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traumas and not being in control


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...today I caught myself obsessively tidying at work, and not wanting anyone to move or touch what I had tidied. (I work in a public library, so we're talking books here)

I sensed underneath this obsessiveness a great deal of anxiety, wanting to be in control of my surroundings. I made an important connection....even as its worrying.

I don't want to go further into OCD behaviour.

When I was 16, and for a good many years after that, my OCD was at its height. In the year I was 16, 1986, my parents' house suffered 2 break-ins, one on 4th June (My first O'level day) and one on 26th September. In the first one my mother's engagement and eternity rings were stolen, along with the TV and cameras and such. Less went in the second. But the sense of violation was huge....I felt that everyone must hate us. I didn't feel safe. I developed a habit of compulsively repeating little prayers to myself, believing that no bad things would happen again whilst I did so.

*sighs*

I became especially anxious to 'protect myself' at times of extreme anxiety, like the journey home from holiday, and walking past our house to my mother's work, torn between not looking at the house in case something terrible had happened, and wanting to look and see that all was safe and secure.

I was a bundle of anxiety.

When I went away to university it gradually settled inside, though manifested in other areas of my life.

Bear in mind also that the emotional environment of my family was very unstable and insecure, it wasn't safe.

Then, years later in 2000 I was looking after my friend's flat, which is also a small yoga centre, in the East End,(where I used to live nearby to.) and there was a gang of boys who used to hang around in the church gardens opposite. Once, when I turned up to teach a class when my friend was away, I met up with a policeman on the stairs, there had been a break-in. and I was the one who had to deal with it all until my friend returned very late that night.

I coped in the crisis, but then the fear broke through and for a long time after and since (also from other causes) I've had panic attacks.

Once I heard voices "the policemen have gone now" when she was away, and I was at home in my flat. so, panicky and terrified, feeling myself responsible for her flat, and for hearing this voice, I hurriedly got properly dressed (I had been just about to go to bed) and ran down the road. There was a policeman outside the block (or was I hallucinating?) but when I got into my friend's flat all was safe and sound.

The fear of not being in control is big still, though it manifests in other ways. I fear losing control emotionally. I fear breaking down and falling apart and being left and not cared for. I fear losing the ground that I have gained. I fear getting caught up in OCD behaviour (checking doors and windows was a huge one for me for years....)again, and so I'm posting this, in the hope of any helpful feednack or support...

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nestling,

I'm sorry to hear about all the events you have had to deal with. They are all scary.

I know you have been dealing with some PTSD issues lately. Correct me if I am wrong. I'm trying to remember what you have written on another thread lately.

Increased stress and anxiety can aggrevate PTSD. In one way the OCD behavior is a safety/defense mechanism in that you takes your mind off of possible distrubing thoughts your brain may be trying to avoid. As you said, you made the connection, even as it is worring, that the OCD behavior is a way to gain control over your enviroment. PTSD makes one feel they are not in control in their environment, so the OCD behavior is a way of making one feel safe.

I think I understand how worrisome this is for you. You don't want the OCD behavior to get in the way of doing things, have it become a problem where it affects your level of functioning. I think recognizing the behavior is a positive sign. Can you try to make other connections betwen the past events and any similarities to any thing presently going on to what is behind your present OCD behavior? Can you talk this over with your tdoc?

Sorry, if this isn't much help. I read this post first before I looked back at your other thread, so if I am way off base here, I'll edit.

Erika

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Hi Erika. thanks. you confused me there for a minute, you've changed your name!

I'll come back to this properly tomorrow, my brain being in efexor withdrawal shittiness.....

but here're my thoughts so far.....the OCD behaviour stems from anxiety, and I anxiously found myself tidying, wanting everything to be perfect, and if it wasn't perfect, I had failed, like I'd failed to stop my parents rowing, like I'd failed at being a good enough person, as my father was angry with me, like I failed at teaching because I couldn't control classes, (loss of control there on lots of occasions, practically every day when I was supply teaching in London)

and like I failed to be there at my friend's flat every moment to protect it from possible intruders.

I saw/see all these things as my responsibility-my parents' rows, my father's instability, my failure as a teacher = my failure as a person.

O, and I failed at yoga too, because my emotions were too unyogic and I'm unstable.

I am starting to accept that not all these things were my responsibility nor do they reflect my worth as a person, but not all of me's accepted it yet, and when life events (my therapist going away for a week, coming off efexor, an upcoming restructuring at work....) are out of my control, then the anxiety steps in.

does that make any sense? as I say, my brain's a bit blurry today. had major emotional outburst of tears at work today and was let home early.

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I'm sorry to hear about all the events you have had to deal with. They are all scary.....

Increased stress and anxiety can aggrevate PTSD. In one way the OCD behavior is a safety/defense mechanism in that you takes your mind off of possible distrubing thoughts your brain may be trying to avoid. As you said, you made the connection, even as it is worring, that the OCD behavior is a way to gain control over your enviroment. PTSD makes one feel they are not in control in their environment, so the OCD behavior is a way of making one feel safe.

hi again nestling, i remember relating to some earlier post(s) of yours, and once again your words jumped out at me and i wanted to reply with the same kinds of thoughts Erika just posted. my tdoc says the same thing about me. we're working at it, and i'm still considering a more OCD-addressing med, but i really wanted you to know that you're not at all alone in this axis of PTSD/OCD/social-or-whatever-anxiety, and how the stress and anxiety can hop around between them when triggered, to try to gain some control.

and i'm so sorry you're going through this and wish you the best in healing. with your keen self-awareness and good professional(s) i think you'll do very well in time.

sending love and aloha.

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nestling you posted same time as i did and i just have to add that once again my mind works SO similarly. i understand and relate to everything you said. i even told my tdoc yesterday "i'm not zen enough!" geez.

i don't check the boards regularly so please pm me if you ever wanna talk. aloha for now dear one.

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does that make any sense? as I say, my brain's a bit blurry today. had major emotional outburst of tears at work today and was let home early.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Makes complete and perfect sense. Hope the effexor withdrawal impoves, horrible stuff. Tdoc being gone for a week is tough! My pdoc has been sick and out of the office for weeks at a time and it is so hard to get through those times alone, at least for me.

For what its worth, I can't do yoga. I fail everytime I try. I used to teach too. I was good at it at one time but then I starting having a psychotic meltdown one night in front of the class. I haven't taught since and probably never will again.

Hope you get to feeling better soon. Sending good, healing thoughts your way.

Erika

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