*A combination of tools works better than any one thing.
My treatment has included medication, talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and CBASP, and well as self-treatments such as exercise, yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques.
None of these by itself has been enough. And that’s OK. I know there’s no magic pill. And I like the idea of a synthesis of treatments working for the good of my health.
*You’ll notice improvements before anyone else will.
My first signs of improvement were so subtle that I thought perhaps I was imagining them. I felt a little less down, had a little more energy, was able to stop washing my hands a little more quickly, didn’t check the stove as long.
But I noticed them. Maybe no one else could see a change, but I did. And my therapists and doctors needed me to tell them of any improvements.
*At first, you won’t necessarily see the connection between the treatment and improvement.
My therapist told me that people tend to not want to believe that medication, for example, is the reason for the improved symptoms. It’s hard for us to make such a connection. A pill can help me not have obsessive thoughts? A pill can help me feel less hopeless?
I’ve found that to be true of medication and with the CBASP. I’m feeling better, but it seems like it is a little too good to be true.
And it’s hard for me to see the forest for the trees, so to speak. Therapy is intense and detailed. It’s hard sometimes to lift my head and see the results.
*It’s not easy.
The CBASP is hard. ERPs are hard. Dealing with medication side effects is hard. It takes dedication and discipline to keep doing the things that will make me feel better.
And there’s the fear of failure. Sometimes during a therapy session, I worry that I’m not doing it right, that it’s not going to work.
That’s when hope is so important.
*It’s usually not a quick process.
I’ve been in treatment of some kind, even if it has just been medication, for 22 years. That’s hard to admit because there’s a part of me that believes I should have gotten it right by now. But that brings me to the next point.
*It will never actually end.
Treatment for OCD and depression will go on indefinitely because there is probably no cure, only remission, by which I mean a lessening of symptoms. Even when I’m no longer in active therapy, the exposures will continue, the self-talk and learning will continue.
*Any treatment works better if you take care of yourself in basic ways.
It’s important for me to get enough rest and to eat properly. If I get very tired, I first get very anxious, then I crash and get more depressed.
If I eat too much or too much junk food like sweets and simple carbohydrates, I feel sluggish and my stomach bothers me, which in turn makes less energetic.
And having time for myself to read, think, and just relax is key to me being better able to handle what life brings.
What have you learned about treatment for OCD and/or depression or other mental illness? What suggestions do you have for others going through treatment?