Redefining Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


It is a single thought, triggering feelings of anxiety in my stomach that gravitate upwards towards my brain, and down towards my feet.​

It sweeps in, its dark cloak hiding the light of reality, shrouding my mind in confusion that will circle until I distract it, or until it becomes exhausted from repetition. In any case, it will eventually fly away, waiting for the next opportunity to come and consume my mind and body.​

My obsessive-compulsive tendencies do not appear like they say in the books. In them, they show pictures of people washing hands and meticulously lining up objects in order of colour and size. I have been known to do these things, but they are not the compulsions that threaten to break me.

​It is the thoughts.

It is the constant cycle as they spin round and round and round and round—like a death march pulling me closer towards an abyss that doesn’t even exist. They create a maze, which, if I am not careful, I begin to believe I am trapped in.

A maze of never-ending thoughts, feelings and uncontrollable behaviours.

I hate my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I do not even like to call it mine; after all, it does not define me. It is but a collection of chemicals and synapses. But in those moments, when I can’t see or think of anything but that which I fear, I start to believe that we are one and the same.​

In the seconds the thought begins, it traces its way through my body towards a reaction. I have learnt to recognize it almost immediately. Once it would keep me up—minutes and hours and days spent obsessing over the same incident. Through time, however, I have become accustomed to OCD’s plans and schemes. How it latches onto words and names, faces and memories. How it likes to catch me off guard when I am tired and burnt out, delivering unfounded threats, saying it will topple my years in recovery and the many times I have conquered it.

The moments it strikes are hard to overcome, because it is difficult to prevent your body from reacting to something it is programmed to respond to. It’s like having something wrestle you to the ground, but when you try to fight back, it increases its grip. Only by waiting out the moment does the thought and sensation lose its power.

And ever so slowly, it leaves you alone and the chemicals in your brain make a new, healthier path, allowing you to see that the attacker wasn’t even really there. It was all just thoughts and chemicals, pulling you into a parallel reality. Sending you into panic mode.​

I know that I am stronger than these thoughts and compulsions.​

As a teenager I would visualize my fears, and they kept me shut inside my bedroom, afraid of myself and the world around me.

I found freedom when I told my parents about these thoughts—about how I was scared they were real, and that I was living a lie.

I found freedom when, with the support of my psychiatric nurse, I took short walks in the daylight, slowly decreasing my irrational fear of being attacked outside of the home.

I found freedom when I realized that I didn’t want to die, even when the thoughts and compulsions told me I did.

The truth is, OCD has robbed me of a lot. Sometimes it still tries to steal precious minutes of my days. But I have realized that who I am today—the strong, resilient woman I have become—would not exist without it.

By facing OCD and anxiety, I have learned that small steps lead to grand adventures, and short walks outside bolster courage within me to explore new lands.

By struggling with OCD and anxiety, I have learned to have empathy and compassion towards people who are different to me, because I have questioned my own identity too.​

By questioning OCD and anxiety, I have redefined and re-evaluated what I believe, and why I want to be alive.​

And by overcoming OCD and anxiety, I have learnt that this all-encompassing illness does not define me. I am not the thoughts it places in my head, or the panic that sets in about something I am in control of. I am not the insomnia, or the chemicals and hormones racing around my body, triggered by a lingering doubt in my mind. ​

I am so much more than this.

I am brave and bold, fearless and courageous. Yet I would not possess these in such great quantities if I did not battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

I have hope that one day the OCD will pass forever. That the triggers of this season will cease, as did those of past years. That the fears they bring will be overcome with love and patience and trust. That I will become so confident and certain of my own worth and identity that the moment a thought attempts to trigger a compulsion it will be blocked by my own self-love.

Until then, I ride it out. I take the moments OCD strikes as an indicator that I need rest, and I revel in the victory awaiting me on the other side of it.

I redefine OCD as an illness, not an identity—a moment, rather than a lifetime. I am not my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but because of it I have become me. And that is why I will overcome it, every single time.​

This excerpt comes from Jessica’s memoir, When Hope Speaks: Thoughts on faith, hope, love (and depression). Pre-order the Expanded Edition on Kindle HERE before March 5 and $1 will be donated to To Write Love On Her Arms. 

Do you struggle with obsessive compulsive behaviours or thoughts? Are you concerned about the mental health of a loved one? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

The top anxiety blogs of 2018

top anxiety blogs

It’s a new year, and the Watersedge team have a reason to celebrate, because we were just named one of the top anxiety blogs of 2018 by Home Remedies for Life!

We are so privileged to stand along side other renowned wellness blogs like The Mighty, Blue Light Blue and Honest Mom. Whether you’re after a personal perspective on battling with anxiety, or a more clinical or educational approach, this list gives you a huge range of options that will help you feel less alone.

You can see the full list here. Thank you to our friends at Home Remedies for Life for adding us to the list. We are so excited to share our new content with you in 2018!

Do you experience anxiety? Would you like to explore strategies and techniques to overcome it in your life? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.


10 natural ways to overcome anxiety


An estimated 1 in 10 Australians and 1 in 6 Americans are taking antidepressants, but research shows that while these professional prescribed medications can be beneficial for many people, it can also have potentially nasty side effects. These include tremors, headaches, indigestion, vomiting and even insomnia. The good news is that if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you can try these healthy alternatives.

Good natural ways to overcome anxiety are to eat certain foods that boost your mood and take up activities that calm your mind.

Examples for stress reducing foods are fish and walnuts, which contain Omega-3 for healthy brain cells. Turmeric is a great spice, which works as well as the popular drug Prozac and can be consumed in any amount. Another popular choice is the St. Johns Wort herb, which has been used as a natural antidepressant since the Renaissance.

Activities include exercising, meditation and certain breathing techniques are also great natural cures for anxiety. Working up a sweat for just 30 minutes three times a week will make a big difference in mood and stress levels.

And doing it outside provides even more benefits because the sun recharges your Vitamin D deposit, which has a big effect on your mood. Mindful meditation helps you find peace with your inner self.

If you’ve tried medication and are unhappy with the results, * or you are looking for a natural alterative, start by eating well and having an active lifestyle. This has a huge impact on your journey to an anxiety-free life. 


Are you interested in the natural ways you can manage anxiety? Would you like support before you head to your doctor to talk about anti-depressant medication? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

*Speak to your doctor or a medical professional before making any changes to your prescribed medication. If you are experiencing any physical or mental symptoms that concern you after choosing natural remedies, speak to your doctor immediately.

Rene is a writer for homeremediesforlife blog where he investigates ways to battle anxiety, depression and stress without the use of drugs. You can read his article about the most powerful natural antidepressants here: Home Remedies for Anxiety


How to stress less and find happiness


It’s hard to get through a typical day without experiencing stress, right? From money concerns to worries about work, 7 out of 10 of us feel extremely anxious or stressed each day.

When we’re stressed, we experience physical fatigue and tend to take out our concerns on others. We see it damage relationships and create tension in ordinary situations. So how do we beat stress? The fact 85% of what we’re stressed about never happens is a great stat to comfort us when we’re agitated, but it’s not always easy to let stress ‘roll of our back’.

The great news is that there are some simple ways to reduce stress in our every-day life. Talking to a friend or colleague, seeing a counsellor—even putting a pot plant on your desk can all help to re-establish your own well-being. Add some exercise, meditation or fun activities into your schedule and you’ll also begin to feel less stressed.

Take a look at this infographic by Happify and see what methods you can use to reduce stress in your life. Let us know your favourite relaxation techniques in the comments!


Are you stressed? Would you like to break free of your anxiety and worries? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.


12 reasons why a dog can help you cope with depression and anxiety


The World Health Organisation declared April 7 as World Health Day focusing on mental health. This year-long campaign aims to educate, raise awareness and help people suffering from mental illness

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues now affect more than 300 million people worldwide according to the World Health Organisation, and more needs to be done to educate and inform people about what we can do to manage them, especially since they are usually also the underlying cause of many other social issues.

A great way to care for our mental health is to care for a pet. Those of us who have a dog in our life know just how important they are to help us stay fit, keep socialising and live life to the full.

My team and I at Pet Gear Lab created this infographic to highlight 12 reasons why a dog can help you cope with depression and anxiety. Take a look and make time in your day to experience the health-benefits of animals. Take your dog for a walk, cat-sit for a neighbor or go to an animal refuge and choose your own pet—not only will it improve your health, it will also give you a friend that will last a life time.

For more information about the holistic benefits of pets visit


Do you struggle with a mental illness? Would you like to learn about day-to-day strategies you can use to soothe yourself? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

Six ways to manage social anxiety


It’s the thumping heart, the sweaty palms, and the seeming inability to communicate verbally to the person across from you.

It’s the fear that everyone is silently judging you, and if you make eye contact with them something disastrous could happen.

And it’s the isolation you feel it an overwhelmingly crowded place, when the smallest task takes all your energy to complete.

Social anxiety is a beast. Some of us experience it momentarily, like on the first day of a new job, when we enter a uber-competitive environment or see colleagues in an unexpected place. Other people experience it all the time, and a ‘simple’ activity like shopping or going out to dinner nearly feel unbearable.

As someone who still deals with social anxiety, I know what it’s like to freak out over the simplest tasks. And even though I’ve combatted a lot of my (somewhat irrational) fears over the years, I still panic when I encounter a new situation, I’ve just learned to mask it a lot better.

If you also struggle with social anxiety, here are six ways you can begin to manage it.

  1. Realise it’s normal

Feeling anxious about a situation you think ‘normal people’ are fine with only makes your fear escalate. While not everyone experiences social anxiety, we all feel some sort of awkwardness. Remember that you’re not the only one who feels uncomfortable around people. In fact, there are probably others around you at this moment experiencing a similar level of anxiety, you just can’t tell because most of us laugh it off or hide it.

  1. Pre-plan

I’m a terrible decision maker at the best of times, and when I’m in an uncomfortable situation my inability to choose between chai tea and a mocha latte becomes impossible. So when possible, plan where you’re going and what you’ll do there.

If you’re going to an event, make a time to meet up with a friend so you’re not left on your own. If being in a crowded space troubles you, go at a less-busy time, and if talking to a cashier freaks you out, have your money set aside for them before you approach the counter. These are only small steps, but they can help you to avoid an anxiety attack.

  1. Let a friend know

If you struggle in a particular situation, don’t be ashamed to let someone know. A loved one, partner, spouse or friend will likely have already picked up that you’re uncomfortable in some situations, and telling them you have social anxiety will help them to connect the dots.

You can’t always avoid anxiety, but having someone around who understands what you’re experiencing makes a world of difference. Tell them what you need to feel calm, and let them help you to plan for and work through each situation.

  1. Write down your fears

When you’re anxious about something, you might role-play different scenarios in your head until you’re so afraid you decide not to complete the task. It’s important that you consider the event or situation you are entering, but catastrophising about what may occur if you see x or what could happen if you say x, only heightens your emotions.

Before you enter an anxiety-provoking scenario, write down your fears, hopes and expectations around the event. For each fear or problem, write down a possible solution. You may find that just by writing it down, you take away its power and feel more empowered.

Go back over the list when the event is complete, and see what actually occurred. Over time, you’ll begin to control your fear when you realise more often than not, scenarios aren’t as bad as they seem.

  1. Set a time frame

My anxiety is always worse when I am tired and stressed, and I know it’s time to go home when I become unresponsive or irritable. Over time, you’ll learn the physical and mental symptoms you show when you’ve had enough and this will be a sign that you need to have some alone time.

How intense the environment is, the level of social interaction you’ve had and how long you’re out will affect this, so set a time frame for each situation and give yourself permission to leave when its done so you can care for yourself.

  1. See a professional

If your social anxiety is all consuming and you struggle to leave the house, make a phone call or see people, then seeing a counsellor or psychologist is a great first step to managing it.

Lots of places allow you to research therapists online, and some even let you book over the Internet. Ask a friend to drive you to the appointment, and if this feels like too much, ask the therapist if you can connect over Skype or email instead.

It takes time to overcome social anxiety, and for some people (myself included), it becomes a process of learning to manage it. Wherever you’re at, know you’re not alone in these emotions. You can navigate them and with a bit of support, learn to live a happy and healthy life. It just starts with asking for help.

Do you struggle with social anxiety? Would you like some help overcoming your fears? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.

This is what mental illness feels like

This is what mental illness feels like

One of the best ways to cope with mental illness is to express it creatively. Some people do this by crafting, colouring, drawing or knitting. To cope with her anxiety, illustrator (and self-proclaimed lover of pugs) Gemma Correll draws.

From witty drawings of what it means to be in a relationship, to expressions of what it feels like to be overwhelmed by anxious thoughts, her illustrations capture what life with mental illness feels like to a tee. Gemma’s work has been featured on book covers, greeting cards and was used on Mental Health America’s ‘Mental Illness Feels Like’ series. We’ve chosen some of our favourites to share with you.

View more of Gemma’s work here, and then have a go drawing yourself. What does mental illness feel like in your life? Get a pencil and you’ll find healing as you express it on paper.





Do you struggle with anxiety? Would you like support so you can manage a mental illness? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how she can best help you or press book now on the online diary.

Introducing When Hope Speaks


Regular readers of Watersedge will recognise the name Jessica Morris. Aside from contributing to the blog, she also oversees the social media and editorial content on our website. She has been open and honest about her own struggles with mental illness, giving us an insight into her experiences of therapy, teen to adulthood transition, and moving away from home.

Today we are excited to share Jessica’s new book with you all. Titled When Hope Speaks, it is a memoir about her diagnosis with depression and an anxiety disorder. Using essays, letters, blog posts and poems, she unravels the story of her mental illness and how it shaped her from diagnosis as a 13 year old, to her life today as an international journalist.

Available on October 10—World Mental Health Day, this is an inspiring story reminding people who live with mental illness that they never walk the journey alone. Carers and loved ones will be encouraged, and professionals can use it as a tool to educate and support their clients.

You can read an excerpt from When Hope Speaks by visiting Jessica’s website. Available October 10 through Salvo Publishing, order your copy now at

“I’m so proud of my friend Jessica. She continues to impress me, not only with her writing but with how she lives her life. You get to see both in this book—Jessica’s talent for telling stories and for living them as well. She does both with compassion, with honesty, and with grace.”

New York Times Best-selling Author, If You Feel Too Much

Locals are invited to attend the When Hope Speaks book launch this Saturday October 8. I will be representing WatersedgeCounselling on a mental health panel to follow a reading and Q & A by the author. Starting at 7pm at the Mule Shed Café at 64 Separation Street, North Geelong, entry is by donation to Hope Movement. Click here for more details.

Do struggle with depression or anxiety? Are you concerned about the mental health of a friend or loved one? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary

This is what anxiety looks like


What happens when you feel anxious? Does your heart rate rise? Do your palms get sweaty? Would you like to run away?

We all experience some form of anxiety and worry, but for people who live with an anxiety disorder, these feelings are more extreme.

In this infographic by Mental Health America, we learn that anxiety doesn’t just affect someone’s thoughts—it also affects the body and their behaviours.  People without anxiety may tell a friend to ‘get over it’, ‘it’s not as bad as it seems,’ or to simply, ‘stop worrying,’ but a person struggling knows this won’t do anything—in fact, the stress of thinking it’s ‘wrong’ to feel so anxious, may make the symptoms worse.

Anxiety is broad and can appear different for each person. Anxiety disorders range from panic disorder, to obsessive compulsive tendencies, social anxiety to post traumatic stress disorder. The cause of anxiety and it’s symptoms vary, but, as the infographic says below, it is marked by feelings of being completely overwhelmed, feeling powerless, experiencing incredibly heightened physical responses like heart palpitations, and/or living in a constant state of fear.

People who experience anxiety will often feel isolated and alone. The good news though, is they are not. In recent years, we’ve learnt that two millions Australians experience anxiety every year, and more than 21 per cent of American adults have an anxiety disorder. By talking about this mental illness, we let our friends and family know that they can get through life and not just survive, but thrive.

If you struggle with anxiety, take a look at the coping techniques listed below. Talking to someone you trust, doing exercise, practicing deep breathing and doing mindfulness are all great strategies when you feel inhibited and your body is in panic mode.


Do you struggle with feelings of anxiety, fear and being isolated? Would you like to break free of your anxiety? Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute discussion or go to BOOK ONLINE NOW and follow the prompts to make an appointment.

Is Pokémon Go Good for Your Mental Health?


When Pokémon Go launched two weeks ago, it took the world seconds to become obsessed with the game. Based on the manga characters that spawned card games, movies and TV shows in the 90s, the new game allows phone users to catch monsters (known as Pokémon) in real time.

This means that wherever you live, you will find colourful creatures popping up on your phone screen, giving you the chance to add them to your inventory, train them up and battle against other users.

Video games have generally been frowned upon in the past, and are acknowledged as a factor in declining mental and physical health, but this could change with Pokémon Go. If someone you know is addicted to the game, here are the pros and cons of their new obsession.

  1. Physical activity

Unlike most video games, Pokémon Go requires players to get outside and move around. As a result, closet gamers are leaving the house and exercising. Walking, skateboarding or bike riding are all great options for covering more ground in an effort to ‘catch them all’.

Pokémon Go is a great compromise for people who struggle with exercise but love virtual reality. This in turn benefits their physical health and over all wellbeing. Just take a look at what people are saying on social media.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 6.11.38 pm Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 6.12.01 pm

That being said, it’s difficult to be aware of your surroundings when you’re playing, and people can (literally and figuratively) run into all sorts of trouble.

  1. Socialising

Gaming can be a solitary activity, but this app is prompting people head outside in groups to spend hours tracking down Pokémon. This makes it easy for people to make new friends, because players will congregate in the same areas.

James Gibson, who trialed the game for Niantic (the maker of Pokémon Go), even said socialising is built-in to the game.

“The individual gets a certain amount of enjoyment playing by themselves, but only really benefit by teaming up with others and playing in same area at same time…You're forced into a social aspect to unlock the full richness of the game.”

There is a red flag to this socialisation—after all, people have their heads stuck behind their phones. But if this is balanced with conversation and general camaraderie, Pokémon Go could be a gateway to healthier community for lots of people.

  1. Relationships

Who knew a video game could bring people closer together? That’s right; couples are going out together and catching Pokémon. For couples who lack similar interests, this could be a great solution to spending quality time together

Naturally there are also negative consequences to this. Playing a video game is no substitute for real, meaningful conversation—especially if it is impeding on the time you spend together. If you and your partner like Pokémon Go, schedule time to play together after you’ve had dinner or done something that requires you to focus entirely on one another.


Niantic via Facebook

  1. Creativity

As soon as you log into Pokémon Go, you create a character for yourself. This allows you to exercise your creativity and give yourself an identity. The bright colours, alternate reality and real-time of the game means that you are constantly stimulated and your creative juices are flowing.

There are limits to the creativity of Pokémon Go. If you’re dreaming of Pikachu’s or looking for Pidgies behind every tree, it’s gotten a little out of hand. Take a break and focus on natural beauty around you instead.

  1. Discipline

It may be a simple video game, but Pokémon Go pushes people to reach new levels and become a better ‘trainer’. Someone who has lacked discipline in the past could find the motivation to set goals with this game, and the rewards of meeting these goals are built in when you win a battle, upgrade a level or train a Pokémon.

The flip side of discipline is addiction, and it’s easy to become addicted to Pokémon Go. The urgency to continually look for Pokémon and make the next level means users can ignore appointments, enter dangerous situations, take risks and forget about real life. If this is happening to you, take a sabbatical from the game so you can focus on real life.

Are you concerned about your mental health? Does technology negatively affect your life? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.