I have put together a list of things that have helped me most with my obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Other things have been of help to me, including meditation. But the following list includes what has been most important.
Not all of these things are for everyone. For example, I realize that medication is not the right choice for everyone. But these are the things that worked for me.
Once I made the list, I couldn’t rank them. I couldn’t say for sure that one was more important than another in helping me control and live with the obsessions and compulsions. So here’s my list, in no particular order.
Medication changed my OCD from being debilitating. With medication, I was able to consider that there might be ways to live with this disorder.
I have had to try different medications through the years, mostly because of my co-morbid diagnosis of depression. It’s not an easy thing, to change medications, to wait for them to work, or not work.
But it has been worth it to be able to gain some distance from an all-consuming OCD to an OCD that I can work with.
I’ve written more about my medication journey here.
I’ve had talk therapy through the years, but the therapy that has helped me the most has been the practical cognitive behavioral therapy that I’ve had this year.
While it’s not been the formal exposure and response prevention therapy, it included exposures and the whole philosophy of learning to tolerate the anxiety and moving beyond it. The exposures my therapist led me in were helpful and instructive.
While the CBT got waylaid because of other therapy needed for my depression, I look forward to getting back to it. In the meantime, I’ve been doing some of my own exposures.
I first read Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior-A Four-Step Self-Treatment Method to Change Your Brain Chemistry, by Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz with Beverly Beyette, in the 1990s, and I worked on its principles on my own with some success.
The book taught me to walk away from compulsions even though I was feeling intense anxiety, and I learned that the anxiety eventually died down.
I wrote in detail about how I use “Brain Lock” in this post.
Adopting a cat
Adopting Waddles in 2000 changed my life in many ways. One of the ways was to give me almost constant exposures for my contamination OCD and my hyper-responsibility OCD, though I would not have known to call them exposures.
I learned to live with an animal and clean up messes without freaking out. I learned the joy of responsibility, which began to outweigh my fears of responsibility.
Learning that I wasn’t alone
From finding out a person I really respected and liked had OCD to starting a blog and connecting online with others who have OCD, finding out I wasn’t alone in my suffering has been a big component of my OCD improvement.
What has helped you the most in your battles with OCD and other anxiety?