Rumination - OCD

A little background… I am in the process of getting a divorce. My last visit to my Dr I anticipated at some point of having to deal with Situational Depression… I was already dealing with it, but was managing it well. And then this past weekend came and all heck broke lose.

So I learned a new word yesterday in my scheduled appointment. I went over what I was currently experiencing, and he labeled it as Rumination. Everything I see or experience right now seems to be a trigger to something in the past. It’s constant and very debilitating, not letting me focus on the moment, let alone enjoy it. Most of the memories it brings up are good, and most of them I am able to find a connection to my soon-to-be-ex wife, so its a constant reminder of the failed marriage, etc.

So of course that word is Rumination, a form of OCD - yikes. He prescribed an SSRI as they are often useful for this. I am hoping it will also help with the severe depression that I anticipate is coming when I get past the denial phase.

Anybody else have these overwhelming thoughts? Have you tried meds? Is there anything I can try to pull myself out of this? I’ve tried to “change lanes” and do something else, but with my difficulty focusing, staying focused on anything is difficult, and sooner or later something will be a trigger to these thoughts.

I moved to TX 10 years ago with my wife, and my entire existence here has been with her. There are few memories we have created without each other in this new place. I am thinking it will be difficult to remain where I am at as well. I know that’s a problem for another day, but the better prepared I am for that challenge the better I will be able to handle it.

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Yes, I’ve been there. I first experienced rumination while going through a long period of difficulties at work that made me extremely anxious. It was only at the end of that time that I sought counseling, as I was starting a new job. (Which also didn’t work out, due to lack of necessary training, but it’s okay because I’ve got a better job now.)

This year, my wife and I have been going through relationship issues. I went through a two month long depression earlier this year, and a lot of anxiety since then. (She’s brought up divorce a number of times.) There have been many times this year that I have been stuck ruminating.

Sometimes I can’t get myself out of it. Other times, I can break myself out of it by focusing on something else, like work, positive thoughts or memories.

I’ve been working at this for months. During the time I was in depression, I was meeting with a counselor via video chat. (It helped a lot, but the counselor had been through a bad divorce years ago, and his bitterness at it still influenced him. His attitude about my wife was pretty sour. But he certainly helped me improve my Outlook and opinion about myself, which helped me get out of the depression.)

Things I’ve done to help me this year:

  • Reading books, listening to audiobooks & podcasts, and watching YouTube videos about how to deal with the issues I’ve been facing.
  • Reconnecting with friends.
  • Spending time with family (my kids, grandkids, and parents).
  • Going to church again.
  • Accepting encouragement offered by coworkers.
  • Practicing mindfulness meditation (I mostly just focus on my breathing).
  • Reading the Bible (I don’t do enough of this).
  • Praying (I have been doing a LOT of this).

Even though my marriage may be failing, I’ve actually been fostering my friendship with my wife. (We started out as school friends 33 years ago, and in addition to my romantic interest in her, I’ve always tried to maintain the friendship.)

I’m trying to save our marriage. We still may wind up divorced. If so, I want to still maintain the best relationship I can with her that I can. Even if we divorce, I’m not giving up hope.

I have been finding stories of people who have won over and remarried their ex-husband or ex-wife even after divorce … even after infidelity and divorce … one couple who divorced after one spouse cheated, and then remarried three years later, even founded an organization called Marriage Helper, International. That organization has lived up to it’s name, helping many thousands of marriages to be restored…

…it gives me hope. A few months ago, I was despondent and ruminating almost nonstop. A few weeks ago, I felt hopeless that divorce is more likely than not, I was ruminating nearly every day. A few days ago, my mindset finally started to tip towards the positive more often than it did to the negative, and rumination was rate. Today, I feel that even divorce isn’t the end, that there would be hope of remarriage.

Work on yourself @ffejtable . Focus on growing and improving yourself in body, mind, heart and soul. Try to do a little something every month to improve yourself. That’s what I’m working on with myself. All that I really have any control over is my own actions and attitudes. The same goes for each of us.

I realize, even if my marriage ends and my wife never gets back together with me, I can be a better person tomorrow than I am today. I’ve had months to get used to the idea that I might be carrying on alone, as a divorced dad sharing custody of my youngest kids with her. It breaks my heart every time I think about it, but I’m prepared for the possibility. Some people find new love with someone else. I have one true love, I’ll wait as long as it takes for her, but she has her own free will to make her own choices. She may leave me and never come back.

If that happens, I’ll be okay.

You can be okay, too.

If you need support, you know that you can find it here. Reach out to friends, family, colleagues…build your support system. Find and focus on the things that fill you up, bolster your spirit, help you grow. Good luck.

(And about 30-45 minutes after I posted my message above, I felt “down” again… because I started dwelling on the thought of being apart from my beloved. I gradually improved in mood up until bed time, camping out in the living room with my younger kids like we do almost every Friday night, but still feeling a little sad. Sad for me and my marriage to my wife, and sad for @ffejtable 's marriage)

Hey JD, hope you are having a better day today! I am a little better, so far, but the day is early. :slight_smile:

Your advice is spot on. My recent ADHD diagnosis put a lot of things into perspective and I am reflecting a lot of who I am, and who have I become, and they don’t align. I don’t know how I let things get to this point, but I am pressing the reset button and trying to start fresh. I would like y wife be a part of this journey, but right now that’s just not in the cards. With or without here, this is a journey I need to be on, and I know I will be better for it.

The rumination the last 2 days hasn’t been so bad, but I am still in a slump and finding it hard to motivate myself enough to be interested in doing anything. Even getting out last night to play hockey was tough, and I love my Friday night social environment. I did make it, and glad I did.

I am actually on self-help overload. I watched all of the HowtoADHD videos in a few days right after my diagnosis, been going to therapy at least 2x a week for several weeks, read 1 book, which was interesting but not helpful, yet.

Dealing with so much right now, and its overwhelming. I have no family nearby, but I have been reaching out to them more often than normal. My friend/social support is limited. I really didn’t haven’t anybody prior to this to talk and vent to, but one casual friend has stepped up and has been a great listener through this. Just trying expand my social network, and I have never been good at that. It’s a slow process, but I’ll get there. I would really like a friend to exercise with, but that’s proving to be difficult.

I am making progress, it’s just happening slower than I would like.

I really feel for your situation. I think its wonderful how you feel about your wife, and unfortunate that she feels the way she does. I am sure her feelings have developed over many years, and to undo that will take a lot of time, effort, and most importantly willingness. If she had these feelings for a long time, and has communicated her issues and they were not addressed or work on, or you said things would change, and they haven’t, that’s a tough situation to be in. Even worse, my wife is of the belief that marriages don’t take effort or work, that if you are with somebody, things should just happen naturally, meaning not having to ask for things, or express yourself, as your partner should just know what you want. That’s dangerous thinking, and simply isn’t how things work in the real world. I wish I had known she felt that way before we got married.

I found this site had some absolutely great advice and explanations on relationships, and I know we failed in so many ways. I already knew there are things I could and should have done better. Unfortunately if my wife believes no effort is ever needed, then there is no point, and she is unlikely to change her opinion of that. Sometimes you do have to work for what you want, and that’s just not her personality. Not with me, not with her career.

I really hope things work out for you, however it ends up, and please reach out if you need to talk or vent.

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IMHO “rumination” by itself is not a form of OCD. Rumination is “chewing the cud” - what cows do to get more nutrition out of the feed they already ate. By analogy, when people go over past events, they do think more deeply about them and gain something more out of that. It becomes a problem only when you think obsessively about past events and are unable to move forward. In other words, IMHO our obsessive nature or situation triggering it comes first! Rumination is a perfectly good word and I wish the mental health folks hadn’t appropriated it. Call it obsessive rumination or something. [Blame my ADHD for the fact that such (mis)use triggers me!]

In terms of what @ffejtable is going through, been there, done that. All I can say is that you’ll get over this period. In the mean time may be you can avoid or minimize situations where old memories get triggered. For example, switch to a different grocery store, or time of day when you do something that in the past was a joint activity. Change things that remind you of your wife. PIck up new activities where you learn something new. Try to do more activities with your buddies. Another thing that would help is to do things where you focus more on others than yourself, such as volunteering. Actually helping people with greater needs than yourself will trigger your empathy and making new connections will make it easier to stop dwelling on the past and looking to the future with hope and anticipation. Basically there will a big hole in your life where you used to spend time with your spouse and you need to fill that hole with new activities or else you will fill it with rumination. If meds help you get started on new activities or change lanes, that is great. It they don’t, talk to your doctor again.

Best of luck. You can do this!

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Thanks @khagen !

For me, I am looking at this symptom “Spending long periods of time reviewing past events and memories” I am not spending a lot of time on any one thought, I just ignore it as best as I can, but something else will take its place shortly after. For me, it is definitely causing problems moving forward.

I’ll look into some of your suggestions that I am not doing already. I’ve been through this a long time ago, and I know I will get through it again, but I would like to do a much better job with it this time.


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@ffejtable - sometimes journaling will help me to process what’s going on in my head, so that I can do something with it, or move on from it.

@khagen - I agree that rumination isn’t a bad thing by itself. I used to only affiliate the word with sages, philosophers, and scientists thinking long and deep on something.

My wife seemed to think the same way in our first ten years or so. She finally came around to understanding that it’s important to communicate needs and wants, but then she would only say something once and assume that was enough.

  • I often have to hear something at least 3 or 4 times in order to remember it. My memory is a fair bit better since I started on ADHD meds, and my attention is a lot better. Unfortunately, my wife had already distanced herself from me before I started on meds and my attention improved.
  • She is extremely observant of things around her and others’ behavior. So, she knows me observationally better than I know her (habits, tendencies, physical things).
    She also used to have a nearly flawless memory, only having to see or hear things once. (She can still recall whole conversations from our first year of marriage. However, she doesn’t form new memories as sharply anymore, ever since being pregnant with our youngest, who’s now almost 7 years old.)

I have long known that communication is critically important in marriage. Still, I have a tendency to bottle things up, instead of addressing issues as they come up. It’s definitely an area that I need to work on. Right now, she’s not communicating much with me at all, so I’ve turned the tables and tell her much more often that I love and appreciate her.

  • I wish I’d never gotten out of the practice of writing love letters, as I did before we married and into our first couple of years of marriage. I’ve been very inconsistent since then.