Quote from Guest on December 24, 2020, 4:15 pm
ive suffered with Pure O OCD myself in various forms over the years since I was 13 (I am now 22). The most recent spike of mine was centred around false memories and so I feel as someone who has now come out at the other side of it I can at least offer you some reassurance.
I know what I’m going to say could be seen as too hard to do or misunderstanding of your pain- but I hope that you can follow what I say with the trust that I now am in a clearer state of mind, have reflected on my false memories, and have a completely new outlook on their truth and meaning. I imagine you like me, try to imagine what future you who is “better” would do or think about your current situation -and I’m here to resemble his/her voice.
Nothing I could say will get rid of the anxiety produced by your current obsession with false memory over night as unfortunate as that sounds. The truth is, the persistent energy and time you’ve fed into this cycle of fear (through no fault of your own OCD is terrifying) means that your brain has rewired itself as to respond more frequently and urgently to thoughts associated with the themes you fear at the moment. You may of already read up about it this - but in case you haven’t, the term is known as “neuroplasticity” if you wanted to look it up for yourself. During spikes of OCD the brain morphes into a state that not only responds eagerly to OCD thoughts, but in turn itself produces them, to a point of needing constant habitual attention. However, as daunting as this might seem, there is a shining silver lining to this as there almost always is.
So let’s say Your brain may have made the mistake of responding too eagerly the first time you had a false memory ocd thought, and because your brain is essentially being over-protective and believes it must respond to your fears to keep you safe, you have since spiraled into a sort of automatic software to attend to ocd fears (whatever they may be - in this case the worry of a dream being true) daily, to the point where you feel you have no control over it and it has become pure habit. The thought of your brain being so easily rewired might be scary and depressing, but the silver lining is that it is just as easily flipped into a healthy system of thinking- which will also become habitual and effortless, just as your distress has come to be. It is reassuring, or at least was for me, that my brain is like putty in a sense, and the way you feel now can literally change dramatically by means of behavioural changes. Also, it’s reassuring to me that when you’re really in the depths of ocd, you are almost at the hands of neuroplasticity in terms of your anxiety right now- as you’re original fear is so far away from your now habitual fear to check if your bad memories are real- so the blame almost goes to science rather than yourself.
So how do you change or re-wire your brain? The best and quickest way is by changing your behaviour. It’s garunteed that if you do not feed into the behaviour which satisfies your ocd worries (seeking reassuring, checking, cleaning, ect) that over time your brain will learn it does not need to respond to your state of panic, and make a new pathway for a and healthy and reasonable reaction to the thought. During this time, thoughts will lessen in frequency with the lessening of urgency, and after a while you’ll forget your worries. This might seem really far away for you, and to tell you the truth, I couldn’t afford or get access to therapy quick enough myself and so can only attribute my latest recovery to an increase in my medication. But whether it’s with the help of a therapist or a change in medication, true change can only come when you have the courage to stop doing what you’ve been doing for so long.
I responded because your comment that you think you need to believe that it’s possible for false memories to feel super real for your ruminations to stop, but I’m sorry to tell you I don’t think this would help. The mere knowledge that 1) false memory ocd exists, 2) in the particular way you experience it, and 3) you haven’t done anything wrong and are safe will most likely not be enough to stop your ocd. The panic response does not respond to reason - that’s why we struggle so much! People with ocd are the best reasoners in the world and if anyone could solve ocd with means of reason - it would have definitely been us. You are aware ocd false memories are a thing as you’ve posted this, and that wasn’t enough to satisfy your rationale because ocd sneaks into any nook and cranny possible! It will do it’s absolute best to convince you that what you’re experiencing isn’t like what others experience, that you’re actually a horrible person, who has done something dreadfully wrong.
as for my own false memories, I look back now and can say with complete certainty that if I could go back I would give myself a massive hug and tell myself that it’s okay. Anyone who ruminates for as long as we do would worry! The details I thought were so real I now look back on and see as an unfortunate conclusion to a week long of overthinking. I don’t believe any of my false memories now - even tho at the time they were so vivid. Also - I’m sure whatever way you think your bad, a person who is bad like that wouldn’t worry like you have.
So you can know that your brain is just failing you in being the over-protective best friend, have all the tools to fix the problem, and still be absolutely terrified because one thing is stopping you- the fear that if you don’t attend to the thoughts like you should, then something bad might happen I.e you’re actually a bad person, actually did something bad in the past ect.
I once read about an ocd physiatrist who would get to a point with his patients where they had all the tools and knowledge to tackle their ocd themes, but were too scared to do so for the risks it posed. For example, a mother with the harm ocd might say “I want to get better but I’m scared if I don’t hide all the dressing gown ties in my house each night I could kill my kids in my sleep” the psychiatrist responds to this universally by entrusting the patient with the blame himself. Meaning, any bad that comes from taking this risk is on him. If the mothers kids die, he is to blame. He says to this day, he has not had one single case of this gone wrong, as people with ocd are at the core of their being the least likely people to Do/be what they fear so much- that’s why it bothers us so much !
so I’m here to suggest if you need that final push, to have one night for you. I’m here to reassure you that I 1000% believe you’re not a bad person, you’re memories aren’t real, and you’re just having a really hard time at the minute. My advice is to just surrender to it, let it all in, allow the possibility of your thoughts being true and say so what- for the sake of you and you’re sanity. You’re a person so worthy of happiness, and is trying their best. Give yourself one night off and please remember to be kind, here if you need anything else answering x