On Monday I wrote about the top things that help my obsessive-compulsive disorder, so I thought I’d look at the opposite and discuss things that hurt my OCD.
Not getting treatment
I wasn’t diagnosed and treated for my OCD and depression until I was 26, after suffering from both for much of my life up until then. That was a lot of needless suffering because help was available.
Even after I became an adult and was responsible for my own health, I didn’t speak up and tell my doctors what was going on with me. I didn’t tell them about the strange thoughts and even stranger compulsions that were wreaking havoc with my life.
I was in talk therapy for about a year before I even mentioned my obsessions and compulsions to my therapist.
I was ashamed of my bizarre habits and thought I was the only person in the world who did such things.
Depending on medication alone
For more than 20 years, the only treatment I had for OCD was medication.
I am not discounting the tremendous help I have received from medication. It lifted me out of the worst of my OCD and depression and allowed me to live a better life.
But I ignored doctor’s suggestions that I get therapy specifically for OCD, like cognitive behavioral therapy. I didn’t want to take the time or spend the money, and I really didn’t think I needed it.
Now I recognize that medication can do only part of what I need to rid myself of the subtle ways OCD intrudes on my life. I need practical therapy, and I’ll be back to it soon.
Not taking GAD seriously
In addition to OCD and depression, I have generalized anxiety disorder. I tend to forget that and focus all my energies on fighting the “top two” disorders in my life.
But GAD has a very real effect on my OCD. The more anxious I am generally, the more I have to deal with the OCD. The generalized anxiety feeds the obsessions and makes it harder for me to fight the compulsions.
That tells me that I need to consciously take steps to lower my anxiety overall.
Giving in to compulsions
I know by now that giving in to compulsions just makes the cycle of OCD worse. The more I check, for example, the more I want to check, and the more I check.
I can’t let up. I can’t give myself a break from tolerating the anxiety until it goes away instead of performing the compulsion.
Not taking care of my health
If I get really tired, I find that I am more prone to anxious feelings and depressive thinking. Those just feed my OCD. So I have to get plenty of rest.
That’s not always easy, especially on days when I have to work late. On such days, I also tend to eat erratically and too much. Then I don’t feel like going to bed and stay up too late. Then I don’t sleep well. And the cycle continues.
I feel so much better when I get enough but not too much sleep, when I eat several small meals of healthy food, when I exercise. When I don’t take care of my health, it shows in my level of anxiety and thus, my OCD.
What things make your OCD and/or other anxiety worse?