If you suffer from OCD – that is, obsessive compulsive disorder – you know how your anxious thoughts and worries make you feel powerless and hold you captive. You’ve probably searched for a way to get permanent relief. You know (or think you know) that obeying your compulsions will help you make the anxiety “go away,” but you find that you will just suffer through the whole ordeal once that unwanted thought comes back into your head.
Put this way, OCD sounds like a terrifying disorder that absolutely binds its “victims” and coaxes them into believing that those intrusive, repetitive thoughts will only go away IF you obey your compulsions, that you will never rid yourself of the disorder itself. I am telling you here and now, that is a bold-faced lie, and the sooner you move onto facing your OCD head-on, the faster you will get your life back.
Can you recover from OCD? Absolutely, you can. The trick to doing so is counter-intuitive, though. Instead of searching for the relief you desperately seek, you must search out resilience. Believe me, by seeking out resilience, relief will find you.
How is this done, though? By Exposure Response Prevent (ERP or simply put, exposure), you will come face-to-face with your fears until what scares you the most no longer has a hold on you. Yes, it sounds like exhausting work, but it is so worth it because once you accomplish it, you’re free. Start by taking the fear that bothers you and purposely bringing it to your awareness. Your goal is to make yourself anxious so that you can prove to your brain that the obsession is irrelevant and that you’re done running away. You’ll feel so much empowerment and joy after it’s all over!
You might be thinking, “Really? I have to MAKE myself afraid in order to interrupt the OCD cycle?” The answer is yes, you really do need to. In fact, the safest place is moving toward the fear. When you try to chase it out of your head, you’re doing nothing but guaranteeing its return. On the other hand, when you move toward it, feel it, and embrace it on purpose, you have diminished the power that the obsession holds over you, and it will leave on its own. It’s all about scaring yourself fearless!
As soon as the exposure is over, go on with your life – no matter how weird or lousy you feel. It will give you strength. Sometimes, too, things will happen to you in the middle of your day that make you anxious. When and if this happens, just remember that you’re okay and that it’s another opportunity to embrace the anxiety you feel. Hold onto those feelings. You’ll find that you strip them of their power the more you show your brave face and become a master of your destiny instead of a “victim” of a disorder.
Remember, when you feel like quitting, when you feel like the exposure is way too much for you to handle, don’t stop. You are SO CLOSE to freeing yourself from the anxiety and making a breakthrough. Stay strong. Hold on. Remember always, you are the closest to your freedom when you are the most afraid. Just hang on!
Through your journey with OCD, don’t go it all alone. Do your exposures, go to support groups, and keep trying! You can also find me on my website at www.gregorysansone.com. Get on my mailing list, get in touch with me, and keep making those exposures your top priority in your life. Then will you discover the road to overcoming OCD and regaining the freedom that is yours and yours alone!