A hot guy counting coins…if that isn’t OCD eye candy, I don’t know what is. I don’t know about you guys, but I feel better. Oh, right, therapy. Let’s talk about therapy.
If you’ve read some of my other OCD posts, you know I’m a therapy dropout. I’ve gone through therapy three times. The first time was in the middle of my nervous breakdown and I don’t remember much of it…other than the psychologist thought I was faking being mentally ill and my therapist–well, I didn’t like therapy or the meds they’d put me on so, ironically, I faked being well to get out of therapy.
The second and third time I was in therapy, I ran into what I’ve heard is a common problem with those with Pure-O–with your obsessions and compulsions being largely in your mind–traditional therapy can make you paranoid. Like really paranoid. Oh, sure, there’s a moment of catharsis when you tell your problems, but it’s followed by shame, embarrassment, and extreme paranoia. Luckily, I saw two excellent therapists who recognized it was making me worse. The second therapist taught me mindfulness therapy and referred me to the third while suggesting therapy might not be right for me. The third therapist said that, for the first time, she was recommending I stop therapy and go back on medication.
It was…disheartening at first. I felt like I couldn’t make myself better–only medication could, but I’ve since recognized that medication holds back enough of the thoughts that I have a chance at healing myself.
Part of the problem with the generally accepted OCD therapy called exposure therapy and my brand of OCD is that it relies on exposing yourself to that thing you avoid and learning new coping mechanisms and to realize it’s not a rational “fear.” I expose myself (good grief not that way) all the time. I live my nightmares and I just am very, very twitchy because of it. I also avoid my issues, but that’s only successful to a certain degree. I have two kids…and I love kids–there isn’t much I wouldn’t be willing to do on the behalf of a child. I’ve faced my biggest issues and that hasn’t made them less powerful. And I know my issues are irrational. Honestly, there are those with, obviously, a greater familiarity with traditional therapy and could give you more insight into it working–because it DOES work…for many people, just not me.
I brought up mindfulness therapy. Mindfulness, as I was taught to practice it, is a form of active meditation. It consists of being aware of the moments and the world around you without the emotions and judgments you normally make. For example, if you stepped outside your house and it was raining, practicing the mindfulness approach would consist of you concentrating on the sound of the rain, the feel of the rain, the look of the rain all around you. How green it makes things. How soothing the tapping is as a sound and a feeling as the cool rain drops along your skin. Then, maybe you’d concentrate on your red umbrella. On the sound of your feet as you bolt for the car. On your neighbor out on their doorstep watching the rain. You’d recognize all the sensory details.
How does this help?
Okay, we’ll replay the scene with my normal inner dialogue. “Oh, it’s raining. Crap. I’m going to be driving in this. I’ll be soaked and moist all day…ugh. Moist is a gross word. And then the roads will be slick. I might slip off the road and die. At least it’s making things green. Hopefully things don’t flood. Hopefully my garage doesn’t flood. *sighs* Here I am thinking of myself when floods kill people. It’s not raining that bad. But the kids probably will have to be out at recess in this…hopefully, they don’t slip and get hurt. Oh, look, the neighbor is out…she shouldn’t be. What if a car slid on the slick roads, jumped the curb, and killed her? If she died, it’d be my fault for not telling her to go back inside. Don’t be stupid, Wendy. It’s not your fault. Nobody would stop and do that. I feel wet and cold. I’ll probably get sick.”
You can see why mindfulness therapy is a bit…needed. I don’t use it as often as I should and there are probably better explanations if you Google “mindfulness.”
So, that’s my experience with therapy. By the way, the picture of the guy stacking coins is because repetitive sorting behaviors like that soothe me. I like to stack coins, fold laundry (but that’s the only part of laundry I like), and sort objects. I don’t feel compulsive about it, but it is soothing…like therapy. Also…hot guy sorting coins…it felt right. Don’t judge me.
This post is just about therapy itself, but there are vast ways to treat OCD in all its forms. Right now, in addition to medication, I exercise, read, write, meditate, do yoga. Some people listen to music or find other outlets. There are a lot of ways to treat OCD. The primary and most helpful way is to take care of your body’s physical health through exercise, nutrition, and sleep and, then, also, seek professional help. In fact, I can’t stress exercise enough. The endorphins from exercise are good for coping. Seriously, it does a body and a mind good.
**These posts are about my experiences with OCD as a nonmedical professional. Please seek the advice of a real pro if you or a loved one might have OCD.**