Friday, February 26, 2010

Stress And Obsessive Compulsive Anxiety Disorder

I've been making some personal observations on the effect of increased stress on a person with obsessive compulsive anxiety disorder lately. The subject of my observation is a man I work with who I noticed early on shows signs of OCD.

He seems obsessed with keeping our work area neat as a pin and sanitized and compulsively picks things up and puts them away. Like if I leave a pen on a table, it's not there when I come back to pick it up - he's put it away with all the junky, cheap pens we have all over the facility. When we first start our shift, he grabs a bottle of cleaner and a towel and goes to work cleaning all the work surfaces.


In the last few months this has gotten obviously worse and now I understand why: A few months ago he and his girlfriend (who also works in the same job but a different shift) started shopping for a house together, bought one and THEN became engaged.

When a married couple is buying a house, conflict usually surfaces and puts a strain on the relationship. So you can imagine what it would do for two people who have only been dating a few months - and personally, I think it's an insane thing to do. It's like walking into a dark room and locking yourself in, THEN turning on the light to see where you are. Surprise!

So, they move into the house and immediately she shows her territorial tendencies - she doesn't want his "stuff" in the house. He buys a new big screen TV (with his money) and she goes ballistic, saying he should have consulted with her first. NOW he finds out what she's really like, after he's locked himself into that dark room and then switched on the light.

This isn't a relationship blog but I wanted to set the scene for you.

Where Does the OCD Come Into Play?

OCD is a form of anxiety disorder and displays itself as a need to have everything under control. When things are out of the person's control, he or she becomes anxious. We all feel more stressed when our life, work or relationships seem like they're controlling us, not the other way around, and what the OCD sufferer does is tighten up their controls over those things they CAN control. Which, to them means every pen has to be put away, clothes can have no wrinkles and everything MUST be neat and clean.

This is exactly what I've been seeing in my co-worker. He's become more obsessed with compulsively cleaning and tidying up and since he's a supervisor, he's exerting more control over his staff - sometimes to the point of it being detrimental to the team's efficiency.

If I found myself in this man's position, I know I'd be fearing I made a major mistake and wondering how in the world I'm going to get myself out of the fix I put myself in. I'm betting you can probably imagine it, too. The point is, conflict and fear cause stress, stress causes anxiety, and in the case of obsessive compulsive anxiety disorder, anxiety makes it worse.

Want to learn more about Obsessive Compulsive Anxiety Disorder?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

F.E.A.R. and Your Anxiety Disorder

This is the age of fear. Fear is being sold to us constantly and if we have an anxiety disorder, we’re buying it in large quantities and stocking up on it. We store it in our subconscious minds until we’re overflowing with it.

F.E.A.R. is an acronym that comes in three different flavors and none of them tastes all that good. Yet we tend to buy them and eat them anyway. Or, more accurately, they eat us.

F.E.A.R. – False Evidence Appearing Real

Think for just a moment about how you feel about our current economic crisis. See, if you just thought about an economic crisis, you bought more fear. Is it really a crisis and does it really affect you directly? If you’re like the vast majority of people, it does NOT directly affect you, even if the unemployment rate is 10 or 12 percent. Even at 12% unemployment, 88% are still employed. And last I checked, that’s an overwhelming majority.

The news media refuse to let go of the “crises” in the world because they keep you glued to the television or front page of the paper. They WANT you to be afraid because it sells. They’re presenting you with tons of false evidence and you’re accepting it as gospel.

For a recent example, let’s look at the Swine Flu outbreak. The Mexican authorities responsibly reported it and a media feeding frenzy ensued. Flights in and out of Mexico City were suspended, American people were afraid to go anywhere in Mexico and were actually afraid of getting within ten feet of anyone who had been to Mexico or even looked like a Mexican person. Even if that Mexican-looking person hadn’t even been to Mexico. U. S. hospitals set up screening stations at their entrances - complete with surgical masks for visitors - and their emergency rooms were overflowing with people thinking they were going to die from a virus they thought they might have.

When authorities like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control released their findings, it turned out the Swine Flu “epidemic” wasn’t an epidemic after all and the Swine Flu wasn’t any worse than any other flu, it was just more contagious. But did the news media spend any time telling us that? No. They were still busily feeding the fear market.

F.E.A.R. – False Experience Appearing Real

Fear is a reaction generated in your mind and whether the experience causing it is real or imagined, you experience the experience and you feel the fear. Again, we’ll use the example of the media. War, terrorism, the earthquake in Haiti - these are all lead stories. If you live in all but three or four countries in the world, you’re not actually experiencing any of these things but if you watch the news, they’re creating fear in your mind. And this leads to physical stress and tension.

You can’t help it, your mind conjures up worst case scenarios of what could happen to you if you were there or if those problems came to your neighborhood. You falsely experience what COULD happen rather than experiencing what really IS happening. Then you find yourself stressed out and anxious.

Now let’s move on to the acronym that most affects you if you have any kind of anxiety disorder:

F.E.A.R - False Expectations Appearing Real

If you suffer from any form of anxiety disorder you have developed a habit of getting into “what-if” thinking. And you also have a negative mindset so all the “what-ifs” are going to be negative. “What if I don’t hear my alarm in the morning? I’ll oversleep. And what if traffic is bad? Then I’ll be really late. If I’m late for work I’ll miss that important meeting and my boss will be really mad. He might fire me!”

Would that mental scenario keep you tense and unable to sleep all night? I’d guess the answer is yes. So you’d get to work on time but be so tired you’d be ineffective and guess what? Your boss would be mad. A self-fulfilling prophecy and the Law of Attraction at work: If you focus on your fears, they’re likely to come true in sometimes strange and unimagined ways.

What Can You Do?

First of all, you need to accept the fact that the vast majority of your fears are not going to come true. After all, you’ve been feeling fears for a long time – maybe all your life – and most of the things you feared didn’t materialize, did they?

Second, those feared things that DID happen, you’ve survived, haven’t you? You dealt with things that happened when they happened: in the moment. And you’re still alive to talk about it.

When you play the “what-if” game, you lose your perspective on reality and begin accepting as “fact” things that are far from reality. The price you pay for playing this game is anxiety, panic and mental and emotional paralysis. You get stuck looking ahead and life stops moving forward.

Stop buying the fear everyone is selling and live in the moment. If you catch yourself playing the game, remind yourself that it’s someone else’s game and you don’t have to play it. Ask yourself this question: “Is that REALLY going to happen to me? If it’s not happening to me at this moment, why do I believe it’s going to happen to me?”

And last but not least, turn off the TV news and skip the front page of the newspaper. You can live without knowing all the gory details of the latest war or other crisis and you'll live a better life without wasting your valuable time worrying about when we're going to get out of the recession.