Sunday, 21 October 2012

Self attack

I think I can be pretty good at figuring all this stuff out sometimes. I blog that I have this problem and wonder what should I do about it. Next blog I have it sussed. Not so with everything. One thing I cannot fully understand is the viscous thinking in my head. Thoughts of people telling me I am rubbish. Scenarios my imagination thinks up right out of the blue for no reason which is apparent - they are just there. Arguments, confrontations, derogatory remarks, being laughed at, made fun of always by fictional people most of whom are faceless, nameless and rarely the same. I know this is all because of self hate. Hate because I am not good enough because I have these problems which mean I am imperfect, because I did not do well in school, because I don't think I have anything to offer the world. This is all deep stuff. But really I think I'm alight. I am a good person who gets on well with everyone and I work hard for a living and am good at what I do. I have my loving husband and family. I have my karate which I love and am fairly good at. I'm really not that bad at all. But this is my conscious thinking. Which is quite different to my unconscious opinions (outlined above) formed when I was growing up and feeling bad about myself as I discovered I didn't have any academic ability and believed I didn't have any skills. Even though I now realise this is not true I still feel the same worthlessness deep down. How can I make it go? I think I won't find the answer to this one because I think it won't leave and I have to live with it. 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Perspective - Found it!

The other day I was getting very wound up about a karate competition I have in November. I was being overly critical and harsh with myself about practise and preparation. I then became very involved with things at work and became busy in my home life getting the decorating finished in time for Christmas and also the Christmas present shopping - already but I like to get it done in good time! This pressed me to find a way to cope with it all. I had "a word with myself" as I like to call it and decided that I needed to get perspective and calmly get on with it all if I wanted things to be less chaotic and stressful. I am now managing to think more realistically about my tasks and goals without the sergeant major attitude I develop about perfection. This has made me see that I simply need to work hard and do my best with a positive attitude not a strict, critical attitude which my insecurities and fears inflict upon me. It's so easy when you can see this. I have experienced similar situations before when I have only had one thing to focus on I have got very intense about it. When more things come along which I need to deal with I seem develop a more balanced attitude so I can cope with the load. 

Of course fear of making a mistake or failure or simply lacking in confidence has a strong part to play in being too hard on myself. When I am afraid I feel things are vitally important and that it is imperative I do things to perfection and I am terrible and not worthy if I do not. When I am more confident I cope better when things don't go as I'd choose. Since I have not been so preoccupied with my problems lately and am freed from the OCD loop in my head I have been happier generally and my confidence has grown because now I can think! 

I made a little mistake at work a couple of days ago and instead or berating myself I thought no harm done, won't do that again, move on. Not beating myself up about it I have realised does not mean that I don't care it just means I haven a sense of perspective and reason.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Strict, slack or somewhere in between?

If your not disciplined and strict are you slack? Where is the happy medium and how do I get there?

I know I am very hard on myself. I always have been. If I make a small mistake I am very upset and annoyed with myself. I know that my disappointment with myself is often disproportionate to the situation yet I cannot stop it. It causes me to feel anxious and low. I try to rationalise but don't manage this until after I have felt very bad for a while first. It is similar in this respect to my disproportionate anxiety when it's triggered by a relatively small threat. It takes a long time for me to calm down and come to my senses - to be blunt. Now I understand I need to learn to go easier on myself but where do you draw the line between being strict and being slack? If you say "Oh well, never mind that I did not do well. Better luck next time". Are you just being fair to yourself or are you being slack because you either don't care or cannot be bothered? I really believe that if I said "Oh well never mind" I would never endeavour to progress. We are told that we should be kind to ourselves and not take things so seriously but then we don't learn or improve - surely? Am I wrong? I have spent half the weekend annoyed because of a small mistake I made and whilst I know I need to correct the mistake I don't think I should feel so bad - but I still do. 

I guess I am thinking that feeling bad about something you did not achieve or do well motivates you to improve but it is also true that if those feeling lead to depression you can lose all enthusiasm and motivation. I wonder how I can feel it enough to be motivated but not so much that I am down. How can I find my happy medium? 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Learning to shut out the noise

Things have been going well recently. Since I've not been so preoccupied I've managed to get into my work and feel as thought I'm living a fairly normal life and enjoying it all. But over the last couple of days I've been a bit cloudy of mind. It happens occasionally where I cannot think clearly as my mind is a bit sluggish. I'm not sure why. I guess it happens to us all. Anyway, it makes my self-esteem plummet and I become very self-critical. I end up thinking I'm stupid and am not very kind to myself. All this critical self talk escalates to thinking of other people telling me I'm no good and patronising me. My imagination can be quite vicious. Does this make me sound crazy? I have had thoughts like this on and off for a long time usually when my self-esteem is low. I am sure everyone thinks like this sometimes  as we all have insecurities and we all have an imagination! I just wonder if  the amount I do it is damaging to me. I need to stop thinking like that but it is hard.

I've tried not to be preoccupied with it and have been trying to throw myself into my work and think of external things rather than obsess about the noise going on in my head. Amazingly I have found I have been able to push aside my mind troubles and focus on work more easily than before. For me this is really pleasing as I used to be at the mercy of my obsession with my problems and I always envied those who can just shut things off and get on with their tasks. Now I can do that too. I think it will be an effort to maintain though as I'm sure it is a phase which might change back. 

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Claiming back my time!

Since getting on top of my preoccupation with my problems I have found my production levels have increased. At work and otherwise I am able to think so much better. I had forgotten how much of your life being preoccupied claims. That feeling of not being able to just get on. Not being able to do stuff I need to do or fun stuff I want to do. There was always this niggle in my mind, tapping on my shoulder saying  "Hey. Think about me, think about me"! It is still frequently there but not quite as strong. I just try to ignore it. The more I ignore it the easier I find it. I guess it's because the less I do it the happier and more in control I feel so the pull in that direction in my mind fades. I have noticed my OCD wanting a bit of attention at work lately but I think that is just because I am quite busy which of course increases stress levels. I am trying to control it by allowing myself to only do what is reasonable in order to avoid all the repetitive checking. I still check a little more than is strictly reasonable or necessary but I am better than I used to be.

Something which really helps to pull me out of my inside world is Karate. I spend a lot of time obsessing about my problems and what to do about them and then there is all the other general noise going on in my mind. Karate brings me out of all that and into the present which enables me to find my focus. Karate is something which requires dedication, commitment and focus, of course. So once I am in that frame of mind I can more easily feel my feet on the ground in the real world. Not that I usually live in a parallel universe but sometimes I think I might as well! I have a few goals coming up in karate so I aim to switch my focus to that and perhaps I will then be able to focus more easily on the rest of my life and it will all fall into place! Optimistic? Probably :o). But one can hope. 

I have not encountered any of my extreme anxiety triggers over the last few days so have not been able to test my skills at rationalising. I am sure something will be along shortly...

Friday, 14 September 2012


I often get into a state because of the way I see things. If anxious I feel that the smallest of issues is a disaster waiting to happen which must be prevented immediately or if I'm feeling negative I see things as deeply depressing and of extreme seriousness. I become shrouded in gloom with no light in sight. I realise how dramatic this sounds but it really is all consuming. Maybe I have the opposite problem to rose tinted glasses! There is a lot of "self-help" out there and I have found useful info specifically for anxiety and depression which teaches us to challenge anxious and negative thoughts. I have mentioned before that I also find Buddhism useful since it suggests we use awareness to look at reality from an objective view rather than our own automatic perception. The question is though when the dark feelings descend can I see to stop and question my thoughts and feelings and find the real "truth" of the situation within the mess of my mind? If I can I am free of I cannot...

I got into a state last weekend because I misjudged the seriousness of something which happened. Next time something happens I aim to ask myself if my feelings are reasonable. Would a "normal" person think like that? I think I usually know they would not but don't progress much further than that. If only I can find a way to be calm, objective and reasonable. This way I will be in a better position to question my thoughts and feelings and recognise I am misinterpreting the situation and see it for what it really is. This would really be huge progress.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Upward curve

I have not written for a while. This is not because nothing's going on. I have been really quite low since November. It started with moving house. The process and the build up to the move and then the move itself was stressful. It actually went quite smoothly and relatively quickly. I dread to think what state I'd have been in had it not! So we were lucky with all that. However, the real stress came when once moved in we had the huge task of renovating the place which is now over half done.

All this got to me. I felt down, negative and stressed and my self esteem suffered although I am not sure how that relates to the disorder, mess and renovation. Maybe it felt out of control and too big for me? I'm not sure. This lead to feelings of anger and frustration a lot of the time. I found that the intense negative emotions made my mind very tired and also my body. I caught a cold in the winter which turned into congestion which lasted months and has still not 100% cleared. The doctor just said it'll take time to clear. Sure is! It's a real eye opener about how negative emotions can also physically harm you. I have discovered that stress even causes dizziness and back pain! Stress is bad news.

I have done a lot of work on trying to shift my emotions to up rather than down. I have tried to switch from negative to optimism and slowly it has worked. Trying to make myself see the good and be more light (hearted). Each day edging to being that bit better. I realised that I had somehow subconsciously decided that because I have OCD, anxiety and depression I cannot be happy. Of course this is not true because they come and go in varying degrees and can be manageable. I have used some Buddhist principles to help to calm myself which is very useful. 

Recently I have tried to avert my attention from the negativity and anger when it crops up and to switch to thinking of something which makes me happy or something practical. 

I think the route of my anger and lack of self-esteem stems from deep, long held opinions of myself which I have now learned are inaccurate. I believed for years that I should be and should have achieved things which I have not and this was terrible for my self-esteem. I read a book called "DON'T GET MAD GET WISE. Why no one ever makes you angry...ever!" by Mike George which made me realise I am not supposed to be anything other than myself. Sounds obvious but it is incredible how many people have no idea that is all / what they need to be. We keep trying to fit the square peg in the round hole because we think - or want - it to go but it just is
not us so it doesn't. Also to try to change these views and in turn my feelings about myself I have decided to focus on a few aims. I told myself I should do what makes me happy and do what I am good at. So I have based my aims on these things.

Something which had made a huge difference is that I have tried hard to atop my preoccupation with my problems. Anxiety and OCD like to put me though the torturous task of constantly repeating to myself my problems and how to resolve them. On a loop over and over I "repeat".  I have managed to stop this habit and free my mind. I managed it by keeping it short and sweet by saying to myself only the main points - I think there were just three - and then practicing letting them go and making myself focus on other things for prolonged periods. Now I don't "repeat" much at all. It has free my thinking hugely and made me feel more happy, creative, enthusiastic and energetic. I don't know how long I can keep this up but it's good! 

Life feels better now and I hope I can continue this even when the negative and fearful feelings rear their ugly heads. 

Sunday, 6 May 2012


I am absolutely exhausted. On Thursday and Friday last week work was hectic and stressful. The team I support were producing a lot of work and since one of my colleagues was on holiday I was also supporting her team who were also very busy. My OCD is usually worse at work. In stressful periods, of course, it becomes much worse. This was one of those occasions. Because of the anxiety I feel very worried about making mistakes and because of the OCD I feel the need to check my work many times. By the time I got home on Thursday evening I was really feeling it and woke in the night at about 3am unable to get back to sleep. You can imagine how I felt on Friday which was much the same as Thursday workload wise. I got home on Friday looking forward to the long bank holiday weekend. But when I arrived at my karate lesson on Saturday lunchtime I felt half asleep and struggled through my lesson. I went home feeling mentally and physically exhausted. The physical exhaustion was not down to karate but because of the impact stress has on my body. I have experienced this before. I decided to give the afternoon lesson a miss - not so much a choice as necessary. Today I didn't go either. I feel an aching, crushing kind of tiredness. At first I did not believe how two stressful days could make me feel this bad but then I thought about how I have felt for the last several weeks. 

It seems every day when I wake in the morning my first thought is of my issues and it continues like that for the rest of the day. Thinking about my OCD, anxiety, depression, lack of self-esteem. Not always actually worrying as such but at least being aware of it - having it in my consciousness the whole time so it overshadows everything. This feels like a great burden - a heavy weight on my shoulders. I need to stop this. I don't always use the worry time as I should. I have tried to reintroduce this in the last couple of days. Worry time can be a great help. Another thing I have realised is that I am often in the frame of mind that I am and my life is my issues. Because I think of them constantly they have become more prominent than anything else in my life and have event become me or at least that is how if feels. I need to adapt my perception of myself and my life to being the me without the problems and the anxiety, OCD and depression just a part of it. Does this make sense?  I think the above has worn me down over time. I was down, negative and tired so then when things got stressful at work I just could not withstand the pressure. I also seem to have a constant cold. I expect that is a sign I am feeling the strain. I need to learn to cope better. I am fairly ok at handling the problems individually. I know how to deal with them. But the constant thinking about it all needs to stop. 

This is hard. I really want to be able to use the worry time to stop the constant thoughts and awareness of these problems and to think of myself as the person I am aside from these things - the real me if you like. Then I think my life can be brighter. 

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Something weird happened this morning

I left the house and began to walk down the street to the station. After about 150 yards I suddenly thought did I switch off the bathroom light? At the moment I don't usually put the light on as it's daylight when I get up but this morning I put the light on while I was in there for a minute just before I left so it is not part of my routine. I was not particularly worried about it just annoyed. I thought it will bug me all day if I don't check it. Going back to the house to check something is, to me, a serious step backwards in dealing with my OCD but today was different somehow. I decided to go back but as I said it did not feel as though it was so much because I was worried but because it annoyed me. I went back and found I had turned it off. I am confused. Would a "normal" person have gone back not because of worry but because it would bug them? It seems odd to me. At one time threat and the subsequent feelings of worry would be at the forefront of my mind. I don't feel my OCD is becoming worse but I will be interested to see how I manage to lock up on Friday.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Stop the noise

I have just graded for my purple and white karate belt. This is something which makes me incredibly happy.

I have noticed that in the two weeks coming up to grading all the noise in my head stops. I need to focus on my grading and practice and prepare. I somehow seem to be able to achieve this state of mind where everything else takes a back seat and all the negative self talk and general skewed thinking inside my mind ceases. It is peaceful. Of course I am nervous and working hard but things are much clearer without the clutter. In comparison to my usual experience this is peaceful.  I have learnt that I can stop all the noise in my head. But how can I make this happen day to day? I have noted that when I achieve this clear and quiet state of mind coming up to grading it is automatic rather than conscious. I don't think - "right I need to have focus now and not worry about other things" - it just happens. There is something in my unconscious which believes that it is so important I achieve in karate I am somehow able, without even consciously trying, to get focused and block out all else.

If only I could  summon up a feeling of necessity to have this mind set for the day to day. Then I could control all the negative self talk and feelings which I struggle with everyday, focus, achieve and be happy. Of course though my ability to achieve this state of mind is down to my passion for karate. You cannot be passionate about the day to day.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

From fear to joy

I was so upset on Friday night. I was signed up for a karate competition on Saturday but was feeling really unsure about it. Since I have been down I have not had as much focus on my karate practice I am afraid to say and I really was not at all confident. Also, I was planning to drive to the venue which is somewhere I have never been let alone driven. The whole thing was quite a scary prospect for me. I really did not want to go in the end and spent about half an hour crying about it. I decided though that it would be worse to not go as giving up would be too depressing. I thought that I can at least go and have a try. Ok I don't expect to do well but having competition experience is valuable in itself. So on Saturday morning I got up early, did some practice, sorted out the Sat Nav and off I went.

I won. I beat a guy! I was so happy I could not believe it. Yey! I managed the drive with no problems too. In the afternoon I drove to my usual lesson and was feeling good. Is it me who doubts myself or is it that life is just full of surprises?

Today though I have been really hard on myself. I went out to practice my parking and managed well apart from on my parallel parking. Oh dear me! I cannot do it. How hard can it be?! But my mind was struggling and in the end I had to give up because it was baking hot and I was not feeling great with that and the frustraion. Plus the brakes were too warm! That is how long I was doing it for. I felt such a fool which maybe I was but what I also did was disregard all the good I have done and just started to focus on that one negative thing. I am trying to make myself consider all the good stuff I have managed to do. Hubby will take me out next weekend to teach me the parallel parking. Bless him!  

Friday, 9 March 2012

Black cloud descends but the sun is in sight...

Yesterday my husband and I went out and I drove. This time it was quite different to the day before. I found I was more confident on my own!!! This is from being totally dependent on having someone else in the car helping me. I think I had gained enough confidence to go out alone which was great. But then I had my husband correcting me. He was of course trying to be helpful but I am so sensitive I take it as criticism. It takes one negative comment to knock me down and ten to build me up. I have been feeling down since then but am now reasoning that I did fine on my own and the criticism is intended to be helpful and I just need to take it on board and learn from it. Onwards and upwards.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

I did it!

I went out in my car by myself this morning! It was scary but not quite as much as I thought. I actually enjoyed it. I do keep getting fearful thoughts of what if this and that happens. I think I can deal with this in two ways. Firatly, ensure I continue to go by the rules and also expand my road knowledge. Secondly spot the fearful thoughts and deal with them in a practical way by asking myself "in that situation what is the correct thing to do"? therefore learning and reasoning. I have not had chance to be in any kind of negative mood today as I have been far too preoccupied to have wondering thoughts. It is amazing how your mind just wanders to the negative when it has idle time.

Monday, 5 March 2012

A little sunshine

Today I have felt quite a bit more happy. I've had a little sunshine today. I had a stormy mid morning with a conflict of opinion at work but that settled and I have felt more positive. I can see things from a more calm, optimistic point of view. I just need to keep remembering to spot the negative thoughts and what my OCD free twin would think and do. I wonder what the weather will be like tomorrow for me...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Bit of a storm

Well the day has been a bit stormy. My insecurities were on annoyed mode today. We went for a drive which I was excited to do but felt nervous throughout. My husband said I did really well and had improved from last time although he hadn't thought I was too bad before. All progress. I find though that one minor thing can scare me. You just have to mention cyclists, motorcyclists or children and I start thinking am I going to do something wrong and before you know it I am imagining scenarios and that I will be in trouble.  Spotting and changing this way of thinking is tough. One of the things I learnt in CBT for checking is to imagine I were my OCD free twin and what she would think. Would she check? No! So maybe I can try to work out how she would think about these things. She would probably just learn the lesson, be happy and get on with it.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Looking for my sunshine

Well I have been trying to face my fears. I have done a bit of driving and have entered a karate competition! The black cloud is still there. It is turning grey though - but slowly. It's like something has been disconnected and I can't the get the fun back. It's like the light went out and I have to locate the on switch. I'm a bit numb in a way. My brothers wife had a baby a few days ago which made me so happy and I thought I got my light back but that has faded now. It's almost worse than being anxious because at least then I feel alive and motivated. Anyway, I will be careful what I wish for!! I'm trying to adjust my outlook to optimistic and not take anything too seriously and see things as though they should be enjoyed. I just have to keep reminding myself. Today I'm in grey cloud but hopefully the sun will shine tomorrow...

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Black Cloud

Ever since my first driving lesson I have been living under what I call a Black cloud which is basically the way I have felt. Anxious, fearful, negative and down. It is as though I am trapped in this way of thinking and cannot see a way to brake free. I seem to get lost in a dark world where I cannot see reason. The negativity is so intense. I was at first feeling inferior because I find driving hard. This brought about  feelings of inferiority in other areas of my life. I managed to stop feeling that way through reasoning. The feelings then moved to intense fear coupled with negativity. Yesterday I had a think about it all and how I am so fed up of feeling this way and how hugely it effects my life. I realised that I really need to learn to see reason and stop the black cloud early on. I am sure I have said this before though. It is tough. I also realised that while I am living under this black cloud I lose enthusiasm,  joy and energy generally and become less enthusiastic about the things I love which is unfortunate because these are the things which keep you going. My fear of driving is making me so fearful and down that I am less enthusiastic about things. I decided I simply must put a stop to that. I'm not sure how to tackle it but my first plan is to face all fears directly and don't allow myself to back out of anything. Be strong.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Well here we go then...

I bought a car today! I have been looking for three or four weeks now and today I saw the right one. My husband will collect it on Thursday. I have another refresher lesson coming up after which I will be driving to my karate lessons at the weekend which is why I am getting the car really. One more weekend of public transport and off I go. My husband has said he will come with me the first time I drive to each location as they are dotted around town. Then I will be on my own. Blimey! Facing the fear...

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Amazing take control moment...

On Wednesday morning I was getting ready for work and realised I was running late. I had about three minutes to lock up the house and go. Not sure where the time went! Anyway, usually that would make me panic and my checking would just become worse. But I thought to myself "no I am not going to be late today. I am not going to miss my train". Somehow I managed to just lock up by doing only what was absolutely necessary and found the strength through determination to pretty much leave everything else. Wow! Got the train no probs.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

It all started with a driving lesson...

I am a scredy cat driver. I passed my driving test several years ago but I have not driven since. I learnt, not because I wanted to drive but because it was a skill I thought I should get under my belt in case I ever needed it. It takes time to learn and is expensive. I did not want to find myself in the position of needing to drive but having to start from the beginning. Ever the cautious person! Anyway, being the anxious type if something is generally viewed as being potentially a bit risky it is to me something which is definitely very dangerous and must be avoided at all costs.

Now I have moved house I need to drive as the public transport is not sufficient for my needs. Of course I am rusty to say the least and need refresher lessons. I had one three weeks ago which went ok. I remembered a lot which was pleasing. I was quite happy with the lesson overall. The problem though is that I have quite low self esteem and I tend to get self critical very easily. I identify negative niggles and analyse them until I feel bad. As I thought about it I started to become annoyed with myself for not being more able. I felt that I should be more competent since afterall I can  legally drive. At the time I did not rationalise that hang on a minute I have actually not done it for about six or seven years.  Secondly I became annoyed with myself for being so scared and began to compare myself with all the "normal" people who just go out and do it without all the fuss. I was not fair to myself by saying "the thing is though they don't have anxiety disorders". I started down a path of negative feelings - mainly inferiority. I then compared myself to people at work and how highly educated they are, how much money they have, where they live, how thin they are! Why was I doing this to myself? The negative, self-critical thinking can really spiral out of control. All I did was have a driving lesson and after a couple of days negativity I felt so bad about myself. Now though I am more rational. I got so sick of beating myself up for not being more able and successful or being as "perfect" as everyone else and feeling low because I have these anxiety issues. I just had to be more kind to myself. I thought do I deserve to feel like this about myself and the simple answer is no. I have done nothing to deserve that. I have my own successes and when I look at my life with reason I know I am doing ok. If only I could have more control when the negative thinking begins I would perhaps not go down this path.

Any advice would be greatfully received!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Check, check, check

Even when my OCD checking has improved I have always had a compulsion to check at work. Well actually none of my checking habits ever disappear completely but at work it seems particularly tough to control. I guess it's the increased sense of responsibility. Anyway, at present my anxiety at work is pretty strong. I find myself going back to check constantly. It is worse just before I leave for the day when I am wrapping up. The doubts begin. What if this? and what if that? I think I need to learn to trust myself more and have more confidence in myself. Perhaps this will help with the doubt as I think maybe it is not all down to OCD but lack of self belief which makes the doubting stronger. OCD sure does rob you of confidence. Sometimes are better than others. I will see if tomorrow I can trust myself more. I did a bit better on the locking up before leaving for work this morning though. :0)

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Fighting the rituals

I thought that when I moved house my OCD checking before leaving the house would be worse. In unfamiliar surroundings I I assumed that I would be more anxious to make sure everything was secure. How wrong I was. The first few days were easy! It took about four minutes to check around and go. Now, after two months it takes me almost ten minutes. I now realise how much the checking is habitual and learned. Gradually the habit has grown and taken hold as I have learned what "needs" checking and developed the habit. How to undo this learned habit? Back to the CBT. I say to myself would I do this checking if I were OCD free? Would someone else do this checking? If I am doubting then it is the OCD. I planned to do better this morning but again I set off about four minutes late. Tomorrow I hope to set off on time. I realise I am still so much better than I used to be when it took me 30 minutes to leave the house but I don't ever want it to slip that far. Must try to stay on top.