Beyond Compulsion

I mentioned exposure response prevention therapy (ERP), which is when we dive into feelings associated with our obsessions, usually anxiety.   Well here’s one for me;

I read an article related to an obsession I had, well it was differen’t it was more of a disturbing conflict but I can treat it as an obsession now.

The article talks of the latest understanding of origins of the Universe being quantum fluctuation. My obsession was extremely disturbed by the idea of ‘something’ as opposed to ‘nothing’ being the axiom. An axiom is an innate fact, in for example mathematics, I believe, I won’t look it up but there’s some vocab for you. So, I would doubt reality itself. Not in a way that was interesting, but in a way which was disturbing.

So briefly on the article – that’s cool, but that’s still ‘something’. Why, or rather how, would the quantum fluctuation have started? Should that not be there? The idea of God didn’t help my condition as it is somewhat kicking the can down the road, impossible to grasp, and even so, that’s still ‘something’. Clearly nothing satisfied my ‘problem’.  The compulsion of mental argument did not solve any of it. What i call the ‘antidote’ does, which allows me to gracefully step out of it.

The origins of the universe is an interesting topic to physicians… what I was doing is not that, not healthy, my mind simply latched onto it since a pretty young age, and still it becomes a rush of anxiety and disturbing feeling of conflict.

The answer to my ‘problem’ now, outside of the conflict, is that it is OK that ‘something’ is the axiom. There’s nothing wrong with that. My antidote was right. (this is my antidote of recent times – ‘‘the axiom being something, not nothing’’).

How on earth is this related to an illness? Catastrophic feelings are my illness. A feeling that something is horribly wrong was there whilst reading, and a feeling of overwhelming responsibility which OCDers get came along, but I do not feel delusional anymore. This is a success and a huge step for me.

I am writing to help myself in ways which are profound and provide clarity, which is worthy of recording. Isn’t it just like a diary? Yea but I have a good structure now and putting it all together will really help me, but also potentially provide an interesting read.

Rewind. I touch reality by letting go of ‘nothing’ being the axiom. Therefore, It’s Okay to let the search go. It is useful to remember, that any thought or feeling or mental block isn’t real. Even the disturbing conflict is not real. In a sense, the present moment is the only thing happening therefore the breath is the only thing real. I often would not speak of obsessions because of how irrational they were: this is indeed common, but it was my only mistake, and one that I would indeed shout my mouth off at my teenage-self to rectify. I guess, mental blocks, addiction, and debauchery (alcohol, not the other two: sex and drugs, they wouldn’t work due to lack of pleasure for the most part) stopped me from attempting to explain things for the first time until well into adulthood.

My condition now latches onto how others feel as well as  ‘real event’ OCD.

So how on earth does one treat that, if the thing is potentially ‘real’. Or at least relates to a real event. Well may we realise it’s the same game the OCD is playing– the feelings, the mental argument (my compulsion): OCD has taken the real event and twisted it and unleashed a tsunami in the brain and subsequently the mind.

Most people do not speak of their problems, true, they choose to get smashed or ignore them, however, if genuine mental illness is present, it is probably important that problems are examined, because they stop us being able to function on a day to day basis. Throughout my life, natural enjoyment has been sucked from me by my mental illness, whilst trying to function by attempting to hold down countless jobs or relationships. Being ‘selfish’ at a young age would have been a good shout for me, like becoming a hermit in a tree.

By training to live without the addiction too, I am not responding to the compulsive urge I mentioned last time. It is correct that this is necessary, it being an overlapping symptom of core emotions.

A ‘music’ obsession over ten years ago was just as severe as relationship and harm OCD I had, and it wasn’t even violent or existential like in more recent times. See it wasn’t about the topic at all. This does show, by me as a prime example, that the theme of the obsession is never ending, it is not the problem even though it feels like it, its not to do with the theme its to do with how we respond to it, rather, the compulsion is something we need to begin to be mindful of and quit fighting, arguing, chasing or legitamizing the obsession.

Instead, let’s build innate self-worth and acceptance by beginning to, and proceeding to not perform the compulsions, whatever your compulsions may be. They are a response keeping the fire burning. It seems with me today, that unconditional acceptance trumps OCD. But getting there, now that’s going to be very different in terms of difficulty levels for everyone who suffers; A ladder of exposures may help (ERP), meditation may help (learning mindfulness), more traditional therapy (CBT) may be of assistance. A combination of these has set me on my way now. Mental health is more important than anything in life. Never again will I not unconditionally accept what is going on up in my grey nut. Never again will I not incorporate what I’ve learnt and ultimately accept myself. Never again will I feel regret, guilt, listen to the doubt stream or shame. There’s nothing wrong with reasonable regrets, nevertheless whilst exacerbated it is like I say – a red herring in this sh*t. I suffer with what they call ‘real event OCD’.  Relationship and harm OCD I now have totally managed. But real event is tricky due to playing on real events, sometimes things which others find insignificant, but sometimes with significant events too. Not to mention false or exacerbated memories.

So, mental argument as a compulsion:

There has been trauma in my recent past, but despite this, being able to reflect on the outside of my illness is a joy. As I have now presented to you, there is such thing as the compulsion of mental argument, which fuels an overwhelming feeling of responsibility and is fuelled by, especially, feelings such as doubt and guilt. I’ve had it constant throughout the day before, now with bandwidth I can delegitamize it. Upon reflection, there was not ‘thinking’ going on, like spontaneous and organic thinking. Instead, the arguments were a form of self-sabotage, a hunt for an answer to ‘resolve’ the doubt stream, which is what compulsions are.

It’s so obvious it was a compulsion when I remember what I used to do – try to find an answer all day, but even when I did it wouldn’t stick for long. Such as ten years ago when my OCD was at its worse when not violent in a topic, about my music course, but it was merciless in its severity.

This mentally manifested OCD aka ‘pure O’ is the same as someone performing physical compulsions, which are tiring and tedious, depressing and exhausting… but in the head instead: the chasing of an uncertainty, the fuelling of a doubt. An answer really does not stick and you can get pulled deeper and deeper into the lava stream, therefore, any real ‘answers’ come a million miles away from this condition.

As I mentioned, before when young and more recently, I did have more well-known themes resurface such as relationship OCD and harm OCD, both extremely debilitating. I am going to search my intellect and soul (Ok I admit a ‘spiritual’ reference here although I wasn’t into that much), for the answers and the reflection, at a time more important than any, since therapy both professional and personal. No one least my intrusive thoughts can stop me.

Since returning to this, I feel I can use this writing as the key to a happier, more content mind.  I’ve been on the verge of it for some time.  Going the extra mile has not been so easily seen.  Breaking through the fog is happening: Going the extra mile.

I assume that it is possible to be fixed but not cured, as I could say I was fixed for many short periods throughout my twenties, but then after a while, mental illness would come back to munch on my grey matter. Literally? I don’t know, I’m not a neuroscientist yet. It would come back because I did not have total understanding of my somewhat diverse web of symptoms and misunderstood my compulsion as legit, and not know what it would take for consistent recovery.

On my second round of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) at age twenty-three, I was shown Dr Paul Salkovskis’ diagram about OCD and its maintaining factors. A ‘mental argument’ was a factor in fuelling the intrusions, alongside anxiety and depression, alongside physical compulsions and checking, alongside reasoning bias. Reasoning bias is an interesting one because I would often see things as ‘proof’ that the obsessions were significant. The feeling it reinforced was overpowering when engaging in that sh*t.

It was a great diagram which is why I kept it and even photocopied it for my friends at Brighton Priory hospital three years ago. I realised, when I had that round of CBT, that I was doing it with a single obsession I had, (the mental argument), but I did not recognise the extent of my illness (hidden behaviours like avoidance). I did not explain my mental blocks they could have also been to blame for non-consistent recovery. Autism is a possibility here too because it’s in my family.

So we fixed me at the time by applying ERP by using a loop tape of the ‘should statements’, which was eventually a huge relief as you desensitize yourself to the obsessions. I’d listen to them in particular when my anxiety was highest throughout the day, or when I was experiencing a particularly intense flare up. A predominant ‘should’ statement; the mental conflict was a preoccupation. The feelings involved I’d say are what mental illness is. Catastrophic for me but now letting go is the game I play, or at least take the feelings with me throughout the day.

So the most common ‘should’ statements for me were: ‘‘should I be doing the music’’, since that old course that it latched onto, and similar to the first one when I was very young, which came back in recent times of: ‘‘should I stab myself in the neck’’.  The subsequent rumination was much darker somewhat than just answering it, it latched onto my self-worth as a person. It was only the ‘benign’ topic because at the time I had dropped a music course and my OCD went mental.

Way back when, loop tapes of any thoughts related to the obsessions and new understanding worked, I was fixed, but unfortunately not fixed for so long back then, because I was quick to switch obsessions, pick up addictions, as well as real event obsessions taking over. I have overlooked real event OCD until recent times. The mental review is exhausting. I have not really come across anyone with mental blocks like me, despite chatting many times up my support group. I also did not talk about the existential phenomenon (i also called it) that was present, which was always a delusion, unfortunately different to derealisation from obsessions. Derealisation from obsessions occur when we perform a compulsion so much, that we become incredibly detached and feel spaced out. But what it was is irrelivant now.

More unclear compulsive thinking like chasing uncertainties I tend to call ‘rumination’. It is part of the same compulsion, because they are all about fuelling the intrusive images, urges or feelings such as doubts and exacerbated guilt (keeping an obsession an obsession).  Doubts are endless. Takes a while to get that. Once one feels resolved, due to the condition, the brain picks up another, and another, and another, until exhaustion is the least troublesome symptom. Does rumination occur about anything positive? I have discovered it does respond to excitement, so we will see, but it isn’t helpful, not really, upon reflection it is a response to the doubt stream, just lighter and sneaky. I have been swimming deep, at times, in the lava stream under waves of doubt.

If I didn’t have my condition, I’d dismiss an intrusive thought I have right now about unjustly judgements, as I know that what most people do when they are being judgemental is reflecting what is wrong with themselves… it is about them, not you. With me though, the thoughts around the obsession fuel a hyped up feeling of resentment and it is tricky to say the least. It’s a mini obsession because there is huge amounts of self-sabotage going on. Good training though, can I truly build bandwidth and let it go? The emotions don’t go so easy. But they will if I don’t fuel them. Sit with them, give them tea. But I will not feed them breakfast fuel for the fire they so badly want to kindle.

A few years ago, I would desperately tell my friends about my OCD on social media, this was not a mental argument exactly, I wasn’t finding answers to the doubt stream, or chasing uncertainties, it was, however just not a very wise thing to do if I appeared self-centred. The potential rumination I was subconsciously was heading toward did not help unravel whatever my obsession was at the time, or help my mental health, unfortunately, because my thinking was sporadic. Memory becomes affected I’d often forget what I actually said.

‘Should I, shouldn’t I’, contradictory obsessions, confusing anxiety, depression, desolation by mental block: These are my condition. I tend to be a kind and caring person. However, OCD can latch on to everyday things, and turn the slightest judgements of myself, or others into mini obsessions. This is something that has indeed gone on until recent times, and I am unravelling right now: the rumination, I’m onto ya, it’s still there somewhat and its still unreasonable. Therefore…

Sir, it is safe to say ‘Pure O’ still affects me in the form of ‘mental review’. It is a response to exacerbated emotions, which come along predominantly with OCD. It causes depression. I will review endlessly what I said in social situations, I will review many aspects of everyday life. It sure is doubt driven and hard to really get that at first.

It is an illusion of the disorder that the compulsion is of some benefit especially with lighter rumination. It is a million miles away from problem solving even when it feels important. Everyone has doubts right, but this is different, they don’t got it as a compulsion.

What to do if you feel caught up with an obsession? Getting the obsessions down on paper does not always work if you are still trying to answer it. Ignoring the condition makes it worse. Therefore, like for me in the beginning, CBT did not go the right way initially with this. CBT with exposure response prevention (ERP), however, is a better way, there’s nothing wrong with finding core fears, I just was not introduced effectively to the process. (Try a loop tape like with me, or exposing yourself gradually to, say knives or other situations, depending on your manifestation). I’ll try to explain things clearly, with accuracy, and hopefully get to where I need to be, and create an exciting read whether or not I share this with the world.

I have come a long way, light me a victory dance, but realize I still need to recognize a mental compulsion when it arises, delegitimize it, and accept any judgements, which arise. Judgements can be sporadic and compulsive! No amount of mental review that goes on as a disorder consists of any product, it only serves to fuel the feelings for instance exacerbated guilt, and it is not about problem-solving. I have heard sufferers talk about real event OCD and it is indeed hard when it linked to a real, legitimate scenario… however, the feelings that we are fuelling: they are the illness. It does not matter if it is on a real event, it is quite simply wrong to be hostile towards ourselves. Paying attention and examining without ‘answering’ is paramount and allowing with calm bandwidth, instead of the doubtful streams taking up bandwidth, is key.

I suppose that, the core feelings simply are not present in the non-sufferer therefore none of this is even an issue in the slightest… therefore, I was cursed, but now blessed due to having the compassion that I may not have had in a parallel dimension.

In my self-help corner of the room, alongside my fantastic musical taste, I read the ‘Mindfulness OCD Workbook’ by Jon Hershfield and Tom Corboy (which helped me realise that mental review was still my condition). It is easy to follow and a compassionate read. Another new weapon in my arsenal is the ‘Mind Workout’ by Mark Freeman. A true master full of innovation. These have been an adjunct to my therapy, and I could get used to my newfound focus. We are changing all the time, mentally and physically, but usually, people are themselves, i.e. have innate mental health. I suppose what I am doing right now, is I am noticing compulsiveness in the mind, not responding, letting it go, building stronger neuronal connections, and enjoying it.

Even less intense rumination can become tedious. And another intrusive doubt will always take its place once one is ‘resolved’. Realise this, fully. Take as looong as I need not to fuel my condition.

I must realise now how good freedom from the compulsion is, keep writing and meditating, and remember what it did consume. It is bliss compared to what it was.

Free of conflict means that I can focus all my ERP efforts on my condition and continue to do what I want to do. 

2 thoughts on “Beyond Compulsion

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