Friday, September 13, 2013

It’s a Barometer!

I’m looking forward to interacting with members of the OCD community.  My intent is to help people who are suffering with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and their loved ones, with their journey to diminish it in their lives. 

How can I help?  I know what it’s like to live with OCD.  I know a lot about what it takes to minimize it in day-to-day life.  I’m here to share what I’ve learned.  What tools are most beneficial differ for everyone.  However, I add a skill set that most people don’t think about when dealing with this stubborn condition. I’m a Nutrition Therapist.  There is much that can be done nutritionally for folks suffering from anxiety-related disorders. 

Anyone who’s been around OCD knows that completely erasing OCD from a sufferer’s life is unlikely.  I’m not here to imply differently.  However, I do think people can feel much better than they do now.  I believe we all have health barometers that are an indicator of something that is out of balance.  We feel the pressure building inside us.  As individuals, we’re wise to recognize our own barometers and learn from them. (What we can learn from OCD is a subject for another blog post.)   

OCD can ramp up when someone is emotionally and mentally stressed or physically ill.  Many people with anxiety disorders have thought “it’s all in my head.”  After getting a diagnosis of OCD, I’ve heard folks express great relief when they realize they’re “not crazy” and begin to recognize the sneaky ways OCD creeps into one’s life. 

A support group can recommend local practitioners who are successful in treating OCD.  In a support group, you have the opportunity to connect with fellow members who understand what you’re dealing with.  Loved ones can learn how to be supportive without enabling.

Also important in dealing with OCD is connecting physical health to OCD symptoms.  OCD is like a barometer, and listening to it can tell you when it is time to de-stress your life to better manage OCD.  Stress comes in many forms.   It’s wise to consider emotional, physical and lifestyle stressors.

Ever hear the term “gut feeling?”  The gut is also referred to as the “Second Brain.” The gut and the brain communicate, for better or for worse.  For a recent example in the news about OCD and physical health read Carrie Arnold’s article discussing this with psychiatrist James Greenblatt.  

Do you feel well physically?  Has anyone tried to explain to you how brain and body imbalances can be connected?  Have you sought out expertise to determine the reason why those chronic physical maladies plague you?  If so, are those recommendations working for you?  If not, those bothersome bodily symptoms may need to be addressed in order for you to make progress with your OCD therapy.  One of the roadblocks here is that if you’ve always felt a certain (somewhat lousy) way, you may not consider it unusual.  For example, I had terrible allergy symptoms throughout childhood.  I had twenty minute sneezing fits morning and night with an itchy mouth and watering eyes.  I distinctly remember how pleasant it was the first time I smelled spring flowers without a sick headache.  I was 27 years old by then! 

The list of physical imbalances that affect mental health is long.  How it looks and feels individually will vary.  Some of them include:  digestive distress, food intolerances (with or without gastrointestinal distress), a tired adrenal system, a poor functioning thyroid, and substandard sleep.  Of course, an anxiety-related disorder can exacerbate any of those conditions.  A medical doctor should be part of everyone’s care team. 

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy is one of the most valuable tools for working on OCD.   It’s important to find a psychologist who has significant experience with ERP and OCD.  That professional can help you not only with the process of ERP, but help you recognize the ways OCD sneaks into your life.  I also believe that physical wellness is necessary for one to feel emotionally well.  It is possible to support someone physically while they’re going through ERP therapy with their psychologist.   It’s up to the individual to decide what methods he/she wants to try and whether to incorporate more than one method at the same time.  It’s critical to always work with a physician when medication is part of the equation. 

An “OCD Toolbox” should provide a path to whole body and mental wellness, as well as the ability to function optimally in society.  It’s all connected.  What is your barometer telling you? 

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September 13, 2013
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September 13, 2013

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