Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It’s worth saying again and again: You can get relief from OCD

If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder or think that you do, there’s something that I want you to know: you can get better. There are treatments available. You can get relief.
I’ve said that before. I hope it’s a belief that permeates my blog.
But it’s worth saying again. And again. As many times as it takes to make sure you know, deep down: you can get better.
Earlier this week, I wrote a post describing a day with OCD and other anxiety. The day I wrote about was stressful and full of anxiety, but it wasn’t the worst day I’ve ever had.
I started to think about those of you who have worse days than that quite often. And I felt compelled to write this post.
Before I got any treatment, before I even told anyone about my symptoms, OCD had come to rule my life.
I was in my 20s when I first got treatment for OCD.
Before then, I spent hours at a time scrubbing my bathroom over and over.
I checked my stove until the early morning hours to make sure it was turned off.
I couldn’t read a book because of reading OCD, which made life as a student very difficult.
Every time I walked anywhere outside, I slowed myself down by checking every stick and stone that looked like it might harm someone else.
I prayed compulsively for God’s forgiveness and worried about my eternal salvation.
My hands were dark red and incredibly dry from excessive hand washing.
My life was hell. I had no hope that I would get better. I didn’t want to live.
But a friend encouraged me to see a therapist by revealing to me that she was in therapy.
I started seeing a therapist who I learned to trust. She referred me to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with OCD and depression and started me on medication.
Through the years after that, I also learned new ways of dealing with OCD and my thoughts and actions by reading and researching OCD, from cognitive behavior therapy, from exposure and response prevention, by reaching out to others with OCD, from writing about OCD, from meditation and from learning more about myself.
I am better today, so much better than I was when I was first diagnosed more than 20 years ago. And I have hope that I will continue to get better and learn to live a life at peace with OCD.
Here are some resources to help you learn more about OCD and the treatments available:


Here are two books that especially helped me:
Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior. By Jeffrey M. Schwartz, MD, with Beverly Beyette.
Freedom from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Personalized Recovery Program for Living with Uncertainty. By Jonathan Grayson, Ph.D.

Remember that you are not alone.
I encourage you to reach out and get help if you haven’t. I encourage you to keep on fighting to get better.
I encourage you to get some relief.

What are some things we can all do to encourage others who have mental illnesses?

20 comments:

  1. Never fear, Tina. Your message of hope does indeed permeates your blog :-)

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  2. You have said it all as far as I'm concerned Tina.
    Even though we might not be cured (yet), things have greatly improved. And they can for other people as well.
    I saw my psychiatrist today who told me about a boy who did nothing else than checking for more than 17 hours a day. He's receiving therapy and medication for half a year now and has gone back to school! So there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

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    1. Thank you, Klaaske. Stories like that of the boy who was checking for so many hours a day do my heart good. I am so grateful for the treatments available.

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    1. Thanks, Jackie. You're spreading the message on your blog, too!

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  4. Awesome post, Tina! And I agree completely. Yes, like you, today I have some tiring OCD days, but they are NOTHING like how they used to be and I'm so incredibly grateful for my recovery thus far. And I have hope that I will continue to recover.

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    1. Thank you, Sunny. I am so glad that you have come so far in your recovery, and I know you will continue on the path.

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  5. I hope your words might help someone who is out there seeking relief.

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    1. I do, too, Lisa. We all need encouragement sometimes.

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  6. Thanks Tina, for what I believe is the most important message of all: There is hope for OCD sufferers; recovery is possible.

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    1. Janet, We can't repeat that message too often, can we?

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  7. I agreed with OCD talk. It is the best message you can put out there! There is hope. Everyone needs some! Keep it up!

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    1. Thanks, Jodi. I agree--everyone needs some hope!

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  8. A message of hope is the greatest message of all and that is certainly what you have given lots of today.

    What do I do to encourage someone with mental illness? Listen, just listen.... Maybe empathize with a 'that must be so hard' or a 'I know what you mean' if that is possible. Show compassion and not judgement. And then when you have listened for awhile ask 'is there anything I could do for you to be of some help?'

    Giving up is not an option and you have reminded me of that today. Thanks!

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    1. Thank you, Wendy. You have given such good suggestions for encouraging those with mental illnesses. Listening to others is so important.

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  9. I think you just did it Tina! I think encouraging people to get help, like your friend did for you, is huge. I think telling your story on your blog is really encouraging too. It is a very honest portrayal. I think for many of us, OCD (and depression) can be a struggle that lingers and we have tools we can share that make our lives manageable and enjoyable. I may never be "cured" or "completely recovered" but having the ability to work, play, laugh and enjoy life is a huge blessing.

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    1. Krystal Lynn, thank you. I, too, believe in sharing the tools that we've gained along the way. You do such a wonderful job of that on your blog!

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  10. Beautifully written post! There is hope. A hundred years ago we might be sequestered in the cuckoo's nest and sometimes when I think about all the people who never got the help they needed it makes me sad. We're so lucky to live in this day and age when science has made such great strides in mental as well as physical health.

    Three things have helped me. Psychotherapy, Pharmacotherapy and getting older. The first two are fairly self-explanatory. The getting older, I think our bodies and minds slow down as we age and hitting 50 (2 years ago) was when I noticed that things didn't bother me like they used to. I think this is why grandparents have more patience with their grandchildren than they did with their raising own children when they were younger. This should offer people hope too.

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    1. Grace, I, too, feel sad for all those people who came before us who were not able to benefit from the strides in medicine and science that we've been able to take advantage of.

      I think growing older has helped me, too. I understand more about the way my mind works, and I've had more time to gain and practice tools in dealing with the OCD.

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