Those of us with OCD (or similar disorders) have great difficulty doing things which come easily to everyone else. “I went all day and only checked that the stove wasn’t on 4 times” would sound like a pretty shoddy excuse for an accomplishment for most people, but for someone with OCD, it could be almost like climbing a mountain. The sad part of this is that it’s really hard for us to convey that to others. It’s hard for us to get our friends and loved ones to understand why we struggle with something that is not even an issue for them. That’s why I started keeping my own progress chart, and I think it’s been working really well. I made two categories: “Resisted” and “Gave In.” I plan on making a separate one for each compulsion that I feel like doing — but for now I only have one list. Every time I get the urge to do the compulsion, but am able to resist, I make a tally beside “Resisted” and every time I cave and give in to that anxiety by doing the compulsion, I make a tally beside “Gave In.” This chart has helped because it gives positive reinforcement.
Other people would look at me and say, “I can’t believe she checked this or that so many times. She must be crazy.” However, now I am able to look at this list and say: “You know what? It seems like I’ve been really bad by giving in and doing these compulsions, but when I actually sit down and look at my records, what I see is that most of the time I am successful in resisting. That means I’m doing a good job.” That feeling of positivity further encourages me to resist future compulsions. It’s easy for me to look at mistakes or bad choices I’ve made and say: “Well, I’ve already screwed things up, so I may as well give up now. Why even try?” The list helps keep me from having this attitude. It reminds me that I really do struggle with things that are easy for everyone else, so instead of judging my progress comparing to people who don’t have those difficulties, I should only judge my progress by myself.