Today I’m going to talk to you about something really personal, because I’m hoping that it might help others out there like me.
A few years ago I was diagnosed with anxiety. I have regular panic attacks and spiralling intrusive thoughts. When it gets really bad I go very inward and can almost be incapacitated. Though people can’t tell because I go into robot mode. It’s like I’m a prisoner of my mind. I have noticed that the attacks don’t come when I’m writing.
Last year, my diagnosis was altered to include Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Things that people would think about and put aside, I let take over my mind and dominate me.
I am not what people would imagine an OCD person would be like. I’m an ENFP (for those who knows Myers Briggs). I’m messy, unorganised and a really bad planner. because there’s so much more to OCD than that. But I do hoard quite badly, colour coordinate odd things, have a lot of rituals, lock my car multiple times (just in case) and worry that I’ve left the stove on and the house will burn down when we go on holidays.
There’s intrusive thoughts. They are thoughts I know I would never act on, but they don’t make me feel very good and I have to work hard sometimes to push them away.
So I’ve started therapy recently because it was quite obvious that my OCD was starting to take control of my life. When my psychologist found out I’m an author he said that we shouldn’t get rid of my OCD completely because it would be fuelling creativity.
So the strategy we’ve worked on is naming my OCD is to name the various parts of it. My psychologist said this was something Walt Disney did (not that I think he had OCD). Bob is my bad OCD. He’s the accuser and controller. When he tries to take over my mind I say (sometimes out loud) “Shut up, Bob.” Then there is Bertha. She’s a very elegant lady who is in control of my creativity. She works with me on story ideas and Bob doesn’t get a look in when she’s on the scene. But when she’s not around (and she can’t be on 24/7) Bob usually is. There’s also Michelle. She is my voice of reason, the calm, rational one that tries to stand up to Bob.
Other strategies that you can use (some have worked for me and some haven’t) include:
- Sleep Easy Headphones: You can get these from Typo. They are a sleep mask and headphones combined. I listen to audio books as I go to sleep and it usually stops intrusive thoughts from interfering with my sleep.
- Keeping a journal: externalising your OCD/anxiety can help process it. Writing is a different process to thinking and it can alter how you think about the situation.
- Saying it out loud: another way to externalise the OCD/Anxiety.
- Having a prayer/statement card: there are some statements that you can use to combat OCD thoughts like “this thought isn’t helpful right now”
- Mindfulness: Guided meditation is so good for your mental health. I found my OCD was kept at bay while I did Yoga regularly. Now I have the CALM app on my phone, which has free guided meditation on it.
- Join a support group: I’ve found a fantastic OCD support group on Facebook. They’ve helped me when the panic starts and they understand what I’m going through.
There’s more resources around, but the key is to get support. And if you’re like me and your a creative person, learn how to make it work for you, not against you.
Sharon is an author from sunny Queensland, signed with City Owl Press. She loves her family, her fur babies and helping authors with Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness. Vegas Baby! Yep, Sharon is heading to Romantic Times in April 2016.