Monday, August 27, 2012

Top 5 things that have helped my OCD

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

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.

Therapy

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.

Brain Lock

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?

24 comments:

  1. I love how your love for your cat overcame the anxieties you had about the mess!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, yes, Waddles helped me overcome a lot.

      Delete
  2. Brain Lock was the first book I read on OCD and it was a huge, huge turning point for me. My dog, Zoe Rose, was another huge healing force. I had a doctor that I wrote about in one of my blogs that did some ERP's with me and was amazingly helpful. I have also learned to depend more on God and my faith. In the midst of horrible anxiety I try to remember that I don't have to do this alone. I have knelt right next to my bed or sofa and prayed for God's peace to surround me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Krystal Lynn, Brain Lock was a turning point for me, too. I'm glad it helped you, also! And the love of our animals--they help so much. I do remember your blog post about the doctor who did the ERPs with you--that was wonderful of him. My faith helps me, too.

      Delete
    2. Brain Lock helped me too!

      Delete
  3. Great list, Tina. My list is similar - my kitty, CBT/ERP, meds, G.O.A.L. support group.

    Like I've heard you say (write?) before - recovering from OCD (for most people) is a comprehensive, combination type of thing.

    Thanks for passing on what was helpful for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sunny. It's great that you have a support group. Yes, I definitely think it's a combination approach.

      Delete
  4. Medication helped me too, though it took quite some time to get to the right one and I'm still busy trying to find something that can help with the bipolar disorder too, as I'm still pretty depressed. But I have found a great psychiatrist and I'm sure we will get there.
    Otherwise there were a number of different therapies that helped, one of them was Jungian therapy where we worked a lot with dreams. But ERP helped a lot too.
    I also got therapy where I got more in tune with Nature and my own body, but I'm not sure how you would call that in English. It thought me different ways to relax. For example to consciously feel the Earth under your feet while you are walking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Klaaske, that therapy with nature sounds wonderful. It sounds like a wonderful way to relax and get "the big picture" of things.

      Delete
    2. We have something like that: relaxation therapy. In English it's called mindfulness. A walking mindful meditation is to walk and feel the ground beneath your feet. i read about this in a book called 'Full Catastrophe Living' by Jon Kabit-Zinn.

      Delete
  5. Changing my diet has helped my anxiety a lot. I think getting the cat was a neat idea--thus having constant exposure (even though I guess that wasn't the reason you got the cat!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristina, I am still learning how what I eat affects my anxiety and depression. I find that if I eat too many simple carbs, I get more anxious.

      Delete
  6. Wonderful post that is sure to help others feel less alone. I often think of how alone so many with OCD must have felt before the Internet became widespread. Now it is so much easier to connect with others and tyo find wonderful blogs like yours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Janet. The Internet has opened up so many avenues of help.

      Delete
  7. That's a great subject for a post! You're so creative. I can hardly think of stuff to write about and then i see your post and think 'rats' i could have done that!

    Your list is about the same as mine- except i would change cat to dog. I waited till the ocd was contained enuf so i wouldn't be overwhelmed by a dog getting into stuff i thot was contaminated. They do still help me, as i don't really like to bath a dog that touches my laundry bag, while i'd tell a person to wash their hands. So said dog goes around and lays on things, gets touched by me and others and thus 'spreads' it all over. I (while cringing) congradulate myself on an ocd exposure.
    Finally i'd add reading sucess stories- gave me the umph to keep going: if they could do it, so can i!

    I'm also trying to eat less carbs and meat- not the past couple of days tho; but i don't have any positive proof that my fruit/ veggie/ beans/ nuts & seeds diet affects the ocd per se.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karin, I think you always hav interesting topics on your blog, and I always enjoy reading it!

      Animals do kind of give us continual exposures, don't they? :-)

      I like reading success stories, too. They inspire me!

      I don't have any proof that my diet affects my OCD per se, either, but usually when I eat better, I tend to feel better and that helps me overall.

      Delete
  8. I completely agree with you about how medication helps us to gain some distance from an all-consuming OCD to an OCD that we can work with.

    Brain Lock is a great book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elizabeth, that was my experience with medication--it took the edge of the OCD away so I could concentrate on doing more about it.

      Delete
  9. Tina, would you believe just as I was reading about your getting Waddles, one of my cats threw up on my sofa? (Fortunately I've got a quilt covering the sofa for just this reason--easier to wash.) Lord help us! :)

    I think medication has been the biggest factor in my healing from OCD/anxiety/depression. It has altered my brain chemistry enough that I could function and deal with life. But like you, it took several tries and several years to get it right. Frustrating, but worth it.

    I'll have to read what "Brain Lock" is. I'm completely clueless.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grace, Yes, I can believe it--our kitties have thrown up everywhere, it seems. I'm an expert on cleaning it up. :-)

      I think you'd enjoy the book "Brain Lock." It's really interesting and helpful.

      Delete
  10. I think your post and site is wonderfully constructed.
    chicago piano movers

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.