Obsessive compulsive disorder is deceitful and scheming. Devious and crafty. It’s astute and calculating, knowing not only what triggers us, but also when and how. It’s a tricky disorder. It knows how to make us miserable more than we probably know. Sadly, I, like many other OCD sufferers, give it the power to do this.
As I’ve written previously, I’ve had obsessive compulsive disorder since I was a child. Throughout my teenage years and often as a young adult, OCD has been a horrible burden. It consumes so much of my time and energy that is has made me completely miserable during stages of my life. It has taken away my potential and what I enjoy doing in life.
I’ve been fighting OCD for years. I’ve been in counselling for almost a decade now. I’ve taken numerous medications to get it under control. I’ve even started blogging about obsessive compulsive disorder in hopes that it would help. However, for as much as I really hate obsessive compulsive disorder, I’ve had a weird relationship with the illness for most of my life.
I started this blog by mentioning all of the ways I view obsessive compulsive disorder. I’ve described it this way because after everything it has put me through, I have too often treated OCD as a friend that wants the best for me. As an ally in life that will keep me safe. That will stop bad things from happening to me and create good things in my life and those closest to me. That OCD will relieve all of my anxieties and as long as I do what the illness says, everything will be alright. I will be happy.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is all of the things I described it as above. It is also a liar. It pretends to want what is best for us. It makes us do all of these rituals and compulsions to no end in order to feel like we can continue on with our days and live a better life. I’ve fallen for this lie many times and gave in to these rituals and compulsions. I’ve washed my hands, hours sometimes, because OCD made me feel like this would stop me from being contaminated. Or counted all of my steps for the entire day because then no one in my family would get sick. Things are beginning to change. They have to.
What I’ve begun to learn over the last few weeks (after living with OCD for nearly 25 years!) is that obsessive compulsive disorder is not a friend. It does not want what is best for us and only tricks us into thinking this. No matter how much it may seem like it has your back in life, it can’t help you. It doesn’t have the ability to do this. It will only make your anxiety, depression, rituals, compulsions and emptiness greater because it does not have the power to do anything else no matter how much be believe otherwise. I need to stop seeing obsessive compulsive disorder as a friend, that way I can stop giving in to its flawed “advice” for me.
I’ve come to perhaps an even more powerful understanding over the last few weeks as well. At times I’ve treated OCD as a friend, but I have also treated it as an enemy. As something I tried to push away at all costs. I would fight hard to not give in to what the illness was telling me to do. If I could just not think these things, it would no longer have any power over me I would tell myself. This only made things worse. The more I fought back, the stronger its power became. This led me to accept my “friend” back into my life. It was easier that way.
I’ve learned that for myself, it is best not to treat OCD as a friend or as an enemy. I do not turn to it in order to help me through my day. No amount of rituals or compulsions can truly help. Remember it doesn’t have this ability. I also do not push back against my OCD thoughts. Fighting back, for myself, only made it stronger. For now, obsessive compulsive disorder is just there. It’s just a thing in my life like anything else. It can come and go freely as much as it wants, just like cars passing me by on the highway. I’ve learned to let obsessive compulsive disorder have its say. I don’t block it out. The only thing now is that I do not give it power over me.
I’ve seen good results in treating my obsessive compulsive symptoms in this way. Once I stopped treating OCD as a friend or enemy, it was amazing how much more power I had over my rituals, compulsions and thoughts. I am beginning to face my anxieties without completing these daily actions and I am beginning to feel hope in my life. Better yet, I am no longer in a constant battle against these thoughts. They are welcomed in, I just have no more time for them.
I will continue to treat my obsessive compulsive thoughts as something that is just there. I will not react to them. I know that they will not help me and will only make me miserable. I’m done with the endless chase for relief from my anxiety and thoughts. OCD is no longer a friend or foe. It is slowly becoming a powerless part of my life. And that’s where it is best to keep it.