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    "You are much deeper, much broader, much brighter than any idea you could have of yourself."
    Harry Palmer, posted by Daniel

adaptive1

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Hi

I have been reading your threads and there is some really helpful information on here. I have a problem and I am not sure exactly what kind of problem it is. I have a lot of problems with obsessive thinking, where I seemed to get locked into one "worry" if you could call it at a time. It gets to the point where this worry will end up occupying the majority of my time every day. I dont necesarily have any of the phsycial symptoms of anxiety other than it impairs my concentration to the point where I feel like it is hard to do other things. I actually start to feel like I am being driven mad, and it is really hard to feel like I have any control over what I am thinking. Right now I am worrying about not being able to stop my obsessive thinking. I dont know why I am doing this, I am trying to keep as busy as I can and not do anything to encourage my obsessing but I dont understand why I cant stop thinking about it. I dont even feel like deep down I am that worried about it, but I still cant stop thinking about it. Do you think this is a form of OCD or is it more likely generalized anxiety? I was going for counselling for awhile and it did help but then when I quit or reduced the frequency of my visits it always comes back. I dont know if I should bother going back again, do you think it is more likely a personality disorder if therapy didnt help me stop this pattern of behaviour.

I feel so defeated that I will never get over this.
 

Daniel

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Regarding excessive worrying vs. obsessive thinking:

I think it's more a continuum than a black-and-white either-or category thing. However, as a general "definition", I'd say if you are worrying excessively about things that have no solid foundation in reality, things that are very unlikely to occur, or things that are not related to people or events around you - and/or if you find the thoughts intruding into your mind even when you're trying to focus on other things - then you are probably exhibiting obsessive traits in the way you worry.

http://forum.psychlinks.ca/showthread.php?t=4595

Regarding treatment, therapy is always a good idea and the ideal treatment for anxiety, including obsessive thinking, is therapy + meds and also exercise, music, socialization, recreation, meaningful work, self-help books, etc.

With obsessive thinking, it is usually easier, at least for me, to change my behavior than to change my thoughts, especially when I am feeling worse than usual. The theory goes that by changing your behaviors, you can change your thoughts. For me, obsessive thinking and depression both mimic the effects of procrastination, so I like reading books by Neil Fiore, especially "The Now Habit."
 

David Baxter

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Also look for a book called Brain Lock by Jeffrey Schwartz. I think you'll find that it describes exactly what you're experiencing.
 

Daniel

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Brain Lock by Dr. Schwartz is the best self-help book on OCD, and most of it's advice regarding obsessions and compulsions is equally applicable to those who just have obsessive thoughts. For example, the behavior therapy I was alluding to before is part of the "4 steps" in Brain Lock:

It is vitally important to Refocus attention away from the urge or thought and onto any other reasonable task or activity. Don't wait for the thought or feeling to go away. Don't expect it to go away right away. And, by all means, don't do what your OCD is telling you to do. Rather, engage in any constructive activity of your choosing. You'll see that instigating a time delay between the onset of the urge and even considering acting on it will make the urge fade and change. What is more important, even if the urge changes hardly at all, as sometimes happens, you learn that you can have some control over your response to this faulty message from the brain.

"The Four Steps" by Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz
 

adaptive1

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Thanks alot for your thoughts, I feel like I am close to losing my mind so I will check out the books. Do you think it is possible to improve the problem without taking medication? I don?t really like the idea of medication, plus I don?t want to go to my Doctor about this.

I still find it a little hard to determine if my "worry" is based in reality. Worrying obsessively about my obsessing seems like it is based in reality but certainly I dont think it is something that is worth worrying about 99% of the time so perhaps its not based in reality? I cant even identify why it is so troubling to me. Is this a little like being like a hypochondriac do you think, like the same idea?
 

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Daniel:
Thanks for the great resource which I found to be very useful.


Maladaptive:

I don?t really like the idea of medication, plus I don?t want to go to my Doctor about this

What are your concerns about both these strategies?
 

adaptive1

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I guess just the embarassment of going to my doctor is the fear, I dont feel comfortable discussing this with anyone new, I find that prospect very intimidating and it is hard enough to discuss this with a therapist let alone a doctor. I think I would prefer to try and use the methods you have given me in this thread, they seem like good techniques, I am hoping I will be able to do them without having to do back to a therapist and admit to having failed at controlling this problem again.
 

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I am hoping I will be able to do them without having to do back to a therapist and admit to having failed at controlling this problem again.

I've never felt at fault for anything regarding my mental problems. Relapses are the norm, not the exception, in mental health, and obsessive thinking is inherently difficult to control.

Honestly, it's only been a relief when I see a therapist, and the clinical studies show that cognitive behavior therapy (not self-help) is the most effective treatment for anxiety or OCD symptoms. So a combo package of therapy and self-help is obviously going to be more effective than self-help alone since anxiety and obsessive thinking takes advantage of one's blind spots, lack of objectivity, etc. We are all walking around with negative beliefs and assumptions that we don't even know we have.
 

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I guess just the embarrassment of going to my doctor is the fear, I don't feel comfortable discussing this with anyone new, I find that prospect very intimidating and it is hard enough to discuss this with a therapist let alone a doctor

I presume you are referring to your family physician (general practitioner) who is and M.D.

Included in your physician's training are periods of time spent working in Psychiatry as well as the other medical specialties, to provide well rounded understanding of mental and emotional disorders.

You won't be telling your doctor anything s/he hasn't heard before; and your family doctor should be the hub and partner in your health care. This is the person who should be coordinating your overall medical care, referring you to appropriate specialists, including possibly Psychiatrists and Psychologists or other mental health providers.

Do you feel there are other forbidden topics you would feel uncomfortable talking to your doctor about? What about shortness of breath, or sexual difficulty, or chest pain?

If you feel uncomfortable talking to your doctor about certain subjects, because s/he make you feel intimidated, the problem is with your doctor and not with you. I would respectfully propose you have a conversation with your doctor about communication difficulty and if the doctor is not willing to change his/her approach then consider changing doctor.

IMO a doctor who intimidates patients needs to re-orient his/her thinking because this style of medical practice went out of favor decades ago, and you cannot possibly be a partner in your health care under these circumstances.

Do you feel comfortable to have this kind of conversation with your doctor and do you have the option of seeking out another physician?
 

adaptive1

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I really appreciate the advice you are all giving me here. I am sorry because I know lots of people have questions and I dont want to take up too much time.

This isnt actually a problem with my doctor but more a problem with me. I dont feel comfortable discussing this with any doctor, i dont really even feel comfortable going to a doctor period. I am sure that they have heard it all and I know that, its just a fear of being embarassed or being judged negatively or looking stupid. If this obsessing about my worrying is kind of like being a hypochondriac then its strange I dont go to the Doctor. Perhaps I am not a hypochondriac. Its so hard to get any clarity.

Even now I feel a sense of shame to admit this in an annoymous forum as if somehow I am doing this obsessing on purpose for some reason that I dont understand.
 

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I used to fear going to the doctor too but lately I feel like I could just about go anywhere. What helped me was to set things like that as a goal and then break it down and then visualize myself doing it in a calm manner. If you talk to youself positively about going to the Dr it wont be as bad. Try saying, "My doctor is a professional nice person that will help me problem solve." I bet you are thinking, "He will think I am a moron." At least that helped me. I was having anxiety attacks going to the therapist but thinking about it in a less threatening manner helps.

I dont think you sound like a hypochondriac, it sounds like as you say your mind gets stuck. Dont blame yourself and be ashamed, lots of people have anxiety problems and it sounds to me like you want to do something about it, thats very positive. I hope it doesnt sound like I am trying to give professional advice, just talking from my own experience.
 

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I feel a sense of shame...as if somehow I am doing this obsessing on purpose for some reason that I dont understand.

That, too, can be a symptom of anxiety/OCD :)

OCD is referred to as the "disease of doubt." In some cases, it can be appropriately a "disease of guilt." Interestingly, the guilt is with out a cause, for in most cases [it is] about an action they have not performed and do not even have knowledge of.

http://www.mindpub.com/art067.htm

Of course, there is also the stigma of mental illness, which is easily internalized and is a major reason why most people with mental illness do not seek out enough treatment.
 

adaptive1

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Thanks for making me realize what I have known for along time but just not ready to admit.

I have one last question as I know I have taken up alot of time and been given some good resources. I do one thing that perhaps is a compulsion but I didn’t think of it that way before. I have not discussed it with someone as it is quite embarrassing so I have kept it to myself.

I have a bunch of note books at home. I buy them all the time and constantly when I am at home I will make brief entries into the notebook that talk about how anxious I am about my behaviour. I will write five or six lines and then cross them out and start a new page. I might do this five or six times a night, sometimes maybe ten or eleven. When I am at work it is much worse. I can barely focus on my job. I will write things such as what I writing now on my computer and then delete them. I will do this for hours a day when I should be working and then I end up having to work overtime to get my work done. I seem to do ok for awhile and then this starts up again. Is this OCD or am I completely crazy?
 

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That is almost certainly OCD. Medication and CBT can help you with that. And there is no reason to feel embarrassed - there are thousands, probably millions of people with OCD or some degree of OCD.
 

adaptive1

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Thanks very much David, I did finally tell my counselor about the writing and he agreed with you and made the same recommendations. I am still thinking about medication, I guess I have to get past the stigma of that which is in my own mind.

I still have a hard time accepting that this is OCD though because I thought that compulsions were related to obsessions that weren’t based in reality. If I am writing non stop because I am distressed that I cant stop thinking about my obsessing that doesn’t seem like it is non reality based. I certainly feel like I cant stop writing but I am trying albeit not with much success, I guess if it walks like a duck it must be one
 

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I guess if it walks like a duck it must be one

I would also add the following, which is used to help describe most mental problems:

-causes subjective distress AND/OR
-interferes with ability to function

This is stuff you already probably know, but what the hay: Regarding reality...it can be scary and is unpredictable, which causes anxiety, which causes obsessions/compulsions/need to control. Lots of people will journal their thoughts but it isn't "non stop," just like lots of people will wash their hands, but they won't do so until their hands are red. It's not an addiction, it's a compulsion. I can't imagine what else it could be.

If I am writing non stop because I am distressed that I cant stop thinking about my obsessing that doesn’t seem like it is non reality based.

Certainly, people engage in compulsions for temporary relief and seeking such relief may seem rational. The problem is that the relief is temporary, and the compulsion doesn't get one anywhere in the long term and can be as paralyzing as the obsessions.
 
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adaptive1

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Thanks Daniel, you certainly give articulate and well thought out advice. Your perspective is appreciated. Its very difficult to discuss this with anyone I know because I feel like my behaviour is so out there these days, and when I do go see my counsellor I feel like it just makes my obsessing worse and that makes my writing worse. I guess I keep trying to make excuses for what I am doing and pretending it is normal, but I know it isn't and that it is anxiety that causes this.
 

adaptive1

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I have got my writing to myself down by about three hours a day since I last posted here. Has anyone ever heard of hypergraphia? I looked on the internet and it was a term that described people that cant stop writing. I never heard of it, but it seems to be more of a medical condition. If I can stop writing that suggests to me that its voluntary.
 

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I have never heard of [WIKI]hypergraphia[/WIKI] before however it is quite interesting.
 

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