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Posts Tagged ‘OCD’

One of the biggest joys in my life is helping others along their healing journey. That is why I write this blog. I don’t get paid for it. I only registered as an Amazon affiliate so that this blog can raise money to help fund Isurvive, my favorite charity for child abuse survivors. The checks go directly to the charity.

This blog is a labor of love, because I hear frequently that the lessons I have learned through my fierce healing battles are helping others along their own healing journeys. I see others find healing in my deepest wounds, and it brings value from what otherwise would have been meaningless. I will never be grateful that I was abused, but I will be forever grateful that I am helping others to heal.

What frustrates me is how I am unable to help some of the people I care about most to heal. I am helping people on other continents along their own healing journeys, but I must stand back helplessly and watch others in my day-to-day life struggle without being able the help them. The difference is that those of you who are reading my blog are in a place where you are ready to face your demons and heal. Some of the people I care about in my off-line, day-to-day life are not there.

I have one friend who is struggling with anorexia, but I cannot do anything about it. She is not ready to hear me. If I say anything, she will only push me away and further isolate herself, which will only make matters worse.

So, I watch in silence as she wastes away and pray that she will talk to me one day. I have told her about my own personal h@#$ of battling an eating disorder, so she knows (or should know) that I get it. However, my version was the other extreme (binge eating), so maybe she won’t know. I see her speeding toward a brick wall, and I am powerless to stop her.

Then I have another friend who was recently diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It was news to her that this was an anxiety disorder, and she had it all backward. She has agreed to take medication so she can alleviate the symptoms, which she believes are causing her anxiety. I told her that her symptoms are how she is managing the anxiety, but she did not want to hear this.

She also did not want to hear that, if she would focus on expressing her repressed anger, she would see a big reduction in her OCD symptoms. I was not advising this in place of the medication but in addition to it. She is not ready to face that she has any anger to deal with. She says that she has forgiven her abuser and even continues a relationship with the abuser. In my experience, forgiveness cannot occur until after you give your anger a voice. She never has.

I cannot make another person heal. It is just so hard to see someone I love going the wrong way and be powerless to stop it. I guess I need to focus on who I have helped rather than who I cannot.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Multiple Buds (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common aftereffect of childhood abuse. OCD is driven by anxiety, and the OCD symptoms help the anxious person to manage his anxiety.

I used to struggle with a number of OCD symptoms. Some would come and go, such as blowing on my hands. Others lingered for years, such as saying a mantra in my head to reduce my anxiety. Some were just amusing but not harmful, such as having to check the alarm clock exactly three times before falling asleep. As I have healed from my past and reduced my anxiety, my need for these OCD behaviors subsided. I still have some residue, but most are now healed.

OCD is all about taking control. As a child, I had no control over my life or even my own body. So, I sought control in things that did not matter through my OCD symptoms. My anxiety would build and build, but I could release some of it by doing one of my OCD actions. If I had to hold it in for whatever reason, the anxiety would build until it was nearly unbearable.

One secret to reducing anxiety is processing anger. I was unaware of having rage issues because I stuffed the anger deep inside of myself. It was not safe for me to express anger as a child, so I denied it. When you do not express emotions, they become more powerful. It is only in expressing them that they can be released and then lose their power over you.

When you do not express your anger and stuff it down inside of yourself, it turns on you in the form of anxiety and/or depression. Many people who struggle with severe anxiety and/or depression are angry people who rarely express those emotions. As you start expressing your rage, it finally has somewhere to go, and you will feel your anxiety ease.

This is exactly what happened to me. I had accepted that I would always be “weird” with my OCD symptoms. Through therapy, I learned to how process and honor my anger in a safe manner (that is, after I came to realize that I even had anger to process). As I processed my anxiety, my anxiety level went down substantially. Today, I feel very little anxiety, so I have no need for my OCD symptoms to manage it. When I notice that I am feeling compelled to do those OCD things again, I explore what repressed anger might be driving them, express the anger, and then experience relief from the compulsions again.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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