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You Do Not Need To Deal With OCD Alone

You Do Not Need To Deal With OCD Alone



Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - When Your Thoughts Become  a Prison

It is common for people dealing with OCD to  also experience a deep sense of loneliness. This feeling of isolation can be  reinforced due to shame about the condition. This creates a situation of being caught  inside a mental prison that is governed by intrusive thoughts.  Family and friends often struggle to  understand. When the person with OCD does summon up the courage to reveal what  is going on inside, the response from others, although well-meaning, is usually  unhelpful (e.g. ‘that’s just silly’ or ‘you should just stop thinking that  way’).

Loneliness can worsen the symptoms of OCD.  Being alone with your compulsions and obsessions can mean that they just become  a bigger part of your life.  Initially,  it may feel ‘safer’ to avoid other people, but isolation greatly decreases your  chances of managing this condition. You don’t need to face OCD alone, and later  on we will examine some of the support that is available.

What is OCD? – What Is It Like to Live With It?

"In order to understand what OCD  is, it's important to know what OCD is not. Almost everyone worries, at times  excessively. The worries resulting from OCD differ in that they are usually  senseless and irrational, and ignoring them makes the person feel anxious and  nervous"
Bruce Hyman and Cherlene Pedrick - The  OCD Workbook

OCD has been described by people living  with the condition as like having a parasite infect your mind. It can involve both  obsessions and compulsions, but in some cases it may be just one of these.  It is important to note that not everyone will  experience the exact same symptoms or the same severity of symptoms. Living  with OCD can mean long periods where there are only mild symptoms, or maybe  even no noticeable symptoms, and other times when the condition starts to take  over the person’s life (this is sometimes referred to as a ‘spike’ by people  dealing with OCD). A flare up of the condition can be triggered by stress,  bereavement, health problems, or other challenging life situations.

What is the Difference Between and Obsession and a  Compulsion?

An obsession (  is an intrusive thought, image, or impulse. In other words, it involves  thinking about things that the person didn’t choose to think about. The  individual usually realizes that the obsession is irrational, but they find it  impossible to just ignore it. In fact, trying to pretend that the obsession  isn’t there can lead to increased anxiety. Some examples of OCD obsessions  could include:

  • Feeling responsible for bad  things happening.
  • Fear of saying something  hurtful.
  • Fear of becoming contaminated  by germs or dirt.
  • Fear of self-harm.
  • Thinking about stealing  something.
  • Thinking about harming another  person.
  • Unwanted sexual images.
  • Religious people may experience  blasphemous thoughts.

A compulsion is a behavior that the person  feels compelled to engage in. This is usually done to get some relief from the  anxiety created by an obsession. Common OCD compulsions include:

  • Praying excessively.
  • Checking with people to make  sure you haven’t hurt/offended them.
  • Counting things a specific  number of times.
  • Excessive hand washing.
  • Touching things in a specific order.
  • Avoiding cracks in the pavement.
  • Engaging in rituals such as  tapping your body in certain places.
  • Re-checking doors or windows in  your home or car to make sure they are locked. 

What Causes OCD? 

An exact cause for OCD has not yet been  established (  but it is believed that genetics and the environment both play a part. There is  evidence to suggest that the brain chemical serotonin is involved with the  condition, and medication can play an important role in managing the symptoms  of OCD.

It has also been suggested that OCD can in  some ways be a learned behavior that involves an unhealthy relationship with  thoughts. For example, cognitive behavioral therapists suggest that part of the  problem is that those with OCD experience a stronger negative reaction to  intrusive thoughts than people who don’t have the condition. If this is  something they have ‘learned’ to do then it is possible they can unlearn it. Mindfulness  is another perspective that emphasizes the relationship we have with thinking  rather than what is chemically happening in the brain.

"The primary difference between  people with OCD and those without is not the content of the thoughts, but their  perspective on their thoughts. If your perspective is that a particular thought  is 'bad' in and of itself, then the thought may become problematic"
  Jon Hershfield -The Mindfulness Workbook  for OCD

Can I Recover From OCD?

It is possible to learn to manage the  symptoms of OCD to such an extent that it will no longer interfere with your  life. So far, we don’t have a cure for the condition, and this means there is  always the risk of it returning. Part of the problem is that intrusive thoughts  are part of the human condition, and the fact that we have had a difficult  relationship with these thoughts in the past means there is always the chance  of a return to obsessions and compulsions unless we have a better way of  dealing with them.

Myths and Misconceptions about OCD

  • People with OCD just need  reassurance that everything is going to be okay.  False. Seeking reassurance is common compulsion for people with this condition,  so providing this is unlikely to be the answer. Remember, those with OCD are  usually aware that there intrusive thoughts are illogical.
  • People with OCD just need to  stop having such negative thoughts. False. Trying  to push away or ignore these thoughts will often lead to increasing anxiety.
  • People with OCD are obsessed  with washing their hands. False. This can be a  compulsion for some people with the condition, but it is not the case for  everyone.
  • People with OCD appear  ‘abnormal’.  False.  Many of those with the condition only have mild symptoms or they are able to  hide it well most of the time (unfortunately, this can often mean avoiding  other people).
  • People with OCD think  differently than other people. False. This is not  necessarily the case, and it is more about the relationship they have with  their thoughts.

Tips for Dealing with OCD

  • Don’t try to go it alone as  this just gives the intrusive thoughts more power in your life.
  • Learn about your condition and  the situations that make it worse.
  • Learn better ways of dealing  with stress such as meditation and exercise.
  • Many people find that writing their  thoughts down on paper make them easier to deal with, so daily journaling might  be a big help.
  • Mindfulness can be highly  effective for dealing with intrusive thoughts and compulsions.
  • Spend time outdoors.

The Importance of Support When Dealing with OCD

We’ve already mentioned that going it alone  can be a mistake when it comes to dealing with OCD. You need to speak to  someone who understands the challenges you are facing and can offer realistic  advice for how you can improve things. Joining an in-patient program can be a  good option because it means that you can devote all your energy to learning to  manage your condition. It will also mean that you can benefit from approaches  such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, wellness therapy, and  coaching. We would like you to consider joining us here at 108 Sanctuary. By  becoming a member of our community, you will have all the support and resources  you need to begin your recovery.


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