If you could only learn one thing from this website…

Hi everyone,

today I have been thinking about “if I could share just one thing with a fellow rOCD sufferer, what would that be?” The single most useful piece of advice that I could give someone would be ” It’s not about finding a solution in your brain but about daily effort” . At one point, during my worst rOCD period, I realised that I was stuck in trying to find answers in my brain. When I thought I had something completely figured out, literally a few seconds later the thought “what if” would pop-out and completely burst my moment of enlightenment. This was definitely not “normal”. My brain was fighting against me. This was when I realised that there was something “wrong” with me. I slowly stopped trying to find answers in my brain and focused in trying to find answers in my actions. I looked for professional help. Learned more about anxiety and OCD. Started practicing mindfulness, etc.

This was my “aha” moment. I had many small “aha” moments that enabled me to move from a problem focused mindset to a solution focused mindset. Ask yourself the honest question : “how long have I been trying to find solutions in my brain with no apparent resolution in sight?” I know that when we start “brain digging”, for some reason, this brings some sort of comfort and calms us down. However, this is definitely not a way forward. The way forward is in our daily routines.

A lot of people are stuck in their rOCD journey because they cannot commit to a daily process of change and are looking for a “magical” transformation. I know this very well because I was such a person for a very long time.

I challenge everyone out there, for the space of a week, to mindfully engage and dis-engage with their rOCD thoughts. It will be almost impossible not to get slightly less unstuck.


Accepting OCD

Hi everyone,

As always I am trying to cover subjects that I did not think about covering in previous posts. And sometimes the shortest posts are the best :)

Going back a few years, at the height of my OCD problems, one of the hardest things for me was accepting that I had OCD. I went through analysing feelings to point of exhaustion. Asking myself why I was asking questions. Maybe this is a “sign” that something is wrong. The light at the end of the tunnel came when I realised two things:

1) I could not “switch off” these thoughts easily and they were creating great anxiety. Surely this wasn’t normal ???!!!!

2) EVERYTIME, I thought I had found an answer in my mind  and seemed to find some solace or peace for a few moments, the following thought was almost in every case  “what if “. It would take a few seconds, few minutes or a few hours but the “what if” was always there. My brain always managed to find a “what if”. In most of the cases, almost straightway. It was really tiring arguing with myself!

This was when I started my acceptance journey towards OCD. It took me a while to fully accept this new reality but it all started by these two little observations.



The perfect partner


Hope everyone is enjoying the summer and doing a bit of mindfulness… :) I don’t think I have covered the “perfect partner” issue from a rOCD perspective in previous posts so here it goes.It is also important for me to mention that I am not discussing cases of emotional and/or physical abuse. We are excluding these cases from this discussion.


There are two “lies” that rOCD tells when it comes to evaluating if we are in a relationship with the “perfect” partner:

No.1 If your partner was really meant for you, you would not be feeling any anxiety/having doubts, etc.

No.2 If only my partner had/did not have x, then he/she would be the perfect partner.

Before we go into more detail, we need to first think about what a perfect partner is. If our background is Western culture, then most often than not this notion would be based around the Hollywood myth that you just need to meet the “right” person and everyone will be happy ever after. Other things like education, social status might also be important. If we come from an Eastern or African culture, maybe we will be more concerned about acceptance within our own family and our partner’s family. The point is that there is no Universal definition of perfect partner. And there will never be.  Why? Because different people and cultures, value different things.

OK, now point no.1 – No.1 If your partner was really meant for you, you would not be feeling any anxiety/having doubts, etc. This type of thinking is quite common in rOCD sufferers. In this case, we think that the cause of the problem is basically external and not internal. And the risk here is that we will go from relationship to relationship, trying to find this perfect partner as we believe that this would lead to no anxiety. And to make matters worse, even those that are close to us reinforce this myth. “If x was really meant for you, you would not be feeling or doubting this way”. Having doubts is healthy. Having doubts all the time is unhealthy. At a certain point in the relationship, you will have to take a leap of faith. It happens in all relationships – even those people that do not suffer from rOCD! So if you find yourself questioning or stuck in an unhealthy way (I call this “spinning the wheels” and not getting to any conclusions), take this as further evidence of rOCD at work.

And No.2 If only my partner had/did not have x, then he/she would be the perfect partner. Getting fixated on certain physical or intellectual attributes to the point of creating even more anxiety, can also be quite common. The number one priority for the anxious OCD brain is to find faults in our partners as these are perceived as danger sources. The brain in its best attempt to protect us, ends up hurting us. So if you find yourself obsessing about a certain lack of something in your partner for a long period of time, take it as further evidence of OCD. I am not saying that you should ignore values that you consider important in a relationship.  I am saying that we need to better distinguish between essentials and non-essentials. What qualities are also important in 20, 30 and 40 years from now?


The bottom line is that no one is the “ready made” stuff when it comes to relationships. Success in a long term relationship depends very much wanting to become the perfect partner rather than finding the perfect partner. As a personal note, I have celebrated my 3rd year anniversary last Wednesday. In these 3 years, we have been through so much together, both good and bad. But our relationship is stronger today than it was 3 years ago. In the midst of my crazy rOCD period, I understood one thing: The person that I was going to propose to was willing to put the work in and so was I. Then, I gathered up the courage to ignore my rOCD and moved forward with faith.



Some other old notes

Hi everyone,

I was doing some Spring cleaning (not Spring yet) and found some old notes from my therapy and mindfulness sessions. They really helped me to understand rOCD and what the first steps are in getting better. Here they are:

  • OCD looks for areas of rigidity, where we are not very flexible in our beliefs and targets them.
  • Short term goal. When we have an rOCD thought – “this is an OCD thought about…”. Start labelling thoughts.
  • Long term goal . We should slowly start to include possibility statements in our self-talk. For example ” I really do not want to break up, my world would end” vs. “It wouldn’t be great, it would hurt but it could be possible”. This shows OCD that we are not afraid of it and once we take away the target, it will have less strength. This also brings flexibility to our thinking.
  • Our goal is to be able to observe thoughts without evaluating and judging them or analysing them.
  • Do not fight it. Give permission to come in but do not get involved with the thought.
  • When anxiety is a dominant emotion it is very difficult to feel everything else. Learn to recognise anxiety feelings.
  • I know it is OCD because once I seem to find comfort in a thought, and “solved” my problem mentally, another contradictory thought comes up to discredit the first.

My favourite – Thoughts are not facts!

You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.John Kabat-Zinn