April 08, 2021
ADVICE AND EXPERIENCES FROM PEOPLE LIVING WITH OCD
The word OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is normally absentmindedly thrown around as an explanation to being a perfectionist, or for being neat and tidy. And while this isn't a big issue, it seems to have clouded the suffering of what can be a debilitating mental illness, especially during a pedantic time like a pandemic - where the consequences to not obeying your compulsions seem very real.
Every where you turn there are signs, videos and people begging you to do things in a very specific way in order to deter the death and injury of others around you. And ultimately, the occurrence of COVID has exacerbated the symptoms of OCD for many sufferers around the world.
OCD is an anxiety disorder. People living with it have recurring UNWANTED thoughts, images, impulses and/or obsessions with repetitive rituals to quell or satisfy the impulse. They are usually very aware that their symptoms are irrational and excessive, which is why it can be so frustrating and isolating. But the obsessions are uncontrollable and the compulsions to fix them feel impossible to resist. However, OCD is far from impossible to recover from.
It is too easily misunderstood, and this can be highly distressing for the person affected and their loved ones. So here are some common myths about OCD from an excerpt from SANE AUSTRALIA.
We want to tell you you aren't alone, and to remember it's a voice in your head that you need to tell to piss off, because trust me - your hands are clean. The extra effort "just to make sure and to be safe" voice isn't you, it's the OCD - who is a bitch. It helps to remember that you wouldn't do what an asshole tells you to in real life, so don't do what the bully OCD is telling you to do.
Thank you so much to the beautiful individuals that took the time to share their stories in the hopes of easing the burden of others. Of course, other people living with OCD may have a completely different experience, but what you can do is check-in with your loved ones and know that there are ALWAYS services available to help with exactly this, and there are people who have overcome OCD or who are trained to help you.
It's important to remember your OCD is trying to control you, and that it's easy to fall into the trap of telling yourself "I'm just being careful." But it often comes at the cost of your suffering, which no matter how small, isn't necessary.
We asked people living with OCD a few questions about their compulsion during COVID-19.
YOU GOT THIS. You're doing everything right, you've already done what you needed, your already doing more than most and that's enough. Trust yourself.
LISTEN TO YOURSELF, NOT YOUR OCD.
Breathing in got 4 counts and breathing out for 5 counts, remembering that all is ok and too ask for help. My family are amazing and I am grateful for their help.
My family tell me that I have already locked the doors and windows (nightly) so now I refrain myself from checking so many times. If I breathe deeply I can let it go and I am considering writing myself a note on every surface to say ‘You have already locked this door, please go to bed'.
Understand that your body has a microbiome, and keeping this healthy is key to you staying healthy. You are made up of good and bad bacteria, and by excessively cleaning and sanitising, you are killing your good bacteria and ultimately, doing the opposite of your intention. You need the bad bacteria to build up immunity so when you're in a situation where you can't clean yourself straight away, it doesn't even matter. It shouldn't need to clean yourself straight away anyway.
Germs are just germs. They're little tiny cellular structures just like us, just like everything. Whether it's on a droplet of water or literal horse shit, the little bacteria cells are still the same, good or bad. They just have different roles and are just as important as the other. Keeping them at the right balance allows your body to be able to fight imbalances and keep you healthy.
Don't just just rely on trusting yourself when you can't remember if you've checked the door properly. Consciously remember sounds like the lock flicking and the feel of it click in your hands. Once you've locked it, you will know and remember not just the thought, but the whole memory of doing it. Now you trust yourself here and walk away, or stay where you are, because you've already locked it.
Think about how healthy everyone else is without OCD. You know for a fact they aren't doing things as stringently as you are, and they are perfectly fine. They're healthy and safe. If you know you've washed your hands, and locked your car and cleaned your room then that's all that NEEDS to happen. Anything else is either hurting the good bacteria that needs to live on you, or wasting your energy.
Exercising releases the chemicals in your brain that make you happy. I'm not saying workout as hard as you possibly can, even just going for a walk does this and can set your priorities straight. It can make it a lot easier to ignore intrusive thoughts when you have exercised during the day.
Joining a support group battles your demons with other people. Even though it feels like it will take time out of your day, it won't take more than all the time your obsessions and compulsions take from you.
Try and identify the event that started the obsessions and compulsions with someone you trust or a therapist. Identifying the traumatic event that started my anxiety allowed me to see that I was still just trying to help myself in that past situation. And that
I'm living with OCD but I don't want to. So I tell him to move tf out. Whenever I feel my thoughts getting overwhelming I remind myself that I don't like him, so I'm not going to listen. This helps calm me down and lower the pressure of the thoughts.
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