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18 Things to Remember If You Love a Person with OCD

18 Things to Remember If You Love a Person with OCD

Two simple words can destroy your life. Every minute, every second, of every hour all you hear is, “What if?” Every situation is potentially dangerous. Your heart and mind join forces becoming an evil villain that is out to destroy you and bring you down. That’s what if feels like if you have OCD.

The simplest things in life became huge mountains that are impossible to climb. A family vacation, a night out with friends, or a walk around the block is a death trap.

Obsessions are thoughts that get stuck in a repetitive cycle when the brain doesn’t shift gears as it should. Unwelcome, unwanted, and distressing; these mental images don’t stop.

That’s when the compulsions begin. The OCDer repeatedly performs behaviors trying to erase the scary mental images that won’t go away. These rituals might be excessive hand washing, cleaning, counting, or checking. Even though the person with OCD knows these are ineffective, the urge is overwhelming and overpowering so they give in to it.

Whether you’re born with it, or develop it later, life with OCD is a living hell. Their brains can’t shift through thoughts at a normal pace.

Thoughts get stuck, constantly running like a hamster trapped in a cage spinning endlessly on his wheel. OCD interferes with responsible functioning: job, relationships, punctuality, or just being able to live comfortably with themselves and their loved ones.

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Most people are familiar with the most commonly talked-about types of OCD such as checking appliances and doors, fear of germs that may cause illness or death, and repetitive invading thoughts. However, there is a lot more to OCD than that.

“OCD is a biochemical problem in which the brain locks and starts sending false messages that are not recognized as false,” according to Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, author of “Brain-Lock: Freeing Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.” The brain gets stuck in gear and cannot shift to the next thought.

The good news is that you can make a physical change in your brain. Here are 18 things that will help you understand your OCD loved one:

1. They have a repetitive cycle in their brains that they cannot control.

They want to “just stop,” but as hard as they try; they can’t. Because the OCD brain is locked, it doesn’t move through tasks at a normal pace.

2. They derive no pleasure from rituals.

Gamblers, shoppers, or substance abusers receive pleasure from acting out a ritual. OCDers do not.

3.  They catastrophize.

The scenes that appear in the minds are suitable for a gory horror movie.

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4. They check, re-check, and can’t stop checking.

Everyone checks the doors or stove to make sure they are locked and off before bedtime. You might have forgotten to shut the stove after answering your texts. But when a person with OCD checks, they don’t trust that they checked, so they check again and again. Maybe they missed something, or maybe the stove magically got turned on again?

Are the doors locked and the appliances off? Was that bump in the road a person I ran over? What did I say in that email? Checking is never believable. No matter how many times they check, they don’t trust their last check-up (garage doors, toasters, hot irons). The only comfort comes from putting your hot iron in your purse and carrying it with you to work.

5. They have disturbing thoughts of harm to themselves or their loved ones.

One small thought can become a horrendous mental vision of tragic events that they might cause or could happen.

6. They worry about worrying.

As if worrying isn’t bad enough, OCDers worry about why they worry so much. They feel anxious that they worry about things that are not worth worrying about.

7. They avoid certain objects, situations, or environments.

A person, place, or thing can spark a destructive wildfire in their minds. Fearful of obsessive thoughts, a person with OCD will go five miles out their way to avoid a reminder that could set off obsessive thinking.

8. They live with constant doubt, insecurity, and uncertainty.

Checking isn’t reassuring. Worrying is disturbing. Living in constant doubt causes anxiety and distress.

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9. They may be superstitious.

Associating a past event to a word, piece of clothing or place; a person with OCD can think it has power. They also believe that any action they take will have a positive or negative effect because of that word, item, or place. They will walk over cracks on a sidewalk, avoid driving past a certain address, or even wear the same item of clothing for a week. They can get stuck on numbers. An address or date can seem lucky or unlucky so they avoid it or succumb to its power.

10. They need reassurance.

Who doesn’t need to hear “everything is going to be alright” when feeling nervous? But a person with OCD needs a lot more reassuring than one sentence.

11. They have no concept of time when in a ritual.

A shower may last for an hour even when the hot water runs cold. You wonder why it takes so long to brush her teeth or wash her face. Every action must be performed in a certain order and with meticulous detailing as if they were preparing the latest model Tesla for it’s debut at the 2015 Auto Show.

12. They may be hoarders.

Old clothes, purses, shoes, and papers cannot be removed. They might need them for future use. You might also be a bit nostalgic, but is there so much clutter you can’t see the floor?

13. They won’t use a public bathroom.

Germs are so scary that no matter how much their body needs to release itself, they will wait until they get to a bathroom that they feel comfortable in.

14. They place objects so they are perfectly aligned.

Symmetry is important, so is order. Papers on a desk, pictures on a wall, or hair on their head; everything must be just right. An uneven edge on a fingernail can cause an hour of nail-biting as they try to smooth the jagged edge. They can spend hours getting dressed, choosing outfits, or fixing their hair. Never feeling that they are “just right,” they will try on ten different outfits until they find the perfect one. They are often late for work or their own birthday party.

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15. They touch, rub, or tap certain objects repeatedly.

Trying to calm their minds away from upsetting thoughts, they may pick their face, play with their phones or twirl their hair.

16. They examine their food very carefully.

Afraid that they might get sick if the food isn’t fresh or cooked perfectly. Any little bruise on an avocado might be a sign of an epidemic disease. It might take them ten minutes to examine and prepare a hamburger before biting into it.

17. They dread illness.

They fear that they have every disease they read or hear about that they become a hypochondriac.

18. They never feel that anything is clean enough.

Feeling that every pot, dish, or item of clothing is contaminated, the person with OCD is repeatedly cleaning them.

As difficult as it is to live with OCD or someone who has it, there are benefits to it. Most likely with a higher than average IQ, people with OCD are mathematicians, statisticians, and analysts who give us the latest technology, medicine, and put astronauts into space. Striving for perfection, they are excellent in fields that require repetitive practice such as athletics and musicians. And it’s probable that the person who takes care of you when you’re sick, does your taxes, and built the bridges that you drive across has OCD too.

There is good news! When OCD interferes with normal daily functioning, they can learn to self-command with self-control. A person with OCD can improve their quality of life. They no longer have to suffer. With proper treatment of Cognitive Behavior Therapy using the Exposure and Response Method, and learning to say, “It’s not me, it’s my OCD,” a calmer, happier life is possible.

Special thanks to- “Brain Lock- Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior by Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. with Beverly Beyette.

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June Silny

ADHD Coach, Writer, ADDitude Magazine featured contributor

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Last Updated on November 4, 2020

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

Self-improvement doesn’t have to be big mind-blowing changes; it can actually be simple steps to improve upon what you already have to get you where you want to be.  However, what you will need is consistency, determination and wiliness to try some things that will stretch and challenge you.

Rather than setting your sights way off into the future, which leaves you feeling like you’ll never make it, you can start following these simple and effective self-improvement steps today.  So if you want to make an immediate impact on your life and are willing to take action, then keep reading— you’ll going to love these!

1. Be willing to work hard.

As with anything in life, if you want something, you’ve got to work hard to get it.  This doesn’t mean you burn the candle at both ends, leaving you exhausted and leaving your personal life in ruins.  It merely means that when you want something badly enough, you’ll put in the time to get there.  Action is what’s important here and the more ‘inspired’ the action is, the better the results in the end.

2. Make sure you have friends who you can talk to.

Sharing the load is important as with any self-improvement. If you can communicate with others and get feedback on how you are doing then that’s great.  We all need ‘cheerleaders’ in our corner to keep us going when times get hard, but you also need to have people who will tell you how it is even when you don’t want to hear it.  So make sure you have a good support network around you, especially those people whose opinions you respect.

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3. Adapt to your circumstances rather than over-thinking them.

Sometimes, we can hit a hard period. Perhaps you’ve lost your job or your partner has left you.  Instead of over analyzing the situation, learn to adapt to your circumstances and accept them as they are.  It’s not about making your circumstances into some kind of a drama; remember, what you focus on expands which means you’ll get more of it.  You then don’t become your problems and you’ll feel a lot less burdened by them.

4. Ensure that you use your time wisely.

Time is of the essence, some might say; whilst others will say that time is an illusion.  One thing we do know is that you have one life on this planet, so how you use that time is of the utmost importance.  So how can you use your time wisely? Only you know how to do that, but look at how you currently spend your days: do you sit working all day, get home, eat and then sit slumped in front of the TV for the rest of the evening?  Your time on this earth is precious, so isn’t it time to make use of the time you have left? Try something new, go for a walk, learn a new language or meditate but make sure it’s something you absolutely love.

5. Always be consistent.

A wonderful way to self-improvement is to make changes to how you do things.  For example, with your friends, are you always the unreliable one who bows out of an arrangement just before it happens? Or are you someone who starts a new exercise routine and then stops doing it 3 weeks into it?  Whatever it is and whatever you do, always be consistent. When you make a commitment, stick to it. It will improve your life immeasurably you’ll feel more confident and happier with yourself, especially because you’ll know that whatever you tackle, you’ll be able to consistently do it!

6. Go and find your happy place.

No, I’m not saying “place” as in popping to your local bar or restaurant and gorging yourself on your favorite drinks or food. What I’m saying is to find out what you love to do, what makes you happy and go there.  Your happy place is a place where you find peace, where you lose yourself and feel contented.  Meditation is a great way to find your happy place; it brings you back to you and ensures that you are always living in the present moment.

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7. Make sure you embrace all your emotions.

In life you are going to find that it throws you some difficult challenges, sometimes it will bring out your fears and lead you into uncertainty, and other times it will be joyful.  It’s important to embrace all emotions that come up in your life, embrace them wholeheartedly and understand why they are there and then let them go.  Try not to dismiss or resist them because remember “what you resist, persists,” so embrace them each and every time.

8. Always be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

The idea of stepping out of your comfort zone for some people can leave you paralyzed with fear; however for any changing in your life, your comfort zone will always have to be stepped out of.  It doesn’t have to be something big, like doing a sky-dive or something just as crazy. However, it’s worthwhile to change something that you’d once have feared, like going to the cinema on your own or eating at a sushi restaurant when the thought of trying raw fish which would normally mean you running for the hills.

So try something new—it doesn’t have to be wacky, but it has to challenge you!

9. Be on hand to help others.

Whether it’s helping a stranger on the street or a family member or a friend helping someone else either in their time of need, lending a helping hand is a wonderful and simple self-improvement to make.  Giving to others is not only beneficial to those you are helping but also to yourself; it can give you a sense of purpose, of contribution and also takes your mind of your own troubles and worries.

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10. Live in the present moment.

A wonderful self-improvement tool is to live in the present moment, to live in the now.  It is within this moment that you’ll appreciate all that you have and see the beauty in the simplest of things.  Being mindful of your current circumstances and bringing your mind back to where it belongs will bring about a happier way of life instead of constant worry or stressing about the past or future—both of which do not exist. Only the present moment exists. When you get used to living that way, you’ll never want to go back!

11. Learn something new.

There is nothing so liberating as learning something new; it can lift both your confidence and self-esteem and give you a great reason to meet new people.  If you continually top up your brain activity by learning something new all the time, you’ll feel on top of your game and want to share the knowledge you have learned. There is nothing quite so empowering as learning a new tool in life that can either improve your circle of friends or raise confidence levels—or both!

Reading is also a great way to help you learn something new:

12. Exercise daily.

This seems an obvious one, but exercise is so important not only to your health but also to your spirit.  We all know that after exercise, the world can feel a brighter and more positive place, so why don’t we do it more often?  Exercise isn’t about getting the perfect body or losing weight; it’s more about feeling good inside and out!  With a healthy body comes a healthy mind—so start something today. Even if it’s just a daily walk, it’s better than staying on that couch, again.

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13. Go to new places, travel a bit.

I’m not saying go fly off to some far away distant forgotten land—although you can if you so wish. It’s more about going to new places and experiencing life outside of your own back yard.  Too many of us stay in one place too often. We only see the same people, the same streets and do the same things each and every day.  If you want to improve your life, get out there and see the world and what it can offer.  You can start by going to a town or city you’ve never been to in your own country and checking out the architecture, the landscapes and the people.  Anything new is good, so get out there!

14. Listen to uplifting music and dance.

If there’s one thing that can really improve your life and get you excited about it, it’s listening to great uplifting music and dancing.  When was the last time you really let go?  Let it all hang loose and got into a piece of music and let yourself go?  Dancing, like exercise, makes you feel great. It releases all kinds of emotions and can make you feel unbelievably good.  Self-improvement isn’t all about the serious stuff; it can be something as simple as finding new music, music that inspires you and makes you dance and have fun!

15. Get up earlier than normal.

This is the last one, and it’s last because it’s one of those self-improvement tips that we all know is a good thing, yet we seem to avoid it at all costs!  If you think about it, the earliest part of the day is when your brain is most active because it’s been turned off for the last 7 hours or so.  So don’t you think it’s best to get all those things above done in the morning?  Things like exercise, meditation and dancing, which can all be done in the first part of the day.  Take it from me: this early morning stuff can really get your day started with a bang!

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Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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