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Nipping it in the bud


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I'm going through the OCD Workbook as recommended on this site. So far, so good.

One thing I've noticed is that I tend to not realize I'm obsessing about something until my anxiety level has risen and I'm having the physical signs of anxiety - heart racing, sweating, chest tightening, etc. Prior to that, my mind is buzzing with what-if's, but I don't feel anxious right away until the what-if's get completely out of control. It feels so rational, at least at first, heh.

Once I realize what I'm doing, I can make it stop, with quite a bit of effort. But I spend a good hour or two obsessing over something before I realize what is going on. Some of you guys have called me on it before I've even realized I've been obsessing. How does one catch oneself before it gets to the point that it's takes a great deal of effort to stop? Any tips? I suspect some level of self-monitoring is needed, but I don't want that to turn into an obsession/compulsion deal.

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The thing that helps me the most with obsessive thoughts/behaviors is mindfulness and to "redirect" as taught in DBT. It took me a ton of practice, and a few years of daily conscious work, but now I am able to catch myself beginning to obsess very quickly. Once I have redirected my thoughts/actions, I kind of go on autopilot and my brain does the redirecting automatically as I think about or do something else. Before, I wouldn't catch myself for a long time, and the redirecting felt like trying to push a mountain aside.

So, I guess it is a matter of mindfulness-- the more aware I am, the easier it is to catch myself & redirect. The more I do that, the less obsessive I am. Lithium helps, too-- the noise in my head is much quieter, so I can kind of let things go more easily. (I think I used to hold on to every thought because I couldn't think clearly enough to know whether I needed it or not.)

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How does one catch oneself before it gets to the point that it's takes a great deal of effort to stop?

This is a really good question.

All I can think of is just plain old mindfulness. Just living in the moment enough that any obsessive mind stuff happening would stand out very quickly. Like running along a river path and thinking about anywhere else but where you are then suddenly falling flat on your face tripping over a tree root. Those tree roots are very common and easily detected just like my obsessive behaviors.

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I'm guessing the answer would be mindfulness.

I could also see maybe writing out the content of some common obsessions... maybe not the obsessions themselves if they tend to change, but common word PATTERNS going on with them, etc., and whatnot, and maybe reading over the list every a.m. to sort of see if like, things pop out at you more in a more automatic way with practice.....

Anna

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Makes sense. A former coworker of mine (DBT therapist) told me the treatment for obsessions is mindfulness. I had trouble wrapping my head around that until you guys responded. It makes sense to me now, heh. Kind of a "duh" moment.

Now let's see if I can stay mindful...

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