01 May 2017

Combating OCD

It is a common trope to declare oneself as OCD due to some specific desire of orderliness. Shockingly, keeping the house clean or carefully ordering books doesn't qualify as a symptom of OCD by itself. Some people with OCD are complete slobs. Others just shove all the books on the shelf where ever they fit. Merely preferring something a particular way is normal. Having it completely take over everyday life is when it becomes an obsession.

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder consists of two parts. As described above, the obsession can be nearly anything. Many of my obsessions are around what I consider perfection. The compulsion is something that eases the mind and makes the obsession go away. Mine are often fixing things to make them perfect. Even that last sentence needed to be perfect, so I rewrote it three times before convincing myself to move on.

Rewriting a sentence a few times doesn't seem like a big deal, but it is part of a much larger problem. If my blog posts aren't perfect, readers will see these imperfections and think I'm an idiot or incapable of properly editing my writing. In reality, these responses aren't actually likely. In my mind, I need to prevent people from thinking poorly of me. And therein lies the problem, causing me to rewrite sentences and even paragraphs over and over.

The only proven method of combating OCD is through exposures. Exposures have absolutely nothing to do with streaking. An exposure is purposely creating an appropriate obsessive situation and not performing the compulsion to make the anxiety go away. It often takes weeks or months of daily exposures to combat just one obsession.

Exposures suck. Really really suck. Even minor ones. You can't just do it for five minutes and declare it finished. The entire point is to sit with the horrible anxiety until it decreases. A typical exposure lasts forty-five minutes to an hour. The anxiety may not decrease at all for awhile. For it to work, you have to keep at it, repeating the same exposure daily until the anxiety decreases or disappears entirely for an obsession.

Any exposure worth its salt is mentally draining. Two a day, plus an hour of regular therapy and an hour of group is also physically draining. Just this half day routine is enough to leave me useless all afternoon.

Most people with OCD have a large pile of obsessions. That means each of these obsessions needs to be treated individually. The obsessions are usually ranked into a hierarchy, from least horrible to completely life-destroying. As the lower obsessions are conquered, the higher ones become relatively easier to experience.

Even with countless exposures, some obsessions and compulsions never go away entirely. You just have to be diligent about not falling back into old patterns. It's a lifelong struggle. And on that note, I'm going to hit "Publish", without checking for spelling and grammatical mistakes.

1 comment:

sugarandice said...

Thank you for explaining OCD and sharing some of your experiences.