Do you know of HARO? Help a Reporter Out, known as HARO, is a website that connects journalists to sources that can contribute to the articles they are writing. HARO could be useful for almost anyone in any profession but, this article is directed towards mental health professionals. As a therapist specializing in OCD, Tourette, & related issues, I’ve been using HARO for quite a while and have contributed to Huffpost, Bustle, UpJourney & more. Once you sign up for HARO, you will receive 3 emails per day with the various article ideas and questions from journalists. Below is what a typical email in the Lifestyle and Fitness category might look like.
Lifestyle and Fitness
43)Wellness Cruises: Looking to interview someone who's been on one (expert or not) (Reader's Digest)
44)College Grad Gift Ideas (Anonymous)
45)Benefits of Drinking Chlorophyll Water (Elite Daily)
46)Meatless Monday Promotions (Restaurants) (Chowhound)
47)Need healthy breakfast ideas (Live In The Now)
48)What doctors wish you knew about sleep (Bustle)
49)Travel Books South Africa (Lifney)
50)Books Every Millennial Should Read (Fupping)
51)Questions to ask a Pediatrician During a Visit (NYMetroParents.com)
If you feel as though you are qualified to provide the information they are looking for, you simply reply to the email listed. It’s just that simple and just that hard. We’ll discuss how to increase the likelihood that your submission is chosen later. So you already know the WHERE (https://www.helpareporter.com/) now let’s discuss the WHY and HOW.
Why would I want to spend time on this?
Great question and there are a multitude of answers.
If you are a therapist in private practice, it is an excellent way to promote your brand. When you contribute to large media outlets, not only do you get recognition as an expert on the matter but, you typically get the advantage of a backlink. What’s a backlink? This is when the journalist provides a link to your website within their article.
If you have a new book, research study, or academic article to highlight, you can often request that the journalist mention this as part of your brief bio. There is no guarantee it will be listed but, you can always ask.
HARO is a way to provide evidence based information to the public. Let’s be real….there is a lot of bullshit information out there. By contributing information based on research, you are appropriately educating the public and leading them to treatments, clinics, medication, and methods that can actually help rather than spending time and money on nonsense!
How do I use HARO?
There is a difference in simply signing up for HARO and actually using HARO to your advantage. Let’s discuss the latter.
First, be sure you have something valuable to contribute that sets you apart. Chances are the first thing that comes to your mind may be the first thing that comes to the mind of all others within your specialty. On the opposite side, overthinking it and spending an hour to write a 2 paragraph email isn’t a good use of your time either.
Make sure you provide the journalist a brief bio and ask for a backlink to your website. Your bio, although it will be fairly consistent submission to submission, can be slightly tweaked according to the content of the article. For example, the usual byline after my name is “Specializing in OCD, Tourette, & related disorders. However, if the story is specifically on tics, perhaps I would list Tourette first. Also, include any other media to which you’ve contributed.
I once read that a journalist can get anywhere between 500-700 responses to an inquiry. Each inquiry also lists the deadline. So, in order to increase the chances of your submission even being viewed, get in early. If their deadline is 7pm Thursday, don’t bother sending anything a 6pm…chances are they’ve finalized their choices.
Give copy ready information. The journalist wants to be able to use your information easily so, answer the question and assume your quote will be printed as-is. For example, let’s say you see an inquiry that says “Looking for Therapists to Speak About Anxiety’s Impact on Relationships”. Lead in with your bio so that you establish your expertise and they keep reading, then provide a 2-3 sentence quote (sometimes more) with relevant information you have to share. If you simply put, “I specialize in Anxiety and it effects many relationships” that is far too basic information and it likely won’t be chosen.
Use an interesting subject in your email. It doesn’t have to be cheesy and over the top but, again, if they are seeing 500+ emails what is going to set you apart?
Lastly, look to see if your piece was used. Only once have I had the reporter circle back to inform me that they used my quote. Typically, you will have to find this through a backlink checker or Googling the name of the article.
Have you had success using HARO? If so, feel free to share.
Go get ‘em,
Most people with OCD report that it does have an impact to their sex life. For some, the impact is minimal, while others experience significant concerns…especially when their intrusive thoughts involve sexual themes. If you are an adult, chances are you value your sex life and just like your job, family, and other things you value, it is an important piece of your existence. Some common sex-related complaints for those with OCD may include:
Avoiding sex entirely under the assumption that you are too anxious to enjoy it.
Using sex as a compulsion to “prove” your sexual orientation.
Having sex but just “going through the motions” for the sake of your partner.
Attempting to be fully engaged but consumed by intrusive thoughts throughout.
Requesting your partner provide multiple accommodations so you can avoid, find certainty, or otherwise.
So what can you do to get back to the sex you and your partner enjoy? There is no simple or easy answer but, through the principles taught in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), you can learn to realign with what’s important in that moment….the sex and your partner!
Back to the Now: OCD can easily give you 100+ intrusive thoughts during sex. While you don’t have a “choice” whether those thoughts pop up, you do have a choice whether you follow that thought and allow it to consume your experience. Instead, thank your mind for that thought and redirect your focus to the NOW. For some, simple reminders of “be present” or “be here now” may work. For others, that might not be enough. If it’s not then…..
Be an Observer to the Experience: Mindfulness is a component of ACT and can be a valuable practice during sex. When OCD attacks, choose to redirect your focus to what is happen in THAT moment. “I am doing XXX”, “she is touching XXX”, my XX feels XX”….you get the point. Not only are your practicing this technique but, it can also increase arousal.
Just Do It: OCD can easily convince you that your anxiety is “too high” to enjoy sex or that you will be “too distracted”. You won’t know if any of this is true for THAT moment unless you engage. Can sex be difficult to enjoy if you are filled with anxiety? OF COURSE!!! But a life without sex for you and your partner likely has more significant long term effects. Scheduling sex, while it may sound boring, can help to get your sex life back on track and remove the “I have to wait until I FEEL like it” belief. Through this, you are also engaging in a behavioral commitment and value-oriented action. Scheduling sex can create great anticipation and also make sure that this aspect of your relationship actually happens.
Communication: Chances are your partner knows about OCD and it’s impact on you. If not, this can be an important and beneficial conversation. Worried that your partner will notice your distraction and assume you are simply not attracted to them? This is why communication is so important.
Imaginal Exposure: Yes, I am suggesting you have sexual fantasies…but probably not the kind you are thinking about. If you struggle with the idea that OCD will get in the way of an enjoyable sexual experience and typically avoid sex…use that to create a imaginal exposure. I prefer to use exposure as a way to open up our willingness to have said experience as oppose to decreasing or removing anxiety. So, sit back, close your eyes, and imagine (if you can) all of your worst case scenarios in sex coming to a reality. Not climaxing, having the same intrusive thought over and over again, your partner accusing you of being distracted or not attracted to them, and so on. During this mind-based experience, open yourself up to any and all thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgement. Think of “willingness” as a muscle you can strengthen. The more willing you are to experience a wide range of internal experiences during sex, the less likely they will pull you away from the moment.
Have experience with OCD and an impact to your sex life? Feel free to comment and share what you’ve found helpful. Here’s to “sexy time” (as my kids call it)!!!
Look. Look away. Look. Look away. Look. Look away. “If I look I am a pedophile and if I look away I am a bad mother who doesn’t keep her child safe.” says Lynn (name changed) who describes the experience of giving her infant son a bath & the torment she lived in from the birth of her son until he was age 3.
Lynn had experienced bouts of anxiety and described herself as a “worry wort”, but it wasn’t until her son was born that she experienced significant intrusive thoughts and, in turn, would do anything and everything she could do avoid the fear. Lynn had OCD, but was misdiagnosed, criminalized, and made to feel like an outcast in her community.
It started simply enough. Once Lynn’s son was born she had to do what all parents of circumcised boys must do and clean the wound. While cleaning, just as her doctor had instructed, OCD said “why are you doing this? I bet you like it. Why are you doing it instead of your husband? You are a pedophile.” Lynn describes her first intrusive thoughts through tears and wishes that she had the support and guidance to know that many new mothers experience intrusive thoughts (as do all people!). In the middle of rural Arkansas, Lynn felt alone and hopeless in her fear.
Slowly, OCD began to take over Lynn’s life as she avoided everything that triggered anxiety. Her husband was working long hours while she was on maternity leave and, while she was never neglecting her son, she definitely wasn’t engaging with him like she wanted. “No baths unless my someone was there, Close my eyes while I changed his diaper, only hold him facing away from me so his genitals would not be next to me, check to see if I was aroused when I looked at him” Lynn says as she explains her initial compulsions. Soon enough, OCD told her that not only was she a danger to her son but all children. Lynn started to take a very long route to the grocery store so she could bypass a neighborhood playground. She then requested the presence of her husband for all contact with her son and resorted to hiring a babysitter while her husband was at work. “The babysitter was completely unnecessary and I can only imagine what that poor lady thought of me” laughs Lynn. “My son would cry, she and I would both hear it on the monitor, and I would go to him but tell her to come with me.”
At a yearly check up with her OB/GYN Lynn broke down and shared all in the hopes that her doctor would prescribe her medication. Instead, her uninformed doctor (who was clearly incompetent and did not do any research about Lynn’s symptoms, aka Idiot) called Children’s Services. “I’ve never been so scared in my life. I thought dealing with OCD was bad, but the thought of losing my child was a million times worse” says Lynn. Luckily, the service worker, who came to Lynn’s home after the OB/GYN made the report, was fresh out of college. In her last semester, one of her professors showed a brief video on OCD. “When I visited Lynn she was terrified. She kept telling me that she is not a bad person, but just has bad thoughts and this reminded me of the OCD video I watched” explains Allison, the Arkansas-based children’s service social worker. “Lynn didn’t seem like someone who found it pleasurable to think of children this way but, quite the opposite.” Allison began to research and eventually found the International OCD Foundation. Allison then contacted me to discuss Lynn’s case.
Allison was so invested in Lynn’s case and felt as though she was on the right track, despite a well respect physician in the community thinking otherwise. Although I had yet to meet Lynn at this point, after hearing Allison describe her symptoms I felt fairly certain Lynn was experiencing OCD and was no danger to her child. Allison then took the appropriate steps to connect me to Lynn. Lynn undoubtedly had severe OCD and we began weekly sessions 3 weeks later. “I’m still dealing with anger towards my former OB/GYN but, oddly enough, her huge mistake was my saving grace” says Lynn. “If I didn’t go to the doctor that day and spill my guts about everything and if she didn’t make this mistake, there is no telling how long it would have taken me to get a diagnosis and find the right treatment.” The doctor referenced has since received training about OCD.
Allison, the children’s service worker, is now the supervisor of a team of 22 staff for a rural region of Arkansas and makes sure they receive training on OCD yearly. “I teach my staff to think for themselves, research, and seek counsel from senior staff” she explains. “I don’t want anyone with OCD to not get the help they need because the people in our community aren’t trained; that’s not fair”.
Lynn is now the proud mother of 2 wonderful children and, although some days are worse than others, she has created a new relationship with her thoughts and is living life by what she values most….not what OCD says. “I still have some uncomfortable thoughts here and there, but I’ve learned that they simply don’t mean all that much. Treatment was really really tough, but no tougher than living my life according to what OCD wanted day in and day out” urges Lynn.
Lynn’s encourages anyone reading, who is experiencing similar symptoms, to first look at the International OCD Foundation and see if there is a provider in your area. “Don’t let my story keep you from disclosing” she says. “If you find an OCD specialist they will understand your symptoms and have probably treated something similar dozens of times before.”
If Lynn’s story resonates with you, please know that you are not alone. You can refer to the IOCDF via the link in the paragraph above and see if there is an OCD specialist in your area. You can also find hope & accurate information through the The OCD Stories podcast.
I’m guilty. I’m yet another therapist with a specialty niche who doesn’t accept insurance. Why? Insurance often dictates how, when, & where a session can take place. For #OCD and related disorders, it can be difficult to provide quality treatment while sticking to the rules dictated by insurance. For example, in #Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) it’s often essential for therapists to conduct home visits, have sessions within the community, or sessions via telehealth. Also, sometimes sessions need to be longer or happen more than once a week. Many insurance policies offer a once weekly in-office 50 minute session and these restrictions simply may not work for each individual’s treatment plan.
When you are seeing an out-of-network therapist you may receive a coded statement so that you can potentially get reimbursement from your insurance. This is great but, sometimes requires you to first meet your deductible and, if you are relatively healthy, perhaps that hasn’t happened in the calendar year. This is where the magic of a Single Case Agreement comes in. A single case agreement is an a one time contract between you (the patient), your insurance company, and the therapist. If this agreement is made, the patient can expect to receive 40-80% of their fees reimbursed depending on the quality of the policy. You will likely still pay your therapist out of pocket but, the hope is that you get those fees directly reimbursed to you. Your argument: you cannot access the appropriate treatment in-network and are requesting to see someone out-of-network at the benefit level of an in-network provider. For many many people, this is easily justified but you will have to do your due diligence first and follow these steps.
Build your case: You must make sure (and sometimes prove) that there is no one in-network that can adequately meet your treatment needs. You can often go through the list of in-network providers and see if they are trained in the treatment you are looking for (ERP & ACT for OCD or CBIT for Tourette treatment), or you can cross reference your in-network list with provider directories from the International OCD Foundation or Tourette Association.
Make the request: Once you’ve done your ground work to prove there is no one in-network, it’s now time to call your insurance to request a single case agreement. Get ready to fully and assertively explain why this is necessary. I provide a script for my patients with all necessary evidence based information and codes but, you can say something like “I am searching for a provider who treats OCD with Exposure and Response Prevention. ERP is the gold-standard treatment for OCD, yet I cannot find anyone in-network. I’d like to request a single case agreement for the out-of-network therapist I would like to see”. It’s also important to note that you will be paying your therapist out of pocket, and would like reimbursement to go directly to you.
Get ready for the run-around: Chances are they will try to sell you on “Dr. Whatchamacallit, who just happens to be 1 block away and says they treat OCD and are in-network!” You may then have to call Dr. Whatchamacallit and ask about in detail about his training. Keep detailed notes of this conversation so that you can show your insurance company that just because Dr. W checked “OCD” along with 29 other things that he treats, doesn’t mean they are adequately trained.
Get ready for a “No”: Insurance companies will often tell you no and hope you give up. If you aren’t the most assertive person, this is where you can elicit the help of a family member. The insurance company may want to speak to the provider to discuss why this is medically necessary for you. Any good specialist will be able to argue your case (if indeed you have one). Typically, this process takes less than 20 minutes. I offer a one-time 20 minute insurance call to all patients at no-cost. However, even if your therapist needs to charge you for this time it could be WELL worth it.
Don’t give up: After your therapist speaks on the medical necessity of this treatment you may get an immediate yes or no or they may bump it up to the next level staff who makes these decisions. This may require yet another call by your therapist but, again, well worth it in the long run. If you get a denial you can and should appeal. Most insurance companies don’t want to deal with the headache of an appeal and, if you can back up your statement, I’ve had many patients note to their insurance that they will seek legal counsel if necessary.
The larger insurance companies are accustomed to this process and will be easier to work with.
Good luck on your journey and don’t take no for an answer.
To your health,
Have you ever blamed someone for having OCD or another mental health issue? Have you ever blamed yourself for having OCD? I am prompted to write this post after a patient told me that her high school health teacher did a unit on “why people have mental illness”. He listed such reasons as being selfish and lazy and completed disregarded the facts (he’s clearly an idiot). Lets dispel some other myths about OCD!
YOU HAVE OCD BECAUSE YOU ARE DUMB: It’s sad how much I hear this. OCD does not discriminate by way of one’s IQ. In fact, research continues to explore the connection between IQ and OCD. This study shows the mean IQ of those with OCD to be in the normal range. Anecdotally speaking, I would say the vast majority of my patients with OCD are bright, critical thinkers with flourishing careers.
I MAKE TOO MUCH MONEY TO HAVE OCD: I almost feel silly for writing that down…but I’ve heard that exact statement. It is a humbling experience, for those who believe their income can protect them from almost anything, to face the battle that is OCD. It does’t discriminate by socioeconomic status. You can’t buy your mental health, although it can increase your access to effective care unfortunately.
MY STRUGGLE WITH OCD IS MY PARENT’S FAULT: Yes, what your parents gave you by way of genetics and parenting style could contribute to the progression of your OCD, but not necessarily be the sole causation. Research does support the idea that those who experienced neglectful and permissive parenting styles were more likely to experience OCD. The research is interesting and you can find a bit more here and here.
OCD IS ONLY A FIRST WORLD ISSUE: Approximately 2% of the world wide population experiences OCD. Although populations of those with OCD in developing countries are often underrepresented in the research, OCD is not a disorder only for developed countries. I can attest to this, as I treat people in over 20 countries on 6 continents. However, various parts of the world certainly have different cultural views on mental health, access to care, and may consider addressing mental health to be a “luxury”. (Think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from or if soldiers will invade your village overnight, your OCD symptoms might not be the priority). If interested, find out more about OCD world wide here.
Once you’ve been through treatment how do you maintain your success? I followed up with several of my previous patients to understand their perspectives on successful OCD recovery. After all, THEY are the true experts in this area. All of these individuals have been thriving and managing their symptoms independently for a minimum of 2 years.
6. GET A SUPPORT NETWORK- “My ability to navigate through this shit after treatment has been much in part to a good support network. I go to the IOCDF conference, I participate in online chat groups, listen to podcasts etc. Even when symptoms are non-existent I still keep my recovery a part of daily life.” John, Alaska
5. SELF CARE- “I could give you a laundry list of things, but I would say that good self care makes or breaks me. As a working mom, it’s so easy to put my needs last. When I find time to meditate, exercise, eat well, I ALSO tend to make more time for what needs to happen in my recovery.” Julie, Tennessee
4. TIME MANAGEMENT- “I was initially concerned that, in order to stay healthy after treatment, I was going to have to do a million hours of exposure per week. I realized that I could simply take an “exposure lifestyle” approach and find opportunities for exposures in my daily life rather than stressing out to find an extra hour of planned exposure time. I don’t know if this would work for everyone, but it’s been a way for me to stay on track while not allowing recovery to take over my life.” Javier, Colorado
3. CONTINUED MEDICATION MANAGEMENT- “ Yep, I’m still on medication. If I said this a couple of years ago I would be really disappointed in myself. Now I realize that my need for medication is just part of the neurological/genetic hand I was dealt. Prior to speaking to you (Ashley) or my psychiatrist, I had the misconception that “good treatment” would mean no more meds for me. While I obviously saw AMAZING improvement through ERP and ACT, I know that meds are just going to be an additional help that I need for quite some time…..this use to hit at my ego and made me feel weak….but now the shame about this is gone and I’m proud of where I am at. By the way, we just celebrated our 4th anniversary”. Grant, rOCD, Idaho
2. VALUES AS A COMPASS FOR LIFE- “I continue to look at my life through the lense of my values. They are a constant anchor for the decisions that I make and help me determine if a choice or action is based in OCD or coming from my true self. There have been bumps in the road, but I’m be able to get back on track rather quickly. I still have all of the ACT metaphors playing in my mind and actually use some of them when my kids are having a rough time. They really like “Monsters on a Bus”. Alexis, Arkansas
1. GRIT- “Have you read this book? It’s not about OCD, but I think it’s super helpful. It’s about perseverance, not how good you are or talented. I like it. It helps me to realize that I don’t have to be perfect when I fight back against OCD, I just have to keep trying. I think that is the most important thing to me. Parker, 13 years old, Alabama
WHAT WOULD YOU ADD TO THIS LIST?……………
A friend and colleague, who happens to be an 86 year old Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, is soon to retire. Dr. P has practiced for over 55 years and, as he says, started in a time where psychiatrists did more than write prescriptions (his words, don't shoot the messenger). During a recent conversation, he shared his laugh-till-I-cried perspective on the Life Cycle of a Therapist and gave me permission to rewrite and share. To put this into perspective, Dr. P is incredibly cynical but compassionate, still smokes, and keeps liquor in his office. In fact, his office looks like one from Mad Men. When asked if I could post this on LinkedIn he said, "I don't care where you link it or chain it, honey". I paused, and considering explaining LinkedIn, but decided against it. As Dr. P said, "if you don't relate to it, or don't like it, I don't care".
The First Week: Scared Shitless- So, you have a license to practice independently. You are probably scared to death that you now have to go at it solo and may not have many people to rely on. Get over it....you have another 40 years ahead of you.
6 Months In: Getting Comfortable- By now, you should be able to string together some coherent sentences. Hopefully, while you may not be helping everyone, surely you aren't hurting anyone either. You probably got a placard for door displaying the 19 initials after your name...maybe some business cards too. Good for you hot shot!
2 Years In: IMPOSTOR SYNDROME!!- Your practice is doing well, your schedule is full and you are feeling good....kind of. You are worried that your colleagues and even your patients may find out that you are indeed a fraud...you aren't as good as everyone thinks you are. Are you? I'm not sure. (of note, Dr. P thought it was HILARIOUS that there is now a term is used frequently)
7 Years In: The Know It All- You don't mean to...it happens innocently enough, but somehow you got to the point that you know it all! I can say at 86 years of age...avoid this at all costs. You don't know everything in your field and never will! This really happens to those with an area of expertise. Therapists in other areas of the field try to chat you up about YOUR specialty and you internally roll your eyes..maybe externally if you are an asshole.
10 Years In: Plymouth Rock- You've completely settled in your colony now...whether satisfied or not...this is where you will likely stay. Maybe you are supervising students who hope to be in your position one day. Some are brilliant... while others have you wondering how they even found their way to work today.
25 Years In: The Burn Out- Where did the time go? You've seen at least 9.5 million patients and the therapeutic process is becoming rote. There is a whole new generation of providers behind you now. Drinking increases and you question your life choices....but still go to work the next day.
35 Years In: Run Towards the Cruise Ship!- If you are smart, unlike me, you should be seriously considering your retirement now. You have at least 14 cruises or other vacations planned with your family, significant other, or ideally alone. You've worked your ass off for 35 years and helped thousands of people along the way. You deserve a cold cocktail on a beautiful veranda in Antigua or other exotic location.
As cynical as he is, Dr. P (who preferred I don't give his full name) has literally helped thousands of young people over the years and is a well respected expert in his field. When I sent him this draft for approval, he proudly shared that 9/29/17 was his last day on the job and his is indeed headed for Antigua.
Kendal is 14. Kendal is pretty and smart. Kendal loves the outdoors and basketball and horses. Kendal has OCD. When writing this, Kendal requested to have that bit of info (the OCD part) listed last because, as everyone who works or struggles with OCD knows, Kendal is not "OCD". It's not an adjective...just like we would never say "Oh, Betty is SO cancer" or "Tom is a little diabetes, don't you think?". Kendal's family first noticed quirky behavior, as they defined it, around the age of 7. These quirks included demanding to have items in certain places, avoiding objects that are red, and refusing to talk about death....even being triggered by a dead bug splatting on the windshield while her parents drove.
At age 9, things had become significantly worse and her world became more and more restricted. The family sought out therapy with someone in their hometown that their insurance company suggested they see because they were the closest. After an initial visit, the therapist suggested that they create a behavior modification plan of rewards and consequences for her compulsions and assured the parents that these behaviors "were part of childhood and she'll grow out of them". Luckily, Kendal's parents, having read up on OCD, knew that punishing Kendal for her behavior could not be a good plan. After looking at the IOCDF website they read about Exposure and Response Prevention and were determined to get Kendal connected with a therapist with this expertise. They circled back to their insurance with this request, but unfortunately there was no one available.
At age 12, still without effective care, Kendal was missing 3 out of 5 days of school each week. She could not be in class when others were wearing red, and couldn't tolerate hearing the war stories talked about in class. Teachers suggested getting her evaluated for ADHD since Kendal was continually distracted and could not attend to the information. Still, her wise and persistent parents knew ADHD was certainly not the cause for her struggles.
At age 13, Kendal and I were connected. It's a long story, but it boils down to her parents being unwilling to take "no" for an answer. Why should their daughter not be able to access effective care simply because no one "in-network" ( a very small network at that) specializes in ERP? They appealed, spoke to the medical director, and eventually got a family friend who happened to be an attorney involved. Eventually, they were approved to see someone out of network.
Kendal was naturally very hesitant about ERP.....but by our 4th sessions she was motivated and ready to do the hard work. Kendal tells me after her 5th or 6th session she realized "this is working". Kendal, picking up steam, worked diligently at her planned exposures and every other aspect of treatment. She began to attend school more often and eventually completing her first full month without absence earlier this year. Kendal is not "OCD-free" but has fought back long and hard to regain the life she enjoys. She still has intrusive thoughts but chooses to allow them to pass her by like a train, not reacting or responding to them. Last month she experienced a significant lapse which prompted us to write this story of hope together. Kendal says that fighting back against OCD is much like learning to ride her beloved horses. At first, she may fall off. Eventually, she will learn to stay on longer and improve her skills, one day feeling as though she is in control of the ride. Does this mean she'll never get bucked off again? Of course not....but now, she says, she will always have the courage to get back on.
Stories of Hope is a 6 week series featuring children and adults who have all struggled with OCD. Kendal (name has been changed) chose to stay anonymous.
I'm a therapist who specializes in OCD and related disorders, treating patients across the US. But this isn't necessarily about my patients....this is about me. A wife, mom of 2, who does not have OCD, but still has intrusive thoughts. Actually, we all have intrusive thoughts, right? This isn't probably something we go around sharing with one another but, if we were to be honest, we've all experienced them. While it may seem overly simplistic, just one of the reasons those of us who have intrusive thoughts don't develop OCD is because we don't give the thought much value. Maybe we notice "hmmm, that's interesting" and move along with our day. We may even laugh at the absurdity of the intrusive thought...but we don't respond or react to it in any way....we still move forward in answering the email, changing the diaper, washing the car, or whatever else we were up to.
Recently, when telling a patient that I also have intrusive thoughts, they were floored and thought that I must be making up this BS just to normalize their experience. To take it a step further, I offered to keep track of my intrusive thoughts for about a week, until our next appointment. Below are my unedited thoughts. There were many more that I just didn't have the opportunity to take note of. You may notice that I prefer to use the language "my brain produced a thought" because, this is how I view these experiences, as often meaningless chatter of the mind. For those of you that do have OCD, please keep in mind that reading on may be triggering for you:
- While running, my brain produced the thought of jumping into oncoming traffic.
- While driving here in the mountain, my brained produced an image of me swerving off the cliff.
- My brain produced the thought "If I killed my husband and got caught, do I still get the life insurance money?!
- While using a port-o-potty on a trail, my brain produced an imagine of me falling in and drowning in the poop.
- While chopping vegetable, my brain produced the image of me stabbing our dog.
- While passing a homeless man with apparent mental illness, my brain produced the thought of potentially taking on his characteristics simply because I was near him.
For those of you who don't struggle with OCD, are you willing to share some of your "bizarre" thoughts?......
ARE YOU STRUGGLING WITH INSOMNIA?
Millions have difficulty falling or staying asleep most nights of the week...this is called Insomnia. Most are familiar with general "sleep hygiene" recommendations that are offered up by friends or family when we discussing sleep troubles. But, chances are, you've tried reading before bed, taking a bath, or maybe resorting to sleep aids. For those that have difficulty sleeping, but do not want to rely on a short-term fix of medication, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) may be a good choice!
Retraining your sleep habits in as little as 6-8 sessions. Sound impossible? It's not. Sound difficult? It does take effort and dedication, but it's worth it! Check out one person's experience here. CBT-I is aimed at changing habits, scheduling factors, and emotions that perpetuate sleep difficulty. In a clinical trial, CBT-I proved more effective for long-term change for Insomnia than commonly prescribed sleep aids. Interested? Contact me today to schedule a free consultation and see if you are a candidate. email@example.com