Practical Guide on How to Manage OCD

TroubleinParadise

TroubleinParadise

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Jun 28, 2018
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176
Location
South Africa
#1
I write this in hopes to provide practical advice to those who may be afflicted similarly. I have been struggling with obsessions and incredible amounts of anxiety ever since I was a wee child. I’m not going to tell my story. I’ll give you some background however. Structure, order, nitpicking and all the rest have been the theme of my life. I find that joy has been stripped for the most part. I’ve learnt a few things through my struggle.

Most notably is that I need to note that OCD is a chronic condition that can be managed. People with OCD can live very functional and normal lives. It is very important – like other mental health conditions – to live a healthy life. I found that waking up early, eating relatively healthily, having breakfast, exercising, and cutting out alcohol and cigarettes are a good ’go to package’. I found that caffeine was a major attributor to anxiety – cutting that out has helped immensely as well.

Other good additions to this package include (this sounds like a sales pitch): Taking up hobbies. Joining a sports club, gyming, reading, jogging, gardening and cooking are all good – just to name a few. I suggest these because there are a number of other hobbies that I believe are not good for your overall mental health. Gaming, watching series, and partying can all be good fun, in moderation, but these promote a lot of negative things, i.e. excessive drinking, laziness, gluttony and unproductivity. If you feel good about what you’re doing you’re much more likely to feel better.

Be kind to yourself. Some days are going to be worse than others, and that’s okay. Just don’t use this as an excuse to be irresponsible or lazy. Be real with yourself. On those days where things are not going well, treat yourself as you would treat a friend that is struggling. Take yourself out, buy yourself something, or reschedule goals for other days. You need to learn to manage your own condition, and to become your own therapist.

It may take longer, that’s okay too. ‘It’ could mean your studies, when you’ll get married, have kids, or whatever you see ‘it’ as. Any progress is progress as long as you are moving forward. Living with a mental illness is not a choice, and its hard work to manage at times. Along with your studies/job/family responsibilities you have another “full time job”, managing that ‘demon’ in your head.

Recognize, and then work around your limitations. You need to identify where you stand in terms of your limitations. You may surprise yourself how far you can go before you can’t tolerate anymore. Once you’ve identified those limitations, it’s now time to work around them. The next thing I’m going to tell you is key to mental health recovery and management. Proactivity is key. Dwelling on, worrying about, feeling sorry for will not solve anything. Become proactive about your condition and make decisions even if you’re uncertain. Often times any decision is better than no decision – especially if you’re a chronic overthinker.

Be selfish sometimes - make decisions that will help you. Maybe you need to delete social media because you find yourself anxious and obsessed over it – but your friends don’t want you to. Maybe you need to take leave because you’ve been struggling, even though your family thinks that you should save it for the holidays rather. Maybe you have to stop drinking because it creates anxiety, even though your friends think that you’re just being silly. Make decisions that you are aware will help you.

Resist compulsions, reduce obsessions. This is very clear and straight forward. The more you do this, the easier it becomes. From my experience it will always be a struggle but it does get easier. Keep working at it, and if you fall, get up again and carry on. This is the life that you have been given – it’s your job to learn and mature into it. You are responsible for your own life.

During panic attacks, do this. Firstly, once you’ve recognized that it is happening, assure yourself that you’re not going to die and nothing bad is going to happen – because based on the logical evidence from past experiences, nothing bad ever happens. Secondly, there is a technique called grounding. There are a variety of suggestions that you will find online, the most common is the 5,4,3,2,1 technique. Name 5 things you can see in the room with you; name 4 things you can feel; name 3 things you can hear right now; name 2 things you can smell right now; and name 1 good thing about yourself. Thirdly, I find that deep-breathing exercises work well here too.

Create a small group of people as your support system. Most importantly here – do not use them as a crutch. However, when times get very difficult and you feel like you’re losing hope, reach out. You’d be surprised how much your mind lies to you, making you feel like you shouldn’t reach for help, that “you’re not good enough”, or “they’d be better off without me”. Make sure that it’s a group of people that you can trust. There are a lot of people that you should not be seeking advice from. Compare the advice you get from that which professionals and those who know what they are talking about say, i.e. psychologists, therapists, and counsellors.

Make no decisions while you’re emotional in any form. This is the worst thing that you can do. Never make a permanent decision based on a temporary situation. Allow yourself to experience what you’re experiencing, apply the coping mechanisms that you have learnt, and wait it out. Base your decision to make no decision solely on the fact that you have gotten through this before, many times, so you will again.

Do not hesitate to seek professional help. Psychologists know what they are talking about. I’d often find religious leaders, well-meaning friends & family, among others giving terrible advice but enforcing it in such a way where it becomes incredibly convincing. Remember: A lot of people think that they know what they’re talking about, but they’re clueless. This isn’t a license to get upset with them, understand that often they mean well, but don’t take their advice to heart. They’re just advising you based on their worldview and what they know.

Take responsibility for your behavior. Your condition is not a crutch. This includes a lot of things. I am speaking from experience and what I have noticed myself do over the years. Attention-seeking behavior is not acceptable. It’s often a cry for help – it’s your job to be real with those you want help from. Emotional manipulation and emotional outbursts are not okay. Yes, there are times where people are genuinely struggling and they do these things because they’re deeply distraught. However, more often than not it is a cry for help. Do not bring others into your mess – allow your support group to see it, but don’t make others distraught because you are.

It’s not your job to make everyone understand. I found that after my diagnosis whenever someone questioned my behavior, was snarky or rude towards me because “you have nothing to be down about” or “be more grateful”, I’d come back with an explanation that would ultimately backfire.

A lot of people will not understand, it does not make them bad people, they’ve just never gone through what you have gone through. I wrote that all in bold because I think that learning and realizing this is so important. ‘Well-meaning’ is the word that you need to keep stored at the back of your mind – it will change the way you react to bad advice and criticism.

A form of ‘recovery’ is possible, but so is relapse. As you learn to be proactive, to resist compulsions; to mature in your understanding; to be more responsible; to be kind to yourself; and to seek help from the right sources, you will be on the slow and steady road to recovery. Don’t be in a rush to ‘recover’. Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and you’re much more likely to wear yourself out if you sprint. Be patient, although your condition is chronic, over time you will learn to deal with it in a productive and meaningful manner. You can go from having a chronic and debilitating condition, to being nothing more than quirky.

Relapse happens when you rush the process, when you skip the steps, or when you hit deep lows because of the things that life throws at you. Even then, get up and continue – love yourself enough to be kind and forgive yourself. Everyone has their unique challenges, yours just happens to be your mind. The question is, are you going to fold over simply because your hand is different, or are you going to learn to use the hand that you have been dealt?
 
Poopy Doll

Poopy Doll

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Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
#2
Nice post !!! The only OCD I have is thinking the same annoying stuff over and over ad nauseum. I don't consider this a disease. I consider this programming. Since I was a child my mother repeatedly annoyed/badgered/belittled me and the kids at school did basically the same. My brain was programmed to react to this. It's endless circles of verbal abuse.

Dr. Phil McGraw explained exactly what the brain is doing with adrenalin and all. I forget his explanation.

I don't know how to shut this down. Once triggered by some unkind remark, it interferes with sleep and general contentment.

You could call it rapid thinking or whatever name you like to ascribe to it. It is part of a program wherein I am eternally seeking the unkind person's understanding, which I will never get. Mother is never going to apologize for calling me an idiot; she's never going to become June Lockheart on "Lassie".
 
Poopy Doll

Poopy Doll

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Joined
Jun 13, 2015
Messages
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Location
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
#3
Speaking of Hobbies, I have to mail my camera away to be fixed. You are so right about hobbies being important as they totally take the focus (pun) off the OCD things.
 
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TroubleinParadise

TroubleinParadise

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Joined
Jun 28, 2018
Messages
176
Location
South Africa
#4
I do believe that - and please nobody quote me here - but OCD may be in some cases a developmental problem. In the sense that it develops due to something throughout childhood - a form of habitual thinking. Psychology is quite complex.

Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it. :)
 
N

NorasDad

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Joined
Jan 15, 2019
Messages
145
#6
Nice post !!! The only OCD I have is thinking the same annoying stuff over and over ad nauseum. I don't consider this a disease. I consider this programming. Since I was a child my mother repeatedly annoyed/badgered/belittled me and the kids at school did basically the same. My brain was programmed to react to this. It's endless circles of verbal abuse.

Dr. Phil McGraw explained exactly what the brain is doing with adrenalin and all. I forget his explanation.

I don't know how to shut this down. Once triggered by some unkind remark, it interferes with sleep and general contentment.

You could call it rapid thinking or whatever name you like to ascribe to it. It is part of a program wherein I am eternally seeking the unkind person's understanding, which I will never get. Mother is never going to apologize for calling me an idiot; she's never going to become June Lockheart on "Lassie".

Suffering from OCD for 40 years (just recently diagnosed) and having a ... difficult ...mother myself, I have found the technique of forcing myself to think about the thing that is bothering me and nothing else. I just go right to the most dreadful feeling and feel it, examine it, accept it as a reality.

It's totally counterintuitive but it REALLY helps.

The way I'm seeing OCD now - and anxiety disorders in general (after talking to people who know what they're talking about, not because I'm a doctor or anything) - is that it's about training yourself to understand what fear level a trigger has created in you. Mild fear obviously you deal with all the time by calming yourself. But the intense fear that comes from your brain organically and inappropriately and then tries to find a cause or solution you can only deal with through exposure therapy.

Does that sound right?
 
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