OCD FAQs

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How did you know when your OCD was a real problem?

The difference between the OCD I experience now and the OCD I experienced during my pregnancies is how disruptive it is to my normal life.  During my pregnancy years I literally could not think of anything but my fears.  They dominated my thoughts, my choices, and every aspect of my life.  OCD was my life.  When my OCD or general anxiety get to the point that it is disrupting my normal life on a regular basis I call my therapist for help!

What books did you find the most helpful?

I bought and read a LOT of self help books during the worst of my OCD years.  However, only two of them stand out as books that made a long-term difference.  I’m including those books (plus one workbook I wish I’d bought) below.

 

The OCD Workbook helps with recognizing symptoms of OCD and giving specific exercises to combat it.

 

Between Two Minds helps with more general anxiety and depression and adds a spiritual spin to things.

Between Two Minds Workbook is one I always wanted to buy but never did.  The book I purchased has a lot of exercises you’re supposed to do and I always felt the workbook would have been so helpful.

Do you have a great LDS therapist you would recommend?

I would very strongly suggest not limiting yourself to an LDS therapist.  While there are many wonderful LDS therapists in the world, the two therapists I found most helpful were not LDS but were Christian women.

I personally think finding a therapist who is Christian or LDS and is your same gender is the best option.

I found my two favorite therapists through Google and reading lots of online reviews.  I suggest asking local friends and finding online reviews.

What books would you recommend for kids?

My own sweet kids have had their struggles with anxiety.  Ugh!  The books we have found most helpful or that have been highly recommended by friends are below. 

 

  • What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck  This book was highly suggested by a friend who has children with OCD.  She is a super smart mom who has used a lot of resources (including therapy) for her kids and this book was the one she told me helped most. 
  • What to Do When You Worry Too Much  This is one we’re currently using for some overwhelming fears my kids are experiencing.  It’s approachable and fun enough to keep my kids engaged but also provides exercises that are truly helpful. 
  • Anxiety-Free Kids I hate the name of this book (because anxiety is necessary for keeping us alive!) but the content is great.  I worked through this book with one of my kids during an especially anxious time and the exercises included in it were so helpful. 

What scriptures or talks helped you the most?

Scriptures and talks speak to different people in different ways.  These may not help you, but below are links to a few talks, scriptures, and videos that truly helped me.

If my child comes to me with their anxious or depressed thoughts, how can I best support them?

The number one thing you can do for an anxious or depressed child is to believe them and treat their feelings as legitimate. 

 

I feel very blessed to have grown up with a mother who believes in getting help for mental illness, just like you would for a physical illness.  Please give your child the gift of treating their mental troubles as seriously as you would a broken bone. 

 

Get them appropriate medical and therapeutic help rather than encouraging them to “buck up” or “get over it.” 

 

If you’ve already done that and don’t know how to help your child on a day-to-day basis I would say the greatest thing you can do for your child is to be a safe place for them to share their feelings.  Don’t try to talk them out of it, don’t try to fix it, just listen.  Be the person who will always, always listen. 

 

If you feel your child is in any kind of danger of hurting themself contact the Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255.  They have the option to both call or to chat with them online.  

If an adult friend or relative is experiencing anxiety, depression, or OCD what can I do to support them?

First, for spouses: if you have a spouse who is struggling with mental illness, first of all, bless you!  That can be a huge struggle. 

 

One thing my husband came to realize early on was that he couldn’t “logic” me out of my anxiety, OCD, or depression.  He couldn’t talk me out of my feelings no matter how convincing his evidence was.  I knew what the truth was but my feelings wouldn’t allow me to behave rationally.  So if trying to use logic with your anxious/depressed spouse is creating friction, I would suggest giving it up. 

 

My suggestion to spouses is to do a lot of self-care.  Living with someone with a mental illness can be draining, so make sure you take care of yourself. 

 

Encourage your spouse to get all of the appropriate care that they can: therapy, medical help, etc.  Then ask them how you can help.  Support whatever is happening in therapy and be supportive but not enabling.   

 

Second, for those with a friend with a mental illness: offer support in the way they want it. 

 

I recently had a friend open up to me about her depression.  Instead of telling her to just have more faith, or pray more, or to immediately go on medication I asked her what I could do to help.  She said she wasn’t sure so I made some suggestions: would it be helpful if we started walking together so she could have a reason to get outside every day?  Did she just want me to pray for her?  I let her choose the way I supported her.  

 

For both spouses and friends the best thing you can do is to listen!  Be the safe space where someone can come and emotionally vomit all over.  I know that sounds disgusting, but it’s what people with a mental illness need.  They need a safe space that they can say whatever they’re feeling and know that there will be zero judgment.  

 

 

Any tips for handling panic attacks?

I have suffered from panic attacks for the past 9 years.

They seem to come in clusters, meaning that if I have one it means I’ll keep having them for the next couple of weeks.

I recently came across an exercise that helps me stop panic attacks before they start.  Again, this works for me but may not work for you.  I strongly recommend getting the help of a therapist and medical doctor if you have panic attacks.  

However this exercise works for me and might work for you as well.

When you feel a panic attack coming on or find yourself in the middle of one do the following:

  • Take deep breaths in and out of your nose (I like to count to 3 for each inhale and each exhale)
  • Find 5 different things to look at.  Look at one object for each breath in an out (so I would look at a potted plant for one full breath in and out, then move on to a second object which I would look at for one full breath in and out, and so on).  Stay completely focused on the object and on your breath.  Ignore everything else if possible. 
  • Find 5 different sounds to listen to.  Do a deep breath in and out for each sound you listen to.
  • Find 5 different objects with different textures to touch.  Do a deep breath in and out for each item you touch.
  • Find 5 different scents to smell.  Do a deep breath in and out for each item you smell. 
  • Repeat until the panic attack disappears

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