Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Myself on double bass, Eirik Zahl on guitar and Peter Conua on violin playing jazz and folk numbers in Montmartre, Paris - April 2011 (photograph by Jean Duchesne).

Well, I did it: Last week I was feeling desperately in need of a break from everything, and so I booked three weeks away in my beloved Paris. I've been visiting Paris on a regular basis since 2009 to work as a musician, writer and artist, and to just enjoy the vibe.

I'm uneasy about this trip due to the heightened threat of terrorism, and no doubt my 'checking of appliances' OCD will be in overdrive given that I've rented a whole apartment as opposed to just a room... BUT, as I've always done, I shall cope - and may even be able to go beyond that and begin ERP on my super-ingrained 'checking' OCDs. In preparation for this, I've been practicing checking my violin's in its case only once after a performance, and have invested in a yoga bible and mat in a bid to learn more about the art of relaxation.

This week I'd have liked to have begun work on another exposure, but have had some terrible migraines to contend with plus it's been a challenge keeping the OCDs I've already tackled under control. Happily - with only a couple of exceptions, I managed this, and my usual 'over-checking of important emails OCD' which flares up every time I'm about to step out of my comfort zone, hasn't been an issue.

Last night, however (as if to counteract this victory), an OCD I haven't suffered with for years reared its ugly head (the compulsion to check my body for signs of a life-threatening illness). Right now the compulsion to write down a reassurance to myself that there's nothing wrong with me is so strong. I'm trying to hold onto what my supporter and fellow OCD sufferer, David, said about how to contend with OCD trying to ruin everything, though: "Don't be beguiled; be a dancer, a martial artist. When it pushes, don't push back, just bend like a reed in the wind, reminding yourself that it's all just OCD lies... let it evaporate under its own steam."

Finally some more good news: I've been put on the waiting list for free 1:1 counselling with Nia; East London Rape Crisis, who are going to give me a call once a week starting on 19th June to see how I'm doing. 

Just so you know, I shan't be posting on this blog while I'm away in Paris but will be back after 9th June. Until then, take care, thanks for reading, and best wishes everyone!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


The horizon at Southend, Essex: I'm feeling the need to step outside my tiny world and do something different and exciting in the face of uncertainty.

"Hold the vision. Trust the process." - Actress, media trainer and irrepressible dreamer, Barbara Niven 

It was my parents’ birthdays this week, which made me think about how painful, confusing and impossible my relationship with them feels like, and time is falling away with no peaceful resolution in sight.

I don’t want to exit this life with any serious regrets, and part of me wants to meet up in person with my mum after six years, because despite everything, I still care about her. I need support to do this, however, and today I filled in and returned the referral form to Nia; East London Rape Crisis for one-to-one counselling and access to their advocacy services: Finger crossed!

So far as doing ERP is concerned, I’ve had some days off before working on my next OCD: Right now I feel exhausted, directionless and passionless because I think I’m trying to do too many things (and not getting very far with any of them in career terms).

The most important thing at the end of the day, though, is that I’m so much better OCD-wise than I was at Christmas, and have been able to consistently keep under the radar the four OCDs I’ve done exposures on: I have to remind myself that there is nothing more important than one's health, and hopefully the hard work I'm doing now will enable me to experience a happier, more spontaneous future.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Gardening on my allotment allows me the space I need to relax and feel a sense of meaningful connection with the world.

With regards to my obsession that wherever I am in the house, I'm going to poison my beloved cat, Tigger, I managed to get my SUDS level down from five to one by not giving in to the compulsion to seek reassurance from my partner Jan / write down that I hadn’t poisoned him. I still feel anxious around the cat, but I’ll be happy if I can sustain this level of control I've gained over this particular obsession.

My ability to complete these exposures satisfactorily, however, varied inexplicably from day to day: Often during this week I felt tense, headachy and hypervigilant, and wasn’t able to do ERP. It was tempting to view this as failure, but instead, I showed myself some compassion, reached out for support from those I know understand, and determined to carry on with exposures either later on or the next day.

So long as I can constantly challenge my OCD, the more chance I have of being able to hold on to the ‘thread of reason’ that (as my friend and fellow OCD sufferer, Sarah, reminded me), is always there whenever this terrible ‘doubting disease’ gets a grip of my senses.

I phoned Nia; East London Rape Crisis, who emailed me information about their services plus an application form for free counselling to help me to talk about painful family issues, and to detangle unresolved traumas which make my OCD worse.

Doing this felt like a massive step in the right direction, but I soon began subconsciously engaging in self-sabotaging behaviour by making partial contact with people from my past I know should remain firmly there; in my past.

I also had nightmares which played on my most deep-seated insecurities about my body, so I’m waking up feeling more tired than I did when I went to bed!

On the wall in my office I have a list of affirmations I wrote down to myself when I first started work on my recovery from OCD, and re-reading them helped when I was really struggling.

Now it’s time, after a holiday (I wish)! to tackle the next OCD; probably one of my multiple ‘checking’ ones…