OCD AND ANXIETY
You are not your OCD
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder consists of intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images, and urges which cause anxiety. In one’s attempt to reduce anxiety, repetitive rituals are performed which continues to feed the OCD cycle and make it worse.
OCD may manifest itself in various ways.
ERP is the gold standard treatment for OCD. It’s the act of doing the opposite of what you want to do during an anxious moment. This may seem counterintuitive at the time but it is exactly what is needed to recondition our amygdala, which is responsible for alerting us to danger. The beauty of ERP is that for the first time we are put in a position of control and choice as it relates to our OCD. At the risk of oversimplifying ERP it can be equated to jumping into a cold swimming pool and staying in it long enough to the point of being no longer cold to you. This process is called habituation where we expose ourselves to exactly what we are wanting to avoid. This is done on a repeated basis until it no longer causes any discomfort. This has been the most effective treatment for overcoming OCD. It definitely was for mine. The more aggressive you are willing to be with ERP the sooner it will get better.
When we are afflicted by OCD and anxiety one fact which is overlooked is that if we allow our anxiety to become at the highest level possible without interruption, it will NATURALLY begin to decrease on its own. This is where the real healing takes place.
Sometimes it may appear confusing as to what is OCD and what is real. One effective technique is to realize that when you feel that you must do something right now before you can go on, you are in OCD land. Another red flag is when you have no sense of free choice in the moment. You MUST do this NOW in order to get rid of this NOW.
OCD causes us to doubt and demands certainty. The problem with a 100% demand for certainty is that no one has that available to them. In OCD our alarm system tells us without this guaranteed certainty we are in grave danger. In reality we are not but to the OCD sufferer they feel in complete and total danger. Quite a quandary. A very effective method in dealing with this quagmire is to work towards increasing one’s tolerance for uncertainty. I know that sounds like a completely foreign notion but from someone who has been there, in time it will not be foreign to you. So the question is how do we increase our tolerance for uncertainty? First of all it’s important to note that we comfortably go about our lives doing things that are uncertain a vast majority of the time. The difference is it is just not the focus of our worry at the time. So the question becomes how do we become unconcerned about things that are unreasonable to be concerned about. The most effective path in accomplishing this is undoubtedly ERP.