Tips for living with OCD
OCD is a hard disorder to live with. It's there everyday and sometimes you don't even get a break with it. It's a battle that you know isn't true or real but because of the anxiety you can't risk it. Many people with OCD feel guilty, ashamed, embarrassed and depressed.
I have been living with OCD for 19 years now. Some of those years it's been worse and others not as bad but it's always been there. I find that living with OCD you don't know what is around the corner at any given time. It locks onto things so quickly and before you know it you are back in the claws of obsession. Over the years I have been trying to tackle the obsessions and compulsions and try to lose the grips of OCD the best I can. Of course there are times when I can't and that's okay. Living with OCD is hard but there are things that you can do to to help manage it.
Tips for living with OCD
Know your illness
This might sound very obvious but with OCD there are so many emotions, feelings and body sensations that come with it. There are also many things that you could be doing and not realising it's your OCD. This disorder goes has two main concepts: Obsessions and Compulsions. Obsessions are the intrusive thoughts that are frequent, upsetting and don't go away. Compulsions are thing you have to do to stop the obsessions for a short period. They can be psychical and mental. Learning what your illness makes you think and feel is key to help you know you are not crazy or loosing the plot. Understanding how OCD works and why you act on it the way you do is a great thing to know because when you are having a bad time you can remind yourself that it's just your OCD no matter what it tells you.
Reassurance doesn't help in the long run
With any form of OCD comes Reassurance. At the time when you are in the mist of the intrusive thoughts and compulsions asking for some reassurance from a loved one seems the best idea, at the time. It lowers your anxiety and makes you feel better but not for long. It starts up again and your back to square one. The truth is reassurance just prolongs the obsession and intrusive thoughts. Every time you ask someone to reassure you over your problem you are giving in to it because reassurance is just another form of a compulsion. When you feel like you are going to need to ask reassurance you should try and take a moment - think do I need this or is this what my OCD is making me think I need. The longer you can hold off the easier it can become and in turn the thoughts loose power. Letting people you know this is also a really good idea as they might be reassuring you without even realising! At first it will be hard but the longer you don't give in the better.
Don't Argue with it
Arguing with OCD only makes it worse. At the time when it starts up with the intrusive thoughts about something it's going to be nasty and it's going to get to you. It's easy to start arguing that you don't want to think this and don't want to do that but again this is giving it more power. The more you interact with OCD the harder it hits you. OCD loves attention! When you are having these thoughts just let them be, don't talk back don't try to ignore just let them be there. Now this might sound completely bonkers but it works over time!
tell people what is going on
Talking about OCD openly is such a helper in many ways. I'm not talking reassurance, just talking. Speaking to someone about the thoughts you are having and how you have to act on them is such a weight off your shoulders. I think it's really important that friends and family know when you have OCD. This way you can help educate them on what OCD really is and what helps and doesn't. Talking about things that are worrying you, no matter how bad or scary they sound is a great way to help you make sense of it all, kind of like grounding yourself. Once people know what is going on they can help you more with not performing your compulsions and also check in to see if you are okay.
Get PROFESSIONAL help
Book a visit to see your GP about getting some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). It's a talking therapy which is used to help manage OCD. Within therapy you will learn tools and tips to avoid obsessing so much over a thought and how to not act on compulsions. CBT isn't something you should be scared about. You don't have to talk about things you don't want to and there is no pressure. It's a therapy that helps you have control over your thoughts and emotions and how you react to them. Asking for help can be scary but remember that the CBT therapist will have met so many people with OCD, like yourself and they know what they are doing.
Get off the train
Hear me out on this one. With your OCD and intrusive thoughts you may find yourself over analysing and finding meaning within these thoughts. You might think to yourself because I'm thinking this it's real or that you are a bad person. You might try and think your way out of the thought or argue with it. You need to get off that train of thought. When you find that you are doing all these things you need to get off that train and get on with your day. The way to do this is to acknowledge when you are giving your thoughts to much attention and to say aloud "get off the train" and carry on with what you were doing. It's about not engaging with them because this will make them stronger. For example you might say to it "that wont happen" and the reply might be "what if". This causes an instant anxiety rise and making the thoughts even stronger. You have the choice, to stay on the train thinking about it, adding meaning and analysing or get off and lose the grip of power.
you can overcome this no matter what it tells you. You are more than your ocd