‘Inflammation in the membrane. Inflammation in the brain!’* OCD


‘Brain Inflammation Discovered in Those With OCD.’

A study in Canada by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) had demonstrated for the first time, that brain inflammation is 30 per cent higher in those of us with OCD than for those without. It is even higher if you complete an extreme number of compulsions.

The reason why this brain imaging study was significant for me was because it meant that OCD was a biological condition and not just a behavioural one; something vehemently denied by many psychologists and psychiatrists. If you have OCD this is important, because for some of us SSRIs and other treatments and medication have not worked in reducing our symptoms. Maybe this is because inflammation is partly to blame? How can symptoms be controlled if the brain is not working effectively? Treating OCD with anti-inflammatory drugs, created especially for this purpose, may hold the key to tackling OCD.

“Our research showed a strong relationship between brain inflammation and OCD, particularly in the parts of the brain known to function differently in OCD,” says Dr. Jeffrey Meyer, Head of the Neuroimaging Program in Mood & Anxiety in CAMH’s Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute. “This finding represents one of the biggest breakthroughs in understanding the biology of OCD, and may lead to the development of new treatments.” **

Inflammation can be a positive function in the body. It tells us that our body has been damaged or is fighting off an infection; the infected areas will begin to swell as part of the natural healing process. However, surely in the brain, this is not such a good thing as it must also affect so many other cognitive functions and even cause depression, as CAMHS has proved in another imaging study. If the effects of the inflammation can be reduced, then there is hope that OCD can be minimised, because the brain will be able to concentrate on making new neural pathways rather than fighting off an infection. Thus, CBT would surely be more effective.

The study included 20 people with OCD and a comparison group of 20 people without the disorder… The researchers used a type of brain imaging called positron emission tomography (PET) that was adapted with special technology at CAMH to see inflammation in the brain. A chemical dye measured the activity of immune cells called microglia, which are active in inflammation, in six brain areas that play a role in OCD. In people with OCD, inflammation was 32 per cent higher on average in these regions. Inflammation was greater in some people with OCD as compared to others, which could reflect variability in the biology of the illness. **

The beauty of the study means that there is now a chance of simple blood-markers being made to measure the levels of inflammation, so that medication can be administered appropriately. The imaging study was also able to identify who had the highest levels of inflammation and this linked directly to those people who carried out the highest numbers of compulsions. Compulsions are what people with OCD do to relieve the anxiety that they are feeling. The PET scans showed that when people tried to stop doing their compulsions, their inflammation levels rose tangentially. Knowing this will mean that it’s possible to identify who will benefit the most from treatment with anti inflammatory medication. This inflammation may have begun after OCD started, or it may be the cause, but it’s there and must be hampering methods of treatment.

Dr Meyer concluded that:

“Medications developed to target brain inflammation in other disorders could be useful in treating OCD. Work needs to be done to uncover the specific factors that contribute to brain inflammation, but finding a way to reduce inflammation’s harmful effects and increase its helpful effects could enable us to develop a new treatment much more quickly.”

I hope that medical professionals in the U.K. take heed of this study, along that those we know and love. OCD is a complex condition that we can’t always control. However, I am now hopeful that, given the right conditions in my brain, CBT might actually work for me. I just pray the wait for targeted medication is not a long one. I can’t afford to lose any more friends.

*Title loosely based on Cypress Hill’s ‘Insane in the Brain.’

**Medical News Today, ‘OCD linked to inflammation in the brain.’ Tim Newman. 22nd June 2017.

CAMH: CAMH researchers discover brain inflammation in people with OCD http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/about_camh/newsroom/news_releases_media_advisories_and_backgrounders/current_year/Pages/CAMH-researchers-discover-brain-inflammation-in-people-with-OCD.aspx#.WVJeEnByHc0.twitterin.

 

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A letter from my OCD brain to me.


Dear You,

I don’t want to judge you any more. I don’t want to constantly say negative things to you and make you feel worthless. To be honest, talking negatively to you all day long is exhausting and I’m beginning to believe my own rhetoric.

What I really want to do is to be able to celebrate every time you achieve something; no matter how small. I want to be able to jump up and down, squealing with excitement, because you did something that you are proud of; even if no one else notices. I would like to dwell on the serenity felt each time you see a beautiful sunset and to let you dance without disturbance, when you hear your favourite song. I must stop sabotaging all these beautiful moments for you, and learn to be silent and present instead.

Above all, what I don’t want to do anymore, is to give you a hard time. I’m not a bully, I honestly do have your best interests at heart. Always. However, when you really need me to be there for you, I often let you down.

I’m not your nemesis, even though I may come across like that most of the time. I don’t want to harm you. Conversely, I want to be able to encourage you to eat healthily, sleep deeply and love regularly. Instead, all I seem to be able to do is to make you feel sad and the sadness makes you cry. I just come across as heartless and callous and this has to stop. If I don’t stop hurting you, then you will have spent most of your life believing that you have failed. That is not how I want you to live your life anymore.

I’m telling all of this to you now, because one day soon it will be too late to tell you how much I really love you; how much I am proud of you. After all, you have survived many traumas, yet I still tell you that you are a failure and that you are unlovable. What right have I got to judge you so harshly?

What I should be saying is that I love you unconditionally. I should be telling you that your smile is enough for me. I need to explain to you that when I see you laughing, and you are always laughing, that my heart melts with pride. You are brave, loyal and kind, yet I make you doubt these truths about yourself every single day.

I need to give you a break and encourage you to love yourself. Hell, I need to love you too!

I’m gonna try to do right by you from now on beautiful.

Love from,

Your Brain xxx

When you have OCD, Sometimes the Tears Just Roll


Last night the tears fell for hours and they just did not stop. To be fair, I did not try to stop them either. I went to bed early, lit a candle, put my headphones on and listened to my most depressing music. I wallowed like a hippo in mud. I exacerbated the selfishness of the act. I encouraged being sad.

I’m not selfish by nature. In fact I think I am the polar opposite because I do not want to focus on me. My public face smiles and encourages, laughs and supports, giggles and tries to inspire those who share my journey. However, inside I am dissolving; eroding my internal organs with sadness.

My physical health is poor at the moment. Every bone and muscle hurts. At times I can barely get out of my chair as the pain can be so intense. It is as though my sadness is seeping into my bone marrow, into my ligaments and cells, twisting itself around every sinew and slowly but surely cementing my joints together.

So last night, even though there had been many positives during the day, in fact maybe because of the contrasts, I cried and I could not stop. I needed  a profound boost of self confidence but I did not know where to look for it. I listened to songs searching for meaning and absorbed the notes like liquid on litmus paper, trying to match my feelings to someone else’s, but I did not find one song to resonate with how I felt and I have many songs.

What I need I can’t have. What I have I don’t need. What is wrong can’t be put right. Today the tears keep falling, but invisibly because I am a mum and I need to be the other me: smiley full of love. So I will embrace that. What else can I do?

The following song was kindly posted on:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder/OCD

https://www.facebook.com/ocd.ocd

next to the link about my blog.

It was posted by Kris D Marsden, who is a singer/songwriter from Northern Ireland. It is a stunning song and I am honoured to add it to this post. He is a very talented musician. Thanks Kris 😘

http://youtu.be/HhIMsFkopvU

I drew the picture!!

I am full of wonder, regardless of OCD


My New Year’s Resolution is to believe the words of this beautiful song.

I’m not giving myself a timescale in which to do this.

If I manage to believe that I am full of wonder, then you may be the first to see it, as the nature of my posts will exude positivity and optimism.

Moreover, my OCD fears will have subsided and I will no longer see death under a Northern sky.

The approval of those who doubt my ability to succeed will no longer be sought, because I will be wonder-ful and that never needs validation.

Please watch the video. It might just inspire you too.

New Year, OCD & ‘As I’ Lists


As I can’t actually cut out my own brain and still function, I might just have to resort to making a few changes in my life to challenge OCD.

AS I can’t actually find the strength to remove people from my life, I might just have to learn to live with how they make me feel.

As I can’t suddenly lose 4 stone overnight, I might just have to make a few small changes to my lifestyle choices, everyday.

As I can’t sum up the energy to even get out of bed today, I might just have to research a way to make a living online.

As I get completely obsessed when researching a new topic, I might just have to limit my on-line habit, by setting my alarm clock.

As I am still harbouring some resentment towards those who do not understand me, I am working on forgiveness.

As I have run out of ideas now, I might just stop and not be too hard on myself.

As I have not said Happy New Year to anyone yet, I might just have to do that first…

Happy New Year

Thank you so much for reading and commenting on:

caught-in-an-ocd-loop.com

You are helping me to get better!

Suicide, disaster movies and OCD


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I used to love disaster movies, the more disastrous the better.

But as I have developed a more brutal form of OCD, I dread watching one, because it might later become the trigger for a hideous OCD loop.

Reading is also not as pleasurable as it once was. Scenarios in novels have become looping nightmares; people fall from bridges and time and time again as I go to grab them, I miss. Frozen with fear, I am forced to watch  as the character plummets to the ground. Cruelly, the manifestations do not end there, they can be repeated over and over again, day in and day out. In addition, in a macabre twist of fate, those who die are those that I love the most.

When I was 18, I witnessed a woman jump in front of a train at my local station; I was stood next to her on the platform.

As she approached me from the ticket office, I remember thinking that it was strange for her not to be wearing a coat or to be carrying a bag of any kind. After All, it was a chilly morning and I was snuggling inside my parka coat, wrapped up in a scarf that Tom Baker would have been proud of.

When she drew closer to me, I thought that she had recognised me, as she smiled, but there was no exchange of pleasantries and she proceeded to stand directly between me and the edge of the platform. I remember thinking that she was actually stood a little bit too close for comfort and I shifted uncomfortably behind her.

I could smell perfume on her cardigan, it had a musky aroma and was a little unpleasant, but not enough to make me step away from her in disgust.

Eventually, I fiddled with my Walkman and ignored her own fidgeting in front of me. The cardigan she wore was a pretty yellow colour and her dress was floral and attractive, far too bright for a crisp September morning. However, I was too interested in listening to my songs to notice when she edged towards the track, as the train rapidly approached.

When she jumped in front of the train, my involuntary reaction was to reach out to hold her cardigan. As I did the train dragged her away from my grasp and I think that someone might have held onto me to stop me falling under the train as well. However, it is a blur and I can’t really remember what happened.

All I do know is that suddenly there were screeches of brakes and screams from other passengers on the platform. Amidst the commotion, I got on the train and I sat there until the ambulance came, until the train was shunted back, until she was taken away; broken.

I did not cry. I did not speak and I went into college that morning acting as though nothing at all had happened. But it had and it informs my OCD loops today.

OCD is looping viciously in my head as I write this. I know that I will see my friend jumping time and time again as a result of stirring up this memory, but I have to try to write it out and to write it away, as nothing else seems to be shifting it from my mind.

I used to love disaster movies.

These days, in order to allay my fears, I play out these terrifying disasters in my head until I have found a way of rescuing everyone, often leading them to safety at the expense of my own life or sanity.

This is an OCD compulsion or ritual.

These are intrusive thoughts.

Paralysis from OCD


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Sometimes OCD just paralyses me.

I get lost in myself.

There is a world around me but it is hazy and ill defined.

I have to sit and think until I have solved what is not right; that which is not and never can be perfect.

Self restraint is impossible. The urge to ritualise is intense. Not to do so means I live with a gut wrenching, chest burning, heart stabbing feeling of uncertainty.

I can not handle uncertainty. The unknown terrifies me. The dark is unbearable.

To be at peace I have to have reassurance. I need to know how things are, to believe that everything is fine. Certainty must be provided. If it is not then my descent to a panic attack is rapid .

I don’t want to panic any more. I want to be normal. I want acceptance. Belief that I am okay. Proof of that belief.

Proof.

So the loop begins again.

Dystopia. Fighting OCD.


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I have been reading a lot of dystopian novels lately in a valiant attempt to release my inner Katniss. However, if you were actually in my head, then you would know that she has always been in there.

I have always felt righteousness indignation about inequality and unfairness; I have a disabled sister, it sort of comes with the territory. I learnt to fight her bullies at a young age, but strangely was never able to fight my own.

Have you ever been bullied?

When you are persistently attacked day in , day out, you learn not to fight but to accept. You learn to avoid, to hide, to merge and to disappear but not to fight. You lurk in the shadows and try to slip into the night, but you don’t fight.

And then, one day, you do.

You fight when you become angry with the norm. You fight when you can no longer reason away the nagging doubts. You fight when you finally realise that their version of life, with all its idiosyncratic rules, does not have to be your own.

Who determines what way of life is correct? Who decides how we shall conduct ourselves at and what rules we shall follow? Who dictates how our children shall be educated and what topics are allowed for discussion in polite company? How on earth did these choices get made? To keep the status quo and avoid rebellion of course.

But when the bullied stop hiding, when they finally decide that enough is enough, you had better watch out, because their righteous anger will burn you like scalding water and if you have been on the wrong side of the line, if you have not defended the weak and if you were not courageous enough to support them then…

I will probably just continue to be your friend, because life is too short.

I am Katniss, of course I am, but the one thing that I have learnt since having cancer, is that we should not judge each other’s contributions in this world.

Katniss may be in us all, but the circumstances still have to produce the fight. Unless you have lived with adversity, you can’t really have empathy for the weak. Therefore you can’t really feel that anger that Katniss felt. Not really. So I will forgive you instead.

Birth and OCD


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Today I sideways hugged my son’s godmother, we weren’t trying a new way of being affectionate, she is 9 months pregnant and I have put on weight. Again. We hugged sideways because we could not actually hug forwards, as our stomachs were protruding too much and our arms would not reach around each others’ middles!

However, after the hug I felt very emotional. Today is her due date and soon enough she will have a new life to love, nurture and protect. As much as I was overjoyed for her, I felt my eyes well up thinking that cancer and OCD had robbed me of the chance to have a second child.

I am not surprised that OCD took a grip on my life around pregnancy. I had a polyhydramnios birth- too much amniotic fluid in the womb. Living with this knowledge in the weeks leading up to an emergency c-section, utterly terrified me. I was told that I had to stay in hospital pre delivery for a few weeks and that I had to be closely monitored. If I gave birth too quickly, then the cord would wrap itself around my baby’s neck and cause suffocation. When my waters broke I was also advised what to do. I would need to crouch down on all fours immediately, no matter where I was, to prevent foetal asphyxiation. I imagined all the worst places to give birth on a regular basis and planned what to do in each scenario, down to the last detail. I was mortified, I was frightened and I above all I wanted my baby to be safe. Any mother would have felt the same, the difference being the severity and repetition of my thoughts.

All mothers have fears. But a mother with OCD has terrors. I constantly imagined my child dying over and over again. At 20 weeks I knew that he was a boy and had even named him. I read to him even in the womb, and our bond was as strong at 9 months as it is today, but I could not enjoy those final weeks because I was scared to death of losing him and/or dying myself. These were OCD thoughts. Vivid. Disturbing. But not real. Not totally anyway. They were based on a real scenario, but fear had exaggerated their dominance in my mind.

So yes I am overjoyed that soon I will have a little baby to hold, a tiny sweet smelling cheek to kiss and a warm hand to touch. It’s just that birth brings back memories for me that I wish were not so sad.

How OCD began.The tale of a little bird.


“With anything young and tender the most important part of the task is the beginning of it; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression more readily taken.”                                           

Plato~ ‘The Republic.’

A little girl crept into her parents’ garage even though she knew that it was out of bounds. She could hear the distressed cries of a baby bird and her heart exploded with compassion.



Tentatively she stepped towards the frightened creature and realised that it was injured and dirty. In her 8 year old wisdom, she decided that she would try to bathe its pain away and looked for a suitable receptacle.

Gently she lowered the tiny bird into the water and began to wash its wings. But the bird took fright and jumped onto the floor, trying to escape. The girl cried. She had only wanted to make it better.

As the girl sobbed the tiny bird began to shudder with fright. The girl did not know what to do. She should not have been in the garage in the first place.

Then the bird died and OCD was born.

Walking out of the garage in tears the little girl thought that the birds in the trees looked sinister and threatening. It was as though they knew what had happened to the tiny bird.

And then the fear began. The little girl became caught in an OCD loop of her own making. 



“I killed the bird and now the birds know and they all hate me. I must be more kind to everyone. I must look after everyone. If I don’t they might die as well and it will all be my fault.”

So that is what she did. She became responsible for everybody and everything and her brain was no longer at rest. Her brain was squawking like the birds who watched her leaving the tiny dead bird in the garage. Her brain was filled with responsibility and it was overwhelming; it was caught in an OCD loop. 

The next time that the little girl felt responsible was really terrifying. When you are a child your imagination is vivid. So vivid in the little girl’s case, that she really believed that she could actually make things happen; but not in a sugar and spice way. More like in a big bad wolf sort of way.

The room was peaceful, it smelt of perfectly laundered sheets and was full of the little girl’s most treasured possessions, but she was afraid. Very afraid. Overhead, she could hear an aeroplane and it was getting closer and closer by the second. In her mind the little girl was fighting thoughts of the plane because she knew that if she did think about it then untold damage might just occur to her loved ones.

As the plane approached the little girl suddenly had a very frightening thought. If she imagined the plane crashing then it would. It would crash on top of her house and kill everyone inside and it would all be her fault. The child trembled and sweat poured off her pale, shivering body. Do not think. Do not think. Do not think. But the more she tried not to think about the plane crashing the more times she saw it kill her family and she sobbed, loud guttural sobs, that drew the attention of her parents.

But when her parents came into her room to see why she was so distressed, the little girl could not tell them that she could make a plane crash. Her secret gnawed away inside her and so her secret remained a secret, when it should have been told.

Photos courtesy of Ed Gregory at:

stokpic