Twitter @AshleyFulwood ashley@ocduk.org

One of us has to go by Katja Schulz

My colleague at OCD-UK has written a full review of this book over at on the OCD-UK website but I wanted to add my thoughts.

These days there are numerous books sharing first-hand accounts about OCD and several novels featuring characters with OCD, all of which are well written.  But rarely have I come across a book that takes you deep into the depths of the life impacting devastation that the illness can cause, a book that truly takes you on a journey of suffering for both of the main character’s, Sonja suffering directly with OCD, and Finja suffering in-directly with OCD.

Despite the subject matter, this is not without warm moments, and somewhat surprisingly considering the dark subject, Finja and Sonja’s journey becomes a page turner. 

Just when you think you know where the book is taking you during those final few pages, there is a shocking twist that will rock you to the core when you remember the novel is based on the authors own experiences.

Understanding OCD

Part of my job involves helping people understand OCD better, and a matter of frustration for me is that all too frequently I find myself having to do this with people who have experience of OCD.

These days the online OCD community seems to focus far too much on the manifestation of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and sometimes fails to recongise the impact that OCD causes on the individual, regardless of manifestation.  As a result of this, over recent years the more people unhelpfully promote sub-types of OCD it’s not uncommon to hear some say “I wish I ‘just’ had basic contamination OCD”. It’s got to the point where people have, probably unwittingly, minimalised and trivialised the impact that obsessive fears around contamination can have on an individual. This book will change that perception forever, as the human cost of OCD is laid bare for the reader to see.

Would I recommend Katja’s book?

Absolutely,  for those with OCD and for any health professional too who want to get an understanding of just how far untreated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can take someone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waterproof Saddle Bags

Update: See below…

Today I am talking bike saddle bags…  waterproof saddle bags to be precise.

I have been a long time user and fan of the Topeak bags.  For years I have used the Topeak Wedge Saddle bag, loving the simplicity of their QR clip and strap for secure fitting and easy to use zip opening.  A nice lightweight bag, I used the medium which was more than spacious for everything I carry.

  • Mini Pump
  • 21 piece multitool
  • 2 x Inner Tubes
  • 2 x Tyre Levers
  • Mini lock
  • Energy sachet/gel
  • CO2

For those that enjoyed the long, long glorious summer the bag was the perfect accessory… for those that rode last summers Ride100 London-Surrey sportive will testify, that was the one day all summer when it rained, and rained and rained for 100 miles!      The end result was my saddle bag was half full of water by the end of the day!

So I started looking at waterproof saddle bags, even for the summer bike.

Bag 1

Topeak Drybag

I immediately switched to the Topeak Drybag Wedge Bag. Generally I think it would do the job of keeping the water out, and like it’s summer version it comes with either a QR or strap fitting.  But I found two significant problems with the bag.  Firstly the sizing, because of the inner frame the bag uses the medium size gives a little less storage space compared to the summer version. I had the medium size which runs at the following specs:

  • 1 L / 61 ci (Medium)
  • 18.5 x 11.5 x 11 cm / 6.9” x 4.5” x 4.3” (Medium)

But the main issue and the reason this saddle bag ended up on eBay was the side clips to get into the bag. On a cold winters day, with cold fingers trying to get those clips open really is not fun!

For weight weenies, it also comes in heavy at 220g without the fixing clip, despite Topeak’s claims of 170g.

Bag 2

Ortlieb Waterproof Saddle Bag

Ortlieb have a fantastic reputation for bike touring bags, and I have a few Ortlieb products which I generally like.  So I decided to give their waterproof saddle bag a go, again medium sized which did feel more spacious than the Topeak.

  • Cargo Capacity – 1.3 Litres
  • Dimensions  – 9cm (H) x 14cm (W) x 7/12cm (D)

Unlike the Topeak version, it fixes from the bag and is much easier to unclick, even on cold days but the problem I found was the shape of the bag.  It just closed too loose and lost it’s shape and more often than not the bag was catching my leg when peddling. If I am honest I lost some confidence in the bags ability to keep everything secure mid-ride and indeed dry.   I never had a problem with it, but I had lost confidence so decided to switch back to Topeak… that was until I discovered this beauty purely by accident…

Bag 3

Giant Seat Bag WP  (WP for waterproof of course).  Again I went for medium and compared to the Topeak I can get everything in which tad more space, and because of the shape I don’t struggle to get the mini pump fully in.

Giant Seat Bag WP
  • Volume: 1.0L
  • Dimensions: 17x10x10 cm

The specs claim this bag comes in at 165g but mine is tad more at 170g.   Like the Topeak this uses side fixings, but unlike the Topeak it’s a strappy fixing which certainly feels secure. Time will tell if they continue to be secure, but so far it feels far easier to get in and out of the bag compared to the Topeak.

It comes with a QR clip to the saddle like the Topeak, but again the actual QR fixing initially feels far more secure than the Topeak.

All three bags come in S/M/L sizes.

But for now, my lovely Giant bike is wearing a Giant waterproof saddle bag.

Update: 22nd April:

So second ride with the Giant WP Seat bag and snap….

As I hit the bump at approx 32mph (according to Garmin) on a huge downhill I suddenly felt something dragging on my rear wheel. The bracket had snapped and the strap on the seatpost was all that was keeping the bag from falling away.

The fixing bracket that loops over the seat rails snapped through, as you can see in the image the bolt is still there, so it was a failure of the actual plastic.

A quick Google suggest I am not the first to experience this failure. In my case I am lucky that the bag didn’t fall into the rear wheel, and with no way to fix it to the seat rails I had to ride with it stuffed down my shirt top for 17 miles (which actually wasn’t that noticeable after a mile or so).

It’s such a shame because the saddle bag itself is perfect, the quick release clip is easy to slide on and off, but such a failure could cause accidents so Giant should take a look and recall this IMO. That said, if they strengthen the clip then this could be the perfect saddle bag, but it looks like I am back to the Topeak for now.

Dirty Filthy Love

First published on Sunday 14th October 2018.

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