individuals may do a physical action to try to fix something that's happening mentally. Washing my hands means I'm washing a feeling. I'm washing a thought. I'm going to continue doing this physical action until I feel better.
It actually doesn't have to be washing either. It could be tapping something a certain amount of times, avoid certain items, words, or images. When we think of contamination we think of I'm going to get some germs on my hand and get sick. These individuals are experiencing is, I'm going to get germs on my hand and I'm going to feel disgust, gross, and this feeling is not going to go away until I can fix it.
Or this, I had an intrusive thought that doesn't match my value system and I felt disgust, this feeling will not go away until I do something to fix it. I may have to repeat a certain word in my head over and over and over again as to cleanse this feeling. I may have to physically wash something. Maybe it's do some type of ritual until I feel better.
Here's what we're going to do about this mental contamination. Mess it up. That's right. We are going to purposely touch the contaminants. Purposely engage with the things they make us feel emotionally contaminated. You get to set the rules. Our goal isn't to figure out how you cannot feel this disgust feeling. instead it's to live life with this feeling as long as you're doing exactly what you want to do. But this feeling can't last forever.
You can even respond differently to the disgust feeling. Celebrate it. Have a party! When you feel disgust imagine blowing a kazoo. Yahoooo! Love this feeling. I hope it lasts all day. As long as I'm not responding to it with any value it's teaching the brain that you're not falling for it anymore. To me, it's a false signal, trying to get you to react, so why not poke the bear and do the opposite. Touching that door handle made me feel internally contaminated, I'm going to go touch it again. I'm going to watch that video clip again. I'm going to mess up the compulsion so bad that my brain doesn't even come up with this idea.
Yes the anxiety and distress will be there. But it can't last forever.
You've go to stop these compulsions and that's why I created this video to help you do so. It's a simple trick that works for most. You'll need to know it to power yourself up. Click on it here.
Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
Counting Compulsions OCD
Counting as a compulsion is very common in the OCD world. Often individuals may count to gain a feeling of "just right" or "yep now I can stop" - That's the feeling I was looking for. Often this counting is done is avoid anxiety and the fear of the feeling that something is "wrong".
We're going to talk about why counting happens and what you're going to do about it.
You may be wondering, what do you mean by counting Nate. Well, let me tell you. Counting can be literal counting. It can be tapping something while counting. It can be doing an action over and over again while counting. Some may count to a certain number until it feels right or until their brain says, "Whooo, you prevented that bad thing from happening." They may count in odd numbers, even numbers, they can count in 4's -- it literally is whatever their brain said is the way they should do it.
Here is an example. My spouse calls me and say, "Hey, I'm headed home from work. Be there in 20 minutes." At that moment, I turn off my phone and my brain says...."well crap...I just turned my phone off the wrong way, if I don't redue it 8 times, my spouse is in real risk of crashing and it'll be my fault." So I grab my phone and turn it off and on 8 times. Well crap...that actually didn't feel right, I better do it again. Maybe I need to put in the password and THEN turn off the phone 8 times. Okay okay...that was it. Now I feel like I've reduced this risk and my anxiety went away.
When I see my spouse walk in the house it verifies to me that the only reason she is safe is because I took action. OCD tricked me into believing something that actually is untrue.
I see this counting done so randomly, unplanned and out of the blue. The brain says 37 times I need to push the J button on my keyboard...sometimes there is no known risk or responsibility. I just know it HAS to be done or I won't stop thinking about it AND I'm going to feel anxious or distressed until I do it.
Sometimes when someone is counting is actually is pretty automatic. It's just something they do and have done for a while. For instance, someone may count floor or ceiling tiles, words in a sentence, the amount of steps they are taking, how many times they dribbled the basketball, how many passes they made, really anything you can think of, they may count it.
There is no rime or reason to it other than not wanting to feel uncomfortable or feel responsible. Someone can get triggered because they saw a certain number or color that makes them go through their counting routine.
You know what we're going to do about all this counting? Completely mess it up..and I'll show you how.
To treat counting OCD compulsions, we use exposure and response prevention. Essentially what we want to do is break OCD's rules. You will be exposing yourself to the discomfort and anxiety and RISK the the responsibility threat that comes your way. So using my example of my spouse, Instead of me turning on and off my phone. I'm actually going to either leave it and not engage with the phone anymore or I'm going to make it very unsatisfying by maying turning it on and off 3 times instead of my normal 8.
The brain is likely to freak out and say, "WAIT! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" It's going to be your fault, they will crash because of you AND your anxiety will never go away. So the response part is this......yeah man, I messed it up and they may or may not crash or I just agree with it and say, "totally, crashing here we come." The response part is crucial. I'm essentially acting like I don't care and am willing to do this until my distress reduces.
What will happen is that my spouse is likely to walk in and then you just caught your OCD red handed. That little liar. "Uhhh okay, well I know I told you that you were in danger, but I was wrong.....NEXT time though." Once the brain learns that you actually weren't in danger and that you could tolerate not counting those urges to count start slowing down.
Wow what a trip! Have you had these counting compulsions before? To enhance your OCD knowledge and recovery journey, make sure you go watch my video on sneaky compulsions because these are done a lot!
How to stop counting
This is Nathan Peterson, licensed clinician and OCD specialist. This one compulsion is so very common and most don't even know they're doing it. I often talk about sneaky compulsions. These compulsions come in so many different forms. If you don't know what a compulsion is, it is the thought, behavior, or action that someone might take in order to attempt to gain certainty with their fear and/or reduce anxiety.
Here's the compulsion. Telling your OCD story. No don't get me wrong, there are times in your life where you need to tell your experiences. Go through the thoughts and feelings. But many tell their story daily. Whether it be on forums, groups, or to their loved ones. It seems so innocent to do so but let me share with you the dangers of taking this path. What ends up happening is that the individual that suffers with OCD shares the story time and time and time again. And when I mean story I mean they are sharing an experience they had in the day. They are sharing an intrusive thought that came their way. They are sharing a feeling that they have. Essentially, they are confessing their thoughts.
They are not necessarily looking for reassurance. Instead they are just simply sharing what they're going through. Here's the tricky part, for most, not all... They are receiving reassurance. Maybe they don't even though they are doing so. They are receiving reassurance because they just shared their experience to someone and that person did not freak out. That person may have given them reassurance. They may have looked at their facial expression to see if they think I'm crazy or do they not. Do you think I'm OK or do they not. The sense of being a roundabout way of receiving reassurance. I mean heck, we're taught our whole life to share experiences. But when it comes to intrusive thoughts and obsessions, we were verification and certainty. We want support.
See what happens if you don't. If you feel that overwhelming need to share, maybe you feel like you won't get better until you do, it may be a compulsion. Maybe delay it. You're not waiting for your spouse to get home to tell them what you've gone through. You wait two or three hours after they've already been home. See if you can wait. If your loved one or support person has asked you to share what you've gone through. You may still have to evaluate and ask yourself, why am I sharing this intrusive thought today. Is it to gain support what is the gain Comfort and reassurance.
There are obviously instances where sharing your experiences and story are important. To someone like a therapist. Some may set up checkpoints. Meaning they have set a certain time every other day or every week whatever is reasonable to share and experience at a certain time. But again it's looking at if this is going to help or hurt your OCD. I would love it if people changed talking about their OCD experience that day to here is how I used treatment with my OCD experience.
I had this intrusive thought today while I was driving. Guess what I did, I kept driving, I didn't look in my rear view mirror, I didn't go back and check. I kept driving. What does does is promote treatment more than give the story more power and value.
Think about this the next time you want to share about your intrusive thoughts or OCD story. If you've been watching my other videos, we've learned that OCD is OCD and we give the thoughts no value or power. So, to help with this process, not going through it and "figuring it out" shows that it's all fluff. It doesn't mean that you don't matter, it may just mean that those thoughts are error messages that don't need to pay attention to.
To help you build a stronger muscle to stop these compulsions, go watch this video, where I talk about simple tricks to stop compulsions all together.
Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
Treatment for OCD compulsions
Why OCD feels so real
I'm Nathan Peterson, a licensed clinician and OCD specialist. Have you ever wondered why your OCD feels so incredibly real? For many, they know that the thought isn't real, but it feels real. So when something feels real, we react as if it's real....right?
Think about it this way. When we watch a movie we can become immersed and get absorbed. We get hyper focused, get lost and even confused. We can lose touch of reality for a bit. For some they may watch the same movie and not be connected or immersed at all.
So what's the difference? One person is allowing and inviting themself to get lost in the story and the other person see it for what it is and keeps it at the surface. Both have control over this decision.
So when it comes to OCD and an intrusive thought, one main point to bring it even more value is the anxiety or distress attached. This anxiety says.....HEY, this is important. Keep thinking about this one. As you get engrossed into the narrative or story, we tend to feel more emotions and feelings. Making it feel...well...real.
When something feels real, we spend time trying to "figure it all out" and prevent a possible catastrophe. Thus adding even more value to it.
So when I hear someone tell me that their OCD thoughts feel so real, it typically isn't the first time they've had that thought. They've had this thought many times and in each moment taken the time to try to understand it. Thus making it feel more real overtime.
We also know that OCD attacks what people care about. We have many doubts and questions in our mind everyday. But most of the time they won't feel real because we don't care about it. For instance, I may be watching tv and hear about how easy it is to get fungus under our toenails. Why do I not care about this....because it's not my thing. It's a threat like any other. My brain only cares about whatever I made a connection with and put value to. Maybe it's my relationship, maybe it's a certain disease, maybe I'm focusing on my breathing. Either way and either topic. It's all the same.
One only feels real because we make it feel real. To stop this progression of realness, we can see or hear a threat and choose to not put value to it. Choose to see information as information. Choose to keep things uncertain. Choose to stop ruminating. Choose not engage in a compulsion. The urge may be there, but you always have the choice.
When you take this proactive choice to not engage, it no longer feels real. Why? Because you are telling your brain that you simply don't care. You're letting life be what it is. And don't fall for the, "but I'm different" - That's just another trick that feel's real.
You're a special person, but your topic or content of the obsession is not. So ultimately, let it feel real. Just choose to not engage. Not figure out. It's got to be pretty obvious that there is a problem. 1000% hit you in the face obvious. If that is not there, we may treat this "real feeling" as a false signal.
Have you ever had a memory of the past, maybe a story that you've told over and over and over again throughout your life. Sometimes there is a point where you're actually not sure if it happened the way you've been telling it. Maybe it started out as an embellishment, but overtime it actually feels real with some confusion. I think of this the same way, we've told the story so many times, just like the OCD brain tells the content of the story and all of a sudden, we're confused on what is accurate and what is not.
In simple terms: Stop telling the story! Stop creating a narrative. Stop with the "what ifs" - You don't need the story. Yourself without OCD doesn't need the story. Let it go. Sit with the discomfort and the "realness" feelings. Let it pass. The more you do this, the less scary and real it may feel.
The way we think is the way we feel. If I felt someone is judging me, I'll feel anxious, scared, and sad. Even if this is untrue. I made up a story and fell for its tricks. Don't fall for it.
Since OCD affects our mood, see how you can control these mood swings with this video here!
Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
OCD feels real
OCD seems real
How do I know if it's OCD?
I asked you to tell me the most common thought you have regarding your OCD and here is the resounding answer. "How do I know if my thoughts or feelings are OCD or if they are really me.?" If it really is me, it means I'm a scary, dangerous, dirty, and bad person. But if it's my OCD, then I get a pass. So why can't you tell if it's really your OCD or if it's really you? In this video you're going to learn why it's so difficult to see the difference, if it even matters, and you how to respond the next time you question it. No time to waste! Let's get to it! I'm going to give you the quick answer, but that doesn't mean you'll leave the video right...right...right! I need you to stay to the end.
Here's the sitch, You cannot tell if it is you or your OCD because of the emotion and attention you are bringing it. Because you have OCD, the connections in your brain are attaching a big emotion such as anxiety to an intrusive thought. An intrusive thought that is likely to be had by most people. It's okay for our brain to throughout intrusive thoughts. Doesn't matter what it's related to. This anxiety felt make everything feel dangerous and important. It activates this fight or flight response.
When we're in this mode, the brain and body go into problem solving. You have to know if what you're experiencing is true or not. You have to know if you're really in danger. Protect, protect, protect! So in simple terms, the reason you question if it's really you or your OCD is because you don't want it to be you. Because it goes against your value system and who you are as a person if these thoughts WERE you. But, that's the nature of OCD, going toward your values, making something feel extremely real, putting lots of power to it and then it stands back to see how you're going to respond to it. Before we give that response to the OCD,
We're going to keep it waiting, because it hates it. Hey bro! You're not sure if this thought is you or OCD, so on the safe side, do the compulsion. Does this sound familiar? Most will feel guilt or shame because they feel like they need to....just in case that thought wasn't really OCD. So we know it's tough to decipher and let me give you the golden answer of how you can know if it's OCD or not..... "Shifty eyes" ...... That's not your job. Ahhh, I see you ready to click off the video. Seriously, hear this.
The more you attempt to discover if it's OCD or not the more you stay stuck. And I hear you on the other side of that screen. "BUT, I NEED TO KNOW IF I'M A BAD PERSON OR NOT OR IF I WOULD REALLY DO THAT THING OR NOT." FALSE! You don't, your OCD would like to know that answer only to make you doubt again.
So here is a response instead.... Ew..."did you just have that thought about that person? I can't believe you did that?" My answer... Thanks for the thought, bro. Yea, but that's really you and not your OCD, this is important. "Okay, thanks for the feedback, riveting stuff." You need to feel guilt. Shame on you. "I'm loving all those feelings." We don't reason with it. We don't use logic. We don't figure it out. We live our lives!
Your job isn't to figure this all out. It's to NOT do any compulsion because what we learn is that the obsessions don't matter. They really don't. It's all white noise. The way you are responding to this question, "is this me or my OCD?" will determine the trajectory of your triggers, anxiety, shame, doubts and guilt. Some make commitments, "I choose to not figure out what is real and what is my OCD?"
That's not my job. My job is to live life right now in this moment. I will not do any compulsion. This does not mean that for the rest of your life you're suffering. It actually means, you're brining more rays of hope that bring you closer to recovery. These compulsions are tough to break, so please go watch this video where I give some simple tricks to help you stop these compulsions. Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time!
OCD or me
False attraction OCD
Ahhhh, you're attracted to someone other than your significant other. Attracted to someone of your same gender. Someone older than you, someone younger. Someone close to you. Someone or something you feel like you shouldn't be attracted to. What the heck are you supposed to do about this? It's making you anxious mixed with a lot of doubt. Is it OCD or is it really you?
By the end of this video (and I know you'll stay to the end) you will learn why you may have false attraction and what to do about it. However, this video is not meant to be used for reassurance.
For most who struggle with OCD, false attraction seems to rear its ugly head. I use the word FALSE attraction, but most don't actually recognize the "false" part.... They will continually wonder, check, ask questions, research online and problem solve until they are blue in the face and STILL at the end of it all, not be sure if it was REALLY them that is attracted or if it was their OCD.
Here is what's happening. OCD by nature not only makes someone doubt their thoughts, but our emotions and physical sensations too. So a natural thought of, oh wow, that girl's cute can send someone through a spiral. They get shocked by the thought. I'm married, I can't have these thoughts. Great...what does it mean? It must mean I don't love my spouse. Maybe I don't think they are pretty enough. I'm thinking about it so much now and avoiding looking at that person again, that I'm starting to notice physical sensations. I'm not sure if I'm aroused. GREAT! If I'm aroused, it now verifies my attraction to them. My anxiety is also verifying to me that this is true.
So what's happening here is all the value I'm putting on a simple thought. What if I just saw someone and had a thought of "they're cute" and moved forward. Nothing has to mean anything, unless we put meaning to it. Without it being reassurance, people simply are feeling attraction or "false" attraction due to the meaning we've put behind it.
With OCD, it automatically wants to throw this meaning in and simply wants you to problem solve. But you're not going to do that anymore. Do you know what you're going to do?
Not figure it out anymore. Dun, dun, duuuuunnn! That's right! Nothing. Nada. Ziltch. See that person and think they're cute. Get aroused. Allow the thoughts. BUT, when it happens, you no longer are going to figure it out and this is what you can say...."Yep" That's a thought. "Coolio" I'm feeling all the feelings" "maybe I'm super attracted, maybe not." You are not problem solving this. Our job is to continue to move forward regardless of the thoughts, feelings, emotions, urges, etc.
When you finally surrender to not finding the answer, your brain stops putting value to it and as I mentioned, it does not matter what you feel "attracted" to. OCD is OCD. White noise throwing out anything to see if you'll connect.
Do you ever wonder if you're really attracted to anyone or anything, mixed with strong anxiety emotions? Live your life! That's your job. Not figure any of this out. This may mean, getting rid of the compulsions. Those things you're doing to avoid the perceived threat.
To gain the upper hand, go over and watch my video about what to do when your OCD tells you that you LIKE these thoughts.
Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
Do I have false attraction?
False Attraction ROCD
What is agoraphobia?
Leaving my house gives me the tingles. Agoraphobia is defined by an extreme or irrational fear of entering open or crowded places, leaving one's home, or being in places from which it's difficult to escape.
By the end of this video you'll know what agoraphobia is and what I tell my patients on how to treat it.
It's theorized that agoraphobia starts when an individual has one or more panic attacks, causing them to worry about having another attacks and avoiding the places that it happened. The thing about panic however is that it can happen anywhere and the brain is soooooooo good at remembering the places. It sends out the signal that those places are dangerous. People start realizing that their world starts shrinking and shrinking and shrinking. I can't go to grocery stores any more, gas stations are out of the question, driving is a no-no, the last social event caused me to panic, those are out. Forget flying or any type transportation because I cannot get out if I start to panic.
You know the safe place to be. Home. I don't panic at home. What ends up happening is that this magical illusion that home is safe becomes a reality. If the person attempts to leave, even to get the mail, they panic because....they've told themselves that home is safe and WHY ARE YOU NOT IN YOUR HOUSE! How about I give you a panic attack to set you strait.
You can see how difficult this can be for someone. Why panic if we don't have to. Even at the expense of others and missing out on life.
It's not only panic that sets in, but various physical symptoms. Chest pains, chills, diarrhea, feelings of choking, feelings of unreality, nausea, numbness, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, and shaking. Yikes, with all of these physical symptoms after leaving the house, why would you.
Typically agoraphobia doesn't just start overnight. It's a longer process of eliminating the places, people, things around you.
So how do we get out of this sticky mess! The most effective treatment that works for agoraphobia is called exposure and response prevention.
Essentially, you are facing your fears, sensations, panic, and anxiety. Most start slow. They write down all the places they would like to revisit and go and rank them from easiest to go to, to hardest. The ideas is to start getting yourself to that place, but in the right way.
Here is what I mean. If my goal is to get to the mailbox. I may be focusing on sitting on my front porch and noticing how much distress or panic this brings. I need to sit on my front porch, feeling all the feelings, and respond differently to them. If panic attacks happen. Great! We don't run. We don't fix. We sit with the feelings. Some may even say, "yep" there is the panic attack. Sweet, it may last forever. Focusing on taking all this value away from it. Panic isn't the enemy. Your body thinks it's keeping you safe. The panic and distress have to go down. When the distress levels go down, you haven't done any compulsions and you've responded completely differently, some may walk inside for a few minutes and then do it again.
Repeat until the distress levels just simply don't rise as much as they used to. Then, the person chooses to move closer to their goal. Maybe it's sitting in their yard. Read a book. Be there. Again, not fixing, not running, embracing the feelings. You then move closer and closer. Each time this process is done, the brain learns who's the boss. You are the boss. We repeat this for everything on the list.
Ultimately, it's accepting that there will be panic. But it can't hurt you. You can teach it that you're cool with it. Physical symptoms can happen, but you're staying put. It can feel like a tough process, but I find that the anticipation of doing these exposures tends to be worse than the actual thing.
You need to learn to respond the correct way with these panic attacks, click right here to watch my other video on how to do this.
Have you struggled with agoraphobia before? What places do you avoid?
Thanks for watching and I will see you next time.
Treatment for agoraphobia
How to treat agoraphobia
OCD mood swings are a thing. You may have depression, anger, guilt, shame, stress, worry, low self-worth, get easily overwhelmed, and may even cry for long periods of time. But I wonder.....if you didn't struggle with OCD, would you experience all these other emotions?
By the end of this video, you're going to learn why your OCD may a possible cause to some of your other moods and feelings AND what we're going to do about it.
OCD can big whirlwind of distress and doubt. What happens when you're distressed and cannot find a good solution to relieve it. You get angry. Frustrated. Annoyed. You may even lash out at someone else. When there isn't a good answer to your OCD worries, sadness comes about, some may isolate. When we feel overwhelmed, we cry. The body just cannot handle the situation anymore.
There is often a drastic fluctuation in mood with someone who experiences OCD. We tend to think it's just anxiety. But when these unwanted thoughts, images, impulses and triggers happen, where are we to turn? Our body has to compensate somewhere. If I have a thought that God is not real, I may have intense guilt. If I have intrusive thoughts that go against my value system, I may experience disgust and shame.
It seems like a lot of these filter down to depression. The ultimate emotion that says, you're stuck, you're not moving forward, there is no hope for you. What's the point?
It's easy in these modes to start blaming others for triggering the OCD or not helping you engage in a compulsion. Rage and anger join the party. Ultimately, the person just wants relief.
So to me, OCD tends to be the base and intensifier to so many other emotions. Causing them to skyrocket at times and causing someone to feel very low. Even feel like they are going crazy.
So here is what we're going to do about these OCD mood swings.
So here is one method many choose to do is externalize their OCD. Some have given their OCD a name. Sup Jimmy. Oh Karen, there you are.
Externalizing the OCD separates yourself from it. So the intrusive thought you're having is no longer YOU. We're not using this as reassurance to convince yourself that it's not you. We're simply giving you a new mindset to say, "my OCD is telling me this intrusive thought" "my OCD is telling me I am a bad person." "My OCD is throwing some interesting thoughts my way"
We're less likely to feel an emotion attached when we simply acknowledge a thought and move forward. We do not however use phrases like, "this is just my OCD" as a way to convince you. We still sit with the distress and uncomfortableness of it all. Staying uncertain. Choosing to not figure it out or do any compulsion.
These OCD mood swings are arriving because you are internalizing an intrusive thought with a lot of meaning and putting value on it. So if I had a blastomphous thought and internalized it and went through the loops of trying to figure out if it was me or why I would even think that...I'm going to start feeling lots of different emotions. Shame and guilt. If I took this same thought and say, "oh hey there OCD thought" - it no longer puts it all on me. Instead, the disorder.
We can reduce the different emotions by doing treatment. Exposure and Response Prevention; (if you didn't already know that) *wink
To even better have more control over your emotions, watch the 25 tips for succeeding in your OCD treatment here.
What emotions does your OCD make you feel? Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
OCD and Depression
OCD tips for anxiety
Am I gay or in denial?
So I have a few videos on sexual orientation ocd or HOCD and inevitably, someone will comment. "how do I know I'm not just using OCD as an excuse to hide that I am gay." Man, I don't blame you, I'd want to know this answer myself. Well in this video, my attempt is to answer this question WITHOUT providing reassurance; which we all know is a compulsion that keeps OCD at bay.
First address the random comments from strangers: "you all just need to accept that you're gay and stop hiding it." or "sexual orientation OCD doesn't exist." As you can tell these types of comments from strangers can be damaging and cause even more anxiety. So let's set the record strait. "get it.....strait."
Sexual orientation OCD is a subset of OCD. As we know, it attacks what we value and care about. It will make someone question everything about themselves. It can be their sexual orientation, make someone question if they are gay. If they are strait. If they are transgender. It makes you question if you even have OCD. Which brings us here, in this moment.
Am I already diagnosed with OCD? Have I had other OCD themes in the past? If so, there is a good chance OCD has moved to this new theme. Do I feel anxiety and a strong urge to know right now? and I mean it....like right now! I won't be satisfied until I know this answer....right now! If that's the case, it's likely to be OCD-related.
Someone who is figuring out their orientation thinks about it in an inquisitive way. Not with extreme anxiety that just won't pass. To me, this is a big indication. Denial means I am choosing to push something away and not think about it. There is the key....not think about it. Someone who is denying something has this ability. Someone with OCD may not. Their brain is forcing a thought. A thought they don't want. A thought that goes against their values and their morals. It is ego-dystonic. It doesn't belong.
But as we get so caught up in the context of am I gay or am I not; this often can be the trap. You may be watching this video right now and saying...okay Nate says, people have anxiety and can't let it go if they have OCD. Does that sound like me? I'm not sure if that sounds like me. Maybe I really am in denial. I better keep searching. So while OCD seeks this truth, it's really a lie. That's why we gain the upper hand by telling it that you're actually okay not finding the answer. It may seem so out of control that someone can accept that they will not get this answer; but just like any other theme of OCD, this is the way. This is the treatment.
Using phrases like, "maybe, maybe not" give our brain this answer that's like...okay man....I'm accepting that I don't know and I'll learn to be okay as long as I don't continue to do compulsions. So ultimately, you may be thinking. Nate, you didn't really answer my question. I still want to know if I'm gay or not. Or if I'm strait or if I'm transgender.
Here is the real answer....the way to know is to not know. Sounds nutzo, but it's so true. To commit to not figuring this out is the key. To live your life the way YOU want to live your life. To not stop yourself from moving forward. To not engage with the thought of, "am I gay or not."
To commit and I really mean commit, 100% that I am not going to figure this out anymore. I'm going to stop researching, asking on forums, engaging with my rumination or asking for reassurance.
What ends up happening is one of two things. The theme moves to something else, all of a sudden I'm worried about car emissions and if they are hurting my lungs; or your brain simply doesn't care to find the answer and stops bothering you about it. Think about this, the only reason words have meaning is because we put meaning to it. When you've stripped it all way. It's got nothing left. Your job is to live your life. Move forward, Feel the anxiety and make it your buddy. Commit to not know. To gain even a better understanding of treatment, make sure you watch this video, where I go through the treatment for sexual orientation OCD
How do I know if I'm gay
I'm scared that I'm gay
How long does OCD recovery take?
Isn't this the question we have with anything we want to go away in our life? How long will I have this? This question can cause a lot of anxiety to think about and bring a lot of comfort. It all depends on what mindset you have.
To jump right into it, recovering from OCD depends on many factors. Do I have the right tools and am using the right treatment? Am I actually using the treatment often? Do I have a strong foundation for therapy?
For many, treatment can be relatively quick. Individuals can feel better sooner, while others it may take longer. It also depends on the severity of symptoms. It's already infiltrated itself into your day, we might as well do something with it.
I almost hesitate to give a specific number because I do not want you to be your timeline because your timeline is YOURS. Here is what I've heard many specialists suggest their own research. Many can expect to feel recovered between 12-20 therapy sessions and can see a clinically significant decrease in OCD symptoms. Others give a timeline of 2 months. Personally in my own practice, I've seen individuals for a few weeks and others a couple of years. There is not that magical formula that fits each person, but I'll share with you what I see as a standard for individuals getting better quicker.
-Using exposure and response prevention the correct way.
-Building an exposure hierarchy to help you face your fears in a gradual way
-Doing these exposures daily and when I mean daily I don't mean 1x a day. I mean, making it your part-time job. It could be hours.
-Simply put. You've got to stop doing compulsions. Even if you're feeling anxiety.
-Your focus must be on recovery. It needs to take priority.
-You must accept the anxiety, fears, doubt, and guilt and decide they bring no more value into your life. You can't be wishy-washy. "I'll accept this fear, but have to figure out this one."
All these things are taught in my online OCD course. I'll link it here. You can even try it for free.
Ultimately, who's going to get better quicker. The person who knows the tools and will do them every once in a while or the person who's dedicated themselves to recovery. They recognize the pitfalls, where they can improve and use resources around them.
I do want you to know that you can recover from OCD. Things can get better. I also want you to have realistic expectations of what "recovery" means. For some, it may mean they are feeling minimal symptoms. For others, they've reduced symptoms up to 60% and are okay with that. Others may not feel symptoms for weeks, months, years. But here's the deal, this doesn't happen by doing treatment for a few months and then be golden for years to come. It's something you work on to maintain the progress that you've made. So when you hear others say online, "I am recovered" keep this in mind.
Here is the most important thing. Your recovery is your own. Your timeline is your own. If you do get caught up in, "how long will this take" you may give yourself an answer like, "it takes as long as it takes and I've accepted this."
I want you to get on top of this, you need to go right now watch the 25 tips for succeeding in your own OCD here.
Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
How to recover from OCD
Recovery from OCD
Nathan Peterson specializes in working with OCD and Anxiety related disorders and has done so for the past 7+ years.