Now that a general definition of OCD has been given, as well as possible factors in OCD, a more general discussion, as well as treatment, will be discussed.
”Most people who have OCD find that there is a pattern in their thoughts, feelings and actions. They feel anxious or discomfort at having the obsession and relief once they have carried out the compulsive act” .
OCD is a tricky thing to describe. Personally, I feel that sufferers of OCD are very much at the opposite end of the spectrum to psychopathy. Where psychopaths feel no empathy, guilt or sentiment at all, those who suffer from OCD, in my view, seem to care too much. Like subtle superheros, they try to save the world around them by doing things that torture them. They suffer so that others may be safe, even though they know themselves that what they are doing will make no difference in the well being of others (for example – counting to 480 won’t save a life). They know this is irrational and that their actions are doing more harm than good to themselves, but thinking that you’ve saved someone, even if you know it is irrational, is better and less of a burden than knowing that your actions are futile.
A person with OCD thinks they are a terrible person, even though they are less likely to act on harmful thoughts to others. For example, a person with OCD who obsesses and fears that they will stab their partner in bed is actually one of the least likely people to carry out the action. They simply worry about the possibility.
Everyone has intrusive thoughts, everyone has distressing and obsessive thoughts. However, when a person is unable to dismiss these thoughts, it’s a problem – it is the monster of OCD. Added is a diagram of how the cycle of OCD goes, the repetitive works of the monster in our minds:
The question remains – is OCD treatable?
My answer: I have absolutely no idea. However, I do know it can be managed and the burden of it can be lessened on a persons life. I’m not there yet, but I do know of people who are. Which means, there is hope for us all. It’s difficult. However, with a push and some support, we will be able to get better and manage this.
”The treatment of OCD has greatly improved and most people do make a good recovery. The most important treatments are cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)…. and medication” .
Cognitive behavioural therapy is usually recommended by your GP. ”This approach helps you to tackle what you think (cognition) and what to do (behaviour)” . I’m unsure if the GP would refer everyone, however, I do know that my referral was onto a specialist who helped me to deal with the issues and helped me to open up my mind to the way of thinking. That what I was doing was silly. That there were better things to spend my time on.
Medication is another treatment which the GP would suggest. I didn’t like it myself. Being out of control of what it does to me was always a scary thought and I gave the medication a try for a few months. However, I couldn’t continue it because of how I felt. I also didn’t want to become dependent and fear falling back into the void when I finished with them. However, that is my experience and I do not wish it to influence you. I know others who have thrived with medication and I don’t think any less of them for using it. I actually admire them for sticking to it. It is always wise to speak to a professional about medication before insisting upon them, there is more to it than simply just a thing to pop into the mouth with ease. They are not merely just ‘happy pills’.
There are other treatments out there which are being developed. I will write more on the topic if the interest is there, such as the swimming treatment.
What would you be able to do to help yourself?
Exposure. You need to expose yourself to the thing you fear the most. Trust me, it is the most terrifying thing ever, but – you can do it. It’s not as scary as it seems, and even though it is scary, you can do it. Have support there as well. It’s always easier with someone you trust. For example, if you fear dirt, try touching something you consider dirty and try not to respond for two minutes. Then five. Then ten. Then half an hour. Up the time in which you are exposed to it, and gradually, it doesn’t become as terrifying.
It might feel impossible, but it isn’t as impossible as you might think. You need to believe in yourself. It’s hard, so difficult and terrifying. But you are strong and you can do it. If it’s a family member, please reassure them, because hearing such a thing makes it a lot easier. Especially when the support is honest support.
Baby steps, but those baby steps are giant leaps in reality.
Organising your OCD – Make a list. Steps. Write a list of your obsessions, the main ones from 1-10/1-20 or whatever your count is. Then, make another list of your compulsions, like how you did for your obsessions. 1 being the thing you fear the least, and 10 being the thing you fear the most. Work up the ladder, practise constantly, and when you feel like you can control one, go onto the next one. Although do make sure the item on the list does cause you distress so you can gradually lessen the distress with each mental exercise. Each exposure. It might be helpful to label each one with a distress number from 1-10, 1 being no distress/ 4 being moderate distress/ 7 being severe distress/ ten being extreme distress, or however your labelling system might work.
Source one describes five ways to stop yourself acting out on the compulsive act:
- ”Ask your family to help you by not offering to reassure you by checking for you or telling you that you are not contaminated.
- Praise yourself for not carrying out the compulsion or neutralising activity. This is important.
- Keep a note as you are carrying out the exposure therapy to show how your anxiety begins to drop.
- Don’t substitute new compulsions for old ones. Rubbing hands instead of washing.
- If stopping all compulsive behaviours at once seems impossible, try to reduce gradually the time you spend on the behaviour or the number of times it happens” .
Further help is essential if you feel that you need it:
- Talk to your GP
- Talk to your local charities or mental health services
- www.ocdireland.org | 00353 1 249 3333
- www.ocduk.org | 0845 1203 779
- www.ocdaction.org.uk | 0845 390 6232
- Lifeline – 0808 808 8000
- Friends and family
I just thought this little guide might be some help. I never had one until I sought help, it might not be any help at all. However, at least I tried to put some understanding out there. If there are any questions or requests, don’t hesitate to contact me on the Contact location of the blog. Thank you for reading! Hopefully this helps someone out there.
For part one of OCD; a summary: OCD; a summary – Part 1
 Obsessive-compulsive disorder for dummies by Charles H.Elliott, PhD and Laura L. Smith, PhD