Over the past year, learning I have OCD and finding ways to manage it has been a difficult journey. It seems I’ve learned a lot about OCD — from reading, from my psychologist, and from talking to others with similar problems. So why do I still struggle? I realized yesterday the problem is not that I don’t have solutions. The problem is that I frequently catch myself giving in to obsessive thoughts, fears, or urges, without realizing it at first. And then when I’m stuck in the middle of that process, my perfectionism tells me something like: “Well, if you’d caught this at the beginning, things might be different. But now that you’ve given in to this fear, there’s no hope of fighting it.”
It’s kind of like making a plan for if the house catches on fire, but not making any plans or having any idea what you might do if you catch yourself suddenly with HALF the house ALREADY on fire. The problem with my OCD is not that I don’t know how to deal with it, as was true in the past; but rather, that sometimes it catches me off guard, and I find myself in the middle of a battle I didn’t even know had started.
So what did I do? I set aside a notebook. I made a rule that I can ONLY write positive things in the notebook. And then, I wrote myself an “escape plan.” Not only for what to do when I recognize an obsessive-compulsive thought process beginning, but also what to do if I suddenly catch myself in the middle of one. I always need to remember that it’s not too late to escape. OCD is in my brain; it’s not a real house fire, so there will always be a way to escape. I must always remember to be willing to admit that MAYBE, just maybe, “the house is not on fire” and it is just OCD and a false alarm. I must not burn the house of my life down while trying to prevent an imaginary fire.
This process is ongoing, because it has to be. During my life, there will be many different situations where I’ll inevitably catch myself in the middle of an OCD thought process because there is no cure, I will always be this way, it’s simply the way my brain works. So I have to continue finding new ways to deal with it. There is no set procedure; it will be ever-changing, and I hope the “positive things” notebook will help.