It is impossible to vaccinate for your mental health, believe me, I have tried.
It is however, possible to understand it and accept it.
That is the first dose of my therapy, my own version of a cure. ACT. Accept. Commit. Therapy.
If mental illness were treated like physical illness more people might talk about it.
I didn’t know my thoughts were obsessive. I just knew they weren’t normal. I knew they were obscene.
I thought I was a bad person. I thought I really wanted to die or to do any of the horrible things that would come into my head.
I tried to replace my bad thoughts with positive thoughts about those I cared about most. I redirected my OCD to my relationships.
It did not go well.
Reading the stories, hearing the similarities, learning about the disease, it’s heartbreaking.
I have anger at OCD for what has been lost from my life, but I also have anger at myself for not getting help sooner.
Those thoughts though. You can’t just tell anyone what’s going on in your head like that.
The shame and fear is far too intense. Without knowing what’s happening, that the thoughts and fears aren’t real, your mind becomes paralyzed by anxiety.
Rationalizations are common. Your brain wants you to make sense of the useless information, the baseless fears.
So you search the Internet. You seek validation that your fear isn’t fake or that there is some relief in sight.
It’s a lie. There is no greater reason for your fear, your anxiety, your worry; no, it is OCD.
Pure O, ROCD, even some physical compulsions and plenty of avoidance, I experienced it all. I didn’t think it could be what it was.
That’s not what popular culture calls OCD. That’s for people who are really clean, right?
No. Not usually. More commonly it’s found in hoarders, agoraphobes, and concurrent with those who seem to ruminate, who seem unable to move on.
And then it’s clear, that is what I have.
How do I know what’s real and not OCD? How do I know what I care about?
OCD is tricky. It sticks to the things you care about most and distorts them. You question what you know; you question how you feel; you question why; you question the possibilities; you question everything.
All in a desperate effort to make that feeling of dread go away.
That’s where acceptance is helpful. Accepting that the feeling is there and it is not in response to something real allows you to feel it and let it go if it’s not helpful.
That’s hard to break through, but it’s getting easier every day and I’m not giving in to it or giving up to it any time soon.