“#OvercomingOCD – A Chance

You: “I just can’t believe that it is OCD. It feels too real. What if it IS NOT OCD?”

Me: “Why look at it that way? What if it IS OCD? Think of the possibilities in your life if you took a chance.”

#OCD can be defeated. I’m with you. Let’s go.

#OvercomingOCD – Handling Triggers

I was asked how I handled triggers. Bottomline, I implemented my strategy when the triggers generated the thoughts. I identified the thoughts as OCD, allowed them to be in my mind, and resisted performing the compulsion. I reminded myself it was possible to get better and I motivated myself by continually thinking about the reasons why I wanted to get better. The fight against OCD is as much about perspective and attitude as anything. Rather than fearing the triggers (whether it was one I expected or one hiding around the corner), I looked at them as opportunities to get well. I know this is not easy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it. Stay in the fight. Recovery is a journey, not a quick walk in the park.

#OCD can be defeated. I’m with you. Let’s go.

#OvercomingOCD – Questioning Who You Love and Who You Are

Our friend Lauren asked the question below on the public side of this page in response to my post about self-confidence and self-esteem. She has graciously agreed to let me use her question as a prompt for today’s message in hopes that it may help others. (I absolutely love the selflessness of the awesome people who follow this page.)

Lauren: “Thanks for this. What would you say about when the ones and things you love/d are the object of your obsessions? When it feels like you’re not sure what you like, believe, etc. etc.? I definitely have some mixed issues going on here.”

My response:

Thank you for the question, Lauren. I actually hear from a lot of people who struggle with this theme of obsession. It could be thoughts about whether you love (or hate) your spouse, significant other, friends, or children; Or that you have friends who are gay/lesbian and you have thoughts that you may be homophobic or that you have friends of a different race and you have thoughts that you may be a racist, or it could be that you question your Faith, and on and on. And to top things off, when you get around the people involved in the obsessions or who care about the same things you do (like religion), you have a compulsion to tell them about your thoughts hoping that it may make you feel better, but then you are afraid how they will react to this information. These obsessions/compulsions can basically apply to anyone or anything that you naturally love or love to do. Many people tell me that they have this overwhelming sense that they are just a big fake and a fraud. And maybe the most frustrating thing is that the sufferer doesn’t know how much of it, if any, is OCD related. I mean, after all, everyone has random unexplainable thoughts, right? So what in the world to do. . . . .

Now that I have set the issue up, let me give my normal caveat — I’m not a therapist. I’m jus a guy who had OCD really bad and, with help, figured a way out of the dark forest. With that said, in my own battle with OCD, once I developed my strategy, I tried to stick to my strategy. When I was in the middle of the storm, I tried to slow it down and break it down. I tried to figure out whether OCD was at play or not. In one sense, the way you posed the question, answers the question. You described the thought as an obsession. Yes, it is confusing, because I think most people naturally and randomly have such thoughts. BUT, here is the difference, and this applies to any naturally occurring thought or emotion (such as guilt). When the thought starts acting like OCD – intrusive, repetitive, unwanted thoughts causing anxiety and leading to some mental or physical compulsion — we have a pretty good idea that it is OCD and we can treat it as such.

For me, that meant, even though I was still uncertain that it was OCD, I would allow the thoughts to be in my mind (I became indifferent) and I would resist (as best I could) performing the compulsion. I kept my plan simple and I defaulted to the plan, no matter how much OCD changed. Bottomline, you know who you love and you know your character. The rest belongs to OCD. I hate this disorder. Hang in there.

#OCD can be defeated. I’m with you. Let’s go.

#OvercomingOCD – It’s Okay . . . to Feel Okay. . .

Sometimes, when you’re having an okay day instead of a not-so-okay day, OCD will try to convince you that you are an uncaring bad person because so many people around the world suffer so much from disease, hunger, war, natural disaster, and on and on. Don’t take the bait. It’s okay . . . to feel okay . . . about feeling okay. The fact that you’re feeling okay doesn’t mean you don’t care about others. My objective was to get to a place where OCD didn’t adversely affect my life. I learned that it would not have been possible to do so if I kept taking the bait.

#OCD can be defeated. I’m with you. Let’s go.

#OvercomingOCD – Identifying the Thought

Part of my strategy was to identify the intrusive OCD thoughts and then treat them as such. Some thoughts I knew to be OCD thoughts because my doctors told me they were when I was diagnosed. Other thoughts I wasn’t so sure about and then there were other thoughts that I really didn’t know. The more I tried to be sure, the less certain I became. What did I do?

I learned that OCD would never allow me to have certainty, even in those cases where I thought I was certain because my doctors had told me. So if trying to obtain certainty made OCD stronger, I had to figure out how to do something that made it weaker. My goal became not to achieve certainty, but rather to move forward despite the uncertainty. This included identifying the intrusive OCD thoughts. My standard became identifying a thought as OCD if I even only slightly suspected that OCD might be the source of the thoughts. Even though I had doubt, if I met that standard, I made a conscious decision to treat the thought as OCD. I had a mental database of the thoughts my doctors told me were OCD. I tried to think about the definition of OCD – intrusive, repetiteve, unwanted, often irrational thoughts that gave me anxiety and led to a compulsion. If it felt like OCD and acted like OCD, then I suspected it was OCD. Once I got there, I put it in the OCD lane and tried to keep it there. I allowed the thoughts to be in my mind and resisted performing the compulsion, often in the face of great anxiety and pain. It was difficult and I failed a lot, but I didn’t quit. I got better. You can too. I’m in your corner.

#OCD can be defeated. I’m with you. Let’s go.

#OvercomingOCD – Self Confidence and Self Esteem

You: “I am trying hard to fight OCD, but I seem to have lost my self confidence and self esteem. What do I do?”

Me: “So let’s start with a foundation that you are valued, you are special and you are loved. Let’s now add to that the fact that you have summoned the strength and courage already within you to take on one of the most debilitating disorders on the planet. Wow! The self confidence and self esteem you seek are within you too. (By definition) Be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished. You are empowered and you are in control of your decisions. Go back to doing the things you like to do. Be around the people you like being around. Cut yourself some slack. You don’t have to be perfect. Just try your best. As you do in your battle against OCD, walk boldly through each day, every day. You will find your self confidence and self esteem gradually surface.”

#OCD can be defeated. I’m with you. Let’s go.

#OvercomingOCD – Resolve

As you begin this new year, resolve that you will stay in the fight and go all in. If you are not in the fight (for whatever reason), get in the fight. I was diagnosed with a really severe case of OCD and I got better. It wasn’t easy, but I got better. I had decided that I wanted to get better, my doctor told me it was possible to get better, and I had some really important reasons as to why I wanted to get better. I went all in with treatment. I came up with a plan. The biggest thing is that I didn’t quit. Let’s do this together. Happy 2017.

#OCD can be defeated. I’m with you. Let’s go.

#OvercomingOCD – A + A = V

Do not see yourself as a helpless victim because you have mental disorder. See yourself as a person who happens to have a mental disorder. And that’s okay. Now do what you need to do to move forward. Awareness + Action = Victory

#OCD can be defeated. I’m with you. Let’s go.