Twitter @AshleyFulwood ashley@ocduk.org

Dirty Filthy Love

Last night I had the privilege to watch the 2004 comedy drama film, ‘Dirty Filthy Love’ on the big screen in Halifax, organised by the lovely Sofia at the Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax (thank you for the invite Sofia).

It was the first time I have watched it in a few years, and I had forgotten just how ridiculously laugh out loud funny the film remains, but still all these years later maintains compassion for the characters during some poignantly moving scenes. As I sat there and watched I found myself laughing at the OCD situations the characters found themselves, whilst feeling emotional at the desperation their OCD situations took them, because you see at one time many of those scenarios and situations were me, my situations and those of my friends, some of whom I was with last night.

What made last night’s screening even more special for me was because I watched it, sitting next to the man whose story was being played out on screen. It was truly wonderful to hear him roar with laughter at scenes which at one time would also have been tinged with sadness because of the impact of his OCD, so to hear laughing at his own OCD was actually something to behold. But it wasn’t all laughter, at one point I gave him a knowing glance when I recognised a highly personal part of the film for the man sitting next to me, Ian Puleston Davies.

Is there a place for comedy in OCD? Absolutely, provided the true suffering of OCD is not left too far from the viewers thoughts and to that end Ian and Jeff Pope (co-writer) achieved that admirably, alongside some wonderful acting performances. Slightly off topic, I have a very funny friend who follows me on Facebook, and I recall a decade or so back talked about wanting to write a sitcom about her OCD, but was nervous to do so at that time because of the reaction. If she can equally find that fine line between comedy and ensuring the viewer knows the pain of OCD then I hope she goes on to complete it (if she’s not already).

Interestingly, after the screening in Halifax last night I hosted a Q+A with Ian, well tried, he kept asking me questions, but at one point I did ask Ian if he felt the film would stand the test of time in today’s highly critical social media world we live in. Ian felt it would, I don’t know if I am honest but I do believe this, I believe we needed Dirty Filthy Love on screen in 2004 and I think we need it on screen in 2018. I would go further to say that the brief scenes that talked about treating OCD were far more educational than some of the OCD documentaries we have seen on ch4 and ch5 in the last couple of years.

Ian pondered if his OCD helped his acting and writing and if it did, would he swap those talents to get rid of OCD. I won’t spoil it by revealing his answer, you will have to wait to hear it from the man himself one day. But the film did pose a fascinating question, if OCD is part of us, or if we should detest and despise OCD with all our passion to try and get rid of it, which was the overriding belief of the support group facilitator in the film

Back in 2004 Dirty Filthy Love was rightly nominated for various TV awards, including a BAFTA, so I remain incredulous as to why the very next public screen of this film took 14 years.

Finally, as for the characters, be they on screen, in our heads or part of us, I hope they/we all find our recovery place and life becomes just a little bit more peaceful and boring from being OCD free!

Wishing you good mental health.

Ashley. 🙂

 

 

Kathmandu Litehaul 38L Carry On – Luggage Review

I’m not a seasoned traveller, so take this with pinch of salt, but I wanted to share this luggage discovery I stumbled on for my recent Majorcan cycling trip…. and no I am not on commission!

I used to struggle with finding suitable luggage for 5/6 days away. Most backpacks would leave my clothes crumbled and hard to find, and bigger bags would be just too cumbersome when walking or fall outside carry on allowances, until I discovered this beauty last month. The Kathmandu Litehaul 38L Carry On bag, a New Zealand based company.  The perfect bag for 5 or 6 days away, the dimensions are perfect for Easyjet carry on allowance (not sure on other airlines).

This is a backpack with a difference, on that fully opens like a suitcase so you easily place/locate clothes, rather than pushing them down like most backpacks.   With top and side pockets for laptops, and keys/coins etc.

The top pocket is genius, makes life easy to grab your book when it’s in the overhead cabin storage (see image to the left).   The perfectly placed grab handles on the top and side for however you want to carry the bag, again the image to the left show it perfectly located to pull the bag from the overhead.  There’s even an external water bottle holder on the side.  There’s also a compression strap on the outside to keep the bag well packed down for going through airline checks. I seriously love this bag, this will be my go to luggage for those short trips away. 

I highly recommend this bag, and it even comes in three colour choices too, straight black, blue/navy blue and a grey choice. And if you join their loyalty club (free) you can get 10% off, great service too I ordered and was with me in 48 hours.

Check it out on the Kathmandu website.

I also found this Kathmandu Packing Cell perfectly sized and padded to store my bike Garmin computer, chargers and bike camera (green padded pocket in the image to the right).

I should be on commission thinking about it!!!

 

Sex, masturbation, semen and OCD

Well that title should catch people’s attention!!!

A couple of weeks ago I restarted therapy for a problem that I have frankly been too embarrassed to talk about at length and deal with. Whilst I have made fantastic steps forward with nearly all of my other OCD problems, this is the one problem preventing cross that finish line of OCD recovery.

But before I talk about this present problem, it may be helpful to look back on my life with OCD, just to give you a picture of the problems OCD created in my life at one time, all of which I have dealt with:

  • I could not use a toilet (even my own) without washing and showering myself for hours.
  • I couldn’t touch a toilet at all, I would use elbows and feet to open bathroom doors etc.
  • I avoided public toilets for anything but stand up urination for over a decade.
  • If I had to use a loo when out, my clothes were so contaminated in my mind I had to throw them away.
  • I had separate clothes, indoor and outdoor, and outdoor had to be kept in a box outside my room.
  • I could not wear clothes, I would have to sot naked on a towel in my bedroom.
  • I had to shower after going outside, even to local shop.
  • During the daytimes I would avoid eating so not have to use the loo when out.
  • I took pills to stop me needing the loo.
  • I would wrap my mobile up in cling film in those early days of mobiles.
  • I used to use several bottles of washing up liquid on my hands even at the kitchen sink.
  • I would stare at the water taps and gas knobs to ensure they were off (not long, but still 10 or 15 minutes at times).
  • I once had issues checking, and  once drove around and around for 50 miles to check a cone I had moved was in the right place.
  • I once drove back 40 minutes to check I had locked a door.

I am sure there’s plenty of other ‘mad’ behaviours I did because of OCD. As you can see above, although I mainly had contamination problems, it’s shifted to checking at times. That’s partly why I despise the acronyms, because OCD will shift and it’s not the theme or ‘flavour’ that is the problem, it’s the way we deal with the unwanted thoughts (obsession) that is the problem, i.e. OCD is the problem, not the letter some acronyms put before it.

As mentioned above, I have dealt with all of those OCD problems, for readers in a similar position it may be helpful if I also list some of my achievements over OCD:

  • I can use a public toilet.
  • I can use a toilet without washing my hands if needs must.
  • I can put my hand in toilet water (I have a pics of this).
  • Go out for a few hours without checking.
  • Go out deliberately leave the gas hob on.
  • I can lick sole of my shoe.
  • I can pick dog mess up with just a dog poop bag.
  • I can pick sheep poo up in my hand (I have a pic of this).
  • I can run my hand over sole of my shoe.
  • I can drop my phone on floor of  a public toilet.
  • I can eat food I’ve dropped on the floor, even when out (within reason).
  • I can pee all down my leg… long story, accident when cycling, wind blow back!

So with all that progress I am perhaps 90% recovered, or to put it in sporting terms, I am at the last hurdle of a 100m hurdle race with the finish line the other side of this hurdle.  For a long time I have walked around this hurdle avoiding not just dealing with it,  even talking about it, well enough is enough, it’s time to talk!!!  Not just for me, but for others suffering in silence too.

So I finally restarted therapy (CBT), and whilst it’s early to decide if this therapist can help me or not, I am 100% certain that the CBT approach is my best chance of recovery.

I have debated if I should talk about this in public, and after asking a few questions about this issue on the OCD-UK forums last week, yesterday mid bike ride I decided I would talk more.. I then debated if I should post, but I know others are struggling with this, and if nobody else is going to talk about it then we need to start somewhere.. so here we go.

So on with the video… but first, let me just make this disclaimer…It’s embarrassing enough so please forgive the most unflattering video angle, and I didn’t bother shaving before heading out on the bike, by this point I had just climbed 800ft in 4 or 5 miles so I was not looking my best and it’s embarrassing enough so let’s all ignore my double chins.. ok! 😉

In the video I talked about when I am triggered I go through a ritual which takes two hours. It goes something like this:

  1. I can sleep after (in my mind the area is already dirty), but then when I wake I can’t touch anything or do anything until my rituals complete. If someone knocks at the door I have to ignore.
  2. Carefully tip toe to the bathroom, use the toilet and then bath (without touching shower curtain), then shower straight after the bath.
  3. Get out of the bathroom, open all the doors to the kitchen and washing machine door, set the cycle to run. Then strip the bed and carefully place bed cloths in without touching doors or walls and kick the door shut with my foot so the machine starts.
  4. Back into the bathroom, clean the toilet (in case anything on it from night before or before my bath), then shower myself clean.
  5. Spray with Dettol kitchen cleaner all the doors, walls and handles with I passed with the bed clothes, the outside of the washing machine, the edge of my bed and anything I may have touched i.e phone.
  6. Back into the bathroom and spray the bath, taps and anything else I may haver touched in the bathroom.
  7. Back into the shower to clean myself all over again.
  8. Keep running the washing machine until I see enough bubbles on the ‘dirty’ bed clothes to ‘feel’ they’re clean… although step 8 can be done as I get on with my day.

So at this point my ritual complete and wont bother me again for days or weeks until I next trigger myself.

So that’s where I am, that’s what I have problems with.  I don’t think it’s the semen itself that is the problem, I think it’s what that represents,  I get a surge in anxiety, but I can’t quite put my finger on what I am worried about, I think it’s something along the lines of disgust, shame etc perhaps mental contamination, I cant quite put my finger on it, and no amount of thinking when in that moment is leading to answers, which is why I have presented for more CBT.

That’s why I went back to see a therapist, in the hope she would ask me the right questions, to get me thinking in the right process and maybe, just maybe help me join the dots, even the missing dots. I truly believe if I can join the dots with what is keeping the anxiety and fear so high, I will be able to deal with and challenge and overcome by doing the appropriate behavioural exercises without showing or washing.

I don’t have any answers right now, but I think the first step is talking about it, and if this post helps one other person feel less alone and less isolated, then my embarrassment is a small price to pay.

Ashley.

P.S. As you can see I am panting after just 3 or 4 miles in the video, so there is a real challenge to get myself fit to cycle 100 miles in just 7 or 8 hours thus summer, but that’s what I am working towards. If you think my story and the charity OCD-UK is worthy of a couple quid of your money then please do sponsor my cycling challenge for OCD-UK at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ocd100

 

Thankful for my tribe

Recovery from OCD is not easy, but with the right support recovery really is a possibility. But, reaching the point of recovery and living with OCD can be incredibly hard and at times it will take us to dark places, places that are full of despair and where recovery doesn’t just seem a long way off, but completely unlikely.

Which is why it’s so vitally important that we surround ourselves with our positive tribe, our cheerleading squad who will lift us when we’re down, people who will make us laugh, people who will listen to us without judgement and most importantly people who will reinforce the belief that recovery is possible at the very times when we’re struggling to have such belief.

I remain thankful for my tribe.

Charles Linden, The spin debunked.

Every now and again I am asked if I recommend ‘The Linden Method‘ for the treatment of OCD.  It may surprise some, but I rarely say no. Instead I simply suggest if the person wants to give it a go and it is not out of their budget then by all means try it, but I warn them not to be fooled by the ‘spin’ on the website. I do actually go on to say that there are better treatments and therapists out there that I would recommend.

So the other night I was talking about the Brexit referendum and the misleading campaigns for leave and it instantly made me think of Charles Linden/The Linden Method and the misleading ‘spin’ I keep being shown by different people, so I thought that it was about time I addressed some of those.

I’ve long been a critic of Charles Linden and his approach for dealing with feedback. I have observed from a distance the lengths he will go to silence or discredit critics.  I truly believe if The Linden Method is so good, it will stand up to critics and criticism. After all, he frequently critiques other therapies, so The Linden Method should not be above critique either.  Which is the purpose of this blog, to highlight and rebuttle some of the ‘spin’.

But before I address the spin, I actually do agree with him on one point.

Recovery means total freedom. Never compromise. Never wait. Never believe it isn’t possible. Never trust those who talk of coping or management.

The fact is, people can and do get better, people can recover from anxiety disorders like OCD. But, the method of how we get there is where we differ, and why I think some of Linden’s claims are misleading, so here are my top 5 (current) misleading Linden claims/spin.

 

Spin Debunk 1

The Linden Method is the world’s only accredited, dedicated anxiety disorder recovery therapy. No other process exists that is recovery focused and accredited to lead sufferers to full and lasting recovery.

Well where do we start? If you watch any of Charles video’s you will hear him waffle with a few words of relevance, but deliver very little of substance. I think this claim is pretty much of similar deliverance.I would challenge that The Linden Method is the only dedicated anxiety disorder recovery therapy, I think it’s fair to say that CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is completely recovery focussed. The whole point of CBT is to help a patient deal with their problems here and now and to focus on helping them lead a full and lasting recovery.

But moving back to the first line, notice his use of the word accredited (and in the second line), this seems to be the crux of all that spin, he’s claiming his method is the only accredited anxiety therapy. So let’s look at the accreditation. He then goes on to claim “The Linden Method is powered by LAR ‘Linden Anxiety Recovery’ The only accredited, dedicated anxiety disorder recovery therapy”. So where does the accreditation come from?It simply means that the Linden Anxiety Recovery training (for their associates) was awarded NCFE accreditation. But NCFE is not a medical accreditation body. So the bottom line when you work through the spin is that yes there is accreditation, but actually doesn’t mean anything, it’s not medical accreditation which is what we should be looking for.

 

Spin Debunk 2

Independent University Led Trial Results. The most recent trial carried out at Copenhagen University saw incoming clients reduce their anxiety levels from an average of 18.24 (severe) to 2.84 (normal) by doing The Linden Method Program.

This one is really simple, Charles claims that the research at Copenhagen was independent, but it was anything but independent.  The trial was reported on Linden’s website to be led by Psychologist ‘Martin Jensen’ University of Copenhagen.   What Charles fails to mention on any of the pages where this ‘independent’ research is referenced, is the fact that the same Martin had been and seemingly still is part of the Linden Method.   According to another of Linden’s websites “Martin is our TLM Director in Denmark and is a qualified psychologist. Martin’s experience as a Linden Method Coach and also as an educator is only matched by his wonderful personality and mind.”

There was also issues with how the participants of this independent trials were selected as Professor Paul Salkovskis mentions in his blog here and here.

So, has the Linden Method been the subject of independently led university trials?   Not that we can see, no.

 

Spin Debunk 3

“The world’s most influential authority on anxiety” Hay House Publishing

On his website, the quote emanating to come from Hay House Publishing is that Charles Linden is the world’s most influential authority on anxiety.  So last year I emailed Hay House to ask why they made such a claim, this was their reply.. “I can confirm that Hay House didn’t make the statement that appears on the site you reference.”

So is Charles Linden an influential authority on anxiety?  Well to the person who wrote that quote, maybe! But it was seemingly not Hay House according to them.

 

Spin Debunk 4

Can talking therapies like CBT or counselling cure anxiety? NO. In fact, talking therapies will either a) prevent recovery or b) increase your anxiety.

So here is another great example of Charles being critical of other therapies (which is fine), so this is why he must be prepared to accept critiquing of his method and claims. Can CBT or counselling cure anxiety? No.  I agree in the respect that every person alive will have anxiety from time to time, so we’re not aiming to ‘cure’ anxiety or stop anxiety. Anxiety can be helpful in some rare situations.   But what CBT can do is help a person cure their anxiety ‘problem’.

As for the claim that talking therapies will prevent recovery or increase anxiety, well of course any therapy done badly could be problematic. But, certainly if CBT is done correctly then it can a) create recovery for the patient and b) help them lower their anxiety and remove the ‘problem’.

 

Spin Debunk 5

I am not a psychologist but I suffered for 27 years and have since helped well over 20 million people with my materials… 200,000 plus with the home learning program alone.

Where does he get these numbers from? I can’t claim that these figures are false, they may well be true, but again it’s all in the spin.

20 million? Even if that is simply a combination of figures from people watching his various videos, reading his websites or buying The Linden Method, there is a world of difference between buying/viewing the materials and those same materials actually helping people.  I viewed much of the materials and they didn’t help me at all.   Is there evidence that 200,000 were helped by the home learning programme, or is that simply a sales figure? It sounds impressive, but when you remove the spin it doesn’t mean much.

 

Summary 

So there you go, my attempt to debunk some of Charles Linden’s claims, I will let you make your own mind up.   But these are just some of the reasons why I and to my knowledge all the existing anxiety charities like OCD-UK, Anxiety UK or No Panic or other independent anxiety forums stop short of actually recommending The Linden Method. We can’t all be wrong, can we?

 

UPDATE: 7th Aug 2017

What is HIGHLY relevant is that they are preventing people’s freedom of choice.

The above quote came from a post made recently on Charles Linden’s website, and he is right, we must not prevent people’s freedom of choice. The post on Linden’s website starts by seeming to suggesting people who are critical of his the Linden Method are guilty of unprovoked and unwanted harassment and bullying. He goes on to suggest that unless those people sign an agreement, they will be sued with legal costs costing a minimum of £30K. I am not privy to everything that goes on with Linden, there may be issues of individuals overstepping the mark, but I fear he confuses challenging his claims and critiquing his claims/method with harassment. If Charles is free to critique talking therapists and makes outlandish claims about his Linden Method, then it should never be above fair constructive critiquing. Like Charles writes above, challenging critiquing allows people to make informed choices when deciding on their treatment, and gives people a freedom of choice.