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Thread: Need advice regarding throwing things away

  1. #1
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    Need advice regarding throwing things away

    Good evening all,

    I have very severe OCD which affects me in many awful ways, but something which really gets me down is my inability to throw things away without checking time and time and time again. It drives me mad. Even once I am 'satisfied' that something is safe to throw away (and by that I mean that something else isn't caught up with it; something else I wish to keep), as soon as I turn away from whatever the item might be and attempt to bin it, I feel the overriding need to check it again; it can take me hours to throw even a small bag of rubbish away, and as a result, the rubbish has really piled up, which is really getting me down.

    Does anyone know of any self-help guides which specifically focus on just this? Or perhaps has been through it themselves and can share how they tackled it?

  2. #2
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    Re: Need advice regarding throwing things away

    Hi there,

    Just to say that I too sometimes have problems with throwing things away, and, in the past, borderline hoarding.

    Thankfully now I am a lot better, and the ONLY way to deal with it is to stop yourself checking once you have thrown it away. You hit the nail on the head when you talked about feeling an 'overriding need to check it again'. This is it - you have to distract yourself from this overriding need when it occurs. Do anything - go for a walk, take a shower, watch a TV program – ANYTHING to get through that period of anxiety (which for me, lasts about half an hour, then it lessens). And while you are feeling it, keep repeating to yourself that you are OK, that is OK to throw it away. That you are perfectly safe.

    It takes a lot of determination but, in time, by not reacting to the anxiety your mind will learn that it is safe to throw things away.

    If this doesn't work, I would recommend talking to a professional. He or she will help you get to the bottom of why you don't like to throw things away. But don't put up with it. You deserve to feel at peace and you also don't want to attract mice with piled up rubbish.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Re: Need advice regarding throwing things away

    Quote Originally Posted by ClipClop View Post
    Hi there,

    you have to distract yourself from this overriding need when it occurs. Do anything - go for a walk, take a shower, watch a TV program – ANYTHING to get through that period of anxiety (which for me, lasts about half an hour, then it lessens). And while you are feeling it, keep repeating to yourself that you are OK, that is OK to throw it away. That you are perfectly safe.
    Hey,

    A huge part of the problem is that it is with almost every item I try to throw away, so I'd be the fittest man on Earth if I went for a walk every time I was anxious about throwing something away lol.

    In all seriousness though I know you are right. I threw away a few bits this evening and took your advice regarding not checking again. For sure, I checked very thoroughly when I did check, but I tried telling myself that I don't need to check again and that I have checked thoroughly enough already, which at times was very uncomfortable but I made some real progress.

    Really appreciate your reply

  4. #4
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    Re: Need advice regarding throwing things away

    That is awesome! Well done you! That would have taken a serious amount of courage and you should be feeling really proud of yourself. Even just one tiny step is still a step in the right direction.

    I think a lot of the throwing away anxiety comes from a lack of trust in ourselves. It's the fear that we've thrown something important away, or that we may need it again, or, in my case, the feeling that I am throwing something away that is somehow connected to a memory (and I don't want to throw away the memory). But, of course, this is just lack of faith in ourselves and in our ability to make the right decisions. OF COURSE we can throw things away. Getting rid of something doesn't get rid of the memory. And it's natural to 'go through' things in life. Clearing out can be very cleansing mentally, and this is now a feeling that I prefer over hoarding. People actually comment on how 'minimalistic' my house is. Who would have thought it! But to get to this point, we have to trust ourselves.

    When you are anxious, try telling yourself that you can trust yourself, and that you are safe. Even if you threw something away like a passport, you can just apply for a new one :-). Silly example, but my point is that things really are replaceable.

    Good luck and keep up the good work. Remember, the trick is to accept the anxious feelings and to wait it out until the anxiety passes naturally (and it always does). In time, the brain learns.

  5. #5
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    Re: Need advice regarding throwing things away

    I agree with ClipClop. I've had some of this myself, an element of hoarding in my OCD but very limited. It does feel like throwing something away somehow ruins a situation, you feel you can't get it back. That finality feels wrong.

    The more you work on just doing it the more it will stop. When you feel the urge to get it back out of the bin or check it to ensure you haven't made a mistake you can take yourself out of that tension & frustration by steering you mind onto something else for a while. It may be a walk, it may be cutting the grass or reading a book or anything else. The point is to learn to tolerate the feelings, which might intensify at first, to notice it subsides. The more you do this the more it will become easier.

    Doubt is a big one in OCD and your subconscious will throw out little trigger thoughts about whether you are making mistakes. Remember thoughts are just thoughts and only have meaning if you choose to give it to them. You can head them off by reaffirming your abilities in the decisions you made to discard an item or you work the other way towards acceptance of thoughts without reacting to them.

    In my checking routines I also found sometimes an elimination strategy wouldn't work for me. Look at background anxiety/stress, the more you have the more likely the OCD will intensify. General anxiety reduction work, like relaxation, can help to bring the adrenaline levels down. And obviously if you struggle with morning anxiety the cortisol will reduce over the period of the day and you may need strategies to help you through that earlier part e.g. going for a walk to take you out of that tempting situation and not having time to sit and worry.

    I also found if I couldn't eliminate in the traditional sense I could "take control". What I mean is that rather than eliminate the walking away & coming back I would actually stand and perform a compulsion only once but I would tell myself I was choosing to do this, it was not my anxiety forcing me to do it. I found this helped with a few compulsions the other methods didn't.

    You are already seeing progress so well done and keep going. It's always harder to get the momentum going and keeping it going is a challenge too.
    __________________
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    For free Mindfulness resources, please see this thread I have created to compile many sources together http://www.nomorepanic.co.uk/showthread.php?t=168689

  6. #6
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    Re: Need advice regarding throwing things away

    Quote Originally Posted by MyNameIsTerry View Post
    I agree with ClipClop. I've had some of this myself, an element of hoarding in my OCD but very limited. It does feel like throwing something away somehow ruins a situation, you feel you can't get it back. That finality feels wrong.

    The more you work on just doing it the more it will stop. When you feel the urge to get it back out of the bin or check it to ensure you haven't made a mistake you can take yourself out of that tension & frustration by steering you mind onto something else for a while. It may be a walk, it may be cutting the grass or reading a book or anything else. The point is to learn to tolerate the feelings, which might intensify at first, to notice it subsides. The more you do this the more it will become easier.
    For me it isn't hoarding; I went through awful hoarding as a teenager and can tell a definite difference. I think this time it's more that my OCD and overall anxiety is at peak levels, like I have never before experienced, so everything I do must be done to absolute perfection or else I panic and redo whatever it is. The reason throwing stuff away is perhaps more problematic than some issues, I guess, is that it doesn't take too long for junk to build up and it's a very visual depressant.

    Quote Originally Posted by MyNameIsTerry View Post
    Doubt is a big one in OCD and your subconscious will throw out little trigger thoughts about whether you are making mistakes. Remember thoughts are just thoughts and only have meaning if you choose to give it to them. You can head them off by reaffirming your abilities in the decisions you made to discard an item or you work the other way towards acceptance of thoughts without reacting to them.

    In my checking routines I also found sometimes an elimination strategy wouldn't work for me. Look at background anxiety/stress, the more you have the more likely the OCD will intensify. General anxiety reduction work, like relaxation, can help to bring the adrenaline levels down. And obviously if you struggle with morning anxiety the cortisol will reduce over the period of the day and you may need strategies to help you through that earlier part e.g. going for a walk to take you out of that tempting situation and not having time to sit and worry.
    Absolutely. The doubt is horrendous. It's exhausting; the number of compulsions I do 'just in case.' Even though I know you are right, the thoughts feel so real that it's very often 'next time' that I won't give in.

    More often than not, my escape is music. I've been obsessed with music since I don't know when, and I still am. It's a real escape for me (though depending on what I listen to, my mood can get better or worsen lol). But like so much, I often don't really listen to it either, because the anxiety is so overwhelming - it's like someone prodding you until you listen and give in to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by MyNameIsTerry View Post
    I also found if I couldn't eliminate in the traditional sense I could "take control". What I mean is that rather than eliminate the walking away & coming back I would actually stand and perform a compulsion only once but I would tell myself I was choosing to do this, it was not my anxiety forcing me to do it. I found this helped with a few compulsions the other methods didn't.

    You are already seeing progress so well done and keep going. It's always harder to get the momentum going and keeping it going is a challenge too.
    May I ask how long this took to have a noticeable effect? A therapist I was once seeing told me to do similar and it made a lot of sense to me, but it was never followed up on in sessions so I kind of just stopped doing it.

  7. #7
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    Re: Need advice regarding throwing things away

    Quote Originally Posted by ClipClop View Post
    That is awesome! Well done you! That would have taken a serious amount of courage and you should be feeling really proud of yourself. Even just one tiny step is still a step in the right direction.

    I think a lot of the throwing away anxiety comes from a lack of trust in ourselves. It's the fear that we've thrown something important away, or that we may need it again
    I can absolutely relate to this!

    Quote Originally Posted by ClipClop View Post
    this is just lack of faith in ourselves and in our ability to make the right decisions.
    Unfortunately this became a huge problem for me at work. Very quickly I asked (notice the past tense. Make of that what you will) for more and more reassurance that the decisions I was making were correct, and the thing is, 9/10 times I was correct, but as soon as the one incorrect decision was made, it justified every other time I asked. People started to make comments quite frequently, and I know I became a nuisance. Not a nice feeling.

    Quote Originally Posted by ClipClop View Post
    Clearing out can be very cleansing mentally, and this is now a feeling that I prefer over hoarding. People actually comment on how 'minimalistic' my house is. Who would have thought it! But to get to this point, we have to trust ourselves.

    When you are anxious, try telling yourself that you can trust yourself, and that you are safe. Even if you threw something away like a passport, you can just apply for a new one :-). Silly example, but my point is that things really are replaceable.

    Good luck and keep up the good work. Remember, the trick is to accept the anxious feelings and to wait it out until the anxiety passes naturally (and it always does). In time, the brain learns.
    We're actually really quite similar I think. I prefer to have the bare essentials and a few nice things that don't cause clutter. I wonder if that would be the case if it were not for the OCD, though?

    If you don't mind me asking, how long did it take for you to get to the point of being minimalistic? How did you cope with setbacks? (assuming you had setbacks, that is).

  8. #8
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    Re: Need advice regarding throwing things away

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr X View Post
    For me it isn't hoarding; I went through awful hoarding as a teenager and can tell a definite difference. I think this time it's more that my OCD and overall anxiety is at peak levels, like I have never before experienced, so everything I do must be done to absolute perfection or else I panic and redo whatever it is. The reason throwing stuff away is perhaps more problematic than some issues, I guess, is that it doesn't take too long for junk to build up and it's a very visual depressant.

    That's like me then, I had major themes and minor ones. The more overall levels of anxiety (GAD is my primary condition and until I reduced some of this the OCD just wouldn't budge with direct work) are higher the more any theme is more intense but also the disorder latches onto all sorts of other things and crosses into other themes (some people still stick with one big major theme though).

    It's like how I've experienced periods of Agoraphobia and Social Anxiety yet they are not strong enough for me to consider them distinct issues, I see them as my GAD branching out. GAD has many overlaps.

    Yes, so you get demotivated to do something about it as it all seems too big. Therefore any clearing out needs to be reducing into micro goals so you can pace yourself and not be overwhelmed by looking at it as one huge issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr X View Post
    Absolutely. The doubt is horrendous. It's exhausting; the number of compulsions I do 'just in case.' Even though I know you are right, the thoughts feel so real that it's very often 'next time' that I won't give in.

    More often than not, my escape is music. I've been obsessed with music since I don't know when, and I still am. It's a real escape for me (though depending on what I listen to, my mood can get better or worsen lol). But like so much, I often don't really listen to it either, because the anxiety is so overwhelming - it's like someone prodding you until you listen and give in to them.

    I understand the feeling, I often liken it to a feel of people pulled by some invisible force. You can beat it though, I beat my compulsions and I remember how I thought I was cursed to be like that for life. It took me a long time though, around a couple of years but I got there. The same with intrusive thoughts.

    So, don't give up hope because if anyone can escape it then so can you. I found this helpful when I was used to attend the walk-in groups as there were people there who were further ahead in recovery and it gave me some small hope of being one of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr X View Post
    May I ask how long this took to have a noticeable effect? A therapist I was once seeing told me to do similar and it made a lot of sense to me, but it was never followed up on in sessions so I kind of just stopped doing it.
    I took months. But back then I was really stuck in the middle of it all. Initially nothing was really helping but my anxiety was greatly ramped up by a med and the first year or two were far worse than when I had the relapse and went to my GP. In hindsight, and knowing a lot more about meds & anxiety now, I should have been switched but my GP was adamant it wasn't the med.

    So, my progress was greatly hampered by the problem. I would say a good 2 years were spent working on compulsions and intrusive thoughts, far less the latter though. I had many themes and overlaps so it was about reducing the underpinning anxiety and dismantling compulsive routines one-by-one. This is why it took a while but as I progressed I found some relief and whilst it may seem a long time I was heading in the right direction.

    With this Taking control type method I used it on the following:

    1) repetitive touches of light switches (flicking them and then just touching them until they felt "just right").
    2) touching railings by the roadside when I out walking.
    3) reading labels when out (all sorts from car number plates to posters in shop windows or markers on lamp posts).

    My touching was mostly quick. With this method I paused it and told myself I was choosing to do this and then I would walk away. I mostly did. It did get easier too.

    There's so much I could talk about with this but I've put a load of it here. See post 31#:

    https://www.nomorepanic.co.uk/showth...t*******/page4

    And whilst I had OCD traits I never had any of this until I went on a med in my relapse and it spiked my anxiety far higher than anything I've felt. Prior to this it was a breakdown resulting in GAD.
    __________________
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    For free Mindfulness resources, please see this thread I have created to compile many sources together http://www.nomorepanic.co.uk/showthread.php?t=168689

  9. #9
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    Re: Need advice regarding throwing things away

    Quote Originally Posted by MyNameIsTerry View Post
    I took months. But back then I was really stuck in the middle of it all. Initially nothing was really helping but my anxiety was greatly ramped up by a med and the first year or two were far worse than when I had the relapse and went to my GP. In hindsight, and knowing a lot more about meds & anxiety now, I should have been switched but my GP was adamant it wasn't the med.
    Apologies if you have mentioned this elsewhere which I may have missed, but would you mind sharing which meds you were on (both which worked and did not work).

    I am just about to begin Pregabalin (for the 2nd time) and it helped so so much with the intrusive thoughts when I last took it, but there was a distinct absence of compulsions so I'm not as hopeful this time.

    Quote Originally Posted by MyNameIsTerry View Post
    I would say a good 2 years were spent working on compulsions and intrusive thoughts
    That sounds daunting but I guess 2 years hard work is better than a lifetime of suffering!

    Quote Originally Posted by MyNameIsTerry View Post
    And whilst I had OCD traits I never had any of this until I went on a med in my relapse and it spiked my anxiety far higher than anything I've felt. Prior to this it was a breakdown resulting in GAD.
    Forgive me if I misunderstand, but are you saying that you think extreme anxiety sort of brought on the OCD? Personally, I think I can attribute this peak OCD of mine to a culmination of a few awful events that just happened to occur in a short space of time.

    It's strange (and frustrating) how OCD works though; throwing things away is still a huge task for me but it's become 10x easier since I began this thread, and now my extreme OCD has latched onto something else...

    EDIT: I've noted the link to your other post. Sorry if the answers to some of my questions are there - I should have read that first!

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