"With OCD, it FEELS like you don't have a choice."
"I make time for myself and just do what I can comfortably do for others."
Hi, I'm Neil and I have OCD. I feel a bit like I've just walked in to an OCD Anonymous Meeting. LOL.
My hoarding wrecked two of my marriages and it was only when it threatened to wreck the third, that I went for help. I've gradually accepted that there is no shame in accepting help from an outside source. Most people can't beat this alone.
I've learned how to control my OCD through therapy, and I thought I would share some of the information I've learned with you. I do recommend that you get therapy yourself to control your OCD because of course there isn't room here to list all the methods I have learned, and each person is different so different methods work for different people.
My therapist told me I had that OCD is probably genetic, and that it appears to create chemical flooding in the brain, causing compulsions, or urges, to perform certain tasks, in my case, to hoard items I didn't want or need. I learned, in therapy, that everyone has unwanted compulsions of one kind or another, and that people with OCD have more difficulty controlling their compulsions. I know it's not the same thing, but I found it helped to realise that some people feel to steal, or to have sex with the neighbour's wife … Many people feel compelled to do those things, but they have a choice whether to ACT on them.
With OCD, it FEELS like you don't have a choice whether to do the compulsive task, and I receive false brain messages, for instance that disaster will reccur if I don't keep last year's newspapers.
With the help of my therapist I learned to release the past and trust the future. I learned to stop trusting my false brain messages and to laugh at them, even though they are so very painful.
I was told that my brain will continue to create the patterns which cause OCD. I might have the compulsion to hoard all my life. It isn't easy to resist, but I do resist. Gradually, over time, I may be able to change the brain chemistry which causes me to feel compelled to hoard, but I also have to accept that it may not ever change.
Stress definitely causes me to feel more compelled to hoard. I learned that in the office, I would often want to go through people's bins and take out things that might be needed later, or to stop a fire starting in the bin. I learned not to do this in public because people laugh at you, but it was a long time before I learned not to do it at home.
I was asked to record how stressed I felt on an hourly basis, and gradually realised what was causing my stress. I am sensitive to noise. I didn't realise, and needed to be told that it's ok to ask my colleague to please stop talking. I rehearsed it in my head and then practised on the phone with my therapist. I tried a million ways to word the request. While I was deciding how to approach the problem, the office junior simply turned around to my chatty colleague and said "I really have to count these papers and your talking is distracting me." I observed that my colleague stopped talking, and he and the office junior remained friends, yet I still felt if I said the same thing, he would hate me. I honestly had to LEARN that it is acceptable to tell someone to be quiet in an office situation. I had to learn to trust myself to deal with conflict before I could ask him to be quiet.
I asked him to be quiet, and he would shut up for maybe ten minutes at most and then start again. I learned how to problem solve the situation without over-thinking the problem. I asked to be transferred to a different office and found I was respected enough to be given my own office.
I can't eliminate all outside noise from my life, but now I think of the compulsive urge to hoard as just more noise which I have to filter out.
The worst will happen : I will die. When I do, I won't be able to take last year's newspaper with me.
Every day now, I do something that really scares me : I throw away more than I need to, just because I CAN.
I make time for myself and just do what I can comfortably do for others.
I know that if I don't throw away more than I need to, every single day, I could slip back and I don't intend to. I consider myself to be permanently ritual free.
I hope it happens for you too.