to twitcher(nli) re: OCD strategies

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to twitcher(nli) re: OCD strategies

Postby Asterix on January 4th, 2003, 3:17 pm

Hi twitcher(nli)

I just have read your excellent post about your strategies for coping with health obsession. The post seems to be somewhat hidden at the end of
long thread so let me re-post it here because I think it is interesting
for must of us BFSers for 99.99% of whom the treal Problem is not ALS
but actually OCD:

(now I'm curious about your other info that you hint at the end of the post...)

originally pposted by twitcher(nli):
yes, I have learned a few strategies that have helped quite a bit with my health obsession.

Really, there are two things that I do to help alleviate the constant fear. The first technique is called exposure. This is the hardest one, but is probably the most relevant to this group. What it involves is one sitting down in a room alone and imagining the worst. I have to imagine that I have ALS and force myself to get anxious. I have to imagine slowly wasting away, having to rely on others for my most basic needs, being unable to move or communicate, the inability to breathe, etc. I imagine the worst possible scenerio and allow myslef to get as anxious as possible. One would do this for ~15 minutes at first. Eventually, you try to get to a point where you can feel your anxiety level drop while you're doing the exposure. This drop in anxiety becomes your stopping point in future sessions.

The other technique is to stop checking your body. In the guise of OCD, I was told to rationalize that my thoughts that I was getting weaker were all caused by OCD, not ALS. Everytime I had a feeling of weakness or caught myself testing my strength, I had to tell myself that it was OCD and not ALS. This one had the biggest immediate impact. This also goes for checking for muscle atrophy. If I feel the urge to check a part of my body, I'm supposed to recognize it as an obsession and then try to replace the compulsion with something fun. Even if I break down and do check, I have to try to wait at least 15 minutes before I give in.

So does it work??? Yes, without a doubt. 6 months ago, I was a mess. Now, I can deal with the fear a lot better. I have good days and bad, but the majority are good and getting better. Most of this revolves around accepting the fact that no matter how much we worry about something (ALS), we can't prevent it from happening. And if I do have it, why would I want to ruin the precious time I have left with worry. I've been trying to live in the moment more and not always fearing what MAY happen in the future.

I have more, but I gotta later.
Posts: 47
Joined: October 9th, 2002, 1:32 pm
Location: Europe

Postby twitcher(nli) on January 4th, 2003, 5:53 pm

Thanks for posting this in a more visible location. I agree that many people posting here have problems with anxiety/OCD. I started the BFS Survey and just looking through that backs the anxiety/OCD link.
There are three other things that I have found useful.
1) EXERCISE!!! Yup, 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day will do wonders for your state of mind.
2) Be able to laugh at yourself. If I catch myself testing my strength or looking for atrophy, I realize how ridiculous I am behaving and laugh at myself.
3)Most importantly, don't look at any health related websites and NO visits to the doctor. The compulsion is seeking reassurance. You have to stop reassuring yourself because that is what feeds the obsession.

Doing all of the above is NOT easy and there are times that I fail. The key is to keep at it.

Good luck to all.



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