Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Other Compulsive Behaviours: Part 2

Picture this.

A house, filled with everything that has ever meant something to you. A memory attached to every item. When you have to get rid of something, you feel like you are losing a little piece of yourself. This in the end makes you unwilling to get rid of anything at all. Slowly but surely, the house starts to fill until one day you can’t see the floor. But that is okay. As long as you have your things, you will be okay. You are ashamed of letting others see how you live, so you hide it. You stay in your home, rarely going out unless it is absolutely needed. One day you get a surprise visit from a loved one. You are sleeping somewhere among the piles so you don’t hear them enter the house. They see what is going on and confront you. Your defenses go up. You become angry and aggressive because they have violated your privacy. You tell them to leave you alone, that you are just fine with how things are and that you don’t need their help. Your cover has been blown, soon everyone will know your secret. But where do you go from here?

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Compulsive hoarding is just that. A compulsive need to collect things, and the unwillingness or inability to give those things up. These items take over rooms, apartments, and full houses, causing unsafe living conditions, posing severe health risks, and damaging relationships. This disorder is separate from OCD, however, like OCD many of those suffering are well aware of their irrational behaviors.

People will often collect things that other people would find not useful or of little value. Things like junk mail, newspapers, clothes that “might” fit one day, broken things and garbage. They will place high value on them, and this is likely the reason that it is so hard for them to try and give them up. People can also collect animals, becoming deeply attached to a large number of animals that they can not properly care/provide for.

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There is no one cause to this disorder. Like many disorders, the causes are multiple and vary from person to person. These causes can include:

  • Trauma

  • Anxiety

  • Another pre-existing disorder

  • Family History

Whatever the cause, compulsive hoarding wreaks havoc on an individual’s livelihood, and is an extremely difficult disorder to receive the proper treatment and support for.

Management and treatments for compulsive hoarding vary from individual to individual, depending on their situation. Behavioural therapy has often times been found to be effective. There are many processes that a therapist can walk a client through to come to terms with why the behaviour exists and develop a plan of action on how to approach treatment in a way that will make the client most comfortable. Often times the first thing that is needed is a gradual exposure to the anxiety experienced when trying to get rid of things. This will allow the client to begin to formulate a plan as to how they are going to get their living place cleaned up so that is habitable (if this is at all possible). Therapy to address the behaviours and anxiety is an ongoing process throughout treatment. Depending on the case, the client may be prescribed medication to treat any underlying disorders in order to be able to participate fully and cohesively in treatment.

Recovery and treatment are possible. It is a long and tough process, but with the right supports and treatment plan, anyone can go on to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Listed below are resources for OCD and other compulsive behaviours.

How Emotions Affect Your Mind-Body-Soul Connection

How Emotions Affect our Body

Emotions are something we all share. Emotions are what provide us with a common ground to relate to one another, to converse and to express ourselves. In fact, emotions both regulate and are regulated by your body. Below I will discuss what different emotions entail for the body.

The emotion of shame is reflective of our deepest wound and can have the most devastating of effects on our emotional state. Second to the emotion of shame sits guilt, apathy, fear, anxiety, anger and hate.  Studies have shown that negative emotions can actually weaken your body’s immune system and thus bring about the onset of illness and disease.

These negative emotions affect your body in such a way that your body actually becomes traumatized by a surge of electrical shock. This electrical shock is capable of leaving the equivalent of scars and wounds, albeit emotionally and mentally. This in turn disrupts our ability to be a clear channel to love unconditionally and to be accepting of both ourselves as well as others in much the same way a child would his mother and himself. These are very powerful emotions that leave a very powerful effect on the body.

Having said this, holding back or denying yourself of these emotions only makes the feelings worse as you are denying yourself the ability to release the pain. In turn, this can cause you a great deal of stress, which is often followed by illness.  By attempting to control and stifle your pent up anger, resentment, self-judgment, physical pain and criticism amongst many other negative beliefs and fears, you result in sabotaging what you truly want and desire in your life and this stops us from being our best.

How these Emotions can Make You Very Sick

Emotions are capable of affecting the way we feel, think and behave. The reason behind this is because emotions are very much linked to our physiological well-being. What this means is that emotions are tied in and very much related to our body.

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An imbalance between your mind, body and soul is connected to your emotional well-being and can cause digestion issues or an upset stomach. Think about an unsettled stomach as the result of all the emotions your body is unable to digest or accept within.

Anger and resentment can cause inflammation and pain in the body due to an inflexible way of being or holding on to something rather than to forgive and let go.

Shoulder pain is the feeling of having the weight of the world on you and therefore feeling overwhelmed.

Back pain is reflective of a need for more support in your life, but not necessarily understanding how to create that for yourself or how to ask for it.

How to Safely Release these Emotions

Get grounded in earth, feel the earth under your feet.

Take a bath and allow your body to let loose and to relax.

Take time off for yourself.

Physical exercise and movement is really great as long as you are not in pain. Yoga, breathing work, going for a stroll are all viable options.

Release your emotions by punching a punching bag or by letting it all out as a scream in a safe place when you’re alone (like into a pillow).

Last but not least talk it out with someone you can trust like a friend, family member or therapist.  Talking is always a sure way to release and let go as long as it’s consistent.