I've caved in and decided to post my concerns over my anxiety disorder. Lately, I've realized I've become more anxious in anything I do. I constantly check locks, doors, windows, whether I've left a cable plugged in like lab equipment or my hair straighteners, etc. I constantly wash my hands though I think I've managed to tone it down a bit. I worry that things would get stolen, set alight, flooded etc.
I've noticed that what I'm doing can't be normal but I'm not sure whether it's controllable or whether it could get more serious.
Should I seek help or will it go away?
Hi CB, I'm really sorry you're going through this. It sounds a lot like OCD. I'll come straight to the point - seek out help and support for your anxiety. Trust me, I know from experience. I started having panic attacks in my early teens, OCD by 15 and depression by 16. By 23 I was agoraphobic and my body couldn't take the strain of the anxiety and I had a sort of breakdown.
Sorry if this sounds a bit too dramatic but I could have possibly avoided this if I had sought out help when it all started 20 years ago. If you get help now, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is good for OCD, you can learn how to control it before it gets out of hand. Personally, the fact that you've been able to control some of it sounds positive to me. But don't deal with it on your own.
Learn from your Auntie DoWhatNow's mistakes!
There is a one positive aspect to my OCDness - I know when someone has been moving my stuff
Fingers crossed that you can get it sorted.
Seek help. I'm no expert on anxiety disorder but I was a student counsellor for several years, and I think it's really really important to seek help about anything even if you're not sure if you need it. I think that postgrad life is really stressful and if there are other concerns in your life as well, the pressure and doubts could be piling up a bit and coming out in these behaviours. Not only that but the anxiety about having anxiety can snowball really quickly. Even if it doesn't get more serious it's clearly upsetting you now and that on its own is ALWAYS enough of a reason to go get help. It might be helpful to you just to have a few chats with a counsellor -- there might be options open to you or he/she might suggest things you hadn't thought of. Anxiety is something that is immensely normal, controllable, understandable and recoverable from, but its also a skill like any other and it's best to learn those skills from an experienced professional. Can you talk to your supervisor about it?
CB, I'm really sorry to hear you're struggling :-( it's great that you have insight into it though, and I agree with Dowhatnow, get help asap! The earlier these things are tackled the better your chances of dealing with them successfully, the more ingrained they become the harder it is.
If you've managed to alter the behaviour a bit on your own I'm sure you'd do very well with a therapist's help (there are also some medications that can help with these urges or the anxiety behind them, but that's a personal choice). CBT can be very good for this stuff, there are various online programs and workbooks, but if you can get a therapist I'd really reccommend it, makes a difference. Your GP can refer you, although this might take a while depending on your area, other options are the uni counselling service (usually much quicker) or private treatment. Also, check out online resources and support groups, other people who've been there can be a huge help.
Feel free to keep posting here as well, this stuff hits a lot of us at some point and the forumites were a massive support to me a few months back when I wasn't well :-)
It's amazing how common anxiety disorders seem to be, and this is a good environment to voice your concerns and find support.
My advice is to seek professional help as soon as possible. Don't put it off. Why wait to see if it will go away on its own or try to control it without help? It's a problem now and could potentially get worse.
My partner saw several therapists before he found the right way forward for him (psychotherapy). He still suffers occasionally with anxious feelings, but the frequency of those feelings and his reaction to them have changed dramatically over time. For him, it's definitely been an issue of learning to cope with anxiety and control it to an extent. He suffered for so long without help and it only got worse, and he struggled that bit more to learn to control it and break the habits associated with it.
My friend also had a lot of misery which began with an anxiety disorder (panic attacks and general anxiety, not OCD). She didn't seek help. The help for her anxiety was eventually bestowed upon her in rehab, ten years after she was driven to drink to calm her anxiety and alleviate subsequent depression. Of course, I'm not saying you'll become an alcoholic if you don't seek help, but don't take any chances. My friend was transformed from being strong, happy and outgoing to an extremely miserable, lying thief very close to death. No one would've predicted it. (She's very well now incidentally - 2.5 years dry :-))
Hey! I agree with the others really- it does sound like OCD but I don't think any of us on here are qualified to diagnose it, so probably best you go seek help! You could go to your GP who might refer you to a specialist, or you could just approach your university counselling service right away for help. I have had trouble with what I believe to have been OCD in addition to my bipolar disorder, but I chose only to discuss it with my counsellor and not mention my issues to my doctor or shrink simply because I didn't want another diagnosis on top of bipolar. But when I was put on antidepressants recently in addition to my usual bipolar meds I found that they also helped with the anxiety, and when I looked on the packet it did say that they could help with anxiety too. I also have a friend with really bad OCD who has found that the same medication has helped her, although obviously if you wanted to go down that route you would need to see your doc. Perhaps you could make an appointment with the uni counsellor first to discuss your options? I wouldn't ignore it- in my experience these things don't go away on their own! Good luck with it, let us know how you get on! Best, KB
Hi there, I've suffered on and off with anxiety since my teens and although I've managed to avoid the worst of the OCD route its a nightmare! Mine manifests primarily with full blown panic attacks and general worries - I completely relate to your fears of things being stolen, flooded etc (I just read Flood again - fantastic book but not good for people like us lol) I did try and get help but I found that nothing worked really - it does for a lot of people but I've learnt to control it myself, particularly the creeping OCD - if you're noticing it then you can beat it. I'll still get up at 2am for the umpteenth time to check the doors are locked if I let myself, but then I force myself to slow down, think through it carefullly - I actually at one point made myself a tick chart for doors, cables etc and would tick them off - that way I could see for myself that I really had done it and force myself to breath, acknowledge that nothing needed doing and stop - I'll actually shout STOP at myself at times bring myself under control. There are some great books that will help - I don't have the details to hand but can help you with that - its all about stopping that fight or flight mechanism from overwhelming you and re-establishing control of your mind. The problem is that stress builds up, silly little things, then bigger things on top, we worry, we lose sleep and our body can't deal with it so considers that an attack is imminent - whoosh goes the adrenaline and other normal physical reactions but there is no 'threat' and it all goes haywire.
Anyway, you're totally normal, you can beat it, if you can acknowledge it you can get help or if its early enough help yourself - it won't 'go away' as such, but it is beatable and controllable - just don't allow it to go out of control and become a habit - then its far harder to beat - took me close to 10 years to beat my panic attacks because I didn't deal with it early.
Thank you so much for all you replies. I can't tell you how much of a relief that has been for me to realize I'm not alone. I am very much trying to control it alone as the idea of going to see a GP about it is a little unnerving. However, I do think it's worth speaking to my uni counselor as I'm sure they would understand what I'm feeling, I had not thought of that.
Fingers crossed things will work out :-)
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