‘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

OCD and Friendship.


Friendship has been so important in fighting my Mental Health condition.

Friends who have been there for me through the worst parts of my illness have been many, but those who have answered distressed calls and texts in the middle of the night are rare and epitomise a wonderful quality; that of selflessness. Those who support us often do so at great risk to their own wellbeing and that worries me. After all, who cares for the carers of OCD sufferers?

When was the last time that you sent someone who has supported you a card or letter telling them just how much they mean to you? Have you ever sent them a gift to demonstrate your gratitude, or more importantly have you tried to give them a break, some respite from your obsessions and compulsions? Our loved ones need respite from listening to us talk about OCD. When we are in the grip of our condition we talk about it a lot, did you know that? I’m not a selfish person per se, but OCD is selfish. In the grip of a severe OCD crisis, I have stolen hours from my support network and destroyed their peace of mind at the same time.

There are forums on the OCD Action and OCD UK websites for our family and friends, but have you told your loved ones that there is somewhere for them to vent their frustrations? I have told my husband, but not my friends. I’m not really sure how to tell them to be honest; maybe because I don’t want them to think that they can’t cope. Who am I to suggest to them what to do, with my background of not coping?

What could you do tonight to give a loved one some respite from your OCD?

 

 

 

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!

Paralysis from OCD


 stokpic.com

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.

Butterflies: freedom from OCD


Butterflies represent freedom. In many cultures they are symbols of the soul. Their intricate patterns and graceful moves are mesmerising and draw you into a moment with nature, that is both profound and spiritual.

I have been thinking a lot about butterflies recently. It was when I began to make book art, using a butterfly as my muse, that I felt a need for my own rising sense of freedom.

All my life I have suffered from overwhelming and overpowering anxiety. It fuels my OCD and restricts my development and my transformation into a happier, more artistic being. I am frightened of so many things. This fear traps me inside a cocoon of my own making and I feel suffocated by its fibrous case. I try to escape on a daily basis, but only manage to claw through a few layers and I never actually see daylight; unlike the butterfly that eventually transforms itself and accepts its new state of being with wholehearted grace. I want to be free, to accept a new destiny, but I have lived for so long in the grip of anxiety that I don’t know how to really live anymore.

To be free of anxiety would be to be free like a butterfly.

Maybe this freedom will only occur when my soul is set free from my body. After all, it is no mere coincidence, that butterflies represent the soul in so many of our cultures. Maybe the first person to ever see a butterfly, also felt anxious like me.

Tidal Waves, Skateboarders and OCD Honeymoons 




Picture courtesy of Ed Gregory at: stokpic.com

You may remember this post about a small child:

‘Each week the little girl devoured a story about the lost city of Atlantis. In her mind’s eye she became a child who dwelled within the city’s limits. Dramatic images entwined themselves into her imagination. When she was there she felt safe. She felt at home.

However, the trouble with stories is that unless you cheat and read the final page, the end can come as quite a shock. The girl was not expecting an unhappy ending. She had previously read tales of wardrobes leading to snowy realms and children who believed that they could save a frozen world from evil. But in this tale of Atlantis it did not end well.

As the horrific image of the tidal wave thundered into view, something in the small child’s mind faltered and stuck and the fear of the wave stayed with her forever, even on her honeymoon. But that is another story of an older girl who no longer knew how to stop the tidal flow of fear.’ 

Well, when the girl grew up she fell in love.

OCD did not deprive her of love, if anything, she felt that emotion too much, but that’s another story.

The skater boy that she fell in love with and married had a dream to skate in San Francisco. San Francisco was a skateboarder’s Mecca. Blocks of pure marble lined the ocean sidewalks and plazas bustled with coffee drinkers viewing the nifty ollies and breathtaking 360s of the skater folk.

Unfortunately for the girl, there was an earthquake during their honeymoon. Too many images of Atlantis flooded her mind and from that moment on she waited for the tsunami to hit the city. She knew somewhere in her logical brain that this was not going to happen, but she wasn’t certain.

If you know anything about OCD, then you will realise by now that the need for certainty is necessary. The less something is certain, the more the OCD anxiety grows.

Each night the girl lay awake whilst her partner slumbered next to her. She was completely and utterly terrified. The water was coming. The water was coming. She could hear the water coming.

The glass windows would not hold back the force of the flow. They would be crushed by glass and the force of the waves. They were going to die. They were going to die next to each other and the water, the water would inflate their bodies and create monsters from their love.

If they died, who would tell her parents? What would they do without her? How would her sister cope when her parents died? How were her parents going to die? Would it be painful? Who would console her sister?

How could they save themselves?

Were they high up enough for the water to miss their window?

Maybe the building would crumble and the masonry would crush them instead?

The water, she could hear the water.

Her mind was flooded with fear.

That is how my OCD loop works. Uncertainty begets fear. Fear begets anxiety. Anxiety begets more fear. Breaking the OCD loop is essential to recovery.

http://youtu.be/Y-VwSUfPJco