Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is one of the most terrifying mental illnesses and it can make your life a living hell. Fortunately, there are a lot of useful techniques that can help you ease your symptoms. In this article, I will share 12 things that helped me a lot – and I really hope that you’ll also find them useful.
1. Do not rely on your intuition!
Trusting your intuition is not always the best idea.
It is very tempting to invent your own methods for treating your OCD.
As you could have seen on my blog (and you’ll keep seeing it in the future), I prefer alternative methods for treating OCD or any other disorder, but the issue is that OCD is a liar. It tells you irreal and irrational things and it forces you to act on your compulsions.
So, relying on your intuition and inventing your own tricks could actually make your OCD worse. Why? Simply, because you may end up having additional obsessions and compulsions – next to your existing ones.
2. OCD is chronic
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is just like diabetes or asthma: you can keep it under control, but there’s no cure for it.
It is a pretty sad thing to read, I know and first time I learnt it, it’d actually give me a panic attack: it’s scary to imagine that you’ll spend your whole life with this monster. But it’s better to acknowledge this fact.
The good news is that there are a lot of success stories, and a great number of people who can keep their OCD under control.
3. Doubt & Guilt – recognize them!
One of the characteristics of OCD is the constant circle of doubt and guilt.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the typical “what if” questions, and the“one never knows” logic:
– What if I go crazy?
– Have I locked the door?
– What if I did something terrible and I do not even remember?
The little OCD monster constantly sits on your shoulder and plants seeds of doubt in your mind. By acknowledging these feelings, you’ll be able to keep them under control.
4, Do not seek reassurance!
I’ll be honest with you: this is the most difficult one for me. I’m personally addicted to seeking reassurance and this is something that I’ll need to work on a lot more in the future, but I’m on a good way to recover from it.
So what do I mean by seeking reassurance?
When you keep asking your friends whether you’re a good person, just to make sure you’re not dangerous to anyone. Or when you keep checking Google to make sure that you couldn’t have caught the disease you’re so scared of.
Sounds familiar? If yes, the best thing you can do is stop doing this!
5. Do not try to prevent your thoughts!
The best way to prevent your obsessive thoughts is trying not to prevent them. Sounds pretty paradoxical, doesn’t it? But it actually works.
While you’re trying to prevent your thoughts you actually think about them even more, so it’s a vicious cycle. Most of the people have intrusive thoughts and these are perfectly natural – even if they’re not too pleasant to have. Let’s accept that they’re there and you’ll feel much better!
6. Agree with your thoughts
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
The last thing you’d want to do is to agree with your thoughts: they can be way too scary. But then, it’s kind of a reverse psychology: if you agree with them, you’ll think about them less.
And spending less time on them will give you more time to relax and this will significantly reduce your anxiety.
7. Do not rely on others: they won’t always be there!
Your loved ones can help you a lot. And that’s something that you’ll need, but on the other hand, make sure that you’re able to feel good even if they’re not around.
I’m a very social person and at the beginning of my OCD journey, I made a terrible mistake: I became addicted to seeking reassurance and support from my friends and family. During my worst OCD period, I did not use to be able to spend time alone, I’d always need someone to be there to tell me that things were going to be alright.
8. Recovery takes time
If you’ve been reading about OCD or about any other mental disorder, I’m pretty sure that you have seen this statement enough times.
So I do not want to spend a long time on discussing it. All I want to say is: yes, it’s true, it takes time to recover, so do not stress. Stress can make your symptoms even worse.
9. Be proud of yourself!
Having OCD is definitely not fun and it’s very hard to talk about it. But it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
There are a lot of people out there who will understand you and who’ll be able to help. Talking about it is a huge relief and I am sure that you’ll find a few people with OCD in your environment – they may not talk about it, but believe me, you are not alone!
10. Educate yourself!
Knowing your enemy will help you fight against it. Learning more about OCD will help you handle it better.
I was diagnosed with OCD ten years ago and at the time of my diagnosis, I did not use to know anything about it. And I can tell you it was much more difficult for me to handle it than it is nowadays. One of the reasons behind this is that over the years, I learnt a lot about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and I have adopted a lot of techniques that help me fight against it.
If you want to learn more about OCD, please check:
– Frequently Asked Questions about OCD
– My blog feed
11. Eat Healthy Food!
I’m sure this is not a new piece of information for most of you, but it’s still important to mention. Sugary foods, caffeine, alcohol and processed products can make your OCD and your anxiety worse.
I have found an amazing article about what foods you should avoid if you suffer from OCD: https://www.livestrong.com/article/467972-foods-not-to-eat-if-you-have-ocd-or-panic-attacks/
At the moment, I’m about to make a few changes to my diet and it’ll probably take some time to feel the positive effects of them. So I’ll keep you posted! 🙂
12. Get enough sleep!
Being tired can definitely worsen your anxiety. So another thing that helps is getting a good night sleep.
I know it may sometimes be difficult as OCD gave me a lot of sleepless nights, but at least try to sleep as much as you can! 🙂
+ 1 more thing
There is one more thing that I love more than sharing my own stories and ideas: reading yours.
I’m pretty sure that many of my readers have useful ideas that can help others overcome OCD. So, please share your thoughts, techniques, tricks and ideas in the comment section – or just drop me an e-mail.